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Niranjan Mohanty: Gandhi

They didn’t tell me
how much of my flesh and blood
they needed; how much of my silence
would have reared the weeds
of their votive ego,
I’d have given them much more.
They didn’t tell me
how much of my tears
they needed to hoist
a jungle of their pride;
surely, I’d have given them,
even much more.
They didn’t tell me
how much of my pains
they needed to quench their thirst;
I’d have given them.
surely, a sea of it
I’d have given them.
They only needed
my blood’s still breath;
and I flooded them
with my love.
O’ Lord of the universe
save them.

There are some writing from Orissa and Niranjan Mohanty is one among them. A professor who used to teach in the colleges and the university of Orissa, he joined Viswabharati, Shantiniketan. Apart from his publications in journals and magazines, his books have been published by reputed publishers and some have from different houses and firms. Jayanta Mahapatra’s shadow haunts him.

To elaborate it historically, regionally and linguistically as for to revert back to legacy and tradition, this is to say that there are of course some writing from Orissa apart from Jayanta Mahapatra and Sitakant Mahapatra reminding us of Fakir Mohan Senapati and others, some into the footsteps of the physicist and some still outside the coterie of writing on the margins, the sidelines. Now it is up to guess, who is who of, who from where?

Gandhi is one of the memorable poems written by Niranjan Mohanty reminding us of Gandhi and Gandhism, the struggle for freedom and their participation, professing of satya, ahimsa and shantih, his sacrifice and struggle. A single poem takes us to souvenirs and mementoes, Gandhian art and artifacts. How was Gandhi? How was Gandhi and what is Gandhigiri? It is a tribute, a homage to Gandhi; a love for him expressed through words. How our bonding with this Great Man, Father of the Nation, the Maker of modern India? How do we love him? How does the world respect him? How have Gandhian principles and philosophies drawn so closer to? What is in ahimsa? What is it in shantih? What is satyagraha? To know Gandhi is to know his principles and philosophy.

Here the poet is speaking through Gandhi and Gandhi seems to be his spokesperson, the mouthpiece, the protagonist. No, no, this is not. The poet is picturizing the mind and heart of Gandhi.

How was the soul of Gandhi? How was the heart? He tries to feel it, his large-heartedness. What a great man he was! A great man and soul! Bapu Ji Ke Tin Bandar, we still remember it the replica. A singer of Rama and Rahima, he was Kabirite, a handloom spinner, a yarn-weaver and his ‘Raghupati raghav raja Ram’, we have not forgotten it.

The poem symbolically tells of the inward silence, the silence to bear and undergo, the great bearing, austere activism, hard struggle and suffering of Gandhi. He withstood what others could not, he advocated for what lay in his moral strength and even the bullets could not silence his voice, as his love was for all. He was a humanist of the first order. A world citizen he never believed in the barricades, boundaries and barriers of the world which separate it man from man. Divisive elements, fissiparous tendencies, demoniac forces  and fanatical powers could not rebel against with their satanic whispering, plotting, conspiracy, feud, riot, loot, plunder and arson as his strength was messianic. Taking to bullets, he slept forever. Still people go to his Samadhi at Rajghat to offer floral tributes, pay homage to. Hey Ram!, the last words, tell of the feeble utterance made from the frail body and he breathed his last. The body burnt to ashes, vanished into the panchattatva. But the spirit is indomitable.

Even he took to bullets, complained he not, he asked to forgive and pardon rather than punishing him for his folly and misunderstanding. Hate the sin, not the sinner, the biblical parable was the source of his strength. To him, the prison was not a prison in reality, but a correctional home, a mental nursing home and they needed it nursing, counseling rather than capital punishment.  

They did not know at what cost did we achieve freedom from the British. They just saw it casting aspersions rather than screening to take to their purview of. If they had to tell, they would have.

They did not feel how much of his frail body they would have. Had they been bent upon taking his life, they would have. He would have simply. One can kill the body, not the spirit. What it in the frail body? Can it be felled with bullets? The beaten body, how long will you be able to beat?     

They did not tell me what they wanted it, it from me. Had they told, he  would have given them more. For what hypocrisy of their own, for what ego of theirs, they went to the extremes, took to the drastic and desperate steps? For what did they turn to such an inhuman measure?

They did not tell him how much of pains they would have required it for quenching their thirst. Could vengeance quell vengeance? But they heeded it not, took to his good words not in a fit or rage of anger.   

How much pain they would have liked and exerted it to give? Had it been their wish, they could have rather than dealing a blow in such a way. Just for feeding their ego, they acted it hastily; just for their mean mentality, hot temperament and bad blood they did it, unable to cover up and hide in the crimes committed, crimes not, sins done which even God will tremble to forgive.

The poem deals with Gandhi and his last days, the partition of India, the refugee influx and the change in cartography. How bloody, bestial, barbaric and brutal turned we finally in our demeanor! Was it really independence from? Had we been virtuous, righteous, noble and human at least, we would not have been in such a way. What happened in Noakhali? What did it to Gandhi himself? How sad and morose would he have felt to see the people gone on a rampage, running amuck?  How did we drive the people from their homes? Can a man do it? The bloody partition, the gory partition, the photographs and pictures of it make the hair stand on. What history will write of the narration of the folks finds it not an exposition into the text of the document? 

Divided along caste, creed, faith cult, religion, language and region, we could not understand him, take him in totality. We could not the gospels of truth, peace and non-violence as we had been under the wrap of untouchability, poverty, illiteracy, superstition, medievalism, hocus-pocus and black art, reeling under backwardness, malnourishment and lack of resources miserably.  A slumbering lot, we could not feel it, as had been inactive, fatalistic, lethargic, blind to logic and  reason and superstitious.  Caste and class differences raked us badly, the differences of high and low marred it all with an air of aristocracy and hypocrisy, whatever good it was in our society, and we felt helpless before the village elders and the arrogant rustic folks. Foreign invasions and loots and plunders of India, there is nothing more to say it. The excesses of rites and rituals too wreaked havoc.   

Still now India needs him, not only India, but the whole world. An apostle of, a votary of Satya, Ahimsa, Shantih, he went it alone on the path of life and the world to preach a new gospel, a lesson to humanity which but it never knew it, came to feel it ever before.


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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