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 holy lake of the acts of Rama Charita Maanas–A Translation: by W. D. Hill. Orient Longman Ltd., Madras - 2. Price: Rs. 32.

The Ramayana has had its translations and versions in the various languages of India. But of all of them two alone, the Rama Charita Maanas of Tulsi Das and the Kamba-ramayanam remain to this day, very much more celebrated than any others as by themselves bearing us enough freshness and originality. No doubt deviations from the main current of the story are made by these two poets, yet students of the Ramayana never tire of their intrinsic poetic beauty and religious fervour which are generated in the readers hearts. If Kamban’s version has been claimed with justification as evidencing the authentic soul of a poet of extraordinary depth of understanding of human affairs, Tulsi Das’s can be accepted as an offering of unparalleled devotion and moral grandeur. To him Rama is the only liberator of the human soul from the bonds of Samsaara. No other God to him is superior to Rama. His conception of the demons having their release from their burden of sins only at the hands of his Rama when he annihilated them, is itself a proof of the great faith he reposed in the efficacy of devotion to his personal deity.

With a heart saturated with unalloyed surrender to his hero, Tulsi Das has taken liberties with the original epic in many places. Even at the outset, the narration of the story is from the lips of the Lord Sankara to His consort Parvati. You get the whole episode of Goddess Uma’s marriage with God Siva in the Baalakaanda (‘Childhood’) in Hill’s translation. There are enough changes effected in the incidents so much so we find Parasurama with irrepressible ire appearing even in the very scene of Rama’s breaking of the bow of Siva. Again, we find King Janaka joining the deputation led by Bharata to persuade Rama on the Chitrakuta to return to Ayodhya and reign as king in the place of his deceased father. It is interesting to note that Hanuman is made to drop the ring bearing the letters of Rama’s name on it before Sita in the Asoka Vana as a devise to draw her to him for a dialogue. Also it is much more intriguing to see Bharata intercepting Hanuman on his flight to the Himalayas in order to bring the Sanjeevi Parvata for reviving the brothers on the battlefield rendered unconscious under the influence of the Maayaa yuddha of Indrajit.

Hill’s introduction gives us in a succinct account some of the details of the life of Tulsi Das as also of his own efforts to be as far faithful to the original as he could in the work of rendering the ‘Avadhi’ of Tulsi Das into English. Indeed, it is a stupendous task for any translator to have done the whole of the ‘Ramacharita Maanas’ into flowing English. If persons such as Rajaji had already spoken well of Hill’s work in the English garb, it is hardly necessary for others to doubt the value of such a venture.

Gandhi: Theory and Practice: Social Impact and Contemporary Relevance: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla-5. Price: Rs.20.

The Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, conducted a series of Seminars of which one was on Gandhiji during the October of 1968. The result of the proceedings was a number of valuable papers which were collected and edited carefully into a volume of considerable size running into 685 pages, inclusive of the introduction at the beginning and the index at the end.

The entire proceedings are divided into three parts: the first one entitled ‘Inauguration’ contains the introductory addresses of Nihar Ranjan Ray and Nirmal Kumar Ghose. The second part is again divided into sections A to E, covering a vast range of topics such as ‘Gandhi on Social Cohesion and Social Change’, ‘Gandhi’s Economic Ideas and their Implementation’, ‘Gandhi’s Political Ideas and Movements’, ‘Gandhi’s Legacy and Contemporary Relevance’. The third part relates to the report of discussions on all the papers read in the various sections.

Das Gupta’s estimate of Gandhi’s impact on the Freedom Movement is very cautious in that he would not give the entire claim to Gandhiji’s influence but would add that historical perspective, if given its due place, would recognise the Terrorist Movement organised by Subash Chandra Bose, as I. N. A., as having provided a good deal of action along Gandhian lines. A critical assessment of Gandhi’s ideas is made by T. K. Mahadevan some of whose points provide a fresh approach to Gandhiji’s mind. He has severely charged the interpreters of Gandhian ideas as having based their views on the extant anthologies of Gandhi’s thoughts which are often a mere collection of Gandhi’s utterances without any relevance to their contextual origins. In conclusion he has strongly stressed the need for an objective study of Gandhiji’s mind. For he says, “Two factors must be taken into account; first like all great men Gandhi had his fair share of what I would call ‘great failings’. One of the most disastrous of these was his procrustean tendency to force reality into a pre-conceived mould and to reach conclusions that were prima facie questionable. Given the premises with which he started, these conclusions were doubtless unimpeachable; but then no human premises are ever absolute...there can be no finality about Gandhi.”

There are about thirteen papers with substantial material bearing upon the social cohesion and change brought about by Gandhiji’s influence. Seven papers deal with Gandhian thought relating to economic ideas and the attempts to bring them into actuality. Political ideas and the movement launched by Gandhi occupy the next section and there are nearly seventeen valuable tracts treating of them. The next section on Gandhian legacy and its relevance to contemporary times contains eleven contributions from the pens of some of the constantly discussed Gandhian students. The third part, producing short summaries of the discussions, is also a source of stimulating study to the informed reader.

On the whole the heavy tome is not the usual collection of articles on Gandhi’s mind and action but an earnest study from various angles of Gandhiji’s entire philosophy of action. If we have to point to a good number of very interesting reflections on Gandhism and its projection into the many aspects of Indian contemporary life, we can certainly benefit from the serious studies grouped here which are fairly comprehensive in their contents and expressed with much of penetrating analysis.

In a short review it is not possible to deal with individual contributions apart from saying that the Institute has justified its existence in having conducted a Seminar of this kind which would require enormous organised preparation and guidance to contributors, in addition to the purposeful lead given to them for gaining a scholarly and academic standard in the total evaluation.

Tej Bahadur Sapru: Edited by K. N. Raina and K. V. Gopala Ratnam. Universal Book Company, Allahabad. Price: Rs. 30.

The Rt. Hon. Dr. Tej Bahadur Sapru was an outstanding figure in the public life of India for nearly half a century. Born in 1875, he belonged to an earlier century so far his bringing up was concerned, but he hardly seemed one of a bygone age both in his outlook and his activities. A man deserving of the appellation ‘cultured’ in its fullest sense, he rose to become a lawyer of great renown and gave the world proofs of an unfailing constitutional bent of mind. Versed both in Persian and Urdu, he was at home in more than one language. His successes in his chosen profession and his triumphs many a cause celebre attested to his prominence as a lawyer from a young age till he was actually rendered disabled by illness.

His record of services for the motherland was really worthy of being preserved in any chronicle of the times if written. Having been a member of the Executive Council of the Viceroy during the British regime and having served as an inestimable participant in the work of committees such as the Muddiman Committee, the Joint Parliamentary Committee of the Round Table Conference as well as a joint collaborator with Motilal Nehru of a famous report on the future Constitution for India, he had enough opportunities to make in his own manner great contributions towards the advance of India’s destiny in times to come. Held in very high esteem by Mahatma Gandhi, C. F. Andrews and a host of representatives of both India and England in the public life of those eventful years before the advent of Independence, there was no occasion when he had evinced any but the keenest interest in the welfare of his country.

The present volume in commemoration of his life and achieve­ments is the result of material collected for a Seventieth Birthday Souvenir during his own lifetime, but which unfortunately did not reach fruition owing to his ban on such a volume. Anyhow, useful as such material happened to be for being published, his own grandson along with the joint-editor Gopala Ratnam has brought out this garland of tributes to his memory. No doubt a reading of this volume will create only a feeling that a man of such real public service and brilliance of attainments should have been immortalised in a full-length biography.

Voice of Valluvar: By Rao Sahib S.R.V. Arasu, 3 Subba Rao Avenue, Madras-6. Price: Rs. 3.

This tiny volume of ninety pages in print contains the kernel of verses of the famous Kural of Tamil Nad along with available necessary translations, and reflections of the author, whose claim to recognition as a scholar of substance has already been proved by his earlier book ‘Kural and Democratic Socialism’.

It is needless perhaps to impress on readers of the volume how the author started on this work, as his preface itself gives an account of the feeling he had cherished to show to the world of the great relevance ‘the book of practical wisdom’ has to our own times. The effort here is more to show that the maxims of the Kural have an eternal value and they, if studied with care, can be of immense aid to the removal of many of our ills both in the domestic as well as public spheres.

About 250 of the verses alone are gathered here and explained with a sense of perception of their ever fresh source of inspiration to the man of actual employment in administration as well as a true servant of India in building up the Welfare State. The foreword of Dr. B. Natarajan and the appreciation of Justice S. Maharajan printed at the beginning of the volume do ample justice to the author’s claim to have studied the Kural with a purpose. Some of his observations, especially in the chapter on ‘Embassies’, make one feel how much the sage Valluvar should have experienced life in all its aspects to have produced in 1330, verses what a historian, a philosopher, a statesman, a politician, a thinker, a poet and a scholar of vast erudition would take perhaps many years to gather and distill in that form of impeccable felicity of expression, his experiences.

The author deserves much appreciation for having enabled the lay reader, unfamiliar even with Tamil, to sense the importance of the immortal work of Valluvar by a devoted yet incisive knowledge of the profundity of the original and expressed it with refreshing originality and clarity.

Glorious History of Koh-I-Noor: By N. P. Sen. Published by New Book Society of India, Post Box No. 250, New Delhi. Price: 15.

This is a biography of the most brilliant and most precious heritage of India, viz., the Kohinoor, which has been rightly called, ‘the king of diamonds’ and ‘the diamond of kings’.

The author traces the origin of the Kohinoor to the dawn of Indian history before the times of the Mahabharata. He seems to identify it with the legendary “Shyamanthaka Mani” to which references are made in the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata. The author then traces the history of this diamond, through the puranic legends, and seems to suggest that this was given by Lord Krishna to the Sun-God, who gave it to Karna, the legendary hero of the Mahabharata, from whom it passed on to Arjuna, who presented it to his brother Yudhishtira. The author suggests that this diamond then adorned the crowns of various kings and successors of the Pandavas through Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna. From this lineage, the diamond passed on to Raja Samvardhana, who is believed to be one of Ashoka’s grandsons and then it was with the Hindu kings. Even during the invasion of India by Mohd. Ghori, this diamond was preserved, and was smuggled to Malwa where the Parmar dynasty was in power. The last Hindu king who possessed it was Raja Ramdev.

The author then proceeds to state that there is no information as to how this diamond passed on to the Sultans of Delhi.

Nearly two centuries ago Nadir Shah from Persia invaded India, in search of power and plenty, and took possession of the diamond from the kings of Delhi. Later Shah Shuja, the king of Afghanistan managed to get it, but had to surrender it to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Prince Daleep Singh, his successor was forced to hand over this to the British at the treaty of Lahore signed in 1849. This was presented to Queen Victoria in 1850 and since then, this great diamond of India is in the hands of the British Royalty.

The purport in writing the book seems to be a very patriotic one viz., that the Kohinoor which is a great national asset of our country, should be returned to us.

In the absence of any other corroborating evidence, historical research workers may find it difficult, at the present stage of our knowledge, to accept as historically correct, the equation of this diamond with the legendary puranik “Shyamanthaka Mani” and its further course as described by the author in this book.

Nritta Ratnavali: By Jaaya Senapati. Edited by Dr. V. Raghavan, M.A., Ph.D. Publishers: Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras. Pages 222. Price: Rs. 22.

This is a most valuable addition to the existing literature on Natya and Andhra History. The author of this work Jaaya was a commander of the elephant forces of the Kakateeya King Ganapati who reigned, according to official records, from 1202 A. D. and who was the first Telugu king that unified the Telugu peoples and established an Andhra Empire as such. It is in the reign of this King Ganapati that the dance sculptures in the Ramappa temple were done.

The first chapter of this work opens with the definition of Natya and its four constituents, the four Abhinayas and the different aspects of dance. Chapter two takes up the four Abhinayas, from the point of view of dance proper, the Angika, and setsforth its several classes as related to the different limbs of the body and parts of the face. The gestures of the hands are also included here. In chapter three are described the Charis, Sthanas and Mandalas. Karanas and Angaharasare set forth in the 4th chapter. All the above material is drawn from Bharata, but in many places the author has interpreted Bharata correctly after noticing all the differences in post-Bharata traditions, and thus he improved upon other writers on Natya or commentators on Natyasastra. The second half of the book is the main contribution of Jaaya. Chapter five devotes itself to the Desi varieties of Sthanas, Karanas, and Bhramaras. Desi varieties of the Paadas, Desi Charis, Desi Lasyaangas and Gatis are dealt with in the sixth chapter. Chapter seven devotes itself to general topics, most important among them being dance dress, importance of Bhaava, the need for the eye and mind to follow the motion of the hand, the orchestra for the dance, several interest­ing Desi nrittas like Parani, Prekshana, Suda nartana, Rasaka Carcari. Natya Rasaka, etc., and concludes with the three types of theatres. Some of the remaining general points are dealt with in the last chapter.

The value of this book is much more enhanced by an exhaustive and critical introduction running into 164 pages by the world renowned research scholar Dr. V. Raghavan. The learned scholar discusses about the author and his patron. Sanskrit literature under Kakatiyas, Natya Sastra in Andhra, Nritta Ratnavali and its contents, authorities cited by Jaaya, writers indebted to Jaaya, noteworthy points in Jaya’s treatment, Desi dance in Jaaya with a concordance of the Desi varieties of Karanas as set forth by different authors Someswara. Jaaya, Sarangadeva, and Parsvadeva; Desi forms, the Theatre. Jaaya’s poetry and an evaluation of Jaaya’s contribution–a rich fare indeed for a research student. Notes to the text, index to the authorities cited in the next, and other indexes added at the end make the publication an ideal one. Photos of some dance sculptures ornament this book. This is a book that is indispensable to students of Indian dance.

The Chiistian Concept of Man: By Jung Young Lee. Published by Philosophical Library, New York. Price: $ 5-95.

All philosophical systems, codes of conducts, creeds of religion and the rules of logic are for man. Man is the centre of all creation. He is the highest category of human thought. The volume under review is a clear and competent analysis of the nature of man and his real essence contrasted with his appearance. The approach adopted is the Christian standpoint. The key concepts in the light of which the concept of man is examined are YIN-YANG categories. The author is a trained theologian and priest with a persuasive style.

The learned author interprets the Christian theology in terms of the classical Chinese category Yin-Yang relationship. These two principles enunciated for the first time in the Book of Change of Chinese cosmology explains that everything in the world is the result of the interaction of the two principles. They respectively represent the opposites SHADE and LIGHT. They are the complimentary process of making the rounded whole. The Yin is feminine and Yang is the masculine principle. The interaction of the two produces the essential elements of fire, water, metal, wood and earth. Late Chinese thought in works of Taoists reduced the two under the principle Chi and described them as being covered by Li.

In the light of these two principles our author explains the Christian concept of man. Man is not a physical object like other things in the world. He is a subject that knows. He is a being that too not a mere rational being. He is made not only in the image of God, but is a divine being created to carry on God’s work on earth. He is in essence a divine being. The book is a sustained interpretation.

Metaphysical Psychology of Henri Bergson (a critical study): By A. Lakshmana Rao, Andhra University, Waltair. Price: Rs, 15.

Sri Lakshmana Rao’s volume is a valuable study of the celebrated French Philosopher Bergson’s Psychology. We have many books on his metaphysics–for example, the compact book by Wildon Cair, and the long articles on him by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. Two decades ago the late Dr. Seshagiri Rao Naidu wrote on the New Light on Bergson’s Thought and Philosophy. Bergson and Brodlay have been the favourite philosophers of India. Historians of Indian Philosophy have luminously compared the Buddhist doctrine of these with Bergson’s class vital.

Sri Rao in ten substantial chapters has sought to comprehensively cover the views and contribution of Bergson. The topics treated are Mind-Body Problem, Sensations, Feelings, Emotions, Perception, Instinct, Intelligence, Memory and Attention. We have also interesting accounts of Bergson’s theories on sleep, dreams and para normal Phenomena. There is the discussion on Bergson’s aesthetics in the concluding chapter. We have in the book interesting comparisons instituted between Bergson and other contemporaries. In short the book is a valuable study of Bergson from the psy­chological point of view. The book carries an appreciative foreword from Dr. Satchidananda Murthy and an opinion from Dr. P. T. Raju.

Philosophy for the New Age: By Alan Fletcher Markun. Publishers: Philosophical Library, New York. Pp. 85. Price: 7-50 dollars.

After eighteen years of study, experiment and thinking, the author wrote a book on the New Revolution some ten years ago, setting forth his ideas, hopes and fears of the imminent changes in the life of humanity at large. The present book takes, stock of the events that have taken place, the tendencies that have gathered strength during the last decade and forms a kind of post­script to the earlier work.

The writer envisages a rapid growth of the occult knowledge and practice with the breakdown of institutionalised Religion; a movement towards political unification on a federal pattern; further spread of Communism as the economics of poverty are still compelling; wider emancipation of women, freer (and yet whole­some) attitude to sex.

By and large the author’s vision and experience is limited to the continent of America and to that extent the conclusions need to be qualified.

Essays on Vedanta (Matter and Method): By Swami Satchidananda Saraswati. Adhyatma Prakash Karyalaya, Holenarsipur. Pages: 16 plus 167. Price: Rs. 6.

This is a critical study of the Upanishads and the commentaries of Sri Sankaracharya on the Prasthaana traya intended to find out the unique doctrine propounded by the apparently contradicting statements of the Upanishads, and the method adopted therein to propound that doctrine. The findings are substantiated by relevant quotations from the Upanishads and Sri Sankara’s Bhashyas. Swamiji proves that all the Upanishads have the uniform purport of teaching the doctrine of one Atman, and that the method adopted is adhyaaropaapavaada–superimposition and negation. It is also shown here, how by an application of this method, “a Vedantin can seriously hold himself to the Upanishadic teaching of the Advaitic Brahman or the Absolute without the slightest tinge of any specific feature, and can talk in the same breath of avidya and maya, of being and becoming, cause and effect, God and creatures, the Universal and the particular, the individual soul and the Universal Atman, states of consciousness and pure consciousness, bondage and freedom, discipline and the goal, and such other distinctions which can apply only to a pluralistic Universe.”

Aagama is the sole Pramaana and reason based upon intuition is the only reason that can be employed to ascertain the nature of the Brahman. That Advaitins are not crypto Buddhists is ably proved by the Swamiji in the 6th chapter. The conception of the Absolute as Pure Being “asti” is a device in Vedanta used for the purpose of discarding empirical being and becoming with reference to Atman. According to the Vedantins there is really nothing born, the only Reality or Atman being one without a second. But he has a Maayaa Satkaryavaada also to offer to inquirers who wish to harmonise all Vedantic texts. The Vedantic ananyatvaof the cause and effect is different from the Saankhya’s ananyatva. The distinction of Isvara and Jiva is only a distinction without difference. These and many other such important conclusions are arrived at after a critical study of Sri Sankara’s Bhashyas alone and thus this book is indispensable to any student of Advaita Philosophy, if he wants to have a clear grasp of the essence of and the method adopted by the Advaita Vedanta of Sri Sankara.

Essence of Hinduism: By D. S. Sarma. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay. Price: Rs- 3.

Hindu Ideals: By K. Balasubramania Iyer. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay. Price: Rs. 3.

Dr. Sarma’s survey of Hindu Scriptures, Rituals, Myths, Ethics Theism and Philosophy is satisfying and comprehensive. He rightly notes that the fundamentals of Hinduism are: the ultimate authority in religion is not Sastra or Tarka, but spiritual experience; there is a law of Karma operating at all levels of existence; yoga is the means to lift oneself out of the mechanics of this law; God is one but He is realisable in many ways and forms; like individual life, collective life also has a divine purpose.

The writer’s analysis of the different movements of Renaissance in India is interesting. He observes: “The present Renaissance is probably the sixth of its kind in the long history of Hinduism covering about fifty centuries. The Upanishads with their message of a universal spiritual religion coming after a long period of complex sacrificial religion of the Brahmanas probably represent the earliest Renaissance in Hinduism. But, as no definite dates could be assigned to this Renaissance, we may say that it belongs to pre­historic times. Within historical times there came out next Renais­sance in the second century B. C. after the fall of the Mauryan empire, and as a result of it we have our great didactic epics–the Ramayana and the Mahabharata including the immortal Gita. The third Renaissance came in the fourth century A. D. during the brilliant Gupta period of Indian History. And as a result of it we have not only our great system of philosophy out also those popular scriptures, the Puranas and the Tantras which were designed with the object of educating and training the masses in Hindu Dharma. The fourth Renaissance came in the eighth century A; D., when after a period of confusion following Harsha’s death, Hinduism absorbed foreign invaders on a vast scale and Rajput kingdoms were established in Hindustan. The results of this Renaissance are seen not only in the works of Sankara who has given a firm philosophic basis to Hinduism, but also in the great Bhakti movements in Vaishnavism and Shaivism in Southern India. The fifth Renais­sance came in the fifteenth century, when as a reaction from the excessive formalism of scholastic philosophy, there arose the later Bhakti schools of Ramananda and Kabir in Northern India. The sixth Renaissance amidst which we are living today may be said to have begun in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.”

Sri K. Balasubramaniam’s lectures are a fluent exposition of the aims and objectives of man–the purusharthas–inthe total perspective of Hinduism and the service of the realised souls to the rest of mankind as illustrated in the lives of countless saints and seers of India.

Both the bookspresent Hinduism in a nutshell.

What is Advaita?: By P. Sankarnarayanan. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay. Price; Rs. 3.

An authentic exposition of the fundamentals of the Advaita philosophy: Prof. Sankarnarayanan clearly defines his terms: “Advaita is not a mata, theory, it is a tattva, truth.” He explains the full import of maya, mithya, the nature of the Self, its identity with Brahman, etc. He also dwells upon the doctrine of vivarta vada to explain the becoming of the Infinite into the finite.

The author avers that the Advaita has contributed to the generally tolerant attitude of the Hindu religion and helped towards a reconciliation of the diverse sects and sadhanas. While clearing some of the misunderstandings regarding Advaita, the learned writer points out that Advaita was not first propounded by Sankara nor was the Acharya influenced by the monotheism of Mohammed in his approach.

Bhaktiyoga: By Aswini Kumar Datta. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay. Price: Rs. 3.

In this famous work (translated from the original in Bengali) Aswini Kumar Datta gives a comprehensive survey of the way of Devotion based upon the Sutras of Narada and Sandilya, Bhagavatam and the later Vaishnava literature that grew up after Rupa Goswamin. The main topics dealt with are: Devotion, Qualifications for its attainment, Obstacles, Aids to devotion, Stages of devotion, Characteristics of a devotee and the Culmination of Devotion into Love.

Speaking of the true criteria of Bhakti, the author quotes from Sandilya: “And we learn from the Smritissuch signs in abundance as Respect, Honour, Joy, Forlornness, Ignoring the existence of any object other than God, Celebration of His praise, Living for His sake, Considering everything as His, Perceiving Him in all things, Resignation to His will.”

The writing is full of fervour and sincerity.

Mahatma Gandhi100 Years: Editor: S. Radhakrishnan; Associate Editors: R. R. Diwakar, K. Swaminathan. Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi. Distributors: Orient Longmans. Pages 401. Price: Rs. 17-50.

Gandhi - The Writer (The Image as it grew): By Bhabani Bhattacharya. National Book Trust, India. Distributors: India Book House Pages: 328, Price: Rs. 9.

Jawaharlal Nehru - A Man of Letters: By V. N. Chibber. Foreword by V: K. R. V. Rao. Vikas Publications, 5, Darayaganj, Ansari Road, Delhi - 6. Pages 210. Price: Rs. 22-50.

The Gandhi Birth Centenary saw a spate of publications in English and other languages in this country. Among the most notable of them in English is the volume brought out by the Gandhi Peace Foundation. Its editorial board consists of such seasoned Gandhian scholars as Messrs. R. R. Diwakar and K. Swaminathan, under the leadership of Dr. Radhakrishnan. This apart, the contributors are drawn from all parts of the world and all fields of activity.

Hardly anyone of importance, who has had anything to do with Gandhi or Gandhism (as also some who had nothing to do with them like some heads of State and Government, but who must have been happy to associate themselves with the event) is omitted. World-famous journalists like Louis Fischer, historians like Arnold Toynbee, critics like Herbert Reed, writers like Michael Sholokhov, besides Gandhites including Sushila Nayyar and G. Ramachandran, as also elder statesmen, Rajaji and Acharya Kripalani are all here, among the sixty-odd contributors. Dr. Radhakrishnan could be speaking for all of them, when he concluded the introduction with the words: “Gandhi is the immortal symbol of love and understanding in a world wild with hatred and torn by misunder­standing. He belongs to ages, to history.” The volume is as well­ produced as it is well-planned.

Dr. Bhabani Bhattacharya’s study of ‘Gandhi, the Writer,’ made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation shows signs of inadequate material hurriedly eked out to complete a project, otherwise well-conceived. He does, of course, discuss the literary merits of The Story of my Experiments with Truth, and the value of Hind Swaraj and the regular contributions to Young India and Harijan, but not in great depth. The early influence like Tolstoy’s Gospels and the Kingdom of God and Ruskin’s Unto The Last, as also other writers, are repeatedly underlined. ­But one does not see the true relevance of the chapters relating to interlude in Europe–cultural contacts, visit to Rolland, meeting with Tagore, where they have no direct relation to Gandhi’s writing. Similarly the one on Martin Luther King and World’s Homage and other chapters towards the end give the impression of padding to swell the volume rather than useful material to add to the substance. Perhaps a good beginning for others to work upon.

The book on Nehru was prepared in the form of a doctoral thesis by a student of English literature. It is well documented, showing ample signs of familiarity with the writings of Nehru, including the three main works, The Glimpses, An Autobiography and The Discovery of India. But the analysis is anything but sharp, the comparison with other writers far from aptly pursued. For instance, the author chooses to say: “He may well have become a second Rabindranath Tagore, had he concentrated on his writing.” With the best of concentration, Nehru cannot be a Tagore, nor Tagore a Nehru with less of concentration and the best of intentions. It is good that they are themselves and no other. Comparisons may or may not be odious, but a comparison like this one is hardly tenable in an intelligent discussion, not to speak of a research work.

Images of India: Edited by B. G. Gokhale. Popular Prakashan, Bombay. Pages 196. Price: Rs. 30.

The book is one of the volumes in Asian Studies Series, brought forth by Wake-Forest University, America and projects images of India, as seen in the writings of Western travellers.

All the articles compiled are source-based and written by specialists. Of these the papers on Indo-Burma relations and Self-images are void of fictitious element and stand apart.

The structural materials come handy through narrations of travellers, explorers, traders, and missionaries hailing from Germany, Russia, England, France and Spain. And their self-enlightened interest is purely mercenary and not intellectual.

Profiles of social, political and religious life of India are drawn with lots of fantasy thrown in. Most of the versions take on a patina of myth and legend. And objectivity remains modest. India is to Westerners a huge segment of humanity with moral and political codes of their own and a land of inexhaustible resources and exotic regions and colourful people where things can be picked up with toes.

The reader encounters, as he progresses, nabobs rolling in wealth, be-jewelled Rajahs, crafty brahmins, manikins a foot high who mature at four and die at eight; self-immolating women, people who kill their old parents and eat them, and dark beauties who sell their charms to whites for a “Shetel” or two.

But here and there one finds a brief mention of the scripture and religious beliefs of the Hindus. On the whole the book presents an image of India of an earlier date and not that of 20th century India with its technological and scientific bias.

But the sheer quaintness of the original sources (15th and 16th centuries) simply delights the reader. And he is amply repaid for his labour.

Studies in Indo-Anglian Literature: By Dr. K. N. Joshi and Dr. B. Shyamala Rao. Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, India. 1972. Pp. 125. Price: Rs. 10.

Any book on Indo-Anglian Literature reminds us of Professor K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar’s great book, Indian Writing in English, which is an intensive exploration and exposition of the literary glories of Indo-Anglian writers. The present tiny volume may be invited as an ancillary book. Perhaps joint authorship of literary studies sounds rather odd: it may be all right concerning any other subject. ‘The authors make little claim to originality for these “studies”.’

The book comprises seventeen chapters covering most of the outstanding Indo-Anglian writers: Toru Dutt, Sarojini Naidu, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, the ‘Big Three’ (Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan, and Raja Rao), and Bhabani Bhattacharya. The chapters appear to have been carefully compiled, collecting material from standard and non-standard critics, in a useful manner. The book is somewhat unbalanced: special stress is laid on particular portions. And the authors rightly claim that “The present book aims at giving, to the post-graduate students preparing for their examination with Indo-­Anglian Literature as one of their special papers, introductions to some Indo-Anglian writers and some of their major works.” Occasionally appears an incorrect statement like: ‘Coolie, is not only Anand’s first novel, ...’ (Indeed, Untouchable is Anand’s first novel.) There are many printers’ errors too, which are to be corrected; otherwise, there is the possibility of these errors going into the answer scripts of those for whom the book is intended.

There is also some excessive reiteration or use of superlatives, and the tone of the chapters appears eulogistic, which ought to have been avoided in view of the fact that “all the geese are not swans, though there are swans among our geese.” However, the sincere effort of the authors deserves commendation.
–Dr. K. V. S. MURTHI

Prakasam: A Political Study: By G. Rudrayya Chowdari.       Orient Longman. 237 Pages. Price: Rs. 25.

Can everybody shine in politics? Or, to put it in another way, is politics a specialized field of activity like space technology, calling for specialized skills? To any contemporary observer the answer is only too obvious.

While on today’s political canvas a successful figure is one who mobilises the greatest number of votes, some two decades ago–and especially before independence–integrity, both intellectual and moral, was the hall-mark of a popular politician. However, an essential requisite for success in politics then (as now) was tact.

Tanguturi Prakasam was conspicuous by the complete lack of this precious commodity. And when it is remembered that he also did not possess intellectual brilliance to a high degree, the question arises how he became the most prominent and popular political leader in South India, particularly among the Andhras.

But these deficiencies were more than compensated by his extraordinary courage and childlike simplicity. What Gandhi was to Indians, Prakasam was to South Indians. And yet, ironically, these two giants had their own mutual confrontations: no one other than Prakasam could have dared defy and challenge the Mahatma (as, for example, in the khadi episode) and still remained the minion of the people.

But while Prakasam’s popularity with the people at large–intellectuals as well as the laity–never sagged, he was deified, damned and dethroned by his close associates. All because he always showed an independence of spirit and never conformed to the run-of-the-mill policies when he was convinced they were wrong even when he realized what personal stakes were involved. He preferred isolation to subordination. Indeed, as S. Gopal puts it, he was “the Maverick of South Indian politics.”

Here is a political biography of the man who earned the endearing and enduring title “Andhra Kesari” for his incredible courage. The uniqueness of the book is that it originally constituted a doctoral thesis. Inasmuch as it is published on the eve of Prakasam’s birth centenary and it is a comprehensive treatise on the remarkable man, the book is a timely and valuable publication.

The author has taken great pains in collecting and collating a good deal of material from diverse sources (the entire bibliography is appended to each chapter) and his observations bear a stamp of absolute sincerity. A close and disinterested perusal convinces the reader that the author has not defended some apparently indefensible postures of his hero just because he took it into his head to do so for the purpose of writing the biography but because he was totally convinced of the need for the defence.

While in the earlier chapters the author does not impress, he has certainly measured up to the standards of journalism in the later chapters–especially those entitled “Economics and Politics of Khadi”, “As a Journalist” and “Madras Legislature Congress.” A little more attention, though, would have obviated the few errors in English.

This is a book the reviewer particularly commends to ever Andhra who was born just before and after independence.


Saraswata ryasamulu: Published by Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi, Kala Bhavan) Saifabad, Hyderabad-4.

Vol. I. Compiled by Dr. G. V. Subrahmanyam. Price: Rs 6-00.
Vol. II. Compiled by Puripanda Appalaswamy. Price: Rs. 3-00.
Vol. III. Compiled by Dr. G. V. Subrahmanyam. Price: Rs. 6-00.
Vol. IV. Compiled by Puripanda Appalaswamy. Price: Rs. 6-00.

Creation implies criticism and criticism anticipates further creation. It is a perpetual process towards perfection. In philoso­phical literature, for instance in Kama Kala Vilasa, Siva is described as ‘antarleena vimarsah’ while Siva and Saktiare separately denoted by ‘Prakasa Bindu’ and ‘Vimarsa Bindu ‘ respectively. The process of either critical creation and / or creative criticism is, by nature, organic (ayogaja - in the logician’s terminology) and never synthetic. Thus a work of literary art, while it is organic in its production it is as in critical as much it is insouled. Criticism has to be creative in some degree, to be criticism at all. It is the same Saktidenoted as ‘Vimarsa Bindu’ which is configurated as Saraswati by Mammata and others. It is the same word Saktiwhich is used to denote the creative genius called ‘Pratibha’ in all our literature. And that settles the point that criticism is as much an Art as is creation and that it can never be a science.

It is said that critical writing in Telugu is not sufficiently developed. Dr. G. V. Subrahmanyam, compiler of the first and third volumes cited above, has expressed himself candidly in this regard, in an article in another anthology of essays called ‘Mahati.’ The present reviewer agrees with him regarding the unsatisfactory state of affairs in Telugu criticism. The reasons are not far to seek. Criticism needs a certain inspiration, good taste and a ‘familiar style’ apart from the necessary expertise. Uninspired writing revels in drabness only. Good taste may be derived from ‘a nice harmony between imagination and judgement.’ A ‘familiar style’ is not easy to acquire. It is neither vulgar writing nor is it writing at random. It requires a lot of precision and purity of expression. ‘Best words in common use are to be chosen to result in ‘ease, force and perspicuity.’ It has to have ‘universal force and applicability.’ The writer has to show wit, sense, humour and learning as is expected of him. It is a matter of profound commonsense, not that of heiroglyphics or mock writing. Ignorance and want of taste lead, as Swift pointed out, to a continual corruption of language. False refinements like maiming of words, abbreviations, etc., are in vogue today. Spelling as we speak and seeking to avoid pedantry are our other pretensions. Coming to the critical expertise, it has to be remembered that it is not like the profession of a general practitioner. One has to be trained or cultivated in the methods of criticism like the Textual, the Biographical, the Historical, the Formal, the Psychological, the Sociological, the Moralistic and the Archetypal types of criticism with a discerning knowledge of their application and limitations.

The four volumes of literary essays presently under review are the result of a laudable effort on the part of the Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi and the compilers Dr. G. V. Subrahmanyam and Puripanda Appalaswamy. The object is to make some of the very valuable essays published in the literary magazines of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, available to the public. The articles are chosen by the compilers both for their matter and the manner of the reputed essayists. There are no ‘Dick Minims’ in these volumes. All are reputed scholars or poets or critics or inspired researchers, each a stalwart in his or her own field.

The first volume compiled by Dr. G. V. Subrahmanyam covers almost all the major poets in Telugu Poetry written by thirty reputed scholars and these are collected from the earlier volumes of “Andhra Sahitya Parishat Patrika”, ‘Bharati’ and ‘Andhra Patrika New Year numbers’–all well-known for their dedicated service to literature and arts.

The second volume, compiled by Puripanda Appalaswamy from the erstwhile literary magazines like ‘Amudrita Grantha Chintamani’, “Granthalaya Sarvaswamu”, ‘Telugu Saraswata Sarwaswamu’ ‘Pratibha’, ‘Sujata’ and ‘Kinnera’ has an interesting miscellany.

The third volume, compiled by Dr. Subrahmanyam again, has been given a technical slant. Thirty-three essays in all, they deal with Sanskrit literature, Prakrit, Sastraic criticism like alamkara sastra, Grammar and Prosody, Philology, Linguistics and some more Telugu literary topics. These are selected from the ‘Andhra Patrika New Year Issues’, ‘Sahitya Parishat Patrika’, ‘Bharati’ and ‘Sarada’.

The fourth volume, compiled by Puripanda Appalaswamy, has in all thirty-three essays selected from ‘Andhra Bharati’, ‘Trilinga’, ‘Saraswata Granthalaya Sarvaswamu’, ‘Ugadi Sanchika’, ‘Bharati’ ‘Prabuddha Andhra’,    ‘Udayini’, ‘Vaisakhi’, ‘Navodaya’, ‘Prabha’ ‘Jayanti’ and ‘Parisodhana’. This is essentially a volume of essays in criticism.

These volumes are very readable. As Bacon would have it, these studies serve ‘for delight, for ornamentation, and for ability.’ For those who use them wisely they give ‘a wisdom without them and above them, won by observation.’ Highly educative to the common reader they are indispensable to the student of Telugu literature as well as Telugu scholar. A very rich fare at a low cost. The Akademi and the compilers are to be congratulated at this very fruitful endeavour.

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