On Tiruvaimozhi

TIRUVAIMOZHI — Panneeraayirappadi (7th Patthu): M. Varadarajan; F10, Ashok Manor, Krishnanagar, First Cross Street, Chrompet-600044. Rs. 150.

PILLAN'S ‘AARAAYIRAPPADI', written under Ramanuja's direct guidance, was the first commentary on Nammazhvar's Tiruvaimozhi, while eight others including the ‘Idu' came later. Azhagiyamanavala Jeeyar, schooled under Periavachchanpillai, wrote ‘Panneeraayirappadi' covering the essentials of earlier commentaries. All these works, written as they are in an arcane mixture of Sanskrit and Tamil, warrant their rendering in simple Tamil if they are to be properly understood and appreciated.

The book under review is a part of the series Varadarajan is bringing out on ‘Panneeraayirappadi', and it relates to the 7th Patthu (section) of Tiruvaimozhi. In Azhvar's journey towards God-realisation, the stages are logically distinct, representing a saga of unwavering faith and absolute devotion. When the goal is not in sight, he lapses into dejection and pours out his pangs of separation. Azhvar's introspection and yearning for union congeal into paeans for the Lord, which serve as a balm for every frayed soul in this world. And the message is that loving meditation on His infinite auspicious qualities and His numerous acts of redeeming the souls in distress will help overcome impediments to God-realisation. Varadarajan's effort in bringing the original work more accessible is praiseworthy.


A tribute

VISHWAPRIYA SANYASI SWAMI RANGANATHANANDA: C.S. Mangalamma; Kavyalaya Publishers, Jayanagara, Mysore-570014. Rs. 160.

A RENOWNED monk of the Ramakrishna Mission order, Swami Ranganathananda was a multi-faceted person — a scholar, preacher, author, humanist, and social worker. This Kerala-born sanyasi remained so committed to his guru's motto and dedicated himself to the alleviation of human suffering that he came to be known as ‘Abhinava Vivekananda', notes Mangalamma in this book, a long time disciple's tribute to the monk.

A globe-trotter, Ranganathananda had served in various capacities in Ramakrishna Math branches both in India and abroad. Mangalamma cites several instances to show how, during his seven decades of service, he moulded a huge army of disciples coming from across the social spectrum. The sort of respect and regard the monk commanded from national leaders, transcending religious divide, is revealed from the chapter that records what Indira Gandhi, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, L.K. Advani, Rafique Zakaria and others have said about him.

As an example of his oratorical skills, the author recalls a lecture Ranganathananda delivered at the Moscow University during the Soviet Union days and notes that he was given a standing ovation for the way he drew parallels between Marxism and Humanity. A recipient of the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, he got the Ramakrishna Math in Srinagar involve itself in the socio-economic uplift of the people living around it.


The Muziris saga

MARUPIRAVI: Sethu; DC Books, DC Kizhakemuri Edam, Good Shepherd Street, Kottayam-686001. Rs. 200.

EXTENSIVE EXCAVATION carried out at Pattanam (in Kerala) in recent years has brought into focus the antiquity and historical importance of the port town, Muziris, also known as Muchiripattanam. The port town, which is mentioned in the Sangam literature, was a bustling business centre having trade links with the West. In this novel, Sethu seeks to recreate the social and cultural harmony of the past and juxtapose it with the contemporary situation. .

The narrative moves back and forth in time, weaving into a fabric of fiction slices of myth, folklore and history. The protagonist of the novel, Aravindan returns to his village after retiring from a shipping job in Mumbai. Inspired by his friend and historian Selvakumar from Tamil Nadu, he engages himself in unearthing information and, with the support of friends — including an Israeli farmer — he picks up the lost threads and pieces them together. Jewish migration to the fatherland and the details of the Paliatth family and social struggles have been told poignantly.

The characters are etched indelibly and the novel concludes on the happy note of the Queen of Arabian Sea's revived glory with the establishment of Vallarpadam terminal at the Cochin Port. The characterisation and craft make the novel a path-breaking work, one of the best in Malayalam in recent times.

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