Bharat Bhushan’s interest in studying natural history and his keen interest in various natural systems of water, land and topography and the local wildlife biodiversity gives him the title of ‘obsessive writer’.
“Kailāsa Korā: Mysteries of the Ancients” is his latest release with Vishwakarma Publications. We got into conversation with him to find out more about the book.
- Can you give our readers a short summary of what they can expect from your latest book?
The book is about the ancient and most challenging pilgrim trail around the sacred Mount Kailash. The trail around the mountain is known as the ‘Korā’ and therefore, the title of the book – Kailāsa Korā. The ancient secrets or little known legends and mysteries around Mount Kailash and the sacred Lake Manasarovar are older than established religions. They are intricately related to natural resources, and their conservation and sustainable use.
This book brings together the mosaic of pre-religious ancient secrets, the coming of pilgrims from various religions and their 3-day walk around the sacred mountain. The story is fictional and presents the myth in the form of a travelogue and identifies with the diversity of people who regard Mount Kailash as their home or as only a pilgrim destination.
The main story is of twelve pilgrims sitting at an ancient ‘circle of stones’ in the Lha Chu Valley braving the fierce thunderstorm through the night. They meet up with very large wild yak, a herd of only male yak bulls, and a silent pack of wolves during the thunderstorm. The morning brings no sign of anyone, either men or animals. They disappear and are not to be seen anywhere in the valley.
The local monks from the monasteries in the Parikrama route, the local pilgrim guides and ancient guardians of the valley come together to aid in or prevent the discovery of the most ancient secrets. The ancients have recorded the existence of hidden valleys called Beyuls that are documented in Bonpo and Tibetan Buddhist scrolls. Human entry is banned or restrained from these hidden valleys and they are protected by the most determined of ancient guardians.
- What made you choose to write about the ‘Kailash Trail’?
This is one of the most ancient of mysteries and very little is known about the sacred mountain and its valleys. Pilgrims travel to the sacred valley and return without knowing much about the place and the people, ancient and modern. This book explores the ancient pre-Hindu, Pre-Bonpo and pre-Tibetan Buddhist legends and brings them together in a fictional novel to present it in a readable manner.
- What kind of research went into writing the book?
It took me about nine years to study about the area and to learn about the local theology and the convergence of ancient religions. I had to study the water systems, the local topography, ancient myths and legends and had to understand their sustained relevance. Research took me to access ancient Hindu Puranas, stories about Shiva and the aspect of Ganges and Bhagiratha, and also look at the perspectives from Bonpo, pre-pharsee Persian thought, Tibetan Buddhism, Jain outlook to Ashtapada and the various animal folklore. Surreal stories about local animals as guardians are plenty in the region and these were gradually included in the storyline.
- Tell us a little about yourself
I have a Masters and Doctorate in Field Ornithology from the Bombay Natural History Society, University of Mumbai. My passion is natural history and I am keenly interested in various natural systems of water, land and topography and the local wildlife biodiversity. Currently, I am Professor for Environmental Planning at YASHADA, the administrative academy of the Government of Maharashtra. I would define myself as a birder, biologist, teacher and trainer.
- When and how did you become a writer?
I have always been writing, even as a college student, with short stories being published in magazines. With the coming of the internet, I am a compulsive writer in various blogs. My students have labeled me as suffering from ‘Obsessive Writing Disorder’ and I hope that this syndrome gets to be recognised. My blog on Sri Rama Raksha Stotra has had more than two million hits and other blogs have a similar readership. Most of my book-ideas or work-in-progress are developing over several years due to the need for accurate research and references.
- What was the most difficult part about writing this story?
I had to stay faithful to the ancient stories, legends, locations and the topography. These details could not be changed. Bringing in the aspects of a fictional novel placed limitations on the development of the story. But fortunately, the flow did not suffer and the story wrote itself in a splendid manner.
- You have published before with Vishwakarma Publications. How has your experience been?
Splendid. I have always received excellent cooperation from the team at Vishwakarma Publications including Mr. Vishal Soni. My two earlier books, Katha Panduranga and Birds of Ramayana have been published by Vishwakarma in an appropriate manner and I am happy to continue with my partnership.