Page 3, 7th June 1957

7th June 1957
Page 3
Page 3, 7th June 1957 — Four Men Lost in Spiritual INDIA

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Locations: Trivandrum


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Four Men Lost in Spiritual INDIA


Dom Bede Griffiths, O.S.B.

AS I SEE INDIA. by Robert Trumbull (Cassell & Co., 18s.).

EXPEDITION TORTOISE, by P. Rambach, R. Jahan. F. HerbertStevens (Thames & Hudson, 30s.).

MR. TRUMBULL is an American journalist, who spent seven years in India. He witnessed the birth of

India as an independent Republic; he saw the terrible massacres of Sikhs and Muslims which marked its birth; he was able to visit some of the Indian Princes and has some picturesque stories .to tell of them, before they were deprived of their power; most interesting of all he was present in Kashmir at the


beginning of the trouble, which is still dividing India and Pakistan, and gives what seems a very unprejudiced account of it. . He has travelled with Nehru up and down India from the Nagaland to Trivandrum and watched the kind of magic attraction he has for the crowds of people, who will listen to him for hours often without understanding a word he says.

With all this varied experience he has a good understanding of India's varied problems, of caste and untouchability (which is still very much in evidence. though it is forbidden by law). of the marriage system and the joint family, of the poverty both in towns and villages and the efforts at economic reform.


HIS analysis of the political ▪ parties is particularly good. He gives the history of the Communist party and shows the reasons for its comparative failure

in India. He is inclined to think that the Communist influence has declined in the last five years.

This may be true on the surface (though the advent of a Communist government in Kerala as a result of the recent election marks a very distinct gain) but it is difficult to say how great its influence is under the surface.

He appreciates the work of Vinoha Bhave, the disciple of Gandhi, and sees the immense power of spiritual energy which it possesses, but he is perhaps overoptimistic about the achievements of Congress. The progress which has been made in the last 10 years " towards a new society " is undoubtedly very great, but the general dissatisfaction with the Congress at the slowness of this progress and the extent of inefficiency and corruption in its working out is probably greater than he estimates.

The chapter on India's foreign policy is one of the best in the book. For an American it is extraordinarily impartial and shows admirably exactly how India stands in relation to the Great Powers. The weakest chapter of all is the last chapter on " Spiritual India." When he is dealing with modern democratic India and its industrial development Mr. Trumbull is at home; but when he touches on the spiritual life which lies behind it he is obviously at sea, and objects not unnaturally to being made to feel his " mural inferiority."


" EXPEDITION Tortoise " is a very different book. It is the work of a group of young French students of architecture, and records their adventures in an old car, nicknamed " The Tortoise," travelling across North Africa and Asia to India. The story is told with zest and there are valuable observations by the way, especially on some Egyptian temples, but their most important work begins in India. where they make a detailed study of some early temples and of the customs of some of the tribal peoples in the Nilgiri hills and in Travancore.

There is a good deal in this which is really valuable and interesting. but one has doubts about their reliability in all respects. They speak, for instance, as though they were the first people to study the architecture of the temples at Aihole and Pattadkal in Mysore and of Bhubaneswar in Orissa, but all the temples which they mention are described in detail by Benjamin Rowland in his " History of the Art and Archi

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