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

Sri Aurobindo: Addresses on Life and Teachings by Sri A. B. Purani (Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1955. Pp. 351. Price Rs. 6)

The book consists of several addresses delivered by Sri Purani, a scholar and devoted disciple of Sri Aurobindo, in the course or his tours in India and abroad, arranged under certain broad heads. It serves admirably the purpose of introducing Sri Aurobindo’s personality and achievement, revealing the significance of his contribution to knowledge and culture in the various fields of philosophy, art and literature, and explaining the fundamentals of his message to the modern civilised world.

The writings of Sri Aurobindo are well known to scholars and philosophers all over the world, but to very few even among educated Indians, beyond the circle of his disciples and admirers and those that have come under the influence of the Ashram at Pondicherry. Though they enjoy a high reputation, they are so voluminous and cast in such a scholarly style that the layman often despairs and hesitates to attempt to study them or grasp the significance of even that part of them, belonging to the field or knowledge and culture in which he happens to be specially interested. These addresses of Sri Purani included in the volume under review are well calculated to explain and popularise the significance and value of the contribution of Sri Aurobindo in various directions and the essence of his message to humanity, andto stimulate interest in, and provide incentive for, further detailed study of the writings of the master.

Though delivered at different places and times and to different kinds of audiences, there is a certain unity in the presentation due to the profound knowledge, thorough assimilation and sincere faith of the author, a devoted disciple. The arrangement of the addresses under broad heads, subject-wise, should prove very convenient, to readers interested in the views and contribution of Sri Aurobindo in particular fields and aspects of culture. Though the subject of each section is not given explicitly, it may be easily inferred from the title of the first address included in the section.

The questions and answers included in the last section should also prove very useful in clearing doubts and emphasising the main ideas presented in the addresses.

On Art: Addresses and Writings by Sri A. B. Purani (Published by Sri Aurobindo Karyalaya, Pondicherry, 1955. Pp. 90. Price Rs. 1-8-0)

Knowledge of the technique of art and cultivated tastes are so rare even among the educated sections of the people in our country. Those who are competent to enlighten the public on art are rarer still. This slim volume is therefore a welcome addition to the meagre stock of literature on the subject available to the educated layman interested in understanding the fundamentals of art and the problems of modern art.

Though the views expressed are obviously based on and inspired by the views of Sri Aurobindo, the treatment is well calculated to educate the layman on the characteristics of our national art of ancient times, the evolution of art in Europe, the aims, achievements and shortcomings of modern art, and the attitude towards art desirable in the artists and the public of Free India in the interests of the revival and progressive evolution of art in Independent Bharat. Inspired as the exposition is, by the synthetic philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, these pages present art in the right perspective, in proper relation to the individual and social life of man. Even as an introduction to the contribution of Sri Aurobindo in the field of art criticism, the book is of considerable value, as it is no less significant than his better known contributions in the field of religion and philosophy and social criticism.

At the Feet of Mahatma Gandhi by Dr. Rajendra Prasad (Published by Hind Kitabs Ltd., Bombay. Pp. 350. Price Rs. 8/8)

Gandhian literature is already vast and steadily increasing but this volume is a precious addition to it, revealing as it does the gradual and complete transformation effected by the Mahatma in the character and outlook of admittedly his most faithful disciple, now occupying the distinguished position of the Head of the State of Independent Bharat, the freedom of which was mainly the achievement of the great man, the Father of the Nation.

We find here a meticulously detailed and accurate record of the activities of the Mahatma ever since the author first came into close contact with him, which was very early in the history of national movement in the country under his leadership. It should therefore prove a document of rare value for the historian of modern India.

At the same time it affords a fine psychological study of the gradual but ultimately remarkable transformation the master was able to effect in his colleagues and co-workers in the first instance, by his deliberate and sustained and yet patient and delicate efforts and the wise technique of the master in shaping their outlook.

It is also a treatise of inestimable value on the high principles and unique technique of political agitation and constructive national service advocated and practised by the great soul, which seem to offer the only way for establishing peace and goodwill on earth in society and among the nations.

With its unique attractions of subject, author, significance and treatment, the volume deserves and is bound to attain a very high rank among the numerous publications on Gandhiji, his life and message. Here we find a distinct image of the personality and spirit of the Mahatma, reflected in the pure mirror of the transparent mind of his most sincere and loyal disciple.

Searching Strains by Sri Kandukuri Ramabhadra Rao–(A collection of prose translations made by the author from the original Telugu. Pp. 36)

On account of the peculiar political and social conditions obtaining in the country during the last 100 years and more, the educated classes, with general knowledge and cultivated tastes and rich and varied experience of individual and social life, were practically divorced from the sources of literary inspiration in the natural life of the community and intimate contact with the mother-tongue and mastery of itsliterary potentialities. Poetry “reflecting tongue’s own experiences in life and swelling forth from the fullness of his heart”, as the prefatory words introduce the pieces in this volume, has therefore been so rare in recent times.

The author deserves to be congratulated on his achievement, in these circumstances, in producing poetry of such quality as to win, even in the renderings in English prose, the admiration of such eminent personages as Sri C. Rajagopalachari and Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, and the approbation of such competent critics of literature as Sri M. Subba Rao and Dr. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar of the Andhra University. By the publication of these renderings into English prose he has succeeded in introducing them to persons of literary taste in other linguistic areas, who should naturally prove the most competent judges of the truth of the experiences and the intrinsic value of the poems.

M. S. K.

The Philosophy of Union by Devotion by Swami Nityapadananda Avadhuta (Published by Mahanirvana Math, Navadwip, Nadia, West Bengal, India. Pages 194. Price Rs. 2-8-0)

This is an English translation of Yogacharya Sri Srimat Avadhuta Jnanananda Deva’s (Sri Sri Nitya Gopal) “Bhaktiyoga Darsan”, written originally in Bengali language, by one of his foremost disciples, Sri Nityapadananda.

The author in this book describes in detail and in an interesting manner, devotion or Bhakti, in all its aspects, and its miraculous efficacy. “Sweet emotion of love” or “Madhura Bhakti” as is it taught and practised by Bengal Vaishnavites is described here in detail. “When a man endowed with supreme love-tinged devotion, obtains the competency for that union, he becomes conscious of himself as Radha, the Supreme Goddess. In that condition he is devoid of masculinity…...he looks physically alone like a man. In that condition, he attains, nay, is endowed with the feelings and sentiments of Radha, the Supreme Goddess.” The author does not content himself with merely describing the nature of Bhakti, but also describes some practical methods for cultivating that supreme devotion, as given in the Gheranda Samhita and other Samskrit works on the subject.

The efficacy of Japa, nama samkirtana, and worship is explained in a rational way.

A very happy and relieving feature of this book is that it does not savour of any sectarian spirit. Bhakti described herein is not inimical to Jnana, but an accessory to it, a means for realisisg “advaita”. In fact, according to the author there is no distinction between a real Bhakta and a real Jnani–c. f. “From what has been said above, we understand that supreme devotion too, is connected with non-dualistic knowledge…..Hence the same self-love as is effected by the realisation of non-duality, is achieved also by a devotee endowed with supreme “devotion” (P. 130) “When however the devotee reaches the third stage, he realises “I am He (the Lord), the self of all…..‘Thus does he attain pure self-knowledge, which alone is the means of the highest Bliss.” (Notes P. 29)

Why “Madhura Bhakti” or “Sweet love of emotion” alone is to be preferred to other aspects of Bhakti is explained in the following lines–“Sree Radha’s was the sweet attitude of love towards the supreme self, Srikrishna; hence those alone, who bear the same attitude towards the supreme self, are entitled to the above mentioned intercourse. Those who consider the Supreme Purusha (Spirit) as their Father, Friend, Master and Son have no competency for holding that intercourse etc.” (P. 35)

All praise is due to the author for his manner of presentation also. The necessity of prescribed modes of religious practices is beautifully explained in the following lines in the notes added to the text. “The prescribed modes of religious practices may be compared to the railway, and devotion to the railway train. And persons are speedily reaching the goal of spiritual life by means of this train of prescribed modes of devotion. But if the train of devotion be an inch derailed, that is, go off the proper line of the prescribed modes even in the best way, then there is serious risk of danger.” Distinction between pure devotion and pure Jnana is clearly brought out in these lines–“Pure wisdom is snow, so to speak, and pure devotion is the same liquefied. The snow of knowledge, though solid, is soft, cold and mild in character.” (Notes P. 8)

The text bristles with quotations from relevant Samskrit works on Bhakti, and the notes added to the text are a veritable mine of information about Bhakti and allied subjects, and explain clearly all the technical terms that we come across in the text proper.

Bhakti is not only an essential part but the life itself of all religious practices and this book dealing with Bhakti, in its rationalised form, deserves to be read and digested by every spiritual aspirant irrespective of his race and religion. We eagerly await the publication of other writings also of the Swamiji.
B.K.R.

KANNADA

Some Reminiscences by Rajasevaprasakta Navaratna Rama Rao (Published by the Jeevana Karyalaya, Bangalore. Pages 451+x Glossary. Price Rs. 5-8-0)

These reminiscences originally appeared in monthly installments in the Kannada Journal ‘Jeevana’ edited by Sri Masti Venkatesa Iyengar, and the Kannada reading public must be grateful to the ‘Jeevana Karyalaya’ for making them available in book form.

The book covers a period of only about five years (1904 to 1909) when the author, after being appointed Probationer in the Mysore Government, worked as Amildar in Yedatore (now Krishnarajpet) and T. Narasipur taluks of the Mysore District. The author appears to have undertaken the writing of these reminiscences somewhat in the nature of an experiment intended to try out his hand at writing in a lighter vein in Kannada, a language in which Sri Rama Rao, who enjoys a just reputation for his mastery of English, has not had occasion to do much sustained writing. The experiment has proved to be a resounding success and Sri Masti Venkatesa Iyengar, to whom the book is appropriately dedicated, deserves thanks for having persuaded his friend to write the reminiscences and make a unique contribution to contemporary Kannada literature.

Though nearly half a century has passed, the author recalls incidents, reports conversations and gives sketches of persons, with a vividness and wealth of circumstantial detail that show an amazing memory. A book of reminiscences, particularly of a revenue official recounting the routine of his professional life, as this one does to a considerable extent, may easily become dull, and occasionally egotistic, as the anecdotes of retired officials verbally delivered to long-suffering listeners generally tend to be. But these reminiscences, which have all the directness and informality of an oral narration, far from being dull, make entrancing reading–largely on account of the careful choice of matter, the skilful arrangement of sequences, the rare gift to see himself as others saw him, and the subtle humour and wise comments pervading the entire book. We are introduced into a good old world where the Amildar was the Ma-bap of the taluk–and went about with pomp and circumstance, having his comings in and goings out duly heralded by the blowing of horns!

Sri. Rama Rao threw himself into his tasks with great energy and abounding self-confidence, and was endowed with qualities, both intellectual and physical, that compelled respect in spite of his youthful appearance. His life in the Yedatore taluk was full of adventure and incidents, some of which read stranger than fiction. The account of the theft of jewels from a marriage-house, and the steps taken to trace them, for instance, which occupy nearly fifty pages, is as gripping as any detective story.

And what a gallery of varied and interesting characters! From the nobleman, Sir P. N. Krishna Murthy, and the imperious V. P. Madhava Rao, we have sketches of Deputy Commissioners like Venkatavarada Iyengar, Sardar Kantraj Urs, and Sparkes, who though rude and impious in speech was sound at heart. Assistant Commissioners and Amildars of various types down to constables like the orthodox Narasimhachar whose saintly discourse bored a KD in his charge to incontinent flight! Apart from the official hierarchy we have vivid sketches of village leaders like Devarase Gowda, charlatans, rowdies, village women, priests, musicians, artists etc., that reveal the author’s profound observation and his rich sensibility and wide sympathy. The account of the violinist Shamanna–the original of Masti Venkatesa Iyengar’s ‘Subbanna’, is easily one of the unforgettable characters emerging out of
the book.

In the latter part of the book, dealing with the life of the author as the Amildar of T. Narasipur taluk, the adventurous element gives place to the aesthetic and the artistic. The Cauvery and the temples on its banks dominate the scene. The style of narration seems to improve and sentences flow with greater ease as the writer seems to get into his stride, with paragraphs of description and exposition that would do credit to a ‘professional’ Kannada writer. In the earlier portion of the book, however, there is a certain ruggedness which looks almost like a deliberate crudeness of phrasing, bristling with colloquialisms and Urdu words which enter so largely into the Mysore official jargon (a relic of Muslim rule) at which the purist might frown but which imparts directness and raciness to the narration. A glossary has been, therefore, thoughtfully added at the end of the book.

What at the hands of a less cultured and accomplished person might have proved to be a dull and dreary log-book has turned out to be a work of great literary merit, a noteworthy contribution to modern Kannada literature.
K. S. G.

TELUGU

Isavasyopanishattu Translated from Samskrit into Telugu by Sri Kavisekhara Pantula Lakshmi Narayana Sastri, Pandit, Maharaja’s Samskrit College, Vijayanagaram.

Emanating from an author, who is a versatile pandit, poet and sadhaka, this work being the first of its kind, is a valuable addition to the Telugu literature: Translation of original Samskrit hymns into Telugu verses, is followed by word-for-word meaning of the Samsknt hymns. Bhashyas of Sankara, Vedanta Desika and Anandavardhana, together with commentaries on the first two by Anandagiri and Kuranarayana respectively are also translated into lucid Telugu prose. Extracts from other commentaries like Advaitalahari, Uvata Bhashya, Deepika, and Atmapurana are also given wherever they have something new
to say. At the end the translator makes a comparative study of all the views expressed by the previous writers and gives his own opinion in the matter. We would only suggest to the author to include Sakta Bhashya also making this thereby an Encyclopaedia of Isavasyopanishat in Telugu. One may disagree with the personal views of the Translator here and there, but one cannot but congratulate him for the very conception of this form of the
book, and we heartily commend this book to all students of Indian Philosophy.
B. K. R.

BOOKS RECEIVED

The History and Culture of the Indian People-Vol 4: The Age of Imperial Kanauj. Pages 44+585. Price Rs. 35.

Indian Inheritance: Vol. 1. Pages 285. Rs. 1-12-0.

Religious Leaders: Thomas and Thomas. P. 250. Rs. 1-12-0.

City of Paradise and other Kulapathi’s Letters–K. M. Munshi. Pp. 238. Rs. 1-12-0.

On A Forbidden Flight: Satyanarayan Sinha. Pp. 121. Rs. 1-12-0

Kumbha-India’s Ageless Festival: Dilip Kumar Roy and Indira Devi. Pp. 204. Rs. 1-12-0.

Geographical Factors in Indian History: K.. M. Panikkar. Pp. 107. Rs. 1-12-0.

Glory that was Ghurjara Desa -Parts I & II: K. M. Munshi. Rs. 1-12-0 each.

–All the above books are published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay.

Anyoktistabaka of Vamsidhara Misra: J. T. Parikh and R. G. Asti. Published by Sarvajanik Education Society, Surat Pp.76+25. Rs. 2.

Winds of Silence: Prithvi Singh Nahar. Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Pp. 96. Rs. 2-8-0.

Sangeetha Sabdardha Chandrika: Aripirala Satyanarayana Murthi, Gandhinagar, Vijayawada. Pp. 516+54. Rs. 10.

Streela Ramayanapu Patalu: Edited by ‘Krishnasri.’ Published by Andhra Saraswatha Parishat, Hyderabad. Pp. 408. Rs. 10.

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