Reading is a carnival of emotionsAuthor Nirmal Kumar Thapa discusses philosophy, poetry and contemporary Nepali literature.
Nirmal Kumar Thapa, the founder of Color Nepal, an NGO dedicated to promoting Nepali art, literature and culture since 2006, has made significant contributions to the global understanding of Nepali heritage. In 2018, he established the Centre for Nepalese Culture, NEPAL Centre International, with branches in several countries—including the UK, India, China, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Portugal and France—focusing on promoting Nepali culture on a global scale. Thapa’s commitment to supporting Nepali fine artists also led to the creation of the art gallery HONEYlogue in 2009.
Thapa is also a prolific author, having penned sixteen books encompassing poetry, stories, novels, self-help and translation. Some of his notable works include ‘Ekanta’ (2022), ‘Ekalap’ (2018), ‘Jay Shree Kubernath’ (2021), ‘COVID 19 Kathaharu’ (2020). His writings have been featured in esteemed publications, including Shangri La Dialogue, Celestial Magazine and Vaahan Magazine (UK), as well as leading Nepali newspapers such as Kantipur, Annapurna Post, Nagarik and Deshsanchar.
Having pursued his literary studies at Tribhuvan University, Thapa now works as a freelance lecturer, teaching philosophy and literature. In this interview with the Post’s Anish Ghimire, he discusses philosophy, poetry and the Nepali literature landscape.
What inspires your love for reading?
Reading is a tranquil pursuit which silently carries a unique auditory charm—the harmony of words and the author’s artistry. In the world of words, I find a profound connection with my inner self. To me, reading is a jubilant affair—a carnival of emotions.
How has diverse reading shaped your perspective as a writer?
Certainly, reading exerts a profound influence, universally shaping the lives of both readers and creators. Recalling my reading choices from school and college, I was particularly drawn to poetry. Over the years, my literary journey guided me towards exploring ancient wisdom and varied philosophies, which brought about a deliberate shift in my perspective.
It’s fascinating how the impact of a book isn’t necessarily proportionate to its volume. I’ve been through hefty volumes that offered only fleeting motivation. Conversely, some books on the thinner side like Gibran’s ‘The Madman’ and Osho’s ‘Notes of a Madman’ left an enduring impression. Their concise words resonated powerfully with me.
You’ve authored a book titled ‘The Book of Philosophy’. Why do you believe philosophy is worth reading?
In the past, philosophy was primarily pursued for knowledge, often staying disconnected from practical life. However, today, it’s crucial for readers to engage with philosophies that can be applied practically. Many self-help books and biographies integrate philosophical principles that can be implemented in our daily lives. By immersing ourselves in these works, we can improve our habits and cultivate a positive perspective on life.
Can you recall a specific book or author that influenced your writing career?
It wouldn’t be fair to single out just one name, as several authors have inspired and shaped my path.
I was deeply moved by the verses of Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota, especially his poem ‘Ful Natipnu Nani Ho…’, and equally captivated by BP Koirala’s stories, which skillfully depicted the intricacies of social affairs, while Shankar Lamichhane’s essays showcased the artistry of words with finesse.
From the philosophical wisdom of Osho, the profound insights of J Krishnamurti and the analytical brilliance of Bertrand Russell to the existential depths explored by Dostoevsky, the romantic lyricism of Lord Byron and the timeless wisdom of Kahlil Gibran—each of these thinkers has played a vital role in shaping my journey as a writer.
You’ve also published poetry collections. Do you think poetry is less popular with readers today?
Poetry is an ancient and timeless form of expression. It has roots in texts like the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads, that employ poetic approaches to convey profound wisdom. In contemporary times, the persona of poetry has evolved, and we can observe poetry all around us. It’s not limited to traditional printed poetry books; it permeates various forms, from songs and pop lyrics to modern verses, devotional bhajans, and even parodies. Poetry manifests itself in diverse ways.
While digital books gain popularity, short forms of poetry find appreciation online. Yet, the enduring beauty of physical books, be it poetry, fiction or nonfiction, should not be overlooked.
Are there specific storytelling elements in other authors’ works that you admire?
I may disagree with some of Bertrand Russell’s points, but I deeply admire how he bridged Western thoughts with Eastern ways of living. His insights into the mind and humanity are invaluable. Russell’s legacy, lived profoundly through his words, will endure.
Similarly, I often read Osho. Although he didn’t write books himself, his transcribed audios, especially ‘A Cup of Tea’, are remarkably beautiful. Osho’s honesty, both in expression and way of living, consistently inspires me. His authenticity encourages me to explore each individual’s uniqueness and appreciate the distinct worlds they inhabit.
What are your thoughts on the current state of Nepali literature?
Nepali literature has undeniably grown, thanks to technological advancements making book production easier. However, amid this expansion, I’ve observed a lack of depth and genuine literary essence in new works.
On the brighter side, our access to global literature allows us to share our ideas with a wider audience. This positive outlook resonates with the modern era of writing.
Nirmal Kumar Thapa’s book recommendations
Author: Kahlil Gibran
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf
This book is a rare gem. Its poetic fables read like a voyage into a world where ordinary people tend to a farm of stars and clouds, creating a realm of enchanting wonder.
The Notes of a Madman
Publisher: Osho Media International
Among Osho’s numerous works, ‘Notes of a Madman’ stands out as a masterpiece, delving into the depths of the heart, mind and soul. This bold book reveals profound wisdom with exceptional eloquence.
Author: Krishna Narayan Singh Thapa
Publisher: Color Nepal
Even though it is penned by a military figure, ‘Samaya Samjhana’ goes beyond military discussions. It explores diplomacy, public concerns, global travels, spiritual reflections and more, making it a diverse and captivating piece.
Commentaries on Living
Author: J Krishnamurti
Publisher: Harper Collins
In ‘Commentaries on Living’, readers can delve into Krishnamurti’s profound philosophical thoughts, spiritual reflections, intricate exploration of the mind, and heartfelt admiration of nature, among other thought-provoking topics.
Gauthali Ko Gund
Author: Shankar Lamichhane
Publication: Pairabi Books
I consider Shankar Lamichhane, a versatile author. In this book, he presents a collection of essays that display his impressive composition skills. Finding a modern voice in his essays is an inspiring experience.