Jun 07, 2023
Jun 07, 2023
Deeply Touched Contemplation
– Enduring Indic Predilection in Literary Endeavour
A Study of the Diaspora Indian,
I don’t write. I do not sit down to write or force myself to write.
Rajender Krishan’s poetry as of now is not voluminous. A Diaspora Indian, he published his first collection of sixty poems only this year but he has the makings of one who would soon make a niche for himself in the temple of our literature of contemplation, cerebration and the concern for higher values in the context of alarming decadence and degeneration in the contemporary conditions in our country and in man in general. A poet with deep understanding of our native ethos, customs, beliefs and candid righteousness, his poems have the fundamental love of mother land. Looking in and looking around with an understanding of what is higher and skyward are literary pursuits. The seriousness of the poet’s pursuit is evidenced in the illustrations by a like-minded artist who obviously thought deep while giving the poems a thought provoking and meaningfully text-related line delineations.
Solitude is ekaanta, a condition with not just the feeling of a loner. This is something that touches one deeply. Solitude is about the singleness of a cerebral feeling, the feeling of being in an island where the mind places or finds itself. Thoughts move and oscillate with a special kind of intensity moving in all directions. The movement is not that of a pendulum and for that reason it is felt in a myriad ways. This is the feeling of the speaker in ‘Solitude’. Describing solitude is not easy, its nature is elusive.
Untiring is the phenomenon
The feeling of amusement or even joy is singularity. But then there is a mysterious, mystical kind of freedom experienced.
I cannot let go
The titles of almost all the poems are in a single word. They deal with the primary, inherent and basic things. Right in the beginning there are Breath, Speech, Words, Hunger, Lines (on the brow and palms), Cross Roads and Realization: all very brief and very telling. Breath being natural and without volition, why should there be castes, creeds, and isms and restrictions?
The Masters proclaim and everyone is aware that one should speak harmoniously and should remain peaceful. But the questioning poet asks himself:
When will I embrace
Mind-boggled Rajender questions himself: ‘What I Am?’ He is basically a thinker, not a questioner. He has a way of thinking of the great minds and particularly his grandmother whose picture is on his work table. The Maharshi went on and on with self enquiry. Rajender’s cerebration leads to ‘what I am’. In self-enquiry, he looks deep inside into himself. He thinks of praarabdha among the trio of praarabdha, sanchita and aaagaami the three causes of individual human condition as per one’s own karma. Karma is thought about and its inexorability of causation of the individual actions and feeling that cause happenings. Cerebration makes the individual realize that it is not freewill but preordination according to one’s own thoughts and deeds. The poet understands the belief of the system with wisdom. Drawn by the creator the lines decide the patterns of behavior. The poet says:
This leads to ‘Realization’
‘Crossroads’ is illustrated with two faces of man – eyes looking this way and that. Only ancient, everlasting wisdom resolves the enigma:
I take refuge
and the lesson is:
So awaken arise
Present action is the soil of karmic today. ‘Words’ of the elders kept in the mind’s treasure trove are the guidelines for safety and welfare for ever:
Kabira said, ‘Beg Not’
And then there is the most valuable piece of advice in the final line.
“Conform, Talk Not.” (p.18)
The ‘predator’ is just one: TIME. It swallows one and all, all in His TIME. The symbol of Peace is the Dove. Unperturbed, it becomes prey to Hawk. But by the eternal predator, Time, it is devoured too.
What am I?
Being philosophical, the prime tendency in his nature, he writes a poem ‘Tat Tvam Asi’. This upadesha vaakya among the many mahaavaakyas in Chandogya Upanishad stemming from Samaveda is life’s basic fundamental truth preached to Man. Tat – that brahman – twam- you –asi are. This grand declaration makes the poet mull looking into himself as if to establish it within himself. He sees in himself a twin, who is a wanderer. The wanderer revels in total freedom with the conviction that the transient must pass.
When I ponder
The twins are one and man within himself may be many but in the ultimate, absolute reality is all one, the brahman. The poet has the understanding of the absolute reality too. Pensiveness in the poet is seen and appreciated by the knowledgeable. It is ignorance to erase it as pretence.
And on my first ‘Lohri’
‘Physics& Social Chemistry’ bemoans the loss of basic values of kindness and compassion:
‘The Changing Face of Man’ compels us to think of Indic pantheism now miserably beguiled. Every animal and vegetable kingdom adapts to mother nature’s ecological laws but the superior being MAN does not. The poet is languished:
The New Year’s Day is a day of festivity. It is a day to remember promises made and a pledge for doing good and great things. Here are the poet’s ideas:
Imprinted on the timeline of ebbing 2012
Over population is a menace threatening total destruction. The poet with painful concern says:
Depleting rapidly are the forest covers
The poet is heartbrokenly aware of the recent happenings. Keenly observant with heart in the right place, the recent occurrences send twangs of excruciating pain into the feeling heart. ‘Death in Kindergarten’ is about a maniac’s shooting spree and rampage in a school room.
The maniac’s psyche
Fervently described is the devilishness of the hoodlums. The poet describes how lurking restlessly like wolves the rapists’ gang operated:
In India heinous crimes are committed and ‘The Prologue of Change’ is a blood curdling example of Nirbhaya, the pseudonym of a young woman raped in the capital of India. The young one became an object of every thinking one’s pity. Says the poet:
She is gone
The poet finds the incident impossible to forget and says in another poem: ‘Misanthropists’:
Dictatorships are always repugnant, any where, any time in the modern times. The unseen, unscrupulous power hungry money bags come into power somehow. It is an attitude that needs to be erased from the devilish. The constitution is there and is supposed to be revered and strictly adhered to. But this is what the poet declares with derision and contempt in a peroration:
…And “we the People…”
A devout thinker with Godward cerebration Rajender explains how a raga is born:
The surveillance of eyes
About the devastating hurricane Sandy the devout poet thinks deep about creation and the Supreme Being in the poem ‘Sandy’s Tandava’:
What a shame
Man’s helplessness is abysmal but nature it is that he thinks he knows all. Even then, the poet reveals his conviction in the poem:
Man will persevere
The poem ‘Buddha’ reveals his disgust for the desecration and demolition of the Bamiyan monuments of worshipful faith:
So frustrated are we
Intense cerebration makes intercourse a blessed act:
Righteousness and rectitude are requisite values for the humans. The poet thinks of Deepavali. The festival of lights is to know the flame within the human. He thinks of the arishadvargas, the six deadly evils known as enemies, kama, krodha, lobha, moha, mada, matsarya and emphatically declares:
Unless I as an individual
Dovetailing belief and myth the poet remembers Vetala the vampire and the King Vikramaditya:
Awaken from slumber
There are poems about his mental makeup and personality. ‘On Being a Mother’ makes him remember a writer who answers a question about her not sending a new post.
I rejoice and pray
In ‘Her Poetic Self’ he writes:
Sensitivity, impressiveness, sensibility and delicacy are the traits of Rajender’s poetry. The economy of his expression and elaborateness and intensity of cerebration linger long in the readers’ mind. Last and the most important is the poet’s attitude to the much misused, misunderstood and cliché ridden idea of love. Ideal love is blissful, sublime and divine as sung by this lyrical poet.
O beloved this togetherness
‘Nirvana’ which the poet pointed in a note is absolute peace is presented to begin with, as a dialogue between two blatant speakers followed with the talk of ‘I’, the speaker. In Buddhism it is freedom from endless cycle of birth and death and consequent misery and suffering. It also means salvation or moksha. It may be considered as a state of freedom from oblivion to pain and suffering in the external world. The poet considers the title as an equivalent of absolute peace. There is a dialogue between the concupiscent and voluptuous. The ‘I’ is the speaker who listens to the dialogue. Suffice it for the reader to consider these as the three voices. The first two voices are those of the scabrous and scatological. The speaker ‘I’ is intellectual: not lewd but chaste. The ‘act’ is described elegantly and sensitively. It would be necessary to quote the poem at some length:
“May I kiss?”
The purpose of the poem, perhaps, is to bring out the chasm of difference between concupiscence and bliss; between the prurient and the sacred, between the corporeal and the spiritual. The two in dialogue obviously visualize cunnilinctus alone.
My toe thumb
In “Naivete’ twinkling eyes, throbbing lips, emotions oozing are talked of and blushing beauty is deified:
There is a poem ‘Sandbanks’:
In ‘Reflections’ talking about what they call it marriage, home and Love the circle going round starts afresh at the starting point again:
‘Who is Valentine? Tells us:
To be in love
In ‘Love Song’ the blissfulness of the one word is explained:
The Hindu, you can say Indic - to exclude religious connotation - ethos permeates not just our epics alone but all serious writing of our litterateurs. There are certain eternal values derived from the matrix of national ethos. Nativism is a concept that is derived from this broad concept of our innate thinking processes. While the Western theorists of literature related their propositions and theories to all art forms, our aestheticians, sages of yore have been theoreticians basically with a strong metaphysical stance. They had aadhyatmic, altruistic considerations relating and applying them to literature They called literature saahitya and saaraswata, that which is salutary and that which is the blessing of the goddess of learning. The readers find in Rajender’s work the basic tents of Nativism.
It is important to write about the innovative illustrations for poems. Simi Nallaseth deserves acclaim for illustrating Rajender’s poems. Lifeblood of a poet’s imaginative work, a poem needs to be read again and again. The task of the illustrator is manifold. The poet’s understanding is to be deciphered and gone into in depth for illustration. Normally drawings and paintings are understood by the one who sees them, but never explained by anybody, not even the painter. Recently I reviewed a work of fiction where the writer used the drawings of an artist Ed Barker, in the US. I wrote: “The essay can not be rounded off without an appreciation of the sketches enriching the novel. The drawings leave some clues making the novel more powerful. The sketches are born as images in a dream.… As to how these images are realized, the artist tells us that he is just not sure. ‘I just watch and wait for something to happen … and something always does.’ The drawings are expressionistic, and some even surrealistic, showing a highly personalised vision of the female nude…. The incidents in the chapters after the drawings have no clearly indicative relationships but it is natural since the novel and the drawings are not planned together at all.”**
Illustrations in Solitude can not always be explained. They add to experience and understanding. The frontispiece is a milch cow, women inside, bell hanging from the neck and someone shaking it perhaps with mellifluous musical sound. This added to ‘Solitude’ could be a pleasant reminder of the human and the cow, the divine, always construed as mother. Looking inward in solitude makes one see, feel and realize many a thing. Breath is initially god given with no human volition and is deftly illustrated with facing one another, the newspapers and the mother at the end with kids hither and thither. ‘Realization’ is illustrated as a duo in embrace that is floating and there are bubbles – all very suggestive.
The most beautiful and imaginatively expressive is for ‘Her Poetic Self’. The swan (hamsa, atma), the soul is between the cupped hands of god with many eyes. The figure of a demure woman behind the swan is suggestive of the soul and god. It takes a long time to understand this as all the poems of the poet Rajender Krishan. The more the reader thinks, the more would he be able to understand and appreciate. The illustration for ‘Physics and Social Chemistry’ with butterflies, maidens and humans lying down one above and another below, a person with a conical cap with a bell at its top and a person in hoopla. The abstractions in the illustrations are a treasure trove in and by themselves. The poems need to be studied slowly fathoming the depths suggested by the poet and shown in illustrations. Line drawings of naked figures in supine postures, hands and eyes shown again and again are scintillating and suggestive.
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