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....



The Brotherhold of Religions. By Madame Sophia Wadia. (Published by The International Book House, Ash Lane, Esplanade Road, Bombay. Price, Re. 1-8.)

This is a collection of eighteen lectures delivered by the author in Bombay and Poona. No country in the world probably requires the doctrine of the Brotherhood of Religions more than India does. The stress on the non-essentials in religion, the relegation of universal religious truths to the -ground, the comparative paucity of persons who live the truly religious life and who realise the oneness of Life–all these and more factors have made India a hot-bed of religious disputes and communal hatreds. The priesthood in all religions is busy perverting religious truths to perpetuate priestly domination; and the exploitation of the ignorant masses is going on, by the degradation of doctrines into dogmas, of faith into fanaticism, and by the pampering to the cupidity and the fear of the followers. Not without reason has religion been the target of many an attack from a growing section of spirited youth in our country.

The Theosophical Society has as its second object the study of comparative religion, philosophy, etc. And many profound and excellent books have been written by eminent scholars like Dr. Bhagavan Das. This book is intended more to rouse the interest of the average audience than to instruct them fully. Still the book is the result of profound study and thought. It makes extremely interesting and profitable reading. So valuable is this book that one wishes that the author would contribute to the comparative study of religions a more learned book, containing copious quotations of parallel statements from the great Founders of religions, not only to stress the unity of thought and the catholicity of spirit, but also to show the folly and futility of religious bigotry and quarrels.

There is a welcome stress in this book on the necessity to live the truths of one’s religion, for, by so living, service to mankind would be the inevitable result of all religious life. Mutual help and joyous comradeship in the Search for Truth would replace the bitter quarrels of petty-minded fanatics.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Foreword is characteristically short but emphatic. He rightly points out that all our mutual quarrels centre round non-essentials. This book, as acknowledged by the author in the Introduction, has been inspired by Mahatmaji’s life and teachings. Those who would emphasise the essentials in all religions in a spirit of reverence will find ample material in this excellently got-up volume.

A good Glossary and Index enhance its value.


Sadhana or Spiritual Discipline. –BySadhu Santinatha. (Poona 1938).

This study of Sadhana in its various forms is an honest attempt on the part of the author to re-think religious and philosophical problems in a new light. Though an objective and unbiassed approach, it is written with a spirit of appreciative understanding. The present undertaking is really a chapter from the volume entitled, "The Critical Examination of the Philosophy of Religion" (Research Institute of Philosophy, Amalner) but includes additional footnotes and appendices.

In the opening chapter, the author points out that the consciousness of the relative freedom of the human self is the foundation of man’s morality and religion: "Sadhana consists in the well-planned systematic courses of self-discipline, and action towards the attainment of such chosen ends or objects which are expected to satisfy the felt wants and demands of man’s nature." The nature of Sadhana is dependent on, and varies with, the concept of the ultimate nature of the Self, the final goal and world view. In this volume the author examines how far the claims of the fundamental methods of Sadhana of the particular religious sects to lead to objectively valid experience can be accepted as having any rational ground.

A critical study of the various forms of Sadhana–Buddhistic, Jaina, Nyaya-Vaiseshika, Sankhya, Karma, Bhakti, Jnana has been undertaken and the author comes to the following conclusion: There is nothing supernatural in what is called truth-realisation; no metaphysical truth can be rationally established, nor can it be ‘intuited’; Sadhana has no objective reference, it is wholly subjective; what is called truth-realisation is due to the constant affirmation of one’s thought and it is a projection of images shot through and through with personal feelings. The author points out that none of the views stands on a logically unassailable foundation. Further he states: "The fundamental differences among the different philosophical systems, as well as the logical inconsistencies involved in each, prevent me from accepting the doctrine of the Harmony of all Faith."

Much of what the author has stated with reference to Sadhana and the experience of ultimate reality is consistent with the views of well-known psychologists of religion such as Leuba, Ames, Coe etc. But even these authorities do not discount intuition, if intuition be understood as the peak of reason and not as a special faculty of faith. Religious experience does lead to awareness of a special kind, but it can attain the status of knowledge only when it is subject to the test of observation, reason and experiment.

We commend this thought-provoking volume to all those who seek for an intelligent and objective understanding of the problems relative to Sadhana in its various forms.



Karuna Kumara’ Kathalu. (A Volume of Stories). [Published by the Adhunika Vangmaya Kuteeram, No. 1, Spur Tank 2nd St., Egmore, Madras. Price As. 12.]

This book is strikingly new, new in its themes as well as in its treatment of them. It takes you away from the town, its bourgeois atmosphere and its sophisticated crowds to the village to the toiling ryots who believe "in their village Karnam and Munsif as blindly as in their mother and father," to the labourers, the petty tyrants like Chinnappa Reddi and Chenchu Naidu, and to the village slums occupied by the ‘Malas’ and the ‘Madigas.’ The language used is the everyday dialect of the classes represented, and it is so successfully imported that you feel when you have finished reading the book–and it is an eminently readable book–that you have travelled into a refreshingly different region of fiction where for once you do not come across the stereotyped intellectual love-affairs of youths who are not faced with the problem of living.

The stories, like the characters they portray, are simple–with no complexity of plot and no flourish of poetical thought. Of the six stories in this volume, four belong to one class, and the other two–‘Pendlinati Mutchatalu’ and ‘Sanmanam’–to a separate class. The latter are written in a lighter vein, bordering on the comical; and except that they show the author’s ability to write humorous stories, they do not fit in well with the prevailing mood of the other four stories.

Karuna or pity is the predominant rasa sustained by these four stories, and the author is at his best here, and his pen-name is a very happy choice. In ‘Aakali Mantalu’ (Flames of Hunger) with the highly comfortable life led by a Vakil and his wife is juxtaposed the miserable lot of the domestic servant, Subbi. While the Vakil and his friend force an unwanted lunch down their throats, the maid-servant who has had no food for the last two days is forced to prepare the raw material for the next day’s lunch, and while so preparing she faints. The Vakil’s wife is typical of many a lady from a well-to-do home. She has no consideration for the toiling domestic servant, and she bargains for half a pie with the poor vegetable-sellers that wander from house to house the whole day just for a bare half-meal. This story is memorable for the passages where that vegetable-seller asks the Vakil’s wife for a ‘jacket’, as she feels shy-in the first days of her motherhood–to walk in the streets scantily covered. All this is so delicately reproduced that the plaintive request continues to ring in our ears, as it does in the ears of the Vakil of the story. The Vakil himself is portrayed rather without colour, and the mention of his going into the yard for his ablutions is not only unnecessary but positively indelicate. I also think that the picture of domestic servants in the Nellore District being forced to eat raw, uncooked frogs and crabs to satisfy their hunger, is unreal and a trifle ‘overdrawn.’

This tendency of the author to exaggerate or paint thick is seen in the last story, ‘Pollayya,’ and it looks to me rather improbable that a ‘Mala’ Harijan of a village which is present-day enough to have the benefit of road communication and a Bus Service, should, for so simple an offence as having driven a Brahmin in his cart from the station to the village in the dark hours of the night, –be the Brahmin a veritable hater of untouchables–should be punished actually with branding. The Harijan, Pollayya, finally escapes from this punishment only by threatening his accusers that his missionary ‘Father’ would take serious action against them. The Brahmin’s friend, Chenchu Naidu, not only allows Pollayya to go free but also presents him with some money, in the fear that the ‘Father’ is in the good books of the Government; and the Brahmin consoles himself with the idea that a converted Harijan has the same religion as ‘Our King,’ and that therefore it can be no sin to touch him. The way Chenchu Naidu with his Bus Service drove the poor cart-drivers to penury is described in a powerful way that draws our sympathy. And this story is remarkable for its beautiful description of the journey of Sastri in Pollayya’s cart. The rickety cart, the ruts in the road, the inconveniences discovered in attempting to stretch oneself fully within, and the sickly bullock, are all so well portrayed that one is reminded of Dickens and the Pickwickian coach. Though the story in its entirety is somewhat of a cocktail of the author’s various gifts of self-expression, the story fails to be convincing in the end.

The best story of the collection is, however, ‘Venkanna,’ and here the author does not paint thick, and he also confines himself to the main theme without digression. The author has portrayed very delicately the mutual affection between the village ryot and his dumb cattle, and the ground of the story is the vileness of the village Karnam who is used to deceiving the illiterate ryots by demanding money from them far in excess of their dues. Ragayya sells his bullock, ‘Venkanna,’ which he loves like a member of his family, and to which he has given the name of the God of Tirupati. This selling is due to an urgent demand of rent from the Karnam at a time when Ragayya’s son is away from the village. Both father and son afterwards pine for Venkanna. The son, even with a young wife to keep him company, cannot forget the loss. And the father dies of grief. Meanwhile Venkanna, the bullock, also pines in the new master’s house for Ragayya, and proves to be too weak to work for the new master. The bullock is therefore sold to the ‘Madigas,’ the butchers of the village. It escapes from the ‘Madigas’ while being driven near Ragayya’s village, and enters its old courtyard, where Ramanayya, the son, recognises it. He clasps his dumb companion, but Venkanna, unable to stand any longer, bends its forelegs, squats like Siva’s bull, and closes its eyes for ever–with Ramanayya’s hands round its neck. The story reveals touches of a master-artist.

The story of ‘New Sandals’ can be divided into two parts. Chinnappa Reddi, a wild uncontrolled aristocrat of the village, beats a ‘Mala’ woman, Narisi, for not having brought his new sandals stitched in time. Narisi succumbs to the injuries. The Reddi, frightened at this unexpected turn of events, gets the corpse thrown into a well, and successfully proves to the Police (with the help of his money) that it is a case of suicide. The second part of the story relates the working of the retribution. The new sandals scratch him, and what looked a scratch turns into a septic ulcer requiring the surgeon’s knife. Mean-while one of his bullocks dies. The ‘Malas’ refuse to move the carcass out. The caste Hindus unite and remove it. This episode is intended perhaps to show that the Harijan is as indispensable to the village economy as the caste Hindu. The Reddi, while on the operation table, gets a nervous fright, sees visions of Narisi and his dead bullock, and dies on the table.

Something remains to be said about the style. Several writers have used ‘Vyavaharikam,’ the spoken language of the upper classes, for purposes of literary effect. Mr. Unnava Lakshminarayana, author of the modern classic, ‘Mala Palli,’ has shown to what powerful ends even the common dialect can be used. The author wants to follow in Mr. Lakshminamyana’s footsteps, and handsomely acknowledges his indebtedness in this connection. The author has in some instances attained rare heights of emotion by the successful use of the dialect. This book will serve the Telugu public by familiarising them with the current dialect of the Nellore District. A glossary of the words used exclusively in the Nellore District (that is, ‘Mandalikams’) would have been very helpful.

The get-up and the printing of the book leave nothing to be desired, and a preface from the pen of Mr. Mallampilli Somasekhara Sarma, the gifted critic, enhances the value of this book.

It is a first attempt, and it is such a completely successful attempt that one hopes that several other stories and collections thereof will follow from ‘Karuna Kumara’s’ pen.


Yauvana Jwala.–By Kundurti Narasimha Rao. (Sunday Times Office, Madras. Pp. 87. Price As. 12.)

Anything from the pen of Mr. Narasimha Rao deserves the attention of all sympathetic students of Telugu literature. A modest and pathetic discontent, born of unreturned sentiments of love, forms the theme of this small book of poems. Its publication gives more point to the accusation against an overwhelming mass of modern Telugu poetry, that it is mere pseudo-romantic pathos unrelated to realities. The ideas are fairly direct, simple–and even commonplace. It must be mentioned, however, that it is not the heart of a perhaps inspired, but always sophisticated, poet that the work sets out to depict, but only the plain, easily communicable feelings of the common man, who when he is sad knows always why he is. It is therefore pleasingly different from either the ferocious outbursts of Devulapalli, or the calculating deep wisdom of Nayani. And the author successfully avoids monotony, redundancy and circumlocutous expression, only too common in works of this type. Had it not been for the undesirable inclusion of pieces like ‘Pampa’ and ‘Jawaharlal’ and some more of such poems, the whole of the book would have been in perfect accord with the title of the book. The book, as it is, commits the oft-repeated error in all publications of modern Telugu verse of representing, by means of an indefinite and charming title, a mere anthology of unconnected verses as a work possessing organic unity of thought.

Those who are acquainted with Mr. Narasimha Rao’s unique ability to express simple and genuine feelings in the lucid and forceful diction that we found in his earlier contributions (as to the ‘Viswakala’ and the Andhra Christian College Magazine) will be disappointed by the absence of this manner of expression in the present volume. The small poem, ‘Srama,’ in this collection is somewhat representative of this gift of his. The subject of this poem is the universal theme of Proletarianism. It is carefully dealt with by the poet who lends the sentiment of the poem a touch of true greatness. The poem is addressed to a worker, a grave-digger. The worker not merely slaves to keep the rich alive and rich. He has also to expend his labour for the rich who are dead!

"We are to live in you,
O Worker,
And we die in you.
In life as well as in death
Depend we not on your muscles?
Art thou not the maker then
Of all mortal existence and death?"

The defects of the present volume are slight, nearly negligible. Some poems betray the stage of strained and calculated versification, and these should have been omitted in this volume. Poems like ‘Gandhavati’ and ‘Pampa’ however testify to the poet’s command over diction. Verbosity and over-grandeur of style have been scrupulously avoided throughout. But Mr. Narasimha Rao should compile in a volume all the poems of his that have hitherto been published in various journals. He has not been able to choose properly, and only by a better choice can his real talents be displayed. There is, however, more than enough in this volume to rouse a sense of curiosity and watchfulness regarding the future career of this poet.



Halliya Hadugalu (Village songs),–Collected and edited by B. N. Rangaswamy and Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar and published by the Rayatjnana Prachara Mandali, Gorur. (Price As. 14. Pages 1-123 + XVI.)

The book under review is a collection of a few folk-songs sung mostly by the womenfolk of the Mysore and Hasan districts. The collection and publication of folk-songs is indeed a welcome feature of our literary revival, for embedded behind the squalor of our villages lies a wealth of folk-song, ballad and anecdote which no literary enthusiast can afford to neglect. Regarding the present volume, the compiler and editor, Mr. Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar, to whom Karnataka is justly grateful for the exquisitely charming pictures of the countryside which he has given in his stories, says: "Our peasant has grown through centuries. In his blood, races a culture which has held its own against the impact of many a foreign culture. In living and fighting life through endurance, in appreciating Nature or poetry, he has proved himself inferior to none. But what he needs at the present moment is a sympathetic understanding and a responsive atmosphere. The pillars of our society and the leaders of our land must feel convinced that in any department of human activity he is inferior to none. Then will he lend to our artificial lives a new strength and a new lustre…..The triplets collected here mark the height to which his culture can rise if proper opportunity is afforded him."

Like all genuine poetry, folk-song is the outpouring of a full heart. Its distinguishing features are its crudeness of form and its directness of expression. In every nation the folk-song marks the beginnings of the poetic imagination. We see poetry at its very source. The simple joys and sorrows of the peasant, his hopes, doubts, fears, loves, his devotion to God, his joy in Nature’s beauty–all find unsullied expression in these simple yet enchanting rhymes. The range and variety of their themes is as wide as the open world. Here we have a felicitous song describing the charm and grace of a village beauty, the cynosure of a thousand eyes, and there we listen to the agony of the childless mother. Stories of flood and field, of bloody adventure and tender love, all have their place in these treasures from the countryside. Whatever the theme, the verse has the same ringing rhythm, the same directness and simplicity of expression, the same air of unsophisticated enjoyment.

Huchhu beladingalina Hoobanagalu.–By P. Ramanandarao. (Published by the Manohar Grantha Mala, Dharwar. Pages 1-233. Price Rs. 1-8-0. Illustrated by Mr. T. Mukundarao.)

The literary renaissance in Karnataka, flowering forth in the poetry of Messrs. Puttappa and Bendre or in the excellent short stories of Mr. Masti Venkatesa Iyengar, is unfortunately deficient in the field of the Essay in the vein of G. K. Chesterton or Hilaire Belloc. Broadly speaking, modern Kannada literature shows a conspicuous want of a robust sense of humour except perhaps for the plays of Prof. R. V. Jagirdar. Attempts have been made from time to time in various periodicals and though there is nothing to doubt their literary quality, they have not been selected and presented to the reading public in any permanent form. This circumstance places the present book of Mr. P. Ramanandarao in a position of peculiar advantage. Modestly enough the author states in his Introduction that he has to give to the reader a three-fold caution: that the writings embodied in the book are merely "experiments" with the object of bringing to bear the influence of the English literature of humour upon our own, which humour ours so badly lacks; that the characters and situations are all imaginary; and that finally an attempt has been made to look at things from a humorist’s point of view so that no bitterness may be implied in his attitude, However, as one turns over the last page of the book, one is inclined to think that the matter presented to him, however much in the nature of a literary experiment, does possess the essentials of original writing. Without an individual sense of humour and without an individual way in presenting it to the reader, no amount of amateurish "experiment" can create in the reader’s mind that happy sense of inward enjoyment which all good humour must necessarily ensure. Humour, particularly when it is to be imported from a foreign literature, is a very brittle consignment and, in less skilful and careful hands, it is likely to break in its passage. But when we know that it is the spirit of humour which Mr. P. Ramanandarao wants to imbibe and be influenced by, one has necessarily to feel grateful for the new and fruitful avenue opened out by him. Though the story ‘Anku donku sanka pala" is obviously an imitation of Mark Twain’s "Punch brothers punch with care," the reader enjoys it no less heartily. The opening essay on an umbrella is truly in the vein of G. K. C. In "Harikamatana Nenapu" is exploited the too common and tantalising experience of how we forget quite an easy thing and cannot recollect it though all the while we seem to remember it. The story "Nanna Bhava," of the doctor who is exasperated to the point of wounding himself with a razor by the persistent habit of his brother-in-law in questioning him about too obvious things, has almost enjoyed a classic reputation.

Mr. P. Ramanandarao has in him sufficient detachment to ensure an objective appeal and has the sureness of touch which avoids going into less fruitful fields in the producing of the desired comic effect. Without having to wade through detail which is either unnecessary or wearisome, the reader in most of the stories finds himself confronted with a situation which in itself is comic. With a style well suited to his needs Mr. Ramanandarao does not always utilise it as a means of creating a humorous effect. In Mr. T. Mukundarao, who illustrates the collection, the author has found an appreciative artist.

Though heavily priced, the collection so ably brought to market by the Manohar Grantha Mala of Dharwar deserves a wide appreciation.


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