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Amma's Gospel: A Comparative Study
by Bijay Kant Dubey Bookmark and Share

Amma’s Gospel by Rajender Krishan
Setu Publication, Pittsburgh, USA 168 Pages
Paperback ISBN-13 : 978-1-947403116 Amazon ebook ASIN : B08LSYFLN4
Available on Amazon USA | Amazon India and other global Amazon websites

~*~

Children love to listen to stories about their elders, when they were children; to stretch their imagination to the conception of a traditionary great-uncle or grandame, whom they never saw. It was in this spirit that my little ones crept about me the other evening to hear about their great-grandmother Field, who lived in a great house in Norfolk (a hundred times bigger than that in which they and papa lived) which had been the scene—so at least it was generally believed in that part of the country—of the tragic incidents which they had lately become familiar with from the ballad of the Children in the Wood. — Charles Lamb in Dream Children: A Reverie

“Once . . . Once upon a time . . ."
Over and over again,
Martha would tell us her stories,
In the hazel glen.
 
Hers were those clear gray eyes
You watch, and the story seems
Told by their beautifulness
Tranquil as dreams. — Walter de la Mare in Martha

Amma’s Gospel as a poetical text is saturated with parables, maxims and moral lessons reminding us of K.A.Abbas’s The Refugee, Khushwant Singh’s The Portrait of a Lady, Walter de la Mare’s Martha and S.T.Coleridge’s The Rime of The Ancient Mariner and having the spells over with their protagonists, mouthpieces and spokespersons. There is of course something of Shiela Gujral’s poems dealing with Dadi Ma. There is something of Vikram and Vaital as far as the story telling is concerned and the impact cast over. Kipling’s If poem too is full of moral lessons. Whatever be that those were the days of orchards, forests, beasts, brutes and rural backgrounds when the things were not handy in the absence of modern comfort and luxury and development, present-day appliances and amenities. Those were the days of oil lamps, mud houses, rope cots, farm houses and lively gossips.

It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din.'

He holds him with his skinny hand,
'There was a ship,' quoth he.
'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He holds him with his glittering eye—
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years' child:
The Mariner hath his will.

The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient man,
The bright-eyed Mariner. — Samuel Taylor Coleridge in The Rime of The Ancient Mariner

“MY grandmother, like everybody’s grandmother, was an old woman. She had been old and wrinkled for the twenty years that I had known her. People said that she had once been young and pretty and had even had a husband, but that was hard to believe. My grandfather’s portrait hung above the mantelpiece in the drawing room. He wore a big turban and loose-fitting clothes. His long, white beard covered the best part of his chest and he looked at least a hundred years old. He did not look the sort of person who would have a wife or children. He looked as if he could only have lots and lots of grandchildren. As for my grandmother being young and pretty, the thought was almost revolting. She often told us of the games she used to play as a child. That seemed quite absurd and undignified on her part and we treated it like the fables of the Prophets she used to tell us.” — Khushwant Singh in The Portrait of a Lady

Amma’s Gospel, what sort of gospel is it? Let us come to mark it. There was a time when the Dadi Ma used to narrate stories and the stories used to cast a spell over. Now all the charms have gone in this age of access and connectivity when time and distance have been conquered and the wide world has shrunken into a global village with GPS fitted and heavy-duty earth-moving machines doing marvels.

Amma’s gospel was simple:

Love yourself
by being true to yourself
Be not in haste to react
First anticipate then contemplate
and
then respond
Follow the right path
Be happy
Be successful.

I would express my curiosity

Amma would elaborate:

Amma, no life without Amma and the case is the same here in this poem dealing with the grandmotherly tales. But those were times of joint families and it is now the age of nuclear families hence the bonds seem to be breaking now in this age of dislocation and displacement, job and employment. If on the one hand rehabilitation centres seem to be the cause of our worries while on the other old age homes seem to be knocking for family disputes. Here in the poem Amma he presents the faith which it upheld her, the belief he reposed in, the confidence with which tackled she the things of life and the world:
 
Amma’s lullabies:
Surely reminiscent to-date
those devotional vibes
even today consecrate
...
...
Amma’s mysticism:
Death is inevitable
sleep with gratitude
for the ultimate dawn

Cyclical tells of the rotation of the wheel, the clock. Human time, cosmic time, rotation of human life and death, how to say it exactly?

The cycle
of physical birth and death
         despite variance
         amongst different species
remains a subset
of a larger cycle of Nature
...
...
Such is the game plan
of Prakriti and Purusha
that innumerable civilizations
have come and gone
and man is still wandering
here, there, everywhere
in understanding
the greater cycle of Nature.

Is it all pre-scripted?
...
...
No wonder
Amma called this
a mere play
the inexorable Leela

Amma’s Gospel is a gospel of didacticism and morality; good advice and healthy spirit of living. The home is the periphery of thinking. The old time and the age are the things of the past.

In a poem titled Esteem, he talks of the sobriety, courtesy, delicacy and perseverance of Amma as she intercepted it not, neither interrupted nor interfered with while putting before her side, never liked to impose upon:

He barked, she heard
Her silence, he felt
Intrigued, he quizzed
She remained quiet
 
To her the respect for
the precepts of dignity
was far more important
than winning an argument

Word as a poem is a study in visualization, the way to conjure up the images, to memorize and to remember:

Amma spent
a lot of time
with us…

When I, my siblings
and cousins were
growing up, once
during our summer
get-together, Amma
came up with an idea.

She said:

Close your eyes
Visualize water
Concentrate
          … silence
          a brief gap …
Now narrate
What unfolds? 

...
...
Just one word
and so much learnt
Imagine if one contemplates
on the Word of words;
would not one
get the key to unlock
the supreme potential within,
that encapsulates
the absolute existence

~*~

Mesmerized since,
I am still overwhelmed

After the Big Bang, the Creation of the Universe, how did the sound break the silence, the ripples of silence? How did it dhavani come out, how did shabda get the form? Indeed charming to note the journey from the break of sound to akshara to shabda to vakya. God, give me sounds, sounds, give me, give speech; God, give me, give me vani, speech, the Speech Divine. Man, your journey is a journey from Dhavani to Akshara to Vani, the Vani Divine with the Vakya to mean or mean it not!

One doorway of dream leading another doorway and as thus the visions keep expanding the horizon and spectrum of thought and idea and unfolding the myths of life and the world. Shabda, word, where did it come from? And from shabda, vani, from word, speech.

The old photo from the album taking him to understand human presence and the things related to his stay. But here he talks of her strong presence which he drew from her personality and stance as he feels it in Connection:

Her deep eyes talk
conveying much to hear
whenever I see her fading
sepia image from years ago
  
I simply try to decipher
and then try finding words
to articulate what is heard
in the serenity of her silence

The connection which can never be cut in between mother and son, memories and sympathies keep haunting the mind and heart.

Why Pray? as a poem can be taken into consideration:

Amma’s gospel was simple:
Always Pray

How to pray? I would ask

Amma would explain:

As a seeker, accepting ignorance
...
...

What about riches
?

Amma would answer:

There are no better riches than
Acceptance of Life as it is
...
...

Let us pray
Amma’s way

What we need utmost is devotion, deep dedication as miss we these from modern life and living, that ancient faith and belief which held us close to God and godliness.

Lessons and morals from a mother as these are in the poems of Kipling and Lawrence somewhere lying it expressed what it to do when you grow up or take to your stance.  

Amma Ji has really turned into an unforgettable character to depict the age and times, the generation gap, the change in the character of the persona felt it comparatively, all that to refer to and to allude to.
 
I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heav'n
Than when I was a boy.
— Thomas Hood in I Remember, I Remember

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
But I go on forever. — Alfred Lord Tennyson in The Brook

Amma series of poetry by Rajender Krishan takes us to a world of morality and didacticism when maxims, sayings, adages, heresies ruled the age and the people drew from and lived by. But black sheep were in every age as they are still around us, but we need to balance in between the good and the bad. The good old words of Ammaji have not turned irrelevant still now they continue to inspire and instruct.

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
Turned from the bridegroom's door.

He went like one that hath been stunned,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn. — Samuel Taylor Coleridge in The Rime of The Ancient Mariner


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07-Nov-2020
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