REVIEWS

 

Radhakrishnan: Profile of a Universalist: By Ishwar C. Harris. Minerva Associates P. Ltd., 7-B, Lake Place, Calcutta-29. Price: Rs. 100.

 

            This is a substantial and serious study of the great philosopher, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, by a student who was educated in Lucknow University and later became a full-fledged professor in Woorster College, Ohio. It is a work of one whose capacities, as evident in this volume, relate to penetrative scrutiny and clear analytical exposition of the unique contribution of Dr. Radhakrishnan to Religious Universalism. Dr. Radhakrishnan was a professional philosopher but with a wide-ranging philosophy that projected the “religion of the spirit” as the only panacea to a world passing through a crisis of the human spirit.

 

            Truly, Radhakrishnan’s life shaped itself more and more in the belief that the Supreme Reality, which is in every human being, is the centre for the development of the concept of univers­ality which would draw together the whole world in a common bond of brotherhood. When he set out this view of a “religion of the spirit”, he was not making any departure from Indian traditional thought as, according to the philosopher, the seeds of universalism are visible in the Perennial Philosophy of India. In all his major writings we can perceive a running basical thesis of religious universalism.

 

            Enormous pains have been taken by the author of this book to deal with Radhakrishnan’s background, approach, development, vision, challenges and final establishment of the “religion of the spirit” towards which the future of humanity will have to move and obtain its salvation. The introduction places before the reader the sum total of what is underlying in the concept of universalism in religion.

 

            Next follow two chapters giving us how Radhakrishnan makes his approach to universalism which is guided no doubt by his discernment of the meaning and purpose of history. His approach is in a way led by a vigorous search for an ideal society based on religious principles. Deep insight into the major religions of the world provides him with a steady faith in a universal religion which will be sustaining unity of the entire humanity to face the ills to which the world may be subjected.

 

            Treating the background of the philosopher, the author would trace his coming under the influence of two of our eminent thinkers; Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore. While dwelling on their thoughts, the author spares no pains to show how much both of them were delivering the almost same message for a universalistic religion. If Swami Vivekananda called it “eternal religion,” Tagore spoke of it as “Religion of Man.” Radhakrishnan even there slightly advanced in making “Religion of the spirit” comprehend a neutral religion whose neutrality rests in its universal claim, so much so, he is able to discover the same principle in other religions such as Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.

 

            In the sixth chapter there is a highly valuable critical estimate of Radhakrishnan’s thought, when explanations and sound answers are provided to the many attacks upon Radhakrishnan from some of the Western scholars such as Kraemer, Stephen Neil, Jaochim Wach, Urumpackal, who criticised his methodology severely. To all their points of challenge the author has ably tried to substantiate the stand of Radhakrishnan. In the chapter “the Triumph of a Universalist” the analysis given of the mind of the philosopher in working out his ultimate goal of the “Religion of the spirit” adds much to clarify and convincingly educate non-­specialists in the field with the raison’detre of a superior outlook on humanity.

 

            There are very legitimate comparisons with two of the modern thinkers like Tillich and Schunon, which enables the reader to perceive how Radhakrishnan’s mind was not working in a vacuum but easily receives echoes from other similar quarters.

 

            This is a fulfilling treatment of Radhakrishnan’s genius to expound upon the spirit in man which, contacting the divine within, overcomes all difference of race, colour and creed. A book of this kind may wipe out some of the deepest prejudices of provincial­istic outlook which still plagues even well-read students of philosophy.

 

            Dr. Narvane’s foreword rightly comments that “the author has broken fresh ground in this important field of scholarship. His approach to Radhakrishnan’s thought is sympathetic without being uncritical.”

 

–K. CHANDRASHEKHARAN

 

 

Justice standeth afar off and Liberty and Justice to all, under God: By Charles G. Hamilton. C. G. Hamilton, The Oldest Newscast, C. G. Hamilton, Aberdeen, Missisipi-39730.

 

            These two books so finely produced in the excellent American fashion, from the pen of the same author, give us a lot of informa­tion of the true state of administration of the Government and of the Courts of Justice. The country which fought for Liberty and Independence from the British yoke, have not through the years after independence gained their objective in the full measure, owing to the way American politics shaped itself under their Presidents in succession. Many of the Presidents showed bow bribery, corruption and injustice could smother the free breathing of Democratic ideals. The pages here are full of the events which proved of the utter depravity one could be confronted with in the working of elections in a vast country such as United States.

 

            In the second volume of brief but vivid portraiture of the judges of the land, both of the States and the Supreme Court, really makes the reader keenly alive to the idiosyncracies and prejudices inborn in some of them which induced them to legislate rather than carry out law’s behests.

 

            Concise yet comprehensive, candid yet commendably succinct, informative yet incisively critical, these thumb-nail sketches provide delightful reading.

 

–K. CHANDRASEKHARAN

 

Brahmanical Mythology in Sanskrit Inscriptions: By Manisha Mukhopadhyaya. Writers Workshop, 169/92 Lake Gardens, Calcutta- 700045. Price: Rs. 80.

 

            A scholarly study of Indian mythology based upon inscriptions in Sanskrit. The author points out, in her introduction, that inscriptions came to be done in Sanskrit much later in history. Originally they were in Prakrit. These inscriptions are of two categories: private endowments and recognitions of merit, and the edicts and other proclamations of kings. In most of these inscriptions there is a verse or verses of Invocation which recall the current mythologies. These were usually coloured by local customs and traditions and thus vary from the myths in the Puranas. The author has taken commendable pains to study this aspect of mythology. She describes the figures carved on the monuments and draws attention to their special features. For instance, there is Ganesa as a musician keeping rhythm with his father’s dance by beat of time with his trunk on the waters of the Mandakini on a Chabrolu inscription (c. s. 0125).

 

            The contents of the book cover Shiva and his family, Vishnu and family, Brahman, Varona, Soma, Surya, Kubera, etc. The Jinas are also included; so are sacred rivers, holy places. There is a special note on syncretistic images, where more than one deity are found joined in a single form.

 

            Speaking of Ganapati and mention of him in the Veda, the author observes that this must have been due to some confusion of Ganapati and Brihaspati of the Veda. It is not so. Ganapati represents a later evolution of the Vedic Brahmanaspati who is a variant of Brihaspati of the word with a special stress on his nature as embodying, additionally, the thought-content of the Rik.

 

            A notable addition to the extant literature on Indian Mytho­logy.

–M.P. PANDIT

Siksha Samucchaya: Translated by Cecil Bendall and W. H. D. Rouse. Motilal Banarsidass, Bungalow Road, Delhi-110 007. Price: Rs. 60.

 

            The book under review is a compendium of Buddhist doctrine, compiled by Santideva, chiefly from earlier Mahayana Sutras, and translated into English from Samskrit, though originally intended mainly for Buddhist mendicants. This is a book for all times and climes and for people of almost all walks of life, as the subjects dealt with are of perennial value and interest. It contains instructions for the accumulation of six-fold perfection, viz., liberality, morality, patience, manliness, meditation and wisdom. The first eight chapters insist on the avoidance of evil and cultivation of self-purification. The next seven chapters deal with the perfection of patience, strength, contemplation, and religious action. The last four chapters preach increase of good conduct, holiness, recollection of three jewels and the practice of worship. All these are not only instructive, but are also interesting to read, because of the method of presentation by questions and answers, anecdotes, illustrations, parables, figures of speech, metaphors and Muktapadagrasta, and beautiful descriptions. Even a single instruction presented in the following stanza, if put into practice, may change the present world for good.

 

            “Give freely for all creatures’ sake

            Thy person thy enjoyments too,

            Thy merits store throughout all times,

            Guard each and grow in holiness.”

 

            Curiously enough the Samskrit word “a paatra” is translated as “unworthy vessels.” A valuable book to be read and digested.

 

–B. KUTUMBA RAO

 

 

Indian Kavya Literature-3 Vols.: By A. K. Warder. Motilal   Banarsidass, Bungalow Road, Delhi -7. Price: Rs. 40, 65 and 65.

 

            These three volumes give a chronological, descriptive, comparative and critical account of works on Indian poetics, and all types of Kavyas, that is, epics, drama, lyric, novel, biography and story, especially in Samskrit and in Pali to some extent. They have a unique and distinct place of their own, in that unlike in other works of this type written in English by eminent scholars and critics, Eastern and Western with the only exception of the one written by late Krishnamacharya. The evaluation and criticism of the works are based not on the norms and standards of Western criticism, but on those of Indian poetics and dramaturgy, taking into consideration the background of Indian culture, religion and tradition also. This is refreshingly a novel and the proper feature. We congratulate the author who has succeeded in his attempt to a great extent.

 

            The first eight chapters in the first volume present the Indian aesthetic and critical theories, and also the social milieu of the literature. A critical and analytical summary of contents of all major works and many minor works also on poetics and dramaturgy is given here. Theories of Rasa and its number, types of Kavyas, Rupakas and Uparupakas are described. Sandhis and Sandhyangas also are not left out. Crowning all these in the first seven chapters, the eighth chapter entitled “The audience and the readers of a Kavya” gives a brilliant exposition of the essential spirit of the Indian Kavya.

 

            Pre-Kavya literature, the epic tradition, the earliest Kavya, Valmiki, the Novel, Gunadhya, Asvaghosha, Lyric, Satavahana, Prose, Drama, Bhasa’s works, etc., are the topics dealt with in the second volume. The early medieval period (Sudraka to Visakha­datta) is the subject matter of the third volume. In all these, stories of the works are given. English translations of illustrative stanzas or passages are there. A critical estimate follows. Above all these, critical remarks regarding the construction or contents of these works found in works on poetics like Dhvanyaloka and Sringaraprakasa, etc., are profusely pointed out.   This is the most commendable aspect in these volumes. A detailed Bibliography and index together with a note on typographical devices make the work self-sufficient and useful. Students of Samskrit literature will be richly rewarded by a close study of this work. We eagerly await the publication of the other volumes in this series and the articles also published by the author on allied subjects in separate journals and referred to herein.

 

–B. KUTUMBA RAO

 

The Divine Dancer: By Dr. S. V. Chamu. Astanga Yoga Vijnanamandiram, 957, Seshadri Iyer Road, Mysore-4.

 

            Sri Ranga Guru was a practical Yogi, who realised the benefits of “Sambhavi-mudra” in particular, and a learned scholar in Indian philosophy, Yoga and Agamas. He devoted his life to unravel the significance and mystery of Nataraja’s image, which attracted the attention, and won admiration not only of art-critics like the renowned Ananda Coomaraswamy, but also modern scientists like Gary Zukavi and Fritzoy Capre. He noted down all his findings on paper, but could not see them published in his lifetime. Dr. Chamu, his close disciple, brought them to light in this work. We dare say that this is the best book on the subject in that Sri Ranga Guru’s interpretations are not related to art and devotion only, but are given mainly from Yoga aspect and incidentally from the angles of Upanishadic philosophy, Natyasastra, Samskrit grammar and Aagamic rituals as well.

 

            The first part of the work gives a historical account of Shaivism and a brilliant exposition of Yoga, with its six Chakras. Significance of installation of a new image in a temple is also explained therein. Some of the previous interpretations of Nataraja image are recorded. But the first sections entitled “The image of Nataraja interpreted”, “Why has Shiva been represented as a dancer?” and “The king of dancers” – form the soul of this book. These interpretations are quite original, critical, illuminating, and are more estimable than many modern theses on such subjects as these. No student of art, let alone devotees, can afford to miss a close study of these three chapters. The section on the cult of Nataraja and the first appendix on Srichakra are equally scholarly and informative. A brief life sketch of Sri Ranga Guru adorns the book as an appendix.

 

            This book is a real boon to art-critics in particular and devotees of Nataraja in general.

 

– B. K. SASTRI

 

Living the Life: By B. P. Wadia. Institute of World Culture, B. P. Wadia Road, Bangalore-4.

 

            To mark the birth centenary of Sri. S. P. Wadia (1881-1958) the Indian Institute of World Culture, Bangalore, has brought out this small volume of the writings of Wadia. Nearly 34 articles of his which had already found a place in the journal The Theosophical Movement, are collected here to show how through the years Wadia had maintained an outlook of practice undivorced from precept. Hence the title given to this volume justifies itself owing to the contents bearing all the principles of Theosophy which are in sum and substance a comprehensive total of all the major tenets of all religions. “Back to Blavatsky” was the cry of Sri Wadia, and when the others did not feel likewise with him he separated from the main Theosophical Society and started with W. Q. Judge the Indian Institute of World Culture at Bangalore and lived a life of quiet, providing the benefit of his thoughts through writings in journals belonging to the institute.

 

            Most of these articles have each something of a completion in itself though in the collection there runs a linking inner thought­ sequence from one to the other. Some of the titles of the chapters are by themselves indicative of the theme leading the thought to ­a Higher Life as conceived in Theosophy. However brief may be the chapters here, their significance does not on that account prove of less merit than what could be rewarding by a perusal of some of the wisdom of ancient texts of the great religions of the world.

 

            The volume is nicely printed and presented neatly. We have every reason to expect thinkers finding it useful.

            –“SAHRIDAYA”

 

The Good Life: By C. Y. Jesse Chiang. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Munshi Marg, Bombay-7. Price: Rs. 12.

 

            Here are collected some very useful thoughts for guidance in life for everyone of us. In fifteen essays the author has been able to cover almost all the necessary requisites for making life a good one.

 

            The first title “Time waits for no man” leads to the con­clusion that when we do not use time meaningfully, we do great injury to ourselves. Education, then, is not merely a self-centred objective for improvement of the individual but its “supreme end is to promote peace on earth and goodwill to man.” Self-­examination has to be cultivated in order that pride, greed and self-righteousness in men may yield to humility, justice and compassion. If one really wants to live with satisfaction of having saved life from extinguishment of its lustre and the heaping up of burdens, he should work, because otherwise it will be living death.

 

            Stoicism is described as the duty of everyone to play well his part for which he is cast and hence to him the duties are two-­fold, namely, the duty as a professional person and the duty as a fellow-being.

 

            A teacher’s life is dwelt upon next. He must exercise self-­discipline and engage himself daily in self-examination. Subjects like a housewife’s place in life and a husband’s obligation are convincingly portrayed. Then follow the value of not ignoring little things in life because they alone perfect a good life.

 

            The author passes on to some of the opposites which are often mistaken to be the same, as for instance, loneliness and solitude, intelligence and wisdom, fun and joy. They are not the same but they contrast in their significance to everyone in actuality. Illustrations are amply employed to prove the point.

 

            The last chapter on mysticism, nature and morality briefly but clearly indicates when morality which is a natural intuition has its relation to mysticism, as when nature bestows on everybody a moral intuition, it also bestows a gift of mystical consciousness.

 

            In simple language but with sufficient sense of essentiality these chapters appear to one as the expression of a sage whom life never vexed but supplied the greatest source of a comprehen­sive view of the universe in its relation with man.

–“SAHRIDAYA”

 

The London Bridge and other poems: By Subhas Kak. Writers’ Workshop, Lake Gardens, Calcutta-45. Price: Rs. 10.

 

            Written in modern idiom and style, these poems of Subhas Kak strike us, on the whole, more intellectual than emotional. Like many modern European poets, he too sets his face against putrid city civilization and mechanical man. However, unlike them, he sounds a note of optimism by suggesting a possible resuscitation of spiritual man who can strike a balance between man and machine. In the title poem, “London Bridge” hitting at the cant and hypocricy of the modern “bridge builders”, he suggests that true international understanding and fraternity will be an accomplished fact only when our ancestral wisdom is revived. “Must they build living bridges now”, he asks and asserts rather emphatically: “Our ancestors did not even dream of them / yet raised families.” The poet says, rightly too, that the way to peace and prosperity is not through intellection but feeling. In the second poem “A cat called revolution”, the poet gives a telling account of the unsuccessful attempt to quell and quash the revolutionary zeal on the part of those who wish to cleanse the society of exploitation. He seems to suggest that social transfor­mation will definitely take place, but by a slow democratic process as in the case of Britain: “But the shadows spread yet/we will join the Luddites / to cauterise these boils, of our miseries / and consecrate the temple with their plasma.” The rest of the poems too display a fine felicity of phrase and modern sensibility.

 

Krishna’s Poetry.. Edited by Syed Ameeruddin. Poets Press, India, 3, Venkatesan Street, Madras-17. Price: Rs. 15.

 

            As a poet, Dr. Krishna Srinivas is unique. Ancient wisdom courses through his poetry and sweeps those who are unacquainted with the serenity and grandeur of Upanishadic thought off their feet. Syed Ameeruddin has done well in bringing out a volume of assessments by distinguished poets and critics all over the world so that the readers may see his mighty multifaceted poetry in correct perspective. Sixty eminent poets of the world from the six continents have freely expressed their admiration for the poetry and personality of Dr. Krishna Srinivas here. Some of the opinions are downright flattery; some hesitant to acknowledge the strange unconventional strains of his poetry; some appraise his poetry with a judicious eye. Monika Varma’s estimate seems to be fair and true when all aspects are taken into account: “When a poet can let himself go, should that ‘sphota’ or combustion take place, a liquid river of words pour down. It is a stupendous affair. There is too much of it. One day he will be able to control that ‘river’ a little more and a vast singing will take place. That is when a great poem is written.” (P. 86)

 

Winds: Krishna Srinivas. 3, Venkatesan Street, Madras. 17. Price: Rs. 15.

 

            This is the third volume in the projected series of five, each representing one of the five elements of nature, all together forming a mighty epic of modern times. In the preface, the author explains the plan of the epic along with some of the personal details at the back of some of the descriptions in the poem. The poetry of Krishna Srinivas has a freshness and vigour all its own. As in the previous two volumes here too he identifies himself with the element in question, that is, Wind, and spins a galaxy of wordy images, which, indeed, are memorable. He plunders the Upanishads and other sacred texts of India to unravel a noble cosmic image of the Wind before us. What is very peculiar and also a very exasperating habit of the poet is his unabashed use of Sanskrit.

 

            He is at his best when he translates but when he quotes direct with no comment or translation, we wonder whether this is passable in English poetic tradition. To an average reader of English poetry Krishna Srinivas’s poetry is nothing but moonshine; to the more enlightened and sophisticated readers, it is a cascade of unending sublimity, gradually unfolding a cosmic vision.

 

Reflections on Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi: By S. S. Cohen. Sri Ramanashramam, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. Price: Rs.8.

 

            Some of the illuminating conversations between Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi and his inquisitive devotees during the period April 1935–May 1939 were recorded faithfully and paraphrased in chaste English with meticulous care by late Ramananda Saraswati. These invaluable spiritual insights were published under the title “Talks with Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi.” The volume proved to be popular all over the world. In 1953 S. S. Cohen, a well-known devotee of the Bhagawan, culled a few passages from this compendious volume and offered perceptive and helpful comments on each of the passages selected. The book under notice is the third edition of this popular treasure-trove of spiritual wisdom. though it would appear idle to comment on Sri Ramana’s thought and style which are lucidity itself, we cannot but observe in the end that his remarks play a definite role in enhancing our understanding and appreciation of Sri Ramana’s thought by reconciling the seemingly contradictory statements, by offering additional information, etc.

 

Trapped Furnace: Narender Kumar Singh. Samakaleen Prakashan, 2762, Rajguru Marg, New Delhi-55. Price: Rs. 20.

 

            This is the second volume of poetry by Sri Narender Kumar Singh, the first one being “Still dreams”. The poetry of Sri Singh seems to be a protest against the sensate civilization of the present day cities. Everything is abused in modern cities. Age-old values of stability and love are lost altogether. The “Tapped furnace” seems to be his symbol for the loss of whatever is valuable in life. “A moment is still to come, when everything will dwindle inside your ribs like the tapped furnace / And your emptiness you all curse thus,” he says in the title poem. In “Delhi” he comes down heavily on the evils of urban life. “Pens do not stand for writers / Guns seldom behove soldiers / Caps fail to denote honour / It is a burning inferno / The cult of, Bacchus which pervades all seasons.” In a “Lost Battle,” he bemoans: “Notes, papers, memos/have defaced values.” In “An old shirt”, he strikes an attitude which at once defines his moralistic outlook on life: “And I loved my shirt / stitched at / places by my wife who did it with care.” Loneliness, helpless acceptance of fate and melancholy are the recurring notes of his poetry.

 

Waiting: By Jayanta Mahapatra. Samakaleen Prakashan, New Delhi-55. Price: Rs. 30.

 

            Jayanta Mahapatra has a painter’s eye and poet’s imagination. In his sixth volume of poetry under notice now, he wrenches poetry from the sights and scenes around him. The life in Orissa­–much the same in the rest of India – comes alive in these pages. Konarka (P. 22), Puri (P. 29), Bhubaneswar (P. 8), Mahanadi (P. 10), Dhouli, Daya (P. 24) rouse not only historic memories in him but also move him to muse upon the ruins of time. There is a tension discernible between the modern sensibility and a living but ancient culture of India with which he is ill at ease in these poems, which lends a complex colour and a tone to them, Seldom or never direct, he never misses to hit the mark with the force of hammer on the red-hot iron.

 

            The unbearable predicament of life-in-death is presented in a striking Coleridgean image of horror: “The bodiless voices of the priest are like quicksands, waiting for your apprehensions to enter them / The death that comes swings back and forth like a bewitched barge upon a weaker race.” (P. 33) The immediacy of feeling and rich associative language and images make this poem not only the best of the bunch but also one of the best in recent Indo-Anglian poetry.

 

Saraswati and Other Poems: By Krishnan Khullar. Samakaleen Prakashan, 2762, Rajguru Marg, New Delhi-55. Price: Rs. 10.

 

            Easy, graceful and unsophisticated, Krishnan Khullar’s poetry is really titilating. The last poem seems to sum up his philosophy of poetry:

           

            Each mood, a thought;

            Each thought, an epic;

            Each epic, a word of truth;

            Each word, the voice of God;

            Each voice, the joy for ever.

 

            In the first poem “Prologue”, he makes a direct statement regarding his aim in the following pages:

 

            You, the corporeals of Divine Soul,

            Aye, listen,

            I address you from the parlours of Heavens;

            From time to time,

            I repeat the very truths

            That flow out spontaneously from eternal spring.

 

            “Saraswati”, the title poem, is a moving one vibrant with still sad music of humanity. He asks Saraswati, to bid her “true disciple” and herald of “Barren Spring” which sings “untimely to those who are gay” to far corners of the earth and “meditate to learn a little of man.” The language, the structure, the images – all, all are pleasing. A mild social criticism informs some of the poems. To go through Khullar is a delightful experience.     

 

–Dr. G. SRIRAMA MURTY

 

The Shadow of Ramarajya over India: By Prem Nath Bazaz. Spark Publishers, F 8, Hauzkhan, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 50.

 

            Gandhiji’s concept of Ramarajya has been aimed at an ideal state in which there existed brotherhood of man, no class differences, no sex distinctions, no poverty, no scarcity, no disease and all people were treated as equal and lived happily without fear or jealousy. He referred to Ramarajya as the ultimate goal of Indian society but the author, who feels that Ramarajya is a hoax and a misnomer, quotes exhaustively from the Ramacharit­manas of Tulasidas stating that the work is a supporter of autocratic, authoritarian and dictatorial rule in which the ruler transcends humanity which exists merely to make him happy. He could only see Brahminical superiority in the Indian culture throughout.

 

            Writing about the Brahmin Prime Minister, Nehru, the author mentions “Emulating the Gupta Emperors and accepting their political philosophy as the best, Nehru Government could not resist the urge of expanding Indian territories by occupying Kashmir (Majority Muslim), Nagaland (Majority Christian), Hyderabad, Junagadh and Goa with the force of Arms.” “Dr. Radhkrishnan was no less a staunch believer in the Brahmin scriptures, doctrines and dogmas.” “Following in the footsteps of her father, when he was placed in similar circumstances, she (Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi) sought crutches from Anandamayee Maa who endowed her with a Rudraksha Mala, by wearing which she was assured even worst trouble could be warded off.”

 

            Thus the author goes on criticising every Brahmin (Brahminism seems to be his obsession) Prime Minister, President and politician and concludes that there is no way to salvation for the country except through a social and cultural revolution. He has posed a question “Mahatma Gandhi’s Ramarajya is a shambles. The question looms large on the horizon: Where do we go from here?” “Unless and until the poisonous root of India’s numerous ills is eradicated, it is very hard, almost impossible, to march ahead and achieve genuine social democracy.” “The question remained who can serve as avant garde of the social revolution.” “What is the remedy? An organised land of sincere, devoted and steadfast youngmen should come forward who will uncompromisingly and fearlessly denounce the Ramarajya and once again unfurl the flag of Indian renaissance and enlightenment which, has been folded up after independence by narrow nationalism.” That is again begging the question, “Who will lead such a band of workers?” Another Gandhi should be born. This the author fails to be convinced of. Arm chair criticism is easy, but is constructive criticism that easy?

 

–P. SRINIVASAN

 

New Dimensions in Vedanta Philosophy - Part I: Bochasanwasi, Sri Akshar Purushottam Samstha, Shahibag, Ahmedabad-4. Price: Rs. 90.

 

            Bhagavan Swami Narayan, born 200 years ago in Gujarat, was and is still hailed as an Avatar. He was a philosopher, Yogi, mystic, spiritual humanist and a social reformer. “Today there are no less than five million followers who are disciplined believers, and they are organising medical activities, hospitals, educational institutions, teachers’ associations, youth centres and publication of periodicals, etc. The work under review is Swami Narayan’s Bicentenary Commemoration Volume.

 

            This first part devoted to Reflections on Swami Narayan Philosophy is sub-divided into four sections, viz., Philosophical foundations of Swami Narayan thought, Ethics and Social Philoso­phy, Religion and Swami Narayan Philosophy – its Perennial relevance. This volume is a collection of forty-six articles contri­buted by eminent professors in philosophy in Indian and foreign universities.

 

            Swami Narayan recognises five eternal entities–Jiva, Ishwara, Maya, Brahma and Parabrahma. Brahma is otherwise called Aksharabrahman. He is Nirakara and Sakara also, and is in constant service of Parabrahman otherwise known as Purushottama which is the highest entity. Swami Narayan’s definition of Akshara” is quite a new one differing from all the definitions given by previous Acharyas, and herein lies his main contribution to Indian Philosophy. The concept of servitor-mentor relationship between Akshara and Purushottama as presented by him is refreshingly a novel one, and hence the title of the volume is significant. According to Swami Narayan, Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta and Pancha Ratra are all to be studied together. Samkhya is theistic according to him and his interpretation of Yoga as regards Tatwas considerably differs from the previous ones. Ashtanga Yoga and Ekanta Bhakti are the means for salvation. This volume holds a mirror to the thoughts, preachings and contributions of Swami Narayan to a great extent. A biographical sketch at the beginning of the volume would have enhanced the value of this work.

 

–B. K. SASTRY

 

SAMSKRIT

 

Asvalayana Grihya Sutra Bhashyam of Devasvamin: Critically edited by Pandit K. P. Aithal of the University of Heidelberg. Adyar Library and Research Centre, Madras-20. Price: Rs. 70.

 

            A study of Grihya Sutras in Samskrit literature gives us an insight into the number and nature of domestic rituals that a follower of Veda is ordained to perform from birth to death. Both mysticism and religion have their part to play therein. A study of this Sutra literature is also necessary for a proper under­standing of the nature and development of Samskrit language, especially prose. For a priest a knowledge of these Sutras is a must.

 

            This book under review belongs to the Rigveda school. It is difficult to understand the Sutras herein without a commentary. Though there were already some Bhashyas on these Sutras it is for the first time that a complete and critical edition of the Bhashya of Devasvamin (c. 1000 A. D. - 1050 A. D.) an authority on Grihya and Srauta Sutras as well as Mimamsa and Dharma­sastra, is brought out by the Adyar Library. This edition is prepared by Dr. K. P. Aithal who himself had studied this literature in a traditional manner, after consulting four available manu­scripts. The introduction deals with the date and works of Devaswamin and the variations in readings of different manu­scripts.

 

            In addition to the indices of Sutras, Rigvedic and non-Rigvedic quotations and citations in the Bhashya, there is an appendix giving Asvalayana Grihya Parisishta also. It may be rioted here that the fifth section of the third chapter prescribes some rituals to be performed and Suktas to be recited for warding off some­ serious diseases and evil effects of bad omens. In the tenth section thereof Suktas to be recited while a warrior arms himself and goes to the battlefield are also indicated.

 

–B. K. SASTRY

 

SAMSKRIT-TELUGU

 

Sabdaratnavali: By Garani Vaiyakarana Krishnacharya. Edited by Udali Subbarama Sastry. Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi, Saifabad, Hyderabad-500004. Price: Rs. 12-50.

 

            This book under notice comes to the rescue of those that desire to study Samskrit grammar on traditional lines, but can­not regularly study Siddhanta Kaumudi under a teacher. This was written in Samskrit and published about ninety years back, and ever since its importance and utility remained unquestioned and won laurels from eminent scholars. Sandhi Sutras are explained in simple Samskrit with illustrations. All important Sabdas and Dhatus in their final forms are given. Samasas are explained in detail. A student of Siddhanta Kaumudi may not have an analytical idea of the names of different Samasas, for instance in Bahuvrihi, but a student of this work can easily name the Samasas as “Vikalpa Bahuvrihi,” etc. Vibhaktyardha Prakarana herein is more exhaustive than that in Siddhanta Kaumudi. Final forms of nouns ending with Taddhita and Krit suffixes with their meanings, and roots with desiderative suffixes, etc., are also given, here. Dhatupatha also is included.

 

            We eagerly await the publication of a companion volume to this dealing with Atmanepada, Parasmaipada and Uttarakridanta, etc., attempted by the editor of this work, but not included in this. This work is a must to all libraries also in Andhra Pradesh.

 

–“KASHYAPA”

 

Kalidasa Padaprayoga Koshah: By Medicharla Anjaneyamurty, 1-8-702/B-3, Nallakunta, Hyderabad-44. Price: Rs. 30.

 

            Sri Anjaneyamurty is one of those who are selflessly working for the spread and propagation of Samskrit. He is conducting correspondence courses in Samskrit. He was associated with the preparation of Tikkana Padaprayoga Kosha in Telugu. With that experience as his background, he took up this “Concordance of Kalidasa’s words” single-handed, worked for thirteen years, completed it, and brought out this first part beginning with “a” and ending with “api.”

 

            The use of such a work as this to research scholars is too well ­known to be explained afresh. The method adopted herein by the author has also a novelty in it. Information is provided in ten columns. Prefixes are given in the first. Letter of the alphabet with which the Samskrit or Prakrit words begin in the second and thin columns respectively. Fourth and fifth columns contain citations from Samskrit and Prakrit in order. The name of the text in abbreviation, textual reference, viz., the number of Sarga or Anka as the case may be, number of the verse and page, line-number, and explanatory note are found in the remaining columns. The division of the word “ananga” as “a-nanga” may mislead a student. This book is printed in Devanagari script. That this work, which should have been normally taken up by a band of scholars in an institute, is successfully completed by one person, speaks volumes of the author’s painstaking labour. It is up to the libraries all over India to make this available to their readers, and enable the author to publish the remaining parts with some improvements wherever necessary.

 

–“SASTRI”

 

TAMIL-TELUGU

 

TiruvaimoLi (Sri Sathakopa Vaksudha–9 parts); Sri Goda Grandhamala, Musunuru-521 201. Price: Rs. 10 each.

 

            Nammalvar, otherwise known as Sathakopa Maran, and parankusa also, is acclaimed as a super-mystic of Vaishnavism and­ founder of the Prapatti school. Tiruvaimoli, “the word of God-­expressed through human medium” –(c. f. Pothana in Telugu) is but a collection of soul-stirring one thousand poems, in Tamil, ­by Nammalvar in his spiritual ecstacy. These poems along with the Upanishads (together named as Ubhayaveda) are cited as authority in his commentary by Sri Ramanuja and his followers. Several commentaries also were written thereupon.

 

            These poems are divided into ten sections, each of which is again divided into ten parts of ten verses each. In these poems Kaimkarya to God is considered as chief end of life. It should be free from egoism and should culminate in service to all devotees of God, irrespective of their birth. The sixth section defines Prapatti as the only way for God-realisation. Studied from the Vedantic point of view, the first hundred verses define the Brahman as the supreme self. Brahman’s blissfulness, and bewitching beauty are described in the next two sections. Renunciation of even spiritual pleasures and practice of Prapatti come next. Finally it is taught here that Bhagavan Himself is the Prapaka, the Prapya, Vpaya and Upeya. The first ten verses of the first section themselves propound the essence of both the Visishtadvaita philosophy.

 

            Such a valuable work as this is now presented to the Andhra readers, with the original poems in Tamil in Telugu script, word for word Telugu meaning, purport and special comments by the author containing parallel quotations from the Upanishads, and the Puranas in Telugu. Each volume is prefixed with an interesting and illuminating article on some topic of devotion. Real dovotees can drink deep the ambrosia thereof and thank the publishers and God.

 

–“KASHYAPA”

 

TELUGU

 

Shodasi Ramayana Rahasyamulu: By Gunturu Seshendra Sarma. Published by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, Tirupati. Price: Rs. 7.

 

            Gunturu Seshendra Sarma, the well-known poet, critic and scholar of unfathomable depth, has to his credit quite a number of books in Telugu as well as English. A keen intellect and a lucid exponent of the intricacies in Samskrit literature, the author brought out a treatise on Ramayana. The book also reveals the symbolism in our epics and shows the spirit behind.

 

            According to the author, Sage Valmiki has observed Ramayana as though it is a story of a dynasty in its outward appearance. But when the story part is kept aside, the hidden secrets of the Mantrasastra come out. Valmiki’s Ramayana is full of Vedic literature, language and usages. Ramayana can be appreciated from three angles. The poetic beauty, the historicity and the secret meaning of mother Parasakti. Later Upanishads have taken Valmiki Ramayana as the way to the Mantrasastra. Rama’s wife Sita is considered as Parasakti. In Devi Bhagavatham Sita is described as Goddess Gayatri. The author has taken unusual pains and quoted Vedic dictations which are literally taken by Valmiki in his Ramayana. Thus it has been a product of Vedas and the usages in Ramayana and the words used therein and the similies adopted by Valmiki speak inexplicably the secret of Mother Lalita in his stories.

 

            The author has given and attached a very great significance for Sundarakanda in Ramayana. The author has quoted numerous quotations from Smrithis and Srithis to establish that Sundara­kanda is beautiful because Anjaneya the Jeeva has seen Sita the Parasakti. Hence this canto is so styled as Sundara. According to the author “Sita” means “Kundalini.” Hanuman has seen Sita while she was sitting on the ground. Ground means Earth. Earth denotes Mooladharam. The serpent Kundalini stays in this. Thus it is symbolised as Sita sat on the ground. Hanuman the Yogi has the vision of Kundalini in Sita. With the aid of Ida and Pingala, Kundalini travels in Sushumna through spinal cord crossing the six fluxes, and finally reaching Sahasraram. This again speaks of “Shodasi.” Rama is a beautiful man. He is having a Sundari in Sita (a beautiful woman). The descriptions are beautiful in this canto. Thus it is synonymous with “Soundarya­lahari” of Sankaracharya.

 

            The author expressed that Mahabharata is a reflection of Ramayana in all the cause, origin and delivery. Innumerable similarities are quoted from both Valmiki and Vyasa to prove that the usages, style and similies are almost similar in both the epics. He compares Vyasa’sNalacharitam” with Sundarakanda of Valmiki in the vision of Srividya.

 

            The author further argues that Kalidasa’sMeghasandesam” is only an imitation of Valmiki. The flight of Anjaneya in search of Sita is the basis for Kalidasa’sMeghasandesam.” Both Sita and the Yaksha’s wife are described as “Syamas” – meaning in the middle of youth. The duration of separation is one year in both the cases. Ultimately the author said that “Meghasandesam” is the offspring of Ramayana, with yearning to see Parasakti.

 

            The author has taken the readers in his book to that sublime beauty where there is no further argument, than to enjoy the flow of citations with their intrinsic meaning and full of scientific vision. His unsurpassed knowledge in Mantrasastra has enabled him to pass dictums vivisecting the symbolic mysticisms into splinters and handing the kernel of truth under each word, usage, and application. He deserves all praise for this meritorious contribution to our literature.    

–M. S. SARMA

 

Telugu Saahityam Marochoopu: Edited by K. K. Ranganatha­charyulu. Andhra Saraswata Parishat. Tilak Road, Hyderabad-1. Price: Rs. 8.

 

            If the history of Telugu literature, in its written form at least, is less than a milennium old, the history of literary criticism in Telugu, is, perhaps, less than a hundred years old. While the Pandits of old were preoccupied with the pedigree and other antecedents of the poet, the aesthetic scholars who came a little later, focused attention on stylistics and linguistics of the given work.

 

            Of late, we seem to be turning to politics and economics in the search for social factors that might have influenced the poet in the making of his poetic composition. Obviously on influence of Marxism, which lays store by the materialistic inter­pretation of History. A comparatively new approach to the study of the Telugu classics.

 

            It was with this approach that a series of 12 monthly lectures had been arranged under the auspices of the Literary Forum of the Andhra Saraswata Parishat in Hyderabad. The subjects covered range from Nannaya, Tikkana and Somana, through Srinatha, Potana and Vemana to the southern school of Telugu literature, Accha Telugu Kavyas and Telugu Sataka. An attempt is made in all of them to sketch the historical background against which the works had emerged, drawing attention to the socio-economic and political forces at work. The contributors include Dr. M. Veerabhadra Sastri, Dr. Iriventi Krishnamurti. Dr. B. Radhakrishna, Dr. M. Gopi, among others. A galaxy of brilliant scholars, indeed.

 

            A critical and comprehensive introduction is provided by the editor of the symposium, Dr. K. K. Ranganathacharyulu, who takes the stand that, by and large, classical Telugu literature was a product of the royal courts, and sought to project a value system, made up of the traditional social and spiritual values of Brahminism, the dynastic values of medieval monarchy, and the economic values of indigenous feudalism. He also contributes a learned paper on the historical factors relevant to the inception of Nannaya’s Andhra Maha Bharatam.

 

            A useful collection of well-thought-out essays. The approach is good within limits and has to be used with discrimination. Else, there is the danger of a new anachronism, in which we are apt to read into ancient situations and ideological concepts which are obviously modern.

 

–Dr. D. ANJANEYULU

 

Samalochanam: Edited by Dr. G. V. Subrahmanyam. Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Akademi, Saifabad, Hyderabad-4. Price: Rs. 9. Telugu literature in all its facets-poetry, prose, novel, story, song, criticism and drama, etc.–is growing by leaps and bounds. Fresh forms are forging ahead. Revolutionary trends are rearing their heads. New concepts are ushering in. Old aims and ideals are yielding place to new ones. New experiments are being made. Language also is putting on new costumes. What are these novel features? What are the main writings that reflect these features? What are the defects and merits thereof? Did the modern Telugu literature with all these novelties deliver the goods? Did it succeed in ushering an era of social justice, and inculcating social con­sciousness among its readers, and giving them the aesthetic pleasure also? If it did not, why so? What are the constructive suggestions to improve upon the present literature, keeping in view the needs and tastes of the modern readers, and the all ­embracing progress of the human being that is the reader? All these and such other questions are answered to some extent in about fifteen lectures delivered by Telugu scholars of renown and those lectures are presented here in a book-form. The last lecture reviews the books that received awards from the Sahitya Akademi.

 

            An introduction written by the editor in a florid and creative style briefly surveys the views expressed in these lectures in an analytical and sober manner. Any student or teacher of Telugu literature who desires to be abreast of times can be highly benefitted by reading this work.

 

–“KASHYAPA”

 

Dalitajaatula Vaitaalikudu Ambedkar: By Mandava Sriramamurti and Polu Satyanarayana. Jayanti Publications, Eluru Road, Vijayawada-2. Price: Rs. 10.

 

            The life and personality of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, one of the greatest intellectuals that modern India had produced, are marked by many paradoxes. An inveterate opponent of the Hindu social structure, with particular reference to the superiority of the Brahmins, he himself ended up by marrying a Brahmin in the latter part of his life. A fighter against the code of Manu, who had publicly burnt the Manusmriti was towards the end hailed­ as “a Modern Manu.” The greatest leader of the “Untouchables” had in him something of the element of the ancient Brahmin in his mental make-up – devotion to learning, an insatiable intellec­tual curiosity, a lofty sense of self-respect and an unquestion­able integrity.

 

            That apart, there is little doubt that the social and political ideas of Dr. Ambedkar continue to command attention more and more as the generations which knew him in person begin to recede. As a sociologist, his non-conformist approach to Indian problems has lost none of its relevance or his conclusions their validity. Lots of detailed studies of his life and work have appeared in English during the last two decades and more after his death, as could be seen from the bibliography attached to the book under notice. The number of such in Telugu has, however, been almost negligible. In this slim volume, the two authors have done a good job of work by presenting reliable information, drawn obviously from standard works.

 

            In twenty-odd chapters, which are brief and to the point, the authors have succeeded in giving a good survey of the varied public career of Dr. Ambedkar. The documentation, in this limited compass, is well done, including the nine points of the Poona Pact (with Gandhi to end his fast), the manifesto of the Independent Labour Party, the main points of his theory on the origin of the Sudras and the Untouchables and the oath on conversion to Buddhism. All the facts are presented in proper sequence and with a degree of academic objectivity. Excerpts from the famous address on the ‘Annihilation of caste’, translated by Mr. Boyi Bhimanna are incorporated in one of the chapters.

 

            Landmarks in the life of Dr. Ambedkar and a list of his books are given at the end of the book, which carries a foreword by Srimati Justice K. Amareswari of the A. P. High Court, along with other commendations.

 

–DR. D. ANJANEYULU

 

Swarajyam naa Janmahakku: By D. Ramalingam. Andhra Pradesh Balala Akademi, Barkatpura, Hyderabed-27. Price: Rs. 10.

 

            The author who is an ardent student of history and a journalist of long standing has brought out a fine book on the story of our freedom movement. He has traced the history of India since the 15th century when Vasco da Gama first landed in Calicut in 1498, and ended it with 1947 when India attained independence. During the narration he gave vivid and interesting pen pictures of leaders who have contributed for the social, religious, economic and political development of our country.

 

            Though the book is mainly intended for children of the age group of eleven and above, it gives interesting reading to the adults also of this generation. The book throws light on the political and social conditions of India in general and that of Andhra Pradesh in particular.

 

            The Andhra Pradesh Balala Akademi has been doing very good service to the children of the state for a long time. They have brought out quite a good number of interesting and useful books for children, besides conducting a magazine. The book under review is a feather in the cap of the Akademi and deserves to be translated into other languages in the country. The author and the Akademi deserve all praise for their devoted work.

 

–BHAVARAJU

 

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