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Ved Prakash Vatuk feels his recent Jaishankar Prasad Award was well deserved. If anything, friends of Vatuk believe that his book of poems, Bahubali, hasn’t been recognized enough. Vatuk, who has been writing poetry since he was in fifth grade, has published 222 volumes of poetry. He is a Berkeley resident, folklorist, and renowned Hindi poet. The award, which is conferred by the Uttar Pradesh government’s Hindi Sansthan, recognizes the best epic of the year. It carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs. 25,000. The award ceremony will be held on Hindi Diwas, Sept. 14, 2006. It took Vatuk a month to write the poem, but the thought process started long before. “Bahubali as a character in our mythology inspired me when I read about it … a man who does not want to go to war … a man of peace who thinks that liberation of everyone will be his own effort,” says Vatuk. “I pondered for years about the question of war and peace and read a lot before I started writing.” What does Vatuk hope to convey through his poetry? “My message is simple,” he says. “It is against expansionism and war, against exploitation, and for peace. Peace in the atomic age is not a luxury but a necessity.” It’s an urgent message in today’s state of turmoil.