BOOK REVIEW

Monographs in translation

KANNADA

ASHWAGHOSHA — by Roma Chowdhuri: Translated by Srirama Bhatta;

MAHAKAVI G. SHANKARA KURUP — by M. Leelavathi: Translated by N. Damodara Shetty;

APPAR-TIRUNAVAKKARASU — by G. Valmikanathan: Translated by A. Biligirivasan;

BHIMA BOI — by Sithakant Mahapatra: Translated by Sridhara Pissay; The above four monographs have been pub. by Sahitya Akademi, Ravindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-110001. Rs. 25 each.

THE MONOGRAPH on Ashwaghosha highlights his role and contribution as a great Sanskrit poet and philosopher who was steeped in the Buddhist lore and better known for his classic work, Buddha Charita, and acquainted thoroughly with both the Hinayana and the Mahayana schools of Buddhism. His three classical works— the Buddha Charita, Soundarananda, and the Shariputra have received commendation for his originality and intellectual eminence in interpreting, in simple and charming style, the essence of the Buddhist philosophy, its scientific and rational base, running through the whole gamut of the life of the Buddha from his princely stage to enlightenment.

According to the monograph on Shankara Kurup, had the poet obeyed his guardian uncle's preference to continue the family tradition of pursuit of astrology, the literary world would have been poorer.

The advent of Kurup as a poet colossus is set in the context of the several phases of his career in Malayalam literature. An incisive evaluation of his literary output, its roots and influences portrays him as a humanist and crusader against social inequalities and exploitation of the underprivileged, and a patriot. He is credited with widening the literary horizons set by his peers — Kumaran Asan and Vallathol and found a pathfinder in Tagore.

Kurup is seen as one belonging to that literary clan which burnished the traditional and the old and saw them in rational and fresh dimensions. His literary consciousness is seen as transcending regional confines and touched a universal chord.

The monograph on the Tamil poet Appar gives him the pride of place when it recalls his literary rating as being synonymous with the 7th Century Tamil literary heritage for greatly influencing the Tamil social and religious life.

His spiritual attainments and compositions are in parallel to that of Tirugnana Sambandar and he is ranked among the quartet namely, Sundarar and Manikavachagar, besides Tirugnana Sambandar.

His pilgrimages to Shiva shrines and other religious seats and the voluminous devotional literature he produced of great appeal to the common people are recalled.

There is an anecdote to highlight his untrammelled free spirit — Appar nonchalantly defied an order of the Pallava royalty of his time to appear before it on the charge of blasphemy.

The enrichment of the Oriya literary scene is sketched in the monograph on Bhima Boi, thanks to his advent as an adivasi poet imbibing and exuding the grassroots level ambience of his literary output.

His lyrical compositions in particular are presented for their spiritual content and appeal to the rural masses of Orissa. A string of his Bhajans in Kannada translation adds spice to the narration of the poet's career as a devout follower and exponent of the Mahima cult.

It also evaluates the weighty content of his classic "Stuti Chintamani" in which he has taken the opportunity of the degeneration of social mores and values.

C. M. Ramachandra

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