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TEEN AUTHOR HARNESSES POWER AND WISDOM OF ANCIENT MYTHS TO WRITE FANTASY NOVEL

Fifteen-year-old author Aaditya Sengupta Dhar hopes his novel, Kaalchakra, not just entertains, but connects young readers to our cultural roots and heritage.

Aaditya Sengupta Dhar
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Most Indian teenagers, especially in big cities, are besotted with everything Western. From the music they listen to, the movies they watch, and the holiday destinations they aspire to visit, it seems that all good things lie beyond our shores. Aaditya Sengupta Dhar, a fifteen-year-old from Mumbai, bucks this trend and takes intense interest and pride in our ancient culture and myths. Passionate about writing, Aaditya is already the published author of five books, and he combined what he learned from our ancient epics and myths with his love for writing to produce his latest novel, Kaalchakra, published by Anecdote Publishing in January 2024.

So, what led a modern teenager to spend hours poring over the Shiva Purana and the Bhagavad Gita, while listening to the Hanuman Chalisa on his earphones?

Aaditya has always been keen on reading, and from a very young age, loved reading about different cultures and peoples. He says, “Tales of the Iliad and Odyssey, of Beowulf and Gilgamesh, of Caesar and Genghis, fired my imagination, and stories of ancient Greece and Rome made me wonder about the amazing legacy those civilizations left behind.”

But something sparked in his mind when his parents gifted him a copy of The Story of Indian Culture by Bahadur Mal, a signed copy gifted to his great-grandfather back in 1956. Reading it made Aaditya wonder how much he really knew of his own culture. He says, “That curiosity made me start reading more. I picked up translations of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and then read even more, moving on to the Bhagavad Gita, the Shiva Purana, and others. The more I read, the more I was amazed at the richness of the stories, ideas, and values that made up our culture.”

Sociologists warn that one potential downside of globalisation is moving to a monoculture where people forget their own unique cultural roots and in the desire to fit into one homogenous global culture, leave their traditions behind. At a very young age, Aaditya seems to have figured this out. As he writes in Kaalchakra, “My generation is growing up in a world that is connected globally in ways past generations never experienced. Kids of my age cheer for the same sports stars no matter where they live, watch the same movies, spend time on the same social media apps, listen to the same music, and eat at the same fast-food chains. However, does that mean we remain ignorant of, or even worse, apologetic about, our roots?”

Aaditya Sengupta Dhar
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Kaalchakra tells the tale of two modern teenagers who find themselves caught up in an ancient prophecy about the Kaalchakra, the cosmic wheel of time. Through their adventure, we meet many legendary figures from our mythology and epics. Readers can expect action, adventure, and thrills but are also exposed to several concepts that make up the core message of our epics, such as the idea of dharma, of following the path of righteousness, and of finding inner peace before we can seek to make peace with external things bothering us. Aaditya says, “As a fantasy adventure, I hope Kaalchakra entertains readers, but I also hope it makes all of us understand that we are not just defined by where we live now, the media we consume, the products we use, and the jobs we do, but by that unbroken line that connects us to our ancestors, to our stories, to our roots.”

Does he see any contradiction between being a 21st-century teenager who’s learning about Artificial Intelligence and being someone who reads and shares ideas from our ancient epics and texts?

Not at all.

Aaditya says, “Our future may well lie in reaching for the stars, but we should always remember that for a tree to grow tall and reach for the sky, it must have strong roots.”

Get your copy of Kaalchakra in leading bookstores and on Amazon.

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