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India by Jayanta Mahapatra

In an impressive map of lime-washed childhood
can one straggle out,
shift the brutal bones of its boundaries?

The Siva linga,
the rhythmic susurrus of chants on wrecks of petals,
the cage suspended in every father’s just eyes.

Small patient birds here sing in the drawn-out summer twilight,
then fall silent to the night.
The trembling of dreams is everywhere, like the wind.

When we learned dumbly to grow,
we felt of ourselves abandoned in the wilds, in things not real,
full of the mysterious fog that excites the shadows of the spirit.

India, how to explain it Jayanta Mahapatra’s India? What is it India? Coastal history is its own history. Odisha (Orissa) is the place of his birth and nativity, Odisha is the land where he grew up into a man and passed his childhood. So, how can he forget Odisha? How can he go anywhere leaving Oriya folks and their scenes? The situation is like Rupert Brooke saying it in The Soldier. This is his India which he knows it. Where can the mind go leaving the mast as the bird of Surdas drenched in Krishna-prem sitting at the mast of the ship feels it on seeing the vast stretch of seascape?

How the folktale history of theirs, how the history of the land, how the historiography, how their myth and mysticism? 

This is the poem I like it very much and often turn to for a reading and re-reading.

Coastal Orissa, the geographic positioning of it, the sea washing the shores, how to take to and tell it? The tales of Orissa and the Orissan people, how to unearth them if it lies unwritten? The skeleton will remain the same, the skeleton of boundaries, the same mapping designs and plots of land shown into, demarcated and un-demarcated with the boundaries and positions. The map will remain the same, the cartography of the land. So is his childhood and memories wrapped and muffled.

How to dispose of the myths connected with the land its cartography and mapping, demarcation and boundaries?

Here people know how to wait and so do the birds, beasts and others as the summers continue to be long, draw out in full with the noonday and even at midday the birds keep singing.

The lingam is it all, the Shiva linga that you are seeing, we are seeing, the stones weave the myths here and life moves around. Winds sighing by carry on the Upanishadic, Vedic chants going on in the temple, gods and goddesses being fed, shown arti and prayed and the worship ending with the midday and that too is not.

The bel patra, milk, water and the flower petals all to be offered to and the devotees waiting in queues, the priests chanting and the summer midday longer unable to pass are the things of brooding and reckoning. How to think without Shiva, Shiva? How to dismantle a world seen through the eyes of Shiva? The linga overshadowing us is the thing. Leaving the shadow of the linga standing as a mountain, where to imagine in? Sometimes it strikes us beautifully the chants of Shiva, the mantras echoing and re-echoing, the Shiva-naam heard as a folktale or the distant drums.

How do the old and the young, the boys and girls, children and all and sundry for their turn in lines to worship, offer to Shiva? This all the people know it.

We have grown with such a bringing of ours, we have grown hearing the myths. If this be as such, how to discard them? The shadows of the spirits do not leave the people behind. The fog lets it not know, goes on encompassing in, aggravating doubt and suspense adding to mystery. The mountainous domains and regions so full of wilds and forest-tracts let us not go. The mountains towering above give the sights and pictures of Shiva, Shiva radiating through the prism of its blue beauty. In the sunshine the hills and mountain ranges appear to be darker or blue and in that light one can Nilkantha Mahadeva. The poet means to say that one cannot shake off one’s mythical and mystical past so easily.

The poem carries the wisps and whiffs of Om Namah Shivay, Shiva vision, Shiva sadhna; the chants going on in the temples even at noonday and under the auspicious sounds of the sun-burnt hamlets tumbling. The chants really cast an incantation of their own, the mystic and mythological chants, so phonetic, syllabic and purgatory and confession and so full of benediction, bounty and bliss.

India, what is this India if a bundle of mystery and mythology? How the magic and music of the mantras? How the linga calling for a view? Myth and mythology is our property, not reality as we have not learnt to live with bare realities. Every morning we arise and awake from shaking off mystical dreams.


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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