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US-based Indian scribe pens Dalai Lama biography

The book, Lama, Man, Monk, Mystic by Chicago-based Mayank Chhaya is being published simultaneously in nine countries.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2007 11:59 IST

An authorised biography of the Dalai Lama, Man, Monk, Mystic, by Chicago-based Indian origin journalist Mayank Chhaya is being published simultaneously in nine countries.

The book will be published in India in February, followed in March by releases in the US, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Russia.

Chhaya's literary agent Lynn Franklin told IANS: "I am quite sure we will be going to other countries soon."

The journalist was granted complete access to the Buddhist spiritual leader, whom he interviewed for several hours over a period of time. During the course of his research he spoke to over 200 people in India and outside.

Franklin said the book is being published in English, German, Portuguese, French, Dutch, Russian and Complex Chinese.

The book has already got a favourable review in the bible of the publishing industry, the Publishers Weekly.

"The author also brings a familiarity with Asian politics, an essential frame of reference for understanding the complex situation of the Tibetan spiritual and political leader who has spent close to 50 years in exile in India. The end product is balanced - neither debunking nor hagiographic, but taking a Buddhist-style Middle Way toward its subject, even though the author is not himself a Buddhist," the Publishers Weekly said in a starred review.

Another endorsement has come from Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu: "In examining the life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as an individual in the context of his different roles as man, monk and mystic, Mayank Chhaya has succeeded in presenting an engaging portrait of one of the world's great leaders."

Said Franklin: "The attraction of the book is that it is an authorised biography of a popular leader written in a way that will make him accessible to a lot of people."

The biography puts the Dalai Lama within a frame of reference, which ranges from his spirituality to his role in the geopolitical situation of the region, she said.

The book attracted bidding in both India and Taiwan. Franklin said she was particularly pleased at the response to the auction in Taiwan.

Chhaya has been a journalist for two and a half decades,having extensively reported on India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the US. A former chief correspondent for South Asia of IANS, he was authorised by the Dalai Lama in 1997 to write the book.

This is his second book, the first being a 1992 best-selling biography of Indian technology guru Sam Pitroda.

The Dalai Lama, who is the supreme spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, has been living in India since 1959 after fleeing his homeland following an uprising against Chinese communist rule.

His government-in-exile, which is not recognised by any country, is based in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala. India is also home to about 100,000 Tibetan exiles.

First Published: Jan 24, 2007 11:59 IST