In this book about the temples in the Kongu region of Tamil Nadu, the author classifies the temples into various categories such as Kongezhu thalangal, Vishnu temples etc., and this makes the book a handy guide book for a first time visitor to the region. The author provides historical facts, legend and mythological stories in each essay.
Some ideas are repeated in different essays. For example, the representation of different animals and birds reminds one of Noah’s ark, writes the author, and quotes Coleridge’s “He prayeth well who loveth well,” on page 66 and again on page 164. Mathew Arnold’s quote on modern life is repeated on pages 176 and 188, and in both cases, punctuation and grammar have gone haywire, leaving the quote bereft of meaning. It should have been “its sick hurry, its divided aims.” Instead it has become “sick, hurry and divided aims”! Grammar has gone for a toss, in quite a few essays.
On page 27, the author writes “he frolicked upon him”! The attempt to include dramatic flourishes has resulted in some rather awkward phrasing, as for example “soon was built there a temple wherein was lying the lingam.” (page 53). The author’s paintings of the deities are delightful, and remind one of the paintings that Ananda Vikatan used to carry in its Deepavali special issues.
The essayist Robert Lynd wrote that a reviewer has no right to “judge a book by any standard save that which the author aims at reaching.” If one were to go by Lynd’s advice, then one must ignore the grammatical mistakes, and say that the author’s purpose in writing this book has been served, which is to draw the attention of tourists and pilgrims to Kongunadu temples.
Prof.K.Venkatachari; Palaniappa Brothers, Konar Maligai, 25, Peters Road, Chennai 600 014. Rs. 250