Jaipur Literature Festival begins with call for freedom of expression as Dalai Lama steals limelight

Salman Rushdie

"People have been evicted from forests... Where will they go? There are Naxalites whose crime is they dare to dream. Why should they not be allowed to dream? There can be only one acceptable way and that is humanness. We have to accept each other's right to be human with dignity," she said.

The Bengali author, reflected on her long and illustrious life and writing career in a speech laced with references to the rich world of ideas she has imbibed from the tribal and rural cultures that have been the subject of her work.

The event that has been described by many as Maha-kumbh for book lovers was given a new metaphor by festival co-director Namita Gokhale when she compared JLF to a "Banyan" tree which keeps on spreading.

The festival last year hosted around 1,20,000 visitors and is expected to draw huge crowds this year as well.

"We have a world beating team of authors here. The registration have already doubled this year and we expect huge crowds especially at the weekend," said festival co-director William Dalrymple. Organisers have lined up nearly 275 authors for the event.

Dalai Lama steals limelight at JLF

Stealing the limelight at the Jaipur Literature Festival the Dalai Lama today spoke about India's immense contribution to learning since ancient days beginning with the Nalanda University, in his talk on the Buddha's influence on the literary world.

The spiritual leader who spoke for the first time at the event since its inception in 2005, said, "India is our guru and the source of all the knowledge we have has come from Nalanda."

Kicking off a series of sessions that would speak about the influence of Buddhism on philosophy and literature for the next 5 days, the Dalai Lama praised India calling it a "living example of how different religions and communities can live in coexistence".

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