Book Reviews

Suruchi Arora's Poetic Efflorescence

The Poet

This debut collection of 51 poems, Snowdrops: Blossom To The Spring Within in a sleek volume with 104 pages. It has been authored by an Indian medical practitioner in London. The volume has quite some spiritual poems, mostly spiritually oriented poems, in most simple language. There aren’t many ornaments but the poems reach their points almost directly without going through any symbols or metaphors. Poet’s deep faith in the divine is spontaneously expressed in the poems. There are hardly any criticism of any other humans or institutions, any revolt against anyone; society, governments or individuals. Poems try to hint at or seek the truth of Life and Nature. These are short poems with rhythm, occasionally rhyming too.

The poet has her faith and trust, her belief and superstition; her comprehension about herself and the world around her are securely formed. There is no wavering about it, no faltering on the path. So, she often comes back to the same conclusions about the existence, place of one’s stay or position in life seen from a lofty window above the clamouring humdrum world.

The Poems

A tree stands erect upon earth withstanding all hazards of life and nature; emits oxygen, creates shade and do many more things. Though it seems to stand steel it is a part of the flow of life. “Simply does what it is meant to do, /and stays in the peace of effortless flow.” (Effortless Flow 25) A leaf flown in the wind is blown in storm, goes through many hazards and is finally dropped on the ground when rains flood the earth. In a precarious muddled position it desperately asks about its place on earth and is replied, “Exactly where you are meant to be!” (Where am I? 29)

One’s marked position in life demarcates the purpose of his life. Moved by ambition and pride, duty and urge, a human being sometimes asks bewildered, the purpose of his life. The poet compares the human life with the life of a flower; an ephemeral beauty which gives fragrance and hides seeds before it withers away but never asks the purpose of its existence. (What is the Purpose of my Life 36-37).The clear answer is in, “Like the notes / in a symphony,/ you are needed,/just as you are./ To play your part /like no one can.” (Music of Life 69)

Deep faith in something benevolent and omnipresent guiding the whole creation towards its desired goal resulting in everything remaining in its desired place, emanates from one’s love for such omnipresent personality which is nothing other than the divine.

Realising her love for nature and humans when the poet turns her gaze to herself she realises in the depth of her heart that she loves herself most and in that the divine is there; “That is when I complete my love /by loving the you that lives through me.” (I Love You 70)

Tagore wrote directly addressing the Lord of the three worlds in one of his songs as republished in Gitanjali, ”Your love would have been futile without me.” [1]

Suruchi realises that when she feels utterly tired, forlorn, bereft of faith and courage, she is carried by the God through, who creates her trust in him and restores her strength; even when she would die the essence of the divine presence would be with her for “It’s you . . . /The part of you that lived through me.” (You Live Through Me 91) She realises that her deepest love, true trust and entire dependence becomes God (God 94). She realises that God is the essence of everything, not only the thing or thing-in-itself; “You are love /not just all that I love.” (You 95)

One of the truths revealed in one of our scriptures is that the fire and the burning capacity of fire are the same thing; the essence of it is as the poet says, “You are the fragrance /not a mere flower.” (You 95) One of the greatest mystic poets, Kabir, uttered more than five hundred years ago,

Like oil in a sesame seed,
Like spark in a flint stone,
Your Lord resides within you;
Wake up, if you will,
And realize Him. [2]

There are some stray thoughts moving around some issues, some stories that she relates about her journeys or encountering someone. All do not lead to any great conclusion but they focus on some ideas that dangles in poet’s mind. “How Are You?” (4-5) is such a poem. We often ask someone we chance to meet on the way, “How are you?” but we don’t wait to hear the answer from the one we questioned, maybe that the questioned one too does not find it necessary to properly reply. We don’t think it over in our mind as to what could it mean. It is just like repeating the word, “Good morning!” when meeting or “bye bye” while leaving someone. All these are mechanical habits one goes through without attaching any value to such addresses. This seems to be a passing culture carried to next generation; tantamounts to uttering something meaningless. We wonder how many of our activities are really meaningful! The poet suggests in conclusion that going deeper or broader regions of our mind we may find that it is really difficult to find the true meaning or answer the questioner of “How are you?”

“Letting Go” (10) is a poem that tells about a twisting pain felt in our heart for a while when

we know that our daughter coming of age goes away in marriage or otherwise or a beautiful flower withers away soon after its blossoming. We long for returning of things evanescent.

“That Lonely Child” (6-7) is a story of going back to one’s childhood days, down memory lane.

After all illusory movements one sometimes feels that nothing significant happened in adult adventures with an urge to go back to his or her lonely and forlorn childhood days; lonely and forlorn in spite of the presence of all guardians to whom the child was very beloved. “My Castle” (16-17) seems to be a lesson in one’s life that the poet focuses. After taking all the troubles, doing all labours when one builds a castle he remains dissatisfied as it seems dwarfed than many such buildings whereas the ambition of the builder is sky high. In building such a high castle, it cracks somewhere and through it the sky is seen. The ambitious builder is delighted as he realises that it is the highest for there cannot be anything higher than the sky. There are stories built on that theme; that there cannot be anything more than the nature of the thing provides or one requires. The great example is a story by Leo Tolstoy, “How much Land does a man Require?”. Lust of land lures a peasant to run from dawn to sunset covering as much land as he could, to possess. But at the end of his run he dies and gets buried on six feet of land only.

“Meditation” is a poem teaching one how to effectively meditate by closing everything to that which has a shortcoming. But the nature of things is such that the moment one tries to silence the mind all disturbing thoughts rush to the scene. It is not easy to close all doors to defective life situations to remain in blank peace and tranquility. Meditation is a path to Yoga. In Buddhist system meditation is a great way but each type of meditation under different systems has different methods. Meditation is a great way in Indian Spirituality and is being practiced for thousands of years.

Like “You” “A Prayer” (86) is one of the finest poems in this collection. It says that work done with all heart becomes an act of love, “A Prayer that reaches /the source of all.” (A Prayer 86). A work done without any expectation of fruits from it is considered as the Karmayoga. The Mother of Pondicherry wrote, “Let us work as we pray, for indeed work is the body’s best prayer to the Divine.” She signed the paper with her symbol in it. Work done in right attitude with a sense of offering and surrender to the Divine becomes prayer indeed.


When this debut collection of poems, Snowdrops, by Dr. Suruchi Arora, reached my hand, what striked me most is the attitude of the professional medicine practitioner in London, a most modern Indian woman of our century. Her acknowledgement tells a lot about her heritage, culture and education; about her true Indianness. She has rightly imbibed the age old spirituality of India.

She acknowledges in profound language her reverence and indebtedness to her parents, her love and togetherness with her family and friends and the overall experience she has gained from the atmosphere she was born in.

The poems refer to the Indian devotional traditions and age old spirituality. The Saivite and Vaishnavite saints of Tamil Nadu were first Bhakti poets before the Sufis; the tradition continued. Middle ages expanded the area of Bhakti poetry with and through such great personalities like Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Mira Bai, Sant Kabir and many others like Guru Nanak, Tukaram and Namdeva. I don’t emphasize on any religion or cult but simple bhakti and spirituality as the bone and marrow of such poetry. It has continued to the present through the great mystic poets like Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahangsa Yogananda and others followed by some poets in the next generations. Poet Suruch Arora is welcome in the group of such poets.

There may be some lessons through her attractive narratives, some didactive hints but they do not often pose to teach the readers. The best is that the book gives a joy of reading. I wish the readership to expand for these simple poems of love and devotion from a seeker’s heart.

Notes and References

1. Tagore.Gitabitan, Kolkata: Visvabharati. Part- two. Song No.294. Reprint. 1979
2. Kabir Sakhi Sangraha 106: 8 as reproduced in Kabir The Weaver of God’s Name by V. K. Sethi. Punjab: Radha Soami Satsang Beas. Third Edition-1998. pp. 540

Work Cited

Arora Suruch Dr. Snowdrops: Blossom To The Spring Within. White Falcon Publishing. (Place not mentioned) 2021. Paperback. Price not stated. pp.104


More by :  Aju Mukhopadhyay

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