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it was deeply involved in the Passive Resistance Struggle, a further step was taken to stab it on the back. Upon the pretext that they were needed for purposes of sanitary control, powers were given to Transvaal Municipalities enabling them to refuse to issue a license to trade within their areas in the matter of the sale or storage of foodstuffs for human consumption. Now almost all the Indian traders live in municipal areas, and by the custom of trade, they all sell food-stuffs for human consumption, of one kind or another, for retail trade is not, as in some other countries, specialised in South Africa, but general dealers licenses are carried and general stores are conducted. At first these powers were only spareingly applied, but later they came to be used extensively and arbitrarily, with the plain object of paralysing Indian trade and ousting the Indian trader. Legal decisions strengthened the hands of the municipalities in three respects. It was laid down, first, that application for renewals of existing licenses; secondly, that, provided that it could be shown that due consideration had been given to an application, the court had no power to go behind that fact and inquire into motives for refusal (though latterly this point has been somewhat modified in favour of Indians); and, lastly, that the injured applicant had no right of appeal to a superior tribunal, the decision of a magistrate, sitting ministerially, being appealable. The danger grew so acute, that urgent representations were made to the Provincial Administrator, as a result of which, it is believed, a more lenient use of the powers enjoyed by municipalities was exercised. But the latter and the Chambers of Commerce made unscrupulous use of a demi-official letter written on July 7, 1914, by Mr. Gandhi to the then Secretary of the Interior, at the request of General Smuts, with a view to elucidate the meaning that he, personally, attached to the expression "vested" rights, under the Gold Law
and Townships Acts. It should be noted that, at the time of the 1914 settlement, the municipal license trouble had not developed, and that, whatever Mr. Gandhi had to say then had reference to abuses that had already occurred, and against which energetic protests had been registered by the Indian Community. Moreover, he wrote in his personal capacity, and expressly without in any way binding the Indian community. It has, however, been found convenient, by the AntiAsiatic elements, to interpret this letter, as conveying an agreement by Mr. Gandhi, on behalf of the Indian community that no further trading licenses should be issued to Indians in the various municipalities, even, in some instances, to Indian traders of long-standing and residence therein. Naturally, the community has refused to recognise any such "agreement", which, Mr. Gandhi has explicity declared to the Union Government, he never at any time made or even contemplated, and which, in fact, he had no power to make. The situation has been recently still further complicated by the action-so far as my information goes-of the Government in setting in motion once more the machinery of the Gold Law against Indian traders in gold-areas, with the result that a judicial decision has been obtained so prejudicial to the interests of Indian traders in the Transvaal, that their whole future is imperilled, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, upon representations having been made to him, is now in communication with the Governor-General, so as to get such information on the subject as is available. Obviously, if the Transvaal antiAsiatics can secure a victory, it will inspire the anti-Asiatics in Natal and at the Cape to more strenuous efforts to procure the expulsion of the Indian settlers, unless they should choose to remain as helots in the land where many of them were born.
As in some other matters, the Transvaal is the most reactionary Province in the matter of landownership by Indians: Among its other provi
sions, Law 3 of 1885, passed by the Republican Government, ostensibly on "sanitary" grounds, contains a prohibition against the Asiatic ownership of "fixed" property. The result has been that Transvaal Indians are legally debarred from the right to have the ownership of the land they cultivate and the buildings in which they dwell or carry on their business, registered in their own As so often happens, a direct prohibition has resulted in an indirect permission, and this in two different ways. Singularly enough, it was the Republican Government itself that suggested to Indians that they should become the virtual owners of "fixed" property by permitting it to be held in trust by European nominal owners, safeguarding themselves by taking from the latter mortgage bonds for the full value of the property so held, these bonds being treated, in law, not as "fixed", but as "movable", property, and thus acquirable by Asiatics. I myself, at the present time, am the nominal owner, on behalf of Indian friends and former clients, of a considerable amount of "fixed" property in different parts of the Transvaal. A more recent method of indirect ownership has been by the formation and registration of small private limited liability companies, whose membership was entirely Indian, which, enjoying a separate legal persona from that of the members of the companies, could become the registered owners of "fixed" property. I have myself, acting professionally, registered many of these companies at Pretoria. Both these methods are strictly legal; the Government have been fully cognisant of the situation all the time; and judicial decisions, recognising the validity of these transactions have, from time to time, been given. An energetic agitation by interested Europeans against this practice of legal "evasion" of Law 3 of 1885, has been carried on of late, and I must confess that I am somewhat suspicious of the alacrity with which, on the motion of Sir Thomas Watt, the Minister of the Interior, who is very lukewarm in the matter, the assembly has re
ferred it to the Select Committee for investigation If it should result in the repeal of the prohibition contained in the Archaic Law 3 of 1885, so much the better; but it is equally possible that an attempt may be made to limit the right of indirect ownership of "fixed" property to those Indians that have already acquired it, and prohibiting others from enjoying that right in the future. In that event, the privileges of Indians in the Transvaal would be severely curtailed. It is, however, a matter of common decency that Law 3 of 1885 should be repealed. As Lord Sinha says, in his Memorandum above referred to:
The prohibition against Indian ownership of "fixed" or landed property should be repealed by Parliament, on the grounds that it tends to foster insincerity on all sides, to deprive Indians of some of the elementary rights and responsibilities of citizenship, which are not denied even to the aboriginal natives and other non-asiatic coloured peoples of the province, and which are possessed by their compatriots in the Coast Provinces, and especially in Natal, where the bulk of the Indian population of the Union is be found. Transvaal Indians ought not to be compelled to regard themselves as possessing an inferior status, in this respect, to their compatriots resident in the Coast Provinces, and such a statute as Law 3 of 1885 is an anachronism and opposed to the spirit of Modern Legislation.
In one another respect, there is room for serious protest against the attitude of the Union Government, and that is in the refusal, in practically every instance, to issue a permit to an Indian from outside the Union for even the most urgent business or family reasons, such, for example, as the winding up of an estate, or illhealth, or the leaving behind of orphan infants by a deceased Indian resident. These things create quite unnecessary bitterness, and are also in conflict with the spirit of the recommendations, regarding the admission of visitors from India to the Dominions, of the last Imperial War Conference, as well as with the understanding with the Resident Indian Community in 1914.
In at least one matter, Indians have been, at least partially, rehabilitated. The allegation has been widespread that they are among the worst of the war-profiteers. A commission of inquiry has just issued its report on the general question of war-profiteering, and its conclusions show that, whilst all sections of the population have been guilty of the offence, the Indians come low down on the list. It is just as well that this independent evidence should be available, for otherwise, had the allegation remained unrefuted, it would have been used as one more weapon against the objectionable "coolie " trader.
BY RAO BAHADUR K. B. RAMANATHAN, M.A.
HE book is a serious attempt to expound the thought held in solution in the poetry of Sir Rabindranath Tagore. For behind every imaginative presentment of the world, there is perceivable a reasoned out system of thought. The poet or seer may catch with the fleet and surefooted leap of insight glimpses of a world hidden from the ken of ordinary men and philosophy may explain the links binding the seemingly broken chains of impassioned thought. Behind every poet there can be seen a metaphysician or systematic expounder of the ultimate scheme of things. We need only to refer to Pope's relation to the deists, to Shelley's relation to Godwin and the Eighteenth Century philosophes, to Coleridge's relation to the German transcendentalists, to Browning's relation to the contemporary idealistic schools of thought. There is not any suggestion that the poets bad studied the philosophic systems and poetised them. Living as they did at the time and breathing as they did the intellectual atmosphere of their coevals, they must have absorbed the ideas that were in the air. And these ideas as they appear in the poetry of particular writers can be shown to have a coherence and an ordered system of thought can be traced behind the kaleidoscopic visions that the poet presents. And what Mr. Radhakrishnan does is to expound to readers, that are not content with enjoying the beauty of Sir Rabindranath's poetry, the thought behind it so that they might understand it the better.
The book is made up of five essays that divide into two parts, the first three expounding the philosophy of Sir Rabindranath, the last two treating of his message to India and the World.. The third essay treats of the relation of Poetry
The Philosophy of Sir Rabindranath Tagore. By S. Radhakrishnan, Professor of Philosophy, Maharajah's College, Mysore. (Macmillan & Co.,) 8s. 6d.
to Philosophy and the first two expound the philosophic position of the poet.
Mr. Radhakrishnan's method is to make the poet expound his own system. The critic supplies the lacunae in logical concatenation.
Both philosophy and poetry deal with human experience. They both envisage experience sub specie eternitatis with a difference.
The one appealing to the intellect dissolves the world and represents the moving mass of life as an unearthly dance of bloodless categories, and the other appealing to the feeling brings out the riches of the concrete universal. No doubt the latter day idealists show how much the world of real experience suffers impoverishment in the process of analysis. With them analysis is only the reverse process of synthesis. In the mystic the two processes are not consciously gone through apart. He is able to see straight way into the life of things. He is, in the words of Professor Radhakrishnan, "The seer who has risen above his small self, a man who has attained true freedom of consciousness, one with the fact who hears the whispers of the soul and gives voice to them."
Though Mr. Radhakrishnan seems at times to identify Philosophy with Poetry to establish a double claim for Sir Rabindranath, he seems to state the views about the relation between the` two in these words acceptable to all: "Philosophy tells us that the world is rational, poetry tells us that it is beautiful. Philosophy reconciles the world to our reason; poetry to our feelings. Disorder and irrationality, philosophy cannot tolerate; ugliness and disgust with nature and society, poetry cannot accept." P. 165. Sir Rabindranath Tagore being a seer as the Rishis who chanted the forest hymns, and rich with the culture of a nation of philosophers, Professor Radhakrishnan's task of precipitating the thought
pervading the poetry of the author and of presenting it for our slower-footed reason to follow, is a comparatively easier one than with other poets with less tincture of philosophy.
An interesting question that Mr. Radhakrishnan discusses is the relation of Sir Rabindranath Tagore to the world of European and Indian thought. Christian teachers claim that the Indian poet is indebted to Christianity for his best thoughts and Indians feel bound as a point of honour to make out that they are true Swadeshi. The question of property in thought, not covered by the law of copyright, seems to be rather idle to engage ourselves with. We, the true ancients according to Bacon, are the heirs of all the ages and we seek mental sustenance from all quarters, all minds. There are no effective tariff walls to limit the traffic of thought. And no thought perfectly assimilated and forming the spiritual life blood of the writer is re-presented without modification, without the raciness of the soil where it is reborn. The only needed thing is that the thought should fare in the soul as the wheat in the soil. It should die to be born again. It might remind you of the august abode where it began but it is the individual shell that murmurs to your ear.
No two systems of thought can be studied together without their getting unconsciously blended. Christians and Hindus alike see in what they study what they are already familiar with. The eye sees what it brings with it to see. Hence it is no matter for surprise that Christian critics of Sir Rabindranath Tagore find so much in his writings that they have been accustomed to regard as exclusively their inheritance. And the Indian critics find all that is regarded as the most vital part of Christianity already in their books and the impersonal, unsatisfying Brahma of the Christian has a personality and vivifying power in Sir Rabindranath's presentment that leaves Christ, the historic Christ 'a thin, unsubstantial Shade'.
Hence there is no need to refer to 'local patriotism', unconscious insincerity' to explain the close approximation of the poet's teaching to the religions professed by the Western nations. And Sir Rabindranath's originality will no way suffer by recognising what is a patent fact that he is abreast of the best thought of the world which is neither East nor West but of all quarters of the ends of the earth. Much of what is claimed as exclusively Indian reads like Morris or Ruskin and the best thought of the newest cults of the West has to us a familiar old world air.
After all the best thing we seek and find in Sir Rabindranath's writings is his poetry. That there are ideas, that these ideas can be systematised, that they can be exhibited as philosophy, will be an attraction to those readers of poetry that are not content with the rioting in the music of sound and in the symphony of colour. The ideas by themselves, as has been finely said, are poor ghosts. But by the creative hand of the poet, "they are made flesh, they breathe upon us with warm breath, they touch us with soft responsive hands, they look at us with sad sincere eyes, and speak to us in appealing tones"; thus embodied in concrete symbolism of poetry, these ideas “shake us like a passion, and we are drawn after them with gentle compulsion,as flame is drawn to flame."
Translations even in the most happy cases fail to give us the impression of the original. The poet acquires the mother tongue and masters the instrument and gets to play on it with deft fingers and the music is blinding sweet as Pan's was. Translate let the poet himself into another language, every second language must be, from the nature of the case, a more opaque medium for transmitting the soul and in this change the image must suffer. So those who have not the privilege of reading Sir R. Tagore's poems in Bengali cannot realise to the fullest extent the magic of his so potent art.
While prepared to concede this pre-eminence to the cultivated vernaculars of India as media for
the production of literature, we are not ready to accept all that is urged in favour of the vernaculars as media of education. Languages keep apart peoples as, when mastered, they bring them together. If public men will appreciate the present conditions of India and work in a practical manner towards a real unity of Indians, English cannot be dispensed with as the one immediately available medium of thought in the Babeldom of our country. And our appreciation of Sir Rabindranath's poetry to the limited extent we can give expression to it, an appreciation based on the obfuscated medium of the poet's step-mother tongue if he will have it so, would not have been possible. Even Professor Radhakrishnan, no master of Bengali, would have failed to find the inspiring theme of his critical study in his master's poetry. As Sir Rabindranath has condescended to give to the English-knowing world what was originally the patrimony of the Bengali, the world is all the richer in its treasure of spiritual wealth albeit somewhat tarnished and lacking something of the original brightness. And a snobbish world waiting for the imprimatur of the influentially articulate is now receiving with tumult and acclaim Sir Rabindranath Tagore the recognised Nobel prize winner, in a fashion quite different from that it would have given to a bard content to leave great verse to a little clan of provincials.
There are great many statements made, by Mr. Radhakrishnan or quoted from the poet, which one would like to discuss. "The modern Indian is not taught the profound interpretation of the soul of man enshrined in his great literature." Is there any positive embargo, on the Indians studying the great literatures of India? One would think there were the greatest facilities given for all and sundry to avail themselves of such literature Indian or other as may be found congenial, Learning is not the mystery of a favoured hierarchy, If the modern
educated Indian is a stranger to India's ancient literature, who is to blame? In all the provinces down to even this benighted presidency, facilities are given for the Indian mastering the classical and modern languages of India. The truth is, this culture elaborate and comprehensive, intense and profound-can be the privilege only of the comparatively few free from obsessing thoughts of ordinary economic needs. Was it much better in the court of Vikramaditya ? If we had a historian of the modern standard of accuracy, we should like to have his opinion on how Vikramaditya's nest of singing birds compared with the mass of the population. If one were in a mood to raise a controversy, one could refer to the easy triumph given to the extremists over the moderates of the Congress party. Judiciously strew "the question begging appellatives" of Bentham, you can make one side look mean and contemptible and the other noble and worthy of all admiration.
One or two small points must be mentioned in no captious spirit. The reference to Ed. J. Thompson's article (p. 6. footnote) as appearing in the Quarterly Review (Oct. 1914) seems to be a mistake. Mr. L. Johnston writes on Mysticism and Mr. Tagore's poetry is noticed in that number.
Is there not a hiatus in thought in page 71 ? "It is never too late to become a recruit to God's army.".. "If we miss an opportunity, it is dead and gone, never more to recur." How can we accept both the statements? Again in 193 how would Professor Radhakrishnan reconcile "All these qualities [piety, valour, chivalry] have become part and parcel of the mentality of the Indian. It is not possible for him to give up what is in his blood and bone" with "as a matter of fact, contact with the west has disturbed the simple religion and life of the Indian. His intense belief in God, his sense of the strength of holiness and sacrifice are slowly giving way to materialism and worship of money?" Have we not home made materialism and worship of money unsophisticated by contact with the Western thought and civilisation?
Enough of fault finding. We have read with great admiration and enjoyment this critical study of our most distinguished poet by a competent scholar thoroughly equipped for his task by his profound knowledge of philosophy and intimate acquaintance with literature in general as also with Sir Rabindranath Tagore's] writings.