Solitude and Other Poems by Rajender Krishan ISBN: 978-81-8253-414-8
Amazon ASIN: B08LV52XZF Available on Amazon
Earth, ocean, air, belovèd brotherhood!
If Our great Mother has imbued my soul
With aught of natural piety to feel
Your love, and recompense the boon with mine;
If dewy morn, and odorous noon, and even,
With sunset and its gorgeous ministers,
And solemn midnight's tingling silentness;
If autumn's hollow sighs in the sere wood,
And winter robing with pure snow and crowns
Of starry ice the grey grass and bare boughs;
If spring's voluptuous pantings when she breathes
Her first sweet kisses, have been dear to me;
If no bright bird, insect, or gentle beast
I consciously have injured, but still loved
And cherished these my kindred; then forgive
This boast, belovèd brethren, and withdraw
No portion of your wonted favour now!
— Shelley in Alastor; or The Spirit of Solitude
Frankly speaking, first I thought of putting the book aside rather than taking it casually with some reluctance and disinterest, turning over the pages lazily, but could not close it down, the core matters of life and existence flashed upon imbued with a thirst for spiritual knowledge and wisdom and as thus I felt drawn to having my tryst with it the book in hand, RK’s Solitude and Other Poems. Apart from being a Kabirite, he drinks deep at the springs of Kabirism and the pearls of wisdom come trickling, drifting down to in the Mansarovar of thought and idea with the swans flying and the waters crystal clear. The same Bhakti poetry, the medieval time classical genre of poetry is the tenor of his rhyme and rhythm, mood and mind and he singing with the same spirit taking us to Kabir, Mira, Sur, Rahim, Raskhan and so on for a delving. To read him is to go through the history of Benares and the history of it, to charter the course of transcendental meditation, to delve deep into the wisdom of the sages, the margas of knowledge. Indian Bhakti tradition, how to undermine it as it is the core of our philosophy? Gnan-marga too is important as for the realization of the self. But the Path of Action envisages us to be enlightened through the dispensation and disposition of the work. Work is worship, service top man is service to God, these too also present a contrast to the theories given and are no less than.
As one removes
layer after layer
the onion spreads a piercing odor
eyes prickle with tears
All layers strewn
the bulb obliterated
one grasps a tangible nothing
realizes an intangible something
behind the skin
remains forever free -
The indestructible Atman
— Core of the Onion
Core of the Onion is the poem with which the book unfolds, and the dreams keep taking wings, the flights of poetic imagination. Poetry, where does it germinate? In human heart or the meditational mind keeps the track of it all happening within? Has poetry germinated from the kundalini source or awakening or from transcendental meditation? How the eyes of knowledge? What is knowledge, the knowledge of the self? To read him is to question what is dharma, what is karma? What is samsara? What the philosophy of samsara? How to do sadhna? Is to be a sadhaka the goal of life? Without doing sadhna, one cannot acquire and achieve something. The poet as a sadhaka, the poet as an Indian philosopher, spiritualist is the thing under our deliberation. Solitude and Other Poems as a collection takes into its corpus the discussion and debate of ‘Who are you, who am I?’ and the answer thereafter coming Aham Brahmasmi, Tat Tvam Asi. The Ashokan rock edict reads it, goes as thus with the question raised out of curiosity ‘What is dhamma?’ which but reverberating and resounding with, giving way to the sense of righteousness and nyaya.
Human life is a cycle of birth and death, is a journey leading to here and beyond so full of karma and dharma existent as well as so non-existent at the same time of deliberation, pulsating with prana which but human mind keeps trying to comprehend that Cosmic Consciousness with the Spark of Light felt within or contemplated as the fruit of sadhna or righteous living with an earnest desire of seeing or feeling the Divine and the emotions and feelings taking over with repercussions or upheavals undergone for the sake of tryst with the Thing Metaphysical or Transcendental, the Mystery Unknowable or call it the Light Divine, the Pure Ring of Light after thinking in terms of or undergoing the streaks of Karma, Bhoga, Prayaschita, Nirvana and Moksha as a partaker of all that. The duality of I and You, You and I leading to theological discourses and debates which seem to be unending and he trying to grapple with the Maya-Moha of the Samsara. The world as you see, the world as I see, the world as felt, experienced by us, You and I, I and You and shared with, Gnana shared and as thus sparked it, glared and glowed it the Light, illumined it, the Lamp of Light, burning it, dispelling darkness, struggling with darkness to give it Light to the wide world. What Prurusha, what Prakriti, the Purusha-Prakriti concept, how the Lingam-Yoni myth, in which cave burning it the Light, Sadhaks doing sadhna, lost in, ascending heights of transcendental meditation. The words Om, Om, AUM, Hari Om, AUM reverberating, a beautiful morning with dew-laden petals appearing, dispelling darkness, the lotus of morning opening with Om, Om, Hari Om, Om Shantih Shantih Shantih. Sat Chita Ananda, Satchidananda, Kailash, Mansarovar, the snow-capped peaks, blue waters, swans floating, where to go, where to search, Brahma Vishnu Maheshwara, where to search Him? But there is also some other version which, but we hear in him too and it is Sufistic, Kabirite philosophy. Hearing Him otherwise too as an alternative answer crosses the mind, ‘Where do you search Me, search Me?’ with the reply doing the rounds, I am by you, by you wherever search you, search you, I am near you, near you. How the jurisprudence of Papa-Punya?
There are two sides of story one is the worldly side while the other the metaphysical aspect of his poetry and Rajender Krishan delves deep into both of these. On the one hand if Meera draws him while on the other he keeps burning the desire of being a recluse or a bairagi, but not all a Bhartrihari. Sometimes yoga, sometimes bhoga draws him closer, sometimes Lawrence, sometimes Rajneesh. But apart from that, he is John Donnian, Andrew Marvellian.
What Nirvana is it? Let us quote a few lines from his poem titled Nirvana:
"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 splendor
Buddha as a poem tells of the bullet ridden Bamiyan Buddhas and the Taliban going with axes, hammers, rockets and other weapons to demolish and wipe out the relics:
Over two millenniums ago
sculpted the mountains
Into the image of
The Enlightened One
Who majestically and silently
Gave meaning to
The message of
Compassion, Love, Brotherhood and Peace
Breath, apart from knowing what it is life-breath and human consciousness, we keep dividing ourselves and entangling with absurd mundane discussions of mindless rift and animosity:
What I inhale
is the cause
the very support
that lives majestically
to make me
Freedom, what freedom does he want to take to? What liberty does he talk about here in this poem titled Freedom? Is it the freedom of the self or the flight of imagination as taken by the authorly self and persona?
What is it that I seek
if not freedom
from the bondage
of my own creation
reflected in many moods
of mutable emotions
lust and greed
my true being
and in this gruesome search
of aimless wanderings
I am trapped in non-acceptance
in trying to become
what I am not.
Here in it one can mark the thesis and the anti-thesis. Nothing is what it seems to be and what it seems to be is nothing.
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.
Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.
Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,
Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
— Alexander Pope in Ode on Solitude
More on Solitude