Contemporary Indian Literature. Published by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, on behalf of the Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi. Pp. 280. Price Rs. 2-50.
This publication is well calculated to contribute to the realisation of the main objective of the Akademi, viz., to foster and co-ordinate literary activities in the Indian languages. It provides an up-to-date survey of contemporary Indian literature as a whole. One separate chapter is devoted to each of the fourteen major languages of India and written by a well-known writer or critic in it. The writer gives the background of the language, a brief history of its literature and a survey of the present trends in it. The picture that emerges from the entire survey reveals richness and manysidedness as well as the fundamental unity of Indian literature and its persistent vitality through the ages, leading us to hope for a bright future for it. The provision in the scheme for a chapter on Sanskrit and another on English is highly significant and explains the remarkable unity of outlook amidst the equally remarkable variety in the writers of the different parts of our vast country using different languages. All these languages and the literatures in them find their source and inspiration in the classical literature in Sanskrit and aspirations for the future from the common outlook achieved no less by contact with the modern literature in English. Moreover, both these languages are here seen to be live media of literary expression in India even at present.
A perusal of this volume should encourage the writers in each of these languages to compete with the others in a healthy spirit of emulation for contributing to the enrichment of the common glory. For realising the fullest benefit possible from the publication, it should be translated, and rendered available to the people, in all the regional languages of the country.
Treatment of Landscape in Eastern and Western Poetry by Dr. C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyar. Published by the Director, Oriental Institute, Baroda. Pp. 50. Price Rs. 2-25.
This publication of the University of Baroda comprises the Maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwar Honorarium. Lectures for the year 1955-56, delivered by a great son of India, distinguished as well for his cultural tastes and attainments as for political sagacity and administrative ability.
The survey includes, in its range, European as well as Indian literature; but no regular comparison or contrast is here instituted between the Eastern and the Western, as the title may lead one to expect. But, at the same time, the object of the survey is declared, at the outset, to be not merely to illustrate the varieties of treatment of landscape by different poets of the East and the West, but to outline the psychology and philosophy that underlie such treatment.
But the connoisseur in the savant is so carried away by his obvious zest and genuine enjoyment of good poetry that he feels obliged to conclude, though perhaps partly in modesty, that in a breathless summary of an immense variety of poetic endeavour and achievement, he had sought merely to convey the impression which several poets in various countries have made on him, and his personal reactions, with no attempt at detailed analysis or critical estimate. This description of his own performance is perhaps fairly correct. But even so, this survey of nature poetry including in its range the classical and modern literatures of the East and the West by one of the finest flowers of the modern Indian cultural renaissance is an achievement of rare distinction. It is bound to prove of greater real value to students of literature than mere systematic treatises on the subject by academic scholars, furnishing as it does a varied series of attractive vignettes of nature with the comments thereon of a genuine lover of poetry with well cultivated tastes and a wide range of interests.
In Ceylon’s Tea Gardens by C. V. Velu Pillai with illustrations by Manjusri. Published by Harrison Peiris, Talangama, Ceylon. Price Rs. 2.
Here are 20 pages of eminently readable English verse by an Indian. The author, we are told in the note by Jag Mohan prefixed to the poems, is a Ceylon-Indian, born and educated in Ceylon. Having entered trade union politics early in life, he was denied the dubious advantages of a University education and a leisurely life with books. But with all these apparent handicaps, his genuine and intense sympathy with his subject enables him to achieve for his utterance a commendable degree of poetic quality. The diction, rhythm and imagery as well as the conception of the individual pictures, and the series of pictures as a whole, reveal a genuine poetic impulse and temperament. In view of his obvious sympathy and intense feelings, the restraint in evidence in the objective presentation of the theme is also remarkable.
Incidentally, here we have a vivid and detailed picture of the life of the Indian labourers in the Tea Gardens of Ceylon, arresting pictures of children, women, old men; on working-days, on holidays; in the morning, at noon, and in the evening; all together presenting a fairly comprehensive and interesting picture of their pathetic life in all its phases.
Upanishadic Stories and their Significance by Swami Tattwananda published by Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama, Kalady. Pp. 164. Price Rs. 2.
The learned author points out in the introduction that the stories from the Upanishads, some of which are presented in this volume, are not mere legends but form part of the book of life and embody the teachings of the Rishis, and proceeds to give a brief account of the place of the Upanishads among our scriptures and their value to the student of Hindu sacred literature.
Each of the 20 stories included in the volume is selected from one of the major Upanishads and presented in a remarkably simple language with all the necessary explanations of technical expressions and allusions, in elaborate footnotes; and the significance of the important details, and the story as a whole, is pointed out at every stage. Taken together, these stories will serve as an excellent introduction to the essential truths of Hinduism, in a form calculated to suit the tastes and temperament of the English educated youth in the country, admittedly very much in need of moral instruction and spiritual nourishment. The need is clear and urgent for more publications of this kind, and in the regional languages as well, by the Ramakrishna Mission and other agencies with the like objectives, for popularising and propagating the precious jewels of our glorious cultural inheritance.
Kulachudamani Nigama. Editor Arthur Avalon. With an introduction by Akshaya Kumara Maitra C. I. E. Published by Ganesh & Co., Madras 17. Pages 8+31+59. Price Rs. 3.
Kulachudamani, it is said, is one of the authoritative Tantric texts on Kadi mata and Kulachara. The text under review, as the learned writer of the preface expresses, is not exhaustive in any respect. It is in the 7th and the last chapter that we come across some important details pertaining to the worship, of the Goddess Mahisha Mardani, and this will be of much use to the Sadhakas.
Sri K. Ramamurty in his preface, ably establishes the truth that there is no fundamental difference between the Kaulas and Samayins, and the apparent difference is due only to different kinds of yogic experience.
The introduction in English, covering over 31 pages, by Sri A. K. Maitra, is highly valuable in that it gives a summary of the contents of the text, chapter by chapter, compares those contents with these in other important Tantric Texts, and above all includes in itself an English translation of Mahisha Mardani Stotra with elucidative notes by the general editor. Thus this book will be of use not only to the followers of Kulachara, but to all the students of Tantric Philosophy as well.
1st vol (Taittiriya) Rs. 2 8 0
2nd vol (Isa, Kena, Katha) 2 0 0
3rd vol (Prasna and Aitereya) 2 0 0
4th vol (Mandukya) 3 0 0
5th vol (Chandogya) 2 0 0
6th vol (Brihadaranyaka) 4 0 0
2. Andhra Vedanta Panchadasi with Kalyanamrita commentary in Telugu.
1 vol (Viveka Panchakam) Rs. 2 8 0
2 vol (Dipa Panchakam) 3 0 0
3 vol (Ananda Panchakam) 2 8 0
Author Sri R. L. SOMAYAJI, B.A., B.L. Copies can be had from the author, Lalitaramamu, Brundavanamu, Guntur.
Sri Sankara’s Advaita Doctrine which reigns supreme in the realm of philosophy is expounded at large in his commentaries on the Upanishads, Brahmasutras and the Bhagavad Gita. But these commentaries are so oceanic in their nature that a reader of ordinary intelligence cannot easily dive deep into them and pick up the pearls hidden therein. This difficulty is experienced particularly by those that do not have a knowledge of Samskrit. So an easy and authentic Telugu translation of these commentaries is a long felt desideratum. Sri R. L. Somayaji an eminent lawyer, a great Samskrit scholar and above all a close disciple of H. H. Jagadguru Sri Kalyanananda Bharathi Swami, has taken upon himself the holy task of meeting this want, and has remarkably succeeded in it. In these translations, the original upanishad is given in Samskrit, and a lucid Telugu translation of that text is added on to it. This is followed by an exhaustive Telugu commentary, which contains not only a gist of Sri Sankara’s Bhashya, but also some important and elucidative points found in some commentaries thereon. A conspectus of the contents of the Bhashya, given at the beginning of each Upanishad, enhances the value of the book. These volumes are an invaluable boon to those Telugu readers, who for want of sufficient knowledge of Samskrit, are not able either to read or to understand the original texts, and commentaries thereon, and hence feel disappointed in their pursuit of philosophical studies.
Andhra Vedanta Panchadasi
A student can afford to be ignorant of Sri Sankara's Bhashyas, and yet claim for himself a sufficient acquaintance with the fundamentals of the Advaita Philosophy if he has studied Vedanta Panchadasi. A student might have spent months together in studying Sri Sankara’s Bhashyas; but he is sure to feel diffident to claim for himself a thorough grasp of the subject, if he has not studied the ‘Vedanta Panchadasi’ which can rightly be called a ‘manual of Advaita Vedanta’. The already existing Ramakrishna commentary in Samskrit upon this text and the Telugu translation thereof, it is felt, are neither exhaustive nor easily intelligible. Hence the need of a fresh Samskrit commentary and a Telugu translation. Sri R. L. Somayaji had already published an original, exhaustive and easily understandable Samskrit commentary, and won laurels from the Samskrit scholars. The volumes under review are intended for the non-Samskrit-knowing Telugu public. Herein we have the original sloka in Samskrit, with a word to word meaning in Telugu. Then follows an exhaustive Telugu commentary explaining the idea of the sloka in detail, with quotations from the Upanishads wherever necessary. The first 55 pages are devoted to a synopsis of the complete text, and this is of immense help to all the readers. It needs no saying that these three volumes richly deserve to be treasured by all Andhras that desire to have a clear idea of the Advaita Philosophy taught by Sri Sankara and Vidyaranya.
Sri Siva Sankara Kritulu: Collected lyrical and dramatic poems of Sri Tallavajjula Siva Sankara Sastri. Published in 2 volumes together comprising over 800 pages, by his son Sri Krittivasa Thirthulu in commemoration of his Shashtipurthi, under the auspices of The Sahiti Samiti, Repalle. (Price Vol. I Rs. 7 and Vol. II Rs. 6.)
Sri Siva Sankara Sastry has earned for himself a respected place in the history of Telugu literature. He is one of the pioneers that led, in the early stages, the literary renaissance in Andhra. Through his own prolific literary output, and even more, through the literary magazine Sahiti, which he edited with commendable ability and zeal for a number of years, he inspired, encouraged and influenced his contemporary poets, some of whom later rose to be stars of the first magnitude on the literary firmament of modern Andhra. The volume, variety and quality of his own poetical output, exhibited in the publications under review, should reveal to the younger generation of these days, the tendencies in theme, poetic form, style, versification and diction which characterised the movement of which he was one of the prominent leaders.
Apart from the historical value to the regular student of literature, these volumes afford to the general reader a very entertaining and enlightening reading material in verse, of considerable volume, variety and literary quality.
Vanivilasa Vanamalika: Tekumalla, Rangasayi. Pp. 450. Price Rs. 9-6-0. Published by the–Government Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras.
Rangasayi, the author of this encyclopaedic work in Telugu verse, was a contemporary of Pushpagiri Timmana who lived in the latter half of the 18th century. The poet herein has covered a vast range of useful topics both mundane and spiritual, called from Vedic, Puranic, and Sastric literatures in Samskrit, and couched them in chaste and fluent epic style, so that the reader can peruse and digest the essence of all valuable knowledge given in Samskrit literature. We strongly recommend this book to all libraries.