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....

Readings on Music and Dance: By Gowri Kuppuswami and Hariharan; B. R. Publishing Corporation, Vivekanand Nagar, Delhi-52. Price: Rs. 90.

This is a compilation of articles from some of the well-known musicologists of India and is also comprehensively informative, of the various aspects of music and dance that are necessary to be obtained by all music lovers. No doubt these are collected from many separate contributions to journals and souvenirs with evidently the permission of their authors. At a glance of the contents, one can easily evaluate the usefulness of a volume of this kind.

The first contribution from Swami Prajnananda traces the sources of Indian music to the very ancient texts such as the Vedas and other scriptural writings as well as epics. It is a treatise on the most original of world’s musical heritage. The succeeding articles are upon the general aesthetics of the art which involves the treatment of the Rasas, so much the main source of enjoyment in all our arts and which nowhere else has found such elaborate discussion as in our books on Alankara Sastra. Dance and music which are so intricately connected have been purposely in our aesthetics dwelt upon in order to vivify their essential objective of spiritualising both the performer and the listener or witness. Traditions for the maintenance of the standards so carefully developed form the next subjects in this volume. Then follow the dance-drama traditions in the various parts of South India. Leading authorities such as Dr. V. Raghavan, M. K. K. Nayar, M. Hariharan, S. Natarajan have dwelt with profit for the readers on Yakshagana, Kathakali, Heritage of Music and Dance, Bhagavata Mela respectively. Next follow the musical heritages found in Andhra, Karnataka and the Muslim influences upon our Karnatic system.

An important section in this volume is the concluding pages where the necessity for education of music in schools and the ways and means for improving the existing conditions are treated with knowledgeable and constructive suggestions for future adoption in educational institutions. The closing article by the doyen of musicologists, the late Prof. P. Sambamurti, on the present condition of contemporary music and the urgent need for Indian musical instruments to be having better representation, gives us sufficient scope for reflection.

When a volume of this kind is priced highly, using special kind of paper and printed clearly, but grievously suffering from printers devil and omissions or slips we are pained indeed. Again, to find on page 151 in the article entitled “Purandaradasa and Thyagaraja a passage from Dr. Ananda Coomaraswami’s contribution on “Indian Music” in the reputed volume of his The Dance of Siva, adopted without the grace of acknowledgement, looks also a bit undignified, and should have been noticed by the Editors of this otherwise splendid production.
The Wisdom of Ananda Coomaraswamy: By Durai Raja Singam, House Seven, Section Eleven-three, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

If anybody has made us indebted in the fullest measure for remembering the great savant Dr. Ananda Coomarswamy, it is certainly Sri Durai Raja Singam of Malaysia. With indefatigable energy and devotion he has done much more to preserve the memory of the sage than anyone, either of the East or the West. If it will not be exaggerating the value of this wonderful collection of some of the penetrating thoughts of the man and his self-ordained mission in life to spread the message of Indian art to the rest of the world, this undertaking of the author fulfils the need to understand Ananda Coomaraswamy’s services in many fields of intellectual pursuit. About 126 topics are here represented from Coomaraswamy’s writings, each bearing in its fold pregnancy of wisdom. Not only the arts and philosophy find a place in these quotations, but his assessment of outstanding personalities such as Tagore, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharshi, Nivedita, Ravivarma, and others. The book is dedicated to the memory of the young son of Durai Raja Singam, whose promising career was cut prematurely by the cruel hand of death. After his very attractive volume on Coomaraswamy with the title “Remember, Remember Again and Again”, this one following at no distance of time makes the student of Ananda Coomaraswamy feel secure in the possession of the quintessence of his amazing versatility and profundity of thinking.

With a glossary for some ofthe Indian words and an annexure containing the “Key to Sources”, this tiny yet precious anthology will satisfy every ardent reader eager for remembering at a glance Coomaraswamy’s mind and services.

The Secret Doctrine: By H. P. Blavatsky: Two-volume definitive edition, with Index and Bibliography in third volume. Edited by Boris de Zirkoff. The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras-600020. Price: Rs. 160 per set.

This definitive edition of The Secret Doctrine should end the controversy that has been current over the several presentations of the book that have been in existence. In the past, some have preferred the photo-copy version of the 1889 edition, on the grounds that it gave intact the original presentation made by H. P. Blavatsky. Others have valued the slight editing that was made by Dr. Annie Besant, and have appreciated the editions that incorporated such editing. Now, in this two-volume presentation, we have a definitive edition, prepared by the best-known authority on Madame Blavatsky’s life and works–Mr. Boris de Zirkoff.

This two-volume edition, published under the auspices of the Theosophical Society with its headquarters at Adyar, has already won praise from the leadership of at least one parallel Theosophical organization. It has been welcomed as ‘superb’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘magnificent’.

The edition under review presents intact the original 1888 edition. There has been no editing of H. P. B’s literary style or grammar, with the exception of a very few single words, minor changes in punctuation and corrections of typographical errors. About 80 illustrations have been included among them portraits of various persons mentioned by H. P. B., and a number of astronomical photographs to illustrate certain points of the teaching. The index to the two volumes has been bound as a separate third volume and is entirely new. This volume also includes a complete bibliography.

The historical introduction by Mr. Boris de Zirkoff, with which the book starts, is an able account of the guidance that H. P. B. had in writing the book and of the circumstances and conditions in which she worked on it. It quotes from Mahatma M’s letter to Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden which gives the Mahatma’s ‘certificate’ that The Secret Doctrine is dictated to Upasika (H. P. B.) ‘partly by myself and partly by my brother K. H.’ Mr. Boris de Zirkoff also quotes Mahatma K. H.’s message to the Doctor, that ‘The Secret Doctrine when ready, will be the triple production of M. Upasika and the Doctor’s most humble servant K. H.’

H. P. B. had no reference books when she wrote most of The Secret Doctrine, but she was enabled by the Master to quote copiously from many rare works. She said that the Master arranged for her to see, as in a dream, the events of which she wrote. Thus all the Patriarchs from Adam to Noah were given to her to see, parallel with the Rishis. She told Mr. W. Q. Judge: ‘Such facts, such facts, Judge, as Masters are giving out will rejoice your heart.’ On another occasion, in a reference to the second volume, she wrote to Col. H. S. Olcott: “The whole almost is given by the ‘Old Gentleman’ and Master, and there are wonderful things.”

No survey of the contents of such a famous classic as The Secret Doctrine is necessary in this review. It has been in the field for nearly 100 years, and is recognized as the greatest work of modern occultism and the source book of Theosophy. Mr. Boris de Zirkoff gives a description of the work when he says in the historical introduction:

“The Secret Doctrine is the first major work in several thousand years which is intended to, and actually does, outline in a consecu­tive and coherent manner the foundation-principles of that universal occult doctrine–the Brahma Vidya, the Gupta Vidya, the Gnosis Pneumatikos--which was the original knowledge of the Manasaputras, who brought it to nascent mankind in this round and left it in the care of the highest exponents as a perennial fountainhead of spiritual truths.”


The Land of Vishnu: By Gopinath Mohapatra. B. R. Publishing Corporation, 461 Vivekanand Nagar, Delhi-35. Rs. 150.

As a magnificent attempt “to study the origin and antiquity of the Jagannatha cult of Puri,” Dr. Mohapatra’s work is necessarily focussed on the Purushottama Maahaatmya of the Skanda Parana, and contains a full-length English-rendering of the text of the Maahaatmya and an extensive Bibliography relevant to the theme. Accepting the view emerging from all available evidence that the original text must have been “composed in Orissa by an eminent Oriya author,” just as other Kshetra Maahaatmyas “were composed in the places they glorified” and came to be included in Vaishnava Khanda of the Skanda Purana, Dr. Mohapatra holds that the Purushottama Maahaatmya could also have been similarly appended to the celebrated Skanda Parana, thus securing for the Jagannaatha Cult country-wide popularity. Treatises like the present one would undoubtedly extend its popularity to other countries, as well. There have been eminent Indologists and scholars, both Eastern and Western, who have already cut some significant ground towards tracing the origins of the cult, but Dr. Mohapatra’s work seeks to serve as a corrective and a supple­ment to several of them by according the tradition of the Puranas their due place as sources of authentic light in reconstructing not only the religion and philosophy of the period but also its socio-cultural milieu and the geographical ground of the Kshetra. Hence, in the present publication, while the chapter on Philosophy and Religion may be taken as containing the core of the author’s thesis, the others provide substantial material on auxiliary issues.

Tracing the historical line of development of the Purushottama cult from its pre-historic or trans-historic roots the author discusses in depth the significance of the Purushottama concept as entertained in the traditional lore of the land and brings out, its relation to the allied concepts of Madhava, Nrisimha and Daaru Devata–the last as revealing a central relevance to the Deity as manifest in the Purushottama Kshetra and to the tradition of “Tree-Worship.” The discussion on the “Vyuhas throws considerable light on the all-comprehensive identity of Purushottama, and the elucidation of the Trinity, Jagannaatha-Balahhadra-Subhadra, as worshipped in the shrine at Puri, is strikingly profound.

“In the Jagannatha cult we discover the impact of diverse systems of Vedantic philosophy,” says the author emphasising at once the Vedic-Upanishadic basis and refuting the suggestion of Buddhistic origins for the cult in its primeval purity. He goes on to show how one could identify this impact in terms of Advaita, Dvaita, Dvaitaadvaita and such other nuances of Vedantic thought. We have here a work, commendable alike for its lucidity of expression and wealth of detail.


Ancient Indian Rituals and their Social Contents: Narendranath Bhatta­charya. Published by Manohar Book Service, 2 Darya Ganj, Ansari Road, Delhi-6

The intrinsic value of this work lies in the startling revelations the learned author makes regarding the origin and nature of the Vedic sacrifices Rajasuya and Vajasaneya, religious rite Upanayana correlated with menstrual rites, festivals like Holi and Deepavali, proletarian cults and rituals of Bengal and finally regarding the socio-political conditions of the pre-Vedic (tribal) and Vedic ages, after a deep and critical study of the Vedas, “ritualistic contents of the Brahmana literature, of the Dharma and Grihyasutras and of the Smrities”, and after correlating the evidences he has been able to derive from that study with surviving tribal rites of India and elsewhere. In the first three chapters the author gives us a clear idea of “the socio-political transformation showing the process leading to detribalisation and growth of state power, the transition from pre-class to class society. He asserts that the institute of kingship in the modern sense of the term was absolutely unknown in the age of the Rigveda which knows nothing of the ritual called Asvamedha in later texts.” Asvamedha was the gradual transformation of the older ritual in which in all probability the priest had to die after his ceremonial intercourse with the queen.” Upanayana had much to do with the puberty, and the concept of birth, death, rebirth and twice-born. Menstrual rites, fertility cult, and the basis of Karma doctrine are all discussed. The original significance of our festivals also is explained m a new light.

The word Rajan in the Rigveda denoted a tribal leader only. There was a type of communism in the Rigvedic gods. Wealth and cattle were the common property and were distributed equally. The significance of Yajna, concepts of Rta, Yajamana and Aksha, etc., are presented in a new garb. In short, the author has something to say afresh on some Vedic ritual, and socio-political concepts. All this we must note here is based to some extent on the assumption that tribal rituals and cult preceded and gave rise to the Vedic ritual and culture. Here a believer in traditional interpretations may come into grips with the author, because he visualises the magnificent edifice of traditional interpretations, concepts and values built up by orthodox scholars razed to the ground before his very eyes. But every student of ancient history of Indian religion and culture is invited to study this dissertation with an open heart, restudy the texts quoted by the author and then assess the thesis. An exhaustive bibliography of the texts referred to and quoted, and an index of important words in the text are highly useful to inquiring intellects.


The Divine Player: A Study of Krishnaleela: By David R. Kinsley. Motilal Banarsi Dass, Bangalow Road, Jawahar Nagar, Delhi-7. Price: Rs. 65.

Even a casual reader of this dissertation for the Ph. D. degree of Chicago University cannot but be awe-struck at the author’s extensive study of literary works on Bhakti, Vaishnavism, Theory of Rasa in Indian Dramaturgy, Lives of some Indian saints, Play aspect in non-Hindu cults all over the world and Modern Psychology. A more striking feature is the author’s refreshingly new approach to the study and interpretation of Sri Krishna’s Leelas. The third attractive factor is the beautiful English translations of some devotional lyrics of love that can enrapture any reader.

By referring to the dance-revels of different Gods like Siva, Kali, Durga, Chinnamasta and Vishnu, etc, in the first chapter, and by devoting the second chapter in full to the description of Krishna’s sports as delineated in Puranas and later works, the author establishes that play a divine activity in Hinduism is an appropriate means of expressing otherness of the divine sphere. In the more enlightening third chapter, the author points out the five formal characteristics of play described in Johan Huizinga’s work. “A study of the play element in cult”, brings out the similarities between the play and cult activity, and finally concludes that cultic activity should not be reduced to play. The last sections of the same chapter entitled “Play as a technique of release”, “The other Mind in Indian Art’, “Becoming Krishna’s Lover”, “Frenzy of devotion, Kirtan and Holi”, and “Bhakti, an ovation of Bliss” respectively which are a great scholarly treat to the readers, bear testimony to the author’s correct grasp of the essence of the theories of Indian Drama, Rasa and Bhakti in Indian literature and prove the thesis that play is an expression of man’s religious activity. The last two chapters, true to their titles, describe the “Play of the Indian saints”, and “Play in Non-Hindu Tradition.” In short the oft quoted famous statements in the ‘Mandukya Karikas’, viz., (Srishtih) (1) Kriidaarda mitichaapare, (2) Devasyaisha svabhaavoyam aapta kaamasya kaa sprihaa’ stand substantiated here. We heartily commend this new approach to a correct and sympathetic understanding and interpretation of Krishnaleela to all earnest readers


The History of the Vijayanagar Empire: By M. H. Rama Sharma. Edited by M. H. Gopal. Popular Prakashan, Bombay. Price: Rs. 80-00.

The history of Vijayanagar is a fascinating study and has exercised the talent of a number of scholars. Dr. N. Venkataramanayya, T. V. Mahalingam and others have published a number of books on the subject. This work is the result of life-long devotion of research on Vijayanagar history by Sri M. H. Rama Sharma.

The author has spent most of his lifetime in collecting the different sources of history of the period. He visited all the important sites of Vijayanagar history. In the initial chapter, the author discusses about the land and the people. The author rightly points out that though “the Kannada-speaking country” extended in tradition from the Cauveri to Godavari, it really extended from Nilagiri to Sholapur. Five great rivers, the Bheema, the Krishna, the Tungabhadra, the Vedavati and the Cauveri, flow across it. In the next chapter, the author discusses the expansion of Muslim rule in India. Under Allauddin Khilji and Muhammad Tughluq, there were successive Muslim attacks on South India and as a challenge to it, the Vijayanagar empire was founded. Hampi, lies in a basin of land formed by five hills, Rishyasringa, Anjana, Matanga, Malayavanta and Hemakuta. The capital was named as Vidyanagari, the city of learning. It was founded by Harihara and Bukka with the spiritual support of Vidyaranya. By the grace of the sage, they came into possession a large amount of fortune. The kingdom expanded by leaps and bounds by the valour of Harihara and Bukka. By A. D. 1384 the major part of South India was within their hands.

In the succeeding chapters the author covered the expansion of the Vijayanagar empire under the successful reign of Bukka which was followed by a succession of rulers who are known to belong to the Sangama dynasty. Then Virupaksha became the ruler followed by Narasa Nayaka of Tuluva dynasty. In 1509 began triumphant rule of Krishnadeva Raya, followed by Achyutadeva Raya. After him the succession was not smooth. The short reign of Venkatadeva Raya was followed by the reign of Sadasiva. During his reign, Ramaraya became the de facto ruler and power passed into the hands of Ramaraya and his brother. It was ultimately the role of Ramaraya which led to the battle of Talikota between the Rayas and the five Sultanates of Deccan which led to the decline of Vijayanagar empire.

The account of the history of Vijayanagar is mainly based on the Kannada sources. The Telugu sources which are the mainstay for the work of Dr. Venkataramanayya do not figure at all in this work. However the narrative is enlivened by the accounts of the foreign travelers. The story of the rise and fall of the Vijayanagar empire is presented in a faithful manner, and the author deserves credit for accomplishing this task. The editor has contributed his own mite for the work by improving the documentation.


Three Essays on Shakespeare: By Taraknath Sen. Rupa & Co., Allahahad. Price: Rs. 12.

Presidency College of Calcutta which celebrated its centenary in 1971, has the unique distinction of being the first institution; in India to expose its alumini to Shakespeare. Since then Calcutta University has ever been in the vanguard of Shakespearean scholarship. Prof. T. N. Sen, whose essays are now under review, is one of the finest Shakespearean scholars of India and undoubtedly the best Calcutta had ever produced. The present volume is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding Shakespeareana.

In the first essay, “Presidency College and Shakespeare”, Taraknath Sen recapitulates the golden era of Shakespearean studies and teaching associated with the college since its inception to his own day. The estimates he gives of the great European scholars like Charles Tawney and D. L. Richardson are fresh and profitable. It was in the Hindu College (now Presidency College) that T. B. Macaulay had heard the lectures of D. L. Richardson. Excited by them, he wrote to Richardson. “I may forget everything about India, but your reading of Shakespeare, never.

In the second essay ‘Hamlet’s treatment of Ophilia’ in the nunnery scene, he takes a line similar to Coleridge but differs from him. He comes down heavily on Dover Wilson and says that there is need to postulate an earlier entrance and overhearing on the part of Hamlet. Hamlet’s own romantic personality explains everything.

The third essay “Shakespeare’s short lines” occupying the bulk of the book is easily the best of the three. It is of seminal importance because it aims at scavenging the debris in the field of Shakespeare textual scholarship and opens a kind of enquiry which is likely to catch momentum in course of time and result, in the restoration of true Shakespeare. The method he employed is partly dramatic and partly scholarly. The only scholar who was a pioneer in this kind of criticism, we are told, is Richard Flatter, an Austrian by birth. But Sen’s findings are his own. Sen succeeds eminently in his task of rejecting the revision theory of Dover Wilson and disintegrating work of J. M. Robertson et al and vindicating the purity of the text of the First Folio.

We gladly agree with Prof. S. C. Sen Gupta, himself an established Shakespearean scholar, when he says in his beautiful introduction to the essays. “Without trying to underestimate Flatter’s originality I may say that no one has made out a more vigorous plea for the restoration of Shakespeare’s text than Sen, and although everyone may not agree with all his interpretations, few readers will rise from a perusalof these essays without feeling that their insight into Shakespeare’s dramatic art has been sharpened by the intellectual and imaginative exercise.”

Graham Greene: A Study: By Dr. K. S. Subramaniam. Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly. Price: Rs. 35.

The age in which we live is often described as the post-Christian age. The traumatic effect of the two world wars and of the explosion of knowledge in the subsequent years eroded the moral and religious values of the past and resulted in a new scale of values in modern world. Science, materialism and progress, brought unlimited power to man thereby turning him a mere rational animal, but they failed to bring him happiness in their wake. Nor could they solve the problem of evil in the society. Some of the intellectuals in the West got disgusted with the “chromium world” and its glittering values and deliberately turned their on it. They found solace in religion. Many of them took asylum in Catholic Christianity. Graham Greene, an outstanding novelist of our time, is one among them. The book under notice is a fresh study of the works of Graham Greene, in the above context, submitted as his doctoral thesis by Prof. K. S. Subramaniam.

Dr. Subramaniam makes a thorough study of the works of Graham Greene to discover a recurring religious motif in them. He makes a note of Greene’s stylistic techniques and psychological insights, together with his childhood experiences. His contribution to Greene studies, as he claims, lies in his discovery of the unique blending of Catholic Christian thought and belief with modern psychological concepts. Greene’s belief that a recourse to the ancient Christian religion is the only thing that can save the modern world, curiously, does not come in the way of his acceptance of certain findings of Freud and his ilk. Dr. Subramaniam, after a thorough analysis of his characters, comes to the conclusion that “an application of the prophetic teachings of past ages to a technical age requires special assistance from the sciences that deal with personality and with human relations.”

This well-written, well-produced book deserves the attention of all those who seek delight and instruction in the works of Graham Greene.

Image of Adoration: By Peter Heehs. Auro Publications, Pondicherry. Nirvana and other poems: By Vijay Raghav Rao. A. O. Agencies, Mistry Mansion, 107, Bombay-23. Price: Rs. 55.00.

A Foetus in my mind: By S. K. Rangarajan. Poets Press, 20-A, Venkatesan Street, Madras-17.
Everest: By Krishna Srinivasa. Poets Press, Madras-l7.
Shadows in A Subwny: By Prayag Bandyopadhyay. Prayer Books, Calcutta. Price: Rs. 20.
Symphony of Discords : By K. V. Suryanarayana Murti. Poets Press, Madras-17. Price: Rs. 15.
The Story of Silence: Subhas Saha. Prayer Books, Calcutta. Price: Rs. 20.
An Anthology of Indo-English Love Poetry: Edited by Subhas Saha. Prayer Books, Calcutta. Price: Rs. 20.

An astonishingly mixed fare, this. The pride of place is best handed over to Peter Heehs for the beautiful get-up of the volume as well as its spontaneous invitation to adore the beauty around us and forget “the darker shades” that man forces himself to watch. Heehs sees every particle of the universe as a chalice of the dance of Shakti. As such love mundane is transformed into a divine ecstasy. The soul’s quiverings, anticipations and frustrations to gauge the divine ministry are etched well in these seventy-four sculpted sonnets. The Aurobindonian influence is obvious ill lines such as:

“until my lips are trained
To utter nothing but the words which leap
Down from unconquered peaks of total seeing:
Angels of inspiration, lightning-tressed.”

Despite the philosophic title, Vijay Raghav Rao manages to cater a dish of assorted mundane stuff including passion, satire and futurology. His musical ground has not helped him to choose musical words though. At times he is downright prosaic. But when he does succeed in his telegraphic prose-poem paragraphs, he sets us thinking. To this category belong “Conversation–3000 A. D.” and “Nirvana.”

While we needn’t weary ourselves with S. K. Rangarajan’s puddly composition, A Foetus in My Mind, we must tarry a while with Everest by Krishna Srinivas. The poet’s wide reading is obvious and so too his enthusiasm for poetry in English. Dictionary is a must in reading his longish poem which is a kind of intellectual anabasis to attain the peaks of achievement. How far does a poet succeed in such an attempt? And should we worry about success and failure after all? There is a Vedantic undercurrent in Srinivas’s concept of Time. The past is not a meaningless limbo but actually the stepping ladder to a divine future. Hence the poet’s final cry:

“And that Day will dawn
when gods churn again
an Everest Morn.”

Prayag Bandyopadhyay has so arranged his Shadows in a Subway that the volume appears like a three-part monologue. There isn’t much tenderness in his handling of the theme which is amorous love. He doesn’t expect critical tenderness either, for he confesses with a disdainful shrug:

“On the death of a fox
Love poems galvanized
Into grey hairs
Of theoretical wisdom
And all our inspirations
Mortgage every question
Of critical pupils
Like first love.
And rheumatism crippling you
At every interval.”

Dr. K. V. S. Murti is an unself-conscious poet whose disarming frankness is sometimes alarming. “Jealousy” is one of the most genuinely violent poems to appear from the pen of an Indian poet. What craters of eruptive volcano lie behind such creations? But Murti appears to have learnt a lesson from the lowly snail, at any rate:

“But as you face evil,
Hurting none–
Not even the scoundrel–
At once you recede
Into the helicoid
Of closed samaadhi
Like detached pebble!”

Irrepressible Subhas Saha has yet another slim volume of verse in The Study of Silence. An innovative poet, Saha can achieve the genuine image quite often:

“then the dawn
like the odour of toothpaste.”

But, alas! for his choice of theme and poets to present An Anthology of Indo-English Love Poetry. The usual bloodless middle-class indulgences in sex (neither platonic nor passionate) are served as stale wordy pakoras. Even such well-known names as P .Lal, Pritish Nandy and A. K. Ramanujan fail to evoke our enthusiasm. I am not surprised that Nirad Chaudhuri often fulminates against the “oily smiles and sniggers of the Anglicised Hindus” appearing “smart” with their knowledge ofWestern erotica. Fortunately, the volume is redeemed by the presence of Sarojini Naidu’s brief “Raksha Bandhan” and Aru Dutt’s translation of Victor Hugo’s “Morning Serenade.”

“Still barred thy doors! The far east glows,
The morning wind blows fresh and free.
Should not the hour that wakes the rose
Awaken also thee?
No longer sleep,
Oh listen new!
I wait and weep,
But where art thou?”

Hinduism: Religion and Philosophy (Vol 1): By Cyril Papali. O. C. D. Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Alwaye-3. Price: Rs. 15.

Prepared for purposes of a text-book for students, this volume is a factual account of the growth of Hinduism from the Vedic age up to the period when organised Hinduism came to be formed. The author follows the line taken by most western scholars in his assessment of the older heritage of the Veda, the Brahmana and the Upanishad. The section on the philosophical schools covers Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Purva Mimamsa and is well-presented. The third section deals with the Dharma Sastra, Varnashrama, Bhagavadgita and the Bhakti movement. Another volume is to follow to bring the treatment up-to-date.

There are, in the last chapter, a few statements which are perhaps understandable coming from a Christian mind but nevertheless call for comment. Discussing the Hindu concept of Avatara, the author says, “in most cases, the Avataras are only theophanies, the appearance of God in visible form without any real body being assumed...the purpose behind the Avatara is also different…there is no question here of atoning for the sins of men by vicarious satisfaction.”

An Avatar, in the Hindu tradition, is a full-fledged descent of the Divine Consciousness and embodiment in earthly form, and the Avatar goes through the full gamut of human experience in the process of establishing the Truth he comes to manifest. He helps men to evolve Godwards, working out their Karma in the process. Hinduism does not admit any kind of original sin. The only “sin” is ignorance and each individual has to outgrow the same.

It is remarked that female deities in the Hindu pantheon are born of anthropomorphism. Actually the female stands for the executive and methodising power of the male who initiates sanctions and oversees. In other words they are the dynamic and passive poises of one Consciousness.

“Hindu mythology admits an infinite gamut of participation of divinity by creatures, from gods and holy men to stocks and stones.” Yes, and that is so because Hinduism does not
admit any real fissure between God and his manifestation. There is one Consciousness and that pervades all forms in the universe, whatever their gradation in evolution. The Hindu regards the Divine in every atom and experiences this Presence.

An enlightened Indian is not “embarrassed” by the Hindu institution of cow-worship, however much it may “mystify the foreigner.” While it is a fact that the Divine is everywhere, it is also a fact that the Divine is perceived and experienced more in some forms than in others. In the Indian animal kingdom it is the cow that most evokes in the Hindu heart the feeling of adoration, tenderness and compassion movements that open one to the nearness of the Divine arise spontaneously in encountering an Indian cow. We do not mention here the origin of the tradition of the sacredness of the cow in the Vedic religion in which the gau (cow) denotes a ray of light, illumination, just as asva (horse) denotes power, energy.

The author is baffled that “not only the illiterate folk but even intellectuals among Hindus believe in the doctrine of transmigration.” We would only say that once we admit spiritual evolution as the meaning and purpose of life, reincarnation becomes inevitable. The question is bound up with larger issues of God, Nature and Man.


Concentration and Meditation: By Swami Paramananda. Sri Rama Krishna Math, Madras-4. Price: 4-50.

A reprint of an originally American issue, this little book details in simple terms, step by step, the discipline of meditation and concentration. Swamiji explains why concentration is indispensable, not only in spiritual life but equally in other spheres of life, and describes how it is to be cultivated. He narrates an inci­dent narrated by Chuang Tzu: “The man who forged swords for the Minister of war was eighty years of age. Yet he never made the slightest slip in his work. The minister said to him: ‘Is it your skill, sir, or have you any method?’ ‘It is concentration’, replied the man. ‘When twenty years old, I took to forging swords. I cared for nothing else. If a thing was not a sword, I did not notice it. I availed myself of whatever energy I did not use in other directions in order to secure greater efficiency in the direction required.”
Concentration has to be developed beginning with “small” matters before it can be effective in spiritual life. The treatment follows generally the line laid down by Patanjali with a number of helpful observations and hints: Change of occupation is often conducive to relaxation and renewed concentration (P.19). Through concentration one becomes more sensitive and perceptive (P. 51).

The last section contains extracts on the subject from a number of authorities–Eastern and Western. The passage from Swami Vivekananda contains the following: “Think of a space in your heart, and in the midst of that space think that a flame is burning. Think of that flame as your own soul, and inside that flame is another space, effulgent, and that is the Soul of your soul, God, Meditate upon that in the heart.’

From Self to Self-Reminiscences of a Writer: By Prabhakar Machwe, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 45.

The book under review is a record of the author’s life with its warts and all. Generally persons who make some noise on earth have their own tales to tell and diaries to write with the sole aim to survive and achieve immortality. But most of their works get buried in the debris of time except a few that stand out and guide humanity to a higher destiny. Machwe’s autobiography is a telling illustration of how he dramatically rose from an “insignificant atom” (self) into a world citizen (self) by sheer dint of work and merit. Born in Gwalior the capital of the Scindias be spent his pre-school childhood at Madan Mahal, a wayside station near Jabalpur, and completed his matriculation at Dabar High School, Ratlam, where his elder brother worked as Maths assistant.

After graduating from Indore Christian College he did his M. A. in Philosophy and English literature at Agra and also obtained his “Sahitya Ratna” from Nagar Pracharini Sabha. In 1958 the Agra University awarded him his Ph. D. for his thesis on “Hindi-Marathi-Nirguna Sant Kavya.” He did his stint after post-graduation as a Secretary for a Majdoor Sangh in Indore and later moved to Madhav College, Ujjain, where he worked as lecturer in Philosophy for a period of 11 years. During his sojourn there he got married to Sharad, daughter of one Y. M. Parnekar, a constructive worker at Gandhiji’s Sevagram, Wardha. Dissatisfied with his professorship he moved into All India Radio and was there for six years in various capacities as talks translator, programme assistant and producer of plays shuttling between, Nagpur, Delhi and Allahabad. Confronted with no prospects of promotion and hike in salary he sought a job in the Sahitya Akademi, Delhi, and got a berth as Assistant Secretary in which capacity he was fortunate enough to establish contacts with writers of repute in various states. While working there he was called by the Wisconsin University to give two courses in Modern Indian literature and Introduction to Indian literature. But nobody signed up for the first course and for the latter course, a girl, a major in Geography, came and left after the expiry of the first semester. This occasion was seized by a Tom Metcalfe and a Henry Hart to cut jokes: “Bring out snake-charmers and nautch-girls, then probably you can ‘sell’ India, you take some of your joss sticks and burn them before this Bharatamata (India map). She may send you some students!” Subsequently the two prescribed courses were jettisoned for a course on Gandhi which after all did click. At Berkely he lectured on Bhakti poetry evolution of Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, concept of Bhakti in Dravidian and Aryan philosophies and artistic expression of Bhakti in music, dance, painting and sculpture, etc. Later returning to Madison Square campus he taught four courses: Indian literature, Modern Trends/Indian Civilization/Indian Renaissance and Gandhi, and thus having fully utilised his two-year stay there he flew to India via Europe and was assigned a Fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla. Machwe is said to be a voracious reader and a prolific writer. With disarming candour he quotes the opinion about his work by a young Ph. D. hailed as a reputed critic: “Machwe has also scribbled some poetry but it is worth-throwing in the waste-paper dump as it has no merit. He does not know bow to Write the language.” (p. 60) This Ph. D. is hitting his head against a wall. Machwe takes comfort in the motto of Shaw: They say, what they say, let them say.

And this is the premium he got for all his training and self-education in adjusting with “his dull-headed editors and semi-literate readers (p. 58) and for his unremitting exertions in the field of literature and journalism.
–K. S. RAO

Sri Saundaryalahari of Sankaracharya with translation, etc. By K. Subrabmanian. Motilal Banarsi Dass, Delhi-7. Price: Rs. 20.

“Saundaryalahari” a devotional lyric in Sanskrit language in praise of the Mother Goddess, is one of lucent gems bequeathed to us by Sri Sankara. This work is both a Tantra and a Kavya. It contains the quintessence of the Saakta Tantras. Every word in this work is believed to be a potent Mantra. A regular recitation of this Stotra with understanding is sure to raise the level of consciousness of the devotee. It is also rich in poetic flavour, imagery and beauty. This edition Contains the original verses in Devanagari script followed by transliteration and also translation into English A few notes are added here and there. Inclusion of diagrams of Yantras, for all the one hundred verses with directions for their use, is an important feature of this edition. A very short preface highlights the significance of prayer. “Indian hymns of prayer contain elements of auto-suggestion and self-hypnotism that help a spiritual aspirant in his upward path”...The author’s remark about the Yantras in another place is also noteworthy. “A Yantra is a diagramatic representation of a Mantra which as a sound-expression conjures up the vision of the Deity meditated upon.” This is a book to be possessed by all devotees of Divine Mother.


Sri Valmiki Ramayana-Balakanda (free English translation): Br Prof. Mani. Sri Ramayana Publications, 301 Mowbrays Road; Madras-18. Price: Rs. 25.

Sri Valmiki’s Ramayana is considered to be the first ornamental poem in Sanskrit literature. It has a perennial and universal appeal and influence. Characters like Sri Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Bharata and Hanuman in that Kavya are ideals and guiding lights to humanity. As such any number of English translations of the Kavya are welcome additions to the existing literature and the volume under review is one such. This free translation in English prose is lucid and pleasing. A summary of the story of the Ramayana is given at the beginning. Translation of the famous verse “Maa Nishaada” runs as follows: “O, cruel hunter, may you not have peace of mind for endless years for the sinful deed of killing one of the pair of the krouncha birds infatuated with passion.” We hope this volume will be warmly received by all devotees.

Sankara and Modern Physics: By N. Subramanian. Published by Sankara Hall and Sankara Institute of Philosophy and Culture, Sringeri Sri Sarada Peetham, Sankara Hall, 93, Southern Avenue Calcutta-29. Price: Rs. 36.

Sankara’s idea of the divinity of human personality can be compared to Einstein’s idea of the potentiality of the atom. Sankara says that the statement relates to an already existing thing, not perceived now, but which can be verified and experienced by proper discipline of the mind. Thus he has quite a modern scientific attitude. All problems treated by him have been viewed by him from this high standpoint of experiment and verification of oneself. Couched in the best tradition of our culture and revealing evidence of vitality and inquisitiveness which has always been characteristic of our thinking of the past and which paves a way to the future developments, this book makes itself of an enduring value. It is a laudable attempt by the learned scholar Sri N. Subramanian to have made a study of scientific evaluation of Sankara’s philosophy. The author has taken commendable pains to quote extensively from Bhagavatpada’s writings and to correlate them with those of well-known modern physicists. That the author has donated the proceeds of the sale of this book to the Sankara Hall and Sankara Institute of Philosophy and Culture, Calcutta, is greatly appreciated.

Games at Twilight: By Anita Desai. Allied Publishers P. Ltd., 13/14 Asaf Ali Road, New Delhi-2. Price. Rs. 25.

These eleven short stories are attractive in their own way. The author has an eye for the best as the trivial in life and has her own philosophy of their places necessary to enrich human outlook. No doubt some of the stories end in a somewhat bare insistence of the fact that events happen often which leave no significance to any. But the art of a short story must be felt even in such a meaninglessness described. Yet, it is no easy task to have created in the reader a feeling to probe into the what and wherefor of such a story being written. The reader of these stories inevitably would try to peer into the mind behind them. In that way the author does certainly gain appreciation for her observations and vignettes for portrayal of all that have interested her.

However much the writer of a short story could have in a few strokes of creation of images proved his or her merit, still there should be something left for the reader to draw upon as his food for reflection. The first story which deals with a boy in a game, gives the exact situation created for our sympathies towards him in spite of the incident being totally insignificant from a serious point of view. To name as successful a few more of them in this collection, “The Accompanist”, “The Devoted Son”, are really satisfactory as examples of the short story’s art engaging you by something to make you just dwell on an event with sympathy or understanding. It is sufficient if there is so much for a critical assessment of its value in literature.

Sri Channabasaweswara: By R. C. Hiremath. Extension Service and Publications, Karnatak University, Dharwad. Price: Rs. 15.

This slim monograph on Sri Channabasaweswara born to the blessed couple, Nagayi and Sivaswami and popularly known as Satsthala-sthapanacarya, offers a concise account of the life and philosophy of the saint and of the rebel Virasaiva Movement in which he took an active part with the express purpose of cleansing society then infested with murderers and man-eaters, evils and malpractices that crept into it. Karnatak Saivism is a migrant from Kashmir and its followers are divided into broad sects: Lakulisa, Pasupata, Maheswara, Kalamukha, Kapalika, Sakta, though it is voiced that there are differences of opinion as to their number and among Saivas there is mention that there are as many as thirteen sub-sections as per Saivagamas. Virasaivas are said to be most orthodox. But Virasaivism of Sri Channabasaweswara is not purely Agamic but an evolved cult with modifications, additions and re-interpretations. A Virasaivite or Sarana has to pass through six stages: Bhakta, Maheswara, Prasadi, Pranalingi, Sarana and Aikya (systemized into Sat-sthala) to attain salvation. For a Sarana Guru, Linga and Jangama are the revered Trinity and they are the triune aspects of the Supreme Being, and for his internal and external purification Acharas–Panch and Sapta–are prescribed which are to be followed implicitly. The worth of a Sarana is thereby judged by what he does and conduct, harmony of thought and action are given pride of place in the Sarana scheme of life. Sivayoga alone is deemed to ensure moral perfection.

It is the belief of Sarana that body is an impediment to Aikya and it is a sink of vices, desires and lusts reeking of scabrous and scatalogical miasma. So Sivasaranas lose themselves and become god-oriented or Linga-maya through contemplation and Puja to achieve the desired union with God. All religions mean and spell good to individual and society but human frailties make men gloat in homicidal glories and a flight from God is the predicament of the present day world. The book is a fine exposition of Virasaivism and is well worth studying.

Hayavadana: By Girish Karnad. Oxford University Press, Calcutta-13. Price: Rs. 7-50.

Girish Karnad’s English translation of his own Kannada play ‘Hayavadana’ is undoubtedly a valuable addition to the body of Indo-English drama. The play indeed deserves an elaborate essay of critical appreciation rather than a brief review. A playwright has many more difficulties to overcome while experimenting with novel themes and techniques than a poet or a novelist. His play remains ‘unborn’ if there is no theatre capable of presenting it to a receptive audience. The playwright should never ignore the immediate response of the audience. To strike a balance among the divergently pulling factors is the sole task of any serious dramatist. Girish Karnad has succeeded, to an amazing degree, in blending tradition with modernity, mythological elements with psychological truths, fantasy with profound realism, thought with action, and a comic melodrama with a tragic awareness that is found only in epics and classical drama. Unlike the so-called experiments, “Hayavadana” is totally free from lack of dramatic action and humour.

The play centres around two friends, Devadatta and Kapila and a woman Padmini, Devadatta’s beloved wife. Jealousy brings about a momentary estrangement between the two friends; but their readiness to chop their heads off their bodies themselves, and Padmini’s selfish and haphazard interference in restoring them to life results in the exchange of their heads. Now, Devadatta’s body has Kapila’s head and Kapila’s body has Devadatta’s head. Padmini loses no time in choosing Kapila’s body with Devadatta’s head as her husband, i. e., as the true Devadatta. Both the friends claim to be the real Devadatta, evidently to win Padmini. But, Padmini argues that the head being the “uttamanga” Devadatta’s head with Kapila’s body is the real Devadatta and therefore is her husband. This scene becomes a launching pad for exploring the relationship of the head and the body (the intellect and the senses, the higher nature and the lower nature in man and the role of the mind in her desperate efforts to blend the qualities of the head and the body; and the mind’s own characteristic fickleness). There is a sub-plot of a man with a horse-head–a Hayavadana– and the sub-plot becomes a clue to our understanding the main plot. The play, it is to be noted, is not a mere riddle but a significant answer to a riddle that is Human Nature and its in-completeness. The play deserves unreserved applause.

Literature and Revelation: Edited by Mohan Singh Uberoi Diwana. Premjit Nivas, 310, Sector 15-A, Chandigarh. Price: Rs. 7-50.

In this book the Old Testament of the Hebrews is analogised with Rigveda and parallels are drawn which have correspondence of a sort. The Hindu Yugas are equated with time units biblically computed from Adam to Noah, Noah to Abraham, Abraham to Solomon and Solomon to Jesus; similarly the four rivers of Israel with seven of Punjab; the twelve tribes of the Hebrews with five of the Aryans; Noah’s flood with the flood chronicled in Matsya Purana; the women characters in the O. T. with those that figure in the Rigveda; the races Sumerians and Hittites with Aryans who settled on the banks of the Indus and all lyrics, historical narratives, stories, fables, ethical treatises of the O. T. with those found in the R. V. and related Puranas.

The fall of Adam in Eden, in a way, has affiliations with decline in human behaviour especially in Dwapara and Kali ages as against Krita and Treta noted for stability, virtue and morality. Creation is a repetitive process and everything repeats itself and a kind of sameness characterises each aeon or the so-called ‘Big Bang.’ Evolution and dissolution are routine happenings–a contradiction of steady state theory. Viewed etymologically Biblical or Vedic characters are seen as anthromorphs. Nara (waters) becomes Narayana (lord of the waters); language and speech get transformed into Saraswati and creativity undergoes transmogrification as Brahma (expansion). The Biblical serpent symbolises love, lust, poison and death and moreover equates with moon and Hindu Shiva stands for self-constraint. The Hebrew lord syncopated in YHWH and connected with Hoya means ‘to be’ which corresponds with Sanskrit Sat. Etymologised all the names have root meanings identical.

It is the privilege of literature to wrap eternal verities in edificatory mythologies enriched with dulcet fancies and wild imagination of the artists. All existence decays and perishes and the universe is a creative compression of primal elements: fire, air, earth and water and the earth is not the place with jealous gods and for gods with Jovian thunders who demand altars and burnt offerings that reek of ‘himsa’ or violence as compensation for their divine protection. Resurrections, second births or renewals of mind are mere bunkum and in spite of revelations and sermons, whether delivered on mounts or plains, mankind turns no new leaf or opens no new chapter but pursues dictates of its ingrained nature rooted in Karma. Religion is after all a compound of myths and allegories and a punitive system devised to keep social peace; Moksha as a remote event is all blah.
–K. S. RAO

Vedaanta Saara Samgraha: -By Sri Anantendrayati. Translation by T. M. P Mahadevan. Ganesh and Company, Madras-17. Price: Rs. 3.

True to its name, this small book contains the quintessence of Advaita Vedanta presented in a very lucid form. This is only an English translation of the original text written in a dialogue form. All in all, there are about twenty-three questions and answers. Almost all doubts are dispelled and knotty problems solved.

Is the statement that six categories are beginningless compatible with the Advaitic thought? If there is no association with will for a Jivanmukta, how can we account for his functions like eating, etc.? Is it possible to destroy “Maya” the power of Brahman the indestructible? Some such questions are easily answered. A lengthy introduction in English by the renowned Professor Sri T. M. P. Mahadevan gives a resume of the Advaita philosophy as taught in this work. Some select verses in Sanskrit from Viveka-chudaamani of Sri Sankara are given in Roman script and they are also translated into English. A book useful even to laymen who desire to know the fundamentals of Advaita philosophy. However a reader misses the pleasure of reading the original text in Samskrit.

Sri Ramana Reminiscences: By G. V. Subbaramayya. For copies Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, South India. Price: Rs. 6.

How does a Jnaani or Sthitaprajna move about in this world? Can the Upanishadic statement “Eka vijnanena sarva vijnanam bhavati.” By knowing One, everything can be known” be exemplified? These reminiscences answer these questions to a great extent. Where is our heart? What is the nature of the five Koshas? What is meditation? Some such questions are answered by the Bhagavan from his own experience. Some intricate questions regarding creation, Prarabdha, Pranayama, Image Worship, Destiny versus freewill, etc., are answered with ease and clarity. Some new interpretations of Bhagavadgita’s verses and words as given by the Bhagavan are recorded here. Every page speaks volumes of Sri Bhagavan’s grace upon his devotees and his omniscience. Incidentally we know about the ardent devotion and the poetic talents of the author also. The blessed few who read this book can be highly benefitted.


Glimpses into Telugu Classics: By Achanta Janakiram, “Parijata”, Sripuram Colony, Tirupati. Price: Rs. 3.

This slender volume, penned by an artist, poet and a critic, true to its name, gives glimpses into the poetic beauties of ten Telugu classics, viz., Srimath-Andhra Maha Bhagavatam, Sringara Naishadham, Manucharitra, Parijatapaharanamu, Amukta Malyada, Sri Kalahasti Mahatmyamu, Kalapurnodayamu, Prabhavati Pradyumnamu, Vasucharitram and Vijayavilasamu. Sources of the stories described in brief are pointed out. Deviations and purposes served thereby are described. The most charming verses in each Prabandha are quoted and translated into English. Sometimes significance of even single words and phrases is not left unnoticed. Salient features of each work are marked out. In a very short compass the author gave much to his readers. Characteristics of a classic according to English literary criticism are discussed herein, and they are applied to the classics dealt with in this work. The author has done a distinct service to non-Telugus who want to know the classics in Telugu language.

Dhammapadam: Pali text with Samskrit translation. Notes in Samskrit, English translation and Introduction: By Dr. P. Sriramachandrudu. Published by Srimati Pullela Subbalaxmi. O.U. B-/I... 22, Osmania University Campus, Hyderabad- 7. Price: Rs. 7-50.

Dhammapadam a Buddhist classic, forms part of the perennial philosophy of India, and the ethical teachings therein have a universal appeal. It is translated into many languages both oriental and occidental. The credit of having translated this text into Samskrit now goes to Dr. Sriramachandrudu, a versatile scholar, critic and poet. The text in Pali language contains 423 verses divided into 26 Vargas. The teachings, couched in simple and crisp Pali language, closely allied to Samskrit, and spiced with similies selected from nature, have a direct appeal to our hearts. The verses in Samskrit translation also are as pointed and beautiful as the original, and convey the spirit of the original in full. The English translation also is true to the original. The notes in Samskrit are a special and noteworthy feature. Introduction in English is highly informative and useful. Marshalling historical facts the learned writer rebutts the two views that the rise of Buddhism was the result of anti-Brahminic prejudice, and that the pessimistic outlook of Buddhism is unwholesome. It is pointed out that Gautama Buddha was primarily an ethical teacher but not a metaphysician and that he tried to avoid all philosophical speculations and discussions. A summary of Buddha’s teachings and thephilosophical theories of the four schools of Buddhism is informative. Chief characteristics of Pali language described herein enable a reader to have an idea of the language. A short survey of Pali literature also is found herein. Dr. Sriramachandrudu has done a commendable job of his undertaking and enriched the Samskrit literature with this valuable publication which is highly instructive both to a scholar and a layman.


Learn Samskrit Through Stories: By Dr. L. A. Ware. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Madras-4. Price: Rs. 4-50.

The avowed object of this book is “to provide an introduction of a sort, to Samskrit in a new and perhaps untried way which, it is hoped, will primarily provide entertainment, and secondarily information.” The modest object of the author is more than achieved. A story from “Hitopadesa” in Samskrit language is given in Devanagari script. It is followed by a transliteration in English. The author then takes up simple words in a sentence and explains their formations in an easily understandable way. Finally a literal translation in English gives the purport of the sentence.

All of the rules which have been explicitly stated throughout the text have been gathered together in the Appendix 1. Appendix 2 gives standard verb endings like “mi, vah and mah,” The normal system of case terminations is given in the 3rd Appendix. Sanskrit-English vocabulary is added at the end of the first part of the text. Two extracts from Hitopadesa are presented as an exercise for the reader in the second part. A Samskrit English vocabulary, giving not only the meanings of words but the number, gender, and tense, etc., added to this also facilitates an easy understanding of the text. Though intended for foreigners, it is bound to be highly useful to English-knowing Indians as well who desire to make a self-study of Samskrit. Here is an easy and interesting method to learn Samskrit without tears.


1. Sri Chidambara Maahaatmya Vedapaadastavamulu (2) Sri Nataraja, Sri Sivakaamasundari Stotraratnamulu (3) Sri Nataraja Aananda Taandava Darsanamu. Editor Prof. Darbha Suryanarayana, Annamalai University, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. For copies either to Smt. Darbha Subbalaxmi, c/oEditor; or Srinivasa Nilayamu, Gandhipuram-2, Rajahmundry-3. A.P. Price: Rs. 12, Rs. 4 and Rs. 2 respectively.

First Book: Chidambaram is a holy pilgrimage centre wherein there is the sacred “Aakaasalinga” and wherein God Nataraja in his cosmic dance appeared to the sages like Jaimini, Patanjali and Vyaagrapaada. The first part of this volume contains ‘Chidambara Maahatmyamu” of 26 chapters extracted from Skaanda Puraana and some small prayers to Chidambaresa and Sivakaamasundari. The second part consists of two devotional lyrics–“Sri Nataraja Vedapaada Stava” sung by the sage Jaimini and “Sri Sivakaama Sundari Vedapaada Stava” sung by Sri Adi Shankara, A unique feature of these two lyrics is that the fourth quarter of each verse in these is taken from either a Veda or an Upanishat. cf. “Namaste Rudra Bhaavaaya/Namaste Rurda Kelaya/Namaste Rudra Saantyaicha/Namaste Rudra Manyave.” The fourth line here is taken from the well-known Rudra Namaka in Yajurveda.

The Maahaatmya and the Stotras in Samskrit are printed in bold Telugu script and each verse is followed by Taatparya in Telugu. The introduction brings out the significance and symbolism of the name Chidambara and Nataraja and deserves a study. There is poetic flavour in the 11th, 12th and 13th chapters dealing with “Taandavamahima”, story of Devadaaru forest, and “Aananda Nartana Darsanamu.” The last of these three again is sure to take a devotee into raptures. 17th chapter also describes similar situation. The significance of the word Chidambara Rahasya is explained in the 18th chapter.

The second volume consists of “Nataraja Sahasranaama Stotra” and “Sri Sivakama Sundari Sahasranaama Stotras” together with their 108 names; in verse form and “Rudra Sahasranaama Stotra” in the form of thousand names each ending with “Namah.” The ten centuries of names in this Stotra, begin with the ten letters of the Mantra “Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraaya” in order. A detailed information regarding the festivals and daily worship conducted at the holy place is provided at the end of the book. Some other minor Stotras of Bilva, Mrityunjaya, etc., are also found here. Inclusion of Anganyaasa and Karanyaasas of “Chintamani Mantra” and the 16 lettered Mantra, of course with a caution that they should be known from an initiated Guru, would have made this work more self-sufficient. Introduction in Samskrit is informative. A Telugu translation of that also will be useful to the Telugu readers. These two volumes are really a boon to all Telugu-knowing devotees who will be much beholden to the Editor and Publisher of these works and to his wife, who like Sakti to Siva, we are informed, is the guiding spirit behind all his lofty attempt of publication and service.

The third volume contains the 17th and 18th chapters of the Chidambara Mahatmya which describe Nataraja granting a vision of his Ananda Tandava to the sages Vyaaghrapaada and Patanjali and wherein the esoteric and philosophic significance of the word Chidambararahasya is explained. The text here is published not only in Devanagari script, but in Telugu script also with Telugu Tatparya to facilitate daily recitation of the two chapters which believed to be highly efficacious and to bring the book within to reach of all devotees. These three volumes are a must to all devotees of Siva and Devi also.


Srimat Shankara Bhagavatpaada Charitra: By Dr. Potukuchi Subrahmanya Sastry. Saadhana Grandha Mandali, Tenali. A. P. Price: Rs. 20.

This work under review, written by an erudite scholar in philosophy, English and Samskrit, is not a translation of any of the many Shankara Vijayas in Samskrit. This is an original and critical biography of Sri Shankara, written after studying all the “Shankara Vijayas” available in Samskrit, all Shankara’s works and other important works on Shankara’s biography. The author at every stage shows how many of the contents of the extant “Shankara Vijayas” are in conflict with and contradict each other. Many weeds might have sprung up around the nucleus of the original story. The author declares that the episode relating to Shankara’s entering the dead body of a king, his cursing of Nambudri Brahmins and some other events, unbecoming of his omniscience and saintly nature, are not at all genuine. Some of his conclusions though they appear to be revolutionary are critical and convincing. Taking into consideration the philosophical theories rejected by Shankara in his Bhaashyas and other references the author opines that the Acharya must have taken his birth either in 368, or 387 or 392 A. D. Mandana was neither the son nor the nephew of. Kumaarila. Sri Shankara did not at all meet Mandana the author of “Brahmasiddhi,” Mandana is not Suresvara....Arguments for and against the contention that Sri Shankara establshed a “Pitha” at Kaanchi are given. According to him “Srichakra” in Kaamaakshi temple was not installed by Shankara. Details regarding the installation of the all-accepted four main Pithas are described.

A second main feature of this work is a life sketch of Shankara is given here mainly based on his writings. Thus during the narration of the events, he shows us the context, relevancy and sequence of some of the Stotras and minor works expounding Advaita philosophy and gives those texts with Telugu translation. Bhajagovinda Stotra, the author says, was sung in praise of Govind Bhagavatpada the Guru of Shankara. “Kanakadhara Stava” was sung in praise of Saraswati on the river Kanakatore in Kashmir, and it has nothing to do with the story of a poor lady offering an “aamalaka” fruit to the Acharya.

An exhaustive study of “Mathaamnaaya” and “Mahaanusaasana” is another important feature. The last chapter entitled “Saankara Darsanamu” gives a very lucid exposition of “Shaankaraadvaita” with the aid of minor Prakaranas like “Laguvaakya vritti”, and “Drig drisya viveka”, etc., expounded in Telugu. This is the most useful part of the text from the vitwpoint of a layman also. Thus this work gives us not only a critical biography of Shankara, but many of his Stotras and minor texts on Advaita with a translation in Telugu also. This is a very valuable addition to the existing literature in Telugu, and deserves to be translated into English and other languages also.

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