V.S.Srinivasa Sastri (Part 26) - Sastri and Gandhi

The following is a translation of an extract from DVG’s lecture which was telecast on 22-9-1956 in the Bengaluru ‘Akashavani’. The transcript of this lecture comes as a part of the tenth volume of DVG Kritishreni

Srinivasa Sastri – A Teacher par Excellence – Strict and Light-hearted

Once, a famous lawyer of Bangalore came to Sastri and requested – “Sir, my nephew is your student and his daughter is getting married tomorrow. We would like you to come and bless the child.”  Accordingly, Sastri visited the venue of the wedding. The nephew of the aforementioned lawyer whose daughter was getting married was also a lawyer by profession. He welcomed Sastri with great respect and spoke to him.

Sastri asked – “Were you at the Hindu High School?”

He replied –“Yes, I was in your class about twenty five years back. You had twisted my ear for my inaccurate pronunciation of some English words. I still remember the incident.”

Sastri replied – “Yes, sir! I did not have this amount of patience back then. I don’t know how many such crimes I might have committed. What can I do now to undo my heinous deeds of the past? Would you not be willing to offer me your pardon as guru-dakṣiṇa at your daughter’s wedding?” He lightened the moment with his words.

We have heard that Sastri also used a cane (stick) on his students from time to time. However, this was only on rare occasions. He played with his students too. He would make his students dance and jump with joy with his lessons of poetry. D. Venkataramayya, who rose to fame as the Circle Inspector of Mysore’s Education Sector was V.S. Srinivasa Sastri’s colleague. They worked together at an educational institution called the L.T. Their friendship saw its early sprouts during their time at the institution and it kept growing until their last days.

Those days, a famous English actor often visited Madras and staged Shakespeare’s plays. Srinivasa Sastri studied his dialogue delivery and its emotional content with immense curiosity. Later, he trained his students to stage a couple of Shakespearean plays. In this manner, though Sastri appeared to be strict during his lessons and while conducting exams, he also had affection and shared light hearted humour with his students.

Sastri and Gandhi

Srinivasa Sastri and Mahatma Gandhi shared similar views on the need for a free India. He only had a difference of opinion with Gandhi regarding the purpose and outcome of the Satyagraha. The main aspects of Sastri’s argument are as follows:

  1. Our adament invigorates the masses. It will only lead to mindless agitation. It is going to kindle the (English) government’s fire of wrath. The government’s scheming nature will try hard to divide the people into two factions. This will lead to the loss of our purpose.
  2. The more we go against the current administration, people will lose the much required quality of law-adherence. Adherence to law is what holds the state and society together. If this fundamental law-abiding nature is lost, it is hard to re-establish it in the minds of the people. Our men might end up revolting against all rules and display disobedience at all occasions. This will disrupt the life of citizens and destroy peace and stability in the society.
  3. We will need to prepare well before we are free. Our people are ill-prepared for freedom. The kind of education that is needed for politics is something that needs to be acquired gradually. It cannot pop up in a hurry as and when we want. We will need to strengthen from within. The sattva that is inherently present in us should grow with the strengthening of our minds. That way, freedom will naturally be ours. Instead, there is no way freedom can instantaneously come and remain stable.

This was the manner in which Srinivasa Sastri thought. Examining his ideas today, we discover that it is not devoid of truth and practicality.

Sastri never considered the screams of the streets as the divine voice. It is natural for people to get deluded and to act with a lot of agitation. It is also in people’s nature to act without forethought. Thus, in Sastri’s view just numbers did not matter much. We will need to examine an idea from different perspectives – it is only through constant examination, contemplation and re-examination that the truth can be established – this was Sastri’s thought. He examined all matters in great depth. Before we put forth the thoughts of our party, it is important to understand the background and the perspectives of the opposite team; people who do not critically evaluate the strength and the merit in the other’s argument will certainly lose their argument. Because of Sastri’s intellectual prowess and his analytical approach, Gandhi had great respect for his thoughts. The Mahatma never did anything without consulting Sastri. Did Gandhi agree with Sastri on all counts? – this is not a valid question to be asked. It is important to take into consideration the views of others and contemplate upon them – it does not necessarily mean that they need to be followed. Acceptance comes from an internal conviction. Action that is divorced from forethought is as good as putting a blind step forward. Gandhi’s love for Truth did not encourage such mindless adherence and lack of forethought.

 

Sastri's Preferences in Music

VS Srinivasa Sastri preferred the emotions inherent to music rather than mere calculations of the tāla and the svara-saṅgatis. He loved the creative elaboration of rāga more than playing with tāla or svaras. Saveri, Dhanyasi, Darbar, Mohana and Yadukula Kambhoji were some of the rāgas he liked.

 

This is the concluding article of the twenty-six part series on DVG's writings on VS Srinivasa Sastry

Author(s)

About:

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.

Translator(s)

About:

Arjun is a poet, translator, engineer, and musician. He is a polyglot, well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, Hindi, English, Greek, and German. He currently serves as Assistant Professor at Amrita Darshanam - International Centre for Spiritual Studies at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bangalore. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature.

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