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....
ME AND MY TIMES: By C. Narasimham. Distributors: Padma Corporation. 5-9-19/1, Opposite Govt. Secretariat. Hyderabad - 22, Price. Rs. 100.
Autobiographies and reminiscences of eminent people are not common in India. Gandhiji’s and Nehru’s stand apart as chronicles of the struggles during the decades of the liberty movement which ultimately brought the country to realise the worth and stuff of which those leaders were made of. Lessons no doubt of a superior kind from Gandhiji’s “Experiments with Truth” lifted the minds of readers. Nehru’s individuality and nobility of unparalleled services to humanity proved of original calibre and value. Others have also attempted recording recollections of their lives and the events of stirring interest in the public life of this country. But no one like the present author much less widely known have given readers to ponder over the events which occurred in the life of an ordinary officer of the Government could also wean away to benefit them by the facts of an earnest career in Government service rising from modest position to normal higher stages by dint of hard work and retention of integrity amidst politicians and publicists often in the grip of selfishness and demeaning ambitions.
C. Narasimham started his life as a gazetted officer and did service as commissioner of municipalities which led him to attract attention of higher authorities in due course by nothing else than sheer faith in duty and desire to justify his office. Recognition came to him from many chief ministers and men in superior authority. The many contacts he had with men on top such as Rajaji, Prakasam, C. Subrahmanyam and others who invariably noticed his devotion to work of any kind he was called upon to do in Government service. Their appreciation and recognition alone took him up from position to position in the post-Independence India. Everywhere he showed by his sense of strict adherence to principles that he could not be easily led into deviation through improper methods of servility and recommendations. If Rajaji complimented him openly in the midst of other officers for his probity and work, nothing more was needed for him afterwards to be confident of his claim; to have won the very best of rewards.
The bulkiness of the autobiography with more of details of events and disappointments and difficulties that naturally confront any officer in the discharge of his duties might occasionally prove of dragging interest. Still some of the insights and understandings that the author has shown while maintaining an even tenor of mood and behaviour in dire circumstances where others could have only quailed or collapsed in despair or disgust, take us to view the author to be a man of extraordinary firmness of will and poise of mind.
The writing and style evince a capacity to retain the reader’s un-diverted attention. Especially the pages where he has summarised Rajaji’s speech at a flower show in Madras makes us feel how well his taste and culture helped him to share with others what he thought to be of the highest value to the edifications and enrichment of human life. For Rajaji not only has rendered us thankful to him for his philosophy of the flower but the sheer poetry of it (P. 181, 182).
The printing and illustrations inside have added to the value of the book.
Every situation in life, says the author, has two factors: the prevailing circumstances and the human response. To a great extent science and technology have acquired control over the circumstances. But there has been no control over the human element. It is pretty much the same as in primitive times. All that modern education and the growth of Western culture has done is a certain cosmetic change. A change in this direction, to be true and effective, has to come from within. Dr. Badwe pleads for a restoration of the values of Indian Philosophy, particularly the Advaita Vedanta, so that man can become master of the situation.
He explains how Vedanta insists upon unity of truth and teaches men to be tolerant. It inculcates virtues of selflessness, dedication, love, harmony – all of which are sadly lacking at present. He also feels that the institution of sankirtanshould be revived and made an effective means for mass education. The earnestness of the author is unquestioned; the question is whether Shankara Advaita, is the answer or a broader, affirmative spirituality which is holistic in character. It is evident that the spirituality that is required is one that can march with science, hand in hand, in exploring the truth of Matter, annam brahma, as part of the larger quest of the perfection of man and the world.
M. P. PANDIT
Published in 1983, this is the first of the six projected volumes containing the English translation of the text of Bhagavatam, summary in the light of the commentary of Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarty, and annotation by Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakur of the Gaudiya Math. This volume covers Cantoes 1-3. It is prefaced with an elaborate introduction of 80 pages in which some others who have brought out their renderings of the Bhagavatamcome in for violent criticism. Bhakti Vedanta Swami of the Harekrishna Movement, Sri N. Raghunathan known for his penchant for perfection, Swami Tapasyananda of Sri Ramakrishna Muth whose four volume-publication has won kudos from the discerning world of scholars – all of them have been roundly castigated for various faults of omission and commission. The present author takes exception to anyone lowering the “transcendent” love of the Lord in terms of physical emotions.
He makes it clear that his rendering follows the Achintya-Bheda-Abheda approach. Bhakti is the paramount Rasa according to the author. Male and female in this scripture are not what they mean in this phenomenal world. These are decided opinions and any departure is highly objectionable.
M. P. PANDIT
This work gives an analytical, comparative and critical information in full regarding the nature of mind in all its aspects and also knowledge with all its varieties, as found expounded in the Upanishads, and Darsanas, viz., Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Saamkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa and Sankara’s Advaita. Views of modern psychologists are also referred to either for comparison or for refutation. A chapter devoted for a comparative study and estimate of Indian concept of mind in the light of Western concept is the main and valuable contribution to the psycho-philosophical thought of modem times. Theories propounded by G. Ryle and Russell in main are examined and fallacies therein are clearly pointed out.
Mind according to Indian concept, cannot be identified with self. According to Western thinkers, the word “Mind” means usually “both the subject of consciousness and also the psychical states and the processes of consciousness which manifest self.” This Western concept involves in itself many draws, the author points out. She remarks as follows: “The trouble with Western thinkers is that not only do they view mind and matter as disjunctively capable of mutual exclusiveness, but they imagine that these alternatives alone exhaust the field. Until this attitude is modified and the recognition of self over and above matter is made, there can be no satisfactory solution to the problem.” Quotations from the works of Tyrrel, Gestalt and H.H. Price, that contain ideas parallel to those of Sankara, deserve to be noted. Parallels between the Yoga concept and modem psychologists findings are also pointed out. To those who, for any reason, cannot wade through the Darsana literature in Samskrit and who have no idea of Western thoughts also on this subject, this work provides illuminating study. Quotations in Samskrit language in original instead of translations thereof, and substantiation of the statements that the word “Manas” originally meant measuring and that the concept of the word Atman has three components “an”, “at,” and “va” need substantiation and clarification.
B. KUTUMBA RAO
TALKS WITH SRI AUROBINDO: By Nirodbaran. Sri Aurobindo Book Distribution Agency, Pondicherry. Price: Rs. 65.
One of the most reliable diarists in the Aurobindonian circle, Nirodbaran has recorded the Master’s conversations with his earnest disciples in detail. Laced with social wisdom, packed with thought-provoking statements, punctuated by felicitous literary criticism and interwoven with commentary on national and world affairs, Sri Aurobindo’s talks explode with delight now and then. There is divine irreverence here, for the Anandamaya consciousness is seen in full play. At times single sentences sing through the air, arrow-like:
“Most of the Tamilians have a straight nose, very few have a flat nose.”
“I never committed the crime of propaganda in my life.”
As the talks printed in this volume belong to 1939-1940, the Second World War is a familiar subject and Hitler a compelling if malevolent presence. Sri Aurobindo is uncompromising in his criticism of Hitler and finds Nazi Germany emptied of civilisation: “What reigns there is barbarism supported by science – science meaning physical science. And Hitler has destroyed human civilisation wherever he has gone – as in Poland.”
Nirodbaran’s recordations are of special importance to the spiritual Sadhak for Sri Aurobindo’s brief explanations on the different states of the mind and the path of Poorna Yoga have a crystalline clarity about them:
“If you simply withdraw without throwing away the seeds of attachment and not replace the ordinary, by the spiritual consciousness, the problem remains unsolved. If you permit the seeds to remain, they may keep quiescent for a time but as soon as circumstances present themselves they may come up. Withdrawal may lead to a neutral state but that is not our Yoga. We want spiritual dynamism as the source of action.”
Dr. PREMA NANDAKUMAR
THE ALIEN INSIDERS: By P. Lal. Calcutta: Writers Workshop. Price: Rs. 100.
This is a collection of some of Professor, P. Lal’s book reviews and notes written over the last thirty-five years or so. Though the contents are largely journalistic and occasional, the collection has its value and importance. First of all, it provides useful record of Professor Lars services to the cause of letters. It shows not only his continuous engagement with the Indian literary scene but his commitment to certain noteworthy values and principles.
The book also provides biographical and ground information which both the curious and the serious can use. For instance, we learn about the Writers Workshop itself –how it began, who were its founding members, what were its aims and achievements. Thus, we find out that Anita Desai and Sasthi Brata were among its original founders.
The collection contains, in addition, commentaries on literary and cultural events which, though forgotten, are of interest and relevance even today. These include the author’s reactions to the banning of Aubery Menen’s controversial book, Rama Retold, (see “Hindu Heresy Hunting,” 210-214), and to “Billy Graham in India” (220-222).
More important, however, are the values that the reviews and notes embody. I would sum these up as sympathy, common sense, balance, fairness, fearlessness, and wit. These are evident in almost every review in the collection and there is a remarkable consistency in their application over the nearly four decades that the book covers. There are several reviews and prefaces encouraging and appreciating younger and less-talented writers in the collection.
In contrast to the merit of the contents, the production and editing of the book are disappointing. The arrangement of the pieces is neither chronological nor thematic. The same author is often covered in two different places. Some of the essays are dated, while others are not. It is customary in such anthologies to give the previous publication details of the contents, but these are not supplied here.
Finally, the mistakes in the book are embarrassingly numerous. How a person of Professor Lal’s stature, who has been the publisher of over 800 books, could allow such mistakes is puzzling to me. In attention to minor details makes the book appear unprofessional and hasty. I feel sorry because most of these draws could have been corrected rather easily with some careful editing.
Dr. MAKARAND PARANJAPE
POEMS: Vineet Gupta, Writers Workshop, Calcutta-45. Price: Rs. 80.
Death is a ubiquitous presence in Vineet Gupta’s verse. Vineet died in 1985 in a car accident. He was just twenty-five and the volume on hand is a posthumous publication. Did this early end cast its shadow on his creative imagination? When “To a Cancer Patient” ends with the unexpected but perfectly understandable statement, “life is sweetest in the last moments”, we know we are in the presence of an unusual talent. Vineet’s touch is light, humorous, electrically free whether it is the description of a love letter or a walk on the beach or a metaphorical presentation of the artist’s frustration. But the sudden take-off in the concluding lines never fails to achieve a stoppage of breath. The tragic irony of “I Was”:
“I had become
from as is
to oh! ‘I was’.”
The dark laughter in “Age Difference”:
“feel sad for me
you wretched world
but not for him
fourteen days are nothing,
nothing my son,
And the quick snap-up of a sick psyche:
“the next hour
a case of suicide”.
What a tragedy that this new spring of buoyancy, this pen that could turn out beautiful remembered lines has been silenced. Vineet is right. Death is not beautiful.
DR. PREMA NANDAKUMAR
GURUPRIYA (Brahmasutra Nivriti); By H. H. Jagadguru Jayendra Saraswati Swami, Head of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha.
Coming from the pen of H. H. Sri Swamiji, this Nivriti or an authentic exposition of Brahmasutras according to Sri Sankara, is a boon to all students of Advaita Philosophy. It presents in simple Sanskrit the Vishaya (subject for discussion) doubts, objection, views, and final conclusion arriving at after countering those views. Meanings of all Sutras are given. Here and there some new points are also incorporated as illustrations to explain some statements. In short, this is Brahmasutra Sankara Bhashya made easy. The name of the Nivriti is very significant. The get-up and the printing are exemplary.
B. KUTUMBA RAO
SAMSKRIT AND TELUGU
SRIKALA PRAKASAM (LALITHA SAHASRANAMA STOTRAM, with a Telugu translation of the text and commentary): By Mukkavalli Annappa Dikshitulu, Gautami Vidya Peetham, Rajamahendravaram-533 101. (Price not mentioned).
This Stotra under review is the pick of the basket. Free from iterations, it is full of poetic charms, and is replete with references to Mimaamsa, Nyaaya, Panini’s Sutras, Prosody, Brahmasutras, works on mantra sastras and Puranas. A versatile scholar alone can comprehend this in full. We find such a savant in this translator.
Upto now, no one has attempted a Telugu translation of this commentary including its introductory part full of some intricate technicalities. This credit goes to the translator. There is a second praiseworthy feature. The translator explains all the nyaayas and grammatical rules etc., that are referred to herein. Word for word meanings of the verses are given. This is not a mere translation. It contains the original verses of the Stotram and also the commentary thereon in Sanskrit.
But the first two hundred verses alone are covered by this volume. Even so this is indispensable for all seekers after Srividayaa, who will be highly grateful to the translator and the publishers. We eagerly await the publication of the remaining part also.
B. K. SASTRI
BRAHMARSHI GURUDATTA SRI SRI SRI NARAYANASWAMIVARI CHARITRAMU AND PARAMAHAMSA PRADEEPIKA: By G. Venkatalakshmi Narasimha Murthy and Abbaraju Srinivasa Murthy, Published by Palakaluri Sivarao. Old Guntur. Price: not mentioned
This is a biography of Brahmarshi Narayanaswami, a spiritual light. He hailed from Abbur an ideal village near Sattenapalli Born into a family of Nayibrahmins. Narayanaswami gradually emerged as a Yogi thanks to parental encouragement and divine initiations. He came under the spell of another Yogi Yoganandaswami renowned for his miraculous power and knowledge (Here a concise life story of Yogananda also is given) attained spiritual masterhood and is serving men and women around him by alleviating their misery, building temples and choultries and giving spiritual discourses. The later part of the book contains a philosophical discourse Paramahamsa pradeepika consisting of few accepted precepts of Yoga.
DR. DHARA RAMANADHA SASTRY
ANDHRA PITAMAHA MADAPATI HANUMANTHA RAO JEEVITA CHARITRA: By D. Ramalingam, Krishnadevaraya
Andhra Bhasha Nilayam, Sultan Bazaar, Hyderabad–1. Price: Rs. 10.
Madapati Hanumantha Rao, one of the makers of modern Andhra, was a multifaceted personality. He served the cause of Telugu renaissance in various capacities. He was a lawyer of repute, social worker, nationalist, patriot, harbinger of library movement, worker in the fields of social reform, women’s education and the like. He was a writer, historian and multi-linguist in his own right. He was a recipient of Padmabhushanand chairman of the A.P. Legislative Council. Andhras refer to him as ‘Andhra Pitamaha’ with reverence and gratitude.
The author in this impassioned biography brings out the various facets of Madapati’s personality in simple and chaste Telugu prose with a sense of involvement and admiration for his hero.
DR. DHARA RAMANADHA SASTRY
In the varied lore on Sri Sadguru Tyagaraja, this book earns a unique place. It is a devotee’s compilation. The texts of the selected songs, their Talas, and the place of the Raga in the standardised table of Venkatamakhi (Janaka ragas) are first cited. Then follows the commentary by the author as he understood the songs. He has also referred to the previous commentaries on the songs. The mellifluous dictional structure of the text of every song selected in the repertoire is hinted at. Mythological references are also given.
Raga is a melodic and euphonic entity sung or played out (on a musical instrument) with modulated tonal inflexions. It has a Bhava for its import. When this is set to a text of a song, which has also a Bhava to convey, the rendering produces the Rasa. This is an aesthetic accomplishment. Every singer has to bear in mind these factors while singing the song. The reading of this book is a must to every musician in the making.
EN. Es. KE.
SRIMAT PRATAPAGIRI MAHATMYAMU Lingamurty. Price. Rs. 18. By Kapilavayi
This work purports to be a historical poem, dealing with interesting events and famous personages belonging to the neighbourhood of Pratapagiri, a hill-fort in Telangana, A.P. There is naturally no unity of theme. Myth, legend, folklore and history all have gone into the making of the poem.
It is written in the traditional classical form of a Sthalapurana (local myth and legend). The language is classical as well as the metres employed. The poet seems to be a master of metrical forms and has ably executed many ingenious and tricky metres as a tour de force to the wonder and admiration of sympathetic readers.
The author with his stance of hard bound tradition, and unyielding classicism, could have avoided deliberate violations of Telugu Sandhi-rules which are observed even in the speech of illiterates. On the whole it is a worthy attempt to write poetic history in an age of prosaic poetry.
BHUVANAMOHINI VILASAMU: By Pengaluri Venkatadri edited by Kapilavayi Lingamurthy. Price. Rs. 12.
This is the first edition of the poem. There is a learned introduction by the editor on descriptive passages in Indian poetry, which, however edifying, does not bear on the poem.
The poem is written in the genuine Telugu folkmetre, Dwipada (couplets) and the language is simple and devoid of long Sanskrit compounds. The theme is love with the concomitant pangs of separation and of course happy reunion in the end. The dominant sentiment (Rasa) is erotic. We have here gods, devils, miracles, reincarnations and all other things which go with this genre of poetry. The poem would be quite satisfying to readers who like such poems.