Preface to Bombay London New York Summary Questions and Answers
Write down a Summary of the preface to Bombay – London – Newyork.
The present essay is a fine exercise in unravelling the thoughts of an upcoming writer. We enter into a writer’s formative years, his gropings into the bygone days when literature was patronized by kings and caliphs. And yet it is also full of his disgust over the present cultural decline.
Particularly in the course of his visit to the Khudabaksh Library in Patna the writer is drawn towards the changes of a writer’s world, the difficulties of writing and its rewards spread over a vast expanse of time.
The library takes the mind of the author to both the glorious past of Patna and its present sad decline. He visits the library with Surendra Gopal, an eminent historian who recounts not only the history of ancient Pataliputra but also of the modern Patna—the launching pad of Gandhiji’s movement and the J. P. movement against the misrule of the Congress.
But sadly that spirit seems to be completely missing. Rather the author remembers a personal experience—how her mother was operated upon in P.M.C.H. in the light of torches and lanterns. Such libraries, educational institutions and memory of the glorious past should have galvanized the people. But nothing of this sort is visible in modem Patna. The people seem to be in a state of oblivion, their awareness is poor and they are not prepared to put things in order.
In the library itself, the author comes to see the contrast between a writer’s vocation and the real world. He notices the beautiful content preserved in gold binding, beautiful calligraphy and decorative setting and he thinks of the anxieties of the modem writer regarding response of readers, the sale of his books.
Kitab-UI-Hashaish a book on medicine is introduced by the old librarian: It is a proud possession of the library, a rare book that belonged originally to Caliph Haroun-Ul-Rashid. Translated from’ Greek into, Arabic the book is beautifully illustrated in herbal and mineral colours that look bright even today.
This reminds the author of the renascence. When the translation of Greek and Roman works was done in( oriental languages. A new world was in the making, the chief elements of which were enlightenment and scientific inquiry. The author comes across a book of Hafiz, the Persian poet.
The book was given as a present from the Emperor of Iran to Humayun. Jahangir used the book to know his future when he was in exile in Allahabad. The lines that he took for angry told him that he should return to Delhi where there was a chance of becoming the emperor. On being crowned emperor Jahangir noted in the margin of the page his experience of the anthenticity of the lines.
The admission of Jahangir makes the book a valuable historical document and also reveals how like a common man, a prince could also worry about his future. Such writings have value in bringing the past and the present together—nostalgia is here fused to an anxious concern for the present so that it could match the glories of the past. Amitava Kumar’though he focusses mainly on the past tries to create an inspiration for the present generation.
“Khudabaksh Library has been used a symbol in this essay”. Explain.
It is a well-known fact that Khudabaksh Library was originally the personal library of Sir Khudabaksh Khan who donated it to the government. Sir Khudabaksh Khan was a lover of books and manuscripts which he collected from far-off countries at great expense.
He was successful in getting some very rare Persian manuscripts which are not only a fine specimen of calligraphy and ornamental work but happen to be associated with the great Mughals of India Sir Khudabaksh Khan paid special attention to rare copies of the Holy Quran and books on Islam. The result is that at present Khudabaksh Library possesses all the valuable books and treatises on Islam.
The most important thing is that while so many institutions put under the care of the government have failed in maintaining their standard, this library of Patna has well preserved its aura of the past and its stature. The books and manuscripts which were formerly in the possession of kings and emperors are in excellent condition even today.
Amitava Kumar has certainly used Khudabaksh Library as a symbol of the rich cultural heritage which has the power of inspiring the whole of the world. There are books written by emperors and there are books which influenced the destiny of princes. From these books one can understand the interest of the Arabs in the learning acquired by western philosophers, historians and scientists.
It is also proved beyond doubt that the western countries never could match the art of book-binding and of decorating books with gold filigree and precious gems as it was practised in the eastern countries. It is no coincidence simply that an institution of such a stature is situated in the heart of Patna which was formerly the capital of the Mauryan empire.
Anyone who enters the library is reminded at once of the golden past of Pataliputra, its brave and noble kings, their love of art and splendour and their might and power. There is a secret hope in Amitava Kumar that this institution can act as a catalyst in quickening the intellectual faculties of the modem young men of Patna.