My Brother's Face

by Dhan Gopal Mukerji. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company. 1924. 8vo. viii+367 pp. $3.00.
LIKE every message that comes to us out of the East, this book has its twofold significance. It is at once a picture of modern India and a spiritual parable. It is a photographic presentment of certain twentieth-century Indian types: the Holy Man; the rich manufacturer and his wife;
the university student; the peasant of the jungle with his vegetarian leopard; Brahmin; Mussulman; freethinker. The figure of Mahatma Gandhi illuminates many pages, and a third of the chapters is given to a detailed autobiographical transcript of the evolution of that most important of all Indian types, to-day, the revolutionary patriot — Mr. Mukerji’s own brother, if the parable does not here impinge. But it is also a mystical study of the soul of India; a religious meditation upon the relation of the East to the West. ‘Who is our brother? Is he the man we find, or the man we look for? The sages of the Upanishads have answered that our brother is He who wears the One Face dwelling in the thousand faces of all life.'
Aside from its vital theme, there are at least two other reasons why the book deserves to be read and pondered. First: the poetical beauty of its style, an Oriental splendor in the use of words; the subtle, floriated Hindu mind penetrating the alien English speech with a facility and a freshness little short of amazing: ‘Suddenly, a trumpeting of gold rose in the east. Below it ran a silver light like the slow zigzagging of lightning. The clouds below caught fire, and before us the wall of inky silence began to crumble down.’ Very Shelleyan, this, but the ease of his ordinary English is even more unusual in a foreigner.
Secondly, and chiefly, the book deserves sympathetic attention because it is modern India from the point of view of a modern Indian who also knows through experience the civilization of the West, especially our American West, and who finds some of it good; a Hindu who loves individual Americans even as he loves individuals among his own people. It is a plea for a better understanding of an ancient and deeply significant culture which has its contribution to make, as one brother to another, in the family of nations. That the author, an ardent son of India, should be free from prejudice is more than anyone ought to demand: the wonder is that, feeling his country’s wrongs so deeply, he can still write in a temper so ironic. If among our American writers there were one now interpreting our country to the rest of the world with the insight into spiritual values, the religious seriousness, the humor, and the international friendliness of a Mukerji, we should be fortunate indeed.
To so fair-minded a patriot much exaggeration of our home-grown virtues, even much of prejudice, might be forgiven. Love of country, as revealed in My Brother’s face, is a holy passion, purified of the menace of provincialism.