1927 | 11,233,916 words
Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....
[We shall be glad to review books in all Indian languages and in English, French and German. Books for Review should reach the office at least SIX WEEKS in advance of the day of publication of the Journal]
Catalogue of South Indian Hindu Metal Images in the Madras Government Museum by F. H: Gravely, D. Sc., and T. N. Ramachandran, M. A., Government Museum, Madras, Bulletin of the Madras Government Museum, New Series, General Section, Vol. I, Pt., 2, 1932, Pp. 142, 23 Plates. Rs. 5-8as.
The latest Bulletin of the Madras Government Museum will be welcomed by all lovers of South Indian bronzes. Dr. Gravely is the Superintendent of the Government Museum at Madras and, as Dr. Annandale once modestly admitted when writing a preface to an archeological catalogue of the Indian Museum, by "an accident of a kind common in India" though himself not an archeologist he has found himself in official charge of a great archeological collection. He is an eminent zoologist, who is widely known for his numerous valuable scientific papers. His name on the title-page shows the keen interest that he takes in the bronzes in the Museum. Mr. T. N. Ramachandran, whose name appears under Dr. Gravely's as joint author, is the author of a number of archeological papers and has recently made a reputation for himself for scholarly work with an excellent monograph on the Stupa at Goli. The work under review is thus a happy combination of scientific method with archeological research.
A really useful catalogue of the fine collection of South Indian bronzes in the Madras Museum has long been a desideratum and the present publication is a model which other museums in India would do well to follow. It is greatly to be regretted that in India museums are so -ward in publishing catalogues of their collections. Thus Anderson's catalogue of the archeological collections in the Indian Museum appeared as far as 1883 and the small supplementary catalogue by Bloch was published nearly twenty years ago, and both are now completely out of date and no catalogue has been forthcoming to take their place. Dr. Gravely deserves the thanks of all for the excellent work he is doing in publishing from time to time catalogues of important collections in his charge; we trust he will follow up the present work by an equally comprehensive and adequately illustrated catalogue of the splendid collection from Amaravati in the Madras Museum.
The aim of the authors, as stated in the introductory portion, was to bring to public notice "the whole contents of the collection rather than at exhaustive treatment of any of the specimens." A summary of previous work on metal images in South India and Ceylon is given though so sound is the treatment of the whole subject in the present work that the previous books and many of the papers have now little more than an antiquariam interest. We have next a brief but useful and critical analysis of the iconography of the images, and such subjects as the various madras, dress and ornaments are discussed. In the resume of previous literature we miss Coomaraswamy's paper on some metal images in the Burlington Magazine and his Dance of Siva published in 1918 in his book of the same name; likewise Gopinath Rao's Hindu Iconography, although a referred to in other places, should have been mentioned here as it contains a large number of reproductions of and notes on South Indian metal images. We note that Krishna Sastri's book is mentioned. We now come to the most important part of the introduction, namely the section dealing with the archeology of the images. The difficult subject of dating and the evidence furnished by certain characteristics of treatment of attributes and dress are very carefully examined and the discussion which takes up twenty-three pages will be studied with considerable interest by all serious students of Indian archeology. This portion is especially gratifying to the reviewer who has independently stressed the importance of dress and ornament as evidence of date in a paper on some early Chola bronzes specially written for Eastern Art so long ago as August, 1931, but sent too late for publication in the volume for that year. The conclusions arrived at by the authors are next considered in relation to the Hindu metal images found in Polonnaruwa in Ceylon. This is succeeded by an exhaustive list of the images classified according to their find-spots, for nearly all the images in the Museum have been acquired as treasure-trove. The authors are not content to deal merely with the archeology of the images: we have valuable notes on points of special interest concerning the style of the images found in different localities. The catalogue proper of the images, which occupies nearly eighty pages of this handsome quarto, is very ably and painstakingly done. It gives short and succinct descriptions of all the Hindu metal images from South India acquired up to March, 1931. The care which has been devoted to this part of the work, is admirable. Some small errors have, however, escaped detection. Thus on page 64, "Vishnu (Pl. ii, fig. 3)" is a mistake for "Vishnu (Pl. ii. fig. 2)", fig. 3 being a figure of Varadaraja. An index completes the work. The number of illustrations is large. The reproductions are on the whole satisfactory, though some of the blocks might have been better printed. This splendid volume is offered for sale at Rs. 5-8 as. only. This valuable work is sure to be appreciated outside India; in this country, it is to be hoped, it will succeed in rousing more than a passing interest in these wonderful works of art of India's past.
Poems.–ByHumayun Kabir. (Puhlished by Basil Blackwell, Oxford. Price 3s. 6d. net.)
"Your wounded heart swells within your breast:
Madly you rush out in quest of new ways of life.
The waters are churned grey in your frenzy wild,
Seething with rage in devil's dance you beat
At dusk and dawn upon the banks that crack
And faint into your flow with long lamenting moans."
Here you find no delicate fingering of music's mellow box; the accent in the chant is unmistakable, it is that of a voice in which nature and passion mingle with a rush and a roar. It is this descriptive force shown by Mr. Kabir in the opening poem, "The Padma", that he sustains throughout his verses, unrelaxed in tension, and enriched with a choice and intense vocabulary. The following imagery, "The Sea", with its complex arrangement of stressed and unstressed long and short syllables, with its astonishing concatenation of vowel sounds, is turbulent:
"Wan and bloodless rose the moon
And through its gauze veil of clouds it looked
On the infinite seas. A line of movement long
Stretched to the horizon, the waters rise
In uneven waves that meet the circle of the sky,
Tossing, leaping and circling in wild career
With long low moans of deep suffering
The sea throws itself in vast abandon on the shore,
Time and again he beats his head upon the sands,
While from the depths of his heart the wordless pain
Urges forward in yearning that seeks in vain
To fling out in trumpet tones what it wants to say.
The throttled sorrow seething in his breast
Twists up in wild discontent in waves
That swing and swell and rise and fall-behind
The misty curtain where perilous magic rules
Strange flames in the moving waters gleam,
Unbodied dreams of the ocean, they are dashed
Upon the sands before fulfillment comes.
With his own heart toys the cruel sea,
Scatters around his treasures in callous sport:
A reckless spendthrift who keeps no count of cost."
Mr. Kabir has the imagination of Tagore, but not the fugitiveness of his imagery; while sharing with Tagore the same moods in the numerous sea, river, night, and twilight studies he is never vague or mystical like the older poet. He maintains the persistent clearness and loftiness of his themes; and where his imagery is enshrined in sentiment–thoughts of love
and recollections of childhood as in "Comrade," "The Quest," "Twilight," and "Parting"–he is particularly happy. "Poetry", says Coleridge, "is the blossom and the fragrancy of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotion, knowledge." Mr. Kabir catches the visions of life in an exquisite web of awareness; he, however, lacks the power to create, to utter something suddenly, absolutely in a moment of high imaginative tension. This is due to the even introspective cast of his mind that cannot ignite, that cannot detonate. His poetry, as seen from the present volume, is the rhythmic expression of a conflict followed by a yearning for calm.
"Doubts" expresses the struggle:
"I do not know why I was born, but know
I never begged for birth.
My heart is weary with effort to understand,
To know the meaning of it all. But this I feel
That whether I understand or not, I must go on
Seeking through the eternal darkness in quest of light
That flame may nowhere shine: I do not know,
But only hear in the darkness the sound of tears.
The want, the poverty, the pangs of horror raw,
Cruelty and injustice, and the futile rage of slaves.
Upon this heaped-up evil we yet want to base
The heaven of our dreams. Through weary night and day
Its hope sustains our hearts: But will it ever come?
Will our sun ever shine upon the earth and night be gone?"
And "Faith" brings in serenity:
"She believed, she said, and there was nothing more to say,
And all my eager questionings over life and death
Seemed on the sea-shore of Time like mere children's play,
–I drew in my breath,
"I thought perhaps Revolt carried itself too far,
That Heresy could never find a gospel of its own,
Our quest of Truth is waste of soul, but peace for her
Lay in faith alone."
While one set of poems is thus heavy with meditative moods, there is the other set which has in excelsis the quality of a dream. Such are "After Death," "Jahau Ara," "Taj Mahal," "The Flower and the Sea," "Birth of Venus" and "Attic Marble." Here where melancholy falls like dew-drops on a tropical night, melody falls as soft; words like pearls on a silken string linger in the fringe of our memory, and their clear dewy glow hushes us.
Mr. Kabir writes in his preface to Poem: "A foreigner's uncertainty about English sounds and lack of skill in the technique of English verse made it impossible to preserve the verse movements of the originals, but these translations–sometimes in prose, sometimes in halting verse–are the best that I could do." We don't want Mr. Kabir to be metrical and thereby choky in his utterance. He holds the rugged as well as the marmoreal beauty of the world; he has a crowd of words and images clamouring to be let loose; with his sincerity and sense of rhythm his Bengali poems as they are in English are both refreshing and something of a tour de force. Mr. Kabir is a poet from whom we have the right to expect in the coming years things of beauty and greatness that will endure.
MANJERI S. ISVARAN
Jainism in North India. –(800 B. C.–A. D. 526): By Chimanlal J. Shah, M. A. With a foreword by the Rev. H. Heras, S. J., Director, Indian Historical Research Institute, St. Xavier's College, Bombay–Longmans Green & Co. 1932. Pages xxiv, and 292. Price £ 2-2s. net.
The reviewer derives peculiar pleasure in noticing this work which contains much of the best work done on Northern Jainism and carries the reader through pages of instructive discussions of each separate question, which invariably leaves the impression in his mind that the work is as much readable as it is reliable. The author, Mr. Shah has presented to us the story of Jainism in a manner that does credit for his wide learning, and patient research. We agree with the Rev. Heras that "his work will undoubtedly be of great credit to his alma mater"–the Indian Historical Research Institute, Bombay.
Though at first sight the work may appear to be almost a chain of quotations from other works on the subject, though of course relevantly linked up with the points under discussion by cogent and copious comments of the author, in reality it is not so. We have had the pleasure of reading the work thoroughly, when only the originality of the author is revealed. In fact the thesis of the author has the supreme advantage of being the result of intensive study of material and data and of bibliography which is full and up-to-date.
A brief sketch of Jainism before Mahavira (Chapter I) in which the historicity of Parsvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara, is stressed, is followed by an illuminating account of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, and his, times (Ch.II). This chapter is divided into 4 sections, wherein besides an account of the life of Mahavira, questions of absorbing intrest, such as the origin of the world according to Jainism, the ‘three jewels’ (ratnatraya) leading to moksha, the Tirthankaras or the world-teachers. The ideal of ahimsa for which Jainism is noted, the doctrine of syadvada, the Jaina church and its schisms, the Svetambara and Digambara sects, nudity–is it an indispensable factor of holiness or arhata, the great council at Vallabhi and its accomplishments, and the circumstances that enabled Jainism to be still a living sect, are discussed. Chapter III, which is divided into 2 sections, deals with Jainism in royal families (800-200 B.C.) in general and the aristocratic origin and connections of the religion of Mahavira in particular. The much-discussed Hathigumpha inscription of the Kalinga Kharavela whose patronage of the Jaina faith is stressed, forms the subject-matter of Chapter IV, entitled "Jainism in Kalinga-desa." Chapter V deals with the Mathura inscriptions which tend to corroborate what the cycle of Vikramaditya legends bespeak concerning the place of Jainism in Western India. In Chapter VI, a short but important chapter to be sure, the author discusses at length the evidence, though unfortunately meagre, available on Jainism during the Gupta period, and narrates the circumstances that led to the great council at Vallabhi where the Jaina canon was fixed. Chapter VII deals with Jaina literature of the north; and Chapter VIII, the last chapter, with Jaina art of the north. It is indeed in these two final chapters that the originality of the author becomes self-revealed. It is clear that he has attempted to steer clear of the "rocks of Jaina technicalities" while presenting the story of the Jaina religion. We cannot help remarking, however, that the author, being a Jaina himself, has not always succeeded in taking it detached view of the evidence before him.
The author deserves our congratulations both for the excellence of his work and the fine get-up. The letter-press is indeed a credit to its publishers and the pictures are of a high order.
T. N. RAMACHANDRAN
Water-Colours.-By Kanu Desai.
‘The March to Dandi’ and ‘C-Class Prisoner’ were two pictures by Mr. Kanu Desai which attracted a loud attention when exhibited in Madras a year or two ago. One could see from these two pictures how young imaginative artists wonderfully react to the environing atmosphere. Now this youthful, but able artist has brought out a choice collection of his pictures into an album, beautifully printed and got-up. Every one of the reproductions speaks for itself, and displays fine imagination and sense of colour. The pose of every figure is unaffected and happily shows how the artist has thoroughly identified himself with his subjects. Mr. Kanu Desai is quite young. And the country can expect much from his brush in the coming years. Mr. Desai will be doing a great service to the country and its future if he will bring forth more pictures of the type of ‘Dandi March’ and ‘C-Class Prisoner.’ The present album should be in the hands of every picture-lover. Mr. Desai is really lucky in having secured Mr. N. C. Mehta, I. C. S., the well-known author of Studies of Indian Painting, to write a foreword.
M. S. SUNDARA SARMA
Kaye Raste.-By Chimanlal Jechand Shah, M. A. (Published by the Prasthan Office, Ahmedabad. Paper cover. Pp. 103. Illustrated.) Price Re. 1-8 as.
As the author of that scholastic work, Jainism in North India, Mr. Shah has established his claim to be a writer in the field of serious literature. But that this curious branch of literature alone does not monopolise his energy and his powers of observation can be seen from this work which consists of eight short stories, all relating to the problems of our domestic life. Widowhood, remarriage, spinsterhood, and other like questions are taken up here and treated in the form of short stories, which are as suggestive as they are interesting and graphic. Kaye Raste means "which way," and is meant as a query, as the writer wants to know which way our society is going. The pictures are expressive also.
K. M. JHAVERI
Mandodari.–By C. K. Venkataramayya, M.A., LL.B., Bangalore, Price Re. 1-8as.
Rama and Sita are perhaps the most commonly found names in India. But no one has taken a fancy to call one's son Ravana, or daughter, Mandodari. Mr. C. K. Venkataramayya has wrought an innovation in giving this name to the creation of his literary art. Though there is a Sanskrit saying that the mere daily chant of Mandodari's name washes off the worst sin, for most of us, she is nothing before Sita. This may be due to her espousing Ravana, the kidnapper of Sita. What if he is a kidnapper? There is an excuse for him whether it be according to Puranic tradition or according to our conception, that is, Shakespearean conception of a tragic hero. If it be the first, he is a victim to the curse of the rishis to whom he refused entrance into Vaikunta. If it be the second, we ought to pity him for the single flaw which brings about his downfall; and our admiration must flow unstinted for the nobler traits in him. To Mr. C. K. Venkataramayya must be given the credit of creating in this drama a wider circle of sympathisers to Ravana, a much-despised character of the Puranas. Mandodari is an ideal Hindu wife who evokes admiration even from Sita. More than this, she is a kind sister to the other women, a benevolent queen concerned ever about her subjects’ prosperity, and a heroic mother. In the face of these wonderful aspects of her character, the other aspects do not catch the reader's attention. There is a logical sequence from scene to scene, and the unity of time is carefully kept up. Every scene has suggestive stage directions which lend an atmosphere of grandeur to the entire play, leaving in us towards the end a feeling of something great, something stupendous having fallen,–the fall of the mighty Ravana. But more poignant is our feeling at the fate of Mandodari, who, in the words of Vibhishana, "lives though dead." We experience a purifying of the emotions after reading through the play. The dialogue of the play is dynamic, its humour refined, and its philosophy beautifully revealing. The author would have done well to give a list of the dramatis personae. On the whole Mandodari is a play of which the Kannadigas may well be proud.
This is an adaptation of Moliere's Tartuffe. In bringing master-pieces of foreign literature, should we translate or adapt is a mootable point. If a verbatim translation, it may look outlandish; if an adaptation with suitable alterations to give local colouring, it may not be a faithful representation of the original. Of course to follow the original as closely as possible is a happy mean. But this is an art in itself with but few exponents. Mr. Murthi Rao's adaptation has certain elements which make it ‘not quite true to life.’ The plot spins itself around Sankarappa, a middle-class land-lord of Mysore with an old widowed mother, a young second wife, a son, and two daughters, one married, all of them of the first wife. Besides these the present wife's brother and another orphan boy–a suitor to the unmarried daughter–complete the household. Subba Shastri, the villain of the play and his chela enter the household as permanent guests and play upon the credulity of Sankarappa and his conservative mother. Before long truth is discovered by the youngsters who want to see Subba Shastri out. But Sankarappa has come to admire his philosopher-friend so much that he even disowns his son. However in the end, Subba Shastri's villainies come to light, and he gets his due.
In his admiration for Subba Shastri, Sankarappa even proposes his second daughter to Shastri much against the wishes of the other members of the household. There is an excited conversation between the elder daughter and the father on this point. The daughter's talk in this situation is strained and uncommon in life. So also the talk between the second daughter and her would-be husband, the orphan boy. It is doubtful if any young girl of marriageable age in a Brahmin family talk to her prospective husband, and that in such ‘tickling’ words. Granting it common, why should such a talkative hussy be silent when her father proposes her to Subba Shastri, the object of general hatred in the house? This may be the result of attempting to discover in present-day Karnataka social life elements similar to those of Moliere's France. The author has given nice stage directions, but has forgotten completely the element of Time. The punctuation may be done better. The shortcomings will not be so conspicuous on the stage. They are the result, perhaps, of a foreign poet being adjusted to local life.
A. N. V.