Triveni Journal

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....


Jatadharan and other Stories.–By K. S. Venkataramani (The Svetaranya Ashrama, Mylapore, Madras. Price Rs. 1-8.)

"These are sketches rather than stories.." begins the author himself in describing them in his Preface to the book. But none of Venkataramani’s many admirers can help echoing Mr. N. Raghunathan’s pertinent remark in his Foreword, "But what does the name matter?"

If the South Indian village and the incidents of early youth have a perennial fascination for any one, it is for Venkataramani. The vivid pen-pictures of village life in his earlier works have again come before us in all their unfailing beauty. We even come across the Ramus and the Janakis, the Kedaris and the Kokilams, the Sundarams and the Saraswatis, not to speak of the same old "eddy-eyed, love-dimpled" Cauveri and the Akkurs and Alavantis of the Tamil-land. There is no knowing when the author will tire of his pet themes, or we of him. On the other hand, despite his very limited range of topics, his hold on our sympathy and imagination shows no slackening. For, there is in him, what we generally despair of finding in many of our present day writers, the creative instinct of a true artist.

‘Jatadharan, the Pial Teacher’ deserves in every respect the place of honour in this collection of nine stories. All the wealth of comment and detail which Venkataramani’s gifted pen alone could revel in, have been lavished on introducing Jatadharan to the readers. But there is a sadness tinged with a sense of humour and affection running through the story of Jatadharan, which makes us forget even the author’s partiality for astrology, the ‘Science of Sciences.’ If no newspapers had chronicled his death and no tears had followed him to his grave, we would still cherish Jatadharan. If Jatadharan himself deplores that his honest and hard labour has not produced another like him, we shall have to share the grief with the feeling that Venkataramani also has not produced another like him.

‘Jatadharan’s Marriage’ gratifies our curiosity to know why he remained single and alone in life. We can never forget the sad words of Jatadharan to his inconsolable mother: "Marriage for me, Mother, would but break two souls–an earthen pot that floats down the river of life best reaches the sea unblest by the touch of another." We feel the lump in our throats.

‘In Quest of Power’ reminds us forcibly of the snatches of reverie that ‘The Sand Dunes’ on the Cauveri evoked from the author years . Save for the introduction of Irulesa, who seems a variant only in name of one of Venkataramani’s valiant band of Indian beggars, the entire composition is lyrical, reminiscent of his musings of old. Take, for instance, his words on seeing the street urchins: "But, alas, that innocent childhood was no more mine. I stood a stranger in the wonder-land of the young. They moved on happy, in quest of nothing, leaving me alone in a corner of the street, even as the sea would wash ashore a broken ship as alien to its fluid mirth."

‘Collision’ is the delightful chapter plucked from ‘Kandan, the Patriot.’ It has lost nothing of its freshness by its separation from the stem. But the conclusion newly engrafted on it strikes us as quite out of place and inapt.

Destiny’ bears a closer resemblance to the group of essays in the ‘Paper Boats’ that has made the author widely known. The story is so simple and written with utter disregard for situations tending towards a crisis–so very essential to make a short story live. But look at the beginning: "Muthu is a pearl of a boy. He is a freak of nature–not a cripple, not a genius, but a born philanthropist and a public worker. Muthu is like a flower in the crannied wall, a pearl in the oyster, a pure spring amidst clefts of rock. Muthu is the cleansing agent of his generation–on his martyrdom rests the redemption of the race. He is one among a million." Such a description brings to our minds another kindred nature in ‘My Little Arunalam.’

‘Indumati’ fairly endowed as it is with all the lineaments of a story, fails yet to impress the reader for lack of adequate material to sustain his interest. Otherwise too, it betrays the marks of immature writing.

‘The Bride Waits’ has in it more of the makings of a short story. Though the theme is common, dealing as it does with the domestic worries of a father in search of a son-in-law, the art of Venkataramani makes it memorable.

‘A Fractured Arm’ breathes more of a didactic tale, where a husband unsympathetic and unkind at home and cruel as a school-master outside, becomes converted into a loving spouse and a doting parent swearing to his wife "never, never" to "touch the cane or use a harsh word to the boys in school"–all due to a terrible motor accident that caused youth, love and sincerity to return as if by magic to the erstwhile heedless misanthrope.

‘Illumination’ begins well, though it ends badly. The life of a struggling lawyer is related to us with the intimacy born of knowledge of the profession, an earlier glimpse of which we have had in the life of Kedari in ‘Murugan, the Tiller.’ The spiritual significance sought by Sundaram in his wife’s inspired talk, hardly makes it the moment for concluding the story all on a sudden.

These sketches or stories, by whatever name they are called, may be deemed more as gleanings from Venkataramani; for, nearly two decades stand in between his ‘Indumati’ written about 1915 and his ‘Illumination’ born in the early months of this year. Mr. Raghunathan’s Foreword contains all the necessary hints for a good appreciation of the book. If the reader is too often bored by the appearance of the pial teacher, Venkataramani himself apologises for it and disarms criticism by his frank avowal that he cannot offer any explanation. Nor can we shut our eyes to some of the other defects in Venkataramani which again Mr. Raghunathan has not failed to touch upon. "A certain lack of invention–the pial school is depicted, with fine disregard for aptitudes, as the salvation of the most diverse types of men, and star-lore casts its mystifying shade over most of these tales–a strange indifference to construction, a too easy resolution of difficulties by the intervention of a convenient god-in-the-machine, a devotion to the cult of universal benevolence, which does credit to the humanitarian rather than the artist in Venkataramani–these are flaws which may be more legitimately pointed out in these sketches, some of which are not short stories at all in any strict sense." Though there may be criticisms of Venkataramani, few can escape the rare charm of his style or the wide sympathy of his outlook, which often seek an outlet in the form of his enjoyable similes, the like of which it is difficult elsewhere to get. If at all we wish for anything more from him, it is variation of mood and the creation of fresh types of character.


A Mother’s Sacrifice.–A play in three Acts. By A. S. Panchapakesa Ayyar, M. A., I. C. S., F. R. S. I., (P.R. Rama Iyer & Co., Ltd., Madras.)

Mr. A. S. P. Ayyar is a prolific writer, and his latest book wherein a well-known episode in Indian history is dramatised in a three-Act play will be welcomed by all who have perused his other works. It is undoubtedly a difficult task to recreate the atmosphere of a medieval Rajput court and make the characters speak and act, in accents and modes reminiscent of a far-off age. In the character of Punna, we have an exhibition of the spirit of loyalty in an extreme form, a trait which obliterates the distance of four centuries, and appeals with equal force to the modern world as well. But Punna’s sacrifice had only an ephemeral success. In a not distant future, the soothsayer sees Chitor being sacked and burned, the temple being desecrated, and the Maharana deserting his land, at the moment of peril. It is well, however, to be assured that loyalty and sacrifice have not gone in vain altogether.

The book is well printed and got-up.


The Adventures of the Black Man in His Search for God.–By H. M. Singh. (Published by the Lion Press, Lahore, India.)

Shaw’s entertaining publication "The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search For God" provoked the work entitled "The Adventures of the White Girl in Her "Search For God" from the pen ofMr. C. H. Maxwell. Mr. H. M. Singh in his "The Adventures of the Black Man in His Search For God" gives his reply to these two books; The gist of his work is

that the civilisation of the West has strayed from the ideals of Christ, and that in the pursuit of material objects it has forgotten the eternal verities of life. "The Black Man remains what he essentially is..…the symbol of Truthfulness, Simplicity; Humility, and Service. He poohpoohs the materialistic and godless West and laughs a hearty laugh." The book concludes with the magnificent thesis of Mahatma Gandhi on the subject of the existence of God. The protest against certain aspects of life in Europe and America is undoubtedly justified by facts, but there is the grave risk that these seamy features may blind us to the solid and enduring contribution of the Western world to human life and civilisation. A state of self-complacency, which prevents the East from perceiving its own draws, can hardly be helpful. But the exigencies of polemics may justify a more sweeping line of reasoning than the standards of dispassionate judgment will perm; and Mr. H: M. Singh may well be pardoned for making a spirited retort to those Westerners whose racialism takes undesirable forms.


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