Saturday, March 09, 2013

Ananthamurthy imposes a misleading mix of existentialism and the Marxist conception of society

The Politics of Aravind Adiga from Centre Right India by Sandeep Balakrishna
Decoding Aravind Adiga’s politics is the key to decode his literature. Or his pretensions to it. Aravind Adiga’s veiled attack in the Outlook magazine (March 11, 2013 issue) on the legendary Dr. S L Bhyrappa— To understand this, one needs to briefly trace the history of 20th Century history of Kannada literature.
One of the earliest and defining epochs in Kannada literary history was the Navodaya (literally, “new dawn”) period which included stalwarts like Kuvempu, D.R. Bendre, Masti Venkatesha Iyengar, Shivaram Karanth, Govinda Pai, B.M. Srikantaiah, and in a way, D.V. Gundappa. Most of these were well-rooted in both the literary and philosophical tradition of India and possessed equal erudition to the Western counterparts thereof. Navodaya was followed by the Navya (New) period, which was spearheaded by the poet Gopala Krishna Adiga and included notable writers like U R Ananthamurthy, Lankesh, Girish Karnad, V.K. Gokak, Yashwanth Chittal, A.K. Ramanujan, Ramachandra Sharma, and Shantinath Desai.
A key distinction between Navodaya and Navya was characterization. The proponents and champions of Navyacharacterized it as a movement as opposed to a new literary tradition. To wit, V.K. Gokak who coined the phrase Navya Sahitya (New Literature) didn’t quite envision the shape it would eventually assume.
Most writers of the Navya movement had returned to India after studying Humanities in universities abroad, mostly England. The reigning intellectual climate in those universities then as now was heavily Leftist. Conditioned by this, these writers embarked on a project to impose that climate in our academia. It also helped that the politics of that time was dominated by Marxism. And so they sought to find the same problems in India that they had found in the West during their student days. And when they were unable to find these problems, they invented them. Perhaps the most and the classic representative of this fraud is U R Ananthamurthy’s own Bharatipura, the name of a real town near Tirthahalli in Karnataka after which the novel is titled. The other representative novel is one which Aravind Adiga claims as “great” and is what catapulted Ananthamurthy to the fame he continues to enjoy. The novel entitled Samskara is one of the greatest literary frauds—if not for anything else—but because it sacrifices honesty at the altar of Marxist ideology… Samskara imposes a misleading mix of existentialism and the Marxist conception of society upon a society and culture to which these concepts are alien and therefore inapplicable. This technique resonates well with the Marxist distortion of Indian history: how history was subordinated to ideology by distorting Hindu society, traditions, and philosophy.
Navya thus transformed Kannada literature—a high art form—into a cesspool of politics where only “approved” writings found the fortune of being published. Those who didn’t toe the line had their futures nipped in the bud… Thus an A K Ramanujan translates U R Ananthamurthy’s Samskara into English and wins accolades. U.R. Ananthamurthy praises Ramachandra Sharma’s work while Adiga, Ananthamurthy, and Lankesh are card carrying members of Ram Manohar Lohia’s brand of socialism. Adiga and Purnachandra Tejaswi (son of the renowned Kannada poet, Kuvempu) translate Lohia’s work into Kannada. Together, these and other, similar eminences completely politicize the Kannada literary scene and brainwash at least two entire generations of Kannada writers, and in the end, sacrifice literature at the altar of ideology. Even a casual glance at the state of Kannada literary studies in the universities of Karnataka will reveal this political imprint left behind by the Navya worthies.
What initially began as a rebellion against what the Navya folks termed “traditional,” “regressive,” and “superstitious” society ended up in literary gangsterism that not only destroyed careers but set up a fertile ground for careerist, political writers to enter either the Legislative Council or the Rajya Sabha or influential positions in the Government. The only writer who prostituted himself to no ism, didn’t sell his soul to ideology but won millions of admirers was Dr. S L Bhyrappa. He wrote in Kannada sitting in faraway Gujarat and Delhi but his work became bestsellers as soon as they were published. That phenomenon began almost 50 years ago and it continues unabated. 

21 hrs [Vasantasena is a prostitute... prostitutes in the days of yore in India weren't looked down upon.] By Sandeep B. 12:27 am

Friday, March 08, 2013

Sri Aurobindo and Tyagaraja are attempting to capture the bliss

S´raddha - Sri Aurobindo Ashram PDF Feb 21, 2013 – The True Voice of Raga - Murali Sivaramakrishnan
It has appeared to me that Sri Aurobindo had experienced all these four states Salokya, Samipya, Sarupya, Sayujya — poetically, as evidenced through his short poems over a period of time. His contention was that poetry works as an index of the evolving human consciousness, and his own poetic experiences were qualitative evidences of his spiritual states of awareness and becoming…
I have always argued that Sri Aurobindo was essentially a poet who ceaselessly attempted to capture in many poetic voices the shades of transformation that his inner self underwent. His poems are the symbolic markers in these attempts. There is very little deliberation of cerebral intervention or attempts to craft new words for newer and newer experiences. What on the other hand appears to happen is that old and used words which would normally sound frayed and discoloured due to overuse in other situations here reappear in renewed light and perhaps in their reborn states. States of being like salokya, sarupya etc. are too subtle to submit themselves to ordinary expressions and only a genuine poet who is perfectly attuned to the sound of sense can rephrase them in different linguistic orders.  
Sri Aurobindo is such a type of poet who, when all is said, believed with all his strength in the power of words to reflect profounder levels of human experiences. For him the mantra was the ultimate solace for the evolving human mind in the ever widening dimensions of its spiritual journey. In the mantra, sound and sense merge and emerge in unison. Vision, experience and expression constituted the graphic trajectory of this journey. Inspiration and expression had to occur on a similar scale. Inspiration would hasten the vision while the word made possible the expression. A choice union of vision and the word comprised the mantra. Its dimensions were aspects of both the experiential and the existential. This is where what he termed integral yoga or purna yoga came in. After all, as he succinctly puts it in his The Synthsis of Yoga, all life is yoga.
Sri Aurobindo has been considered by many negative critics as being too intellectual and highbrow to be a poet at all. But then in my view he is essentially a poet who does not deliberately try to be philosophical in his writings, simply because poetry and the poetic process of godward becoming are both two sides of the same paper for him: tear one and you tear the other. His is poetry of the spirit and the four states of intense spiritual experience as I have tried to show are qualitatively captured in their subtle variations and shades as only a major poet could. Craft he certainly has, and as for images and words he is bound by the unique nature of his preoccupations. Now, where words stagger under the heftiness of the expression music would step in with ease and √©lan. In many ways both Sri Aurobindo and Tyagaraja are attempting to capture the bliss of spiritual experience and unison. The touch of the divine alters the state of the mortal mind — words seek newer dimension of meaning and raga newer dimensions of rasa.
The question that has been tormenting me all along is how far the poet can reach before addressing that stasis of silence where words falter and fail — where pure music takes over and Laya, that formless quality of the force-field of the spirit becomes possible. Perhaps all art genuinely aspires to that condition of music of the alaukika ananda! As the poet has phrased it:
The peace of God, a great calm immanence
Is now my being’s boundless atmosphere.

S´raddha - Sri Aurobindo Ashram PDF Nov 24, 2012 – Involution And Evolution: Some Conceptual Issues In The Contexts Of Indian Discourses - Murali Sivaramakrishnan
In a land like India with its heterogeneous culture and chequered history, the narratives linking place and humans are innumerable, couched in diverse perceptions and points of view, and filtered through multiple discourses over a long period of time. Geographically, historically and geo-psychically, Indian narratives afford pluralistic and complex readings. Philosophy, religion and poetry have a deep history in this part of the world, as much as oppression, domination, and ideologies of resistance and subversions.
In more ways than one, the emergence of ecologically sensitive critical theorising in the academic world has signalled a resuscitation of the idea of intrinsic value in nature that has almost come to be buried under the rubble of a postindustrial consumerist culture which constantly seeks to obliterate all differences and moves toward the making of the omnivorous discourse of globalisation and technocracy as monolithic and one-dimensional. Perhaps this return to nature could even be mocked as mere retrogression toward the European Romantic tradition of linking the human and the non-human into some sort of metaphysical essence. Or ecologically sensitive critical theorising could also be demonised as a debilitating attempt to reinstate the grand narratives of a misplaced cultural humanism, on the lines of high modernist elitism.
A third probability is that of a universally developing urban culture demonising its own predatory roles in the haloed light of a forfeited primitive human culture! Either way the very suggestion of the notion of sacred or spiritual at the heart of nature’s being is sure to invite many raised brows in our present-day world, especially in India today! Nevertheless the direction that ecologically sensitive critical theory is currently heading toward – a direction that implies a search to reinforce idea and action in the material plane (a union of the spirit and matter in different scale), in terms of environmental justice— is a sure sign of its not having lost its way in the dreary desert sand of dead habit…
The theory of involution and evolution that Sri Aurobindo envisioned, of course, is no theory — it is an experiential vision invoked by a yogi who had rigorously practised austerity and tapasya (askesis) in the Upanishadic mode. It is an anticipation of possible human evolution toward an inclusive union of the material and the spiritual. It is a sign of immense possibilities open for the human mind provided we are sensitive to the spiritual at the heart of all being. The sacred of course does no bargain!

Toward a Spiritual Aesthetics of the Environment: Quality, Space ... by M. Sivaramakrishnan - Jun 14, 2011 – Toward a Spiritual Aesthetics of the Environment: Quality, Space, and Being in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri
An essay exploring the spiritual aesthetic of nature based on the epic poem "Savitri," by Sri Aurobindo is presented. Particular focus is given to the concepts of quality, space and being within the poem. The revival of the concept of intrinsic value in nature due to the emergence of ecocriticism is explained. The author contends that the thoughts in "Savitri" are aligned with those expressed in Vedas and Upanishads and that it uses nature as a metaphor for a state of being. The idea of transformation from the material to the spiritual is tackled.
The Holistic Nature of Spiritual Aesthetic
In the context of discussing the interface between nature and human nature, it is my contention that one needs to move beyond any kind of limiting categories in terms of culture, outlook, geography, and history, either of any western philosophy—or its other eastern philosophy—and adopt a holistic view. Of course, I fully recognize the inordinate nature of this claim, fundamentally because any claims to a spiritualized awareness (in terms of the sacred and the holy) is generally regarded solely as the prerogative of humans, and the nonhuman world is of course deprived of any such possibilities; furthermore, the discourse of spirituality itself is often marginalized as inapplicable in the practical world of everyday affairs and the life of the senses. Moreover, when I argue for the inclusive vision inspired by the visionary culture of a … [Full Text of this Article]