Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Adyar Library and Research Centre

Finally managed to visit the Adyar Library and Research Centre at the International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society. (All this is part of the search for missing items in my De Smet collection.) We had quite a time trying to enter the campus in the first place. The guard at the first gate sent us to the second gate, and the guard at the second gate just shooed us away. We were out of time, he said - the timings on display were 0830-1000, and 1400-1600, and it was just past 1000 hrs - and besides, we had no membership card. So we went back to the first gate, where I noticed that the bookshop timings were 0900-1200, so I went in, and the person at the shop was really very helpful. She phoned the Library, and said if I didn't mind walking, I could reach the Library that way. I certainly did not mind, and I had a lovely walk through the vast, utterly beautiful and silent campus. I got the impression that there was not a whole lot of activity going on. I certainly did not spot more than a couple of people, mostly workers, but the two I spoke to were fluent in English and most helpful. Veena had told me to walk straight till the banyan tree, and then turn right. I came across what looked like a banyan tree, but there was no right turn, so I turned left, and landed up at a large and striking building. Footwear to be left outside; and inside just largish open spaces. I gathered it must be the main prayer or meditation hall. Quite striking, really. I couldn't help remembering that Jiddu Krishnamurti must have spent time here. At any rate, I decided that there was no libraryish activity there, so I walked away, found the banyan tree with some help, turned right, and there was the Library.

Mrs Gnanam was most helpful. In fact, she was expecting me, she showed me the volumes of The Divine Life brought out for me. I was surprised at this efficiency. Not 20 minutes must have passed since Veena's phone call. Then Mrs Gnanam showed me my mail: that explained. I was surprised: I thought it hadn't reached. "I did not bother to reply because you were coming so soon," she said.

In the meantime Prof. Shinde turned up. It appears he is the head of the library. It turned out that he was from Maharashtra, and we got talking cordially in Marathi. I offered a complimentary copy of the latest issue of Divyadaan: Journal of Philosophy and Education (23/1), and he was so moved that he offered me a complimentary copy of Brahmavidya (which, it struck me, was the exact Sanskrit equivalent of Theosophy). I suggested an exchange, and he seemed open to it.

Mrs Gnanam directed me to take reader membership: Rs 50 fee, Rs 200 deposit. That took some time, but it was finally done, and then I settled down with the volumes in the Reading Room. But before that I took a good look at the card catalog, and found The Sikh Review (1971). I also found that the Library had a few  issues of The Call Divine, and, more importantly, I found that the periodical was "A monthly journal devoted to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi" and probably published at Bombay by a P.M.N. Swamy. The holdings were: 1/1-5, 7-12 (1952), 2/2-5 (1953), 15/5 (1967), and 18/10 (1970).

Going through the volumes of The Divine Life took time, but it was worth it. The 26 (1964) and 27 (1965) volumes were not there, but the others were very much there: 33 (1971), 34 (1972), 35 (1973), 39 (1977), 40 (1978), 41 (1979), 43 (1981), 45 (1983), and the unnumbered (1992). I had to fill in photocopy request forms, and pay in advance for the copies as well as postage. The copies cost Rs 2 for a normal page, and Rs 4 for a larger size page. Digital photos are charged Rs 10 per page, so I did not attempt that. The gentleman at the counter assured me that the copies would reach me in Nashik before 14 August.

I was supposed to visit also the new Anna Centenary Library at Kotturpuram, but put it off for lack of time. But a glance at the Wiki article makes me think that I missed something. Should do it the next time. 

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