Literary Shelf

Two Anguished Progressive Humanists

Manas Bakshi

Academics and mostly those teaching in departments of English in colleges and universities writing poetry in English is the ordinary actuality. But the poet whom I called basically a humanist and a progressive at that. Manas Bakshi, retired from a nationalized bank a couple of years ago. His mother tongue is Bengali and he lives in Kolkata. Twelve of his collections of poetry have so far been published. Bakshi is a unique bank man being a poet since he loves poetry and writes in English. The thinking and feeling man’s anguish and angst bother this poet sparking his creative expression. His suffering and pain did not kill his flair of imagination and creative expression. On the other hand, it made him a powerful poet. Contemporary actuality inspires him to look deep within and around with sensitivity and delicate sensibility. The very titles he chooses for his collections are indicative of his ideas: ‘In the Age of Living Death’ ‘The Welkin is Blue Yet in Agony’, ‘Of Dreams and Death’, ‘Not because 1 Live Today’. ‘The Midnight Star’ and ‘Between Flower and Flame,’ Literary pages of Newspapers, poetry journals and even e-publications published his poems extensively.

The poet is verily a creator, Brahma Himself. The poet creates from his personal experience. He has the capacity of envisioning and is blessed with the skill of communication. Poetic skill is a spark, holding in mind a flash of lightning which leads to an insight and revelation. Manas Bakshi approaching sixty-five is imaginative and a visionary and also a sufferer. So far he has published twelve collections, and has won accolades and encomiums for being an exponent of the value of Indian English poetry.

Bakshi has written some poems about poems and the explication of those few is attempted in this brief study. The poet’s idea of the creative process stands revealed in all these poems. Why the poem emerges is not revealed beyond what emerges and after which kind of thought. The thing that starts with a spark and opens up a vista or a mere vision is not always explained by the poet because it is simply forgotten. The flash has to be expressed only in words and words need chiselling, colouring and polishing too to be presented as a perfected artefact. There is no way to know how long the flash remains in the poet’s mind to put down on paper and what effort it needs for the rest of the process and activity. Not all flashes could even be remembered long enough to make the birth of a poem possible.

There are several things which without their telling anybody the readers consider even without their knowing while reading a poem. First, the thematic novelty, its attraction and exuberance are considered which makes the poem memorable. Secondly, the imagery is considered, its evocativeness is important to make it appealing. Thirdly, the quality of the poet’s imagination is important. Fourthly, the propriety in the thinking and daintiness in expression arc weighed. Fifthly, the basic stance of the poet and the vocabulary whether it is pretentious, loquacious, sober or purposeful is assessed. Sixthly, the basic motive and the purpose of writing are also considered as to whether it is entertainment, promoting thoughtfulness – veiled, or subtle moralisation. What is remembered long is the spirit that is conveyed or transmitted which is remembered long. There may be many more the perceptive reader may experience.
Like a Poem is published in Contemporary Indian English Poetry brought out by P. Raja and Rita Nath Keshari in 2007. Here is the poem in full:

Every day like a poem
Begins with solitude
In its reign.

Like a poem it unfolds the petals
Of simple and abstruse art
In all possible ways
Replicating what is self-love.

Like a poem it develops into vignettes of
Life and longings
That man and woman interweave
With all their earthly belongings.

And like a poem it ends
When emotional night creeps
Tired eyes sleep
Shadows beneath the lamppost
Play with a strange wind
For a wandering poet to realize his dream, (p. 434)

This poem begins with the reign of solitude. There is a comparison between the beginning of the poem and the beginning of the day and by extension the day may be the period of life too. First, loneliness and next flower begins unfolding the petals, in day or growth in life copying ‘myness’, ahamkara, self-love. As time (day or life) forges ahead it develops into various scenes of beauty in its living and desires. The male-female relation and union take place with their belongings and possessions increasing or diminishing. Thematically, it is a comparison between a poem and the human life. The beginning is in solitude. Like a flower, the petals of which unfold the poem too grows in its self-love. Like life the poem too develops with pictures, desires and experiences. The poem like human life draws to a finale. The eyes, tired, close. The poet in his poem wants to realize his ambition/purpose, desire/dream.

The poet and the poem like human life and divine ordinance are closely related, one leading forward the other. The divine has absolute power and so has the poet. He makes the poem begin, grow and conclude or come to an end. Ornamental designs and kaleidoscopic scenes are vignettes of life and longings, the weaving of man-woman relationship: their possessions are matters of unity and progress. The poem is a tale which has to come to an end or conclusion which has not always a closed ending. Shadows and tempests relate to the waning life and then are strong winds. The winds in life are also the subjects of the theme of both the poet and its creator, the poet. The inter-relationships, the beginning, the progress and the end are there both in the poem and the day or time, as in human life too.

Life is a canvas of many pictures, of days and nights in it. The day has light according to the strokes of the sun. The poem has a period for ablution also. Cosmic excellence and strokes of the sun and shying all are images. And then there are so many when – periods of happenings or times: grief of the morning crow on the roof-edge – night fall immanent, the cat smiles at the night. Dinner is laid on the table. After eating the eaters leave and the cat has a feast, since the eaters are dieting, especially in dinner, on a very sophisticated scale. Not many eat large meals as in youth. It is usually a doctor’s prescription, not so much an individual preference in the interest of one’s own well-being.
This is the universal trend, the morbidity of the third millennium. There is more health consciousness and health care with the widest publicity. Then there is loneliness, solitude is endemic. In the couple, either in he or she there is inordinate selfishness, ego and pride. In monsoon light there is breathing whispers alone. In the colourful eyes in the rising night there is meaningful silence, not much in communication or exchange of bright looks. Then comes nostalgia, moist memory, tepid and sad. That becomes an aging bird with the wings of a song. There are religious differences in the same history. Ram Rahim dichotomy is irreconcilable between no two individuals. The fields yield only subhuman crops of corns. The purpose of life is given the go-by and existence losing its taste. The qualities of minds suffer degeneration and no radiance, no radiation is in sight. There is no beginning or ushering in of joy anywhere. No bang, no whimper: there are only lusty breathings and soulless complaints. All this is the picture of the poem the poet had in mind for the third millennium beginning with 2000 A.D. The more you understand, visualize the more is the befuddlement, angst and everything inauspicious, unholy and abysmal.

The night canvas looks scratched
By some strange strokes of the sun
Shying at its own cosmic excellence
In the hour of ablution of a poem
When the grief of the morning crow
On the roof-edge
Becomes the cat’s smile
At the dinner table
After they all have left
Dieting on a very sophisticated scale
His loneliness
Becomes her pride
Breathing whispers
Of a monsoon night
Into the meaningful silence
Of colourful eyes.
Nostalgia - moist memory
Becomes a primordial bird
With the wings of a song
Dwelling on the same saga of Ram and Rahim
Around a field
Teeming with subhuman corns.

‘To My Would-Be Poem’ is about love. Poetry is experience of joy and hope of aspiration and ambition both for the creator, the poet and the reader. This poem is an address to a child. It is about the poet’s child of untold pain. From a wayward mind, wayward because of loveless attitude and emotional stress, words drum beats. True love emanates not only from life but also lights of various hues. From embittered life, incoherent half truths defying truth come out. Time’s wrath has to be borne by man, for it is many a time a source and promoter of pain. Man is always tossed by conscience exiled at the crossroads of the opposites, good and evil, heaven and hell. There is no love even on valentine days. Plastic smiles are not love laden or love oozing. Plastic smiles are plastic flowers, not flowers of fragrance and scintillating radiance. The poem as the child wants from the poet is to be with peace and a declaration that blood must be blood relationship and love not from a wound of pain. Blood is not, never, the last word since it is blood relationship of love and concern. Amor vincit omnia, love conquers all. Here is the poem:

How to save you. my child
My poem of untold pain?
You might see the light
Of a world of words
With the appealing beat of drums
In a wayward mind.

Defying everything incoherent
As half-truths in a life embittered,
Braving the baneful scourge of time —
Time that is combust and insecure
More than ever before!

Now almost everywhere
Conscience is exiled
To the crossroads of heaven and hell.

Now almost everywhere
Plastic smile and not love
Serves the purpose of a Valentine’s day

And my poem you are waiting
To be born with the cry:
Blood is not, never the last word ... 3(p. 17)

The poet’s emotional exuberance makes his expression go beyond grammar too – combustible becomes combust – an easily understandable prerogative.

The blazing mind in the starlit night. Manas Bakshi came up with his collection of poems The Midnight Star in 2009. The title poem is a demonstration of his thought processes expressed in speed with precision:

Spare a thought
For the inner-most act
In the mind
We often defy
Even facing
The loneliness of a bird
Flying into
An unknown sky;
Because it’s night
And someone is alone to see
The haunted quietness
Sweeping the mundane glee. (p. 1)

It is an impassioned call giving an idea to the reader. Be human, think deep about the callousness and defiance of our contemporary ‘modern’ man. He is like a bird flying into our unknown sky which is no less than stupid defiance owing to dismal ignorance or reckless callousness. There is no company, no help for the proud and haughty modern man. He is absolutely alone. The mundane senseless pleasure, which the poet calls glee and the haunted quietness bother the sober and thoughtful man. Even before waking up, gypsy-like the mind has only longing to wallow. Calcutta or Rome, it is all a ground of the gladiator’s fight. The grabbing arms of capitalism make man help acquire and develop facilities and skills for devouring all money, all power and all luxury. People are mad of getting or climbing up jobs leading to traffic bottlenecks of jams. What is most perturbing is the concupiscence, senseless lust and related sins. The ideas about national economy and world economy contribute to squalor and sin, heartlessness and greed. GATT and consumer culture lead to degeneration of values and the destruction of right thinking and moronic minds.

Here constantly bleeds
From the womb of history
An unidentified ulcer.5(p. 3)

Blinded and blinding lust and voluptuousness add to penury and the increasing numbers of orphans of unknown parentage. The orphans look up to a blank sky originally benign but now cannot answer any question. In the stinking bog only the money moon is duly reflected. Man’s greed grows by leaps and bounds with sky being no limit.

Every individual
Not so firm on his stand
Seems inconsequential
Still opting for an isolated island – 6(p. 3)

The possession of even a whole bank does not assuage greed. Everyone wants an empire – at least an island to be his own. Individualism reigns. Hotels are there only to satisfy the lust of all kinds.’

Here it is easy to offer
the sizzling sight of female body,
Amidst the city’s empty coffer
Democracy bleats shoddy 7(p. 4)

City is the empty coffer because all the wealth is drawn into money bags of the fat bellied. Democracy is a bleating sheep. Children are corrupted and all the young lost their childhood.

With this Question
Burning in his eves
The small child
Turns one day
Unruly. ruffian
If not wild. 8(p. 5)

It is impossible to indict man for all this contemptible ‘modernity’ with a more wiry virulence.

‘Tomorrow’s Poem’ is an expression of severe mental turmoil, an existential angst.

Beneath the skin
The inner-bones
And the spur of metaphor
The living substance
Is much like
A passing tremor. 10(p. 23)

The anguish goes right into the bones, all thoughts are passing tremors. Dreams occur - but those of yesterday go down along with the leaves and twigs washed away. Even today they mark a beginning of a protest which is dying. The horror is further agitating that even tomorrow does not bring any substantial change. Faith and even God seem to be helpless. God Himself is so miserably ordained; it seems, in the tribulation and turmoil with utter despondency.

But for another blow
As a handful of fresh sacrifices
bring down
A discriminating heaven
Where the idol - God so far
So miserably ordained. 11(p. 23)

Man’s mind, once in a slough of despond, loses all capacities for hope – yesterday, tomorrow, or the day after lies smothered.

‘A Verse Bird’ is about a poetry. A realistic poem taking another life (reincarnated) is like a bird. It goes up high into an endless sky. It is surprised seeing rain even in the sunshine. Perhaps even in youth man’s mind passes through the darkness of night of the soul. Hunters want the blood of the same bird and ensnare it. The bird or the verse bird sings a song of love alone. It has no hatred and in its desire for life and living believes only in love. Its ambition and ideal have been all along far from deceit, hatred or betrayal. This is what the poet, the verse bird sings about the ideal:

That sang one day
Its own song
In a world full of love
And less of hatred
For a reason to live
Far from being betrayed.12(p. 30)

The tragedy is that the world is now a different one with love lost and hatred reigning.

‘A Lonesome Poem’ is again of pain, the pain of loneliness and unhappiness. The mystery of survival is perennial and unending. The poet has an urge in him to know the language of loneliness. The secret bird of desire creeps like a moving shadow in the poet’s drawing room. Beyond the usual direction of its movement the mind races and collapses. There is a shadow, more sadly a silhouette, in the symbolic hour of hope and radiance. Then:

It picks up grain
From the world of lonesome attachment
When happiness full to the brim
And the search is for an explicable origin

The bird of loneliness touches the poet’s heart and haunts his second entity to reach out to a world far, far away.

Not knowing where it is,
Where love exists in the metamorphosis
Of untold worlds.14(p. 38)

The bird flies to unknown higher regions for a total change of the poet’s mind-heart, manas, (what he calls second entity) of love, for love and with love. Here the poet is squeezing his thought into words wide and deep making his expression crispy and brief.

‘Designing a Poem’ begins with another bird, the crow, now to be a symbol.
A stray crow flies away
Following a rain drop on the roof-tile.15(p. 59)

There are many images: a pluvial message occult, bulrush in water facing a disaster, cloistral feelings – all these make the trickle of words into the pattern of feeling. The vocabulary is not reader-friendly but it is not the poet’s responsibility to talk in controlled vocabulary. His job is different in that his expression should be supple, crisp brief and extensively suggestive. The images are agents to convey the trickles to build the pattern. The verse bird sang a song of love. It had no hatred in heart and less of it in its desire for life and living. The choice of the words for the images is apposite for sensitive, slender expression. Now to the poet’s expression:

A pluvial message occult
In the austral wind

A bulrush in water facing
The disaster of the lake silting up

A bumble-bee wandering aimless
In the larder of a lost empire,
A moment of cloistral feelings
Trickle words into the pattern of a poem.16(p. 59)

“Autumn Poem’ is the poem of a season considered an entity in exile – moving away, repaying, returning, discharging debt. It is the harvesting season with the colour of lotus flames behind a lone fortress, the image of a granary with yellow paddy. The poem is very short and for that reason communicative with an imagery that is stacked.

Lotus flames
Against its own image
When the eyes of autumn
Lurk behind
A lone fortress;

Paddy field prepared to know
The genesis of a time-crop;
The sickle sounds radical:
Crop-loan has to he paid off—

Entity in exile
Now it’s your turn
To return.17(p. 61)

The farmer has to pay back the loans after the harvest. This is the sad reality of our poor peasantry. The poem with the most urgent relevance in this collection is ‘Situation Vacant’. The poem is devised as an advertisement calling applications for a gardener. There is pathos here, the ever present anguish in the humanist poet. For the hard reality of the contemporary milieu god needs hands to work for him. The garden that is the nation – world is too big but the greatest things must have the smallest beginnings. The garden must have flowers, fruits, birds and beauty everywhere. The garden needs a gardener too for protection, upkeep, and maintenance. The urgency for the classified is here about some fruits and flowers:

For reasons beyond control
Every day
Some get trivial
Some get rotten
And most of the good ones
Are more misused and wasted
Then used
In the hands of a powerful few.18 (p. 64)

For powerful you may read a few fat money bags.

Water in recent decades has become a saleable, much in demand, commodity. Agricultural lands became housing estates and flats are the order of the living people. Metropolitan cities are prone to a condition of un-inhabitability not far away now. Mindless deforestation led to soil erosion and we are learning to live with scarcities of everything. Pollution is another devouring python.

Pollution beyond measure
Urbanizatioin engulfing
The mellow pastures
Of human relations.19(p. 64)

Scarcity, inequality, plunder and power-politics and uncivil administration are destroying societal harmony fast, almost every day. The qualifications wanted for the gardener are simple and are only for the presently unemployed: ‘ability to test and purify the soil of the mind.’

It is almost asking for the moon. How can unemployed people who are themselves pure in mind to test and purify the soil and mind could be found! Then the nature of the job is this:

An eternal base of salvation seekers
Between heaven and hell
Now decaying.
Has to be restored
To its primeval origin.20(p. 65)

Then, as for age, there is no bar and the only experience needed is of being a true human being. Salary and other allowances would be fully commensurate with performance level. Then there is the usual instruction, to apply in strict confidence. The last instruction is the most liberal to apply within life time, to ... (not specified). Obviously, the advertiser is the heaven bound almighty. But can He find even a single applicant? This is the million-dollar (only dollars – not rupee or fake currency) question which sends every one of the readers feel ashamed.

Dance of Satan, the collection published in 2017 is cerebral poetry, cogitation and abstract thinking behind penning. Now past sixty, there is constant mulling in this poet’s mind which is natural. This mellows thought processes. There is more in Bakshi’ s poetry. He is a humanist right from the beginning of his poetic creation. The recent work displays maturation which deepens in collection after collection. Now the crystallization in the richness of expression is evident. The titles of the poems are suggestive of intense cerebration with anguish, psychological torment and disgust. The dismayed poet wonders whether what we are facing is the dance of Democracy or the Dance of Satan. He talks of two doo -ways – one closed before the egalitarian society and the other which, opened, brings fresh air and human values.

The door that shows
The way to a luminous inner world
In everyone is ajar
If we can nurture faith in humankind
And devotion to the cosmic reality,
Come, pray solidarity—
Only the backdoor of Indian democracy
Is wide open
For political culprits
To creep in, befool people and plunder —
For hoodlums, smugglers and rapists having a free run
To rip the nation’s heart asunder —
Limitless, unspeakable crimes
Making buds forget a blooming smile!

Spared is none —
From innocent Nirbhaya in Delhi
To a devoted seventy-one-year old Bengal based nun...
What a shame!
Dance of democracy
Or, dance of Satan?
(Dance of Satan, p. 10)

Existence itself is an enigmatic resort. The horror is unbearable. The poet cogitates:

Why these pungent thoughts, delicate moments,
Illusive motifs, enigmatic sequences
Don’t relieve me of the day to day terms of living
Meant for an incomplete sentence
That is but mundane existence.
(An Enigmatic Resort, p. 26)

Human craving vitiates the living work of the whole life span. The thoughts are about the dwindling values of life and living:

Human Craving
A life span
Living Worth.
(Craving, p. 67)

Existence is a riddle. All the thoughts and actions of humans have nullified the belief in the Supreme Being. When the objectives of existence are only two – either to revive or relegate – it is towards the latter that man appears to live.

Who knows since when
God has ceased to be
A dividing line between
Faith in man and a craze for crime!
(Riddle, p. 86)’

When faith-based living is forgotten, we live the life of chance. So the poet declares that life is a chance. Each, either this or that – is only once. We are reminded of the great poet of yester years who made this great declaration: “We are the hollow men, We are the stuffed men. Headpiece filled with straw.”

It’s for once
Here, we all come—
Life after death
None can confirm;
If it be at all
Not in the same shape —
Another form, identity
A different landscape.
(One Life, one Chance, p. 105-6)

Even living together as man and wife has lost its sanctity, its value and significance. Men and women have become hollow. That is existence which looks to be the permanent actuality.

We act to defy somehow till we die.
The after-effect of our mistakes
At every stage of life
Flows through the veins
Of every night we long for mending
And also learn to override.....
What we suffer then
Is but a self-deceptive pride
Dominant as the dark shadow of memory
We’re unable to hide! (Conjugal Vibes, p. l16)

Living is a rude episode of relinquished values in strife and absence of value consciousness as creatures with two feet. Beastly living, not humane, human existence – becomes an actuality – always, everywhere. Even ecology is at stake – a disaster seems to be near at hand, inevitably. The thinking minds cogitate.

A loitering mind
Facing the enormity
Of ceaseless waves.
Listening the violin
Of the transitory wind;
The sea at night
Surging with its own
Loneliness blind,
The stars in their loneliness
Awaiting the earth’s morning profile;
The dolphins dancing
To the tune of enchanting waves
Know not what they face in the sound
Echoing from an unknown distance—
A teardrop frozen in silence
For a blot in transition:
Ecology at stake. (A Rude Episode, p. 125)

If at all signifies uncertainty, a disturbing and constantly tormenting doubt. This is how the poet concludes the collection for now. Manas Bakshi’ s humanism has taken a new dimension of viewing the contemporary human behaviour. More painful feelings, then, are ahead. God be with us all!

Remember me
When the sky will stop
Telling the story
Of a defeated soldier
Recalling his past glory.
Remember me
When static be the time
To still yon between
A disastrous day
And a mournful night.
Remember me
When the soil
Of human substance
Will no more grow flower

In love’s absence
(If at all, Then, p. 130)

Works cited

1.Raja. P and Keshari R. N, Busy Bee Book of contemporary Indian English Poetry, Pondicherry, 2007, Bakshi Manas, Like a Poem, p. 433
2.Ibid. A Poem for 2000 A.D., p. 441
3.Bakshi Manas, The Midnight Star, Cambridge India Publishers, Kolkata, 2009, p. l7
4.Ibid. The Midnight Star, p. l
5.Ibid. Ibid, p. 3
7.Ibid, p. 4
8.Ibid. p. 5
9.Tomorrow’s Poem, p. 23
10. Ibid.
11. A Verse Bird, p. 30
12. A Lonesome Poem, p. 38
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid.
15. Designing a Poem, p. 59
16. Autumn Poem, p. 61
17. Situations Vacant, p. 64
18. Ibid and 19 Ibid p. 65
19. Bakshi Manas, Dance of Satan and Other Poems.
20. Dance of Satan, p. 12
21. An Enigmatic Resort, p. 26
22. Craving, p. 67
23. Riddle, p. 86
24. One Life, One Chance, p. 105-6
25. Conjugal Vibes, p. l16
26. A Rude Episode, p. 128
27. If at all Then, p. 130


Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar

Our English Professor at college, a polyglot who knew half-a-dozen languages which included French, Latin and Greek used to teach us poetry. The text was not his object for he thought he should teach poet-tree. And his meanderings enthused me to try ‘making’ poems. He used to tell us that repetition is best avoided. That was nearly sixty and odd years ago. But repetition appears to be an urgent need of our times and Jha is a contemporary penman. He is neither a troubadour nor a chronicler. He is a dilettante and one with both angst and fiery seething disgust. There is word strength: his diction being thumping and vociferous.

Now to the young poet Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar whose latest work is TWO INDIAS and Other Poems

The Foreword to this collection of poems by U Atreya Sarma, Chief Editor, Muse India) has done all that is to be done and the blurb reflects Bhaskar’s talent: ‘His poetry springs right from the heart and mind as unification of sensibility with catchy lines, succinct expressions and evocative images.

Now to the text which is slender in bulk but powerful in stinging the reader into flaming. The choice of diction in the text is superb, to say the least.

The last stanza in the very first poem is an epitome of the reality around. Kings are known for power, strength and cruelty too.

The best become the worst of all.
The worst do prosper in full swing,
An innocent heart lacks all conviction,
A tactful mind shrewdly robs like a king.
(Anarchy, p 19)

The poet tells the reader about his own turmoil, in the poem ‘Cacophony of the World.’ There is dissonance and grating, deafening noise all around. The condition is so wide spread. Any sensitive person has to keep his ears plugged, if only to retain his sanity and remember a few joyful moments.

... I am all set
To wear the auditory mask
Of green cheerfulness
Camouflaging my untold pain,
Sullen sadness,
Deep despair deepening
Inside me
Wallowing in sheer sorrow,
Hearing all the more
The strange, very scary cries
Of this seething world. (p 21)

Now read the following lines from the poem ‘Two Indias’

India was finally freed
Divided into several pieces
Two names surfaced
Scarred, stabbed, butchered
The annals have all gory pages… (p 22)

The poem is about the pre-independence and post-independence times. The desired and expected growth or betterment did not occur. The last lines bemoan the conditions still prevailing.

Gandhi ji and Shastri ji are ever worshipped humans who fathered the nation. We regard them as idols of patriotism.
Gandhi and Shastri

The greatest figures of the nation
Born on the same august day
Worked for us without a cessation;
In the disturbed centre
Surrounded by the mightiest foes
Ruling the roost highhandedly
Subjecting Indians to severe woes.
(October 2: Birthday of Two Idols, p 25)

Here is a poem about our beloved Kashmir which has been the proud possession of our country Bharat. The rosy place, we all know, was visited and stayed in by Adi Sankara several centuries ago where he got a holy shrine built. The horrid conditions the citizenry suffered there are brought by this poet briefly but vividly. Thank God (we are all devout worshippers) the roses have started blooming and soon blossom coming to their original Glory thanks to Na Mo.

Delicate fragrance of colourful roses
Wafts freely everywhere down
The valley of beauty,
Tearing clouds of firing smoke
Defying their scary gunshots
(Bleeding Roses of Kashmir, p 27)

Basic human and national ethos regard the duty of men to love the girl child and treat women with reverence in Mother India.

Celebration of sibling love!
Smiling Sun is a mute witness up
To the sibling love down
On milky bosom
Of the motherly earth.
(Bhratri Dwitiya, p 29)

There is this question of tackling sexual assaults, and what is the author’s solution?

To parry recurrent sexual assaults
On the fairer sex of the country
Why not moralize an immoral society?
(Sexual Assaults, p 35)

The country is beset with a maze of serious problems. Can they be resolved at all?

Exemplary commitment, spectacular dedication
And above all, their patriotic loyalty to the nation
Are what they sacrifice or shun or drop now
To the altar of dark politics of contemporary India
Staggering stuck in mud of crimes and corruptions.
(Black Sheep of Politics, p 36)

The common man who is supposed to share power is neglected and even ill-treated, but men like Vajpayee are gems and our poet pays him a tribute.

Pray, his extinguished fires go aflame
Burning out the eerie gloom
Of the country, engulfed,
Lighting the right path of virtues,
Love, peace, humanity and social harmony…
(A Tribute to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, p 38)

The horror of the actuality of the poor payment to labourers is dismaying.

Being unsheltered heads
They take pleasure in erecting
Nothing but the multi-storied shelters
For the needy people of the country!
(Honour the Badge of Labour, p 41)

In the poem ‘Mass Exodus: Back and Forth,’ the poet portrays the extreme suffering of the labourers who leave their country for food, prepared for the hardest work. Dallol is in Ethiopia, Africa. It has the highest temperature. There are volcanoes and potassium mines. This information is essential for the reader to fully needed by the reader to appreciate the attempt of the poet.

Millions of legs, tight and stout, step out
Of their weak doorsteps
With their empty but mighty hands;
They never shirk working anywhere,
In any way, or so many ways
In any circumstances
Melting even Dallol, the hottest
In their cool-mindedness
Or heating even Oymyakon, the coldest
With their hot blood. (p 43)

The poet doesn’t hesitate to express, in no uncertain terms, his wrath and disgust against terrorists –

They are but the terrorists,
the so-called philistine ‘jehadis’
who kill God and His cherubs
Irrespective of their caste, and creed,
gender, colour and religion
To spread Him and His –
Realm, Reign, Region and Religion!
(16th December: Black Day for Humanity, p 63)

Liberty, equality, fraternity, secular, democratic, humane, idealistic, truthful are the concepts and principles thrown into the dustbin.

Even Santa Claus departs in sad and utter frustration.
Sad, Santa silently departs
With all the divine gifts
Wrapped in the biblical bag,
As they are concupiscent
In a crooked company of Judas!
(Sad Santa Silently Departs, p 70)

The poet speaks and writes in Maithili also. In this book there are poems about Mithila and also a poem on the poet, Kavi Kokil Vidyapati who wrote poems in his language. This is how the poem concludes –

... with your own literary brilliance
And flair of your sweet language, thoughts and feelings
You even today rule the hearts of millions and trillions of lovers
Though you were born ahead of the time you lived, you live as a belief in our hearts
O, Bard of Love, philosopher of elf-less devotion, metaphysics of life and death
You do sustain the entire gamut of vibrant cultures, enticing art and rituals of Mithila.
(Maithil Kavi Kokil Vidyapati, pp 77-78)

Bhaskaranand has played the role of the forerunners of the change, progress and perpetual growth of wisdom and peace. Time and again he expresses his feelings of disgust and apathy for the miseries heaped upon women by lusty brutes. Here is an example –

The vaginal ruptures,
Of the busty or the flat-chested
Writhing in traumatic pain
With multiple bites, spinal fractures.
Curse and shame on sex-maniac vultures!
(Sex Vultures, p 86)

Yet, there are women braving against all odds and rising like a phoenix –
The marital canopy had
Transient charm of her grace
Aftermath devastation robbed her
Of her precious wealth
Yet she is a woman of substance
As she has always proven it
By digesting all the familial poison.
(Mamata: Woman of Substance, p 87)

Village life is no longer that of pristine charm and innocence as in the yore –
Village life rolls on the booze,
Mutual relations lie low and sigh high
Down the discordant alleys of drifting rifts.

Homecoming hug pinches me,
Their wine-drenched arms smell badly
That scare, scar and hurt my mind and heart.
(Cemetery of Rural Amity, p 89)

Whatever the ordeals at the work place, once we return home, we feel a great sense of relief. After all, home is sweet home. That’s the value of our family system.

When back home alive
All the way from the working station
They feel fresh, born anew
Happily playing cuddled, nestled
Huddled in the cradle of the family…
(Railway Platform, p 109)

The last refuge for most of the faithful is the divine force so that they can approach the realities of life with a sense of equanimity –

Let’s invoke mother goddess
To arrive from the infinite ocean of consciousness
And hail her under the spiritual canopy
Of our heart and mind.
The unified Self must fight all dualities
Of ignorance and dark energy and its evil forces…
(Agomoni – Arrival of Mother Goddess, p 101)

There is a pithy conclusion in the last poem

Victory over Evil-
Mouse, Owl, Peacock and Lion
Unite together
Against the evil forces of nature
To beat a demonic mind
In a buffalo-body
For the final deliverance of Soul.
(Cosmic Balance, p 116)

I must conclude the review now for the obvious limits of temperance. Bhaskaranand has already carved a niche for himself in the Parthenon of Poetry. More volumes of poetry by him would be waited for by poetry lovers

Courtesy: This article with small changes was carried in their Issue 87 Sep-Oct 2019


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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