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....
Though done over seven decades ago, this translation by M. Sen has a fresh breath of a classic. It is not a verse to verse translation, neither is it a literal one. It is a happy combination of judicious abridgement – so as to avoid repetitions – and a free rendering keeping the spirit of the original and yet without offending the idiom of English.
In his brief introduction, Sri Sen points out that in this Adi Kavya, the stress is more on humanity than on divinity of the Avatara Purusha, thereby bringing him nearer the common man. He rejects the theory that the epic is an allegory and upholds its claim to be a portrayal of the interaction between the gods’ men and the lesser orders of creation. In his footnotes he draws attention to elements of occult knowledge, geography, mythology, embedded in the narration. He also draws parallels with the Iliad and other epics of the west.
Rightly does the translator consider the Uttara Kanda as a later addition, though he gives a summarised version of the same. He writes, “The first parts of the Ramayana – specially the whole of the Ayodhya Kandam – is quite natural, poetic and full of human interests. The second part that begins with the Aranya Kandam ends with the Yuddha Kandam and the later interlude, the Uttara Kandam, is full of miracles, absurd fantasies, mysterious and supernatural elements.” Incidentally he refers to Jacobi’s view that the Ramayana is based on the Vedic story of Indra and Vritra (P 657). It is an ingenious approach but hardly convincing.
–M. P. PANDIT
Bhagavadgita: Translation and commentary: By Richard Gotshalk Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi – 110007. Price: Rs. 100.
This is a fruit of an extended study and teaching of this sacred text by the author for about twenty years. The translator does not align himself with any school of thought. He rightly opines that the “Gita has a natural dramatic place in a larger context of the epic poem.” “It’s vision of things is expressed in a dramatic dialogue.” It works to draw a reader up into its unfolding drama into the action and interplay of characters which such a reader encounters in the no man’s land created in poetry.” These statements are exemplified in the translator’s commentary of the text. A teacher he is, he gives an analysis of the subject presented. In the second chapter Krishna’s voicing of the Samkhya teaching in its relevance to Arjuna is articulated in three phases (1) Verses 11 - 25, (2) Verses 26 - 30 and (3) 31 - 36.
In his notes, he gives the derivations of important words like Buddhi, Parantapa, etc., their different meanings wherever possible and their relevancy in that context. Translation of the verses is literal.
He who can see activity, Karma in inactivity and inactivity in Karma is a man of Buddhi. He is yoked in disciplined action (Karma) whole. It may be noted here that he has not translated the word Buddhi here and kept it as it is, lest a translation of it may not convey all the significance of the original. Different meanings of the Buddhi with its derivation and parallels in Greek language are pointed out in the notes. In the commentary, Upanishadic passages are quoted in relevant places. An elaborated introduction contrasts the themes of the Mahabharata and Ramayana with Iliad and the Odyssey, discusses the date of the Bhagavad Gita, and gives a short summary of the Mahabharata story. A general index of themes and ideas at the end is of immense value to the readers.
We commend the author for his novel approach to the text (dramatic vision) and brilliant and critical commentary thereon.
Freedom, Progress and Society: Essays in honour of Professor K. Satchidananda Murty. Edited by R. Balasubramanian and Sibajiban Bhattacharya. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi – 110007. Price: Rs. 200.
Mankind is at the cross roads. Old values are fast disappearing, but they are not replaced by new ones. It looks as if the goal is to establish a value-free society. Man’s avaricious outlook has resulted in the total eclipse of moral and spiritual values. The vast resources are being used not to mitigate misery but to show power and pomp. As the modern man has become a Philistine, he pays no heed to the condign signals conveyed by the philosophers, past and present. The majority of the mankind fail to see the writing on the wall. The result is crisis in every walk of life.
The volume under review was brought out in honour of Prof. K. Satchidananda Murty, one of the foremost philosophers of modern India. Besides delivering lectures on philosophy in India and abroad, he held many prestigious positions before becoming Vice-Chairman of University Grants Commission in 1986. He was awarded “Padma Bhushan” in 1984. Prof. Murthy is the first Indian philosopher to receive the Dr. B. C. Roy National Award which is the highest available recognition in India for philosophy. He is a votary of general education.
The volume under review contains twenty-eight essays by scholars from the East and the West like V. P. Androssov, R. Balasubramanian, Sibajiban Bhattacharya, Paul Gregorios, Intisar-UI-Haque, Ren Jiyu, Ioanna Kucuradi, Sengaku Mayeda, Hajime Nakamura, Yuri Pavlov, Karan Singh, James H. Stone and Huang Xinchuan.
Some of the themes discussed in the volume are: the Hindu renaissance, man’s consciousness of death, philosophy of liberation, Marxist conception of personality, Buddhism and Chinese culture, social progress and its criteria, psychology of transcendence, structure of human action and social values and spiritual insight.
Technological progress and material prosperity no doubt created some problems, but the crisis which besets human society on all fronts is not entirely due to modern technology. The moral inadequacy and inability to understand essential and eternal values led to a consumeristic and conflict-ridden society (p. 365). Also, toomuch importance is being attached to nationalism which has spawned suspicion and animosity. It has the veneer of virtue, but breeds ill-will.
The facets of Indian philosophy are many and varied. These include religion and mysticism, logic and analysis, meditation and spiritual experience. Very often, each facet has been, and is, pursued as if it covers the whole of Indian philosophy. Also, different conceptions of philosophy have been evolved in India from time to time. Hence, the difficulty in answering the question, what is Indian philosophy?
Countries do aim at social progress. The economy of a country moves from simple and less complicated to a complex and more complicated stage. But, the character of social progress is different from that of economic progress. Social progress includes such indices as the level of integration and unfolding of structures and functions, their optimisation and effectiveness, the level of automisation of systems, their fidelity, information criterion and quality of systems of control. Social progress is intimately related to the level of organisation, preservation of the possibilities of evolution and ability to provide future development (p. 185).
The editors deserve plaudits for presenting essays having permanent value. The volume will be read with interest by all those trying to understand man’s present pathetic predicament.
DR. I. SATYA SUNDARAM
The Quest Celestial: (A rendering of Katopanishad, Kenopanishad and excerpts of Taittiriyopanishad into English verse): By A. Ramamurti. Springs of Wisdom Educators, Machilipatnam. Price: Rs. 20.
The Upanishads which posit the philosophy of universal immanence have influenced not only Indian thought but also Western philosophers. The intellectual who seeks the foundations of Indian culture invariably becomes a Vedantin for the Upanishads cast a spell on his scientific turn of mind that is not quite happy in the ritualism of the Hindu religion. It should not then surprise us that Max Mueller exclaimed about how more new editions of the Upanishads are published in India than books by Descartes and Spinoza in Europe. Yet another translation of Upanishads is always welcome.
Sri A. Ramamurti’s introduction rightly points out the need for nurturing the intuitive faculty by penance. Indeed, the Maitri Upanishad says that “by knowledge (vidya),by austerity (tapas)and by meditation (cinta) Brahman is apprehended”. The Katha, Kena and Taittiriya Upanishads are excellent manuals of vidya that help us take up tapas to achieve cinta. Sri Ramamurti has chosen to present a rendering of the Katha and the Kena with excerpts of Taittiriya in The Quest Celestial.
Each translation of the Upanishads ought to lead us to the originals and Sri Ramamurti is a dependable guide. The English translation is cast in a simple style and there are helpful footnotes which are educative. The Kathopanishad dramatically describes Nachiketas receiving the knowledge of after-life in the realm of Death and returning to the earth. Kena presents the superb image of Uma Haimavati as the knowledge that leads to Brahman. The Taittiriya, of course, is truly a scripture of educational technology that describes bow all education is a united endeavour of the teacher and the taught:
“May that pervasive and eternal Brahman shelter
Both of us, the preceptor and the disciple!
May He sumptuously feed us with gnosis and protect us!
“In relation to the acquisition of this lore,
So that we both together endeavour to fulfil this task!
The lore so gained may scintillate
In us ever resplendant. Let us not
Spite each other with malevolence!”
A thousand pities that this excellent handbook of Upanishadic wisdom should have been marred by innumerable printing mistakes.
DR. PREMA NANDAKUMAR
The ritualism nurtured in the temples dedicated to Siva in South India has a profound symbolical ground. Scholars opine that the Vedic Age had no image worship and that it was Buddhism that replaced Vedic sacrifices with temple worship. In South India, the Chola dynasty beginning with Vijayalaya assured the Siva temple culture an uninterrupted reign of glory for more than one thousand years. Temples big and small were built all over South India. Though the imperial Cholas are now but a historical memory, the temple culture enunciated by them has endured for all time.
The Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute has untiringly worked as a dynamic forum to explain the several aspects of Indian culture to the world of scholarship as well as to laymen. The seminar on “Siva Temples and Temple Rituals” held in 1983 evoked great interest among the literati. It is a happy thought on the part of the organisers to have brought out the proceedings of the seminar as a handy volume. Modestly priced, Siva Temple and Temple Rituals is required reading for all of us who are interested in Indian culture. For, here is a pointed introduction to several of the aspects in Siva temples which would help us with worship when we go there the next time.
Dr. Appukkuttan Nair speaks of the Siva temples in Kerala. These temples are yet another attempt to link man’s physical body to the transcendent power through structures built in the form of a human figure. The Vedicization of Saiva Ritual by Wayne Surdam refers to the original Dravidian ethos that had its own Saiva Agamic material and the twelfth century manual of Aghorasivacharya which is completely free from Vedic Mantras. However, today “the Agama texts available are so inter-penetrated with Vedic material that any coherent isolation of Vedic from Agamic Tantric material is impossible, except in the most general way.”
R. Subramaniam’s “Parartha Puja” is an elegant study of the day-long worship conducted in temples dedicated to Shiva. Other papers in the volume explain the symbolism behind familiar aspects in our religious life such as the Yagasala, the periodic festivals (Mahotsava and Pavitrotsava), the Vimana and the Gopura and the Chinna Melam. Chinna Melam is now extinct. It was once the Devadasi cult that was part of the temple rituals and had perhaps descended from the ancient Tamil virali, the danseuse, whom we meet in Sangham literature.
The most informative and research-oriented paper is from Dr. S. S. Janaki who studies the various aspects of the Dhvajasthambha. From whence this importance to the flag-pole in temple ritualism? Dr. Janaki points out that the Dhvajasthambha is the Karana Linga and when installed in the proper manner has several levels of symbolism to help the aspirant in his Sadhana.
“... these symbolisations are also corroborated by the rituals performed to it on the occasion of the annual Mahotsavas. All these details reveal that it is on par with the Siva Linga itself. It is also said to signify the three inter-related, eternal and real concepts enunciated in the Saiva Agamas – namely the Lord (pati), the bound individual (pasu) and the latter’s three bindings (pasas) of egoism (anava), actions (karma) and illusion (maya). A third level of symbolism is to the modality of the individual aspiring for liberation (moksha in Sanskrit, or vidu, vidutalai in Tamil), which in the Saiva Agamic Siddhanta School, is the destruction of his bindings (pasa) by the grace (anugraha) of the Lord.”
A timely publication when the younger generation wants to reach out to the foundations of Indian culture to regain a sense, of identity with the Indian ethos in a world of broken images.
DR. PREMA NANDAKUMAR
Well-known as the author of Wessex novels, Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) wrote also poetry all through his long writing career, though most of it was actually published in the twentieth century. Both in subject matter and the effect he seeks through his style. Hardy has little in common with the Pre-Raphaeliies and those close to them. In spirit, too, Hardy is a twentieth century poet. Hardy the poet is in no way different from Hardy, the novelist, for both are extensions of Hardy, the man, the pessimist incarnate.
Why did Thomas Hardy become a pessimist?
Dr. Azra Begum, a poetess in her own right, attempts to answer the question in her study Exploration of Reality: The Poetry of Thomas Hardy which forms a part of her doctoral dissertation for Ph. D. Degree.
It is believed that a knowledge of the writer’s life is essential for a better understanding of his works. Hence Dr. Azra Begum very systematically delves into all the relevant and significant details in the life of Thomas Hardy, like his premature birth which led to his psychic impotence; his first love affair and its tragic end involving five lives which led to his feeling of guilt that became associated with love; the consciousness of having no child which led to the fear that the family line was going to be extinct to mention only a few – in order to determine how and why Thomas Hardy became what he was, and not otherwise. By examining Hardy’s views on man, love, nature and immanent will as revealed through his poems, she unravels to us how these psychological forces have contributed to the formation of Hardy’s ego and directed his way to responding to the realities around him.
All the major points taken for discussion are illustrated with quotes from Hardy’s poems. Hardy is shown as a serious artist who could not avoid philosophical speculations. Dr. Azra Begum’s success in showing how “the man who suffers” and “the artist who creates” are inextricably bound up together is really commendable.
In the second part of the book Dr. Azra Begum has made a meticulous selection of 42 poems from Hardy. Every poem is sandwiched between a “to-the-point” introduction and relevant footnotes. The work is enriched by a Bibliography. Teachers and students of literature will find this book to be of immense use to them.
Lessons of Life: By Samarendranath Banerjee. Writers Workshop, Lake Gardens, Calcutta - 45. Price: Rs. 60.
This book, admittedly a volume of autobiographical reminisceness contains the life story of Mr. Samarendranath Banerjee, who retired as a Major in the Indian Army (with many exciting exploits in the field) and later took to the tea Industry, and trying out various innovations in the line, successfully progressed to the highest rank, as the introduction tells us. He was also a good footballer and sportsman, and represented Bengal in Hockey in 1951 in the National Championship. This is about his personalia.
The author records, in an engaging style and effortless ease, the numerous events of his life with a candour and frankness that are born of sincerity and forthrightness. Coming from an aristocratic family of Bengal, the author pictures to the readers the old-world values and their flavour cherished by the gentle folks of those days, and the sustained solicitude for maintaining those values by persons in such familial dispensations and grounds. As the purport of the book is autobiographical, naturally the subjective element is predominant but not obtrusively so. The narration in vivid detail (at times very lurid and excruciating) of the events immediately after the unfortunate partition of our country in 1947, the hapless exodus of people – men, women and children in distressing and humiliating circumstances – from either side of the cleft country, the horrendous holocaust in the wake of this forced partition, the de-humanizing situations encountered (but not wholly and truthfully recorded and reported even by the Press of those times) by the migrating hordes of Hindus and Muslims, leaving their all in the land of their birth, breeding and living – trekking their weary and interminable way to the other side where seemingly safety and security, sustenance and station, are assured – brings before our mind’s eye the nightmarish experiences undergone by those vicarious victims of a political expedient, for no fault of theirs.
Major Banerjee recalls certain incidents in which he had to cast off the rigid and rigorous rules and regulations of the Army Code and Conduct, if only to rescue the restrained young women from the constraining and cruel clutches of marauders out to outrage and trade on them. The human element in him excelled the unbending disciplinarian army attitude in such harrowing situations and Major Banerjee comes out in better light for what he had so tactfully and humanely done to offer succour to such weak victims, affording them confidence and security from the enemies. A significant fact projected by Major Banerjee relates to the harsher treatment of Hindu women at the hands of the Pakistani hoodlums compared to that meted out by their counterparts to Muslim women – and numerically also, the comparison holds. It is unfortunate and shameful for the prestige of any country.
This book, evidently a resume of the private life of an Army Major in his retirement, has a public face also in that it portrays the peculiar and pitiable circumstances in which the people in the partitioned areas found themselves suddenly, having had to leave their homes and hearths, their possessions and property, their friends who had overnight turned foes) and feelings – once and for all, and make their tiresome trek into the unknown land on the other side – an experience no decent human being ever wants to repeat, a recrudesence God should never will. Hence the relevance of the book and the prestigious imprimatur of the Writers Workshop.
POTHUKUCHI SURYANARAYANA MURTY
The Journal of Oriental Research, Madras. Vols. 47-55: 1977-86. Edited by Dr. S. S. Janaki. Published by the Kuppuswamy Sastri Research Institute, Madras - 4. Price: Rs. 80.
We highly compliment Dr. S. S. Janaki for having revived the publication of this journal after a long lapse. This bumper number is published as a Golden Jubilee Special Issue. Dainty dishes catering to the tastes of scholars of Nyaya, Mimamsa, Advaita, Visishtadvaita, Astrology and Dramaturgy are served here.
Dr. V. Varadachary in his article “Tamori” and “Timivari” argues that those two names refer to two different scholars of different systems of philosophy. Dr. Francis in his paper “Dharma Matra Karma” offers his own interpretation of Jaimini Sutra, wherein he reverses the Purvapaksha and Siddhanta adapted by Sabara in his Bhashya. Then follow two Sanskrit contributions, one by Dr. K. Balasubrahmanyam and the other by Sri Tangaswamy. The former illustrates how Jaiminiya Nyayas are applicable to other systems of thought also including Kavyas. The latter counters the allegations that Sankara was a crypto Buddhist. These two are summarised in English.
Then follow three papers on Ramanuja’s philosophy. Dr. Tirumala gives a clear exposition of mysticism in Ramanuja’s philosophy, quoting from Dravida Prabandhams also, Ramanuja was correct in interpreting the word “Svarga” as an equivalent to Moksha, Dr. Tiruvenkata Nathan contends. While Bhoga and Apavarga are the fruits of the 32 Vidyas enumerated in the Upanishads according to Sri Ramanuja, destruction of sins, prosperity and gradual liberation are the fruits, according to Sankara, Dr. Sampat points out. The Dramatic Aesthetics of Sri Aurobindo by Dr. Prema Nandakumar, correlating overmind or overhead aesthetics of Aurobindo and Anandavardhana’s Dhvani, is highly illuminating.
Dr. S. S. Janaki’s dissertation “Bhana” forming part of her Doctoral thesis is a valuable addition to studies on Indian Dramaturgy. Reviews of books and an index to the Journal of Oriental Research, Vols. I-XL, authorwise and subjectwise, are of immense value for research students. How we wish all libraries preserve these journals.
B. KUTUMBA RAO
The Man who became a God: By Achyut Ghouse. Writers’ Workshop, Lake Gardens, Calcutta - 45. Price: Rs. 20.
The story of prince Siddhartha giving up his royal life and taking to that of a monk, reads always of the most inspiring spiritual experience which could be had by striving for and gaining Nirvana for the soul. The Buddha has been influencing generations of men and women of the high sense of compassion and sacrifice which the human mind is capable of.
Needless, therefore, that any book that deals with episodes of the awakening the Buddha had after severe penances, cannot but evoke much interest in the reader. But when added to it, we get from original Pali texts highlighted some of the events of the memorable life of the Great One, natural for us to be thankful to the author for the effort. This addition to the many existing literature on the Buddha must be a source of satisfaction to all. The format and get-up are excellent. Only careful proof-reading could have been more useful for eliminating the mistakes in plenty.
Contemporary Indian Short Stories: Series III. Sahitya Akademi, Rabindra Bhavan, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 30.
Sahitya Akademi has been publishing collections of contemporary Indian short-stories and this is the third and the latest in the series. This volume has in it eighteen snort-stories, including one in English, which rightly takes its place among Indian languages. Since there can rarely be one who knows all the eighteen languages and since English has come to be accepted not only as a window on the world but also as a link language and a window on the other Indian language literatures, the Akademi’s collections bring these other language stories to an extensively wide readership.
There are in this volume stories of childhood, adolescence, youth, middle age and old age. Here is human life not only in all its seasons but also in its impulses and emotions. That the Indian short-story is getting more and more complex, reflecting the complexity of life itself, is borne out by the stories. The Assamese “Jasmine Bower” is easily the best in the volume and not merely alphabetically does it take the pride of place as the first. “Thy Will Be Done” is a touching story and so is “The Patch” with a fable delicately embedded in it. “The Flunkey” is a picture of feckless dadagiri. “Some Poses and Some Snaps” is an attempt at freezing fleeting glimpses into revealing pictures. “The Accompanist” is the story of a sensibility as delicate as music.
A word on the “Aglicisation.” There is no ideal and all-accounting for theory of translation notwithstanding the efforts even of Sahitya Akademi. The standard of the translations, judged by the Indianness of their English, is of a really satisfying quality. This is a volume which must be read by all lovers of short-story.
DR. V. V. B. RAMA RAO
Once There Was: By Chandrahas Ray and Lila Ray. Writers’ Workshop, Lake Gardens, Calcutta-700 045. Price: Rs. 20.
This book containing forty-seven verses written in a lighter vein is meant for children. Lila Ray, an established writer in English, collaborates with her grandson to compose these delightful verses for the school-going children in India. Considering the paucity of good children’s literature in India, the book is doubly welcome.
DR. G. SRIRAMA MURTY
For any lay reader with some aesthetic outlook, this enchiridion supplies sound guidelines as aids to further connoisseurship. The book is packed with nine sections dealing with several aspects of Kakatiya sculpture. The illustrations, 70 in number, are a treat in visual re-presentation. Regarding narration, one feels the need of observing some principles of methodology. The sections on Figurative Sculpture and Decorative Art are fine expositions. Of course, it is followed by Folk Art – which has great seminal significance, when dealing with Art History. The illustration No. 3 described as a pedestal of decorative pillar, may be identified as a three-dimensioned Sri Chakra - (Meru Prasthara).
The reader may feel some discomfort and unpleasantness at the use of the word Faux pas at p. 24, when referring to the incident of the great seer Parasara and Yojanagandhi (Satyavati). Seer Parasara, a descendant of Bhagavan Vasishta knew the mysterious process of palimgenesis. Death is the mysterious entrance gateway to life; and life is the mysterious exit gateway to death. The unmanifest state of Jiva between death and life (birth) is always a mystery. Parasara knew about this. He anticipated the advent of the great being Bhagavan Krishnadvaipayana (Vyasa) and he came to meet Satyavati to fulfill the course of destiny. There is no concupiscent behaviour at all. Myths are verbal iconographs. Their symbolism and spiritual meaning have to be read in them. Nothing else need to be read into them. The monograph ought to have made some references to Sanskrit texts from Sulbasutras, Agnipurana, Sukranitisara, Vishnu Dharmothara and other texts on Iconography and Iconometry. This is a desideratum. Even now the lay readers find in this handbook precious information.
YEN. YES. KAY.
Towards Performances: By Chummar Chundal. Published by the author. Distributors: Kerala Folklore Academy, Trivandrum.
This is a fine study in Anthropology. Narration in this book, deals with several aspects of Folklore lives of the Keralites. In this package of information the reader is assured of pleasant study ventures. There are six chapters. The sixth contains five schedules. All these contents are interspersed with illustrations. The author is a professor, a research scholar, who did intensive field work, made case studies and a dancer. He was given the Indira Gandhi Award for Tribal Culture. His presentation of the facts are exhaustive, analytical, fascinating, exciting and expository. The terpsichorean art of the tribals of Vynaud district of the Bhargava Kshetra has been narrated with precision with a verve in narrative and aesthetic style. May he also write such informative monographs about the tribals of the Andaman group of islands and those of Lakshadvipa.
YEN. YES. KAY.
Sri Gangeswaranand International Trust; under the worthy guidance of Swami Gangeswaranandji Maharaj Udasin, devoted to the publication of Vedas and Vedic literature and propagation of Vedic culture, has done signal service to all students of Upanishadic philosophy, by unearthing this commentary and bringing it to limelight in print for the first time.
The editor, Dr. Gautam Patel, a close disciple of Sri Swamiji and a Professor of Samskrit, who has already published many research papers and edited “Kumarasambhava” with Vallabhadeva’s commentary for the first time, with all modern critical apparatus, has added another feather to his cap, by editing this also, after collating two manuscripts and working upon this project for seven years.
This commentary has some unique features. Sri Sayanacharya’s exposition of any subject and his literacy style are very lucid and crystal clear. He follows Sri Sankara in all respects. But his apt illustrations bring home the import of a passage direct to the reader’s heart. Different derivations are given to one and the same word. He quotes profusely from many works in Sanskrit literature. Inclusion of Bharatitirtha’s Nyayamala verses that bring about the essence of the Adhikarana of Brahma Sutras in relevant places, with his lucid commentary thereon, crowns all these. Thus, this edition is a golden guide to an easy understanding of the Upanishat.
B. KUTUMBA RAO
Telungu Ilakkiya Varalaaru (A History of Telugu Literature): By Dr. T. S. Gid Prakash and P. Ananda Kumar. Paarthipan Padhippakam, 12, Commanding Officer Lane II, West Masi Street, Madurai-625001. Price: Rs. 20.
At long last, a full-fledged history of Telugu literature in Tamil. Tamil and Telugu have a common ancestor in their Dravidian past. They have had good neighbourly relationship in literature for more than eight hundred years. And yet, it is a pity that no cogent and detailed account of Telugu literature is available for the Tamil reader. Dr. Giri Prakash and Sri Ananda Kumar have done well to produce this very readable and racy volume that is sure to please the common reader and be of considerable help to the scholar-researcher in comparative literature.
The brief introduction to the triple-branched language (Rayalaseema, Telangana and Coastal Andhra) points out that Telugu has had an independent existence as early as the first century A. D., because of the Telugu words found in Hala’s Gatha Saptasati and the references to “Vadugu” in Sangham poetry. Telugu literature began with Nannayya (11th century) and reached its zenith during the age of Krishnadeva Raya. The modern phase begins with Gurazada Appa Rao and Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu. It is an altogether inspiring roll call of great writers who have enriched all branches of literature – poetry, drama, fiction, and belles lettres.
Of particular interest to the Tamil student is the chapter on “Telugu literature of the Southern School.” When the Eastern Chalukya King Raja Raja Narendra (11th century) married the Chola princess, Ammanga Devi, several Tamil families from the Kaveri delta emigrated to the banks of Godavari, and came to be known as “Arama Dravidas.” Andhra cultural association with the Tamils blossomed in beautiful colours during the period of Nayaks who held suzerainty over Madurai, Tiruchi, Thanjavur and Puducottah. Gopanna’s (14th century) Sindumati Vilasamu has the pride of place in this literature. Gopanna was a disciple of the great Vaishnava Acharya, Vedanta Desika of Srirangam.
Vijaya Raghunadha Nayak (17th centurv) of Thanjavur was himself an author who introduced the quasi-historical form Nayaka Abhyudayamu. The scholars in his court included Ramabhadramha. Madhuravani, Chemakura Venkata Kavi and Krishnadhvari. The legendary Pasupuleti Rangajamma, brought fame to the court through her widely acclaimed Mannarudasa Vilasamu and Usha Parinayamu. Tamil culture and language add a piquant beauty to these Telugu classics.
The authors of this history have given a comfortable spread of quotations which add to the value of their critical pronouncements. Having no axes to grind, the book takes us to all the directions in the “new” poetry. The Digambara decade (1956-1966) inspired by the Naxalites of Srikakulam is given a plentiful niche with Nagnamuni’s “Thirst” spitting fire on the statues of political leaders. “The drains carrying depravity, corruption and lust have now become space-filling statue’s.” The volume concludes with an excellent chapter on the various grammatical works like Appakaveeyamu and Andhra Kaumudi which have helped to give a firm base to a literature marked by some of the finest flights of poetic imagination.
DR. PREMA NANDAKUMAR
Srimad Valmiki Ramayana Sundarakandamu with Subodhini commentary in Telugu: By Mylavarapu Subrahmanyam and B. Kameswara Rao. 5 vols. For copies: B. Kameswara Rao, Kamarajupeta (Via) Rajahmundry. Price: Vols. 1 and 2, Rs 20 each, Vols. 3 and 4, Rs. 16 each and vol. 5, Rs. 20.
This edition of Sundarakandam, in view of some unique features, far excels all other available Telugu editions. Word in each Sloka are split up, word to word Telugu meaning is given. Anvaya is shown and import of each Sloka is explained. Under the head “special commentary,” different interpretations, found in the Sanskrit commentaries Tilaka, Govindarajiyam, Siromani, and Tanisloki, are gathered together. Telugu commentary “Mandaramu” and interpretations of Sribhashyam Appalacharyulu a living popular exponent of Ramayanam are not left out. Procedures of Parayanam according to Smarta, Vaishnava and Madhwa traditions are indicated in detail. These volumes are a welcome addition on the subject. The authors deserve compliments for the excellent service they have rendered.
B. KUTUMBA RAO
Andhra Jillala Gramanaamamulu: By Dr. V. Vijayadat. For copies: Author, Anandapet, Vizianagaram - 531 202.
This is a work on Toponymy, which enlightens us as to some historical facts about places and sometimes social and political conditions of particular times. This work under review is a study of the villages in the districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari, Krishna, Prakasam, Guntur and Nellore. Each district with its longitude and latitudinal degrees is located, borders and limits of that district are indicated, number of villages in each district according to statistical reports is given. Geographical conditions, findings of archaeologists if any, names of the kings that ruled over them, references found in literature and inscriptions, changes in names if any – all these are recorded here. Derivations of names are not left out, e.g., Bhattiprolu, “Original name Pratipaalanapuram; Bhatti, brother of King Vikramarka, was born here according to Aitihya. When under rule of Vishnuvardhana it was called Vardhanesvaram.”
We cannot but praise the author for his success in his strenuous and painstaking research, and its plan. Several charts are there to give a clear idea of the subject in question. Names indicative of Buddhist religion, of rivers in Andhra are given in separate indexes. All good libraries must have this book on their shelves.
B. K. SASTRY