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....

Reviews

Eyes of Light, by Dilip Kumar Roy (Nalanda Publications, Post Box No. 1353, Bombay. Price Rs. 4.)

IN a land famous for its mystics and monks, centuries long, the appearance of any person God-intoxicated need cause no surprise. They appear to attract the ordinary man and they evolve into a thing or a state which the ordinary man can neither apprehend nor realise. As evolution can never be collective in any sphere of advance, it starts with the known bindu and spreads in space and time. The individual is its theme and where the individual forgets himself, where he neglects the very meaning of life and death, then and there the theme of evolution finds its fulfillment. This is an ordinary, if not an intelligent exposition of the language the mystics of the world from Lord Dakshinamurti to Bhagwan Ramana speak. We have understood them, but we do not desire to imitate them. Most of us have the conviction to ignore death, but have not the moral courage to live the life that is given to us. It is here we are different from poets. Poets are neither men nor gods; they are the simple living sparks of life in the consciousness of humanity, blooming or burning in tune with their moods. We need not try to look clever so as to fathom the poet’s mind but we shall endeavour humbly to elevate our souls to experience the poet’s feelings and sentiments.

We have known Dilip Kumar Roy, the famous musician, but what do we know of the artist who is on a journey to the land of mystics? The poet in him informs us of the will to find and the wish to live in that mysterious land,

Where fires swoon not in ashes,
Nor shadows outrage light,
And the soul, changed to a bulbul,
Warbles of her flawless flight
In dulcet ecstasies, kindling
The slumberous stone aflower
With apocalypse of fragrance
In eve’s silence-dripping hour,
With the heart-hush drunk with star-hush,
Makes tumults break to hymns
And chains become love’s anklets,
The last trail of gloom dislimns.”

It is not a mere wish to live in that land but to sing in ecstasy that has no end. To him such a land exists. It is a reality for those who could achieve impersonality. Words seem a bondage to him to express the beauty of the land. So he closes the poem Faery Tale thus:

‘Tis not a poet’s faery tale,–
This world of blissful fantasy:
It waits in every heart to be won,
Our last incredible victory.

How could we get into the awareness of that land beyond space and time? In the poem Deliverance the easiest way to gain it is rather explained than sung. We crave and we achieve. We rip open and we find. Of what stuff our craving is made of we should see before welcoming its result. Of course one need not say that night craves for the day, that the ascetic craves for the absence of self in the Self. In truth deliverance is hidden deep in “craving’s starless night.” The poems Humility, The Atheist, The Inevitable bear a touch of ironic humour essential to rest, to calm the restless worm: the Ego. The poet’s renderings from the Bhagawata read well. Kunti to Krishna reveals the knowledge of the poet to find that “sorrow was inverted bliss”–which is but a Shelleyan variation.

The poems of Dilip Kumar Roy are more reflective than intellectual. They show his stern faith in the prevalence of an extraordinary power which is the perpetual riddle to physicists and professed atheists. They are not remote lightning flashes of beauty and brilliance, but a narration of certain experiences in a moment of tense emotions. He is neither lyrical nor profound; he is successful as an interpreter of his own emotions which struggle in their search for the wonderful norm.

M. S. GOPALAKRISHNAN

Sri Aurobindo and His Ashrama, by Arya Publishing House, Calcutta.

To those who feel a natural avidity to know of the beginnings and development of a mind so richly stored with spiritual energy as that of Sri Aurobindo, the sage of Pondicherry, this little book of sixty-one pages may not prove quite satisfactory. Yet the publishers have, as they claim, only made an attempt ‘to meet the demand’ of a growing interest in the work of Sri Aurobindo and his Ashrama. In a brief compass are told some of the main events of the great man’s political activities up to the year 1910, when he decided to discard all his ambitions of a political career in favour of the spiritual quest which has taken him to where no earthly prizes are any longer attractive to him.

The second part in this volume deals with the Ashrama and the Teaching which have attracted so many persons not only from the various parts of India but also of the world to flock round him.

Sri Aurobindo’s Speeches, by Arya Publishing House, Calcutta.

Within less than two hundred pages have been collected some of the important utterances of Sri Aurobindo before his final emancipation as a spiritual leader. There is ample evidence in the speeches printed here of the burning patriotism of the man and his methods for achieving political freedom, which though then seemed revolutionary are but the precursors to what later Mahatma Gandhi developed as the main principles of action for achieving Swaraj. Save the doctrine of Ahimsa which is totally the Mahatma’s own weapon to win over the entire world to the side of reason and righteousness every other item in the programme of action adopted by the Congress High Command under the leadership of the Mahatma bears resemblance in some form or other to the ideas generated by Sri Aurobindo while in active politics.

The Uttarapara speech, so justly famed for its ideas of spiritual regeneration for the country, still reads fresh and fascinating. One can undoubtedly entertain, on reading this volume, how some of the early sufferers in the freedom-struggle are no less significant for their correct perspective of the future than some of the later stalwarts who have made what India is today: a proud and free member in the comity of nations.

Sanskrit in India (The Adyar Library Pamphlet Series)

The present day apathy to Sanskrit and the almost blind policy of the Government of the province of Madras in belittling the value of Sanskrit among the subjects of study both in school and college, do indeed call for a very bold and frank avowal of its importance from men of light and sobriety of outlook in contending against the forces that are at work to destroy the grand edifice of ages. Nothing said here can be taken exception to. One will find that there is no real argument on the side of the powers that be, shaping our educational policies, in promoting what they justify as the fairest deal they can think of. The proposals for encouraging the regional language should, as far as possible, seek not to oust the place held by Sanskrit hitherto in the curriculum of studies. Any scheme by which Sanskrit will be made unworthy of serious choice by entrants to the school or college cannot but result in the total neglect of it, which to say the least is the shortest route to complete annihilation of all the trends of culture we have so long cherished.

We have in this symposium three ardent students of Sanskrit culture making a strong case for the retaining of Sanskrit in its original place in both school and college studies.

The Adyar Library Series have shown much sense of real values by including such pamphlets that meet the urgency of the hour.
K.C.

The Physics of Music, by R. K. Viswanathan, M.A. (Published by the Annamalai University, Annamalainagar, 1948.)

The book contains fourteen chapters and ten of them are reprints of articles published by the author in the Sunday issue of the Hindu from 1937-47. The chapters, each, deal with an important subject that interests students of music, and contain useful information which has been so far confined to text-books on Sound.

In chapter XIII, pages 93-95, an account is given of three experimental methods of spotting undesirable foci, echoes, and the dead spots in an auditorium or hall. It is difficult for the reader to grasp all that is stated therein unless he is already acquainted somewhat with the subject. The book contains a good number of such accounts and statements couched in technical language, and the non-technical reader for whom it is intended would perhaps find it not easy to follow them.

In the later chapters a number of diagrams are given; a few explanatory sentences with reference to the diagrams could have been added so that the significance and use of the apparatus could be better understood. Important diagrams like that of the cathode ray oscillograph (page 83) could have been better printed with the parts clearly shown.

On page 28, the statement that there are twelve frets to the octave in the Vina and that this shows that equal temperament has been in vogue among us for a very long time cuts at the very root of the Indian system of music and is fundamentally incorrect. This is only an echo of the statements of some occidental modern Sanskritists and Musicologists like M. J. Grosset and E. Clements who have not understood what they have said.

It would have been very helpful indeed if the author had mentioned the laws of the transverse vibrations of strings, explained the method of determining the 22 srutis with the help of the Vina, and given a comparative statement of the names of the srutis in relation to the tonic as well as the names of the intervals between successive srutis, both in the Indian and Western systems of music.

Further the excellence of the Thambura as an instrument of sruti or drone, the action of the Jivali and the bridge, the reasons why the harmonium is condemned for use in Indian music, the significance of Vadi, Samvadi, Anuvadi, and Vivadi swaras in relation to principles of harmony, and a brief account of the Janaka, Janya, raga system could have been included with profit.

But, it must be said that the book, so far as it goes, is instructive; the chapter on bells, especially, is very interesting. I am confident that the book would be widely read and appreciated by all those interested in the objective understanding of the basic principles of music.

V. APPA RAO

TELUGU

Nelavanka, by Ravuri Venkata Satyanarayana Rao. (“Sarvodaya Grandhamala:” Published by Andhra Rashtra Hindi Prachara Sangha, Vijayavada. Price Rs. 2.)

SRI RAVURI is well known to the Telugu reading public as an active writer of the day. Nelavanka, his novel which appeared already in the issues of “Krishna Patrika” is now published in the form of a book. It is said that the theme of the novel is based on some of the life incidents of Sri Madhavapeddi Venkataramiah of Andhra Stage fame.

Mahendra, an actor reputed in the roles of Dasaratha, Kanva, and the like craves for a let-out for his pent up parental affections. So he adopts a motherless boy but as ill luck would have it the boy dies. This shock is too much for Mahendra and his wife Parvathi. Mahendra realises that ill children irrespective of caste and creed are fit objects for his affection and to his Parvathi every child is nothing but a reflection of “Gopala Bala”. She is a devotee of Krishna and in a dream she sees Krishna telling her that he would be born as her son. She conceives but dies soon after giving birth to a son. Mahendra feels that life is more a reflection of the fictitious stage life to which he was accustomed and that his life story would be an effective stage play. He writes it and presents it with himself in the leading role. In the last scene Mahendra falls unconscious, the curtain drops putting a stop to the play and to the author’s story as well.

Chapters 5, 8, and 12 are some of the many instances to show that the author is an accurate observer. Scenes are portrayed in their minutest detail, with ease, depth, and colour. The turn of expression and idiom are characteristic and homely. However, the story is not well-knit. The opening chapter grips our interest and sustains it till the adoption takes place but afterwards the story drags on to an artificial close. Parvathi’s dream, the pre-puberty marriage of Kamala with Kameswara Rao, and their bedroom scenes are out of tune and are better left out and the story would not suffer. Owing perhaps to the story being published in a serial form, minor discrepancies have crept in which could have been avoided. We are told that Upendra is younger than his sister but subsequently he turns out to be elder. These show glaringly in an otherwise good story. The author shows his skill in the presentation of ordinary domestic life and Viyyamma is a type with which we are all familiar. But we cannot say this with regard to the two chief characters. Though in the early chapters Mahendra and Parvathi appear as individuals they dwindle into mere shadows subsequently. The characters of Gazulatata and Sithamma deserve further development.

We are told that this is the first attempt of the author, and as a first novel it shows great promise. With his accurate observation, delicate humour, and ease of expression, we are sure, Sri Ravuri could enrich the Telugu literature further. This “Nelavanka” (Cresent Moon) shows signs of developing into a full moon shortly.

ALAMURI RAJAGOPALA RAO

Sri Samkara’s Saundaryalahari, With Critical Introduction and Metrical Adaptation in Telugu, by Sri Darbha Subramanya Sarma, Retired College Professor of Telugu, Nellore. (Published by the Author. pp. 122, Price Re. 1-4.)

In this elegantly got-up volume, the learned author, poet of eminence in the Andhra, has had a very successful try at rendering into Telugu verse the ecstatic poem of Sri Sankara’s Saundaryalahari, the Wave of Beauty. The translator’s expression is as facile and ecstatic as the original (Cf. for instance Vs. 35, 60, 67, 77, and 78 picked at random) although here and there, his rendering differs from others. That could be justified because especially in high Samskrit poetry and in the case of Sri Samkara who heaps image upon image Shelley-like the interpretation varies in proportion to the adaptor’s own poetic sense and imagination. But we could safely assure the present rendering has no unseemly rifts of that sort; nor has the original which is in one uniform short metre suffered because the translator has employed two different metres (short one for eleven and long one for the rest) for his adaptation.

The scholarly preface of about 70 pages which examines the poetic and the spiritual aspects of the original in the light of Tantric Texts like the Siva-samhita, Siddhaghutika, Yogini-hridiyini, Chatussati, Hata-Yogapradipika, Heranda-samhita etc., and Lakshmidhara’s valuable Commentary, is really a synoptic approach to the one quality-less Brahman. It furnishes us with the key to unlock the mystic sense of the first 41 mantraic verses, while directing a correct appreciation of the rest 59 which but sublimate into the most ethereal type the physical charm of Sri Devi as a virgin, a mother, and as the source, the being and the end of all creation. It sets at rest in an illuminating manner the various conflicting ideas of the original. It stresses the great truth that the concrete and the personal are but the necessary aids of approach to the abstract and the impersonal godhead as laid down in

Sivanlatmani pasyanti pratimasu na yoginah,
Ajnanam bhavanarthaya pratimah parikalpitah.

Thus the Ishtadevata when charmingly delineated by the adorer’s personal sense is but a symbol of the most Edible and the Ineffable. As the Virasaiva Saint Sidharama put it:

It is a Void in the beginning, Void at the end,
It gets spoilt in the middle knowingly, see!
It is its own testimony in the world that it becomes so.

Thus all art is a blasphemy as Roger Fry observes; for, it seeks to describe the Indescribable. But Sri Samkara (V. 100), and the learned translator (V. at p. 71) are aware of their limitations.

The learned translator deserves our congratulations. He has surely conveyed the spirit and the beauty of the original. We eagerly look forward to similar adaptations by him of Sri Samkara’s Sivanandalahari and Sri Muka-kavi’s Panca-sati.

P. SAMA RAO

TAMIL

Kalai Chhelvi, by Ki. Va. Jagannathan (Amuda Nilayam Limited, 91, Mount Road, Madras 18. Price Rs. 2).

In this collection of six short stories the first story which gives the title to the volume has a moral to impart. Although as an imaginative product it seems good, it lacks force and vigour. “Kurangin Sutandiram” pictures the animals’ conception of freedom. It has a touch of humour which makes interesting reading. “Kadankaran” reveals the tragedy of a debtor. The theme is skilfully handled. “Deepavali Virundu” is no story: it is just a family portrait in words. The last two stories show that observation of society is essential for a writer to write a successful story.

Stories come in shoals that have neither the proper ground nor a correct understanding of thematic value. It is the fashion of the day for anyone to write a story and appear like an afflicted genius. The writer of these stories, luckily, has escaped from such impostors with his knowledge gained from a devoted study of ancient Tamil culture and tradition.

G. ALAGIRISWAMI

Shakti Pongal Malar, Edited by Vai Govindan (115-E Mowbrays Road, Royapettah, Madras. Price Re. 1)

In the Tamil literary world, today, Journals seem to mould public opinion more than books of merit and value. Certain writers by their amorphous and imitative writings endanger rather than enrich the dignity of Tamil. Any language has the flexibility to yield to the fancy of a creative genius, but the genius has no liberty to pollute its traditional beauty and natural chastity. It is to save the language of Kamban and Thayumanavar that the cultural Tamil Journals should aim at.

Shakti as a cultural Journal, along with a few of its kind, has been doing splendid service to the cause of Tamil. This Special Number contains very interesting articles. Lakshmi Ammal explains the significance of Pongal, an agricultural festival bringing happiness and strength. The well known Nadaswara Vidwan Sri T. N. Rajaratnam Piliai has something of his own to say about music in general and about Nadaswaram music in particular. Controversial things apart, it is an eminently readable article. Sri A. Muthusivan has written on Style (“Nadai”). Sri T.M.P. Thondaiman has brought out the importance of rhythm in form in his capacity to observe works of art. His article is a trifle pedantic but instructive. Kalaivanan’s poem is simple and imaginative. The Journal is exquisitely got up for the democratic price of a rupee.

M. S. GOPALAKRISHNAN

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