[We shall be glad to review books in all Indian languages and in English, French, and German. Books for Review should reach the office at least SIX WEEKS in advance of the day of publication of the Journal.]
The Indian Theatre: its origins and its later developments under European influence: with special reference to Western India.–By Dr. R. K. Yajnik, M.A., Ph.D. (George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 10 sh.)
The work falls into two parts, the first dealing with the ancient Sanskrit theatre and medieval vernacular theatres of the peoples of the provinces, and the second the modern Indian stage as influenced by the European theatre. It is the second part of the book that contains valuable and original work.
Part I is meagre, considering the rich original material that awaits research and the certainty of discovering in ancient Sanskrit Dramaturgy ideas that will form valuable contributions to the dramatic theory of the world. But as an introduction to the main subject of Part II, it serves its purpose by briefly noting the important ideas such as the Rasa theory, the stage-decencies, the construction of the plot in five junctures, production of drama with music and the art of minute Abhinaya (gesture) etc. The next section, on the theatre of the people, also is meagre especially the subsection on Southern India. The Yakshagana and the Kathakali are merely mentioned by name and even that wrongly regarding the latter. The Tamil play given here as Nalatangi is a mistake for Nallatangal, and Ramdas described as a pariah saint is a misstake for Ramdas, a Telugu Brahmin saint connected with the shrine of Sri Rama at Bhadrachalam. The pariah saint is connected with the shrine of Chidambaram in the Tamil land and his name is Nanda. Similar mistakes regarding South Indian names occur in the author's enumeration of South Indian adaptations and translations of Shakespeare. On P.164, the author supposes that in Mr. P. Sambandam’s Tamil adaptation of Hamlet, ‘Dravidian names befitting Southern India have been chosen with great propriety.’ The names, cited by the author himself, are not at all Dravidian but are purely Sanskrit ones, proper and fit for the North as well as for the South. ‘Amala-aditya,’ Mr. Sambandam’s Hamlet, ‘the spotless-sun’ is a pure Sanskrit name. Again on the same page, the author supposes that Hamlet in the South is more natural than in the Maratha country, for ‘such ancient Dravidian practices as the mode of burial closely resemble those of Denmark’! The sections on the medieval peoples’ theatre of Western India are very valuable.
With reference to South India again, his account of the rise of the modern theatre is not satisfactory. His general statement that the older Tamil drama is yet the most backward and that the Telugu and the Kannada have both advanced rapidly is correct; but he has not said anything about even the more advanced stages of Andhra and Karnataka. While surveying Shakespeare in India, the author’s special subject and the chief theme of his work, he has mentioned with reference to the Marathi stage the great Shakespearean actor, Mr. Ganapatrao Joshi, but in the whole work, which does not fail to mention Mr. Rangavadivelu and Mr. Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, one finds no mention at all of Mr. T. Raghavachari, the well-known South Indian Shakespearean actor, famous for his ‘Shylock’ and ‘Othello’.
The main part of Dr. Yajnik’s work where he examines the influence of Shakespeare, Moliere, Ben Jonson, Congreve, Goldsmith, Sheridan, Lord Lytton, Ibsen and Shaw, on modern Indian drama is very interesting and reveals, especially in respect of the Gujarati-Urdu stage and the Marathi stage of Western India, a very intensive study of the subject; Dr. Yajnik’s work is a valuable contribution on the modern Indian theatre of Western India. He notes the translations and adaptations of Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean plays in all the Indian vernaculars, (an appendix gives a list of these plays), and gives his estimate of the benefits and evils of foreign imitation. He beheves that, comparatively, the benefits are overwhelming. Surely, conception of character, humour, humanisation, and depicting real social life,–these the modern Indian dramatist owes directly to European influence. The modern Indian theatre owes also to European models, its crude realism, osculations on the stage, etc. The study of the modern Indian stage under foreign, especially British, influence is yet to be made in an intensive manner and this is work which has to come after all cataloguing of translations and adaptations has been finished. From this point of view, chapters X and XI of Dr. Yajnik’s work on the general influence of the British drama, ‘Retrospect and Prospect,’ are very interesting. The first thoughtless imitation must, at the present time, give place to an assimilation of the truly artistic elements in foreign models, to a deeper understanding of the spirit that is Indian and to the creation of a drama that is organic and not hybrid. We are also of opinion that, as a result of the European influence and with an idea of writing according to the times, dramatists like Dvijendralal in his Sita have given mere modern social and other polemics, mutilated the Sanskrit originals and produced not Rasa but Rasabhasa. ‘What India really needs just now’ is the title of a paragraph of Dr. Yajnik on page 258, and he answers that India now needs an Indian Ibsen and a Shaw. It is not possible to discuss in a review problems of the present and the future of our Indian theatre but everybody will agree when Dr. Yajnik says (on p. 258), ‘So far, the Indian theatre is in a state of utter confusion, since the country does not know its own mind and has not yet reached the proper period of self-unfolding. It simply borrows crudely and imitates.’ The Indian theatre has to see greater confusion as a result of the impact of what has come closely upon the English drama and the novel, viz., the American and the British moving and talking picture.
Dr. Yajnik’s ‘Indian Theatre’ is bound to be of immense help to the student of Indian Drama.
Education in Ancient India.–By Dr. A. S. Altekar Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University. (The Indian Book-shop, Benares City. Price Rs. 3).
The work under review is a history of Education in Ancient India up to about 1200 A.D. though it often briefly brings up its survey to the time of the advent of the British also. Dr. Altekar has examined every possible source, Sanskrit and Brahminic literature, Pali and Buddhistic literature, inscriptions and accounts by foreign travelers and chroniclers. Every department of education in Ancient India is described with citation of evidences–religious, literary, cultural education, useful vocational education, primary, secondary and higher education, education of women, of the masses and of each caste in particular. The historical and educational significance of such ancient Indian educational rituals as Upanayana and Upakarma has been elucidated, and the good points in the ancient ideals and methods of education as compared with those in our present age are pointed out by the author. Defects there must have been and Dr. Altekar notices them in the last chapter, after which he concludes that, if a proper comparison is instituted with conditions obtaining in other countries in the corresponding ages, ‘India will have nothing to be afraid of’ (P. 357). The causes which led to the fall in the percentage of literacy in India in course of time, the neglect of the education of women and the masses and connected problems are also discussed by the author. The work teems with information which will interest very much the lay student of Indian history and culture as well as the thinker interested in present-day educational problems. State and public help to ancient Indian educational institutions, the various kinds of such institutions and a brief account of the more important of them,–city-centres, monasteries, colleges in temples, or Agrahara settlements, like Takshasila, Benares, Nalanda, Valabhi, Vikramasila, Saltogi, Ennayiram, Tirumukudal, Tiruvottiyur, Malkapuram are some of the other primary subjects dealt with in the work.
Dr. Altekar’s work is not merely a contribution of a substantial nature by a research professor to a department of ancient Indian history. Its value at this juncture of events in our country cannot be overstated. Modern Indian thinkers of differing schools of thought are all agreed upon the point that our present educational system is bad. Lopsided intellects and mechanised lives in the place of whole-men; lack of individual attention of the teacher to each student due mainly to overcrowding at a few city-centres; crude, improper and overdone examination tests, the students forgetting every thing in their after-life;–these were not found in the ancient system. Even at such great centres as Nalanda and Ennayiram where ten to twenty subjects were taught and 300 to 5000 students studied, the system was such that each teacher had under his care at the most only twenty students. Dr. Altekar expatiates upon Brahmacharya, the character, habits and necessary virtues of the students’ life in ancient India which can be compared with the extravagant and foppish habits of students of both the sexes in our modern colleges. The country is awake now to the need of a new kind of education and its birth is already seen in the rise of Ashramas, Kalasalas, Vidyapithas and National Colleges of a new kind in various parts of the land. To all those interested in the future of India, of which the basis is a sound education, Dr. Altekar and his reviewer would suggest a study of the ancient Indian educational system, ‘the general principles (underlying which) . . . . are inherently sound and capable of yielding excellent results even in modern times, if applied with due regard to changed circumstances.’ (P. 358).
The book is neatly got-up, but printing mistakes are not few. Transliterated spelling and diacritical marks are used haphazardly.
Personalities in Present-Day Music.–By E. Krishna Iyer, B.A., B.L. Advocate. [Messrs. Rochouse & Sons, Madras. Price Re. 1.]
It may be said music is the most popular of the Arts, for its appeal is direct and universal. The possession of it can be equally enjoyed by both high and low, whereas pictures
are but the luxury of the rich. Let it be a mere street-singer; if only the voice be melodious, one cannot but pause and listen to it whatever one may be doing. So complete, so elevating is the grip of music over the human spirit that one who is unmoved by its sweetness seems liable to be pitied.
If India can be justly proud of anything, it is undoubtedly her music, especially Carnatic Music, unique in its conception and its system of ragas, beautiful and varied. Nevertheless, the glory of South Indian Music was allowed to suffer a temporary detraction. Till lately it was relegated to the background and the practice of it save by a few who sought it as a means of earning their livelihood, was distinctly looked upon with indifference. Happily, a widespread enthusiasm for the restoration of music to its rightful place is observable everywhere, and musicians hitherto held in no great veneration are coming into their own. Such a zeal as has established a Music Academy, wherein correct theory and standards of music are being discussed with a view to popularising them, is certainty to be highly commended.
Mr. E. Krishna Iyer is one of those enthusiasts who serve their cause with unmitigated devotion. How can he help coming out with what he feels for the Art and the Artists? He is a pioneer too, in raising his voice on behalf of that much disparaged art, the Indian Dance. He has not only tried earnestly to re-establish its lost prestige, but shown his great respect for it by learning it himself and assiduously practising it.
In this book entitled ‘Personalities in Present-Day Music’ he has given no less than eighteen sketches of prominent musicians of both sexes, vocalists as well as instrument players and able exponents of Bharata Natyam. Being free from bias–a condition most desirable in a work like this–Mr. Krishna Iyer has been able to study his subjects in their proper perspective and present them as faithfully as he could. One finds oneself agreeing generally with what he has to say about each of these subjects. ‘The studies have been timely’, the Foreword says, ‘and would be found useful by those who desire to form correct standards of judgment in music.’ The book, there is every reason to believe, will amply justify that expectation.
It is just possible, however, the critical reader may not find all that he expects there. The sketches are drawn, one and all, in much the same manner. The critics would perhaps wish they may be brought into greater relief and rendered more lively by comparisons between one popular musician and another, and a few select anecdotes which would serve to bring out the peculiar merits or characteristics of the subjects, would certainly have added to the interest of the book. It is otherwise well-written and bids fair to provide information as well as enjoyment to all lovers of music.
Picturesque India, the landscape, the monuments and the people.–By Dr. M. Hurlimann. [D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co., Bombay. Price, Rs. 20.]
Last year, this enterprising firm of publishers brought out a beautiful volume entitled ‘Panoramic India’ with excellent photographs by Mr. E. R. Wallace and explanatory notes by Mr. K. H. Vakil, the well-known art-critic of Bombay. The present volume is even more sumptuous and wider in its scope. It is one of a series bf volumes planned by Dr. Hurlimann to illustrate the art and life of various countries, East and West. The selection of over three hundred plates has been made with the utmost care, so as to cover every aspect of Indian life. Specimens of Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist, and Islamic architecture; views of the great beauty-spots, on the mountains, by the rivers and on the sea-shore; simple scenes of the home and the bazaar; ancient bronzes and statuary illustrative of India’s art-traditions; are all reproduced here, giving a vivid impression of India through the ages.
In the Introduction the Doctor reviews briefly the ethnology, religion and art of India and seeks to explain the unity underlying the many apparent contradictions in Indian life today. But being meant primarily for the foreign reader, the review is necessarily scrappy and hurried. And, running all through, is the feeling that there is something lacking in the civilisation of India, that Hinduism and Buddhism can in no ‘ sense rival Christianity in universal appeal.
Apart from this, the book is very valuable and ought to be kept in all public libraries. As a gift-book, it would be admirable.
Prathibha. –Editor, G. D. Khanolkar, Bombay. [Fortnightly. Re. 1-8 per year]
Prem Anei Vidwatta.–By G. D. Khanolkar. [Bombay, Price 12 annas.]
The name of Mr. G. D. Khanolkar has now become a familiar one in Maharashtra’s literary circles as a writer of great promise, versatility, and of a mellow and pleasing style in Marathi. Mr. Khanolkar has a definite Bengali influence and is very markedly noticeable in all his writings. Prathibha is a literary review published fortnightly and conducted along lines of some of the better class English weeklies in England, and it alms at giving a review of current Marathi literature and its tendencies. A few copies that have been sent to me for notice fully Justify the ideals with which this young review has made its debut In Maharashtra’s literary world, and if Prathibha represents the literary urge of Maharashtra’s younger writers in poetry and in prose and in the art of story writing and literary criticism, then one feels that great days are in store for the growing Marathi literature of today.
Prem Anei Vidwatta is a collection of delightful short stories by the same author, and almost all the stories contained in this volume give an hour’s bright unadulterated entertainment. But I must warn Mr. Khanolkar of too much sentiment, and sometimes mawkish sentiment at that, in his stories. He could easily make his stories more gripping if he tried it, and avoided certain obvious commonplaces. The story of ‘Malaki Hakk’ or Right of Possession, is fine.
R. L. RAU
Unadi Sutra in various recensions. Part I. The Sutras with the Vritti of Svetavanavasin. Part II: The Sutras with the commentary Prakriya Sarvasva of Narayana.–Edited by Dr. T. R. Chintamani, M.A. Ph.D., Senior Lecturer in Sanskrit, University of Madras. [Published by the Madras University. Price Rs. 2.8-0. Foreign 4 sh. each part.]
The Unadi Sutras form a supplement to the various grammatical systems of Panini, Sakatayana and others and they treat of the formation of nouns by the addition of suffixes ‘Un’ etc. to roots. This is an important section of Sanskrit grammar which reveals the rich vocabulary of the Sanskrit language, but unfortunately its study is being neglected of late by students of Sanskrit. The publication of this text in various recensions with a number of unpublished commentaries will serve to emphasise the need for the study of this subject, if one should acquire a command of vocabulary.
The authorship of the Unadi Sutras is a vexed question and the editor reserves a full discussion of this question to the last part of the series. The commentary of Svetavanavasin, published in the first part, is much older than Bhattoji’s and it reads the text differently from Bhattoji in many places. It is easy and lucid and is very helpful in text.
Part II contains the same test in a form slightly modified in accordance with the commentary published in ii, viz., the Prakriya Sarvasva, of Narayanabhatta. The text of this commentary on the Unadi Sutras represents the 19th chapter of Narayanabhatta’s big grammatical treatise Prakriya Sarvasva, dealing with all aspects of grammar like Bhattoji Dikshita’s Siddhanta Kaumudi. Narayana Pandita’s work is very popular in Malabar on account of the great reputation of the author, well-known through his devotional poem, Narayaniya and the Mimamsa treatise, Manameyodaya, published long ago in the Trivandrum Sanskrit series. This Prakriya Sarvasva was proposed to be published in parts with a commentary in the Trivandrum series and part one of it appeared in that series (No. 106) in 1931. The section on the Unadi Sutras has been now published by the Madras University.
Narayanabhatta has drawn upon his wide learning in commenting on the Sutras and comparing the views of many other commentators, especially of King Bhoja. He gives the etymology of many words not touched upon in the Sutras and thereby reveals the extraordinary range of his vocabulary. He also adds at the end a section on the derivation of many rare words following the grammatical system of King Bhoja which could not be included in the body of the text.
The editor, Dr. T. R. Chintamani, has bestowed great attention in preparing this edition, and in furnishing it with indices of Sutras, words and quotations (mostly identified). The addition of some scholarly grammatical or philological notes on some important words can improve the edition very much. The publication is free from any serious errors and the printing and get-up are good. The editor is certainly to be congratulated on bringing out this important and useful work."
A. SANKARAN, M.A., Ph.D.