Monday, February 25, 2008

Devotees of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo recite a page or two from the poem, Savitri as a daily routine

Savitri (book) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mother and Sri Aurobindo Books: Collected Works, Life Divine, Synthesis of Yoga, Savitri, Agenda Teachings: Involution/Involution, Evolution Integral education, Integral psychology Integral yoga, Triple transformation Physical, Vital, Mental, Psychic, Spirit Overmind, Supermind, Gnostic being Important Places: Matrimandir Communities: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville, Important Disciples: Champaklal, N.K.Gupta, Amal Kiran, Nirodbaran, Pavitra, M.P.Pandit, Pranab, A.B.Purani, D.K.Roy, Satprem, Indra Sen, Kapali Shastri Journals and Forums: Arya, Mother India, Collaboration, Auroconf,

Savitri is a 24,000 verse poem by Sri Aurobindo, completed shortly before his death in 1950.
The poem is based on the Mahabharata story of Satyavan and Savitri. In the poem, Sri Aurobindo describes the involution and evolution of the cosmos and of consciousness.
[edit] Author's Note
Sri Aurobindo had intended to write a lengthy introduction to Savitri, which never occurred. He did, however, write an author's note acting as an effective summary that appears at the beginning of the poem in all its published versions:
The tale of Satyavan and Savitri is recited in the Mahabharata as a story of conjugal love conquering death. But this legend is, as shown by many features of the human tale, one of the many symbolic myths of the Vedic cycle.

  • Satyavan is the soul carrying the divine truth of being within itself but descended into the grip of death and ignorance;
  • Savitri is the Divine Word, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save;
  • Aswapati, the Lord of the Horse, her human father, is the Lord of Tapasya, the concentrated energy of spiritual endeavour that helps us to rise from the mortal to the immortal planes;
  • Dyumatsena, Lord of the Shining Hosts, father of Satyavan, is the Divine Mind here fallen blind, losing its celestial kingdom of vision, and through that loss its kingdom of glory.

Still this is not a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations or emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life.

[edit] History of publication
Savitri was originally brought out canto by canto in small fascicles and in periodicals published by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. These periodicals were the Sri Aurobindo Mandir Annual, in 1946 and 1947, the quarterly Advent in 1946 and 1947, and the Sri Aurobindo Circle Annual in 1947. These instalments were also made available simultaneously in fascicles Canto-wise. The fascicles covered the first four Cantos of Book 1 and Book 3. The fifteen Cantos of Book 2 were published in book-form in two parts, Cantos 1-6 and Cantos 7-15, in 1947 and 1948 respectively.
The whole poem first appeared in book-form in two parts in 1950 and 1951. Sri Aurobindo's letters written to his disciples on various aspects of the poem are now part of the book. This modern epic written in a modern language is also a modern day scripture. It recounts the saga of human victory over ignorance and conquest of death. Painstakingly composed in a rhythmic meter, each line of the poem is suffused with power of Mantra.
Devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother the world over are known to recite a page or two from the poem as a daily routine as an aid to their spiritual growth. Many even find the answers to their doubts and questions by opening the book at random. On special occasions, continuous recitation of Savitri on a relay basis is also quite common in the Centers where the works and yoga teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo are studied and practiced. Regular camps and conclaves are also organized at different places in the world to study the poem and contemplate over its occult force.
The devotees of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo live their lives in a state of expectancy for the next higher evolution of consciousness. Reading Savitri is itself considered as practice of integral yoga and a potent vehicle of aspiration. And, therefore, its central role in the process of yoga is often affirmed with both awe and affection. Says Rod Hemsell
It is arguable, perhaps--the seer having received this boon of drsti, sruti, smrti in a clairaudient trance, as the simultaneous inevitable revelation of the truth of his realization, thence to be delivered forth by him as mantric verse for the subsequent illumination of fit hearers--that this sacred word might best be read, and received, by the listening heart of a clairaudient silence. And for those gifted with clairaudience (as we know from Sri Aurobindo's diaries that he was) and disposed to receiving the supramental revelation, this might well be true. But Sri Aurobindo's theory of mantra, the text of Savitri itself, and our experience, seem to support rather emphatically the notion that it is the audible sound, with its dynamics of pitch, rhythm, image, and conceptual spiritual content that has a unique potential and power to effect in the fit outward hearer the experience of which it speaks, and of which it is the living symbol.
It is to demonstrate the truth of this hypothesis, at least in part, that we have undertaken the Savitri/Agenda experiment--a series of immersion workshops in which we simply allow the Word to be heard and absorbed, in as clear and deep a manner as we can manage at the present time. And in the context and atmosphere thus created by Savitri, we turn to the Mother's Agenda with the aspiration to hear and know as profoundly and intimately as possible her experience of transformation. The effect of this attempt thus far has been overwhelmingly gratifying. And it has made dramatically clear the fact that the experience of transformation narrated by Sri Aurobindo in Savitri and by the Mother in her Agenda are one and the same. The two together create a resonance that seems to literally dissolve the membrane that separates our worlds and unite us with them in a remarkably vivid and tangible sense.
This of course will not seem too surprising to those who are familiar with their work. But what can be surprising is the degree to which one finds oneself brought face to face with their experience and into a deeply luminous identity with Sri Aurobindo, the Mother, and the work of transformation.
[edit] Editions
ed. Aurobindo Ghose, Sri Aurobindo Ashram (1954) ASIN B0007ILK7W
Lotus Press (1995)
ISBN 0-941524-80-9
edit] Literature
Jugal Kishore Mukherjee , The ascent of sight in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri (2001)
ISBN 81-7058-656-9
D. S. Mishra , Poetry and philosophy in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri (1989)
ISBN 81-85151-21-0
edit] External links
"Meditations On Savitri" DVD-Set in 12 Parts
Information on Sri Aurobindo and His Writings
US Publisher of Sri Aurobindo's writings
Online Course on Sri Aurobindo's Epic Savitri
An Analysis of Sri Aurobindo's Savitri
A online Blog on Sri Aurobindo's Epic Savitri
Categories: 1954 books Sri Aurobindo Integral thought New Age Poetry

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The blogosphere is a meritocratic space

Home > Edits & Columns > COLUMN Welcome to the Free World Amit Varma Indian Express: Saturday, February 23, 2008 at 0030 hrs

The blogosphere is a meritocratic space. Each blog finds the audience it deserves. If you like economics, you’ll find tonnes of good economics blogs, often much better than anything you’ll see in the mainstream media, because they’re written by specialists, not generalists. You want gardening? Literature? Technology? You’ll find content in any niche you can think of.

There is a lot of junk on the Internet, but readers navigate through it easily, and soon settle on a few sites they regularly visit. Information percolates so quickly that a good new blog doesn’t take much time to build a readership. You write something nice, people who like it link to you, their readers check you out, and so it grows. Marketing and hype are generally wasted, and everything is viral. If you provide compelling content, readers come. If you write rubbish, readers go. Competition is the best regulation. Amit Varma, winner of the 2007 Bastiat Prize for Journalism, blogs at Also read: In Defence of Blogging


Office Spouses, The Internet, and Other Marital Dangers
from Desicritics by Deepti Lamba ... When we start getting emotionally attached to people, even though the interaction is non-sexual, it is that much emotional investment that we take away from our marriages... People find themselves forming deep friendships in the online world...More and more individuals with partners not interested in the online world find themselves gravitating towards like-minded netizens and their spouses feeling lonely and vaguely betrayed. Some call them symptoms of couples already growing apart but I see them as causes that lead otherwise unwary couples finding themselves unable to bridge the gap due to the duplicity. The rules of protecting one's marriage have changed. It isn't the physical presence from home that goes missing, it is the withdrawal of emotional and mental connections that cripples the marriage. It is like fighting a bogeyman that exists all in the mind.

The Daughter of Heaven and The Voice of Infinity

Symbolism in the Poetry of Sri Aurobindo By Syamala Kallury
About this book Write review Add to my library
Title Page Copyright Table of Contents
Dhvani or the Theory of ... 1
Symbolism in Sri Aurobindo... 15
The Daughter of Heaven 19
The Voice of Infinity 34
Higher Than Heaven 42
The Eternal Might 51
To the Vasts of God 59
Colour in Sri Aurobindo... 72
Symbols from Science 75
Mythological Symbols 81
And Other Symbols 92
Sri Aurobindo and After 101
Bibliography 115 References 115 Index 121

Friday, February 22, 2008

In Memoriam R o g e r A n g e r : Heinrich plays J.S. Bach

Concert: GOLDBERG VARIATIONS - complete and live Pitanga ::: 7:30 PM
Heinrich plays J.S. Bach's
complete and live
In Memoriam R o g e r A n g e r
Digital Variations about the Variations. In piano i forte.
on Wednesday, 27 Feb. 08 at 7:30 pm at Pitanga
posted by Pitanga

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hamlet by The Auroville Theatre Group

The Auroville Theatre Group presentsan adaptation of Wm. Shakespeare's HAMLET performed at Town Hall Plaza, Auroville Jan. 24, 25 and 26, 2008 7:30 p.m. Director: Jill

Many thanks to: Lakshman and Luigi at Town Hall for their assistance Jean-Marc and the Le Morgan staff for trying their best Marco and Nina at the MMC - Cinema Paradiso - for their cooperation Mauricio for Shakespeare's Sonnet music Anna (Gaia) for dance choreography Town Hall watchmen for being our first audience Crisp Whiskers The Medicis All the husbands, wives, lovers, friends and families for their infinite patience during this journey The Free Store and Nandini for costumes and tailoring Ganesh Bakery for feeding us Anna, Saraswati's mom, for feeding the audience The Visitor's Centre cafeteria for the tea Ireno for great photos AVRadio for audio CD of HAMLET Yatra for the HAMLET video Saraswati for her endless hospitality SAIIER and Auroville Artist's Gathering for their financial support and encouragement special thanks to Savitri for providing us with a rehearsal space at New Creation The Auroville Theatre Group is a project of SAIIER (Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research), Bharat Nivas 605101, Auroville, INDIA

For more information about The Auroville Theatre Group, please contact:email: Auroville Theatre Group land phone: +91-413-2622-840 cell: 94864 16173 skype: jillnavarre
Home > Art & Culture > Theatre > The Auroville Theatre Group > Hamlet

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The 23 blank pages

A dash of Beckett from Faith and Theology by Ben Myers

My favourite 20th-century literature is, by a long shot, the work of Samuel Beckett. No writer makes me laugh more; no writer (except Milton) fills me with more dread.At the moment I’m filling my leisure time with Alan Badiou’s book on Beckett, together with Andrew Gibson’s wonderful new study, Beckett and Badiou: The Pathos of Intermittency (Oxford UP, 2007). And I’ve also been re-watching some of the performances in the flawed but lovable Beckett on Film series. As one of Beckett’s own characters puts it: “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful.” Oh, how I love it!

So anyway, in this Beckettian mood, I was delighted to come across this hilarious piece of spoof journalism in The Onion:

“archivists analyzing papers from [Beckett’s] Paris estate uncovered a small stack of blank paper that scholars are calling ‘the latest example of the late Irish-born writer’s genius’. The 23 blank pages, which literary experts presume is a two-act play composed some time between 1973 and 1975, are already being heralded as one of the most ambitious works by the Nobel Prize-winning author of Waiting for Godot…”

On a more theological note, one of my favourite moments in Waiting for Godot is Lucky’s thinking scene, which you can see on YouTube. It’s a great speech, and it includes some important doctrinal elucidations about

“the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattman of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell…”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All come together in a new form in ''Savitri''

DANCE REVIEW; Modern Currents in the Sensuous Flow of Indian Traditions
The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble refreshingly does not describe what it does as new or fusion Indian traditional dance. But Surupa Sen's ''Sri: In Search of the Goddess,'' performed by the Nrityagram troupe on Sunday night at Symphony Space, was as impressive an integration of the new and the old as any of the much-vaunted fusion programs performed here recently by British-based Indian modern-dance choreographers.
The six young women in the group trained and developed as a company at Protima Bedi's Nrityagram dance village near Bangalore. They emphasize the sensuous flow of the Odissi form of traditional Indian dance over its sharp, almost percussive moves and gestures, combining the two in performing that is unusually accessible. The dancers' radiance and youthful feminine sweetness color everything they do. And yet they communicated emotional states with an unexpected fierceness and power in ''Sri Savitri,'' the opening dance of the program.
Ms. Sen has had a solid exposure to the Western dance styles of choreographers including Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Maggie Sietsma and Isadora Duncan.
All come together in a new form in ''Savitri,'' inspired by Sri Aurobindo's epic poem of the same name. Each section -- ''Night,'' ''Fire'' and to a lesser extent ''Death'' -- is a stark yet intense pure distillation of its theme. The dancers move for the most part in isolation from one another, forming a spacious larger pattern. They draw near or touch to electric effect.
Three more traditional dances are performed in the second half. Best of these was ''Srimati,'' performed by Ms. Sen and Bijayini Satpathy. Described as a depiction of the two stages of youth and womanhood, the duet was most interesting in its abstract qualities. There were complex, intricate rhythmic shifts to enjoy in dance that was as assertive as it was languid.
The program was completed by ''Srimayi,'' performed by Ms. Sen, and ''Sridevi,'' performed by Ayona Bhaduri, Priyambada Pattanaik, Pavithra Reddy, Ms. Satpathy and Ms. Sen. The music was performed live by Navin Kumar Mishra (sitar), Balaram Chand (violin), Srinibas Satapathy (flute), Kshemanidhi Pradhan (percussion) and the singer Rajendra Kumar Swain. Nrityagram will end its American tour next Thursday at the Rich Forum in Stamford, Conn.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Deshpande’s words and phrasing, however, are dynamic and joyful

Towards New Age--RY Deshpande's book reviewed by Dr Joan Price Ph D
by RY Deshpande on Thu 07 Feb 2008 05:32 AM PST Permanent Link
Towards New Age R. Y. Deshpande ISBN: 978-81-86413-46-3 Publisher: Sri Mira Trust, Puducherry Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 309 Price: Rs 150
Review by Joan Price, Ph.D.
[Dr Price has taught History, Philosophical Psychology, and World Religions in the USA for over three decades. She is the author of An Introduction to Sri Aurobindo’s Philosophy. The review has appeared in the Recent Publications SABDA. The announcement of the book had appeared at
The accompanying Sabda note says about the book the following:
“Presently we are passing through the Age of Reason and perhaps preparing ourselves, without being aware of it, for the Age of luminous Intuition. The urge of the spirit of man for God-Light-Freedom-Immortality is certainly there, but it is not sufficiently deep-rooted. There is the positive human potential and it has to get firmed up in the spiritual values and possibilities. The present work is an attempt to discover and promote these values and possibilities in the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the dynamics of the Mother’s executive Force. There has to be a conviction that the culmination of the social development into the Age of the ageless Spirit is the secret yearning and motivating force behind the evolutionary Nature’s long painstaking and patient working. Humanity’s conscious participation in it will assuredly hasten this triumph and this glory. To make us perceive some of these elements is the sincere effort of Towards New Age.”]
This book is a collection of twelve articles by R Y Deshpande based on Sri Aurobindo’s perspective of life and his vision of the future. The work consists of conference talks given by the author, literary praise for Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri,and refutations of criticism “levelled against” the poem. Deshpande honors some of the works by Sri Aurobindo’s closest disciples, gives an extensive critique of Kishor Gandhi’s book, Social Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the New Age, and includes informative articles about India and the new millennium and the need for an Indian science.

The book begins with an excellent overview of Sri Aurobindo’s life, emphasizing his childhood and keen ability to learn languages, his interest in literature, and his involvement in India’s struggle for political freedom. Next we are introduced to Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual experiences. Especially interesting is the explanation of the power that brought Sri Aurobindo and the Mother together as a team to perfect the Integral Yoga. Some of the Sanskrit terminology in this chapter would be difficult for a reader who is unfamiliar with Sri Aurobindo’s poetry, psychology, and philosophy. Deshpande’s words and phrasing, however, are dynamic and joyful. One can actually feel the power of his aspiration to transcend our world of ignorance when he explains how the Mother discovered the means to awaken the body’s cells to the divine reality and how, upon his passing from the physical body, Sri Aurobindo gave the Mind of Light to the Mother as a parting gift.

Deshpande gives an excellent explanation of the spiritual discipline practiced by the Mother and how Sri Aurobindo made the supramental descent possible. On April 29, 1956, the Mother announced that the manifestation of the supramental had taken place. “A new light breaks upon the earth, a new world is born.”

The epic Savitri, says Deshpande, gives Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual experiences in the nature of a poetic record. Savitri “characterizes the entire evolutionary march of the Soul of the Earth.” The poem is the journey of Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga and a symbol of the difficulties he and the Mother encounter in order to transform physical matter through the supramental consciousness. The story of Savitri is the story of heaven and earth coming together, the story of love conquering death.

In Chapter Five Deshpande defends Sri Aurobindo’s poems Ilion and especially Savitri against certain criticisms lodged by the English poet Kathleen Raine, whom he feels has done Sri Aurobindo a great injustice. His critique is passionate and poetic, but towards the end, Deshpande makes a hasty generalization about all western poetry as “spiritless,” which unfortunately lands him in the same camp he puts Kathleen Raine in.

“The Imponderables” is a stimulating overview of the Bhagavad Gita and the function of the Avatar. In this chapter Deshpande compares the imponderables of Arjuna and Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita with the imponderables of Savitri, Narad, Satyavan, and Aswapati in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri.

The next three chapters honor some of Sri Aurobindo’s close disciples. The first is a tribute to Nirodbaran’s poetry and his book Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo, which covers the period between 1938 and 1950 when he served Sri Aurobindo as a personal attendant. Included are interesting comments on India’s freedom (from British rule) and diversity (the partition of the country along communal lines) and the role of the British against Hitler in World War II. Deshpande quotes the Mother as saying, “Thanks to Nirod, we have a revelation of an altogether unknown side of what Sri Aurobindo was.”

In “The Parable of Two Birds” the author examines the sources of the two-bird metaphor found in the Mundaka Upanishad and explains the symbology and poetry of each. He argues that Amal Kiran’s poem “Two Birds” is more than just a profound and inspired interpretation of the Vedic-Upanishadic parable, exceeding Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Brahma” and Wordsworth’s “The Prelude” in spiritual quality, and ranking as a significant success in the direction of future poetry as envisioned by Sri Aurobindo.

Following “The Parable of Two Birds” is a chapter titled “Nolini Kanta Gupta’s Perceptions of Poetry.” The author gives the literary background of Nolini Kanta Gupta and his skill in learning French from Sri Aurobindo. Nolini-da’s poetry, says Deshpande, is the “Poetry of the Spirit” and his perceptions of poetry come from a spiritual empathy, such as his declaration that beauty is the very center of Rabindranath Tagore’s poetic creation because the “perfect perfection of beauty is inherent in the nature of his inner being.” Deshpande appreciates Rabindranath Tagore’s ability to create images of unique beauty, but he prefers Nolini Kanta Gupta’s genius, believing that he stood on the borderline between Overmind and Supermind from where “he saw true poetry as an utterance of the Spirit.” 7:54 AM Science, Culture and Integral Yoga

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

He saw five suns of truth-beauty-delight-life-spirit in the sky of poetry

Sri Aurobindo wrote prophetically, long ago, that the future poetry “transcending the more intellectualised or externally vital and sensational expression” would speak “wholly in the language of an intuitive mind and vision and imagination, intuitive sense, intuitive emotion, intuitive vital feeling, which can seize in a peculiarly intimate light of knowledge by a spiritual identity the inmost thought, sight, image, sense, life, feeling of that which it is missioned to utter. The voice of poetry comes from a region above us, a plane of our being above and beyond our personal intelligence, a supermind which sees things in their inmost and largest truth by a spiritual identity and a lustrous effulgency and rapture and its native language is a revelatory, inspired, intuitive word limpid or subtly vibrant or densely packed with the glory of this ecstasy.”
He saw five suns of truth-beauty-delight-life-spirit in the sky of poetry waiting to be born, waiting for us to receive their glow and their wonderful warmth. Our creative endeavour should be to open ourselves to them. Here begin the New Ways of Poetry. And the questions is: should we not tread them in the delightful opulence of the creative spirit?
Students who graduated themselves from Sri Aurobindo’s Department of Poetry received magnificences of these suns in Sri Aurobindo’s plenty, the five suns of the creative spirit. “The silent wonders of eternity” that were waiting for the inspired utterance suddenly found in rock-hewn images the quivering lips that speak of the bright and the blue skies, and the golden truths. We witness the ear of ears and the eye of eyes waking to the subtleties of sense and sound, marvelling at the mystery of God’s creation even in Time.
Not only did Sri Aurobindo himself write seizing “the absolute in shapes that pass”; he also encouraged actively and positively those who came forward to participate in such an apocalyptic adventure. Amal-kiran was one among the most prominent practitioners of this new poetry, Poetry of the Future. He invoked heaven’s light in the inner chamber and called out the occult fire from the depths of the being to take the form of the deeply expressive and intuitive Word. His was the Hymn of Affirmation welcoming the Aurobindonian Muse, a chant in the praise of Ahana of the Eternal. Glory to the New Dawn appearing on the poetic horizon! Keywords: SriAurobindo, Spirituality, Savitri, Poetry, Mysticism, Literature Posted to: Main Page LITERATURE .. Poetry INTEGRAL YOGA Post a comment [This article was written to celebrate Amal-kiran’s hundredth birthday, 25 November 2004. Amal-kiran—The clear ray—was the name given to the young Parsee-born KD Sethna by Sri Aurobindo, on 3 September 1930.]

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I’m still of the conservative view that best poetry can be written in one’s own mother tongue

Sunday, February 3, 2008 Deccan Herald » Articulations » Writing from solitude
Swapan K Banerjee chats with Manoj Das who says that stories should not be contrived or invented but inspired.
Mulk Raj Anand had once told me that to properly understand the work of any outstanding author, one must visit the place he/she lived in. When I visited Pondicherry recently to meet Padmashri Manoj Das, I realised how the broody and meditative mood of the sea and the stillness permeating the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, crept into most of his soulful stories, lending them a spiritual dimension.
Just opposite Golconda Guest House stands the home of the short story writer par excellence. But Manoj Das does not write short stories any more. He is of the view that a short story should always be inspired and not contrived or invented. It’s just that the inspiration that gave birth to more than hundred odd stories has left him. He is now possessed by a fresh inspiration that propels him to create a different genre.
Das has so far written more than 80 books, both in Oriya and English. Recipient of many literary awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award, Saraswati Samman, Utkal Ratna, D Litt. (honoris causa), First Sri Aurobindo Puraskar, the Sahitya Akademi has recently conferred on him its highest honour, declaring him a Fellow of the Akademi.
Does writing always come from the core of solitude?
Certainly so. The idea could occur to one any moment: In a tumultuous environment, in a circumstance not very conducive to a meditative solitude. But to shape it into a literary creative piece, to give expression to the idea, you require solitude. Without solitude it remains only raw material. The deeper spirit of the theme can be felt only when one is withdrawn, and one can be withdrawn only when one is in solitude. Solitude, let me clarify, is not necessarily only physical solitude. One can remain in solitude even amidst a crowd, provided an inner discipline has been cultivated. But that’s a yogic poise one has to master.
Have you stopped writing poetry altogether?
I never wrote any poetry in English. I’m still of the conservative view that best poetry can be written in one’s own mother tongue. It’s different with Sri Aurobindo. His mother tongue was English almost, though his mother never spoke English. He did not learn any other language until he came back to India... In English he wrote epic poetry, Savitri. Coming to India, he learned with a vengeance— Sanskrit, Bengali and several other Indian languages. He was an exclusive character/creator. With other people, I believe the best poetry can come in mother tongue. That is the language of the subconscious. That is the language in which you envision things, dream things. I wrote poetry at great intervals. There are only three collections of them.
In that case how do you rate J P Das and Jayanta Mahapatra? Both of them write poetry in English.
J P Das writes both in Oriya and English. Jayanta writes only in English. Now he is writing in Oriya. Both of them are gifted writers.
Many Oriyans write poetry in English…
I have not read much. But Jayanta I have known. He's a gifted poet. So also is J P Das.
The country’s highest literary honour has recently been conferred on you. What’s a Sahitya Akademi Fellowship?
It’s just an honour. Writers who are offered the fellowship are considered to be immortals in Literature.
According to their constitution, at no given time can there be more than 21 Fellows of Sahitya Akademi. Among them, there are three/four foreign writers, honourary fellows like Nobel Laureates. The others are Indians. It’s only when one of them dies that another writer is chosen to fill the void. You know Amrita Pritam and Nirmal Verma died recently…
Recently you have gone on records saying you have stopped writing short stories altogether…Yes, many of my readers have the same disappointments. They ask me on the phone, they write letters to me. You see, it’s not as if I have deliberately stopped writing short stories. Inspiration is a very important factor in life. There can be either an invented story or an inspired story. If the writer is a skilled one, even a very sensitive reader cannot differentiate between an inspired story and an invented story. I can write even now any number of invented stories. But I believe in writing only inspired stories. You see, the inspiration for stories has left me; it doesn’t come to me now at all.
Who do you consider as a skilled writer?
One may be a gifted genius born with a certain talent. But skill is something which develops out of practice. A skilled writer is one who has precisely observed the process of maturity working in his own life. If I rewrite a piece today I wrote thirty years ago, I’ll certainly change the words, the phrases, I’ll make it more precise, more association oriented, probably more idiomatic which would save space. So the skill develops. But when one is conscious of this development within oneself, one becomes a skilled writer.
At a higher level, it’s the one who has got hold of a certain theme— the essential spirit of the writing— and then he has sufficient command over vocabulary and technique to present that particular theme in the form of a complete story or a novel. The skilled writer is one who can bring about a very natural, spontaneous synthesis between the idea central and the bulk without any jarring note in between, without any loose threads still spread out…
You call the theme the essential spirit of writing. How does it appear to you?
Theme may come in the form of a vague idea. Then when one concentrates, out of it the plot develops.
Such a vague idea can even develop into a novel?
Yes, of course it can, definitely. The Cyclone (1987) developed into a full blown novel out of one character which suddenly flashed before me. I visualised a character. That’s all. I mean that must have come to me inspired by some kind of subconscious impressions someone had left. But that is that. That character was a theme there, and the whole novel developed around it.
Some writers seem to be taking a short-cut to writing bestsellers. Is that possible?Of course! Every decade, there’s a kind of mass taste, a collective craving for certain kind of stuff. Now a clever writer— I do not mean a committed or honest or a sincere writer— who has the gift of writing, he can take advantage of this study of the peculiar moment’s craving and he can do it. I have come across a number of such novels. I can’t read them through. I just glance through them. It’s a wonderful blend of sixty percent social realism and forty percent eroticism. It makes a bestseller. I must admit that they are capable people. Anybody cannot cook up a bestseller fiction out of that. Whether they are using their gift honestly or with a superficial motive, that’s for the reader to judge…