श्रीसिद्धि स्वस्ति जय नमः परमेस्वराय।
निष्कलाय स्वभावेन स्वेच्छया धृतमूर्तये॥
शिवाय परमेशाय नमोऽस्तु परमत्मने॥१॥
येनैकेनाप्यनेकेषु तिष्ठता युगपत् पृथक्।
आत्मापि क्रियते नित्यं तस्मै शूलभृते नमः॥२॥
This invocation to Lord Siva is found inscribed on a stele in the temple of Prah Ko in the Siem Reap district of Cambodia. It goes on to eulogize King Indravarman, lists out the gifts given by him on the occasion of establishing statues of Siva and Devi – palanquins, golden shields, cows, buffalos and artistes among other things, and ends with a warning to potential thieves and salutation to loyal benefactors. Dated 801 CE, this Sanskrit inscription is but one among the countless memory capsules which serves to remind us that for millennia, a unique bond connected the vast expanse between the Indus and the Mekong.
This civilizational link between India and Cambodia is perhaps one of the greatest examples of a robust non-colonial cultural exchange between two nations. Instead of power and profit, it was a shared sense of Dharma which underpinned the magnificent tapestry of this civilization- its glorious patterns woven by kings and adventurers, priests and traders, artisans and farmers, artists and philosophers – by people, using the twin threads of commerce and culture.
The impact of this cultural unity is visible to us even today. The exquisite verses of the Reamkar tell the eternal story of Preah Ream or Lord Rama. The gorgeous Lakhon Khol dance dramas recount the exploits of Hanuman. The awe inspiring majesty of the Angkor Wat recreates the glory of Mount Meru itself. Even the quintessential morning greeting, Arun Susdai, has its roots in Sanskrit – the same Sanskrit which was used to inscribe the faith and the glory of Cambodian monarchs on the countless temples built by them.
Indic Book Club is proud to call for submissions for an anthology of short stories which celebrates this unique cultural bond between India and Cambodia. We invite authors from both these nations to be a part of this international creative exercise with the goal of highlighting the common heritage between two peoples in an entertaining and informative manner.
The guiding spirit behind this anthology is that of a journey – one which leads to a rediscovery of our ancient bond in popular consciousness. We can achieve this objective when each tale answers fundamental questions like –
- What is the relevance of these cultural ties to our modern day world?
- How do we preserve this heritage?
- How do we ensure that our culture is living and not bound to the museum?
There is no restriction on the genre of fiction that can be selected by an author. We are looking for highly creative and entertaining storytelling that stays true to the criteria above.
Here are a few sample beats to set the ball rolling-
- Experiences of a Cambodian discovering his or her roots in India
- A modern day adventure to uncover lost secrets amongst the ancient ruins
- A travelogue/road trip along the ancient trade routes
- Historical fiction about a runaway Indian princess arriving at Cambodia
Note: We urge all participants to not be restricted by this list and boldly explore any theme they wish within the context of this anthology.
Here are some terms and conditions:
- The story should be original and not previously published / self-published.
- The word count must be between 5,000 and 10,000 words.
- The entries must be sent to email@example.com under the subject line ‘Shared Roots’ by September 30, 2021.
- A writing workshop will be arranged for shortlisted candidates to revise their entries.
- The revised entries will then be edited and published in an anthology under the banner of Indic Academy or a traditional publisher.
- Each participant must adopt the Indic pledge (for Indian authors only).
Ratul Chakraborthy, Curator Shared Roots