Born in 1883, Professor D.S. Sarma, Scholar and educationist had his education in Madras Christian Collage from which he graduated in 1904. Subsequently he took his M.A. degree in English languages and Literature in 1909. Staring life in Government service at the Kumbakonam Collage he want over to the Presidency collage Madras in 1913, where he remained on the English staff for twenty two years. After a short spell of service as the principal of the Government Arts Collage, Rajahmundry he retired from Government service in 1938. After retirement he served as the principal and Professor of English in two private collages in Madras-Pachaiyapp's Collage and Vivekananda Collage. He retired from the latter in 1949.
He was a number of books on Hinduism to his credit. Notable among them are The tales and teachings of Hinduism, Essence of Hinduism, Hinduism through the ages and the Hindu Standpoint. His English translation of the Gita has gone into seven editions and his Lectures and Essays on the Gita into four. Among his other books mention may be made of Lalita Sahasranama, the prince of Ayodhya Gandhi Sutras, The Father of the Nation The Upanishads -an anthology, etc.
The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan has Pleasure in bringing out a new edition of this book " A Primer of Hinduism" by the late Prof. D.S. Sarma, educationist and a scholar of great repute. Earlier the Bhavan had the privilege of publishing his well-know book "Essence of Hinduism, "Which has gone into four editions including one by The Ramakrishna Center Natal South Africa.
In this book, Prof. Sharma, in his inimitable style takes you through the vicissitudes Hinduism has passed through during hits long history of thousand of years. In simple language, which can be understood by even school-going children, Prof. Sarma delineates the basic philosophy which has moulded Hinduism and Hindu though down the ages.
He brings the book in the from of a dialogue between father and daughter and takes you stage by stage through the evolution of Hinduism. In this comparatively small book of 120 pages, Prof. Sarma lucidly explains how the fundamental tenets of Hinduism have base in the Vedas Upanishads Bhagavad Gita and the Puranas.
In the Tables at the end, he shows the rise and decline of the Vedic Dharma in the of the lives of the People and its revival at the hands of great men right the vedic Age till the national awakening in the early years of the 20th century, ushered in by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda.
It is our fervent hope that every school boy and girl will have occasion to go through this masterpiece in delineating Hindu philosophy from the pen of one of who all through his life was a staunch devotee of Hinduism and lived like a true Hindu.
Daughter: Father are you free now?
Father: Yes, my child. What do you want?
D: Father you promised that if I should pass the Gita Examination held by the Rajahmundry Hindu Samaj you would teach me the essentials of Hinduism. Now that I have passed it and also got a prize you should redeem your promise.
F: You have passed only the lower examination. Attempt the higher when you go to the sixth from next year and pass it. Then I will teach you. But when once you know your Gita Thoroughly, you don't require any further teaching, all the essentials of Hinduism are here.
D: but it is no confusing to me father. In some places it teaches Karma-Yoga and in others Karma-Sannyasa. I am not able to make it out.
F: All the same you have passed your examination.
D: they asked us very simple questions and I was able to answer them fairly well from what you were telling us in the prayer classes in the morning. But the higher examination will be difficult. I am told it requires a general knowledge of Hinduism. So if you me the essentials of our religion, I will sit for the higher examination next year.
F: But what do I know of Hinduism my child? Mine is a layman's knowledge picked up in a haphazard way from books. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said that a teacher who undertakes to teach religion from mere book knowledge is like a man who undertakes to describe Benares having seen only a map of the sacred city. A qualified teacher should have both religious knowledge and religious experience. These are the two eyes of religion. I have only one eye, and it is partially blind.
D: but even a one eyed man can indicate the way to a blind man. It is only when the blind lead the blind that both fall into the ditch. If you have on eye, I have none. If you are partially blind, I am totally blind. And father you have frequently deplored that the education we are getting in our schools and colleges is very defective, "as it has no religious background." Those are your very words.
F: Yes. It is a great pity that the education which the Hindu children are getting now, has no reference to the Hindu view of life or Hindu ideals. That is why it is so barren of results.
D: what are of a complete system of education are a spiritual outlook on life a sterling character graceful manners a virile mind and a humane spirit-all these of course having their in a sound and vigorous body. Mere intellectual education cannot give you all these. So I have always held that the education that is given in our schools and collages should be supplemented by some kind of moral and religious instruction at home.
D: and yet whenever I come and ask you to teach me the principles of our put me off with some excuse or other.
F: It is really the duty of the priest and not of the parent. The latter may not always be competent to teach religion. But unfortunately we have no organized priesthood. Our priests only officiate in ceremonies. They do not teach. Their emoluments are ridiculously low, and depend upon the whim of the housecholder. They are not properly trained for sacred task of maintaining our religious traditions in their original purity and vigor.
D: So it is all the greater reason that parents who know something of their religion should teach their children. But it is unlucky to have parents who are teachers by profession.
F: Why my dear?
D: Because you teachers have time only to teach children never your own.
F: Well, I have no objection my child to tech you what I know, if you are so anxious to learn. But how shall we proceed? If I proceed to give you a long account of the essentials of Hinduism, I am sure you will soon be tired. Suppose you put me some questions every day and try to answer them. Would that method suit you?
D: I don't know what questions to put I have no objection to this method, if after one or two questions you suggest to me further questions by means of your answers.
F: I will try.
D: And as you are free now, May I begin at once?
F: Yes. But one word of caution!
D: What is it?
F: You should bear in mind that religion is solid food rather hard to digest. It is not like the novels dramas, short stories and moral tales for girls that you are so found of devouring as soon as you come back from school. Your mother tells me that you are called the Punjab Express for speed. How many pages do you read a day?
D: One thousand five hundred! That is the best answer I can give.
F: Well don't lose your temper. If you want really to understand religion you have to reduce your speed very considerably.
D: And move like the goods Train?
F: Even more slowly than that
D: like a double-bullock-cart?
F: Yes when the driver is sleeping
D: That is come to s standstill
F: Exactly you have Frequently to pause and think there is no use of your skimming through ten books in one month. It is better to read one book ten times in the same period
D: Thanks very much for your advice. I suppose all the books that you deserve to be read times.
F: I am not speaking of all books. I and now speaking only of important religious books.
D: But I have not submitted to you now any ambitious scheme of reading religious books. You wanted me to put some questions on Hinduism and promised to answer them. But before I began you said you would give me one word of caution and instead gave me more than fifty words of advice on a subject which is not at all full speed. But I am an old hand at this game.
D: what game, Mr. Oldhand? Your mixed metaphors are delightful.
F: The game of employing fun when you cannot employ argument.
D: O, you are referring, I suppose to your calling me the Punjab Express instead of meeting my argument.
F: No, no. I am referring to your taking my one word of caution" literally and objecting to my fifty words of advice. Well seriously, my child my advice is not so irrelevant to the subject on hand as you suppose. Our subject is religious. And what I want you to bear in mind in our talks on religious is that you should not be in a hurry that you should calmly think over what I say and that should bring all your powers of reflection to bear on the discussion. Takes plenty of time. We will meet for this purpose only once a week from to-day.
D: very well, Father. And don't hesitate to reprimand me when I forget myself.
F: I don't think there will be any need for it, my child. You may begin now.
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