Part 1

Art and Literature


Sáhitya or “literature” means “to move together”, keeping abreast of the trends of life.

Literature is the portrait of real life:

  • an external expression of the internal recesses of the mind
  • a bold and powerful expression of the suppressed sighs of the human heart.

In order to preserve its sanctity and prestige, literature must maintain its rhythm in pace with the dynamic currents of society.

sa + hita = hitena saha

This means “that which co-exists with hita or ‘welfare.’”

Something that has no inner spirit of welfare is not Sáhitya. “Art is for art’s sake” is not Sáhitya.

That welfare which pertains to the mundane world is relative.

  • Its definition also may change according to the changes in time, place and person.

But the “hita” which leads human beings to the absolute truth is one and the same for all ages and all countries.

In order to communicate with people at different states of development, and of different ideas, the same concept of welfare has to be expressed through different branches of knowledge.

Literature is the grand, benevolent flow of ideas. It has:

  • the common people on one side
  • the state of Supreme Bliss on the other

This is because the Supreme Bliss is lying dormant in every particle, in every rhythmic expression of this very benevolent thought.

Thus “literature” is that which moves together with the society. It leads society towards true fulfilment and welfare by providing the inspiration for service.

It is far better to say: “Art for service and blessedness”.

The Responsibility of a Litterateur

Artistic creation should impart joy and bliss.

The bestowers of this bliss, the servers of the people, cannot keep their daily lives aloof from commonplace events, mingled with pleasures and pains, smiles and tears.

The creator of art cannot remain idle or inert.

Yet human beings on their journey through life may sometimes stop short in fear or apprehension. Sometimes their knees give way and they sit down fatigued and frustrated.

At such times the responsibility of the gifted litterateur becomes all the more significant.

When the litterateurs sing their songs of forward movement, they must look back carefully to determine whether:

  • their target listeners are capable of moving forward with them.
  • their thought-waves are touching the cores of the people’s hearts
  • their service is really doing good to them.

Real litterateurs are not only the beacons of the present, they are also the minstrels of the past and the messengers of the future.

They are capable of providing proper leadership for the future only after grasping the relational flow between the past and the present.

Past, present and future must become beautifully interwoven in their compositions. Only dreaming of a bright future will not suffice.

All the potentialities of the future lie embedded as seeds in the womb of the present, just as the blossoms of the present were sown in the past.

So artists should:

  • give a flawless creative portrayal of the present
  • continue to explore the possibilities of the future with a benevolent mind.

The possibilities should be exhibited as the healthy outcome of the present.

In presenting these possibilities, their natural consequences should also be explained perfectly and flawlessly.

The relation between the present and the future must be properly portrayed by presenting every stage of cause and effect.

The natural resultant of any cause (Kárańa) is known as its effect (Kárya) at a particular time or place or to a particular person.

This should never be lost sight of even for a moment, because it is the intermediate link between these two, cause and effect, that leads people to intimate and cordial contact with the purpose of the writer.

In the absence of this cordial affinity, in the absence of this dynamic unity, readers cannot accept any literary composition as their own.

Whatever we may call the writers of such compositions which have no relationship with the collective psychology, we certainly cannot call them litterateurs.

At best, we may call their writings compositions, but certainly not Sáhitya or literature.

Epochal Literature and Coastal Literature

Sáhitya is marching together with the thought of benevolence.

Tat́astha Sáhitya or Coastal Literature is that benevolent literature which moves so far ahead that it is no longer together with us but is still in a relationship with us.

  • It is not Yuga Sáhitya or Epochal Literature.
  • Although it is not directly with us, it is never far.
  • This category of literature is ahead of its time, making it longer-lasting than Epochal Literature.
  • But it is less significant in fulfilling the needs of a particular era.

Epochal Literature expresses clearly the demands of a particular era.

  • It moves hand in hand with the collective psychology.
  • It conveys in the language of the time, every large or small, important or unimportant matter of the human mind, afflicted with the problems of that age.

If this Epochal Literature becomes more dynamic than the people of the age then it loses its characteristic of moving together despite its sincere and benevolent intent.

  • It then loses all its value.

Such literature cannot earn its reputation like the Coastal Literature.

Thus all the dreams of the litterateur end in frustration and failure.

Good literature, in order to fulfil the demands of the time, must move in unison with society, keeping control over its speed.

The litterateurs may move a step or two ahead, for they are the guides of society; but they should not move too far forward, and, of course, moving backwards is out of the question.

Movement is the characteristic of life, and so everything must move.

Those who have lost their inherent dynamism are dead.

The right of preserving, building and rebuilding society is the duty only of those who are moving, not of those who are motionless, who are dead.

Litterateurs cannot fling humanity into the stagnancy of death, for in this there is no thought of benevolence. So moving together with the people they will continue to sing their marching songs – they will go on filling the human mind with the sweet nectar of eternal life.


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