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The Bengal Text-Book Committee prepared a catalogue of the books which were in use in the Province. The list showed that there were in the Bengali language564 Readers.
62 Works on Physics. 94 Dictionaries.
89 Medical Works. 91 Grammars, etc.
91 Law Books. 66 Geographies.
18 Books on Social Science. 121 Histories.
28 Books on Art. 42 Philosophical Treatises. 11 Works on Education. 136 Mathematical Works. 76 Miscellaneous Literature. There were also 35 Magazines and Periodicals, and 54 Newspapers.
Vernacular Authorship always honoured in Bengal
and in no need of Government Patronage. Most of the books examined were original compositions or adaptations, and only a very few of them were translations from English. One of the fond hopes of the General Committee of Public Instruction was that by imparting an English Education to the upper and middle classes of society, there would arise those who would pass on to the masses of the people in their own tongue knowledge which had been acquired from English books. This hope, therefore, was not appreciably realized.
"The fact is, Vernacular authorship was always much honoured in Bengal. It was at first taken up by such leaders of society as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Sir Radha Kanta Deb and the Hon'ble Prasana Kumar Tagore, and then in the next generation by such ripe scholars as Dr. K. M. Banerjea, Dr. Rajendra Lal Mitra and Pandit Iswar Chunder Vidyasagar, Bengali authorship was in the hands of those who felt an impulse to write, without any stimulus being supplied by Government other than the English education received at its hands, and the influx of new ideas that followed upon such education. The Bengali language had already produced some works of original merit ; and there were signs that professional writers who meant to live by their writings were coming into existence, together with their usual accompaniments of publishing firms. The literary activity
awakened was such that, the Director was able to say in reference to the preparation of school books in Bengal, 'it is not necessary that any money payments should be offered to secure the improved books required. A good school book is a valuable property, which brings considerable remuneration to the author, and therefore requires no aid on the part of Government. All that was requisite, therefore, was to exercise a fostering supervision over vernacular literature, and to see that public instruction required the education of the people not only in what were their rights as citizens but also in what were their duties to the State.
Text-Book Committees appointed in each Province. In April 1877 a Conference on text-books was held at Simla, and its deliberations led to the constitution of standing Text-Book Committees for the examination of school books in the different Provinces. Following upon the appointment of the Committee for Bengal an attempt was made in that Province to bring out a new and uniform series of text-books for use in the vernacular schools. In Bengal the attempt failed, because in some cases the new books were close translations of English originals, whereas the urgency of the translations had in fact long gone by. The case was somewhat different in Behar and Orissa where there was less literary activity. In Behar several authors translated Bengali works into Hindu, and in Orissa Bengali works into Uriya.
Lord Ripon's attention invited to the State of Education in India. On the eve of the Marquis of Ripon's departure from England to assume in India the exalted office of GovernorGeneral, the General Council of Education in India, whose headquarters were in London, presented him with an address in which they prayed him to institute an enquiry into the extent to which the Despatch of 1854 had been carried into effect. In his reply to the deputants, he said, “The Despatch lays down clearly and forcibly the broad
Report of the Provincial Committee, Bengal, 1881-82.
lines of the true educational policy for India, and upon those lines it will be my desire to work .... It will be my duty when I get out to India, to examine all such matters carefully in the light of the information which will then be at my disposal ; but I do not think that I shall be guilty of any indiscretion if I tell you even now how much I sympathize with your desire to promote the extension of elementary education among the poorer classes. This has been an especial object of interest to me for many years in England; it will not be less so in India.
Appointment of the Indian Education Commission of 1882, The new Viceroy had not been in India many months when he set about testing from local sources the statements which had been made to him by the Council. Satisfied that a case for inquiry had been established by the comparative neglect of the education of the masses, and by the disproportionate expenditure on higher education, with the hearty concurrence of Lord Hartington, Secretary of State for India, on the 3rd February, 1882, he appointed an Education Commission of Enquiry whose “ duty should be to inquire into the manner in which effect had been given to the Despatch of 1854, and to suggest such methods as it might think desirable, with a view to mor completely carrying out the policy laid down therein.”
HERBERT A. STARK. (To be continued.)
THE LEGENDS OF THE KAVERI.
BY T. M. SUNDARAM AIYAR.
EVERY land has its own folklore and legends and
India, which is more a continent than a country, with its diversity of tongues and differences of caste and creed, is no exception to the general rule, and may be said to go even ahead of others, for, unlike them, religion plays an important part in the daily routine of life of the Hindu, and a river is one of the many agencies that guide him in the paths of salvation. There is no river in India that has not its mahatmya (traditional origin) sung in rapturous verses of sweet melody, breathing divine fervour and inspiration, when listened to by devotees, and a plunge, at every cockcrow in a river or a stream so sanctified by God's sanction, and immortalized by legends and folk ballads, is indeed the greatest glorification that a Hindu can think of.
In South India, of all the various rivers the one most revered is the Kaveri, which is called in the pilgrim's parlance, the Dakshin Ganga, the Southern Ganges, evidently from its association with the northern river goddess Ganga who is said to travel, in an under current, all the way from Kasi to Mayaveram (Mayurpur, the city of the peacock) and form a confluence with the Kaveri at this spot and a dive here into the waters naturally confers on the pilgrim endless boons.
The river Kaveri rises in the Brahmagiri ranges of the Western Ghauts and, emerging from the wilds of Coorg, it flows through the southern parts of the Mysore plateau and at the island of Seringpatam,* the Capital of Haidar
, and Tippu, it divides itself into two branches, and again
* Vide my article on Seringapatam, the Babylon of South India, in the 30th November issue of the Times of India Illustrated Weekly, pp. 42-43.
uniting, it wends its way through flat country and enters the rugged hilly tracts that intervene between the uplands of Mysore and the lowlands of the Carnatic. Just on the border of this dreary region, enclosing the island of Shiva Samudram, are the celebrated falls unrivalled in all India for romantic scenery. Taking a southward trend, it forms the boundary line between Salem and Coimbatore districts, and veering in an eastern direction, it cuts its way through the districts of Trichinopoly and Tanjore and finally empties itself into the Bay of Bengal.
Most of the legends regarding the origin of the Kaveri are all well told in the Kaveri Puran, which is a tangled skein of mythic fancies, carried to the loftiest fights of imagination in the Skanda which recounts the glory of the war-god Kartikeya.
LEGEND THE FIRST. The great sage Agastya once fell in love with a lovely girl, Kaveri, the daughter of Kavera, a rishi like himself who had his asram in the Brahmagiri ranges of the Western Ghauts. The fair maiden had no desire to share the joys and woes of this transient world, and prayed to the gods that she might be turned into some mighty river that would hand down to posterity the fame and glory of her father. Her wish was granted, and she was prepared to accept the divine boon, when Agastya stepped in and made love to her. She declined the offer, but under persuasion accepted him as her life's partner, on the condition that she would forsake him when she found herself alone. For many years did the pair lead a life of bliss and prosperity, but one day, as ill-luck would have it, the sage forgetful of his promise, went to a neighbouring tank to have his day's bath. It was enough, the condition fell through, and she disappeared into the same tank where her husband was enjoying a plunge, and ere long assumed the form of a river and began to issue from it as a tiny stream. *
* For a more elaborate account vide my article on Bathing in South India, Madras Mail, February 23, 1909.