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Writings from the Margins
by Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam Bookmark and Share

It has been rampant in all societies and civilizations that certain sections of people and citizens are marginalized, intentionally or unintentionally. The marginalization happens based on financial status, community, caste, religion, region, language, culture, ideology, gender, and many such divisions. In India particularly caste and gender are now considered as marginalizing aspects right from the beginning.

Brahmanism is blamed solely for the division into castes and exploitation. Buddhism, Jainism which do not have caste distinctions or divisions tried to balance the situation. But in literature of every language, region and religion of India there have been contributions from the so called marginalized sections. All the Bhakti movements, Buddhism, Jainism, Chaarvakism, Vedanta, reformation movements, now communism, socialism, dalitism, feminism and the like isms have been striving to undo the damage done through generations. We have literature divided in these lines as communist literature, rationalist literature, dalit literature, feminist literature and the like. But it must be mentioned that Upanishads and the spirituality professed by their contents are most objective works of the world.

The following stresses that aspect.

Creative Hymns from the Upanishads:
“Who knows the secret?
Who proclaims it here?
Whence, whence This manifest creation sprang?
The Gods themselves Came later into being;
Who knows whence This great creation sprang?
These verses clearly inform the objective nature of the Upanishadic expressions. They are most secular and full of rationalism and unbiased in unraveling and exposing Truth and Reality. This spirit of the Upanishads pervaded throughout the expressions of the Upanishadic seers. Later Brahmanism has evolved and the other isms – commenting, substantiating and challenging the Upanishadic expressions. Upanishadic spirit transcends all divisions and leads humanity towards peace, bliss and harmony.

The Buddhism, Jainism, Veera Vaishnavism, Veerasaivism and the Bhakti movements have played tremendous role uplifting and expressing for the “marginalized” sections. Many Alwars (Vishnu devotees) and Nayanamaars (Siva devotees) from the south are from marginalized groups. They are universal in themes and compositions. The Narayanaguru movement in Kerala, Periyar movement in Tamilnadu and Ramamanohar Lohia in the north and communism, radical humanism of M. N. Roy all contributed to uplift and aid the marginalized sections. But unfortunately, the movements became more militant and reason and compassion missed in some of them. Some of them developed hatred towards all for which Brahmanism stood and benefitted the society. And these movements have further divided themselves based on “ideology”, region, language, “culture”, individualism and the like dividions is irony of these movements. They developed a vested interest in denigrating Brahmanism.

The demerits anywhere can be removed and merits can be used. But the supporters of the marginalized sections instead of working for harmony among all sections; calculatedly, systematically and gradually alienated one section from the other and we now have separate poets and literary figures in addition to political figures, for all “non-privileged” classes, castes and communities and are not allowing even these marginalized sections to come under one leadership and philosophy. The leaders, political, intellectual and literature-connected dominating the divisions and the movements are fragmented. So is the case with gender specialization - feminism.

Many literary figures have attained name, fame, money and eminence by writing about marginalized sections. These individuals almost belong to the marginalized sections. They pronounce that only individuals from these sections can write well and authentically about their conditions, feelings, reactions, experiences and the like. And how many marginalized sections of people are reading this narrow-minded and closed literature is a big question and the reality is all most all the “marginalized’ sections and the rest of the citizens are busy in tackling the lack or shortage of food, clothing and shelter. And all are facing the threats from fundamentalists of ideology, caste, community, region, religion, terrorists of all hues and anti-social elements and normal criminals who are many times are troubling in the guise of politicians.

But it must also to be noted that many other literary figures also have written with passion and love and affection on these marginalized sections though they do not belong to these sections throughout India through all religions, regions, cultures and the like.

Marginalization is of many kinds. Before dwelling further on marginalization let us discuss about creative writing.
Creative writing 

(contemplating and meditative scholar alone can compose great works): A creative writer or poet is also a human being. He possesses thirst and hunger. He will have family responsibilities. He/she will have his or her social obligations. One has to take care of all these and then in the midst of these has to fine tune time to compose poetry.

Money is essential to quench his thirst and hunger and discharge family responsibilities. These are not the times when one can make poetry-writing a livelihood. One has to do some other job and then write poetry. Living and being engaged in literary creation are different. Ninety nine percent of poets do not have the luxury of earning money by taking poetry-writing as a profession. And thus they cannot meet the obligations of taking care of themselves, their family and also discharge other social responsibilities.

A poet can spare and spend time in poetry-writing only after providing a comfortable life to his near and dear. Under present circumstances it is not possible to have a full-fledged life of poetry writing. One has to write poetry and take care of his family simultaneously. Many famous and popular poets of today do other jobs for their livelihood and then also write poetry. Now-a-days there are no poets who continue writing great poetry despite they and their family members suffering from poverty and hunger.

There are almost no people who made poetry-writing their livelihood. There have been many poets from all societies and civilizations who wrote poetry despite being poor and suffered from lack of minimum amenities. The great Tamil poet, Subrahmanya Bharati is a shining example, wrote poetry as an Upasana, and was many times not able to make his family members free from hunger and depravation. But Rabindranath Tagore was a rich person and never knew the pangs of hunger. Sri Gurajada Apparao, the famous Telugu dramatist and poet though was serving a royal family, created literary master-pieces.

What all needed to be a poet is to have a touchy, responsive and compassionate heart. And one must be able to feel for the happenings around and become one with them and express. Poverty or richness or serving others for livelihood or marginalization will not and should not come in the way of composing everlasting poetry and literature with universal themes. And compose literary creations for all; irrespective of denomination which they profess to represent or fight for. Then only the poet, writer becomes universal. Thus how far the poets who do other jobs for livelihood and are part-time poets can commit themselves to their ideologies and influence the society with their poetry is a big question mark.

We have many poets who lead cozy lives but still “feel” and write about dalits, women’s liberation, socialism, communism (though these two are now not so popular isms) and proclaim to belong to a narrow section rather than to belong to all humanity. Writings from the margins need not necessarily deal only with the problems, experiences, aspirations, struggles, exploitation etc., of the marginalized sections. Creative writers from marginalized sections can also write on universal themes and need not be confined to their sworn ideology or ism.

Creative writing must be aimed at every one and cover all sections: “Viswasreyahkaavyaparamaartham - the poetic work must profess the welfare of all humanity and creation”. Such works are becoming rare.

Ramaneeyaarthaprapadikasabdahkavyah - Even a single word pregnant with aesthetic and bliss-giving meanings is also defined as poetry and poetic work. A poet has to present both aspects in one’s own poetry for the welfare and joy of all and also for self-satisfaction. The mental state of the girl who has matured and attained her puberty just then and the mental state of a budding poet will be the same. They will be enthusiastic to show the transformations and the changes within to aesthetic persons and desire to share their rasa sthithi with such proficient and efficient rasajnas for their appreciation and praise.

What we need to compose poetry is a heart which can feel and which has compassion. An ability to imagine beautifully and romantically helps. One must have a good observation power, command over language in which the composition is being made, an idea of words and synonyms, an insight of their usage, their aptness and relevance coupled with necessary experience of and by “object” or “subject” of creation. This will make one to be a good poet. Study of literature and poetry in various languages and an open mind enhance the merits of the verses composed.

Kavayonirankusaha” is a meaningful and indicating Sanskrit saying. A poet is dictator unto himself. A poet is a flying bird with liberty; joyously jumping and falling water-fall; the wishfully, willfully and eagerly flowing river; the blissfully rising and falling sea-wave; the personification and the part and parcel of nature. The poet or poetess whose nature is their independence and freedom and who are masters of themselves cannot be confined and imprisoned in the boundaries of any ideology or philosophy or culture or cult. They are not parrots to be limited to these cages.

All poets need not be followers or propagandists of a particular culture, cult, ideology or philosophy. And many poets are not and will not be confined to a particular school of thought. They compose as they feel and are impressed or influenced or made to melt or made blissful, joyful or sorrowful or hurt or pained.

Poetry must share love and affection; must improve understanding and peace; it must make the readers feel aesthetically and make their hearts full of warmth and compassion for all not necessarily to their caste, community, clan or gender specifications.

Many feel that poetry need give a message or side and propagate a cause, ideology, ism, and the like. They dictate that each verse need reflect the situation in the society and the observation and response of the poet about the societal happenings. This need not be the guiding principle for every poem or poet and is not the universal rule of composing poetry and cannot bind each poet.

A poem can be a creation just reflecting the within of a poet and need not contain any message or relation to happenings in the society. The verse can be a mere exposure of the poet’s ecstasy or deep sorrow or hurt or pain or just being. It can be expression of love to one’s beloved or devotion to one’s favorite deity. Match-box, soap-piece, kitten or anything can be the object for creation and the subject of poetry. It is the prerogative of the poet to decide the object or subject of creation. The critic has liberty to appreciate or otherwise of the creation and assess its relevance, beauty, meaning, use and aesthetic quality.

A critic must not transgress his limits and decide on which the poet must write poetry and for what the poet must feel. The critic can suggest on the style of narration, use of apt words or the imageries. That is all the duty of the critic. The poet may or may not follow the critic’s suggestions. He will do according to his convenience and wish.

Composition of poetry:

The outpour, having its origin in the inner recesses of the poet and is expressed for one’s own contentment and fulfillment, may or may not fit into the confines and boundaries defined by others. Such an outpour can be devoid of any message or reflection of societal happenings and be a mere flow of poet’s inner experiences. Just because no one is aware of such a flow or such a flow is not ‘useful’ does not diminish its importance or essence. There are many mountain-streams whose existence is not known to any and which are not useful to any. Just because they are not seen by any or not used by any they do not cease to be streams. So also the streams of feelings of poet can and will exist.

Ramaneeyaarthaprapadikasabdahakavyaha”- even a word which gives an aesthetic meaning and experience is poetic-work by itself. There are many things existing in the nature whose existence is not known to any. They just exist unknown and unconcerned. They do not require anybody’s permission to exist. They can and will exist despite the ignorance or innocence or non-information to or non-awareness of any others. Absence of knowledge about their presence by others does not prevent them from existing and blooming. The within of poet is composed of waves of poetry. These waves may or may not touch all. They may not even reach any.

No poetry is acclaimed by one and all. Every poet will not be liked by and be a favorite of one and all. All the artistes create according to their nature and for personal satisfaction. Such a creation which is the form of worship of one’s own Self may or may not please and be pleasant to all. Some may be just excited by it. In some it may not create any feeling at all. In reality, the verse is not composed by the individual. The heart which has experienced the feeling composes the verse. During that period the poet’s normal personality will be forgotten or is transcended or his identity is merged and absorbed in the object or subject of composition and his Self becomes one with his creation. And in that state his heart makes him filled and full in such absorption and creation takes place.

All individuals who can compose verses are not recognized and become popular as poets. There are various reasons for this.

Narrow-mindedness of critics:

Even a meritorious composition does not get the appreciation of contemporaries and is not easily recognized and applauded. Under such circumstances it is highly difficult for a normal poet to get recognition and appreciation. This is because like certain poets, certain critics are also the fans of certain ideology or culture or tradition or cult or philosophy. Such critics cannot appreciate any poetry which does not reflect their favorite ideology. The critics who can transcend their likes or dislikes or affiliations and appreciate a work are becoming a rare species. Their number is dwindling day by day. Some like traditional way of writing; some like socialism; some like communism; some like dalit literature; some like feminism; some like ‘anubhootivaada” (giving prominence to one’s experience or mood); some like ambiguity (aspashtatha) to adorn the poetry.

Thus we have so many tribes of critics. They spend most of their time, energy and scholarship in futile and acrimonious arguments. Such fights do not help in the appreciation of the aesthetic contents of the poetry. These quarrels lead us nowhere and constructive criticism will be missing. They divide poetry into various denominations basis for which is not always harmonious.

Marginalized writings can and should also be universal:

When poets and literary critics are thus divided into various groups, any poetry devoid of any “ism” will not get the attention and recognition of such groups. One also cannot expect such a thing to happen. Also there is a mushroom growth of poets and poetesses.In this background, the poetry composed without touching any “isms” but only as the one that touched a single person’s heart and as one felt must also be recognized or appreciated. Such heart-beats or disturbances of within or movements of within or songs of heart or murmurs or volcanoes or storms or whirlpools or pleasant sounds or harmonious phases of heart in the form of verses may not be heard and any may not be aware of them. So writings from the margins can also be universal in content and appeal and the composers will be received by all sections of the society.

The Writer:

The writer is the conscience keeper of the society too; to whatever section or denomination he belongs to in the society. The writer can be a poet, a fiction writer, a novelist, an essayist, an originator of philosophical thought, a spiritual quest and the like. The commentators on all these are also called writers. The commentators may agree with, differ, like, dislike, modify, extend or regulate the expressions of the original writers. The commentators are also called critics, some for and some against the writer. Writing is a sublime art and natural trait. It is an urge. It is the result of the sensitive and sensible nature of the individual. Writer automatically creates initiated, driven, guided, counseled, regulated, edited, by inner sensitivities. It is in-tuition which makes a writer in response to happenings within and around the individual.

No one asks or invites a writer to write something. It is his inner consciousness and conscience which stirs, makes him/her moved and a flow of thoughts and feelings are generated within which take the form of the sentences and are expressed through writing on a paper or now a days through key board. Such sublime creativity need not necessarily be confined to one only section and related points. Writings from the margins must also cover all themes as done by the famous Telugu poet GurramJaashuvaa, who composed poetry on all themes and never confined to “dalitism”. Despite his “marginalization” by contemporaries he “fought” back through his poetry and became equally eminent and famous. His piece on Smasaanam (burial ground) is a master piece.

The sensitized mind or touched heart of the writer will not allow one to rest until he/she gives the thoughts or feelings language form and put on paper or computer screen. Such being the story of creation by a writer, the writers will be possessed by their inner pleasantness, turmoil or the like emotions and intellectual reflections. All civilizations have writers from all sections, encouraged them, adored and admired them; and the aesthetic readers and critics play an important role in making a writer popular, famous, earn name, fame and money and immortality. The writings from the margins can also aim at such grandness in addition to outpouring their respective experiences, actions, reactions and the like.

Creative writing is not remunerative:

But all the writers cannot make a profession out of their writing. Most of them do some other job for their livelihood and also create. Very lucky few only can make a profession out of their writings. Whether they are able to make money out of their writings or not all writers make impressions on society through their creations. Conclusion: So confining oneself to a particular ism, ideology or a cause may not make him dear or famous or appreciated outside one’s realm of writing. A work of poetry or literature must enthuse all. It should be useful to all in aesthetic enjoyment and guiding to face life in all vicissitudes. It would be of more satisfaction to the poet if his poetry is read and appreciated by all sections of readers. Thus writings from marginalization need not necessarily concern marginalization alone. The “marginalized” sections can also write universal poetry useful to all in addition to their individualized commitments. And writers outside the “margins” also have been, are and will be writing about marginalized sections with equal passion and concern. The literary figures from marginalized sections, when write about all topics in addition to their chosen field of championship will pave harmonious path and very good and variety of literature will be composed.
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Comment Isn't the Creative Hymn quoted from RigVeda?

Roy D'Costa
09/02/2012 22:36 PM

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