Literary Accomplishments of Sane Guruji

A Retrospective Evaluation of Objections against Sane Guruji's Lietrarure

Sane Guruji's literature was heavily criticized in the literary community – authors, critics and intellectuals. Both, his contemporaries and scholars of later years have noted their objections. Some found his writings too simple, almost childish, while others found them weepy. Some felt that the romantic relationships between men and women in his novels were inconsistent with his personal life and hence his novels were laced with perversion, while others found extreme pessimism in Guruji's literature.

In 1973, after 23 years of Guruji’s demise, the well-known author, critic and ideologist Narhar Kurundkar evaluated all the accusations and objections about Sane Guruji’s literary prowess in retrospect, refuting most. He wrote an insightful article in the June 9, 1973 issue of Sadhana.

Today, on 11th June 2024, in a humble tribute to Sane Guruji’s on the day of solemn remembrance, we would like to revisit the article by Kurundakar and present it to our readers in English.

- Editor, Sadhana

Sane Guruji started literary and journalistic writing from the age of about twenty-five, he continued writing till the end. What he wrote was a form of his 'prakat chintan' (thinking out loud). One cannot be separated from the ‘Self’ while writing. All their emotions, thoughts, preferences, opinions – everything is consciously or unconsciously reflected in their writings. Moreover, all the writings of Sane Guruji are not ideological in nature. That's not in his character! Even when Guruji himself decided to write ideologically, he would get sentimental and even if he plans to tell a story, he would write sentimentally there too.

Sane Guruji's literature broadly falls into three groups. In the first group comes his ideological writing. The book ‘Bharatiya Sanskriti’ (Indian Culture) is the best example of his writing of this kind. The second group comprises of the realistic fiction based short stories and novels written by him and the third group consists of the translations done by Guruji.

The translations are of special importance as they illustrate his taste in world literature. We mainly find that works of ideological or religious significance and those upholding hard realism were to his liking. His choices for translation are Thiruvalluvar's Kural, Hardy's novel, Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Misérables’ as well as ‘Silas Marner’ by George Eliot. He is not interested in the novel that depicts mundane life. The novel he likes is a novel of normality showing hard realism, telling the story of highs and lows of life, with no scope for perversion. Of course he would simplify them while narrating the story to children, but what holds his interest are the authors who write about the true joys and sorrows of life in depth and who have left a mark of nobility in their works.

Warmth of emotions, servitude and humility towards everything noble are the three pillars of Guruji’s ideological literature. Moreover, all perverts have two things in common – one, a complete disregard for real beauty of life and two, finding beauty in ugliness. None of this is ever found in Sane Guruji's writings.

While reading his novels, we clearly see the difference between the emotions known to him and the ones that appeal to him even though he does not understand them. Sane Guruji does not know what it means to fall in love from a woman’s perspective. In each of Sane Guruji's novels, a woman falls in love, she gets married, lives with her husband... But while this whole plot is going on, he is never able to see love from the woman’s point of view. One of his heroines Miri writes a letter to her love interest Murari saying, 'Come to the sea-shore outside the village at sunset this evening. At that place I will tell you about my love.' No woman would write such a letter. Either she would make excuses for a visit without revealing that she is in love, or if the love is already expressed, she would repeatedly drop hints about that in the letter. The idea of ​​going outside the village to the beach to express love is dreamily romantic. Even here, Sane Guruji does not say, 'Come discretely to the back of my house in the middle of the night so that no one sees us in the dark.' He chooses beauty over proximity, dignified nobility over discretion, openness over secrecy for Miri’s confession of love.

The best we can say from this is that Guruji does not know how love affairs work; He does not know how a woman loves, he does not know how a man loves either, for that matter; but he has deep respect for the emotion called love. He himself has not experienced the feeling but there is no acridity or perversion in his mind.

Guruji has depicted many women characters, who fall in love. They love, then marry, and then their romantic love graduates into the motherly variety. The housewife in his mind is an accomplished inspiring woman.

The man can be evil, but eventually there’s redemption for him. The woman, however, is never bad. It’s just not in him to picture a malevolent woman. He has written hundreds of love stories, but he has not felt the need to go beyond this framework. What kind of distorted personality can one see in that?

From this we will say that, that the picture of life in front of Guruji was very simple. He did not understand the complexities of life. Let us say, that he approached life naively. But you can't say that there is even a small trace of perversity in his plot.

The relationship between literature and the author’s personality is never straightforward. What the author tries to keep away, emerges in reverse in their work. For example, Ram Ganesh Gadkari. He was a very timid person. Therefore, Gadkari's literature does not contain pictures of extremely brave men. There are constant episodes of darkness, of crematorium, of accidents, because there is fear in his own mind; so he excels in portraying fear. If you look everywhere in Sane Guruji's literature, what events are repeated? - love, loyalty, servitude, cooperation, nobility.

The perversity that can be stolen from the plot is expressed in the stylistic embellishments. Let’s look at a famous example from Gadkari’s play Prema Sanyas. Kamalakar is walking towards Bhoot Mahal (haunted castle) He says, 'The sun is lying dead after walking all day, with his chest burst open and blood pouring out of his mouth. At dusk, the evening star will wipe the dung of darkness from the road and erase the whole scene. A single star of Agasti shines in the south, like a lamp placed on a corpse's pillow. What a delightful evening!' Somewhere beneath the cover of such perversity, madness lurks.

On the contrary, in all of Sane Guruji's literature, we can relate to beauty, purity, loveliness. In the thousands of pages of Sane Guruji's writings if there is no emotional starvation, no perversion, no distortion, then all we can say that he is an elevated person. Beyond this, there is no reason to say that he is perverted. His life is like an open book, and despite that, we find no meanness, no acridity, no personality disorder, it just means that he had something in him, which we find to be impossible in our own lives. It’s pointless to expect to find perversion in his personality or to declare him abnormal. It just means that we are trying to simplify life, we do not take into account the variety in life.

Now let’s consider Guruji’s poetry. His poems are not poems at all. They are simple propaganda songs – ‘We are Farmer women, we are working women’-This kind of songs or prayers like ‘खरा तो एकची धर्म, जगाला प्रेम अर्पावे (True is the one religion of all - to love the world.) What is the nature of all these poems? Guruji has presented all his thoughts in rhythmic verse. There is no subtlety of feeling in the poem, no flowery imagination, nor any intensity of experiences. All that poetry is monotonous.

All his brilliance of imagination becomes prominently discernible, when it comes to belles-lettres variety of fine literature. Guruji cannot compose a novel; Because he cannot depict the male-female relationship well. Guruji cannot even write short stories because of the same reason. But whenever Guruji tries to express a thought in an emotional way, all his creativity comes to the fore. A very beautiful example of this is ‘Sundar Patre’. There is no limitation of plot, of logical sequences, no limitation of which thought to present or how to present it. Here the freedom and creativity of his mind are at its peak! So all the beautiful letters are full of various ideas and there is no trace of physical or mental deformity anywhere.

An objection is often raised that Sane Guruji's literature is weepy, bittersweet. There is some validity to this objection, although not complete. Guruji always wrote with adolescent readers between 14 to 18 years of age as his target audience in his mind. These readers are primarily students. He found it necessary to explain everything in as simple a way as possible and emphasise on noble goals and emotions. Guruji’s literary persona was developed when he was that age, and through his interactions with students that age. Hence his focus is always on the youth, his heart is settled there. And he excels at writing for them. But when he writes for children under fourteen, he cannot relate to their experiences well, and hence the children don’t find it enjoyable to read his books. Because children between the ages of 5 and 9 have very active sensory cognition, and the articulatory mind is very blank. The result is that you always have to say what you want to say in relation to the senses, the touch, the preferences of that age. Guruji cannot relate with the preferences of these children.

After about the tenth year of age, children’s mental conditioning begins. through the words of teachers, parents and friends. He learns the ‘types’ of men, women, mother, father, friend, teacher etc. But the child does not yet realize individuality. There are only two facades that are prominent. One is over posed in terms of emotion, and the other is over posed in terms of idealism. After the age of eighteen, the child gradually begins to move towards reality, and the complexities begin to dawn on their mind. Whenever we read Sane Guruji's literature for adults, we realize that he wrote for adults, but only some parts of it were written for adults. All content is intended for children between the ages of 14 and 18. He translated some of the best literature of the world, but he simplified the translated text so that 14–18-year-old readers can easily understand it.

From this it can only be said that when Sane Guruji was working as an activist in the pre-independence period, at the time he did not consider the latent common person as the next generation activist. In the early days he believed that person over 30 years of age would not listen to him and neither would people in their twenties as they are in a phase of life where they get married and start families and shoulder personal and familial responsibilities. Then his only hope rested on the children especially those who were his students, so he focused on them. Later Sane Guruji grew as a leader, grew in age. A group of followers gathered around him, but Guruji's focus largely remained on the Rashtra Seva Dal. The real reason for this is that his heart and mind were associated best with the age group 14 to 18.

Sentimentality is a peculiar feature of Guruji’s literature. Some even have the nerve to say that Sane Guruji is a crybaby. His cries are remarkable too. Guruji's crying or emotions never become roadblocks in the path of duty or sacrifice.

A noble man endures incessant sufferings while he performs his duties, and in spite of everything he marches ahead with strong determination. What Guruji speaks about are the sorrows which that noble man has to live through, not your mundane sadness; and certainly not the helpless grief that is brought about by fear, unfortunate and unwanted sacrifices, depression, compromise, and coward self-serving survival from attacks. So the grief and cries in his writings are unique too.

A very beautiful recent example in this regard is that of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He firmly decided to claim independence. He declared independence in East Pakistan (Bangladesh). Then decided not to go out of house, because he did not want to give a chance to the Pakistanis to say that he was killed in the crowd / encounter. That meant if Pakistanis wanted to kill him, they had to surround the house or force entry and kill. That meant they would be charged of 'Purposeful Murder' for generations to come. Mujib refused to flee, refused to go underground. Because he did not want his people to think that he sacrificed their safety to protect his own. He preferred captivity or even martyrdom than protecting individual self-interests. He was arrested without charge, and detained for a long time. He in fact believed that he may not come out alive.

Eventually in prison he came to know that Bangladesh became independent. He was brought to London. There he asked, "Am I free?" The answer was, "You are free." He was accommodated in a hotel. He stayed there for three hours. He was formally received by the Prime Minister of London, addressed the press, etc. Mujib's face had not shown a single expression until then. Later contact was made with Indira Gandhi by cable and he started crying while thanking her. It was uncontrollable. On his request the phone was connected to the wife. He just asked the wife if she is fine. Later he came to India by plane. After coming to India, there were public lectures, felicitations, etc. There were no visible emotions throughout.

From there he went to Dhaka and in the very first impromptu speech in Dhaka he cried loudly in front of a huge gathering, saying 'Lakhs of My People have died'! He could not speak any further. The question arises, when a person cries with compassion, with gratitude, with genuine sympathy and grief born out of love, is that cry really bad? Should we really consider it a taboo? There is no reason to believe so.

So there are two types of crying – the cries of the scared, the helpless, the depressed and the pitiful; and the cries born in idealism, sacrifice, loyalty, compassion and determination. The grief in Sane Guruji’s literature is of the second kind, and unfortunately his critics have failed to understand it. They just generalise all crying, not knowing the nuances.

However, I am willing to admit that Sane Guruji's books, if evaluated on strict literary criteria, may be adjudged as inadequate or moderately adequate. But I will never accept that this literature is that of a week man and in turn it makes the readers weak. Because an entire generation was convinced to make social sacrifice after reading this literature. This is not a matter of conjecture; it can be emphatically proved with factual evidence. A generation cried while reading these books and was prepared to go to jail crying, was ready to endure poverty, sufferings and beatings, A generation read this book and got ready to suffer. Ready to live in poverty. We will never accept the charge that this literature has made readers weak. It, in fact, induced strength and patience.

The artistic value of Guruji’s literature is a separate matter of discussion. Some may find it high; some, not so much. I also consider it to be somewhat ordinary. In my opinion, he lost sight of subtle complexities of life because of his unshakable focus on the age group of 14 to 18. And hence his content is too simplistic. Howsoever high its social value may be, the artistic value of his writings is debatable. And yet this literature has inspired men and women to commit sacrifice, not suicides.

All the Romantic literature of the world is excessively sentimental. Keats, Byron, Shelley and other poets and authors of the romantic nature painted a picture that injustice in the world is inevitable, and one must suffer it, bear it with great humility or simply relinquish the progressive society, leave all duties, escape poverty, escape all pain incurred while avenging the injustice, forsake the sacrifices, and seek refuge in the bosom of nature. To lead a life of loneliness and suffering for ever. They claimed that Gentlemen cannot survive in this world, and enabled them to live in the proverbial ivory towers. Because the world is not beautiful enough. Another ramification of the romantic era is that having great miseries in life was considered as a form of personal greatness. The melancholy must lead to gloom and doom pessimism. In other words, death should call out to them as inevitably as a siren’s song. So suicide started to be seen as an act of great virtue.

The effect of reading Sane Guruji's literature is not such unhealthy attachment to death. On the contrary, life is his only beacon. Being driven to bring about a certain kind of transformation for a better life; and the willingness to accept death if it is inevitable in the magnanimous effort.

The purpose of Guruji's naivete is empowering a reader’s mind. And only a powerful mind can empower others. The melancholy in Guruji’s writings is sorrow of the strong. There is no point in discussing its literary relevance.

- Narhar Kurundkar
(Sadhana Weekly, 9 June 1973)

- Translation by Rucha Mulay

Read the Article in Marathi


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Dr C D Mahajan

Please share the original article in Marathi.

Rucha Mulay

@ DR. C D MAHAJAN Sir, The link to the original article in Marathi is shared at the end of the Article. Thank you for your interest.

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