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Goethals News Bulletin
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. VIII No. 3 July - September 2005

News Update | Articles | Researchers | New Arrivals | Mails & Emails


News Update

National Seminar: The seminar on “Christian Contributions to Bengal” has had a good response. Seventeen scholars have responded and accepted to present papers. The seminar will be held at St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata on January 22-23, 2006.

New Provincial for Kolkata: We congratulate Fr. George Pattery who has taken over as Provincial of Kolkata Jesuits Province. As Provincial, He is now the ex-officio President of our Governing Body. We wish him all the best and look forward to his guidance.

Essay Competitions: Goethals Library conducted an Essay competition for B.Com Students of St. Xavier’s College. The topic was “6 AM”. The prize winning entries and some excerpts from other entries can be viewed at our website. (www.goethals.org)

RIP: We deeply mourn the death of Mr. C R Irani, editor-in-Chief of the Statesman and a well-wisher of Goethals Library . He was a voice of Peace, Justice and Unity, heard all over the world. May his soul rest in Peace. We assure Mrs. Theerthi Irani and family members our prayerful support.

Book Preservation: The cleaning, disinfecting, fumigation and lamination work has come to an end at the Goethals Library.

Researchers: A number of researchers have been visiting the library to do work on subjects like Christianity in India, History of Calcutta, Bengal, the Castes, Races and Tribes of India.

Email Enquires: A lot of email enquires have come to the library, which have been promptly attended to. The Emails relate to researchers in Indology.

Newsletters: Researchers and Scholars appreciate the content and the presentation of the “Goethals Bulletin” which is read with keen interest.

Life Member: Mr. Nandan Dasgupta, a Solicitor from New Delhi joined the library as a life member. Mr. Dasgupta is doing research on the History of Bengal.

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Articles

Non-Violence

There is no hope for the aching world except through the narrow and straight path of non-violence. Millions like me may fail to prove the truth in their own lives, that would be their failure, never of the Eternal Law.”

I would love to attempt an answer to a question which has been addressed to me from more than one quarter of the globe. It is:

“How can you account for the growing violence among your people on the part of political parties for the furtherance of political ends? Is this the result of the thirty years of non-violent practice for ending British Rule? Does your message of non-violence still hold good for the world?”

I have condensed the sentiments of my correspondents in my own language.

In answer I must confess my bankruptcy, not that of non-violence. I have already said that the non-violence that was offered during the past thirty years was that of the weak. Whether it is a good enough answer or not is for others to judge. It must further be admitted that such non-violence can have no play in the altered circumstances. India has no experience of the non-violence of the strong. It serves no purpose for me to continue to repeat that the non-violence of the strong is the strongest force in the world. The truth requires constant and extensive demonstration. This I am endeavouring to do to the best of my ability. What if the best of my ability is very little? May I not be living in a fool’s paradise? Why should I ask people to follow me in the fruitless search? These are pertinent questions. My answer is quite simple. I ask nobody to follow me. Everyone should follow his or her own inner voice. If he or she has no ears to listen to it, he or she should do the best he or she can. In no case should he or she imitate others sheep-like.
- An extract from “Towards lasting peace” by M K Gandhi. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay. 1956. Book No: 31M/155. pp. 240-241.

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Back to Bengal

The whole of the Bengal Presidency was alive with enthusiasm over the news that Swami Vivekananda had landed in India. Calcutta in particular was following with intense interest the movements and utterances of the Swami’s triumphal Progress from Colombo to Madras. A Reception Committee was formed, with the Maharaja Bahadur of Darbhanga as President, to receive him officially and to arrange for a public reception.

The Swami was looking forward eagerly to his return to the city of his birth. The boat trip from Madras was a boon to his tired nerves, for the continuous ovations, public speaking, and talking to visitors, had worn him out. It was to escape all this that he decided to travel by boat instead of by train. Before leaving Madras some of his admirers ordered a huge number of cocoanuts to be brought on board, the milk of which the Swami was to drink by the doctor’s orders. Mrs. Sevier on seeing, the quantity of cocoanuts asked, “Swami, is this a freight boat, that they are loading so many cocoanuts aboard?” He, very much amused, replied, “Why, no, not at all! They are my cocoanuts! A doctor has advised me to drink cocoanut milk instead of water.” He shared the fruit with the Captain and his fellow-passengers. When the steamer sailed up the Hooghly, the Swami pointed out to his disciples all the places of interest that he knew so well, as well as the places associated with his early youth and manhood.

The Reception Committee at Calcutta had been busy ever since the Swami had left Madras, and when the steamer docked at Kidderpore, there was a special train waiting to take him the following morning to the Sealdah Station. At about half past seven O’clock in the morning the Swami and his party boarded the train. Thousands of people were gathered at the Sealdah Station, Calcutta, from early morning to greet him. They were reading as they waited, copies of the two farewell addresses of his students in New York and London which were being distributed. When the whistle of the train was heard, a shout of joy rang out. When the train stopped, the Swami stood up and bowed to the multitude with joined palms. When he stepped from the carriage, those nearest him made a rush to take the dust of his feet; those further off shouted his name and that of his Master triumphantly. So dense were the crowds that it was with exceeding difficulty that the Reception Committee headed by Mr. Norendra Nath Sen, the editor of The Indian Mirror, could make way for the Swami to the carriage that was in waiting for him. Many Sannyasins, in their Gerua robes, were in the crowd, some of them being his own Gurubhais. The Swami was literally loaded with garlands of sweet flowers and was visibly moved by the tremendous demonstration.- From “The Life of Swami Vivekananda” by His Eastern and Western Disciples. Advaita Ashrama. Mayavati. 1949. Book No: 31M/132. pages: 488-489.

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Yoga

Man can be free from bondage to this ignorance to recover knowledge; i.e., to know God not just theoretically but in attainment of God. This is the goal of yoga. Such an attainment can lead man to rise to the absence of limitation, to freedom, “a positive infinity and its unspeakable, unmixed bliss.....” This state is pure consciousness without the knowledge which separates knower and known.

The procedure for reaching such a state involves “elaborate training.” Though study of the Vedas may be sufficient for extraordinary men, Aurobindo refers to a statement of Krisna that this is not sufficient for ordinary men. Thus, there must be a cleansing of the body, heart, and intellect. The true seeker must in fact “get himself a new heart and be born again.” He must rid himself of the egoistic “I-faculty, “ahankara, and its desires and place himself at the service of the Infinite. This surrender must be without reservation or opinion, awaiting higher knowledge.

Four things are then needed : The first is sruti (Skt. “that which is heard”) or recorded revelation : The purpose of sruti is to seize the mind and work on it, saturating it with the ideas of the Supreme. Therefore, it must be studied in the original Sanskrit. The second is a Sacred Teacher. He will teach all that the Upanishads imply, not limiting truth to the Scripture however. He will also teach the third requisite : the means for receiving Truth, the practice of yoga. The fourth and final requirement, however, enables one to persevere in yoga, overcoming all the obstacles and leading one to success : the Grace of God.

A number of lifetimes may be needed to realize this, but one does have more than one lifetime in which to accomplish it. Thus, Aurobindo affirms the doctrine of transmigration and rebirth, and allows for the possibility that in this lifetime one may only be able to begin along the path to liberation.
- From “Sri Aurobindo: The Perfect and the Good”, by Robert Neil Minor. Minerva Associates, 1978. Calcutta. Book No: 31M/204. pp 30-31.

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Interreligious Friendship

1. The Transcendent Unity of Religious

The seers, whatever be their religion, ask us to rise to the conception of a God above gods, who is beyond image and concept, who can be experienced but not known, who is the vitality of the human spirit and the ultimacy of all that exists. This goal represents the transcendent unity of religions, which is above their empirical diversity.

The differences among religions seem prominent because we do not seem to know the basic truth of our own religions. There is a common element in all religious experience, a common foundation on which it rests its faith and worship. But the building that is erected on this foundation differs with each individual. God’s architecture is not of a standard pattern. The lives of religious people bear ample testimony to it. The gifts of God’s spirit to men are as varied as men are varied. St. Paul speaks of the Spirit as dividing his gifts “to every man severally as he will.” The experience of each individual is, in some sense, unique. Each has to discover God for himself; each has to bring his own special contribution to the common fund. The variety of experience adds to the spiritual richness of the world.

The unity of the different religions cannot be achieved at the external level. It has to be realised in an inward and spiritual way without prejudice to any particular forms. The Hindu seer has no contempt for other religions. He looks upon them as aids to our knowledge of God, as channels of divine revelation. He does not believe that salvation is to be had only through any one particular religion. God does not refuse his truth, his love and his grace to any who, in sincerity, seek him, wherever they may be and whatever creeds they may profess.

In The Spirit of Prayer, William Law makes out that differences of religion are on the surface. “There is but one possible way for man to attain this salvation, of life of God in the soul. There is not one for the Jew, another for a Christian and a third for the heathen. No: God is one, human nature is one, salvation is one, and the way to it is one; that is the desire of the soul turned to God. . . . Thus does this desire do all, it brings the soul to God, and is one life with God.

- From “Recovery of Faith”, by Radhakrishnan. World Perspectives Series. George Allen & Unwin. London. 1956. Book No: 31M/138. Pages 188-189.

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Researchers

Arnab Bose, research on Fr. Lafont, SJ, for a film on “100 years of film” for Biswa Bangasan Samelan (USA).

Biren Kumar Nayak (Orissa), research on Brahmabandhab Upadhyay.

Dr. Indrajit Bose, Guru Nanak Institute of Technology, Kolkata, “Illustrated Travel Account in Asia.”

Fr. Aelred Gomes, SJ, (Bangladesh) Jesuits in Eastern Bengal in the 16th Century, Hosten papers.

Fr. Bryan Lobo, SJ, (Rome), writings on Brahmabandhab Upadhyay.

Nandan Dasgupta (New Delhi), history of Bengal.

Prof. Charlotte Simpson, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, “Jesuit Education in India.”

Sr. M Lynn, MC, (Kolkata) research on Mother Teresa.

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Jesuit Letters from Bengal, 1599-1600
(Translated by Fr. Hosten, SJ)

As I wrote to your Paternity, Fr. Francis Fernandez, Dominic Sosa, Melchoir Fonseca and John Andrew Boves were sent to Bengala to open the door to the preaching of the Gospel among those nations and help the Portuguese settled there and greatly in need of our ministrations, by saying Mass, preaching and administering the sacraments. It pleased God in his immeasurable goodness that, from the very start the members of our society should win the graces of the princes of those nations, so that they gave them not unwillingly what they required, even granting them leave to build Churches and houses, to preach the law of God, and to convert to the Christian faith those who are willing.

The instructions given to ours are to establish themselves permanently as soon as possible in some suitable place, where two cm live together, while at regular intervals two about in quest of souls. If God sends more helpers, I think more residences can be established, such is the piety of the Portuguese, such the eagerness of Gentiles and the great opinion all have of our Order. But to make this clearer by entering into details, I shall tell you what I have learned from the Fathers' own letters.

(Below is an extract from the Second Letter referred to above)

From Bengal Past and Present, Vol. 30, 1925

"I reached Chandecan (Chandecan was situated South of Khulna) on the 12th day before the Kalends of December [November 20, 1599]. The welcome from Fr. Dominic Sosa and all the Portuguese was most joyful. What added to their joy was that my arrival was unexpected, as they had heard I had gone to Arracan. The next day I went on a visit to the King, and offered him (what gave him no small pleasure) some fine Biringian oranges, which I had brought on purpose. He received me very kindly; my present gave him joy, as there are no fruits of that kind in his country. He asked me my name, and repeated the question two or three times. I thanked him for this mark of affection towards us, since he was so anxious not to forget my name. He treats us most politely; as soon as we come into his presence, he rises and salutes us with great respect; he does the same when we go away. We attribute this respect to this reason only that he hears we observe perfect chastity, which they have the greatest reverence for and extol to the skies. We asked him for a large piece of ground near our house, so that the Neophytes might live conveniently near the Church. He granted it easily, and the diploma [of concession] was drawn up; he also ordered that the Pagans living there should pay [to the Fathers] the tribute which they owed to the King. As I had learned from Fr. Francis Fernandez that Your Reverence wished that the first Church to he built in Bengala should be dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus, we tried hard to get it finished that day. (Inauguration of the First Church in Bengal on 1st January, 1600, by the Jesuits.)

"Although the Church is such only as we could make it in a hurry, according to circumstances and our poverty, it is however sufficiently spacious, and not less pretty. We adorned it all over with different precious curtains for which the Portuguese gave us much help. In fact, they are very fond of us and confess that our arrival is to them a very great blessing. We promulgated the Jubilee, according to our privilege for India All who could approached the Sacraments of Penance and of the Holy Eucharist. We had to try our very best to make the feast as solemn as possible, both because this feast was for the first time celebrated in Bengala, and to make the Pagans who witnessed it ashamed of their misery.

"On the eve, and on the morning of the feast, there were illuminations everywhere and a general firing of guns, as we had had on the eve of St. Thomas' feast, when we planted the first Cross in the cemetery. The King sent us word that we should not set foot in the new ground before his arrival, as he wished for the sake of greater solemnity to put us himself in possession of it. In the evening, therefore, that day having been fixed for the ceremony, he came with all the gentlemen of his household to the settlement of the Christians, a distance of four hours by sea, and at once enquired where the Fathers were, Hearing [Fol. 64 recto] that they were busy decorating the Church, he directed his course at once towards the Church. We went to meet him as he landed. He received us kindly and joyfully, and. as out of politeness we had to go in front of him, he followed us up to the Church. He entered the Church with much respect: before setting foot in the chapel he took off his shoes, and he could not be persuaded to sit on a chair or on the carpet, he would sit only on the border of the mats. He enquired into the meaning and use of the things he saw on the altar. It was a good occasion, and we discoursed about God. Raising his hand to his beard, he promised to build a Church which would eclipse in beauty all those to be built in Bengala. We wait to see whether he will make the promise good. The next day, the Prince came to see the Church and its decorations, and it gave him no less pleasure than to his father. I forgot to say that, when his father went away, he wished to see the house. On going up the steps, we went first, at his request, and he came behind. When he took leave, he turned to the Portuguese present and said: “What more do you want? I have become a Padre already," which loving expression surprised all very much. We pray to God that the sequel may correspond to these beginnings. Every day, during about sixteen days, an incredible number of people of all ages and conditions came to see the Church, out of so many thousands hardly one Pagan in the whole of the country was found who stayed at home. While they came neat while they examined, they would say: People who do these things are not men. but Gods. Others exclaimed: 'Lord, thou art the true God'. There were not wanting some who prayed for the recovery of their sick. On their knees, or prostrate on the ground, they manifested their worship and veneration to the unknown God, whom we beg and beseech kindly to reveal himself and make himself known to them. We are instructing some Catechumens for the reception of Baptism, and we shall soon, with God's help, build a hospital, in order to entice many unto Christ with this bait. Our house is suited to the requirements of the Society and removed from all intercourse. The whole ground is surrounded by a wall twenty-five feet high, it had been commenced before, and we completed it not without expense. The house, in addition to this excellent ground and the most pleasant site I have seen in India, has other advantages in keeping with the religious life, which the Fathers whom we expect from Your Reverence will be able to enjoy. We apply ourselves diligently to prayer and the examination of conscience at the proper times, so that by means of these exercises God may make of us worthy labourers in this Mission. This is about all I intended to write to Your Reverence. I end by commanding myself earnestly to your sacrifices and prayers. Chandecan, the 13th before the Kalends of February 1600"

Fr. Melchior Fonseca, SJ (20.1.1600)

[Note: This extract is from a letter of Fr. Melchoir Fonseca, SJ, which was included in the annual letter of Goa (Dec 1, 1600) dated Sept. 8, 1602 written by Fr. Nicholas Pumenta, SJ (As visitor) to the Jesuit General, Fr. Claude Axquaviva, SJ]

Publications by Fr. Felix Raj

“Santal Struggle – A milestone in History”, Indian Currents, 26 June 2005.
“Economic Ideas in the Arthasastra and their Relevance”, Vidyajyoti, Vol. 69, No. 7, July 2005, pp 514-522.
“Jesuit at the Moghal Court” Indian Currents, 24 July 2005.
Interreligious Friendship

1. The Transcendent Unity of Religious

The seers, whatever be their religion, ask us to rise to the conception of a God above gods, who is beyond image and concept, who can be experienced but not known, who is the vitality of the human spirit and the ultimacy of all that exists. This goal represents the transcendent unity of religions, which is above their empirical diversity.

The differences among religions seem prominent because we do not seem to know the basic truth of our own religions. There is a common element in all religious experience, a common foundation on which it rests its faith and worship. But the building that is erected on this foundation differs with each individual. God’s architecture is not of a standard pattern. The lives of religious people bear ample testimony to it. The gifts of God’s spirit to men are as varied as men are varied. St. Paul speaks of the Spirit as dividing his gifts “to every man severally as he will.” The experience of each individual is, in some sense, unique. Each has to discover God for himself; each has to bring his own special contribution to the common fund. The variety of experience adds to the spiritual richness of the world.

The unity of the different religions cannot be achieved at the external level. It has to be realised in an inward and spiritual way without prejudice to any particular forms. The Hindu seer has no contempt for other religions. He looks upon them as aids to our knowledge of God, as channels of divine revelation. He does not believe that salvation is to be had only through any one particular religion. God does not refuse his truth, his love and his grace to any who, in sincerity, seek him, wherever they may be and whatever creeds they may profess.

In The Spirit of Prayer, William Law makes out that differences of religion are on the surface. “There is but one possible way for man to attain this salvation, of life of God in the soul. There is not one for the Jew, another for a Christian and a third for the heathen. No: God is one, human nature is one, salvation is one, and the way to it is one; that is the desire of the soul turned to God. . . . Thus does this desire do all, it brings the soul to God, and is one life with God. - From “Recovery of Faith”, by Radhakrishnan. World Perspectives Series. George Allen & Unwin. London. 1956. Book No: 31M/138. Pages 188-189.


Sonthalia and the Sonthals
The Soharai, or harvest joy, is their longest and one of the most important festivals. It extends over a period of five days and nights, and is devoted to dancing, eating, drinking, singing, and every imaginable kind of debauchery. For the whole of that time the village street is alive with noisy groups of both sexes; the elder ones smoking and drinking, while the young people are flirting, romping, and dancing. On one day in particular the confusion becomes worse confounded, the brute creation being pressed in as unwilling sharers in the commotion. The cattle are brought out and tied to ornamented posts in front of their several owners’ compounds: men and boys then fling at them bits of sticks, baskets, &c., and the youngsters rush between the animals from one side of the street to the other, carrying in their hands skins and cloth which they wave before the eyes of the baited prisoners. This combined with the beating of drums, the shouting of many voices, the reeling figures of the drunken, and the shrill chantings of the women, make up a series of Bacchanalian, orgies which baffle description. The sacrifices offered are the same as those used in the propitiation of Marang Buru.

There is one part of the ceremony which I think deserving of notice, as in its performance there is some similarity to the Egyptian myth of the “Bull and the Egg.” On one of the five days of the Sohorai, there is a new-laid hen’s egg brought into the village street by the priest, or naick, and placed in a certain square marked in the ground. The oxen are then driven past it, and the one which stoops to smell the egg is at once marked and held in high estimation for that year. I believe the Egyptian mythology states that the earth came out of an egg, which the bull broke.

The Sohorai festival is held for five days in every village; but as they contrive that all the villages should not hold it at the same time, it gives the Sonthal a chance to riot and drink for a month, which he is not slow to take advantage of.

-“Sonthalia and the Sonthals” by E. G. Man. Mittal Publicatons, Delhi. 1983. pp. 56, 57. Book No: 7A/160.

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New Arrivals

Behind Closed Doors: Domestic Violence in India by R. Bhattacharya. Sage Publications, New Delhi. 2004.

Changing face of Globalization by S Dasgupta. Sage Publications, New Delhi. 2004.

Christian Responses to Indian Philosophy by K P Aleaz. Puthi Pustak, Kolkata.

Founders of Indus Valley Civilization (Vol. I) by N Viyogi. Indian National Historical Research Council, Ludhiana. 1995.

Imperial Guptas: A Multidisciplinary Political Study by S R Goyal. Kusumanjali Book World, Jodhpur. 2005.

India’s Communities by K S Singh. In 3 volumes. OUP, Delhi. 1998.

Sotheby’s: The library of Robert & Marie Trains (Catalogue). Sotheby’s London. 2005.

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Mails & Emails

Is there any information on Charles Bentley in the Goethals library? He was in the sanitary/health dept of Bengal in the early 1900s. Even his birth and death dates would suffice. I have been telling my friends what a wonderful library and research centre you have.
M. Ramanna, New Delhi

With your generous help, my work at the Goethals Library became an exciting voyage of discovery. Thank you for making it possible and enjoyable.
Fr. Aelred Gomes, SJ, Bangladesh.

I’m doing research on Bengal. There are just three books on the list. I wonder if I may also take a preliminary look at item 76 on your list of maps, which is Bengal’s map by Rennel.
Nandan Dasgupta, Kolkata / Delhi

It was indeed heartening to learn that Brahmabandhab Upadhayay’s birth centenary celebrations will be organised by the Goethal’s India Library. Brahmabandhab Upadhayay was a great social reformer of Bengal and he commanded great respect among the intellectuals of that age. I am looking forward to this mega-event.
Partha Sarathi Banerjee, Kolkata

I am a University student in the USA and looking to find a mention of a board game from Siam, now called Cambodia or Kampuchea, in an article called “On Siamese Literature, Part II” written by a Captain James Low. This should be in Asiatic Researches, volume 20 page 382 (1836). The name of this board game is Mak-Yek or Mak Yek. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated.
John Wagner, USA

Sr. Lynn, MC has been doing some research for the purpose of preparing the definitive biography on Mother, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She has been searching in Goethals Indian Library for materials related to Mother’s life and work. Most of what has been found consists of articles published in ‘Our Field’ and the letters and articles written by Yugoslavian Jesuits. I would be very grateful to you if you would give us the photocopies of few documents. Thanking you for the courtesy and the co-operation.
Sr. Nirmala, M.C., Kolkata

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Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, St. Xavier’s, 30 Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata-700 016, India.
Tel: 0091-33-2280 1919; email: goethals@vsnl.com  Web-site: www.goethals.in 
Director: Fr. Felix Raj, SJ; Library Asst: Mr. Warren Brown; Computer Asst: Mr. Sunil Mondol

 

 
 

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