The Flame and the Flute, as the title implies, is a mystic novel in the sense that its central inspiration is spiritual. Its fire is kindled through a tussle between the flaming maya of life on one side and the haunting Flute-call to the soul on the other. The solution comes eventually through the agency of Guru-shakti (the Guru's mystic power) manifested via the magnetic pull of the Guru, the supreme mediator between the Divine and the devotee. (To put it in the words of my late friend, Yogi Krishnaprem alias Ronald Nixon: "The Guru holds with his right hand the Lord's feet and with his left the disciple's hand in order to lead him back to His fold.")
The background of the Yoga-ashram at Dumel has been set off the stage on which the drama is enacted till the intervention of the Guru is made manifest first through Asit, who is already a disciple, and then, progressively, through the unsophisticated Udoy who longs to renounce the world for the Yoga-ashram even though he cannot help but vacillate. He is tom between his vital being's hunger for Shakuntala, a bayadere's beautiful and idealistic daughter, and his psychic being's thirst for the last asylum at the Guru's feet, away from that Valley of False Glimmer, Life. The Guru, too, is kept, by and large, outside the ambit of the intense drama till the very end - how and why, need hardly be anticipated. So, I will only add that this mystic intervention to cut the hridayagranti - the Gordian knot of the heart - has been the thrilling experience of hundreds of spiritual aspirants in India.
But this is not the whole story. There are, also, the forces and pulls of life, too complex to be analysed mathematically and labeled definitively, once and for all. And, Life becomes so irresistible because, in the last analysis, the Soul, too, partly sanctions its eddies and cross-currents. To put it in Sri Aurobindo's words:
But first and foremost: the drama. Few are those happy mortals who are of a piece and tread the sunlit path, in whom conflicts find no entry, the asuras, dark hosts, no' response. The average aspirant has to play his part in the wrestle of contradictions to achieve, as best he can, the final integration of his true personality around the nucleus of his victorious soul. But, do what we will, till this 'consummation devoutly to be wished' is achieved, our nature's dominant yearning for the drama of pain, music of ruin et cetera is bound to seek, if not find, an outlet. 'The dark hosts' are too firmly entrenched in our self-will's diverse strands to admit defeat till the capitulation of the ego, their metropolis, is complete. This love of the drama is ingrained in us all. Years ago, Sri Aurobindo gave me a luminous clue to the solution of this immemorial problem. He said that this love of the drama in us, too, can be turned into a ladder in our ascent if we can sublimate it effectively in our artistic creations which is just what I have aspired to do in my novels and poems interpreting multitudinous Life with the Light derived from the eternal Yoga of progressive self-transcendence.
One last word: I have felt it in my bones, time and time again, that the Guru-shakti is the greatest power or force that can act on a human being through the human-divine agency of the Guru, though I have not been tempted to prove it in a cut and dried rational way, for the simple reason that no profound spiritual experience can be proved like a syllogism. It can only be delineated partially by a Yogi-cum-artist through revealing incidents, similes and symbols, as hints - in the last analysis. All I do claim is that I have been honest and sincere, by which limply that I have not written anything for effect: whatever I have painted I have felt and known to be true and verified as such in my own spiritual quest, to the best of my artistic ability.
I do not know whether this preface will be helpful to Western readers, but if they find it obscure they are requested to read the story which will, I trust, serve as a clarifying commentary. But, of course, the chief thing is the story itself. If it grips the reader while reading it as it gripped me while writing, I will feel amply rewarded.
In the Flame and the Flute this is what Udoy - a rich young aristocrat - faces: the dilemma of the pull of the opposites. He had heard the mystic Flute-Call since his early adolescence but cut adrift from his spiritual moorings and turning his back on the mystic flute chased the phantom flame of instinct and desire. His desire for a beautiful singer called Shakuntala - a bayadere's daughter- leads them both through difficult and dangerous situations, penury and much pain and suffering. How the Guru-shakti intervenes to save him from his bitter inner conflicts and outer trials and lead him by showing the kindly light is the theme of this novel.
Sri Dilip Kumar Roy's inimitable style and the power of story telling, make this theme of spiritual seeking and the difficulties faced by an individual on his/her journey to the Divine and the saving hand of Guru's Grace a living comprehensible reality. In a foreword of Sri Dilip Kumar's autobiography, Pilgrims of the Stars, Dr. Frederic Spiegelberg wrote: "Dilip Kumar does not write his autobiography, he sings it." This is true for all his literature. Sri Dilip Kumar Roy narrates with unsurpassed delicacy and .charm the vicissitudes of the human Soul of the present age in it's quest for and realisation of God - the ultimate Reality.
It is in it's singular contemporaneous appropriateness that the rare merit of Sri Dilip Kumar Roy's book lies. He has revealed the mystery of the Divine presence in the familiar settings of modem life and amidst the tortuous mental processes of a self-conscious modem man. The readers of Sri Dilip Kumar Roy's well-known books such as Upward Spiral, Miracles Do Still Happen, Yogamargano Pravasi Sri Krishnaprem (Gujarati), Aghatana Ajo Ghatey (Bengali) and other Bengali books will be delighted to meet once again Asit and his Guru Swami Swayamananda in the Yoga-ashram in Dumel in the Flame and the Flute.
The discerning readers will find this fast moving story not only interesting and thought-provoking but also a true depiction perhaps of their own inner conflicts.
We regret very much that this wonderful novel could not be brought out earlier. However we are grateful to all the brothers and sisters who helped us in many ways in its publication, particularly our sister Mrs. Sophia Rix without whose active co-operation it would have been difficult to print this book in the present form. We are thankful to Sri Sribindu Bhattacharya of M/s. Best Books for taking personal interest in bringing out this book within a specified time.
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