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Saturday, March 27, 2010

POETS AS GREAT CHILD PSYCHOLOGISTS


V SUNDARAM I.A.S.



                                       T.S.ELIOT (1888-2965)

The greatness of literature cannot be determined solely by literary standards though we must remember that whether it is literature or not can be determined only by literary standards. - T S ELIOT

What is so beautiful, what is so wonderful, what is so noble about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote, and brings to birth in us all the creative impulse. Literature is the most exciting human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, uncertainty, complexity, difficulty and mystery of human life and existence.

Psychologists, teachers and almost all people nowadays agree that the most important formative years in shaping adult personality and character are the very early years. In fact, many psychologists and educators insist that by the time a child is six or seven most of his adult qualities will have been determined. If this is true, or even partially true, then obviously parents must be as wise as possible providing the right environment during the children's earliest years.

What present-day psychologists are now saying, poets and prophets have been saying for generations. We read in Proverbs 22.6: 'Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it'. As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow is an old English folk saying. Our heritage is rich with scriptures and comments of this kind recognizing the importance of wise education in youth.




















Recently I was re-reading three great poems, two by William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and one by Walt Whitman (1819-1892), which emphasizes these points. First is a little poem by William Wordsworth:

My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So it is now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The child is father of the man;

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety.

The key line in the above poem is 'The child is father of the man'. Anyone who studies Wordsworth's poetry as a whole knows how modern he is in the recognition of the vital relationship between childhood experiences and adult natures.

Indeed 'the child is father of the man' in the sense that what the man (or woman) becomes is largely determined by what the child experiences.

All of this is extensively re-stated in Wordsworth's masterpiece, 'The Prelude', which is a long poetic recollection of all the incidents and feelings in his childhood that Wordsworth felt contributed especially to his personal growth to maturity as a poet. Often he includes in 'The Prelude' incidents which might not appear to be very important but which he knew had great impression upon him as a child, and therefore great importance. Of the many passages that might be chosen from this long, complex poem to illustrate this point, I would like to quote a few selected lines:

Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up

Fostered alike by beauty and by fear:

Much favoured in my birthplace, and no less

In that beloved Vale to which, erelong,

We were transplanted ? there were we let loose

For sports of wider range.'

Sometimes it befell

In these night wanderings, that a strong desire

O'erpowered my better reason, and the bird

Which was the captive of another's toil

Became my prey; and when the deed was done

I heard among the solitary hills

Low breathings coming after me, and sounds

Of undistinguishable motion, steps

Almost as silent as the turf they trod.

Nor less when spring had warmed the cultured Vale

Roved we as plunderers where the mother-bird

Had in high places built her lodge; though mean

Our object and inglorious, yet the end

Was not ignoble.

The telling phrase 'Fair seed-time' is especially meaningful. Childhood is a time of tender growing when, influenced by experiences of beauty and fear, the attitudes, values and personality qualities of adulthood are fixed. Thus Wordsworth recalls, in richly musical blank-verse lines, two boyish pranks of snaring birds and robbing birds' nests, and then observes, 'though mean our object and inglorious, yet the end was not ignoble'. The incidents themselves may have been 'mean and inglorious', but the end, the shaping of a grown man, was not ignoble.

 
The third poem is 'There was a Child Went Forth' by Walt Whitman.

There was a child went forth every day,

And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became,

And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of the day,

Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,

And grass and white and red morning-glorious, and white and red clover, and the song of the phoebe-bird',

And the water plants with their graceful flat-heads ? all became part of him.

- And all the changes of city and country wherever he went,

His own parents, he that had father'd him and she that had conceiv'd him in her womb and birth'd him,

They gave this child more of themselves than that,

They gave him afterward everyday, they became part of him.

The doubts of day-time and the doubts of night-time, the curious 'whether and how',

Whether that which appears so is so, or is it flashes and specks?

Men and women crowding fast in the streets, if they are not flashes and specks what are they?.....

These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.


LORD TENNYSON

The same idea expressed by William Wordsworth and Walt Whitman was also expressed in a beautiful poem called 'Ulysses' by Lord Tennyson. Tennyson said: 'I am a part of all that I have met'. Childhood, as Whitman dramatises, is the time of absorbing. A child is like a sponge, soaking in everything around him. Children are curious about everything, and everything in their environment combines to make them what they become.

Sometimes all of us in childhood did things that in themselves may have been petty, but nevertheless taught us a significant lesson. Truly childhood is the 'Seed-time of life'. There is an old Sanskrit poem (author unknown) which declares: 'You can count the seeds in an apple, but who can count the apples in a seed?'

In Victorian England, many outstanding educationists thought that classical music played an important role in fostering a child’s intellectual development. Many modern day scientists conducting experiments in the field of child development psychology have come to the conclusion that poetry is superior to prose as an instrument of a child’s mental development in the most impressionable years of early childhood.

They have established that the reading of poetry crystallizes thoughts and emotions in the field of memory more effectively than reading prose. This is so because the reading of or listening to poetry instantaneously involves or sets in motion the active use of more processes in the brain than the reading of prose entails or demands.

To quote the words of Richard Grey in this context: “ IF LITERATURE is food for the mind, then a poem is a banquet, according to research by Scottish scientists which shows poetry is better for the brain than prose. Psychologists at Dundee and St Andrews universities claim the work of poets such as Lord Byron exercise the mind more than a novel by Jane Austen. By monitoring the way different forms of text are read, they found poetry generated far more eye movement which is associated with deeper thought. Subjects were found to read poems slowly, concentrating and re-reading individual lines more than they did with prose.”
                         Lord Byron 1788-1824        Jane Austen 1775-1817

Preliminary studies using brain imaging technology have also shown greater levels of cerebral activity when people listened to poems being read aloud. Dr Jane Stabler, a literature expert at St Andrews University and a member of the research group, believes poetry may stir latent preferences in the brain for rhythm and rhymes that develop during childhood.

The use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to watch how the brain reacts as people listen to poetry and prose, has already indicated that a larger area of the brain gets lit up in the scans upon hearing poetry by Byron than prose by Jane Austen
It has been universally noticed that the eyes of children get enlivened, radiating tremendous energy and enthusiasm when they listen to great poetry. I have seen their eyes getting lit up and moved when the following poem of the great American poet E.E. Cummings (1894-1962) is read out to them on the eve of Christmas every year.


E.E. Cummings (1894-1962)

Little Tree

little tree

little silent Christmas tree

you are so little

you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest

and were you very sorry to come away?

see i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bark

and hug you safe and tight

just as your mother would,

only don't be afraid

look the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms

and i'll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won't a single place dark or unhappy

then when you're quite dressed

you'll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they'll stare!

oh but you'll be very proud

and my little sister and i will take hands

and looking up at our beautiful tree

we'll dance and sing

"Noel Noel"

Let me conclude this article with the following poem by Sri.Chinmoy. In my view this is one of the most beautiful poems in the English language.

                                           Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007)

"My poet-child, I want you to sing with Me:

I barter nothing with time and deeds.

My cosmic Play is done.

The One Transcendental I was.

The Many Universal I am.

I am the Soul-Flower of My Eternity.

I am the Heart-Fragrance of My Infinity."



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Great Pioneer in Telegu Language During the Days of British Raj



V SUNDARAM I.A.S.

Language has been the master tool which man, in his endless adventure after knowledge and power, has shaped for himself, and which, in its turn, has shaped the human mind as we know it. It has continuously extended and conserved the store of knowledge upon which mankind has drawn. It has furnished the starting-point of all our science. It has been the instrument of social cohesion and of moral law and through it human society has developed and found itself. Language is the house of Being. Language has been the soul of mankind. No one understood the significance of all this better than Charles Philip Brown.


CHARLES PHILIP BROWN


Charles Philip Brown made a phenomenal contribution to the development of Telugu language and literature in the 19th century. If you go to any bookshop in Andhra Pradesh today, you can easily buy a copy of Vasu charithra, Manu charithra, Vemana Satakam, and many other immortal classics in Telugu literature. We enjoy this privilege today mainly because of the tireless exertions of one outstanding scholar called C P Brown. C P Brown is to the Telugu language what Mahamahopadhyaya U V Swaminatha Iyer(1855-1941) was to the Tamil language. Many people today are not aware of the life and times and achievements of C P Brown. The long list of his contributions to Telugu language is really staggering and breathtaking.

C P Brown announced in awe inspiring words how he came into contact with the Telugu language. He said: 'I came into contact with Telugu at a time when its literature was dying out with its flame glimmering in the socket'. Telugu language became his beloved mistress and by the end of his life in 1884, he had seen to it that practically all the classics in Telugu literature were recorded, many were published, some were translated and brought to the notice of the world. He left behind enough materials for further research to be undertaken by scholars in the Telugu language in the coming generations.

C P Brown was born in Calcutta on 10 November, 1798. His father, David Brown, was an unusual man. He was a devout Christian who came to India to manage an orphanage and became a highly respected missionary and scholar. Unlike many others of his generation, this Englishman was interested in comparative religion. He thought that a proper understanding of the religion of the natives would be helpful in spreading Christianity in India. To learn about Hinduism, he learnt the Sanskrit language. In order to get into the bones and the consciousness of the Indian people, he started learning and speaking the local languages of the people. He learnt several native languages. He had a powerful intellectual influence on his son C P Brown. Right from his childhood days, C P Brown developed a healthy respect for all languages. He learnt Hebrew, Syrian, Arabic, Parsi, Greek, Latin and Hindustani at the feet of his father. He was a voracious reader and developed an appreciation for Milton's Paradise Lost by the time he was twelve. His father's death in 1812 removed Brown and his family from India and took them back to England. While in England he was chosen for employment in Madras by the East India Company.

At the age of 19, Brown arrived in Madras. Englishmen who came to India those days as civil servants of the East India Company had to go to Fort St.George College in Madras for learning the local language. According to Brown, he had never heard of Telugu until 13 August, 1817, the day he arrived at the Madras College. The teacher who taught him the Telugu alphabet was Velagapudi Kodandarama Panthulu. Brown passed his Telugu Proficiency and the Civil Service Tests in 1820. He was appointed as deputy to Hunbury, the collector of Cuddapah. In Cuddapah he learnt more Telugu from Hunbury, who spoke it fluently, as well as from the local people. Brown felt that books alone could not teach a living language. He took care to see that he was in living and daily touch with all the members of the public who came to meet him. Everyone became a Telugu instructor for him for the moment. Such was his passion and enthusiasm for learning the Telugu language. However, he did not know much about Telugu literature until 1824. According to Brown, a few of his initiatives in this direction were shipwrecked because of the instructors being more interested in exhibiting their scholarship and not knowing how to introduce an Englishman to the niceties of Telugu literature.

After learning the prosody of Telugu and Sanskrit, Brown wrote an explanation of both and published a book entitled 'ANDHRA GEERVAANA-CHAMDAMMU: The Prosody of the Telugu and Sanskrit Languages Explained', which was printed by the Fort St.George College Press at Madras in 1827. This was the first published work of CP Brown. Quite unlike most of the Telugu Scholars of his time, Brown advanced the philosophy that prosody is an instrument and not an end in itself.

Brown collected many manuscripts of Vemana's poems and found that there were variations between them in several poems. That proved to be the case not only with Vemana's poems but with every work of literature he collected.

Brown bought a house in Cuddapah in 1828 and used it as the Centre where scholars and scribes came together in his employment to work on the manuscripts he had collected. Employing scholars, purchasing manuscripts and procuring writing supplies etc. cost him dearly. Brown was forced, on many occasions, to borrow money both from the natives and his compatriots.

The first Brown edition of Vemana's poems was published in 1829 with 693 verses along with their English translation. The book also contained a glossary and an index of the first lines of verses. Brown continued to collect manuscripts of Vemana's poems. A second edition was brought out in 1839 with 1164 poems. Between these two editions, Brown was dismissed from his job in 1834 and that forced him to return to England. As a passionate lover of Telugu, Brown used his time in England to write “The Grammar Of The Telugu Language” and to prepare notes which were later to form the basis of his very voluminous dictionaries of Telugu-English and English-Telugu.


Brown returned to Madras in 1837 as a translator of Persian for the East India Company. Soon after that he was appointed to the Madras College Board. Brown's Telugu Grammar, certainly one of the best grammar books of Telugu, appeared in 1840 and his dictionaries, on which he continued his work, were published in 1854. His Telugu-English and English-Telugu dictionaries are considered as standard books of reference even today. Another innovation introduced by Brown was the inclusion of spoken words in his dictionary.

Among the first classical poems Brown corrected and published with commentaries were the Dvipada Kaavyas, 'Tale of Nala' by Raghava (1841) and 'The Calamities of Harischandra' by Gaurana Mantri (1842). Nannaya's Aadiparvam was published in 1843, Vasu Charithra in 1844 and Manu Charithra in 1851.

Brown's efforts in procuring, correcting and printing works of Telugu literature became soon widely known. Various individuals approached him for press-ready copies that could be published and sold for profit. Brown obliged them readily. Puranam Hayagreeva Sastry obtained the manuscript of Potana Bhaagavatam from Brown and published it in 1848 duly acknowledging Brown. Similarly Puvvada Venkata Rao, of 'Vartamaana Tarangini,' published the entire Mahaabhaaratam.Brown's scholarly study of Veera Saiva traditions in theTelugu country, which highlighted the religion's folk underpinnings and the role of Aaraadhya Brahmins in developing an elite form of the religion, has considerably enhanced our understanding of Veera Saivism beyond its conventional focus on northern Karnataka-based traditions.

In addition to his regular job, and his scholastic activities in procuring, correcting and printing Telugu literature, writing grammar and dictionaries for Telugu, Brown was also an editor of the 'Madras Journal of Literature and Science.' In his desire to bring the Telugu literature to the close attention of Westerners, he wrote summaries of the stories of the manuscripts he prepared for printing, and published them in this journal and in 'The Asiatic Journal (London).'

Brown paid careful attention to the natives' habits, their heritage, and their likes and dislikes and respected them very much. He wrote, 'Telugu people are as highly civilized as any in Europe.' He compared the modes of speech of Telugus with those of Italians. His knowledge of the different dialects of Telugu was such that he predicted at one time that Vemana might have belonged to the southwestern part of Telangana.

Brown's services as an administrator and a humanist were also of great importance to Telugus. His services as an administrator at the time of the great Guntur famine in 1832-1833 were highly commended. He opened schools for native children and maintained them.

Brown's poor health forced him to leave India in 1855. After returning to England, he continued his pursuits in Telugu. Brown was appointed Professor of Telugu in London University in or around 1865. He wrote an autobiographical account and published it in 1866. Brown continued to add new words to his dictionary almost till the end of his life. He passed away on the 12th of December 1884. In later years, several manuscripts left behind by him in the Madras Oriental Manuscripts Library were published without even an acknowledgment to his efforts.In the words of Bandi Gopala Reddy who did pioneering research work on Brown, “the contributions to Telugu by all the Telugu professors of the world, all the academies, and all the government-supported scholars put together do not come close to a tiny fraction of what Brown did.” Brown has indeed become the shining symbol of both the traditional and modern elements which have gone into the making of modern Telugu identity. Needless to say, lovers of Telugu language and literature will for ever remain grateful to this remarkable Englishman.




A Great Exponent of Kamba Ramayana

V.SUNDARAM I.A.S.

We are now living in an age of television, radio, cell phones, computers etc. Life has become so hectic that there is an illusion that a day of 24 hours is not enough for any one of us. Each one of us seems to be racing against time all the time. In spite of all the technological advancements a question that often arises is whether we are in a state of well being in mind and body.



If we go back in time to study the way our forefathers lived, we can easily see that they were all leading a healthy and gracious life, free from any kind of tension. In the absence of TV and Radio, they sought peace and relaxation in music concerts or 'Kathakalakshepam' performances by great masters of this age-old art. Kathakalakshepam is an ancient and widely prevalent art form in all parts of India and more particularly in South India. It is a Sanskrit term which etymologically means spending time listening to stories (Katha - Story, Kala - Time, Kshepa - Literally to know). The underlying spirit of this art is 'Bakthi' or 'devotion to God' and the moral message is the triumph of good over evil. Musical compositions in several languages like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Hindi, Konkani, Tulu and Marathi were sung during the Kathakalakshepam recital with splendid ease, gusto and religious fervour by all the performing artists.







Perumalanchi Kathakalakshepam
K. Subbiah Bagavathar (1895 — 1951)



South India witnessed the rise of many Bhagavathars in the field of Kathakalakshepam from the later half of the 19th century. The period from 1870 to 1940 could be described as the golden age of Harikatha and Kathakalakshepam, not only in Tamilnadu but also in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The Kathakalakshepam style of Thanjavur Krishna Bagavathar (1841-1903) became the standard for all other great Bagavathars in this field for the next 50 years. Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Bagavathar (1866-1943), Mangudi Chidambara Bagavathar (1880-1938), Chitrakavi Sivarama Bagavathar (1869-1951), Soolamangalam Soundararaja Bagavathar (1890-1925), C Saraswathi Bai (1894-1974), N S Krishna Bagavathar (1892-1984) and several others in the first half of the 20th century were all inspired by the style and technique of Thanjavur Krishna Bagavathar.


Perumalanchi (Dhalapathisamudram) Kambaramayanam Kalanidhi K. Subbiah Bagavathar (1895 — 1951) also belonged to that great tradition. For a period of nearly 25 years, he gave scintillating performances of Kathakalakshepam based on Kambaramayanam, Periapuranam and Kandapuranam in many towns of Madras Presidency. In the later phase of his career, he was concentrating only on Kambaramayanam and thus he became famous in all the Southern Districts of Tamilnadu as an authority on Kambaramayanam.

K Subbiah Sastrigal was born on 19 June 1895 at Perumalanchi village between Nanguneri and Valliyur on the National Highway from Tirunelveli to Nagercoil. He was brought up by his mother Parvathi Ammal and grand mother Valli Ammal as his father Krishna Iyer was living far away from Perumalanchi at Ernakulam, running his textile and money lending business there. Krishna Iyer went to work in Ernakulam as a young boy and by sheer dint of hard work acquired a big shop of his own within a short time of 10 years.


Later when two of his sons (one of whom was K Subbiah Sastrigal) completed their elementary education at Perumalanchi village, he took them to Ernakulam and inducted them into his business. Misfortune fell on the family with the premature death of Krishna Iyer and the subsequent mishandling of his business by his eldest son. The business was wound up and the family returned to Perumalanchi penniless and desolate.


Subbiah Sastrigal, who was only nine years old in 1904, studying in 4th class in the elementary school at Perumalanchi, came under the influence of a great Sanskrit scholar, Kalakkad Muthuswami Sastrigal, who used to give lectures on Valmiki Ramayanam in the neighbouring villages at that time. Subbiah Sastrigal became part of his entourage and learnt several aspects of Harikathai and Kathakalakshepam from that great scholar. Simultaneously he also focused on physical development, learning traditional arts of physical culture like Silambam, Busky, and Dhandal, etc. He also started acting in Tamil dramas conducted by his friends in the neighbourhood. He was drawn towards Tamil literature by two of his classmates. Even before the I World War, when he was barely 19 years old, he started giving lectures on Kambaramayanam, Periyapuranam and Kandapuranam at Ernakulam. His lectures were well received by the people of Ernakulam and Cochin. In 1914 he started conducting the festival of Rama Navami in his native Perumalanchi village. He continued this festival year after year till his death in 1951. This tradition is still in vogue in that village even today.

Soon thereafter he was invited to give lectures on Kambaramayanam in Kathakalakshepam style by the leading citizens of Kallidaikurichi village in Tirunelveli District. In 1916 he was invited by K R Venkatrama Iyer, one of the foremost lawyers of Madurai, to come to Madurai for giving Upanyasam on Kambaramayanam for 2 days. Around this time, he attracted the attention of Mayavaram Krishna Iyer, who was then personal assistant to Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar. Krishna Iyer engaged the services of Subbiah Sastrigal for giving lectures in Kambaramayanam at his residence in Madras on a princely salary of Rs.100 per month in 1917. In the meantime he also learnt Astrology, Prasnam, Devi Puja and several Vedic Homams from two great Gurus. During this period he devoted most of his time for the mastery of our scriptures and epics in the true Vedic tradition.


When Sringeri Sri Chandrasekara Bharathi Swamigal came to Tirunelveli District in 1927, he joined him and went along with to Kaladi and later to Sringeri. He was then 32. When he expressed a desire to renounce the world, Chandrasekara Bharathi Swamigal advised him to continue as a Grahastha and also to pursue the vocation of Dhramapracharam through Kathakalakshepam. As a mark of gratitude to his Guru, Subbiah Sastrigal started celebrating the Samadhi Day of Sai Sri Narasimha Bharathi Swamigal who had discovered the sacred relics of the birth place of Sankara at Kaladi (predecessor of Chandrasekara Bharathi Swamigal) as 'Guru Aradhana Day'. He kept the Paduga of Swamiji given to him by Chandrasekara Bharathi at his residence for Abishekam and Rudra Japam with Vedic pundits every day. This practice he continued till his death in 1951.

Later, with the active patronage of Appaswamy Iyer of Kallidaikurichi village in Tirunelveli District, he gave several Kathakalakshepam performances in Tirunelveli District in the late 1930s. From 1935 to 1951 he gave outstanding Kambaramayanam Kathakalakshepam recitals in Tirunelveli, Cheranmahadevi, Ambasamudram, Koilpatti, Madurai, Karaikudi, Manamudurai, Devakottai and Sivaganga. He was an itinerant Kathakalakshepam artiste moving from town to town, along with his entourage, bag and baggage, giving the message of our timeless Sanathana Dharma derived from Kambaramayanam. He was a specialist in presenting Kambaramayanam episodes relating to Paduga Pattabishekam; Vaali Vadam and Vibeeshana Saranagathi. He had mastered the art of Kathakalakshepam and used to present his programmes according to the level and taste of the audience, although the theme would never change. For instance, if children dominated the audience then humorous stories would be told in an exciting manner; it would be philosophical in tone and content for an audience of elders and senior citizens. Subbiah Sastrigal while narrating Kambaramayana, used to quote extensively from Thirukkural, Avvaiyar, Thayumanavar, Kalidasan, Ezhuthachan etc. to attract the audience and to make the narration interesting. His histrionic talents like varied tones, modulated gestures, rising and falling movements of all parts of the body, ever changing facial expressions reflecting the different emotions of navarasa helped him to bring out the true spirit and purpose of all the Ramayana stories.

 
Every one in the audience who heard him found it easy to throw himself heart and soul into the very essence of the story from Kambaramayana. Every individual in his audience after listening to his melodious exposition of Kamba Ramayana could exclaim with confidence: 'Though I am a hard-hearted man, yet Subbiah Sastrigal's presentation and exposition bring tears into my eyes! I stop; I cannot go on, I have to turn aside for a while and wipe my tears and then turn to him again'. Such was his emotional impact on the audience everywhere. Many great Tamil scholars like Prof. A. Srinivasa Raghavan, Bhaskara Thondaiman and Radakrishnan Pillai of Nagercoil were great admirers of Subbiah Sastrigal and used to go to his residence while he was in Madurai in 1944-45 for literary discussions relating to Kambaramayanam.


In every public performance on every platform for nearly three decades Subbiah Sastrigal proclaimed with majestic authority the following message: 'Where else in the world's literature can we find such examples of men and women, far from the multitude and towering above all mankind like Himalayan peaks? Learnt at the mother's knee, with reverence and love, the Ramayana has inspired great men to heroic deeds and also enabled the humble to face their trials with fortitude and faith. Kambaramayana is a noble poem possessing in a supreme degree the characteristics of a true epic, great and fateful movement, heroic characters and stately diction. Even a casual reader can feel the overwhelming power and incomparable vastness and sublimity of the poem. How does it teach us Sanathana Dharma? By its gospel of Dharma, which like a golden thread runs through all the complex movement in the epic; by its lesson that hatred breeds hatred, that covetousness and violence lead inevitably to ruin, that the only real conquest is in the battle against our lower nature'.