Sunday, October 24, 1999
A WEEK-LONG itinerary, dominated by three news assignments and a keen interest in Vedanta philosophy is what brought Russian writer, Mamleyev Yuri Vitalivevich to India twice in three years.
Yuri first visited India in 96 at the invitation of the vice-president of the Indo-Russian Cultural Society.
The 69-year-old writer who was in Delhi in early October likes to introduce himself as a fiction writer and philosopher. The Moscow-based writer modestly mentions, in the course of conversation, that he teaches Indian Philosophy at Moscow State University.
Yuri is determined to do full justice to the assignments entrusted to him by three newspapers the Nezavisimiya Gazeta (Independent newspaper), Vechernity Klub (Evening Club) and Knijnoe Obosrenia (Book Reviews Journal). A regular contributor to these newspapers, Yuri has been requested to write articles on spiritual, social, political and cultural life in modern India. His profound interest in exploring the spiritual life in modern India can be guaged by the fact that Yuri found time to call on spiritual leaders, including the secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission and Swami Gokulananda.
As early as 74, Yuri had written more than 100 stories, two novels and philosophical essays, articles and poems. His best known works are The Sky Above Hell (1980), Chatouny (1986), Dernier Comedy (1988), Der Morder Aus dem Nichts (1992) and Die Letzte Komodie (1994). Since 1991, many of his fiction and philosophical writings, previously banned in Russia, have been published in his home country. One of these is Destiny of Being which has a certain link with Vedanta philosophy.
Yuri says that Destiny of Being has three parts, namely, the metaphysics of self, comparison of metaphysics of higher self with Vedanta and the Last Doctrine. He describes the work as an attempt to establish what is beyond the absolute. He says that while The Sky Above Hell is a collection of short stories, Dernier Comedy is based on mythology born out of contemporary Russian life.
One is tempted to ask what really attracts Yuri to India? He promptly replies, "For me, the attraction lies in non-dualism, that is, the absence of a gap between the real self and the spiritual self. I am particularly interested in visiting the ashram of the late Tamilian sage, Ramanna Maharishi near Chennai".
He pointed out that in the European tradition, with some exceptions, they believe in God as something outside, not within ones heart. Among eastern orthodox Christians in Russia, the proximity of human soul with God is much more established than in the western branch of Christianity.
Yuri feels that his writing is shaped by his vision of mysticism. Enumerating the themes in his writing, he says, "The contemporary world is hell in my writing". Some of my heroes are not monsters. They try to delve into the realm that lies beyond the human intellect. Besides, the presence of a high self in human beings is also emphasised".
Yuri says that a former
academician is in the process of translating his short
stories for inclusion in an anthology of works of
contemporary Russian writers. He acknowledges the
influence of Dostoevsky and Gogol in his writings.
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