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The legend of the Brahmakamalam

In the summer of 2009, my mother fell seriously ill and I was with her in Bangalore. At the time I was halfway through writing WTLB and called the manuscript Rajam. It was an extremely difficult time. I was writing the book for my mother yet I wasn’t sure she would live to read it. Then one night in May, nine Brahmakamalam flowers bloomed in her garden and I knew she would be fine and live to enjoy my dedication to her. My book and my life is for my amazing mother. I had the title for my book and in three months the manuscript was written.

Last year a friend sent me two leaves from this plant which I planted and for the last year have been watering faithfully  like Rajam in my book. I don’t know what the future holds but I believe the blooming of the lotus will change my destiny and manifest my dreams.

Here is an excerpt from the book which explains the legend I have created from the Blooming of the Brahmakamalam

A tiny bud
A tiny bud
To a flower
To a flower

Brahmakamalam, the exotic Himalayan beauty, is called by many names — the Fragrant Queen of the Night, Golden Heart, and Star of Bethlehem. A plant, which, by a whim of nature grows only in the Himalayas, the abode of the god Shiva, around Mount Kailash and in the verdant valleys of Mansarovar. Ancient Hindu Texts refer to this flower as being special to Shiva, although the word Brahmakamalam translates to Lotus of Brahma. Perhaps this was the golden lotus on which Brahma was seated as he emerged from the navel of Vishnu to create the universe. So incomparable is this flower that it symbolizes every aspect of creation, expressing itself in the world we live in as a tribute to the creator. It creates from within itself in a design so complete that it overloads the beholder with emotion, sensation, and passion — a lotus that includes aspects of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva within its physical form. A unique plant, the likes of which is not found in any other part of the world, a flower which some say, belongs to the sunflower family, while others swear is an epiphyte, a cactus, or a lotus.

The first impression is deceptive, as its long drooping leaves look like any common foliage. But its magic lies in leaves and flowers growing out of the leaves themselves and not from a stem. It has been seen in full bloom in spring and winter, and those who have the honor of seeing the Brahmakamalam flower, never forget the experience. At first a limp pinkish bud appears, and for a while nothing happens, then all of a sudden, mirroring the miracle of life, it unravels in white splendor. The outer petals are thin and pointed, revealing within its folds a round petalled mound that uncannily resembles a Shiva Lingam. Over this mound are white stamens tipped with yellow, resembling the hood of a cobra suggesting Adishesha, the hooded serpent associated with Vishnu.

Once a year it spreads elation and joy as it opens its face in the delicate moonlight for humans to admire. It blossoms only once a year, only for three or four hours, after which the petals wilt and fall to the ground. While the plant is in full bloom, its consummate fragrance is unparalleled, defying description, leaving the privileged gasping at its magnificence.

My Writing process #Monday Blogs

I have to begin by thanking my dear friend Feroza Unvala, the creator of all my book covers who introduced me to  her writer and social activist friend, Humaira Ghilzai.  Humaira I appreciate you inviting me to participate on this blog tour which has impelled me to reconnect with my writer friends and continue the blogging process which I thoroughly enjoy.

My writing process

1)     What am I working on? 


The culture that you are brought up with to a large extent defines who you are in the context of modern day living. It grounds you and gives you a sense of identity. Added to this is a passion to give a resonant voice to universal women’s issues. That said, 1930?s Colonial India was the  natural choice for the setting of my first novel, “When the Lotus Blooms,” which was published in 2011, telling the story of two child brides attempting to find identity in a patriarchal society. the novel includes the entire gamut of women’s issues from infertility to a domineering mother-in-law, rape and substance abuse to abortion and widowhood. Rajam and Dharmu, the main protagonists, are my grandmothers, Kandu, my father and Kamu, my mother.

I am currently working on the sequel which I hope to call, “A Rose from a dream.” The book spans a decade from 1942-1952 and brings in issues which I didn’t cover in the first book, including the institution of Devadasis, (organized prostitution) the Independence movement and the World war as it impacted India. Hopefully it should be out by 2014.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?


My book falls under the category of historical fiction. While there are hundreds of books on the British Raj, most have a western viewpoint and none have showcased the span and depth of its culture especially from the viewpoint of its impact on women. More particularly, my books speaks about tradition and culture of the Tamil brahmin community.

What has been much more difficult to do as a writer is to speak out against social injustice in a voice of compassion that does not offend the sensibilities of thousands of brahmin women, whose life is defined by this very tradition. To use the pen to create awareness, conversation and perhaps change. The difficulty was in finding the right balance where I didn’t convert the book into a handbook of Indian culture, yet was able to talk about common practices that define the Brahmin community and change that needs to occur.

Most importantly I exist in every page of the book. Hailing from the culture gave me deep insight into the mindset and attitudes of Tamil brahmin women and I present the social milieu in a non-judgmental, participative manner that resonates with women from all walks of life, every culture and every society. Nothing has really changed. Social relationships, male patriarchy, abuse and subjugation; all these issues plague women even today.

3)     Why do I write what I do?


I write in two genres; spiritual non-fiction and historical fiction. I discovered writing after I learned a special breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya. The breathing practices combined with meditation quieted the mind sufficiently for the latent talent to emerge. My second book was written in gratitude to share the happiness and peace I had miraculously discovered. I had finally chanced on writing and through the written word was able to express my innermost feelings and emotions. My earlier anger with the world, the resultant frustration and stress had just dissipated. The book is called “The Present: a Gift from the Divine: and it has been endorsed by my Master H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as well as H.H. the Dalai Lama. I have heard that nonfiction is more popular but I prefer the comfort of fiction!

My head is filled with untold stories. I see stories in everything from mundane tasks like drinking milk or going swimming to the more dramatic like child molestation.  A small and unimportant task like spreading cow manure on the floor could be converted in a scene of shame and control, to portray the very insecurity and fear that troubled Rajam all her life. It became stimulating to write because I could let my imagination and intuition take over and then watch the drama play out. The journey was much more exhilarating, and I was present right through at every important juncture in the lives of my characters  through my writing. I am not in the career of writing for money; I write because that’s what I love to do. Money and fame are a product of destiny. Self-publishing my book brought closure for a project dear to my heart. I am very happy with the end product, and having a small publisher in India has worked well for me to distribute and sell in the land of my birth. The only promise I strictly honor is to be true to myself and maintain my authenticity by writing on subjects  I am passionate about, and using the pen to affect change and create awareness. I guess I write because I have no choice. It is natural, gratifying and exhilarating.


4)     How does your writing process work?

There is very little planning involved when I write. My writing style is anecdotal and each chapter could stand on its own merit as a short story. I pick a character, take a deep breath and begin typing:  the story simple reveals itself without any special effort on my part. This is when I write fiction. For my nonfiction book I interviewed over a hundred people from five continents, after which I transcribed each interview. Following this, I created a spreadsheet using different headings like anger, lust, delusion, karma and so on. I would read the interview and enter the name under each category. Two years later I had 500 pages transcribed and no idea what to do. Then one day I just sat and began writing. I picked a topic pulled the interviews related to it and put it all together. I wrote for 12-14 hours a day for 2 months. I don’t know if this works for others. Research and information just acts a s a guide when I write. My writing is completely natural and intuitive. It’s as they say; there’s someone sitting on my shoulder telling me what to write next.


Meet my author friends

Keith .B. Darrell

Keith .B. Darrell is a prolific American writer of short stories, novels, nonfiction books, and newspaper and magazine articles. If not for his support and keen critical evaluation of my writing I would not have published my book. Thanks Keith!

Keith B. Darrell was abducted as an infant by evil Fae creatures, who replaced the author in his crib with a changeling doppelganger. By age 24,the changeling known as Keith B. Darrell had earned his A.A. from Broward Community College, his B.S. in Journalism from the University of Florida, his M.B.A.from Emory University, and his J.D. from the Emory University School of Law. He went on to become a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the Florida Bar.

Darrell is a cross-genre writer of speculative fiction, flash fiction, fusion fiction, fantasy, contemporary fantasy, urban fiction, sword & sorcery, science fiction, dystopian fiction, apocalyptic fiction, horror, slice of life, political and sociological fiction, humor, drama, gothic mystery, children’s fiction, young adult fiction and nonfiction. His short stories have appeared in three collections, Shards, Randoms,and Careywood, as well as in Kindle short story format e-books available from the Amazon.com Kindle store.

Website www.keithbdarrell.com .  Twitter @Keith_B_Darrell



Michael Cantwell

Michael Cantwell, CCIM is an author and commercial real estate agent in Florida as well as a published photographer. He was born in Ft. Campbell KY, raised in Trenton, NJ, graduated college at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA. He now resides in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Website:www.ksmmike.com                              Blog:http://ksmmike.blogspot.com/

Twitter @ksmmike


Dr. Shirley Press

In 2001, Dr. Shirley Presswon big in the Florida Lottery. In her book, Dr. Press takes
readers on a tour of her life from a poor girl in Camden, NJ of Holocaust survivor
parents to becoming a doctor and a lottery winner and the lessons learned from her journey.
Written by Shirley Press, MD. Published by Re-Spin Publishing Paperback, 274 pages. Paperback and kindle versions are available at Amazon. ePub versions are available at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. For more information, visit http://www.shirleypress.com.

Twitter@ ShirleyPress

website blog  http://shirleypress.com/blog/ –



Choosing the Right Publishing Option


Uma Parameswaran Endorses When the Lotus Blooms

I contacted Uma Parameswaran a few months ago to ask if she would endorse my book. She is the author of several literary works, both prose and poetry specializing in South Asian culture.This she does in addition to her regular day job at the University of Winnipeg. If you haven’t already, I would recommend “What was always hers,” and “Cycle of the moon.” Despite her busy schedule Uma took the time to review and endorse my book. Here is what she has to say…

Kanchana Krishnan’s novel is an ambitious foray into reconstructing a space and time – the 1930s in Tamilnadu and East Bengal, when social and political changes were transforming the country. The everyday routine and inevitable conflicts within an extended family are scrupulously documented and the reader gets a conducted tour of  the customs and mores of  brahmin culture. The story is about two years in the lives of  Rajam,and Dharmu, their extended families and of servants who work for them.

Kanchana writes with authenticity and empathy about the culture of the era, a time when the middle class was influenced by British education and the national struggle for Independence, and also the weight of traditional beliefs. The number of characters in the novel is daunting but the author weaves them in and out of the narrative, affirming that the family, more than any single character is the protagonist.

—       Uma Parameswaran Author and Professor of English University of Winnipeg