Libmonster ID: U.S.-1438
Author(s) of the publication: E. KALINNIKOVA

After the defense of my dissertation, almost no changes occurred in my life. Except that the salary for a PhD in philology was slightly increased, but the position of a junior researcher, known in common slang as menees, seemed to be assigned to me forever. But for me, titles were not so important as publications: articles, reviews, and literary translations. I could only dream of serious books.

Perhaps it would be more logical to write a book on the work of Razipuram Krishnaswami Narayan based on his dissertation. But over the years, I managed to collect material for the monographs "English-language Literature of India" and planned to publish it. It was published in 1974, and the book "R. K. Narayan" - only in 1981.


October 1981 was an unusual year for me: my dream came true - I visited India for the first time in my life. My "Journey across the three seas" began with a plane landing in Delhi at Palam Airfield. Until recently, in Moscow, I was standing in a coat, wrapped in a scarf from the rain and cold wind. And here it was 35-degree heat, although the hands on the clock showed six in the morning local time.

As soon as we crossed the threshold of the luxury hotel, we felt the romance of oriental hospitality: a beautiful Indian woman gave each of us a fragrant garland of flowers, and painted a traditional red circle on our foreheads - tika, and we immediately felt almost like locals.


We were delighted to plunge into the sunny world of Delhi: we visited the Red Fort, admired the Presidential Palace, visited, after removing our shoes, the largest mosque in India-Jami Masjid and the ruins of the most ancient-famous Qutb Minar of the XIII century, as well as the Krishna Narayan Temple. We also managed to touch the historic Ashoka column. There is a belief that the one who stands with his back to her, pulls his hands back and, if he can, connects his fingers, he will be rich and happy all his life. Only the tall and stately ones managed it, and I just limited myself to trying and stroking the metal. All the sights of Delhi are very beautiful, but I also remember the ill-fated Chandi Chowk ("chandi "in Urdu means silver) - a" silver " street - bazaar, where noise, dirt, crowds of beggars, hungry and dying children. To this day, if I close my eyes, I can still see a bunch of dirty kids running behind our bus, their little hands outstretched, begging for alms. I have lived in Turkey and Syria, visited the eastern bazaars of Kapala Charshi in Istanbul, Suk Hamediye in Damascus, but I have never seen such poverty, crowding and unsanitary conditions anywhere.

Eight to ten children in an Indian family was common at that time. Parents, as a rule, are not able to feed their offspring. Children are left to their own devices, play outside without supervision, live freely, like birds. A five-year-old, fragile child is already carrying a one-year-old rickety brother or sister on his back. Posters about "family planning" - about birth control-cry out in vain from the walls of houses: "You, the parents , are two, even if you will have two children, but no more." Often you can see on board a passing bus a picture advertising the ideal family of modern India: a father, mother and two children's faces, and next to them the inscription: "Let one child be the eldest, the other the youngest, and that's enough."

Despite the authorities ' serious concerns about population growth, certain recommendations on contraception and other specific measures to reduce the birth rate, the positive effect has not yet been felt: firstly, because most people are illiterate, and, secondly, because the people are deeply religious and believe that children are from God, and not against God's will is sin.


Our route passed through the famous Agra, once the capital of the Mughal Empire. Fatehpur Fortress, Akbar's Mausoleum, Salim's tomb - all the sights in its vicinity can not be counted, but

Continuation. For the beginning, see "Asia and Africa today", 2000, N 6, 9, 11.

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the main magnet that attracted us the most was the Taj Mahal. As soon as they did not call him in history: "crown of architecture", "poem of stone", "dream embodied in marble" , etc.

What inspired the brutal Emperor Shah Jahan (1598-1666) to erect the monument that made him famous? Akbar's grandson, Jahangir's son, Shah Jahan, was power-hungry, vain, possessed untold wealth, and owned a harem of 300 wives. But one day, as the legend tells, he was brought a new, very young concubine named Mumtaz. Charming in appearance, she was also naturally intelligent. Shah Jahan's mood underwent a metamorphosis: for the first time in his life, he fell in love deeply, sincerely, and put all the other wives in the harem into oblivion. Mumtaz bore her sovereign Emperor fourteen children and died young before she was even forty years old. Before her death, Mumtaz asked her husband to fulfill two requests: to build her a tomb that the whole world would know about, and never to marry again, because she did not want her children to live with her stepmother. Shah Jahan complied with both requests.

Tens of thousands of workers from many Asian countries were rounded up to build the Taj Mahal mausoleum, and the best architects in Europe were called in. For twenty years, a marble five-domed palace with four minarets was built. Colossal funds were required, and the entire state treasury was spent not on ruinous wars, but on a monument to the unparalleled love of Mumtaz. The talent of architects, the work of builders, thousands of tons of white marble, openwork carvings, inlays created together an immortal masterpiece, unsurpassed perfection in the architecture of the Mughal Empire. At dawn and sunset, at noon and at midnight, the Taj Mahal is always majestic.


I have not yet explained who we are who have come to India. We are a delegation of Orientalists who went to India in the fall of 1981 for the Fifth International Congress of Sanskrit Scholars in Benares, or Varanasi, * where we were going after Agra. Our group was headed by now academicians G. M. Bongard-Levin and E. P. Chelyshev, as well as Doctors of Philology I. D. Serebryakov and Gamkrelidze TV. The Congress was opened on October 21 at the University of Benares, the largest university in Asia abroad. 2000 participants gathered from different parts of the world could not fit into the halls of the ancient buildings of the university, and our first plenary session was held in the open air, under a shamiana-a picturesque awning with bright ornaments stretched on bamboo supports, wrapped from bottom to top with orange champak flowers, and in Russian-velvets that have the ability to strongly smell and do not wither for a long time.

Professor Dandekar, Chairman of the Association of Sanskrit Scholars, made a report at the morning session, and G. M. Bongard - Levin, a member of our delegation, made a report at the evening session. In the following days, the work was carried out in sections at morning and evening meetings. Several indologists-literary critics - Chelyshev E. P., Serebryakov I. D., Suvorova A. A., Braginsky V. I., Bychikhina L. V., Pulatova Sh. P., Ankrava S. Ya. and I-took part in the work of the section on literary studies (Department of the Indian Professor Agrvala) under the chairmanship of Professor Wolfgang Morgenroth, a Sanskrit scholar from the GDR, who is already familiar to us Weimar, where the IV International Congress of Sanskrit Scholars was held in 1979.

On October 23, at the evening session, it was my turn to speak, and I read a paper on " The influence of Sanskrit literature on the English-language poetry of nineteenth-century India." The audience included Indians, Europeans, and Japanese. A Bengali resident of Shanti Niketon, head of the English Department at Chan Didas College, Dr. Shubrotto Ray, came to my report specifically. He was attracted to the topic of my report because he was reporting on a similar topic: the influence of Indian classics on the English-language works of Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore. Fortunately, we did not duplicate each other, since my presentation was about the works of poets Toru Dutt, Madhushudon Dotto and Ramesh Chandra, but the exchange of views and answers to our questions were all the more interesting in the conversation that took place after the official meeting under the shade of the Neem tree. Dr. Ray introduced me to his wife and son and invited me to visit the Tagore-Shantiniketon Center.

Another Belgian scholar from the University of Brussels, Dr. Johann Karl Teubner, who was engaged in comparative literature analysis, comparativism of English - language Indian and African works, as well as the influence of Sanskrit on the Swahili language, was also interested in my report from the rostrum. He was happy to communicate with Russian scientists and left a business card at parting.


The week we spent on the banks of the Ganges * * in Benares was a busy and productive one.

* There is no city of Benares on Indian maps - this is a russified word for Varanasi.

* * The Ganges river in India is feminine.

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In addition to meetings and meetings at the congress, we made a number of excursions to the ancient Hindu city of Benares, or, as it is also called, the "Mecca of Hinduism". Benares is the holiest city of both Hindus and Buddhists, where an endless stream of pilgrims from both religions rush daily.

The dream of every Buddhist is to visit Sarnath, the famous Buddhist monastery near Benares, to bow to the Stupa, to sit under the Bodhi tree, where, according to legend, Prince Gautama Siddhartha preached, gained enlightenment and became known as the Buddha. Among the Buddhist pilgrims, there were especially many Japanese, all of them wearing orange tunics.

Those who visit these sacred places believe that they find purity of soul and integrity. Contemplating the sincere actions of religious pilgrims, we involuntarily moved to the frozen Middle Ages, to the center of everything innermost-Indian, imperishable-ancient. And the way of life of Benares seems to have frozen, untouched by the civilization of the XX century. The most common form of transport on the street is a bicycle rickshaw, and on the Ganges - rowing boats. There are no trams, double-decker buses like in Calcutta, or hydrofoil rocket ships like we have on the Volga. Can

Perhaps that is why the V International Congress of Sanskrit Scholars was held in Varanasi, the heart of India, a city of orthodox Brahmins, where an archaic maharaja named Vibhuti Narayan Singh, owner of huge land plots and luxurious palaces, still lives. The learned pandit spares no expense in studying Sanskrit in the country and publishing Sanskrit manuscripts, because he is a patron of ancient Indian culture and art.


If I had been told a week ago that I was going to be invited to the Maharaja's palace, I would have thought I was being played. But India is a wonderland where fantasy can turn into reality.

All participants of the Congress were presented with two invitation cards: one for lunch at one o'clock in the afternoon at the Taj Ganges Hotel ("Crown of the Ganges"), and the other for a reception at the Shiva Palace of Maha Raja Vibhuti Narayan Singh at three o'clock in the afternoon.

Lunch was not held in the hotel building, but in the garden, again in the open air. A great many people have come-multiethnic, contradictory, multi - confessional, and variously dressed. The babel must have looked something like this, I told myself. In any case, the spectacle impressed and aroused curiosity among Russian guests.

In general, the mass of Indian people is always very picturesque, and the selected society at the Maharaja's reception, one might say, the elite, was especially distinguished by refinement. First of all, women with chiseled figures, artfully draped in saris, and a graceful gait caught the eye. These graceful creatures, clad in light, bright fabrics that clung to their flexible bodies, looked like tropical butterflies, which were as impossible to take your eyes off as the scarlet flowers of bougainvilleas.

Maharaja Vibhuti Narayan Singh himself, dressed in tight white trousers and a white jacket (such a suit was once worn by Jawaharlal Nehru), was the center of attention. Correspondents and photographers attacked him from all sides, although, to be fair, Sanskrit Europeans were as active as the media and stung the important person with questions like annoying flies. I remember the maharaja's fancy headdress made of purple velvet, embroidered with gold. The entire entourage seemed to have been specially designed for color slides: a white suit, a purple turban, and gold embroidery that sparkled in the sun were very suitable for the dark skin of their owner, who was no longer a young man. Its entire appearance was in harmony with the surrounding luxury: a swimming pool filled with blue water splashing in marble fetters, and a green lawn mowed in the English style. A monkey trainer and a snake - charmer fakir were already perched on a malachite carpet of lush grass. The first one beat a clear rhythm on a drum, and the rainbow-clad monkeys did funny somersaults in time to the music. The second played a flute and made the enchanted cobras squirm in a dance. The audience looked on with delight at the docile beast, and when the mongoose, released from hiding, instantly bit off the snake's head, they even applauded. And in my subconscious mind, triggered by my childhood memories, "a bell rang", and in an instant Rudyard Kipling's story "Rikki-tikki-tavi" came back to me.

There was, of course, a buffet reception, but no alcoholic beverages: India had a dry law, and this is quite reasonable. Even at an official reception in this heat - +40-at-

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pressing up to 40 degrees inside is contraindicated. As for food, the Indian dishes, paradoxically, seemed to me also "very strong and seasoned." The delicious food on the waiters ' trays, which they served on plates, turned out to be "specially prepared" - prickly and pungent. Cooks probably acted on the principle: the germ from pepper will die. On one side of the plate are delicious pieces of chicken, on the other - just fried fish; you start to eat and you can not distinguish between chicken and fish: everything is so peppered that you do not feel the taste and aroma of the dish served. Everything burns in your mouth, you feel only a fire that nothing can extinguish. With annoyance, you set aside your plate, not only not having eaten anything, but not even having tasted it. The only consolation is ice cream and fruit: mango, guava, bananas, papaya. Fortunately, they are served without spices. However, sweet mango jam with pepper once I had a chance to try. What a different idea of delicious food can be! Truly, there is no dispute about tastes: the East is a delicate matter.


From the hotel, we were taken by bus to the Shiwala Palace, where first a small meeting was held, at which Maharaja Vibhuti Narayan Singh thanked everyone for participating in the Congress and presented the most prominent Sanskrit scientists with memorable gifts, including our esteemed Bongard-Levin G. M. And we were all presented with a large bundle of books, brochures - in short, Sanskrit literature published in recent years in India.

At the end of the reception, Maharaja arranged for the guests to go boating down the Ganges River. In the middle of the hall was a draped gate, which swung open at the right moment at the gesture of the host, and a steep staircase opened up in front of us, leading us to the bank of the sacred river. From the medieval castle, we descended through a romantic underground passage lit by torches, and finally came out on the river expanse. The stairs went straight under the water. The boats had a peculiar appearance: they were huge and two-storied. We were now climbing an even steeper ramp than the stairs we had climbed. Below, the oarsmen sat on either side of the boat, and we sat on the upper deck, which was covered with matting. There were no seats, benches, or planks to perch on, and the entire respectable audience sat on matting, with their legs tucked under them in the Turkish, or rather Indian, fashion, or reclined on one elbow on the floor. Knowing that in India there can be the most unexpected situations (for example, the day before we went to a yoga session at the Malavia Bhavan center, where all the visitors also sat on the floor), I put on a long, wide skirt. Sure, it was a little hot, but I didn't get into comical situations like some European women who wore tight, short English skirts.

The Ganges was flowing with its majestic waters, tinged with the pink color of the evening dawn, wide, calm, divine, and it reminded me of my native Volga. We admired the imperishable beauty of eternal nature. Ancient Indian mythology claims that the Ganges River is the daughter of the king of the mountains Himavatha, and it falls from heaven on the head of Shiva and already through his hair flows to the ground along the spurs of the Himalayas and then flows through the valleys. According to Hinduism, the waters of the Ganges are sacred: they purify from sins, heal from ailments, and grant longevity. The mass pilgrimage of believers from all over the country to Varanasi never stops, and we witnessed this in a couple of days.

We got up at five o'clock in the morning and went to the bank of the Ganges before sunrise to see the whole ritual of ablution firsthand. The Ganges is clear and transparent at dawn. This time we were provided with low, though very roomy boats, and we sailed along the shore, on which rose a wall of temples stacked on top of each other. And on the bank of the river there are sites - shmashan-places for burning the dead, and right there in the early sun dozens of dhobi laundresses (in India, men do laundry) wash clothes-saris, dhoti, choli, all beat on the coastal stones and spread them on the ground immediately for drying. But what is surprising is that the dirt does not stick to the wet cloth, and the laundry turns out to be clean.

Gradually, more and more people flock to the banks, men in loincloths go down the steps into the water. The women are immersed in the Ganges simply in their saris, and we can see their concentrated faces in prayer. Some of them are standing with their hands clasped to their chests, their eyes closed, meditating, completely detached from reality. After all, the goal of everyone's life is to visit Varanasi, take a bath in the sacred Ganges, read

page 57

at sunrise, the Vedic Gayatri hymn, "that prayer to the light that lights up the sun that enlightens all minds."

As we sailed down the river, we witnessed a funeral ceremony. On the bank was a neatly stacked pyramid of wood and dung (the base for a funeral pyre), and at the very top was a bamboo stretcher with a dead man draped in a shroud. A man - traditionally a son-came up, poured ghee (cow's ghee) around it, held up a burning torch, and set fire to the" pyramid " at the four corners. The dry wood and dung flared up like a match in an instant, and flames engulfed the dead man. The crowd standing around the fire was peacefully watching the fire rage. No one wept or wailed like at a Russian funeral. For Hindus, death is natural, and the path is not complete. According to their religion, the deceased continues his cycle of life in a different hypostasis. There is an eternal process, and with the arrival of death, the end does not come. Hence their concept of soul transmigration. Life and death are two phases of a single, continuous transformation, rebirth, avatar. Hindus are calm about the death of loved ones, they do not see them off on their last journey and believe that they will meet them later, in another substance, in another world where there will be no earthly suffering. They regard death as liberation, are not afraid of it, and even rejoice for the dead. Ashes after burning, sometimes the remaining bones and so on are thrown into the river.

The question arises: why is Ganga not only not a bacillus carrier, but, on the contrary, neutralizes all bacteria? It would seem that there should be a continuous process of decomposition in it, the inevitable result of which is the smell of rot, but when you swim in the Ganges, except for the aroma of river freshness, you do not feel anything, and except for the purest mirror surface of the water, you do not see anything. According to research, there is no underwater flora in the Ganges: algae do not grow, but there is plenty of fauna - turtles, fish, crayfish are found. Of course, the Ganges is a mysterious phenomenon, and science is trying to explain this phenomenon by the high concentration of silver in the water. In a word, the river is holy, and this is probably the secret.

Our writer Viktor Yerofeyev, who visited India three years ago, published his impressions in the article "My Mystical India", in which he made an interesting comparison of the great rivers: "The Mother Volga is a great river for Russians, but it has never received the status of a saint. I didn't have the courage to call her that. Mother Ganga has declared her sanctity. A Russian would be happy to consider the water of the Volga as pure water, but he is afraid of upsetting his stomach. A Hindu believes in the purity of the Ganges water so much that he drinks it, and his faith overcomes the mud of the river. The Russian despises death, the Hindu conquers it."


After a walk along the Ganges River, we no longer ascended the marble stairs of the Maharaja's palace, but the dirty, chipped city stairs, which led us into the narrow alleys of the slums where the poor, naked and homeless lived. Infants were sleeping on the dirty sidewalk spattered with red betel (gum), and flies crawled on their dirty faces. There was also a huge cluster of cripples: the blind, the deaf and dumb, and the armless. There were also some who couldn't stand because of their injured legs, so they sat or lay on the bare ground. One teenager, whose legs had dried up to the limit after polio and turned into bones covered with skin, moved around doing a handstand. It wasn't an athlete's stance. He couldn't stretch his legs straight up, and they hung bent at the knees over his head. His arms, which functioned as legs, bent at the elbows to form sharp angles as he descended the stairs to his savior Ganga. It was a heartbreaking acrobatic act, such as you don't see in any circus in the world: spider-man, a symbol of tragedy.

We walked in single file, in a long line, like recruits, through the formation, but... through the line of cripples, and we were "beaten", like spitzrutenami, by the looks of unfortunate people defeated by fate. They looked at us not with despair, but with hope, which was even more painful, because we were not able to help them. We had a great experience, worse than on Chandi Chowk. I felt guilty, for a burly woman was walking past the cripples, like Volga women in Russia, and I will not hide the fact that I tried to quickly get between the hands of lepers clinging to the skirts of my skirt, so as not to hear the pleading intonation: we had no money anyway. Then they were allowed to change a shamefully meager amount to foreign currency.

The contradictions in Jn are striking-

* * * All products of the sacred cow in India serve life and death.

page 58

dii. What is incompatible for other countries, it gets along peacefully. For an enlightened person in an age of scientific and technological progress, it is impossible to understand the coexistence of a spinning wheel and a jet plane, or the coupling of launching a satellite into space with such an anachronism of the Middle Ages as the pagan animal sacrifice to the goddess Kali; she herself saw how the head of a black goat was cut off at a temple and how Hindus dipped their fingers in a basin of blood and smeared the sacrificial blood on their forehead and chest.

And the people themselves? It is amazing and unique. There is no such poverty anywhere in the world. But for all the tragedy of the situation, I didn't see a single angry face, didn't hear swearing, not a single swear word. Yes, the eyes of beggars beg for alms and mercy, but there is no anger in them. There is humility, humility, patience, which was instilled in the people from time immemorial by Hinduism, and later by the Mughals, then by the British, then by Mahatma Gandhi.

Millennia have created their own, and such a phenomenon has crystallized-the people are kind, sincere, naive, forgiving and ready for self-sacrifice. Perhaps the secret of the unique lies in the Hindu religion, in Vedanta, in the teachings of karma and dharma, in the belief in endless rebirths and transmigrations of the soul. Hindus hope that in the future, through prayers and bathing in the Ganges, they will be rewarded for their good deeds and moral behavior, and the gods will send them a better life. They believe it, and their eyes light up with hope.

I didn't bring home the "diamonds from the stone caves of distant India" that the Indian guest sang about in the Sadko opera, but I did scrape together a garnet set - a necklace and earrings - and I wear this souvenir on special occasions.


I also visited India later. In 1985, the international symposium "India and World Literature"was held in Delhi from February 25 to March 1. We-philologists-indologists-were kindly invited to take part in this event. The staff from Ivan was basically the same as in Benares four years ago, and our delegation was headed by the indefatigable E. P. Chelyshev. As for the Indian side, we were received by a well-known scholar, Professor of Russian studies Abhay Maurya, head of the Department of Modern Literature at the University of Delhi.

My report was entitled "The Evolution of Indophilism in English Literature". Like other countries that had their colonies in Asia and Africa, England produced a special kind of literature, which is usually called colonial, and which represented the works of both writers from the mother country and writers from among the European settlers in the colonies who devoted their work to Indian themes. A natural extension of this literature was the work of those writers who turned to the Indian theme in the post-colonial period.

Based on the analysis of the works of famous Indophile writers, I tried to trace the development of Indian themes and the growing interest in India in the works of Englishmen. Using primary sources, I have come to the conclusion that the line that represents a sense of sympathy for India goes up from R. Kipling, who regards the presence of Englishmen in India as a" white man's duty", through E. M. Forster, who doubts the necessity of the presence of Englishmen in a foreign country, to John Masters, who openly portrays the national liberation movement against the British enslavers, before Paul Scott, who delivered a harsh verdict on British colonialism in India.

After the solemn meetings in the halls of the Delhi University, the conference participants made a "throw to the south" - a trip along the route: Calcutta, Hyderabad, Madras all the way to Mahabali Puram on the coast of the Indian Ocean. We came in peace and did not wash in the waters of the sacred ocean not only army boots, but even light ladies ' sandals. We were enjoying our vacation on the Silver Sands beach, sunning ourselves in the rays sent by the Sun god Surya, who, according to the myth, rode through the sky in a golden carriage drawn by horses covered with blankets with unearthly precious stones. The fairytale ended as soon as we left the beach and were surrounded by dark-skinned Dravidian children with outstretched arms.

All the trips to India were very useful, fruitful and unforgettable. They contributed to the strengthening of scientific ties, friendly contacts, expanding the horizons of life and learning new geographical latitudes. I was once again convinced: "It is better to see with your eyes than to wander with your soul."

However, I still can't figure out what is more wonderful or monstrous in India, beautiful wonder or utter hell.

For me, India is still a mysterious country that will always attract, excite and attract to itself.

(To be continued)


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