For all, who are interested in the Orient

Восточная коллекция № 1, 2009 (36) The articles of this issue commemorate the Year of India in Russia. India, a poem by Aleksandr Senkevich, serves as its poetical epigraph.

Whatever your impressions were before you come to India, at first sight it never ceases to amaze you, writes Rostislav Rybakov, Director, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, in his article "Planet India", which opens this issue. But this chaos, which you eyes catch at first, hides a distinct system that pervades this great civilization, which retains its unique character through thousands of years.

The Country: Republic of India. Evgenia Vanina. Cloud Messenger Is in the Air Again. Cloud Messenger is a poem by Kalidasa, which shows a panorama of his motherland as if viewed in an imaginary flight. The author uses the same technique to present modern India, from the Southern tip of the Indian subcontinent to the Himalayas.

The Hymn: Jana Gana Mana. Irina Prokofyeva. To the Ruler of the Minds of All People... The history of creation of the State Anthem of India (lyrics by Rabindranath Tagore) and the national song Vande Mataram (lyrics by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay), which in India are considered equal in status.

The Mountains: Western Ghats. Irina Glushkova. Everything Is Mixed in This Land. The Western Ghats, a mountain range along the Western shore of the Indian subcontinent, are famous not only for their rich flora and fauna. Here one can find well-known cave temples with ancient murals, sacred symbols, fortresses, and mountain resorts.

The River: Narmada. Anna Bochkovskaya. The Goddess of Hard Destiny. Narmada is one of the five sacred rivers of India. The ritual tour of Narmada gives one the greatest spiritual merits and forgiveness of sins.

The State: Rajasthan. Elena Karachkova. Diary of a Travel from Delhi to Jaipur. The author shares her thoughts about the Rajasthan state, its natural and cultural identity, the history of its creation, and success of its tourist industry, mixing the story with descriptions of the vicinity of the National Highway 8 New Delhi-Mumbai.

The Town: Varanasi. Irina Glushkova. Life and Death in the Transitional Zone. Stone stairs with ritual facilities, which lead to the river, shape the unique flavour of Varanasi, a town where one can find together poetry and prose, rejoicing and funeral rites, religious ecstasy and commerce.

Institution: Dar al-Ulum. Petr Topychkanov. Deoband from the Morning to the Night. The town of Deoband is the home-place of the world-renowned Islamic teaching institution, Dar al-Ulum. The students here master not only the Qur'an, its exegesis and religious laws, but also a wide range of modern disciplines.

The Village: Vallachira. Svetlana Ryzhakova. Behind the Thick Veil of Privacy. The people say that the village of Vallachira in Kerala is about one thousand years old. There are about two thousand homes here, and about seven thousand people, Christians, Moslems, and Hindus of both high and low castes. The author tries to find out the answer to the question, what unites them all.

The Book: 'Raag Darbari'. Evgenia Vanina. Rural Mahabharata. The readers think that Shrilal Shukla's novel is the most funny and most sad book in Hindi. Our readers can judge themselves by the fragment of this novel, which is published in our magazine.

The Transport: Train. Svetlana Ryzhakova. "Shaitan-ka Daftar". "Devil's Workshop", such was the name, which the Indians gave to the train in the 19th century. Now Indian Railways offer not less than seven classes of travel, and all of them are in demand.

The Home: Tamil Dwelling. Aleksandr Dubyansky. A Box with Nine Jewels. Compared to an Englishman, an Indian would rather not consider his home as his fortress, whereas an Englishman would not think about his home as a continuation of his own body. But India knows this precise feeling of one's home, which originates in the hoary antiquity.

The Man: Khushwant Singh. Anna Bochkovskaya. "I Think about India's Tomorrow". Author of thrilling novels, stories, and anecdotes in English, lawyer and diplomat, historian and columnist, journalist and editor, politician and member of Parliament, reviewer and translator, thinker and poet - these are the many faces of this man.

The Woman: Romila Thapar. Evgenia Vanina. History as Battlefield. Several generations of Indians have been studying their country's past by her textbooks. A specialist in ancient and Medieval history, she is always on the peak of political struggle, being an informal leader of those who oppose the ideology of Hindu chauvinism.

The Hero: Ratan Naval Tata. Anna Aleshkovskaya. Mission Possible. One of the greatest Indian businessmen, he may be rightfully considered a hero of the country where a businessman's work is more significant than signatures and contracts, and where the notion of a "hero" itself is still in existence, because the people need a role model.

The Bird: Vulture. Svetlana Ryzhakova. Garuda's Offspring. The Indians believe that every bird carries some message, or augurs some changes. It is generally believed that vultures carry misfortune, but, since times immemorial, these birds are in good graces of the Parsis of India.

The Plant: Banana. Svetlana Ryzhakova. Celestial Plant, Heavenly Fruit. The fruit, flowers, and other parts of banana are widely used in everyday life, traditional medicine, and religious rites of the Indians.

The Dish: Rosgolla. Irina Prokofyeva. Cottage Cheese Dumplings in Sugar Syrup, or How and Where Rosgolla Was Born. For a hundred and a half years, this sweet dish has been considered a Bengali national dessert, but globalization brings its amendments to old recipes.
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