Friday 24 August 2018

Sister Nivedita on History of India....

It is a characteristic of India that almost every great outstanding thought and doctrine has somewhere or other a place devoted to its maintenance and tradition. This brings us to the thought of the geographical synthesis. The whole of India is necessary to the explanation of the history of each one of its parts. The story of Krishna comes from the Jamuna, that of Rama from Ayodhya. Other elements may not be so easily assignable to their places of birth, but it is quite certain that when studied hard enough from that point of view each will be found to have its own definite area of origin. India is at once the occasion and the explanation of the web of Indian thought. But yet, throughout Bengal at any rate, there is a certain definite agreement as to which elements shall be included in the list of yearly celebrations, and in what order. Not all the great things of Indian memory are commemorated thus.

There has evidently been a certain selection made, and a certain rule imposed, by some one or other at some definite time. Throughout Bengal there is no great disagreement as to the festivals and the order in which they occur. The selection must have been made therefore by some person, or body of persons, whose influence was universal in the province. It is a conception that penetrates everywhere, therefore the shaping pressure of this all-pervading influence must have been long continued. It may have lasted perhaps for centuries. The change does not seem to have been a personal influence, for individuals change their policy of government, under caprice or circumstance, from generation to generation. This would seem rather to have been a steady concensus of opinion, a strong vested interest uniformly exerted in a certain direction. But the complexity of the matter ruled upon, would point to some central seat of counsel and decision again, with as little that was purely personal in its authority as it is possible to imagine. Lastly, whatever was the source of deliberation, fit is clear that there must have been a consolidated royal authority to give its support to the^aeclaons of this centre, without flinching or changing, throughout the formative period. Only by a combination of all these conditions can we account for the uniformity and regularity with which so complex a yearly calendar is worked out, from one end of Bengal to the other.

If we wish to be clear about the element of deliberation, let us look, for example, at the Holi festival. In the observance of this day, three different factors are distinctly traceable. First, there is a strain of prehistoric Eros-worship, as seen in the villages, in the use of abusive language to women and in the fact that these in their turn are privileged on that day to beat the lords of creation. The conceptions which belong to this phase of the celebration of the full moon of Phalgun must be extremely ancient, and consequently we must look for their analogues and correspondences amongst widely separated branches of the Aryan family, amongst Greek festivals of Love and Spring, for example, in Roman Saturnalia, Mediterranean Carnivals, and even so lately as in the old-fashioned Valentine's Day of English childhood.


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