Tuesday 25th 2013 became a memorable day, when religion and spiritual expansionism faced tough challenges from spiritual management & religious networking. The prophets became CEO and considered working on win-win model. Internet eventually paved the path for collaborative spiritual dialogues where people can put their spiritual ideas forward irrespective of the fact that with whom they are dealing. Moreover, Gods are going online… It is the idea that Rashma N. Kalsie shares via her latest book called Ohh! Gods Are Online. It is a work of fiction, where Gods are taking birth in wretched families unlike the golden palaces of past. Three different gods: Christian God Jesus Christ, Hindu God Krishn, and Buddhist God Buddha are taking birth among common men and healing their wounds. It was book discussion seminar, where Dr. Bharat Gupt as guest speaker shared his comment on book’s basic idea of branching, localization, anti-expansionism, and virtualization of legendry gods. Surprisingly, the book is co-authored by an Englishmen called Phill Cherry aka George Dixon, who resides continents far from each other. Held at Indian Habitat Centre, the seminar turned out as a successful meeting, where people of different religious & spiritual ideologies discussed the philosophies of religions & requirements to strengthening humanity in every human being. The author, Dr. Gupt, and Publisher Arup Bose answered to some valid questions of Hues of a Soul Team.
Q: How you get such a unique and unprecedented idea for writing a full length novel?
A: The idea of collaborating started as a joke. I challenged Phil Cherry to include Hindu Gods in his stories and he flipped the challenge back on me. In 2010 we started the novel as a collaborative short story. But when we got down to writing the Gods took over and the story wrote itself out. We wrote without knowing what the other person would add or change. We enjoyed writing without a clue as to where the story was headed. No wonder we have an unusual story to share.
Q: You have placed your demigod Krishna in a slum and also placed other gods in wretched conditions of humans? Any Specific reason?
A: Krishna maybe a king in Hindu mythology but he had two lives. One of the king and the other of a cowherd. If God can be a cowherd in the traditional mythology he can also be pantry boy in his Kalyuga avatar. But coming to Krishna in Ohh! Gods Are Online.. I will go back to 2010. When Phil Cherry sent me the first chapter where Christ lives in his heaven I got thinking about Krishna. I thought that Krishna is a third world God, he could not afford to live in a heaven. He had to be in the middle of poverty, pain, and suffering. Therefore I made Krishna a pantry boy who works in a hospital. As a humble pantry boy he helps men and women who are on the last leg of their journey. Also, in our country the condition of the poor is so deplorable that only Gods can help.
Q: So, you co-authored the book with an unfamiliar Englishmen called Phill Cherry irrespective of the fact that you both never met offline and visually online. How it worked out?
A: Yes, Phil Cherry aka George Dixon (writer’s name) and I have never talked to each other. We did not want to contrive the story. We did not want to do asides. So we wrote one at a time and mailed it to each other. The story found itself. Going without a predetermined story made the story more colourful.
Q: You shared the idea that our gods no more inject the notions of expansionism in their extremist devotees and divide geographical territories. Do you really think that devotees in physical world can go this much cool?
A: In our book Gods do not want to convert. In this book there is no struggle between Gods to win over followers. The message for priests and preachers is that they should reform themselves and stop creating strife in the world. The only way forward for faiths is to live in harmony and to understand the principles of other religions. I would say Gods will it that way. Internet is breaking barriers and bringing people of different faiths closer. So religions will have to become more flexible.
Q: In urban India, we have adopted our gods as Englishmen call them. For example we call Krishn to Krishna, Shiv as Shiva, Brahm as Brahmaa. But, we call their gods as they are like Christ as Christ and Goddess Mary as Mary then why we have left our connect with our spiritual figures.
A: This is a question of pronunciation and not spellings or intent. You see in Hindi the word Krishna ends not with varan ‘n’ but ‘na’. So in Roman script Kirshna will not be spelt as Krishn. Here the confusion is in pronunciation because in English language short vowels are not indicated in the script. In Krishna the vowel ‘a’ is short and it should be read as such.
Q: A language whoever that belong to is a means for communication between two human beings. Relatively, the English belongs to multiple cultures across the world then why Indians are imitating Britishers and Americans in terms of pronunciation. Shouldn’t we stop it now?
A: Please refer to answer 5 for clarification.
Q: It is kind of challenging project! How did you get through with publishing, launching, and now marketing?
A: With in two months of submission the script was accepted by Srishti Publishers. I like Srishti for being prompt and supportive. Writing was more challenging because we had to strike a balance and keep going for two years. Marketing is still happening. So I’ll talk about it once I have sold a few thousand copies.
Q: How was your publisher’s reaction on receiving your idea of novel?
A: Srishti was quick in responding and Mr. Bose sent a fantastic and encouraging review.
Q: Didn’t you fear with the consequences of your fellows like Taslima Nasreena & Salman Rushdee, who too have written on religion and burned their hands?
A: We did not include Islam in the dialogue of religion and Gods, not because we feared fatwa but because we did not have deep understanding of Islam.
Q: You co-authored it with an Englishmen. Are you Sharing Credits with him?
A: Absolutely. His name is on the book cover and website! Phil has a separate contract with the publisher. I read out his note to the audience in my 10 minute address to the audience. He has not been sidelined or something. Infact credits have been given to the editor and the cover designer. It’s about acknowledging the team effort. And I am grateful to the team and the publisher.
Q: Would you like to give any message to young Indian authors, who just want fame and celebrity status with their writing?
A: Well as they say, “To each his own”. I wrote my first novel at age 13. Writing has been my calling since I was a child. I don’t think I can be at peace if I do something else. Others can have other reasons. I don’t like to judge. To paraphrase Maugham, ‘a masterpiece comes at the end of a laborious career not as a happy fluke’.
It was an inspiring interview session with Ohh! Gods Are Online’s author Rashma N Kalsie. I am thankful to Srishti Publication for giving me the chance to interview such a literary genius.