Literary Shelf

Contemporary Indian English Poetry and Constructive Criticism

How To Do M.Phils. & Ph.Ds. On It?
(Wayward Thoughts)

Jayanta Mahapatra as a Poet of The Door Motif: A Study
Adil Jussawalla as a Poet of Angst, Loss & Bewilderment: A Search for Faith
Poetry as The Columns of Memory and Reflection, Reminiscence and Nostalgia
Kamala Das’ Poetry as The Autobiography of The Liberated Feminine Self
Arun Kolatkar’s Poetry A Reconstructing of Faith And Doubt
Keki N. Daruwalla: A Poet of The U.P. And Its Landscapes
Spiritual And Religious Elements in The Poetry of Krishna Srinivas
The Poetic World of K.D. Katrak
Pritish Nandy: A Poet of Love and Romance
Maharshi Aurobindo’s Savitri: A Study in Revision and Edition
Dilip Chitre: The Beating of The Heart for St. Tukaram

We prescribe the stray poems of the poets into our courses of study, but do we ever have the poetry collections written by the modern or old poets? We do not as because all the poems of the collections are not readable, but instead they must be put for an assessment to be made. In Gandhi we may see Kabir and in Tagore too we may, but without the handloom. Similar is the case with Dilip Chitre and his search for Tukaram. The loss of his son hung it heavy upon the poet and he could not find consolation elsewhere. The Bhopal Gas tragedy took a toll upon. In Tagore’s poetry, the loss of children and wife saddens his poetic spirit for a pensive reflection to be seen in the surrender to the Divine and the mind rising in unison with, rising above the realms and dimensions unfolding to from Atma to Vishwatma and the bonding between the two. Something as the shadow of the loved ones leaves him not behind and the spectre calling him in various love imagery and imagism.

Where to dust the wooden racks and bookshelves of the olden libraries or almirah lying locked for years as for pre-independence time poetry book publications? Where to search whom? Who published whom?

The research scholars often like to work on the worked topics rather than going for novel things and experimentation and if the scope of the search is extended while taking up contemporary Indian English poetry and the voices on the margins, new names will be around us doing the rounds whether we accept it or not. We have worked on K.N. Daruwalla and Gieve Patel but have left K.D. Katrak and his books are out of stock too. We could not assess it then. Where is Bantleman? P. Lal too wondered on seeing him left out. Apart from receiving the award, Krishna Srinivas is just counted as a promoter of poetry. But one must keep it in mind that there are so many who have really contributed to Indian English poetry, as such D.H. Kabadi, V.S. Skand Prasad, Kulwant Singh Gill, Kedar Nath Sharma, M.L. Kaul, Simanchal Patnaik, Hazara Singh, Charu Sheel Singh, Pronab Kumar Majumder, T.V. Reddy, D.C. Chambial, Narenderpal Singh, Maha Nand Sharma, P.K. Joy, Sarbeswar Samal, R.K. Singh, A.N. Dwivedi, S.C. Dwivedi, I.H. Rizvi, Shiela Gujral, Niranajan Mohanty. I.K. Sharma, O.P. Bhatnagar, K.V. Venkataramana and so on. If one searches for established authors, one may not into the realm of Indian English poetry as they have evolved in time and have substantiated their literary positions. Even the big names were not so then when they started to write. If one goes through the anthologies edited by V.K. Gokak and P.Lal, one will certainly come to feel it.

One may definitely question the base of including the marginalized poets or the poetic voices and calling them Indian poets or poetry-practitioners. This has some reasons to be put forth or explained. First, Indian English poetry is but a study in minor poets and slender anthologies if we go through the books published so far. Who founded Writers Workshop, Calcutta and whose collections published they? P. Lal published the newcomers, unknown voices, the first book attempters. How many books had they the established writers of today when they took to writing poetry in English? To put it candidly, P. Nandy too had been a student of literature. Nandy too turned to media, editorship and journalism after having made his tryst with poetry. Adil Jussawalla too after being published by Writers Workshop remained silent for decades diverting his energies to journalism and journalistic tidbits. There was a time when we used to hesitate in submitting research proposals on the poetry of Dilip Chitre as his self-published books in English were out of stock and even if they were available just to be picked from anthologies out of stock though he might be a famous Marathi poet. Arun Kolatkar was making a way in, trying to gather and publish. But they got their critic, we mean the surveyor to take care of. Even Kamala Das’ thin poetry-collections appeared from P. Lal’s Writers Workshop and most of these remained out of stock as there had not been the buyers and takers of them then.

M.K. Naik’s slender booklets of comic verses are a study in Ogden Nash, E.C. Bentley and Edward Lear’s verses whereas K.R.S. Iyengar’s Sitayana and others take us to a different pedestal of learning. But to work for a dissertation on Naik’s verse is to support the thesis from his other critical texts and stray write-ups lying littered in literary journals. The letters, inclusive of postcards, inland letter cards and envelopes of K.R.S. Iyengar too may be collected for a literary study if it is possible or one has an access to. Those who are published have no problems, but those who are struggling have the problem in coming to light. D.H. Kabadi’s three-liners are very, very linguistic as well as stylistic rarely to be found elsewhere. Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Rimi series can definitely win anybody’s heart whoever goes through them. Baldev Mirza’s artistic poems have a charm and fascination of their own. So were the poems of A.C. Sahay.

On what topic do you want to do your M.Phil. or Ph.D.? Say you? What do you want to take up which you have in your M.A. or not? Just for your Ph.D. and professorship or for studies? If you want to study, you will have to be a student again, a research student.

What is its importance? What to say and how to say it? First, what is poetry? Poetry is words, words with music and lyrical quality, words with thoughts and ideas, images and pictures, remembrances and reflections. The doors of dreams opening, unfolding and you entering door by door. Under the blue skies, how lonely am I? Under the sunny skies, where do I lie in the valley in between the hills? Poetry is incantation, melody, music, song and dance and romance. O sing, sing you, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Rama-Rama, Krishna-Krishna, you lost in Rama, you lost in Krishna, singing Hare Rama Hare Krishna! Poetry is feeling, some idea, some memory and reflection. Poetry is random reflections. Poetry is serious thinking as it sometimes lapses you into thinking deeply about something.

Poetry is music, song, dance and drama; poetry is poetry, as you take it, as I take it, as we all take it, poetry for poetry's sake, a man speaking to a man, man in the midst of Nature brooding over vales, dales, mountains, hills and skies adorning the landscape with a green cover going wild and so full of vegetation with exotic flora and fauna, the poet as a rebel idealist thinking of world revolutions. I a poet, you a poet and we all poets of some sort as we are human beings so full of emotion and feeling, sentiment and sensitivity. The poet as a mystic and poetry his mysticism, this too you add to. One may write the poetry of a haunted house, one may write about terracotta temples. Poetry is art and architecture, can it not be about architectural buildings? Can it not depict the mud houses with thatched rooftops? Can it be not about the aboriginal tribes? The poet as a romantic taking the flights of imagination, lost in fanciful dreams may be also the case.

Bob Dylan with the guitar performing and the chords cackling may be the point of deliberation, the poetical sketch. But what is it in Bob? What tradition does he carry with? The modern, pop, jazz, blues, rock n’ roll, chapel, folk and country, fusing them all, he presents, catching the vibes of America and American speech and tongue and its variations ever.

Michael Jackson, his dance, my poetry, if not in all, the poses and postures of his taking the canvas of my poetry and I lost in my music studio of poetry making the images of his dance. How does it take the audience by surprise? What is it in him that makes us dance?

The poetry of lockdown, lockdown as for corona write we, talk we clamping of the curfew on traffic movement, human movement as for to check the spread of the flu virus turning into a pandemic ever striking us in world history and of Covid-19 hospitals wearing a deserted look with its protocol and nomenclature as for the do’s and don’ts.

Can poetry be written if the masters are not read and the things and memories of them recreated? The echoes of Spenser, Wyatt, Drayton, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Herbert, Vaughan, Blake, Marvell, Dryden, Pope, Tennyson, Arnold, Gray, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Scott, Eliot, Yeats, Pound, Auden, Spender, Larkin and so on can never negated as these hang over as impact and influence. What is it in modernity and modernism? What is post-modern? What is the modernist approach? And finally, from modernism to where?

Gray is a poet of the twilight time of the Augustan Age and the Age of Romanticism and poetry is born as the pensive flights and solitary reflections of the churchyard landscape broken by the tinkles of the bells of the returning cattle and the tired plowman for whom the hearth burns it not which burnt it one day and the language is a fusion of Latinized diction and romantic spirit with a lot of personifications and against the backdrop of mouldering heaps, some with the grave stones and inscriptions from the Bible and some without telling about the hamlet men buried deep and in slumber who might have the genius which we recognized it not.

See the catalogues of books, old and new, visit some libraries if possible. Think of taking a topic. First, ask yourself if there is none to guide and who guides and supervises whom, we know it well. Shakespearean Criticism: A Study of The Shakespearean Critics, may be the topic. The Editions and Re-editions of Leaves of Grass: A Study and for this you will American books. Wordsworth’s Prelude: The Finishing of The Work will certainly deal with craftsmanship. Biographies of Nehru: A Critical Study and study you taking the books and narrating a brief history of biography-writing in English. Biographers of Gandhi: A Visit to The Gandhi Ashrama will also interest you. What is in Biography? A Study may look theoretical and here you will have to grapple with theories. Biographies on Indira Gandhi: A Count or Study, you may take up for discussion. The Literary Columns of Khushwant Singh: A Study in Jokes, Literary Tidbits and Gossips or Khushwant Singh as a Columnist: A Study of His Columns may be the subject-matter of study.

How to answer it? My question is, do we know our history at all? Had we, we would have prescribed the poems of G.K. Chettur, Nilima Devi and so on. History is not history and history need to be re-written. What more do we know about the pressmen and presses? Was Yeats invited ever? Did Tagore or the British people of India? Did Tagore even try to understand the poetry of Yeats? Had the Ashrama Press been not, could we have seen Savitri, a voluminous work? Some had been even before Nissim Ezekiel attempted to write and they are Burjor Paymaster, P.R. Kaikini and others. While taking the names of the new writers of verse, we should keep it in mind that C.R. Mandy, the Editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India himself gave a space to them in his magazine in order to promote Indian English verse, but he too had not been satisfied with the quality.

Before taking post-independence Indian English poetry, one must go through Meru, A Coat, The Indian Upon God by William Butler Yeats, The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, Gunga Din, If by Rudyard Kipling, Partition by W.H. Auden and so on. Had we been modern? Perhaps it came late in our country. Our modernism is connected with the history of the theatre, the radio, the cycle, the motor bus, the train, the post-office, the telegraph, the telegram and the newspaper. Had the roads, bridges, schools, colleges, medical facilities, electric lights, police stations and courts been not, had we been modern? Definitely not. India’s modernity, it will take time to write it. The British doctors and engineers would have known it most. Even in Bihar we could not search the house of George Orwell, what more to say? One must see the Introduction prefixed to Gitanjali by W.B. Yeats.

Since when have we started giving awards to Indian English poets? The story begins with Jayanta Mahapatra’s Relationship. Even now we study the stray poems picked and taken up for studies. Do we read the whole text? We do not. We do not have longer poems. Do we have songs like In Memoriam, Prelude, Tintern Abbey, The Scholar Gypsy and so on? Most of the modern Indian English poets have grown over the course of time. They have evolved. To see it otherwise, Indian English poetry is a study in minor voices, poetasters, rhymers, commoners and non-poets; a study in slender anthologies and minor poets. It is a one book Ph.D. matter.

If we talk of Nissim Ezekiel’s poetry, we sometimes mumble and fumble, how far Indian is Indian English poetry? What is Indian in Indian English poetry? Nissim’s is a Bombayan view of life as seen through the ports and posts, harbours, docks and yards of it; an Indian Jew’s reading of life and times. But he is uniquely Indian and modern. To read Adil Jussawalla is to talk of the missing person as he is also a poet of Bombay. Jayanta Mahapatra who hails from Cuttack, Odisha is an Odia Christian writing about the Rathyatra, the Puri temple, the Konark Sun temple, the caves, rivers, seas and so on. Mahapatra who has taught physics in classrooms takes to poetry just as photography, imagery, word play and existential search.

Citing memorable lines, quoting and drawing from, delving upon, we come to know by the way, poetry is the criticism of life, poetry is best words in the best order, poetry is lyrical thoughts. The poetry of the Beats and the Beatles, Krishnites, Isckonites, Hare Rama Hare Krishna Movement, how to catch the rhythm of devotion? Foreigner bhaktas lost in Krishna-prem, Krishna-bhakti, I just mark it.

We like them for human passion, human emotion expressed in. What is it love? Who is really a lover? As they touch our heart and sentiment, tend to us so the love poems. It is a thing of heart. Love poems are like love letters, figures and figurines on clay-baked terracotta plates. I love you, what does it mean? Do you love me? How is the question? But one who has not loved cannot say it is love. But the path is not smooth. The rose plant is but thorny and it pricks.

The playwrights will plays, the novelists will novels, but who has time now-a-days to read lengthy novels?

In this age when life is but a drama?

Indian English dramatists are but imitation dramatists and even if are, who will understand the acting? The spectators will have to go with the Internet connected phones to look up the words if necessary.

We are the audiences of the Ramlila and the Krishnalila, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Chinese is Chinese, this has as the people wanted it be with the script of their own, as hieroglyphics. The making of a language has a history of its own. It develops and grows with time. But our computerized cartoon graphics are just like Motu and Patlu, John and Don are entertaining the kids. John will be Don, how will he be? Who will be John? John will be Don.

The days of rhyming are gone, but rhyme we even now, this is as for the angst, bewilderment and loss taking over and a sense of uncertainty looms large over us with the annihilation of faith leaving so much of scope for suspense and doubt without which we cannot reason this too is a fact. Broken times of broken relationships, how to interpret the time spirit? The time appears to be tense as for the gap in between science and technology on the one hand while on the other blind faith seems to be overpowering us sometimes. This is an age of jazz, rap and blues.

Was the world not modern before the modern Indian English poets? Were there no poets? Poets not, engineers, doctors, technocrats, masons and sculptors? Who made the roads then? Who the railway lines? The post-offices, the telegram departments, the telephone departments? Who made the wards? The T.B. wards, malaria wards, cholera wards? How has it been the memory of plague, polio, malaria, typhoid, smallpox?

Once upon a time we used to fear receiving telegrams just with a few words typed upon telling about joining or death so often, the message to be received or got sent across. We used to wait for the postal mails and the postmen to come in the khaki dress. The telephone poles with the wires and the technicians, linesmen used to climb the poles to repair and connect and check them hanging onto like some heroes in the light blue uniform and goggles. The cycles were too much for us then. The record players with the mike boxes used to enjoy us on occasions. Thereafter came the cassettes and the television sets and mobile handsets. The radio lost its lustre and went defunct; so did the cinema halls, the video halls turning into shopping complexes and so did the call centres. Black and white television sets were replaced with colour sets and disturbing antennas calling for adjustment and setting often got finished. Now it is a time of YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Tik Tok. Today youths can be seen passing time playing Garena Fee Fire games. Now we wait it not for post-cards, inland letter cards, envelopes and M.Os., calls can be made, messages can texted instantly, video calls can be made and money transfers can be done without any hurdle. There is no need to visit the bank cash counters, money can be borrowed from ATM machines so easily. The deshi Tik Tok heroines can compete with the heroines of Bombay failing in modelling and fashion designing. It is also a fact some of the girls met accidently on the platforms, at bus terminuses and airports can fail the heroines and cine artistes in outlook. We chose our Punjabi heroines from Delhi, but left we the Naga, Mizo, Karbi, Lepcha, Bhutia, Nepali heroines from inducting them into our films.

Poetry does not have any barrier. It can be about anything which draws your attention, and you want to write it about. Can one not on Shakespearean critics? Can one not on the shabby, vagabond scholar gypsy, Walt Whitman? One may about one’s joy of finding the collected poems of Matthew Arnold dating back to the 1890’s. How was it the syllabus of Calcutta University then? Up to what age had it been in the first decade of the twentieth century? Eliot, Yeats, Auden and Larkin were not. Time too is a factor so is the press and publication and so is acquaintance.

One may write under the impact of and may refer to indirectly about one’s impressions of reading and recreating it, living under the conditions given or seasoning it all. One may about odd Indian villages, scattered and sparsely dotting the secluded terrains or by the riverside the hamlets lurking around just like the blue hill views, hinging onto and the women with earthen pitchers going to fill their water pots with water from the sandy riverbeds near the stream dug and washed and dredged for pure water. There was a time when the people used to rake the water of the ponds as there were no wells in the nearby area or they used to dry in summer where the layer was so deep into the plateau regions.

A poem can be about the mindless forest fires burning like some wildfire which may be the handiwork of woodcutters or for some other vested reason.

A poem can be about the factory goers and chimney cleaners.


Can we think of the Indian cinema without Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan and their traditions? There was a time of Ramlila and Krishnalila. The folk singers and dancers used to take the stage strangely. There was a day of the Ramayana readers, the Gita readers. The Chandipatha still takes us by surprise during Mahalaya early in the morning when it is still dark telling of the arrival of the Matripaksha after tarpan. During the marriage time the folk bands with prominent wooden shehnoi music used to thrill us. The breaking notes of the flute, what to say it about?

One may about Mahavir, Vardhaman Mahavir, Vaishali, Trishala and Siddhartha, Mahavir Jayanti; Jain philosophy and culture, art and architecture while the other about Buddha Purnima. Where the Yogini sthanas, places, housing them, human, celestial or supernatural, mythical and mystical? Where the Kamrupa Kamakhya temple? How the scenery of the Neelachal hills and the Brahmaputra River passing by? How the myth of the Ganges and the superstitions connected with? But we never did appreciate it the inhuman Sati system, child marriage, dowry system, devadasi system. Never did we like it rampant, blatant casteism in terms of oppression and suppression of rights. Jagannatha, how the Prasad, bhoga is given to irrespective of caste and creed? For Kathakali promote you not the devadasi system as the gods and goddesses need it not the sevadasi and the devadasi. But as an art form Kathakali is very, very classical.

At the time of the Sati, only a few bandits could have come to their rescue and taught them a lesson. Human sacrifices were the most embarrassing ones which we heard about in whispers in secluded temples and aboriginal villages away from the circuit of civilization and culture lurking in superstition and racial consciousness. So were the exotic and wild spaces and terrains almost secluded from the circuit of civilizations and culture and so were the aboriginal people.

Lonely Covid hospitals, medical staff serving the patients risking their lives, expecting for what praises and name and fame which the politicians often like to do t and history is so full of their lies and blunders? Lonely Covid hospitals, a picture, an image, a symbol, a scene, a penetration into the time contrasts it with the times of plague. How would it have been the times then? The war on Ukraine still makes it fresh then memory of the cold war which has but not ended it but speaks in volumes of the NATO, SEATO and CENTO, the spectres seem to be haunting now. It is also a mistake of the leadership in Ukraine to side with the NATO so early dislodging and discerning it the ghost of the USSR.

The man and matter is the same, but the version may differ, the approach of taking, as a poem can be about Mahatma Gandhi, so can it be a drama on his life and times, so can it be a piece of criticism about him, a novel, a short story, a painting, a photograph, a sketch, an anecdote, whatever you like it matches your notion and flight of imagination and understanding of him in creative arts as you want to see him personally and artistically. Can one not write a drama on him? Can one not a biography of his?

The Maharashtrian saint St .Vinoba Bhave, how did he tour India? We still think it about the journey he undertook for the Bhoodan Movement and Sarvodaya. Nehru’s Panch-Sheela we used to read it about. Kamaraj too was a leader from South India to be reckoned with. R.R. Diwakar, we used to hear about as he was a Gandhian scholar.

When we were children, the bear man, the monkey-man and the magician used to come to show their shows, the bear man with the black bears furred and short-tailed standing on feet and walking, playing the role of a drunkard and the master with the stick, the monkey-man with the red-mouthed shortish monkeys singing the bridal song and the male monkey going as a groom to marry the coy monkey lying behind the master and he playing the damru and saying the oral speech version, the magician with the black box and the skull rubbing dust on the forehead of the skull and it turning into vermillion, the snake-charmer playing the wooden been music and the cobras hooded and hissing swaying, the jugglers juggling with the balls, turning one, two into four with the sleight of his hand and the rope dancer standing on the rope strung in between two makeshift poles, balancing on the rope walking her way and the people underneath clapping to watch the spectacle.

This is India, here Ganesha sips milk and during the Milk Miracle, the statues sipped it milk and it vanished it too as such had been the mass hysteria; the monkey man jumped over the stairway and frightened the people of the ignorant shanty with the gnashing of the teeth, growl and spectre. Say with love, Hanumanji ki jai, Bajarangabali ki jai. Isn’t it? On Naga Panchami, we saw the people making the cobra sip milk. How strange is it India? How can it be? Can snakes be tamed? Nature red in tooth and claw and its exotic fauna? How the daredevilry? During the total solar eclipse, it grew dark at noon and the birds returned to their nests and started chirping. Such a scene one rarely comes across marking the eclipse and the corona.

A poem may be about Indian Piglets and pagletgriri, the ritualistic excesses and unnecessary and unwanted which we may during the solar and lunar eclipses explaining in their own way. India of Paglets, what to say it about, about Brahminical excesses, non-Brahminical inebriation and drunkenness? Who is what and what is why? The teacher who A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, offered food in his house, the king of Baroda who sent Ambedkar to foreign? How the Kumbh melas, Naga akhadas? How the hathyoga of the Naga failing it all? Where Guru Ramanand, the ghats of Benares and the Kabir Matha lessoning it otherwise? How the Mahabodhi committees, who worshipped when, how the priests of it down the ages? India forgot, but the world remembered it as the Bodhi tree of Goutama Buddha.

Try to understand India, but do not be rigid and ismic. Try to divide it not. The untouchables, how does Mulk Raj Anand take to? Has he hammered too much? Or, was it India so then as our mistakes we cannot see it ourselves which but the others will say it about? Is it a goldsmith’s understanding of the caste system? We oppressed not only the lower caste people, but women and widows too alike. There were many evils in all of us if we try to go into details we shall come to find them. Our scholars were pontifical and hypocritical like those of Popedom. Our village councils were very conventional.

Indian fools and rustics, you still will not love to see them in their foolery and pagletgiri. On seeing them you will come to feel, how paglets are they, how foolish, illiterate and blunt and lathi-wielding fellows, how much litigant dealing with the court and law they can fling dandas on your head from behind. Even the British feared it the dandas and lathis of the Gandhian freedom fighters. It is also a fact some of them were very blunt and litigant though were Gandhians undeniably as all of us cannot be alike and understand it not all as we vary it in the best of one’s understanding and knowledge. Some of them were for the nation’s sake, some were for the sake of Gandhi and some were for themselves. What to say it about Bapuji ke tin Bandar, bura mat dekho, bura mat shuno, bura mat kaho. We do not who followed what and who was for what. Were all the freedom fighters good in their personal life? We do not know. Some got pension for, some refused to take it for and some were not given as for the incomplete and tedious paperwork. We just like to put the question before. Some of them would have been very blunt and litigant no doubt. Why did you not change your clothes after going to the latrine? Why did you worship with the fallen flowers picked? Why did you enter the house after a haircut? Why did you take food in the house below you in the caste order? Even in one caste there were so many sub-castes hierarchically. They will make you mortgage lands, ornaments and properties as for taking five types of sweets, dana and dakshina during the funeral ceremony.

Khaddhardhari Gandhians, some of them we liked and admired for Gandhigiri, some we liked them not for whatsoever reason, as for hypocrisy, egoistic temperament and personal bias and prejudice, sense and sensibility. How did the Gandhian Studies department bifurcate it from Pol. Sc.? How did the two seniors quarrel with for headship and how was it bifurcated and it happened after one senior returning from a lien? How did some plead for the bifurcation or creation of this political thinker branch? But can Gandhism be taught? Can one emulate? Some of the Sahityalankaras and Bhushanas we found them saying more talented than B.As. and M.As., but were not, but the natives somehow got managed with vernacular degrees for to be posted and in jobs. We also found the Bhushans in Sanskrit scoffing one older B.A., but God knows who is what? How is the metal? Our question is, you get the degree but after reading, not by managing the whole things and after acquiring it, say you it not that you laboured to be where you are now. Do not be boastful of that. Some Vidyvachaspatis you will find as the ones with the Honois Causa, but in reality they are not. They have just managed the honorary degrees for them.

But what was Gandhi? Was he a man or a politician or a saint? I fail to conclude. Can a saint do politics? Or, a king must have saintliness to understand all that as to be submissive and down to realities? Had he been a saint, why did he marry? That we think the Vaishnva saints do it as they keep it sevadasis. Whatever be the post-evaluation argument put forward in favour, he was but a great man no doubt rising above this petty criticism. But there is something in the reasoning which we cannot deny.

A poem may be about the visit to Kulu, Manali, Palampur, Gangtok, Ladakh, you may tell about a Mizo village. How were the Nagas? The Buddhists of Ladakh, their culture, language and dwellings, how to draw it on the canvas? How to take to exotic, aboriginal ethnic India? How is the sunrise over Kanchenjunga? How is it over Nanda Devi? How is the myth connected with Makalu? Mount Kailash, why is it so beautiful? How to view it? The Mansarovar lake, why does the mind get lifted to? What do the folks say about it? The peaks and the ascension?

Where the Sangam where the Ganga, the Yamuna and the Saraswati meeting at the Holy Confluence? The Sangama? How the story of the Saraswati? What has it happened to it? Why has it the Yamuna polluted so much? How is the Ganga arti at Benares ghat? How the Bharata Sindhu Darshan festival of Ladakhi people? How did Ladakh remain neglected as a terse terrain over the years? Where the Tawang Monastery? How the Rock Edicts of Asoka? Where the river Daya? Where the Kapil Muni ashrama? How the penance of Bhagirath for the Sagar sons? How the Ganges flowing from the locks of Shiva-Sambhu? The Tibetan Yak Dance, we admire it. But what it disturbs us is this that the foreign invaders could not take India and Indian culture and philosophy into confidence as they remained just alien insiders here in India. But something aligns it with the folktales of Jejuri Martand Bhairava and Balaji. Had Dara been the king, the scenes would have been different. We ask it, “Why is Kanishka headless?”

Where the Ram Setu? Where Rameshwaram? How the Pamban Bridge? Who built it when? How the technology applied in? How the Ram Setu leading to Sri Lanka, Borobudur, Kampuchea? We see the boundaries and borders from Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram. Where do the heavens seem to be touching the landscapes? Where Mongolia? Where Baku? Where Siberia? How the people of the Maya civilization? Where did the labourers go to? To what coasts and islands as indentured labourers? Caribbean history we want to plunge into.

History of places, who to say it about? Shimla, Nainital, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Mussoorie, what to say it about the hills stations? Who to tell it about Puri, Patna, Gaya, Vaishali, Vikramshila, Mithila, Kancheepuram?

How had it been Bombay? How was its past? Who can about the navigators and shipmen, mariners and voyagers? How the history of the merchants, spice merchants? How were the islands separated from? How did the people connect with? How their boats and ships? How did the landfill take place? How was Calcutta when the Howrah Bridge was not?

The Towers of Silence, the Doongar Varis, Cheel Ghars above the skies, on which the Parsis expose their dead and the vultures perched atop feasting and feeding upon? The mazars of the Pirs with the candles burning over and emitting light, have you seen? Go and seek blessings from the Sufi saints. Have you Sermon on the Mount? Go and read to say what you have found. The saga of the Sai Babas, do you know it? The Sikh gurus and their sacrifices, we have not forgotten them. The Bhakti age singers and saints of India we have always loved to hear from. Where Sur, Tulsi, Mirabai, Rashkhan, Rahim, Kabir, Tukaram? The terracotta temples of Gour Nitai, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, how to describe them? The folk Ramayanas, we do not know them still, how the Ramayana and the folk versions of it, oral and palmyra charts.

What do you want to write it about? About Kali, Shyama Kali, Bhagavati, Shiva, Sati, Vinayaka, Kartikeya? Do you about Shyama Sangeet, nirguna or bhajans? Or, about tantra sadhna? The recourse to sadhna? How the tests and ordeals of it?

One may take Tagore critics and criticism in a poem while the other Rabindrasangeet and paintings. How do the scholars of political science, education, philosophy, literature and history take it Tagore to relate to their points of views? How the readers’ views about Gitanjali? How Gandhian Studies? How Nehru Studies? How Bose Studies? How do the sculptors sculpt it? How do the painters? How do the biographers write it their biographies? And how do the film-makers film it, dramatize it their lives with their personae and characters?

Has anybody striven to write the biography of Kadambari Devi? What awards were given to Annapurna Devi?

The World Trade Center attack, we still think of and the planes made to crash over the Twin towers. How daredevils were they! What was their intention? How the devious plan! The Iron Dome of Israel and its defence system we appreciated it during the attack, firing of missiles and rocket launchers indiscriminately on its civilian areas and their automatic destruction into the air space.

A poem may be about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. What was it Chernobyl and what did it turn into? How did it embarrass the people, forcing them to leave the place? The winds used to rattle the doors and windows of the deserted houses. Even after that the children with blood running out of their nose used to leave the school for a break. The dropping of the atom bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima still pains the heart and the mind gets lifted to the plane dropping it and flying away with a shrill sound bringing in its trail a storm of dust and smoke which the speeding pilot could have felt it. How did a world finish it? How the images were blurred and blemished just for war-mongering attitude and selfish ends? How many aircrafts and aeroplanes, fighter planes did crash over the Hump in India’s Northeast during the World War and whose debris can still be found in?

In the post-Partition time, we think about the Kashmiri pundits, how was the ethnic cleansing done, how can it be ever possible? How the Kashmiri pundits driven out of their homes were forced to live in camps? How were the Chakmas expelled from Chittagong? How were the Hajongs treated?

How were the Yazidis treated? Who are the Yazidis? How is their Lalesh temple and the Peacock Angel concept? How are the Parsis, their Fire Temples? Who are the Kurds? Why are they persecuted? Why the slogan for Kurdistan? The Armenian Genocide was it not a blunder of the Ottoman Empire, was it not inhuman, a misanthropist approach? Could it think along the human line? How were the Fire Temples of Iran? The consequences of the Iran-Iraq War took a heavy toll upon the people especially the women who were left as destitute. The Azerbaijan and Armenian conflict never did we appreciate it in which Turkey’s unwanted presence with the drones was an unwelcome gesture fuelling the crisis rather than negotiating it. What loss did Uzbek Mother incur while fighting the mujahedeen in Afghanistan? Was Saddam guilty? What was his fault? Was he autocratic? Why was Najibullah?

The lessons of history we have not forgotten. How was the Czar family wiped out? How did Lenin cleanse it in the name of people’s blatant communism? But history leaves him not out. His mummified statue too was dismantled. How was Stalin? But was his daughter so close to India? How was the last French king treated during the French Revolution? Can man be so cruel? We feel pain for and with a very heavy heart write it about. What atrocity did it Hitler do to the Jews?

It pained me when I found the chickens being burnt for flu control, the camels being hunted in Australia for water crisis, the Indonesian forests being cleaned for cultivation. I felt it within where the orang-utans would live. Would they be shifted to zoos as prisoners, jail birds, culprits and convicts? But God knows who is a convict and who not? What it the lapses of law? Galsworthy can say it about. How the Justice of God? Is the Goddess of Justice blindfolded as Gandhigiri? Where Portia pleading for Antonio? Where Shylock standing as a proud master bent upon taking a pound of flesh as for failing to pay in time? It is also true people take money in time, but fail to repay it. Even in the villages we can see such a mentality doing the rounds.

Sometimes on seeing the train toilets and so rough and tough behaviour of the illiterate and ignorant people equally matching with, we feel within, “Why did the English ask them to travel the third?” This is because they know no courtesy and delicacy and manners. If you do not know courtesy and good manners, you need not travel the first and the second classes. The masses still need to travel the third. It would have definitely hurt Gandhiji as he was their leader and was a politician, a humanist and a good man, but there lay some points in the statement of the English masters.

How do the seasons change with time? When the seulis start blooming, the cchatim blossoms keep hanging by and it drops the dew drops seconded by the swaying of the grassy white kash blooms, it comes Bhagabati and the festivity connected with the worship and celebration. Kali Puja comes when winter starts. After Bhima Ekadashi, the winter loses its spell. During the Kartik Puja, the naughty boys keep the small idols of Kartika at the door of the newly married people at night for worship, sweets and price. The Night of Shiva, what to say about the girls dressed in sari going to worship Shiva with a water pot, holy water, yakand and datura blooms and incense sticks and light?

How are the Ph.Ds. done? Who writes what? Everybody is in the know of it. Who gets from where? What did the olden age scholars get? What are the new age scholars getting for a fellowship? What the professors grant for research projects, but for those who did it researches from their pocket. Which guide is of what temperament, how to say it? Who wants what?


The pains of Yasodhara, the pains of Mira, have you felt it? If not, go and feel it to say it to us. The pains of Sabya, of Bihula for Lakhinder, have you, have you of Adi Shankaracharya’s mother? Yasoda’s pains, we knew it not. Now say you, who is greater? Whose son is this Kanhaiyya? Devaki’s or Yasoda’s?

Could we ever see Emile Schenkel when she was alive, the Austrian wife of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose? Where the Kapurthala king’s Anita Delgado? How the love of Mountbatten’s daughter for India? How to say why was Mata Hari made a scapegoat? How were the spies mistreated during the Cold War period? How did the Indian and Pakistani spies bear the brunt of corporal punishment?

I feel sorry to think of the way the Kashmiri pundits were eliminated, exterminated from their habitat and houses. What Kashmiriyat is this in eliminating one from one's homeland, motherland forcing them to live in camps as refugees? We do not approve of.

A poet of some counter culture, anti-establishment, hippie cult, bohemian life, what more is it to say? What is it in nomenclature, protocol? Why not be free? Who is but a freeman? A generation lost in cigar, marijuana, alcohol, drugs wayward and deviated from, where does it lie recuperating? So depressed and deviated, lost in the world of their own dreaming uselessly of happiness and joy which perhaps not his own. The Beats and Beatniks, how to explain it? After modernity and modernism, post-modernism and the modernist approach, where to move to?

The poetry of Patita write I, the poetry of Patita write I, of Miss Fallen & Degraded write I as she is not Patita, but Punita, Punita write I, write I of Patita, Patita who is but Punita, Punita, Miss Sacred & Sacrosanct.

When the bunches of pink and purple purple jaruls hang by beating heat and dust of summer, the scarlet and red-red gulmohars ornate and flowery decorate it braving the heat wave, the heart leaps to see them taking away the canvas from dry season full of heat and humidity, but the green foliage after the spring season still glistens it. The red oleanders too look lovely during the summer time. It is a beauty to see the red lotus flowers. How do the wild palash blooms decorate the hilly terrains with its scarlet and reddish clusters of blooms, but the tree lying leafless in the maximum? The flowers which start blooming in late spring continue up to early summer. The yellow golden chain flowers look so excellently marvellous to give the appearance of the garlands wreathed keep dripping in late spring. The belli creepers bloom during the summertime with its maddening scent and redolence whose whiffs and wisps the winds carry it with their gusts. When the white kash blooms dot the highlands or the riverside banks, the scenery looks it strange to view. Even the old man’s beards cannot be as such white. There was a time when the vultures used to perch upon the branches of the cotton tree blooming during the late spring with the scentless big and bulging blooms. The asoka blooms grow red when it starts wilting. The bell-shaped creeper aparajitas take us strangely with its glazing blue hue and splendour. The sthala padma, land lotus, what to say it about its changing colours? In the morning it appears to be white, during the day time it starts gathering pink shades and before wilting or in the evening it is almost red catching our fancy and imagination, dream and perception.

Sometimes Nature surprises you with its bounty and blessing. During the late winter one may come grapple with a basketful of eatable edible mushrooms collected from the hidden bush. What to say it more about the herbal contents and usefulness of Ayurveda and Dr.Onion, Dr.Garlic, Dr.Amla, Dr.Neem, Dr. Garlic, Dr. Turmeric, Dr.Tulsi and their monographs on their areas? But during serious ailment forget you not to consult surgeons otherwise will be betrayed. Even believe you not the homeopath globules as may work wonders or may not.

How would Goutama Buddha have felt the dancers telling of the Middle Path, neither to be hard-hitting nor to be loose opining him otherwise. The strings of the been should neither be loosened so that the sound comes to it not nor be tightened so much that they break it.

One from some English language and literature background, we used to smile hearing the Hindi teacher with Sahityalankara degree from some Vidyapitha, “ Do not use English words when you are in a Hindi class. Say you not, “May I come in, sir?” We are the Hindi men and we must use Hindi.” The Hindi also forbade to use ‘May I come in?’ as for ‘Kya mei ander ya shakata hun?’. Also forbade to use ‘Sir’ as for ‘Mahashay’. But we never liked his khaddhardhari attire and pleading for Hindi. But one must keep in mind that even the Hindi students read it English critical theories and criticism. Those who do not know English will forbid you speak in English, but many unread or half-read in the villages loved to ask in broken English their would-be daughters-in-law as for how to make tea using a few English words.

The break dance of Michael Jackson, we still appreciate it, the hip-hop with the hands in the pants pockets and he is strolling with the dance step of a gentleman, a disco dancer, a disco jockey, a jazzman, a bluesman, a rapper and he breaking his head from the torso and placing intact, breaking his limbs.

What is it the end of entertainment and pleasure? Where can you derive it from? What is it happiness? And above all, who is but a happy man? What is it happiness? Is it short-lived or should it be longer? Do you want to drink and die young? Or, you want to live longer to see it all, your family and friends?

Wine cannot be a substitute for happiness. It can just give you short-lived pleasure, not permanent pleasure. What do the bar girls get it from? How their stress and strain, have you thought it about? Outwardly, it appears to be very romantic, but it is full of risks and hazards. The airhostesses, how do they try to cope up with repercussions? Whatever you do, but play you not with someone’s emotions. Live and let live. Pause a bit and think about others too. Think of you too, what your destination, the journey of life, where you have to go, how the pathway leading to.

The French-cut beards of Sir Vidya and Salman Rushdie look it strange in representing them as the gentlemen of a different sort and stature. What had they been? What have they become? How their life and its go? How their style? Style is the man, on seeing them, feel it I. Sir Vidya in the goggles, have you seen him, sporting the French-cut beards on the chin? How did Vidya rebuke the Indian writers in connection with the multicultural dimension? How can it be English culture multi-culti?

God, save, save me from Indian English poets and poetesses calling themselves Indian Wordsworths, Shakespeares, Herberts, Marvells, Spensers, Eliots, Arnolds, Tennysons and Audens. God, God, save, save us from the non-poets and rhymers, poetasters and commoners calling, calling themselves the Indian poets of English language and literature. Let me, let me hide, hide away from as they, they going to join the conference, the literary meet, the symposium. Can you not see them going to join the poetry festivals? The mad, mad people will leave you not behind, will go madding you in the end. My God, God, where are You? They are coming, coming and let me, let me hide to see them passing.

I wonder how the people were expelled from their homes in so-called Pakistan and Bangladesh? How were the people in East Punjab, Sindh and so on? How were the people in East Bengal? “Can man ever do?,” it is my question.

Kalratri Moharatri Maharatri, She is Bhagabati, Mahamaya Mahamedha Maheshwari. She is Kalyani, Kalrupa Kali, Dark-faced Kali, Shyama Kali. She is Vishweshwari Bhagabati, Jagannamata, Jagadhatri, Ranachandi Devi Durga. She is Maheshwari. She is Yoganidra Mahamaya Bhagabati.

Shiva as Mahakal-Kaleshwar, Shiva as the embodiment of Satyam shivam sundram, what it is satyam is shivam and shivam sundaram. Trikaldarshi, Trinetra, Shiva Shiva, in search of truth, goodness, beauty, Shivoaham shivoaham shivoaham, Shiva I, Shiva I, I Shiva, I Shiva.

My poetry fails it, when I see them painting the idols, small idols of Radha and Krishna in different colours, of Lakshmi, Ganesha, Kartikeya, making the artistic stuffs. Krishna with the flute and Radha flanking him, how the scene? How does the gypsy girl with the small pink Ganesha go about as for selling it? The Shivalingam lies it black and three white-lined reminding us of the ash-lined forehead of Shiva. A small artefact representing Nataraja Shiva can also surprise us.

The Panchattava, the Five Elements, fire to fire, water to water, sky to sky, earth to earth, wind to wind, the journey onward with which the body is composed of, how does it disintegrate in the end, mingling with the universe?


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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