Sardars Letters – Mostly Unknown. Post-Centenary Volume I, Part Two: Years 1947-’48. Coordinating Editor: Manibehn Patel. Edited by G. M. Nandurkar. Published by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Smarak Bhavan, Ahmedabad. Price: Rs. 30.


Sardar Patel was considered a Colossus among men, and while every human Colossus has some clay in him, Patel was mostly granite. On his death in 1950, I wrote editorially comparing his non-violent achievement of states, integration with Bismarck’s achievement of uniting Germany, through annexationist policies, and said that without him Nehru’s burdens would be heavier; many of those known as Nehruites did not like it, though Nehru himself did not mind it. Patel and Nehru were co-workers and, while they differed in outlook and temperament, they complemented each other admirably and had great affection for each other. It was the smaller men around them that exaggerated their differences and set up a rivalry which was not real. Patel realised that as the younger man Nehru had the future with him, and Nehru knew that most of the Congress was with Patel. There was no need or use in either of them dividing the Congress as the partisans urged them. I need not name those partisans. Their posterities are now fighting, and their ancestry could be traced to the Surat Congress.


I have not been able to understand the purblindness that goes with partisanship. It has not been difficult for me to admire both Patel and Nehru in their lifetime and after their death, as I have not found it necessary to admire Rajaji or Nehru only. I could admire both, in spite of my closeness to Nehru for over a quarter century, my preference broadly for Nehru’s policies and my appreciation of Rajaji’s latter-day criticism of the Congress. Similarly, it was not necessary for me to make an antithesis of Pant and Kidwai in U. P. though I was closer to Kidwai.


The post-centenary volumes of Patel’s miscellaneous writings which are now being brought out are free from the bias which Durga Das and others invested in the main volumes on Patel. Almost all letters are unknown unless they are published, and I cannot understand why this book of Patel’s letters is said to contain letters mostly unknown. Unless Patel’s collected works are to be published, some of the letters are mainly trivial. Like personal papers, which usually include much rubbish, and oral history, which is mainly the narrator’s history or imagination, there may be something that persons like Patel wrote, and it is for historians to sift and select even from dhobi accounts and telephone bills. Congress leaders often wrote to one another enquiring of one another’s health, for most of them had ailments, developed in prolonged prison life like Pattabhi’s sudden diabetes, Pant’s developing hernia, Patel’s troubled intestines and Nehru’s nightmares, all chronicled with care by Nehru in his Ahmednagar Fort and other diaries. Most of the Congress leaders also did not care for grammar or syntax in correspondence, except for Nehru, Pant and Patel who reveals manliness and straightforwardness, apart from kindness. He was basically a polished peasant, whatever else he was.


The more important or amusing part of Patel’s correspondence can be recalled. Patel showed concern for European officers on the railways who had apprehensions about their future, and after independence, he wrote to outstanding civilians like Bozman and Abell and others regretting their premature retirement and wishing them well and this earned for him their gratitude. He also took special care about the formulation of the new Indian Administrative Service to fill the vacuum left by British civilians. He helped in the constitution of the I. T. U. C. because of increasing communist influence in the T. U. C., while Nehru was for a united trade union movement. Who was right has not yet been decided by history. Patel had interest in the welfare of businessmen and Birla and others were grateful to him, while Nehru kept them away. Who was right, history alone can decide. When Nehru wanted a separate ministry for economic affairs, Patel opposed it and said that Dr. Mathai was not the man to be in charge of it. On Mathai he was right, but on a ministry of economic affairs, most opinion is now on its side. Such a ministry would have produced good results without which policies are fiction. Indian journalists in London were keeping Patel informed of press attacks on him in Britain but Patel was aware of them, and for him it was not a case of a choice between Krishna Menon and Tahmankhar. C. P. Ramaswami Aiyer’s effort for reconciliation with Patel is touching, while his later efforts for reconciliation with Nehru had no effect. Patel died before C. P.’s talents could be used, and Nehru could use him only as a member of the Press Commission, along with men like Zakir Husain and Narendra Deva, though also with men like this reviewer, who found him able, punctilious, public-spirited and knowledgeable though slipshod in some ways. It was a pity that C. P.’s abilities were not utilised by free India. It was not the fault of Patel, who was forgiving. Nehru was human, so was Patel. He had great qualities; if he lacked anything, it was vision.




Earthen Lamps: By Jhaverchand Meghani. Sahitya Akademi, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-I. Price: 15.


This is a very interesting book about a social worker of Gujarat who happened also to have been a close associate of Gandhiji in the No-Tax campaigns led in those districts at the time under the leadership of Sardar Patel. Ravishankar Maharaj is the name of the worker whose unusual type of reclaiming the ‘lowly and the lost’ back to a level of freedom from evil practices of theft, murder, violence, robbery and a host of acts of criminality to which sometimes an entire village or settlement was addicted to strikes us as belonging to Our Puranas. Though the author, as he himself confessed, had his own imagination drawn upon for describing the charcteristics of the folk, the characters were all real; yet the narration is so vividly told as to make even facts appear as fiction.


The original of the book is in Gujarati and the translator has competently done his task in order not to rob the tale of its inborn naturalness. Indeed, in places one forgets that it is a translation in a foreign language. The many episodes here presented are capable of arresting the attention of any dedicated worker who may be in search of an ideal for him to follow. For the Maharaj seems to have captivated persons wherever he went and tried to reform the fallen ones by his approach in a manner that could do credit to a saint’s application of a Mantra, as it were, by his presence in the first place and later by his sincerity and dignity while moving with the criminally inclined. The cold-blooded murderer, the callous cattle-stealer, the unwilling housewife, the indifferent father, the rebellious son–everyone received the balm of his soothing advice and changed with no more ado than what would normally take place amidst relatives bound by affection. His ministering to the sick and the decreptitude draws out our whole admiration for his unseeking nature for anything more than the real change in those whom he wanted to save so as to become better.


            ‘Shania’s Son’ is an instance in this collection of a mind which served humanity for the sake of service alone and not for any reward or recognition. If Gandhiji should have been a personal friend of his, no reason for us to doubt the utter humaneness of his outlook when voluntarily taking upon himself social service in all its hardest features.


            On the whole it is a book for many to know how Buddhas and Christs are yet not mere mythological figures whose compassion and service to humanity were unimaginably pure and noble.



The World of Courtesans: By Dr. Moti Chandra. Hind Pocket Books, G. T. Road, Delhi-32. Price Rs. 9.


            Woman occupies a special position in the matrix of Indian life and culture. In the scheme of Hindu life Karma is next only to Moksha. Sex is both holy and profane. Love is a God, but his tent is pitched firmly in the ‘place of excrement.’ This realistic recognition of the importance of sex made our ancestors study it with reverence and respect due a sastra. Vatsayana’s Kama Sutras certainly not the first of its kind in India, is a world-famous classic on sex life in India.


            Dr. Moti Chandra’s book fulfils a genuine need of the present day society. The institution of courtesanship has never received such detailed and scholarly attention as it does now at the hands of Dr. Moti Chandra. The learned author traces vicissitudes of the institution from the earliest Vedic times down to the early middle ages in ten engaging chapters. He taps all the possible literary and historical sources and presents the fabric of sex life before us without a comment. It would have been better, if the author cared to narrate how a nagaravadhu was chosen in Buddhistic times and the ritual attending it. Until yesterday, perhaps even today in some quarters, as soon as a girl of the clan of prostitutes reaches puberty, a rite will be performed to the accompaniment of the chanting of a Mantra by a priest when a mirror will be presented to her, that being the insignia of the art of profane love. It is called Mukura Deeksha.


            The last chapter “Courtesans in South India” though a well-written one, is inadequate. The author obviously had no access to literatures other than Tamil. Karnataka is dismissed in a single paragraph, while Andhra is omitted altogether. The institution was well-established in Andhra even before the rise of Vijayanagar. We have an authentic record that during the reign of Kakatiyas, in Warangal alone there existed 3,00,000 houses of courtesans while some of them like Machaldevi, made handsome donations to temples and left inscriptions behind. We hope Dr. Moti Chandra will comb South Indian sources too, to supplement his present admirable studies sometime in future. A Bibliography would have enhanced the usefulness of the book.



Mother Cult: By Sudhir Ranjan Sengupta. Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyaya, Calcutta-12. Price: Rs. 20.


            The author of this treatise is a disciple of the well known Swami Purnananda (1834-1928) who was an adept in the Tantras. We learn from the introduction that the Swami rushed to Dakshineshwar soon after his descent from the Himalayas to help Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who was in the last stages of the fatal disease at that time. It appears he also gave primary iniation to Sarada Devi.


            It is difficult at the first reading, to understand the philosophy of this teaching. Chaturvarna tattva or knowledge of the four sound-variations of ‘Um’, ‘Hum’, ‘A’ and ‘H’” is basic to an understanding of the truth of this universe and the way to unity through all the prevailing diversity. By concentrating one’s attention on the vital breath in its ingoing and outgoing process it is possible to realise the indistinct sound-variations of these key syllables. The author describes the technique used for this purpose. Of course this discipline is part of the tradition of the Tantra and the author’s treatment of the main concepts of tantra, mantra, yantra and devata is very helpful for a proper understanding of this old heritage of the Agamas.


            The writer has no difficulty in dismissing the belief of some scholars that the Tantra is an offshoot of the Buddhist revolt against the Vedic canon. He holds that the Agamas were a natural succession to the Vedas once their pristine purity was lost under the veil of overworked rituals.


            In the chapter on Yantra he describes the Sri Yantra or Nava Chakra which is used for worship of the Universal Mother.


            In the initial stage the Yantra worship is performed on constructed symbols. In the advanced stage the Sadhaka contemplates his own body as the Sri Yantra and realises his identity with the Absolute Self of the Mother... It enables him to realise the Mother as the soul and body of the universe.


            The Supreme Divine Mother, however, manifests and functions through several emanations of hers, each presiding over one particular operation in the universe.


            After a brief description of the Kundalini Yoga, Sri Sengupta analyses how variations in sound, function and conception lead to separativity in consciousness from the original manifesting Consciousness. Corresponding to these three alienations, there are three ways or Sadhanas to eliminate them and restore unity. They are Mantra Yoga, Kriya Yoga and Bhava Yoga. In the Mantra Yoga, the Guru initiates with a bija mantra, teaches the process of “synchronism of energy between the main channel of Sushumna and the subsidiary channels of Ida and Pingala.” Sufficient progress in this direction qualifies one for Mula Mantra which leads to identity with the Universal Mother.


            If expanded and simplified, this book could be a standard work in Tantra philosophy and Sadhana.



My Contribution to Indology: By R. S. Panchamukhi. Published by the Karnataka Historical Research Society, Dharwar. Price: Rs. 6.


            The learned author is a retired Director of Kannada Research Institute and Chief Editor of the Karnataka Historical Research Society, Dharwar. He wrote an authentic History of Karnataka, edited some works in Sanskrit and Kannada, and contributed about 150 original research articles on a wide range of subjects like Archaeology, Numismatics, Epigraphy, Art and Architecture, Literature and Philosophy, and hence is rightly acclaimed as the “Father of Research Work in North Karnataka.”


            This brochure is published on the seventieth birthday of the author by an assembly of reputed research scholars. The first part of the book contains a life sketch of the author and a list of his publications with a brief analysis of their contents. Texts of seven lectures delivered by the author come next. “System of Ancient Indian Education” is almost exhaustive. “My rambles in Indology” is richly informative and interesting. “Contacts with countries in the Far East” is illuminating and sheds much light on the subject. In a lecture he shows with evidence that image worship was referred to in Vedas. This book is most useful to students of Indology.

–B. K. RAO


Hinduism: By Nirad C. Chaudhuri. B. I. publications, 54 Janpath, New Delhi-1. Price: Rs. 80.


            Nirad Chaudhuri, the stormy petrel among Indian intellectuals settled in Oxford some years ago, celebrated his eighty-first birthday with the publication of his book on Hinduism. It embodies a lifetime’s study, observation and experience.


            For a careful reader of this book, it would be easier to say what it is not than what it is. It is not; for instance, a thesis on history, epigraphy, sociology, anthropology, religion, philosophy, culture or literature. But in a sense, it is a delightful amalgam of all these things and more. Like most of his other works, it is essentially a personal document, eminently readable, creative, rather than academic, in its character.


            Some of the ideas discussed and theories adumbrated in Hinduism were obviously anticipated by the author in his earlier and more controversial book, The Continent of Circe. Understandably so for, these two could be read as companion volumes. The theory of race and geography dominates The Continent in the author’s attempt to explain the Indian cultural predicament. His Hinduism goes further in its examination of a whole complex of related subjects in understanding “a religion to live by”, as the sub-title puts it, and probing the behavioural patterns of its adherents.


            But its author must admit to himself, if not to others, that this kind of criticism is not tolerated, let alone encourage, in any other religion except Hinduism!


            As in his earlier works, the author does not seem to expect unquestioning agreement from his readers. He would certainly have served his purpose, if only he had succeeded in inducing them to look at familiar themes from an unfamiliar angle and thinking for themselves, instead of along set patterns and stereotyped grooves.


            The birth of new ideas could be an intelligent reader’s aim, rather than the repetition of cliches and revelling in shibboleths. There are too many sacred cows in our intellectual courtyard for anyone to seek their protection by legislation.


            But, unlike in some of his earlier books, pamphlets and essays, Chaudhuri does not merely debunk, dazzle and coruscate in his treatise on “Hinduism.” Here he examines, understands and explains. He writes with the intimate knowledge of an insider and the clinical objectivity of an uncommitted outsider.


            Many impassioned revivalists have tried to defend Hinduism, with or without understanding it. A few impatient reformers have tried to change it, before trying to understanding it. Chaudhuri has tried to understand it as it is practised by those who may or may not understand it.


            In the intellectual feast being spread before his readers during the last three decades or so by Nirad Chaudhuri, his latest dish may justly be greeted as a piece de resistance. It might prove an antidote to superstition and self-complacency and a sharp appetizer to scientific scholarship. It is a tour de force, which could be the work only of a scholar extraordinary.




            The Eagle and the Phoenix: By Prof. M. V. Rama Sarma. Macmillan & Co., Ltd., Madras-2. Price: Rs. 11.


            In Samson Agonistes Milton presented an Old Testament myth in a Greek tragic form to a Christian public. As the play harmonizes many traditions, it has elicited, during three hundred years of scholarly study, elucidation, analysis and interpretation a vide variety of conflicting critical responses. The major critical issues discussed can be listed as: the date of composition, the autobiographical element the hero, the dramatic structure, spirit of the play, its meaning and message. The true significance of Professor Rama Sarma’s The Eagle and the Phoenix is that it is one of the few full-length critical studies of the play discussing each major critical issue of the play in depth and detail and telling something illuminating and enduring on every aspect.


            The autobiographical implications first noted by Upton, who maintained that Samson “imprisoned and blind, and the captive state of Israel, lively represent our blind poet with the republican party, after restoration, afflicted and persecuted”, were fully exploited by David Masson who emphasized that the “story of Samson must have seemed to Milton a metaphor or allegory of much of his own life in its later stages.” Certainly, used perceptively as Hanford did, the autobiographical material will be of great help to recognize how Milton’s intimate emotions are unvariably “sublimated” by the imagination and so far “depersonalized” Professor Sarma rightly argues that to read Samson Agonistes as a mere “veiled autobiography” is to miss its true artistic excellence. “We will not be doing justice to the consummate artistic excellence of the poet if we do not treat the play as a tragedy full of human passion, suffering and reconciliation with the ways of God.”


            In its content Samson Agonistes is essentially religious, reflecting the rich religious experience of Milton. Here again Milton justifies the ways of God to men. Samson, who failed the moment he has forgotten his role of a “mighty nazarite” and fondly overcome by female charms reveals the secret of his “divine strength”, succeeds the moment he realizes his sin, repents and discards the moves of Dalila, Manoa and Harapha and becomes a tool in the hands of God, totally surrendering to “some rousing motions” in him.


            According to Dr. Sarma, Samson is not a simple tragic hero, fallen from the heights of glory to the depths of degradation, from a world of sin, suffering and physical passion Samson attains martyrdom. In the sense that he is recreated Samson is more like an epic hero. Samson’s violent emotional conflicts, searching questions, doubts and fears–all get transformed into heroic fortitude the moment the hero considers himself as God’s instrument. The hero acquires the sum total of wisdom, all passions spent. The aesthetic pleasure offered to the reader is one of philosophic calm, a state of tranquil poise. The most illuminating critical dimension added by Professor Sarma to Milton’s criticism in general is the exposition of this aesthetic dimension of tranquillity, a note of santi as presented by the poet in every one of his major works: Comus, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. To Samson Agonistes in particular Professor Sarma added the vital concept of the theme of martyrdom.



The Peace which Passeth Understanding: A Study of The Wasteland.


The Epic of the Soul: A Study of The Four Quartets: Both by Dr G. Nageswara Rao. Published by Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati.


            Among the westerners inspired by the profundities, no less by the complex dialectics, of the ancient Indian lore, T. S. Eliot occupies a deservedly exalted place. Eliot himself acknowledged his debt, when he admitted, “Long ago I studied the ancient Indian languages ... and I know that my own poetry shows the influence of Indian thought and sensibility.” With such a candid admission by Eliot, it is perfectly predictable that Indian scholarship would launch on a frantic hunt for the Indian sources in Eliot’s poetry. However, apart from a few papers, no full-length studies on the subject appeared until Dr. G. Nageswara Rao brought out the two volumes under review


            In the first study, Dr Rao attempts an incisive examination of The Wasteland, interpreting the poem, especially the last three sections, in terms of the Hindu concept of five elements. After a brief survey of the existing criticism on the poem, including a look at the “caesarian operation” performed by Pound, the author arrives at the idea of examining the poem in terms of Indian spiritualism.


            Insightful interpretations are attempted by the author of the different sections of the poem, like “The Ureal City”, “The Fire Sermon” and “What the Thunder Said.” Particular mention may be made of considering Tiresias as the drashta of the Upanishads and the useful correspondences between Eliot’s “Water dripping note” and the Rigvedic hymns to the Water. The durable contribution of the author relates to the seven Sanskrit words employed by Eliot. Refuting the charge made by a critic like George Williamson that “the repetition of the Sanskrit words, supported by the Upanishad ending, sounds like the mad talk of Heironimo”, the author demonstrates convincingly that the terms are “an integral part of the organic structure of the poem” (73). The author also notes that the unity in The Wasteland is the kind of cyclic unity we find in The Bhagavadgita and The Upanishads, not the Aristotlean linear variety. However, the author’s over-zealous efforts to identify the title of the poem with Brihadaranya of the Upanishads, seem a little farfetched. Brihadaranya does not mean wasteland, but really a vast (forest) land. Dr Rao himself uses the expression “Great Desert” (22). In sum, the study is certainly welcome as an introduction for Indian readers and as offering new insights into familiar lines for the western readers.


            The second study, The Epic of the Soul, is an attempt to read The Four Quartets in the light of Indian spiritual literature. Dr Rao borrowed the term, “Epic of the Soul”, from Sri Aurobindo’s poetic testament, The Future Poetry. At the outset, the author surveys the climate of critical opinion on the epic, covering in his range the views of critics like Matthiessen, Helen Gardner and C. K. Steed. Recognizing the need for “the international perspective” in a true understanding of the quartets, the author pays critical attention to the poem’s “radically new form, as the epic of the soul, to the universal significance of its theme and the etiology of its composition.” The poem is also compared to The Divine Comedy, The Bhagavadgita and Paradise Lost; the central concern of all these epics, in the words of Milton, is “God of our fathers, what is man?” Eliot experiences the human predicament, like Dante and Vyasa, as a four-fold vision, which is the theme of the poem. The author compares the four-fold vision of Eliot to the four aspects of the Vakpara, Pasyanti, Madhyama and Vaikharithe four facets of a rabai and the four kinds of divine unionSalokya, Samipya, Sayujya and to Patanjali’s four-fold Yoga. The use made by Eliot of the five movement quartet of Beethoven is also examined and the movement of thought in the epic is also analysed in some detail.


            Eliot’s exploration of man’s ancestral cultural heritage in “East coker” is compared to Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual exploration in parts of Savitri. The images employed by Eliot have also been analysed.


            The durable contribution of Dr Rao relates to an original interpretation of “What Krishna Meant.” Quoting aptly from The Bhagavadgita the author shows that Eliot fuses in the form the Buddhist, the Gita and the Christian concept of liberating action, Nishkama Karma and secures for his poem universal validity.


            Unfortunately, the study suffers from an avoidable repetitive­ness; some of the concepts and several lines recur with unwarranted frequency. For instance, the lines “All shall be well and all manner of things ... etc.,” occur at least three times in the study. The author quotes a rather trite Sanskrit lineVakyam Rasatmakam Kavyam from Ananda Coomaraswamy’s Aesthetics Today; this indicates the derivativeness of most Indian scholarship in English.


            The study, on the whole, is a rewarding experience in a re-understanding of one of the more durable long poems of the present century.




The Poems of Catullus: Translated from the Latin by Frederic Raphael and Kenneth McLeish. Jonathan Cape Ltd. Distributors: B. I.  Publications, Bombay-23. Price: £3-50. (Rs. 56.70)


            Gains Valerius Catullus the controversial Roman poet of the first century A.D. died very young–at the age of thirty. Most of his short poems which find place in “The Poems of Catullus” smack of pornography. Some poems like the one addressed to Hymen (No. 61) strike us as stately poetry; but, most of the poems strangely come very close to some of the erotic compositions of modern times. The reviewer is not frightened by erotic element in literature or art; but he expects art or literature to capture the sweet and fine side of the erotic experience, but not that aspect of ‘mere physicality’ which creates a strong feeling of nausea in the reader’s mind. It is not necessary here to prove that sex in its most outward aspect is mysteriously fascinating and repulsive. Catullus, like any other poet caring of a decadent and materialistic society, makes the theme of love an obsessive contemplation of lust. We cannot here forget the fact that he came in an age known for its vanity of wealth and megalomania of conquest. The poet evidently is not spiritual enough to be able to break the fetters of sensuality. He desires, loves, hates and suffers but cannot see beyond the torture of his own mind.


            A poet–ancient or modern–can be said to be ‘great’ only when he can uplift man from the plane of animalism to a higher plane of human tenderness and compassion. A poet must lay bare to us the divine depths of our own souls. Catullus can say:


            I hate and I love. Why do that?

            Good question.

            No answer, save ‘I do.’

            Nailed, through either hand.


Such despair tosses man up to the loving breast of God. But such divine despair gets mixed with sensual dross and lost; thus Catullus seems lost. The format of the book is very attractive.



Themes in Indo-Anglian Literature: By Muralidas Melwani. Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly-1. Price: Rs. 15.


            Themes in Indo-Anglian Literature is a collection of essays and write-ups all pertaining to Indo-Anglian literature. It may as well be called an intelligent man’s guide to Indo-Anglian literature. In his preface to the book Dr. Melwani outlines the objectives of his work as follows:


            “The task I’ve set myself in literary criticism is a humble one: to analyse the existing situation, to examine the factors hindering development of a particular form, and, if possible, to make suggestions.” After reading the book we feel that the task has been performed with remarkable success; Journalistic as it is, his criticism wants neither depth nor width. Clarity of vision, forthright expression and firm conviction in the usefulness and survival of Indo-Anglian literature, mark the texture of the book, making it a delightful reading. Besides being a competent criticism, it is also mine of information and advice regarding research and sources of information. Dr. Melwani’s capacious pen digs into the contemporary scene in Ceylon too, if only to sound a note of warning to practising writer of India.


            The only regrettable thing is the author lacks balance sometimes which he professes to value much. The failings he attributes to Indo-Anglian critics can after all be found, even in the well-eastablished critics of England and America. We cannot but recall T.S. Eliot’s pulling down Shelley to exalt Dryden, when Dr. Melwani extenuates the merit of Dr. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar to exalt David McButchion as a compassionate critic. A chronicler and historian of Indo-Anglian literature Dr. Iyengar certainly is. But it does not mean that he is not a critic at all. To deny him the status of a critic is to grossly underestimate him.




Saroja:  A Play: By Henry Scholberg. Price: Rs. 20.


The Marriage of Bela: By Raji Narasimhan. Price. Rs. 20.





The Legacy: By Shashi Deshpande. Price: Rs. 20.


            All the three books are published by the Writers Workshop, Lake Gardens, Calcutta-45.


            The first book is a short play produced by a writer belonging to the Writers Workshop, Calcutta. The outside, if it is an indica­tion of the inside, certainly the beautiful get-up and print can make one expect the contents to be equally attractive. In a way the play is not disappointing, since both the language and the dialogues engage the reader’s attention till the last. No doubt suspense of what might follow keeps also the reader’s interest successfully. The play is of three Acts and the situation of the scenes belongs to three different places of London, Los Angeles and Bombay.


            An artist of English birth takes as his model an Indian girl, Saroja, who is blind. While having her as a model he begins to love her. A rival to him belonging to America tries to become a distractor to both. In the meantime a sister to Saroja by name Sunita owing to jealousy attempts to bring about the failure of their courtship in subtle ways. The conflict of cultures between the West and India prominently stands in the way of smooth love. After many meetings and strategies to win over the blind girl, both the suitors are disappointed in their attempts. The play ends in Bombay with both the rival lovers taking leave of their love who by the time has regained her eyesight owing to a successful operation done on her eyes.


            The motif of the play seems eluding the reader because of the incidents dwelt upon having nowhere converged upon any persistent theme. Even the lovers do not get much involved in their main purpose of winning the girl. Except a delicate Sense of humour envelops from the beginning the entire play and the passage in arms between the main contestants for the girl’s love happens to be intriguing us all the while, the inconclusiveness of the play leaves more of dissatisfaction than of fulfilment.


            Twelve stories, all of them of varying sizes, ranging from ten or more pages to a even two or three, have their individuality both of the theme as well as the style of writing. Realism in excelsis no doubt these contain, though they could be more tapering to intelligible conclusions. Further, however bright the expression, sometimes a veil of artificiality also shrouds them in the foreignness of situations pictured as in the free use of foreign slang. Reading the stories, one may even imagine himself in a strangely habited place where names and customs remind of India but the spirit portrayed strikes as quite different. Everyone of the stories gathered here polishes off with a twang unfamiliar to most of Indian outlook. The sex suggestions too smack of the Americanism so abundantly scattered about in their fiction of today.


            To write such stories would no doubt require both skill in writing and stamina for sustaining the interest of the reader. The author has them in plenty.


            The third book is again another collection of short stories. Eleven stories in all, but each of them bears a different hue and smell. Psychologically exploring the human heart, the themes bear always something to instruct, something to suggest which has not previously even remotely been imagined. Written with a sensitivity of language also, more things have to be constructed by the reader while drawn into the depths of a literary, or shall I say, poetic survey of what life holds for us. It may be difficult for anyone perusing this fine collection to select anyone of the stories as the best, for each depends on the reader’s preference due to his or her own personal proclivity in literary assessment. Yet one’s preference cannot go without being recorded after reading the whole. ‘Legacy’, ‘A Liberated Woman’, ‘Death of A Child’ and ‘The Eternal Theme’ may easily rank with the best of short story-writing in English language–a strangely effective medium for the poetic mind to trace its fullest imaginings in the form of stories. Yet, as the Preface would show “She decidedly belongs to the new generation of Indian writers in English who consciously seek an integration with their fellow writers in the regional languages.” On the whole a very enjoyable book.




Transplanted Indo-British Administration: Edited by V. Subrahmanian. Asish Publishing House, New Delhi-7. Price: Rs. 65.


            The book which deals with British colonial history and comparative public administration highlights the fact that dependen­cies of Imperial powers may or may not opt for the adoption of their administrative practices and ideas, for what they are worth, as was exemplified in Commonwealth countries if given the option to exercise their choice. Generally it is natural for any individual or nation to imitate and internalize practices that look sophisticated and superior to theirs whether in the realm of human conduct or, in organized states wherever they exist. The British, to echo the author, acquired an empire in a fit of absent-mindedness and to keep it on leash and running introduced their native elitist administrative system in Afro-Asian countries which their Anglo-Saxon colonies rejected outright. The gentleman amateur bureaucrat was adored as a Divinity by Afro-Asian whereas the latter put the technocrat on the pedestal and made him function as Pooh-Bah. In supersession views of evolutionists the reformist Macaulay gave the go-by to nativization and existent indigenous institutions ushered in English as the administrative medium and this Machiavellian demarche ended in a proliferation of a commercial professional burgeois class. Well, in Anglo-phone British-Africa the inauguration of indirect rule was engineered with the express object of preventing the genesis of a middle class. But intentions are not guarantors. They could only postpone but could not block the arrival of a doomsday.


            As the author notes in his introduction, administrative ideas and structures go on changing and a mindless transplantation may not agree with certain socio-economic systems. To explain political systems on the basis of conceptual characteristics of societies categorised into Prismatic, Fused and Refracted can be deemed to be a futile exercise for the reason that the listed attributes envisaged for a particular social aggregate may turn out to be a macro, or micro, prolix or exiguous for precise analysis and correct classifica­tion of cases. Societies are not cast-iron moulds. They have, like living organisms, movement, growth and are subject to natural laws of stagnation and decay and may not fit into rigid frameworks prepared of a corpus of abstract concepts. So a system approach as adverted to in the book cannot be a reliable guide to draw lines and attach labels for administrative transplanting because the transplants get rejected if they do not suit the native social system.


            The book contains well-researched information and yields ample pay dirt to those interested in Public Administration.

–K. S. RAO


The River of Blood: By Indira Parthasarathy. Translated from Tamil into English by Ka Naa Subramanyam. Vikas Publishing House, 5 Ansari Road, New Delhi. Price: Rs. 35.


            The River of Blood, an English version of Indira Parthasarthy’s Sahitya Akademi Award-winning Tamil novel, is a harrowing tale “based on a tragic incident that took place in 1969, in a small village in Thanjavur District, Tamil Nadu, when forty-two Harijan labourers were burnt alive by their caste Hindu landlords” as the blurb to the novel puts it. The novel is a charter of social protest in post-Independence India. Structurally the action of the novel shifts from Delhi to Thanjavur, from the North to the South, from the capital of India to a small town in the South and terminates there only.


            The story is enacted into action by Shiva, an untouchable boy and Gopal, another boy born of intercaste parentage, who hail originally from Tamil Nadu, are circumstanced to settle at Delhi and become friends. Having got a Doctorate in Sociology, Gopal goes back to settle in his village in Tamil Nadu. Shiva sets out from Delhi to Tiruvarur, a Tamil Nadu village (small town) to bring his friend Gopal back to Delhi. But fate disposes what he proposes. The pair of protagonists, viz., Shiva and Gopal, is pitted against Kanniah Naidu, a symbol of casteism, feudalism, bossism, lechery, cunning, intrigue and oppression. Puffed up with his communal and economic status, always surrounded by rowdy ruffians, supported by the police and pampered by government officials, Naidu is bent on quelling down the awakening of peasants, protest by Pariahs and rebellion by communists in his mini empire. Chapter after chapter the novelist depicts how against this Satan the angry young men Shiva and Gopal who rouse the Pariahs and peasants, are set and how their attempts are foiled by Naidu.


            The episodes of the poor hotelier Vadivelu whom Naidu wants to finish, merely because the former supports Shiva and Gopal, and or the untouchable girl Papathi who is disgraced and murdered by Naidu are portrayed with pitiless precision and reality.


            The several experiences that Shiva undergoes during the journey from Delhi to Tiruvarur and other places in Tamil Nadu are symbolic of the good and bad (mostly bad) trials and travails the depressed people face. The meek submissiveness of the untouchables testifies to their helplessness in spite of the rule of law and social equality. The novelist has left no opportunity to give a sly dig at the bureaucracy and the police.


            Though there is every possibility of such a theme taking the garb of a social document, one has to admit that the novelist has skilfully managed to make it an artistic piece of creative writing. Admitting that there is a good deal of ideological discussion in the story, the action on the whole is sufficiently dramatic and gripping. The serious tone of the story is dexterously punctuated by apt incorporation of sporadic scenes of sex, love and humour. Barring a few negligible linguistic flaws (or experimentations) such as “hairs” for hair (p. 118) and queer Indianisms such as “two murders have happened” (p. 179) and phrases like “get caught” (191), the English rendering is effective and spell-binding. One can just rest satisfied with mere imagination as to what might the spell of the original creation in Tamil! The novel is undoubt­edly a good addition to the chronicles of the untouchables in India.




Hindu Predictive Astrology: By B. V. Raman. I.B.H. Prakashan, Gandhinagar, Bangalore-9. Price: Rs. 15.


            To comment on Raman’s book is carrying Gangajal to Kasi. Curiosity of man is the origin of sciences. He is curious about external world, internal world and future in general. Sciences, Philosophy and Astrology are the result. There are detractors of Astrology going under the sobriquet of Rationalists. The reviewer did not come across any rationalist who has studied Astrology and then started the debunking operation. Debunking Astrology is a superstition.


            Zaman has held up the torch of Hindu Astrology high. The present book is an encyclopaedia of everything necessary for a novice to know about Astrology. It has a chapter on Mundane Astrology also. Important tables are included in the book. A small chapter on the correction of birth time would have been useful.




Ananda Manadam: By K. C. Kamaliah, B-194, Eleventh Avenue, Ashoknagar, Madras-83. Price: Rs. 10.


            K. C. Kamaliah is an earnest student of Tamil literature as well as an ardent lover of the arts. To his credit there are many books on culture and arts both in Tamil and English. Being very much an admirer of Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy, he has dived deep into the philosophy of the Dance of Siva, which is again the name given by Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy to a collection of his essays on Indian art. Similarly the present author also has entitled his collection of fifteen essays in Tamil by the name “Ananda Manadam.”


            Though the particular essay on the dance of Siva comes after almost the middle of the present volume of nearly 300 pages, still the atmosphere which the author has evoked right through pervades as a result of the spiritual significance of the dance which liberates the soul and gives it the release from the cycle of births. The book starts with an article on the traditional theory of Kumari at the southernmost life of the land of India and the river Pahruli which is supposed to have flown in the extended continent now seemed as swallowed up by the ocean. Then follow dissertations on Kamban’s immortal pictures of Hanuman’s description of Rama to Sita and Rama’s own description of Sita to Hanuman. The Kural’s contents refer to some of the fine arts of music and dance which with sufficient insight find penetrating analysis in the article. People who have been lifted off their feet by the swaying melodies of the “Meghasandesa” of Kalidasa are referred to here while dealing with Pillai Perumal Aiyengar’s enjoyable poem almost with the same title, except that here the Lover happens to be the Deity of the local temple to whom as a Nayaki the Tamil bard sends his message of a yearning devotee. Then follows a lengthy essay on the works of the famous poet Trikutappa Kavirayar, whose “Kutrala Kuravanji” alone has got much celebrated, forgetting that in his other many poems also his merit as a poet of excellence shines. Ananda Manadam or the dance of Siva is a fine exposition of both Ananda Coomaraswamy’s basic thought and also the author’s own musings upon it. Interesting other short articles follow such as ‘Literary Epistles’ from English sources, Tamil verses in English versification, reviews, etc., which have all a sense of literary value apart from informative data of Tamil story pieces provided in them. A word-index at the end and a bibliography at the close of every one of the essays make the reading useful and satisfactory.




Being and Unity in Western Philosophy: By Robert Herring. University of Madras, Madras-5. Price: Rs. 10.


            Being and Unity, the subject matter of this publication, is a constituent of philosophy. Either the role of a scientist or that of logico-linguistic analyst as designed for it by Wittgenstein and Alfred Jules Ayer is incompatible to its other-worldly temperament attitude. The theories propounded: Marxism, Logical Positivism, Critical Realism, Existentialism of latter day thinkers which emerged into limelight with developments in science and technology are inadequate to interest and explain the meaning and purpose of the universe because of their inherent limitations. Transcendental knowledge is inaccessible to mere Empiricism or sense data for the reason that it is supersensuous and intuitive. The Sien comprehends both Kant’s noumenon and phenomena, Leibnitz’s substantia composita and substantia simplex and Platonic Noetostopos and Heratostopos and there is no place for therapeutic positivism in regard to problems of philosophy. Being and unity are the common characteristics, as said, of all existence whether at the mundane or metaphysical level and an analogia entis subsists between Being and non-Being thereof. The so-called Being is a facile construction and there is no genus proximum for the concept of the Absolute. Rationalism or metaphysics indulges in vacuous abstractions and verbal jugglery. Personalism or apersonalism of God is an eternal question mark. Spinoza’s Nothing and Edgar Brightman’s Hypotheti­cal Entity will not deliver the goods. Wittgenstein’s Fly serves best by its stay in the fly-bottle. Once outside it faces a mind­boggling indeterminateness and a mystifying blank.

–K. S. RAO


Dvaita Vedanta: By S. S. Raghavachar. Institute for Advanced Study of Philosophy, University of Madras, Madras-5. Price: Rs. 10.


            These special lectures by Dr. Raghavachar at the University of Madras on Dvaita cover the salient features of the dualist system of Vedanta. This system, it may be recalled, insists on the reality of the world in which we live and hence it is also called Realism as opposed to the Illusionism of the Advaita system. As the author observes, any number of dialectics cannot abolish the world. The central truths of this approach are pluralism (between the finite self and the Supreme Being and between the self and nature, nature and the Supreme Being, etc,); realism underlining the reality of the external world and its experience by ourselves; theism, positing the prior existence of a Divine Being on whom all else depends for its origin and sustenance; revelation (Vedic) as the authority for knowledge.


            Elucidating the Sadhana for release in this path, the author lists these main requirements; Grace, Human effort, Devotion, Upasana or meditative contemplation of God with love and intensity. "The un-enlightened fix their thoughts on God in the sacred images. The ritualists worship Him in the sacred fire. The Yogins meditate upon Him as dwelling in their own hearts. Some others regard Him as residing only in external nature. But the wise meditate upon Him as immanent in all.” Karma Yoga as presented in the Gita is indispensable.


            A more concise and definitive presentation of Dvaita philosophy is hard to find.




Islam: Edited by Khurshed Ahmad. Ambika Publications, Tagore Garden, New Delhi-27. Price Rs. 60.


Islamic Concept of Prophethood: By S. Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi. Price Rs. 25.


Muhammad the Ideal Prophet: By S. Sulaiman Nadvi. Price Rs. 20. Both published by Academy Islamic Research Publications, Post Box 119, Lucknow.


            The first book is a balanced presentation by different writers of the meaning and message of Islam. The first part deals with the Islamic outlook on life; the second with the two sources of Islam, the Quran and the Prophet; the third dwells on the social, cultural, spiritual, political and economic aspects of the Islamic system; the fourth and last part deals with the impact of Islam on human history with a sidelight on the problems of the world today and the solution offered by Islam. The editor, Mr. Khurshed Ahmed explains the main features of Islam as its simplicity, rationalism and practicalism, unity of Matter and Spirit, a complete way of life, balance between individual and society, universality and humanism, recognition of the truth of permanence and change in life, authenticity of the teaching.


            Consisting of lectures delivered at the Madina University in Saudi Arabia, the second volume has for its themes: the need of prophethood for the progress of humanity, the distinctive characteristics of the Messengers of God and the finality of Muhammd’s prophethood. This last topic is taken up by S. Sulaiman Nadvi in his lectures in Madras in 1925. He discusses the various prophets that came before Muhammad, viz., Moses, Abraham, Jesus and the message that they brought to mankind. He argues how Muhammad is the last and the greatest of them all and cites a tradition of a celestial voice commanding the angels to “give him (Muhammad) the morals of Adam, gnosis of Seth, courage of Noah, faithfulness of Abraham, eloquence of Ishmael, resignation of Isaac, oratory of Salih, wisdom of Lot, perseverance of Moses, endurance of Job, obedience of Jonah, fighting spirit of Joshua, melody of David, love of Daniel, esteem of Elias, chastity of Joh and the abstinence of Jesus and bathe him in the waters of their morals.”



Theory of Karman in Indian Thought: By Dr Koshelya Walli. Bharata Manisha, D-28/171, Pande Haveli, Varanasi. Price: Rs. 55.


            A thesis prepared under the guidance of the late M. M. Gopinath Kavi Raj and approved for the degree of D. Litt. of the Allahabad University, this is bound to be most useful for a proper understanding of the Doctrine of Karma, that holds a prominent place in Hindu, Buddhistic and Jaina religions and philosophies, in its varied aspects. Dr Koshelya has collected the data from a vast field of literature in both Samskrit and Pali languages. She has surveyed the Samskrit literature beginning from the Vedas and ending with Samskrit dramas, Kavyas, and the Hitopadesa also. All the prominent systems of Indian philosophy both heterodox and orthodox have been studied and relevant passages quoted. Similarly all authoritative works on Buddhism and Jainism have been diligently surveyed. Somehow some books like “Yogavasishta” and “Naishkarmya Siddhi” appear to have escaped her view.


            The word “Atma” is referred to both by “it” and “He” also (p. 278). Does the interpretation of the word “Daiva” used in the sense of “unseen forces generated by the past Karma of a particular person go against the spirit of Karmavaada? (p. 324) Some clarification may be needed here.


            The topic Determinism versus Free-will needs more elucidation. Bibliography of books should have been given in alphabetical order. But these do not detract the work from its intrinsic value.




The Bhagavata Purana (A preface to the study of): By Arabinda Basu. Academy of Comparative Philosophy and Religion, Belgaum. Price: Rs. 6-50.


            This work contains twelve chapters dealing with some important topics like the Nature of Reality, Rasa Lila, Jnana, Karma and Bhakti Yogas, and the stories of Prahlada and Chitraketu. The learned author points out that “Divine Love and the Divine Lover” is the specific theme of the Bhagavata which preaches Advaitic Bhakti. Reality according to Bhagavata is non-dual consciousness, which is designated as Brahman, Paramaatman and Bbagavana. “Intensity of Bhakti and its culmination in love between the devotee as a lover and the Divine who is the beloved are something quite original in the Bhagavatam”, and “it is its signal contribution to the literature on spiritual Sadhana”. Chapters dealing with Rasa Lila, origin of the Bhagavata, Avataras and Prahlada are highly interesting. This book is a good introduction to the study of Bhagavatam.





Sandilya Bhakti Sutras, with Svapnesvara Bhashya. Text in Devanagari with English translation: By Swami Harshananda. Published by Prasaranga, Manasagangotri, Mysore 5. Price: Rs. 16.


            The work under review, published for the first time with Svapneswara’s commentary thereon in Devanagari script along with an English translation and introduction, is a welcome addition to the Samskrit literature, What Brahma Sutras are to the Vedanta philosophy, these Sutras are to the Bhakti doctrine, Svapnesvara’s commentary, the earliest one on these Sutras, gives a nice exposition of the terse Sutras and also dilates upon the dialectics involved in the Bhakti doctrine. The English translation does justice to the original. In his scholarly introduction, the translator and editor, a monk of Sri Ramakrishna Math, refuses the view that the doctrine of Bhakti is an imported one, establishes that it had its origin in the Vedas, and then makes a comparative study of the Sutras of Narada and Sandilya. He points out that while Narada’s Sutras or Sadhana-oriented, those of Sandilya are more of academic and polemic nature.


            Philosophy of Sandilya’s Sutras is summarised. Sandilya’s period is to be restricted, according to the Swamiji, to the period between 200 A. D. and 900 A. D., and Svapnesvara must have existed between the 14th and 17th centuries. Rasapada of Daivi Mimamsa Darsana which is said to have been written by Bharadwaja and which also contains Bhakti Sutras is somehow left unnoticed here. Students of philosophy will be much beholden to the Swamiji. The authorities of the Mysore University richly deserve our praise for having published this work.





Sri Dakshinaamurty Stotramu with “Sviya Maanasollasamu”–Telugu  Commentary: By Dr L. Vijaya Gopala Rao. For copies: Author, Ramalingeswarapet, Tenali. Price: Rs. 6


            Sri Sankara’s Dakshinaamurty Stotra is famous for its poetic beauty and philosophic content. The work under review contains the original Samskrit text in Telugu script, word to word meaning of the textual verses and their Taatparya, an elucidative and exhaustive commentary on each verse, and a very long introduction at the beginning of the work–all in Telugu. It is a unique work in some respects. This is the result of the author’s lifelong study of and reflections on the Advaitic philosophy. A long introduction gives an exhaustive critical and comparative exposition of the basic principles and doctrines of Advaita in an easily assimilable way. The metaphysical, psychological and cosmological theories of Advaita are discussed at length.


            A comparative study of “Samkaradvaita” with “Saakta-advaita” is illuminating. The symbolic significance of the form of Dakshinaamurty as described in the famous verse “Mauna Vyaakhya Prakitita”, etc., is highly enlightening. The relevancy of “Sarvaatmatva Bhaavana” to the modern conditions is explained. Exposition of the meaning of the word “Atman” (Page 91) is instructive. Key words in each verse are pointed out and their significance is explained. Wrong interpretation given to the statement “Nirdosham hi Samani Brahma” and the Gita verse “Vidyaa Vinaya Sampanne” is corrected. Commentary on the first three verses is most exhaustive. The scientific explanation of the word “Adhisthana” and “Midhuna” based on the concepts of the negative and positive poles of electricity, deserves keen study and consideration. The meanings of important philosophical terms given at the end of the text are highly useful to a reader for a proper understanding of the subject matter.


            It has to be pointed out here that this commentary named “Sviya maanasollaasa”, as its very name suggests, has nothing to do with the commentary “Maanasollasawriten by Suresvaraacharya, and this is not a translation to it. We do not lag behind the Pandits who offered their mead of praise to the author of this work.




1. Upanishadvaani 2. Viridanda: Both by Movva Vrishadripati, Telugu Lecturer, Govt. College, Kandukuru, Prakasam District. Price: Rs. 8.50 and Rs. 4.


            A common and most appealing feature of the above two books is the melodious and mellifluous Telugu language in which thoughts sublime and poetic are couched by the author. The easy flow and smooth diction of the Telugu verses and the author’s command of sweet sounding words are all commendable.


            The first work contains Telugu translation in verse form of Upanishads–Isa, Katha and Prasna. Each Upanishadic hymn given in Samskrit in Telugu script is followed by Telugu translation. Considering the difficulty involved in translating the Upanishads, it is to be accepted that the author has succeeded in his laudable attempt. We commend this work to all Upanishad loving Andhras.


            The word “Paramatattvavetta” in the translation is not the exact equivalent of the word “Ananya” in the original text. But the word “Brahmaatmabhuta” given in the elucidation is the correct one (P. 93). By the time Nachiketa pointed out to his father the impropriety of his alms; the cows were neither actually handed over to nor taken by the intended recipients, as is found in the translation (P. 29). Whatever might be the sources, the significance of Nachiketa’s questioning his father three times, as explained in this context, is not convincing. If at all any significance is to be attached, it may be said that Nachiketa was sincere in asking his father physically, mentally and vocally.


            The second work is a collection of eight beautiful short poems full of poetic grace. Kaikeyi’s repentance and her request for Rama to come back to Ayodhya; selfless devotion of Lakhmana and Bharata to Sri Rama; late Veeresalingam’s services to the society; Gautama’s renunciation; Rama, Sita and Lakhmana revelling in jests and jokes–are the themes of the poems. One poem is a love lyric addressed to a god named “Ramaadhava” in a village, and it is in line with Annamacharya’s Kirtanas delineating Madhura Sringara, and is most moving. Propriety of language diction, metre and a few figures of speech add to the beauty of the poems. Characterisation of Gautama, Laxmana and Bharata is commendable. Description of village life is natural and pleasing. We are confident that this writer has a bright future.



1. Kalyana Kalpavalli 2. Tejomurtulu: By Illindala Saraswati Devi, 2-2-1118, New Nallakunta, Hyderbad-44. Price; Rs. 15 and Rs. 10.


            Srimati Saraswati Devi who enriched Telugu literature by her essays, short stories, novels, short plays and children’s books needs no introduction to the Andhra readers. The first book under review is a collection of forty essays mostly related to the place and problems of women in our modern society. A few essays deal with our civilization, festivals and customs, and family planning. All these are instructive, informative and educative and above all have not lost their relevancy even to these days. Every library must have this book.


            The second work portrays the lives of ten patriots and leaders of Telangana freedom movement, viz., Raja Bahadur Venkatrama Reddy, M. Hanumanta Rao, S. Pratapa Reddy, M. Narasinga Rao, B. Ramakrishna Rao, A. Veerabhadra Rao, R. Narayana Reddy, Smt. S. Laxmibai, Smt. Sumitra Devi and Smt. Y. Sitakumari. All these took part in the freedom movement of Telangana in their own way, enthroned Telugu language and literature and worked for the upliftment of the downtrodden with a selfless spirit and are a source of inspiration to all youngsters. How we wish that our modern youth leaders take a leaf out of these leaders’ books, turn over a new leaf and serve their mother country.