Kalam’s 'Kalaateetam' book launch cancelled amid protests

Thrissur: The release of Malayalam translation of a book authored by former President A P J Abdul Kalam was cancelled Saturday after protests erupted over a woman writer being allegedly asked to stay away from the function citing the presence of a 'swamiji'.

The Current Books, who published Kalam's last book 'Transcendence My Spiritual Experience with Pramukh Swamiji' as 'Kalaateetam' in Malayalam, said they cancelled the release function following the protests.

Translator Sreedevi S Kartha, in a Facebook post on Friday evening, had alleged that Current Books informed her through one of the staff that she must abstain from attending the function as one of the chief guests is Swami Brahmavihari Das of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

She was told that the rules of BAPS were against women sharing dais with the swami.

"The first three rows in the hall must be reserved for swamiji's followers so that they can ensure that even the impure shadow of woman must not fall on him," She wrote in the facebook post.

As controversy erupted, various organisations staged protests in front of the Kerala Sahitiya Academy where the launch of the book titled 'Kaalaatheethm' (Beyond the times) was to be held.

Swami Brahma Vihari Das did not turn up for the function, K J Johny, Publishing Manager of the Thrissur-based Current Books, publishers of the book said.

Johny also said that they normally do not invite translators for book release functions.
 
The book was to have been released by Kalam's co-author Arun Tiwari and eminent Malayalam writer M T Vasudevan Nair.


 
Reacting to the issue, noted poet Sugathakumari said those "who are afraid of their mothers should go back to dark age caves."

"Hinduism is the only religion which visualises God in the form of women and our ancient saint and social reformers like Swami Vivekanada, Sree Narayana Guru and Ramana Mahrashi had never shown discrimination towards women," she added.

Expressing shock over the incident, Sreedevi said publishers informed her to keep away from the function through a common friend and did not even bother to apologise to her.

"It is a shameful act on the part of the publishers," she added.

Sreedevi asked "What is the difference between Taliban which asks women not to show body except eyes and Indian culture, which bars women from attending public functions".

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