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PM releases one millionth book of Ramayana
By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, Dec. 19.

The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee released the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's one millionth copy each of the two epics, Ramayana and Mahabharatha, authored by late C. Rajagopalachari, here today.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister quoted the speech of Rajaji about books published by the Bhavan, which said "the Bhavan's books and periodicals devoid of sex, smut, sensationalism, crime and gossip, are selling so well is proof positive that the soul of India is still sound".

He said if these words were relevant then, in today's context it had increased manifold because in comparison to good books, cheap thrillers were being published in large numbers. So in that context if books of Ramayana and Mahabharatha of Rajaji were still being sold, it was really a hopeful sign, he added.

The Prime Minister lamented that nowadays the habit of reading was receding among children, who were more interested in spending time in watching television and as a result there was less time for reading books.

He said the serial of the two epics was popular on television, yet the message got from the epics could be experienced only by reading the same or hearing the narration by one's grandmother.

The former President of India, Mr. R. Venkataraman, who is also the President of the Bhavan, who presided over the function, said the two epics had captured the imagination of the people of not only India but many parts of the world. He said "they are universal in character and they deal with human nature regardless of region, religion, creed, colour or clime".

Mr. Venkataraman said the first edition of Ramayana and Mahabharatha was published in 1951. Since then Ramayana had run 34 editions and Mahabharatha 40 editions both crossing the one million mark of copies.

He said the two epics serve as a link between the people of our national. He said Rajaji had emphasised this aspect stating "let us keep ever in our minds the fact that it is Ramayana and Mahabharatha that bind our vast members together as one people despite caste, space and language that seemingly divide them".

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