Part 2

Art and Literature Icon

The Litterateur as the Seer of Truth

Most of Sáhitya today is mere composition, not literature.

Litterateurs must prove their sense of responsibility through every line of their pens.

Command over language and ideas is not sufficient. There must be:

  • the power to delve deeply into any matter
  • the earnest effort to:
    • identify the mind with the minds of all
    • penetrate into the essence of truth (Tattvadarshii).

Those who, possessed with a little superficial knowledge of life, are mere jugglers of language, cannot produce ideal literature.

In the language of the Vedas a litterateur is called Kavi or seer of truth. Only such seers can create true literature; for the task of a litterateur is to hint at the future, and the ability to look into the future belongs to the seers of truth alone.

Those who think that their only responsibility is to portray the past, present or future are not litterateurs, for the mastery over these three dimensions of time is determined by the power to link all the three.

Those who cannot assimilate this internal link can never establish the proper relation between the past and the present, or between the present and the future; none of their portrayals of past, present or future are capable of finding complete expression. Therefore, as I have said above, it is better to call these writers mere authors, instead of litterateurs.

It is such authors who indulge in such utterances as “Art for art’s sake.” A little examination will reveal the harmful influence of this idea on human society.

The world is the thought projection of the Cosmic Mind, and so there is no question of any pause, even for a moment, in this eternal flow. Whether humans may desire it or not, society will have to move forward through ceaseless environmental changes. Literature is the psychic expression of this dynamism of humanity. It is for this dynamic humanity that literature has been created, and so it cannot be static, nor shall it ever become static.

[[The thought-provoking factors that underlie the social picture created by the brush of the artist, that underlie the current of thoughts expressed by the litterateur, change, and so the artist and the litterateur should always work keeping a vigilant eye on those changing factors.]] Although the momentum of society depends on various factors, it is largely determined by psychological and cultural transformations.

Psychic Transformation

Changes in mental outlook are natural.

  • They do not take place in the same way at all times.

To meet the necessities of the practical world, human beings must solve their mundane problems.

  • This changes the speed of the mind
  • The psychic speed of human beings about 10,000 years ago was much greater than it was 1m years ago when Homo Sapiens just appeared.

The primitive mind used to move at a slow speed. Primitive people used to pass their days in the same environment for generations, solving the same types of problems.

For tens of thousands of years, they subsisted on shrubs and weeds and used stone tools and weapons.

Then came the period of eating animal flesh. It took those ancient humans about 200,000-300,000 years to accustom themselves to this new habit.

After the discovery of fire, even the use of salt on roasted meat was not learnt very easily.

But today, when we look back and examine the period from ten thousand years ago to five thousand years ago, we find that the speed of human progress has greatly accelerated.

Every 200-300 years, some new discoveries were made. As a result of facing ever newer challenges, the human mind underwent revolutionary changes:

  • animal husbandry gave way to agriculture
  • dispersed communities evolved into a more compact society.

Between 10,000 to 5,000 years ago, there was no well-knit social order.

  • But there were comprehensive efforts for social construction.

In the Vedas, there is a vague picture of the varied advancements made during the past 5,000 years.

  • But it cannot be called rapid progress nowadays.

The Vedas are the literary reflection of the psychic characteristics of that period.

Yet in that age, when rays of light gradually pierced the darkness, people began to realize the necessity of moving more rapidly in unison.

In some of the mantras and hymns of the Vedas, particularly in the Saḿgacchadhvam mantra, the seed of this very collective dynamism was sown.

The old world passed away, yielding to the new.

  • The speed of social momentum was greatly increased.

Even before the historically famous Buddhist era, well-constructed and dynamic societies had evolved in China and Egypt.

  • Yet the dynamism of these societies are not the second stage of progress.
  • They were post-Vedic civilizations.
    • But in reality, they were part of that Vedic civilization with intrinsically distinctive characteristics.

The society of the Buddhist era quickened the progressive rhythm of the Vedic era.

  • The Vedic social system stagnated and was caught in the various clashes and counter-clashes

The Buddhist era imparted new dynamism to the feeble, faltering steps of the Vedic era.

  • It awakened new vigour and impetus for advancement.
  • It accelerated the progressive momentum of humanity far more than even the Vedic era.

That is why the literature of the Buddhist era has a more constructive, vibrant social picture, compared to the literature of the Vedic era.

The greater the clashes in human life, the faster the speed of the human mind because of circumstantial pressures.

The progress of society has gained unusual momentum from:

  • the complexities of life
  • the plethora of problems over the last 200 years.

This progress has developed naturally and will continue to do so.

The momentum of World War I and II has been dragging the society forcibly forward, as though human beings have become madly restless to triumph over time.

  • Due to their hyper-speed, humanity’s forward march has been losing its balance.
  • It achieves success on one hand, but faces grim failures on the other.
  • This frustration is glaringly manifest in every line of post-war literature – there is not a spark of bold vision anywhere.

With the capital of these frustrations and failures, litterateurs busily engage themselves in earning money.

  • It is as if humanity is bent upon negating:
    • all the traditions of the 400 year-old Mauṋgalakavya(1)
    • the time-honoured Ramáyańa and the Mahábhárata
    • the revered poets like Shakespeare, Milton, Vidyápati and Cańd́idása
    • those works which championed both the learned and the illiterate like the Rámacaritamánasa.

Although contemporary society is moving with increasing speed, it is incapable of preserving its balance.

Cultural Evolution

Cultural evolution is continuing to bring about a considerable social change more or less uniformly in almost all countries.

Cultural evolution is not bad.

  • Defects in some societies are infecting others.
  • Yet even this interrelation has an immensely positive aspect.
  • This lets the human race gradually build a new human culture through mutual cooperation.

The different expressions of life are termed culture.

The more the mutual contact and exchange of ideas between peoples of different countries, the closer people come to one another in the cultural sphere.

  • The old, worn-out walls of literary tradition are crumbling in many places and smashed in other places.

As a result, a new kind of international literature is evolving.

  • This is certainly an auspicious augury for the future.

But even these auspicious developments from natural clashes may eventually end in frustration and failure.

  • In the absence of honesty, simplicity, spiritedness and genuine human love, internationalism may remain limited to the litterateur’s caprice.
  • The harshness of reality may not be tolerable to the litterateur.
  • Thus we cannot surrender human destiny to the whims of the litterateur.

Litterateurs must not:

  • remain intoxicated with colourful imaginations
  • drive humanity to despair by constantly harping on the failures of the practical world
  • sing the songs of frustration.

Litterateurs must be closely attuned to the changes in both:

  • the psychological trends and
  • the cultural evolution which remould the social structure.

All the creators of art should wield their pens or brushes with an aim to unify.

  • Doing otherwise would be a sign of degeneration of their artistic talents

In fact, their contributions are then nothing but rubbish which becomes hazardous to the public.

rtistic endeavour may be justified only when it results in the all-round development of society. If the litterateur’s inspiration propels the social movement in a particular direction, denying all other aspects of society, then in that case we cannot call it literature, because there is no real sentiment of benevolence behind that creation.

The flow of ideas that are not complete in themselves are never capable of leading practical life towards fulfilment and perfection.

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