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This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author on the ward winning broadcaster league Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. Those of you left some familiarity with India and it's I realize that love plays a most important part. Love where the physical highly sensuous spiritual noble love in all its aspects can be seen. Whether it's in sculpture whether it's in poetry whether it's in the dance it's in painting and I think there's a reason for this which we may probably be unaware of and we'd like to discuss the origins of this. What is there about India and its climate its philosophy its religion that has made such an important part in the arts. Our guest on this program has had wide experience in India and in the arts. He is a very distinguished scholar Dr. W.. Dr it was
form a keeper of the Indian section at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Yes spend a good part of his life in India as well as Britain has visited the United States many times and as he says feels very much at home here. Among the books that he has written is one on Indian miniature another called India and modern art. One loves of Krishna and then he has edited a book from which he will be reading on this program a book called Love Songs of the jockey and these very beautiful poems and you will hear when Dr. Archer reads the how how well eloquent they are on the subject of love and I think it's something you might want to read for yourself later on. So Doctor we do associate love and beauty with India. Is it your impression that we overemphasize this or is it true that India somehow symbolizes more than most countries.
Well I certainly think that the experience of love in India is in its way quite unique. I think that the Indian climate is in part responsible for the development of an extremely sensitive appreciation of love and a particular emphasis on its sensuous qualities as long ago as the 18th century. A resident wrote about India. As a contrast to the violence of the monsoon and the unpleasant effects of the hot winds that is sometimes I've lopped USNS in the climate of India a stillness in nature and indescribable softness which serves a mind and gives it up to the most delightful sensations. And I think that this quality this soothing quality in the climate is in part
responsible for all this a special sensitivity to essential as love which characterizes the culture they art and the poetry of India. Nature in all its varieties and the seasons in all the other Rotty were treated by Indians as a kind of natural background to laugh making. One of the greatest Indian Sanskrit poets Khalid Das wrote a whole long PI am describing the seasons and how each season had none of us and identical effect in stimulating people to an awareness of that his eeks and inducing in them loving frames of mind. Here are two verses from his great prime. The mango trees are a blaze of cholera. The new phony age
flecked with cooperation and they are busting blossoms swinging as they list in the breeze dazzle the minds of maids and I catch their breath with Goda new excitement the clinging vine whose lovely blossoms are kissed by the crazy b and whose soft tendrils a quiver bend in the gentle breeze arrest the eyes of intimate couples sudden their hearts are filled with a flowing stream of love. This this presentation of the seasons and of the forest and of nature is often uro's in poetry which is not directly concerned with the glorification of love in the famous epic the remote island which was composed by Val McKee in the first century ID
Rama who was an incarnation of God is distressed because his wife his spouse has been abducted by a demon. He is feeling extremely distraught and in his agony. The season itself and the forest seems to make his plight even with us. And this is how a short passage from the Epic this season with its grateful way and the scented moon of spring when flowers and fruits have come forth on the trees kindles a strong love. The trees sing with their wreaths of bees their tops are roofed with plows buffeted by the tossing of the wind with a song of the male cuckoo. The tree is resoundingly rousing to a father passion of my love. This is the
spring whose embers are about to crash those whose crackling and roaring are the notes of the bee whose red flames are the young shoots. This frog will burn me up for life has no meaning for me. If I do not see this woman with a soft lashed eyes so lovely and gentle speech those mad compliment you on how beautifully you read Dr.. And secondly that it is such a sensuous imagery which you summoned up to these phrases and the words that put them together it makes one wonder though if this is a part of India in general. Or is this indigenous to the self. Would it matter. You see I mean the climate is you know the Indio there is so much good you say them that this is is the total Indian Point if you talked to in my judgment it certainly is a total
Indian reaction to the experience of love. I myself have had a very wide experience of different parts of India. It was my good fortune to live among the tribal peoples people who live perhaps as close to nature as the Indians of ancient India did who themselves live very much a forest. These people have their own tribal songs and I myself have translated some of them in my books the blue grove and the dogs and a leopard. These people were acutely aware of the forest as a background to their living and sensuous experiences and I used to find that one of the most charming aspects of their life was not only their great delight in love and romantic and passionate love but also the natural way in which they associated it with animals.
They would sing songs in which the tiger would be a symbol for a boy. The doll would be a symbol for the girl. Many songs would not even mention the fact that girls and boys were involved. It was a kind of natural blending of human life with animal life the emotions and beauty of ordinary tribal living with the beauty and excitement of the forest. What would you say though that one reason for this is sad from the seasons and the THANK YOU nature of Indian people is the fact that there has been no repressive religion in India. I think that religion in India. It was not original by repressive although there have always been certain aspects of Indian life which was inclined to be puritanical as I have always been. Conflicts between those
who had who approved of life who delighted in it exulted in it and those who on the other hand were almost afraid to exult in life as they found it and who preferred it to develop a form of asceticism asceticism of the kind that is represented by the all the puritanical ascetic. This is a kind of reaction from the joy in life which found expression in India that India has suddenly been very fortunate in not having had by an organized state religion which could interfere too. Repress natural feelings I suppose the nearest I got to it was when invaders came into India and instead of the Hindu wildlife being free to develop
and its essential life enhancing it was confronted with a different kind of religion in the Middle East which was repressive and unsympathetic. Speaking of the Muslim religion I am speaking again of religion which suddenly brought a great novel element into Indian life but Hinduism is a rather free form religion isn't it. It is sudden and that is one of his greatest charms and a source of much of his vitality. So would you say then that this philosophy this attitude towards love this kind of poetry is Hindu in its origin. Most certainly it would have to be it would have to be yes. Now although people may be very free in their expression of love It seems to be true. Wouldn't you say Dr. Archer that in most cultures it was nevertheless a set of mores a set of taboos which people practice might seem strange to us but perfectly right
for them. Is there such a set such a code of behavior love behavior in India. Doesn't he used that in the end I mentioned and I mentioned India. That was most of ours we kind of jobs. There was suddenly a greater tolerance than has now become usual in modern India and modern India is in many ways has moved far away from the free spontaneous codes of living which were characteristic of ancient India and nowadays Indian life is is very much stricter than it used to be I think that during the Indian Middle Ages there was a growth a slow growth in a puritanical outro which was possibly fostered by the arrival of Muslim
invaders. The kind of attitude which found such supreme expression in some of the Sanskrit poetry therefore no longer married life as it was it will become instead a kind of ideal that people look back on with approving the lot rather than what they practiced. Well if we continue the idea of modern India and think of how love the treatment of love in modern Indian films it is treated with great restraint. Extremely there is no kissing for example between the lovers in the film and I understand that in public behavior is very restrained between people in love. That is certainly the guise is all that is a far cry from ancient Indian eroticism isn't it. Except among the tribal peoples one of the great delights of living a
man was to feel that one is almost living in ancient India not matter in modern and tribal people still show a great deal of uninhibited freedom with each other. The boys and girls go around in public together. It's a common thing to hear them singing as they go to market. They dance in their own forest villages and in fact to live among them also to feel that one was almost Way back in the early centuries. A.G. When some of his great love it was written. I don't know whether this is an indiscreet question but many countries claim that they have like what would they call it civilized themselves and by that they mean they repress their natural instincts and then much more so comes back in their behavior. And yet underlying that is a great deal of sexual hypocrisy because in private people do not generally behave the way they announce they do in public. I wonder if that's true of
modern India as well. And I think that unfortunately I Want your say as but I've honestly true I think that Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest men that lived at the same time he was undoubtedly a Puritan was our puritanical ideals and these ideals have I can only say I infected the modern day generation so that a degree of Puritanism has become far more usual in India than one would have thought it's ode culture would have been made possible. Still does the younger generation of Indians feel this way and adopt this attitude are they closer to the ancient days of free expression of love. A lot of the parents I think that I would like to say but in actual practice they are not. I think that India and you is
quite astonishing as I can suspect and almost afraid to venture out in ways which I'm sure that I would like to do but which in practice respect but the power and the presence of a kind of inhibiting environment somehow doesn't make it possible and to do it. I thought there was a certain liberalization though of behavior because more young men go to universities and in a way out of their parents reach and more goes out going to universities and taking jobs. And I thought that was freeing them from parental supervision. Well that is certainly the case up to a point. But even now the majority of Indian marriages as a range or partly arranged the notion of a free courtship which we ourselves find it's not so unnatural and indeed so necessary it is still far
from widely practiced in India. Is monogamy only let's say fidelity to one person in law is that an Indian ideal. I think it's such an a an Indian idea and I think that in many cases it probably does correspond to a fact in the majority of Indian marriages. Even if they all arranged by the parents the approach of the young people to the institution as one all resolved to. Make it walk as happy and as smooth as day as possible. This is not of course to say that that there are from time to time occasions when young men and husbands are not strictly face home and of course there are instances where marriages do in fact by God but this is this is in the main not
the general case. What one is up against in modern India is a great feeling for romantic love. Expressed in form a poetry about it and a bit of it in many cases to obtain it. And the heritage is there from the modernise art to the paintings sculpture and poetry but it is not as easy to make these things come into being in this age. I don't know why we do we lack something I think we should just now refer to them but I think that's to most people all over the world feel that they know what they like attaining but very few people manage to attain it. I think that is. I think that is particularly true even even in the United Kingdom or in America. There is a great ending for spontaneity in a lot of and and
freedom and love. And yet in so many cases it seems somehow to end in some kind of dry and painful disillusion. Perhaps that's because love in many cases is not love although it's a spurious form of love and people are not attuned to what is genuine love. I think that might well be the case. I think that in general. Until the age of restraint I think that in India with its climate and with its corrosive soothing influence as it was more possible to achieve a bio of life that combined romance with with love in which old emotions were not entirely organized by and at the same time there was not this sense of appalling waste. Well aside from that Muslim occupation partial conquest of
India would you say that the British occupation of India also changed this personality base the desire for love an expression of love on the part of Indian people. I think so for the simple reason that the British occupation of India kind sided to graduate extent was the development of Victorian values and as a 19th century war on so many of the members of the British Touring cost themselves afraid of love and sex. And by imposing a kind of rules mentality on India. The Indians themselves felt shy to express on one China values which I thought would be frowned upon or disapproved of by their rulers. As a result India I feel because I'm trying to to some extent by Victoria NPR's In Isn't it amazing that
one woman at Queen Victoria could have had this pronounced effect upon the behavior of the West and now and parts of the eastern world. It's astonishing. Well I'm not sure that it was really that Victoria herself she was just unfortunate enough to give her name to little. Yes but still I know of. How did it arise when England was not that way in previous times either. I think it was something to do with the development of the industrial systems ie the groves of big business the fact that hard work self-help discipline inimical to now the words the Americans have a lot of horrid things with I mean but we forget that such love did exist and was expressed so beautifully in times of days gone by in India. Dr. Archer would you read a few poems now. These are some times by an Indian tired cold gritty opportunist
who lived in Doha in eastern India in the 14th century. This prime is called returning Dava Oh friend. There is no end to my joy Christianize home for half the pain I suffered for the heartless moon ended in Bris my eyes live on his face. I lift up my dress fitted with God yet never I when I let him go again. He is my shelter in the Writings ferryboat on a revel. He is my warmth when the wind is hard. Cool breeze in the summer months. Nothing else I need. Revival of love. Tell me what to do. Even the band of water drenched lettuce is dries up as he reclines
a coonass of sandal paste is no remedy nor the hostile mood. B Shaw Oh beautiful one. Krishna pines away from wanting you. Day by day his body grows thin. His heart ignores all outas. The doctors have left him without hope. His only medicine the nectar of your lips. I think we have time for one ma any time. And as I go. My model of an eye for an eye and ravishes beauties who belong to others. So usually he will come. But he has left me dead. I would travel out tell him that my use wastes away if time goes on life too and never show it off again. I would hate to sink wouldn't you Dr. Archer that there are no people left anywhere who still have such feelings. I'm inclined to think that it's
not exclusive to be an Indian state of mind instead of being. Still it is is it is lovely to be reminded of the kind of pure free flowing sort of romance and love that exist at this time and for the electronic age closes in on us all together I think it is wonderful that these things have been preserved. I thank you very much for being here and I'd like to tell our audience that you have had the pleasure of listening to the distinguished British Scala historian and poet. Dr. W.. Dr. Archer is form a keeper of the Indian section of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He traveled all over the world as lived. Much time in India I spent much time in the United States and is the author of a number of books. The book from which you've read is called Lost and he edited this book. He's the author also of Indian miniature India and
modern art and loads of questions. I thank you very much. Goodbye. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham the theory's comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at W NYC New York City 100 0 7. I make a note to join us again next week up with time for another edition of the range of thoughts my Grizz that. This is the national educational radio network.
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Asia Society presents
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Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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Global Affairs
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-52 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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