Be a Member of this BLOG

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...