Seeing world thro’ ideas and metaphors

I read the article Grass welcomes acclaim (Spectrum, Oct 21). The German novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, sculptor and graphic artist is undoubtedly the literary spokesman for his generation. He is a committed and creative writer. His novels have a lyrical intensity. No wonder, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

Born and educated in Denzig, Germany (now Gdansk, Poland) in 1927, he was drafted into the Army from the Hitler Youth Movement at the young age of I6. During the World War II, Grass was wounded and became a prisoner of war. However, in 1946, he was released by the Americans. After trying his hands at various manual jobs, he started writing, while he was in Paris. Soon he became an internationally acclaimed novelist. He further cemented his reputation with the Danzig Trilogy, which consists of the Tin Drum (1959), Cat and Mouse (1961) and Dog Years (1963).

Asked why he wrote mainly about Germany’s Nazi past, Grass said: “the subject matter itself was obligatory for me to write about”. Thus, the Danzig Trilogy is a scathing attack on the refusal of Germans to accept responsibility for Nazi crimes. Grass is more interested in images than places. He sees the world through ideas and metaphors that make some sense of a nonsensical world.



IT pressures

Price of success (Spectrum, Oct 14) by Jangveer Singh was thought-provoking. At a time when everybody everywhere is hailing the IT and ITES boom, the writer has aptly pointed out to how it has also become a bane. In the mad race to create material resources, the world is becoming oblivious to the effect of this rat race on human resources. There is economic growth at the cost of human growth. To find solace, the young generation takes recourse to destress therapies which vary from alcohol to meditation. A recent survey has also pointed out to the increase in the attrition rate in the IT industry.

All this may be unacceptable to hi-tech minds, but it’s a bitter truth. It’s high time that we strike a balance between the professional and personal lives lest our young generation is reduced to being cogs in the machine.

SHIPRA HANDA, Ambala Cant.

First family

I read Tales of India’s first family by Khushwant Singh (Saturday Extra, Oct 20). The piece is, in fact, a publicity attempt, at the instance of Harper Collins, albeit, a botched one.

Instead of throwing some light on Nayantara Sahgal’s marriage to Sahgal and later on the live-in relationship with the late E.N. Mangat Rai, the ex-Chief Secretary, Punjab, Singh has mentioned only a couple of insipid facts about the lady.

Vijayalakshmi’s first encounter and dialogue with Ranjit Pandit, a Sanskrit scholar and the cruel treatment meted out to her by her in-laws after his demise, have been ignored in the account.


Boozers’ paradise

Boozers’ Paradise (Saturday Extra, Oct 20) by A.J. Philip was informative and absorbing. It was a revelation to know that Gujarat, being a dry state, overflows with liquor.

Daman, despite its glorious history, owes its popularity to booze and has nothing else to boast of. It is a pity that the powers that be have made no effort to develop it otherwise. The state, where the Father of the Nation was born, brags of having made tremendous progress in all spheres but it appears superficial.

The vibrant culture, art and traditions of Vapi and Daman should be given a boost so that these not liquor, attract the people. n



Sarmad, Dara and Azad: Some little known facts

I read Kanwalpreet’s review of V.N. Dutta’s book Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Sarmad (Spectrum, Oct 7). I want to mention some little known facts. Although Sarmad, a Jew of Kashan in Persia, had embraced Islam he was not a stickler for Koranic teachings and took keen interest in Vedanta being a close associate of Prince Dara Shikoh. His elastic pantheism and “smooth-flowing verses breathing the ardent mystical fervour of the Sufi and the spirit of lofty catholicity which recognised the truth inherent in all great creeds”, other practices and opinions and going about absolutely naked were not liked by Aurangzeb, the relentless champion of Sunny orthodoxy. He was executed on the charge of heresy.

Dara Shikoh was a scholar of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit. He translated Upanishads, Atharvaveda, Bhagavadgita, Yoga Vasishtha and Ramayana in Persian. Because of his keen interest in the doctrine of Vedanta and other religions, he tried to know the common truth underlying different faiths and find a modus vivendi. He incurred the wrath of Aurangzeb because of his belief in eclecticism and was subjected to terrible disgrace and beheaded.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was born in Mecca, the holiest of the holy places of Islam. He was christened Ahmad. His historical name was Firoz Bakht. Abul Kalam was his appellation and Azad his nom de plume. Being a freedom fighter he often remained incarcerated. He was in jail when his wife died. He refused to be released on parole. His articles couched in a powerful language caused a stir in the whole country.




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