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Ten minute Mahabharata

In my visits to the US I have been struck by the interest of the Indian diaspora in our religion and culture. Until the 1990s, the diaspora consisted largely of the ubiquitous traders and businessmen from Gujarat; and a few thousand scientists, doctors, engineers and academics, largely from south India. Post 1990, with the IT revolution and the coming of age of the middle class affording to pursue higher education, there has been a surge of young men and women migrating to the US. These have pursued higher education in the US universities and business schools. The boom in the US economy also opened great opportunities for these to get employed. The cream of Indian youth have opted to pursue their careers in a variety of fields, notably, in IT and financial services, medicine and manufacturing. In less than two decades the number of persons of Indian origin in the US increased by 50 per cent.

Flourishing temples in different US cities were attracting these young men and women. I was pleasantly surprised to find young men and women thronging the flourishing temples in US cities during the week-ends - a scene not much common in India today. One major attraction was the delicious south Indian food they offered, often free or for a small price! Many used to buy and stock these for the week! More interesting, several of these also offered their services to the temples on festive days. The Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Mission, ISKCON and other Hindu ashrams have been major centres of attraction. They impart lessons on Hinduism to young kids and adults.

In this background, I was struck by the effort of Sriram Raghavan (35), an engineering graduate from Chennai who took his MS from the Buffalo University, to present Mahabharata in ten-minute capsules. The presentations were simple, direct and lucid with pithy anecdotes. These were made into DVDs and presented through YouTube. His mother Girija and grand parents reared Sriram, who lost his father when he was just two years old. Girija is the editor and publisher of the Tamil magazine Ladies Special. Enterprising Girija has also been presenting a large number of programmes in television on societal and women issues. Sriram has been focusing on communications. Through digital camera he even produced a full-length feature film in Tamil, acting in the lead role!

Sriram has been researching on the Mahabharatha using his skills in communication. He presents one episode each in just ten minutes. The narration in lucid, simple terms is delectable.

How I wish the research bent and passion of young men like Sriram are seen in similar numbers in youths in our own country! And kindle interest in our children on our prized heritage!

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