Music of silence
The real significance of the word sahitya or literature is inherent in the word itself, for the characteristic of literature is ‘to move together,’ keeping abreast of life. Literature is no invention of the superficiality of social life, nor is it the colourful spell of any fantasia. Rather it is the portrait of real life – an external expression of the internal recesses of the mind – a bold and powerful expression of the suppressed sighs of the human heart. In order to preserve the sanctity and prestige of its name, literature must maintain its rhythm in pace with the dynamic currents of society.
The word sahitya can be interpreted in another way as well: sa + hita = hitena saha; ‘that which co-exists with hita or ‘welfare.’ Where there is no inner spirit of welfare, we cannot use the term sahitya. The creations or compositions of those who proclaim that “Art is for art’s sake,” cannot be treated as sahitya. Indeed, that welfare which pertains to the mundane world is relative; its definition also may change according to the changes in time, place and person. But that aspect of the term hita which leads human beings to absolute truth is one and the same for all ages and countries.
In order to communicate with people at different states of development, and of different ideas, the same concept of welfare has to be expressed through different branches of knowledge. The grand, benevolent flow of ideas, with the common people on one side, and the state of Supreme Bliss on the other – this is called literature; for in every particle, in every rhythmic expression of this very benevolent thought process, the Supreme Bliss is lying dormant.
Thus ‘literature’ is that which moves together with society, which leads society towards true fulfilment and welfare by providing the inspiration for service. We could say, “Art for service and blessedness.”
In every expression, in every stratum of this universe, however crude or subtle, only one refrain prevails, and that refrain is the attainment of bliss. In that artistic movement towards welfare both the attainment and the bestowal of happiness find simultaneous expression. When litterateurs dedicate themselves to the service of literature, they have to let their creative genius flow in this very current: they have to cleanse all that is turbid, all that is inauspicious in individual life in the holy waters of their universal mentality, and then convey it sweetly and gracefully into the heart of humanity. Herein lies the fulfilment of their service, the consummation of their sadhana.
If the sweet, benevolent sentiment of individual life fails to inspire collective life, we cannot consider such a creation as art. Those who are unwilling or unable to create sahitya as a means of service, should not try to place the blame on the collective mind, hiding their own impure thoughts behind their grandiloquence and bluster
The aim of artistic creation is to impart joy and bliss. The bestowers of this bliss, the servers of the people, cannot keep their daily lives aloof from commonplace events, mingled with pleasures and pains, smiles and tears. People seek deliverance from the whirlpools of darkness; they aspire to illuminate their lives and minds with ever-new light. In all their actions, in all their feelings, there is an inherent tendency to move forward; therefore, if at all they are to be offered something, the creator of art cannot remain idle or inert.