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 Indian National Movement: D. C. Gupta. Vikas Publications, Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore. Price: Rs. 25.

This is a political history of modern India from the rise of British power in India to the time Britain quit India, dealing in particular with the Indian National Movement, its different phases and the opposition, both internal and external, that it had to overcome before the final consummation. Many writers have already dwelt with the theme and with particular phasis of it. But this book is a distinct contribution, characterised as it is by compactness, scholarliness and by a proper perspective. The author does well to point out, in dealing with the rise of British power in India in the I chapter, that India “never before lost its independence and was never enslaved.” She had never been a colony of any foreign empire. In the same chapter, dealing with the way the rebellion of 1857 was suppressed, the author remarks that it was “with the ruthlessness of a Chengiz Khan, and a reign of terror was let loose upon the armless people.”

The subsequent chapters deal with the genesis and growth of Indian Nationalism and of the Indian National Congress, and the Surat split, including an account of the growth of Muslim communalism, “which doubtless was welcomed by the British both in India and England,” though it may be argued that they did not actively promote it. The impact of the I World War on Indian politics, the N. C. O. Movement, the work of the Swaraj Party and the communal question which bedevilled Indian politics are the themes of subsequent chapters. The long-drawn out negotiations, which formed the prelude to the British dividing and quitting India are briefly and lucidly narrated, as also the heroic efforts made by Subash Chandra Bose to secure foreign help to drive out the British.

There will be general agreement with what the author says towards the end of the book that the British decision to quit India was by no means an act of political magnanimity. “It was only the force of circumstances and the inscrutable march of time that brought about the end of the British rule. And before they left they ensured that there would be a permanent imbalance on the Indian continent. The transfer of power two months earlier than scheduled appeared to be a step in that direction. The result of this haste was, that the princely states were not able to decide about their future status and the question of accession to India or Pakistan, the frontiers between the two dominions were not fully settled and carved out; the minorities in India and Pakistan were not given enough opportunity to migrate from one country to another; and a few other problems were left unsolved. All these continued to cause bitterness and hostility between India and Pakistan in the post-Independence era, and this possibly was a British intent.” An impressive Bibliography and an Index are added at the end of the book.

A few errors which have crept into a book so well-written and documented may be pointed out. Sri Ramakrishna was born in 1836 (not in 1834) and was not descended from Chaitanya (p.24). W. E. Gladstone does not seem to have attended the Madras Congress of 1887 as mentioned (p. 40). No no-tax campaign was inaugurated in Guntur in 1922 (p. 101). These need correction.

It is a book which ought to find a place in the school and college libraries of India.


Coins of Southern India: Sir Walter Elliot. Published by Prithvi Prakashan, Varanasi. Price: Rs. 60.

The present volume is a reprint of the nearly century old monumental work by Sir Walter Elliot.

Indian historical research, and especially epigraphy and numis­matics, owe an eternal debt of gratitude to such stalwarts like Prinsep (who read the Brahmi script), Elliot, Dr. Fleet, etc., who, working in a different country under difficult conditions, did so much to reconstruct our historical knowledge.

Sir Walter Elliot, during his days as a civil servant, in the old Madras Presidency, collected a great deal of information about the ancient history of South India. In this present book he has given a very valuable introduction regarding the geographical features of South India, and also a historical sketch of the principal rulers of South India who issued dynastic coinages. The material collected by Sir Walter Elliot had to be edited by him in his old age, in his native country, when, with the failure of his eye sight, and other difficulties, he had to face stupendous problems in preparing this volume.

The present book gives also details of the coins of several South Indian dynasties like the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Yadavas, etc.

Much of the historical matter given in this volume has had to be recast in view of the phenomenal progress made in historical research in South India in the past hundred years. Very valuable and scientific treatises on the coinages of the various empires have since appeared from the pen of very distinguished Indian and international writers.

The present book has, therefore, got mainly an antiquarian value, in as much as it reproduces the work done by a stalwart, against very heavy odds, nearly a hundred years ago, when modern methods of research and other technical accessories were not available.

It is a tribute to the greatness of the genius of Sir Walter Elliot, that this book, in spite of its being out-of-date by nearly a hundred years, contains in core and in essence, a correct estimate of the numismatic history of South India. One wishfully wishes, that such stalwarts should come from the present generation of historical writers and research students.

Burial Practices in Ancient India: Dr. Purushotham Singh. Published by Prithvi Prakashan, Varanasi. Price: Rs. 60.

The present book is a very valuable study in depth, on the burial practices in ancient India, as gleaned from the evidence of archaeological excavations conducted in India in the past two decades or so. The author has very carefully collected all the available evidence, and has systematized and codified them so as to present to the research student a broad perspective of the knowledge as it exists, on the subject. Archaeological excavation, if it should proceed on scientific lines, should be problem-oriented, and to enable such excavations to be planned and undertaken, a review of what has already been done is very essential, so that the future lines of work could be made clear and definite. The present book by Dr. Purushotham Singh admirably serves this need.

The author has summarised the available knowledge before 1945, when modern archaeological methods were introduced in India, under the guidance of Sir Martiner Wheeler. He has then reviewed the post-1945 evidence, in the light of the previous information, and has critically examined the subject period-wise and state-wise. His remarks on the late stone age burials and the megalithic burials are of particular value.

The megalithic burial practices, when the introduction of iron as the principal tool for weapons and household utensils in the first few centuries of the first millennium B. C., introduced many radical changes in the life of early man, have been dealt with, in very great and elaborate detail. This is as it should be, since the origin, chronology, and evolution of the megalithic burials is one of those unsolved problems of Indian archaeology, which has been seriously agitating the minds of scholars and students. The megaliths of Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Mysore and Kerala have been studied in separate sections, while the last section of the same chapter gives a general picture of burial practices as observed from these graves along with a summary of megaliths in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The megaliths reported from the different parts of the north and north-west parts of India have been dealt with in the next chapter. The chapter on megaliths occupies nearly one-third of the book, and the material accumulated on this subject, over the last one hundred years, has been very carefully and critically studied and reviewed.

Of particular interest and importance is the last but one chapter, where the author has reviewed the practices regarding the disposal of the dead among the tribal people of India. The tribal societies mirror to us the religious beliefs of our forerunners. This section is of particular importance to us, as the authorship and chronology of the late stone age, chalcolithic and megalithic cultures, are still not finally settled, and such a review would perhaps be useful to us for planning excavations in the tribal areas.

The author has with commendable modesty stated that the remarks of Sir Martiner Wheeler made elsewhere, would be equally applicable to the present work, viz., “A dozen years ago, it could not have been written; a dozen years hence it will have to be re-written.” In view of the fast pace at which new evidences are accumulating every year, a review of our knowledge of ancient burial practices in the next 10 to 15 years would become inevitable. If so, Dr. Purushotham Singh would rank as a leading scholar who has contributed a great deal for a knowledge of this difficult subject.

Sages, Saints and Arunachala Ramana: By Bhagavan Priya M. F.     Taleyarkhan. Orient Longman, Madras-2. Price: Rs. 15.

In times when we are having biographies and reminiscences mostly of politicians and publisists of rank, it is somewhat unusual to come upon an autobiography of a person who has been out and out a seeker of spiritual solace in the midst of a life which could have been spent really for other ambitions. Mrs. Taleyarkhan has been a well-known devotee of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and her high-society associations are quite attractive in themselves for filling the page of a book of recollections. Still, she has not shown any lukewarmness or indifference to what she claims as her legiti­mate career of purposefulness. The episodes and experiences of a woman, who, despite a comfortable home and a loving spouse, had chosen a path of fulfilment in doing penances and living austerely, and throwing her lot with every kind of being in the social hierarchy, ranging from an outcaste to the Ruler of a Native State, cannot but evoke our sincere admiration. But to be a spiritual seeker oneself and at the same time a writer of standing are not easily achievable, unless one has the gift and the determination to awaken in others an equal enthusiasm for the none-too-alluring life of a Sadhaka. We have here a series of pen-pictures of her contacts with people of a variety of social status, yet mainly drawn towards her and her work in the Ashrama.

In the first few chapters we are supplied with her antecedents and her early proclivities to a life of spirituality and service. It reads like a romance to find her going the unusual way for doing penance at Buddha Gaya under the Bodhi tree. The days of her striving to get light and her final choice of a Master in Ramana Maharshi are narrated with sufficient sense of proportion and selection of details.

No doubt there are incidents which we have to accept as miracles, and far from treating them with scepticism and disbelief which normally in our growing materialistic outlook we may be tempted to do, the insignia of sincerity and faith in the narration keeps us bound to the pages with an avidity that is almost akin to what we realise when reading a high class hagiology. She has enabled us to visualise the necessary ground for a devotee of saints such as Ramana and Sri Anand Mayi, and her steadfastness in the pursuit of their bountious grace in order to make her own life entirely unsophisticated and serviceable to humanity.

In between we have a lot of details and accounts of the many other types of people with whom she had inevitably come into contact owing to her earlier upbringing in affluent circumstances. On the whole the book of nearly two hundred and fifty odd pages of easy narration with an appendix containing important documents and letters is a valuable addition to the literature of hagiography. The foreword of the late Sri Sir Prakasa and of Dr. Radhakrishnan confirm the significance that we can attach to a book of this kind.

Vallothol Kavitaigal (Poems of Vallothol): Translated by Thuraivan. Published by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 5.

The Sahitya Akademi has really done a service to other parts of India as well as to the literary world as a whole by having the poems of Mahakavi Vallothol in Malayalam translated into Tamil. It is needless to enumerate the contributions of Vallothol to art in general and particularly to Kathakali of Kerala by his well-known institution of Natya Kala-Mandali. His fame as a poet stands undiminished now for more than fifty years. Having been nurtured in Sanskrit culture he had early written poems breathing the aroma of the ancient tradition. His next stage of development encompassed poetic vision which looked far into the future. The third stage of his growth could not keep stagnant but sprout into a dynamic precursor of the economic and socialistic change which the country in recent decades has been witnessing. In that sense he was a Progressivist heralding the coming new world.

Here are some of the choice selections from the mass of his writing. ‘Thuraivan’ who is an accredited poet himself, has enabled the Tamil-knowing people to have a peep into the rich mine of Vallothol’s thought. His ‘Mariam Maddalan’ has already come out in the English garb. It has earned the legitimate appreci­ation due to it in its original. ‘Babu’, describing the tragic end of Gandhiji is a moving poem which read, even after more than a quarter of a century, revives in the reader’s heart the same poignancy of feelings as at the time when it was written. Seventeen of the poet’s unfading poetic blooms are thus gathered here in a beautiful bouquet worthy to be presented to a generation that is fast becoming outmoded in its tastes and sympathies.

The introduction to the volume by Sardar K. M. Panikkar adds considerably to the interest it even otherwise can generate in readers.

The Whole Man: Body, Mind and Spirit: Roscoe Van Nuye. Philosophi­cal Library, New York. Price: 5-95 dollars.

The volume under review is a rare kind of book. It is the picture of human life and the relation between Mind, Spirit and Body as revealed to the sub-conscious mind of a veteran retired radiologist. The author’s conceptions make a departure from the traditional formats. According to the interpretation of Mr. Roscoe Van we are all meant to create and be independent adventurers in God’s maelstrom of creation. The account stimulates in the reader self-appreciation and spiritual development. He stands for the philosophy change and has affinities to Bergson. He advocates radical changes in the environment of men. His appeal to the youth of the world is remarkable. He asks them to be revolutionary in a constructive way with purposive and considered objectives. He is against all forms of irrational destructive violence without any good goals in view.

The three parts of the whole man are body, mind and spirit and our author does not neglect any of them and pays its due. The importance of the sub-conscious mind is emphasised as the potential instrument to contact the all-pervasive essence God. His remarks of the spirit and its functions are significant and informing. The volume is a fine collection of deep reflections on topics that are related to life. It is full of wisdom and simple argument. The large number of evils such as wars, violence, human cupidity and cussedness are all analysed into its components and their actions are described. In short it is an excellent book of spiritual musings.

A Philosophy of Man and Society: Forrest H. Peterson. Philosophical Library, New York. Price: 8-50 dollars.

The author who at present is the Chairman and the Head of the Department of Philosophy in Southern Connecticut State College in New Haven, Connecticut has put forth a vigorous plea for a new outlook in philosophy. He holds that the prime function of philosophy is the understanding of human life in relation to the appropriate areas of social effort in the rebuilding of human society in the image of social justice and individual freedom. Prof. Peterson takes a dynamic view of society and its evolution. He affirms the potential fact of creative energy each newborn person creeps into this world. The individual social component must be channelised into social heritage.

The book goes into eleven neat chapters covering a very wide field of human activity. The different current ideologies are examined, e.g., Marx’s dialectic theory, Hegel’s Logic, social contract theories and their pros and cons are disclosed. There is an interesting note on the role of a teacher in society and his place. A list of duties of the teacher is set forth under the title “Norms for professional conduct (213-222). There is a masterly analysis of the role of freedom and education which needs special study. Unlike technical treatises on philosophy, the book avoids both the types of obscurities, i.e., obscurity of idea and obscurity of expression, by its clarity and easy style. Reading the book is liberal education in the art and the science.

The Vanishing Empire: Edited by Chaman Lal. Sagar Publications, 72 Janapath, Ved Mansion, New Delhi-1. Price: Rs. 35-00.

The Law of Karma inexorably works in the life of a nation, as it does in the life of an individual. This axiom is best illustrated in Lal’s “The Vanishing Empire”. The British hegemony over India, taken to be a perpetuity, was forced to down its shutters and decamp with bag and baggage; a contingency never thought of even in a dream.

In the chapter “Glorious Ind” the reader is feted with a dazzling vision of hoary India and a formidable catalogue of references to God, Max Mueller, Hereen and a host of other celebrities, in testimony of India’s mighty past and its cultural conquests of foreign lands to wit: S. E. Asia, America and Syria. It is a truism that the rule of one nation over another is, according to Abe Lincoln, a tyranny. And may be, an abnormality too. Imperialism can project a democratic image and radiate a benevolent look. But its tooth and claw are ever red.
Chapters III to X make a nice and edifying study of intolerable and autocratic governance of the Britishers in the costly civil service, the expensive army, heavy taxation, an educational structure unrelated to the needs of the country, a judicial system biased in favour of the colonisers, an impoverished rural India, devitalising famines and indigenous industries destroyed to the utter ruination of the countryside.

The saying goes that one can fool some people sometime, and he cannot fool all the people all the time. Likewise brave beginnings have ill-endings. And high-pitched tonic trails away into a disenchanting flat.

In the chapter “Britain Exposed” are related the awakening of the sophisticated elite and dumb millions to the stern realities of the British Rule from their slumberous depths and their massive non-violent protest against the silk-gloved white domination.

Chapters XII to XV deal with the independence struggle, the enormities perpetrated by the military regime on innocent souls, blood-curdling sacrifices, made by the sons and daughters of India, press censorship and brutal legislative measures, of the Britishers, to suppress the Movement, and bleed the victim white, never to allow it rise and strike .

But fortunately the tables were turned on White Neras. As Gandhiji prophesied, England had to answer for their high misdemeanours and crimes against humanity and were compelled to quit. Thus the British Empire in India collapsed after a record misrule of about two centuries.

The book “Vanishing Empire” depicts the struggle of man against oppression and tyranny and will be read by all who love liberty and abhor bondage.

Discovering Indian Sculpture: Charles Fabri. Affiliated East-West Press, Pvt., Ltd., New Delhi.

Sculpture cannot be appreciated by everybody so easily as the painting, for the former is devoid of colour and the illusion of realistic perspective. Especially Indian sculpture has got its own conventions, styles, mannerisms and psychological implications, which Dr. Charles Fabri had made explicit in this book. The special feature of this book reveals itself in the fact that the number of the illustrated pages is greater than that of the pages containing the text.

Late Dr. Fabri was a celebrated art-historian, critic, connoisseur, scholar and linguist knowing English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Sanskrit and Persian. He had specialised in the study of Indian art. His approach to Indian Sculpture is plastic and aesthetic, rather than religious and esoteric; form is more essential than the theme in works of plastic arts; he belongs to this conviction. He did not believe in the purity of any country’s art without having been influenced by the arts of the other countries. Yet, he was of the opinion that Indian sculpture had hardly got any trace of foreign influence, except some Irani influence in the beginning and later some Hellenistic influence. Dr. Fabri begins his text with the following:

“Indian sculpture has a history of more than two thousand years. During these two millenia there have been changes. Each period, each century shows a change in taste, in manner, in style. The history of these changes in style and manner is, in fact, the history of art. It makes history fascinating. Indeed it is far more interesting than asking what a piece of sculpture represents.....You will be missing all the beauty and the fascination if you are only interested in the theme, in the subject-matter of a work of art.” This denotes Dr. Fabri’s approach to Indian sculpture.

Dr. Fabri’s book under review is thin in size and yet vast in content; its quality is greater than its quantity; it is intensive rather than extensive. Some of the photographs of the sculptures reproduced in this lovely volume have been taken by Dr. Fabri himself. Dr. Fabri is a pure formalist and that was why he emphasised:

“This is style–style that is different in every age and always changes. This book deals with the styles of Indian art history. It does not deal with religious beliefs and mythology. In other words, we deal with the beauty of sculpture, the way each generation expresses itself in artistic creation.”

Indian sculpture has often been interpreted in two ways–erotic and esoteric, ignoring the aesthetic one. That was why Dr. Fabri had chosen the neglected phase of Indian sculpture. Indian sculpture is not spiritual nor Western sculpture profane. Indian sculpture is both spiritual and profane in the same way as Western sculpture is both spiritual and profane. Art is primarily aesthetic and other aspects are secondary.

Dr. Fabri says that until the third century B. C. there was very little Indian sculpture. Wood and ivory and also terra-cotta precede stone in Indian sculpture. In the third century B.C. during Emperor Asoka’s reign stone images began to be chilled by Indian sculptors. Asoka ordered to erect stone pillars at various significant places “where many people gathered and had his masons inscribe on those pillars imperial orders: asking officials to be kind and just to his people; to follow the teachings of the Buddha; to help the poor, the old and the sick; to make good roads; and other useful instructions.”

Emperor Asoka imported from Iran some talented sculptors for assisting his stone-masons. These masons of Iran brought along with them their own conceptions and conventions which found expression in the earlier Asoka pillars. Thus the earlier Indian sculpture was influenced by Iranian art. The Lion Capital of Saranath has been the most reputed of Asoka’s columns. Dr. Fabri says of the columns, “The first thing to observe is that no one is known to have made anything like it, Persian or Indian. It is strikingly original, as most Indian art is. On the other hand, the lions on top are highly “formalistic”, not natural, not the result of a careful reproduction of reality. In fact, they go to very old examples (some as old as 3000 B. C.) in Western Asia.”

The author was very meticulous in tracing the origins of various phases of Indian sculpture. Sculpture is generally found in two phases–round sculpture and relief sculpture. The early Indian sculptors deemed it unnecessary to toil with the large stones for making the round sculptures. People view any sculpture from the front and not from the ; this conception gave birth to relief sculpture which contains the front side of the figures alone, eliminating the portion. Dr. Fabri says, “With the rarest exceptions most Indian sculpture is relievocarving and not sculpture in the round.” The earlier relief sculpture of “A Yakshi and a Yaksha” from Bharhut has been beautifully reproduced in this book.

In Indian art the classical stage arrived in the 4th and the 5th centuries. ‘Classical’ means not only to depict the theme in a masterly manner but also to create beauty in the execution of form. During these two centuries the sculptor had turned the inanimate stone into an animate enhancement! One of the examples of these classical creations of this period is a sensitively modeled stucco relief figure of a Nagini from Bihar (Plate 12), “shyly looking down and standing in a pose of great ease and elegance.”

The Classical sculptures belonging to these two centuries have been veritable embodiments of peace, harmony and joy. No mental aberrations could find expression in these charming creations of stone; these sculptures are free from superfluous orna­mentation and, spurious mannerisms, “This finest hour of Indian art is comparable to the best sculpture made anywhere in the world, at any time.”

The art history of India had a new chapter by the invasion of the North-west of India by the Greeks. Out of this Greek influence had emerged the school of Greeco-Gandhara sculpture. This school of sculpture is a lovely blending of the grace of Indian art and the vigour of Greek art; a harmony of the idealism of Indian art and the realism of the Greek art. The Asiatic conception and the Western execution have found their plastic expression in the Greeco-Gandhara sculpture.

One of the most glorious periods of Indian sculpture has been the Andhra Satavahana reign. The finest Indian sculpture of Buddhistic themes was made in Amaravati during that period. Amaravati sculptures are indeed poems in stones! The graceful curved line of vivant rhythm has nowhere found finer expression than in the sculptures of Amaravati. Next to Amaravati come the enchanting sculptures of Nagarjunakonda of the Ikshwaku period. Nagarjunakonda sculptures have got greater aesthetic appeal than those of Amaravati. Sculptures of Amaravati are epical while those of Nagarjunakonda are lyrical. All these schools of Indian sculpture have aptly been dealt with by Dr. Charles Fabri in his book under review.

The Indian art history has a distinctive chapter of South Indian bronzes with their special approach to sculpture and Mr. Fabri has vividly dealt with these South Indian bronzes in this book.

The book is exquisitely produced with critical text and creative plates containing almost all examples of every school of Indian sculpture. At the end of the book is given a distinct glossary.

Dr. Charles Fabri has, in producing this lovely publication, evinced extensive observation and intensive introspection.

Gems from the Tantras (Kularnava):M. P. Pandit. Published by Ganesh & Co., Private Ltd., Madras-17. Price: Rs. 6-00.

Tantras are practical guides to Vedanta Philosophy. They are catholic in spirit, universal in application and practical in approach. Essential teachings of Tantras are identical with those of the Upanishads. Sri M. P. Pandit, the prolific writer on Philosophy and Yoga, drank deep the honey of the essence of the Tantra literature, culled about one hundred and five shining gems of maxims and teachings from the Kularnava Tantra, dealing with one hundred subjects arranged alphabetically, and presented them in this slender butattractive volume. Each teaching is translated into English, and an explanatory commentary also is added to it. There is rhetorics and poetry in the following:

There is a practical approach and guidance in the following definition of a Tyaagi.

It is a pleasure to read this book and we eagerly await the other numbers in this series.

Drama in Sanskrit Literature: by Adya Rangacharya. Popular Prakashan 35-C Tardeo Road, Bombay 34. W. B. Price Rs. 20-00.

There are books and books on Sanskrit drama but few can rival this is in refreshing approach to the subject. The author, an actor and play-wright himself, strongly feels, contrary to the prevailing views, that Sanskrit dramas are not only plays of mere poetic splendour but plays first and poetry next and that they had something definite of their own to convey through rearrangements or modifications of the age-old stories, a view very often missed by many critics.

An original thinker the author is, he has some new opinions to pronounce, whether they are acceptable or not to all. The word Bharata in the Natya Sastra, according to the author, refers to in the first instance to some members and descendents of a clan or family of the name. Sanskrit drama has least to do with religion and religious rites and is the work of a people treated as anti-Vedic, and its origins are to be sought in the interests of lower castes; Suta, but not the puppet shows, originated dramatic representation and the Sutradhara is the original Suta. The author breaks fresh ground regarding the conception of Sutradhara, Prastavana, Vishkambhaka, Pravesika, and Vidushaka, and frankly expresses his original views thereby injecting some new blood into the old criticism.. Comparative study of the Rasa theory and western theory of conflict in drama dealt with in the 19th chapter is valuable and worth studying. The salient features of the plays of Kalidasa, Bhavabhuti, Sriharsha and Sudraka are illustrated with suitable quotations from them.

The Golden-Treasury of Indo-Anglian Poetry.Selected and edited by V. K. Gokak. Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Price. 15.

The Sahitya Akademi deserves congratulations on bringing out a very comprehensive and representative anthology which richly deserves to be christened the Golden Treasury. Professor. V. K. Gokak is an outstanding poet and renowned scholar of English. He has done his job as compiler and editor exceedingly well by exploring authentic material covering a vast field from Derozio to P. Lal. The Bibliography enhances the value of the anthology as a useful source of reference to students and scholars alike. The material selected for inclusion is full of variety indicating the several phases of the evolution of Indo-Anglian poetry during one hundred and fifty years.

Professor Gokak’s elaborate introduction not only traces the historical development but also deals with the problems connected with theme and technique. He remarks that it is unfair to say that Indo-Anglian poetry is merely a satellite moving round the sun of English poetry even though it has gone through the phases of Romanticism, Victorianism, Decadence, Georgianism and Modernism. According to Professor Gokak the themes dealt with by Indian poets writing in English include love of India, dominant note of spirituality, yearning for liberation, anticipation of a glorious destiny, deep interest in national legends and myths, satirical attitude towards superstition, and an attempt to evolve an integral philosophy based upon the fine perceptions of East and West. He declares that Indo-Anglian poetry is Indian first and everything else afterwards as it voices the aspirations, the joys and sorrows of the Indian people. But sentimentality and fatuity of theme accompanied by lack of sure grasp of the English language resulted in dismal failures and insipid banalities.

Unlike David McCutchion, Professor Gokak considers Sri Aurobindo’s epics, lyrics and longer philosophical poems distinctly Indian and a dynamic contribution to world literature. He offers an analytical study of different levels of style found in Sri Auro­bindo’s works as a measure of Indian achievement.

Since 1947 India has embarked upon a cultural exchange which has untold possibilities. Indian writing in English is no longer tied to the apron strings of creative writing in English. Professor Gokak looks forward to significant attempts at translating Indian literature into English.

The “Golden Treasury of Indo-Anglian Poetry” shall find an honoured place on the shelf of everyone interested in the study of English poetry written by Indians who continue to use it as a vehicle of creative expression.

Seer Poets: Nolini Kanta Gupta. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Price: Rs. 4-00

Sri Nolini Kanta Gupta has offered a selection of his literary essays in this slender and precious volume which begins with a less-known Vedic story and ends with an assessment of Wordsworth. There are short, yet illuminating studies of modern writers like Boris Pasternak, George Seferis, Jules Superville and Robert Graves. Mr. Gupta’s survey of the mystic poetry of Bengal is brilliant because of intuitive approach. His translation of two modern Bengali mystic poems is at once authentic and felicitous. The brief essay on Tagore and Aurobindo establishes beyond doubt that they have been wayfarers towards the same God each following his own individual path. Mr. Gupta characterizes William Wordsworth as the most masculine among the Romantic poets and remarks that because of this quality his appeal to the Bengali mind has been limited. Critical acumen, clarity of expression and dispassionate assessment render this volume not only worth-reading but also worth-preserving.

Psychic Research, Occultism and Yoga: Vankeepuram Varadachari. Distributors: Higginbothams (P) Ltd., Madras. Price: Rs. 5.

There have been popular books on Yoga, there have been books on psychic research, hypnotism, mesmerism, etc. It is to the author’s credit that the ancient wisdom of India and modern thought on the occult side of the human being are brought together in one serious study. Well documented, the book deals with the phenomena of hypnosis, hysteria, superphysical bodies and planes; autoscopy, P. S. I. faculties and mediumship. There is an interesting chapter on the taking of drugs like L. S. D. to induce in oneself extra sensory faculties and hallucinations ofa vivid nature. Stressing the involuntary nature of all these phenomena, the author declares that by the practice of Yoga all such automatic powers can be consciously acquired and wielded and also the effects of the psychotomimetric agents controlled at the will of the conscious self.

The author rightly warns that the development of parapsychic powers are not necessarily an index of spiritual advancement. Only when these spasmodic powers are deliberately attained and exercised by the psychophysical disciplines of yoga, man has achieved. Directing us to the clarion-call of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga, the author brilliantly concludes, “The summum bonum of man as such, is to realise his identity with the transcendent Divine in himself as well as to realise that the world outside also is the expression of the self same Divine, and to express the boundless potentialities of his inner life in more and more creative ways to the glorification of the Divine.”

Indian Journalism: Nadig Krishnamurti. Published by the Mysore University, Mysore-4.  Price: Rs. 25.

The Press in India is a growth of the last two centuries. It is younger than the British Press of which it is an offshoot by some 150 years. Despite its exotic origin and traditions, it has become thoroughly acclimatized to the Indian clime and conditions and developed its own distinctive traits. Today it represents a powerful force for people’s liberties, democratic institutions and social welfare as much as in the more advanced free countries of the West.

The first newspaper in India was started in 1780 by an Englishman. More were born in the succeeding three decades­–all started by Europeans, mostly Englishmen, published in the English language and circulating almost entirely among the European settlers. It was not until 1816 that the first Indian-owned newspaper was started by G. Bhattacharya in Bengal, but it was short-lived. Raja Rammohan Roy started papers in 1821 for promoting his own social reform programme but his activities covered the educational and political fields also. He was a doughty fighter for press freedom, though journalism was not his prime concern in running the papers. Others followed in Bengal and other parts of the country in the succeeding decades mostly in the Indian languages, but soon after the Great “Mutiny” we see the birth of Indian-owned English newspapers some of which, happily, are still going strong.

The march of Indian journalism is highlighted by the contributions made by Western journalists of high character, professional competence and pro-Indian sympathies, like Buckingham and Robert Knight in the last century and Besant and Horniman in the present century. The work of these enlightened foreigners helped much in the growth of the traditions of a free press and building up high standards of journalistic performance. Of course, there were great stalwarts and illustrious makers of the Indian Press like Rammohan Roy, Kristodas Pal, Ghosh Brothers, Surendranath Banerjee, Ranade, G. Subrahmania Iyer, S. Kasturiranga Iyengar, A. Rangaswami Iyengar. C. Y. Chintamani, S. A. Brelvi and a host of others who made their own big contribution.

Many were the difficulties that the Indian Press had to face in the course of its history arising from the hostility of the rulers on the one hand and on the other, hurdles presented by the illiteracy and poverty of the people, the undeveloped state of communications and transport, dependence on foreign sources for essentials of newspaper production, lack of trained personnel, high costs and other discouraging factors. Some of these inhibiting factors still persist. How they are being gradually overcome and how newspapers have been building up from small beginnings into a powerful media, some of them comparable in quality with the best in the world, is a romantic story of dedicated effort; professional zeal and courage, and organising talent.

Mr. Nadig Krishnamurti, a keen student of journalism and head of the department of journalism in Mysore University, has in this volume dealt almost with all aspects of this fascinating story of Indian journalism in a manner which shows painstaking labour and deep study. The present publication represents the thesis he presented to that University for his Ph.D. degree, now published with the aid of the University Grants Commission. In 22 well- formed chapters, he covers the most significant developments in the field, with their historical ground, from the earliest times to the year 1965. Contemporary topics relating to the press Commission Press Council, newsprint shortage, training in journalism, etc. are also covered while four appendices provide statistical information about newspapers as in 1965. It is as praiseworthy an effort as it is comprehensive and informative.

One cannot however, omit to mention that quite a few errors have occurred which detract from a publication under such high credentials. A few of the more glaring ones are given here. The consensus of historians is that Sir Charles Metcalfe was “the Liberator of the Indian Press”, not only by his repeal of all repressive press laws in 1835, but by his consistent championship of press freedom even previously. The reference (on page 144) to Metcalfe as “that great Liberator” of the Press and the statement (on page 219) that Bentinck’s “name will stand forever as the Liberator of the Indian Press” may need clarification. In this connection it may be noted that Bentinck’s liberalism towards the press as Governor-General is in contrast to his earlier attitude and historians ascribe this change to the influence of Metcalfe. The statement (on p. 50) that the “A. B. Patrika” became an English paper overnight to escape the Press Act of 1857, as well as the statement that Ripon as viceroy repeated this Act in 1882 needs correction. The A. B. Patrika was started in 1868 (not 1862 as stated on p. 54), and is changed to English in 1878 “overnight” on the eve of the enactment of Lytton’s Vernacular Press Act. This was the Act repealed during Ripon’s viceroyalty in 1882. The Act of 1857 was in force for only one year. The Partition of Bengal was made by Lord Curzon in 1905 and it could not be the result of the Minto-Morley Reforms” (p. 69) which were ushered in four years later. The Communal Award of 1932 we are told (p. 92) “created separate electorates for Hindus and Muslims” and Nationalist Muslims opposed it. On the other hand, separate communal electorates for Muslims had been in existence since the Minto-Morley reforms of 1909 and what the Communal Award sought to do was to create separate electorates for the Depressed Classes (Harijans) also. It was this move which Gandhiji opposed and countered by a fast and was ultimately modified in terms of the Poona Pact.

Evolution of India...Its Meaning: By Sisir Kumar Mitra. Jaico Publishing House, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bombay-1. Price: Rs. 4.

From the pen of one who has probed deep into India’s cultural spiritual past must flow gems of thoughts and interpretations. Additionally, Sisir Kumar Mitra is an inveterate Indologist and an indomitable and thought-provoking writer.

To many Indian readers a word of praise for his country from Western observer is gospel truth while an Indian’s solicitousness is baseless vanity. This habit of mind, however, is not without a genesis. Quite a number of Indians are so obsessed with their country’s achievements in the past that every other nation in the world is second-rate. Naturally, sensitive and sensible people have resisted such an exercise in indecent ego-centricism. Opinions gleaned from Western Indologists have greatly helped in throwing light on the subject.

A large number of Western observers have been profusely quoted throughout this book, and as they have no conceivable reason not to be objective, every Indian will benefit by a perusal of the book (whose paper edition is so cheap).

Appropriately, the first chapter is entitled “Spiritual Mother of all Mankind”–a quotation from Ruth Reyna. A number of interesting interpretations are given in the chapter, which challenge the readers scepticism. Thus: Arabia was, before the rise of Islam, inhabited by Hindus who worshipped Makkesha (a corruption of Mahesha) whence the name “Mecca” Again: “Pythagoras” is a corruption of “Prithriguru.” The man, it is claimed, went to Greece to preach Hindu Philosophy. The author has done well, here, to confess that no evidence for this is available.

Ancient Greece seems to have come under the influence of India. Says Hopkins: “Most probably the philosophy of Anaximander and Heraclitus is thoroughly indebted to India.” Madame Blavatsky thinks that Egypt received her laws, her social institutions, her arts and her sciences from India. In fact, according to Sylvain Levy, the French Indologist, India “has left indelible imprints on one-fourth of the human race in the course of a long succession of centuries.”

To cap all these and many other kudos is Will Durant’s inspiring observation: “India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. She was the mother of our philosophy...Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.”

The quotations given above are only representative of a rich harvest of views of many westerners, and are chosen with a view to trying to fire the curiosity of the reader unless he is an expert himself.

In the following chapters the author examines critically the evolution of India through the countless centuries of its existence–its geography, its history, its culture, its science, its arts, its polity–in short, its genius and the glory of India in every field of activity is sought to be substantiated with extensive quotations from scholars including Sri Aurobindo.

Pherozeshah Mehta: by Homi Mody. Publications Division, Govt. of India, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 3-00.

The Indian National Congress was nursed and nurtured in its early stages by stalwarts like Dadabhai Naoroji, Surendranath Banerjee and Pherozeshah Mehta who devoted every ounce of their energy to spread the message of self-government. It is in the fitness of things that the Publications Division has been bringing out popular volumes of biographies of our nation-builders under its series, ‘Builders of Modern India.’ Pherozeshah Mehta was one of our foremost leaders who educated the British public about the realities of the Indian situation. He played no mean part in getting the partition of Bengal annuled. By his sweet reasonableness and persuasive eloquence he exercised a wise and moderating influence in the counsels of the Congress. A few sentences from the letter of Natesan of Madras fully bring out the great personality of Mehta–“I can never forget the two happy evenings I passed at your house. I and my friends left Bombay with the regret that we were not privileged to stay there longer and be benefitted by your inspiring personality......It is only after we saw you and watched you with reverence and affection that we realized the force of personality and leadership. In a leading article on “Japan–Its Message to India” which I have written for the Indian Review, I have referred to you as the ‘Born and chosen leader of the Indian people.’ This is what we all felt you to be.” The books under this series should find a place in the shelves of all the school and college libraries.

Siva-Nataraja: J. M. Somasundaram, 28 Lecturers’ Line, Annamalai Nagar, South India. Price: Rs. 3-00.

Here is an account of a devotee’s reactions to the much­ appreciated image of Nataraja in his dance pose. The author has been an Administrative Officer of temples while in service and therefore has had opportunities of studying the world-renowned Natraja from all angles of aesthetic and religious perception. He has not only given his own mental exaltation in viewing the Tandava of the Lord, but has appended his genuine appreciation of it by extracts from accredited art-critics like Ananda Coomara­swami and others. We have in this readable account recorded the origin of the shrine at Chidambaram, and the story of the occasion for the Ananda Tandava of the Lord.

The volume is filled with fine illustrations and provides the eager student of art with a glimpse of the great tradition of Indian Art and the achievements in the field of its interpretation of life. With a foreword from the Sanskrit Professor Dr. C. S. Venkateswaran, the neat little volume can catch the eye of every connoisseur.

Mahatmas, Saints, Sages and Seers: Trivedi Krishnaji, Advocate, Samoanda Mudali Street, Madras-3. Price: Rs. 9-00.

In a land of celebrated names of great souls, sages, seers, inspired songsters, wandering monks and mystics, it is very necessary that the ordinary folk should have a knowledge of the episodes in their lives which claim for them recognition as God-men. We have here fifty such lives sketched briefly but with pointed relevance to the incidents which marked them out as different from others both in their endeavours in life as well as in their ultimate achievement of realization. No saint or significant spiritual leader in our long hagiology has been omitted here, and wherever the author could show his own fairness of mind in dealing with their thoughts and sayings, he has not hesitated to be uninfluenced by bias of any kind.


Mandalika Padakosamu: Compiled by MarpuruKodandarama Reddy, assisted by a committee consisting of Dr. Thoomati Donappa and others. Published by A. P. Sahitya Akademi, Hyderabad-4. Price: Rs. 7-50.

Andhra Pradesh is a large state with a population of more than 40 millions speaking Telugu. In such a state it is only natural that the language of communication takes on dialectal forms at the far-flung regions and corners. Factors like contiguity with other languages, regional geography, climate, modalities of culture and tempo of life in each area are sure to influence language resulting in distinguishable vocabulary, idiom and nuances of semantics. Similarly some regions, uninfluenced by external impacts, tend to retain many of the most ancient and vital traits of the: language including the root forms of vocabulary. Renaadu, comprising of the South-East part of Kurnool and North-West part of Cuddapah districts and one time seat of Renaati Cholas is one such pivotal area in Andhra. The earliest Telugu inscription available (of Puny a Kumara) is from this area. While a dialectal study of Telugu is for the expert compilation of regional vocabularies it is a useful spade work.

The work under review compiled by Sri Kodandarama Reddy with the assistance of a committee is perhaps the first of a concerted attempt to this end. Scanning the pages one would find scores of new turns of phrase, idioms and semantic nuances. One would also realise that the great majority of words of these regional vocabularies are merely corrupt forms of recorded words. It is obvious that a work of this nature cannot be expected to be exhaustive. Painstaking field work and expert handling will be found necessary for collecting and compiling these vocabularies. The reviewer, while going through the book, could note down at least forty words which have not come into the compilation. While the compiler and the assisting committee have done a fairly good job of it in a limited way, it would have been much better if the value of the work as a source book for a scientific study of the language were appreciated by them. However, the volume is certainly enlightening and useful to the student of language and is very well produced.

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