Former US President Barack Obama, who had never been to India before his presidential visit in 2010, said that he has always held a special place for the country due to the Hindu epics -- Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Obama said that he had never been to India before his Presidential visit in 2010, but the country had "always held a special place in my imagination" and that he spent his childhood years in Indonesia listening to the tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Obama, on his fascination of India in his latest book 'A Promised Land', writes, "Maybe it was its (India's) sheer size, with one-sixth of the world's population, an estimated two thousand distinct ethnic groups, and more than seven hundred languages spoken".
"A Promised Land" is the first of two planned volumes. The first part hit bookstores globally on Tuesday.
"Maybe it was because I'd spent a part of my childhood in Indonesia listening to the epic Hindu tales of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, or because of my interest in Eastern religions, or because of a group of Pakistani and Indian college friends who'd taught me to cook dahl and keema and turned me on to Bollywood movies," he added.
India also holds a special place in Obama's heart due to Mahatma Gandhi, who employed non-violent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India's independence from British rule, and became a beacon for other dispossessed, marginalised groups for civil rights and freedom across the world.
In his book 'A Promised Land', Obama gives an account of his journey from the 2008's election campaign to the end of his first term with the daring Abbottabad (Pakistan) raid that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.
(With agency inputs)