The release of Malayalam translation of Transcendence ended up in a big chaos followed by a Facebook post of the translator.
The release of the Malayalam version of the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s book Transcendence–My Spiritual Experience with Pramukh Swamiji turned into a total mess with some social activists (Leftists and apostles of minority rights and women’s liberation) disturbed the programme of September 26 by staging protests and shouting slogans. The programme was conducted in Thrissur. Their complaint was, “Swami Brahma Vihari Das of BAPS Swami Narayan Ashram insisted on keeping away the translator Sreedevi S Kartha from the programme since she is a woman!” On September 25, Sreedevi Kartha posted on Facebook that the publishers informed her that the Swamiji had put forward a condition that Sannyasins of Swami Narayan order do not like the women to come closer to them either on dais or in the audience. Translator wrote that she was asked to keep away from the programme because Swamiji did not like a woman’s presence there. Immediately the youth wings of CPI (M) and CPI took over the matter and led protest march to the venue. Naturally the programme was messed up. The famous writer, film maker and Jnanpith laureate MT Vasudevan Nair, despite reaching the town, did not turn up, thanks to the pandemonium created by the protestors. But famous writer and woman activist Sara Joseph attended the programme and released the book. She told the media that the protestors did not gather right information before they resorted to the angry posture. She informed the publishers that Swamiji had never put forward any condition to keep the women away. She said that the protestors should not have disturbed a programme supposed to be graced by a renowned personality like MT Vasudevan Nair. She said that if at all the protestors had any sort of grievances, they should have shown the audacity to go to Swamiji’s Ashram and protest. But she invited the wrath of the Purogamana Kala Sahitya Sangham (Progressive Arts & Literary Organisation), pro CPI (M) organisation. Its secretary asked Sara to apologise to the people of Kerala for attending a programme which Sreedevi was asked to keep away. Sara was always a critic of Hindutva movement and used to move closer to Leftists. But, later on she joined Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). She was an AAP candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
There are people who see a Translator-Publisher nexus in this drama. They think that the idea was to market the book under the camouflage of the controversy. BJP leader Adv B Gopalakrishnan alleged that Swamiji was made an easy prey to the marketing strategy and Kerala model secularism. Kerala model secularism is as good as pseudo secularism, i.e. anti-Hinduism. Shri Gopalakrishnan stated that Sreedevi’s Facebook post was a part of the Muslim conspiracy; since her husband is a Muslim she could easily get the support of such forces. It was a carefully orchestrated plot to insult Hindu sanyasins. He added that Sreedevi’s game plan is the latest example of secularism in Kerala turning anti Hindu. BJP leader asked the publishers to take legal actions against Sreedevi Kartha for her Facebook post which is contrary to what the publishers told the media. The version of “no ladies in Swamiji’s presence” was a part of a larger anti-Hindu agenda.
The book in question is said to be containing the spirituality of the Hindutva and Dr APJ’s life and spiritual experiences. So, this is more than enough to invite the hatred of Kerala’s pseudo secularists. That the head quarter of Swami Narayan order is in Gujarat itself made them uneasy. In Kerala, anything which has something to do with Gujarat is a taboo for the ‘secularists’. Therefore, no doubt, the book release drama was a handiwork of the fanatic pseudo secularists and their Leftist fellow travelers. Now, a question obviously does arise, is it really a right of translator of a book to have a seat on the dais during the book release? Translation is a profession hence remunerative job. Once one completes the job and accepts the remuneration, does he or she still reserve any more right about the releasing function?