Philosopher Raghavan N Iyer, who had befriended the Dalai Lama soon after the latter arrived in India, published a book The Glass Curtain in the 1960s about the spiritual and social distance between Asia and Europe.
Its foreword was written by the Dalai Lama, who had fled the Chinese occupation of Tibet and set up base in India as the spiritual and temporal leader of the exiled Tibetans. 'The book was dedicated,' writes Raghavan Iyer's son Pico Iyer in his new book The Open Door 'to a little boy called Pico and to those of his generation for whom there will be no curtain.'
In his masterly look at one of the towering religious figures of our time, Pico Iyer, best known for books like Falling off the Map, discusses a world where there are too many curtains, and how these curtains do not destroy the pragmatic hope the Dalai Lama has for a better world -- and a better deal for the Tibetans, even under Chinese rule.
The Open Door is Pico Iyer's effort to investigate a complex yet charming man; the secondary title of the book, The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, indicates the breadth of the book.
Iyer, who has known the Dalai Lama for decades, confesses in his book that he has been 'intrigued by the quiet revolution he was promulgating, challenging us to see politics, globalism, celebrity itself, in a larger and more spacious light.'
The writer discussed his new book with Rediff India Abroad Managing Editor (Features) Arthur J Pais in New York recently.
Photograph: Paresh Gandhi
Also read: Why can't India speak out?'