India at Boston University

An exhibition created in conjunction with the First Boston University-India Symposium, which was held on May 10, 2013. This exhibition is drawn from a number of different collections, reflecting the diverse holdings of the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center in the area of Indian literature, both historic and contemporary.

First, a rare set of palm leaf Naradanadi - an ancient collection of astrological texts from the Hindu/Indian occult tradition. Believed to be about three hundred years old and inscribed with a stylus on palm leaves, they remain mysterious, employing both an archaic idiom and symbolism.

Next, comes a selection of photographs and correspondence from Indian spiritual and political leader, Mohandas Gandhi, from the Frederick Bohn and Welthy Honsinger Fisher and the Howard Thurman Collections. Both the Fishers and Thurman approached Gandhi in their roles as missionaries; and the letters and postcards are revealing in expressing the personal generosity of Gandhi in his relationships with them. There is also a piece of framed cloth, woven from thread hand-spun by Gandhi on his spinning wheel.

These materials are followed by excerpts from the Center's holdings of three twentieth-century Indian authors. From the collection of literary critic, academic and Bengali poet, Amiya Chakravarty, come letters from correspondents Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, and Aldous Huxley. Indian novelist R. K. Narayan, author of the series of books on the life and foibles of the citizenry of the fictitious town of "Malgudi," is next with correspondence from writer Graham Greene, encouraging Narayan to develop strategies for getting his short stories published in England. There is a carbon of a letter from Narayan to Pearl S. Buck regarding his reaction to a screenplay she had written for Narayan's novel-turned-film, The Guide, as well as manuscript material related to Narayan's translation of the ancient Indian mythological saga, the Mahabharata, published in 1978. Novelist Bhabani Bhattacharya is represented by two drafts of an article entitled, "The Nature of Wisdom," an edition of his book, GANDHI THE WRITER, marked heavily with the author's marginalia, as well as a manuscript page from another of his biographies of Gandhi, also heavily hand-corrected. There is also a photograph of Bhattacharya with other Indian notables, including Prime Minister Jawaharal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, attending a dinner for President Harry S. Truman at the Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 1950. Finally, Indian travel writer Santha Rama Rau is represented with several letters from E. M. Forster concerning her successful adaptation of his novel, A PASSAGE TO INDIA, into a play. Along with an edition of the published play, there is a printed flier for the Liverpool production and a photograph from the New York production.

This exhibition is no longer on view.

Alan Cumming
India at Boston University