Tuesday, October 7, 2014

066. Where The Mind Is Without Fear. Rabindranath Tagore Poem. Reintroduced By P.S.Remesh Chandran


066.
Where The Mind Is Without Fear. Rabindranath Tagore Poem. Reintroduced By P.S.Remesh Chandran.


By PSRemeshChandra, 16th Sep 2014. Short URL http://nut.bz/39ayzbno/ Posted in Wikinut;Writing;Essays


Tagore was one of the most musical-minded poets of the 19th century who lived to see the glories and advancement of the 20th century also. India’s supreme educational visionary, he started Saanthi Nikethan in Calcutta which grew into the Viswa Bhaarathi World University. Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Where The Mind Is Without Fear is the 35th song in Gitanjali, his Nobel collection of poems, Gitanjali meaning Dedication of Flowers.   

Tagore grew up in an unbelievably intoxicating atmosphere of music and dance and literature. Who will believe he would ever write poems with no music at all?


Tagore was born in a house where veena, tamburu, harmonium, mridamgam, tabala and flute resounded day and night from every room, and that great house in Calcutta had so many rooms too. It was a large family, every member being artists, painters, singers, poets, musicians or dancers. Father, mother, uncles, aunts, in-laws, brothers, sisters, nieces- everyone immersed in art or music or dance. He grew up in an unbelievably intoxicating atmosphere of music and dance and literature. Who will believe he would ever write poems with no music at all? He himself wrote and tuned more than Five Hundred songs in his Bengali language; they gained wide popularity in Bengal and constituted that famous branch of Bengali Music which later came to be known as Rabindra Sangeetham. So, we have a real musician with us, who also cared to write songs, plays and short stories, in Bengali as well as in English, all excelling one another. 

In exquisiteness of the music in his poems, Tagore is comparable only to Omar Khayyam, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Percy Bysshe Shelley.



Slide From Video Where The Mind Is Without Fear


Even though the tunes of almost all his Bengali songs are known, as he himself had tuned them, the tunes of songs which he wrote in English still remain a mystery. That they also had exhilarating tunes hidden in them was certain but he never cared to reveal them to public. It seems this expert and visionary in the field of education, literature, music and art, wished to keep them as a challenge to the whole English-speaking world, for them to rediscover in their time and leisure. He hardened the challenge by locking his lines too. The standard locking method he used was positioning the start and end of lines where they should not be. In general appearance, his English poems would look like prose-poems, generally known in English literature as free-verse. But once we shed academic pride and approach these poems as enjoyers, we have the option to try and try and try sincerely to sing them in their tunes and in some unexpected moment, they will click and unlock themselves and the original tunes without which these poems could not have been written will be revealed to us. In exquisiteness of the music contained in his poems, Tagore is comparable only to Omar Khayyam, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The fact was the world came nowhere near what he expected the world to do in this intellectual challenge of his, with the result that Tagore still remains widely mistaken as a free-verse poet in English. 

The most paradoxical thing about recognizing Tagore as a writer is, his Nobel Prize Collection Gitanjali of 1913 was Tagore in his least brilliance.


Educated in England, firm-rooted in traditional Indian style of teaching, and open to the whole world’s literary influence, we see him in counsel with Gandhi, agreeing and disagreeing, conferring with Einstein in closed rooms and they never revealing the subject of their discussions, touching musical chords in Sarijini Naidu, the Nightingale of India, switching Romaine Rolland to oriental themes, moving Kahlil Gibran to read and enjoy him and causing Haldane to accept Indian citizenship. What shall we call this person with wide acceptance, reputation and influence? The National Poet of India is too narrow a title for Rabindranath Tagore. His poems made people awakened and alert. His plays made people roused and kinetic. His stories made people weep, and occasionally, laugh. The treasure-trove of Bengali and English literature he produced remains unparalleled and unique in this world. Even his love-songs were classic creations of harmony with nature, mostly in Bengali. He was in actual love with nature! The most paradoxical thing about recognizing Tagore as a writer is, his Nobel Prize Collection Gitanjali of 1913 was Tagore in his least brilliance. 

He instituted Santhi Nikethan as a school where classes were conducted in the lap of nature, amid bird-cries and murmuring streams, under shades of trees, in mango gardens.


A school is an assembly of teachers and a class is an assembly of learners, with no walls and buildings. When Tagore conceived an educational institution, he conceived it without walls and buildings. He instituted his Santhi Nikethan, the Abode of Peace, as a school where classes were conducted in the lap of nature, in the midst of bird-cries and murmuring of streams, under shades of trees, in mango gardens. We have noted his openness to the world, his firm-rootedness in Indian teaching styles and his dislike for bondage, slavery and intellectual darkness. To celebrate these three important views, he created three of his most musical and famous poems, and sure, locked their lines too, intellectually challenging the world in general, and the academic community in particular, asking can they ever unlock and sing these lines. Who will deny he was playful also? Anyway, his stories and plays are full of little children. He could easily have revealed their original tunes but he chose not to and to leave it to time. They still remain the most challenging and unyielding in musification and musical recitation, eternally mistaken as free-verse poems. They are, Leave This Chanting, Govinda’s Disciple and Where The Mind Is Without Fear, respectively. 

Tagore pointed fingers at world’s ignorance, fear and exploitation, like Shelley did in his Song To The Men Of England, without actually pointing fingers at anyone.



Slide From Video Leave This Chanting


Without knowing the cosmopolitan world Tagore lived in and the broad world perspective he cultivated and held, we cannot understand the meaning, depth and relevance of his poem Where The Mind Is Without Fear. Only when we are able and intellectually equipped enough to enjoy the liquidity and clearness of the waters that fed into the pool of his imagination can we understand and enjoy fully this trio of poems and laugh with heartiness at the skill with which Tagore pointed fingers at the whole world’s ignorance, fear and exploitation, like Shelley did in his Song To The Men Of England, without actually pointing fingers at anyone. It was the time of industrial revolution and exploitation and economic slavery throughout the world, in Russian, British and German Empires. The world was on the brink of October Revolution. Temperatures were high everywhere in the world. What state of affairs are described in this poem existed in British India and in the other inhuman empires as well. The Russian Empire collapsed within three years in 1917 and the British and German around 1947. It was only natural and logical that all these three empires collapsed within 25 years of his envisioning and a little breeze, sunshine and freshness seeped into the world just as Tagore prayed in this song. 

The poem’s dual purpose of unveiling the position to which Britain brought a country and being a scale of measure to gauge if India has progressed any, after half a century of independence.


When we pray, if we pray for riches, it is clear we are very poor. If we pray for health, we are then certainly sick. And if we pray for freedom, we are sure in shackles, bondage and hands and feet fettered. Written in the peak hours of the cruelty and brutality of the British administration in India, around 1910, Where The Mind Is Without Fear is Tagore’s Utopia, in a sense, in which he presents his dream world of liberation, freedom and upliftment for his country and his world. The distance between his dream and the real state of affairs in his country is far, and he skillfully brings to world's attention the state into which his great nation has been made to fall by the British administration. He does this without offending anyone, and as was expected from an England-educated noble genius. As an aftermath of the Second World War and due to severity of the Indian Independence Movement, the British were however forced to leave India in 1947. But six years earlier, Tagore had died without seeing his free India. In present times, this poem serves the dual purpose of unveiling the horrible downtrodden position to which Britain brought his country and its heritage, and being a scale of measure to gauge if India has progressed any, after half a century of independence. 

In countries condemned to live in darkness and gloom, people will hope for a ray of light in the far distant horizon, expressed through their poets and visionaries like Tagore and Shelley.


Think about a country anywhere in this world where people live in constant fear and terror of evil and horrible things that can happen to them from authorities- they can be brutally trodden over and crushed down to death by soldiers’ horses, cut down by police bayonets, hunted down by government spies, betrayed by neighbours who work in collision with authorities, imprisoned for saying things publicly and executed without trials for speaking against government. Do not wonder where such countries were or are existing. Look how people lived in Asian, African and American colonies under the British, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish conquerors in the past- suppressed, oppressed and cruelly beaten, brothers, sisters, wives and children raped and killed before them, flogged to death or executed publicly in gallows as a warning to all. Look how people lived even till recently in totalitarian and militaristic states like Russia, China and Germany, constantly fearing when GRU, MSS or Gestapo will knock on doors at the dead of night. So, fear has not gone from this world, nor will it go. In such miserable conditions of animalistic living, whose heads will not be lowered due to helplessness and shame? In such hopeless countries which are not illuminated by the light of knowledge but condemned to live in perpetual darkness and gloom, their people will hope for a ray of light, of knowledge, in the far distant horizon, expressed through their poets and visionaries like Tagore and Shelley. Knowledge is something to be pursued in peace and calmness. One should be free, unencumbered by jealous and spiteful authorities watching like hawks, to access knowledge. Do not anyone interpret Tagore’s lines that he wished for free knowledge for his people. 

Why cannot we travel throughout ancient civilization routes like Huen Tsang, Fa Hien, Marco Polo, Barbosa, Nicolo Conti, Sulaiman, Megasthenes and many others did through ages, without Pass Ports?



Slide From Video Govinda's Disciple


If we travel through great land masses of the world- Africa, Asia, America, when we pass each country and reach the border, we will be asked Pass Ports and Vista. What system is this? Cannot we travel throughout ancient civilization routes like Huen Tsang, Fa Hien, Marco Polo, Pliny, Buchanan, Barbosa, Nicolo Conti, Sulaiman, Megasthenes and many others did, through ages? Not anymore. Even though it is a single world filled with people who all look alike, narrow nationalist feelings have caused it to be broken up into fragments by raising domestic walls around each little hostile piece. Which intelligent and sensible man will not grieve at the prospect of loosing all worlds beyond, for a small confined one of his own? This genuine grief of the open-minded, civilized and cultured man brutally suppressed down and walled in by worthless administrators in tyrannical states is such unearthly, godly, universal and eternal that world has begun to respond, in some land masses, initiated by the wise and thoughtful in those parts of the world. In Europe, if you have a single Pass Port, you can travel through all signatory countries now, spending the same Euro wherever you go. Tagore wrote this poem in a time when Bertrand Russell, H.G.Wells, Arnold Toynbee, George Orwell and many other visionaries were thinking about oneness of the world. 

We have learned about Euphrates and Tigress giving birth to Mesopotamian civilization, Iraq serving as a beacon of light, hope and enlightenment to the world and Baghdad shining as a seat of learning.


Mankind has a destination, a purpose, in life. But in totalitarian, militaristic, colonial and undemocratic states, they cannot pursue this purpose but can only do what the state says to do. In such countries, day after day, decade after decade, people are compelled and forced to do what they do not like but what authorities very much like. Life, for people, becomes a burden of dead habits and weights there. How much tirelessly and hard people strive in their lives to achieve man’s missions, with their arms stretching towards perfection in life, their lives will only become purposeless and futile in the end, in such countries with only persecution and suffocation and no freedom. Every spoken word will be an untruth, clothed to disguise personal motives as state’s wishes, to keep slaves in perpetual subjection and sovereigns in unquestioned power. Gradually the clear stream of logic and reason looses its way and dries up, and vanishes into the dreary desert sand of dead habits and purposelessness in those countries. We have learned about Euphrates and Tigress giving birth to Mesopotamian civilization, Iraq serving as a beacon of light, hope and enlightenment to the world and Baghdad shining as a seat of learning. Last we heard from that great city was, Saddam Hussain was storing and using chemical warfare weapons, slaying his own people in tens of thousands and finally succumbing to world’s will power. So, Tagore was right in his poem: lack of logic and reason kills not only the people of a country but its soul too. It can happen anywhere, anytime, once dictators ascend the throne. 

We cannot touch and feel a state, unless through its people. If we already have touched a nation and felt it good, know that its people are good, well nurtured and benevolent.


Who has more freedom and responsibility for thought and action- the citizens or the state? It is an age-old question, discussed well and having a well-cut answer. A state cannot think unless through its people. And it cannot act, unless through its people. People are real, and the state is amorphous, something not precipitated. We cannot touch and feel a state, unless through its people. If we already have touched a nation and felt it good, know that its people are good, well nurtured and benevolent. State is a conviction of its people, something they envision in their absolute freedom, something they achieve through the collective thought and action of their unrestrained minds, led forward by the godly inborn purity of their self awareness and self respect. Putrid rulers cannot force people to build their nation: they can only force and people will obey, but they will not believe. To become a heaven of a state, it has to be conceived that way by its people, goaded by goodwill for the whole world, because, once it has built its ideal nation, human mind will not stay in that cocoon; it will wish to pass to worlds beyond. 

You can view, listen to and download the most challenging Tagore songs in Bloom Books Channel, absolutely free.



Slide Bloom Books Channel


Many people in the world, in all continents, have tuned, orchestrated and video-produced many of Tagore’s songs in English, as they are very popular among students and teachers and included in university studies. Some recordings came very close to original tunes, some nowhere near them and most not at all with any tune. In India, his home country where he is celebrated as National Poet, no attempts were made in the academic world or by authorities to orchestrate his English songs. Even Prasar Bharathi Corporation, All India Radio and Door Darshan with their vast resources and enormous funds, did not even try during the past fifty years. Try these three most challenging of his songs from Bloom Books Channel in You Tube. They are of course crude recordings made with pagan tools, created by poor people, but they do have a tune and they are the only sincere attempts ever. Remember, they are just prototypes for the world’s children, released into public domain, for any one to build upon. Someday, fine recordings of these songs will come, from those little children who download them now.


1. Where The Mind Is Without Fear
2. Leave This Chanting
3. Govinda’s Disciple

___________________________
Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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Dear Reader,
If you cannot access all pages of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles


Also visit Sahyadri Books Online Trivandrum and Bloom Books Channel In You Tube

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Appreciations, Articles, English Literature, Essays, Indianwriters, P S Remesh Chandran, Rabindranath Tagore, Reintroductions, Reviews, Sahyadri Books Bloom Books Trivandrum, Stories, Tagore Songs, Tagore Videos, Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra


Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of 'Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book'. 
Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala.


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Monday, September 22, 2014

065. Rule Of The Road And Liberty. A G Gardiner Essay Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran

065. 
Rule Of The Road And Liberty. A G Gardiner Essay Reintroduced 
By P S Remesh Chandran. 
Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books Online, Trivandrum.

By PSRemeshChandra, 21st Sep 2014. Short URL http://nut.bz/ock_qzm3/ Posted in Wikinut Writing;Essays


Once there was a time in England when a trio of writers created very interesting articles on the daily life of people and amused the English-reading world. Whatever was happening around them in people’s lives became the subject of their stories and essays. E.V.Lucas, A.G.Gardiner and Robert Lynd were the trio. They penned down so many articles before they left the world, and we now have hundreds of beautiful such passages to read and read again and learn what we are, and how we behave.


Liberty is not personal affair but accommodation of the interests of others. Personal liberty has to be sacrificed for the security and safety of the society.



A G Gardiner Photo. By Unknown 


It is a pleasure to observe good rules. The British writer A.G.Gardiner wrote an interesting article on The Rule Of The Road, in which he presented his observations and thoughts on what Liberty in reality is, and explained and defined the distinction between individual liberty and social liberty. And he also explained when one should be sacrificed for the other. This essay was part of his book Leaves in the Wind, a brilliant and illustrative lecture on Liberty. Liberty is not a personal affair but the accommodation and tolerance of the interests of others. Personal liberty has to be sacrificed for the security and safety of society. Gardiner’s essays are natural, easy and light. His essays remind us of laughter, sunshine, peace and other such pleasant things. A.G.Gardiner, E.V.Lucas and Robert Lynd led the revival in English essays. Alpha of the Plough was the pen name Gardiner used often.


A traffic policeman is not a nuisance but promise of liberty, safety and security on the road. 



A G Gardiner, The Editor. By Unknown 


Had there been no rules on the road, everyone would have walked and driven as he wished and no one would have reached anywhere. Streets then could never have been crossed at all. Accidents and deaths would have become frequent and common and every journey would have been to the other world. It is social order that makes liberty possible, a reality. Order on the road reflects the liberty in individual lives. When we ride on the road, most people consider traffic policemen as an annoyance, checking their freedom to move. A traffic policeman is not a nuisance but promise of liberty, safety and security on the road. 



The expertise in driving is not in speeding up but in applying brakes in time. 


If No Others, Then No Roads. By Sarah777 


The pleasure and freedom of driving is not in obstructing others’ right to drive. The expertise in driving is proven not in speeding up but in applying brakes in time. We cannot drive the roads as if we own them. When somebody in uniform asks us to stop, it is the assurance that we can drive on safely again. In many countries, people rarely dim their headlights at night for drivers coming from the opposite direction to see the road clearly, and that is what causes most night time accidents. Certainly we are not entitled to such liberties on the road. We cannot apply Newton’s laws of motion on the road which states that an object in motion will continue in its motion perpetually, unless and until acted upon by an equal and opposite external force. We do have to stop at signals, slow near hospitals and schools and turn one hundred and eighty degrees back at U-Turns. 


In Russia, after revolution, an old lady with a basket on her head walked through the middle of the road without minding the oncoming traffic, yelling that she has got freedom and liberty!



Announce Our Coming Like Gentlemen. By Mariordo 


People sometimes will get liberty-drunk and forget rules. In Russia, after the revolution, an old lady with a basket on her head walked through the middle of the road without minding the oncoming traffic, yelling that she has got freedom and liberty! Even though it was a brief respite for her like letting-out her breath after holding it for a long time, letting out steam after generations of suppression by the Tsars, such individual liberty should be restricted indeed, for the safety of the society, at least on the road. Too much individual freedom will lead to social anarchy. It is interesting to note here that Jean Paul Sartre, the ultimate apostle of individual freedom, in France did exactly the same thing in crowded Paris city streets. He won’t wait for motor vehicles to pass when he crossed a street; the motor vehicles on either side had wait for him to cross! What can the famous and efficient French police do to such an eminent and world famous personage? The usually efficient Sûreté Nationale complained, and finally President Charles De Gaul ordered French National Police not to arrest Sartre for violating road rules. 


We have seen motorists using aggressive horns: cannot he announce his coming like a gentleman?



Liberty Or Sound Pollution? By ADBalasubramaniyan 


One certainly has the liberty to behave and conduct himself as he likes, in matters that do not affect anyone else. ‘We do not need anyone’s permission to be a Catholic or a Protestant, or to marry a dark lady or a fair lady.’ In all these things, and in a thousand other things, we can do what we like. We have a whole kingdom in which we can rule alone. But one certainly has not the liberty to play a piano, trumpet or gramophone anywhere or at any time of the day, disturbing others. Others also have their liberty to sleep in peace. We have seen motorists using aggressive horns: Cannot he announce his coming like a gentleman? The German state Prussia freely bullied and attacked its neighbours, and collapsed in the Second World War, to the world’s satisfaction. The drivers of such vehicles appear to Gardiner like the spirit of militant Prussia reborn, which is an ugly spectacle in a civilized world. Therefore it is necessary for us to preserve both our individual liberty and social liberty.


Other people’s rights are continually denied in buses, trains and queues, by people who have no social sense.



Queues Reflect Discipline And Breeding. By ŠJů 


The school, club and social lives of a person and the games he plays, train him in good social conduct. They put him in the broad current of the world’s life and enable him to consider the rights of others as well. Gardiner observes that women are far behind in this aspect of social conduct, as they are only beginning to enjoy actual social life. It is not the man but the well-dressed woman who breaks the queue. Another scene of offending the social liberty of others is seen in trains. If you are reading a very interesting book for pleasure, nothing happening around will affect you. ‘You can enjoy such adventure stories as Treasure Island even in the midst of an earthquake.’ But to read a book of facts and figures in a crowded train in the middle of loud talk is an impossible thing to do. On one such occasion he was compelled to close his book as many others have to do in trains. One person in the train continued to talk to his friend in a loud noise on a wide variety of subjects as if he was a very learned man. He left the carriage convinced that everyone had a very illuminating journey with him and would carry away to their homes a pleasing impression of his encyclopedic range of knowledge. The defect of this man was he had no social sense. 


What will happen if all are interested in breaking queue and none are in keeping queue?



First Come First Board. By Leonard V Carlson


Queuing up is a common sight today which we can see in bus stands, bus stops, post offices, railway stations, post offices, hospitals, cinema theatres and there are bread lines, pizza lines and relief lines too. What will happen if all are interested in breaking queue and none are in keeping queue? Even in disciplined and organized countries and societies also we can see an odd man or woman out in such queues. While travelling in buses, in modern day age, someone next to your seat will speak continuously onto his mobile phone, not to any single friend but to a number of his friends, one after the other, relaying where he has reached, at each stop. You will be forced to snatch the phone and throw it out through the window, whatever be the consequences resulting from the act.


One does not have the liberty to send his son to Mr. Fagin’s Academy in London and bring him up as a pick pocket. There is society to be considered.



Either Queues Or Chaos. By Petr Vilgus 


Brow-beating, side-stepping, pestering and disturbing others are taken as personal liberties by many. Personal liberties should be harmoniously fused with social liberties. That is the success of social sense. One cannot say that his child shall have no education, that he will be brought up as a savage or that he will be sent to Mr. Fagin’s Academy of Pick Pockets in London for professional training. Then society will interfere. One of course cannot have the liberty to become a nuisance to his neighbours and make his child grow up as a burden and a threat to the commonwealth. One can easily be judged to be civilized or uncivilized from his little acts of social behaviour. Little acts of good social conduct make up the great sum of life and sweeten the journey onwards. The extent to which one can indulge in the pleasures of his personal liberties is, they shall not disturb the liberty of others.


People have not really understood the meaning of his pen name Alpha of the Plough; it has connotation of the ABCD of the Farmer besides the brightest star in the cluster.



Commuters Keep Their Own Worlds. By David Shankbone


A.G.Gardiner’s most famous books are Prophets, Priests And Kings, Pillars Of Society, The War Lords, Pebbles On The Shore, Windfalls, Leaves In The Wind, The Anglo-American Future and What I Saw In Germany, in chronological order of first appearance. He used the pen name Alpha of the Plough for most of his writings- books, essays and editorial articles. Most people associate this name with Alpha, the brightest star in the Plough cluster in space, thinking that he assumed himself the qualification of ‘the brightest star in the cluster’, given the choice. But we also know that his England was a farmers’ England and Alpha in Greek also meant the first letter, making us believe that he assumed the pen name Alpha of the Plough to qualify himself as the ‘ABCD of the Farmers’ which is more meaningful and apt, considering what he stood for and whom he supported in his writings.


From the boy journalist from the wood-worker’s family, to the spit-fire editor of Daily News and The Star!



Decently Engaged. By Travis Ruse


Gardiner had humble beginnings in his life, born in a wood-worker’s family and boyhood experiences in journalism and magazine production at the Chelmsford Chronicle, Bournemouth Directory, Northern Daily Telegraph and Blackburn Weekly Telegraph, before he became the famous editor of Daily News who relentlessly fought against social evils and multiplied its circulation five times within seven years. Not that he continued in this paper. When David Lloyd George, the barrister who became the Prime Minister of England after World War First, partitioned Ireland and introduced state financial help to the poor and the sick by heavy taxation of the rich, there were disagreements between editors and owners and Gardiner silently moved on to The Star. We lost Alfred George Gardiner who delighted us through simple, truthful and amusing essays in 1946, at the age of 81.


(Prepared as a lecture delivered to literature students in 1995. Slight modifications made since then)

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
___________________________
 

Dear Reader,
If you cannot access all pages of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles


Also visit Bloom Books Channel In You Tube


Tags


A G Gardiner, Alpha Of The Plough, Appreciations, British Writers, English Essayists, English Language And Literature, Freedom, Individual Liberty, Leaves In The Wind, Liberty, On The Rule Of The Road, P S Remesh Chandran, 

Re-Introductions, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Social Liberty

Meet the author

 
PSRemeshChandra


Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of 'Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book'. Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala.


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Saturday, September 20, 2014

064. The Bradford School Master. J B Priestley Essay. Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran, Trivandrum

064. 
The Bradford School Master. J B Priestley Essay. Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran.
Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books Online, Trivandrum

By PSRemeshChandra, 20th Sep 2014. Short URL http://nut.bz/3pgg-gzj/ Posted in Wikinut Writing Essays


The industrial town of Bradford in England had its famous school master in the person of Mr. Jonathan Priestley, whose son John Boynton Priestley later became one of the most famous literary figures in the world, remembered for his scholarly essays, novels, plays, travel books and speeches. 35 years after his father’s passing away, he remembers his father in a radio talk, as a respected village character, teacher, educationalist, socialist and humanist. 

When we reminisce our old school days, we unknowingly become little faces sitting there, listening to our teachers.


Priestley At Work 1940 By Daily Herald Archives

Reminiscing about our teachers who taught us in our school is a pleasant experience to us all. When we remember them, we unknowingly become our former selves of school children again. The school buildings, the compound and the playground, the class, our beloved teachers standing there teaching us in class, and we, the unruly gang, facing them with our tiny little faces and listening to every word of theirs as if they are pronounced by God, all rushes towards us from past years. Wherever we are and whatever we have become after years, this nostalgic feeling is universal, reminding us that it is a sweet once-in-a lifetime dream. 

Education is the golden gateway to the enchanted countries in our own mind.


From The Days Of Innocence By ManoRanjana DeSilva

Jonathan Priestley took delight in instructing people even while travelling in railway carriages. Teaching meant to him the cultural development of a man. Education is the key to understanding life. It saves people from ignorance, prejudice and narrow-mindedness. He considered education as a golden gateway to the enchanted countries in one’s own mind. As Plato pointed out, education is not for benefit, but for delight of the soul. We have heard about the incident in Plato’s Academy when a student, after spending long years in the Academy asked his master: ‘Sir, does all this studying come to any benefit?’ Plato went inside, returned with a gold coin and gave it to the student. And said: ‘Now you have your benefit; never say that your education did not benefit you, and never again make your appearance in this compound. Education is not for benefit but for delight of the soul.’ Education is a glorious end in itself. It works miracles by removing ignorance, stupidity and greed from the mind. Jonathan was an inner-directed, brave and independent ideal socialist who did not like blood-shed. Petty tyrants could not compel him to do something he loathed to do as an ordinary citizen or as a Teachers’ Union leader. He hated others being poor but did not want himself to become a rich man. He had more of Morris and Gandhi in him than some rudimentary Marx. 

The father considered Sunday a day to be spent on debates, and reading at home. The son considered it a day devoted to all kinds of outdoor enjoyments, far away from home.


Going To School By Gadjo Boy

One needn’t think that the father and son did not disagree. In two things they sharply disagreed and fiercely fought each other. Jonathan too much cared, and was anxious about, how their neighbours would think about them. He cared for the public profile of a man, which according to him, had to be cultivated from childhood. Therefore he severely restricted the lives of his children. Where in this world will not children be embarrassed and irritated? The holiday on Sunday was another matter for perpetual disagreement. The teacher thought it a day to be spent on debates and reading at home, and the son took it a day to be devoted to all kinds of outdoor enjoyments, far away from home. World’s literature is full of conservative parents’ views on how a Sunday should be spent and how a family should go to church. Conservative families spent the day in pious involvements and went to church en mass, in their finest Sunday clothes, in a parade, one after the other. In old times, church-going was the only occasion for the gentry for social intercourse. Church-going even emerged as a prominent theme in paintings and literary works. How a family looked on the road when they went to church was a measure of their character, conduct and integrity at home and in society. In every country, in every age, church-going was religious for parents and tedious and un-religious for youngsters and teenagers, except for whom romances budded and bloomed on the way to and back from church. Probably, the case of young J.B.Priestley also might not have been different, for he also had a sweetheart in his village whom he married and who when died of disease, he remarried.

Due to quarrels, hatred and jealousy between nations, our rockets may reach nowhere near another planet ever.


My Country School And Dear Teacher By WinslowHomer

Twenty years before this radio talk, on one occasion of describing the mental strength and wisdom of his father, J.B.Priestley had remarked that ‘if he were to pick up a team for going to and colonizing another planet, he would certainly have chosen his father’s kind of people first.’ Technology had slipped and faltered to the darker side since then and scientific developments man achieved had come to the stage of possibly endangering man and his planet. Due to quarrels, hatred and jealousy between nations and peoples, our rockets may not reach anywhere near another planet. Therefore, colonizing another planet is not even a remote possibility but saving this planet from self-destruction by man’s wayward technology is an urgent need. So, closing this radio talk, J.B.Priestley modifies his 20 years-old remark about his father, commenting that ‘the presence of so many people like Jonathan Priestley in this world alone may save the planet from self-destruction.’ So, now, his father’s mission would be not to go and colonize another planet for man, but to stay in this planet itself to save it from man. He wishes there were more men like his father qualified to colonize and civilize this planet of ours.

The man with a miracle pen, tirelessly working behind his type writers, producing marvels for the world!


My Brother's School And Teacher By Thomas Brooks

After reading an interesting and inspiring article written by J.B.Priestley, if we leave without knowing anything about this man with a miracle pen who tirelessly worked behind his type writers creating marvels for the world to read as essays, speeches, reviews, novels, plays, and biographies, making magnificent books on travels throughout England, France, Russia and America, and humbly declining a Knighthood and a Peerage but accepting the Queen of England’s an Order of Merit with no political commitments, it would be gross injustice to him and to English literature. 

This writer considered speaking about war experiences as taboo, and even destroyed writings from that period.


Back To Home From Schools By Albert Anker

After school, J.B.Priestley worked in a wool selling company for earning money to buy books and spent time as an unpaid writer working for Bradford Pioneer, a local magazine. His writing career started in 1912. In 1914, when the First World War began, he volunteered for the army and spent five years in England and France. He was wounded in 1916 by mortar fire. He feared he would die in the trenches and to ensure survival of at least a few of his writings in case he died, he wrote and sent a few poems and letters during this time. He did not like to talk or write about those years generally and wrote about them only once in a book titled Margin Released. He even destroyed much of his writings pertaining to the war time. After war he left Bradford. War Office helped him with a university grant and he joined Trinity Hall in Cambridge. After graduation, he married his lover from Bradford village and settled in London. Non-fiction works like essays, reviews and biographies and fiction works like novels poured out of his pen these days. Novels The Good Companion and Angel Pavement belong to this period. Then he lost his beloved wife and his father, and something changed in him to incline towards the theatre. In the 1930s, the world found him as a fully-fledged dramatist, immersed deeply in writing and producing plays for the theatre. 

The finest radio broadcaster of the 20th century! Jealousy caused cancellation of Priestley’s popular talks on the BBC.


Going to Church On Sunday By Wilhelm Koller

When the Second World War began in 1939, we see Priestly as a radio broadcaster, broadcasting war news with his famous comments regularly from England to America and other countries. In 1945, when the war ended, two unexpected things happened: he contested in the general election as an independent candidate, and failed; his writings against development and deployment of nuclear weapons resulted in the forming of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and he became a famous travelling speaker on nuclear disarmament. In the British Broadcasting Corporation, J.B.Preistley’s talks became such popular that they became the second best, the first best being those of Sir. Winston Churchill, the then British Prime Minister. Finally Churchill’s cabinet interfered and cancelled Priestley’s talks in BBC altogether, alleging that they were pro-left and socialist. We know, communism and socialism were much-feared things in England and in America but this did not prevent Winston Churchill of England or Theodore Roosevelt of America from signing pacts with Joseph Stalin of Russia to defeat Adolph Hitler of Germany. They did not feel guilt in joining hands with communists, to prevent England and America from going red, at the expense of countries in Europe being divided and shared by reds as part of post-war arrangements, but they took J.B.Priestley talking socialism in BBC very seriously. The reason- jealousy! 

The literary productions of John Boynton Priestley, stretching five decades.


Going To Church Or Where? By Franz Schams

Quite a number of quotations in the English language belong to J.B.Priestley, for example, ‘Plants restore the air that animals injure.’ He also was a lover of music and a supporter and promoter of the famous London Philharmonic Orchestra in its bad post-war times. The total number of books he authored is not less than sixty. In the midst of a very busy writing career, he also represented England in UNESCO. His novels include Adam in Moonshine, The Good Companions, Angel Pavement, Let the People Sing, Three Men in New Suits, The Magicians, Saturn Over The Water and Lost Empires. The famous plays are Dangerous Corner, I Have Been Here Before, They Came To A City and An Inspector Calls. His literary criticisms include The English Comic Characters and Literature And Western Man. English Journey, The Arts Under Socialism and The Edwardians are political and social writings. He has also written essays and autobiographical collections such as Midnight On The Desert, Journey Down A Rainbow and Margin Released. All these titles are arranged here in their chronological order of appearance. J.B.Priestley said farewell to this world on August 14th of 1984. 


(Prepared as a lecture delivered to literature students in May 1990. Slight modifications made since then)

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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063. Tolerance. E M Forster Essay. Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran.

063. 
Tolerance. E M Forster Essay. Reintroduced By P S Remesh Chandran. 
Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books Online, Trivandrum

By PSRemeshChandra, 19th Sep 2014.

Short URL http://nut.bz/3_3i8k-v/ Posted in Wikinut Writing Essays 


E.M.Forster was a celebrated British literary figure who knew deep about the philosophy of the East. He made three visits to India and became familiar with the Hindu, Muslim and Anglo-Indian visions in India. His famous novel A Passage To India was made into a movie by David Lean. In a radio broadcast, he argues in favour of tolerance. His plea for tolerance is to be heeded by all countries; especially since in all continents have problems of cessation and separatism.


A sound state of mind is the only sound foundation to base a stable and lasting civilization.


Tolerance is a dull virtue. It just means, putting up with people. Forster laments that no one has ever written an Ode To Tolerance or raised a statue to her. It is the quality which is most needed in a world constantly threatened with wars. It is the only force which enables different classes and races of people to settle down together as in India. Tolerance is the sound state of mind to base a civilization upon. A sound state of mind is the only sound foundation to base a stable and lasting civilization. In Forster's opinion, God alone has a sound state of mind to base a lasting civilization. ‘Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.' 


We say love is what is needed, and then sit back, and the world goes on as before without change. 


Tolerance is not just love. Spiritual qualities like love fails when put into practical uses such as solving the world's problems. Love is a failure in public affairs. 'Love is what is needed' we say, and then we sit back, and the world goes on as before. We do nothing to change either the world or our attitude towards the world. When love fails, people will begin to exterminate those whom they do not like, to prevent the disaster from which tolerance need be practised. We know, the Irish and the Scots were not loved much by the Englanders and the South Irish parted from United Kingdom. The Scots in their referendum chose to remain in that union, by a very narrow margin and we do not know what they will choose in future. We know Canada has problems with Quebec, Spain with Catalonia, Belgium with Flanders, and China with so many conquered states like Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and not-yet-conquered nations like Japan and Philippines, with far-reaching-plans with even the distant South Sudan in Africa. Without love for the other peoples contained in their hold and for ethnic minorities living in their provinces, where will these countries go in this world of instant communications and online referendums? 


Tolerance is to be practiced in the queue, in the street, in the railway, in the office, at the factory, at the telephone. 


Tolerance has to be practiced by peoples, classes, communities and also nations. It has to be practiced in almost all spheres of human activity- in the queue, in the street, in the railway, in the office, at the factory, at the telephone. Tolerance is not weakness or surrender. It is the strong tolerating the weak. It is a temporary arrangement till the world is put in perfect order. According to Forster, tolerance is just a makeshift, suitable for an overcrowded and overheated planet. The world is shockingly full of people who are equally responsible for the colour questions and racial prejudices still prevailing in our globe, still prevailing in even advanced countries such as England, E.M.Forster’s home land. These inferior qualities cloud the future of even the advanced civilizations. Rather than finding fault with others, it is better we turn to ourselves for betterment. It is very easy to find fanaticism in others, but difficult to spot it in our selves. Till The National Home is completed and Love enters it, Tolerance need be retained as a stop-gap arrangement.


All philosophers, prophets and saints from the East have been preaching tolerance through ages. Theirs is a long line.


Forster is not alone in advocating for this virtue of tolerance. All philosophers, prophets and saints from the East have been preaching tolerance through ages. From Gauthama Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi- theirs is a long line. In the West also, Saint Paul, the Apostle, Dante, the Italian poet, Erasmus, the Dutch scholar, Montaigne, the first French essayist, were all preaching tolerance in Europe. In England, there were John Locke, the philosopher and Sydney Smith, the priest. And there was also Forster's friend, the famous Lowes Dickinson. In Germany it was Goethe. We may sum up the names of these supreme lovers of mankind in a small poetical refrain which nobody wrote yet:


Buddhan, Gandhi, St.Paul, Dante,
Erasmus, Montaigne, John Locke,
Sydney Smith and Low`es Dickinson
And the poet Goethe.



(Prepared as a lecture delivered to literature students in May 1992. Slight modifications made since then)




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If you cannot access all pages of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
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Appreciations, Articles, British Philosophers, British Writers, E M Forster, E M Forster Essays, English Literature, Essays, Essays On Education, Essays On Tolerance, P S Remesh Chandran, Reintroductions, Reviews, Sahyadri Books Bloom Books Trivandrum, Stories, Tolerance



Meet the author
PSRemeshChandra


Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of 'Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book'. Unmarried and single. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley In Kerala.


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