This volume is a collection of papers presented at a two-day seminar organized in 1991 in Hyderabad by Samvad, the Centre for Creative Dialogue. Samvad is concerned with the complex of dialogue in which implicit responses interact reflectively with social structures. To identify these responses in different areas is to discover the usable past in cultural streams like literature and religion
A study of the Indian poet-saints is an attempt in this direction. These poet-saints were great integrators responding to experience from the most earthy angle and integrators responding to experience from the most earthy angle and yet catching a glimpse of divinity in it. They wrestled with words only to discover the resultant distortion. In their awareness of the profanity masking the ultimate reality they sound a poignantly modern note.
The aim has been to cover as many linguistic group as possible so that a concerted, comprehensive picture emerges. There have been poet-saints in all parts of the country. When diverse forces are dividing the people in the name of religion, caste or region, the poet-saints continue to serve as a powerful integrating force. This is possibly their greatest contribution. Therefore, apart from providing intellectual stimulus, it is hoped that the essays in this volume will illumine and enrich our lives.
M. Sivaramakrishna, former Head, Dept. of English, is the founder of Samvad, the Centre for Creative Dialogue. He has also been actively participating in the activities of the Ramakrishna Math for the last four decades. He has spoken and written extensively on literature, philosophy, religion and psychology. He has published widely; some of his recent books are: Contemplating Swami Vivekananda (1995), Ramakrishna Gathaprana; Musings on Holy Mother (1995), Radiant Eternity (1995), Ramakrishna: The Unique Phenomenon (1993) and Gadia Katha (Telugu, 1994). He is on the advisory board (Telugu) of the National Book Trust, New Delhi and a Panel Member of the UGC Panel for English and Western Languages. Presently he is engaged in a UGC Major Research Project on "Indian Theories of Interpretation".
Sumita Roy teaches English at Osmania University. She is closely associated with Samvad and actively involved in the various programmes of the Ramakrishna Math. She has presented papers and published articles. Her published works include the volumes Consciousness and Creativity: A Study of Sri Aurobindo, T.S. Eliot and Aldous Huxley (1991) and an abridged version of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. She is working on a UGC Major Research Project on "Indian Philosophic Prose in English".
Prof. Sivaramkrishna and Dr. Sumita Roy have jointly authored / edited a number of volumes some of which are: Perspectives on Ramakrishna Vivekananda Vedanta Tradition (1991), Never Say No to Life: A Biography of O.P. Ghai (1993), Reflections of Swami Vivekananda: Hundred Years After Chicago (1993), Art of Writing a Biography: Structures and Strategies (1995). They have completed a work on the biography of an eminent freedom fighter and journalist of Hind Samachar fame, Lala Jagat Narain, entitled Punjab's Pride: Lala Jagat Narain. They have plans to bring out a five-volume encyclopedia on Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Vedanta.
This volume is a collection of papers presented at a two—day seminar organised by Samvad, the Centre for Creative Dialogue, in November 1991 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Hyderabad,.
Samvad is a fledgling centre which believes in the intrinsic interconnections found potentially in various dimensions of manifest creativity. If creativity is basically effective surprise it is evident in all activities secular and sacred. The formalising of this creativity is as significant as its relishing. To use the appropriate words from our own tradition, both pratibha and pragnya are necessary for necessary for creativity. Therefore, a dialogue involving the perception of the creative structuring, and the critical restructuring is indispensable Ito a balanced, view of things. The work of art, said the extraordinarily creative genius of our century, Ananda Coomaraswamy, is a product at once of wisdom and method, of reason and art. Putting this in terms of contemporary thinking, it can be said that every utterance, every sentence and perhaps every monologue, is oriented towards an anticipated, implied response and it is in dialogue with utterances that have already been made. All this also interacts with the social situation around,
Samvad, therefore, is concerned with this complex of dialogue in which implicit responses interact reflectively with social structures. It believes in identifying the spectrum of these, responses whether they manifest themselves in art, sciences, or other areas. The corresponding strategies demand discovery of a usable past. And nowhere is this past more, pavas1ve1y present, than on two cultural streams: literature and religion.
The Indian poet—saints were, from this perspective, great, integrators responding to experience from the most earthy angle and yet catching a glimpse of divinity in its very mud and, mire, y its garlic and saphire. They wrestled with words only, to discover, the resultant distortion and in their awareness of the profanity masking the ultimate reality they sound a poignantly modern note which assaults us with a shock of recognition.
For instance, Tukaram in one of his abhangas, so very beautiful even in translation where the message comes through spontaneously and effortlessly, seems to speak to us with an immediacy that is peculiarly modern. He says: In this age of evil
Poetry is an infidel’s art.
The world teemed with theatrical performers
Their craving for money, lusting for women and sheer reproduction
Define their values and priorities
And what they mouth has no connection
With their own being.
Hypocrites, they pretend such concern
For where the world is going
Talk of self-sacrifice
Which is far from their minds
They cite Vedic injunctions
But can’t do themselves any good
They are unable to view
Their own bodies in perspective
A tortuousome death awaits all those
Whose language is divorced from being.
To explore the implications of this loss of being, the result of dissociation from redemptive language was the implicit intention of the seminar on the Poet—Saints of India. To discover strategies of redemption, to identify the paradoxes involved in such an attempt, and, above all, to appropriate the residue of the live, spiritual consciousness of these poet-saints constituted the overall cluster of intentions animating the seminar. The aim was to cover as many linguistic groups as possible so that a concerted, comprehensive picture would emerge. The organisers are happy that scholars who have done considerable work in this area responded to their invitation. It was indeed heartening to see many young people enthusiastically welcoming this opportunity for an exposure to what is certainly a dimension of Indian creativity of enduring significance.
The editors would like to acknowledge their deep sense of gratitude for the privilege of having the Inaugural Address delivered by Rev. Paramarthanandaji of Ramakrishna Math, Hyderabad. In him can be found a rare blend of the Word both as language and as music. Therefore, his words provided the right tone and proper direction to the deliberations of the seminar.
Sincere thanks are also due to Shri B. Arogya Reddy, Principal, St. Mary’s junior College, Hyderabad. He is a dynamic figure whose college is itself a manifestation in the field of education of an irrepressible creativity. His eagerness to sponsor the seminar and his involvement with all the stages of its organisation speak about the breadth of his vision and commitment to values.
A word of appreciation for the authorities of the premier cultural organisation, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, for coming forward to co—sponsor the seminar. The organisers are especially thankful to Shri T.H. Chaudhury, the Chairman, and Shri Achutan, the Registrar, of the Bhavan for this spontaneous gesture of goodwill.
It is difficult to enumerate all the friends and well—wishers whose active help and cooperation have gone into the successful organisation of the seminar.
To Shri S.K. Ghai of Sterling Publishers we express our thanks for his unfailing cooperation on all occasions.
Since Smavad is dialogue, it seeks to free itself from the heat and dust of ordinary, academic, cerebral exercises. The participants in the seminar and the readers of this volume, too, it is hoped, are sahridayas, if not sadhakas, seeking, with a sense of togetherness, clarity, both secular and sacred, in these troubled, tortuous times. The aim of the discussion, therefore, is to illumine and enrich our beings.
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