Book Reviews

Rajender Krishan's 'Solitude and Other Poems'

Solitude and Other Poems by Rajender Krishan
Allahabad: 2013 | ISBN 978-81-8253-414-8
Pages xxv + 137| $ 17 | Rs 225

Enriching, Inspiring, Elevating ...

Better late than never, when good things are concerned, more so when a commitment either to self or to others is involved. This is how I have undertaken the review of the compulsive Solitude and Other Poems by Rajender Krishan (RK), which was published in 2013, and which I acquired on Oct 17, 2013 and began reading on Aug 10, 2015.

From the Preface we gather that the introspective ramblings caused by the summum bonum of RK’s interaction with people and situations and his own life-experiences, with all of it ground on the touchstone of his “beliefs and convictions,” inform his poems.

A wide thematic variety characterises this collection mirroring the contemporary society and the goings on in the mind of the poet whose poetry “is gentle, lyrical and thought-provoking” (About the Book), the Foreword to which by PCK Prem is comprehensive and insightful.

Viewing the life holistically and finding the raison d’être of every phenomenon and happening makes one feel at home with oneself, with others, and with the creation. This overarching philosophy pervades the poems.

The very first poem “Core of the Onion” attempts to find the indestructible Atman by peeling off the onion to its nothingness.

Anyone – whose mind is nebulously racked by a labyrinth of varied thoughts and who is guided by rationality seeks solitude so as to analyse, organise and balance them; and on experiencing it realises the self-enlightening bliss emanating from this sublimating medium (Solitude).

With that realisation RK proceeds to proclaim –

I, thus, am the playwright
of the drama of my life
impregnated with
logic, strategy and abundant faith
in spite of the tumult of doubts
giving birth to
the line of fate. Whatever is…
it’s my own doing. - (Lines)

The above sense of responsibility brings to our mind the memorable lines of W E Henley –

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul. - (Invictus)

Gifted is a poet for whom –

a caravan of words just comes along
populating the page - (Words)

But more blessed are those who can say and live the following lines –

Living the ideals would have been
so simple and maybe
instead of so much gabbling
I would have said:
“Conform, Talk Not.” (Words)

Won’t the actions of a man of positive thoughts but of few words speakmore eloquently?

This collection contains 60 poems and a good deal of them are inspired and complemented by time-tested Indian philosophical and spiritual thoughts, and enriched by a litany of apposite images rooted in the pristine Indian culture comprising gods, demons, emperors or saints like Shiva, Kama, Rama, Yama, Varuna,Krishna, Radha, Vikramaditya, Buddha, Ravana, Holika, and Vetala; invocations like Tat Tvam Asi, Aham Brahmasmi, and Hari Om Tat Sat; festivals and rites like Holi, Diwali, Puja, Havan, and Lohri; places like Ayodhya; concepts like Vedic aspects, Atman, Prana, Udana, Pranava, Prarabdha, Iccha, Aniccha, Pariccha, Karma, Maya, Shunya, Nirvana, and Prakriti; acts and practices like Tandava, Bhoga, and Yoga; miscellany like Raga and Yoni. There are also poems of anguish and righteous indignation baring the hideous spots in the social life.

“A Hindu Obligation” underlines the duty of a Hindu which is not to chop off trees and burn wood on every occasion but to plant and grow more trees.

“Here and Now” cogitates on the importance of living in the present, not losing oneself either in the dreary past or in the daydreams of the unknown future.

“Light and Dark” throws light on the inseparable antinomies of life –

Luminosity of light
is truly adored
only after darkness
has been endured
… …
Entrepreneur’s talent
becomes a skilful class
when seeking profits
he also bears the loss

In “Buddha” RK bemoans the frenzied destruction of the centuries old architectural wonders, Bamiyan Buddhas, by the Taliban, and this menace of intolerance and fanaticism threatening global peace has, unfortunately, been spreading all over, with no concerted global action in place to check the activities of ISIS and similar outfits perpetrating maniacal crimes on humanity.

To symbolise the transformation of Duality into Oneness, RK alludes to the ecstatic sense of perfect unity that comes out of lover’s intercourse –

Beyond logic
beyond doubts
the cosmic edge - (Intercourse)

And this sense of spousal complementarity finds its rapturous culmination in the following lines –

“May I kiss?”
“Where the lips part
and the juices flow…
The source of all creation”
“You mean the Yoni”

I part the lips
with my lips
as the tongue went aflame
in the flowing stream
of wondrous love
and crystalline splendour

The poem in which the above lines appear has been aptly titled “Nirvana,” for there can’t be any reservations, inhibitions or distinction between the life partners whose minds and souls merge as much their bodies and lose their self-consciousness in their fusion. The same idea has been further celebrated in “Silence” and also in “Relationship,” where RK affirms, “With you I am not myself,” obviously in dedication to his consort Meera “for stoking my poetic passion” (Dedication page). And how beautifully their names have connected – Meera and Krishna (Krishan)!

Where there is unsullied love, it is not qualified by any particular verbal language but is understood and reciprocated through a universal language of love. And here is that language in its bloom of expression –

Twinkling eyes
showing hidden passion
Throbbing lips
eager to articulate tacit gestures
Emotions oozing
through the moistness
of glittering teardrops - (Naiveté )

The book abounds in tender expressions like the above, tending all the five senses of the readers with an aesthetic appeal.

A Hindu marriage is a sacrament for life, nay even beyond life. That’s why RK supplicates, in “Reflections” –

Will you marry me,

And his better-half Meera matches his expectations a response of synergic affection –

You’re fulfilment
of the gaps I miss - (You’ve Reflected)

It would appear that the poem “You’ve Reflected” is deliberately not listed in the Contents for it is supposed to be a dovetailed add-on to its preceding “Reflections.”

Rajender Krishan the poet, who is incidentally the founder and editor of has a rare and endearing concern for the contributing writers, when they are not seen for some time –

I sent a reminder
to one of the Boloji writers
inquiring welfare, and
Why no new posts?”
Came the reply
her one year old
keeping her on toes - (On Being a Mother)

RK duly blesses the mom and her little daughter from the bottom of his heart. And he displays a similar empathic affection for Aparna Chatterjee, his Poetry Editor when he poetises that she –

as her poetic self
… …
with unflinching patience
skilfully reads, reviews, improves
[in order]
that our scattered thoughts
become a bouquet of verses
what we see on Boloji
as poetry - (Her Poetic Self)

The writer through “Physics & Social Chemistry” creatively correlates the results of the rotation and revolution of the earth with the cycle of life.

While flora and fauna contribute to Mother Earth’s “incredible regenerative diversity,” we have the paradox of the human being behaving in a contrary and rapacious way despite his avowed claims of superiority –

Alas! The chosen one
said to be created in His own image
riveted by narcissistic temptations
of lust and greed
stands inexorably beguiled
by brutal forces…
…desecrating the Garden of Eden! - (The Changing Face of Man)

See the ordeals and precariousness in the lives of millions of toiling workers who on returning home after the day’s grind are left with only that much of ability just to –

broom the dust of the day’s fatigue
bring food to the table
nurse the young children
who remain mesmerized
in a dream world
built on fantasies

And the poet blames the plight on –

a derelict skeleton
of crumbling economy
and chaotic social order - (Struggling Workers)

RK rightly drives home the crucial importance of parenting, which if neglected –

mutates the toddler
into a disgruntled person
discarded to live a life
stuck in the grooves of
coercive and manipulative societies.

And we are only too quick to castigate “the mafia | of merciless politicians” for any ill in the society, even as we ourselves don’t think twice before uttering a lie and being dishonest even within our families (Politics).

While the poet portrays the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy and is optimistic of rejuvenation a la the phoenix rising from the ashes, he doesn’t spare –

the American Gun Culture
that’s gone out of control;
and which has been indiscriminately butchering the children
- (Death in Kindergarten).

In the same vein, the poet denounces the frequent sexual assaults on, and gang-rapes of, the fairer sex in India through his poems “Nirbhaya: The Prologue of Change” and “Misanthropists.”

“Migratory Birds” has by way of analogy brought out the dilemma of human migration to distant lands. Migratory birds fly to distant lands periodically, weave their nests over there, and once the breeding season is over, “return renouncing everything | back to their home.” Man, on the other hand, once he migrates to a far-off exotic clime, finds it hard to return to his roots, driven as he is by compulsions or aspirations, for all the pull lingering in his heart. And –

The trauma of leaving the homeland
continues to haunt…

And for a change, the poem “Overpopulation” has been fashioned in racy rhymed quatrains.

Though Solitude and Other Poems was published in 2013, the following powerful poem, quoted in full, looks as if it has been penned today to expose the latest rash of political opportunists and pseudo-intellectuals who, with no iota of circumspection or compunction, revel in blabbering any nonsense though it has an overt potential of wrecking the society. And as if in complicity with this dangerous game, not enough people come out to effectively condemn these divisive and anarchic proclivities, for fear of appearing to violate “political correctness” –

A wee bit of nous prattling
loaded with irrational nattering
proliferates the pondering schmooze
alluding ominous, manipulative abuse
bolstering further
the already existing societal divide
drifting unwittingly
from the path of unification
creating an atrocious fusion
of an all-round confusion

Is this an unending quest
for achieving excellence
in the blame game
or an attempt
towards political correctness
that’s preposterously pathetic?

Let’s hope that sanity and wisdom will dawn at least now on the disruptive lot of our politicos and intellectuals and that they would put a stop to spreading disaffection without overdoing or further widening the divergences and harmonise them into points of solidarity and integration.

In short, Rajender Krishan’s Solitude and Other Poems is personally elevating, imaginatively rich, socially purposive, and spiritually ennobling.

More on Solitude  


More by :  U Atreya Sarma

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Views: 3323      Comments: 3

Comment U Atreya Sarma takes us to the core content of the book he has reviewed and brings their aesthetic appeal into our experience. The use of the word ‘aflame’ by Rajender Kishan in one of his poems generates the limitless power of primordial passion hungering for union with the part

C Subbarao
23-Apr-2016 01:40 AM

Comment Sympathetic affection in poetry is everything. It explains Mr Sarma's heartfelt appreciation of RK's poems, based on a common traditional background, less so mine. It is a measure of RK's greatness that he includes in Boloji the poems of writers like myself who represent other cultural/religious affective contexts; but it establishes that there is underlying all poetry everywhere a dominant human affective basis that RK celebrates, genuinely.

01-Apr-2016 19:04 PM

Comment atreya garu
your last sentence on rajender's book assessment hits the nail on the head.
nice article which along with the book make readers think deeper and afresh.
all the best

v v b rama rao
27-Mar-2016 20:02 PM

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