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Kalpna's Bare Soul
- A Window into Self-Soul-Consciousness
|by Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar|
Bare Soul (Poetry), Poet- Kalpna Singh-Chitnis,
Bare Soul is the first anthology of English poems of Kalpna Singh-Chitnis, said to be ‘one of India’s most revered and gifted living poets’. Honoured with “Bihar Rajbhasha Award”, and “Bihar Shri” for her big contributions to literature, she has received global accolades for her literary writings. Her other works are Chand Ka Paivand (Patch of Moon), Tafteesh Jari hai (The Investigation Continues) and Nishant (The Dawn)- all in Hindi. With two beautiful introductions by Janifer Reeser, a crtically acclaimed author and John Haricharan, an award winning author and encapsulating foreword by Amata Natasha Goldie, an eminent poet and author that have her added extra feather to this collection, Bare Soul is a collection of just nineteen poems presented in sequential patterns of thoughts and varying moods in response to different circumstances. All the poems are the valid documentation of her rumination over mundane and metaphysical affairs of existence- nature and its beauty, love and life, feel and thrill, human shrieks and shrills etc.
The jungle to the poet is a ‘celebration’ as it has no “rules but discipline “ that paves the way for her to decipher the secret code of and meaning of life, gushing forth from “ outburst of our joy”. The tear of pain at the same time is a kind of “an offering to the river of eternity”. In the poems of jungle series, the poet also draws our attention to preservation of the forest. It is the afforestation that, in fact, takes us to the blissful lap of God. The harmonious relation of man with nature leads to God and this is the crux of existential identity of mankind. In tune with cosmic harmony, body, heart, mind and soul and of course consciousness-individual and cosmic- prosper and evolve for internalising the realisation of essence of human life with true beauty of heart and soul. Inner transformation is possible only through cultivating love for Nature, our eternal companion.
Human life is a river. None can sail ‘boats of pride’ and come to the shore. We have to throw off the garb of pride and prejudice to transcend the river of life to get at the absolute reality. Poetic endeavour of the poet is to purge ourselves in the water of flowing river. It has purgatory connotation and teaches us to embrace the flow of life as it is. In this strain, she puts forth an important maxim to bring home her point of view-
In her poetry deep feelings of love, love for nature, mundane things and spirituality, platonic form of love, mystical and ambiguity etc find beautiful expression. Most of her poems fantastically articulate love with its varied forms. It is true that love is the tenderest form of feeling. It is both physical and spiritual. It is a ‘gift from the heaven, wrapped in my breath’ as she opines. In her love poetry, she gets realistic rather than being an escapist unlike most of the love poets. She realises the true worth of earthly and mundane affairs of life. Her earthly sensibility is well reflected in the following lines grabbed from the poem “Ancient Love”-
The poet wants to tread the path of love though she is well aware of the fact that it is ‘an island in the ocean of mysteries’. It is through realisation of life that one comes to understand one’s self. It is a’ cosmic magnet’. Her realistic actualisation of love is well manifested in these lines-
"Coming Home" reveals familial plight of a beautiful beloved, her marital bliss and also her embittered relations.
She wants to quench her ‘ancient thirst’- transformation of her soul into super soul or being a part of it. She perceives the invisible forces of God in beautiful feel of human life. The perception of such an ecstatic feeling of beauty can be felt in the vivid imagery she deftly creates here-
Other beautiful lines with wonderful portrayal of loving feeling can be witnessed in
“Ancient Remorse” contains well realised thoughts shaped up after undergoing experiences of the world. It has melancholic strains and hard realism. Her thoughts on kindness, love, ethics, hope, faith arrest our attention. Her question about good values of lives remains unanswered even by Jesus Christ. However, the poetic shelf of the poet understands the meaning of the world to see the smiles on His face. After identifying herself equalled with the divine entity, the poet comes to realise that Absolute Reality is the ‘echo’ in ‘void’, ‘dance’ in ‘music’, ‘sparkle’ in the ‘light’, and cosmic presence with no beginning and the end. She accepts the offer’ in the name of love and trust’, ‘arrogance and appreciation ‘and feels indebted to Him for giving-
And realisation dawns on to her-
She tends to be reflective and philosophical. Material and existential concerns baffle her. Sorrow and suffering of life make her turn introspective and seek recourse to Him. She further reveals her soul’s sustained strive to fathom the depth of love and of course, spiritual aspect of love, and His grandeur-
Her soul transcends the boundary of knowledge and ignorance leading to her inner realization and spiritual awareness.
Indian sensibility, her samskar, family and spousal values are well articulated. Indianness is amply resounding in her poetic self.
In her “ Rain” poems, she seems to be under the impression of Shelley. Like him she also believes in the healing power of Nature. It can be witnessed in some of her poems. Most of the lines of her poetry are reminiscences of Shelley. She calls upon
Like him, she also believes in redemptive power of natural forces like rain, air and fire that make no distinction between the people. At another place she makes a plea to rain to
drench me in your purity,
Because she holds the opinion that all have to come down to the dust at long last
She poignantly describes the psychology of human relations with a confessional note in the poem “Touched by the Devils”
Her poetry is characterized by a religious note. Timeless values aside, her staunch faith in God gets reflected in some of her poems. She is a God -fearing lady. In her poem of paradox, she confesses-
She is a visionary poet who can feel the presence of divinity in everything in the world. Vedantik philosophy of the divinity of soul and scientific theory of relativity or unified field theory coalesce into her poetic theory that paves the way for self-inquiry to attain and evolve insight into the journey of exploration of metaphysical entity of the Divine Being. Her spiritual vision through her poetic expression is best reflected in the poem "Being Nothing And Everything" -
Some of her poems are pessimistic, yet they are not the negation of life or, for that matter, escape from life. In fact, they reveal her consciousness of the miseries and suffering of human life. With her poetic thought she just transforms this human predicament into something positive, essential for broadening the horizon of her deep understanding of human life. In her revealing poem “A Pale Monday Morning”, she avers:
The poet's affirmation of life in all its shades is as 'undying celebration' of 'gratification', even though it remains an' unending quest' without destination'. Her awareness of the deliverance of soul from the bondage of sorrow and suffering still keeps her engaged in her search for the reality. It is through self-realization that one finds way to the ultimate reality. She is ‘a shade in the sun..... of isolation’, ‘ an obscure island, in ...... deepest emotions’, ‘a silent splash in the river of time’, ‘a note of love on a fateful shrine!’, ‘a drop in the heart of an endless ocean’, ‘eternal amidst all realizations’. Her poem “Conversation With a Friend" validates her quest and eternal spiritual realisation of self and soul-
In another poem “On a Good Day”, she expresses her awareness of the bitter truth- transience of life. Life has to come to an end. All have to return to Him. Recalling the good days of childhood, she wishes to spend rest of her life in a state of innocence, like a kid making boat and floating it in water. She divulges her sense of loneliness in life -
She wants to utilise the rest of her times in poetic creativity as it brings heart and soul closer to God. That’s why has unlocked the door of her heart and soul for the people to come, her poetic, spiritual and metaphysical consciousness:
The titular poem” Bare Soul” is in fact the firstmost poem of the collection, containing all the cardinal and eternal questions, confusions, and doubts of an individual soul. The poetess seems to have put this elemental poem at last simply to heighten the poetic effect on a reader’s mind. Questions raised in this precious poem find their answers in the previous poems, particularly in “Being Nothing and Everything ‘. It is a kind of cinematographic presentation of thoughts unified with deepest feelings and emotions, coming to an end with a question mark that get their answers in the flashback poems appeared before. It is very unique of her effective style that she used it to generate more curiosity in readers to further reread the poems to comprehend the comprehensive essence of human existence at macro and micro levels.The primordial question Who am I?” leads the people to eternal oceans of knowledge and experience. The poetess is in quest of her true self, identity, her divinity, femininity, creativity. The cosmos- objective and subjective –is made of ‘panch mahabhotas’ (air, water, fire, earth, sky). Her ultimate realisation results from the answers provided in the poem “Being Nothing and Everything”-
In the ultimate analysis, “Bare Soul” is a kaleidoscopic vision of perennial significance through which Kalpna Singh-Chitnis has expressed her intimate engagement with nature, love, humanity and longing for something beyond. It is a broadened horizon of her deep understanding of human life and pragmatic spirituality; an experienced expansion of her profound consciousness with her psycho-physical-spiritual existence with familial-religio-philosophical concerns. Her individual consciousness is indicative of collective consciousness functioning in the Cosmos- inside and outside. She has successfully used internal suffering of mundane life in a positive manner and transformed her pain and sadness into sublimation with the divine light of enlightened consciousness. Her vision and mission, fluidity of thoughts, spontaneity of expression, sublimity of contents, style and technique, diction and imagery, put together, are a variegated beauty of the book.
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Comments on this Article
07/04/2016 16:03 PM
Naseer Ahmed Nasir
07/04/2016 06:29 AM