The Message and Ministrations of Dewan Bahadur R. Venkata Ratnam, volume 2
MESSAGE AND MINISTRATIONS
R. VENKATA RATNAM,
Principal Emeritus, Pittapur Rajah's College, Cocanada.
WITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE,
V. RAMAKRISHNA RAO, M.A., L.T.,
Principal, Pittapur Rajah's College, Cocanada.
Printed at ;
The Albert Printing Works, Cocanada.
Price: Rs. 1/8 or s. 2/6] [Postage extra
OF MY EVER REVERED
Rev. W. M.
|Addresses and articles.|
|I.||Social Purity and the Anti-Nauch Movement||(1901)||1|
|II.||A Social Purity Association||(1891)||67|
|III.||Social Purity: an Exhortation||(1910)||73|
|IV.||The Purity Pledge: its Call to Youth||(1914)||97|
|V.||The Social Service due to India's Womankind||(1908)||109|
|VI.||Ideals, Self-culture and Character||()||115|
|VII.||Our Aim and Outlook||(1886)||122|
|VIII.||The Highest Law||( „ )||126|
|IX.||Theistic Catholicity and Synthesis||(1891)||133|
|X.||A Mahamahopadhyaya on Religion||(1889)||137|
|XI.||Prayer and Worship||(1882)||178|
|XII.||Hunger and Thirst||(1883)||189|
|XIII.||'Pathithapavana'||( „ )||195|
|Services and sermons.|
|XIV.||Sadhana: Its Meaning and Method||(1922)||205|
|XV||The Human Heart the Holiest Temple||(1915)||229|
|XVI||'Death the Heart of Life'||(1916)||244|
|XVII||The Spiritual Basis of Human Brotherhood||(1915)||264|
|XIX||Birthday Family Service||(1922)||287|
|prayers and meditations.|
|XX||New Year's Day||(191)||311|
|XXVI||The Spirit Indwelling||(1916)||338|
|appreciations and reminiscences.|
|XXIX||Rajah Rajendra Lai Mitter and Pandit Iswara Chandra Vidyasagar||(1891)||376|
|XXX||P. C. Mozoomdar's "Life and Teachings of Keshub Chunder Sen."||(1891)||390|
|XXXI||Gopala Krishna Gokhale||(1915)||394|
|XXXII||Rev. Dr. William Miller||(1923)||401|
|220||17||of God||of God,|
|267||5||to||for the fragrance-laden breath of heaven to|
|272||25||but the child||but the parent|
Last maharnavami witnessed the presentation of the opening volume of this series amid the sweet rejoicings and solemn commemorations of the Master's Diamond Jubilee. And now to the wide circle of fellow-believers and admirers, friends and old pupils, this next return of the auspicious birthday renews the warmest greetings of the spirit with one more love-offering — a second wreath of fragrant flowers from an Eden-heart where spring still reigns, even as winter gathers fast upon the stately head,
Since the 'pentecost' of that memorable occasion, the twelvemonth just elapsed has known no greater bliss than in the unqualified testimony from different points of the compass, far and near, to the worth and value of the first instalment of The Message and Ministrations. It will more than suffice to reproduce here, as a peculiarly precious specimen, one such token of tion over the honoured name of the great living authority on Comparative Religion, the Principal Emeritus of Manchester College, Oxford, and one of the patriarchs of the Unitarian 'household' in our 'Father's western home.'
"11, Marston Ferry Road, "Oxford, " June 2nd.' 23.
"Dear Principal Ramakrishna Rao,
"I am sorry to have been so long in thanking you for the kind gift of your volume of the addresses of Mr. R. Venkata Ratnam. I have only recently returned from some weeks' absence from home, and have been very fully occupied with the preparation of some lectures for a School of Theology which I am concerned in organising. Your account of Mr. Ratnam's many activities is deeply interesting. The spirit of service pervades his whole life, and your record shows how one man's earnestness and power quickens others and calls forth the best in them for the welfare of their brethren. His noble address on Ram Mohan Roy I have read with the warmest sympathy, and his Sprayers testify to the warmth of his joy in communion with his Maker. The influence.' o such a Teacher at the head of a College must have been profound; as he is still in what we consider the fulness of vigour and maturity of experience, I trust that he may have many years yet in which to enlighten and inspire others by his faith and eloquence. The Brahma Samaj should win numbers to spiritual religion when it can utter its great truths by such a voice. With the best wishes for its progress, "believe me, sincerely yours, "J. Estlin Carpenter."
As this brief note speaks volumes of the fervent sympathy and the penetrating insight born of the sympathy of a far-off eminent leader of liberal religious thought and work, so even with the exactness of immediate touch and intimate grasp, it presents a beautiful and none too strongly worded epitome of the distinguishing traits of a nobly gifted personality and his abounding, abiding influence for God and goodness in our own midst. After this, no more than a passing reference will be necessary to a few other representative tributes. "Impressed once more" "with the high degree of culture and personal force that is to be found among the members of the Brahmo Samaj, "The Inquirer, a London journal of free religious fellowship, cordially recognises "the significance of Indian Theism" as reflected in the volume with its "fervour of oriental piety" and "exuberance of language," its "soundness of sense and balance of judgment that are especially welcome as evidence of the best type of Indian thought today." And it concludes, about the author, with the words, "A teacher of many in his great land, he would be a teacher of respect for it and its children in this country." Next, as to the reception accorded in our own "great land," Pandit Sitanath Tattwabhushan, in The Indian Messenger welcomes with "unfeigned satisfaction" "this last great contribution to our religious literature," which he would devoutly see "find its way to all pious homes and hearts." The author he counts as "one of those rare individuals who become widely known and deeply honoured through the Sweet odour of their personal character and the influence it exerts on those around them." The "splendid diction" receives from him the just yet generous encomium that "if any were to read this book with no other object than that of learning English, he would find in it a most valuable help. M The doctrinal parts, in hid weighty opinion, depict u in bright and attractive colours and in a way at once engaging and inspiring" "the profound and uplifting character of Brahmoism as a faith and a creed." The devotional portions disclose "a soul pious to its very core and yet enriched with the rare virtues of deep modesty and penitent humility." Even the personal sketches "lose their personal and private character in emphasising the universal principles illustrated in the lives dealt with and in revealing the author's tender love and profound veneration for great and noble souls." The Madras Christian College Magazine, the organ of the author's own almamato notices in a review by one of its learned Professors, the Rev. A. G. Hogg, the same glowing qualities of "eloquent and emotional utterance," "eloquent and ornate phraseology," "in commemorating the illustrious deed" as well as "in religious meditation and exhortation," and not only "the acuteness of a reflective mind" but "a moral elevation and a spiritual tenderness" "in combating erroneous teaching." Along this latter line, it is further observed, the "style, without disdaining figure and ornament, becomes more restrained in order to be the fit vehicle of solid thought and effective argument." "Edifying and inspiring" is the phrase in which the reviewer in the leading Indian journal, The Moderen Review of Calcutta, sums up the common impression about the work of one "held in high veneration not only in the Deccan but also in other parts of the country, especially in Bengal." Notably the aradhanas (adorations) in that u treasury of pious sentiments and devotional thoughts" Babu Sasi Bhushan Talukdar of Tangail, an esteemed elder of the New Dispensation Brahma Samaj, finds to be "so sweet, so noble, so soul-inspiring that I have scarcely met them anywhere else, the writings of our beloved Minister, Keshub Chandra Sen, and Rev. P. C. Mozoomdar excepted". "The book," he adds, "in the beauty of its language and the sublimity of its thoughts stands almost unrivalled." And then, the characteristic spirit in which these and similar marks of unmeasured appreciation are received ! "I feel deeply thankful for the venerable Dr. Carpenter's very gracious letter Reflecting on it, my eyes moistened, my head bowed, in gratitude to him who deigns to transmit a ray from His altar even into common dust !" "Herewith dear brother Talukdar's very kind letter. But truly it has' evoked many sighs in course of the day: talking in Heaven, living in Hell ! Good God, when -is this misery to end?"
With such touching assurances as to what has already been offered, — equalled in their strength and sweetness only by the genuine 'unconsciousness' and, more than that, the positive self-abasement of the devout genius of the author, — the continuance of the editorial task, amidst its besetting difficulties, has naturally been sustained by no small degree of pious exhilaration. That joy, that enthusiasm, now is crowned with the confident hope that, at every point and even on a surface view, enough will be found, in this fit successor to the Jubilee Volume, to arrest attention and engage interest, to afford delight and provide edification.
The strong impulse to merge the purveying editor in the commending reviewer through something like a close survey of the rich content of the work or even a critical estimation of the distinctive excellences of its several parts, must needs be resisted at this yet early stage in the execution of the entire plan. As in the case of the Indian Theistic Conference Presidential Address in the prior volume, the 'place of honour' is assigned here to the 'monumental' disquisition of 1901 upon the 'first principles' of social reform in the vital relations of the sexes — a remarkable thesis originally contributed to Mr. C. Y. Chintamani's valuable symposium on Indian Social Reform. Thrown off, 'under inspiration,' in the midst of dreary and heavy routine toils as Chairman of the Kistna District Primary Examination Board knocking about from camp to camp, this true receptacle of the very life-blood of the Peter the .Hermit of our Purity Crusade elicited at the time the decisive verdict that it was "worth its weight in gold" from such a competent judge as the late Mr. G. Subrahmanya Iyer, while helping through the said compilation after the venerated Justice Ranade's demise. It may also be recalled how the same essay, in that "it points the way and evokes the spirit in which a great reform must be carried out," was included by the then scholarly and judicious editor of The Christian College Magazine, the late Prof. F. W. Kellett, among the triad marked out by him for especial praise, and thus placed by the side of the venerable Sir Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar's 'paper' on the Social History of India, which "gives an equipment of learning to the reformer," and the late Rao Bahadur W. M. Kolhatkar's on Widow- Marriage, which "gives the encouragement that comes from the record, of victories already won". Next to the magnum opus here in the Purity Group appear its four plainer pendants with their homely picture of the uses of 'associations' and 'pledges' and their ringing-bells of 'call' and 'exhortation' for the organised promotion of righteousness in social life through the resolute endeavour, above all, to 'realise the mother' in personal experience. Will it be too much to suggest to the younger section of readers, in particular, that these may with advantage be taken up for perusal before (instead of after) it, thus to serve as a sort of preliminary explication of its more abstruse portions ? After the close-knit discourse on the interdependence of 'ideals, self-culture and character' as, respectively, "the uplifting force," "the effective method," and "the resultant blessing", a selection of seven pleasant 'articles' follows, comprising the happy harmonisation, in 'aim and outlook,' of "East and West, the Spiritual and the Practical, the Speculative and the Active" ; the sweet sublimation of '"he golden rule' of the love of one's neighbour as oneself into 'the highest law' of "self-denying love for God and His world"; the clear deduction of "the twin principles of Catholicity and Synthesis" from their vital source in the Fatherhood and the Unity of the Godhead; the relentless refutation of a respected Mahamahopadhyaya's orthodox position as to 'the seat of authority in religion', with the incidental examination of the Christian dogma of eternal hell and the Hindu doctrines of reincarnation, the efficacy of animal sacrifices and the oneness of the 'ism' despite its diversity of sects and schools ; the reasoned exposition of the inevitable and paramount place of 'prayer and worship' in religious life ; the varied interpretation of the familiar concept of spiritual 'hunger and thirst' ; and the reassuring attestation of "the sweetest, the loveliest, the loftiest of all God's sublime attributes", that of Pathithapavana (Purifier of the fallen). As the first and largest set of 'Addresses and Articles', thus all too poorly outlined, should prove worthy of any moralist-divine, so the next two of "Services and Sermons", "Prayers and Meditations", would rejoice the heart of any mystic-devotee of any time or clime. Fervent, beatific outpourings ever 'on the Mount', they form a fresh batch of the models and marvels of devotional literature, laying under contribution the richest resources of language and the deepest harmonies of emotion to sound the whole gamut of spiritual experience. What cosmic comprehensiveness of sweep, what 'profundis'-piercing penetrativeness of insight, what apocalyptic vividness of realisation stand revealed here, whether in the longer or the shorter, in the general congregational or the special occasional ministrations ! Not for cursory perusal or compendious analysis are they, but for constant pondering in the quiet hour when the Lord "maketh me to lie down in green pastures" and "leadeth me beside the still waters". Among 'Appreciations and Reminiscences' of "the galaxy of Indian Worthies," in the fourth and closing division, will be read with delight the interesting sketch of "the holy life" and "the glorious work"of the God-intoxicated,"immortal Saint of Nuddea," with its apt proem on History as the epic of Divinity and Biography as the essence of History ; the striking contrast-portraitures of the anti-quarian and the humanist, "the great Rajendra Lai and the good Iswara Chandra"; the succinct review of "the standard biography of the great and good Brahmananda" Kesava Chandra Sen; the solemn re-quiem over the untimely ashes of "the pepole's tribune", Gopala Krishna Gokhale ; and,finally and fittingly, the charming tribute of love and gratitude to the Masters own Master and "the Mahamahopadhyaya of Southern India", the Rev. Dr. Willi- am Miller, to whose revered memory the volume is inscribed with sweet seasonableness. But whatever the theme, the ap- peal throughout is to the deepest and most enduring elements in our nature. The many moods 'sing to one clear harp in divers tones', voicing naught but the same word, the sweet word, the suggestive word, the stimulating word, altogether the salutary word, i In the main, the same old marks will be perceived of a genius titanic enough to defy the ordinary standards of measurement. The moving, majestic language itself offers a most refined intellectual treat — an inviting feast of chasteness and elegance, dignity and cadence, opulence and eloquence; and, indeed, a refreshing contrast to many a sordid satisfaction of the garish day. The searching moral idealism, not less tender towards weakness than trenchant against vice, reaches the cleansing ray, rather than the chastising rod, through all the crusts of custom and convention down to the very fountains of being in feeling and fancy. And the 'pure serene' of the pervasive spiritual atmosphere, even when stirred by the recurring note of personal contrition, wafts the soul close unto the 'mercy-seat' in a 'present Paradise'. Here surely, in no narrow sense of ethical culture, is a new a friend and aider of those who would live in the spirit" — such as to call forth a snatch of the classic acclaim of "some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken"! If there is little of noisy polemic, there is nothing, too, of mere antiquarian interest in religion or of sheer ascetic abstraction from the world. Far from this, the outlook ranges conterminous with the whole area of life in the vast variety of all its bearings. All the same, not the prevailing predominance alone but the regulative regnancy as well is claimed by 'the better part', aye, 'the one thing needful' from the strict Monotheistic — if you will, the purer Theo-monistic, the 'higher Pantheistic' — stand-point at once sublimely transcendental and intensely practical. And that, as will be manifest throughout, is, in relation to the All-inall, a quenchless passion for attuned absorption, with its alternating phases of writhing anguish over separation and rapturous ecstasy over reunion. Hence, even as 'ye shall know' a man by his friends, the favourite fellowship in the orbit of habitual movement at the veriest perihelion of faith is that of a glorious constellation in which are readily discerned the spirits of Kabir and Chaitanya, Saadi and Jaluluddin Rumi, Madame Guyon and Miss Underhill, Maharshi Devendranath and Brahmananda Kesava Chandra. And it is the sage and the saint, the devotee and the mystic, that shines forth with "the vision and the faculty divine" in and through the recondite scholar and the felicitous stylist, the eloquent speaker and the acute dialectician, the red-cross knight of purity and the stalwart foe of every species of iniquity and idolatry, the silent upbuilder of persona] characters and the ardent inspirer of practical beneficences. The wonder to many is — and yet what won der? — that the,wizard?-skill of the tongueis unfailingly in evidence beside the 'Quaker'-tremor of the spirit. So did the good Frances Power Cobbe declare of the great James Martineau that "with a jewelled crozier he shepherded his flock and always led them to the uplands of thought"!
Between the present and the preceding volume, if anything, one difference will perhaps be traced. While the one with its free-blown spontaneity and exuberance represents more, so to speak, the 'romantic', the other with its polished trimness and embellishment reflects more the 'classical' type of self-expression. Unlike its predecessor, which sprang a clean surprise upon him, this volume has secured, in the final form, an incalculable enhancement of high values through the Master's own verbal revision of the earlier writings and the reported echoes of the later utterances (all extempore). Over this piece of good fortune and the practical imprimatur of its benign approval of a responsible undertaking it is not for words to spell out the inmost sense of thankful relief and satisfaction. As to supplies from the 'reporting pencil' of the Vighneswaras unto our Vyasa, for No. XIV of tho contents the obligation is owed to Mr. P. Ramaswami, M. A.; and for Nos. IV, XV–XVIII and XX–XXV to Mr. M. Rammurthi, to whom the old debt immense may only be renewed, as it cannot be repaid, for the unreserved surrender of his whole file of materials. The written articles, Nos. II, VII–XIII and XXVIII–XXX, belong to the period of the conduct of the Brahma Prakasica and the Fellow-Worker of the Southern India Brahma Samaj referred to in the Introduction to Volume I.
The span of full forty years separating the earliest juvenilia of 1882, like 'Prayer and Worship,' from the latest evangel of 1922, 'Sadhana: its Meaning and Method,' will serve fully to explain the inequalities of standard, such as they are. At the same time, it will help clearly to illustrate the underlying unity and continuity of conception as also the growing clarity and intensity of realisation. Well may it, then, impart to the 'chosen vessel' of Grace a grateful, soothing assurance of the Pilgrim's Progress attained through those fruitful years to which one more is happily added today. And well may our profit-laden hearts also carry to the altar of the All-giver the incense of devout thankfulness for this 'guide, philosopher and friend'—"a living and aspiring soul," as Dr. James H. Cousins, the poet-friend of India, called him the other day while acknowledging the first volume; "an earnest and genuine worker" "whose work is one of pure love and self-sacrifice" and "about whose genuine devotion to the cause there can be only one opinion," as the illustrious Ranade, "that 'born prince' among the educated sons of India" (p. 62), described him, among other elect ones, in the Annual Address at the Indian Social Conference of 1898; and "my future hope for the Brahma Samaj in Southern India", as the late Mr. Manna va Butchayya Pantulu, the 'architect' of the Madras Samaj, characterised him even earlier still, in 1884, at the first introduction to the future 'guru' Pandit Sivanath Sastri. So far as the editorial labours are concerned, the editor must take upon himself the entire responsibility for all inevitable blemishes which none can more keenly regret than he. Lastly, as for the good reader, blessed is he as, through the following pages, it will be given to him to glimpse somewhat of
"the calm beauty of an ordered life,
Whose very breathing is un worded praise!
A life that stands, as all true lives have stood,
Firm-rooted in the faith that God is good"!
|Cocanada,||V. Ramakriishna Rao.|