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

Burra V. Subrahmanyam 

ENGLISH

History of Bengali Literature–byDr. Sukumar Sen. Foreword by Jawaharlal Nehru. Published by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Price: ordinary edition, Rs. 8-00; and de luxe edition, Rs. 10.

I am not aware of any book on Bengali literature as ambitoius and comprehensive as Dr. Sukumar Sen’s. It is an achievement in scholarship and sympathy alike. It succeeds both in outlining general trends and in emphasising individual writing. In a book of about 400 pages, the thread of the growth of the Bengali language is not lost. Even the obscurest author, but only up to the forties of this century. (“The short compass of this history does not allow for the inclusion of writers who have made their mark after 1941, the year that marks Tagore’s death as well as the approach of the Second World War. P. 380.”) is not forgotten, and there is an elegant attempt to assess every kind of writing objectively. It is a book which the literary minded in every language-group in India and in Pakistan should read. It takes one to the roots of a common culture, and delights one by the study of a parallel manifestation. The book has several virtuous qualities which a writer about any other literature in India should emulate. It should stand in the top shelf of any library of Indian literature, worth the name of library.

To all writers and readers in Indian languages, who are, like all moderns, more interested in the present than in the past, it is quite a disappointment that a book on Bengali literature should fail to deal with the post-Tagore, post-Second-World-War period. The emphasis on men like Michael Madhusudan Dutt and a few other ancients, however significant their place in the chronology of literary history, and there are nearly 15 pages about the minutest doings of Dutt, at the expense of modern glories like Sarat Chandra Chatterjee. Buddhadeva Bose and Jibananda Das, is somewhat disconcerting. Even Madhusudan Dutt does not occur till page 212. The earlier epochs and the earlier writers are dealt with in generous detail, sometimes needlessly, and there is a speeding across authors of the 20th century, except Tagore, which does them no real justice. But these are understandable if Dr. Sukumar Sen wrote the earlier chapters unoppressed by the limit set to him in this publication, and realised the limit more and more as he came down the 20th century. Compression distorts the lowest layer most. And it is nobody’s fault.

Dr. Sukumar Sen’s History of Bengali Literature will remain for long a most valuable book on Indian literature.

BURRA V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Essays and Addresses–byD. Gopala Krishnayya. Published by Goshti Book-Trust, Amalapuram (Andhra Pradesh). Edited by Brahma Sree G. V. Subbarao. Price: Rs. 2.

Duggirala Gopala Krishnayya, the most fascinating leader of men that Andhra ever produced, who died fairly young and fairly frustrated, who should have stepped as of right into a leadership in Indian politics but for petty dissensions in Andhra, but for petty considerations in the Gandhian circle, and, above all, but for his own Puck-like qualities, and this Puck was no Ariel who bowed to a Prospero, is an unjustly forgotten leader of action, and is by no means a leader of thought who should be forgotten. His fine achievement in the Cheerala-Perala Satyagraha is rivalled only by Gandhiji’s Champaran and Vallabhbhai’s Bardoli. His thesis about “Brahaminising all the Hindus” is as bold in concept as anything in Hindu thought that came after Sankara and Ramanuja. He was a man with a modern mind, steeped in Hindu thought, and linked to the mass-mind of India–in a Gandhian manner, but with a difference. Gandhiji, outside the politics of independence, was preoccupied with the survival of the Hindus as a race by the elimination of untouchability, and by the purification of the Hindu social order. Gopala Krishnayya, outside the politics of the Rama Dandu (and the Rama Dandu was not just politics), was deeply interested in the survival of Hinduism by the elimination of caste and by the purification of Hindu doctrine. It was perhaps a hopeless cry in the wilderness. Religious leadership in India may not countenance thought, let alone its keeping pace with it. Political leadership is either too secular or too obscure to see the next step in the evolution of Hindu society as clearly as he saw that next step. But there is little doubt that, if Gopala Krishnayya lived longer and thought more clearly, he would have evolved into a more profound thinker and into a more profound man of action than any whom we of the south of India saw in the twentieth century.

These essays and addresses are perhaps not written in the best form, for Gopala Krishnayya lived in a hurry; but they contain his thought in unmistakable language, and it is essential that the generations next to his should read his thought and benefit by contact with a mind passionately attached to the Indian way of life, and passionately directed towards the preservation of a universal culture.

Every young person in India should read this book.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Brahma Sree G. V. Subba Rao for publishing this book.

BURRA V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Whispers from Eternity–by Paramahansa Yogananda. Published by Self-Realisation Fellowship, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. Price 3 dollars.

There is a region in which mere thought is poetry, in whatever manner expressed. And this book of beautiful thoughts, sometimes mystic, sometimes semi-mystic, sometimes common, emanating from an Indian mind settled in America, inheritor of the tradition of Vivekananda, treating Man, the World, Religion and God as one and inseparable, is poetry of that region. I read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. It was an enthralling book. My pleasure in reading Whispers of Eternity was enhanced by my earlier acquaintance with the other book. Whispers of Eternity is by no means a unique phenomenon. Mystic thought, and the love of God as the Beloved or as the Guide, is common to all languages, races and climes. Yet, there is enduring freshness in this book, and it is not surprising that no less a person than Thomas Mann was grateful to Swami Yogananda for granting him “some insight into this fascinating world.”

An excellent book. I was particularly struck by the lovely simplicity of the Children’s Prayers, pages 181 to 187. These prayers should be translated into all the languages of the world, into equally simple and graceful words that penetrate the child-mind.

BURRA V. SUBRAHMANYAM

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