I Background and context
Libraries: the sacred centers of transformative meditation, incubators of integral personalities, and wombs of wisdom. It is from these wombs that emerges an Einstein, a Freud, a Marx, or an Osho. It is the same secretive meditation that can create a Dostoyevsky. It is from this pregnant silence and the womb of darkness that the world enlightening thinkers, intellectuals, philosophers, scientists, spiritual leaders, and authors have emerged. Libraries are ideally the anthills of creativity wherein hidden are the thoughts and words awaiting liberation at the slightest existential provocation.
The whole universe of the trunk, bark, branches, twigs, flowers and fruits called a tree is hidden in a small seed. As well hidden is the comfort of the shade and fresh air that a tree may offer. So hidden are the potentials of hibernating organisms too. The same transformative chrysalis is an essential prerequisite to every creative expression. This phase of meditative silence and withdrawal is what the secret behind all intellectual and creative flowering. It is indeed through such a transformation that a genius become manifest. Exactly this transformation is what libraries facilitate.
In this century of 'information floods' it is high time that the importance and need of libraries as centers of knowledge be highlighted, owing to the unique way in which they function in transforming human lives. Libraries are no mere centers of information/knowledge, but a fulgent path to wisdom. This study is to illustrate how libraries function in transforming information stored in a creative individual's mind into wisdom through valid knowledge, with the resources and reach it provides him/her with, and thus to substantiate the timeless significance of libraries.
II The idea of transformation
Vedas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, and Upanishads form the four step transformative ideology of the East, commonly known as the Vedic literature. Upanishads or the concluding parts of Vedas are the fruition of a long dialectical process that lasted for centuries together in the spiritual and intellectual realms of the East, not in any organized manner, but rather in a scattered and independent mode.
The word 'Upanishad' consists of three roots-'Upa' means 'Near', 'Ni' means 'down' and 'Shad' means 'Be seated'. So, 'Upanishad' literally means to be seated at the feet of the Guru, or spiritual guide, with an aim to receive the teaching-teaching on ultimate things! It is believed that a Guru will deliver the complete meaning of Upanishads only after understanding the disciple's ability. Thus this teaching method aims the complete development of individual capacities of the disciples. Three stages are employed in this process: 'Sravana-Manana and Nididhyasana'. Sravana is the stage in which meticulous listening takes place, Manana is the stage in which in depth meditation on what has been listened to takes place, and the Nidhidhyasana is that stage in which whatever has been listened to and meditated upon is strived to be realized in one's own experience, thereby transforming one's being altogether!
The investigator intends to capitalize on this rigorous process of self transformation by drawing analogies between it and what actually happens in the literary creative process. A path which leads an individual from information to knowledge and from knowledge to wisdom can be seen there. This is analogous to the above mentioned scheme of Upanishadic instruction. The stages of Information, knowledge, and wisdom correspond to the stages of Sravana, Manana, and Nididhyasana respectively. However in this particular process the individual him-self or her-self become the master as well as the disciple. Even though this transformative process is dependent on various external elements too, the individual's insight plays the key role. Thus it is a kind of self-transformative process which is able to realize only through experience.
III Why 'Randamoozham'?
An epic be retold strictly in humanistic terms without losing the aura of what makes it an epic in the first place. True to the author's claim in the epilogue, the work doesn't deviate from the basic framework of the source-the great epic Mahabharata, but largely capitalizes on the instances of pregnant silence of the great poet Krishnadvaipayana Vyasa, towards what is worth calling a humanistic reconstruction and a psychoanalytic deconstruction of the epic from the point of view of the most authentic, human and simplistic protagonist-Bhima. As can be seen in the novel, despite being the mightiest warrior in the epic, Bhima is the truest representative of what may be called the 'timeless man' with all strengths, weaknesses, cares, concerns, fears and follies that are characteristic of it!
No wonder; in addition to what there really is in the epic, much has been attributed to him in comic terms over time, for sense of humor is what makes humans a unique creature!
Through Bhima of 'Randamoozham', one can indeed relive the epic in humanistic terms! Can look from within the human crises in it, be part of them, and feel them for one-self! Can put one-self in his shoes and realize the worth of the claim that Mahabharata is the ultimatum as far as human life is concerned-social or psychophysical!
The Investigator focuses on the ability of the chosen individual to attain to wisdom through the medium of literature and tries to elucidate the different stages of information gathering and knowledge formation which lead the writer to acquire literary wisdom and express the same in a creative form.
Admittedly, this novel was the fruition of a unique psychoanalytical and hermeneutical rereading, which is characteristic of MT Vasudevan Nair, of the original epic, both from the original author's point of view as well as from various protagonists' points of view. And in that pursuit the writer has indeed transformed a spectrum of information that had accumulated in that creative mind, ranging from folk tales rooted in the epic which he was told in his childhood, through various formal literary and historical studies of it to the original epic as such, into something worth calling wisdom. And this was done for sure, as is pointed out in the epilogue to the work, by way of extensive research and analysis that he carried out over decades together, which transformed the information first into valid knowledge and then into a peculiar kind of transformation. By interviewing the author this aspect is aimed to be brought out elaborately.
A case study through interviewing method is intended, in the long conversation he mentioned his childhood, various mental states during the writing process of 'Randamoozham', year of research in Mahabharata and his diverse experiences in reading. In addition to all this experience, Investigator's focused on the core text, 'Randamoozham'.
V Analysis and major findings
It is proposed to analyze the data obtained through the interview in three stages, viz., the stage of information, that of knowledge and that of wisdom, in the lines of the 'Upanishadic' triple stage mode: 'Sravana Manana-Nididhyasana'. Though treated under different headings, it should be born in mind that the three stages are contiguous and form an integral creative process of a literary work.
V.1 The stage of information
Three questions and response to them are analyzed at the stage of information.
The first question was with regard to the influence that the stories related to the epics and other anecdotes springing from the historical and cultural background of his land and life there, had on the author as a child, and the way that influence contributed to his most creative and mature work chosen for analysis. The question was put in the light of a relevant statement that he made in the epilogue of the same work.
MT answered, "Just as I said there, the fact of having born here and having grown listening to the folklore, epic and mythology of this land is indeed the inspiration. There are two ever-revered epic heroes for Indian children-Hanuman of the Ramayana and Bhima of the Mahabharata. Both are embodiment of physical prowess. Rural children of Kerala experience many a restriction in the name of Bhima. "Don't stick your leg out of the mattress while sleeping. It will make your strength leak!" Long ago Bhima was given a small mattress intentionally by Duryodana for reducing his strength. What did Bhima do? He limited his leg on the mattress sticking out his head! That's all! The child laughs, amazed at Bhima's cleverness!"
"There are several stories like this. I was being grown hearing such taboos. Nowadays our children have special interest towards epics as in the case of histories. Several warrior heroes like Sivaji are there. I do see the same thing when I observe children of my home. Now there is a child Bhima, 'Chhota Bheem' for kids. Such things have fast influence on our children. Once there were illustrated classics, 'Amarchitra Katha'. For some time it was out of circulation. Now it has come back. Nowadays children have ample opportunities to know and enjoy all these things. But there were no such illustrated stories or child literature in my childhood days. The only thing I heard was some epic stories from folk. There were restrictions on children related to these stories. It was a part of rural culture and folklore. From the rural elementary school I learned 'Sreekrishna Charitham Manipravalam' from Koppan Master. There, children were made to recite poems. Sitting among them I also studied some versicles. But there was no Mahabharata. Thereafter when I studied in Kumaranallur high school there was a practice of other teachers engaging the class in the absence of any teacher. Thus Vasunni Nambiar Master comes, native of our Malamakkavu. He would tell us many stories in several periods instead of teaching. Those stories would never end. We were excited. In the evening, when...