Ghanshyam by Kamala Das by Bijay Kant Dubey SignUp
Boloji.com
Channels

In Focus

 
Analysis
Cartoons
Education
Environment
Opinion
Photo Essays
 
 

Columns

 
Business
Random Thoughts
 
 

Our Heritage

 
Architecture
Astrology
Ayurveda
Buddhism
Cinema
Culture
Festivals
Hinduism
History
People
Places
Sikhism
Spirituality
 
 

Society & Lifestyle

 
Health
Parenting
Perspective
Recipes
Society
Teens
Women
 
 

Creative Writings

 
Book Reviews
Computing
Humor
Individuality
Literary Shelf
Memoirs
Quotes
Stories
Travelogues
Workshop
 
 
Literary Shelf Share This Page
Ghanshyam by Kamala Das
by Bijay Kant Dubey Bookmark and Share

Ghanshyam,
You have like a koel built your nest in the arbour of my heart.
My life, until now a sleeping jungle is at last astir with music.
You lead me along a route I have never known before
But at each turn when I near you
Like a spectral flame you vanish.
The flame of my prayer-lamp holds captive my future
I gaze into the red eye of death
The hot stare of truth unveiled.
Life is moisture
Life is water, semen and blood.
Death is drought
Death is the hot sauna leading to cool rest-rooms
Death is the last, lost sob of the relative
Beside the red-walled morgue.
O Shyam, my Ghanshyam
With words I weave a raiment for you
With songs a sky
With such music I liberate in the oceans their fervid dances
We played once a husk-game, my lover and I
His body needing mine,
His ageing body in its pride needing the need for mine
And each time his lust was quietened
And he turned his back on me
In panic I asked Don’t you want me any longer don’t you want me
Don’t you don’t you
In love when the snow slowly began to fall
Like a bird I migrated to warmer climes
That was my only method of survival
In this tragic game the unwise like children play
And often lose
At three in the morning
I wake trembling from dreams of a stark white loneliness,
Like bleached bones cracking in the desert-sun was my loneliness,
And each time my husband,
His mouth bitter with sleep,
Kisses, mumbling to me of love.
But if he is you and I am you
Who is loving who
Who is the husk who the kernel
Where is the body where is the soul
You come in strange forms
And your names are many.
Is it then a fact that I love the disguise
and the name more than I love you?
Can I consciously weaken bonds?
The child's umbilical cord shrivels and falls
But new connections begin, new traps arise
And new pains
Ghanshyam,
The cell of the eternal sun,
The blood of the eternal fire
The hue of the summer-air,
I want a peace that I can tote
Like an infant in my arms
I want a peace that will doze
In the whites of my eyes when I smile
The ones in saffron robes told me of you  
And when they left
I thought only of what they left unsaid
Wisdom must come in silence
When the guests have gone
The plates are washed
And the lights put out
Wisdom must steal in like a breeze
From beneath the shuttered door
Shyam O Ghanshyam
You have like a fisherman cast your net in the narrows
Of my mind
And towards you my thoughts today
Must race like enchanted fish...

Ghanshyam here is a typical Kamala Dasian poem which is semi-autobiographical, semi-religious and semi-classical in the sense that though she has titled it Ghanshyam, addressed to Krishna, the Blue Boy of Brindaban, but instead of it she transgresses into her personal and private spaces, maybe it that she is saying the things of her heart to the Lord as has Mira, unmindful of what the world says about or not, lost in Krishnabhakti and enjoying the company of sadhus and saints, but the case of Kamala different from Mira as she keeps not their company. The pains of Radha the world felt it not, the pains of Mira, the world knew it not. So, what to say of Kamala Das? The pains of her heart she is saying to Krishna, Lord Krishna. On the one hand, classical love poetry enthralls us with its folklore while on the other the reality is far from golden dreams and flight of imagery we can see the widows of Benares and Brindaban living a miserable life, the plight of the women beyond description.

Addressing Krishna as Ghanshyam, the poetess says that the Lord has settled in the arbour of her heart, taken it to be His place, just like the koel bird builds a nest. What does it mean really? The Lord has chosen it to be His place of dwelling. Krishnaprem is as such that it has coloured the poetess in its colour and she is love-mad. Where to go and what to do? Which way to take to? Her life which has been almost like a jungle is now astir with music. But the path to take does not come to the mind.  The cuckoo is cooingly sweetly and the musical notes are doing the rounds. It is not the bird, but just as a harbinger of His melody it is striking the chords of the heart and it is stringing and she like love-mad Mira and Radha is getting crazier. But whenever nearer to, the Lord turns up not rather vanishes out of sight.

There is beauty and music in the lines when she says that Ghanashyam has built a koel like nest into the harbour of her heart. Her life just like a jungle oblivious of it all gets a charm when the koel starts cooing into the woodland. Now the magic has done wonders and the things seem to be touched divinely in spirit which is but the charm of His. Krishna-Kanhaiya knows it all how to steer across the boat of life. 

Ghanshyam,
You have like a koel built your nest in the arbour of my heart.
My life, until now a sleeping jungle is at last astir with music.
You lead me along a route I have never known before
But at each turn when I near you
Like a spectral flame you vanish.

The flame of devotion keeps it flickering, the prayer-lamp holds the years in captive and she gazes into the red eyes of death laying it bare the bitter truths of life and the world and she seems to be possessed with the questions, what is it life, what is it death as well as gets shot back with the answers, life is blood, water, semen. Death is the last sob of a relative beside the red-walled morgue.

The flame of my prayer-lamp holds captive my future
I gaze into the red eye of death
The hot stare of truth unveiled.
Life is moisture
Life is water, semen and blood.
Death is drought
Death is the hot sauna leading to cool rest-rooms
Death is the last, lost sob of the relative
Beside the red-walled morgue.

How can she take to the life of a yogan? Is it the life of taking to bhajans and the rudraksa rosary? And even if she takes, she will take the tulsimala around her neck and the rudraksha rosary into the hands will just for romance and enactment. Kamala seems to be a modern-day Radha. Sometimes she plays the part of Radha, sometimes of Mira and Sometimes of Draupadi, what she is it is very difficult to reveal.

She has woven a raiment of words for Shyam, Ghanshyam, with the songs representing a sky and with music getting liberated in the oceans. The whole world appears to be attuned to Krishna music. But there is of course a time for flirtation and frivolity for everybody and if it is not, what to do with? She is young, full of flesh and blood but her partner is old comparatively. How to calm sexual lust? She weaves the garments of words for Him dressing and decorating in the best possible manner.

O Shyam, my Ghanshyam
With words I weave a raiment for you
With songs a sky
With such music I liberate in the oceans their fervid dances

But here one can mark the personal talk, how the body is at the root of all. We cannot discern bodily lust and sympathies which we need we most.

We played once a husk-game, my lover and I
His body needing mine,
His ageing body in its pride needing the need for mine
And each time his lust was quietened
And he turned his back on me

If the lover is aged and older, how to expect amorous love from? The age gap will stand as a factor. Love fully she turns to him each and every time, but frustrated returns she without getting the love reciprocated. She sees with the loveful eyes, but he in turn comes to naught.

But what option is left out here for her without resorting to spiritual love? If there is dissatisfaction in love on the personal level, there lies no way to ventilate the thoughts and ideas otherwise. So, it is better to turn to spiritual thoughts.

When she comes to feel it he does not want her, she starts thinking of migrating to warmer climes which is but the only method of survival. Here she is very controversial and dubious in her wording.

In panic I asked Don’t you want me any longer don’t you want me
Don’t you don’t you
In love when the snow slowly began to fall
Like a bird I migrated to warmer climes
That was my only method of survival

She grows personal as well as slanderous when she takes to otherwise while making passing references to her old and aged husband, his declining strength and stamina and her loneliness. She resorts to the nights of lovemaking as well as desertion of that. There lie in differences in being loveful and in being loveless. When one awakes from a dream or a nightmare, one naturally wants somebody by one’s side to cope up with the repercussions.


In this tragic game the unwise like children play
And often lose                      
At three in the morning
I wake trembling from dreams of a stark white loneliness,
Like bleached bones cracking in the desert-sun was my loneliness,

A young wife she complains against her old and aged husband which is but a review of patriarchy and our social norms imposed upon womankind.

And each time my husband,
His mouth bitter with sleep,
Kisses, mumbling to me of love.

Suppose if there is a swap of imagery, how will it look? If he is the Lord and she is also the Lord, how will it appear to be? Who will come to love whom? Perhaps she means to indicate towards the divine state of things. Why will woman come to bear it ages after ages? If the woman is not, how will it be man’s world, God’s creation? How the earthen child and his mother? How the Divine Child and Yasoda? Who cares for whom and how? How the relationship, affection,  bonding in-between? Had the bonding been not, what would it have and for what? The same Krishna as a child of Yasoda, the same Krishna as a lover of Yasoda are but the facts unanswered and asked ages after ages by the conscious souls.

But if he is you and I am you
Who is loving who
Who is the husk who the kernel
Where is the body where is the soul

He is called by so many names and is visible in strange forms beyond the understanding of mankind. But instead of mankind goes calling for. Whatever be that, this is also a fact that man loves just the disguise rather than the real. So, she feels mistaken in loving the Lord by name as it may be misleading too.

You come in strange forms
And your names are many.
Is it then a fact that I love the disguise
and the name more than I love you?

This human life is of connections, biological and earthly. A child’s connection with his mother, can these be shaken off, forsaken? The world is ever fresh, ever new. Just be ready for new beginnings, new connections. The things just get refreshed, renewed.

Can I consciously weaken bonds?
The child's umbilical cord shrivels and falls
But new connections begin, new traps arise
And new pains

If not to say to Him then whom to say to? Who can know it better? Ghanshyam, Shyam is but the  last hope. Referring to Ghanshyam as the cell of the eternal sun, the blood of the eternal fire and the hue of the summer-air, she makes it clear what it is Divinity. But what it can win the heart of a woman when is blessed with a child in her arms. Here the lines refer to Yasoda or may be of a personal reference. How to get peace? Is peace just like an infant lulled into the arms of the mother?

Ghanshyam,
The cell of the eternal sun,
The blood of the eternal fire
The hue of the summer-air,
I want a peace that I can tote
Like an infant in my arms
I want a peace that will doze
In the whites of my eyes when I smile

Those in saffron robes have told her of the Lord, but is difficult to be tuned to Hari-name recitation, kirtana and bhajan. The age is not as such, the mood too is not so. How to take to heart? The mind is just in Him, in Krishna, the Krishna of love and love lore. It is difficult to pass youth in Hari-naam.

The ones in saffron robes told me of you  
And when they left
I thought only of what they left unsaid
Wisdom must come in silence

She grows personal and referential when she presents the scenery after the guests have gone, plates washed and the lights been switched off opening the vistas and avenues of bridal communion. Wisdom like the breeze stealing the shows peeps in and passes away. If the protagonist’s remembrances be as such, how to pass the nights restlessly without sleep into the eyes? The dreams of love and sex we cannot banish them from the mind. There is something of the bridal marriage day memory in it. But here who is whose bride or groom? Is she talking of the Divine Groom? Or, the earthly love?

When the guests have gone
The plates are washed
And the lights put out
Wisdom must steal in like a breeze
From beneath the shuttered door

Shyam, Ghanshyam, what it to do now? The music has the impact of its own. She feels drawn like a fish into the net of the fisherman. The net has been hurled and cast over and the mind is encompassed within its circumference. The enchanted fish must rush towards.

Shyam O Ghanshyam
You have like a fisherman cast your net in the narrows
Of my mind
And towards you my thoughts today
Must race like enchanted fish...

One who has no help has but Shyam, Ghanshyam by his or her side. This is but a religious point of view as we have discussed in classical love poetry where there is a point of surrender, total surrender to the Divine. Love for Krishna is good. Something definitely gets purged out while offering to Him, praying to Him and lighting the candle before Him. Such a thing it is in the placing of roses before the altar, the sacred shrine or the tombstone of St. Valentine. To remember him will also suffice to do. Who is the Lover of lovers may the other point of deliberation. Sometimes it also has been seen that the devotee beloved finally thinks of relinquishing the earthly connection for the Love Divine.

If we like to make a psycho-analytical analysis, we shall come to find various things, as for the streaks of abnormal psychology studied and the matter reverting back to psycho-neurotic issues. Sexual dissatisfaction, mismatch marriage, age gap and so on will come out. There is definitely something of the repression and suppression of sexual libido. Restricting and restraining the sexual urges, we cannot channelize our energies towards Divinity. So, such a thing one can study to some extent in Mira too as she was a royal widow. There is something of perverted sexuality which but we cannot deny it.

The psychology of a young devotee is a factor. To read her mind is to know many a thing. Can a beloved be not a worshipper of St. Valentine? But she will be in the likewise manner. Sometimes one turns to spiritual love for consolation. Broken hearts need to be nourished and embalmed. The candle burning before the Cross can also give solace to the broken soul. The light burning before Krishna can also can console the self.

Ghanshyam is no doubt a beautiful love poem written by Kamala Das and nowhere can we find such a description so poetic and lyrical, so aesthetic and amorous. Krishna, where is Krishna? Krishna is in heart, in our heart. Who can know Him? One who feels Him as His own, considers Him as His own moves so closer to. He will surely come to feel the melodies of His Divine Flute piping slowly and the golden notes breaking, unfolding and unfolding and encompassing with ruptures.

Is it a song of Radha or of Mira? Or, is it of Sarojini or of Kamala? Sarojini has also a poem named Ghanashyam and Kamala too has. But Surdas and Rashkhan, they too are specialists of Krishnite love and devotional poetry. Is Kamala a Vaishnava devotee?

The poetess uses the words, as such ‘a koel built your nest’,  ‘in the arbour of my heart’, ‘a sleeping jungle’, ‘at last astir with music’, ‘lead me along a route’, ‘like a spectral flame you vanish’, ‘the flame of my prayer-lamp’, ‘I gaze into the red eye of death’, ‘the hot stare of truth unveiled’, etc. add to the beauty, depth and meaning of the poem.

Even as a bird to fly out, but where to go to? Where to go flying, my Lord? The Lord, You Yourself the Boat and the Boatman, the Reed and the Flute, is the thing discussed in. In the vast sea waters of life the ship is but the only shelter.

Share This:
22-Aug-2020
More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey
 
Views: 1244      Comments: 0




Name *
Email ID
 (will not be published)
Comment *
Characters
Verification Code*
Can't read? Reload
Please fill the above code for verification.
 
Top | Literary Shelf



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1999-2021 All Rights Reserved
 
No part of this Internet site may be reproduced without prior written permission of the copyright holder
.