An Award from the President’s Office

Dr Shankar, Rasala’s General Editor, is one of those unassuming geniuses who quietly do some of the best work in their field.  Most of us who know him quickly realise just how talented he is as a Sanskritist.  Sanskrit poetry is complex, dense, rigidly structured and requires a knowledge of all kinds of topics that would overwhelm even University Challenge champions, but to Dr Shankar it comes as easily and naturally as a mother tongue.

It is then a great happiness that his talent has now been recognised at the national level with the Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman award, announced by the President on Independence Day.  Press release here.

Congratulations Dr Shankar, it really couldn’t have been better deserved.

The Conquest of Madhura Now on Amazon

Aside

My husband and I recently celebrated our son’s first birthday and, not coincidentally, it’s been over a year since you last heard from us here at Rasāla. Motherhood and laptops don’t get on that well together, although you’ll be pleased to hear that Utpalaksha has already tried his hand at editorial mark-up (or perhaps freehand scribbling would be a better term) on the upcoming Darpa Dalana.

We don’t have a verse of the week for you yet I’m afraid, but we do have some good news for our customers who are based outside India.  Rasāla’s The Conquest of Madhurā: Gaṅgādevī’s Madhurā Vijaya is now available on Amazon.com, and, thanks to a new policy, the Amazon version uses the same attractive matt finish that we use for our India-printed books.  The Message of The Koel, which is already on Amazon.com, now also has that same matt cover rather than the glossy one we had to use earlier.

You are of course still welcome to order directly through Rasāla – and we prefer it that way because it’s the only way we get to meet, albeit virtually, our readers – but for those who like the one-click ease of Amazon, please go ahead:

The Conquest of Madhurā

The Message of The Koel

(As before, India-based readers can buy our books on Amazon.in as well as Flipkart and other Indian ebookshops.)

A New Book and A New Year

Today is Yugādīthe beginning (ā) of a new age (yuga), although in its more popular spelling the festival has lost the ‘y’ to become the far less pronounciation-friendly, for non-Indians at least, Ugadi. It is at any rate a suitably auspicious day to celebrate the official release of Rasāla’s second book, The Conquest of Madhurā, a rare 14th century Sanskrit poem by – believe it or not, and several scholars didn’t when it was discovered in 1916 – a woman. 

Faithful readers of the Rasāla Verse of the Week, as doubtless all of you are, will not need any further introduction to the poem. For more details about the Rasāla edition, click here (and note that if you buy the print book before 1st June 2013, you are entitled to a free copy of the eBook).

We also wanted to let you know that there are several forthcoming titles to look forward to, including:

  • a sonorous rendition of two famous hymns – the Śyāmalā Daṇḍaka and the Āryā Śataka – by prize-winning poet Usha Kishore and neurosurgeon-cum-Sanskritist M Sambasivan
  • a translation of the viciously funny Darpa Dalana of Kashmir’s 11th century master-satirist, Kṣemendra, by diplomat-turned-translator AND Haksar
  • as well as of course the first Rasāla anthology – 108 of Sanskrit’s most beautiful verses on the night and her myriad charms

 

We will though have to ask you to be patient because Rasala will be taking an extended break while Venetia goes on maternity leave.  In the meantime, please do dig into The Conquest of Madhurā (and The Message of The Koel if you haven’t already). Both are available in print and eBook format.  And we will endeavour to keep dispatching verses of the week to you all as often as possible – to those who have noticed that the Rasāla Verse of the Week has become slightly erratic recently, sorry – but probably more like once a month than once a week.

Rasala is now on Amazon and Kobo

We just wanted to let you all know that we are now on Amazon which will make things easier for those of you not in India because you won’t have to wait weeks for a book to arrive, and the postage should be less. Here is our first book on Amazon in America and in the UKand I think it is also on the European sites too; our other books will follow when published.  

The Message of the Koel is also now available on Kobo, one of the most popular eBook reading apps.  I was able to test it out on the iPad last week and it works well, although if you have an iPad (or any other Apple product) I’d still recommend iBooks over Kobo because it just works and looks better in iBooks.  Just to complicate things, though, you can’t buy our books directly from iBooks due to complex US legal requirements – so you need to buy the eBook from us and then you can very easily load it onto your device.

Thanks and as we are now firmly in the festive season for almost all of our readers we can safely wish you a happy Dasara, Diwali, Eid, Thanksgiving, Christmas and of course New Year.

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UPDATE (April 2013) – At the moment only The Message of The Koel is on Kobo as Kobo doesn’t support EPUB 3 and won’t accept our eBooks as a result. According to the Kobo support desk, Kobo has never supported EPUB 3 but accepted our EPUB 3 file of The Message of The Koel because of an error in the system. Nevertheless, this book at least is still available on the Kobo platform.  The others we hope will one day join it – when Kobo starts supporting EPUB 3.

Rasāla eBooks

After spending the monsoon tinkering with the plethora of eReading apps, devices and formats washing about the publishing world at the moment, we have today brought out with great excitement Rasāla’s first eBook: The Message of The Koel.

The eBook version of this, and future books, will use the shiny new EPUB 3 format which means that we can include photos from the koel’s journey and audio versions of several of the verses.  Less excitingly but more importantly EPUB 3 is able to cope with complex scripts like Devanagari so that our Sanskrit verses are not a series of boxes, and which allows us to use many other under-the-hood features critical for a smooth reading experience of a book such as this.

Our eBooks have no DRM (digital rights management) which means that you can read them in any app, platform or device that can handle them; you can share them with anyone you want; and you can transfer them between your laptop and phone or any other device you use for reading books – again provided the hardware allows it.

For the moment, though, only Apple’s iBooks really and truly does justice to EPUB 3 eBooks – so if you have access to an iPad, iPhone or iPod we’d highly recommend you use that. If you’re on Android, the free FB Reader app is probably the best option. For desktop users we recommend the free Azardi eReading software, which supports almost all of the features used in our eBooks.  Amazon, despite its rapid expansion in India, still doesn’t support Indian scripts so for now you can’t read Rasāla’s eBooks on a Kindle.

Those who bought a copy of the print version of The Message of The Koel before 31st August will be sent the eBook for free.  For those who would like to buy a copy, please email us at venetia@rasalabooks.com.  The eBook is Rs 100 or £3.

We hope you enjoy reading and listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it.

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UPDATE (April 2013):

We have just tested the IDEAL Group Reader on Android and would now recommend this instead of the FB Reader app as it supports more of the features that our eBooks have.  The IDEAL Group Reader can be downloaded for free in the Google Play Store.

For those on a laptop/desktop, we would recommend the Readium app – a web app available in Google Chrome – for reading when you are online. If you prefer to read the eBook when you are offline, then Azardi is still the best option.

Kokila Sandeśa in 10 Scripts

Rasāla’s readers hail from different parts of India and further afield, and some prefer to read – or can only read – Sanskrit in a script other than Devanāgari. We have long wanted to be able to provide such readers the option to read the Sanskrit part of Rasāla’s books in the script of their choice, but practically this has proved difficult with both print and eBooks (the latter because of technological issues with font support on reading devices – although we are working on this…).

Now, though, thanks to and via the Sanskrit Documents site, we are able to offer the Sanskrit text of Rasāla’s first book, The Message of The Koel: Uddaṇḍa Śāstri’s Kokila Sandeśa, in a total of ten different scripts including Roman, Tamil, Bengali and Malayalam.

Here’s the link to the Devanāgari version of the text, from where you can easily switch back and forth to the other scripts.  We haven’t proofread the transliterations – nor in all honesty does the small Rasāla team know so many scripts – so please excuse any errors.

If you have any feedback for us on this, please do get in touch.  If we find there is demand for one script in particular, we may be able to produce versions of each book in that script alongside the standard Devanāgari versions.