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Urvashi: The Poetry of Love's Victory

Martya Maanav ki vijay ka turya hun main
Urvashi! apne samay ka surya hun main
(I am the trumpet of the victory of the mortal man
O Urvashi! I am the Sun of my epoch)

This is what Pururuva, the hero of the Gyanpeeth awarded 'Urvashi', a milestone poetry of Ramdhankari Singh 'Dinkar', the poet laureate of India, proclaims to Urvashi, his fiancée. However, in the same verse, Dinkar's own personality finds its vent. Dinkar, born in 1908 in a village of Bihar (India), is among those great poets of the world whose poems reflect a rare blend of romance and valor. These two seemingly contradictory attributes assimilated in Dinkar. 'Urvashi' culminates this double nature of the poet. 

This poetry for which Dinkar received the Gyanpeeth Award, one of the highest literary awards in India, is the love-story of Pururuva, a valiant king who ruled a part of the earth, and Urvashi, a fairy of the heaven. In his entire work, Dinkar glorifies the station of man. In his opinion, a man's rank is even superior to gods. 'Urvashi' is a reflection of the same glory of mankind. While Urvashi represents the kingdom of gods, Pururuva stands for the valor of mankind. The most beautiful immortal maiden of the universe, Urvashi, falls in love with a mortal king and an enamored Pururuva accepts her. The power of love makes a mighty king so docile that though he can fight with a hundred lions but a smile of Urvashi makes him to surrender before her. Thus the earth and the sky meet in the embrace of a powerful love.

However, "Urvashi" goes much beyond this simple love-story. This wonderful poetry is an expression of the same dual nature of romance and valor, beauty and soul, love and reality, knowledge and aesthetic sense. But what the conclusion is? What do we need : truth or beauty? Which of the two leads us to the Supreme Reality? Dinkar combines these two aspects of life in one single philosophy: both lead to the same destination. Those who follow the path of rigorous practice, refrain from the shadow of mortal beauty so that their soul is not sullied, those who meditate and strive to see the Supreme Truth in their inner beings while the entire world is asleep, are endeavoring to find the same 'Object' as the lover finds in the sweet embrace of his beloved. Through a different road, the tides of knowledge transport us to the world of Supreme Reality. Through yet another different road, the waves of beauty take us to that realm where the Most Beloved Beauty is seated. 

'Urvashi' declares the victory of love. And victory of love is the victory of this mortal plane, the Earth. We are here in a world where flowers bloom, rivers warble, birds sing, bees hum. Love is the intrinsic force here. How can we remain untouched? Where will we escape? So why not to welcome it? But how? What is love? Is love there in the flesh? Does love reside in hugs and kisses, touches of warmth and desires of physical union? Dinkar says that this physical body is the emerging point of love because a form is needed for love’s birth. However, once born on the physical plane, love denies the limits of bodies. Once the fledgling of love is born out of the shell of the physical being, it strives to soar high in the realm of soul. And there it finds the Supreme Reality and there it meets the Most Great Beloved.    


More by :  Suniti Chandra Mishra

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Comment Here is Tagore's poem on Urvashi in translation -

Neither a mother nor a daughter
Nor even a wife in an earthly home
O fair Urvashi
You are a denizen of heaven!
Drawing a golden veil
When evening descends on the meadows
You do not light up a lamp
In the corner of a home
In the middle of a silent night
With a tremulous heart and bashful eyes
In shy halting steps you do not go
To the chamber of a groom
For your first union.
Like the light of dawn
You wear no veil
You are never coy
And hesitation you have none.

Like a flower in full bloom
Growing without any stem
When did you blossom on your own!
With a cup of honey in your right hand
And a cup of poison in your left
In the primeval spring you sprang
Out of the churning oceans
Whose waves like charmed snakes
Laid at your feet their thousand hoods
And the king of gods
Paid homage to your naked form
Blemishlessly white as a white flower.

Like a bud yet to break
Were you never a small child
O you Urvashi forever young!
Where did you spend your childhood days
Under the seas unseen
Playing with pearls and gems
And sleeping on a coral bed
The moment you rose above
You appeared fully grown
And in full bloom.

From the time without a beginning
To the whole world
You have been an object of desire
O fair Urvashi without compare!

Sages have offered at your feet
All the fruits of their meditation
By your insinuating glance
The world stirs up in youthful vigor
The winds like messengers blind
Carry your intoxicating scent
All around
Like greedy bees
Intoxicated by honey
The poets hum rhapsodic songs
Restless like lightning
Jingling your anklets
You glide past them all.

In the heavenly hall
When you dance in wild ecstasy
O you fleet-footed Urvashi!
In waves the oceans dance
In her waving cornfields
The earth expresses her thrills
In the skies
Like gems of your necklace
Pendant on your breast
The stars fall
The horizons are exposed bare
When you are careless with your dress
And from your waist
It suddenly slips.

Like the dawn
That dawns on heaven's eastern mounts
You have kept the world ever spellbound!
Your slim beautiful body
Is washed by world's tears
And your feet its blood beautifies
O you naked one with hair flowing free!
The lust of this world is a lotus
On it your feet you have lightly placed
In the universal mind
You are the playful partner of its dreams.

For you all the world wails
Do you hear
O you Urvashi deaf and cruel!
Will the time when you first appeared
Ever return
And you will rise again
>From the depths of shoreless seas
On a fresh morning
We will see your fresh form
And all your limbs will cry
>From wounds
Made by lustful glances of our eyes
And in breaking waves
The oceans will sing a song in your praise?

No, no, such a time will never return
O Urvashi
Like the setting sun
You are forever gone
Even the happiest moments of spring
Are now mixed with sighs
Of someone's eternal separation
In the full moon
When everything smiles
A sad tune like a long forgotten memory
Saddens our mind.
Yet a forlorn hope remains
In our cries and cravings for one
Who defies all bonds.

One of Tagore's masterpieces one should read it if possible in the original.

01-Jan-2016 21:34 PM

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