Conversations with Sudipto Das on The Aryabhata Clan and More

Sudipto Das author of The Ekkos Clan and the recently published Aryabhata Clan was in town where I had the opportunity to meet him and engage with him in an interesting discussion about his book, love for literature and linguistic paleontology. His ability to derive validated historical facts and stories and churn out a contemporary relatable novel out of it is commendable. Going by the genre, he is definitely compared to other authors but he accepts comparison with smiles and explains how his book is similar yet different from other writers in this genre. Here are the excerpts from our conversation.

What inspired you to write?

During the 90’s the trend was to play an instrument and write a song. Since I used to play the violin it was not possible for me to compose a song, but had I been playing the guitar, this would have been done too. I thought that I should do something which would have my unique signature, which would be completely my creation. Then I thought that I can write a book; because it is tougher to be a music composer. Also, if you notice Bangla literature is so strong but nothing has been written specifically about Bangla partition. There has been work on Post Partition traumas but nothing specifically on the Partition as such. I used to hear stories of the Partition from my pishi (paternal aunt) and they were still fresh in my mind decades later. I did some authentication and background research on those stories. Thus, when I thought of writing I thought I would pen it down but not directly make it into a Partition story. It was coupled with linguistics, Aryan History, and many others.

Tell me something about the Aryabhata Clan.

With Aryabhata Clan I went a little ahead than Ekkos Clan. It deals with Aryabhata and Kalidasa among many others. It is rich in Medieval Indian History during the 580 AD. When I was reading Aryan History, my interest grew in the Sanskrit Language. During this time, I also researched on Prakrit Languages. This book finds a reflection of the history of all the languages of that era.

Having studied Engineering, what made you pursue writing or Social Arts?

I love to read a lot of books. Anybody who reads a lot of books would have an artistic bend of mind.Moreover, I love music as well. Once you start loving literature and arts, you automatically imbibe that artistic bend of mind, no matter if you are an engineer by academics and profession.

Also, most writers have their own profession apart from writing. Some authors who are now full-time writers also pursued their professions early in life. Similarly, being an engineer but having kept myself in that atmosphere of creative arts I have imbibed these skills. I don’t mind seeing myself as a full-time writer in future. In fact, I will be more than happy.

Coming back to cryptology, Dan Brown seems to be a prominent figure in cryptic fiction. What do you think sets your book apart from the way he portrays his cryptology?

I have not used Cryptology in the technical sense. I have used linguistic paleontology. While Dan Brown has used Symbology.Cryptology is used by RAW, CIA, and others. Cryptology is an encryption which needs to be decoded. Most intelligence agencies in the world use this method. This is a very generic term in this case.

Palaeontology is the science of recreating the past through fossils.  At times, modern contemporary languages might also have some linguistic fossil. Sometimes, age-old words survive which have failed to evolve. Holding on to those words, linguistic paleontology tries to create the history/origin of that language.

For example, the word Hindu is derived from Sindhu. This word Sindhu has given identity to an entire sub-continent – its language, religion etc. Sindhu is not a Sanskrit word. After research, it has been found that in Kashmir, many unrelated rivers are called Sindhu. Finally, it was found that in POK there is a language called Burushaski which is soon to be extinct. It is a language isolate. In this language, the term river is called Sindha. Then people started connecting Sindha to Sindhu and further research revealed more about the history of the region, the language, the society and much more.

Over and again, the theory of a famous Islamic monument being a prominent Hindu Temple has been broached. How far do you as a person accept or reject this claim?

The truth is that the land belonged to Raja Jai Singh of Rajasthan, whose grandfather was given the land by Akbar. During Shah Jahan’s rule, the entire region used to belong to Jai Singh; and he actually bought the land. But the presence of Hindu Temple has not been historically validated yet. But there are lots of Hindu Motifs in the monument. This is because most of the builders were  Hindu. Moreover, Mughal architecture is a confluence of various cultures. I think the presence of Hindu elements has its own reasons, not like a temple was demolished to build another structure. My main problem is the way History is narrated. It is always narrated to hide something; it denies acceptance of truth.

Tell us something about your next book and when are we expecting it?

The next book is one which I had already started co-authoring with someone. It is an intense and passionate story about lesbianism in the 60’s. Lesbianism is still seen as a taboo in the society and not spoken of as openly as being gay. It is a book from my heart and I am working on it.

I wish the author Best Wishes for his upcoming endeavors. A Review of The Aryabhata Clan would soon be published on my blog.