Search This Blog

Be a Member of this BLOG

Oct 24, 2016

An Introduction by Kamala Das

An Introduction by Kamala Das
Bijay Kant Dubey

An Introduction as a poem is an introduction of Kamala and she is getting introduced to the readers and critics of Indian English poetry. A confessional poetess, he is laying her inner heart bare, but one should not take it for that she is a simple girl, but is coquettish and intriguing. Her histrionics, theatrical stance, has none come to imbibe. She is a colourful Radha of Indian English poetry; the sad Mira of it. Radha and Kanhaiyya both of them are love-birds, famous for the nautanki of love. Their raslila who do not know it, under the kadamba tree, by the banks of the Yamuna river? At that amorous love does not remain it amorous, but turns it physical.

Kamala is but a politician whether you accept it or not as she makes the things said, relay it otherwise, rounding it off often in a tell-tale narrative and coming to the same point but differently. Even she says that she does not know politics, take it for granted that she knows it and is intriguing. If one does not know politics, how can she take the names of the people in power whose names have been doing the rounds? Her general knowledge is not poor, as she can start from Nehru. Their dates of birth, life-histories and action plans, nothing is hidden from her. After reading An Introduction, one will startle to know that the poet is a politician doing the politics of poetry. For some time she had been in politics holding some chair. She had also wished of becoming an M.P. or M.L.A.  and to be in the media limelight had been the taste of hers. The intentions of Kamala Das are quite clear even though she hides them. She knows the politics of being in power and can grapple with the things in her own confessional way. The eunuchs and transgenders too are the spokesmen of her poetry. Shiva as Ardhanarishwara may be the latent poetic vision of hers; the ghettoed life woman she wishes to rebel against and overthrow. She may be of the view that the soul does not have any gender. What it fascinates her most is the liberation of the woman self from torture. Possessive love bores her. Patriarchal society suffocates the liberties. How to be free? How to liberate is the question? The life of a woman none but a woman can feel it. Pregnancy and abortion deaths, how horrible is it to imagine of them? The contributions of Ram Mohun Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar we cannot forget them.

She is Kamala, a Malabari Keralite and she can speak in three languages, but can write in two, English and Malyalam. Not an English memsahib, but a brown sahiba is she practicing Indian English. On marking her writing in English, people question her about the validity of choosing an alien language to speak the native things. How can it be? But she takes to not their advice; goes on with her writing. Her English is half-English, half-Indian and to be frank with it is funny. It is as human as she is a human being. She writes in English as she likes it and has found words to express in itself to put her feelings and feelings on a wider platform. At least the voice of an Indian woman the world can read and feel about. She is not at all an animal, the beast of burden, but a self with living consciousness. She is not a nameless person of Jayanta Mahapatra. She is not a purdah nashin girl of Sarojini Naidu. She is not only Sita and Savitri, but Radha, Radha, you are my life, Radha, how to live without you? She is but Draupadi, Draupadi; Kunti, the mother of Karna. Do not underestimate Putana, Hidimba and Surpanakha, non-Aryan heroines. Kamala is but the Draupadi of Indian English poetry; the Radha of it. A shisya of Acharya Rajneesh with the rudraksha rosary and in saffron clothes, she appears to be a modern ashramite. She expresses as the sevadasi of a Vaishanave saint unfolds it. Rajneesh’s sambhoga to samadhi, sex to bliss seems to be the focal point of her story of life.

There is no question of the mother tongue or the father tongue to debate or discuss. The poetess writes as she likes it most. The language she has chosen to write voices forth her feelings, emotions and sentiments and there is nothing as that to compromise on this point. Even if it is broken, it is but hers; even if queer, is but hers. The critics should not complain against the selection of the language. Critics, friends and visiting cousins are requested to leave her alone ruminating poetically. English is also a speech, foreign or native. It is but a medium of expression so there is no fault in choosing it, going for it. English too is a human speech and through it she has chosen to voice her sentiments and aspirations.

With the change in time and growing with the years, the bodily change is sure to take place and it happens with.  She starts growing up and her physique too changes with in appearance. She grows up and so do her limbs. But her coquetry lies in it that she starts describing every organ metaphorically. The woman persona in her feels it beaten and laden. The weight of the organs places her in an awkward position. The breasts and the womb crush her and she feels shrunken pitifully.

When she wears the shirt and the pants of her brother and gets the hair cut short, the family members desist her from doing so. They ask her to dress like feminine beings for which the sari and the blouse will suit it best. A girl should remain a girl; a woman a woman. It is also a feature in Indian homes that the girls live with restricted freedom and liberty. They are not free at all to live a life of own. Under restrictions and pressures, they pass on their lives. Learn embroidery and be an embroiderer. One needs to learn cooking as when she moves out to the other man house, there she will have to cook and to take the domestic responsibility upon. The story of The Ox by bates is the case with. To be a girl is to be a wife; a woman, the mother of man. To be a woman is to be a cook, virtually a quarreller with servants. They advise her to fit in it. They also forbid her to sit on walls or peep through the windows. Kamala should also say that she should not smile after seeing the strangers. She should not talk unnecessarily.

The poetess meets a man, takes him to be her own like every woman who takes to believing even though knowingly who is for whom. Take him to be man whom one meets on the path of life as it is a routine affair for all and there is nothing new in it. He is that who wants a woman for himself and this generic tendency is in all. She too like him is a woman wanting a man. Human hunger and thirst is in it all. The hunger of the stomach and the thirst of the panting soul, what to say about?

Call her Amy or Kamala or Madhavakutty. It is just time to choose a name to play the roles, to enact the drama of life in the theatre of the world. The same girl is as the wife of someone. The times have changed, but she has not, she is the same Kamala, better to be said Madhavakutty, the small Malayali girl from Malabar.

She asks who you are, she asks it everybody. But the outcome comes to be, it is I, I. Here lies it the answer that I is You, You I. Though the trend may be different, but all the paths lead to the same.

Relating to her story, that is the story of a woman, she herself laughs and she herself weeps. It is she who makes love and who too fells it shame. What a destiny of hers! Has she turned into a schizophrenic patient or a babbler?

The mad man’s laughter seems to overtake her when she says that she is a sinner, she is a saint too at the same time changing her stance. She is a beloved as well as a betrayed one. Kamala often puts the blame on her husband, but she is also not a simple one, but a notorious being. Self-scrutiny she does it not. How can it be, a yogi and a bhogi at the same time? Kamala is not a sadhvi, but a political sadhvi of today contesting elections on party tickets. She is not a sadhvi, but a dhongi.

Kamala is sexual, bodily and physical; mad after sex. The body is the soul of her writings. She may be one like the heroines of D.H.Lawrence gone into hysterics. Kamala poses as a Radha, but is not a Radha, she is but Kamala, a Malyali girl from Malabar, so frank and bold, adventurous and daring.

The hungry haste of the rivers is in her, the oceans’ tireless waiting. Who is she? What her identity? What is she? What her introduction? Is she a lonely woman? Is the woman not a soul? Does the soul have a gender?

There are two sides of the poem, An Introduction. One is the personal while the other for a greater cause. If the former is one in acceptance, the latter a study in rebellion and protest, all the angers directed against predicament. The life of a woman none but a suffering can but say it from childhood to adult age to old age. The pain of the eunuchs none has come to understand them. Bu the hidden reality is that the soul is genderless. Shiva as Ardhanarishwara is the best piece to say it all that. ‘Bharat Ki Vidhwa’ poem by the Hindi poet Nirala explains it best. Kabirdas himself had been the illegitimate child of a Brahmin widow who abandoned him as for public gaze and glare. The woman is not only a wife, but a mother, a sister and a daughter too. While thinking about her and taking sides with her, it appears whatever she is saying, she is but truly. We feel the pains of Mira and Mahadevi Verma through her. The Sati system, the child marriage, honour killing, female foeticide, still strike us with pain. The Arabic and Asiatic taboos and restrictions have damaged womankind.

But it is a major drawback of Kamala that she is spiritually sick and morally bankrupt. The sleaze stuff leaves her. Kamala has not risen from the body level and is submerged in lust, infatuation and erotic love. She seems to be a disciple of Acharya Rajneesh and Vatsyayana.

Oct 18, 2016

A Poem-by-poem Study of Gitanjali--I

A Poem-by-poem Study of Gitanjali--I
Bijay Kant Dubey

What is that makes Gitanjali really Gitanjali? It is not his novel idea, thought and reflection, but his use of Indian philosophy archetypal and racial, household and commonly that he has used and applied in. It is but Hindu view of life which lies expressed through the lines. The word Gitanjali means the anjali of geets, the offering of songs. A tribute, homage of poems is it in really and the songs have been dedicated to God who is the creator, preserver and destroyer. It is but feeling, emotion, lyrical overflows which but turn the work into Gitanjali. A work of some samskara, culture and polish is it, handed down to us in the same link of thought and tradition, carrying forward the same mystical flame of relationship between the soul and the Supreme Soul. Though we call it extraordinary, but we know it not that, the bhakti tradition is not at all a newer aspect. There are so many saints and singers of India whose thoughts lie in as kernels in Tagore’s Gitanjali, the echoes of whom can be heard in it. Have we ever tried to know Kabir, Jayasi, Rashkhan, Tulsidas, Surdas, Mirabai, Vidyapati, Kabir and so on before reading Gitanjali or comparing it with them? Perhaps our study will remain unfinished if we study them not. The great sadhakas and tantrics of India we know them not and nor do they went for name and fame. Many of them led a life of self-denial and self-abnegation. 

Gitanjali as a text of Indian culture and philosophy is one from the School of Maya as he cannot denounce and renounce the world just as the bairagi does it or a sahdaka does it sadhna. Rabindranath is but a Vaishanava, one religious by being in worldliness. Though he derives from Shankaracharya, Jayadeva, Bhartihari, but does not refer to that he has exactly so. When he talks of truth, the picture of Satya Harishchandra flashes upon the mind’s eye, when he of renunciation, that of Yasodhara and Rahul, when of repeated birth and repeated death, that of Adi Shanakracharya.  The day and night kirtana, taking of the name of Sita-Rama or Radha-Krishna continued for twenty hours with the harmonium and cymbals and drums played, tuned, sung can also hint towards. The West knows it not all these, just goes through it. In the Kathopnishada, there lies the discussion with regard to death held in between Nachiketa and Vajashrava. Papa, punya and prayaschita are the code words of ours. We often keep talking about karma and bhoga.

The first poem with which Gitanjali starts is a thanksgiving poem wherein the poet accepts the gifts from the Divine with admiration and barring it there is nothing more to state, some sort acknowledgement is it. Eternal birth and eternal death, rebirth and incarnation from age to age form the crux of the poem. The Lord-god has made him and this adds to his joys. Without His touch, the things could not have been so.

When the Lord commands to sing, his joy knows no bounds, tears well up into the eyes and he forgets the joys mundane to be one with Divine companionship. A mortal and mundane singer into the court of the Divine, what can give more joys than this? The melodies take the singer far and he even forgets the things existential twitching him.

How the song of the master the poet-singer just thinks of it in amazement! He can just feel it the song he sings is but mundane and mortal, the song divine is something cannot be matched with. But the impact and impression of the godly melody is in it all.

God is the life of life and here from germinates everything. His touch is in it all, each and every limb the creation of His and He has given a shape to all. He will also try to approach with the full purity of heart and submission. If the heart is not chaste and pure, then how to approach Him? 

He seeks to sit quiet and bemused by his side and enjoying the moments together with. He does not know if it can be or not, but the indulgence of his to be by His side. 

The Divine may pluck the flower he has to offer and needle with other flowers before it fades away. It will be the good luck of the flower if to be embedded.

My song has put off her adornments is aesthetic and loverly and the poet wavers in between the love of jewels and simplicity. Finally concludes with that his poetry is shorn of ornamental rhetoric and prosody to approach. Let his life be simple and straight.

Let the child play in dust if he has to be reliant, if has to grow. Let him make the houses of sand and level in the end. There is a unique joy of playing with the sand and to be ignorant of. Innocence must not be restricted. Childhood is not for to be saddled.

It is sacred love which but matters. Take you what it is given with love.

God is not merely in bhakti and too much of bhakti the gesture of the thieves. What it is important is to search Him, feel the existence of His. If the heart is chaste then the Ganges is in the olden wooden bowl water. There is no need of sprinkling the holy Ganga water to be pure. Purity is a matter of the innermost self and His bounty is indescribable. Make your heart not petty. Give your alms open-heartedly. There is no need of worshipping in the temple with the doors shut from all around. God is not there. God is there where the path makers keep making the paths under sun and shower, where the tillers keep tilling the lands. Work is worship and this we have forgotten it. We must recognize the dignity of labour as no work is small and lesser. Where to strive for deliverance? Deliverance too is a thing connected with us. Have we not heard, service to man is service to God. God is in service. Those who serve instead of visiting the temples are not less than. What one can attain through knowledge that can be through devotion and action too. 

Man’s life is that of a traveller and this life of his a travel undertaken. The way is long and weary and that he has to cover it. It will take time in reaching the alien abode passing through unknown homes and streets, lonely tracts and fallows.

God is not among the proud fellows, but the poor. He is in humility and submission. Those who call Him humbly, He comes and hears them no doubt and those who are proud and elegant get no chance to meet Him. He is among the poor living and loving them. Riches can never lure Him. Tagore’s God is but a poor man.

Leave you the chanting and counting of beads as God is not there. God is in action, karmayoga. If one sits idle and keeps calling Him, He will not. Try to be a karmayogi, your karma is your dharma, is the message that he wants to give to us. There is no need of showing unnecessary devotion. God is in humility and utter submission.

The song he has come to sing remains unfulfilled and has passed so many days in stringing and unstringing the musical instrument. How to set the tune? How to break the melodies? He lies in the hope of meeting Him, but the meeting is not.

His desires are many and his cry painful. Even if he expects it not, but God gives it otherwise, tendering it so simply that one cannot take into one’s mindset that this can happen.

Into the Divine Hall, now it is the turn of the self to sing the song, but the things will differ as his melodies not the melodies divine and celestial. When the hour strikes for His silent worship at the dark temple of midnight, the Master may command him to stand before to sing. When in the morning air the golden harp is tuned, let the mundane singer be honoured, commanding his presence. 

Clouds heap upon clouds and it darkens and even he is let waiting outside the door. It is but love for which he waits, it is love which keeps he burning the lamp. Devote and dedicate all your pains so that one may see Him.

Where the head is held and knowledge is free and the world is not broken by narrow thinking, where the words come out of truth and all action is guided by clear logic and reasoning, into that heaven of freedom, his country must awake. 

Oct 12, 2016

Oneiric Visions by O.P.Bhatnagar

Oneiric Visions by O.P.Bhatnagar
By: Bijay Kant Dubey

Oneiric Visions is one of the best collections of O.P.Bhatnagar which he brought it out for the first time in 1980 with so many admirable poems telling of the use of irony, wit and satire, logic, reasoning and intellect. Herein he speaks about emotions and thoughts, fossil feeling, poems as smile and the dead men walking as skeletons. Poetry to Bhatnagar is mushrooms, fossils; a visit to the Jurassic Park. A Poem Is A Smile is the first poem with which the collection begins. Human want and scarcity, food problem and living conditions, grief and despair, trouble and tribulation second his poetry. First of all, he is an ironist than a humanist. Though the influence and impact of Alexander Pope, John Dryden and others of that type is apparent, but instead of it he tries to take a slanting view rather than sticking to the verses of reason strictly. Morning shows the day is the proverb and it applies to Oneiric Visions as because what he expresses in it remains with him unto the last. Small poems so meaningful and short when revealed lay it bare the cocoons of meanings layer after layer. Personal grief and sorrow rake the life of Bhatnagar from his early childhood and it swaps places in between personal loss and the faculty of reasoning power.

A Poem is a Poem, Of Death and Life, Reality Born of Romance, The Last Supper, Ulysses, Man is Lived, I Can Question Only My Dreams, What is the Difference, A Framed Sand  Dune, If One Starts Asking Questions Like Hamlet, On The Cross-Road, Who is Afraid of Fear, Don Quixote, The Hangover, Questioning Life, Reconciliation, To Live and Die For, From a window Frame, To Hamlets, From Puri Temple, The Territory and the Road, Moon Olympics, Oneiric Visions, Of Emotions and Thoughts, Feeling Fossils, Of Death and Suicide, Of the Copy and the Original and The God Game are the poems which lie in included in the collection named Oneiric Visions.  Poems to Bhatnagar are either fossils or sand-dunes making and unmaking.

Man Is Lived is a small poem:
The man
Whose dear one dies
Is bereaved.
Others keep sun in a bag
And distribute griefs
Dipped in moonwater.
But the man who dies knows
That man does not live
But is lived
And dies only as thoughts
In an image.
 (Oneiric Visions, Rachna Prakashan, Jaipur, 1980, p.12)

Even the godmen, dhongis as saints, characterless yogis and fakirs and bad tantrics have taken the poetic space of the poet which we mark it in a small poem named Saint. The stories leak when truth comes to light. Such a thing has always ruffled our space. Many fraudsters posing as yoga teachers are bluffing the foreigners. We should be on guard against such people. 

Let us see how he puts before the theme of the poem, Saint: 

He preached abstinence 
All his life
Keeping women away 
At a light’s distance
In an absolutely purity of thought.
People ensainted him:
And when he died
More prostitutes came
To mourn the loss.
 (Ibid, p.49)    

The age of reason and its eclipse in poetry forms the crux of modern poetry as he too is a remnant of the same trend and tradition. It is but words which salvage fossils. Poetry is not merely emotion and feeling, but inclusive of fact and fiction, logic and reasoning faculty too. 

Feeling Fossils is a small poem which tells of how fossils can be turned into the substance of poetry:

The age of reason 
Overshadows feelings 
Like moon shadowing sun.
The eclipse lasts a small hour
But feelings sink to the shadow:
Fail to reappear like sun 
And go fossil
Till they are broke open
And salvaged by words 
Resolving mysteries 
By miracles of thoughts.
 (Ibid, p.35)

Pablo Picasso is no doubt a very good poem from the pen of the poet and without being tuned to him, one cannot write such a piece which is audio-visual obviously: 

Pablo Picasso
Was not a visionary 
But a divisionary 
Who set everything apart 
Making harmony from images depart.
He made suns sweat
And eyes like horizons part.
Rejecting the myth of mystic forms
He presented the dissociation  
Of perceptive norms
And exploded the pretentions pose
Of profundity in art.
 (Ibid, p.50)

Is it the love for a Japanese girl or one from the moon land of poesy? The Land of The Rising Sun can be taken as an example:

We met 
When the sun was setting.
She was in a hurry and said
She was from the land of the rising sun 
And left me to search her in the moon.
When dream ran dry 
She real came to me
And stayed with me 
Till me sun rose in land.  
 (Ibid, p.55)

A Poem Is A Smile is the first one to open the vistas of thought and reflection:

What can a poet say
That words cannot feel
In similes, metaphors,
Symbols or wits
In any suggestion of art.
A poem is a smile 
That spreads
From eyes to heart
Using gestures 
That have hidden 
Their meaning 
In an ecstacy
Of being beautiful
Presenting visions 
After the femininity 
Of a woman 
Emerging from a happiness 
Locked in blue waters 
Revealing its unconscious beauty
In parts.
 (Ibid, p.7)

Poetry as the metaphor and simile of reality is the thing as and when we take up the poetry of O.P.Bhatnagar to discuss and analyze it. The Jurassic Park turns alive in him and we get tuned to fossil-feeling. The sand dunes, their making and unmaking also attract him and he inducts to impart to. Poetry is suggestion in art.

The romantic not, but the realistic side too has a part of its own. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa’s smiles too cannot escape his comments and criticism. Reality Born of Romance catches the spirit and romance of the artist:

Mona Lisa’s smile is one thing
But the indifference she hides
Is different.
Romance is just one side 
Of the moon,
The other side is dark.
What begins as romance 
Always gives way to 
Children, kitchen, clinics and parks.
Gas, office and soaring prices 
Chase all dreams away
Like beauty 
Conceived by moss in sands.
Sun brittles even memories 
And breaks the nets
That romance once laid
On sands 
To hold what they could
And what they actually
 (Ibid, p.9)

Ulysses is autobiographical in nature:

My father was a wanderer 
Who took life to be o road
Viewing right  for future
And for past on the left.
He never looked back to see 
How much he had made
But always ahead 
With the vision
That he had so much 
To make.
All roads have their dead ends
But a living soul
Walks out of the body
As white as a crane
Flying off the arresting water 
Laying skyways of new hope
Dead ends can never ever dream
Of having new roads. 
 (Ibid, p.11)
‘What Is The Difference?’ as a poem is tragic, indifferent and personal too dealing with modern life and living, so hard to eke out:
What is the difference to me?
My presents used to live in huts
Outside the holinesss of the village:
I live under a makeshift roof of rags
And tin wastes hung on battered hopes  in the city
Aloft a filth choked drain.
Although I have no room on earth
I have a place in the sun:
Tragedy is not my fate
Because l do not belong to nobility 
Even by way of fun.
 (Ibid, p.14)

We may cite A Framed Sand-Dune which really explains his art and vision:

A poem is a vision
Which one can make 
And unmake it
Till it is lost. 
To find it
One must go
To the desert
With wide-eyed wonder
Looking for shapes:
For a poem is
A framed sand-dune.
 (Ibid, p.15)     

Questioning Life is a delving into the quagmire of life and its aftermath, the living present and the uncertain future and this shaky presence of ours:

If I were to wonder
What was I before 
And what would I be after
I could also simulate 
What might or would I have been!
Thoughts consume life
Like sun evaporating  water. 
Is it not enough for me 
That I think I was 
To vanish away
Like stars at daybreak 
Not knowing if it would be 
Dark again?
 (Ibid, p.24)
Go With A Smile is the only medium to be hale and hearty:  

Man is wounded 
Hurt, agonised and painted: 
Heaves a heavy heart
But finds it hard to go. 
The weight is heavy, 
Can’t lift it or leave it back
For it is his own.
Grief over fate
Or pity from heavens
Gather weight like cotton 
Soaked in water:
Saints, religion or philosophy
May enlighten him but 
Smile alone will lighten his weight
And make his going light.
So go with a smile 
Bleaching sorrow from your bones.
(Ibid, p.52)      

Don Quixote is another example of his art and craftsmanship:
For the brave 
There must always be
Something to conquer
For the generous beggar,
For the coward 
Something to shy from
For the sentimental a tragedy.
Man must act a Sancho Panza
To his unending dreams
Of visionary valour
Fighting fluid battles 
On cotton thick flakes.
We are indeed brave 
To seek reality 
And then nothing is left  to seek,
Tired of this stasis 
We look for something Kinetic
And recreate fresh illusions 
Till imagination joins the parted ends.
(Ibid, p.22)

Let us mark the title poem Oneiric Visions:

There will be fairies to live with 
After death: a fair deal
Granted  to our deeds.
Others assure of a rest 
Till the Day of Judgement
And yet many more visions 
To frighten or to please.
Poems of visions may be concrete
But the vision of poems may be vague
For half-seen visions act 
Facts sprayed with lies
Like poetry written in prose.
My visions are oneiric,
Visual, immediate  and self-owned 
Offering no mysticism 
Mixed with farce
Like bird songs
In cage enclosed.
 (Ibid, p.33)

Mysticism is not the priority or privilege of the poet as he has no deal to truck with it and he is not a mystic, but a realist and poems come to him as oneiric visions, feeling fossils and making and unmaking sand-dunes of the deserts. 

Oct 7, 2016

A Rain of Rites by Mahapatra

A Rain of Rites by Jayanta Mahapatra
By: Bijay Kant Dubey

A Rain of Rites is one of the best poetry-collections of Jayanta Mahapatra to be have been authored, taking him to the pedestals of international name and fame, really a standard overseas presentation, an admirable one for an Indian writer of verse. Dawn is the first poem with which the collection opens and we get attuned to the Mahapatrian imagery and word-play which is so easily available in his poetry. A Wordsworth reveling into the landscapes of solitary silence, strange quietude and solitude, he tells the things of Orissa. Village is the second to follow Dawn, really an excellent piece from him. Thereafter, the poems included in it, as such, Old Palaces, These Women, A Missing Person, Samsara, Five Indian Songs, A Rain of Rites, A Rain, The Exile, Listening, Summer, Ceremony, Main Temple Street, Puri, The Whorehouse in a Calcutta Street, The Sentence, A Twilight Poem, Appearances, Myth, Four Rain Poems, A Dead Boy, Moving, Silence, Dawn at Puri, Listening to a Prayer, Sunburst, On the Bank of the Ganges, Girl Shopping in a Department Store, A Tree, Indian Summer Poem, The Ruins, Evening, Idyll, The Bare Arms in Packing Cases, Ikons, I Hear My Fingers Sadly Touching an Ivory Key, Somewhere, My Man, Hunger, An Old Country, The Desert under the Breath, Hands, Of Armour, This Stranger, My Daughter, India, The Landscape of Return, The Face, Faces, The Tattooed Taste and Now When We Think of Compromise.

Certainly, his is not an Indian view of life, but an alien insider writing the poems of such a verve and substance that one will think that these are not for the Indian reader and audience, but the foreigners and the international readers. The Indians may not understand as their faculties not so reasonable and logical, advanced and linguistical. Jayanta Mahapatra’s English is that of a Christian missionary’s, but the difference is in it that instead of being a convert Christian he has not on Christian matters, but confuses us with his Hindu view of life and physicist observations. This is for such a quality that he got his recognition in the West before being here. No other poet has understood Indian philosophy, economy and sociology as he has in his poetry. In the beginning when one tries to take, one may not like, but when one reads with his faculties open one will so lovingly.

A Rain of Rites as a title for the whole series of poems included in it tells of a strange stillness, quietude, solitude rarely to be come across elsewhere scenic with the Indian country with mud-built houses scattered across a vast stretch of land, rivers, hills and trees, the landscape painted against the mythic past. A coastal state of the rains and rites, dotting it, it has a tale of own to tell, narrate and annotate. It is better to see his verses rather than studying for meaning, laying them bare. There is a strange serenity to be marked in the poems.

Not the rains, but the rain of rites takes on frequently. The poet seeks to know who the first man was to whom the old cloud brought the blood to his face. There is nothing o take the rains or the rites seriously, as he takes to them privately for personal reflections. Ikons is extraordinarily beautiful as he takes to the Shiva lingam rarely described so far. We do not anyone who can in such a way as he has penetrated into our psyche and ethos joining through the myth of idolatry and breaking through iconoclasm. 

A poet of dawns and twilights he marvels us with his falling light and imagery. Where does it break from and retreat back to, is a mystery and there is no answer to it to resolve it. The poems of Jayanta Mahaptara are pictures and portraits drawn in silence and solitude on the canvas of nihilism and iconoclasm. What we say right, is it really? What we say wrong, is it really? 
Let us see Dawn:
Out of the dark it whirls back
into a darkly mysterious house.
Is it the earth within?
Does it keep us waking, give brief respite?
Like a hard crossword puzzle
it sets riddles crowding against one another:
the thunders trailing around hatchet-faced banana leaves,
a front gate limp with dew,
the acid sounds of a distant temple bell,
the wet silent night of a crow that hangs in the first sun.
Is the dawn only a way through such strange terrain?
The frenzy of noise, which a silence recalls
through companions lost, things suddenly found?
There is a dawn which travels alone,
without the effort of creation, without puzzle.
It stands simply, framed in the door, white in the air:
an Indian woman, piled up to her silences,
waiting for what the world will only let her do.
(A Rain of Rites, Jayanta Mahapatra, The University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1976, p.1)
Dawn as a poem is scenic and picturesque, landscapic and beautiful. With the break of the dawn, there conjure up the images, of the sunlight falling, dazzling, glistening and glowing, the crows flying, temple bells tinkling, silence recalling the frenzy of a noise.

The poet does it marvels with the half-said statements keeping this stanza or that stanza. The last two lines of the poem tell another story which is but Indian, feminine, rural and matriarchal lying suppressed and oppressed under the hegemony of the patriarchs. The hawks of the society will let her live a life of own.

To annotate and analyze the poetic lines of Jayanta Mahapatra is to destroy the beauty of his poems; to critique and make a criticism of as it is difficult to paraphrase and penetrate his vision.
In the poem, Listening to a Prayer, the poet says that stone cuts deep and with it the stories of the gods and goddesses carved out do the rounds. In the temple square the wind has nowhere to go rather than settling on his shoulders. Dawn at Puri is a tense poem of a somber mood and refection. The shifting sands and the shifting shadows with the swapping faith and doubt take the space of the poet. In the poem entitled Moving, the poet depicts a ten-armed Durga framed in the mythic past and carried away by some twenty-four tired men. A group of Brahmans singing the song while the tar keep melting along the lane. Dumb silence of a god’s curved eye directed like a pilgrimage is the attraction of the poem.

Jayanta Mahapatra has a unique style of relating to the Hindu philosophy of life. Rarely has a poet penetrated Indian religion and philosophy as has questionably. He has the disbelief as well as logic to contradict the base of our tradition. As Aldous Huxley says in Benares and George Orwell in his essay on Gandhi so is Jayanta Mahapatra in his questioning of faith and doubt. Why is faith so revered? Why not to give points to doubt? Let us think of the time when faith was not.

In the poem Samsara applying iconoclasm he tells the tales of this samsara, what was it before, what is it in the present and what will it be in future. This is samsara, here lies it maya-moha and bairagya, birth and death and the transmigration of the soul. With the onset of the autumn festivity starts and the resurrected gods anointed. Somewhere a Brahman priest waits haughtily by the temple doors. A prayer falls to wander around the deserted targets of the soul. Offerings of marigolds, fruit and shaven heads stare like terrified men and the slow stone surges to flame. And a man begins to begin in the centre of the past as sees no end to it. Here the poet seems to be referring to endless cycle of birth and death. 
What the philosophers and spiritualists fail to penetrate he has caught all that in his poetry the essence of Hinduism and the Hindu view of life. Black ikons as a word refers to antique statues found during excavations from the debris of the temples or the mounds of the earth dug out. Many of them are in museums, as for example, of Radha and Krishna, Nataraja Shiva, Kali and Buddha. But here the Shiva linga is the centre of focus. 
Ikons as a poem can be taken into consideration:
Black ikons:
a museum of symbols
silence the land.
Swale mists
still blot out the hills.
And illusion:
the sacred plant in a Hindoo home,
cow and scabbed stone,
a dark rock of answers and air.
What else can the face of crowds show? 
Among them a father stands,
looking around, like a hill.
Then, mumbling to himself,
he touches the linga with his forehead,
divine earths closing his eyes, a sightless god;
his charred silence
left from an enormous fire
no can remember.
(Ibid, p.40) 
The Whorehouse in a Calcutta Street is one of the chief attractions of the collection A Rain of Rites not from the cultural point of view, but from the sociological perspective as because herein lies a different story of life told by the daughters sold and bought for living, passing life as the caged birds. But setting it aside, he has dealt with in a similar manner as he has in the poem named Hunger where the author person himself as a visitor. Better had it been had he heard a mujra song from the kothawallis and enjoyed as with Cchote or Badeyen Mian of the red light area of Lahore or Benares or Bhagalpore. Khushwant Singh too has in his columns all about the red light area of Lahore. In Bihar’s Bhojpuri-speaking areas, the bai dance is one such, also called pros dance. But who is a prostitute? The situations and circumstances turn one into; the conditions of life, what will place one at which crossroad of life, even Mahapatra may not guess it. The Thai, Nepali and Ukrainian girls serving the restaurants and hotels sometimes prick our conscience. Is our modernity or advancement at the cost of them? Where will this hurrying take to ultimately? Perhaps it is Santaragacchi that he is describing it here with a view to catch the gala and glitz of Calcutta.
The poet gives the direction in which the beauties and belles, powdered and creamed, scented and bejeweled, magical and bespangled can be met. Walk right in. It is yours. The girls lie in waiting for you. The house smiles wryly into the lighted street. Just thing of the women one has aspired to know and have not. The faces in the posters, the public hoardings and who are all there together and who are those who have brought them here not, but put the house conjure upon and interest the startled eye to fall upon where pasts join and part with.

The sacred hollow courtyard harbours the promise of a great conspiracy. Even if do you nothing but the heresy of the house keeps engulfing. Do not be ashamed of. It is a type of business where the client and the professional all get benefitted from. It is better if one thinks of the secret moonlight of the women left behind their false chatter.
On the Bank of the Ganges is a beautiful poem bringing to our memory the reference with which the Hindus see the river as they consider it that a dip into the holy waters will absolve of them of their sins and the scenes connected with it. The vermillion smeared trees by the river banks make them appear like savagely beasts staring. After that the song of the lone Ganga boatman stumbles across lofty silences. Pious bathers crowd the riverside steps, the bathing ghats. Maybe it that an old blind flow makes them adhered to, enforcing them too otherwise as their thinking mind takes to conventionally. The poet half-awakes from his dream and finds the realities so conflicting and contrasting. But water, water is everywhere, the Coleridgean water around the imagery of the ancient mariner. The myths will remain mythic. Water also lies.
A  Missing Person though he calls it an autobiographical piece relating to the posture of his mother, but instead of it there is something more added to it. An Indian woman cannot take the name of her husband. The courtyard is the circle, range of dwelling. How painful is it to live a life! A Missing Person is the missing persona of Adil Jussawalla found in Jayanta Mahapatra’s countryside and that too a rural India woman living under the purdah.
In the poem named India Jayanta Mahapatra writes:
In an impressive map of lime-washed childhood
can one straggle out,
shift  the brutal bones of its boundaries?

The Shiva linga,
the rhythmic susurrus of chants on wrecks of petals,
the cage suspended in every father’s just eyes.

Small patient birds here sing in the drawn-out summer twilight,
then fall silent to the night.
The trembling of dreams is everywhere, like the wind.

When new learned dumbly to grow,
we felt of ourselves abandoned in the wilds, in things not real,
full of the mysterious fog that excites the shadows of the spirit.
(Ibid, p.50)

The title poem A Rain of Rites is a different type of piece in which the poet has nothing to do with rains, but with what it brings rain, what the story of it? How did the rains come first and who brought when? The rain which he has known is the kelp on the sea beach. Like some shape of conscience he cannot look at, a malignant purpose in a nun’s eye. Sometimes a rain comes slowly across the sky that turns upon its grey cloud, breaking away into light. Who was the last man to whom the cold cloud brought the blood to his face? Numbly he climbs the mountain-tops where his own soul too quivers on the edge of answers. A poet of science orientation, he will definitely put up such a supposition differing from the literary students and here lies in the gap between the arts and the science faculty students. Reasoning is the main faculty of Jayanta Mahapatra which it is not in others.

Oct 1, 2016

Listening to a Prayer: Mahapatra

Listening to a Prayer by Jayanta Mahapatra
byBijay Kant Dubey

Stone cuts deep
A bell trembles,
touched by the pain
of countless people.

Across the temple square,
the wind
that settles on my shoulders
has nowhere to go:
neither a silence
nor an answer.

Listening to a Prayer is one of those poems of Jayanta Mahapatra which figure in his A Rain of Rites collection of poems which has appeared from The University of Georgia Press, Athens, USA, published in 1976.

A poet of rains and rites, rocks, stones and trees, lakes, rivers and bird sanctuaries, sea beaches and tourist attractions, photography and imagistic reflection, Jayanta Mahapatra delves into history, art and culture, religion, philosophy and ethics, spirituality, cosmology and metaphysics to reveal to what he has observed personally and privately.

A poet of Orissa and Orissan landscapes, rock-built temples and rituals doing the rounds, he tells about Puri, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar; Khandagiri, Dhaulagiri and Udaygiri; Konark Sun-temple, Jagannath Puri-temple and Lingaraj Temple. The Rathyatra of Puri has always drawn his attention from and he liked it so much. The defeat of Kalinga he has not been able to forget. He still rues the site by the river Daya with the skulls and skeleton bones and the bloodshed King Asoka did for vanquishing Kalinga.

The sculptures carved upon the outer walls of the Sun-temple with ample decorations, erotic figures and figurines in love and affection or differently portrayed take the canvas of the poet and he thinks of the structure, its cutting, borders, columns; human devotion, love, affection, passion and engraving. The chariot design gives borders to his poetry and the engravings the images of the dark daughters.

When the poet says it, stone cuts deep, by it he means to refer to a vast body encompassing within rock-built temples, art and architecture, sculpture and artifacts, engravings upon; the Siva lingas. The sea shores and the beaches around, he refers to all that.

A bell trembles touched by the pain of the countless people. If faith is so sacrosanct and sacred, holy and pious on the one hand doubt seems to be clawing on the other as because this is the world where people have to live in and where they have to die too. The woes and sorrows of the men are mundane and earthly. The tales of the hunger-stricken people, those who have no food in stock to take none but a distraught fellow can say it. Human hunger is the worst of all. The mammoth crowds, where are they going to?

The temples remain so jammed and packed that the wind has nowhere to go rather than settling on his shoulders. There is nothing as to be counseled in neither silence nor an answer to get from. Prayer is best taken to in silence, but the scenes crowded and chaotic.

Leaving rocks and stones, what has he? The gravels round and smooth and blackly are anointed as Vishnu. There are so many gods and goddesses to adore. But apart from holding faith in confidence, life too has its own grind to grind.

With the prayer there conjure up the images differently opined. Where is faith so sacrosanct? Is it in rituals or in service? One can definitely look up to in piety and reverence. But should there be any scope given to doubt and suspense lurking within?

The temples become so jammed and cramming that even oxygen has to be put into the ventilation of the sanctum sanctorum as for to avert tragedies and loss. Generally in the rock-built temples, one door remains for the entry and the outlet. So many devotees and worshippers with the wishes of their own overcrowding the complex, is the scene. The bells which lie in hanging are metallic. Somebody has definitely made them. People ringing it, trying to knock the god, telling of arrival and submission of piety, comes under the purview.

Listening to a Prayer is no doubt a fine poem, but it is difficult to mean it if one knows it not the history of Orissa; if one knows it not the Hindu view of life. Without viewing the scenery of a temple complex, one may not be able to lay it bare. It is a poem of faith, but of doubt too recoiling around to be contradicted by logic and reasoning.

Stones are deep into the psyche of the people and they are so much adhered to it that they cannot reason it taking to be logic as their guide. While reading the poem, we become reminded of Krishna, Balbhadra and Subhadra and their grotesque images.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

All Posts

A Fine Balance A House for Mr. Biswas Absurd Drama Achebe Across the Black Waters Addison Adiga African Ages Albee Alberuni Ambedkar American Amrita Pritam Anand Anatomy of Criticism Anglo Norman Anglo Saxon Aristotle Ariyar Arnold Ars Poetica Auden Augustan Aurobindo Ghosh Backett Bacon Badiou Bardsley Barthes Baudelaire Beckeley Bejnamin Belinda Webb Bellow Beowulf Bhabha Bharatmuni Bhatnagar Bijay Kant Dubey Blake Bloomsbury Book Bookchin Booker Prize bowen Braine British Brooks Browne Browning Buck Burke CA Duffy Camus Canada Chaos Characters Charlotte Bronte Chaucer Chaucer Age China Chomsky Coetzee Coleridge Conard Contact Cornelia Sorabji Critical Essays Critics and Books Cultural Materialism Culture Dalit Lliterature Daruwalla Darwin Dattani Death of the Author Deconstruction Deridda Derrida Desai Desani Dickens Dilip Chitre Doctorow Donne Dostoevsky Dryden Durkheim EB Browning Ecology Edmund Wilson Eliot Elizabethan Ellison Emile Emily Bronte English Epitaph essats Essays Esslin Ethics Eugene Ionesco Existentialism Ezekiel Faiz Fanon Farrel Faulkner Feminism Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness Ferber Fitzgerald Foregrounding Formalist Approach Forster Foucault Frankfurt School French Freud Frost Frye Fyre Gandhi Gender German Germany Ghosh Gilbert Adair Golding Gordimer Greek Gulliver’s Travels Gunjar Halliday Hard Times Hardy Hawthorne Hemingway Heyse Hindi Literature Historical Materialism History Homer Horace Hunt Huxley Ibsen In Memoriam India Indian. Gadar Indra Sinha Interview Ireland Irish Jack London Jane Eyre Japan JM Synge Johnson Joyce Joyce on Criticism Jumpa Lahiri Jussawalla Kafka Kalam Kalidasa Kamla Das Karnard Keats Kipling Langston Hughes Language Language of Paradox Larkin Le Clezio Lenin Lessing Levine Life of PI literary Criticism Luckas Lucretius Lyrical Ballads Macaulay Magazines Mahapatra Mahima Nanda Malory Mandeville Manto Manusmrti Mao Marlowe Martel Martin Amis Marx Marxism Mary Shelley Maugham McCarry Medi Media Miller Milton Moby Dick Modern Mona Loy Morrison Movies Mulk Raj Anand Mytth of Sisyphus Nabokov Nahal Naipaul Narayan Natyashastra Neo-Liberalism NET New Criticism new historicism News Nietzsche Nikita Lalwani Niyati Pathak Niyati Pathank Nobel Prize O Henry Of Studies Ondaatje Orientalism Orwell Pakistan Pamela Paradise Lost Pater Pinter Poems Poetics Poets Pope Post Feminism Post Modern Post Structuralism post-Colonialism Poststructuralism Preface to Shakespeare Present Prize Psycho Analysis Psychology and Form Publish Pulitzer Prize Puritan PWA Radio Ramayana Rape of the Lock Renaissance Restoration Revival Richardson Rime of Ancient Mariner RL Stevenson Rohinton Mistry Romantic Roth Rousseau Rushdie Russia Russian Formalism Sartre Sashi Despandey Satan Sati Savitri Seamus Heaney’ Shakespeare Shaw Shelley Shiv K.Kumar Showalter Sibte Hasan Slavery Slow Man Socialism Spender Spenser Sri Lanka Stage of Development Steinbeck Stories Subaltern Sufis Surrealism Swift Tagore Tamil Literature Ted Hughes Tennyson Tennyson. Victorian Terms Tess of the D’Urbervilles The March The Metamorphsis The Order of Discourse The Outsider The Playboy of the Western World The Politics The Satanic Verses The Scarlet Letter The Transitional Poets The Waste Land The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction The Wuthering Heights Theatre of Absurd Theory Theory of Criticism Theory of Evolution Theory of Literature Thomas McEvilley Thoreau To the Lighthouse Tolstoy Touchstone Method Tughlaq Tulsi Badrinath Twain Two Uses of Language UGC-NET Ulysses Untouchable Urdu Victorian Vijay Tendulkar Vikram Seth Vivekananda Voltaire Voyage To Modernity Walter Tevis Webster Wellek West Indies Wharton Williams WJ Long Woolfe Wordsworth World Wars Writers WW-I WW-II Wycliff Xingjian Yeats Zadie Smith Zaheer Zizek Zoe Haller