In a deeply moving ceremony, scholar, journalist, politician Arun Shourie launched one of his most personal books, Does He Know A Mother's Heart? here in the capital on Friday evening at India Habitat Center.
Author's son Aditya and wife Anita unveiled the book amidst an emotionally charged audience comprising ex-minister Jaswant Singh, journalist Nalini Singh and Delhi's intellectual fraternity.
The panelists comprising journalist and author Mrinal Pande, social theorists Ashish Nandy, and academician Pratap Bhanu Mehta spoke in awe of the book's power and author's courage to open about his personal suffering.
Misty-eyed by the presence of the "hero and heroine" (Shourie's son and wife) of the book, Pande paid a tribute to the author and his family. "This is a deeply moving book. He lays bare his heat in a way which is extremely rare, courageous and deeply moving. This book is an honest search for peace. It's not only the hero and heroine of the book but also author's courage and ability to self-confront."
Touted as his most personal work till date, Shourie opens about his personal suffering and love for his family - his son Aditya, who is afflicted with cerebral palsy, and about his wife Anita, who suffers from Parkinson's disease.
Humbled by the panelists' touching remarks, an emotional Shourie poetically said, "These three people are more learned than I am. The great things they've said about my book has left me thinking, "Husn ko husn hi na samajhe, mehraban na jane kay kya samajh baithe the hum', (I really didn't know my book had such a deep meaning!)".
"But I agree that my book is a plea in many ways to re-think the phrases we keep repeating about God and Karma" he added.
While all the panelists agreed that it was a deeply religious book, not in the manner of worshiping Goddesses but for theological questions, Shourie questions blind faith and existence of God as suggested in religious scriptures in the book.
Illustrating his point by an example, he added, "If a calamity occurs on an infant we automatically blame it on his deeds in past birth. Everything we can't explain, we blame it on karma as if it's a Swiss account."
"With all my reverence to Gandhiji, sometimes his explanations were off the mark. For instance, when earthquake struck Bihar and 30,000 people were killed, his response was 'this is God's punishment for practice of sin of untouchability'. But when he went to Bihar, people asked South has untouchability why didn't earthquake strike there?" he added much to the amusement of the audience.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta lauded the author for exploring many facets of love and relationship in the book, "The theme that drives the theological discussions in the book is the theme of love. What's striking about the book is the different forms in which love expresses itself - prem, sneh, anurag. This love forces the author to say that his love is so great that he will not sacrifice anything for God (If he exists).'"
Moved by Mehta's ode to love, Shourie encouraged the audience to look beyond faith to understand the power of love and talked about the issues raised in the book.
As the audience heard him out in stunned silence, the author made light of his own sufferings by his humour and sarcasm and lightened the mood of the emotionally charged evening.