‘TRIVENI’ HAS SHED LIGHT ON MY PATH.
BLESSED BE HER NAME!
‘THE TRIPLE STREAM’ l
Among the institutions which have come into being in the wake of the re-organisation of the States in India, the Zonal Councils occupy a position of great significance. The grouping of the States on the basis of contiguity and common interests was well-conceived, though it was felt in influential quarters that Mysore ought to have come into the Southern Zone and not the Western. Even this slight incongruity may not be of much practical importance, for the representatives of Mysore are being specially invited to the meetings of the Southern Zone.
When the decision was taken to re-shape the States on a linguistic basis, some leading thinkers in different parts of India entertained a genuine fear that the already existing fissiparous tendencies might be accelerated, and ultimately endanger the unity of India. That unity had been achieved after a mighty effort, and, with the exception of Pakistan, the entire sub-continent became a distinct political unit, placed in a position of great influence in international affairs. Without aspiring for it, India has in fact won the leadership of Asia. Her name and that of her Prime Minister are held in the highest esteem, wherever the value of international peace and goodwill is cherished. But within the borders of India, the division into linguistic States unleashed undesirable forces, though the basic concept behind the division was sound from the administrative and cultural points of view. The Zonal Councils were proposed as convenient links between the Union and the States. They were not administrative bodies with Services of their own; their decisions were not binding on the individual States within the Zone. But the leading administrators in the States were to meet periodically under the Chairmanship of the Home Minister of the Union, and, through a friendly interchange of views, arrive at solutions of outstanding problems like inter-State trade and commerce, distribution of river waters, sharing of certain Services, and some vexed questions relating to border areas and linguistic minorities. The habit of consultation and arriving at agreement by mutual consent is an extremely valuable factor in the growth of democracy. Even if no agreement is reached, the exchange of views between the representatives of the States will lessen the range and intensity of the divergences of view. In a few years, the elements that make for harmony will prevail as against those that promote discord.
At one stage it was hoped that neighbouring States like Bihar and Bengal, Madras and Kerala would come together and form single constitutional units. But the cordial atmosphere created by the joint statement of the Chief Ministers of Bengal and Bihar was not sustained, and the two leaders were unable to obtain the consent of the legislators and common citizens of their respective States. Perhaps the effort to bring together the people of two or three States within the ambit of a single State, while they preferred to retain their local autonomy, was a little premature. But what could not be achieved through the operation of law may become feasible through the activities of the Zonal Councils. And even if dreams like that of Dakshin Pradesh and Prachya Pradesh are not realised, the Zonal Councils will at least have softened the acerbities of linguistic feuds by promoting harmonious relations between the peoples of the Zone.
From time to time suggestions are thrown out by well-meaning people regarding the position and functions of the Governors of Indian States. While the Constitution of India defines the powers of the Governor as Head of the State, those powers have to be exercised on the advice of his Council of Ministers. The Ministers are responsible to the Legislature, whereas the Governor holds his office at the pleasure of the President who appoints him on the recommendation of the Union Government. The party in power at the Centre has the deciding voice in the appointment, transfer and recall of the Governors of the States. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister, however, are the persons primarily concerned. The Governors functioning since the achievement of Independence are tending to be mere figure-heads in whose name the administration is carried on and laws and executive orders are promulgated. Their social and ceremonial activities appear to be of greater importance than their work as the constitutional Heads of the States. It is only when the normal powers of the Legislature are withdrawn, or a new Ministry is to be formed, that the Governor functions as an active political entity.
All this is common knowledge. But what is not so commonly realised is that, very often, the Governor is an elder statesman who is in a position to advise and warn his Ministers and act as a representative of the President. To argue that, in Independent India, we ought to dispense with an officer of this type merely because he does not normally exercise political power, is to miss the meaning of the provisions of the Constitution relating to the governance of the States. The State, like the Union, must have a titular Head who will uphold the dignity of the State and represent it at important public functions. He must draw unto himself the affection and the respect of the citizens of the State, irrespective of their party affiliations. During his term of office, he ceases, like the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly or the Chairman of the Legislative Council, to be a party man, even though, like those dignitaries, he might owe his position to the chiefs of a party. The Governor is also the admitted leader of society, particularly in the Capital, and takes precedence of the Ministers and the Judges. As in England, the presence of the Monarch eliminates all rival claims to the first place in society, so too does the presence of the Governor in the Indian States. It is sometimes contended that the Indian tax-payer is being called upon to pay a heavy price for these ‘airy nothings’. But as Sri Lingamurty rightly points out in his article in the present number of ‘Triveni’, democracy is in any case costly, and the money spent on the Governors and their establishments is negligible compared with the huge expenditure incurred by the State during elections or the amounts consumed by the salaries and allowances of the legislators. It is possible to minimise the pomp and splendour of the Governor’s office, but even here economy should not be carried too far so as to rob the Head of the State of the dignity due to his position. Processions like the Dasara procession in Mysore need not be eliminated, as there is ample evidence to prove that the citizens are delighted to witness these external shows which symbolise the greatness of the State. There is something to be said in favour of sentiment, as certain festivities cherished through the centuries have acquired a historic and cultural value. Government and administration are essentially prosaic. An occasional influx of poetry and colour will mean greater happiness all round.
Finally, one wonders why our Governors have ceased to be referred to as ‘His Excellency.’ If this form of address is preserved in the case of Ambassadors, why was it given up in the case of Governors? India has not discarded all titles, and if ‘Bharat Ratnas’ and ‘Padma Vibhushans’ are created year after year, why should we shy at the adoption of a perfectly innocuous appellation of ‘Excellency?’ After all, the Governor is the Head of the State, and it is but right that he should be addressed or referred to in a manner befitting his position. The cult of simplicity is being carried too far, at the expense of the proprieties of a cultured life.
The life of the Sage of Dakshineswar is of absorbing interest to seekers of Light in all lands. Through many decades and in many languages, the great theme has been unfolded with skill and devotion. The original sources are mainly in Bengali and any fresh attempt to convey the charm of Sri Ramakrishna’s personality can be successful only if a knowledge of these sources is availed of. In Telugu, as in all Indian languages, there is a large number of high-class publications dealing with the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, the Holy Mother, and Sri Vivekananda. These have enabled the people of Andhra to sense the glory of the message of the Saint and of those who were exceedingly dear to him. The latest of such biographies is the one by Sri Chirantanananda Swami.
Swamiji is just past fifty, and the greater part of his life has been spent in the Quest of the Eternal, through study and contemplation, and personal contact with some of the leading lights of the Ramakrishna Mutt and Mission. He was closely associated with the Mission for several years in Madras and Calcutta. He is too young to have known Sri Ramakrishna or Sri Vivekananda in the flesh, but he is a disciple of Sri Vijnanananda Swami, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and for some time President of the Mutt and Mission.
Swami Chirantanananda has rendered a great service to Telugu literature by the writing and publication of Sri “Ramakrishna’s life story”, culled with care from earlier works in English, Bengali and Telugu and inbued with his high sense of spiritual values. A scholar in these three languages and also in Sanskrit, Swamiji brings to his task very valuable gifts of narration and description. Added to these is the gift of a sweet, flowing yet dignified style. His Telugu prose is of surpassing beauty. To Swamiji, Sri Ramakrishna is a godly man rather than an Avatar of God. It is the human aspect which appeals to him most, and he emphasises it with admirable simplicity and grace.
Swamiji deserves the grateful thanks of the people of Andhra for presenting them this well-written, well-produced and low-priced book 2 bearing an excellent reproduction, in colours, of Sri Ramakrishna’s picture. The eminent scholar of Andhra, Sri Veluri Sivarama Sastri, contributes an appreciative Introduction, and the volume contains the opinions of several Men of Letters who pay tributes to the prose style of Swamiji and his manner of handling the theme.
To me, personally, the friendship of Swamiji and a knowledge of his achievement have brought abiding joy.
Today, the 22nd of October, 1957, I complete sixty-three years of life. I lift up my heart in grateful prayer to the Source of all Love, Wisdom, and Power.
May the Light within me grow, and, as it grows, become more and more of a beneficent power! May it bring peace, joy, and strength wherever it manifests itself! May it never be used for selfish or immoral purposes! My Love to all beings!
Out of the abundance of Thy grace, Oh Lord! grant me perfect physical rest; grant me perfect mental peace; grant me perfect spiritual illumination and bliss!
May I cease to be a person and become a Living Flame!
‘Triveni’, my dream-child, blessed be thy name! Bapiraju, my twin-soul, may you rest in the Realms of Light! Jinarajadasa, my Elder Brother, my loving homage to your memory!
May the Lord be by my side and walk every step of the Path with me.
l October 2
2 Sri Ramakrishna Seva Samajam, Tenali.