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....

Art of India and Persia: By Anis Farooqi. B. R. Publishing House, Vivekanand Nagar, New Delhi-35. Price: Rs. 300.

“Art of India and Persia” is a fine treat to students of art and art history of the Mughal school of paintings. It is a doctorial thesis of the author which has been later published in book-form with copious illustrations. The value of such a publication is more emphasised by the very adequate and apt reproduction of the art plates–some of them in colour also–gathered from a number of sources. The author’s diligence in collecting so many copies of paintings is something phenomenal and this is the first attempt of its kind to analyse Persian and the later Mughal art of India.

In six sections the thesis has traced the origin of Persian influence upon the later individualistic Mughal art. However much, according to the author, earlier paintings during the reign of Emperor Humayun, preserved Persian art in all its manifoldness, during his successor Akbar’s rule, the synthesis started forming a fusion of the two styles and in the third stage an integrated self-oriented Mughal art of paintings exemplified the vitality and growth of an identifiable individuality. This is the main theme of the author’s treatment of the subject.

The number of plates reproduced here add considerably to make the volume not only unique of its kind but a treasure to preserve in libraries for reference by students devoted to study of Indian Art.

The index and bibliography make the usefulness of the reading a reality. The printing and presentation are all very artistically conceived. A look at the book is sufficient to make the book-lover take up the volume for perusal and profit.

The Literary Value of Tiruvoymoli: By Dr. G. Damodaran. Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. Price: Rs. 40.

This is an exhaustive treatment of the poetic merit of the Tiruvoymoli, the diadem of the Divyaprabandhams, for its religions and sublime appeal to human hearts. Namalvar, one of the immortal hymnists in devotion of God, has presented the Bhakti of his entire being in the shape of verses which can lift the soul to the heights of God-realisation for the ardent devotee. Though held to be of superior quality as a litany in Vaishnavite temples, its beauty as a poem has none the less value as a literary masterpiece.

Here in this volume, much research has gone into the collection of material for unravelling the inner aesthetic points which would make it easily comparable with some of the classics in Tamil and the literature of the Sangam age. For instance, on the chapter on “A Comparative Study” the author has succeeded in drawing clear parallels with some of the verses of Paripadal, Purananur, Kuruntohai, Kalittohai, Silappadiharam, Tirumandiram, Kural and other ancient literary works.

After dealing in the first two chapters on the life and times of Nammalvar and the nature of poetry and its function, the author has taken great pains to prove how the features of Love Poetry are visible throughout the God-intoxicated outpourings and how the characteristics of Akattinaiare inerasably marking the attitude presented here by the devotee towards his Lover – the Lord of the Universe. Not satisfied with these elaborate findings upon the substance of Nammalvar’s lyrical effusions on his master and lover quite in the wake of traditional norms of poetics as chalked out in Tamil grammar, the author plunges into the special features of Tiruvoymoli and its power of grip on us. Then the style, the figures of speech employed, the metres and the suggestive appeal of the songs (pans) indicated to be sung also by later commentators of the Tiruvoymoli – all these and more fill the pages written with minute care and reverence for the task undertaken. The last few chapters dealing with treatment of nature and the skilful employment of puranic lore give us a complete picture of the work.

Needless to add how the brief but sufficiently sympathetic foreword of Dr. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar impels the reader to take up this scholarly study of a scriptural poem of immense vitality for preserving the religion of a true Vaishnava with expectations of vast beneficial addition to his knowledge.

The use of diacritical marks throughout would enable the reader unfamiliar with Tamil language and its sounds to peruse the book without difficulty and with profit.

Ramanuja on the Yoga: By Dr. Robert C. Lester. The Adyar Library and Research Centre, Adyar, Madras-20. Price: Rs. 18.

Issued as the One Hundred and Sixth volume in the Adyar Library Series, Dr Lester’s interpretation of Sri Ramanuja’s Mokshopaya strikes a novel note and is refreshingly original in its suggestive accent on Yoga as part of the discipline commended by the great Acharya for the realization of the highest Purushartha. Discussing some of the leading questions concerning his contributions to the development of the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaaya, Dr. Lester has also shown the relevance of Sri Ramanuja’s teachings on Karma, Jnana and Bhakti in their intimate relation to popular modes of Yogic practice generally and in the wider context of Comparative Religion. The necessity for a consistent world-view, as exemplified in Ramanuja’s Visishtadvaita, in any pattern of spiritual practicum, is well emphasised. The approach throughout reveals sobriety and balance both in presentation and assessment, giving due credit to the special requirements of Ramanuja’s distinctive theism as well as certain radical features of departure from tradition. It is often forgotten that Sri Ramanuja was a Yogin in every sense of the term, no less than a system-builder or dialectician, and that his Yoga has an integral excellence, rare among the founders of “closed” systems and schools of thought. Dr. Lester’s present work would go a long way in correcting such a lapse.

Contrasting Patanjali’s Yoga, whose explicit purpose is to abolish “errors and illusions” and “the sum total of normal psychological experiences” and “to replace them by an experience that is ecstatic, super-sensory and extra-rational,” destroying “varieties of states of consciousness one after another” as citta-vrttis–withthat of Sri Ramanuja in an essentially theistic context, which “affirms the ultimate reality of the material universe and the primacy of personal relationships,” Dr. Lester raises the question of the general significance of Yoga in a theistic world-view, which must necessarily be a blend of cosmic realism and dynamism of the Supremely Divine. Indeed, he has tried to show that the very technique of Patanjali could be so pruned and re-adjusted, especially in the higher stages of Dharana and Dhyana, as to meet the needs of an integral dynamism with God at its core as the soul of souls and the spirit Supreme. This is a fruitful line of thought, whose immense potentialities have been indicated in recent times by philosopher. Yogis like Sri Aurobindo. The more substantial part of Dr. Lester’s interpretation is in such suggestive nuances–rather than in his exposition of the Yogic undercurrent of meaning as given in Ramanuja’s Gitabhashya.

Visishtadvaita Vedanta: A Study: By Sri Aravind Sharma. Heritage Publishers, 116, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-l. Price: Rs. 40.

Prof. Aravind Sharma’s book Visishtadvaita Vedanta is a collection of thirteen of his research papers, all dealing with topics connected with Visishtadvaita school of philosophy closely associated with the name of Ramanuja. As Prof. Sharma’s predilection for the Bhagavatgita(Prof. Sharma’s doctoral dessertation is on the Bhagavatgitaas interpreted by Abhinavagupta) seven out of these thirteen essays are devoted for the Gita in the light of Ramanuja Bhashya. These exegetical excursions into Visishtadvaita Vedanta offer valuable insights into it, though they do not throw fresh light on the system as a whole. They bear ample testimony to the massive scholarship and fine critical perception of the author. Simplicity, lucidity and profundity are the impressive qualities of the book.

In the first paper, “Visishtadvaita: What does it mean?” the author tries to determine its most accurate (not necessarily the most elegant) connotation of the term and succeeds in his attempt. In the second one, “Egerton’s comment on Ramanuja’s Gloss on Bhagavatgita”, he justifies Ramanuja’s stand and rejects Egerton’s objection to it. In the third one, Prof. Sharma makes an interesting comparison between the nature of the creation of man in Islam and Visishtadvaita Vedanta and comes to the conclusion that “in the Quran man’s creation is generic; in Visishtadvaita Vedanta it is specific.” He observes in fine, that “In both the cases the common point is that ensoulment proceeds from God – but the Course it takes varies drastically.” In the paper he compares again Ramanuja and Quran in relation to their etiology and eschatology. The conclusion he arrives at is interesting: “What happens at the end of creation in Islam happens at the beginning of creation in Hinduism in view of their cosmogenic ideas but the basic Karmic principle involved seems to be similar.” The sixth one entitled “Quranic and Paancaraatric Doctrines of the structure of Creation: A Companion” he peeps into the structure of the created universe from the two defined angles and concludes that: “the word creation fits the Quranic case and the word evolution the Paancaraatric case better.” The rest of the papers, with the exception of the eleventh one, deal with the Bhagavatgita.The author had done well in drawing our attention to the neglected view regarding the human from of Krishna. It is strange that erudition takes us away from the text. The text makes it clear that the human from is two-armed form and that Arjuna had seen Viswarupamfirst, Devarupamnext (i.e., four-armed form) and, finally, manusham rupam. Sankara’s comment “Vasudevasya grihe ratam” need not necessarily imply the four-armed form.

The comparative approach of the author is fresh and laudable. It is full of possibilities.


Later Poems of W. B. Yeats: By Dr. Shankar Mokasi Punekar. Karnataka University, Dharwar. Price: Rs. 12.

This fresh excursion into the later poetry of W. B. Yeats is yet another addition to the ever-expanding Yeatsina. A few years ago the author had published his doctoral thesis under the title, The Later Phase in the Development of W. B. Yeats which proved to be an outstanding contribution to Yeatsian studies. The present volume is a continuation of it in that he applies the basic principles of appreciation and criticism he expounded in his earlier volume to individual poems here. The results are rewarding and the author holds his banner aloft.

In a later manner, Dr. Mokasi Punekar claims that he has saved the poems of Yeats from the casticisms galore at the hands of the ‘New Critics’. He emphatically asserts “Everyone of Yeats poems has a meaning; and only one meaning; it is intended to convey a ‘message’, a clearly articulated message, coded in a language of convention; it is not a whimper surrogate. Even at its most agonising, no poem of Yeats is an ‘Ouch’; it is not an utterance, that a statement such as ‘I am in pain’–of course with its own effectiveness”. While we gladly agree that he treads close to Yeats and that his interpretations reveal the spirit in which the poems were conceived much better than others, we cannot readily concede his assertion that Yeats was a simple poet. Nor can we endorse his harsh comments on New Criticism. After all, even our own literary tradition, of which we are justly proud, considers a poem independent of its historical and biographical origins. An interpreter is not merely a supplier of historical facts which the reader is not assumed to know.

The learned author’s remarkable success is mainly due to his blending of historical, scholarly and literary approaches. The first chapter “ground” is of seminal importance in that it puts Yeats and his poetry in proper perspective. Some of the terms which have special connotations in Yeats are explained to the advantage of the reader.

In the rest of the chapters, he provides a sort of running commentary on the individual poems. The style is simple and fascinating. He has a wary eye to see similarities in other literatures. His reference to Bhasa’s play “Pratima” at the end of the book is really touching.

At times, he can be amusing. His remarks on Miss A. G. Stock’s comment is an example. “Yeats himself did not remember the teaching precisely like this...but there could not be anything like a special teaching of Mohini other than that of any other mystical Eastern school or Theosophy; and second it is not right to think that all day teachers do nothing other than teach their teaching.”

The Philosophy of Nimbarka: By Dr. Madan Mohan Agarwal. Published by Srimati Usha Aagrwal, Gali Manihar, Sadabad (Mathura). Price: Rs. 40.

A doctoral thesis of the author, this is a valuable addition to the existing literature in English on Nimbarka’s philosophy. The first chapter gives a very lucid exposition of the maconcepts of Nimbarka’s philosophy with all the arguments advanced for and against. Jiva is knowledge, knower, doer and also an enjoyer under the control of Brahman. He is atomic in size in bondage as well as in salvation. Jivas are innumerable in number. Jagat is the effect of Brahman and abides in Brahman who by nature has destroyed all defects. He is endowed with all auspicious qualities and is all bliss. He is both the material and efficient cause of the universe. There is natural difference and non-difference relation between the Jiva, Jagat and Brahman.

In the second chapter types of relations accepted by different schools of thought are explained. Origin and development of the Bhedaabhedadoctrine is treated in a historical method. A comparative study of the theories of different Indian schools of thought regarding the nature of Jiva, Jagat, Brahman and their relation is very interesting and informative.

The author richly deserves our praise for having brought out a very lucid, comparative, and authentic exposition of Nimbarka’s philosophy and we commend the work to all students of philosophy. However, a reader cannot but feel that there is too much of avoidable repetition verbatim of the subject matter. Inclusion of chapters dealing with the nature of liberation, means for liberation, place of Karma, Jnana and Bhakti in this philosophy would have made the work more comprehensive and useful. Noting of sources of Srutis quoted in “Vedanta Parijata Saurabha” etc., and those actual quotations in Samskrit will also be highly useful to a reader.

Vakrokti Jivita of Kuntaka: Edited with improved readings, a complete translation and introduction by K. Krishnamurty. Published by Karnataka University, Dharwad. Price: Rs. 40.

For the first time, the learned professor Dr. K. Krishnamurty has rescued from oblivion the major part of “Vakrokti Jeevita” a classic supreme in Samskrit poetics and criticism, and presented to the world of Samskrit scholars “not only a readable, critical and pure text but also a complete English translation” thereof. While editing the original text, the Professor collated the Madras manuscripts of the text which were made use of by Dr S. K. De also, for his edition with fresh fragments of palm leaf manuscripts which were not used by Dr. De. An unanimous work “Kalpalata Viveka” which yielded about one hundred ‘Pratikas’ of Vakroktijivita authentically explained also enabled the editor to give definite and correct readings in this edition. In view of the fact that all the three editions of this work brought out by Dr S. K. De and some other editions published subsequently were full of incorrect reading and gaps here and there, this edition devoid of those defects is a mostly welcome addition to poetics in Samskrit literature.
The editors’s introduction also is a testimony to the penetrating and searching intellect and critical acumen of the editor. With cogent arguments and evidences he concludes–in modification of his earlier statement–that Kuntaka the author of Vakroktijivita was an elder contemporary of Abhinavagupta. His exposition of “Kuntaka’s theory of poetry as understood by Ruyyaka and his commentator Samudra Bandha” contributes not a less to proper understanding of Kuntaka’s theory of Vakrokti as compared with that of Ananda Vardhana and Abhinavagupta. The editor’s estimate and appreciation of “Kuntaka as a practical literary critic” is brilliant.

The English translation of the text is not literal but free and idiomatic, and is conducive to a proper understanding of the main argument and import of the text. It is too much to expect in any translation the spirit, depth and grandeur of the meanings of the words like “Sakti parispanda” and “Sukti parispanda” etc. An index of the subjects within the text proper is a dire necessity for a ready reference of the text.

Problems of Indian Historiography: Edited by Dr. Devahuti. D. K. Publications 29/9, Nangia Park, Shakti Nagar, Delhi-7. Price: Rs. 50.

This book is a collection of essays embodying the proceedings of the first session of Indian History and Culture Society held in March 1978. In the preface, the editor explains the nature and scope of the Seminar.

In the first essay, G. C. Pande seeks to examine universal models for studying culture. He mentions that each civilization has a system of values and symbols and it is the duty of the historian to identify these. In the second article of this section, Dr. Pratap Chandra examines the different trends in interpreting India’s past. The terms of reference are borrowed from the West and hence the reconstructions are made by using such concepts like ‘Imperialism’. Indian history can be understood only when India is taken as a sub-continent in which each region is important.

In the second section, Dr. Sudhir Chandra discusses the ideology of Nationalism as one of the factors which influenced Indian historians. The obsessive concern for national unity led to blur the vision of the historian. A historian should avoid this pitfall and point out the tensions and conflicts which exist in society which hamper the nationalist ideal. In another paper, Uma Chakravarti discusses the role of Brahmana as depicted in the Pali and Buddhist literature. The meaning of the term is not constant. The Brahmin is sometimes presented as a member of a particular caste and also as a person standing for an ideal value. In the same section, Dr. Pandey shows the value of Kautilya’s Arthasastra in explaining the meaning of the terms occurring in inscriptions. Dr. Krishna Sarma in an article on ‘Bhakti’, examines misconceptions in understanding this concept. Several Western scholars equated Bhakti with Krishna worship and monotheism. This view has to be corrected.

In the fourth section, Dr. Rajesh Jamindar mentions that History is “not a mere catalogue of political events but includes in its fold the achievements of the common people in every walk of life.” He further opines that the periodization of history as ancient, medieval and modern is erroneous. In another article Vijayakumar Thakur points out that Indian feudalism starts with 4th century A. D. He also opines that the admittance of tribal people led to the growth of Tantric practices. Dr. Ashok Vohra in an article on the subjectivity in history opines that history is in some way or other reflects the value of judgements of the writer and is subjective. The Editor of the volume contributes an article in the same section. In this paper, Dr. Devahuti examines the value of functional and dialectical models in understanding the past. The author feels that “the essential matter of history is not what happened but what people felt about what happened.” Dr. B. P. Sinha in another article points out the failing nature of the Imperialist and Nationalist. He also points out that Marxist approach is basically inadequate and is often mischievous. In all the articles in this section, the necessity of writing objective history is stressed. In the last section, there are two articles on polity. In the first essay, Dr. P. C. Chunder analyses the social ideas of Kautilya. The last article deals with price control under the Mauryan government. The author Dr. Balaram Srivatsava points out that the economic policy envisaged by Kautilya is one of regulation on one side and encouragement on the other.

This collection of essays highlights the problems involved in writing Indian history. Some of the essays are stereotyped repetitions of the ideas which are found in books on historical method. Though several writers have pointed out the necessity of having Indian frames of reference, only in few articles, an attempt is made in that direction.

Life of Sri Ramanuja: By Sri Ramakrishnananda. Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras-4. Price Rs. 12.

Originally written in Bengali, this classic on the life and message of Acharya Ramanuja by a senior monk of the Sri Ramakrishna Order, who was specially sent to the South by Swami Vivekananda to spread the teaching of the Prophet of Dakshineshwar, appeared first in its English garb some twenty years ago. It is currently in its third edition. Swami Ramakrishnananda found during his stay and work in the South the enormous influence wielded by the tradition represented by Sri Ramanuja and wrote this work to acquaint people in Bengal with this philosophy and discipline of Surrender.

He devotes the first part of the book to describe the spiritual ground of Sri Ramanuja; in the second part he narrates the life of the saint, his ministry, his illustrious disciples and the main works that were written by him. In a memorable passage he quotes: “Whoever looks upon the sacred images of God as mere stones, his own spiritual teacher as an ordinary human being, eminent devotees as high or low according to the caste of their birth, the holy water that has touched the feet of God and as a consequence has the power to purify and purge one of all sins as mere water, the sacred Mantras as a collection of sounds, and the Supreme Lord of all the worlds as one not higher than the Devas–let him be considered as one fit to dwell in the infernal regions.”

The Water’s Edge and other stories: By K. Srinivasan. Writers Workshop, Lake Gardens, Calcutta-45. Price: Rs. 20.

Nine stories are gathered here in this volume which show as much variety as substance for the reader’s unflagging interest. Deftness of penmanship marks the pages with an unbelievable smartness of expression in delivering the goods. It will be difficult to pick out the best out of the group, though one cannot but laugh outright in satisfaction at the concluding story of the “A Correspondence Course.” When closing the volume, therefore, a sense of having more than a good share of intellectual entertainment is provided us.

Though the writer has followed the modern way of story-writing which does not go the normal course of incidents linked with incidents making a continuity towards a purpose, there is yet unexpected spots of revealing humour and wit that easily compensate for the want of grip in the story. One or two among these are dragging as “Rehearsal,” apart from its out-of-the-way casualness of narration.

Sometimes we are puzzled why writers today, especially among Indians, try to follow the Western example of detailing the sexual act. They may as well follow the admonition imparted by no less a famous novelist than Somerset Maugham who said in his book, Ten Novels and their Authors, “Novelists have not been slow to notice the difference that this (the use of contraceptives) has made in the relations of the sexes and so, whenever they feel that something must be done to sustain the reader’s flagging interest, they cause their characters to indulge in copulation. I am not sure they are well-advised. Lord Chesterfield said, ‘The pleasure was momentary, the position ridiculous and the expense damnable; if he had lived to read modern fiction he might have added that there is a monotony about the act which renders the reiterated narration of it excessively tedious.”

Passion Fruit (Short Stories): By Malathi Rao, Writers Workshop, Calcutta-45. Price: Rs. 20.

There is a great change the way modern short stories are woven. Most of them possess very little of incidents with a connection. The idea evidently is that life always presents events not with much of a connection. Occasionally there may be something to suggest a running vein of sequence which is the work of art. But normally life does not show up things with any ulterior purpose or motive. Now art in the modern writing likes to copy perhaps this fact of disconnected events and situations as if realism in fiction should more and more copy life as it is with little or no design in its working or functioning.

The best example of the modern trend in short story writing is found in this volume of seven stories each one nowhere revealing any attempt at so many details and observations to have a connecting purpose. The outlook of the author seems merely to prove to readers how art should never indulge in make-believes but stick hard to what life itself has its course of a daily grouping in of so many intrusions, as it were, in everybody’s existence. Anyhow the writer has had the approbation of a discerning public to the extent of winning prizes in competitions. Tastes differ among readers, and if the reviewer has not the same sense of identification in all what the writer has striven to prove as life I lived in India today, he has certainly to take umbrage under the excuse that his mind has not sufficiently progressed in modern writing.

The atmosphere throughout in these stories savours of a “permissive” society which is now the one haven for all disappointed souls. With the shrinking of the world due to the rapid mingling together of the West and East, a hybridized civilization is envisaged by these writers. Hence the charm of restraint of Indian womanhood is annihilated yielding place to a sex-ridden mind which is still alien to the India that we know.

However some of the stories are enlivening in their spurts of observation, such as “The Man Joshi” and the “Passion Fruit”.

The new writing must be enjoyable to the new generation which is growing up in our midst.

The Upanishads (Isa, Katha, Mundaka, Mandukya): By Anthony Elenjimittam. Acquinas Publications, Mount Mary, Bandra, Bombay-50. Price: Rs. 8.

This is a publication of the Institute for Inter-Religious Understanding. The original text in Devanagari script is followed by a transliteration in English–in Italics. The translation which is not literal but liberal is followed by an illuminating commentary in eloquent English. It does not scrupulously and strictly follow any school of thought like Advaita or Dvaita, though it may appear to lean towards the former. The most striking feature of this commentary is its out and out catholic outlook. It believes in the Vedic dictum “Ekam sat vipraa bahudhaa vadanti.” Parallels from the preachings of Christ. St. Paul, Thomas Aquinas and Plato, etc., are cited. Any reader can easily understand that the essentials of all main world religions and the experiences of all great mystics and saints are the same. While commenting on the Isavasya Upanishat the commentator appears touphold the “Jnaana karma samucchaya vaada” ignoring the distinction between Upasana and Jnaana pointed out by Sri Sankara. But this is after all a point of difference in dialectical discussions and it in no way detracts the work from its merits. We sincerely feel that books of this type contribute to the mutual understanding of our religions.
–B. K. RAO

Visions of Hand Hopper : Book VIII: By William Hull. Price Rs. 20. Selected Poems: By Walter Schweppe. Price Rs. 15.

The Third Meaning of Apricot, Concerning its Light: By Carol Rubenstein. Price Rs. 15. In the Ear of Dusk: By R. H. Morrison. Price Rs. 15. The Suburban Journals: By Christopher W. Parker. Price Rs. 10. Ins and Outs: By Suzanne Pope Brooks. Price Rs. 15. All the books are published by the Writers Workshop, Calcutta.

William Hull’s ambitious visions re-working the Hindu myth of Avataras in terms of contemporary experience has now entered its eighth phase duly sub-titled “Rock”. Language means riot for Hull, an experimentation with a vengeance. No poetry here; it is all “sloshstain of bookcant, streettalk.” In this talkathon of Hull, history and literature spill names and scenes without end. Briefly, Handy is now born as Krishna to perform the many miracles. A generous spread of Jewish diction adds to the piquancy of the narrative.

It is a relief to pass on to Walter Schweppe’s chiselled poems. Apart from the two moving poems on Bangladesh, the rest are subjective love poetry. The fourteen sonnets are Elizabethan in impulsion and have a genuinelv passionate ring.

What a femininely confusing title for Carol Rubenstein! A result of her travels in India and Nepal, The Third Meaning of Apricot reads like un pruned diary jottings made in a hurry before sleep overcame the poet in indifferent hotel rooms after daytimes spent in weary sight-seeing. Temples, masked dancers, pilgrims, singers–the familiar sights everywhere. One should, however, give credit to her infectious enthusiasm for everything she sees. The sub-continent is no area of darkness for Ms. Rubenstein, but a vast land latticed by light!

R. H. Morrison too sees much to please and tantalise him in India. But he brings an intellectual perception, a scholar’s knowledge of tradition to whatever catches his fancy. For instance, this fanciful picture of a lotus, after seeing the pattern of the bloom in the limbs of Radha, drawn in a Kangra painting:

“And the lotus that has given so
much-what in return has it taken?
Only, in green scalloped leaves, the shape
of dress-hem, and, in flowers, her lips’ pink glow.”

Christopher W. Parker is still in his early ’Twenties. His poems have a hallucinatory movement as though he were hearing voices all the time. The brief gun-shot wedding is hilariously ironic and so is the poem “American Dream”. Suzanne Brooks is confusedly autobiographical throughout Ins and Outs. Barrenness of the womb and the birth of retarded children clutch the poems like fear. The volume is a sad commentary on what drug -medicines and air pollution have done to our civilisation.

The Structure of the Novel: By Edwin Muir. B. I. Publications, Dr. N. Road, Bombay-23. Price: Rs. 42.25.

To have survived half a century of criticology and retained its position as one of the best critiques of the novel form is no mean achievement. The Structure of the Novel is written in a style of unsurpassable standard: that is, it is simple, direct. Nowhere does Edwin Muir take recourse to ambiguous expressions, and yet his impeccable scholarship is everywhere in evidence. This volume was cherished by us in our undergraduate days. And even today an undergraduate can ignore it only at his peril.

There is a crystalline clarity about the structure of the book itself. First come the novels of action and character, and The Treasure Island and Vanity Fair are discussed as examples. We have the dramatic novel where plot and character feed each other. Edwin Muir analyses Pride and Prejudice in this context. The elemental nature of Hardy’s novels and Wuthering Heights helps a discussion of the Time-Space continuum in dramatic novels. There is, then, the chronicle. War and Peace is a fine example of the cosmic progression in the chronicle novel which gives “a different value to all the particular happenings, making the tragic pathetic, the inevitable accidental, the final relative, and doing this naturally and inevitably.”

Discussing other developments, Edwin Muir deprecates the period novel practised by Bennett and Wells which relies on descriptions of the latest gadgetry. He would have been horrified by the recent mammoth period-novels written by the Americans. Novels like Wheels and Airport consume technical and research jargon with suicidal avidity!

Finally, the stream-of-consciousness genre. When The Structure of the Novel was first published, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf were in.Muir finds no form in a novel like Ulysses, and doesn’t think much of the symbolism either. Edwin Muir’s book concludes with a few brilliant observations on characters in the novel after some minor sparring with E. M. Forster on the subject. Not a mere library volume, The Structure of the Novel is a must for the personal collections of students of English literature.

Selected Poems of Mahakavi Ullur: Edited by K. Ramachandran Nair. University of Kerala, Trivandrum. Price: Rs. 20.

Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon and Ullur Parameswara Iyer are considered the titans who reared modern Malayam poetry; Of these, Ullur has a special position. A classicist to the core, author of an epic, Uma Keralam, Ullur was also a distinguished editor and literary historian. Apart from Uma Keralam, Ullur also wrote many khanda kavyas too. Of these, Karnabhooshanamis the most brilliant. Ullur was also a considerable lyricist.

Following his birth centenary in 1977, there has been a demand from the non-Malayali public to know more of this great poet. The present edition containing translations of some of Ullur’s poems is indeed a timely publication.

The editor has wisely given the entire KarnabhooshanamEnglished by Dr. K. Raghavan Pillai. But for a few uncouth phrases, Dr. Pillai’s translation conveys well the tragic grandeur of Ullur’s Karna. The poet’s main aim was to set forth the self-giving nature of the King of Anga. Kama admits that he is treading the path of evil by associating himself with Duryodhana. He must redeem himself somehow, and charity offers him the escape-hatch. Surya comes to him and would dissuade him from the gift that is to be sought presently by Indra. Kama is horrified. Surya, the giver of bounty to humanity is discouraging his own son from performing charity! What a paradox! It is an honour when Indra himself stoops to beg from Karna! Karna would die rather than refuse anyone a gift. “If I become manure to my fame’s white lotus, who should bother?”

Ullur began writing lyrics late in life. The classicist is very much in evidence in most of the lyrics, giving a certain stateliness to the compositions. Ullur’s energy of inspiration is astonishing and so too ale his moral scrupulousness and intellectual vigour. Occasionally a gossamer lyric also gets released. One such is ‘Bhutakkannadi’ translated by Kumara Pillai as ‘The Magic Lens.’

Ullur’s other lyrics treat of flowers and fields, birds and insects, hopes and anxieties. He is sure that love is the anchor that defies that perpetual flux of things and overcomes the tyranny of Time. As for ‘Then and Now’ it is a mastery summation of India’s magnificent heritage which includes the noble deeds of Kama and Bhishma.


Hindu Yogi’s Astounding Discoveries: By H. H. Thiruvarul Thavayogi. Velavan Press, Madras. Price: Rs. 15.

The author is an industrialist turned Yogi and the contents of the book under review are a rechauffe of traditional Hindu philosophy. The so-called discoveries of His Holiness as to life after death are mere old wine in new bottles. They say that every human being has two organic bodies–the physical and the astral. The former is perishable and identifiable whereas the latter is indestructible and beyond the reach of sight. This Dream Body–otherwise called Sookshma or Yathana sareera–has an indwelling soul and is endowed with twenty-five Tatwas and in support of survival of the dead instances are quoted from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and similar works. Dreams too as independent experiences of causal body are viewed as re-inforcing the conviction of postmortem existence in celestial regions and further as substantiating the fact that all physiological functions originate in the real Swapnasareera and cause synchronous reflexes in its gross counterpart, the Sthoolasareera. At death bynormal causes ethereal personalities are assumed to enter Dark or Light planes and bide their season till their Prarabdha is exhausted and thereafter they are made to take rebirth or are de-carnated and sent to Blissful worlds. Communication with the dead in their own mother-tongues or in languages mutually understood is held possible through clairvoyance, ouija board, table-tilting, planchette and automatic writing and several other topics relevant to causal bodies are discussed illustratively and appropriately. But things are to be seen to be believed. All else reads like superstition and speculation and similarly Thavayogi’s accounts of after life too suffer this infirmity. However, beliefs and superstitions have a place in the scheme of life. They perform a regulatory function and dam the tide of irrational surges of volatile masses and classes.

Catalogue of Vijayanagar Coins in the Madras Government Museum: By N. Sankara Narayanai Madras Government Museum, Madras. Price: Rs. 13-10.

This is a painstaking catalogue of the considerable number of Vijayanagar coins in the Madras Government Museum. The 645 coins catalogued begin their provenance with Harihara I and end with Sriranga III, that is, from the beginning of Vijayanagar power to its end.

What historical material can be gleaned from this study? First, says Mr. Sankara Narayana, judging from the fact that the legends on the coinage of Harihara I and Bukka I, the founders, carries its legends in Kannada language and the emblems of Hanuman and Garuda, “the family had greater affinities with the Kannada language and Karnataka where the Kadambas with the Hanuman flag and the Yadavas with the Garuda ensign had held away (for) over two centuries”. The last statement is rather puzzling. But the fact that the legends are in Kannada at the time of the beginning of Vijayanagar power is certainly important.

Secondly, the coinage generally improved with time. The illustrations prove this. Though, as a source of history, these coins cannot bear comparison with those of the Indo-Greek kings some two thousand years ago, they are undoubtedly valuable.

For the rest, it is enough to say that Mr. Sankara Narayana has discharged his task competently. This work will bear comparison with the catalogues of the coins of other dynasties the Madras Museum has already published.

Selected Poems of Amrita Pritam: Edited by Pritish Nandy. Dialogue Publications,5 Pearl Road, Calcutta-17 Price: Rs.10.

This book of 21 pages carries 29 poems of Amrita Pritam, translated from the original Punjabi by a host of translators comprising Khushwant Singh, Krishna, Gorawara, Suresh Kohli, Charles Brach, Prabhakar Machwe, Mahendra Kulashrestha and Amrita Pritam, and is edited by Pritish Nandy. The themes include a tribute to Waris Shah, a woman’s experience of conception and bringing forth a child, a woman waiting for her lover, a maiden viewing her loss of virginity as a partial loss of her self, the limits of faithlessness, the origin of song in pain, the need of love, as of tea, in life’s winter as in summer, and the like. The language is free-flowing though not marked by cadence and rhythm. There is elaboration which evokes intellectual recognition without a sense of glow or thrill.
–N. B.


Karma Yoga Sutra Satakam: By Swami Harshananda. Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Vani Vilasa Mohalla, Mysore-20. Price: 16.

Works, knowledge and devotion are the three well-known means by which liberation can be attained. The Yoga of works is the most suitable for this iron age of reason and rational thinking. It is open to all who believe and draw sustenance from this work-a-day world. Karma Yoga is communion with God through work and the practice of this yoga, without any other means, is capable of independently accomplishing the liberation. Such has been the vision of Swami Vivekananda.

For the Yoga through knowledge, we have the famous Sutras of Badarayana, providing the signposts. For Yoga through Meditation, the Sutras of Patanjali show the way. For Yoga through Devotion, the Sutras of Narada and Sandilya are the inspiration. But for Karma Yoga, there has been no work in Sutra-form in Sanskrit so far, though the Yoga of works has been acclaimed in the Isha Upanishad and the Gita.

The present work of Swami Harshananda fulfils this long-felt want. Based on the famous eight lectures on Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda, this work of aphorisms, comprising 101 Sutras in Sanskrit deals extensively with the Yoga of works. Each Sutra is preceded by a short introduction and followed by a simple commentary in Sanskrit. Corresponding translations in English and helpful notes are added attraction. The work consists of three chapters, the first dealing with the theory, the second with the practice of Karma Yoga and the third with a description of the Master Karma Yogin.

The Sutras are in the traditional succinct style while the introduction and commentary are in elegant and simple Sanskrit.

The book serves to bring to the traditional orthodox scholarship of the land the fresh invigorating breeze of Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts and at the same time encourage the spread of Sanskrit learning amongst the modern elites of the country.



Iru Niruppural (The Twin Fires): By Purasu Balakrishnan Dr. S. Balakrishnan, 10th Main Road, Block 4- T, Jayanagar, Bangalore-11. Price: Rs. 5.

The book under review is a collection of short stories by Purasu Balakrishnan, a doctor by profession. Usually a doctor and a writer seldom go together.

Here are twelve stories in the collection. Though some of the stories in the collection can hardly be called stories, the author speaks fervently of some observation orimpression gained from things seen around him providing the central thought for a proper story. A vague suggestion from a particular situation, and pathos lying in a small sentence, indeed move and give the reader, the mental satisfaction of reading a well-developed story.

We may take for example the story of the daughter-in-law, a permanent invalid, without any chance of recovering from her illness. In spite of the strong pressure on him by his mother to re-marry, the husband assures his wife of his total unwillingness to it. The doctor coming to visit the patient one day, finding her lying all alone with no one in the house, asks her about it to which she replies calmly, “They have all gone to see the girl chosen for my husband’s marriage, and they are thinking I know nothing about it.” What a spirit of resignation to her unhappy lot is expressed in those simple words! It is surprising that such an economy of language can bring before us, the pathetic sight of the poor, lonely invalid and the utter selfishness and 1ack of consideration of those around her.

On the whole, the twelve stories, written in a language chaste and simple speak highly for their fine literary quality.


(1) Hridaya Kaamadhenuvu (2) Premarasam, (3) Ramarasam: By Hari Ramanath, Chintaguntapalem, Machilipatnam.

These three books are very precious gifts from the author, who is very young in age but ripe in spiritual achievements. Coming from the pen of one who has tasted and experienced the bliss of God-vision after prolonged meditations in the famous Brindavan, contents of these works are sure to inspire the readers and enlighten them as to the path of self-realisation Symbolic significance of the churning of ocean with all its details, and the episode of Vamana and Bali are explained in the first book. Chapter on “Saakshaatkaara” dealing with the nature of God- visions, Saadhana, benefits of meditation, ten Avataaras, etc., is very enlightening. “Nature of Moksha” in all its stages, Rasalila and nine varieties of Bhakti, etc., are explained in a lucid and authentic way in the last chapter. Those who desire to know about the nature varieties and necessity of Bhakti, Saranaagati or self-surrender and Gauranga will certainly be benefitted by reading the second book. Devotion to Rama, symbolic significance of the Ramayana story and Sita in particular, Sri Rama’s ideal character, and other allied topics are described by the author with all his gusto in the last book and the readers of these books are bound to experience some devotional and spiritual solace without fail.

Godaa Srisuukti with Telugu commentary: ByK. T. L. Narasimhacharya. Godaa Grandhamaala, Musunuru. Price: Rs. 8.

Godaa, the foster-daughter of Vishnuchitta, the well known Vaishnava devotee, far excelled her father in her ardent devotion to Lord Vishnu. Even as a girl she wooed Vishnu, offered herself heart and soul to him, pined for him and at last became one with him. Her sweet songs in Tamil are full of devotional love depicting all stages of love in separation, and are masterpieces of poetry, reminding Gopikas and their Gitas in Srimat Bhagavata in Samskrit. Those mellifluous songs, 143 in number, divided into 14 decades, are published herein, in Telugu script, with word for word meaning and elucidation in Telugu by K. T. L. Narasimhacharya, a Godaa’s devotee, who with missionary zeal set for himself, the sacred but thankless task of publishing the devotional lyrics of Alwars in Telugu so that non-Tamil-knowing Andhra can have a sip of the nectar of devotion treasured in those lyrics. A scholarly introduction by Sri K. Venkateswara Rao ably brings out the essence, niceties, and suggestiveness of the lyrics. We wholeheartedly commend this work to all devotees.


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