Decline in the Shradda of a Great Ideal or Vow

Now we shall examine another point. In a well-functioning social system, there is opportunity for both of the following Samskaras: individual self-restraint and individual growth. In the life of a married couple, the husband’s personality flowers from earning a livelihood, the wife’s personality blossoms through cooking, caring, and maintaining the all-round hygiene and neatness of the home. In the matters of nurturing and bringing up the children and offering hospitality to guests, both husband and wife merge their individual personalities and become one. This is how the education of both union and individual specialties must progress. The temple is the same for all devotees: the method of namaskarams offered to the Deity differs for each individual.

The opportunity for the practice of this sort of distinct, individual Dharma is no longer available in the same abundance as it was in the past. The circumstance in the present time is one of universal, random heterogeneity: “sab ek lunda.” All individual specialties and distinct Rasas are dissolving in the vast sea called society and becoming tasteless. The words of the crowd have assumed sovereign authority even in places where they have no right to be.

Question: “What is the feast that we shall cook today?”

Answer: “Let’s put it to vote.”    

Question: “What is the ragam that we shall request the musician to sing or play?”

Answer: “Let’s put it to vote.”     

Question: “What is the topic of the lecture that we shall organize?”

Answer: “Let’s put it to vote.”    

This is the method of today.

Even in the recent past, the excesses of decision-by-numerical strength was largely absent. This durbar of the crowds has been the consequence of the kind of politics that become the vogue today. To this has been added the “service” rendered through mass production by machines. In the past, food was cooked based on the palatal preference of individuals. Today’s cooking is hotel cooking. In the past, the delicacy was in tune with the palate. Today, it is the regime of savouries and biscuits produced in factories that have business motive in mind.

In the past, the Sacred Thread used to be made from the spindle in the home of the Purohita; today, it is the thread of the mill. In the past, the householder plucked the flowers from his own garden; the lady of the home transformed them into garlands. Today, flowers are bought from shops. In the past, family members would sit together and stitch meal-plates. Today, the meal plates are metallic, produced by a factory.

Our ancestors held that it was best to wash their own clothes with their own hands and cook their food by themselves. This was a natural discipline of sorts. Today, the disciples of Gandhi have taken the vow that they must spin the yarn required for their clothes with their own hands at the Charkha!

In this discipline of cooking one’s own food by hand, there is an inherent soul-purificatory element. Self-hardship and self-service are attempts to reduce the ego. They are signs of humility. Instead of paying wages to get the Deity’s worship performed and getting home delivery of Tirtha and Prasada, the person must put in the effort to bend the body and perform Namaskaram. This inculcates genuine modesty: such was the conviction of our ancients. The old way was to sit by the bedside and personally nurse the ailing father. Today’s devotion to the father involves hiring a paid nurse. What is important for today’s parents is to ensure that the child is fed with milk in some manner, any manner. For our ancients, it was vital, indeed, essential that the milk had to come from the mother’s breast. The fruit of one’s labour is the tribute of Shradda: this notion is fast disappearing among our contemporary people. The constriction of this soul-quality owes not to the mass-system we have adopted of late. It owes to purposeless heterogeneity and the heterogeneity of unsavoury influences.

Finally, we shall consider another point. It relates to the chief aim of life. Our ancestors intuitively held a great Sankalpa in their mind so that God might be pleased and their birth, sanctified. They carried on their lives awaiting the time when this Sankalpa would be fulfilled. A Tirtha-yatra, a seva to their favourite Deity, a Vrata, a Yajna, conducting the festival of Sri Rama, an act of Daana, Annadaana, organizing a Purana discourse—in this manner, they would pine for the fulfilment of one of these sacred acts and disregard the pleasures of the here and now in its pursuit. They would save money and work towards it their entire lives and would feel elated when it was accomplished. Their birth on this earth would finally be sanctified upon this accomplishment. This feeling of submission to the unseen divine is becoming rarer and rarer. It is true that when Gandhi was alive, a few people did display this quality (owing to reverence towards him). However, of late, this has become extremely sparse in the daily life of our people. The Shraddha and convictions of the yore have gone away; no new force that helps uplift our Atman has emerged.

This is the life of our people today: eating the food of the moment; seeing the sights of the moment. They don’t even need the truth that there is indeed, the next moment. Besides, the difficulty of today’s life and livelihood is such. The travails of work and wandering, worries and anxieties from morning till evening, day after day, as a result of which many people are tired of life – they see no meaning in it. This is the great benefit of our new economic system. The sacrifice demanded by our factories is the contentment of the human. “Work like a yoked ox; grab whatever you can; embrace the ground after you are exhausted” – if this defines an entire life, each day’s fate is controlled only by the day (and not the human). This life is a ceaseless, distressed quest behind food and clothing. The mind cannot grasp that which is higher than these.

I am not saying that the people of the present time are not happy. Indeed, it is impossible to live even a single day of our life without the aspiration for or pretence of happiness. However, is there discernment in the enjoyment of happiness? Is there true connoisseurship? Is there a loftier vision? These questions are directly related to culture. Connoisseurship is a quality that must burst forth from the depths of a person’s inner life. It is not the imitation of what others do or say. It is not fashion. It cannot be said that connoisseurship has been attained because a person owns a radio. Radio is a machine. Connoisseurship is the ripening of the heart. Radio demands money. Connoisseurship anticipates the education of the heart and soul. When the nation’s leaders feel that machines are the greater, the human touch disappears in our business transactions and even in the modes of our entertainment. And when these transactions become akin to the fate of the coolie and the lifeless machine, the self-evident consequence is the descent in the standard of our inner culture.

I am uttering these words in the spirit of sounding caution. If someone convinces me on the strength of their knowledge and experience that the cultural life of our people has not become diluted in the manner I have described so far, I will only be happy to listen to such a person and will offer my thanks out of gratitude.




Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.

Prekshaa Publications

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


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इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...