She describes Buddha as a teacher
in the third century before Christ, no different from
Ramakrishna in the present age and Ramdas of Maharashtra in the
17th century. The citizens, she points out, loved him, were
influenced, even dominated by him, yet they were unable to adopt
the life of a wanderer, leaving their worldly duties. To her,
the aim of Buddha was not to propound a church but to give
enlightenment to the common people.
You also get a
perspective on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata by a person who
had inspired scholars like Gopalkrishna Gokhale, R. C. Dutt,
Bipin Chandra Pal and Aurobindo Ghosh. She throws scholarly
light on the dates of final compilation of the epics.
His Life and Sayings
by F. Max Muller; Rupa and
Company; Pages 200; Rs 95
Paramahansa appeared on the horizon of spirituality in the 19th
century with a broad vision of Hinduism, and almost surprised
the elite with his extraordinarily simple exposition of the
ideas and ideals of Hindu theology. He lacked the aristocratic
dignity of Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore, the oratory and
majestic personality of Keshub Chandra Sen and the polemical
zeal of Swami Dayanand, yet he impressed all by telling his
followers that service of God lay in serving fellow human beings
who happen to be less fortunate than you.
Muller wrote this account of Ramakrishna and his sayings late in
the 19th century (he died in 1900), primarily to dispel the
exaggerated notion in the western mind about the sages of India
as men of ancient wisdom endowed with the power to perform
miracles. First written in 1898, its first Indian edition
appeared in 1951. This paperback edition is a reprint of that
book and contains events in the life of Ramakrishna and his
sayings besides pieces on Swami Dayanand, Pawari Baba and
Debendra Nath Tagore.
Since most of
the thoughts of Ramakrishna stem from the Vedantic philosophy,
the author has sketched the characteristic doctrines of this
philosophy to enable the reader to understand the ideals of
Ramakrishna and his disciples.
C. V. Raman:
The Scientist Extraordinary
by Dilip M. Salwi; Rupa and
Company; Pages 63; Rs 95.
This is the
story of a man who devoted his life to scientific research in
India and received international acclaim with the award of the
Nobel Prize for Physics. The nation honoured him with the Bharat
Ratna in 1954, yet surprisingly Raman was cold-shouldered by his
contemporary scientists in independent India. With childlike
simplicity and the impatience of a genius he would say the right
thing in a wrong way. No wonder, he was misunderstood and
misinterpreted for his spontaneous outbursts.
relates how on his voyage from England to India he observed that
the Mediterranean looked deep blue while the sky above was dull
grey. This went against the accepted theory that the sea was
blue because it reflected the blue light of the sky. This
difference in the colour of the sea and the sky set him on a
scientific hunt and his experiments in the next 17 years led to
the discovery of what is known as the ‘Raman Effect’ and
which earned him the Nobel Prize. The most remarkable fact about
this discovery is that it was made using equipment that did not
cost more than Rs 200.
India Raman was irked to see his contemporary scientists not
working on any original problems and simply following the ideas
of western scientists. This also made him critical of the
political leadership that encouraged this attitude. Over the
years he made several enemies in the establishment who ensured
that he was sidelined from the mainstream of scientific research
The book tells the story of
this remarkable man who refused to accept what he considered
wrong. It is part of a number of biographies brought out by the
publisher under the series ‘Charitravali’. It is a useful
series for young readers curious to know about persons who have
played a role in shaping the country’s history.