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Gita Mehta Biography

indian india novel jaya

Nationality: Indian. Born: Gita Patnaik in Delhi, India, 1944. Education: Cambridge University. Career: Writer, journalist, and filmmaker. Lives in New York, London, and Delhi.

PUBLICATIONS

Novels

Raj. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1989.

A River Sutra. New York, N. A. Talese, 1993; excerpt included in Happiness and Discontent. Chicago, Great Books Foundation, 1998.

Other

Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1979.

Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of India. New York, N. A. Talese, 1997.

* * *

Gita Mehta is a writer known, perhaps, more for her essays than her novels. She is also a documentary filmmaker and a journalist. These activities all share a focus on India, the country of her birth—its history, politics, and cultures. The same concerns inform her novels: Raj, a historical novel set during the early stages of India's struggle for independence from Britain, and A River Sutra, a modern revisitation of prevalent traditions of Indian aesthetic and philosophical thought.

Mehta has made a number of documentary films about India, covering the Bangladesh war, the Indo-Pakistan war, and the elections in the former Indian princely states. Her essays, as represented by two collections, Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East and Snakes and Ladders: Glimpses of Modern India, muse on things Indian, from politics and social unrest, the endless clash of religions and cultures, spirituality, and the Indian textile industry to Indian literature and film, and so on. The style of the essays is personal and lucid, often bitingly clear and always honest. This same lucid immediacy and intimacy marks A River Sutra. Raj, lacking this intimate voice, is a more distanced work, valuable rather for its meticulous and even-handed grasp of a complex and important period in history.

Raj, Mehta's first novel, begins during the last years of the nineteenth century. The novel's protagonist, Jaya Singh, is the daughter of the Maharaja and Maharani of Balmer, one of the kingdoms of Royal India. Mehta paints Jaya's childhood, the traditions and rituals, political pressures and duties that inform her life, with evocative detail. She deals even-handedly with the political and social issues, conveying the immense pain and demoralizing powerlessness with which the Indian people had to deal, while still managing to portray the British with some objectivity. The novel achieves historical sweep, following Jaya from childhood through adolescence to her betrothal and then through her marriage to a Prince of Royal India who has no interest in Indian women, but who, as a Westernized playboy, prefers European women, airplanes, and polo to the duties of a protector of the people. Mehta uses Jaya as a lens through which to view these turbulent years of India's struggle for independence. She does an admirable job of portraying Jaya's world—a woman with resources and education raised half in and half out of the traditions of purdah and Hindu ritual that reigned unchanging for generations before her. The novel is rich in detail and complexity. But much of the action, like Gandhi's salt march or the violent struggles between Hindus and Muslims, is experienced from a distance, through those to whom Jaya is connected rather than through Jaya herself. The novel has been criticized for a lack of character development and depth. Rather than drawing the reader deeply into the unfolding of history, the evenness and limited scope of Mehta's handling present a somewhat flat aspect, as of great events viewed through the wrong end of a telescope. The novel is most valuable as an account of a lost way of life as it was vanishing within the complex political realities that gave birth, ultimately, to the modern nations of India and Pakistan.

Mehta's second novel, A River Sutra, is a more intimate and deeply focused work. The narrative centers on India's holiest river, the Narmada, in the form of a series of tales, or modified sutras of Indian literature. The tales—of various pilgrims to the river—tap the deep veins of Indian mythology and artistic traditions while also forming a prose meditation on the country's secular-humanist tradition. The character of an unnamed civil servant who has retired from the world to run a government rest house on the river is the thread loosely weaving the stories together—along with the Narmada itself. Mehta's subject matter here is as rich as the tradition she taps. Classical Sanskrit drama, Hindu mythology, and Sufi poetry all find reflection and reiteration in the novel. One recurring motif playing through the book is that of the raga of Indian classical music. Another is that of Kama, god of love, and the passions and mysteries of the human heart. For all its substance of ancient Indian tradition and thought, A River Sutra is a modern work that acknowledges the difficulties facing modern India at the same time as it takes the reader on a skillfully realized journey into a resonant culture.

Mehta occupies a unique position as a writer who elucidates uniquely Indian experience in a clear and intelligent voice. She relates a rich and ongoing history—its nuance, complexity, and contradiction—opening doors and windows into Indian life in ways few other writers do. While her first novel may be seen as thinly characterized and lacking in depth, the balance of her work, including her second novel, constitutes a unique and valuable contribution to the literature of the world.

Jessica Reisman

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almost 7 years ago

I am writing this to let Gita Mehta know how useful her KARMA COLA was to me as I wrote THE LANGUAGE OF ZEN: HEART SPEAKING TO HEART.
In the footnote to a quote from CC, I suggest to my readership that reading CC would provide an excellent introduction to reading my book.

What is more,her splendid A RIVER SUTRA reveals Ego with a clarity that any Zen practitioner can only marvel at. Holy Ganges is a perfect morph for Zen Buddhism's Shinnyo, its living Source of all things.

Gasshou, Richard Burnett Carter

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almost 5 years ago

I agree that Geeta Mehta is an exceptionally gifted writer. I am proud that she is from my state( odisha , India). Even though she is a writer and spends most of her time outside India , she is committed to the development of Odisha. Recently , she is helping her brother , the CM of Odisha in establishing a corrupt -free society.

So she is a social thinker as well as a writer. We are all proud of her!
Lalit
Odisha
Bhubaneswar

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almost 6 years ago

hi, gita and i used to be penfriends in the good old days when we were teenagers. i am now a grandmother,settled in perth and just found out dear gita is an author, so managed to get her book the river sutra.more when i have completed reading.

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about 6 years ago

I am an Assistant Professor of English. I am pursuing my Ph D on the works of Gita Mehta. For authentification I need to contact Gita Mehta.
Help me if you can. I need to talk to her to complete my thesis. This is deadly required.

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over 1 year ago

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over 1 year ago

Respected Madam,
I have put under 506IPC by my neighbor goonda with the help four police officer since 2002.I have written to Honorable chief minister,Home secy on 2002.Everything can not be solved by Sj Naveen patanaik.If you will give me time but after 15th December as I have been invited in 4th international conference on Obesity & Diabetes:-2015 as Guest,Keynote Speaker,Chair Person,Judge in poster presentation.I HAVE BEEN AWARDED BY "SIR RATAN TATA SCHOLARSHIP ON EFFECT OF TRUTH,NON-VIOLENCE,EGO LESS LIFE IN DIABETES AND CAD"
Regards
DR PREMANIDHI PANDA,M.D(MED),MRCP,FRCP IN DIABETES MEDICINE

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over 1 year ago

Respected Madam,
I am national & International well named and famed Diabetologist.In about 4 International World Diabetes conference i have Invited as Guest,Keynote Speaker,Chair Person.
Regards
DR PREMANIDHI PANDA,M.D(MED),MRCP,FRCP IN DIABETES
WEB:-drpandadiabetes.com

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over 1 year ago

Respected Madam,
I am one of the reputed Diabetologist in India & Abroad.
Regards
Dr Premanidhi Panda,M.D(MED),MRCP,FRCP IN DIABETES
WEB:-drpandadiabetes.com
09437002621(M)

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over 1 year ago

Respected Madam,
I am an international figure in the field of Diabetes medicine.I am guest,chairperson ,keynote speaker and going to attend as poster presentation judge in Atlanta,USA in 7th to 9th December 2015.i want to discuss certain things.I have been awarded research on "effect of truth,Nonviolence and ego less life in diabetes and CAD.
With regards
DR PREMANIDHI PANDA,M.D(MED),HON PHD IN DIABETES(USA),MRCP,FRCP IN DIABETES
WEB:-drpandadiabetes.com

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over 1 year ago


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over 1 year ago

Revered madam I am Raghunath Padhy of Jeypore,Koraput,Odisha a disciplined BJD party worker wanting to enlighten your good self the problems afflicting our Jeypore Assembly constituency after 2014 election.kindly allow me.

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over 2 years ago

Respected Madam,
My self working as a NGO Library secretary,Named (Institute of Youth and Womne welfare(IYWW)Balipatana,Dist.Khordha,
ODISHA State,India,We are very interest to collecyt Your Books ,Your Husband Books (sony Metha)and also books written by your Brother CM of OdishaMr Naveen Pattanik.
2,we hope your will sure consider our request and send /donate one copy of each publication for our library collection, your donation and gifts of books will be great history for library collection,
hope you will consider our request for development of library.
Siba Pr.Pattojoshi,Secretary,IYWW ,
LIBRARY,AT/POST-BALIPATANA,DIST,KHORDHA,ODISHA,
PIN-752102, Tel 9439621646

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over 4 years ago

Hi....
can i get email id of gita mehta?
bcoz i want to research on her plz...

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over 4 years ago

dear madam



I am very happy to know that you mam is taking interest for a better govt in orissa. I am a lawyer at jharsuguda odisha. Jharsuguda is the only distrist in odisha where BJD performance is poor. I have tried to suggest some tips to the sr leader of BJD through mail but none of the leader responding. I hope you mam will atleast respond me.

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over 5 years ago

hi,mam can you have chat with me,if there is any possibility,i badly need it,to complete my ph.d.