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....
This is a volume brought out to mark the Centenary of Dr C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar’s birth. It contains some of the speeches and writings of his, during the many years when he had lived and proved himself not a mere intellectual but an active worker fulfilling the expectations of a world in need of efficient administrators. His versatility and scholarship are evident in every one of the topics included here. The selection has been made from a very vast pile of papers in the Archives of “The Grove”–the residence of Dr Ramaswami Aiyar.
The Dr C. P. R. Foundation has been functioning almost since his death in 1966. Its main objects are: one, to form a Centre for studies in the Tradition, Thought and Culture of India; two to bring out a journal which since has assumed the name of “Voice of Samanvaya”; and three, to establish a non-formal educational institution “Sitalakshmi Vidyalaya,” where the young are taught Sanskrit and other classical literatures. Apart from this, also arts and crafts are encouraged by the Centre.
The Foundation is housed in the old residence of Dr Ramaswami Aiyar itself which has been donated by his son Sri C. R. Pattabhiraman, with extensive grounds, to the Foundation.
This first of the Centenary Series of volumes to be ushered into light, assures us by the contents that much material of cultural, philosophical and religious information have been packed into the writings and utterances of that illustrious man whose memory needs preservation for all times in a country in which there is a fast decadence in the right method of training the intellect for becoming useful citizens of the future India.
We are indeed struck by the variety and competent handling of the subjects dealt with under the various headings here, and we cannot think of a better form of remembering the deep thinker and statesman that was Dr Ramaswami Aiyar.
The Sadhana of Self-Discovery: By Prof. K. Seshadri. C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, Teynampet, Madras 18. Price: Rs. 4.
Based upon special lectures delivered at the C P. R. Aiyar Foundation in 1977, this exposition examines the Philosophy and Sadhana of Sri Ramana Maharshi. As is well-known his is a Vicharamarga with a speciality of its own. Though it is based upon some of the fundamental truths of the Vedanta it chalks out a route of self-discovery that has been discovered and perfected by the sage of Arunachala.
The quest starts with a self-questioning, “Who am I?” It implies a relentless interiorisation of the mind. It does not follow the technique of the traditional Jnana Marga, viz., sravana, manana, nidhidhyasana. It sets aside all mentation and narrows the focus of the mental faculties to a severe self-analysis. Each movement, each form that is realised to be not one’s essential self is rejected and the search carried inwards. The centre of concentration is the heart which however is not the biological heart, not even the traditional heart-centre, but what Bhagavan calls the spiritual heart, a little to the right of the centre of the chest.
Prof. Seshadri underlines the necessity of this constant withdrawal of consciousness from the outer to the inner preoccupations. He points out how Bhakti, devotion, fuses with Jnana, knowledge, in the course of the Sadhana and cites passages from the outpourings of the Sage in adoration of the Self as manifest in the immutable Hill of Arunachala. He raises the relevant question: Is the Sadhana all self-effort or does Grace play any part in it?
The answer is unambiguous for one who has actual experience of the path whatever may be the arguments of the philosopher. Both self-effort and Grace are needed; each is relevant at its own stage. What is important to note that even personal effort is initiated by Grace. The author quotes the Maharshi as saying, “The very fact that you are possessed of the quest of the Self is a manifestation of the Divine Grace.” The Grace, in this Yoga, draws one from within. And once one allows oneself to be sucked in, a stage arrives when temporal and spatial dimensions are exceeded. Thereafter there is no “effort”. There is a direct working of the Grace leading to the revelation of the Self, the real I behind the pseudo “I”.
The writer sums up: “The aim of the Vichara is the discovery of the Self. Vichara is no mechanical process of the surface-mind” In Sri Ramana’s words, “as long as you run with the running mind, you cannot discover the Self.” The silence of the Self is ever there waiting within. The surface agitations must be quelled. When the veil of the ego is rent asunder, when the individual “strips himself” of all superficialities, he awakens to the depths of his true being and establishes himself in “supreme Self-awareness.”
“This is the final goal, the destination that holds the secret of his destiny. Grace is implicit in destiny and it inspires Self-quest and consummates it as well.”
The treatment is notable for its depth as well as its clarity.
–M. P. PANDIT
Bhavartha-Dipika Jnaneshwari: By Sri Jnanadev. Translated from Marathi by Ramachandra Keshav Bhagwat. Published for Samata Books by V. Sadanand. The Personal Book Shop, 573 Mount Road, Madras - 6. Price: Rs. 96-00.
Many may be the commentaries that have appeared so far on the Bhagavad Gita, one of the Prasthanatraya, which was hailed by T. S. Eliot as “the world’s second greatest book” (the first, of course, being for him the Holy Bible); but soaring above all interpretations stands Saint Jnaneshwar’s “Bhavartha Dipika,” which means literally shedding the light of implied meaning. It has claimed that unique privilege by established fame and prescriptive veneration, which is not a little due to the poet’s broad generalising talent showering luminous radiance and meaning on various verses, obscure and ambiguous, in the Gita.
The sacred soil of India has ever held aloft the truth of Vedic wisdom as the lighthouse leading man to salvation and inspiring him to Supreme accomplishment. But to quote Lord Krishna’s words in the Gita (IV 2), “in the course of time this mighty wisdom was lost” and the need for a revival has arisen time and again. And the people of this land have never hesitated to return once more to the right path, whenever it was convincingly proved to them that their way of life had taken a wrong course. Such a receptiveness to truth has ever been a source of inspiration and signal of hope to all movements aiming at the resuscitation of Truth, by learning and living.
The high watermark of such a revival was reached in Shankara’s exposition of the Vedanta doctrine in the eighth century, followed by Ramanuja, Madhva and others. In course of time, Shankara’s teaching was misunderstood, if not lost, as “mayavada” and in the succeeding centuries, the cult of Bhakti held the field in both eastern and western India. Parallel with Chaitanva, Chandidas, Jayadev and Vidyapati in Bengal were Jnanadev, Namdev, Tukaram and Ramadas in Maharashtra, the last being the spiritual preceptor of Shivaji. Universal love and brotherhood was the theme of all these poet-saints; and nowhere was it felt more urgent than in the thirteenth century at the time of Jnanadev’s birth when there were various sects, schisms and ideologies carrying on verbal warfare in debates, discussions, arguments and refutations. The real value of religion in its emotional development was lost sight of and its purpose defeated.
Sri Jnanadev, coming from a long line of the Natha school of mystics, laid the foundation of the great Bhakti movement in Maharashtra. His monumental work Jnaneshwariis the crest jewel of Marathi literature, being simple in style with apt similies and beautiful illustrations, and it soon became popular even as the Ramayana of Tulsidas was celebrated by the people of Hindustan. His 9000 stanzas in Marathi, commenting on the 700 verses of the Gita constitute the ripest fruit of divine experience. Unrestricted by the barrier of egoism, the poet-saint has become a great channel for the manifestation of spiritual energy; and it is no wonder that his devotees look upon him as a fitting instrument in the hands of the Supreme for working out His cosmic purposes.
What makes Jnaneshwaristand unique among other commentaries is the saint’s special interpretation of verses 12 to 15 of Chapter VI which by itself would have established his fame forming an independent work. According to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Chapter VI is the keystone in the arch of the Bhagauad Gita, explaining in detail what may be called the Royal Yoga of Lord Krishna, which really brings enlightenment to any man in any age. It describes the practice that brings about the state of detachment, thus fulfilling the teaching on action and renunciation detailed in the third and fifth chapters. The technique of having equanimity of mind in the field of activity provides the practical basis for both Sankhya and Yoga systems and for the reconciliation of the life of the recluse and that of the householder. Taking only the four slokas from this chapter, Saint Jnanadev devotes nearly 200 stanzas for giving the secret path of the “Nath” sect to which he belonged, outlining the singular doctrine of the Yoga discipline. In unpacking the bundle of the implications of Krishna’s directions of this divine discipline, the poet-saint shows how the KundaliniSakti becomes Maruta(the wind) and further explains the four-fold nature of Vak(speech), namely, vaikari, madhyama, pasyanti and para, implicit in the Pranava mantra.
It is noteworthy that at a time when it was fashionable to confine learning to the elect few and when Sanskrit was the vehicle for high philosophy, even as Latin was in the West, till Milton came, Saint Jnaneshwar insisted on preaching and writing in the vernacular, the current language of the people. That language spoken in the 13th century itself became archaic in course of time and Pt. G. R. Moghe had rendered this classic in modern Marathi. Even as the saint brought the teachings of the Gita from the high abstract planes down to the common man’s level, like Bhagiratha bringing the Ganges down from heaven, R. K. Bhagwat had rendered yeoman service to the moderns by translating this Marathi classic into English three decades , so that it is made available to a wider public all over the world. Although Manu Subedar had rendered Jnaneshwar’s classic into English in 1932 it was not a verbatim one but, as the title itself indicated, it was onlya summary. “Gita explained by Jnaneshwar Maharaj.” But R. K. Bhagwat’s translation is an invaluable contribution, since not a single line of the original has been omitted; and thanks to his unflagging zeal and scholarship the English-knowing public is blessed to have the contents of one of the choicest pieces in the philosophical literature of the world. Many a Marathi scholar has paid glowing tributes to the translator for giving suitable English garments to a different philosophic classic written in a language so beautiful, delicate and flowery. But this excellent standard work was soon out of print for a long time, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Shri Sadanand of the Samata Books for publishing it again in a most attractive form with the additional inclusion of the original Sanskrit verses of the Gita in Devanagari.
A Hundred years of The Hindu (The Epic Story of Indian Nationalism) By Rangaswami Parthasarathy, Asst. Editor of “The Hindu.” Kasturi and Sons Ltd., Mount Road, Madras-2. Price: Rs. 70.
It all started as the brain-wave of six adventurous youths of the Triplicane Literary Society a hundred years ago. They included N. Subba Rao Pantulu of Andhra, who was later to become famous as General Secretary of the Congress. Led by G. Subramania Iyer and M. Veeraraghavachariar, they wanted to start an English weekly as a mouthpiece of “native” opinion, which was outraged by the biased criticism by the White Ruling Class of the appointment of an Indian as a Judge of the High Court. They were hardly deterred by the fact that they had little capital and no experience of journalism. They had pooled their meagre resources to collect the few rupees necessary for the paper and printing. They had youth on their side, and a spirit of adventure, along with patriotism and determination. And The Hindu was born as a Weekly in September 1878. It had then no local habitation but only a same, care of the local post-master.
Four to five years later, it was converted into a tri-weekly in 1883 at its new office at 100, Mount Road. By this time, out of the six young men, who started the idea, only two stuck on – G. Subramania Iyer as Editor and M. Veeraraghavachariar as Manager and Publisher. The two were good foils who complimented each other–the former frank, fearless, emotional and communicative and the latter cool, unexcitable, calculating and businesslike. It was not until early in 1888 that the struggling tri-weekly was able to increase its periodicity into daily. But the days of its balanced budgets were still a long way off.
Meanwhile, differences arose between the Editor and the Manager and they had to part company. Subramania Iyer, on whom depended the public image of the paper, could not, however improve its finances, which remained in the red. He sold his interest in the paper and started the Tamil daily, Swadesamitran. The Hindu celebrated its silver jubilee in 1903 without seeing much silver in its kitty. It was a period of struggle, with lots of teething troubles.
It was in 1905 that the paper changed hands and came into some good luck. The new owner, S. Kasturiranga Iyengar, a fairly prosperous lawyer practising in Coimbatore, purchased it for a sum of about Rs. 20,000. With a circulation of 800 copies or so, the paper had a good name, but its financial position was shaky. Kasturiranga Iyengar worked hard for nearly two decades to place it on a sound footing. He was assisted by his two nephews, S. Rangaswami and A. Rangaswami Iyengar and his two sons K. Srinivasan and K. Gopalan. He was a staunch nationalist and a close friend and admirer of Lokamanya Tilak. A man of few words, he believed that even strong views would stand to gain from measured expression. Fair to friends and foes alike, he was a sort of C. P. Scott of the Guardian, who gave us the famous journalistic motto: Facts are sacred, comment is free. He built a good news service that covered the whole country as also important foreign centres, himself visiting the front during the First World War. He died in 1923, with the satisfaction of seeing the paper well established. It was a period of consolidation.
For the next one decade and more, the paper was edited by his two nephews, S. Rangaswami (1923-26) and A. Rangaswami Iyengar (1928-34). This was perhaps a period of vigorous political involvement. The former was a man of strong views who pulled no punches in expressing them. The latter was an active Congress-man, a colleague of Gandhi at the Round Table Conference in London, with a close knowledge of constitutional developments.
With the death of Rangaswami Iyengar in 1934, Kasturi Srinivasan was persuaded to take up the editorship, with his brother Gopalan, as the Printer and Publisher. No writer himself, he knew good writing when he saw it and was eager to develop The Hindu into a first-class paper, which can stand comparison with the best of its kind, in India and the world, like The Times of London and The Manchester Guardian. And he succeeded in his ambition, for he had the midas touch. He saw the paper rise steadily in its stature, till his death in 1959, heart-broken after the first labour strike a few months earlier. It was a period of progress, with the motto fasting lente (hasten slowly) –The Hindu’s Special Correspondents at UN, Washington and London helped to brighten its image further.
For a few years after the death of Kasturi Srinivasan, S. Parthasarathy, Senior Assistant Editor, was the Editor. Since 1965, however, the third generation of the Kasturi family have been running the paper with a happy blend of professional enterprise and political caution. The present Editor, Mr. G. Kasturi, with an intimate knowledge of all branches of the newspaper business, has improved its technical efficiency and effected its all-round development. With its facsimile editions in Coimbatore, Trivandrum, Bangalore and Hyderabad and its airmail service, he has made it the premier English language newspaper in the South. It is a different matter if a newspaper is outstripped by its rivals, because of its unwillingness to take risks and its ingrained habit of playing safe and toeing the line of the establishment.
The whole history of a hundred years is competently and carefully presented by the author, R. Parthasarathy, himself an old Hindu hand, who has imbibed its spirit of fidelity to fact through the years. His account is extremely well-documented, for he has had access to the old files and all the other official documents relevant to the history of the paper. He seems to err on the side of caution himself, for he seldom permits himself of any personal opinion, which might throw light on the human side, the foibles idiosyncrasies of the people with whom he had worked and who had helped to make of The Hindu what it is. But he does try to give us an idea of the calibre of brilliant editorial-writers like S. Rangaswami and N. Raghunathan and correspondents like K. Balaraman and K. S. Shelvankar. One would have, however, liked a more vivid and human account than what we have here.
But there can be no question of belittling a difficult job, done with devotion and dedication. It is the reliable and authoritative history of a great newspaper. The history of The Hindu is not only a history of the times, but is, in fact, a history of Indian Nationalism, as the sub-title aptly puts it. An indispensable book to every aspiring journalist and student of Indian affairs covering the last hundred years.
Triology on Ramalingar: By G. Vanmikanathan. Ramalinga Mission, 6, Poes Garden, Madras-86. Price: Rs. 5.
If the world outside Tamil Nadu is not familiar enough with life and work of the rare Saint, Ramalinga, with his rather orthodox teaching, it is not his fault. He is in the hallowed tradition of such inspired men of God as Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vemana, Kabir, St. John of the Cross, who taught the basic idea of Reverence for Life.
Though he had left a number of institutions, to continue his work and perpetuate his teaching, he did not have the advantage of a dynamic disciple like Vivekananda, who could spread his message to the far corners of the world. Added to this was the fact that his teachings, which were in Tamil, were not until recently, available in English or any of the Indian languages, other than Tamil.
It is lucky now that the circumstances have turned more propitious for this work, with the vigorous initiative of a patron like Mr. N. Mahalingam and the whole-hearted devotion of a learned author like Mr. G. Vanmikanathan, who is totally immersed in the subject. The result is the emergence of at least two useful publications–one a sumptuous volume, containing his life and renderings of his songs, and the other a slim booklet, which gives them in a brief outline for the reader in a hurry.
“It is the lustre shed by Socrates that adorned Greece; it is that shed by Leonardo da Vinci that adorned Rome; and it is that shed by Vallalar that adorns the wonder that is Tamilakam, India and hence the entire world in fact”, says Mr. Mahalingam in his full-throated message to the magnum opus on the subject, produced by Mr. Vanmikanathan.
Making allowance for the heartwarming zest of a true devotee, one could see that single-minded aspiration may lead to unqualified achievement. Nearly a thousand songs of the Saint are rendered in simple and readable verse here, and presented along with an engrossing account of his life and achievement.
The author aptly describes this unusual Saint as a “hyperlexic”, whose feats of infantile eloquence and adolescent wisdom are otherwise inexplicable. Born at a place near Chidambaram in 1823, he spent most of his life in South Arcot and Madras, disappearing from the world in 1874 at Vadaloor, where he spent the last eighteen years of his life. Mystery surrounds his death as well as his birth. In fact, his end is believed by his disciples to have been a merging with the Light, that he worshipped.
The essence of the Saint’s teaching is summed up in the cryptic words:
I became It,
It became me,
We became embodiment of gnosis,
and It became It!
For those uninitiated readers, to whom these lines might sound mystic and mysterious, the learned author discusses the characteristics of mysticism, with enlightening parallels from other religions, including Sufism (Islam), Christianity and the Bhakti cults of the North. For doing this to good effect, his knowledge of Hindi and Sanskrit, besides Tamil and English comes in handy.
The four-fold path, chalked out by SriRamalinga, comprising San-Maarga, Sat-Maarga, Satputra-Maarga and Daasa-Maarga, is lucidly explained, with appropriate illustrations. The institutions founded by him at Vadalur, to cater for the needs of the body, mind and soul are adequately described.
In his lucid and informative introduction, the Rev. Fr. Bede Griffiths sums up the message of the Saint in a few well-chosen words:
“His is a religion of universal brotherhood, embracing not only all men but all living beings and the ultimate state of man and the universe, is seen not as a liberation from matter and the body, but as their transfiguration by which they are merged in the transcendent life and lightof the godhead.”
About the author of the book, Prof. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar says that he isa “true knighterrant” in the arena of devotional literature. He is inspired by the surge and music of Arutpa. He did not write the book, but the book wrote itself. That is the way of true inspiration and total self-surrender.
Nehru: By B. N. Pandey. Macmillan and Co., Ltd., Patullo’s Road, Mount Road, Madras-2. Price: Rs. 75.
This is an objective study of Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the most important individuals of the age, with an acute perception of the requirements of a full-length biography. No doubt, it does satisfy the student of politics and public affairs of this country with a bird’s-eye view of the scenes of the Indian struggle for freedom and the worthy part played by so many of India’s top-ranking politicians, of whom none except Gandhiji and Rajaji, could have claimed an equal place with Jawaharlal in the responsibilities that he had to bear. Here is painted with sufficient brevity a pointed-ness a portrait of Nehru, the only son of an illustrious father; the student in a public school of England; the zealous patriot leaping into the public life of the country; the moulder of things to come as a spirited man with an amazing vitality of outlook upon current affairs not only of this vast sub-continent but of other countries; the ambitious enterpriser for making this country industrially advanced along with highly developed countries of the West; the pilot at the helm of administration in the post-Independent India with untiring hard labours performed in setting up a goal in the projects of more and more progress along modern standards; the dreamer of a perfect democracy with an ideal bearing ground marks of Gandhian philosophy; and finally the disappointed individual feeling lonely amidst the so-called all-round achievements for his country.
The author has dealt with adequate care and precision many of the details of Nehru’s part both in the pre-Independence struggle and the post-Independence self-government of this country. It is evident there is no place in this volume where one could point to any loose statement unsupported by authentic source. Most of the events during the long career of Nehru have been commented upon with an un biased as well as critical assessment.
The notes at the end of the volume and the bibliography bear out how much of honest work has gone into the writing of this meritorious undertaking.
One cannot also forget the sober yet highly valuable remarks that the author has appended to some of the domestic relationships between Nehru and his sisters as well as his daughter, the future first lady of the Indian Republic. They certainly enliven the reading which otherwise would have defeated the purpose of making the hero of this narrative live in the pages.
It is indeed a book to possess for its rich contents. It is excellently got-up with a printing which never burdens the eye.
Ananda Coomaraswamy (Spiritual Frontiers of Art, Literature and Culture): By R. Raphael. Rayappa Publishers, 60 Krishna Nagar, Virumbakkam, Madras-92. Price: Rs. 30.
Here we have a very valuable addition to the growing numbers of Ananda Coomaraswamy’s post birth-centenary publications. The author, it is evident, has made a deep and thorough study with an equipment equal to the task of a cogently argued and clearly understood disquisition upon such a vast and highly intellectual survey of the great savant’s writings. In nine chap with their captions indicative in themselves of the attempted comprehensiveness of the subject, the author shows genuine appreciation of the encyclopaedic mind of Coomaraswamy as well as his unusual capacity to encompass within his range a whole world of ideas and metaphysics which have distinguished him from the rest of writers both of the East and the West.
In a short review it will be impossible to dwell in detail what exactly is the merit of this book. Within nearly 230 pages of print the entire gamut of the multi-faceted genius of Coomaraswamy is analysed, though here and there we are made aware of the writer’s impartiality by careful reference to a critical estimate of some of Coomaraswamy’s exegetical remarks and conclusions on subjects such as art, philosophy, religion and culture, not to speak of tradition. The author has not only gone carefully through Coomaraswamy’s works but also through some of the sources of his, referred to in his books. In the result, we are treated to nearly as many quotations as Ananda Coomaraswamy himself would have chosen to refer to. The scholarship and lucid exposition which are necessary to deal with the subtleties of Coomaraswamy’s essays into the intricacies of the Indian View of Art are apparent in almost every page here. To say this, is no mean praise of the author’s substantial contribution to an understanding of the “Kala Yogi.”
Samples given from this treatise can easily prove how the author has been travelling along with the great savant in unravelling many of his ideas of a refreshing kind.
Of poetry he says: “Religion and poetic experience are ultimately the same. They have as their object the spiritual advancement of man.” (179)
On Indian art he remarks: “It is impossible to interpret Indian art without a knowledge of the Indian philosophy of life, her aesthetic ideals, her mysticism and, in fine, her spiritual culture.” (197)
The author believes that Coomaraswamy is more a Platonist than an Aristotelian. Wherever he is unconvinced of what Coomaraswamy has interpreted, he does not fail also to mark his differences clear. Thus he does not agree with Coomaraswamy’s justification of the caste system of India or his equating it with what Plato and the early Christians have, in their own way, classified society.
The summing up of Coomaraswamy’s general outlook in his writings, gives us very succinctly a correct picture. For he says: “Coomaraswamy is full of quotations from great masters of the East and West. At times, his footnotes outrun the actual text. His sources include almost all scriptures of the world, and under the term “scriptures” he includes the oral literature such as the epic poems. People who are bewildered by the imposing array of quotations and footnotes might accuse him of being pedantic. Coomaraswamy has never been a pedant; he did not learn for the sake of learning. He is a writer with a commitment. And it was his chief mission to show amidst the confusion of tongues and the clashes of cultures, there is a unanimous tradition, which admits of “nothing new.” A writer merely “re-discovers” what has already been said. Vital truths have been revealed in the past not because our ancestors were holier or more intelligent than we are, but because God has revealed from all eternity, things that are of eternal value. The function of a writer is to discover this living tradition, a task which does not admit of any boasting. Coomaraswamy wanted to hide himself behind the great masters who discovered the Philosophia Perennis.” (222, 226)
The volume could have been more attractively got up in consonance with the contents; but the credit certainly goes to the printing with very few mistakes.
Focus on Foster’s “A Passage to India”: Edited by V. A. Shahane. Orient Longman, Hyderguda, Hyderabad-1. Price: Rs. 40.
Yet another concrete result of our fond obsession for A Passage to India. Half a century has passed, but Forster’s novel holds out a strange fascination for us. Why so? Why do we go to him repeatedly when we have forgotten almost all other Anglo-Indian novels.
One reason is Forster’s friendly personality. He kept up his Indian contacts throughout his life. Any Indian academic who went to England and called upon him was sure to get an affectionate welcome, tea (occasionally it could be a dinner) and sympathy. The academics came and registered their gratitude with pardonable pride.
“Mr. Forster had lately broken an ankle, and he limped a little, but his face was as radiant as ever, there was no diminution whatever in his vivacity, and distinction was written on his features and his movements. He was worried a little because he wasn’t quite sure if I could get a purely vegetarian dinner. In spite of my protests, he limped his way to the chief waitress, and presently returned with a sunny face and declared that it would be all right.”
Prof. Shahane’s doctoral dissertation presented to the University of Leeds was “E. M. Forster’s Place in the Novel Tradition” which was the main inspiration for his first book E. M. Forster’s–A Reassessment (1962). Six years later came his edition of a collection of critical essays titled, Perspectives on E. M. Forster’s ‘A Passage to India.’ This was a solid volume. All the contributors except Nirad Chaudhuri and Prof. Shahane were from abroad. Perspectives has been followed by Focus. The contributors are all Indians. The same ground is trod again by the critics: searching for symbolism in the Caves and the Mosque, discussing the mysticism of Mrs. Moore and Godbole, analysing the possible political significances and poetic recordations. Almost all the contributors are attached to the English faculty of Indian universities. None of them scintillates; none is a total failure. If we have patience enough, we can pick up a few critical nuggets that could help us in arriving at a fuller understanding of the novel.
Two articles stand out in particular. T. G. Vaidyanathan speaking “In Defence of Professor Godbole” unerringly pinpoints the need for love in any act of reconciliation, the only hoop or the gods created for combining hearts. Prof. M. K. Naik’s essay is not flattering at all. According to him Godbole is “artistically not only a failure but almost a disaster.” The narrative seethes with caricatures and flat characters. The social and political milieu is unrealistic. But when he says that “at no time since the mutiny–not even during the period when the struggle for independence was at its fiercest – was an entire British community anywhere in India subject to the kind of panic which Forster makes his Englishmen and women feel in these episodes,” we have to express our protest. The European community at Tuticorin during the Tinnevelly riots, for example. How it spent nights in ships anchored off Tuticorin!
Prof. Shahane’s placid “Search for a Synthesis” studies the philosophical significance of the novel. He considers the boating mishap as a moral baptism for Aziz, Fielding, Stella and Ralph. Our congratulations to the patient editor, but then, was it necessary to go for such disconcerting abbreviations as API, ARV, TCD and WAFT?
–DR. PREMA. NANDAKUMAR
Wilfred’s Owen’s “Strange Meeting” (A Critical Study): By Sasi Bhushan Das. Firma KLM Private Limited, Behari Ganguli Street, Calcutta-12. Price: Rs. 25.
A young man of 25 years, full of zeal for life and literature, went to take part in a global war sixty years ago. While taking leave of his mother, he stood looking at the sea glittering in the brilliant midday sun and recited a poem of Rabindranath Tagore:
“When I go from hence let this be my last word that what I have seen in unsurpassable...and if the end comes here let it come–let this be my parting word.”
Too soon came the end and his “parting word” was a brief poem, “Strange Meeting.” Wilfred is the most significant of the First World War Poets, and “Strange Meeting” marks the finest moment of poetry and pity in his verse. Prof. Sasi Bhushan Das has made a thorough study of Owen’s poetical works. The present volume contains but a portion of his work and deals with his analysis of the poem “Strange Meeting.”
“Strange Meeting” is a brief visionary fragment. The entrenched poet suddenly finds himself out of reality.
“It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.”
There arw “encumbered sleepers” groaning in their death. One of them springs up and stares at the author with a dead smile. The pain on the face of the figure makes the poet wonder for actually the place is peaceful–no guns, no blood, no mortar. The figure gives a sad reply. There are so many things to tell but everything will have to remain untold including “the pity of war, the pity war distilled.” Compassion and anguish fight for mastery in the closing lines:
“I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now...”
Prof. Das has patiently explained the poem and traced the influence of poets like Shelley and Siegfried Sassoon upon the imagery and content. His arguments to prove that “Strange Meeting” is no unfinished fragment are quite convincing. Ofparticular interest is the letter of Wilfred Owen’s mother to Tagore after the boy’s death. Thus mourned Gandhari, Kunti and Panchali in ancient India. And as long as men continue to help and ignite political and diplomatic conflagrations, helpless mothers shall continue to mourn their sons on this earth.
–DR. PREMA NANDAKUMAR
This work is the result of a rare combination of a wide and deep study of the findings of the modern science and clear understanding of the main tenets of Sankara’s Advaita philosophy. (1) The nature of the world and the relation of the phenomenal world to the observer, (2) The nature of knowledge and the source of knowledge, (3) The role of causality and determinism in the universe, (4) The relationship between the subject and object, and (5) the nature of the absolute are the five topics dealt with here. The learned anther after a study of the works of eminent scientists like James Jeans, Eddington and Einstein and after a careful understanding of the philosophical implications of (1) Hiesenberg’s uncertainity principle, (2) Paul’s exclusion principle, (3) Mach’s universal principle, (4) Bohr’s principle of complementarity, (5) The principle of the constancy of the velocity of light, (6) Planck’s quantum theory and other such concepts and principles in the developments in modern physics has come to the conclusion that it is the Advaita philosophy expounded by Sri Sankara that comes close to the recent developments of physics. (We would like to put it the other way – the more the science of physics is advancing the closer it is coming to Sankara’s Advaita.) Sankara’s philosophy as expounded in Vivekachudamani, Sarvavedantasarasamgraha is explained at first and then it is correlated with the findings of science. To give but one example, according to Sankara there is no differentiation of knower, known and the knowledge in the infinite Brahman (Vivekachudamani, 239). Sir James Jeans observes: “The complete objectivity can only be regained by treating observer and the observed as parts of a single system. It now appears that this does not consist of something we perceived but of our perceptions. It is not the subject-object relationship but the relationship itself.” (Pages 46; 49) A study ofthis work which is an incentive for future research on these lines, strengthens the belief of the followers of Advaita and extends an invitation to the students of science to verify the theories of Advaita in the light of the developments in modern science.
–B. KUTUMBA RAO
This is a beautiful book on Gandhiji, carefully packed within of a few hundred pages some of the salient events and features of the Mahatma. In the wake of a growing massive literature upon this unique personality, already critical assessments of his mind and writing from both Indian and Western authors have seen the light of day. Therefore it might appear that an addition like this could only be a bit superfluous. On the other hand this handy volume possesses enough analysis and sifting of the extant material as to provide in brief what many others have not done. It his ventured to notice Gandhiji’s work in the political field with his new-found weapon of Satyagraha as having astounded the complacency of not only the Britisher but thinkers alike by its merit of an unusual basic philosophy behind.
The available data is so very much that normally any other author should have felt it all staggering for making out in a short space something which could stand the scrutiny of both the literary students as well as of psychologists and thinkers. It is no easy task to have undertaken to provide such a requirement of maturer minds. Gratifying indeed is what we find here, especially when the author has selected themes that are not generally dwelt upon with concentration. Chapters like Communion with Tolstoy, Dialogue with Tagore, A Visit with Romain Rolland, Literary Pilgrimage, can satisfy the eager student for engrossing details expressed in brevity without loss ofattraction or proportion. References at the end of the volume give evidence to the labour put in this effective condensation enriching the reader’s avidity formore of such. Perhaps, it is such books which provide spot-lighting of Gandhiji’s character and mind that are needed fora wider audience than big volumes containing a lotmore than one can digest.
Come , My Master and Other Stories: By K. S. Duggal. Vikas Publishing House, 5 Ansari Road, New Delhi-2. Price: Rs. 35.
The short story has come to stay. In all our regional languages there are now annually sheafs ofshort stories published, and the readers are not easily satisfied that they are enough. Maybe the novel has begun to attract greater attention recently. Still for a good collection of short stories there is always a group of willing readers who can sift the grain from the chaff.
If a sly gesture of the face, a slight movement of the hand, a penetrative glance, a sigh or a tear can tell a tale of its own, the short story successfully develops it into a whole tiny orb of illumination scattering beams all around. There may be no need for a conclusion as such to entice the gnawing curiosity of the fiction addict. There may be only a passing whim and yet the narrator’s skill can aid the reader’s imagination work furiously over the unfinished moment. It is the delightful creation of the atmosphere to dwell, a scene to gaze at, a mood to unravel an entire vista of possibilities that has gained its fill of technique in the modern short story.
Forty of them all ranging in their English translation not more than four or five pages each, make the reader alive to a realism which conveys a world of significance. The details worked out prove an unfailing grip the reader cannot escape. Though the stones in their original Punjabi should necessarily be more captivating, they do not on the score of their English garb lose much of their intrinsic beauty to the readers who know their English only. Indeed this is a collection which is sure to retain the sensitive perception of the discerning reader till the last page of the volume.
Ecology and Archaeology of Western India: Edited by D. P. Agrawal and B. M. Pande. Concept Publishing Company, Delhi - 35. Price: Not mentioned.
The future turns into the present and the present into the past. The past is not dead, for it is a part of time; time would never die and hence the past too. But the past is dead if it exists for its own sake. There is an archaeological adage, “Let the past serve the present” If the past serves the present, the present, in its turn, serves the future. The present volume is intended to fulfil this aim.
This volume is the outcome of the workshop on the Palaeoclimate and Archaeology of Gujarat and Rajasthan conducted by the physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, in 1976. It contains six parts comprising the proceedings of the workshop in which had participated sixty Indian experts well-versed in scientific subjects pertaining to Palaeoclimate, Archaeology, etc. Their approaches to their themes are much interesting. The articles are dealt with, as far as possible, in a semi-technical way, neither exclusively a lay manner nor exclusively a technical manner.
It would be impossible to make mention of all the experts whose enlightening articles have appeared in the volume. Nevertheless, a few quotations from a few of them cannot be omitted. In his illuminating article Shri B. L. K. Somayajulu states. “The study of palaeoclimates is a very important one. Not only does it form a useful factor in knowing about the existence and movement of ancient civilizations, it also helps to forecast the future climatic pattern which is most essential especially to a country like India. How well we can predict the future climate obviously rests on the fact ‘how well do we know the past climates’.”
In determining the conditoons of the palaeoclimates (climates of the past), the study consists of, again to quote Shri Somayajulu, “(A) Collection of sediment cores from both oceans and lakes; (B) Determination of the age of each layer under study – in other words the accumulation rate ofthe sediment has to be determined as accurately as possible and (C) Studying those components of sediments which represent climatic conditions (e. g., planctonic foraminifera in deep sea sediments and pollen in lake-sediments) as a function of depth.”
Despite the fact that the present volume is mainly concerned with the ecology and archaeology of Gujarat and Rajasthan, the sixth part of the volume meticulously deals with recent environmental studies made in Ladakh, Central India and South India. Quaternary period witnessed the advent of the Great Ice Age in the Pleistocene epoch with its glacial and interglacial periods. In that sense we at present live in the last interglacial period which means that the world awaits the advent of another glaciation which may annihilate the living.
Regarding the quaternary events and palaeoclimate in Ladakh, Shri P. C. Nawani writes in this volume. “Pleistocene glaciation wasa global phenomenon and during this period some parts of the Himalayas were covered under an ice-sheet as evidenced by the huge moraines and glaciated valleys in the upper reaches. There are indications in Ladakh and other adjacent areas that Southern Tibet and the adjoining portion of Kashmir were recently covered with the ice-sheet…..Gradual warming up resulted in deflaation of ice-sheet, giving rise to numerous streams flowing into the basin where sediments were deposited in a giacio-lacustriue environment.”
Commencing from prehistory, passing through the proto-history reaching the history the culture of Rajasthan, in its various vicissitudes, has left numerous concrete evidences both in the arid brown Marwar south-west of Aravali range and in the lush green Mewar north-east ofthe same range. Even the palaeolithic implements arefound in Rajasthan. Climate has played a great part in fashioning the peculiar culture of Rajasthan. Both nature and the underwent a number of metamorphoses under the influences of climate there. The pattern of nature and the nature of man are interwoven with each other in Rajasthan. The scholarly contribution entitled “Prehistory and Palaeoenvironment of Rajasthan” by Mr. V. N. Mishra needs a special mention. All the other contributions too by eminent experts such as Messrs Narendra Bhandary, B. M. Pande, Y. M. Chitawalla, R. P. Dhir, K. T. M. Hegde, J. Nageswara Rao, etc., are illuminating indeed. These scientists have been able to succeed in presenting the complicated technical subjects in a less technical elucidation.
Change has been the main characteristic of the entire creation. This change especially in climatic and ecological conditions has changed every epoch, both known and unknown, on the way of the great transformation of the lifeless into life. This volume is a reflection of such phenomena.
Essays in Modern Criticism: By Rajnath and Elliot. Kitab Mahal, Allahabad. Price: Rs. 20.
The essays collected in this book assess and explicate the tenets of New Criticism and of the Chicago school. To ‘possess’ a poem the 19th century critics studied the poet and the context. But at the turn of the 20th century a new trend developed. The poem became the central concern. Mere analytical criticism hardened into New Criticism. Other key approaches like biography, sociology, history and the like were alienated and marginalised. The artefact ceases to reflect life nor does it retain its philosophical and religious outlook. The critical categories christen it as Structure-Texture. Poetry is in their view not inspired but
manufactured. To analyse and elucidate is recognised as the function of the critic. Evaluative and impressionistic criticism is jettisoned as of no moment. Undue weight was accorded to only form and content. And the scope of analysis is further limited to dry-as-dust formal aspects. Poetry is transformed into a concatenation of sounds, syllables, words, accents, images and symbols. The inside of a poem is considered as the Open Sesame to get at it inestimable wealth. For a bit of the world in the poem a philistine was smelt (p. 45). Language loses its emotiveness. Tension in thought and feeling yields to tension in configurations of meaning. Eliot plumps for improvised speech of commoners and his objective correlative embodies only significant emotions and sacrifice personality which is computed as the germinal point of a composition. Ransom smells a new determinate in the special language and lays accent on metre. Subsequently several theories were propounded. Allan Tate with his planned and organized use of words with their denotations and connotations, R. P. B. Blackmuir with his concept of language as gesture, Empson with his words as still shots of films concentrate on local details at the cost of she gestalt of the poem. R. S. Crane, a neo-aristotelian (of the Chicago School) raises a banner of revolt against the critical monism of the New Critics which invalidates other approaches to the interpretation and evaluation of poetic composition and banks on textual analysis for the totality of meaning though the organization of texture makes the artefact unique by its complexity. A literary construct is not, as viewed by the Chicagoans, a compound of plot, theme, images, symbols, rhythm, and sound which are deemed to be subjects worth studying to the neglect of everything else.
The New Criticism is reduced by its votaries to the status of a physical science at the cost of its character as a discipline in humanities. Its other serious draws are its dissociation with contemporary time, tradition, society, purpose, vision of the author; divorce from comparison and evaluation; neglect of ancillary disciplines; disregard of intention and extension of leanings of words in addition to their denotative and connotative senses; contempt for resident or anchored or unanchored values and sacrifice of evocative beauty inherent in symbolism.
The differences between New Criticism and the Chicago school are just family quarrels. The Chicago school appears to be more eclectic than New Criticism but they are tarred with the same brush. The best comment on the New Criticism is this of Watson: “Peer Gynt sought a kernel to his onion and found that when he had peeled and peeled away he was left with nothing but his tears. To argue as if the value of poetry lies in what is “left” after historical interpretation has done its work is to argue away the very existence of what we seek.” (The Literary Crtitics, p. 221) The New Criticism is neither new nor even criticism because in a way it is reactionary being one-grooved.
–K. S. RAO
Doctors’ War: By P. S. Chari. Soundarya Publications, K. C. Works P. O., Guntur District, A. P. Price: Rs. 3.
The author is an eminent scholar in English, Telugu and Sanskrit. His book Doctors’
War is a poetic explosion of his experiences during the period of his hospitalization for gastric ailment. His narration in numbers of the goings-on in the hospital wards, of patients, the service of the nurses, the spare time talks of the doctors, the tales retailed by the diseased during their leisure hours and the feats of surgery done and achieved testify to his keen observation and fervour to communicate. The tailend of the rhymed verse strays into philosophy and conveys a message that life is a sacrifice and is to be lived, not for self-aggrandizement but for spreading sweetness and light through service to down-and-outs in this unequal world.
–K. S. RAO
An Adult in New York: By M. T. Vasudevan Nair; Thacker and Co., Ltd., 18-20, Rampart Row, Bombay. Price: Rs. 5-50.
This book is an English translation of a Malayalam work authored by T. V. Madhavan Nair, a noted scholar hailing from Kerala. A sort of travelogue, it registers, like a seismograph, his impressions of people and places he visited in the States during his itinerary. “The Rap on Race” and the epilogue to the book air the view, out and out pessimistic, that America has no future and it is largely a conglomeration of individuals widowed of “families” like the one the writer discovered in Iowa.
The hated colour bar, the unconventional attitudes of Hippies, Yippies who are anti-everything: Establishment, Tradition, War and what not, who dress and go the way they like, who grow long locks and wear rings, who do not recognize a Past, a Future and who are blind addicts of “grass”, diminish its moral stature and present a tarnished image to the eyes of a visitor in spite of its political weight in the comity of nations. The theatres in San Francisco and New York screen to a degenerate taste “frames” depicting wild sex orgies that put in shade the bawdy indulgences as of satyrs and nymphomaniacs. The graph of depravity touches its perigee in pornographic mags that Adult Book Shops offer for a song. Dark Night, Champion, Bedmate, Adam and Home, to name a few, can be had a dozen a dime.
There will be no surprise if American women are downgraded and treated as chattels and sexpots in such a dissolute and indecent atmosphere. Eminent writers like Tennessee William, D. H. Lawrence and Mailer are quoted as saying: American women are slaves, instruments in bed and devices for satisfaction of sexual urges (D. H. L). The prime responsibility of woman is to be on earth long enough to find the best bed-mate possible for herself and conceive children who will improve species (Mailer). American woman must be kept where she belongs–on her (T. W.)
And, to boot, gay movements are lent vigorous support by pen-pushers of high standing in literary circles: James Baldwin Ginsberg, Capote and Edward Albee who are on the same wave as fremale Lesbians. These reprehensible proclivities among the educated overshadow casus belle like The Womens Lib in defence of which the distaff side marshalled its forces to battle for emancipation from male chauvinism under the banner of Kate Millett who exploded her A-Bomb of Sexual Politics!
Hollywood stands for the climax of materialism where life was once measured in terms of dollars and where values were disregarded for perishable glitter and glory of existence. At Waterford the O’Neil experience provides intellectual pabulum to the writer. But of the tribe of writers Michael Molland stands for a new trend. In his view art should not be made captive. One should only think poetry and not write; concept is all. Externalization is regarded as de-mode and de-trop. This sounds Crocean!
Changes are born of dissidence. There is creation in revolt and not in conformity. The most touching factor in the book is the feeling of uneasiness felt by the author on his homeward fight from a Frankenstein of America where dollars are the dreams as well as the alpha and omega of life.
–K. S. RAO
Indian-poetry Today – Volume II (Kannada, Marathi, and Hindi): Edited by S. K. Desai, Prabhakar Machwe and Kailash Vajpeyi respectively. Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Azad Bhavan, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 35.
Some of the more significant Kannada, Marathi and Hindi poets have been brought together through English translations in this impressive volume. The richest and most daring poetry comes from Karnataka. In his excellent introduction, S. K. Desai introduces us to the different trends in post-194-7 poetry. Pejawar Sadashiv Rao’s “passionate absorption in the present”; V. G. Bhat satirising the erstwhile romantics and their concepts of God and Alman; V. K. Gokak’s new idiom; Gopalakrishna Adiga’s “complexity of experience”; and ever so many new poets including Chennaveer Kanavi and Shankar Mokashi-Punekar. There is, for instance, P. Lankesh’s “Mother”, a moving symbolisation of the eternal mother of sorrows in Indian countryside.
“She died, she did:
What is the age of a hag bent double?
How many New Year moons, how many festivals of sweet bread
Over the live coal? How many times she wept,
this old woman, for coin, for dead calf and ruined grain?
roamed villages, how many times,
for an ancient runaway buffalo?”
The Marathi section opens with A. R. Deshpande, the veteran poet. As we make our way through selections from poets like B. B. Borkar and Keshav Meshram, suddenly we are confronted by Shanta J. Shelke’s triumphant “Realization.”
“When the rugged black stone
the beautiful icon in its heart
when it knew
that it was the icon.
It began to shed particles
day and night.
And when the bamboo
I am the pipe
holes burst from the body
and dreams echoed in the form
of six notes.
It lost its rootedness
from that moment.
The section on Hindi poetry has a detailed introduction by Kailash Vajpeyi. What he says of modern Hindi poetry is true of Indian poetry in general.
“The Hindi poet today, is more than ever aware of the irony that “poetry makes nothing happen”, yet he is continuing to voice the problems of the masses in an almost naked language. Sulky resentment, abhorrence for everything which is phoney and fake, self-analysis, cogitation and sharp criticism of the dichotomies of Indian social life, are the main characteristics of today’s Hindi poetry. But this does not mean that the progressive disintegration of civilization is not his concern.”
Kailash Vajpeyi himself is a searing poet. The total impression one gains from reading these 74
poets is a sense of being vitally alive. Most of them question, show their anger, spew out their disgust. Very few have a sense of philosophic acceptance. This refusal to take what is considered by some as the line of least resistance marks contemporary Indian poetry as impatient and angry. However, in this anger may be noted the deep-rooted conviction of the poets.
–DR PREMA NANDAKUMAR
Play, Stories and Sketches: By Deben Laha. Firma K. L. Mukhopadhayay, Calcutta. Price: Rs. 8.
This book is a pot-pourri of drama, sketches and stories and these in a way recapitulate life in a humdrum world. The sexual animal in man is shown in Rexona, Vision of jealousy and Dark Desire. The Irrational Beast illustrates how racial groups lose their balance and descend to bestial depths when exploited by ethnic differences and coupled with power syndrome. The Astral man with his little secrets of a living stands as a sample of a Samaritan type dispensing his ministrations to the needy and the lost. The Naked in the Mirror is an admonition against an artificial life as well as an advice that one has to accept others for what they are. W. T. is the story of two naughty kids who travel without paying fare and when confronted with the danger of detection, jump and vamoose showing “thump”. The Revenge is a farce out and out. The pieces composed lack unity and are at best elegant trifles.
Saints of India: By Anna. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras-4. Price: Rs. 3.
The character of a nation as of an individual is best studied in its chosen way of life and this is amply proved in the Case of Bharat whose other-worldly outlook finds its noblest and highest expression in its sacred scriptures and in the dedicated lives of its saints who renounced the ephemeral pleasures of a musty and sordid life to Sempiternal
sat-chit-ananda. Of the hagiarchy presented in the book Ramakrishna Paramahamsa rises, head and shoulders, above all by his immaculate attitude towards his revered wife Sarada to whom he did “shodasa puja” as to a Divinity untouched by lust or sexual insanity and with no historical parallel to date. Of course the founders of the three Philosophical systems: Dvaita, Visishtadvaita and Advaita – Madhya, Ramanuja and Sankara – stand out and stand apart. Andal’s lieder-kranj “Tiruppavai”, Alwars, hymnal outpourings treasured in “Divyaprabandham” and Appar’s devotional songs that constitute part of Saivite canonical literature “Tirumurai” inspire a sleeping humanity and awaken it to what is permanent beyond a perishable mundus. Religiosity is an attitude. Religion is not a corpus of rituals. It is a deep feeling of identity and rapport with all creation. Vedantic Self is the energy of science and knowledge is faith. But what transpires beyond death is still an arcanum still to be probed though axiology (Karma theory) is pressed in to fill the void. And to the commonalty two things are obvious: birth and death – terminus a quo and terminus ad quem. However a study of the lives of the great souls goes a long way to help and mould and shape coming generations and provide them a rudder and a direction in their voyage by choppy seas of Samsara. Anna should be congratulated for bringing an ampler ether and a diviner air through the lives of the saints into our stifled and suffocated lives.
Science, Society and Metaphysics: ByPravas Jivan Chaudury Minerva Associates (Publications) Ltd., 7-B Lake Place, Calcutta-29, Price: Rs. 30.
The book successfully puts across a theory that science too has ethical, religious and metaphysical aspects implicit in it and by means of its methodological tools it can trace its way to the origins of the Universe–a process, to wit, of regression from the objective “without” to a subjective “within”. All knowledge as identified starts with close observation and hypothesis. Either it is a materialistic or spiritualistic. The function of science as a cognitive enterprise is to analyse nature spread around and organize the collected sense data into corresponding laws and convenient mathematical symbols. Its passion for order, method, respect for facts and mental alertness constitute a code of morality of sorts for its votaries and commonalty also and the needs of society are the raison d’etre of its genesis. Substance, causality, space, time, quantity, quality and reciprocity are the categories science presses into service in its investigations into the phenomenal world. The concept that the cosmos is governed by set laws and order divests science of a God and a soul.
This brand of naturalistic religion that is dished out for consumption falls woefully short of expectations that humanity cherishes of it. But this shortcoming is put right by the latest developments with a transcendental outlook in the field of physics shifting mind to the centre, consigning matter to unwanted limbo. Man becomes self-determined. His study of nature turns into a study of himself. Mind and matter though apparently dualistic fill the bill of monism. Materialism vanishes and phenomenalism steps into its shoes. Science and philosophy come closer with their differences narrowing to a negligible point. The so-called advances of science pale into insignificance before the insights of the ancient seers of India who probed into existential mysteries and laid bare their noblest and highest thoughts and preserved them in the incomparable Upanishads. Still biology and psychology defy interpretation on a materialistic basis. Introspection and intuition prove handy and workable instruments to initiate mankind into “the failings and vanishings” of ultimate Brahman.
Scientific transcendentalism with its wooden and mechanical under-cum overtones, like dry epistemology, not substitute spiritualism radiating exhilarating calm and impenetrable peace void of the heat and agitation of sinful passions.
Culture and Society: By Balakrishna N. Nair. Bharat Printers, K 16 Navin Shahdara, Delhi-32 Price: Rs 58.
This book is a festschrift published in honour of an eminent anthropologist, Dr A. Aiyappan Pillai, and the papers incorporated cover a wide spectrum of topics, mostly allied to Social Anthropology. The function of the Social Sciences is to undertake comparative and insightful studies of societies and estimate the directions along which they are moving. To reinforce these studies cross-cultural field work and scholarly interchanges are the needed supplementals. In “Perspectives on American Anthropology” Cora Du Bois is of the view that techno-scientific involution is an impediment to have proper conceptualization of social profiles to emerge in future. Scientific and technological developments generate a mechano-morphic concept of the world and life on earth (Cf War by Aldous Huxley) and science is questioned as a core-cultural value.
It is culture alone (the most semantically mangled term) as the highest expression of man that can rescue humanity from slipping into a mindless dinosaurin condition. Mechanization may be accorded a place in the scheme of life. But its apotheosization is the bane. Living labour (man) is not to be subordinated to materialized labour (machine). As Ruth Benedict puts it, “a new ontology analogises man into a machine, human beings into bands and labour into production per man-hours.” This kind of environment constricts the outlook of anthropology. But the futuristic morphology of societies has been envisaged, way in time, by highly evolved religious savants whose formulae, tolerance and co-existence, the social scientists may emulate in borrowing as materials for structuring their utopian visions. Compatibility of thought and deed, death of schizo-phrenic tendencies in human kind are the pre-requisites for saner societies to surface, toguide the destinies of the world.
The Tempest in the Cup: By R Sundaresan. 16, Vivekananda Street, T. Nagar, Madras-17.
This book of 36 pages, containing about the same number of poems, is disarmingly called “The Tempest in the Cup” by its author. The themes include expression of sympathy for the downtrodden, the challenge of squalor and disease, the infantile megalomania of a poet, facile outbursts against God, a bovine mimicry of the Bhagavat Gita, the lengthening illusions of life, etc. There is a vigorous expression of certain human predicaments, bordering on commonsense. The author, in tune with the trends of the time, employs mechanical devices of dots and placement of words or lines in the page to give distinction to his style.
As the Editors have rightly put it–“We suffer from innocence in childhood, from arrogance in adulthood and impatience in old age...These three obstacles always hinder the process of acquisition of knowledge.” Our youth should read a number of books, and acquaint themselves with the various branches of knowledge. Unfortunately there are not many books in our country within reach of the common man.
Here is a handy book containing 1000 quiz questions along with their answers. The questions cover a wide range of topics to cater to the needs of the average reader in general and the quiz enthusiasts in particular. Young men appearing for various competitive examinations and the general readers looking for a variety in reading material find the book highly rewarding and very interesting This may be the first of the series of such good books published by the Forum. We look forward for similar ones from them in the near future.
– B. N. RAO
Jejuri: By Arun Kolalkar. Bombay Clearing house, Bombay-1, Price: Rs. 12.50.
Of the few entries received in 1977, Jejuriappears to have won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for that year. It does not mean that there are no better poets in India.
Outstanding features of the book are: the new imagery, the skill of a graphic art and contemporary techniques of versification. It is a book of prose verse describing a visit to a place of pilgrimage, Jejuri, The experience of the poet during the visit is punctuated into various titles like: “The Bus”, “The Priest”, “Heart of Ruin”, “The Door-step”, “A Low Temple”, etc. There are no doubt flashes of humour. But the experience and response of the poet is spiritually dry and mechanical There is atheistic attitude revealed in a couple of poems, especially in “Makarand” (p. 39). This morbid tone somehow appears to pervade all the poems in the book.
The poems “An Old Woman” (p. 21), “The Cupboard” (p. 44), “Chaitanya” (p. 49) and especially “Between Jejuri and the Railway Station” (pp. 50-51). appear impressive by contrast. And owing to the lack of idealism and spiritual depth, the poems can hardly withstand the test of time.
–DR K. V. S. MURTI
Sapekshata Vada: By Dr V. M. Korwar. Karnataka University, Text-books Directorate, Dharwar. Price: Rs. 8.
A succinct account of the Theory of Relativity in as simple a language as possible for a difficult subject as this. The writer gives a ground of theory, its birth, its argument, its subsequent developments at the hands of different scientists and the consequences of this discovery. The presentation is illustrated and the last chapter highlights the changes that have come about in our perspective of the gigantic universe around, the galaxies and their speed, the light-years and above all the general acceptance of the truth that the whole creation is a developing proposition and nothing can be final.
This book is brought out in the series of text-books that the Karnataka University is steadily working upon for the popularisation of specialised subjects in the Kannada language. It is a commendable effort.
–M. P. PANDIT
Ratnatrayi: Parts 1 and 2. Editor: Sricharanarenu. Goda Grandhamala, Musunuru, Krishna District. Price: Rs. 8 and Rs. 12.
Sri K. T. L. Narasimhacharya (pen-name Sricharanarenu) the founder of the Goda Grandhamala is doing signal and selfless service to the devotees in general and Vaishnava community in particular by publishing books such as these under review. The first part, true to its name, is a collection of three gems of devotional lyrics in Tamil, “Tiruppallandu”, by the well-known devotee Vishnuchitta, which is believed to explain the hidden meanings of the Dravida Veda, “Tiruppalliyelucchi” sung by Vipranarayana to rouse Sriranganatha from his sleep, and “Tiruppavu” containing thirty songs of Godadevi whose devotional life forms the theme of the celebrated Telugu poem Amuktamalyadaof Srikrishnadevaraya. As the editor has aptly observed, while the first two works form the first and second entrances to the golden temple and edifice of Tamila Veda, the “Tirruppavai”, a soul stirring lyric forms the sanctum sanctorum of that temple. These three Tamil classics are now made easily understandable and appreciable by publishing them here with the original text in Tamil in Telugu script followed by a Tika giving word for word meaning and an elucidative commentary in an appealing Telugu, both written by the editor. The commentary wherein some relevant Sanskrit and Telugu verses are also quoted is neither too prolific nor too brief, and like commentaries of Mallinatha is highly helpful for a proper understanding of the original.
The second part contains “Tiruppavai” alone with the text followed by word to word meaning and an exhaustive commentary in Sanskrit, the latter by S. T. N C. S. C. Tiruvenkatacharya, a Sanskrit scholar of renown and a poet, and the former by his son, S. N. C. Krishnamacharya. The commentary is not only lucid but also elucidative. Besides giving different possible interpretations, it explains the suggested meanings also and instills a spirit of devotion into the reader who incidentally can acquire a nodding acquaintance of the Tamil language and also taste the beauties thereof. Godastotra is also added at the end. These books deserve to be possessed by all devotees.
Ramayana Sudhalahari: Yuvabharati Publications, 5, King’s Way, Secunderabad-3. Price: Rs. 8.
Yuvabharati deserves encomiums for publishing this book, a collection of lectures in Telugu on Ramayanas in Sanskrit, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and Telugu languages by eminent scholars. The greatness and importance of Ramayana are pointed out in the preface. Unique features of Rama’s story, poetic beauties, natural and moving descriptions, character portrayal, Rasas, Dhvanis and figures of speech found in Valmiki’s Ramayana are all presented to us with relevant quotations from the text in the first talk. The talk on late Viswanatha’s Ramayana Kalpavriksha is both scholarly and critical. The speaker refutes all the charges levelled against Dr Viswanatha. He asserts that Viswanatha is as much a progressive writer as Sri Sri and they both have relevance to our modern society, if it should have an all-round progress. That the Ramayana Kalpavriksha is replete with suggestions the soul of poetry, and that the innovations therein are significant in many respects are brought home to us by suitable citations from the text. For a proper understanding of Dr Viswanatha, one must read this talk. Beauties of Tulasi Ramayana and Saketa Kavya are spotlighted in the talk on Hindi Ramayanas. Popularity, greatness and unique features of Ramayanas written by Kamban and Eluttachan in Tamil and Malayalam respectively are described in a talk on Ramayanas in Tamil and Malayalam. In other talks spiritual interpretation of Rama’s story as found in the Adhyatma Ramayana, a brief account of more than thirty Telugu Ramayanas, and salient features of some important folk songs dealing with Ramayana are well brought out. Though some Ramayanas in Sanskrit and Telugu are still left untouched, these talks provide a rich fare to a reader and pave way for our national and emotional integration, a peed of the day.
Jigeesha: By Vedantam Subrahmanyam, 514, Shivalaya, C-in-C Road, Madras-8. Price: Rs. 8.
The Telugu novel bas celebrated its centenary recently and the Telugu novelists have earned a high place in world literature. For over a decade past the field has somehow been dominated by women novelists, though the quality of writing is not of high order. As such it is refreshing to find that Sri Subrahmanyam, an established writer, has brought out a good novel.
The author who is a business executive had the opportunity of living in Calcutta for over three decades, and he made the best use of his stay. He studied the Bengali language and mingled among the Bengalis.
The story is woven around the life of an Andhra, Surynarayana by name (he later called himself as “Naren” for the convenience of the Benaalis) who migrated to Calcutta for employment and marries a Bengali woman, Madhuri. They live happily until the question of the marriage of their only daughter arises. Naren wanted to get her married to an Andhra and settle down in Hyderabad after his retirement, while Madhuri was particular that her daughter should be given to a Bengali. And finally Naren dies without performing the marriage.
The author portrays in the novel the lives and habits of Bengali stage artistes with consummate skill. The story is absorbing and the style racy and readable.
There are very few Sannyasins that can vie with H. H. Vimalananda Bharati Swami, the first Pontiff of the Siddheswari Peetham and a great spiritual luminary. He was a born teacher, thinker and an invincible dialectician. He translated his precepts into practice and lived the life he taught. With firm faith in the Vedic Dharma and correct reasoning as his forte, he could disarm his critics in no time. He was a faithful interpreter of Sankara’s works and his discourses were a source of enlightenment to his disciples. This book under review, written by a close disciple of the Swamiji, is not only a short biography but also a short treatise on Vedic Dharma. Swamiji’s dialogues and conversations throw a flood of light on many knotty problems concerning the validity of the Vedas and the place of reasoning, significance of caste system, Advaita, Moksha, Bible, Hindu marriage system and our epics. Every page reflects Swamiji’s ready wit and sourcefulness and critical appreciation of our classics. One should read this book to have a correct estimate of Hinduism and Vedic religion.
–B. K. SASTRY
1. Taratarala Tamila Kavita. 2. Sahitya Charitra: By Dr. C. Radhakrishna Sarma. Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi. Kala Bhavan, Hyderabad – 4 Price: Rs. 2 and Rs. 4.
Appreciation of literary Works in one regional language by people of another region brings together the literates at least of the two regions closer to each other and this fosters national integration to some extent. Writers who are learned at least in two languages and who can interpret the literature therein with a sympathetic and aesthetic approach are most essential if we are to achieve the end through literature. Dr C. Radhakrishna Sarma, by his high achievements and interpretations of Tamil literature to students of Telugu, has proved himself eminently worthy in this field.
The first book is a small compilation of Dr Sarma’s translations into beautiful Telugu of Tamil poetry with its various branches like didactic, philosophic, epic, devotional, national and modern including folk songs also. An introduction about Tamil poetry in general and poetry of Sangam age in particular gives a general idea of Tamil poetry. Every metrical translation is preceded by a short note on its author. All the poetic pieces are simply captivating.
The second volume is a concise history of Tamil literature which is broadly divided into seven ages. A short account of works on poetry, drama, novel, short story, criticism and essays, biographies, modern science, etc., is given in these pages. Illustrative pieces of poetry in Telugu translation bring out the beauties of the original works. After reading these two books the reviewer felt sorry for not acquainting himself with Tamil literature. All our admiration goes to the author and publishers of these works.
–B. K. RAO
Sahityadhyayanam: Yuvabharati, 5 King’s Way, Secunderabad-3, Price: Rs. 2.
This is a collection of four speeches on novel, drama, newspapers and journals and study of Kavitva in Telugu, by four eminent scholars. The first one is the result of critical judgment and balanced thought. About nine guidelines for budding critics and novel writers can be found here. Nature of Drisya, Sravya Kavyas and their relative merits, as pointed out in our ancient books on dramaturgy, are presented in the second one. Some illustrative verses from famous Telugu dramas are quoted here. The word Paranirvriti means highest bliss or Rasaananda, but not bliss of other worlds alone. A statement pointing impropriety in a Telugu drama “Harischandra” is questionable and deserves reconsideration. Many more points can be dealt with in this speech. The third speech has some wholesome suggestions to improve the image and standard of our journals, if there is anyone to pay heed to them. The last discourse is very educative, critical and analytical and provides a profitable reading.
–B. K. SASTRY
Kiranaalu –Kerataalu: By Tirumala Srinivasacharya. Yuvabharati, 5, King’s Way, Secunderabad - 3. Price: Rs. 3.
Maxims are the portable and condensed wisdom of long experience and deep observation. The book under review contains 362 maxims dealing with many aspects of our life and society. They are couched in pithy sentences characterised by symphony of sounds and alliterations. All the sayings are in verse form in Maatra metre. Some contain eternal truths and warnings alao and hence have a highly educative value. There is sense, brevity, vigour and sarcasm also here and there. The author has eminently succeeded in his spontaneous writings that are these. Dr. G. V. Subrahmanyam’s introduction is short and sweet.