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....

Sri Aurobindo–A Biography and a History: By K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar. Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. Pondicherry. Price: Volumes I and II. Rs. 30.

When very little was known to the outside world about the life of Sri Aurobindo. Dr K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar’s biography which appeared in 1945 was hailed as a landmark in the history of Aurobindonean literature; It inspired many others to venture into this field and books were published portraying the Life of Sri Aurobindo from various angles. During this period a great deal of valuable material came to light and a large mass of Sri Aurobindo’s own writings–prose as well as poetry–was posthumously published. Taking into account all these available sources, Dr Iyengar has given us an entirely new book delineating the saga of the Master’s life on a vast canvas revealing new horizons. The book runs to two volumes of 1471 pages and has been aptly described by the author as a biography and a history. In fact, the biography of Sri Aurobindo is the spiritual history of humanity and this fact has been well brought out in the volumes.

To many it may appear that the life of Sri Aurobindo is made up of a series of abrupt transitions. Sent by his father at the early age of seven to England, Sri Aurobindo spent fourteen years of the formative period of his life fully imbibing the culture and civilization of the West. But immediately on his return, in Baroda he plunged into the study of Indian languages, culture, history and religion and began writing inspiringly on Indian culture and contemporary conditions. Creating a revolution in political thought the twelve-year period in Baroda was marked by the publication of a series of stirring articles and much preparatory work in the ground. Then followed the meteoric appearance in the political firmament when Sri Aurobindo was for five years in the thick of politics. Then there was the abrupt retirement to Pondicherry and his taking to Yoga in right earnest. There also his abrupt withdrawal into seclusion leaving everything to the Mother followed, culminating in his abrupt withdrawal from his physical body in December 1950. Thus for a superficial observer his life has been made up of a series of abrupt transitions but Dr Iyengar lays bare the golden thread of natural evolution and harmonious blending running through the whole texture of his life. Sri Aurobindo’s has been an integral life. All his thought, writings and actions have been the natural outpouring of his soul, a gradual evolution and manifestation of his inner personality. His spiritual experiences at Baroda, Alipore, Chandernagore and Pondicherry have been the natural rungs in the ladder of Self-Transcendence.

Dr Iyengar has not been merely content with describing the details, however interesting they may be, of Sri Aurobindo’s life as it appeared on the surface. His constant endeavour in these lines has been to lay bare before the reader the inner man that is Sri Aurobindo and describe in detail his writing, “the precious life blood of a master spirit.” The chapters, ‘Lights on Scripture’, ‘Man and Collective Man’ and ‘Global Comprehension’ do full justice to the writings of the Master in assessing their perennial value to mankind.

Realising that the life of Sri Aurobindo makes no sense without the Mother, throughout the book, Dr Iyengar has with rare delicacy and sensibility delineated her gracious personality, her ineffable influence and her dynamic role in the scheme of the Master’s life and mission.

The book is voluminous, only in the sense that it consists of two bulky volumes. Felicity of expression and sincerity of feeling make the whole book delightful reading and after reading one cannot miss sensing in oneself the spiritual elation and the elevation of consciousness.

A Century’s Salutation to Sri Aurobindo: By Nolini Kanta Gupta. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, India. Price: Rs. 6.

Released during the Birth Centenary Year of Sri Aurobindo, this collection of essays from the versatile pen of Sri Nolini Kanta Gupta is a significant contribution to Aurobiodonean literature. The author’s writings are noted for their brevity, clarity and authenticity. They are such a help to the earnest seeker.

The first essay refers to the impersonal personality of Sri Aurobindo. The true process of impersonalisation is the replacement of the ego by the Supreme Person in oneself and acting from a vast immense frame of reference. Sri Aurobindo has been essentially “the poet of patriotism, the prophet of nationalism and the lover of humanity.” The message of Sri Aurobindo envisages the continuous growth of man in consciousness and evolution beyond Mind to another status of consciousness which he calls Supermind.

In an interesting article how to read Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the author advises: “You must cultivate the right attitude, a turn of your consciousness in tune with the consciousness, that has worked out the words of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. You have to take a plunge, as it were, dip into the waters, and be soaked in the caress of that element, to come into the living touch of the substance of words, go behind the meaning, if necessary, avoiding it even. You must contact the living sap, the race that has poured itself out in the creation.”

Then there are essays on Sri Aurobindo’s poems and more particularly on the epoch-making epic poem “Savitri”. Discussing the refusal of Man of the Divine Grace, the author quotes these words of the Mother from her Prayers and Meditations:

“Since the man refused the meal I had prepared with so much love and care, I invoked the God to take it.

My God, Thou hast accepted my invitation. Thou hast come to sit at my table, and to exchange for my poor and humble offering Thou hast granted to me the last liberation.”

These words are of poignant significance inrelation to the recent withdrawal of the Mother from her present physical existence.

The Wisdom of the Veda in the Light of Sri  Aurobindo’s Thought: By Kenneth Gilbert. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, Pondicherry. Price: Rs. 7-50.

Sri Aurobindo broke new ground in his interpretation of the Vedas and the Upanishads. Particularly in respect of the Vedas, he differed from Sayana on the one hand and modern orientalists on the other. He denounced the ritualistic interpretation of the Vedic Mantras which Sayana gave to them and advanced the view that their contents were symbolic of a deeper significance. To give a mere naturalistic interpretation in terms of polytheism or henotheism will be doing violence to their essentially spiritual import. Sri Aurobindo saw in the Vedas the ancient intimations of his integral Yoga. The latter day dichotomy of Matter and Spirit with the attendant denial of Matter and affirmation of the Spirit, the world-negating illusionism that had been made current by Advaitic Mayavada, the view of Moksha as the extinction of the individual were all discountenanced by him. The key to the integral Yoga developed by him is contained in the two lines of his Savitri which read:

Heaven in its rapture dreams of perfect earth,
Earth in its sorrow dreams of perfect heaven.

It is this picture of integral Yoga that Sri Aurobindo saw in the Vedas and detected in the Riks which provide “the ultimate knowledge which perceives and accepts God in the universe as well as beyond the universe, so that after having experienced the Transcendent, one can return upon the universe and possess it, retaining the power freely to descend as well as ascend the great stair of existence.

This book which is the thesis of the author for his M. A. Degree of the California Institute of Asian Studies is a detailed account of the Vedic hymns from the standpoint of Sri Aurobindo, brings out the correspondence between Vedic Yoga and Sri Aurobindo’s conception and explains “the general overall symbolism of the Veda as the constant image of the life of man as a journey, a battle and as a sacrifice, which is aided by the higher forces of the Gods.” Drawing profusely from the works of the sage, he points out that the language and symbolism of the Veda are anticipatory of integral Yoga in its triple aspects of aspiration, rejection and surrender. The inner essence of the Veda sacrifice is nothing but the simultaneous process of ascent and descent which is the very basis of philosophy and method of integral self-realisation. Through the inner sacrificial approach in all actions of life there is a constant interchange between God and man, between Spirit and Matter, between the higher and lower levels of existence by evolutionary transformation progresses, and as the Veda puts it, there is “growing into the Truth.” “It is a continual self-offering of the human to the Divine and a continual descent of the Divine into the human which seems to be symbolised by the sacrifice.”  (Sri A urobindo)

Mr. Gilbert deals at length with the esotteric symbolism of the Vedic words like the names of the gods, of things used in sacrifice, of Mantra, Sruti, Nirvana, etc., and shows how in Sri Aurobindo’s thought they have a connotation deeper than what is generally associated with them. The reference to the titanic Bull-God in mythology in chapter ten and the analogy of converting him into a collaborator instead of killing or escaping him to fight the forces of darkness is interesting. Pointing out that “our greatest difficulties are our greatest possibilities”, he shows how in Sri Aurobindo’s scheme what is called Evil has a purpose in the Divine plan and therefore words like dasyus, panis, vrtras, rakshasas, vala, etc., indicate “effective contribution to the journey as destructive workers pushing the higher construction.”

Mr. Kenneth Gilbert’s book is a faithful and lucid rendering of the contents of the great sage’s writings pin-pointing the distinctive features of his thought which is as refreshingly original as it is unconventional. The author exhibits remarkable knowledge for a foreigner of Indian classical terminology. The book is a valuable addition to the literature on Sri Aurobindo’s thought.

Overhead Poetry, Poems with Sri Aurobindo’s Comments: Edited by K D. Sethna. Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry. Price: Rs. 6-00.

Sri Aurobindo has conceived and distinguished ‘Overhead Poetry’ as the unique feature of the ‘Future Poetry’. “What is ‘Overhead Poetry’?”–that is an oft-posed query. Mr. K. D. Sethna, by virtue of his experience and discussions with the Master is amply competent to explain and expose the implications of this highest branch of poetry as envisaged by the Saint-Poet himself.

An epigrammatic answer to the query may be that ‘Overhead Poetry’ is that which is ‘dark withexcess of light’. The Future or Overhead Poetry is not the product of the ‘ordinary creative intellect’. It is not that which derives itself from ‘the usual sources of the world’s literature’. It does not rise from the mental levelsof consciousness such as: subtle-physical mind ( as in Homer or Chaucer), vital mind (as in Kalidasa or Shakespeare), and intellectual mind (as in Sophocles, Virgil, Dante or Milton). It emerges from the superconscious planes which Sri Aurobindo labels as Higher Mind, Illumined Mind, Intuition, Overmind and Supermind. The Supermind is explored by Saints or Yogins like the Master. The most powerful overhead Poetry is that which radiates as the spontaneous Mantra of the Divine Manifestation through the thin veil that is the Supermind. Such poetry is capable of entrancing even the very soul of the reader, tuning it to the rhythms of the overhead planes. It is as if the Cosmic Spirit voicing its own secrets through the spiritual articulator. Sri Aurobindo writes: “The sense of the Infinite and the One which is pervasive in the overhead planes...can be expressed indeed by overhead poetry as no other can express it.”

To punctuate the various planes of Overhead Poetry is not an easy task. Yet. Mr. Sethna has done the best in collecting some poems of the overhead calibre “written by a disciple of Sri Aurobindo’s, along with the detailed appraisals of them by Sri Aurobindo himself.”

The six parts of the book illustrate the calibre of the spiritual images and symbols, syntax and cadences, language and rhythm, that comprise everhead-poetic harmony. With the inherent sublimity, most of the poems–like: “Pool of Lonelinesses”, “First Sight of Girnar”, and “Consummation” (Part 1); “Invocation to the Fourfold Divine”, “Through Vesper’s Veil”, and “Gnosis” (Part 2); “Overself”, “Gods”, “Ananda”, and “Silver Grace” (Part 3); “Maya”, “Pleroma”, “God-Sculpture”, “The Divine Denier”, and “Cosmic Rhythms” (Part 4); “Harmonies”, “Descent”, “Disclosure”, and “Ascent” (Part 5); “Incarnation”, “Truth-Vision” and “Mukti” (Part 6)–are reminiscent of Sri Aurobindo’s Short Poems. No wonder, if the Master uses superlatives in his comments on the overhead characteristics of the poems.

The overhead poetic utterances should help create a world of sages and saints, worshippers of Beauty and Truth. The book is a ‘must’ to every student of English literature. It deserves to be kept in every library for extensive reading.
–D. K. V. S. MURTI

Collected Works of Nolini Kanta Gupta (Vol. II). Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry. Price: Rs. 15.

This collection deals with several illuminating essays by the author on the rather abtruse subject of mysticism, and has aptly been sub-titled as essays on mysticism. Any comprehensive treatise on mysticism can’t avoid the extensive field of poetry, where gifted poets, during some mystic interludes, attain philosophical eminence. Eliot is an example. I would not call him a mystic poet, but as Nolini Kanta Gupta has ably presented in his essay, be turns mystic in the Four Quarters. In fact, these essays are special eclectic treatments by a knowledgeable, perceptive and poetic mind, and perhaps-only such a mind can grasp and grapple with the different faces of mysticism and its impact on poetry. The essays on the mystical elements in the poetry of well-known poets are particularly interesting.

When the discussion however descends from the lofty pedestal of mysticism and poetry to the mundane sphere of the steel frame and corruption, it tends to be rather woolly, idealistic and perhaps a little impractical. For example, for rooting out corruption from the steel frame, the prescription is moral regeneration, brought about by a few “fearless, immortal and all-conquering” persons who “follow the voice of the highest in oneself”, moving among men with little faith and in circumstances adverse and obscure, such few forging the new steel frame. That we have a few men of integrity in our midst is undisputed, but can this few stem the tide when the floodgates are threatened to be opened? Are they alone enough? Is there any steel frame in a democracy? It is good to have hope, and it is good to propose solutions. From his mystic viewpoint, Gupta has done his job. Whether his solution is adequate, only history can proclaim.

Similarly his political and social theories are also couched with the same unshakeable faith of the mystic in the redeeming power of Right, Duty, Dharma. It makes excellent reading. Not that the solution is wrong, one wishes he were absolutely right and adequate in his prescription. But this is a criticism perhaps of the view, and not of the book. One can’t but be impressed with Sri Gupta’s presentation, and his analysis of the mundane problems, but where he excels is in his treatment of mysticism and its impact on poetry. A worthwhile addition to any library. The hard-bound edition with excellent easily readable print, is another attraction for which the publishers need all praise.
–Dr R. R. MENON, I. A. S.

Sri Aurobindo: By Manoj Das. Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 2-50.

Mr. Manoj Das tells us the story of Sri Aurobindo with such understanding and skill that his book must be counted as a piece of first rate biographical writing. The chief merit of this little book lies in his profound understanding of the different facets of Sri Aurobindo’s personality which illuminated certain phases of recent Indian history and thought. And the main events of his career have been interpreted in the wider perspective of the cultural awakening of modern India–the early phase of Songs to Myitilla reminding us of Sri Aurobindo’s career as a brilliant student of the classics at St. Paul’s School, London and King’s College, “the Baroda Phase”; where as a teacher of English he began his monumental investigations into the nature of the Indian tradition, “the Bande Mataram phase” which was triggered off in the wake of the partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1905 and the final phase of the The Life Divine at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

Commenting on Sri Aurobindo’s voyage to India in 1893. Manoj Das makes the following perceptive observation: “Two significant voyages took place in the year 1893. One was from India–into the West. The other was from the West–into India. Swami Vivekananda was going out to make the Western world hearken to the message of India, the message of the Spirit; Sri Aurobindo was returning from the West to India to surprise her from her stupor.” Again Manoj Das is correct in stressing that Sri Aurobindo’s interpretation of the nation as “Shakti” is a key to his political philosophy.

To cite an example of Sri Aurobindo’s heroic poetry, consider the following lines of Vidula–a theme from the Mahabharata in which Vidula exhorts her Son Sunjoy to prefer death on the battlefield rather than play for safety. Indeed Manoj Das describes this poem as “the call of Mother India to her Sunjoy-like children.”

“Shrink not from a noble action, stoop not to unworthy deed!
Vile are they who stoop, they gain not Heaven’s doors, nor here succeed
When thou winnest difficult victory from the clutch of fearful strife.
I shall know thou are my offspring and shall love my son indeed.”

Switching to Sri Aurobindo’s contribution to the interpretation of Indian culture in its broader context, one must gratefully cherish works such as Essays on the Gita, On the Veda and The Foundations of Indian Culture. These works have been ably analysed in Manoj Das’s chapter entitled “Revelation of India’s Past.” Equally valuable is Manoj Das’s chapter on “Poetry and Aesthetics of the Future.” For it is a sensitive assessment of what Manoj Das has appropriately described as “a singularity in Sri Aurobindo’s vision of poetry and his ideas of aesthetics”–an aesthetic vision which in its totality maps out the outlines of The Future Poetry and projects the heroic consciousness of Savitri as the new knowledge of humanity. And in his neat summing-up, Manoj Das observes that Sri Aurobindo “views man an evolving being with the possibility–or rather the assurance of–hitherto unrealized capacities opening up to him.

Sri Aurobindo and Bergson: By Dr A. C. Bhattacharya. Jagabandhu Prakashan, Sri Ramakrishna Bhavan, Gyanpur (Varanasi). Price: Rs. 30.

This is a comparative study of the philosophies of Sri Aurobindo and the French thinker Henri Bergson. The discussion is grouped under four broad heads: Intuition, Evolution, Reality and Practical Philosophy. The author notes that the same terms, e. g., intuition and evolution have different connotations in the two philosophies. Evolution for Bergson has a vitalistic significance whereas to Sri Aurobindo it is essentially spiritual. Dr Bhattacharya rightly observes: “Sri Aurobindo gives a fuller and more comprehensive expression to his thought, whereas Bergson is somewhat faltering and hesitating. That is because Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy is based upon his personal yogic experience while the writings of the latter are intellectual in their origin, though they are inspired by an intuitive perception of the dynamic reality of Life.

Sri Aurobindo in the First Decade of the Century: By Manoj Das. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Price: Rs. 8.

In this book Sri Manoj Das has compiled extracts from various documents relating to an eventful period in Sri Aurobindo’s life. The documents are obtained from various sources such as the India Office Library (London), the National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh) and the National Archives (New Delhi).

The first decade of the century witnessed great events like the partition of Bengal by Curzon, the rift between the Extremists and the Moderates at the Surat Congress, and the Alipore Conspiracy Case. The first of these made Sri Aurobindo a prominent leader. He was deeply involved in the second and he was implicated in the third. The extracts relating to the Surat split taken from British press reports and from statements issued by the Extremists themselves seek to set the Extremist record straight. The Alipore Bomb Case which was apparently a turning point in Sri Aurobindo’s life takes a major share of this book. Glimpses of the trial, C. R. Das’s masterly defence “and Beachcroft’s judgment are extracted from Bejoy Krishna Bose’s The Alipore Bomb Case. The comments in the Indian and British press on the trial and the acquittal are included in three chapters. Sri Aurobindo also figured in the correspondence between Lord Minto and Morley, the Viceroy and the Secretary of State for India, respectively.

The most interesting section is the debate on Sri Aurobindo in the House of Commons where Ramsay Macdonald, then an M. P., took the Government to task for harassing Sri Aurobindo who had, according to Macdonald’s information, opposed violence and law- breaking. The book also touches onSri Aurobindo’s departure from British India. The four appendices supplement the information on the period.

This book would provide useful source material for a study of the evolution of Sri Aurobindo from nationalism to spiritualism, from politics to Yoga, an aspect which seems to have received insufficient attention.

The Philosophy of Integralism: By Haridas Chaudhuri. Publishers: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. India. Price: Rs. 7-50.

The author is well-known for his clear exposition in lucid terms of abstruse philosophical concepts and the book under review is no exception.

Though Sri Aurobindo vehemently declared that he was no philosopher and had no philosophy of his own to impart, his integral approach and the science of integral living and realisation which he enunciated in his works can be subjected to a philosophical treatment and can be conceived in philosophical terms. Defining the philosophy of integralism as the theoretical basis of the art of harmonious and creative living, the author goes on to show that it is dynamic and integral non-dualism. “Integral philosophy embodies a very comprehensive metaphysical synthesis. It reconciles the doctrines of change and permanence. It reconciles evolutionism and eternalism. It reconciles mysticism and monadism.”

Discussing the concept of the Integral view of the individual, the author explains the way of Love in these terms. “It is the flame that consumes the particularity of an individual and fills the world with his universal essence. It is the way of the candle which burns itself while filling the whole room with its light. It is the way of the flower which withers away while filling the environment with its charm and fragrance. It is the way of the star which explodes while dispelling the darkness of the night.”

Dealing with immortality, the author talks of various kinds of immortality like social immortality and idealistic immortality leading to an integral immortality and hints that the body is an excellent instrument for expressing the glory of immortality in life and society. “It shines as the Spirit made flesh.”

As Dr Pitirim A. Sorokin says, this volume is an outstanding contribution, not only to the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, but to the central philosophical problems discussed in it.

Essays and Addresses: C. R. Reddy. Edited by Prof. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar. Published by the Andhra University, Waltair. Price: Rs. 15.

Dr C. Ramalinga Reddy was one of the most brilliant speakers during the first half of this century. For an effortless flow of phrasing and an enviable gift of epigrams he could be rarely excelled. As a parliamentarian of invincible debating powers he had few equals. His spoken words had the same constructiveness and finish as his written. He deserves certainly to be preserved in print for, more than anything else, the opulence of his ideas and intimate knowledge with the three great literatures of Telugu, Sanskrit and English.

Within 376 printed pages divided into five sections, are presented here in this volume, his speeches on various topics germane to the burning problems of the hour, namely higher education, student life, post-Independence movements for cultural renaissance and some of the world-acknowledged figures of India, such as Aurobindo, Gandhi, Tagore and Jawaharlal. The volume has the added significance and charm of bearing an excellent introduction from the pen of Dr K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, than whom an abler person could not have been chosen to select and edit the material for a university publication.

Dr Srinlvasa Iyengar has adequately described Reddy in these words: “Dr Reddy, the scholar and critic and man of letters, the brilliant orator with perfect command of theme, language and audience, the scintillating letter-writer and jewelled epigrammatist, the devastating satirist with a capacity to use wit to incisive effect, the sparkling conversationalist with an unfailing sense of humour and an infectious sense of fun, and above all the unfailing generous-hearted friend–no calculus indeed can sum up these varied facets of Reddy’s personality.” The succeeding pages containing Reddy’s speeches and writings amply prove that Dr Srinivasa Iyengar’s words are no exaggeration but a just estimate of a remarkably endowed publicist, who can hardly be erased from memory as long as deeper values persist to influence public life in our country.

Man and Society: By Justice K. Subba Rao. Published by the Bangalore University. Price: Rs. 4.

Modern Governments have so much advanced upon the concepts of Welfare State and Socialism that it has become necessary for thinking minds to find out how far theories have been realised in actuality. Sri K. Subba Rao in a vigorous survey and analysis of the conditions prevailing in the so-called democracies, has in these lectures, delivered to the Bangalore University students, taken stock of the ideals of man both in his individual capacity as well as a member of society, his rights with particular reference to the Indian Constitution and the Contribution of law towards their establishment.

Under three headings such as Rights of Man and Society, Law and Rights, and Law and Social Change, the lecturer has dealt in detail but with enough erudition and illuminating compactness the entire range of the subjects. In the Introduction he has commendably indicated his main object as an attempt at resolving the chief conflicts between (1) man and nature, (2) man and other men and (3) with himself. According to him, the solution for the first must be found in science, for the second in politics and for the third in religion.

Mentioning the rights of man as contained in the International Civil and Political Rights covenant, the lecturer has pointed out the defects in the covenant and proceeded to treat man’s rights as subject to three limitations of (1) respect for the rights and freedom of other men (2) just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare of democratic society and (3) purposes and principles of the United Nations. He has rightly assessed the cause of the lowering of moral standards as due to deflections of religious faith. Comparison of human rights under the Indian Constitution with those under the International Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as well as the relevant Covenants (1966) has been usefully made to bring out the significance of cohesion of society depending upon the maintenance of a just balance between rights of man and social control.

In the second lecture he deals with the scope of an effective machinery of enforcement of rights under the two international covenants. The obstacles to the evolution of effective rights at both the national and the international levels are enumerated briefly. He has also pointed out the greater difficulty in finding an effective machinery to enforce rights in the international field. At the same time the feasibility of working it at the regional level is also mentioned. Incidentally, constitutions of other countries in the commonwealth are dwelt upon for the main purpose of showing how in some of them there is an effort at forming a balance between Bill of Rights and social justice.

In the third lecture, the learned lecturer has clearly defined the terms such as ‘Law’ and ‘Social Change’. He has elucidated from, the relevant Articles of the. Indian Constitution the possible relationship between Law and social change. In that context, the role played by the Supreme Court of India in helping the process of protection of social Justice has been vindicated.

Mature reflections upon and wise correctives to the present deteriorating conditions which forebode the gradual deflection of the Constitution and judiciary have been strewn throughout these lectures with suggestions of ample remedies for averting any possible grave outcome of the supremacy ofarbitrariness. These lectures need serious study and reflection by both lawyers and laymen who have at heart the security of democracy in future India.

The Philosophy of the Absolute–ACritical Study of Krishnachandra Bhattacharya’s Writings: By Kurian T. Kadankavil. Dharmaram Publica1ions, Dharmaram College Studies, Bangalore. Price: Rs. 12.

Professor Krishnachandra Bhattacharya was one of the leading metaphysicians of twentieth century India. After a brilliant academic record, he taught philosophy for four decades in almost all the colleges of Bengal, retiring as Officiating Principal of Hooghly College in 1937. He continued to write on philosophy during his retirement in spite of failing eyesight. He passed away on December 11, 1949.

Professor Bhattacharya’s chosen aim was to present Advaita Vedanta to the West and interpret Western philosophers in terms of Eastern metaphysical concepts. In the former category may be included his writings on Samkhya Yoga and Vedanta. According to Dr Kadankavil, “The universal applicability of Yoga, the rationalistic spirit of Samkhya and the absolutism of Vedanta, seem to have promp1ed Bhattacharya to write his commentaries on these great systems.” Dr Kadankavil discusses in depth, the main features of Bhattacharya’s expositions.

Prof. Bhattacharya’s analysis of the dream-state engulfing the soul, as seen in Upanishads and other Vedantic literature, compared to the Western notions of the unconscious, provides a brilliant cameo of comparative philosophy. When he takes up his favourite Western philosophers like Kant and Hegel, he makes them intelligible in terms of Eastern metaphysics. Bhattacharya, while discussing Hegel, opines that Hegel’s dialectical principle-reason-should be modified by an alternative principle like ‘unreason.’ Beyond reasoning thus, Bhattacharya is able to point out that “position and negation are not necessarily the moments of the positive absolute.”

This leads us to Bhattacharya’s original conception of the absolute with which Dr Kadankavil is primarily concerned. Philosophy “starts in reflective consciousness.” Bhattacharya set great value on the possibilities of man’s thinking power that gave him the knowing power. Hence, he discussed at length the various branches of Indian philosophy and gave particular attention to the three major types of Indian logic: Vedanta, the Buddhist Catushkoti and Jainism’s Sapthabhangi. Bhattacharya was led to lay stress on the “absolute indefinite” beyond the relation of the definite and the indefinite when called upon to explain the fundamental principle of logic. According to DrKadankavil, he was of the view that the logic of the indefinite must go beyond this infinite constitutive of the definite and reach the absolute indefinite.” But this absolute indefinite is not the same as the unknowable reality described by Philosophers like Kant and Spencer.

Dr Kadankavil’s chapters in ‘The Absolute as Subject’ and ‘The Absolute as Alternation’ provide certain clear concepts in the slippery realm of high philosophy.

The last chapter of this scholarly dissertation has a section devoted to advocatus diaboli. But in spite of certain obscurities in expression and failure to indicate proper references, Bhattacharya’s contribution to Indian Philosophy is considerable. His re-interpretation of Advaita Philosophy in terms of “reflective consciousness” has struck new pathways, for the student of Indian philosophy. Again, his theory of the supra-reflective consciousness distantly parallels Sri Aurobindo’s concept of the supra-mental consciousness where one can envisage the ascent of the mind from a lower level to a higher order of reality. Bhattacharya’s supra-reflective consciousness contains the three forms of the Absolute as knowing, willing and feeling. Dr Kadankavil concludes that Bhattacharya’s theory of the Absolute, by avoiding pluralism and monism supports a policy of “coexistence which tolerates alternative principles without compromising one’s own.” And so it follows that it is “a classical expression of the great Indian tradition of universal tolerance.”

Russia Revisited: ByK. P. S. Menon. Vikas Publications, 5 Daryarganj, Ansari Road, Delhi-6. Price: Rs. 15.

This is the latest from the pen of the former Indian Ambassador to U. S. S, R. and contains a record of what he saw and heard and also of that he thought and felt during his visit to the U. S. S. R. in connection with the International Lenin Centenary Meeting in 1970. The learned author gives certain intimate glimpses of life in Russia and the changes brought about in the past several decades. He compares Gandhi and Nehru with Lenin and the achievements of U. S. S. R. with those of India under Nehru. All the three were committed to humanism in a general sense and the author leaves us wondering what the reasons can be for the result being very different in the two countries. At the same time, the author is frank enough to concede that it is not his purpose to discuss the pros and cons of one party system and a multi-party system. The reference to Lenin and Nehru are in affectionate and sentimental terms. The book is interesting for the many sidelights it throws on the currents and cross-currents of Indo-Soviet relations.

We are amazed to note that the Indian Home Ministry under Sardar Patel was allergic to the import of Russian technical personnel since it was feared that Russian technicians may wreck our industry. The author quotes with approval the statement of a former Union Minister, “If there had been no Bhilai, there would have been no Rourkela or Durgapur.” Russian family life, Russian hospitals and Russian universities are all described in glowing terms, though briefly.

We are also told that in the U. S. S. R. the only duty of the students is to study and not to indulge in politics. There are no inter-state disputes worth-mentioning. Literature is almost puritan and art develops on healthy lines.

The book is eminently readable and leaves one with the impression that the pages are too few.

Dhyana Gita: By M. S. Deshpande. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay- 7. Price: Rs. 5.

In order to help earnest seekers in their practice of meditation, Dr R. D. Ranade has arranged 365 verses from the Bhagavad Gita, topic-wise, under the general title “Dhyana Gita” in Marathi. The present publication is an English rendering of the same along with an elaborate introduction explaining the rationale of the arrangement. The meditations, it is explained, should proceed, step by step, dwelling upon the metaphysical content of the Gita, the ethical and then the mystical. For “metaphysics aims at clarity of the head; ethics, at purity of heart; and mysticism aspires after the awakening of intuition. The aspirant must first clearly know the object, realise fully its value, before he can learn to love. And he must passionately love it before he can actively and whole-heartedly try to attain it. Meditation on the idea of God ensures clarity of thought; that on the central virtue of devotion results in the purity of heart emotions; and that on the symbol of Divinity brings about proper awakening and evolution of intuition.”

A helpful book for those who seek through the intellect.
–M. P. Pandit

Hasten to take the Spoils, Make Haste to take Away the Prey: By Mary Jane Tschirhart. Philosophical Library, New York.

Mary Jane Tschirhart has gathered together passages from the Bible–especially from the prophet Isaiah – which relate to the second advent of Christ. The exposition of these prophecies makes it more than evident that the author believes “...that God has a certain stark and awesome plan set for the world” in which false-hood, and all that is opposed to the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth, shall be eliminated by the fire of God. Faithful souls, however, will be saved and form the nucleus of the new world. The time of trial and judgment is now upon us.

Despite the narrowness and twisted character of the Interpretation and expression, there is a truth behind the perception posited. This truth is perhaps most clearly revealed in a striking passage in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri.

The unfolding image showed the thing to come.
A giant dance of Shiva tore the past,
There was a thunder as of world’s that fall;
Earth was o’errun with fire and the roar of Death....
I Saw the Omnipotent’s flaming pioneers
Over the heavenly verge which turns towards life
Come crowding down the amber stairs of birth;
Forerunners of a divine multitude....
I saw them cross the twilight of an age,
The Sun-eyed children of marvellous dawn ...

Modern American Playwrights: By Jean Gould. Popular Prakashan, Bombay. Price: Rs. 7.

It took a long time for the theatre to get established in America and only during the twentieth century enduring contributions were made by dramatists of considerable merit. In this volume the author deals with the emergence and development of dramatic literature in America and brings out the distinct qualities of gifted playwrights from Elurer Rice to Edward Albee. We find in this volume critical assessment of the works of outstanding dramatists like Eugene O’Neil, Phillip Barry, Robert Sherwood, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and other leading writers. Miss Gould has covered the entire ground with consummate knowledge and competence.

Contemporary Bengali Poetry: Edited by Sukumar Ghose. Academic Publishers, Calcutta. Price: Rs. 20.

It is very difficult to translate Poetry because much is lost in the process. Even Gitanjali in English reads like a mere paraphrase devoid of all the rhythm, cadence and wealth of diction found in the original. However, the translators tried their best to put across the spirit of the original poems in a foreign tongue whose idiom is radically different from that of Bengali.

The history of Modern Bengali Poetry has been traced by Professor Amalendu Bose with the perceptive insight of an expert in his masterly preface. The pattern of life in Bengal has been radically altered by famine and partition by the holocaust of communal riots and the untold misery of the refugees. Poets of the thirties and the forties found themselves in a millieu which was different from that which could inspire Gitanjali and Balaka. The young Bengali poet felt the need to break off the spell cast by Tagore’s poetry while he was aware of the fact that his spirit was soaked in the benign influence of the supreme master. The modern Bengali poet felt that what was life to Tagore might be death to him and felt the urgent need to liberate himself. It is remarkable that Gurudev himself broke away from his earlier line and created amazingly new variety of poetic articulation in his final phase. Nabajatak, Shesha Saptak, Lipika initiated the breakaway from the bonds of the earlier Tagore and helped the younger poets to seek “fresh woods and pastures new.”

Several generations are represented in this anthology. Kaji Nazrul Islam, the pioneer among the poets of protest, is represented by a typical poem “In the restless wheels of change which is finely rendered. The earlier generation is well represented by Jivananda Das, Buddha Deva Bose, Amiya Chakravarty and Bishnu De through characteristic pieces which reflect their individuality. The youngest generation which is inspired by socio-political ideologies has found its representatives in Subhas Mukhopadhyay, Sukanta Bhattacharya, Ram Basu, Tarun Sanyal and others. Doctrinaire declamations are sometimes relieved by memorable pen-portraits of ordinary men and women whose simple joys and sorrows touch the hearts of the poets. There is a preponderance of the shadow of death and a note of despair round in several of the poems written by the poets of the youngest generation. Despite the change in technique and outlook, love and nature continue to be perennial sources of inspiration to poets of all ages. As rightly observed by Professor Amalendu Bose the element of self-conscionsness sometimes leads to exhibitionism found in many poets of the younger generation.

The anthology is dedicated to the martyrs of Bangladesh.

It is a very helpful anthology which enables the non-Bengali reader to catch revealing glimpses of the fast-changing poetic scene of Bengal.

The Economic Story of India: Publications Division, Government of India, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 6.

Among the developing nations of the world, India, mostly because of its huge population and many-sided problems, occupies a prominent place. India’s economic development has been the topic for close and critical study, both at home and abroad. Here is a short and simple account of what India has been trying to do in the field of economic development.

Even in a small book like this, the author in his charmingly readable style, discusses the ground, problems and perspectives of our planning. His optimism about the success of our future plans may not be shared by many.

The book gives many facts and figures which are interspersed with relevant quotations from experts and crisp comments by the author. The hard-hit car owners of today may be interested to hear Priestley’s words quoted here (p. 178): “There are more important things in life than owning a car. I suspect that half the people who own cars now would be better off without them.”

Some mistakes such as “the ship of the state” have crept into the book. Nor was it necessary to repeat that “Keynes was the greatest of modern economists.” They do not, however, detract from the value of this fine little book.

Gita Explained: By Jnaneshwar Maharaj. Translated by Manu Subedar. Sastu Sahitya Mudranalaya Trust,Ahmedabad-1. Price: Rs. 6.

The Gita is recognised as a notable work of synthesis, reconciling the many streams of thought and experience that had gathered in the spiritual and cultural development of ancient India. But the text being in Sanskrit, it had long remained out of reach to the common man. Saint Jnaneshwar (12-13th century A.D.) was among the very first to render the message of the Gita in vernacular and reach it to the laity. The present volume is a free rendering of these discourses of the saint from their original in Marathi. The old text had been intelligently edited and prefaced with helpful introductions (four of them, one to each edition–the present being the fourth). It is a pity, however, that the translator should have left out the most important portions of the sixth chapter on the plea that “not one reader in a million would be seriously interested in this.” These verses relate to the practice of Yoga and forms a classic description of the way of Meditation.


Sri Aravinduni Purushottama Tattvamu: By “Satavadhani” Veluri Siva Rama Sastry. Sadhana Grandha Mandali, Tenali. Price: Rs. 1-50.

Interpretation and presentation of Sri Aurobindo’s thought in Telugu is not an easy task. But late Sri Siva Rama Sastry, a profound scholar in Sanskrit, a great poet and above alla Yogi himself, has done commendable justice to Sri Aurobindo’s thought, and signal service to the Telugu readers, by writing the seven essays published in this volume. In the introductory chapter he points out clearly the novelty in Sri Aurobindo’s thought which is a synthesis of Vedantic and Tantric thoughts. The second and third essays named Purushottama and Purushottama Tattva are translations of the work “Super Mind” by Sri Aurobindo. The other four essays entitled Atimanastattvamu and Rita chit, each divided into two parts, are based upon the “Life Divine” by Sri Aurobindo. The translation and the interpretation are done in a poetic and vigorous style that has its inimitable grandeur and charm. The bookdeserves a close study by students of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy.

Bharati Nirukti (Veda Svarupa Darsanamu): By Hari Sodarulu. Sadhana Grandha Mandali, Tenali. Price: Rs. 15.

This is a unique book in Telugu that the learned authors–after several years of critical study of about 175 books including Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Nirukta and Kavyas–have ventured to present the traditional interpretations of the words Veda, Brahma, Svaadhyaaya, Svaaha, Vashat, Trayi, Kavi, Kaavya, Bhaarati and Chandas.

The interpretations are most authoritative, critical and reasonable. Views of Western scholars are refuted wherever they are deemed incorrect. Interpretations and significance of the words Kavi, Kaavya and Chandas deserve particular study by all those interested in literature. Every Indian should read the chapter on Bhaarati. To have a clear understanding of the nature of the Devas described in the Vedic literature and the nature of the Vedas one has to read this book. Preface by H. H. Jagadguru Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, gives an elaborate evaluation of Vedic literature. Introduction by the Vedic scholar K. Lakshmavadhani gives a critical survey of the text.

This book is indispensable to all those who desire to have a clear appreciation of our Vedic literature and religion.

We have received a copy of the Souvenir released on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Bhramaramba Malleswara Andhra Grandhalayam, Vijayawada. Founded in 1920 by late Sri Potti Venkata Subbayya in a small building with less than a thousand books, the library has now acquired a magnificent mansion and has in its shelves about 18,000 volumes. Besides all details about the growth of the institution it also contains interesting articles by eminent writers on libraries and the library movement. Sri Kanyakaparameswari Anna Satram Committee which manages the library and Sri Nidumukkala Nagabhushana Rao, the Secretary of the library, in particular, deserve hearty congratulations on their sincere efforts towards the development of the library.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: