Part 3

Struggle Against Obstacles


Real artists or litterateurs should understand clearly:

  • where the society is moving
  • why it is moving in that direction
    • what are the fundamental causes of its inherent weakness
    • from which doctrines the depraved propensities come from.

The artists may have to resist the surging current of destruction alone.

Yadi tor dák shune keu ná áse Tave eklá cala re… [If none to my call pays heed, Then alone must I proceed.]

While keeping this very refrain in mind, they must continue in their relentless effort to fight against the seemingly indomitable might of hundreds and thousands of obstacles which are deeply rooted in age-old superstitions that are firmly entrenched in petty selfishness.

Their pens may perhaps break into pieces, their brushes may perhaps be compelled to draw only lines of water on the canvas, and their histrionic flows may perhaps end in sheer mute stances, yet their efforts shall brook no pause.

Each of their petty defeats shall be strung together as pearls in the garland of victory.

When the society spins for age after age in the mirey eddies of evil and vice, when individual and collective knavery masquerades as intelligence, when hypocrisy, bribery and fraud are the yardsticks of ability for leadership – it is then that the genuine followers of Bháratii (the goddess of learning) must struggle through constant humiliation. Only taunts and insults will be their fate.

Those who are afraid of these insults are incapable of offering anything really lasting to humanity. How can those persons who have no moral firmness, under whose feet the soil is not hard and strong, impart happiness to anyone with a cool, refreshing shelter? It is perhaps possible to drag on in life by sucking the blood of others like social parasites, but this will not bring fulfilment to either the litterateurs or to their readers.

The artist or litterateur who assumes the responsibility of leading humanity to the path of light from the caverns of darkness will have to heed the road signs of that path.

It is not possible to guide others merely with cheap, superficial knowledge like those with a doctorate degree from plagiarising others’ works.

Rather it is necessary to have a keen and vigorous insight, without which all the endeavours of a litterateur or an artist will prove fruitless.

Mere jugglery of words or depiction of defects in society will not satisfy the hunger of the human mind – and such creations of art are indeed valueless for social progress as well.

One must:

  • know the path
  • know how to move on it.

If those who have not comprehended what the form of the society will be allow the trends of the past that have shaped the present to proceed unchecked, then they can never lead the society to the path of perfection.

They will:

  • thrust the society into darkness in the name of social reform
  • encourage license in the name of freedom
  • mould the image of the goddess after the ideal of a prostitute

Intimate Relation with the People

Litterateurs are epoch-makers and so they are the rśis (sages) and kavis (seers) of the society.

They cannot afford to forget their dignified calling even for a moment.

They are the messengers of the mute masses – the guardians of the society. The slightest mistake on their part may result in catastrophe, and even a bit of caution may open up many new possibilities.

So a person whose thought and expression are not restrained, had better not meddle with the practice of art. I have just said that it is through the coordination of psychological and cultural trends that literature proves its worth.

Intellectual trends and cultural evolution cannot exist by themselves, disregarding the individual or humanity as a whole, for both intellectual and cultural developments concern humanity.

Humanity does not mean merely a few favoured persons in the upper stratum of society, like the special delicacies placed on top of the pile of rice offerings to the gods in the temples.

Humanity means those very people who, like the pile of rice, have borne the weight of those delicacies on their heads.

Those special delicacies should not represent any particular elite person or persons at the peak of society.

Rather they should be regarded as the combined expression of the collective mind.

The artists who guide that collective expression towards more and subtle forms, will have to maintain an intimate relation with the psychological and cultural structures of the people, with the innate characteristic (práńa dharma) of their existence. They must not disregard or neglect them even for a moment.

If the artists remain preoccupied in floating like balloons in the sky while forgetting the people of the soil, all their creations will end in smoke after a mere momentary flash before the eyes. Their writings will not make any lasting impression on the pages of time.

Building the Road to the Future

It is wrong to think that Epochal Literature will become valueless in time. This literature will:

  • be recorded in history
  • carry special value for the litterateurs of the future.

From it, they will get an inkling of the social trend of that period.

Those who scorn Epochal Literature should know that all the sweetness of the Coastal Literature is inherent in the many forms, in the richness of thought, of this Epochal Literature.

The endeavour of the artist of the era (yuga shilpii) alone can resist a powerful degeneration or a great catastrophe. There the creators of Coastal Literature are only mute spectators. They will continue to interpret morality, but their ability to awaken the spirit of dynamic heroism is considerably limited.

The creator of Epochal Literature goes on constructing the road by excavating earth and shattering rocks and stones, while the Coastal Litterateur, perched on the summit of a mountain, goes on making sketches of that very scene and at intervals explains the science of building roads.

With the increase in society’s dynamism, the duration of effectiveness of Epochal Literature decreases.

By the pressure of speed it becomes exhausted within a very short time. But in this there is no cause for regret; because the very task of building the road continues, and its relationship with Coastal Literature also remains intact.

Epochal Literature is mainly concerned with time, place and person: so if there is the slightest increase in the attempt to triumph over any one of these three relative factors for whatever reason, the speed of the society as well as of the Epochal Literature gets accelerated; whereas Coastal Literature, in spite of maintaining these relative factors within its scope, does not confine itself in their rhythmic movement.

That is why the momentum of Coastal Literature is extremely vague – almost motionless and static – and thus we call it Tat́astha or Coastal.

The absolute truth is beyond the scope of time, space or person and also beyond expression, and thus it is not possible to create any literature at all around it. But the golden line with which this absolute truth has united the unit mind, originating from the relative factors of time, space and person, with its eternal soul – that much, at least, which we can express to some extent with language of our heart – this is what is called Tat́astha Sáhitya or Coastal Literature.

The line which is neither river nor shore but is touching both is tat́a or coast. Standing on this coast, that which maintains the relation between the two, between the temporal and the eternal, is called tat́astha.

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