Dr. Prema Nandakumar (MA., Ph.D., 1961) has had a first class academic career in Andhra University. Her translations of Subramania Bharati’s poems and of the classics Manimekalai, etc, have won high praise.
She has published short biographies of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Subramania Bharati.
Dr Prema Nandkumar’s critical studies include Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri Study; T V.Kapali Sastri and Kulothungan: A Poet of today and Tomorrow.
During the last forty years the Aurobindo man inspiration has led her to read, write and speak with a commendable sense of balance and a strength of purpose.
She has written for numerous journals and published study papers. She has been a valued contributor for the monthly journal Sri Aurobindo Action and her just published Mahasaraswati is a reprint of her series published under the same title in this journal.
The present book In Search of Hinduism is also a reprint of her series published under the same title in Sri Aurobindo Action. It is expected to throw needed light on Hindutva, a subject of much contemporary debate.
The twentieth century was an ‘ism’ century. Every major group- experience was reduced to an ‘ism’. If we encountered modernism, post-modernism and structuralism and their brood in literature, politics yielded communism, socialism, Marxism and Maoism. The spaces of culture did not lag behind: Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism and the rest. The ‘ism’ tag seemed compulsory it graduate into elitist discourse. The Darshanas of spiritual seeking in India from ancient times that upheld Sanatan Dharma were reformatted as “isms” like Vaishnavism and Saivism. All of them were thrown into a big hold-all called Hinduism. Then the vidhi-Purusha took the dark matched in his hands and placed one ism against the other. In the process, forgetting that Sanatan Dharma was an all- comprehending humanist doctrine that expanded to meet the inflow of new religions and ways into India during the last two millennia, Hinduism was set up as a narrow concept that was out to destroy the religions that India had welcomed.
The Hinduism of today has no narrow domestic walls. An occasional aberration should not condemn a way of life nurtured by Indians through millennia. Rather, each one of us interested in the welfare of the motherland should apply correctives when wounds are dealt to our body politic and disseminate information about our priceless culture. Hinduism remains still the Ancient Way that has gathered the fruits of racial experience, and has constantly tried to heal wounds inflicted by myopic persons in search of pelf and power One has to give one’s whole attention to detail in the Indian diaspora to realise the truth of this statement. Only the followers of Sanatan Dharma could have forgiven the killer-aggressions of Turkish hordes to set up Princess Sultani’s painted image, revered as Thulukka Nachiyar, next to the sanctum of the premier temple of Vaishnavas in Srirangam.
It is a living experience for the devout to receive the butter and bread offered to her in her fane, while elders and children act with ecstatic absorption dramas depicting her life of self- consecration to the image of Ranganatha.
Indeed, only a child of Sanatan Dharma could make the ancient Indian sage Narad speak of Christ’s Passion in unforgettable terms:
“It is finished, the dread mysterious sacrifice,
Offered by God’s martyred body for the world;
Gethsemane and Calvary are his lot,
He carries the cross on which man’s soul is nailed:
His escort is the curses of the crowd;
Insult and jeer are his right’s acknowledgement;
Two thieves slain with him mock his mighty death.
He has trod with bleeding brow the Saviour’s way.”
In Search of Hinduism is a quest which each one of us has to undertake throughout one’s lifetime. Sanatan Dharma never fails to enrich us, sustain us and remake us in the image of the Ideal. It is this plenitude that made Sri Aurobindo say that India will be the Guru of the world, and today we march behind the banner of the Vedic chant uniting humanity:
Samjnaanam nah svebhih samjnaanamaranebhih
Samjnaanamashvinaa yuvamihaasmaasu ni yachchatam
“Let us have concord with our own people and concord with people who are strangers to us; Ashvins, create between us and the strangers A unity of hearts.” Tr. A.C. Bose
I am immensely grateful to Shri Shyam Sundar for giving me an opportunity to undertake this quest through the pages of Sri Aurobindo’s Action, and for publishing the essays as a book.
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