Book Review : Paramahamsa – A Vedantic Tale By R Subramony (Reviewed by Deepak Budki)

Paramhansa - A Vedantic Tale by R SubramonyParamahamsa – A Vedantic Tale by R Subramony
(Book Review by Deepak Budki)
‘Paramahamsa- A Vedantic Tale’, written in the epic tradition of India
where writing was regarded as a Sadhna, may be termed as a work
of fiction, metaphysics or sojourn into the country’s glorious past. It
is a well researched tale told by a vanaprastha narrator who travels
to Madurai in search of philosophical heritage of South Asia left on
the banks of Thamirabarani river by great migrant scholars who fled
from Vijyanagara Empire, a bastion of Sanatan Dharma, due to
persecution by Muslim invaders as also the great tradition left by
his own ancestors, Subbaiah and Paramahamsa Shivahari. Having
lost his Mumbai-born wife Lakshmi, who could not adjust to the
conservative Chennai atmosphere, and his daughter Divya, who
rebelled against Hindu culture due to indoctrination by the western
education and migrated to USA where she was killed by her
boyfriend in a pub, the narrator seeks true knowledge by visiting
great places of Hindu learning in South India and studying the
works of great acharyas like Sankara, Abhinavgupta, Ramana
Maharishi, Ramanuja, Madhava, Ramakrishna , Neelakantha
Dakshitar, Sadashiv Brahmendra(author of Atma vidya vilasa,
Brahma Sutra vritti, Yoga Sudhakara, Kaivalya Amrita Bindu, and
Sidhanta Kalpavalli), Tamilian bhakti poets like Appa, Sundarar,
Manikkavacakan, Tattvarya (whose poetry was full of spiritual
symbolism), Rama Sharma (who composed poems in Sanskrit and
Tamil both), Bhagavtar and Lakshmanan who delighted people with
their Harikatha performances. In fact he finds Tamil Nadu still
resonating with Vedic Mantras and devotional songs of poets.
The book compares Hindu way of life with that of the colonial West
which left no stone unturned to uproot Hindus from their culture
and tradition during their one-thousand year tyrannous rule coupled
with Marxist misinterpretations. It brings forth the essence of
different Vedas, Upanishads, Vidya Upasana, Kundalini Yoga, Yoga
Sutra of Panini (yama and niyama – ahimsa, asteya, brahmcharya,
satya, aparigraha, tapasya and svadhyaya), Purva Mimamsa of
Kumarila Bhatta and Vedartha Prakasha and other treatises of
Sayanaharya and Madhava Vidyaranya. The book also throws light
on Vedic traditions and culture of the late 19th century and dwells
upon the life and achievements of Acharya Sankara, a great
philosopher, spiritual master and a social reformer who mastered
the Vedas at the age of eight and wrote commentaries (bhashyas)
on Gita, Upanishads and Brahma Sutra. Paramahamsa also throws
light on Advaita Vedanta of Sankara, his concept about nirvana, his
abhorrence of caste system and attempts to clear doubts raised by
many critics regarding Mayavada of Sankara and Dharamshastras
written by earlier Brahmins.There is no doubt that Sankara was a
great unifying force for Bharata Varsha, which means devoted to
Supreme Truth, and it extended from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari.
Sankara wrote an unparalleled commentary on Gita.Sankaracharya
was a great misssionary of Sanatan Dharma and achieved in 32
years what others cannot acheve in several births.
Kashmir which was a centre of learning in the past receives special
attention in the book. Sankara’s guru Govinda Bhagavadpada was a
brahmin from Kashmir. Abhinavgupta of Kashmir, an avtara of
Bhairava and a master of poetics and Tantrik Shaivism was the
author of Tantraloka, Paratrimshika Vivarna, Paramarthasara,
Tantrasara, Gitartha Samgraha and Abhinavbharti. The Tantra deals
with Shakti, the divine mother who sustains the world. The
philosophical tradition of Kashmir is known as Trika, containing the
signs of Shiva, Shakti and Jiva besides representing the three
principle energies, Para, Para-Para, and Apara also known as iccha
shakti, jnana shakti and kriya shakti. It is emphasised that“The
goal of the Kashmiri Shaivite saints is to lead the jiva from
individual consciousness to God consciousness (Parama Shiva)”.
Kashmir was regarded as the abode of gods and every brahmin in
south recites the Sharda Strotam -namaste sharada devi Kashmira
puravasini. Scholars from South often visited Kashmir, especially
Takshashila and Sharda peeth in Neelam valley, in pursuit of
knowledge about Kashmir Shaivism and Tantraloka such as
Madhuraja who travelled at the age of 74 from Madurai to Kashmir
and stayed there for about a decade and Vasugupta who on
instructions from Lord Shiva himself went to Kashmir and found
The Shiva-Sutras inscribed on a rock.Panini taught at Takshashila
while Patanjali and Kalhana Pandit also belonged to Kashmir.The
narrator revisits Kashmir and finds the great tradition of Kashmiri
Shaivism has come to an end with Swami Lakshman Joo in 1992
and recounts the fate of Kashmiri Pandits who faced terrorist
violence in 1990 and fled the valley.
As per the author, “ They (Great Brahmins) communicated with the
Gods not for their self realisation but for the welfare of the
humanity and regarded various manifestations of nature as their
Gurus.” Vedas contain divine revelations of rishis who did tapasya
and realised the highest of truth, the hidden secrets of the Divine of
the Shaktis of the Cosmic Supreme embedded in the mantras. The
Brahmins are regarded as Satyam, Jnanam and Anantam. The
book however does not miss to lay the blame of Hindu decadence
at the door of later day Brahmins who lost their achara and
dharma, forgot their sense of duty, fell prey to material things and
created schisms in the Hindu society besides hatred and jealousy.
However, even in such dark times the narrator finds Sankara
Shastri and his son Kannan engrossed in the Vedic jnana and insists
that in Kalayuga we should not be cynical.
The foreword of the book has been written by Dr Subramanian
Swamy, a reputed Scholar-politician who lays emphasis on the
resilience of Hindu India which remained under the rule of muslim
and christian bigots for about a thousand years, yet more than a
quarter of its population could not be converted.
The novel inter alia discusses the indestructible Brahman and its
molecular manifestaton, the Atman, the Jiva, the ego, the
antahkarana, the Maya, the yajna (Sacrifice) and the three gunas,
(sattvic, rajasic and tamasic). Expounding the origin of the universe
the author quotes the Upanishad, “ All the universe is born out of
Bliss, by Bliss all live, and to Bliss all return. Delight, Bliss the
source of life, the fount of this creation…….We worship God as
Beauty, as Delight, Shyama Sundara…..we should not be afraid of
God, we should love him.” This concept is contrary to the belief held
by Jews, Christians and Muslims who regard Man as a perpetual
sinner and under constant threat of being punished by God.
To sum up, the book presents a pageant of Hindu thinkers and their
thoughts which has nurtured this culture for more than five
thousand years. Commenting on this culture, the great urdu poet-philosopher MohammadIqbal writes:
Yunan-o- Misr-o-Roma sab mit gaye jahan se;
Ab tak magar hai baqi naam-o-nishan hamara.
Kuch baat hai ki hasti mitti nahin hamari;
Sadiyon raha hai dushman daure-zaman hamara.
(The great civilisations of Greece, Egypt and Rome have all become history yet the Indian Civilization
continues unabated.There is something inherent in our culture that sustained us through ages otherwise evil forces of the world have always tried to finish us.)
The book has been published by D.K.Printworld (P) Ltd,F-52,Bali
Nagar,New Delhi 110015 and is priced at Rs 295.00.

4 thoughts on “Book Review : Paramahamsa – A Vedantic Tale By R Subramony (Reviewed by Deepak Budki)

    • Atheism does not mean you should not know what is written in religious books. Atheism is a thinking process by which u try to get to the reality of being. Incidentally your own Guru happened to be an atheist. Chander M. Bhat

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