The Light of Asia is an epic poem by Sir Edwin Arnold that was first published in 1879. It is a narrative of the life and message of the Buddha. It quickly became a huge sensation and has continued to resonate powerfully across the world over the last century and a half. The poem captivated an Indian monk who remains an iconic personality—Swami Vivekananda.
Around the same time, it deeply moved a young man in Colombo who has become famous in history as Anagarika Dharmapala. It also caught the attention of an aspiring Indian lawyer in London in 1889. This man later became immortal as Mahatma Gandhi. A few years later it impacted a teenager in Allahabad who would, in 1947, become the first prime minister of India— Jawaharlal Nehru. Two copies of the book adorned the bookshelves of B.R. Ambedkar, the prime architect of the Indian Constitution.
Weaving together literary, cultural, political and social history, Jairam Ramesh will uncover and narrate the fascinating story of this deeply consequential and compelling poem that has shaped our thinking of an ancient sage and his teachings.
Jairam Ramesh is presently a Member of Parliament and a former Union Minister having held several portfolios between 2006 and 2014 including Environment and Forests. He is Chairman of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change and is the author of several well-known books.
M R Vikram is a Chartered Accountant and partner of M Anandam & Co. He is a Founder Trustee of Manthan. He is also Secretary Trustee of M V Foundation, a leading NGO which mobilised more than a million children to schools.