The present book is a study of symbol and language and their progressive development in one of the most ancient mystic cultures, i.e. Indian Culture. The book studies how the mythical traditions of Hindu Religion and connected with symbol and language and is so deeply involved in all its expressions.
It has been shown by all great philosophers and saints including Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Sister Nivedita, that will the help of suggestive and symbolic language a lot could be conveyed which normally lies beyond what can be said definitely. They succeeded to communicate the incommunicable, to speak about what lies on the fringe of silence and beyond.
However imperfect our language may be, it is very powerful and useful means - perhaps the only handy means we have of approaching Reality, and the culture in all its depths.
The book is a hitherto unknown interpretation of our mythic culture, which was often misunderstood and misinterpreted by the missionaries and western psychologists and scholars. It is an academic encounter so to say of an ancient culture with both its mythologem and mythologene characters in most recent past.
About the Author:
Before joining the order of monks, Ananda did his M.A. in Philosophy (Mental & Moral Science) and also Political Science. Besides, he studied Law and Modern History up to M.A. Final, though not completed.
As a young monk he had the privilege and experience of working in the midst of Naga Tribes in the remote North East India for about 5-6 years. His interest in the cultural and social trends of the different people and countries, especially in India, is not only keen, but deep. And most of his attempts in exploring and subject or themes are multi-disciplinary and naturally path-breaking.
His earlier books already published are 1.A Sufi and a Sanatani- On Comparative Religion, 2.Mother Worship-a Gynaecratic Study of World Civilization and Culture, 3.Contemporary Work philosophy and Action-Culture, 4. Hindu View of Judaism, 5.Zen (Buddhist) Meditation and Hindu Sadhana-a Comparative and Anthological Study, 6. A Critique of Some Recent Thinking in India etc. Besides, several other titles by him are under preparation.
He also contributes occasionally to different journals on variety of subjects.
As the title suggests Myth, Symbol and language is the basic paper introducing the subject language and symbol and their progressive development in one of the most ancient mystic cultures i.e. Indian culture. Like other religions of the world in Hindu religion also this mythic tradition is still a lively culture. How it is connected with the symbol and language and is so very deeply involved in all its expressions has been studied here and along with it a religions organization and character of this civilization have also been brought into focus namely Ramakrishna Movement.
Naturally then to the poser as to how the portion titled Sri Ramakrishna A mythological view is connected to the above. The reply lies in the connection that has been shown with reference to one of the latest mythic figures Sri Ramakrishna as the mythologene. This is just to show how the tradition of mythology and faith is broadcast through such an exemplary life as that of the mythologene or mythogenic character. The seeds of such a culture are blown all over irrespective of barriers of time and space as a certified fact of history indeed. Sometime these mythologene and mythogenic characters play great roles in history as Toynbee has aptly commented: “...the meta-historian seeks to integrate his study of reality in some higher dimensions than that of human affairs, as these (characters) present themselves to him phenomenally.”
In the third chapter, ‘A Vivekananda View of Mythology’, a further study has been made with reference to ‘Mythologene-Mythologene’. It is just like the seeds of life being sown and their sprouting by themselves in the immediate present before us, meaning contemporary period without losing any part of its foundational belief and character. On the other hand we see it firmly grouting its roots deeper and deeper in the past during the process contaminating, so to say, the contemporary also. Jung in his publication Psychology has referred to this process as the unconscious pool of the culture or a kind of mental patterning thus germinated which may also be called as mentation. Thus myth is not mythic at all but a reality in life that is still being carried forward to some unknown destiny. It is necessary that this symbolic pattern of the mythic life, as it is passing through society and history, has to be recognized as a great factor, as the warp and woof of many a culture, at least for those that have not yet been cut-off completely from such moorings of faith and heritage of the past, as in India.
In the fourth chapter, there is a write-up on Sister Nivedita’s Study of Myth and Mythology, specially with reference to India and her religions.
The concluding portion—Appendix I, a treatise on ‘Vak’ as a meeting place of the different religions and doctrines of the world—as expressed by the author through his paper presented at the seminar organized by the ‘Visam-Nad’ in Delhi during December 1992—carries the idea that draws out attention once again to the expressive art of religion and culture through language and symbol— exposing the conceptual and a conscious core of life and its unconscious bottom both as an organization and as a creative communication to the world at large.
In Appendix II, there is an attempt to illustrate how these myths can be interpreted in modem language also. Gita therefore is ever progressive and modernistic in this sense, and its introduction (the first chapter) only has been placed here to set the mind in motion.
The main purpose of the book is to give some idea, rather a glimpse of the mythological India—which is not only an imagination but a study of how India mediated and meditated itself in ancient India. That is to say how one can imagine India like that. Indian thinking is also involved here along with its feeling and willing then. And for all that, India is still a country where myths are not altogether non-functioning. So this publication is meant to be a path, rather a guide into the ‘Imagining of India’ in accordance with all its old mythic traditions and beliefs. One may also call it an ‘Imaging of India’.
As Ainslie T. Embree wrote in the publication ‘Imaging India’ (published by Oxford University Press, 1989) that even ‘America’ was ‘a construct of European imagination’ once upon a time, or as Columbus had ‘imagined America’. This book perhaps is not exactly like that, because it deals more with the mythic form of Indian imagination than with foreigners. Foreigners mainly helped in interpreting it. That is to say how India imagined herself to be—her belief pattern and culture in the most ancient phase and at that rudimentary state of mind.
Of course, there is no doubt that, ‘India even more than America has been imagined by foreigners, the name itself is foreign, a reminder that for the Greeks and Romans India was a land at the end of the known world. That memory lingered on, and in 1523, an European could still say that natives of all unknown countries are commonly called Indians. But although India may have been a symbol of odd and the exotic, it was always a part of the furniture of the Western historical imagination.’ So commented Embree in his book.
Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda were the two grand windows of history through which India beamed once again some of her pristine glory of the past, in a most natural dialogue and manner of history with modernism. Of course Max Muller, William James and a few other Ideologists also helped in the throwing open of this window and enabled the beam to shine brightly and in a proper manner. As such, they are also mentioned in the publication and a clear perspective of all of them is presented here and there as sign posts.
So actually,’... this was the point that the great Indologist, Max Muller was making when he told an audience of young probationers for the Indian Civil Service in 1882, that India not only had a place in European history, but also ‘in what is the very life history, the history of the human mind.’ In another way and in a very natural and significant manner, this book is also a history of human mind—marking out a different phase altogether of the human mind, which is so much polluted today with the so-called vapour of modernistic rational but mundane mind. And it has been shown in these pages as to how Sri Ramakrishna still holds the entire sway, rather the sweep of this ancient faith—culture——of which his disciple Swami Vivekananda was a very modem breakwater point.
Sri Ramakrishna is perhaps the latest watershed (may be the last also!) of this far-flung oceanic depth thrown out on the shores of history in the 19th century only as an autochthonous revival of a very ancient time. Here lies another singular importance of this book, and this has been taken up in my another book ‘A Critique of Some Recent Thinking in India, ‘Chapter I’ published by A.P.C. Publications (P) Ltd., New Delhi.
This book is a study of symbol and language nodoubt, - but here language is an inner voice, a mixture of Mythic thinking confronting Reality, as it were; across the ages and from beyond the so-called frontiers of civilization. Actually these are voices - Art, not language. Symbolic of voices and languages etc. Language was only in the making then. It was therefore just a structural beginning of the voices of our human consciousness standing still deep within the shoddy sub-conscious development of it - trying to come out of the brain, in the open sky. So this book is a variety of human desire, aspiration and goal - a blending of Myth, Sociology, Culture, Psychology, Art and Religion all in one.
Therefore Myth is not merely a language or speech thro’ the throat or the mouth, or of the brain (thinking) only - but language of the mind as a whole or the psyche and its imagination, that is more creative, meaningful and deep in terms of life and living. And thereby myth is though beyond the brain, but always behind the mind
infinitely generative (without being digital or mathematical, in any way).
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