“In what field indeed has not India attempted achieved, created, and in all on a large scale and yet with much attention to completeness of detail?”
Endless creativity bursting through every pore of carved rock or painted canvas. Extreme movement meeting calm stillness through the dynamics of dance. Songs of the heart and spirit soaring towards heaven or plunging into the womb of the earth. Valour, foresight and humility reaching across mapped contours to thread inch by inch a whole nation of people. The muse unstoppable as it knit yarn after yearn to be sung or read or taught or dramatized. Capious amount of intellectual reasoning, deductions, assimilations, Lessons learnt from every act of thought, and in turn spread, like a ravenous fire from parent to child or mentor to disciple. All were students of this great game called Life, Looking, hunting, searching with varying degrees of intensity, the answers to unimaginable questions-knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Studying everything that remained to mystery-from stars and scars to grain and god. They saw no difference all demanded attention, all received it. Not a cursory glance but meticulous pondering and logical conclusions everything deserved an explanation. Specially the enigma of existence.
In what field indeed....?
Ancient Indian civilization is not something over and done with, relegated to the past-it continues to live and that is what makes it so utterly fascinating. To study it in depth may not be a must, but to become aware of some of her phenomenal contributions, to understand what made those achievements possible, to apply some of the secret recipes for brighter futures... all that certainly is. To get under the skin; to soak in the essence; to become one with the spirit of India – there is still much to be learnt...
The whole aim of a great culture is to lift man up to something which at first he is not, to lead him to knowledge though he starts from an unfathomable ignorance, to teach him to live by his reason, though actually he lives much more by his unreason, by the law of good and unity, though he is now full of evil and discord, by a law of beauty and harmony though his actual life is a repulsive muddle of ugliness and jarring barbarisms, by some high law of his spirit, though at present he is egoistic, material, unspiritual, engrossed by the needs and desires of his physical being.
If a civilisation has not any of these aims, it can hardly at all be said to have a culture and certainly in no sense a great and noble culture. But the last of these aims as conceived by ancient India, is the highest of all because it includes and surpasses all the others.
To have made this attempt is to have ennobled the life of their ace; to have failed in it is better than if it had never at all been attempted; to have achieved even a partial success is a great contribution to the future possibilities of the human being.
Born in 72 shonar’s dream for nearly half her life was to work in any capacity whatsoever with animals. After graduation, her career map started shaping up –writing about music, reporting on environmental issues for National TV exploring every nook and corner of the country as a travel writer, working as a farmhand milking cows and ploughing land
It may not have been the exact original plan, but all that freedom and exposure worked silently towards the realization of the love she had for the country. With the intense need to go beyond clichés and explore deeper than what was apparent to the eye, she has now written her first book, of Past Dawns and Future Noons.
In spite of having written innumerable articles on varied subject, neither has she received any formal training in the art of writing, nor does she consider herself as a self-made writer in the strictest sense. “it’s all to do with inspiration... when it comes, no power on earth can stop it from manifesting itself i its final form of expression. You don’t have to be a writer to write or a painter to paint-all you have to be is ‘open’ and the inspiration will do the rest.”
She spends her time between Delhi and Pondicherry, and when occasion, time and good fortune permit, she can be found walking somewhere in the Himalayas.
There are certain problems that one faces while attempting to write a book like this. And the biggest one is of how to put the problems down on paper and explain away their difficulties before embarking on the real journey. However, it is imperative that we try. This page is our platform. This is a moment of truth and frankness. It is a moment when one can lay bare all that has driven this work into existence, the whys and wherefores and, minus all apologies and excuses to offended or indignant readers, it still offers itself as a moment of truce, for it means no harm but only the good of the nation, which is its sole mission.
This is the point when an 'I' steps in. Psychologically, I myself feel reassured at times when I read the personal 'I' versus the impersonal 'one'. Perhaps it reads more genuine or up front, or simply gives an impression of a fellow human you either want to hug or lunge at ... does wonders, this 'I'.
As a child I have grown up shying away from all such serious endeavours because they seemed to spill with more detail than I could handle. It was not the fault of the authors but my own shortcomings. At the same time, it is important that one learns a little bit more than what schools teach us, and not necessarily as much as a thesis will impart. Why? Because this is our country, with a fabulous history that defines us in more ways than we can even begin to imagine. And when we call ourselves Indian, there just has to be something more to it than belonging to a patch of land between the Himalayas and Kaniyakumari. That's where this attempt slides in. It gives perspective, it gives depth. One of its objectives, therefore, is to give a broader vision but not one in which the reader will get lost nor hopefully fall off to sleep.
Our past was riddled with many a 'superstition' as we call them today and being products of such a rationalistic age, at times there is a tendency on our part to simply sweep up the whole of our history into a gunnysack and push it in the recesses of one of our many prehistoric caves. This is our second objective - to sift our hand through the gunnysack and put before you some of its not-so- superstitious ideas; ideas which in fact are superbly rational, sensible, logical; ideas which today, could make our present very much more beautiful and worthwhile.
This leads us to the assumption that there is something lacking today. I am hoping that all defensive reactions will in time settle down to concede that truly, there is something we have left behind or forgotten or obliterated entirely from our history that makes the present moment a trifle worrying. This is not only unique to this country alone but to the entire world. However, if there is something we don't like, we have to first fix it in ourselves, then in our families, friends, countrymen and finally tackle the world.
This is perhaps our biggest problem, for even though we do sound like strict headmasters while speaking of the present's shortcomings, our intention is not to overlook the exceptions, not to override the achievements of today and not to in any way insult and demean our spirit which still lives on. Thus, our third objective is to simply shake a man who may have fallen into a state of slumber. At times, such men abound in thousands and hence the ones awake are mere minorities, themselves helpless against a tide of inertia. These moments of lethargy and indolence are what we are trying to eradicate and so reflect on it, find your own place and help yourself, help the other. So, by now we have created awareness, shone the light on India's achievements, shaken one enough to know that all is not well in the world. This takes us to our next objective, which is to somehow bring across the idea that ran consistently as a backdrop to all that ancient India has done and by which she achieved. In order to understand this country, to evaluate her and to learn from her, we have to take into cognizance the things that made her tick, that gave her a richness of colour and made her stand out in a class apart. In short, we have to get a glimpse of the Indian soul.
Once we have seen something below the surface, sensed something deeper, then comes our final and most important objective, which is to make a few suggestions of how by re-grasping those lost secrets, we can once again make up the distance, leading India to the gates of perfection. All this is towards the betterment of the future,
Through all of this, it is possible that one may get the impression that this endeavour is focused on one religion more than another and since India is anything but mono-religious, it is an observation that may rankle a few. However, the objective is not to highlight one particular religion but to create an image of the Indian, to portray his spirit and the spirit of the nation as it once existed. There may be disagreements as to certain specifics quoted or written about, but let those not be on religious grounds but simply whether we see a place for ourselves in that mould or not.
Another important point is that there is a clichéd approach to India being entirely 'otherworldly' or 'mystical'. While on the one hand, one cannot possibly use such a blanket description, on the other hand, it cannot also be entirely denied. However, it has to be seen and judged in the right context - the beauty lay in how she used to her advantage, her curiosity in things Unknown; how she did not reject the world or life by staying in constant meditation but in fact, used that state of constant introspection and eternal search for making that very world and that very life, more meaningful, richer and deeper.
Every subject chosen here has been examined keeping this in mind and by the end of the book, we hope that just enough of an insight would have been imparted that will motivate some of our readers to get into the subject of their interest with more gusto, with more scholarship and complete the work that has been initiated here. As for the rest, a sense of pride and a feeling of reverence for what this amazing country has produced is what one imagines would be a natural aftermath. But that we leave for the reader to experience for himself.
|Notes Along the Way||1|
|The Indian-ness of India||15|
|The World of Architects||59|
|The World of Sculptors||97|
|The World of Painters||133|
|Here Today, Gone Tomorrow||133|
|Life on a Stage||153|
|Of Rhythms and Sways||173|
|Songs From The Heart||197|
|Of Hymns And Lore||217|
|Of Frogs and Blackboards||265|
|Food For Thought||311|
|The Makings of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity||329|
|War...What Is It Good For?||375|
Item Code: NAN151 Author: Shonar Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2006 Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry Language: English Size: 10.0 inch X 7.5 inch Pages: 554 (124 B/W Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 1.4 kg