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

Chenna Basava NayakaBy Masti Venkatesa Iyengar. (A historical novel in Kannada rendered into English by Sri Navaratna Rama Rao. Published by Jeevana Karyalaya, Basavangudi, Bangalore. Pages 401. Price Rs. 6.)

The historical novel is a peculiar form of literature, combining in itself the distinguishing features, advantages, and functions of history and literature. Success with this form of literature again requires a rare combination of scholarship, literary craftsmanship and historic imagination in the author. But in the hands of a competent artist, it is capable of proving a powerful cultural influence for reviving, shaping, fostering and preserving, in the minds of the people, the genius of the race and the destiny of the nation.

Especially at the present juncture in the history of our country the importance of a good historical novel cannot be exaggerated. Our country is almost a continent comprising various regions, each with a language and literature of its own, and a long and more or less continuous history too, in many cases, of which the people are naturally proud. At the same time the languages, literatures and histories of these various regions all exhibit obvious similarities and a core of unity in essentials, despite the variety in details and externals, a common culture of great antiquity and high value for the future of humanity. Moreover this country has only recently recovered from a spell of foreign domination and consequent national degeneration and disintegration. A historical novel of the right type and quality should in these circumstances prove a potent influence for mutual understanding, national unity and progress.

Chenna Basava Nayaka of Sri Masti Venkatesa Iyengar undoubtedly belongs to this category and serves the purpose admirably. The distinguished author needs no introduction to the readers of Triveni and others among the cultured public in the country, to whom he should be well-known for his numerous short stories and poems and essays. He presents to his countrymen, in this volume, a novel of outstanding quality, as a mere novel, with a story–of romance, intrigue and pathos–of absorbing interest; impressive and attractive characters, which come to life in the pages; and a criticism of life of universal and eternal value; altogether a delightful treat to the imagination and sustaining solace to the spirit.

He provides us at the same time a full and vivid picture of the life and manners of the people of a distinct region in South India of the eighteenth century, a century of dramatic changes in the political map of the country. The picture of life presented is full and varied and gives us an insight into the social, economic and political conditions of the people–a bit of real history. The intrigues of the court, the customs of the feudal order, the austerities of the religious-minded, the superstitions of the ignorant, the philosophies of the learned, the ethics of the cultured sections of the people, are all portrayed in great detail and with remarkable fidelity.

The plot is based on a historical incident which finds the barest mention in the formal text-books of history even for advanced students of the subject–the conquest and annexation of the principality of Bednur-Nagar by the adventurous general and crafty statesman, Hyder Ali. But on this meagre historical foundation the gifted author raises a superstructure of imposing stature and attractive shape, with many elegant chambers in it inviting the attention of all lovers of good literature and real history.

But the most prominent feature and the greatest attraction to men of culture, in this novel, is the laudable and patriotic endeavour of the distinguished author to present the national ideals of character and conduct through the main characters of the novel, Nemayya, the perfect gentleman, and Shantavva, the sweet and gentle, patient and loving princess.

In rendering the novel into English, Sri Navaratna Rama Rao, another savant of Mysore, equally well known to the readers of Triveni, has laid the cultured public of the other linguistic regions in the country under a deep debt of gratitude for the precious gift which he has thus made available to them. This performance of the leading savants of Kannada is worthy of emulation by the leaders in the literary field in the other linguistic regions.

M. SIVAKAMAYYA

Ramanamurti–By I. Ranganayakulu, M. A., LL. B., Principal, S. S. N. College, Narasaraopet. (Published by Maruthi Book Depot, Guntur-2. Pages 280. Price Rs. 3)

This is a novel depicting the social and political life of Andhra of three decades ago. The time is so recent and yet the changes that have come over the land are immense. As one scene after another unfolds itself, the reader gets the impression that the men and the movements are all familiar, and intimately woven into the texture of our being, but we seem to have moved far away from the time. Wealthy Zamindars pledged to the support of British rule in India, hundreds of volunteers courting imprisonment and braving lathi charges during the Salt Satyagraha Movement, and young men and girls giving up their studies in colleges to devote themselves to the cause of the country, represented important elements in our national life, and the narration awakens memories of the recent past. It was the end of one age and the herald of another.

Sri Ranganayakulu is a scholar of high attainments and a careful observer of the contemporary scene. In addition he is gifted with a flowing and idiomatic style suited to narration as well as to dialogue. Ramanamurti, the hero whom he has created, is an idealist belonging to a prosperous middle-class family of agriculturists, courteous and modest, but with a will that is adamant. He throws up a brilliant career and plunges into the freedom movement. This causes estrangement between him and the family of a Zamindar whose daughter he loved while at college. After a term of imprisonment, he starts an Ashram in his village and wins the affection of the population of the countryside. Meanwhile Sobha, the daughter of the Zamindar, is disillusioned about the love of Raghava Rao, her cousin, and during a visit to the Ashram decides to share the hero’s life and work.

This is a bare outline of the story, told with great wealth of detail and a vivid portrayal of the men and women who flit through the pages. Next to the hero and the heroine, the figure that holds our attention most is that of the Harijan girl, Purna, whom Ramanamurti adopts as a sister and trains as an inmate of the Ashram. But, before her devoted nature could find its fullest expression, she is snatched away by Death.

Ramanamurtiis a novel of Andhra life which one would like to read over again; it invites comparison with Narayana Rao of the late Adivi Bapiraju. There is the same tenderness and grace, and the same sympathetic understanding of life at its noblest.

K. Ramakotiswara Rau

SANSKRIT

Prati Rajasuyam–By KavisarvabhaumaSri Y. Mahalinga Sastry. (Pages 186+25. Sahitya Chandrasala, Tiruvelangadu P. O. Via–Narasingampet, Tanjore Dt. Madras State.)

This is a modern drama of seven Acts written in chaste, lucid and idiomatic Sanskrit by Sri Y. Mahalinga Sastry, the reputed poet and dramatist. Two malicious schemes of Duryodhana, one to annihilate the Pandavas in exile by means of a curse of the choleric sage Durvasa, and the other aimed at insulting and mortifying the Pandavas by exhibiting his own royal paraphernalia before them, form the main theme of the Drama. Sri Krishna comes to the rescue of Draupadi and prevents the sage from cursing. Durvasa, at last, realises the ruse played by Duryodhana and curses him. The second scheme was set at naught by Chitraradha, a Gandharva, who by his missiles makes captives of Duryodhana and his retinue, and sets them free at the intervention of Dharmaja and his brothers. Thus the drama hints at the two memorable morals “molest not others lest you should be molested in turn,” and “we are hundred, and, five, if it is a fight among us, but we are hundred and five, if it is a fight with others.”

But for a few lapses, the incidents of the plot are closelyknit together and the interest of the reader is kept alive throughout the play, though one doubts its stageability here and there. Influences of the two Sanskrit dramasAbhijnana Sakuntalam' and ‘Venisamhara’ can be easily seen by a discerning reader in some acts and descriptions of this drama, and one can with interest visualise, in Sudarsana, a modern Leftist orator who by his eloquence and convincing logic tries to arouse the passions of the public against the government in power.

Characterisation is the most attractive feature of this drama. The villainy of Duryodhana and Karna, Dharmaja’s adherence to Dharma, Draupadi’s ardent devotion to Sri Krishna, and Sudarsana’s righteous indignation and undaunted courage are all wellbrought out.

Dharma Vira is the predominant sentiment of the play while the emotions of Vira, Srungarabhasa, Hasya, devotion and pathos occupy a subsidiary place.

Vrittauchitya or propriety of metres is another distinguishing feature of this drama, which can be read with profit and pleasure. We heartily congratulate the author for his unsurpassed success in writing a Sanskrit drama in modern times, and earnestly request and appeal to the public to encourage the author and enable him to bring to light his unpublished and invaluable compositions.

Saundaryalahari(of Sri Sankaracharya)–with three Sanskrit commentaries, English Translation and Notes and with a Foreword by Dr. C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar. (600 Pages–Royal octavo. Cloth bound. Price Rs. 25. Publishers: Ganesh & Co. Private Ltd. Madras-17.)

This is an excellent edition of Sri Sankaracharya’s Saundaryalahari, which contains in itself the beauties of a devotional lyric and the secrets of the ‘Sakta Tantras’. In this deluxe edition of the text we have three Sanskrit commentaries, Saubhagyavardhaniof Kaivalyasvamin, Laxmidharaof Laxmidhara Acharya and Arunamodiniof Kamesvara Surin.

Laxmidhara’s commentary is neither too brief nor too elaborate but is clear and to the point. Word for word meaning, prose order, and primary meanings of the verses, are all given here. Etymological meanings of words like ‘Siva’ and ‘Sauri’ are also discussed in detail. ‘Agama Rahasyardha’ is also found explained here and there. Laxmidhara interprets the verses from the viewpoint of Sri Sankara’s Advaita in short but lucid sentences--cf-avidyavacchinna chaitanyasyaiva Brahmanah Jagannirmane Saktatvat (commentary on the 1st verse). Thus, in short, what Mallinatha is to the Sanskrit Kavyas of Kalidasa, that Laxmidhara is to Saundaryalahari.

Kaivalyasvamin, in his Saubhagyavardhania more elaborate, commentary quotes profusely from Tantric texts, and offers for the first verse not less than six Tantric interpretations in addition to its ordinary meaning. It may be noted here that he bases his Advaitic interpretation of the verse, on the principle of non-difference between ‘Sakti’ and ‘Saktiman.’

Arunamodiniis more elaborate; scholarly and exhaustive than the other two. It has all the five prominent characteristics of a Vyakhyana. Kamesvara Surin, the author of this commentary, argues at length, and finally establishes that this Saundaryalahariis a Kavya of the highest order. In his interpretations of the verses, he often differs from his predecessors including Laxmidhara and Kaivalyasvamin also, and does not hesitate to criticise them. For the first verse he offers fourteen interpretations, one of them being from the viewpoint of Vedantins. He also quotes profusely from the Tantric texts and gives etymological meanings of important words wherever necessary, and in addition he is all attention to the grammatical and rhetorical peculiarities in the verses. Thus he studies and comments upon the text both as a Kavya and a Mantra Sastra.

Another attractive and most useful feature of this edition is its English commentary, wherein are explained Prayogasof all the verses with illustrated ‘Yantras’, making this work thereby a practical guide for the Sadhakas.

English translation and Notes by Pandit R. Ananta Krishna Sastry and Sri Karra Ramamurty Garu, B. A., B. L., the scholarly English Introduction by Pandit R. Ananta Krishna Sastry, and the short note in English on “The Advaita in the Saundaryalahari” by Sri P. Sankaranarayana enhance the value of this edition.

B. KUTUMBA RAO

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