Hindu Fables for Little Children

By Dhan Gopal Mukerji. (Dutton.)

THOSE who have kept in touch with the writings of Dhan Gopal Mukerji during the past six or seven years must have felt a steadily increasing respect for the man and his gift. Though he seems incapable of writing anything that is not entertaining, he has never truckled to the going crowd whim. He has written out of his own rich consciousness in his in his own winning manner, and though there is a deep seriousness in all that he writes, his warm humanness and active sense of humor keep his touch agreeably light.

The fact is, that Mukerji’s is a richer and wiser personality than all, but a very few now identified with American literature. One of the principal reasons for this is to be found in the very unusual life experience and training he has had. As his following doubtless knows, he was born in India, a member of the Brahmin, or priestly class. In his boyhood and youth he was influenced by the wise men into whose circle he was born; and anyone who has ever been in intimate contact with him must have felt very strongly the effect of such influence. In his young manhood he came to the United States alone and made his way under great difficulties through Leland Stanford University. For some years thereafter he lectured throughout the country. He is quite as familiar with the great literature of the Western World as with that of the Orient — a fact which makes him rather an astonishing man to know. The range of his sympathies is very great. This writer once had the privilege of spending a day and nearly the whole night in eager discussion with him, and that was a memorable experience. He could take almost any intellectual grade on high, and yet when the two very little children of the house came into the room, he was a child with them. He was actually so, and without effort. There was no condescension, no make-believe. And what gorgeous child stories he shared with them!

The man’s books are good because he himself is so much bigger than his books, whereas most authors are really less than their writings make them appear.

In “Hindu Fables for Little Children” he never for a moment gives the impression of “talking down” to the youngsters. If one asked him about this, he would certainly insist that the child mind is not inferior to the adult mind — only different; and he would mean it. Here are stories of tigers, elephants, rabbits, pigeons, monkeys, alligators, cows and other extremely interesting persons. Mukerji would insist upon the word “persons” in this connection and be quite sincere in doing so. To him they are so; and surely anyone who has enjoyed intimate friendship with any animal will know his view is right.

Aside from their entertaining quality, these truly naïve animal tales carry a depth of meaning that is the more effective for being unobtrusive.