Our discussion on Radio Sheffield about Edward Carpenter – Listen again on BBC website till 18-8-2013

Gosh, what a discussuon we had with Waheed Akhtar from Radio Sheffield on the Eastern Air programme. You can listen to it for SIX DAYS only here… Listen from 2.10.20 to 2.27.07


eastern air snip

This is our very first discussion on Carpenter and we are still in the early stages of our research, so please excuse our errors and misunderstandings.

Chamu Kuppuswamy ( with Uday Nair and Geoffrey Roberts)

Edward Carpenter and Ponnambalam Arunachalam

Archive Research Series 1:


P. Arunachalam in 1875
[Elliott & Fry, 55, Baker Street, Portman Square, London, W]


It was with fascination that we delved into the letters Edward Carpenter received from Indians and others closely related to the Indian subcontinent. The list is as illustrious as it is long! M.K. Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Annie Besant, Ponnambalam Arunachalam, Visvanath Singh (Maharajah of Chhatarpur), Bhagwan Dass, Crossete Tambiah, R. Somasundaram, Panna Lall Bordhun, Ajit Kumar Chakravarti, R. Saminathan and Suarnam Arunachalam are the ones we spotted through our research.

This is in no way any thorough research, we only just learnt to use the Archive and have done two group visits. It has taken us time to get used to the catalogue and the whole idea of doing historical research. Although many of us are researchers, this is a totally new set of material and a new approach to research. We have enjoyed it very much.

So, coming back to the Edward Carpenter Collection at Sheffield Archives, it is quite extensive and colourful. There are also many photographs that form part of the collection. We mainly concentrated on the letters that he received from India and Indians, wherever they were when they wrote to him. Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Carpenter from South Africa. You will see a picture of the original letter of Gandhi to Carpenter in an earlier blog post.

Carpenter has received letters from people in all walks of life and all strata of society. A really funny one I read was from a gentleman called Panna Lall Bordhun  from Calcutta, who seems to be acquainted with Carpenter, and informs him that he has now set up a circus called Bordhun  United Circus and asks Carpenter to send him a book on animal training, giving him an address on Holland park road in London! Some letters come across as one-sided, rather pushy! The Maharajah of Chhatarpur’s letters make for a cringing read at times. It was amazing to read the first translation of the Gitanjali in the letters written by Ajit Kumar Chakravarti, a teacher at Shanti Niketan, Rabindranath Tagore’s school of arts. Chakravarthi managed to do the translations by enlisting the help of Ananda Coomarasamy, cousin to one of the most prolific letter writers to Carpenter, Ponnambalam Arunachalam! Ananda Coomarasamy is himself a towering figure in the history of Indian art, who later went on to become curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is famously said to have applied William Morris’s ideas (another connection to our project theme, Arkwright and Thomas Wardle worked with William Morris) to write about Ceylonese art and culture. His essay on the Dance of Siva is still used by dancers and artists. In his later years, he wrote on what he called perennial philosophy. It seems that he built ‘a bridge between East and West that was designed to carry a two-way traffic: his metaphysical writings aimed, among other things, at demonstrating the unity of the Vedanta and Platonism.’ It seems a deep interest in spirituality and philosophy ran in the family.

This blog post will focus on Ponnambalam Arunachalam’s letters to Carpenter. They have maintained lifelong contact with each other from when they first met in England, in Cambridge. P. Arunachalam comes from an illustrious and old family in Ceylon, currently Sri Lanka. He is Tamil by origin, and is a legal professional, serving on numerous government positions of the time. He was a high achiever at University and seems to have quickly made friends with Carpenter.  Arunachalam was a tamil scholar and wrote many books on ancient Tamil scripts.


Sir. Ponnambalam Arunachalam in later years

In an extended obituary that was published in Ceylon Daily Mail (January 11th 1924) which we found among Carpenter’s papers, it says this about Ponnambalam Arunachalam

‘ Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam hails from a family no less illustrious than any other in Ceylon. He was the youngest son of a pious and godly father, Ponnambalam Mudaliyar of Governor’s Gate. His grandfather was one of Ceylon’s most respected philanthropists, Ponnambalam Dharmavan or Ponnambalam, the munificent. Heredity will explain that it was this philanthropic trait in his grandfather’s character that was made strongly manifest in Sir. Arunachalam’s life. We have lived to see the greatness and eminence which surround the grandsons of this fortunate and no less eminent grandfather, for Sir. Arunachalam’s eldest brother, the late Mr. P. Coomarasamy was considered the Lion of Hultsdorf during his lifetime, and his other brother Sir P. Ramanathan, the hero of a hundred fights, is too well known to need comment.

Sir Arunachalam was born in September 1853 – and was thus three score and ten years old, the Bible age, at his death. During this long term of his life, he has been the happy recipient and attainer of every honour that a capable and brilliant Ceylonese can receive or achieve. In his educational qualifications he holds no second place. He is a recognised Tamil Scholar of the first rank and a M A of Cambridge and a Barrister-at-law of Lincoln’s Inn. His legal works are treasures to the law student who is the happy possessor of them. His Census Reports reveal a scholar’s master-hand at work.

He was one of the “brightest ornaments of our Public Services.” His marvellous intelligence and his ardent desire for service were rewarded with that most coveted and high post of Registrar-General whose duties he discharged in such a creditable manner that he raised the standard of the Ceylonese for efficiency and smartness to a degree which effected a complete revolution in the bureaucratic method of standardising Ceylonese efficiency. The Government was not blind to recognise his good and honest services. He was made a Justice of the Peace and an Unofficial Police Magistrate for the whole Island, the latter being one of the titles attached to very few civilians. Finally he was knighted by His Majesty in 1914. He was the second in his family to receive this great honour, Sir Muttucumarasamy, his cherished uncle and guardian, being created the first Ceylonese Knight long before.

Recently there have been certain wirepullers, whispering in obscure corners that Sir Arunachalam was attempting to enter the Council Chamber and thereby honour himself, as many others seem to do, with the title M.L.C. I can assure them frankly and sincerely that Sir Arunachalam never sought after honours. He was far above such petty, selfish practices. The honours were merely thrust upon him. Moreover, in reply to these caluminators, for they are nothing less, I can tell them that Sir Arunachalam had tasted the sweets and bitters of office in Councils, for he has been a member of both the Legislative and Executive Councils.

Now we come to his herculean work as a national leader and inspirer. Nursed and schooled as he was in full democratic principles, he was yearning to see them embedded in the constitution of his own country. His works in this field are so extensive and wide that I am not able to justify them duly in this brief summary. It is common among us to hear the talk about a Ceylon University emanating from Ceylonese, everywhere we encounter them with, be it at dinner or at bridge or at cricket. The calm quiet Knight that once lounged in the stately drawing room at Ponklar was behind it all. Early in 1906, he started the University campaign, which has well-nigh reached its goal, and he was the first President of the Ceylon University Association which has been instrumental to a large degree for the present position of the University question. He was one of those who founded the Union Hostel, and the endowment of his late lamented son’s valuable books to serve as the nucleus to the future Ceylon University Library reveals him as the practical man. Indeed his name will be writ large in golden letters in the educational chapters of Ceylon’s eventful history of the last two decades.

It was only the other day that the Indian National Congress at Coconada nominated a committee to investigate into the treatment of Indian coolies in Ceylon. But were we to don the wings of Time and fly to a few years back, we would notice that it was Sir Arunachalam who cut the first sod in this direction. It was left to the mastermind of Arunachalam to conceive and fashion the Ceylon National Congress and to father the Reform movement. In June 1920, he led the Ceylonese Deputation to England and was received by His Majesty the King.

Inspired with that deep and true Christian feeling for fellowman, he originated and Ceylon Social Service League and rendered help and succour to thousands of unfortunate brothers and sisters. He raised the status and dignity of the Ceylon Workers’ Federation and he meant it to be a mighty organisation to defend the otherwise defenceless labourer. For his community he founded the Ceylon Tamil League and inspired into it lofty and noble ideals to be followed by every true-born Tamil. As a Hindu he was a model and we observe that God willed him to die as a pilgrim to His shrine. The Ceylon Saiva Paripalana Sabha was the handiwork of this far-seeing Hindu sage. Being a scholar, he was naturally fond of research, and his skill and genius in this line is evident when he find that he was the President of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society at the time of his death. He has served in multifarious other societies, associations, boards, committees, commissions, and deputations and his useful help in these places can only be testified by his colleagues.

From the above scanty and brief summary of his works, we would observe that he was foremost and prominent in everything he set his hand upon. “Nullum quod tetigit nonornavit.” The mystery of his success was in the magic of his personality. The writer had occasion to speak to him and he was struck by the personality which he embraced. Greatness encircled him, yet he was humble. He was a sociable and pleasing man to be conversed with. As a public man, he was open to unwarranted ridicule, yet he bore it as calmly as a wise Captain who steers his ship safely through a tempestuous sea.

He is dead. We cannot believe it. No man can singly fill the gap caused by his death. Ceylon has suffered a loss irreparable for a long time to come. What great and noble ideals he has inspired in us! What great works he has performed with his little human brain! How he removed mountains of obstruction! How he put his strong moral shoulder into the wheel of Ceylon’s National Regeneration! How he has singly turned it halfway! What culture, refinement, knowledge, patriotism, and originality! How he built the strong bulwark against stern bureaucracy! We cannot forget. Our consciences demand us to hand them to posterity to serve as fitting models. We owe him an immeasurable debt of life-long gratitude. May we all lift up our voices high and thank him in his grave and shed a tear for him who had been the very life of our national movement for the last two decades’.

 arunachalam stamp

It felt an absolute privilege to be reading such private and intimate letters between two friends, made me wonder about privacy and whether I would like my emails and other interaction out in the public after all this time.

It is clear that both Carpenter and Arunachalam had a diversity of interests and were very accomplished in their own ways. I have chosen to present on three topics – spirituality, culture and Arunachalam’s account of his travels in India in these letters, hence I have extracted those relevant bits, of which there are vast tracts! It is great to see hand written letters, but the downside is that sometimes words are obscure or one cannot decipher them clearly. I have left gaps where I cannot make them out, hoping to come back to them at a later point, and perhaps the team will put their effort into deciphering it. However the general idea of the sentence is available, notwithstanding the gaps.

The letters chart the fascinating journey of these two men through their lives. Both have enquiring minds and care little for conventions and probe into everything, from practices to theories. Arunachalam shows himself as a lover of nature, and very observant of his surroundings. He is eager to convey all to his friend writing extensively to Carpenter on nature between 1875 and 1880.

He writes in September 1875

“ I must tell you that I write this after dinner (which bades not well for this letter, but prosit!) about 9 p.m. at an elevation of about 3500 feet above the sea, clad in the clothes that kept me warm last winter in England, and moreover enveloped in a heavy rug. You are no doubt surprised at this change of scene. The fact is that after nearly a fortnight (and such a fortnight!) of the attack of the measles before which I wrote to you, I got nearly blind and had to remove to colder regions. I therefore accompanied my uncle and aunt four or five days ago to this place which is about 23 miles north of Kandy, the old mountain capital of Ceylon – and already my eyes have benefited by the changes as you will see from my sitting down to write a letter that threatens to be a terrible infliction to you. I wish you were here if only to see the moonlight from our house which no language of mine can make you realise.  Our house bungalow as it is called, is surrounded on three sides by gigantic hills covered, every inch almost, with coffee, and in the front an exquisitely pretty flower garden overlooks a chasm which at first ____ abruptly and then gradually recedes till it reaches a depth of about 1600 or 2000 feet where lies, ___ and cosy, a valley which again gradually rises to meet the hills in the distance. The lights in this valley    is the half-moon shines out now with a brilliance which is never even in the summer equalled in your northern parts – from an intensely blue, yet star-lit sky – are worth coming all the way from England to see. The least sensitive of men must feel affected by such a night as this – the feeling of calm and peace which creeps over you, in spite of the loud incessant noises of  ______ that break the stillness of the night, is no small consideration – at least for a time – for what you have left behind in Europe. The scenary here is grander than any I have seen in the Scotch Highlands – and the rocks, wild and  ____ as they are, are covered in every nook and corner with the richest vegetation you can think of. Coffee of course is everywhere, except in the forest lands that have still been spared or the bright green tracts – very extensive – which cannot be reclaimed and on which generally grows a grass that even cattle will not eat. Green is therefore the prevailing colour – but one wanted not complain if it were the only colour in the landscape, so beautiful, and so varied if the vegetation. Of ferns alone Ceylon – and _____ is here ______ the hilly country which is about 1/6th of the whole island – furnished about 300 varieties.     But in reality, for variety and brilliancy of colour the scenery cannot be excelled.  Often in the same tree you have leaves and flowers in all stages of growth and in a great many colours. I enclose a scarlet leaf which grows on the same branch as an intensely green leaf, several times huge in size and quite different in shape. From the brilliancy of the leaf, if it keeps its colour [the tree, by the bye, is a rare hot-house plant in England and with difficulty I am told ____ grows to a foot or so in height, tho’ here the ordinary specimen if half as tall again as myself] you can judge of that of our flowers and of the characters of our scenary. I collected today in our garden specimens of a good many other leaves just as they came to hand – to send to you, but I am afraid they cannot be sent without being pressed properly. The scarlet leaf happens to have ___ before this process when the sun shines on all this varied beauty there is a loveliness of the scene it is impossible to describe – especially when the sun lights up the blue mist that always fills the valley and covers the sides of the hills. The morning and evening are terribly cold even now, four or five months before the regular cold season. In spite of the cold our flower garden is one of the prettiest little things I have seen. As I open my window facing it in the morning, the rush of cold fragrant air and the sight of the flowers are exceedingly refreshing. The roses bloom so well and in such variety that they are used as hedges in coffee estates. I have seen one hedge about a mile and a half long and with such blossom – the colours and scents exquisite, I have not seen them equalled even in England where you take so much pains. Our vegetable garden is a strange medley – pineapple and cabbages and asparagus and strawberries. Tho’ these last don’t come so much except with great trouble. The water from the hill top is so delicious – it is cold, freezing and intensely sweet. The water is sent down through pipes that traverse the hills in all directions and through which the coffee berries are sent down as they are gathered. To be frank however I must mention one thing which alone I know against this and other coffee districts – and that is, the leeches. You can’t go into the woods without being beset and plagued by them, especially if there has been any rain. These horrible pests, about an inch long and very thin, lie in wait for you on the roads, the foot-paths. It makes me ill when I recall the sight of these animals sitting on their backs and waving about in the air and stretching out their heads to look for the unfortunate victim and they have five pairs of eyes each to do it with! As a rule, the last corners in a party are the worst off, while the leaders may escape – for when notice is given of the victim’s approach they assemble with devilish speed and climb over your shoes and up your legs and if not seen and with difficulty removed, gorge themselves with your blood till being “crowded up” – as the Americans would say – their cold, slimy feel is the first announcement to you of their presence. The smell of tobacco or lemon juice kills them straight off. I have suffered much from them in my rambles and perhaps speak of them with too much warmth, for I have seen coolies treat them with the most supreme indifference.

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Rubbing your boots with lemon-juice or wearing leech-gaiters would keep off, but I fear them too much to rely on any protection against them I must try this however, for otherwise my new born ardour for botanical Knowledge might be extinguished, if I could not get specimens of the plants I want.  I think now, you have a picture giving you a faint idea of a little of what ____ a visit to Ceylon will give you and a picture which, barring the leeches, ought to tempt you to utilize your first opportunity for the purpose. As I am myself just beginning to see the land and am

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It is said that am quite fascinated with it, even after what I have seen in Europe. What more can I say? If you can come, it will give me much pleasure to take you over our wilds which by that time I hope to know well. I may mention that __________ and other places to our South and visible from our bungalow in the far distance are about twice as high as we are and proportionately cold. By the bye, if you want a good history of Ceylon, get Emerson _______. Trollope the novelist has been here for a week or two and has therefore written about Ceylon in a flippant way which has driven the newspapers mad. I am afraid if T. writes any more novels, he must not look to Ceylon for _________

I begun this again after breakfast on Saturday Sept. 11. I have first read over what I have written and I am afraid you will not have a clear idea of our temperature. It is hot enough during the day at times, about 74 max. in our outer verandah, and about 110 or so under the sun- but the air is so fresh and cool that it is not at all uncomfortable even in warm clothes. In fact the thermometer, though ti varies much (i.e. between 4.30 and 8 p.m. yesterday it went down from 74 to 63) is hardly any index to the extent to which we are affected by the change. It is as cold about 10 at night as it might be in England on an average winter day. But I see I have  _______ on this subject as if you were

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And lights up also their cloud capped tops and placing them in strong relief against the blue of the sky. The temperature of this place is now an average of about 105 – the most agreeable to me. The change from Colombo was at first very trying, as we got here in less than nine hours, four of it by tram to Kandy, near which is some of the finest scenery I have seen. Quite close to Kandy are the _______ Gardens which Trollope speaks of so highly of in the paper I sent you by the last French mail or at least asked my brother to send to you. In the middle of the day it is about 73 maximum but


‘ since writing this, I have been to the dense forests that crown our mountains to see monkeys and the tree ferns. Oh that I could ramble over these with you. I shudder however to recall some paths we had to take. I had a very narrow escape once from being hurled down n annihilated. ‘

In March 1880, Arunachalam writes to Carpenter

“ Last night there was fine moonlight and I was walking about the garden near the sea and Wordsworth’s verses on the education of nature kept running in my head. When I next come to England I must bring you to India and we shall live in regular Hindu style and enjoy ourselves…. I have been sitting in my verandah watching the shadows of the trees in the moonlight and enjoying the delicious breeze of the sea. It is perfectly quiet save for the roar of the sea and the breeze. The sea seems to waft kisses tome in these breezes – they are so soft and gentle, such a contrast to your Brighton winds. I am able to understand Whitman’s mood. “ It is for my mouth for ever – I am in love with it: I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked; I am mad for it to be in contact with me.” Since my return to Ceylon last year I have often felt inclined to

“Loafe and invite my soul;

Lean and loafe at my ease,

Observing a spear of summer grass.”

The skies are so blue, the sun gives such kindly warmth and light and the air so pleasant. Where is your paper on Whitman. It has not yet reached me…… You will be struck by the sight of the tall cocoa and graceful areca palms and clustering groves of mango and jak, and then there are mangosteen trees laden with delicious fruit, and jambu-trees covered with gorgeous crimson passelled-flowers quite near where I write. I came to Kalutara from Avisavelle where I had a fine house on a hill commanding fine views. There was a mountain stream where I often bathe. The water comes dancing down the rocks and at the bathing place a cavity has been formed which is called Sita’s Bath, after the heroine of the Sanskrit epic, the ‘Ramayana’ – a poem we used to read when little as you must have read the Bible. She was a perfect woman and wife of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu. She was taken away by Ravana the Demon king of Ceylon and kept in captivity near Avisawella and rescued by her husband, after the slaughter of Ravana and his host. The bath was worthy of Sita. I have never tasted water so sweet. You bathe under the shelter of forest trees and you cannot help admiring the beautiful creepers and ferns and orchids growing on the trees, and the bamboos clustering on the banks; and the glimpses you get through the leaves of the blue sky are delicious, and as the water rushes down and breaks into hundreds of fragments sparkling in the sun, Sita’s spirit seems to hover over all ……

Arunachalam and Carpenter seem to have always been interested in observing ritual and religious practices, Arunachalam writes to Carpenter about the things he has observed while staying with his grandmother.  In one letter he writes,

“ Vulgar forms,  polytheistic and whenever it comes in contact with another religion it simply swallows it with its Gods and gives its votaries the prestige of its own name. I expect in this way is to be accounted for the existence of worship of evil-spirits, probably originally the religion of some savage tribe who got amalgamated with it. Last Friday when I was staying at my grandmother’s, the servants of the house were on the grounds which are large, I found them busy preparing fowls and goats and fruit and flower to offer to a certain spirit which on the authority of stories, as old as the garden itself and quite unimpeachable (as I was assured), lives in a most dismal, dark and fear-inspiring tree in the grounds. And requires to be propitiated annually with sacrifices or it resents neglect by throwing down on the ground or killing people who climb trees to gather the

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There other day  I went into my grandmother’s little chapel where a brass lamp about my height, standing on the ground, and of a form that only a ________ could make you realise, burns day and night, it being held inauspicious to let it go out at all. And it is before this light (as typical of the Supreme Being) that my grandmother and other ladies of the house [for the men are sad sceptres, in this wretched age] say their prayers (not set ones) and offer fruit and flowers. There is no idol of any kind, unless you call the light an idol! The idols are generally only in the temple. And even there they do hold exactly the same place as the images of the Roman Catholic Church. You must remember Hinduism is the most complex religion in the world: it is mainly pantheistic and in its

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____ or pushing people into the well when they come to draw water out of it, which is done in primitive fashion. It seems however it is a good natured kind of spirit. This is only one of the thousand faces of the popular religion which is in its essence is gentle _____ I remember as a child how I used to be taught by my grandmother [I lost my mother when quite an infant] to pray to the gentle Goddess Parvati, Consort of Siva, who fills the place of Virgin Mary in the Catholic Church and infuses into the religion a good deal of womanly tenderness and pity. She is a very favourite deity, esp. with women:  Siva, in the ordinary ____  _____ no more than hid due, I suppose she is considered as a kind of intercessor I have lots more to say but I am afraid I have bored you

Ps: How much poetry there is in life here – people (especially the common sort) being so simple and natural. I regret so much I can’t draw or I would make sketches to show you.

There is a marked difference in Arunachalam’s letters during various periods. Up till around 1886-87, there is a lot more on politics, travel, nature and life in general. From about 1880, Arunachalam expresses feelings of discontent and frustration in his letters. In July 1880 he finishes off a letter stating –

“ I have come to the conclusion that if things go on as now and barring contingencies, the utmost limit that will be allotted to me of life, at all events mentally and physically vigourous life is about ten years more. I cannot therefore dilly-dally but must get at once into the right groove. Such work as I am now doing and have done for the last five years has no doubt been useful. It has taught me patient endurance of the most monotonous drudgery but it is work that can be done by anybody else. But I cannot resign myself to this fate. If I had known what was in store for me, I should certainly not have entered the Civil Service, and allowed my hopes and aspirations to be so crushed. ..”

He seems to be in search of something, and seems to have found it. His letters resume with renewed vigour from 1888 onwards. From now on, most of the focus of his letters in spirituality and Saivism, Arunachalam’s preferred more of exploring spirituality. Till about 1889, Aruncahalam’s letters talk about the Guru and Saivism, explaining to Carpenter what he discovers, Carpenter then visits him and stays with him, meets the Guru and is quite taken by the discussions, as is evidenced in his book ‘Adam’s Peak to Elephanta’. After which, till the Guru’s death close to 1893, Arunachalam acts as a go-between to Carpenter and the Guru. It seems Arunachalam passes on the questions and queries from Carpenter and writes back to Carpenter conveying to him the responses of the Guru. Towards the end in 1917, some years before Arunachalam’s death, he introduces Carpenter to the richness of Tamil poetry.

In November 1888, he writes

“ I am convinced I am on the right track now and that if I persevere, I shall work out my deliverance in some near births. I believe it is possible for man, if ripe enough, to see God and be one with him while yet imprisoned in this body. Many even have done so and I know one at least who under our Guru’s teaching is very near.

All this would have seemed undesirable to me a short while ago But the poison

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To meet and to commune with the only man I have known who is a seer and not one blindly groping in the dark. He has given me the priceless blessing of belief in God, which my English education had robbed me of for the last twenty years, and he has enabled me to enter the threshold of the mysteries of our religion, which is my folly begotten of arrogance and the material West, in my impatience of forms and ceremonies that I did not understand, I made light of. I never knew till now what sacred truths underlie these forms, and that the latter are but a ______ for those higher stages on the first rung of which I am now placed by God’s grace and the Guru (teacher) he has sent me. How ignorant and blind other religions and irreligions, are! How all the latest discoveries of European so.called Science, all creeds, systems of thought are but sparks from the Truth here enshrined! Had they all merge in this ocean! Whether I shall in this birth attain the goal – oneness with God – and be forever rid of Máyá and its terrible charm of births and deaths, I do not

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Of the West had ______ my Soul and I am blind, It is a great grief to me that I begun to see the light so late in life. Will this body last or this new-born zeal, till I reach the goal? The cares of official and domestic life, which would be of no consequence when the perfect state has been reached, are terrible impediments to me, a seeker.

I want you, my friend, to know the way. Your life seems to have been a preparation for the high stages for which the ______   ____  of mankind

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Must qualify by the observance of the  ___, forms, injunctions of the esoteric religion of the Hindus. You of all my friend are most ripe. So come out to the East and seek the truth. This has been discovered in India because our greatest  _______ have through thousands of years devoted themselves to its pursuit. They do not proclaim it from the house tops. It is not enough to do down on your knees and say however fervently “ I believe this, that or the other” – and you are not then saved :- No, not even if you are an

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Embodiment of all the virtues and have sacrificed for your  __________ all your worldly good and ties. You must work out your evolution with the zeal of a hero and you will be the truth when you are ripe for it. No wonder ordinary souls need countless births to effect their deliverance.

But these are matters sought not, in my ignorance, to have ventured to write about. They should explained to you by your Guru. I only throw out hints – blind and misleading, I fear –

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In my anxiety that you, my dearest friend, may see something of what has been working within me and may be moved to seek and win in this life what I shall perhaps not get for long, long ages. I have made but little progress – so hard, wicked and untameable is my heart, so strong my karma, the fetters of past births. I shall be helpless when the Teacher is gone. He expects to leave by ____ a few months. He has indeed been  a

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God-send to us and has given us a new birth”. What return can ____ him! He came here to us, strangers, he knew not why. I may follow him to India, if so moved. At any rate I have been shown the goal and the way. The rest depends on God and my exertions.

Ps:   No chance of my visiting England in my present mood. Send me your photo.    Come soon.

December 1889 (From Tanjore)

Your letter of last year – what a shame I should be replying to it only now! – arrived in due course, as also the books you sent from time to time, “ Towards Democracy”, “Chants of Labour”, “ Civilisation”. I have read them, especially the last (which arrived towards the end of October) with great interest. You are steadily working your way to Saivism (the essence of the ancient religions of India) in comparison with which other religions are mere child’s play and trifling.

I have been here about six weeks. Tanjore is a giant centre of Tamil civilisation and was till about thirty years ago the capital of a native dynasty. The last line of Kings was ______ and succeeded the ancient Tamil dynasty of the Cholas after a brief rule of the Nayaks.

I have come here to be alone with the Master of whom I wrote to you in my last and who first raised for me a corner of the veil that hides the mysteries of the Universe. I shall have to return to Ceylon in about a fortnight to my work but it is daily becoming more and more irksome and I must rid myself of the bondage, for a time at least, that I may go my way at leisure and undistracted. I hope to return to Tanjore sometime next year and live near the Master for about a year.

I wish I had the ability to explain things to you and make you see them in the light I would wish you to see them in. But I have no doubt whatever in my mind from the tenor of your last work , “ Civilisation” that Saivism – which by the bye is not Buddhism as you think, nor any other ism but is above and beyond all the isms – is your destined goal and that it alone will harmonise your now conflicting theories, and your ideals with your practice.

The term Saivism is a derivative form of  Sivam [the Auspicious, i.e. God] and is the equivalent of Siva Samdandam, i.e. that which is bound (band) with (sam) God (Sivan). Wherever God is, there is Saivism as there is nothing in which God is not, nothing is alien to Saivism. No religion, philosophy, belief, caste or race but is part of Saivism. Each reveals so much of the truth and in such shape as suits the degree of openness of the Souls to be benefited

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Which acts cease to have any moral quality, for morallity exists only so long as there is a Consciousness of oneself as distinct from others. [Something like this is stated in your essays in the Defence of  ________     __ custom but requires to be reconciled in the way I have suggested with your observation about the negro woman ]

You say “ the world still waits for its Healer who shall tell us, diseased and suffering as we are, what health is, when it is to be found, ____ ___ ___   _; and who _____     ______   wonderful power _______ himself shall not rest till he has proclaimed and imparted it to men”     That Healer is Saivam, and her apostles have proclaimed it during thousands of years to thou who had ears to hear’

Letter continued in January 1890

My letter was interrupted and I reusme it at Colombo. I returned home a fortnight ago, greatly benefited by

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__ force. God’s operations in the Universe _____ not go on. What is there visible to us other than force?  The opening rose bud, its scent, form, colour, the lark pouring forth a flood of rapture from among the clouds, the leaf rotting on the highway, Bill Sykes on his ______ errand, the hardness of the Coal _______ that makes his shins tingle, the loving souls that toils among the lepers and seeks a leper’s grave, the Seer proclaiming to the world the truth as he has seen it – all, all is force, the divine _________ [ God’s operations referred to above  are creation, preservation, destruction, _______, grace. Creation and destruction not in the impossible (Christian?) sense of producing out of nothing and reducing to nothing, but in the sense of Evolution and involution, the unmanifested becoming manifested and being resolved back into the fontal essence. The Soul is eternal and so is matter and in reality are not distinct from God. God ‘creates’ when he evolves for the Soul according to its deserts, by the instrumentality of Máya, a body of physical and mental powers, pains and pleasures

(I say ‘he’ but it is not he, she or it, or it is any of these or other than these)

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Thereby, and so by degrees enlightened and purified they become fit to receive the whole truth.

That universal, pure, absolute Consciousness which we call God, shines everywhere, brilliantly or dimly according to the purity or otherwise of the case in which it happens to be enclosed. It is like space, all pervacing or equal, alike in hut and palace, in outcaste and Brahmin, in Vishnu, Brahma, Christ, Buddha, you, me, the meanest worm or stone. Unlike the material space, the God-space is eternal (Sat), intelligent (chit), blissful (ánanda) – or to translate these words more correctly, it is pure being, pure consciouness, pure bliss, bearing in mind that there is in it no difference between subject and object. But for its illumination we are powerless to see, feel, hear, think, even as the eye cannot see save with the help of light of Sun or moon or lamp of some sort. It permeates and vitalizes all things and gives life and light to all, from a tufy of grass to the highest deity.

Its earliest and universal manifestation is as force (Sakti) which is represented in the esoteric religion as a female, for

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____ to experience them in. He preserves when he maintains them _____ the soul to experience them. He ‘destroys’ when from time to time he makes them disappear. ‘Obscuration’ is the entanglement of the Soul in the Cosmic delusion, Maya, mistakenly the not-real for the real, identfying the fictitious envelopments of the Soul with the Soul. ‘Grace’ is the soul’s enlightenment and deliverance]

We poor creatures are like so many pots banging each other and making ourselves and other miserable, forgetting that we enclose but bits of the same God-space. Happy day when we realise this and , the enclosures falling away, there remains but one space. The realisation of this after a course of evolution extending through countless lives, each beginning where you left off in the last – the realization by actual experience of the unity of God and Soul, of the unity of the Universal and individual consciosness, is what we call Health. The loss of this is unity is disease. The realisation of this unity

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Is the end and aim of life. Saivam not merely says this but shows how one may by actual self-experience attain it. Only when such realisation has been attained, can one be said to have attained that true Euqlity which is far and away above and beyond the thing that the Westerns, like children at play, dignify by the name of Equality, democracy and what not.

Your idea of health and disease in the first essay in ‘Civilisation’ seems to tend to this and must in the end land you there. Your present theories cannot be correct. For instance, the pilferring negro women’s unconsciousness of sin cannot be healthy as you would have it. If it were so, the nearer we get to the condition of the brute, the better. Unconsciousness of sin is regarded by  ______ as healthy only in the man who had raised himself to a state in which his Consciousness has divested itself of all that clogged and clouded it and has become one with the Pure, absolute, universal Consciousness – a state in

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I suppose you are still at Millthorpe working in your garden and find life happy. Did you receive some Ceylon tea I sent you last Christmas?

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Association with the master.  I send with him some of our choicest philosophical workds that are sealed books even to the learned, to all save the initiated. I wish you could read them. I have for sometime past given up sending European books unless they bear on my professional work. It seems to me the merest waste of time reading them. They are like blind men groping in the dark, and make themselves ridiculous by the conflicting theories they put forth from day to day and by giving up today what you _____ they proclaimed as the Truth, as you well show in your remarks on modern Science. In Saivism alone is harmony.

Shortly before I left Tanjore, I went to Chidambaram (near Pondicherry), the seat of a celebrated temple whose must be counted by thousands of years, a magnificient structure like most temples in Southern India. It is the

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Spirit temple of Saivism and shows side by side its ____ and esoteric aspects. Here is clearly shown the curriculum which Saivism has graciously provided, adapted to be the spiritual and intellectual needs of all and whereby they may with ease graduate with Knowledge of the One Reality. Services and prayer are the only course recognised by Christianity (besides of course good conduct, as in other religions) yet she fails equally to reach the lower strata of humanity and the most cultured classes, being rooted only to the tastes of the staid and dull middle classes.

Temple services and prayers are prescribed only in the lower classes of the Saivaite curriculum. Yet they are so well  served as to abstract the dullest brute no less than the most sensitive temperament and the most cultured intellectual. Elaborate ritual, lights, music, dances, in the daily services, countless festivals; pilgrimages to sacred shrines and streams; these, while gratifying the relisious emotions of the people, provide for them all through the year and _______

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Theatres and opera houses in every town and village and magnificient open air entertainments on ___ and _____ Gradually purified in spirit, they are led up to the higher stages in which there is neither ritual, prayer, nor worship of any sort known to the other religions of the world, nor any distinction of caste or race.

Letter continued in May 1890

Another long interruption and I resume this ____ jungles of the North western province of Ceylon, on circuit, being here temporarily as District Judge.

You will like my brother. He takes life quietly and

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Do the priests. One thing is clear to me ___   ___  _____ Master, and so I find it is explained in the books. The essence of Saivism as Thou said, is Equality.  This is typified by the space behind the curtain. (what the curtain typifies you will learn from your Guru) But Equality is not confused as among the Westerns, to human beings (or should I say, white men?), but embraces all living things as well as the things called not living because the ______ Consciousness in them is not apparent to our coarse senses. Equality underlies the ____   ____ Universe, as with temple worship it underlies the eternal. But it is not a thing to be proclaimed from the house tops to all and everybody. The great majority of mankind must be gradually led up to it through the curriculum of caste and religion ___  and ceremonies and duties, as children are led up from the a.b.c. class through the various stages to the Tripos. When those who are not

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Up to hear, hear it, there is misunderstanding and disaster to themselves and others. Misguided men sometimes spring up and under the garb of religion leave no inequity unperpetrated, for is not God in all things and is there any distinction between right and wrong? The flood gates of desire and passion are opened. Not how much one should forego but how much one should grab from another becomes the question.  – and you have warfare of capital and labour of rich and poor, sweating, strikes, French revolutions and the like.

The social upheavals that threaten the life of nations in Europe cannot occur in India in spite of the ravages of English education. Material comfort and luxury is not here the aim of life. It is far more generally diffused here than in Europe, thus giving the poorest the opportunity to cherish and to attain nobler ideals. Thanks to our climate and to our simple customs, how little a man wants in the

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The people live simply. The highest education and culture, unless it be of the English sort, are compatible with the simplest life. The Master, for instance, who has to suport his wife, two grown up sons, and the wife and children of the elder son – all living together, as usual in Indian families – does it on Rs.60 equal to less than £4 a month. My expenditure comes to at least £100 a month, though my own share, I am glad to say, is little. I have made complete resolution for 18 months and otherwise simplified my wants in a manner that would have been incredible a couple of years ago

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Development. Life is a poor miserable affair unless it is regarded as a training ground for the soul, a place where it may by worthily discharging its duties, and experiencing its sorrows and joys, purify itself and gain knowledge of, and become, its true Self i.e. God. I used to think some ____ by the entanglements of my life an insuperable obstacle and that I must be away and be alone. I feel now that that is a mistake and that ____ any surroundings one may progress if one is true to oneself. What a comfort it has been to realise, however dimly, that in the least things as in the greatest, we are led on for our own good, as though with hidden strings, by an ever-watching Providence, led on, stumbling, falling, ___ marching, falling again – while all the time we delude ourselves with the thought that it is all our doing!

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(_____ translations exist in German and in English) enshrine this philosophy. Schopenhauer was, I understand, fond of them and his writings are coloured by them. But I do not advise you to read the Upanishads because without a Guru they seem unreal and often nonsensical. Our Tamil books are more practical and to the point but they too need a Guru. You may take it that no European yet understands them – certainly not  _____ the makers of books. Madame Blavatsky, of the Theosopists, seems to have some idea of it but it is overloaded and crushed under a mass of irrelevant ___________ and verbiage and only mislead. In fact the countless pundits of India who have the Upanishads even on their lips do not understand them. Oral instruction by a Guru, himself one of a line of authorised exponents and one who has self experience of what he teaches – and confirmation of the Teacher’s instructions by your own experience are essential to a true understanding of them. Till then talking of them is mere beating the air, as I am now doing.

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Asceticism is by no means __________, as you imagine, to the attainment of health. But dispassion, truthfulness, self control are, and the doing of whatever you have in hand thoroughly, without thought of the past or future; no duties left undone or imperfectly done; a pure and gentle heart that feels for every living thing as for itself, a simple mode of living, power of concentration and abstraction, perseverance, a good digestion, reduced sleep, and other things that you will  learn from your Guru (mark how moral, mental, and physical qualifications are mixed up in the abovelist) Our Master is no ascetic. Like Socrates he enjoys worldly comforts when he has them; when he has them not, he does not miss them. But his master was a vigourous ascetic. He was a wealthy merchant and abandoned home in the prime of life and roamed over forest and mountain, a true child of nature, as sentimental Europeans would call him, but I would call him master of nature, or rather nature herself, had he not become one with the God-space I was speaking of?

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Well, within Chidambaram temple, of which I was speaking when I broke off, there is, as in other Hindu temples, elaborate ritual, distinctions (but not so marked) of caste and race, etc. In the inner most shrine is the image of Siva in the attitude of a dancer – the Dancing God he is called here, the dance symbolising the operations of the Universe. Immediately behind the sacred image hangs a curtain which screens off the Holy of Holies, the great mystery as it is called. It is a privilege rarely acceded to look behind the curtain. But the mercenary priests can be induced to make exceptions. I was granted the privilege some years ago after a good deal of fuss, and again on this visit. What do you think I saw behind the curtain? ______ – here ___   ___ understand it on my first visit nor

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For a man of the Master’s stamp to support two families in comfort and dignity would be, I suppose, inconcievable in England. He is certainly far the most cultured and educated man I know, a vigourous practical intellect which finds no subject too great or too small, which handles thoroughly and masters everything it takes up, whether an obstruse problem of philosophy, an intricate lawsuit, or the cooking of some delicious dish – devoting undivided attention to the subject in hand until it is disposed of; unrivalled powers of exposition, and a purity and loftiness of character which nothing can shake. What else can a man be who has attained his spiritual height! The freaks of passion which cloud the intellect of the so called men of genius do not trouble him. There is no Self ever bobbing up like a jack in the box. The divine light within shines forth pure and serene. What a contrast to Carlyle with his miserable selfishness, struggles with his stomach and his wife, oaths and curses! Call him a wise man! A wise man in the only sense recognised by Saivam cannot help being healthy – healthy

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Mentally, morally, physically. Wisdom (Jnánam)is Health (Sukam). They are synonymous terms.

I wish you would come out to the East and see him. (He hopes to be in Ceylon about July next). I urged you to do so over a year ago but you postponed it. You pine for Health but will not seek the Healer, though it may be that in God’s grace you will, having attained it, be the means of communicating it to other thirsty souls in the West. Nor is this a thing to be got from books. I never realised till I met the master what difference there is between reading books and having them explained to you by one who knows. There is hardly anything in European knowledge that a man of ordinary ability cannot master by his own effort with the help of books. Our philosophy (which is not merely speculation, as European philosophy is, but is intensely practical and can be verified by actual experience)  demands a living, present Teacher. The Upanishads

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He made no difference in the way of living when he found himself in towns. He would go about duty and naked. A King or paria, man or dog alike to him. He would lie with equal dignity and indifference on a dust-heap or in a palace. The same to him whether he was feasted or worshipped or abused or ill-treated, a magnificient specimen , physically, of the genus homo: a King among men. To outward appearance a madman yet when he chanced to speak in private to his favourite disciplies a flood of wisdom poured forth. It was not the man speaking but the God within directly and in all purity, unclogged by the coarse environments which imprison us ordinary mortals. As you truly say, you close even your outhouses and barns against the son of man and so to you the son of man comes not.  The English courthouses, true to the national charades worried the Great man because he went about naked in the streets of Kumbakonam but, failing to make him give up his ways, they let him alone. After a while, his presence being no longer necessary for our Guru’s sake, he disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared. For one such genuiene seer there are of course hundreds of charlatans in India ______ on the credulity of the people.

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As we are taught, there are three means employed by God in his infinite grace for illuminating the Soul 1. Revealed scriptures. 2. The Guru who comes to you when you are life and comes often in most unexpected shape or place, [ cf. Christ’s coming to Peter and Andrew, James and John and to Mathew] 3. Self-experience. The Guru only says what is in the Scriptures but which remained veiled till he came. Nothing that he or the scriptures say can be true unless confrimed by your own experience. Nor is it necessary to wait till death ofr the confirmation or verification. My own progress has been very slow. The residue of the experiences of past lives, the impurity that clings to one from the deeds and thoughts and desires of those lives, and thus llife, has to be wiped off. But my experience so far as it goes, confirms what I have been taught. It is fully confirmed (I may state in confidence)  and the experience of my dear brother Ramanathan who notwithstanding the distractions of a busy professional and political life has made, under the master’s guidance, marvellous progress – and yet not really marvellous for he has only picked up the thread of his past life.  What

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Wonderful experiences! – putting to _____ your physiologists, psychologists, and all other ologists – but not to be spoken of here. [I see Prof. Stokes has been lecturing on ‘I’, and a queer lecture it is. Of it the St. James Gazette says, one may say anything one likes in metaphysics, for he cannot be corrected of being wrong. The Gazette of course does not know that it is possible]. You met my brother some years ago in England and if you saw him now you would be able to judge after change. What a high spiritual and intellectual level he had reached!

As calm and happy _____, of a truthfulness and courage that nothing can shake, fearing nothing, desiring nothing, so sympathetic and loving – ans such a delicious charm of manner and face, the reflection of the calm and peace within. Come, my friend, see him, see the Master. Judge the thing by its fruits.

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Another instance of your approximation to Saivism I find in your essay on ____________ That is a fundamental principle of Saivism. Desire does precede function and organisation. When you study Saivism, you will see what a magnificient edifice is raised on this foundation. Within us as well as without, the whole Universe rests on it, and the way to emancipation and health starts from it.

February 1891

Your note from Tanjore reached me in due course. I wonder if you met the Master there. If I am not mistaken he reached home the morning of the day you wrote your letter.

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I have not done much useful work since the Master went but it is indeed a relef to know the goal and the way (even though one does not keep to the way) instead of being lost in a labyrinth of petty vain efforts, vain save to murder oneself and others. I had a pleasant couple fo hours this morning upon the rock, when we used to do the ______    ________

….and the goal seems further than ever. No doubt it will all come right in time, and the fetters will cease to be fetter. Meanwhile I console myself with the Master’s quotation from our Auvaiar (auvaiyar ):

“ Tall though the tree be and of stately height, it gives not ripe fruit save in due season.”   Blessed have I been beyond my deserts, to have the love and guidance of the Master and my brother Ramanathan, the two best and greatest of living men.

September 1892

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I hear from the Master frequently. On the 18 of May he wrote in reply to mine giving your message. I give the earlier and the greater part of it in full, as a specimen of his letters, apart from

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It is a relief to turn to the Master’s letter.

“ May the ‘thiruvaruknokham‘grow! [= ‘may the divine grace look kindly upon you and may the seeking of the divine grace grow in you’.’thiru‘ , holy; ‘arul‘, grace,’nokham‘ , look]

“ Here health. Write to me of the health there. The letter of the 2nd April, also the money order of 8 May have arrived. I have learnt of the arrival of Rámanáthánandar [spiritual name given to my brother by the Master] in London and the purport of Mr. Carpenter’s letter, and also of the child-birth.

“ Not clinging much to these things, you should remain of Equal hear. ‘ To rid thyself

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This year he had been quite well and used to write me once or twice a month. His last communication was an acknowledgement of a money order I had sent him early in July. His letters were full of the usual help, encouragement and comfort. Toward the end of April he wrote: “One must clearly realise that the Intelligence which, shaken by the wind desire, regards wife, children etc as ‘mine’, body, senses, intellectual organs etc as ‘I’, is Jíva [ the Individual Soul] ; that the unagitated Intelligence which regards the intelligence in all manifested things, in wife and child, in ant and elephant, and in oneself, as the one Sivam, is Sivam. The space that

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fills all pots and houses is one. It is differentiated by thought according to the varieties of outer coverings as Brahmin, outcast, King, beggar, palace, hut. But there is no such differentiation in space. So in the pure unagitated Intelligence there is no differentiation. Therefore was it graciously said [ by Thiruvalluvar] in the Tirukkural (6th verse of the chapter on Renunciation]

‘ He who has destroyed the concept of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ will enter a world higher than that of the Celestials’.

So Táyumánavar: ‘When, oh when, shall I realize the truth of the teaching that to Know the Knower is the true wealth!’

And in the Sivajnāna Siddhar

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(Supaksha VIII.20) ‘Ridding thyself of Knowledge and ignorance [ i.e thought and oblivion] , withn the Knower [the Soul] Knowing the Knower [Sivam] by grace, [i.e. in the equal state of Samádhi], without Knowing [differentiatingly]

These texts should be carefully considered “

In the latter part of June, in acknowledging a letter in which I conveyed to him the purport of your last letter, he wrote, and this may be taken as his last message to you – “ While Carpenter exerts

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Himself to introduce the practice of suppression of thought among the Westerners, he ought also to teach fully that save to those who have gained freedom from attachment to things which is called nir-āsai (absence of desire), the Knowledge  of the Meippórul (Truth, the One Reality) is difficult [arumai, which may also mean impossible] of attainment.”

I often think how wonderful it is that you should have been brought in contact with him. About forty years ago Tillainathan Swamy told him an Englishman would come to him and he should initiate him.    Soon after the ______ he disappears, as if he had lingered here only for this purpose. One begins to realize how what a speck forty years is

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In the history of the Soul.

I must tell you something about his last days on earth. He was in his usual good health till Sunday morn the 16 July when he sat down to breakfast, but he ____ without eating and went and reclined on his couch. The fever ___   ___ and he knew the time had come. On the ______ of his wife and younger son SomaSundaram (who has been a very devoted son, a great contrast to his older brother who is still rather a vagrant), he took some medicine out told them it  would not do the illness any good, that they should not weep for him as he would still remain with them as he ever did before and that there were certain reasons (which he did

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Not mention) for his being troubled with physical ailments. [I wonder if the reason was that he often told me, that the communication of the mysteries of God to unripe souls always brought punishment to the teacher. However he said it was not in his return to tell things by halves – he must say all or _____ To say less _______ of dishonesty. It causes


Before we reach this goal. God help us!

You will be interested in this short account of the Master furnished to me some time ago in his lifetime at my request by his son Somasundaram and which of course tallies with all the Master has told me.

“ Our grandmother Madame Kávéri [name of the great South Indian river] had at the beginning only one child, a girl. In its infancy it was attacked with a serious illness. While the child was lying in a hopeless condition, my grandmother lay asleep in great sorrow embracing it.  She then saw a dream. God Muruga [ the God

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The only occasion in which I said the Master moved was when he told me the Vision (above related) he had in Subramanya’s chapel at Tanjore. The tears flowed down his cheeks in remembrance no doubt of God’s mercy.

Your book Adam’s Peak is precious to me beyond words, as it relates so many of the discourses, walks, incidents of the Master at which I was present, and I can supply the missing links and live over again that happy time.

If you send a copy of the book to my son (whose address I enclose), he will appreciate it. I lent my copy to him for a time and got it back. How has the book sold/ Do you ______ a 2nd edition?

In it the Master’s portrait might be inserted. The book is, I fear, too expensive for those likely to profit by it.

February 1893

You will be glad to know that the Master does not take the view I stated in my last letter as to the inexpediency of your publishing eastern teaching. I was only repeating what he had often told me and, I think, you also, at Kurunegala. But he evidently thinks the time  has ___ come for publication – your book may, he thinks, help some ripe soul in sore need of such hints to teach the goal.

In a previous letter he writes :- “ The pure intelligence (‘arivu‘, arivu) is _______ spirit – space (Jnāna –Ākāsa) nothing else. It becomes fettered by the thought which differentiates this body and its intellectual faculties, its experiences and spheres, as ‘I’ and ‘mine’; It is emancipated if that differentiation ceases. And a means to the attainment of this intelligence which is Chit-āKāsa, gods and shrines and streams and ____ and teachers __ have been made. These however for persons of petty understanding only. For those of higher and more powerful intelligence is prescribed  the study of the Shastras and of the motionless Intelligence as God”

September 1893

I have for some time past been most  ____ to write and tell you of the great calamity that has overtaken me in the loss of our dear master. He is of course not really lost to us but is as present and ready to help as ever. But I cannot yet realize this. The long association in my mind of him ___ body in which he appeared to us, has left a void to be filled. And I keep thinking when again I shall see that gracious face and hear those gracious words, so full of comfort and help and strength. How merciful God has been to me to bring me under the master’s influence. Alas, how unworthy I have been of him and how far from the goal he ever kept before me and by his ______ encouragement and ____ tried to make me reach!

July 18th – Tuesday ____ at 3.30 am   was the memorable day of this attainment, as we say, of  paripurnam “fullness” – the fullness of emancipation or mukti which till then he had enjoyed in limited measure while in the body (deha)  ____ he enjoys in fullness freed from the body (vi-deha- mukti) having entered into never ending ____ under the bliss of Sivam (Sivanandham)

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You are aware that last year he suffered severely and for some months from an attack of Kurunegala fever. When I wrote to him last year expressing my great sorrow about his fever which he had contracted for yours and my sakes, he wrote

“ The body is a case full of the worms called diseases. Kurunegala fever is a fictitious name. We must not at all be sorry about it.” At the end of December on my visit to him at Tanjore I found him quite recovered and able to go about exerting himself not a little to make me and my family comfortable and ___  __ ____   He was greatly reduced in body but he told me the fever had really not affected his true Self, and that during the _____ and severe fever when his wife and son were most despondent about his recovery, he was nearly  for a month, not conscious of his body, but remained pure Consciousness.

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Of the clinging of pásam that has ____ clinging to thee from time ____ beginning cling to the Reality

meiporul‘True substance, the one total reality) which clinging to all things, clings to naught, said graciously the holy Valluvar in the tenth chapter of the Kural called Renunciation. To attain the equal heart which is ‘thiruvarul‘  [ before translated imperfectly and _____ as divine grace] and to be free from clinging to body and other visible things, – is the time of ripeness [ for the seeker]

In a later letter of July, he writes :-

“ Experiencing whatever happens, free from anxiety, of you, standing as ‘arivu‘[pure consciousness], do without attachment whatever work is before you, that which you grieve not to have obtained will come to you of itself. It is pure consciousness which stands as the place for the evolution of the thought-shaped Universe; the involution and cessation of that thought-shaped Universe is maunam (maunam) This is Saiva siddhántam. The end of  siddhántam is the bliss of Sivam [Sivánandam] Those who reject as unreal all that is Known [objectively] by the Consciousness [arivu] and Ever stand as Consciousness, will become of the shape of Sat-chit-anandam. [pure being, pure consciousness, pure bliss, where there is no difference between subject and object]

“ Therefore when you have no work, accustom yourself to be free from thought and to stand as consciousness. When you study, study as consciousness.”

So far the master. When I think of the precious advantages I have had and of the little use I have made of them and of the condition in which I am, I cannot help feeling miserable and depressed.

“Thou didst waylay me and feed me

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With the ambrosia of thy arul. I rejected it. I rejected it in my ignorance, O my jewel.  In disgust thou hast forsaken me. Crush the weight of my Karma and take me for thy vassal, O king of Uttara Kosamankai [ a holy shrine in Southern India] Should not the great  forgive the lies of mean dogs? “

By the bye, have you come across  this passage extracted in a recent Pall Mall but got from Joseph Darby’s Day Visions and Clairvoyant night dreams.

“ a friend  ____     _______ to the Poet Laureate certain strange feelings

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And mental experiences he had experienced when passing from under the influence of anaesthetics, the poet (Tennyson) replied:-

‘ I have never had any revelations through anaesthetic; but a kind of waking trance ( this for lack fo a better name) I have frequently had, quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone. This has often come upon me through repeating my own name to myself silently till, all at once, as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality, the individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless being, and thus not a confused state but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words, where death was an almost laughable impossibility, the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no extinction but the only true life. I am ashamed of my feeble description. Have I not said the state is utterly beyond words? ‘

It is a pity Tennyson has no Guru to explain these things. No doubt he will meet one in his next birth, perhaps in India and become an adept at Siva Yógam. My brother says he found the atmosphere of England quite opposed to it and that he was miserably unspiritual all the time he was there. It is bad enough to have the senses playing the devil with one, plunging one in Maya – but to have also the very air and atmosphere against you would be too much for frails mortals like me.

July 1898 (from Tanjore)

I am here on a few days leave – the first holiday I have had for five and half years. I came here to attend the anniversary puja or religious ceremony in commemoration of the Master’s departure. The ceremony took place on the 23rd last – the usual ceremonies that occur in the temple of Siva on grand occasions, together with feeding of over a thousand persons. On the …. Where his body is interred is a Singam, to which the worship is offered as to the Master.  It is remarkable to note the piety and reverence of the crowd. The Master’s widow who was there, a gentle gracious lady full of love and _____ ; still the support and comfort of the whole household including the vagrant Swaminathan’s family. The latter still rebellious, fighting and unhappy in his soul, but very interesting and learned – destined through doubt to win peace in the land, for Tillainayake Swami has blessed him. The younger brother Somasundaram Pillai takes after the Master – very practical and sensible and helpful –and heavily bears the burden of the family and does the daily puja to the Master. The Samadhi is a ____brick building, thatched in coconut leaf, and is situated in an acre of ground which his energy  who has for sometime lived in this town, lying on ______ hills etc.    speaking to the one,  _____ no one, eating anything he can get when hungry, and worshipped by the people.  In England he would long since been clapped in gaol.

Ps: In the master’s Samadhi garden is a well sunk at a cost of Rs 200, which was the £10 you sent, with the interest therein. The well is most useful and has fertilized the soil which is rather poor.

August 1900

…………… I often think of my dear old grandmother, left a widow at fourteen, with two little children, surrounded by enemies thirsting for her blood and her wealth, and how alone she faced and overcame all obstacles and enemies, and brought up my uncle, Sir Coumaraswamy and my mother, and then my brothers and myself and so many years, men and women, who are useful and leading members of Ceylon society. Alone she did it, and she could not read or write a word of her own language.

The 31st ult. was the anniversary of the Master’s departure and was duly celebrated with the usual annual puja and feeding of the poor. I shall keep the letter open to enclose a little of the sacred ashes that I expect daily from them.

… … … … … …

During the last years of her life, she (my grandmother) got her husband a second wife and lived in the same house, attending to her domestic duties and to the Master’s wants as far as she could from her house. Ten days before his passing away, she obtained her husband’s and mother-in-law’s consent to go to the Swami’s monastery and nurse him, and stayed there till the end and till all the ceremonies were over- and lay down and died. She is buried in Samádhi, next to the Master and receives the same divine worship.

August 1900

Happening to be here on official business, I went this morning (as I usually do when here) up the Great Rock behind the Kachcheri, and spent two happy hours thinking of the Master and you, and yearning for that Freedom which was Rishi Suka’s (according to the extracts I sent you). Being still in this prison of Time, Space and Causation, Kurunégala is very dear to me – the dearest on Earth – because the Master and you stayed there with me; and I cannot help sending you a scrawl.

The D.J’s house (district judge’s) is there as ever, but no trace of your leafy hermitage. Plants which I planted, have grown into big shady trees, with gay flowers. I can hardly believe I have been out of the place. The old Arachchi is no longer to be seen. I fancy he has to his village ‘en pension’.  Gentle soul! Where shall we find his like again? (This Arachchi was a very dear and gentle old servant who used to wait on us at meals.)

Sitting on the Rock – and with the beautiful lake and fields and gardens spread out below, I missed the boy-priest with his yellow robes, and his begging bowl in hand, walking down the hill with stately steps, and followed by his faithful attendant. ( In the East, everyone down to the smallest urchin, has a faithful attendant!) A very old man, bending over a load of firewood which he was carrying to market from the forest above, reminded me of olden days. There has been a slight, very slight, increase of vegetation on the bare Rock in the decade. Perhaps it will be all covered when you and I re-visit these scenes two or three centuries hence. I cannot forget your breakneck attempts at nishtai (Nishtai – ‘end’, ‘perfection’. See Sanskrit dictionary. Or at times as an adjective, ‘intent on’, ‘devoted to’ Kurunégala ‘the Elephant Rock’ was a frequent resort of ours at that time.)  on the slippery hill side among the overhanging branches, and how once I was quite alarmed at your delay in coming home to breakfast…. How shall I forget too the gracious Master and his walks along the country roads, and discourses there; and in the house, whole ceiling was such a battleground for rats and snakes; and that walk up the Rock with him and you – and we so outdistanced by him and so fatigued, and he so fresh and pouring forth living words: It is well to have such a reminiscence to treasure up, of those happy months. Only one regret remains – and how keen I can hardly tell of it. He caught there the fatal fever, and his bodily presence and inspiration were lost to us………. The Railway, which you and I and others laboured to press on Government, is now a fact, and a very paying one. The station is quite close to the Master’s bungalow, and the neighbourhood is much changed in consequence.

February 1901

“Side by side with this and my domestic interests and cares (heavy enough with a large family and limited means, but rich also in compensation of happiness beyond my desert) I keep a little corner in my soul for the seed of the Master to grow, so I manage to keep myself fairly alive and fresh. When shall I be able to say:-

“I have sought and found Him

Him whom Vishnu and Brahma sought and found not –

Him, the Lord, yea within myself –

I have sought and found Him. ”

…… I have not seen Parama Guru Swami for several months. (This is a typed version of the letter, perhaps something Carpenter did himself, as he was asked to assist in the publication of these letters by Arunachalam’s wife Suarnam Arunachalam, after Arunachamlam’s death. Carpenter types a footnote at this point in the letter explaining who Parama Guru was. He says ‘ This Parama Guru (transcendent teacher) Swami was a Guru of whom Arunachalam often spoke – who had lived long years in the wild woods and among the animals, and to whom Arunachalam was much attached, though seldom seen.) The last time his friends tried to communicate with him, they failed. He was in India and his address not known – he having retired into the Caves and Silence.

August 1917

You must forgive me for my long silence. But you are seldom out of my thoughts and I wish my hands could be as devoted to you. The spirit indeed is willing, but the task of writing is very irksome. I am here on my plantation for the weekend and write in full view, from my window, of a fine panorama of hills, covered with coconut pal and rubber, Adam’s Peak in the distance, a stream at the bottom of my hill crossed by a small railway bridge not far from the stream, and a glorious sky and sunshine, and a cool breeze, and birds singing. I wish you could be transported here and I could have your company and talk in this peaceful spot.

I enjoyed your autobiography immensely and am glad to hear it has passed through several editions. I am very sorry that the collection I had made and treasured of your letters to me has disappeared. I intended to have sent them to you to refresh your memory for the autobiography. It is a great loss to me personally.

I think I sent you also reports of Social Service work we have been doing. Then we are trying to do something for the resuscitation of Tamil literature (which is greatly neglected in the age of English) and for the safeguarding of some of the scriptural atmosphere of the East against the material Western _________< divorced as well from Christianity as from humanity – which is destroying stuff before our eyes. The Asuras (Titans) and Rakshasas of our legends must have been of the same type of civilisation; and after long periods of splendour came to utter grief like these modern nations and remain in the _____ memory only as a warning.  The only hopeful thing about the present war is the refusal of Russian people to fight – and I do hope the common people of all countries will do likewise.

The daughter we lost was not Maheswari, but her sister Manonmani – a sweet child and the fav of all who knew her. She was married to her cousin who was educated at Oxford, and then got entangled with a irreputable French woman at Paris, and deserted my daughter and broke her heart- now he has brought the Frenchwoman here and married her! Why a good God allows much misery to be caused, is not intelligible. Why, indeed, does he permit the agonies of millions in this war? What a sorry scheme of things! In the case of my dear daughter, whose bright young life was nipped in the bud, I sometimes think the explanation may be that her brief sojourn here was necessary for her to work out her development and pass into a fuller, richer life, “ Her flower-feet”, says a Tamil poet, of a woman’s soft and delicate tread, “ touched the earth lightly like those who are born to make up the deficiencies (of a past life)” It has been the greatest sorrow of my life. Though two years have passed, I think of her daily. Last night I saw her in her purity and beauty and was so happy embracing her. It was but “ a moment’s ornament”, alas! But enough of sadness.

In Tamil poetry, in which I often seek relief from my thoughts, one comes across images of the vault of heaven compared to a sea or lake, with clouds as waves or foam, stars as fish, the moon as a lotus, the crescent moon as a boat etc. I don’t remember such images in western poetry, I wonder if you can think of any. Here are some passages, but the beauty of the original is lost in translation.

“ O round white moon, that lighteth the heavens all night long, tell poor  ______ me one word. Hast thou seen him, that rouge who wooed and won me ____ _____ __ young ____, the pines alone my witness? “

The idea is amplified elsewhere

“ O moon a lotus, blossoming full round and white, …. putting to shame the flower faces of heavenly maidens and shedding ambrosial honey… in the cool celestial lake, where clouds – weeds rise dark stemmed from the sea and spread on every side and star-fish leap, where purple clouds – old foam – and white clouds – new foam – rise in beauty and scatter everywhere, and the Ganges * [* the milky way] rushes resistless through many mouths, O moon, I weak and fainting have one poor request to mae of thee”,

The love-lorn lady is here the Soul seeking the Lord,

The crescent moon is spoken of as

“ the boat on the celestial sea crowded with fish, stars beyond count”;

as “ the ship by which maidens cross the ocean of love unto their beloved”;

as “ the bow bent by Cupid to gladden maiden’s hearts on their ____ rays”;

as “ having the high honour of reflecting in the heavens, as in a mirror,

the lustre of thy lovely brow”.

These similes occur in an address of her friend and confidante exhorting her to worship the young moon.

“Fold thy hands, dark-eyed maid, in worship unto the little, white, soft-rayed crescent moon that showeth in the twilight sky like unto the crescent on the matted locks of Him that standeth in glory in Tillai, His golden feet in refuge for my safety and a guard against my seeking, even unaware, other and false Gods”.

The crescent is also compared to the tusk of a celestial elephant :

“ the pure white curved tusk on the face of the star-spotted sky elephant, whose breath is the blowing wind, whose trickling musth is the rain, whose side bells are the rising and the setting sun”.

Yesterday, while watching a big elephant rooting at some of my rubber trees in a plantation which I was thinning, I thought the simile rather good. The elephant, being unfamiliar to the Western poet,, would not occur to him. It would be strange if the other similes did not occur to him.

Extra letters (MSS.271-74)

Last November in the course of my wanderings, I found myself in Ramesvaram, the great temple near Pamben, and in July I spent three or four happy days in Kaltaragam, a shrine near Hambanlota and very inaccessible and far from the haunts of men. One’s neighbours are  wild elephants and bears and some savage men and two holy men. One of them (Kesopuri Swami) is just now in Colombo and I have seen a good deal of him. He has lived 70 years at Kaltaragam and is, I should think, quite 120. He came here when about 50, from Benares, and appears to have eaten some medicine whose effect will last he thinks about 120 years. “Death dare not approach me till then.” He talks of himself as if he were almost an infant. “ Now is the proper time to east the proper medicines” – to keep life prolonged indefinitely for hundreds or thousands of years. Quite an interesting man – and of such child-like simplicity and purity. It is a great privilege to come across such men and be of some little help to them.

At Kumbakonam, two hours by train from here, there is a great mauna Swami who has been there over thirty years. He says or does nothing. And is in a more advanced state than even Tillanaya Swami and like him stark naked. I went there yesterday. The temple and monastery has grown around him. He is the central object of worship – a live man-God. It was a special festival and he was ______ and worshipped with all the elaborateness usual in great occasions in the temples, and the assembled crowd sang and prostrated themselves before him and worshipped with even greater ardour and piety than in the temples. It was a remarkable sight. He showed not the least trace, through the  _____ ______, of intelligence of what was going on. His eyes were open ______ but saw nothing – they simply reflected objects like a mirror. He ___ or sat or walked, when he was gently touched & pushed. There was a slight play of the fingers and the eyes moved. That was all. External objects made no impression on his senses. But I was quite clear that it was not a case of  ____ There was such a gracious calm and peace and glory on his face and around him. Why was he silent, quite still? The answer of one of his devotees was “ When He is all things, who is there to speak and to whom?” It was a wonderful experience to see such a person – to meet people from all parts of India who believed firmly in him as the Paramatma and could each tell of blessings received from Him.

I am starting ___ for Madhura  shall be back at home on the 31st. I think you have seen the temples there. It is the great temple of Sakti (the Cosmic Energy)

“ Hailed by the Lord Siva as the mother of millions of world clusters, yet Virgin by the Vedhas called”.

I spent some happy days there last week.

I enclose some sacred ashes from the Master and from the mauna Swami of Kumbakonam.

In some early letters, Arunachalam writes of his travels in India.


….I sometimes think  should like to settle in a place like Poona and organise a Political and social movement. But the Government will I fear, persecute me however loyal I may be to British rule. There is a good deal of material to work upon in Poona. To live there the simple beautiful life of the Hindus and to work for the improvement of their condition  would be work I should like above all things. There is no better work for me to do and it will call out all my powers and do me good. I wish I could induce you to join in it. There is none in India to work genuinely and thoroughly for Her, whilst there are so many able men of your way of thinking in England. You would like the life, its combination of manual and brain work, its simplicity and beauty and the climate. Poona is a health resort, up among the mountains.

This district is a purely Sinhalese District the people along the coast are Christians – no doubt owing to the pressure to which they were subjected by the Portuguese and Dutch who settled on the Coast. But even in Ceylon as you get away from the Coast you come across a population whole Buddhist. Since my arrival here I have been as much as I can to support an countenance Buddhism and the people are pleased to have an official in  my position doing so. I shall soon succeed in knocking all idea of respectability as attaching to Christianity out of the heads of the Noodles in the town and along the Coast.

During my travels in India I saw another spot Nassik ten _____ from Bombay also associated with Rama and Sita. It was from Nassik that Sita was carried off by Ravana. The place is sacred to Rama and full of temples to him. The river Godavery which flows between the temples is a gorgeous sight. Nothing I have seen in Europe gave me the delight that that river gave. It is indeed a sight – all day from sunrise to sunset, it is thronged with people bathing or performing their religious ceremonies and the fine strong men, and especially women with their graceful dresses. It was a regular rendezvous for the town and what a gorgeous gathering! I spent two whole days watching the crowd and was not tired. The women especially fascinated me. Every attitude of their’s was more graceful than words can describe. They brought their and their husbands and children’s clothes to wash there – and washed their brass pots till they gleamed like gold in the sun. Can you imagine the effect of thousands of such pots? – and they chatted and bathed and went to the temples and worshipped and went home to cook their meals. Mind, these were women of well-to-do families-above want – whose husbands were earning a competence which in India would be, I suppose about £10 or £15 a month. In most parts of the Bombay Presidency the Maharattas are predominant and their women never were secluded and they move as freely as women in Europe. The streets of Maharatta towns are therefore more picturesque than other towns. The streets of Poona were for me a source of unceasing delight. Every moment you saw something to fascinate you. Processions of women going about their religious or domestic ceremonies, as probably did the women in old Athens, met you at every turn. Perhaps I was most delighted at the beautiful sights I saw on driving through the Bombay Bazaar. You must come to India to see them. Europe is too monotonous and dull. You should also see the Taj Mahal. I saw the Taj, I am thankful that I lived to see it. When at Nassik I bathed in the Godavery. One incident in the bath was very beautiful. As soon as we got into the water the Brahmin made each pilgrim recite verses from the Vedas and offer flowers to the river goddess. Each threw the flowers into the river, invoked her blessing and grace and plunged into the water. It is a graceful idea this – of worshipping a river that fertilizes large tracks of country and supports millions of people. The river was strewn everywhere with flowers offered by pilgrims. At night the river was lit up by thousands of lamps. What a sight it was – the reflection in the water!

During my travels I acquired a violent disgust for the way we English educated Indians have got into of adopting European modes of living which are quite unsuited to the climate, being inconvenient and expensive and utterly devoid of taste or beauty. I vowed I would return to the simple and beautiful customs of our forefathers. But in Ceylon it is impossible. Hindu customs never flourished here strongly and the current in favour of Europeanising is too strong. I have often thought I should like much to settle in Poona the Maharatta capital, and live in regular Hindu style. This life would more nearly approach your ideals than any you are likely to adopt in Europe. Its simplicity, its beauty, the necessity imposed, even on well-to-do people men and women of doing manual labour are charming. The Poona people are besides very energetic manly and independent intellectual and public spirited: nothing surprising as the Maharattas who are the ruling race in India till thirty or forty years ago. I did not intend to go of into discussions about my Indian experiences, but I am not sorry for having done so as you must get at them or you may never know them at all. Tell Gilchrist to come to India. It is an unexplored field for artists. When he does let him avoid English people or he will go back as empty as he came. English philistinism is irresistible. It is now long past midnight. Good-bye dear friend.

July 1880

I am much pleased to hear you have at last reached the goal you were struggling for. It must be a great delight to you to feel you are in the right place and on the right track. You ought now to be able, undistracted, “ to raise the pyramid of your existence as high as practicable in the air.” Your description of your country retreat is very attractive. The work in the garden must be jolly and healthy beyond words. I have often thought of something of the kind here but my garden is not big enough. What is the scheme of co-operation you are working at? What does Ruskin propose to do with his farm now? Have you met him, he must be a charming man. Give me some account of your interview if you have seen him? I have read occasional numbers of the Fors and like them much, and have ordered a complete set. But with the terrible drudgery of Court work, one hardly feels invlined or has time for any other work.

“Each day brings it petty dust

Our soon choked souls to fill

And we forget because we must

Not because we will.”

Life seems to me to become more and more dreary, and I often feel thankful for the drudgery that makes me forget it. I am far from having reached that height whence the good man of Marcus Aurelus welcomes with all his soul all that happens and is allotted to him as his share, and utilizes everything for his development- even as a strong fire appropriates to itself the matter heaped on it and consumes it, and rises higher by means of that very material which would have extinguished a small light.

Marcus Aurelus is delightful reading and is my solace. Like Walk Whitman, Aurrelus is indeed as Renan describes in his charming lecture, published in the May number of the 19th century – “ Veritable Evangile eternal” – “le livre le plus purement humain qu’il y ait.” I have often been struck with the remarkable similarity in some pointes between Whitman and Aurelius. They are the only two books I ever read now. If not for them I don’t know where I should be now. Two passages in Marcus struck me the other, much. Let your old tutor long translate them. “ We ought to consider not only that our life is daily wasting away and a smaller part of it is left, but another thing also must be taken into the account, that if a man should live longer, it is quite uncertain whether the understanding will still continue sufficient for the comprehension of things and retain the power of contemplation which strives to acquire the knowledge of the divine and the human. For if he shall begin to fall into dotage, perspiration, and nutrition and imagination and appetite, and whatever else there is of the kind, will not fail; but the power of making use of ourselves and filling up the measure of our duty and clearly separating all appearances and considering whether a man should now depart from life, and whatever else of the kind absolutely requires a disciplined reason, – all this is already extinguished. We must make haste then, not only because we are daily nearer to death but also because the conception of things and the understanding of them cease first.”    (111.1.)

The next passage is shorter and is as follows:-

No longer wander hazard; for neither wilt thou read they own memoirs, nor the acts of the ancient Romans and Hellenes, and the selections from books which thou wast reserving for thy old age. Hasted then to the end which thou hast before thee and throwing away idol hopes come to thy own aid if thou carest at all for thyself, while it is in thy power.” (111.14)

The phrase in the last sentence of the previous passage keeps constantly  ringing in my ears and have led me to a good deal of thought, the result of which I will proceed to tell you.

January 1883 (Delhi)

I have been thinking of writing to you especially after I had left Ceylon on my Indian tour. Mahmood came over to Ceylon with some friends and I followed them to Calcutta with my brother  Ramanathan leaving Ceylon in November last. At Calcutta, we stayed about 20 days chiefly owing to Mahmood, who is busy on the Education Commission, from which a great change is expected in the Educational policy of the Indian government. I met A.M.Bose and was glad to renew out old ties. He is overwhelmed with schemes for the regeneration of mankind or at least Indian mankind……. We have been to Jeypore and Ajmere. Jeypore is a most beautiful city, rather reminds one of Paris, and was built on the most approved principles of Hindu architecture…….. The houses all of one pattern, and colour, rose ad white – diversified by temples and palaces of gay people constantly flowing dressed in all the colours of the rain-bow, riding horses, elephants camels or on foot- and the millions of pigeons and mina birds that gather around the rice-stalls. Jeypore was built over 150 years ago and the whole population was shifted from the old capital Ajmere which lies high above Jeypore, surrounded by rocks. We visited Ajmere riding on elephants. A fine town with magnificent building, but now a city of the dead, carefully preserved by the Rajah…. it is in the heart of Rajputana, a Province famous in Indian annals for chivalry. All through the Province indeed, all over Bengal and the United Provinces, the Zenana system is very strong, and much of the pleasure of travelling was lost by the knowledge that millions of women were kept caged. Of course they don’t feel the restriction and might even resent any liberty……. The most impressive thing about Delhi was the vast extent of country covered by the ruins of the many capitals that have stood there- quite fifty square miles of ruins. At Ahamedabad where we reached parts where Mahratta influence extended we see much less of the horrible purda and as we go to Baroda and to Poona the focus of the Mahratta power we shall see women with nearly the same freedom as in England. Ahamedabad contains magnificent buildings all of the Hindu style of architecture, such a contrast to the Saracenic style of Delhi and Agra. After leaving Calcutta we went to Gaya the sacred city of the Buddhists where Goutama attained Buddha-hood. There is little left of the old temples and monasteries, and Government have taken much pains to preserve the temple which stands on the site of the Bog-tree, under which Buddha saw the light. The tanks still exists where He bathed after the great deliverance and on the neighbourhood are large stretches of land, where I can well fancy Him preaching under the shade of the mango-trees. Near Benares is Sarnath, where is the deer-path where Buddha preached and lived after he left Gaya. It is surprising how new after all the so called antiquities which exists now in India are. Only a few pillars have been left to tell of the Emperor, Asoka’s Goodness and humanity. Other ruins are hardly older than your old buildings. Only in Southern India do we find a few large temples that go back thousands of years.

I was reading the other day some notes I had kept of the few days I spent with you at Haslemere and elsewhere on the occasion of my last trip to England in 1879. One day we walked from Midhurst to Haslemere and came to a fir-wood and I remember stopping at a stile to look at some beautiful clusters of willow-herbs standing against the sky, and how pleased I was to see again the hare-bells and butter-cups and black-berries and Honeysuckle who were old friends to me. How happy I was during those days. Their aroma still lingers about me to give life and interest…. We go on to Baroda tonight and after buying some horses at Poona, we sail for Ceylon at the end of the month. After that what next, the ‘deluge’


Chamu Kuppuswamy

Transcript of talk by Chamu Kuppuswamy on preliminary project findings

ppt snip

Moorland Discovery Centre, Longshaw Estate, 2nd of August 2013

I am here with three hats on  – ranger, peak district mosaic champion and exec comm member of the Hindu Samaj, a Hindu and Indian cultural and spiritual organisation. It will be far too tedious and impractical for me to put up the objectives of each of these organisations, so you will have to take my word for it when I say that they are all sound and worthwhile! As rangers I think we have a direct and long term commitment to the environment, and to people to some extent. The mosaic project focusses on people and particularly ethnic minority urban communities and their use of the National Park. The Hindu and Indian cultural and spiritual organisation, or the Hindu Samaj, it is easier to say that! Is an unlikely environmental organisation, but only on the face of it. Hindu scriptures propound a sort of Gaia theory of the world, a holistic perception of the world, not a position of domination for man over the environment. It is this that Hindu Samaj brings to the project, and through which it hopes to encourage its urban clientele to connect with the environment. Through this project, the Samaj can go beyond its merely practical role for the community through celebrations of festivals, ritual service etc, and connect the community to its deep philosophical roots.

This project is in a way different from mosaic-type activities, which are about increasing well-being through walking, cycling, climbing and other such activities in the National Park. This project seeks to move towards a position where the Indian community takes leadership roles in shaping the environmental agenda. By seeking out cotton links between industry in the Peak district during colonial times between India and the UK, we are seeking to create awareness and also develop a position on trade and the environment. By delving into Carpenter’s ‘simplification of life’ and his spirituality, we are questioning the rationality of consumerist practices and its impact on the environment. Overall, this project is about developing a vibrant multicultural community at the interface of the countryside and urbanity.

The ‘British Raj in the Peak District’ project is funded through the All Our Stories scheme of the Heritage Lottery. The University of Sheffield have been a key partner in this project, providing us with expertise, space and resources. The second key partner is the Ranger service, my thinking behind this project is largely from the ranger side of my brain, Tom here has been helping me with routes, feeding us to the cows! And then there is today, when we get to pick their brains about the National Park. We started this project around December 2012 and we finish it in December 2013 and it’s been a busy time.

Basically there have been three types of activities on this project so far, one where we have heard from experts, this has been through a series of talks about colonial history and the background behind cotton and international trade during the 18th century. The second has been hands-on research. None of us had been to Sheffield Archives before, we had a bit of training on how to use the Archives and to research. We were particularly interested in the Carpenter Collection at the Archives. Our pull was Gandhi’s letters, we later discovered, it was Gandhi’s letter, more like a short note really. The third type of activity has been outdoors, we have made day trips and walks in the National Park and its surrounding areas.


Cotton Workshop


The purpose of ‘Threads of Cotton: A workshop on the history of cotton, India and the Peak District National Park’ held on the 13th of April 2013, Jessop West Exhibition Space, University of Sheffield was to  explore the history of processing Indian cotton in the mills in the Peak District.

The morning session covered the Calver Mill connection to India and was prefaced by an introduction to the historical context of cotton and cotton fabric as a global commodity from India for the last 5000 years, the cotton foundations of colonialism and the de-industrialisation of cotton production in India, the loss of access to global markets, the patented invention of the spinning jenny by James Watt in the 18th century in England and changes to labour law and society in Derbyshire during the Industrial Revolution. In the last morning session, remarkable oral stories on cotton from India and England emerged from the community, touching on all the above themes.

The afternoon session featured presentations on the challenges of uncovering the global context of local history, an introduction to the life and achievements of Sir Richard Arkwright and a critical look at the patents he held and lost within a 10 year span, which were central to his success and fortune.

The sessions drew attention to ‘national amnesia’ prevalent in the history of the Empire and provided interesting information that will help rethink the places people visit in the Peak District National Park.

The information and discussion from this workshop will feed into our future activities. A cotton trail walk in the Peak District National Park will provide a great day out enjoying the natural beauty of the area and appreciating our landscape,  an opportunity to visit the places where these global links were forged, sparking off interesting conversations. The benefits for the health and well-being through walking come integrated into this project.

Calver Mill’s Indian connection  

Riverside Court Flats (formerly Calver Mill) in Calver in the Peak District National Park was once a cotton mill along the river Derwent, using latest cotton spinning technology licensed from Richard Arkwright, owner of Cromford Mill and ‘father/pioneer of the industrial revolution’! It was established in 1778 and functioned as a cotton mill using water power till 1923. Calver Mill is located in a scenic area in the Peak District National Park and there are lovely walks around Frogatt Edge and Curbar Edge, along the River Derwent, a little beyond is Big Moor, not far from Chatsworth, the lead mining town of Stoney Middleton and the historic village of Eyam with memories of times of the plague.

Records held in the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock for the period 1868-1877 show connections to India. There may be much more, but from research over eight weeks, this is what we have found.

Between 1868 and 1877, Calver Mill received supplies of cotton from various cotton growing regions in India. The cotton came to Liverpool via ship from the coasts of India and were sold at the cotton exchange at Liverpool. They were rated quite highly, and bought at high prices, comparable to the best cotton available at the time. Indian producers competed with American producers for supplying cotton. With the technology revolutionised by Richard Arkwright’s patented spinning frame, carding machine and the factory system, the mills were ever hungry for more cotton to process.

Cotton used at Calver Mill came from Western Madras (currently state of Tamilnadu, possibly from Coimbatore and Salem), Surat and Broach (in the state of Gujarat). In April 1868, Calver Mill received 1772 lbs of cotton from Western Madras at a price of 9 and 1/4 d (Record 1). In December 1868, cotton bales came from Surat, a total of 4582 lbs at a price of 7 and ½ d (Record 2).  In December 1872, the supply of cotton from Surat to Calver Mill increased, the Mill received 11,684 lbs at the price of 6 and ¼ d (Record 3). In December 1875, the records show cotton coming in from Broach, 1945 lbs for the price of 4 and 5/8 d (Record 4). In December 1876 and 1877, several entries for cotton from Surat and Broach have been recorded.

These records also show cotton being sourced from America. In April 1868 Calver Mill sourced cotton from Orleans (7289 lbs at a price of 9 and 7/8 d.) (Record 1) In December 1868, 2588 lbs at a good price of 10 and 5/8 d (Record 2). In December 1872, 5412 American bales were bought at a price of 10 and 5/16 d (Record 3). In December 1875, 16989 lbs of cotton were sourced from Orleans at a price of 6 and 7/8 d (Record 4).

Prices of cotton grown in India vary from 4 to 9 and ¼ d, coming close to some of the highest priced cotton in the world. The highest price for American cotton at the same time is a little over 10 d. Publications from that time discuss the ‘differences between the character of the cottons of the East and the West’ It is interesting to note the meaning of superior and inferior varieties of cotton of the day.  Inferiority of Surat or Indian cotton consisted in it’s want of length alone, it was highly appreciated for its fineness and strength.  And according to expert opinion, ‘if properly cleaned and carefully cultivated, must always hear a fair competition in the English market with the New Orleans and Upland Georgia, so largely grown in the interior of the Southern States of the American Union, and so extensively imported into Great Britain’.

In a presentation to the Asiatic society in 1839, John Briggs summarised the topical issues of the day in India

‘ There can be no question, therefore, that under common circumstances England might get all its cotton from India ; but that country is not placed in ordinary circumstances, as compared with the rest of the world :— 1st. It has an overflowing and naturally industrious population, with millions of acres of uncultivated soil, on which the Government imposes a tax so onerous that the inhabitants cannot cultivate it and thrive. 2nd. It has a system of imposts on the raw produce of that soil where it is raised, which prevents its finding a profitable market. 3rd. There are few or no means of transporting the raw produce for want of roads, which the people thus heavily taxed are unable of themselves to construct.’

It seems that the situation didn’t change much since 1839. Under the ‘British Raj’, Calver Mill was still buying a substantial amount of cotton from America in 1868.

Interesting questions for further research

  1. Who were the merchants from Western Madras or Surat or Broach that sold the cotton?
  2. Which port did it come out of? Which ships brought this cotton to Liverpool?
  3. Which farms were involved in growing this variety of cotton?
  4. Who managed Calver Mill during this time? Did they travel to India?
  5. What was the trading system during this time? Did they procure on credit?
  6. Did people in the villages in the Peak District wear Indian cotton?

Making links with other groups

Calver Weir is a Listed Grade 2 structure, built in the 19th century to provide water to power cotton spinning at Calver Mill. Calver Weir Restoration project is a registered charity formed in 2004 with the objective of saving the weir from collapse and restoring it to good condition. Heritage Lottery Fund has contributed £1.244 million to the total cost of £1.844 million for this project. Since the restoration of the weir, the charity is working hard to attract a greater range of visitors to the area; it is improving footpaths and access points, and is carrying out important conservation work.  Their website has some very good walks, taking in Calver Mill and surrounding areas.

Short and long routes (1 and ¼ miles – 4 miles) http://www.calverweir.org.uk/Local%20Walks/Walks.html

Self-guided walk routes can be downloaded here – http://www.calverweir.org.uk/resources/Resources/Calver-Weir-Leaflet.pdf

Thinking about other links between Peak District National Park and India 

Indian Silk and the Peak District – Manifold valley in the Peak District National Park is a great area, with many lovely walking routes. On one of these routes, there are magnificent views of Swainsley Hall, a weekend home for Sir Thomas Wardle who did a lot for the development of Tussur silk! He travelled to India and spent time there, it is said that ‘ scattered all over the house (Swainsley Hall) were trophies of Thomas’ time spent in India, including a Bengal tiger shot in a hunt there’.

It would be fantastic to walk in the area, exploring Indian history, could make it a weekend, and stay at a 17th century manor house, i.e. YHA Hartington youth hostel. Wardle rented a length of the river below Hartington for fishing!

Listen to Maggi Rowland (Peak District NP volunteer ranger) talking about their project relating to Indian silk – http://youtu.be/izmiB9kCnJw  (30.18 onwards)

Blog post on antique Indian silk exhibition – https://heritagehindusamaj.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/touch-of-silk/


Findings on Edward Carpenter, Indian spirituality and the environment

Collating our findings in this is still on-going by the team, we have found a lot of interesting material, and still working through them. Today we only present the bits relevant for this workshop, i.e. routes that Carpenter took on his walks.   

[Thanks to Uday Nair for this piece of research]

Here he would take lungbursting walks across the Peaks (in sandals, long before they acquired their status as cliché) and preach vegetarianism, a respect for nature and the need for all fellow travellers on the Left to find common ground and unity.

He met a friend of his Lucy adams, at Adamsfield (Fox Lane),

On marathon trek on easter Sunday, in 1895, alf mattison came over with three of his Leeds comrades.  Adams and Carpenter went to Hathersage for Dore ad totley station. The following day they walked down the river Derwent through Grindleford and bamford, which must have caused a minor stir as they were singing and giving out leaflets. Then they climbed up the shivering mountain mam tor which lived up to its name, they were caught in freezing hail before arriving back to Millthorpe.

With Merrill, Carpenter at last could enjoy angst-free pleasure, Carpenter took another pied-a-terre  in Sheffield at 56, Glover road and the two men stayed there or accompanied one and another on long walks over the moors.

Now over to Tom Lewis , Terry Page and Mike Pupius for their presentations.

Hindu Samaj meets Peak District National Park : An Event with National Park and its Rangers

On 2nd August, people from Hindu Samaj Sheffield and the University of Sheffield, who have been jointly working on this exciting ‘British Raj in the Peak District’ project finally got a chance to meet the Rangers themselves from the Peak District National Park !!

This was an event organized by Chamu, who is in the project steering comittee, a executive member of the Hindu Samaj and also happens to be a Ranger ! We set on this hot Friday afternoon to the Moorland discovery center – a learning / meeting center right on the borders of the Peak District National Park.

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The center itself is only about 20-25 mins away from Sheffield via bus (Route No: 65 and stop at Fox House) and is pleasantly located surrrounded by tall trees and greenary everywhere. For me , the journey from the famous pub – Fox House, that is situated right outside the bustop , to the Moorland Center itself was very refreshing. The Moorland discovery center itself is constructed keeping in with a mind set of keeping it Green !! It is a beautiful site and you can see that its all about enviromentalism and  preserving the national park.












It was exciting to know what Chamu had planned for the afternoon at this beautiful location. We got some refreshments (tea and buscuits) as soon as we arrived and the afternoon was fired off with Chamu introducting us to the Rangers and giving a brief  account on the current findings from our work.  It was an afternoon where we intended to use the knowledge from the three segments of our work – The Cotton, The Silk and connections to Edward Carpenter and design walks in the National Park that would incorporate these elements. Here is video from youtube on the introduction and a summary of findings from our projects.

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Next we had a couple of sessions from Rangers themselves. First Rangers Tom Lewis and Terry Page introduced us to the work done by Rangers. It was exciting to see the diverse acvities that the Rangers commit to..right from planning a walk, to doing a guided tour, restoring walkways, checking habitats, and keeping a check on the natural environment, it all appeared to be something that definitely an nature loving person like me would enjoy. Here is their talk and some more photos.







Next we were introduced to the Manifold Trail by Ranger : Mike Pupius. This was an interesting trail that started at the Manifold River at the Hulme and procedeed all the way down to the intruging Thor’s cave –thats right  Thor’s cave !  Mike took us through the route and also managed to make all the connections with the route and the project  – that too all within 5 minutes. 😀 It was a very interesting trail to know that had all the elements that I personally would be interested : River side, moors and some hill climbs.



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After the interesting talk on the Manifol Trail, we split into two groups to have a discussion with the Rangers themselves and to try and design walking routes around the National Park that would incorporate elements from our project.

One group focused on the Manifold walking route and other tried to design routes based on the walks taken by Edward Carpenter in the National Park.



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That afternoon we learnt so much about the Peak District, National Park, the work of Rangers, how routes are Designed, how the maps are read,what areas were visited by Edward Carpenter and possible areas of cotton and silk being merchanized in and around the Peak District. All in all a very exciting afternoon I must say !!

This was followed by a nice walk in the Longshaw estate, which you can read about in our post at :  https://heritagehindusamaj.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/walk-at-longshaw-estate/

Special Thanks to Chamu and Rangers for taking the time and effort to make this a very exciting experience for everyone.

by Sandeep , a nature-lover 😀

Photos and Videos by : Sandeep and Suruchi

Hindu Samaj team attends UoS Arts Enterprise Showcase

Mrs. Shweta Kamat, Dr. Vithal Patel and Dr. Dinesh Naik attended the University of Sheffield’s Arts Enterprise Showcase which took place on Wednesday, the 5th of June, 2013. Kim Marwood from Researching Community Heritage (RCH) put together posters of AOS (All our Stories) projects. Here’s the blurb from the RCH website

‘Come and see what the Faculty of Arts and Humanities means by Arts Enterprise and public engagement: projects which combine the academic expertise of University staff with external partners in the city and beyond. There will be performances, talks and an exhibition of the exciting things that our academics are involved in, working outside the University to use research in meaningful ways. The Faculty throws open its doors and invites all to partake in a fun, interactive and informative evening.’

Shweta reported that it was an interesting evening. There were a number of other AOS projects that she found interesting. Wincobank Chapel is doing a project similar to hers, and are interested in our project, she reported.

Some photos from the event




Shweta and Esme

Carpenter’s walks in the Peak District

We are keen on identifying walks that Edward Carpenter took in the area that is currently the Peak District National Park. The Peak District National Park, having been established in 1951 is well after Carpenter’s time.

So far, our research has identified the following about Carpenter’s walks.

‘he would take lungbursting walks across the Peaks (in sandals, long before they acquired their status as cliché) and preach vegetarianism, a respect for nature and the need for all fellow travellers on the Left to find common ground and unity’.


‘On marathon trek on Easter Sunday, in 1895, Alf Mattison came over with three of his Leeds comrades.  Adams and Carpenter went to Hathersage from Dore and Totley station. The following day they walked down the river Derwent through Grindleford and Bamford, which must have caused a minor stir as they were singing and giving out leaflets. Then they climbed up the shivering mountain mam tor which lived up to its name, they were caught in freezing hail before arriving back to Millthorpe.’


‘With Merrill, Carpenter at last could enjoy angst-free pleasure, Carpenter took another pied-a-terre  in Sheffield at 56, Glover road and the two men stayed there or accompanied one and another on long walks over the moors.’

Many thanks to Uday Nair for this piece of research.

If you know more about this subject, please write to us at sheffield.hindu.samaj.culture@gmail.com

Thank you.