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 Moral and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi: By Raghava Iyer. The Oxford University Press, Madras-6. Price: Rs. 35-00.

This is a book which every intellectual in this country as well as outside should read in order to have a complete picture of Gandhian thought. Powers of acute penetration and analysis have added much the learned author in unravelling the many subtle nuances of theoretical and practical results of estimating the Gandhian philosophy. Further without an adequate knowledge of the Indian context, an examination of the Gandhian proposals would prove of immense difficulty to understand. In these and other essentials of equipment, the author no doubt has won his claim to our admiration owing to his thoroughness of study and exposition.

The author has spared no pains in studying all the mass of writings of Gandhiji, which itself is a stupendous task, and tried to enlighten the reader with a detailed investigation of the moral, ethical, religious, spiritual, economic and political approaches that have distinguished the Mahatma’s findings after his phenomenal earnestness in solving problems that face governments and the governed.

In a really exhaustive examination of Gandhiji’s moral principles and philosophic thought, Raghava Iyer has helped us to view the ground of Gandhiji’s evolution as a thinker of no mean order by bringing before us the circumstances that shaped his early mental make-up.

In chapter after chapter, the author has elaborated the concepts of Satya and Ahimsa, their intimate relationship to each other, non-violence as a creed and as a policy, Satyagraha and its difference from passive resistance, Swaraj and Swadesi, means and ends in politics, and so many other points of significance characterising some of these concepts. In understanding Gandhian political ideas, the author has usefully compared his with the thought of many early thinkers of both the West and the East. A regular treatise, of the kind of a Sastra, has been the outcome of these labours of the author.

The brilliant introduction to the book and the concluding chapter of assessment make the student of Gandhian philosophy alive to the uncommon meticulousness which has been brought to bear on the discussions here. Perhaps, no other author in recent times who has essayed the full scope of Gandhiji’s thought has so carefully avoided straying into the historical or biographical aspects or Gandhiji’s life and confined himself to the main study of abstract principles which guided Gandhiji in life.

The notes and bibliography at the end considerably add to the usefulness of this publication. A word of appreciation also is due to the clean printing and execution of such a closely packed material.

The Rambles of Thimma, the Dull: English translation of Dr D. V. Gundappa’s ‘Manku Thimmana Kagga’. Parijatha Publications, Bangalore -55. Price: Rs. 8.

Dr D. V. Gundappa’s achievements are many in different fields. He is a publicist of the first order, an experienced journalist, a scholar ofunceasing studies, a writer of profound thoughts and not the least a poet ofconsiderable merit in his own Kannada. If he is called upon to interest himself in any problem of public importance, his judgement and practical suggestions are of a dependable nature always. Hence, with an experience which extends over more than half a century of public life and literature, his mind is never fatigued by the demands on his endeavours in fresh fields of national activity and expression.

These verses in translation from his Kannada book have necessarily a reputation for their many-sidedness or enlivening the literary-minded as well as the philosophically-inclined among the readers. A translation into English is no doubt fraught with difficulties, as the translator himself has confessed to, in his preface. Sometimes the meaning too defies easy comprehension of the author in the translation, as for instance the stanza which reads:

Like the treasure of the poor man who hoards
The ocean in the earthen pot, the golden bars of sunlight in his window
Faith that tends to repose limitless power within an Image
Is the refuge of small minds.

The last line makes the normal meaning somewhat obscure and makes the reader doubt the purpose of the poet, whether he is railing at the world for its lack of faith or he really feels otherwise about image worship itself.

On the other hand a good deal of imperishable thoughts can also be gleaned from verses of singular depth of content and beauty of expression. Certainly the Kannada must be more intimate and enjoyable to people with knowledge of the language. Another instance of a verse which illuminates the reader’s entire understanding runs.

The two eyes grasp but one view by their combined attention
The two hands execute but a single purpose of the mind
Out of dualism, monism and within monism dualism
This is the sport of the Soul.

The last line lifts our minds certainly to a plane of understanding the nuances of an entire system of philosophical speculation.

Space alone restricts more specimens being offered from these 945 verses of terse, epigrammatic contents, for our enjoyment. Indeed it is a volume of verses to ponder over during many readings and never at all in one stretch for the purpose of reviewing.

Letters from Sri Ramanashramam-Vols. I & II: By Suri Nagamma. Translated by D. S. Sarma, Sri Ramanashramam, Tiruvannamalai. Price: Rs. 10.

These letters of a devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi, a Telugu lady, are published in English for the first time. There are nearly 241 of them here, written originally in Telugu and now translated into English by her brother for the benefit of a wider public. They range chronologically from the year 1945 to 1950, when the sage attained Brahmanirvana.

The lady mentioned as possessing no regular school or collegiate education, with no pretensions either to knowledge of any other tongue than her own. Yet the reader may not exclude the possibility of her education in the true sense of the word. Her capacity for details in narration as well as her mental level for observation of spiritual matters can easily persuade the reader to conclude her acquisition as any day far greater than that of the so-called educated among us.

There are too many incidents and conversations of the sage of Tiruvannamalai reported here to select any few even for pointed reference in a short review. His all-embracing compassion for all creatures including animals and birds of every kind, his care in teaching others by practice and not by precept alone, his learning being carried as a burden with him, his total sympathy for the lowly and the lost, and last but not least his sense of humour breaking out on every occasion to relieve tensions in the atmosphere–all calculated to portray the sublime qualities which Bhagavan alone as the unique exemplar in the line of great sages of the land, could reveal as a Jivanmukta so well described in the Bhagavad Gita.

This book of 463 pages is of absorbing interest to those inclined spiritual knowledge. Its unpretentiousness itself is its source of attraction. None of the readers can afford to miss the golden opportunity afforded here for learning the traits of the truly great and profits by the lessons inlaid in them.

The Image of India in Western Creative Writing: Edited by M. K. Naik, S. K. Desai and S. T. Kallapur. Macmillan & Co. Ltd. Madras-2. Price: Rs. 30.

This volume contains twenty four critical studies which discuss the response of British, American and German writers to India. It rebounds to the credit of the Department of English, Karnatak University, Dharwar, to have launched this volume in their research series.

Though India has always fired the imagination of many Western writers, though the cultural wind has blown both ways between East and West, very little was known about the social, moral and political conditions of India in the West. As observed by Amalendu Bose, “The moderately educated Indian has always known far more about Western history, philosophy and religion than the moderately educated Westerner has known about Indian literature and thought.” The Western writers regarded India as an exotic land of Sadhus, snakes and suttee engulfed in a semi-barbaric culture until the Royal Asiatic Society founded by Sir William Jones in 1784 introduced the hidden treasures of Indian literature and philosophy to the Western readers through faithful translations. The last quarter of the eighteenth century marked the beginning of the passion for Indology that spread to several countries in the West. The impact made by this illuminating endeavour on the leading creative spirits of that period like Coleridge and Shelley were brought into focus by Amalendu Bose and K. D. Pedanekar.

The image of India in the novels of Forster, Maugham, Twain Cooper, Kipling, Steinbeck, Hermann Hesse, Thomae Mann has been explored and displayed in all its splendour by competent scholars like Dr K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Dr V. A. Shahane and others.

Professor P. S. Sastry’s paper entitled Indian Themes in T. S. Eliot deserves special mention for its critical acumen, profound erudition and sagacious assessment. The entire ground has been covered with masterly sweep and thoroughness. Eliot’s intimate knowledge of Indian philosophy has been amply illustrated by Dr. Sastry. It is no wonder that the subtleties of Indian philosophers so fascinated Eliot that most of the great European philosophers looked like school boys by contrast.

R. A. Dave’s paper on Walt Whitman’s Passage to India, K. R. Chandrasekharan’s Thoreau and India, Mulk Raj Anand’s article on Anglo-Saxon attitudes, L. S. R. Krishna Sastry’s paper on The Hymns of Sir William Jones provide much interesting and informative material on the chosen topics.

It is very difficult to single out anyone from among the twenty-four studies for special praise because each one is marked by penetration and competence. But I would like to commend K. R. Mahishi’s well-documented paper on Sir Edwin Arnold and India which holds the attention of the scholar as well as the general reader. Edwin Arnold assumed charge as Principal of The Deccan College, Poona, at the age of twenty-six and lived in India for about two years during the tumultuous days of the Indian Revolt of 1857. Though his sojourn was brief its impace was deep as he came to love India as his spiritual abode. Snapshots of Poona lie scattered in his letters and works, and provide interesting reading. His tactful handling of dangerous situations, his sympathy for Indian ways of life and his prophetic pronouncements enhance the biographical interest of the paper. Sir Edwin’s comment upon the role of the Indian Railways is worth remembering. “Railways may do for India what dynasties have never done...they make India a nation.”

This commendable volume exhaustively deals with various aspects of Western response of creative writers to the multi-sided life of India. As justly claimed on the blurb, such an attempt has not been so far made in our country and this book marks a significant beginning in a new direction. All the critical studies seek to prove that “The wind from the East is quieter, older, less immediately detectable; it penetrates and mingles and its note is deep.” Consequently the student from the Orient may find himself to some extent at home in Western thought as a result of the elements of his culture that are blended with it.

The Ten Great Cosmic Powers: By S. Shankaranarayanan. Dipti Publications, SriAurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry-2. Price: Rs. 10.

Dasa mahavidyas or ten great disciplines of knowledge occupy a prominent place in the Shakti cult. Each of these ten is a Brahma Vidya and self-realisatlon is the goal of all these Vidyas. The esoteric meaning and other details of these Vidyas are a hidden secret up to now. All credit goes to the author, a scholar and a Sadhaka, for having brought out this monograph unravelling the mystery of these Vidyas for the first time. The Vedic, Upanishadic and Puranic base of these Vidyas, their significance and symbolism, forms of the deity meditated upon Mantras and Bijaksharas, historical study of the practice of these Vidyas, and their mutual relationship and important guide lines for Sadhakas are all presented herein in a lucid manner. Supreme Time force for example is Kali. The one universal formulation of energy of sound and speech is Tara, the digit of desire of the supreme Kamakala is the great goddess Tripurasundari.

Expressed in another way, “The supreme stir ready for manifestation known as Paraa Vak is the great Cosmic Power Tripura Bhairavi, Pasyanti Vak is Tara, Vaikhari Vak is Matangi, Suprerme Desire the cause of creation is Tripurasundari. The Infinite delimited as Space and Time is Bhuvaneswari and Kali. “The stupendous Force that precipitates the creation by almost cutting off from the creator is Chinnamasta. When all the powers are held in check, it is the force of Bagalamukhi that is in creation; and when all the powers are expressed in manifestation it is the play of Kamalatmika. The state preceding the creation, Non-Being is Dhumavati.”

Vast scholarship, deep insight and critical research talent are all writ large on every page. A wealth of information regarding the Ten Mahavidyas is found herein. It is for the seekers and inquisitive readers to make it their own.

Kularnava Tantra: By M. P. Pandit. Ganesh & Co., Madras-17. Price: Rs. 10.

The Kularnava is the foremost Tantra of the Kaula school and deserves a close study by those that desire to understand the tenets and practices of the Tantric school. “Under the conditions prescribed, the Sadhana taught in this work is said to be the practical application of the principles of Advaita Vada which the Agamas of this school teach.”

Kaula sastras it is claimed are based on Vedas. “Tasmat Vedatmakam Shastram Viddhi Kaulatmakam.” The symbolic meaning of the five M’s is explained as follows: “What flows from the Lotus in the Supreme Ether above is the Wine, this is the real wine to be tasted by man. Cutting a sunder of duality is the true eating of meat. Yoking the host of the senses to the Self is the true eating of flesh. The woman to be waited upon is none other than the Inner Shakti that is lying asleep in the ordinary animal man and is awake in the Kaula. The rush of “Ananda” that ensues on the meeting of this Supreme Shakti and the Supreme Self is the real Maithuna the final Ma.”

This work contains readings in English from the Tantra by Shri M. P. Pandit and an introduction by Sir John Woodroffe to the Tantrik text series. Readers can have an idea of the theoretical, ethical and philosophical parts of the Tantra herein. Quotations from the Upanishads, Bhagavadgita and Sri Auroblndo’s Savitri, similar in thought to that of the Tantra, and an appendix containing word-explanations enhance the value of the work.

For Seekers of God: Spiritual talks of Mahapursh Swami Shivananda. Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta-14. Price: Rs. 9-00.

Translated from the original in Bengali, these talks by Swami Shivananda are of perennial interest to seekers ofGod. Swamiji it must be recalled, was one of the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and was affectionately called “Mahapursh” by Swami Vivekananda in recognition of his stature of soul and natural capacities.

Comprising his conversations, answers to questions and his comments on men and things during his ministry at Belur Math, these pages cover an extensive field. Prayer, meditation, japa, practice of yoga, satsang (holy company) are the main topics. Reminiscences of the Master and his disciples, visions and dreams including those bearing on the Shiva-origin of Swami Vivekananda are some of the interesting contents bearing a stamp of authenticity. To relate an incident or two:

“Once, at the Belur Math, Mahapurshji said: ‘In those days we were living at Almora with Swamiji. When a devotee asked us if we could do thought-reading, Swamiji called me to one side and taught me how to do it. He said, ‘If you want to read someone’s thought, first make your mind a blank, and then whatever thought arise in your mind, know it to be the thought of your inquirer.’ Upon hearing Swamiji’s explanation, I said to the devotee: “Well, shall I tell you what you have in mind?” Saying this, I made my mind a blank by meditation and then I became aware of a particular thought arising in it. I said to the devotee: “Was this your thought?” He admitted that it was. (Pp. 146-47)

“One night I slept near Swamiji (Swami Vivekananda); there were Shashi Maharaj (Swami Ramakrishnananda) and some others as well. Suddenly I woke up to find inside the whole curtain flooded with a brilliant light. Swamiji had been by my side; but now I could not find him there. Instead, there slept a number of Shivas–all of the age of seven or eight years, without clothes and white in colour and their heads covered with matted hair. It was the light emanating from their bodies that lit up the place. As I looked on I was dumbfounded at the sight. I could not understand anything at first. I thought it was a hallucination; so I rubbed my eyes and again looked at it–there slept the Shivas, sure enough, just as before. So I was in a fix and sat up with wonder; I did not lie down again. Besides, I was afraid that I might touch them with my feet unconsciously during my sleep. So I spent the whole night in meditation. When the day dawned, I found Swamiji sleeping just as before. When I told him everything, he laughed heartily.

“Long afterwards, while reading a hymn to Vireshvara Shiva, I discovered a mantra about meditation on him that contained a description just like; and then I knew that my vision was quite true.” (Pp. 297-98)

Introduction to Indian Philosophy: By Ruth Reyna. Tata McGraw Hill Publishing Company, New Delhi-49.

Dr Reyna has a number of books on Indian philosophy to her credit. The present one, however, is easily her best in so far as she entered into the spirit of this philosophy which is essentially based upon experience. She has little difficulty in showing how much of the schools of Indian philosophy represents a line of advance or a stage in the growth of the human soul Godward. She traces a continuity in the historical development of the tradition from the Vedic period though the Upanishadic and the post-Upanishadic orthodox schools down to the present day. Heterodox schools like Charvaka, Jainism and Buddhism receive understanding treatment. Key concepts of the Reality, Man and the World are discussed at length.”

She observes: “While Indian philosophy speaks of God, of Ishvara the personal deity, of Hiranyagarbha or World Soul, it is in the main, a philosophy of man and a philosophy for man. Every major system of Indian philosophy takes its beginning from the practical problems of life and searches for the truth in order to solve the problems of man’s existential life. While dominated by the concern for the inner life, it does not wander in the metaphysical wastelands with no practical aim in view.”

Twelve Tears with Sri Aurobindo: By Nirodbaran. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Price: Rs. 10.

This is a fine book which should be written by a dedicated disciple like Nirodbaran. Though in his foreword he says that “This book is written mainly for the disciples and devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother”, it is for all “enthralling.” He described it as “a faithful amount of what I have seen and heard and what part we played in the great drama with the Master as the principal actor.” In other words: it is a vivid description of the life and activities of, and his own experiences with, the Master (and the Mother) during the last phase (of twelve years) of the Saint’s life. Hence the book can be aptly described as a sort of “autobiographical biography” in enchanting prose.

The book comprises eleven chapters. “War and Politics” lets us know that, despite he was “a mortal opponent of the British Rule in India,” he came to support the Allies against... Hitler, that he “contributed to the War Fund,” and that he saved the British and the world by “his Divine Intervention” from the grip of “the asuric maayaaof Hitler.” He clearly foresaw the “reunion of India.” Nirodbaran also describes the long creative process of Savitriwhich was dictated to him every day by the Master. The Master’s “Talks” covered a vast range of subjects which had “almost a global dimension.” “God Departs” presents the niryaanaaof the Master–as “he had taken the decision to leave his body”–on December 9, 1950. In “Conclusion,” Nirodbaran conveys that the Master had come into this world of woe, fulfilled his mission as a “Yogi, rishi, poet, philosopher, lover of mankind and bringer of new Light,” and adopted the I. M. –Ichchaa Mrityu.

The book offers a rewarding study. It supplies many details which are hitherto unknown and gives new insights into the life, work, mind, missionand especially the sense of humour and wit, of the Saint. It has no doubt an enlightening book giving authentic information; and it can be accepted as an ancillary book to Professor K. R. Srinivasa Iyengsr’s illuminating volumes on Sri Aurobindo. It is a must to every one who is interested in philosophy, religion and literature.
–Dr K. V. S. MURTI

Fundamental Relationships and their logical Formulations: ByFrederick S. Johnston, Jr. Philosophical Library, New York. Price: $ 7-50.

The volume under review is a pioneer attempt at building up a new system of thinking to accommodate concepts and doctrines that do not fit into the traditional logical scheme. The large number of concepts which we today make use of are not amenable to the treatment of the modes of reasoning put up by traditional logic. The method outlined here is a synthesis of the traditional and new logical concepts. The concepts are at once satisfying to the scholar’s conscience and the man of the work-a-day world. The concept of Reality outlined in this book is that of a growing one and not a static vein like that of the Absolute.

The concept of reciprocity, the relation of transition and reciprocity, the concept of conflict and its derivatives in the fields of Science, Religion, Art and History are all analytically examined and clearly stated with diagrammatic illustrations. The volume breathes a pervading religious sense in its exposition. The exposition is refreshing and there is no second-hand material brought in to pad the thesis. Logical clarity in exposition helps us to attain precision in thought and exactness in expression. Sir Richard Livingstone has an instructive saying in this connection–“An apple a day keeps a doctor away, a good definition keeps a charlatan away.”

The Revelation of Humanity: By Jonas Sepetys. Philosophical Library, New York. Price: $ 7.50.

This work under review examines the philosophical concepts of space and time in the context of modern science. The treatment is more psychological than philosophical. The central theme of the book set forth by the author is “that man who is absolutely enclosed in his Space-Time scope can contact the universe onlyfrom this scope.” From the signs in the Space-Time scope we detect the “realitic inside” and the “metaphysical outside.” The author’s approach to the concept of man is not partial, for it seeks to combine the physical and the psychical elements in close harmony. The slant is on the physical, vital and organic.

The chapter on Reasoning (3), Freedom and Responsibility (6) Ethics (4) and on the rise of Culture (5) are refreshingly rewarding reading. However, one misses the bibliography and the index that would have helped the readers.

Industrialization and Rural Society: By K. M. Kapadia and S. Devadas Pillai. Popular Prakasan, Bombay-34.

The book is an outcome or field investigation during 1964-1965. The main purpose of the study was to analyse the impact of industrialization on the economic and social life of the Atul Industrial Township and the villages around. Two sets of villages were selected. One set of villages (11 in number) were called the “impact villages” from whom a number of workers were employed in the Atul Industrial Township. Another set of villages (3 in number) were drawn from an agricultural area and these villages were supposed to have had no direct impact of industrialisation. The book consists of sixteen chapters dealing with different aspects of economic and social life. The last chapter sums up the findings. The study was financed by the Research Programmes Committee.

The study brings out the different patterns of changing social life in three areas–the township, the impact villages and the agricultural region. The processes of modernisation and neo-traditionalization were found at work side-by-side. This can be said to be the major finding of the study. Analysis of change in different spheres bears evidence to the two major processes.

Besides bring quite informative and analytical, the book has an appendix on field work and a post-script under the title ‘Bulsar-Atul Revisited.’ These two are valuable and useful for any researcher involved in field work.

Undoubtedly the book is a good addition in the field of rural sociology.

Lal Ded: Edited by Jayalal Kaul. Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 7.

Lal Ded is a Saint-Poetess of Kashmir. It is said that she was born in Sempora and was married into a family at Pampor. Much of her life story was long spun out and padded. Shorn of excrescences she comes to us alive as an unsophisticated village belle, lettered to a degree.

By nature, she was spiritually bent. Daily she used to cross a river; have her devotions at the shrine of Natakeshava Bhairava and returned home late with the pitcher of water on her head. Both her husband and her mother-in-law suspected and were not soft on her. Later they discovered the truth. And yet they maltreated her. The saying goes, “they may kill a big sheep or a tender lamb, Lalla will have her hump of stone all right.” One day, as usual, she entered the house late after her religious exercises with the water-pot on her crown. Her husband, in umbrage, broke the pitcher with a stick. But, hey presto! the water remained frozen. With that, she filled all the vessels in the kitchen and threw the surplus outside, which collected into a pond. Even today people call it the pond of Lalla.

Much miraculous powers this saivite yogini acquired by her austere and godly life. This incident travelled far and wide and visitors came in crowds for her ‘Darshan.’ As if in obedience to an inner call, she left her home for good to take her message to the people.

She lived at a time of social and political upheavals. But in no way, they affected her itinerant evangelism. Her sayings caught on. Her divine image is likely to inspire generations to come as it inspired generations past.

And it is a Rahimat (blessing) to darkling mankind to have such ‘avatars’ on this priggish earth to salvage it from a ‘pralaya’ of spiritual collapse.

theMind of Morarji Desai: By Basant Chatterjee. Orient Longmans, Madras-2. Price: Rs: 6-50.

Morarji, as an administrator, a politician and a family man is to be had in this slim volume. His ideas, on a wide spectrum of subjects: inheritance, democracy, dictatorship, economics of freedom, socialism, non-alignment, religion, alcohol and sex are put down in question and answer form.

The statements recorded are balanced and to the point and show ample experience and unerring wisdom.

The personal testimony appended last reveals Morarji as a householder with a disciplined and abstemious way of life. His thrift and meticulousness in money matters are exemplary. Whether it is a nation’s or domestic finances, he can be counted as the fittest man to expertly handle and make wise use of them.

He is a strict vegetarian and a lover of Bhajan and Kirtan. Happiness and unhappiness are to him illusions of the mind. Such equanimity points him out as a Nishkama Karmi.

When his promised autobiography sees the light of day, the reader will have more about Morarji than what is presented by the author.

Yakshi from Didarganj: Poems by P. Lal. Price: Rs. 12.
Alter Sonnets: By Paul Jacob. Price: Rs. 8.
Ashes of gold and Other Poems: By Kshitij Mohan, Price: Rs. 10.
Rusted Laughter and Other Poems: By Vijay N. Shankar. Price: Rs. 15.
Some Post-Independence Bengali Poems: Selected and translated by Pradeep Banerjee.        ­

All the above books are published by the Writers Workshop, Calcutta.

The five (four Redbird and one Saffronbird) volumes afford a cross-section of the different varieties of contemporary Indian Poetry in English.

Professor P. Lal, the Chief of Writers Workshop, himself is a prominent poet. Yakshi from Didarganj is the Fifth Volume comprising his new poems. The range of his themes in the volume is indeed wide. The little poem, “Yakshi from Didarganj”, has lyrical beauty. The poem has Keatsian touches. “Syllables on the Ground”, “The Exit” and “Sonnet 155” are specimens ofhigh poetic imagination. Lines like

Though generations on generations advance,
My passion nourishes your mortal hair.
There is a door through which we pass
Naked on hands and knees...­

haunt the reader’s mind for some time. ­

            Alter Sonnets is the Second Volume of Paul Jacob’s. sonnets. These are stated to be ‘striking new experimental sonnets’. They appear to be the products of real imagination and intense feeling, religious awareness and profound scholarship. The opening line of the first sonnet itself is striking:

The way to heaven is simple and slow.

The poet starts with ‘love’, passes through ‘wild state’, awaits the ‘word’, and craves for ‘redemption’. A symbolic ‘religious devotion’ or bhaktipervades the sonnets:

May prayer itself be whole.
Over this weakened the earth shall burn for you.

There is also the element of ambiguity which contributes to the imbedded over-and undertones in these sonnets.

            Ashes of Gold is Kshitij Mohan’s First Volume of poems. He is a young man in his twenties, and his prose-poems betray some youthful imbalance. Dream is the key-term, and ‘child’ is a recurring ring image, in his poems. With childish curiosity, he seems to write in a dreamy way:

If the Earth be my mother I shall not relent
but reach to the stars
for a handful of emptiness and emerald
and dreams
of quicksilver.

He often refers to higher objects: heaven, sky, galaxies, stars, planets, clouds, etc. But

Like smoke on the sullen hillside
trickling into the sky,
then diffuse.

He comes down to accept: ‘the flesh is my spirit’, and admits:

It was the beginning and the end
and now, no dreams tie me to the clouds
floating on inverted heaven bowls.

The themes and the titles apart, the thought fluctuates up and down in his poems. There is promise in his poetry.

            Rusted Laughter is again Vijay N. Shankar’s First Volume of poems. The texture of his poems is somewhat akin to that of Kshitij Mohan’s, and the presentation of thoughts is circumlocutory. He is not dreamy: ‘Without dreams I am not weak...’ Ambiguity (plus some indifference to the norms of language) appears to be the persisting feature of his poetry. Despite the varied titles, there appears a pervading concern with ‘time’ and ‘self’. There are occasional lines of real poetic weight like:

Breeze circles like an idle old man
crackling in a sadness of Time....
It was difficult
to learn not to love. To pass
to insincerities.

Some Post-Independence Bengali Poems is ‘a random transcreated sampling’ rendered by Pradeep Banerjee. The translator says: ‘This endeavour...attempts to acquaint a wider section of readers unfamiliar with Bengali, with the diversified traits of contemporary Bengali poetry.’ Twenty-one poems on different themes of twenty-one Bengali poets are selected and transcreated in simple English. They range between simplicity and ambiguity, exhibiting varied trends of thought and technique. But they clearly bear the stamp of the transcreator.

These volumes no doubt afford samples of some of the diverse trends in modern Indian poetry. While the work done by the Writers Workshop, publishing the poetry of new writers, is commendable, it is doubtful whether these little gesture at the ‘Shrine of the Muse’ can survive the test of Time. A writer is established only by the virtue of the message communicated by him through idiosyncratic mode and the totality of his creative work. It seems certain what Sri Aurobindo predicts about the flourishing condition of ‘future poetry’: it emanates as the spontaneous mantra of the Supreme from the overhead planes of the creative sage’.

Dance of Dust: By Dr Krishna Srinivas. Poet Press India, 20-A, Venkatesan Street, Madras-17. Price: $ 7.

It was Sri Aurobindo who defined poetry as mantra; for a definition of poetry as hurricane the poetry of Dr Srinivas–particularly, the title poem in the volume under review –appears to be an eloquent illustration. The hurricane raised by ‘the awful elements of creation’ in the repertory of Dr Srinivas has all the components of ‘impressive’ poetry, which on occasions can, and does, slip into verbal repetitiveness and emotional excessiveness.

The exuberance of emotion is sometimes sought to be held in check by a kind of synthetic spiritual profundity: the spirituality, however, like Icarus, fails to rise to the heights, as, for instance, in a poem, like ‘Nirvana’, where the potentialities for a spiritual projection have been frittered away and the poem, like God in the poem, ‘crashes on earth’. However, ‘Pancha Agni’ is a highly satisfying poem, although it is not clear if the Vedic concept of panch agni is kept in mind by the poet. It is curious to note that the five fires soon multiply into ten fires. Nevertheless, the poem is a memorable tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.

There is certainly much passion in the volume; there is also abundant goodwill for the dawn of cosmic culture. But the volume fails to rise to the heights of ‘great’ poetry, inasmuch as the emotions are rarely tempered with restraint and the pall of verable recurrence impedes a vision of freshness in the poetry.

Guru Nanak–A Homage: Edited by K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar. Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 20.

As part of the fifth birth centenary celebrations of Guru Nanak, the Sahitya Akademi organised one national and four regional seminar on various aspects of Guru Nanak’s life and work in 1969. The present volume includes thirty of the fifty-five papers read at these seminars by scholars from different parts of India. The last section contains poetic tributes by Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, Amrita Pritam and others. The participants who have different religious and linguistic ground have discussed the rich contribution of Nanak to our national heritage.

While seven papers are devoted to Nanak’s poetry other aspect of his life and work get adequate representation in this anthology. The age of Nanak, the Punjab of his day, his Philosophy and his message or teaching are all covered in these essays.

Guru Nanak was not only the founder of a religion or a religious reformer, but a poet of distinction. In fact, he has been described as the “fountainhead of Punjabi poetic tradition.” He had used the spoken language and images of everyday life to reach the masses. A scientific study of his medium might throw further light on his message.

Professor Srinivasa Iyengar’s illuminating introduction provides a synoptic view of all the five seminars. Reading this volume of tributes to the “man of God” that Guru Nanak was is indeed a profitable experience.

Occult Psychology of the Hindus: N. Shubhanarayanan. Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry-2. Price: Rs. 5.

The unique contribution of the Vedic Religion is the institution of Samskaras. These take the form of a series of rites of rituals the purpose of which is to culture the soul that has taken a body on this earth for its evolution. As the author says every Vedic Karma or ritual is performed to satisfy the Supreme Lord, parameswara prithyartham and the Karla orthe doer is only an instrument. So by performing each of these Samskaras, one is only pleasing the Parameshwara by acting as an instrument in aiding the progress of the cosmic plan of Evolution.”

The Samskaras are said to be forty in number–some are pre-natal, like garbhaadhaana, pumsavana and Seemantonnayana, the rites which culture the embryo in the womb before birth. Upanayana Vivaha are two important samskaras. The rites performed at death usher the soul safely and surely to its next birth, as the next step in its evolutionary progress.

The book under review deals with all these Samskaras in great depth and detail. The author, himself convinced of the eternal values enshrined in the Hindu way of life, has succeeded admirably in his endeavour to convince his readers as well. His erudite exposition of the rationale and significance of these Samskaras combined with his persuasive logic unveils the truth of these time-honoured rituals to the modern mind.

The Word: By Irving Wallace. Transworld Publishers Ltd., London Distributors: India Book House, Bombay. Price: Rs. 10.

The book gives the world a real, visible Christ in the flesh with his message of love and peace at a time when people are drifting from their moorings swamped by materialism.

This so-called Resurrection Two is based on two ‘Q’ documents, discovered at Osta Antica, by an Italian Archaeologist Prof. Monti the one, a papyrus in Aramaic attributed to James, brother of Jesus and the other a parchment in Greek ascribed to a Roman centurion Petronius.

But these finds were later found to be forgeries, prepared by a French ex-convict Robert Lebrun. Since this is a hidden truth, the dug-out documents were authenticated and their publication was entrusted to a Wheeler representative of the Syndicate of International Bible Publishers.

For promotion of the new version of the Bible, the services of an American Steve Randall were engaged. And the whole thing was kept as a guarded secret, because the publisher Wheeler saw a threat to his project in a pastor of Westerkerk Vroome who was spitting fire and brimstone against the orthodoxy of churches. His radical views were that churches should shed their cloistered life: take the message of the Christ to the nook and corner of the world and do something to alleviate the misery of the poor and the stricken. He smelt the Resurrection Two undertaking and was on the look out to sabotage it.

Steve Randall too, the veteran publicist, was on a similar Odyssey, only to satisfy himself as to the veracity of the writings of James and Petronius. And in the course of his travels, he happens to meet Vroome in Rome; learns from him his contact with the forger Lebrun and failure in his attempts to obtain the evidences of forgery; pursues the matter himself and was almost successful in his endeavours when news reaches him that the custodian of the forgeries was killed in an accident.

But undaunted by the set-proceeding on a clue from a paper in the dead man’s Wallet he could lay hands on a missing piece of fragment No.3 papyrus. And with that in hand and hopeful that Vroome will assist him in putting an end to Wheeler’s show puts through a call to Amsterdam; apprises Vroome of his success; and makes an appointment that he should meet him at Orly airport outside Paris.

But as soon as he touched down he was arrested on trumped-up charges; tried by a Kangaroo court and was deported to the States and was refused the return of the evidence of forgery he brought with him, by the tribunal.

Having removed him from their way. Wheeler and his cohorts flashed to the world the new International Testament in a blaze of publicity and all this transpires due to the stark betrayal by Vroome, who changes his coat at the nick of time and allies with Wheeler in return for a promise of a support for a seat on the central committee of the World Council of Churches.

Sick of the events he encountered. Steve finally enters into a compact with the head of a Raker Institute Maclaughlin to clear from all strata of life phonies, things and thieves, and create conditions for a better life to every human being on earth. The author sufficiently exposes in his book the Sadducees and Pharisees among the salesmen of the ‘Word’ and also the sanctimoniousness of the churches.

In the end Steve’s self-addressed answer to the classic question of Pilate: What is truth? “Truth is love. And to love one must believe in self, others, in the underlying purpose of all living things and in the plan behind existence itself,” has a flaw. The thing is not primarily mere belief. The need is one must live in harmony with that purpose underlying all creation.

In a book devoted to ‘Word’ lurid passages with vivid and foul-smelling descriptions of hard-core sex look surprising and unaesthetic.
–K. S. R.

Mattavilasa of Mahendra Vikrama Varman: Edited and translated by Dr N. P. Unni. College Book House, M. G. Road, Trivandrum. Price: Rs. 18.

A Prahasana is a lighter type of Rupaka (drama) giving scope to humour and it can also be a farce. All sorts ofcharacters like lovers, courtesans, ascetics and mendicants are depicted in this genre of drama and often there is hypocrisy, ridicule and a battle of wits. The Bhagavadajjukiyamby Bodhayana Kavi and the Mattavilasaby King Mahendra Varman of Kanchi (580-630 A.D.) are well-known examples, the latter being the earliest known farce in Sanskrit.

Mahendra Varman was not only a great soldier and ruler, but also a poet, musician and religious reformer. His Mattavilasais a delectable specimen ofa Prahasana. Satyasoma, a Kapalin, accompanied by his wench, Devasoma, goes round the liquor shops at Kanchi quenching his thirst when he suddenly finds that his bowl (a human skull) is missing. During their search for the vessel, they come across Nagasena, a Buddhist mendicant, hiding his own bowl under his garment. Mistaking it for his bowl, Satyasoma, ably assisted by Devasoma, tries to wrench it from the Buddhist mendicant. Just then, Babhrukalpa, a Pasupata by religion arrives at the scene and tries to mediate. A good deal of funny dialogue takes place when a madman suddenly rushes in and presents Satyasoma’s bowl stating that he recovered it from a dog.

The characters have been drawn from the contemporary life of that period. Mahendra Varman highlights the degeneration that had set in among the followers of the various religions like the Kapalikas, Buddhists and Pasupatas and the farce is replete with sparkling dialogue and beautiful verses.

The Mattarilasawas a favourite with the Chakyars of Kerala for their Kutiyattam in which dance, drama and music combine. Although a short play, it used to be enacted for several days at stretch. In fact, a metrical commentary in Sanskrit in 41 verses called the ‘Mattavilasa Tippanam’ (reproduced in the book) is an elaborate discussion of the first stanza of the play. Dr Unni has taken enormous pains to edit the Prahasana with a long preface, translation and notes and has stressed its place on the Kerala stage. This scholarly edition is self-contained in all respects and the reader need not look elsewhere for further information.

Kokila Sandesa of Uddanda. Edited by Dr N. P. Unni. College Book House, M. G. Road, Trivandrum. Price: Rs. 8.

In composing his immortal ‘Meghasandesa Kalidasa blazed the trail for a new genre of poetry and set a pattern for many later versifiers to imitate. The oldest of these imitations is the ‘Pavanaduta’ of Dhoyi (12th century), a contemporary of Jayadeva. The ‘Hamsa Sandesa’ of Vedanta Desika (1269-1371) approximates to Kalidasa’s work in poetic excellence.

Kerala has made significant contributions to Sanskrit literature and her poets have produced some fine Sandesa Kavyas. The ‘Kokila Sandesa’ of Uddanda Kavi (15th century) is a beautiful lyric in 162 verses. Although Uddanda was a Tamil hailing from the Kanchipuram area, he adopted Kerala as his home and was patronised by Manavikrama Raja of Calicut.

Uddanda was not merely a talented poet but a multifaceted scholar with a legendary fame in Kerala. In this Kavya, the poet himself assumes the role of the hero, like the Yaksha of Kalidasa’s classic, and sends a message through a Kokila to his consort living in a village near Cochin. Following the pattern of such Kavyas, he describes the various places of interest like cities, temples and rivers on the route of the Kokila from Kanchipuram to Cennamangalam. Uddanda’s poetry flows with easy cadence and he exhibits rare powers of versification, turns of phrases and a rich vocabulary.

In his long preface of 54 pages, Dr Unni has traced the life of Uddanda Kavi and his scholarly exploits in Kerala. Then follows an excellent resume of the Kavya in English. The text has been printed in bold type, and the notes and the general index appended are useful.

The Finger on the Lute, (The story of Mahakavi Subramania Bharati): by Mathuram Bhoothalingam. Published by N.C.E.R.T., Delhi. Price: Rs. 2-60.

This is the story of Subramania Bharati, the great poet-patriot of Tamilnadu. The tale of the truant poet and his wanderings and musings, his adventures and achievements, his magnetism and love is forcefully told.

Belonging to “National Integration Series”, and printed in bold type, the book is clearly intended for children of high school going age. With a little shift in the emphasis, the tale could have brought out the glory and poetry in the life of Bharati. As it is, one gets the impression that one could play truant, be irresponsible and unmindful of the family life, and yet be a great poet, and that the life of Chellamma–a truly tragic life–is somehow less glorious for all her sacrifice and anguish.


Anaarkali: By Dr V. Raghavan. Published by the Samskrita Ranga, 7, Sri Krishnapuram Street, Madras-600 014. Price: Rs. 3.50.

            Anaarkali, an original Sanskrit play, written by Dr. V. Raghavan, is noteworthy for its novel theme which is not only historical but deals with Muslim characters. The main idea in the play is integration and the historical and cultural milieu of the times of Akbar and Jehangir that reflected this synthesis fully and at its best has been used here successfully by the author. As mentioned in the prologue to the drama, this Saamarasyaor harmony is represented byAkbar’s Din-i-Ilahi, of Sanskrit and Persian in literature, of Southern and Northern traditions of music and dance, as also social harmony in the marriage of Salim with the maid Anaarkali. In fact, the idea of Saamarasyahas been developed in such a manner as to make the final union of the lovers come off smoothly and naturally. The play also represents the youthful spirit of the author and his maturity in thought and expression.

It is not necessary to add anything here about the literary creative work in Sanskrit by Dr Raghavan or what he has done to keep up Sanskrit dramatic activity with the Samskrita Ranga, and its productions and publications. Suffice it to mention that the Anaarkali has been awarded the ‘Kaalidaas-Puraskaar’ for the best creative writing in Sanskrit for 1973-’74 by the Uttar Pradesh Government and the top All-India Kaalidaasa Award by the Madhya Pradesh Shasan Sahitya Parishad.
Essays on the values of the Language and Literature: ByDr V. Raghavan. The Sanskrit Education Society, 14 East Mada Street, Mylapore, Price: Rs. 6.

Sanskrit, as Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyar says in his general preface to this book, is the bedrock of Indian culture. V. V. Ivanov and V. N. Toporov two younger scholars, from modern Russia as quoted in the preface to this book, say in their book “Sanskrit” that “The very notion of India is hardly conceivable without Sanskrit which has symbolised and cemented the unity of Indian culture and history throughout several millennia.” But Sanskrit is not yet enthroned in its right place even in Free India. Dr Raghavan in these papers argues and makes out a case for Sanskrit. The 14 papers in this volume deal with “Sanskrit in a Free India”, “Sanskrit our Priceless heritage”, “The Lingua-Franca of India”, “The Legacy of Sanskrit”, “The Role of Sanskrit in Indian Culture”, “Sanskrit as an integrating factor”, “ Sanskrit Round the world”, “Source book of Ancient and Asian Civilisation”, “A common script” and “Simplified Sanskrit”, etc. Various facets of Sanskrit, its all-embracing importance, and the advantages to be gained from its wide knowledge are all given a reasoned exposition in these papers. Admirers and lovers of Sanskrit will do well to arm themselves with the arguments presented herein and defend themselves and the Sanskrit against the onslaughts of the iconoclasts. Real Indian patriots though antagonists of Sanskrit, should study and understand these arguments that are cogent, convincing and conclusive, and reconsider their previous opinions. A study of the paper on “Sanskrit Round the World” is exceptionally exhilarating and informative.


Jaataka Kathalu -Vol. V. Translated from original Pali by Swamu Sivasankara Sastry. Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi, Hyderabad-4. Price: Rs. 6.50.

The fourth volume of this series of Jataka stories translated from Pali by Swami Sivasankara Sastry was reviewed in these columns sometime with a concise note on Jataka stories.

The fifth volume, presently on hand, by the same learned translator and dedicated to the well-known scholar-statesman Dr B. Gopala Reddy contains some thirty-five Jataka stories of edifying nature.

The well-known story of Sibi Cakravartin, the selfless giver, finds a place in the series of stories of this volume but in a different form. Indra, the God with thousand eyes, asks in the guise of a blind Brahmin, for the donation of Sibi’s two eyes which the latter readily gives despite the dissuasion of his wives and ministers and later on receives Satya Paaramitaa Cakshus by the grace of Indra.

The rendering of the stories in Telugu is lucid and make for interesting reading to one and all.

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: