Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Living Through Challenges
A STUDY OF DR. MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR'S
By Dr. Bairagi Charan Dwivedy
Biodata Of The Poet
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's is one of the significant post-independence voices in Hindi and Indian English Poetry, expressing the lyricism and pathos, aspirations and yearnings of the modern Indian intellect. Rooted deep into the Indian soil, his poems reflect not only the moods of a poet but of a complex age.
Born in Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh) at maternal grandfather's residence on 26 June 1926; 6 a.m.
Primary education in Jhansi, Morar (Gwalior) and Sabalgarh (Morena); Matric (1941) from High School, Morar (Gwalior); Inter (1943) from Madhav College, Ujjain; B.A. (1945) from Victoria College, - at present, Maharani Laxmi Bai College - Gwalior; M. A. (1948) and Ph.D. (1957) in Hindi from Nagpur University; L.T. (1950 ; Madhya Bharat Govt.)
Places of work — Bundelkhand, Chambal region and Malwa.
High School Teacher from July 1945. Retired as Professor on 1 July 1984 (M.P. Govt. Educational service).
Selected once for the post of Professor of Hindi Language & Literature, in Tashkent University, U.S.S.R. (1978) by UGC & ICCR (NEW DELHI)
Principal Investigator (U.G.C. / Jiwaji University, Gwalior) from 1984 to 1987.
Professor in the IGNOU Teaching Centre of Jiwaji University, Gwalior in 1992.
Worked as Chairman \ Member of various committees in Indore University, Vikram University, Ujjain & Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Agra.
Worked as a member in the managing committees of 'Gwalior Shodh Sansthan', 'Madhya Pradesh Hindi Granth Academy' & 'Rashtra-Bhasha Prachar Samiti, Bhopal'.
From time to time, poems included in various Text-Books of curricula of Educational Boards & Universities of India.
Worked as one of the members in the Audition Committees of Drama / Light Music of All India Radio (Akashvani) - Stations Indore and Gwalior. Contracted Song-Writer of All India Radio \ For all Radio Stations (Light Music Section). Broadcast many poems, talks and other programmes from Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior and New Delhi (National Channels) Radio Stations.
Appointed as one of the Award-Judges by 'Bihar Rashtra-Bhasha Parishad, Patna' (1981 & 1983), 'Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan, Lucknow' (1983), 'Rajasthan Sahitya Akademi, Udaipur' (1991,1993,1994) & 'Hindi Sahitya Parishad, Ahmedabad, Gujrat (2001).
Poems translated, published and broadcast in many foreign and Indian languages.
Nine volumes of poems in English :
 ‘Forty Poems of Mahendra Bhatnagar’ [Selected Poems — 1]
 'After The Forty Poems' [Selected Poems — 2]
 ‘Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s Poetry.’ [Selected Poems — 3]
 'Exuberance and other poems.
 ‘Death Perception : Life Perception’
 'Passion and Compassion'
 'Poems : For A Better World'
 'A Handful Of Light'
 ‘ Dawn To Dusk’ [in press]
One volume of translated poems in French ('A Modern Indian Poet : Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar : Un Poèt Indien Et Moderne'.)
Works published in seven volumes in Hindi - three of Poems (comprising sixteen earlier collections), two of Critical articles, one on Premchand ( Research work) and one of Miscellaneous writings.
Published research & critical studies :
(1) Living Through Challenges : A Study of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's Poetry
(2) Poet Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar : His Mind And Art.
(3) An Indian English Poet : Mahendra Bhatnagar [in press]
.Received awards, four times ( 1952, 1958, 1960, 1985. ) from Madhya Bharat & Madhya Pradesh Govts.
Edited literary magazines 'Sandhya' (Monthly) and Pratikalpa' (Quarterly) from Ujjain.
Adviser : 'POETCRIT' (Half-Yearly / Maranda, H.P.), Adviser : ‘VICHAR-DRISHTI’ (Quarterly / Delhi / Patna)
Conducted and directed many literary societies in Ujjain, Dewas, Dhar, Mandsaur and Gwalior.
Contact : 110 BalwantNagar, Gandhi Road, Gwalior — 474 002 (M.P.) INDIA
Phone : 0751-4092908 / M-9893409793
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
AUTHOR : Dr. Bairagi Charan Dwivedy
[Date of Birth 24 May 1963, Orissa. / M.A., Ph.D., M. Ed., PGDTE , Ph. D. is an emerging writer of poetry and criticism. His poems and critical articles are published in reputed journals like Poetcrit, The Quest, Meteverse Muse, Replica, Triveni, Ligate and others. He writes both in Oriya and English. Besides English literature he also writes on ‘Education’. His book ‘Sikshya’ (in Oriya) and ‘Education in True Sense’ (in English) have got published in recent years. Presently he is serving as a Post Graduate Teacher in Kendriya Vidyalay Sangathan. [ Address : At Banmali Prasad, P.O. Mangalpur — 755 011, via Bhasspur, Dist. Dhenkanal, Orissa]
2 Human Predicament
3 Theme of Regeneration : Love & Life
4 Crisis of Faith and Confidence vs OPTIMISM
5 Theme of Transcendence
6 Humanism in New Age
8 Growth of Poet’s Mind (His Poetry At A Glance)
10 Works Cited / References
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar flourished in an era when the country was moving from chaos to discipline. It was a transition marked by an end of foreign rule and beginning of a new era. His entire series of poetry is guided by this change of time. Born in the twenties of the previous century the poet started his writing at the prime of his youth when he had not even crossed his teen-age period. Education in India was just emerging in a foreign model. Struggle for Indian independence was hot like fire. Schools and colleges were just coming up in the British model. The Indian system of Gurukul had a set back. Religious quarrels had started emerging with power. Kingship had been vanished by democratic administration. English language had massive influence on Indian education. Hindi was getting its establishment as the national language. Minds of poets were full of themes to write poetry. Impact of world war II was still deep in the heart of Indians and in the poet's heart alike.
It is significant that in the literature of mid-twentieth century attempts were made to find new values in political thought, social reform and psychological aspect of human life. India was emerging as a sovereign power. The ladder of education beginning from primary to university level was made available to every individual gradually though the progress was extremely slow. The new awakening of sense had touched every genuinely educated individual. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar was not an exception to it.
Novels had dominance over other genres of literature. In order to express the humanistic sentiment poetry became a vital literary form, which was closely in touch with life. A natural quest for new values and for new tradition acted as the back- ground power for Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. He was never roaming in the dream world. He did compose love poetry in his youth, but did not give importance to it. He was bubbling with exuberance for the new era. His poetry gave a soothing touch to the wounded minds of the post war period.
The cinema was emerging rapidly as a vital media of spreading human values both good and bad. Interest in books was gradually diminishing. Newly produced films were gradually becoming the centre of all attraction occupying a major place in the mind of educated mass in the cities. As for the villages, a majority of people was illiterate. Who will read poetry?
Life was generally lived in an atmosphere of restlessness and anxiety. The general atmosphere was by nature inimical to the cultivation of literary pursuits, which necessarily demands a constant mind, leisurely life, and calmness of spirit. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar was thus growing up as a youth in a terrific atmosphere. There was terror everywhere in India. Freedom- struggle was just going to breed a good result. Illiteracy, poverty, lawlessness and religious intolerance were the anti-divine forces that pervaded in the society.
The rich Hindi poetry under the sway of renowned poets such as Sumitranandan Pant, Haribansh Rai 'Bchchan', Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Jagannath Prasad Milind, Shivmangal Singh 'Suman', Kedar Nath Agrawal, had a formative influence on Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. These were the progressive poets of the age and so was Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. Ransacked by the crosscurrents of social unrest and religious fanaticism the poet's mind was searching a set of values that would build up peace and tranquility. The call of the time was for national integration.
He did not appreciate the wrath of nature. He got the soothing touch of nature at peace. His objective was to goad man towards a new life, a new age, a new world made by man himself where there would be no exploitation, no falsehood and no violence. Truth will pervade, people of one religion will tolerate those of others. Being influenced by the ideology of non-violence evinced by Lord Buddha and practiced by Mahatma Gandhi Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar possessed a similar motive like them in the line of his poetry.
He came in contact with two renowned Hindi poets such as Jagannath Prasad Milind and Shivmangal Singh 'Suman' at the beginning of his poetic life. Their socialistic pattern of thinking influenced him to the utmost. He spared his lines to bring an end to communalism, economic crisis and racial discrimination thereby establishing a new creed i.e. human creed which was based on the belief that 'man is the measure of everything.'
The poet crossed his adult age with this motive. India got independence. Democratic form of govt. was established, peace and tranquility came back. Poet's mind now concentrated on human nature, faith, reliance and other human values. His poetry now rested on various facets of life especially personal experiences and shocks that he got from his life situations. Neck-deep in passion and compassion, at the dusk of life the poet's mind is seeking peace in affection, delight, remembrance dream, vision, prayer and enlightenment. His poem under these captions are the best ones expressing his matured temperament.
Scaling Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry in the norm of English poetic theory we find it has several worthy characteristics. The Wordsworthian theory of poetry says that it is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings and emotion recollected in tranquility. It's a colouring of imagination whereby ordinary things are presented to the mind in an unusual aspect. On the contrary, Dr. Johnson remarks on metaphysical poetry that the emotion and intellect are yoked together in it by violence. When we study Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry, it is found that it has both the characteristics in different periods. At times it displays the highest emotional ecstasy and at other times an unfathomed depth of intellect :
" Cooler is growing the night!
The faint sound of mills echoes at intervals,
From a source unknown!
The distant whistle of an engine
Stabs the tranquility,
Somewhere the swarms of mosquitoes
Spin the queer buzzing din
Sometimes come out the rats
And run a competitive race,
× × × ×
Boundless is the dreamland
And matchless the whole funny affair!"
('State of Night', Vol. 1, p. 70)
What an excellent instance of emotion. What love for nature, calmness, and tranquility! The Wordsworthian view is suitable for poems like this :
" Self-willed and ambitious
runs after money
at the cost of life.
at this queer, dirty intention!
If there is life / money must flow in
If there is life / pleasure must dog in!
Shattered and disorderly life
Malady-stricken / frustrated wounded life
eager to fall into
('A Mirage', Vol. 5, p. 46)
How prosaic! what an intellectual theme! Poems like this are definitely suitable to the Johnsonian view.
The poetry of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar represents heterogenus ideas. We do not get series of poems on any particular theme, faculty of knowledge, nature, love or the like. At best, two themes have been marked in a good number of poems: one is resurgence or progress of life on earth and the other is life and death. When we analyse the poems at a finer level, certain philosophy of life is framed in the current of our thought and that is the most humanistic idea suitable to the changing circumstances of modern age. We find in him the poets of all ages beginning from Chaucer and Langland to T.S. Eliot and Yeats. He is with man in his hard times and in his dreams and reality.
× × × ×
Before several months when I came in contact with his poems translated into English I expressed my desire to read his volumes and if so happens, to write several lines. I got all the seven volumes one after the other. Correspondence and phone-talks became more and more frequent. After reading his latest volume, I felt an urge in me to ask, "Is there anything more?" The poet is so progressive by nature one cannot imagine at the outset.
His first poem of the first translated volume left me thinking – the question arose – why this poet gave such a difficult name to his poem in the first volume – 'Lust For Life'. Things became clear to me when I got the life sketch of the poet at the end of volume – (1) 'Forty Poems'. It was clear to me that he is the witness for a most important half-century in Modern Indian History. He might have listened to the heart-breaking cries of Indian women who had lost their husbands and children to the struggle for freedom, not only that but the cruel cries of the hungry stomach of the people who lost their everything in the division of India and Pakistan. His eyes must have been reddened with the bloodshed of Hindu-Muslim riots during that period. As a child of today will it be exaggerated for me to call him an emerging writer of the new age?, a modern humanist?, a traveller from the mundane to the divine?, a worshipper of God in man? What shall I call him?
How shall I give him a name if I do not read all his poems both Hindi and English translated pieces? I started reading them bit-by-bit. What I have got in his 7 translated volumes I shall put forth in at least six chapters. The first one will be on human predicament, a theme that looks to be most prominent and pervading from beginning to end. Next in prominence will come the theme of regeneration and love. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is not a love poet but his sense of love is no less authentic than others. His love is for humankind, for spirit, for progress, not for dreams. His vow is for a regeneration of the individual, the society.
While studying his poems, I felt that sometimes the poet lacks confidence, faith in the human world. This is due to his close watch of human character. Optimism is also a prominent theme in his poetry. We cannot say him pessimistic. The world has made him lose faith.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar wants transcendence of man from his lower nature. His inspiration is disarming. He is very keen in his study of human nature and he finds the possibility of man's emancipation from his complexes. He is not a believer of unknown powers – a God of heaven. More than that he believes in the unbound possibilities ingrained in man. This belief has led him towards the great humanistic thoughts. He has unravelled the truth of human life through his vision and experience.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar wants man to frame a society worthy of himself. He has regarded man as the ultimate manifestation of evolutionary spirit.
His thought has given direction to his style, which is simple
but meaningful. His poetry is rich with imagery and symbolism. His versatility is praise-worthy. I have doubts, whether I can discuss his genius within the brief scope of about one hundred pages of this book or not. Many things may fall apart from my line of survey. I have judged him from six aspects only.
Man in the modern world is observed as a murderer of innocence. He runs the horse race of competitions to accumulate money somewhere to give a response to the cruel cries of hungry stomach and somewhere to sit on the top of luxury. It is only a change of notes from hand to hand.
Man's life is regarded as a quest. The preconceived notion is that man meets the divine at the end of this quest which is naturally carried on by man as an endeavour to define the spiritual in the context of human values. Human values directly or indirectly involve work for the welfare of all humanity which is the supreme ethical aim of man.
In his search of the ethical aim man transcends his limitations, that is, he liberates himself from the lower nature. Human nature is equipped with the spirit of exceeding itself by conscious evolution to rise beyond what he is. A sort of truth-consciousness is latent in man. It is unfolded gradually as he proceeds in his search.
Man is a mental being – the only thinking being in the entire universe. Thus man in his self is a unique person. But that is not all about man. Man is many things in many situations. Every man hath his use and everyone makes ever the effort according to the energy of his character to suit his external condition to his inward constitution.
In the usual process man undergoes various trans- formations. History gives us the account of transformation of Siddhartha into Buddha. Man has been subordinated to not a Supernatural power but a Supernatural law, a human law.
Life is busy in finding out the ways of material prosperity. The call of the day is for a revival of the human will to live with dignity and to shape himself as a true man. Modern man, rich with advancement of science, is full of confidence in his own ability; therefore, there is possibility of his ignoring the divinity, In this condition his achievement cannot go beyond the human limitation. Man may not be able to penetrate into the diverse problems of his life. He fails to achieve the higher goal. On the other hand those who transcend this condition achieve higher goals. In general man's involvement in self-centred activities may possibly deprive him of he awareness of the higher possibilities of his soul or his original instinct. Here comes the need of a spiritual insight. In the process of living man faces certain impossibilities, which debar him from fulfilling his objectives – worldly or divine. His consciousness has to be enkindled in order that he would be able to surpass the block of impossibility.
Man is the most valuable property of poet Mahendra Bhatnagar. His concept of man reminds us of what Shakespeare said in Hamlet :
"What a peace of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god; the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals ..." (Hamlet II ii 303-307)
Man is the ultimate manifestation of evolutionary spirit. As a distinct biological species man has been trying to assert his supremacy over all other species for ages with a feeling of having something extraordinary in him as he is endowed with an analytical mind which is the abode of wisdom. He is also endowed with a spirit which is the unique principle of his life.
The Upanishads evince the idea that man is a spiritual being. He has to struggle towards individuality and perfection. This struggle results in an expansion of his life and finally he finds no difference between the Spirit and himself. All his activities are the manifestation of the spirit or the Real Man.
A man acts according to the desires to which he clings, and which cling to him. In order to realise his real self he has to achieve liberation from the desires. Thus, man's ultimate destiny is the realisation of the self. Every man is conscious that he has life that wills to live in the midst of lives that will to live. Man submits himself to the 'will to live'. He is also conscious that it is good for him to preserve and promote life and to raise it to the highest value, and any attempt to destroy or repress life is ultimately harmful to man.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry is just an exploration of human nature. He finds out that man lives on by the cravings of love. Man has an instinctive desire to live; it is quite natural and normal in him. Whatever obstacles may come on his way of life, he wishes to live. In order to describe the obstacles the poet uses a variety of images : "lightnings crash near him, tornadoes roar and rage around him"; but still due to a mysterious faith present in him he forgets everything and once again sets out on his journey of life. The poet has identified a sort of divinity in man's faith :
"But with faith divine
In the midst of tears and sighs
The man laughs on!
The man lives on
By the cravings of love!"
('Lust For Life', Vol. 1, p. 14)
Life is a glamorous marriage procession for the man who has love as God's gift. With love in heart man has never felt crest-fallen, he has never fallen asleep, he has not lost himself. Love has made him hero. He does not feel alone now. The age of resurgence is with him. Innumerable hands lend him strength and freely draw upon his untiring energy. No obstacles can stand before him.
The poet has explored every nook and corner of human life. He has wept for the decayed mud-hut far across the fields where life is mute and morose, where dark and dreadful night of the winter pervades, where successive fatal blows shatter the tender heart. In such a land poison of disparity permeates all around, civilization is a synonym of violence and loot and man's life is a tale of repression of the dumb souls.
"The disastrous lightning is crashing
On the poor humanity,"
× × × ×
Dawn is lost in desolate darkness
The dark and dreadful night of the winter!"
('Far Across The Field', Vol. 1, p. 74)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's vision of life is many faceted. Somewhere he looks stark pessimistic and somewhere optimistic. However, poetic beauty is at its height when he expresses his age-long agony caused by the wrong ways of the world. He has observed that the smile of life has withered away and dark clouds shroud the Moon.
"Blasted lie the flowing fields
The sand storm blew so cruel!"
('Life Today', Vol. 1, p. 76)
The customs of the present world have crumbled and the path of love has been twisted and turned. Seer selfishness pervades all over the world. Every individual is a Draupadi of the Mahabharat. Somewhere nasty politics has left man naked and somewhere so called higher education.
"So much has life been creepled
It falls and staggers paralysed!"
Being in the midst of such terrible situation the poet has almost trembled with fear of a doom's day. Still he is left with a ray of hope in him. He dreams of a smile on every man's lips, a laughter – white and pure. He envisions that the hopes of a happy and glorious future will bloom. The poet has blessed the humanity to be free from the everlasting cold war. He hopes that the rays of pure reason spread far and wide, hostile forces be torn to shreds, man be free from man's bondage of prejudice.
"Let not the new mental horizon
By whirlwind, dust and lightning
× × × ×
Nor let the crest of the new order
Crash and crumble down."
× × × ×
May the modern civilization
Be absolutely safe!"
('Light', Vol. 1, p. 84-85)
And yet another facet of human predicament as depicted in the poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar is a sort of conviction which the modern man has in him. Such conviction is backed by an overpowering hope that has raised in the mind of the poet. He has envisioned that "under the dense and dark clouds the tiny lamp of man's undying faith has flickered strong as ever." ('Conviction', Vol. 1, p. 88)
The poet has dreamt of a new world in which there is no quarrel or racial discrimination; world friendship and mutual love is the eternal message for all.
The poet has observed the contradiction in human activities. Many a man is seen sleeping when the day dawns and weeping when they are harvesting the crops. Such bad omens are symbolic of certain paradoxical nature of the world. Man is thirsty with water all around : Hypocrisy is at its height in him, he cannot believe the water – whether pure or poisonous.
"The new breeze blows
Through the fields and barns
There are many who breathe in freedom
Still many a man shivers and sighs!"
('Many A Man', Vol. 2, p. 27)
With the present human predicament in mind the poet has attempted a new definition for life :
Life is 'an ill-arranged and lonely closed room' or it is like "a yacht on the distant sands with its bottom holes", ('Life', Vol. 2, p. 37) he says. It is an unwanted comet, it is like Sita "Stigmatised and distressed". (As above) It is compared to a vast river with great whirlpools and full of swelling waves accursed. It is like an ugly canvas full of mud and dust.
In order to depict life – situation in today's world the poet has taken recourse to various images and yet there is a ray of hope for living the life in such a world with a reforming zeal.
The poet has inspired the modern man to live on the bed of fire, in the manner of Lord Siva drinking poison unto the neck. He has hope to cross the intricacies and complexities of life.
In the nook and corner of the world it is found that corruption and exploitation of man is at its height. It is a "naked carcass of culture" ('Stop It', Vol. 2, p. 17) that we see everywhere. Human teeth are red with the blood of the teeming million. The poet has an appeal to the multitude with an optimistic concern not to grope in the dark any more. Morning peeps them from heaven, the cuckoo sings with a high-pitched voice the arrival of a new dawn. The restless faces will beam with cheers, blood sucking vampires will go to the distant dark corners.
The poet has envisioned a good time for man beyond all corruption and exploitation. He has shed drops of tears in sympathy with the down trodden man. In his poem 'The Tremor
of Trampling Feet' he compares the sound of the trampling feet of the down trodden with earthquake. Sweeping over to another poem the reader realises that Mahendra Bhatnagar is touched by the worsening condition of human predicament in the present world.
"Sleep is now the Night's witness
And the devouring darkness
There then rises pain
And the wind is icy cold."
('What Is The Secret?', Vol. 2, p. 33)
The poet has encouraged man to smile when the heart aches, to sing with ease in a honey-soaked voice at the weakest moments without sobs and sighs. The dusk of life has reached, man is moving towards the eternal night, but still his mind finds no hope fulfilled.
Another facet of life in the modern era has been identified by the poet. In the city of "glorious buildings" that is "floating in luminescence" ('Lonely', Vol. 3, p. 77) there is darkness in every heart. Nobody tries to know others, to be familiar with others. Selfish spirit has its sway everywhere. Man cannot share the secrets of his heart with anybody, or rely on anybody with confidence. Man has alienated himself from man, from society, from God and from himself. This alienation has been a characteristic of modern man who hardly gets an individual to share the secrets of his heart, someone who is reliable someone whose door can be knocked unhesitatingly.
Ours is such a mysterious world in which "life lies mute in the arms of death." Man may be surrounded by many who look to be near and dear ones but in reality "each is lost in himself" ('Solitary', Vol. 3, p. 81) and none would be drawn close to heart. When relations rest on vested interest, it becomes blind. It cannot see the good of others without the presence of any interest and man does not retreat to commit mistakes in establishing relationships. In the morbid hours of life there
would be no friends, no dreams, no joy; living is felt to be a compulsion, heart is heavy, man welcomes others with false
smiles as his lips are addicted to that.
is lost –
There is an earthquake
('Broken Hearted', Vol. 3, p. 91)
When man is full of energy and courage he does what he
wants. None can bar his ways. He looks at others with a belittled sense. Ego is on its throne, Time passes. Before the end when still a portion of his energy is left with him memories of the past days make him laugh. Memory is then a multi-coloured flower. " Life overflows with sweet, intoxicating nectar, life glows with bright fresh colours." ('Before End', Vol. 3, p. 115) The poet also points at the other side. He describes memories as thorns. When they come man feels as if a dust-storm has raged and life burns with painful hell fires. Only helplessness is the meaning of life then.
Man is in a state of destroying himself, but he does not feel any pain in that because his heart is drugged with a sort of savage insanity, that may be of religion. Men cannot recognise themselves. They are not satisfied with 'life' given to them by God, as such, they snatch life from each-other.
Man moves forward without knowing his own destination. The poet has warned mankind to keep awake. There is terror all around and from within. Humanity is wounded and weeping. Man has to bear the strokes till they happen to be united. To be united man has to recognise man, man has to love man, man has to sacrifice for man. The poet inspires man to fight death and move towards the goal till savages are broken and defeated.
The poet has observed another element in human life – that is 'corruption'. Every moment it is pushing not only the individual but also the country into the abyss. It plays cruel barbarous games with the precious life of man polluting his character.
Man is helpless. Life is terrible. Man must bear its pangs. Life is a calamity. It is a fire. Truth of life is terrible. The hard reality of life has been described vividly by the poet.
The poet has finally wished mankind to live the life with patience :
"Let each man become gold
Made pure in the inner fire!
Let each one bear bravely
The knocks of the unknown fate."
('A Wish', Vol. 3, p. 161)
He has pointed at two possibilities : one is to join hands
together to generate the power of unity and strike. The situation will change, "rocks will sprout and will dress up in verdure." Another possibility is to ram in with all force. Ultimately the "Shape of iron will change, the closed fortress gate will open." ('Possible' 1&2, Vol.3, p. 163-165)
The poet has attempted a philosophy of life on his own. He evinces the idea that "External motion – physical vibration / Internal motion – life." ('The Philosophy of Life', Vol. 5, p. 34) Man is the transporter of life-motion and ceaseless controller. The poet has idealised life and says that life is a flux, every particle is in motion. Struggles and strifes lead to life. To grow, to change is to be alive. Thrills and throbs and continuous palpitation in the heart are characteristics of life.
The poet has identified in man an eternal wish for life which is strong and says that death is the final truth. Man has a longing for melody, not for tears. He has welcomed a continuous struggle with the eternal challenge of death and wished man to be a 'mrityunjay', the conqueror over death.
The poet has categorised man as self-willed and ambitious one who runs after money and pleasures at the cost of life. Life is the base on which money and pleasure stand. If there is life money and pleasure flow in. Life is a gift of God. Man should not lose it for mere sexual pleasure.
Man has descended in the formidable duel of life and death. He is not expected to be surrounded by the deceitful tricks of any adversary. Man is the artisan of life. He has to discover the meaningfulness of life and know about its essence. The poet has expressed man to strike at death that destroys
"Let there be
no existence of death-serpent
in the garden of life,
let human self
not be terrorised
of death scare!"
('A Wish', Vol. 5, p. 58)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has studied the life of Man from various angles and in that the poor and destitute have not been beyond his vision. That is another facet of life on earth. He has sympathised with the life of the poor thereby supporting the age-long definition of life. Life is just a struggle, a day and night drudgery, it is a treadmill that grinds man till the end.
Culture and art have no value before a hungry stomach. The poet points at a respectful living with deliverance from abuse, respectful two meals, security and education. The poor needs no kindness, pity or alms. He has the sense of self-respect. These elements constitute civilization.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar does not like the alienation of man. As a response to it he reminds the age long idea of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' – the whole world is one family. The forces that try to perpetuate poverty are to be annihilated. A main trend of human predicament in the modern age has been pointed out as a 'trickery of votes'. (Vol.6, p. 84) Nasty politics has made everybody naked. The poor and the destitute are the worst victims of it. False promises of all power hankering politicians is their destiny. The poet has lamented such precarious condition of the poor. The grand procession of the down-trodden, suppressed and uncared for is utilised by the so called leaders for earning support of vote; on the contrary the interest of these common men is first ignored. It is the irony of life. As a result :
"The inflammation is immense
the heat is rigorous
Every horizon is obscure
and is shrouded with smoke."
('Terror And Anxiety', Vol. 6, p. 49)
Modern man's life is full of obsession. In the name of religion gruesome brutality prevails. Religion is perverted. For upholding selfish attitude and personal ego copious amount of human blood is shedded, man becomes savage and more fiendish than the animal. Generations come and go but this process of thought never changes :
"Again and again
Our God incites us
to kill others' God
to destroy the symbols of their faiths
and thus feel that
paradise is secure only for us."
('Invoking Modern Man', Vol. 6, p. 14)
This age old narrowness has to be changed. We should not think that our country, our universe will be inhabited by the followers of our religion, people of our caste, citizens of our state and those who speak our language, know our script only.
Modern trend is to live and love for the sake of humanity. The poet has invoked modern men to create a society having no meanness of religious intolerance and caste, no bar of geographical boundaries, language and script.
The poet wishes that man's identity should not be linked with a country, a religion, a caste or a sub caste, a language and a dialect, colour or race. Man is man everywhere and nothing
else. "His world is one, his species is one, his attributes are the same, his birth is the same, his end is the same." ('The Other Age',
Vol. 6, p.20) Let there be established a sublime human religion.
In all the seven volumes and more translated so far Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has most successfully vivified directly experienced scenes of this world. He has accepted love as the most powerful remedy for the anti-divine and anti-social forces that man has created and man is affected by. As Dr. R.S.Sharma observes in his review : "Love is received by the poet in the form of a blessing and it lifts him to a new level of being with sense of miraculous release." (A Journal 'The Quest', June 2002, p. 93-96) He has very much in his mind the essential beauty and goodness of human life and the vastness of the world where man lives along with his wrathful countenance, envy and other anti-divine forces.
In his anthology 'Exuberance and other poems' he has identified a courage and inspiration in every heart. For him life has been a quest. He has studied the past, present and the future of human life on earth. And in that he has shown his optimism. He has a mind to create the best out of nothing.
In many a poem he has depicted modern man as insensitive to human sufferings for worldly activities and goaded man towards a transcendence. He has seen in man a naked envy, intolerance and violence that make him restless, running after money. And yet the poet has dreamt of a higher order in human society, a superior humanity developing from the present chaotic condition that reminds of the myth of phoenix.
There is observed a keen satirist in Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. He has satirized almost all the aspects of human life and has expressed his fear that humanity is at the verge of total destruction. He has beckoned every man towards truth and a revival. He has tried to make man duty-conscious.
The poet has seen in man a sort of reluctance towards the values of life. His poem 'Duty' reminds us that to love is a duty of human beings. It is a love for life, animals, birds, sea-creatures, trees and creepers. Man has to love dreams, despire. It is an eternal love, a spiritual love.
The poet feels suffocated in the contaminated state of human life on earth, but he has not given up hope for life. He wants man to learn to live in the midst of adversities :
"Terror fills the skies,
Hot are the winds
With sulphur, with venom,
But upto the destination
We have to move!"
('To Live', Vol. 3, p. 11)
It is such a world in which man has to move alone, without a companion with despair all around. Still, he has to reach his destination :
We have to walk
Our iron feet pounding
The pits, the trenches
Again and again!"
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar's ideas are more human than spiritual. He has identified in man an indomitable humanistic will that can regulate all his action and overcome all the horrors in the human world. He has tried his best to enkindle this will in man. His literature has also served a didactic purpose. He has taught the most needed values to man through his poetry. Many of his poems are educative.
He has given new definition to man and evinced new ideas about man's mental constitution. Himself being a modern man he has studied his life from all the facets. There has been a conflict in him between faith and infidelity and finally faith wins. Thus he has instigated man to win over Satan and move towards godhood. That is, he has dreamed of a man of new age who has no narrowness of religious boundaries. In other words the poet has preached a new creed, that is the human creed. It is all embracing. There is no burden of religion, caste, country or language. Everyone is a part of human religion human creed, human caste and human language, The world is one family. The soul is one – a journey from earth to heaven beyond all religious barrenness and sexual perversity.
THEME OF REGENERATION
Love And Life
Theme of regeneration has a frequent occurrence in T. S. Eliot. It has its origin in the notion of resurrection that comes from The Bible. Eliotian notion is a befitting one for the age. As a well wisher of mankind the poet has envisioned a new age after a prolonged darkness. That is the age of regeneration with new hopes and wishes which is best exemplified in the myth of phoenix.
Phoenix is a legendary bird which burns itself in every five hundred years and is born again from its own ashes. In the same way the old civilization has undergone a total destruction and out of the remains of the destruction a new civilization of peace and prosperity rises up. This notion has an echo in Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry.
"A new dawn, a new millenium,
And the passions of a new life
For, never shall extinguish the lamp
of hopes and ambitions
of the toiling millions!"
('The Dawn', Vol. 2, No. 8)
As it seems ominous forces of destruction lay down their arms with a sense of frustration and those that wished to sap the energy of life, give their way. In spite of all hindrances the forward moving force in man grows up withstanding the onslaughts of the whirlwinds. The brilliant sprouts into a new
Prior to the beginning of 21st. century Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry was replete with description of human predicament in the modern age. The theme of despair, darkness, sympathy for the downtrodden, decay and the like had recurrence to the utmost. In the beginning of the 21st century and a bit earlier the theme of regeneration and love have frequent recurrence. The anthology 'Exuberance and other poems' starts with 'Exuberance' as a symbol of life and love. The eager wind has started knocking the door of the decaying world. Far and near are seen the signs of a regeneration. Love is manifested in every nook and corner of the world.
The poet fervently declaims that love is a property of human beings. It is a love for man, mute animals, myriad hued butterflies, miracle studded dreams and sweetest fancies. He has dreamt of a new world where love will be one of the basic needs of life. Life will stand on reality. He dreams of a world where man would be broad hearted with wide room for free thinking and doing good to others. Man will be brave enough to pass through all sorts of disasters. He can travel alone along the lonely paths where flood of fire threatens life.
The poet's imagination has touched the optimum while expressing the role of words in regeneration. He says that words are no more cripple walking on crutches rather they rise in the boundless sky for hundreds of yards crossing the deepest ravines bringing back bundles of precious rubies. They have destroyed the darkness pregnant with the 'condensed pain of an entire life' words have become bare.
Man of the new world is a valiant worker to bring new dawn to every home, to paint the world in rainbow colours, to give fragrance to the buds and to fill voices with new songs. Life is made worth living. Work is believed to be valor.
Man is now not caught in the beliefs of the past that stunts the ever expanding consciousness. It is a time when the crushed life glows, the hard rock is molded into beautiful sculpture. The poet envisions that light conquers darkness, man has started singing the morning choir, the sun beams descend with dancing steps smiling brightly to declaim the message of regeneration. He desires 'to bathe in the stream of light, to get into the radiant water fall of truth.'
The individual feels encouraged to rise above his tendency to seek sensual pleasure and change the world's lament into music. The merciless attacks of misery and wants has to come to an end. Gift of smile will ornament the pale, weeping faces. Helpless man will now get victory-garlands. There will be an era of friendship, colourful gardens will be raised in the gravelled and thorny barren world of today. Man is the destroyer of darkness and the guide to light. Man is filled up with an inner-flame and he will illuminate every house with that glow.
The poet is very much aware that the hour of joy has ensued after a prolonged suppression 'yellow, joyous, thickly petalled flowers' have started coming up, 'the gift of Sawan and Bhadon' have been received, and the doors have been decorated with 'buntings of mango leaves'. All this is a symptom of regeneration in human life. The change referred to is that of a physical and mental state of man. The poet beckons the colourful flowers of life to bloom everywhere and swing playfully in the sweet breeze touching the green veil of the earth.
Love is another eye-catching theme in Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry. His love is more divine than mundane. His love is 'love' not 'romance', not lust. He has extended the meaning of love to new horizons of humanistic thought. For him love is the deepest drive of man's life. Man's destiny is determined by his love. He gradually comes to be what he loves. If love is rooted in a divinely inspired living ideal, life is normally transformed and man proceeds to the progressive realisation of the divine.
Love is a prominent factor in human life. It is a concept
as old as life. It is only one type having different facets exhibited in different situations.
As the poet observes love has the power to vanquish the tendency of alienation in man, to instigate in man a hope or resurgence. His love is pure, heart is pure. Love cannot dwell in an impure heart.
My feelings :
Like the most beautiful garlands
Of red roses
Fresh fragrant and blossoming
× × ×
O accept me,
Even in my life of mundane
I offer to you my purest love!"
('Accept Me', Vol. 2. No.4)
Love is natural, spiritual. It knows no physical limitation.
Love transforms life, man moves towards becoming a higher being. Wherever the poet has referred to love it is all a timeless love towards eternity.
The poet draws heavily upon resurgence. He has spared his mind to think of life and death. As many as seven poems he has composed under this name, a thorough growth of poet's mind. His objective is to bring a resurgence of life :
"A new flame is blazing in every direction;
Life is lit up with red twilight
× × × ×
Age old darkness has been dispelled
And on the path descends a new dawn!"
('Resurgence', Vol. 1. No. 37)
Life is not a stream that flows slowly like a glacier that creeps on the slope of the mountain bringing trivial changes. The poet is hopeful of a new age :
'On the wall of the age, / descends a brilliant crimson light, / of conviction bold and glamour rare.'
('Life Stream', Vol. 1, p. 68)
He has observed life as in a miserable condition. Smile of life has withered away. The spring of human happiness has been robbed and all flowers and foliage are fallen. It is symbolic of a force of degeneration in mankind. Customs are crumbled, the path of love lies twisted. Selfish motives have got a rise. Life has become creepled, it is about to fall and stagger paralysed. What does the poet want for such a life?
Obviously he wants a resurgence of life :
Let every man laugh
A laughter – white and pure
And let hopes bloom
of a future happy and glorious."
('The Future', Vol. 1. No. 29)
The poet is lamenting the shortness of life and thus describing every day as most precious. Life is just like a 'Harsingar' flower that is extremely beautiful, but lives only a day to show its beauty, to spread its fragrance. Wastage of time is a sin. It is here obvious that the poet considers life to be the period between birth and death. He prescribes utmost freedom for life on earth :
On glowing milky smile,
Be there no restraint
Being played on breath-veena!"
('Life', Vol. 4, No.5)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has evinced new ideas about life such as life is a longing, it is a firmament, it is fancy formulated, full of feelings. It is an amatory ode and when it is distracted from the right it becomes a curse.
The poet has described life as an ill-arranged and lonely closed room. It is a yacht on the distant sands with its bottom holes. It's an unbroken series of experiences. Observing the gradually deteriorating social conditions the poet has given befitting examples to explain life. One such example is the epic character 'Sita' who is stigmatised and distressed. The explanations show that life is in its worst situation at present. Here he refers to life as a whole, not only that of man, but of animals, plants etc. Life has been described as a vast river with great whirlpools full of swelling waves accursed.
The poet's purpose is to bring peace in life. He looks perplexed. He further describes life as an ugly canvas full of mud and dust. The whole description exhibits the pessimistic attitude of the poet. Yet in the midst of that he has given indications of hopes and regeneration. Life is so dear to man that he tries to live even on this bed of fire and that is the original hankering of living things. In spite of all adversities living things have a tendency to live and grow and that's their basic characteristics :
"Yet I live
Holding a mountain on my head
Yes, I live in the manner of Shiva
Drinking poison unto the neck!
Life is intricate, complex too
It's not so easy, not that easy."
('Life', Vol. 2, No.15)
Mahendra Bhatnagar's early poems are marked by a crisis of confidence to the utmost. Especially in the volume 'After The Forty Poems' this theme is most prominent. It has not been possible for him to overcome this sense till the last poem of the volume. He has a keen observation of life on earth. He feels that man's life is filled with helpless moments dark and dreary. Talks on dire needs have become stale. Life is given to helplessness. Song of joy is never sung. Smile is forbidden to man's lips.
The poet dreams of a new life which is far from being fulfilled. He feels that life becomes a show of skeleton. He dreams of a good time when man will have the power of alleviating adversities with smiles on his lips :
Alleviating adversities comes then
The New Life beaming smiles
Mitigating darkness comes then
the New Life showering light!
('The New Life', Vol. 2, No. 25) )
The current of regeneration that these lines have, reminds mankind of those immortal lines of Milton –
''Awake, arise or be ever fallen.''
This act of inspiration has filled up the heart with overpowering enthuse. Life is no more a hell. Man has regained strength to overcome the horrors of life on earth.
The poems of 21st. century are marked with this new feature. Life has been described with not a bit of dirt anywhere. Every step is full of strength :
My pace gives meaning
To the immortal time
The unconquered, ceaseless battle,
Before me bows
Each approaching moment
('Life', Vol. 3, No. 20)
The poet has instigated man towards regeneration. The ancient original hankering of man to live is still alive in him. If none is there with him he has to walk alone –
We have to walk
Our iron feet pounding
The pits, the trenches
Again and again.
('To Live', Vol. 3, p. 11 )
The helpless man has gathered courage to wake up and move like a leaf, a cloud, or a wave that is lifted by the west
wind as P.B. Shelley explains it in his ode. Man wants to be lifted from the abysmal depth of agony and burdens of corrupted life.
Life is that power by the presence of which Being walks, talks and does everything. In the poet's perception life-bird will fly away one day and it will never return. In his latest volume 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception' the poet has taken a long stride towards an elevation marked by a sort of reluctance.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar in his later poetry i.e. 'Poems : For A Better World' & 'Passion and Compassion' has developed certain new ideas on love and life together that are somewhat parallel to the classical theory of this concept. He has linked love with passion, compassion, relation, life, divinity, regeneration and many other values.
Love instigates a bond of affection amongst men and the bond is marked by living commitments that bind people together and make them remember each other for life and valediction becomes sweet with 'tears divine.' It is this force of love that keeps life and relationship ablaze.
Here the motive of love reminds us of Baconian lines that explain love as a great power that can rush into anybody's heart : " This passion has his floods in the very time of weakness. There is in man's nature a secret inclination and notion towards love of others. If it is not spent upon someone it naturally spreads itself towards many. It makes man humane and charitable." (Bacon's 'On Love')
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has analysed various facets of love in his poetry. In almost all the cases he strives to prove that love is divine. In his poem 'Affection' he observes –
of unique love, of the soul,
of expanse unfathomable!"
('Vol. 7, No. 2)
In another context the poet says that "love becomes a synonym for extreme selfishness. It is the most powerful force. Love does not allow the beloved to be shared with anyone. When the power of ardent love makes the whole body tremble every strong pivot of the mind totters."
In his latest volume 'Passion and Compassion' all the poems have been marked by a thorough development of poet's mind towards the sentimental aspect of man's character. He is no more terrified in the midst of all the horrors of the world. The new age that had been pre-ordained in his previous volumes has got a hopeful start in this volume. In the latter part of his life the poet has gained abundance of mental strength. His mind has moved towards a spiritual love meaning
realisation. He has a compassionate feeling for modern man.
The poet's out look towards life has undergone a change. He says life is not a book to be written in a planned way. Nothing is preplanned. Love is the cementing factor that makes and remakes life.
Love makes man will to live in spite of all bitterness in the hard core of life's reality. The poet's imagination has touched the zenith of Keatsian love-theme - love is that into which one sinks with a delicious sense of release from pain, responsibility and moral inhibition. And further love is a sort of 'oneness' or a 'fellowship' with essence :
When I saw you
I want to drink
A bit more poison!
In this life
Brimming with bitterness
I want to live further!"
('Willing to live', Vol. 7, No. 21)
What depth of love is shown here! Is it not that great power which can rush to anybody's heart? It knows no wit, no wisdom, it is spontaneous as Plutarch observes - "It is impossible to love and to be wise."
There is now no doubt that love is 'oneness' or a 'fellowship' - the Keatsian impression - as Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has it in his poem 'Passion and Compassion / 2' :
Let the waving wick of love
Go on burning
In both of our hearts!
Let the mutual emotion
Of our living souls
Go on cherishing!"
(Vol. 7, No. 22)
Love has been divinised in the words of the poet. This reminds us of the lines of Walt Whitman :
"In all people I see myself none more and not
One a barley corn less
And the good or bad I say of
Myself I say of them."
('Song of Myself')
It is not only oneness rather a sensing of self in the creation which is a promoted state of love. This unique thought has its echo in the poetry of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. He says that love continues through births and it is the basis of being :
Again and again
The past love
Of many a birth,
And through this pretext
To keep the auspicious lamps
Of our spiritual union
On the threshold!
('Pretext', Vol. 7, No. 25)
Love is the precondition through which life is lived. When love is pure and intense it gives the lover abundance of pleasure,
fulfillment and perfection. It makes man move towards a feeling
that the entire universe is a single family and this is the motto of today's civilization. Men have to live with mutual understanding.
As against his idea of universal brotherhood, for which he takes love as a vehicle, and that of a common social being for which he takes love as the only religion, he has developed a sense of hatred towards sectarianism. He is extremely disheartened by the orthodox communalism in which narrow religious feelings are the soul guiding force.
Studying the life of common man Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has lamented the unexpected change in human characteristic and that is his realism. Life is a race without a pause. It is a fast moving chariot that never stops. No calamities can stop it, it is indomitable. In spite of all this assurance it is marked that till the last moment the poet lacks in confidence. He cannot believe in the nature of the future world.
The religious barrenness and sexual perversity that he has observed in this world attack his faith in the future world. He asks a vital question to the world in his poem 'Marvellous' of the latest volume - 'Passion and Compassion' :
"Why a man
Never looks at a man
Belonging to other religion?"
(Vol. 7, No. 45)
The poet cannot measure the generation gap. He cannot mould the mind of modern youth. The flow of degeneration of humanity cannot be possibly regulated. He is disheartened, he is undone. All his didactic poetry has got no influence, no action in general. He is surprised at the changing behaviour of the modern man. Religious values have been preached to him by temples, mosques and other abodes of the deity for ages together and by Saints and sages, scriptures and holy books nothing less. Why then does man hate another's religion?
Can religion be of many types? Man's birth is same, species is same, blood is same, nature is same and same air and water he takes. All men are administered by the same God, how can there be then different religions? Have the religious heads taught different codes of conduct at the core? All these questions have baffled the poet's mind.
In his last poem of the latest volume the poet has discussed the attribute of a man. He has identified in man an indomitable will power to face disaster. He can survive the strong blows of 'hostile storms and with dreadful reverse currents.'
Seeing the behaviour of the modern man the poet cannot ascertain faith in him.The last line of the poem 'Attribute' ends with an exclamation mark which indicates that the poet's faith in man totters :
It is the man
Who can face
('Attribute', Vol. 7, p. 147)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's attempt in sending modern man towards regeneration is overpowering. He has studied life bit by bit. Several times in his series of poetry volumes a conflict between hope and disappointment, belief and disbelief have been found. It is just like upheaval and downfall. This indicates of a crisis of confidence in the poet. The more he observes the worldly affair the more his faith is attacked by it and the castle of faith built in him is once again demolished. This affair of construction and destruction of his faith has been repeated several times in the series of his poetry. Thus the poet has become self-contradictory several times in his vow to bring a reform in the human society, human character.
This crisis of confidence forms the base of the next chapter.
CRISIS OF FAITH AND CONFIDENCE
" The flowers that fade away
Without beaming full smile
On the branches of the earth
Stir my questing spirit!"
('A Submission', Vol. 2, p. 65)
When faith is invaded by sin, man loses hold on life. Such things happened in the life of Duryodhan, a hero in Mahabharat. Faith is the foothold with which life moves. There is no man without faith. If faith is lost man will no more be a man. Chastity is shattered, honesty vanishes, sin gets its hold on man. Duryodhan committed many crimes. Greed for power and wealth got him corrupted. He lost faith in himself. Once faith is lost, confidence is shattered. On the other hand the great hero Karn of Mahabharat had strong faith in himself till the last moment when he died a precarious death in the hands of Arjun and Krishna. He was a real friend and confidant of Duryodhan. Krishna tried to psychologically blackmail him giving the real identity of his mother but that did not create any sort of infidelity in him with Duryodhan or anybody else.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has envisioned the crisis of confidence in modern man. While discussing the state of mind and fulfillment of desires the poet dwindles between hope and despair. He cannot believe that his ' lustful desires' will be fulfilled :
"My desires are oppressed
To find expression!
My lustful desires
Are carefully preserved by me
In a lone, hidden place,
In the hope
That they will find
× × ×
The atmosphere is laden
Leaving me to weep
Unto myself; Or
Suffer wrath of the
('A State Of Mind', Vol. 2, p.35)
With a load of unfulfilled desires the poet envisions life with pessimism. He takes life to be an ill-arranged and lonely closed room, an unwanted comet, an ugly canvas full of mud and dust where "destiny always takes us on the wrong path, leaving nothing for us to cling." ('Life', Vol. 2. p. 37) The poet has tried to gather courage on this bed of fire to live. There is no certainty whether the courage will stand or break down. In spite of all endeavours to stand, he feels that life is intricate, complex, it is not so easy.
In a later poem he forgets all happiness of life and with a heavy heart he declaims :
" Agony is your only fate
Why accept the hand
Whose lines foretell of tragic life;
Accept the ice-benumbed, yet lovely, hand,
It has fallen to your lot
Accept it cheerfully."
('An Awareness Within', Vol. 2, p. 47)
He makes reference to grief-stricken life, the firing moments, the dark, dirty and tearful moments of a darksome life. He gives a call to fill the iron heart with anguish and barren eyes with tears.
The poet is in utter crisis of confidence. Observing the world in deterioration he is full of despair. He cannot believe in an upliftment of human life, a change, a reform. He cannot ensure the nectar of happy life to everybody. With a heavy heart he finds himself floating in despair.
Adversity is ahead. Clouds are hovering over mankind. Agony is the only fate. The dark dirty and tearful moments are to be accepted. The poet gives a call to man whose shoulders he thinks are weak :
With the deep salty sea
And the destruction-beaconing storm
Have knocked your doors,
A hearty welcome.
Accept them gladly
Who have brought for you
A gift of pain!
Sustain on your weak shoulders
The great mountains!
Fill deep the heart
And the compassionate eyes
('An Awareness Within', Vol. 2, p. 47-49)
The poet finds no other way but to leave the man with tears.
In spite of all the dreams the poet finds himself in utter crisis, helplessness, with "persistent strokes of gale" and " gifts of vain venomous dust." He has dreamt of the flower beds of his heart, with the 'bewitching birds of fancy' flying free in the immense sky and the sun and the moon brought to the
'deep-most valleys' of his heart to kill the darkness. But the
consequence is that "the body is tightly tied with countless snakes and is encircled with sharp thorns!" ('The Irony Of Fate', Vol. 2, p. 53)
Another facet of human life has been depicted by the poet. He feels that modern man undergoes a crisis of faith. When faith is lost there is one earthquake inside man. Companionship ends. Man has to bear the wounds of harsh fate, "lying silent and half dead on the bed of embers; he is burnt each moment." ('Broken Hearted', Vol. 3, p. 91) The poet has rightly observed that "Faith is lost when a companionship ends."
Some of the poems show that Mahendra Bhatnagar is a psychoanalyst. He has studied human mind with his own temperament and identified several characteristics. The world is such that when a simple and believing man has to face the
cunning infidelity of his near and dear ones he weeps in pain and laments over his misfortune again and again. In such a situation there is every possibility that he may turn into a murderer but usually he does not become one. Nor does he commit suicide; he burns silently in the hell-fires of his mind and consoles himself meaninglessly. The poet does not think such people as coward. He knows that nothing is gained by cursing anyone. He does not prefer escapism. He lives in this world undergoing the pangs of infidelity of so-called honest friends.
Faith is life. Without faith life is meaningless. When the fortress of trust crumbles man becomes crippled and he has to bear the deepest agony, to live a meaningless life.
When faith is lost ''man floats noiselessly in the emptiness.'' Trust is the bond, as says the poet, that makes life and without it there is no destiny.
The basic ideas on faith as evinced in the Bible as well as old scriptures are ingrained in Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry. The Bible says,'' If your faith is not enduring you will not endure." (ISAI AH 673) ... Faith that is firm is also patient.
Justice will be the measuring line for the foundation and honesty will be its plumb-line." (ISAI AH P-690)
The poet is in the utter dilemma about the future happenings. He is doubtful about the life of modern youth, prosperity of individuals as well as society. When he observes the activities of the modern man he is confused about his state of mind. He finds that his mind is deadened to all sensations, his eyes are heavy and fired with sleep. The soul is 'fatigued'. What does the poet want to convey when he says man's soul is fatigued? Fatigue is not one of soul's characteristics. The poet's remark indicates that there is no difference between life and death of a modern man. He has lost his consciousness. The poet cannot believe in the future prosperity of man. He has no conviction :
"What's this weariness?
That leaves inert every limb, every nerve!
Deadened is the mind to sensations all,
Heavy and tired are the eyes with sleep!
How is it,
That fatigued out is my soul
And the vault of heaven resounds not
With the melody of my soul?
Wax-like melt the convictions firm
Oh! why hope of future too
Is receding fast like a star
Away and away from sight?"
('Dilemma', Vol. 1. p. 34)
The poet is anticipating some impending danger all the time on his way of progress. He apprehends certain pythonic attack on his way.
"Thorns lie concealed in the dust
On life's road difficult
And strewn with impediments is my path!"
('Dilemma', Vol. 1, p.34)
The poet laments the decline of the age and mankind. He looks impatient about his existence and says that his soul's lamp flickers fast as if the end of mankind is ahead. There is no power in man to face the reality of life. The poet has lost his conviction. He further explains that life is withering away while still smiling as if dark clouds shroud the moon. Dreams are heart-rending and aspirations are crushed. The path of love lies twisted and turned. Selfish motive is at its height. This is a symbolic representation of the poet's disappointment caused by lack of faith and confidence.
The poet has observed that man does not try to make others live happily. Thus he cannot himself live happily. Selfish spirit does not let anybody live freely or happily.
The poet depicts the picture of earth as terribly trembling with the blast of atom and hydrogen bombs, island after island is vanishing and cities are facing the situation of Hirosima. The picture shows the terror growing in the poet's heart while observing the anti-life and anti-social deeds of man. He cannot believe that the world would exist.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has a sort of truth-consciousness which seems to be almost at the extreme point. He is deep in the world of reality and thus has never a dreamy vision. He has imaginations and wishes about the future of mankind but no confidence about whether it will be fulfilled or not.
In most parts his poetry is a march from the mundane to the divine. Thus he has faith in the divinity but it is not untottering one. He heavily draws upon worldly affairs with a close observation of man's character and progress of earth's civilization that give deadening blows to his faith and at this point he stumbles in his current of thought and has a genuine pondering over human predicament.
As a journey towards divinity he has not much hankering after the ambiguous concept of Almighty, rather his thought is attached with soul and its purity. He appeals to the soul and common soul for the well being of mankind as well as the individual. The thought of Indian philosopher and poet Sri Aurobindo on faith has echo in the poetry of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar.
Sri Aurobindo says that "Faith is indispensable to man, for without it he could not proceed forward in his journey through the unknown." He further explains that faith should not be imposed on anybody. Unwilling acceptance of anything breeds no result.
Aurobindonian concept of faith has echoes in Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry. The poet is searching the base of faith in life; somewhere his faith in today's life is found strengthened and somewhere weakened. It looks like a transition from faithlessness to faith. The poem 'Exuberance' begins with a hazy atmosphere. It is evening, caught between light and shade, the rain falls and sky drizzles. Definitely the atmosphere is not so much encouraging. The wind is cold. In the midst of such weather and atmosphere the poet feels that the 'eager wind' is knocking on the door. This knock is symbolic of a ray of hope in the dark hour. And this is the background on which rises 'exuberance' the cream of life that helps man survive against all adversities.
In his poem 'To Live' the poet's view of life is quite up-
to-date. He depicts the precarious condition, the adversities through which man has to live. He sites the images of terror-filled sky, flood of fire, crackling embers, mines of gun powder etc. to signify the path of life and still a ray of optimism is left at the conclusion to ignite man's hopes and wishes to live alone :
We have to walk,
Our iron feet pounding
The pits, the trenches
Again and again!"
('To Live', Vol. 3, p. 11)
Similarly the conclusion of the poem 'Birthday' gives a scope for optimistic attitudes in the midst of all despair. There is ominous tyranny all around. Time is not propitious. Nobody can say when and where the lamp of life will be extinguished. The poet feels fortunate that death the uncontrollable has spared him in the face of the storm. 'The lamp kept burning.' He is alive adding a number to his age. In the theme of this poem both the currents are prominent. It is like a tug-of-war between faith and doubt. Life is uncertain, that is why man feels fortunate to live even a year. The current of doubt has been more forceful with Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar and that is the characteristic sign of modern times.
His poem 'Meeting' gives an exquisite touch of optimism followed by some supernatural touch through nature that has removed 'countless thorns and desert bushes' of his path. Immediately in the next poem he describes the failure of the individual. That is how faith has not been able to stand in the pressure of doubt in the modern age :
"The wave like
Bouncing hopes in my heart
× × ×
× × ×
The mourning night
Washed the whole creation
With droplets of dew."
('Failed', Vol. 3, p. 19)
In Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry there is recurring reference to a dark night. Looking at the failure of modern youth in large number, strength of falsehood to the optimum, he is disappointed and this has invited darkness and an image to signify the predicament of modern man :
This night will be pitch-dark,
This night will be ghastly,
And each hurting knock
And defeated will this night pass!"
('Experience-Proved, Vol. 3, p.37 )
Dark night no doubt expresses pessimism, despair, lack of faith or confidence. But, all the time the poet is searching a ray of light in this darkess. Light succeeds darkness, morning succeeds dark night. Despair is followed by hope in the language of the poet :
Will conquer darkness
Birds shall twitter,
Shall sing the morning choir!"
('Experience Proved', Vol. 3, p. 37)
The poet's observation of the modern man has no end. The more he observes the more doubtful his mind is. He gathers confidence and inspires the modern youth to come up. Before finding the result of his inspiration he once again sweeps over the life of youth and finds that it is on the verge of decay – once again his confidence desolves and despair ensues.
His first poem 'Lust For Life' begins with a categorical statement :
"The man lives on
By the cravings of love!"
('Lust For Life', Vol. 1, p. 14)
The best of humanistic thinking is expressed here. The poet declaims that love is man's origin, through love he travels the ocean or desert of life and with love is his demise. At the outset his love is a mundane or earthly one – lust for life – and through out the period he lives, it concentrates and at the end it is found that it has been changed to a divine love, a surrender before the Great Love.
The strength of poet's confidence has been threatened by vision of adversities frequently. He has identified in man an indomitable will to live and that is his basic humanistic thought.
The notion that has got its hold in Indian mythical principles or in other words spiritual principles faith begets devotion. When devotion concentrates it is love, and love brings a sensing of self in the creation and then a total surrender to the transcendent reality. Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar says that 'faith is divine' and with this faith man lives on by the cravings of love.
In the poem 'Attribute' of the seventh volume 'Passion and Compassion' man is a representative of his humanistic force. This man is a bit different from the man of his first poem of first volume. This man of the seventh volume is bubbling with energy. He is a matured one gaining confidence in his self. He is no more weak-minded, to depend on anything for his strength like the man of the first poem who is living by the cravings of love, proceeding on gathering courage as if braving the storm with much difficulty.
Here the man plays fearlessly with the strong blows of hostile storm and with dreadful reverse current. He is confident
enough to face any disaster :
"The fast moving
Chariot of his life
Though got struck
Or caught somewhere!
He at once,
With the power of his intellect
Or with the might of his arms
Pushes it aside
Without getting tired or defeated.
It is the man
Who can face
('Attribute', Vol. 7, p. 147)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry is a journey from doubt to faith, from weakness to confidence. It cannot be said a journey from human to divine. There is divinity with him all the time. His love is divine only, his faith is divine only, it is never earthly.
His man is stiring in the earthly bondage at times – sometimes with fear and sometimes gaining confidence gradually. Many a times the poet has shown man as a powerless creature before destiny and yet he has come up with confidence as the front line agent of evolution with rapid progress :
Everything shall fly
To return no more!
Like a Harsingar flower
That blooms today
Shall tomorrow shed!"
('Life', Vol. 4, p. 17)
The poet has appealed to man to make the world worth-
living. If man has no faith he will not have love, affection, cooperation and fellow-feeling. He cannot live his life at all.
He has tried his utmost to find man with the light of truth, but it was all in vain :
In deeper darkness
In still deeper darkness
We are lost!
The implication of human faith."
('Misunderstandings', Vol. 4, p. 71)
Standing on his broken confidence the poet has framed his philosophy of life in which he has evinced the idea that faith is a constituent particle of life. Without strong faith life cannot be possibly built up :
Then that man's personality
Inside and outside
('Fragmented Personality', Vol. 4. p. 73-74)
Here faith has been invaded by sin. Love is no more a relation to give and give, it has been developed to that of give and take or take and give – a commerce that keeps man deep in the material world oblivious of the relation between self and soul.
Faith has become a pretension, as such it cannot be distinguished from other attributes of man. Life has been turned 'a fatigued fillament, a scatter.' Man's life is hypocritical. The poet cannot believe in man. After his age-long persuance he has observed that man's heart is barren. The society is suffering from a spiritual barrenness and perversity is quite bare and conjugal lives have been shattered. Man and woman have now doubt about each other's relation. The poet has accused the hypocrite of murdering the innocence with an abusive tongue :
burnt the wishes
in a flaming furnace
and filled every moment of life
with unbearable pain!"
('A Blow', Vol. 5, p.90)
The human world needs certain transcendence. Man needs a descent of the divine in him. The spiritual barrenness has to be brought to an end. Sexual perversity has to be checked. The poet Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has observed the awakening of a new age in certain corner of this world. In his seventh volume so far ('Passion and Compassion') he has turned towards faith.
He is surprised at the change that has come over the world; the new generation has brought it forth. Transcendence has already started. Blood-shed has been minimised. The new star of faith has been rising fast and doubt has been vanquished
"Those exploited and oppressed
And have become the architect
Of a new age!
The sky echoed by the slogans
Of the feelings of equality
The season has changed!"
('Change in Environment', Vol. 7, p. 109)
Theme Of Transcendence
Transcendence is one of the most prominent themes in Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry. What he means by transcendence is not that of the saints who meditate for ages to get elevated to a supernatural level but an elevation from the lower nature. Man lives in limitations. His limitation pertains to three planes such as physical, mental and spiritual. To go beyond the planes is transcendence in a general sense. Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar has experienced that at certain high points in human life human excellence or human limit fails and a transcendent power helps man encounter and survive the pangs of adversity. Thus it is observed that transcendence is a need of human life that comes naturally to man when he is at the end of his capacity or when his struggle is most demanding.
The poet relates the meaning of transcendence to the making of civilization and elevation of human beings. Civilization is in a crisis because barbarism threatens it. The barbarism emerges from human need. Out of passion for selfhood man fights with the social environment and barbarism gets its hold on man through it.
Inspite of all this naturally rising phenomenon man has an urge to be the part of a larger process that gives life its greater meaning. Man longs for something more permanent and changeless.
A majority of human desires are satisfied through physical activities such as eating, drinking, sleeping, breeding etc. The extra needs that rise in man beyond the physical satisfaction are fulfilled by intellectual experiences that give mental satisfaction. Still most men are left with their hunger beyond the physical and mental satisfaction.
Suffering, frustration and death are parts of human destiny. He has to face the darkest moments with courage. It is not that he has to attain pure consciousness or the transcendent reality. As a need of life he has to attain several levels of consciousness or at least transcend a part of his material nature so as to make himself capable of controlling himself leading the life with utmost smoothness in the face of all adversities.
Transcendence begins with man's elevation from lower nature and it matures when man is able to drop his last garment of ego. Love is the fittest 'gate' for this elevation of man. Mahendra Bhatnagar has identified this 'gate' in his poetry :
''I throw open the gates
Of my small habitation
To give shelter to the life and honour
Of those who are hit
Hard by Nature's ironies
Or, by worldly ridicules!''
('Gift Of A Lively Faith', Vol. 2, p. 7)
He has identified a forward moving force in man that breaks the hard crust and 'withstanding the onslaughts of the whirlwind' comes up victorious. No ominous force of destruction can bar the way now. The poet has envisioned an indomitable inner power in man that drags him up from the lower nature, transcendence is at hand. It is a transcendence of the physical world the first plain when man has a stirring life of restlessness running after woman and gold. At the end of this transcendence that of the mental world will start.
The physical world is marked by lustful desires. The poet has identified a state of mind in modern man in which he feels that the lustful desires are carefully preserved with the hope that they will find their fulfilment. It is a critical juncture, a struggle between hopes and despire. There is no certainty whether the desires will get fullfilled or withered. Still the poet has a little hope enkindled in him for the fulfilment which is a sign of transcendence, a clearance of preconditions for elevation. There is still some backward pull, a tug of war between hope and despair and it will continue until man is able to give up his last garment of ego.
Then only man can be a possessor of eternal love which is instrumental to transcendence. The poet opines that such a song can be sung in the darkest hour of life to achieve liberation from the earthly bondage. Love has been taken as a great boon that is priceless and that smells like 'Life's sweet-scented shrubs.' Love and smile invite each other with a divine feeling. Smile is milky white, immaculate white, silver-like and moon like. Here is an indication of serenity that comes up in man with a liberation from the lower nature and that is a part of transcendence as the poet means it.
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar has felt the presence of a divine impulse in human mind that causes a rise into the region of all virtues. This rise is nothing but that of human consciousness, individuality and universality.
The poet has an echo of the Emersonian concept of a higher self-possession. Emerson says in his poem 'Brahma' :
"I am the doubter and doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings."
He also says, "I am the slayer and the slain."
A similar idea has been reflected in Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry when he says in his poem 'The Incredible' :
"I am the 'Bhojak'
The 'Bhojya' too,
Soaked in sorrow,
Made of blue tendons,
Tediously and slowly grown plot
The introduction, the middle and the end!"
(Vol. 2, p. 59)
The poet has pointed at a life-situation formed in the circumstances that man lives in and that throw a threat to the rise of consciousness. Here he has attempted to link the natural rise of human consciousness with the status of human mind. He identifies a time in human life when the veil of darkness is lifted and man slowly rises from the known world to the unknown - a world of consciousness. Man is above joy and sorrow, good and evil then. At this point the poet identifies the descent of the divine into man as Walt Whitman does in one of his poems :
"In the faces of men women I see God, and in my own face
in the glass / I find letters from God dropt in the street,/ and everyone is sign'd by God's name."
At a particular stage of human life the divine descends into his sense and then he finds no difference between the Slayer and Slain. Such moments have arrived in the thoughts of poet Mahendra Bhatnagar and that is why he asks a question in his poem "Who Are You' :
Oh, who is it
That opens the closed window of my heart
To peep in
Like a spark in the dark clouds
Of a gloomy life?
(Vol. 2, p. 63)
There is a thorough growth of the poet's mind marked in the book 'After The Forty Poems'. In the first poem of the book the poet discussed destiny that echoes the distressed cries of the ill-fated ones. The poet passes through various parts and predicaments of life on earth and towards the end of the book touches the high spirit of transcendence with complete surrender to the Transcendent Being — a complete submission. He is in the quest of the Divine. He observes man with a new life mitigating darkness :
"Man's morrow is bright and gay,
Be it though not a better path,
Strewn with thorns, an intractable path,
But he tramples down the thorns
Alleviating adversities comes then
The New Life beaming smiles
Mitigating darkness comes then
The New Life showering light!"
( 'The New Life',Vol. 2, p 73)
The poet has studied human predicament bit by bit. He finds man in chains, bowed with heavy burdens of earthly life. He cannot express his free will. He does not have power to do his welfare. He is in the hands of helplessness. He can only pray the Almighty to save him from the abysmal depth of worldly burdens. He submits to the Supreme Soul. This submission is also regarded as a state of transcendence :
Pray, Oh, pray
That the buds may blossom
And the branches quiver with love!"
('A Submission', Vol.2, p. 65)
The lines have an echo of Shelley's call to the West Winds to lift him from the burdens of life :
'Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed." ('Ode to West Wind')
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has inspired modern man to lift himself from the hell of life. Here he has dropped his last garment of ego and surrendered to the Supreme Soul for a transcendence from the lower nature.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry has also an echo of Aurobindonian thoughts on transcendence. Epic character
Savitri transcends by dint of her merit. She meditates, undergoes austerities and avowed activities to make herself strong enough to be able to instigate the divine power to descend on her. It is all human power that every man can acquire. Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar dreams of such power in man. He wants man to be the arbiter of his own destiny. That is the elevated position to which he wants man to be uplifted by dint of his own merit :
"O winged steeds of Destiny!
Holding thy reins
And with firm hands,
We will pull them
To give ye direction,
× × × ×
O ye, the moving invisible hand!
Thou art the invincible citadels
Echoing the distressed cries
Of the ill-fated ones!
Bathed in sweat
We will wash
Thy ominous lines!
('O Winged Steeds of Destiny', Vol. 2, p. 5)
Just like the epic character Savitri the poet is searching his self and soul as he knows that realisation of self and soul is a mark of transcendence. One who has this realisation he rises above the bar of good and evil, joy and sorrow. He can adjust in every situation without the least hesitation. He is always cheerful. The poet instigates man to elevate himself upto this level.
"The dark, dirty and tearful moments
Of a darksome life,
Accept them cheerfully."
× × × ×
With the deep salty sea
And the destruction- beaconing storm
Have knocked your doors,
A hearty welcome."
('An Awareness Within', Vol. 2, p.47)
At the end of age-long destruction and sufferings a time has come when man has to rise with consciousness. He has to recognise his self and soul. He has to acquire the realisation through meditation as well as work for human society. The poet here draws heavily upon humanistic thoughts that take man to be all powerful. The poet is searching everywhere :
"Who is it
Into the charred sky, or
Into the sultry suffocating world,
Like the moist-laden east wind?
Oh, who is it
That stires my consciousness
To mitigate my suffering?"
('Who Are You', Vol. 2, p. 63)
Man is a being who is always incomplete and proceeding towards perfection through avowed activities in his life's main stream of action. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has championed this thought in his later poetry. As man proceeds with his age gradually he alienates from the sensual world and moves towards spirituality. This progress is marked as a sort of transcendence. He takes man to be a player and writes :
"I am running
Without a pause
I am running
Untired and constantly!
Day and night
Night and day!
× × ×
Now and then
Yet I keep on running
In quick succession!"
('Player', Vol. 7, p. 140)
Where is man running? The reply to this question has been explained by the poet in his later poetry. W. B. Yeats in his poem 'Sailing to Byzentium' has explained that this run is to realise the 'artifice of eternity'. Man at his old age leaves behind the sensual mire of the 'dying generation' to contemplate
on the 'artifice of eternity'. It is a journey from the sensual to the spiritual world. At a little higher stage parallel thoughts as the transformation of the historical Siddharth to Buddha makes the sense clear. Such transformation symbolises a psychological change from a mentality which values the pleasure of sexuality and the flesh to one which values things of the mind, the spirit and the soul. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has also reached the same destination as W. B. Yeats through his poetry. Towards the end of the poem 'Player' he writes :
"Yet the realm of high heavens
Shudders by my roaring,
The world of the dead
Is scared to see my form!
Certain it is —
Every heart attack
Will be defeated
And every paralysis
Will be crippled
By the soul immortal!
('Player', Vol. 7, p.146)
The poet refers to the call of the soul here. Layer by layer he has travelled the cosmic beauty. In the matured days he has turned his face from mundane pleasure and contemplated for the soul's call. Naturally a sense of renunciation of is attained. The poet means to say that for a normal man transcendence is but quite natural with age and it is inevitable. The poet does not appreciate renunciation. He says that man has to remain surrounded by bundles of relation, attendant responsibilities of his life and yet he has to transcend his lower nature. However, a sense of non-attachment is to be adopted.
In today's world man is involved in various evil acts because he has not recognised his own self. In order to realise the self one has to be free from his evil conduct, control his
senses, have a tranquil mind and keep his mind at rest during critical moments. Thus man's higher spiritual facilities are developed and he gains realisation of self. Then only man rises above sorrow and grief and life becomes meaningful. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar writes :
"Know the mysteries of life,
Talk to the moon and stars,
Be the motive of our living,
Let's devour materialistic hurdles
at every step
Let's acquire such capabilities
Life may be
dedicated to death
the least difference of opinion.
('Meaningfulness', Vol. 5, p. 40-41)
As long as man is attached with his lower nature he has the fear of death. When he is above the state of grief and happiness he has no fear of death. The poet wishes — let every person enjoy life without any doubt, let his each moment be mellifluous.
The poet has bade good bye to the spring of the world, the shining moon and the twinkling bright stars. He has taken leave from hills, valleyes, slopes and marshes and the waves of the sea. No beauty has been able to attract him. The fluttering wings of illusion, eyes profuse with love, the strings of all inextricable knots and the unrealised hopes have not been able to capture his mind. This sense of farewell is symbolic of renunciation. Here the renunciation is not like that of saints who meditate in isolated places of forests and hills but that of a person who remains in the midst of worldly affairs and yet untouched by anything.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar wants not only a rise of individual consciousness; but that of a common consciousness, a social consciousness. A mystical tendency is always pervasive in him. It is not directly communion with God, not seeking after the unknown or the Almighty.
Walt Whitman has expressed the nature of the dynamic self in his poem 'Song of Myself' :
"In all people I see myself
none more and not
one a barley-corn less
And the good or bad I say
of myself, I say of them."
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's mystic faith includes a thought of sensing the self in creation. He has felt the presence of a supernatural impulse in human beings. This impulse always goads him towards a rise, a new age, a new life. This rise is that of individuality and universality.
Along with the transcendence of the individual human being Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar looks at a social transcendence, a universal transcendence. He has identified that unity, mutuality and harmony are three important principles for any collective life in any society. Attaining these principles is a movement towards transcendence. The poet opines that human being should only be known by his body and mind, sagacity bred of experience and deep thinking. He wishes that love may germinate among human beings so that blind orthodoxy and brutality of man towards man may be destroyed. Then only can mutuality get its hold amongst men. He gives a clarion call to mam :
don't go astray now,
don't get bogged down in
imaginary deals of destiny
and don't brook impediments!
Folly, mere folly
life and man from it,
mankind be saved from
the wicked, spiteful
('Dictum', Vol. 6, p. 34)
The poet has expressed his disgust about perverted religion which is a way to devastation and which is a bar against transcendence, harmony and mutuality. Man is human and not an animal. When he is endowed with wisdom he understands himself and amends himself. Prior to any question of elevation a reform in the character of man is to be brought in this perverted world. It is not a religious reform, not a social reform. The reform here is humane. The poet refers to religious fanaticism and communal riots, sectarian conflicts that are given rise to frequent shedding of copious human blood. Certain mystic faith is present behind the religious madness. At a juncture in human life his mystic faith is converted to fanatic feelings and he becomes violent in protecting that which he thinks to be his religious dignity, existential dignity :
"Again and again
our God incites us
to kill other's God
to destroy the symbols of their faiths
and thus feel that
paradise is secure only for us."
('Invoking Modern Men', Vol. 6, p. 16)
The poet appeals to mankind for universal consciousness that would flourish beyond the bar of religion, caste, geographical boundaries, languages and scripts. There would be the rise of a human religion that will take into its perview all individuals of the world. Let not he introduce himself in the name of a religion or caste :
"May a new seraph, a new
prophet, a new archangel
incarnet in the twentyfirst century
a sublime human religion!
Before reaching other worlds
should become confirmative!"
('The Other Age', Vol. 6, p. 22)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is a poet of positive state of mind. However negative there may be a situation he will perceive the end in a positive way — always a journey towards life not death, towards happy endings not catastrophe. He has studied that in his restlessness man loses the balance of body and mind and commits suicide or in frustration weeps without a reason, laughs without a reason. Here the poet identifies in man an ecstatic condition that may lead him to madness or death. He drives man towards a consciousness in which he is steady, self-centred, calm, lively and balanced. It is a state when man goes beyond the difference of good and evil, life and death :
For him, who had lived asceticism
There is no difference
Between dying and living
There is no difference
Drinking poison or nectar!"
('Ascetic', Vol. 7, p. 31)
The state of mind referred to here is an ecstatic condition as happens in mystic faith. Mysticism is a union with the Almighty, an elevated position in faith and devotion. The poet finds such a state while in communion with nature. He feels himself bewitched by certain beauty of nature and bows to the creator of such beauty with a sense of submission. He loses himself and forgets the outer world :
Outer and inner
Of the body and soul —
And my own existence!"
('Bewitched', Vol. 7. p. 60)
Natural beauty leaves with him certain magical touch. This magical touch is that of devotion to the creator of such beauty. Here the mystic faith has culminated in the poet :
"For some moments
I lose myself
in this world
I submit myself
With devotion utmost!"
('Bewitched', Vol. p. 60-61)
The poet utters this in an address to 'Jasmine' that represents nature's bounty and the greatness of the creator.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry is an amalgamation of the human and the divine, the worldly and the heavenly in a broad sense. He has in him the pursuit of transcendent reality and the mystic fire glowing with brilliance.
His poetry has a sort of versatility that touches various aspects of life. When weighed in the balance of mundane and divinity it is observed that the poet heavily draws upon human senses. All the characteristics of modern humanism are found reflected in his poetry. He has rather extended his thoughts to new horizons in humanistic thoughts. What is he then? — a poet of divinity or humanity? He is no doubt a poet of humanity with a divine glow present in him.
Humanism In The New Age
A working philosophy consisting in a set of ideas appropriately formed to restore values to human society is roughly taken to be humanism. Its basic assumptions are : (i) Dignity of man above all (ii) Primacy of man in everything (iii) Man is the measure of all things and (iv) The study of mankind is man.
Humanism denies the authority of the Supreme Being and ascertains that man is most powerful on this earth. Man has a great task of shaping himself into a true man and create a society worthy of him.
Ancient humanists such as Erasmus had outlined the real concept of humanism in their philosophical writings. Erasmus has shown the unity of two principles : (i) Natural humanity in which man is at home and which he need only unfold and cultivate. (ii) Faith in which detaching himself from the human the being raises himself towards God.
Radical humanism of India is man-centred and it goes to the root of human problem. In Indian classical literature or epic poetry there is no trace of humanism. It is all replete with a god-prominent notion and mystical under current. But there are references to such situation where it is felt that there is certain humanistic limit beyond which man has to stretch his hands to the supernatural. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has identified this limit and inspired man to cross it by dint of his merit. Here he has extended humanism to new horizons in the new age.
Thomas Jefferson in his State Paper of United States has outlined several characteristics of humanism : (i) Human beings have dignity (ii) All men are created equal (iii) They are endowed with certain inalienable rights such as right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.
Humanism gives greater importance to self-realisation than to man's communion with God. Man as a social being has to live with certain traits. Humanism being a philosophy of man also comes with these traits : (i) freedom (ii) tolerance (iii) concreteness (iv) sense of history (v) praise of pleasure.
The most distinguished philosophical principle of humanism is the rejection of all supernaturalism. This encourages man to adopt his faith in science which places the destiny of man in his own hand. Thus humanism helps man realize his original greatness. It reminds him in clear terms that only through his efforts he would be able to realize his full potential.
Towards the first decade of twentieth century there arose a new philosophy in the name of New Humanism under the guidance of Irving Babbit and Paul Elmer More. Babbit thinks that humanism should have in it an element of religious insight. Humanism and religion are only different stages along the same path. Thus religion is an ally of humanism. Religion gives humanism a form of spiritual consolation amid the material pressure of life, a feeding of the soul. The New Humanists opened a new chapter in the tradition of humanism – especially when they discuss the two selves : 'the higher and the lower.'
Babbitt characterised the humanistic will as a superrational transcendent element that would prove to be alone capable of supplying sufficient counterpoise to the various ''lusts that result from the free unfolding of man's natural will.''
After all these discussions a vital question rises – if humanism is meant for affirming a faith in man and his intelligence, can it be adequate to any larger purposes? Can it fulfil the spiritual need of man?
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has paved the way in his poetry to give appropriate answer to these vital questions. His themes establish humanistic principles extending them to new steps and aspects of human life.
He begins his poetry with the theme of life and love. Living is the primordial hankering of a being. It is a general characteristics. In spite of all difficulties man wishes to live even at the verge of decay and death. Love is the vehicle for pulling on with life. It is life itself. Without love life has no existence.
Another humanistic element that poet shows is exuberance. His motive is to see the youth never with a fever or fret. No adverse force will prevent him from achieving the goal of life. That is an example of humanistic will which is indomitable and unchallengeable :
" The darkness will stagger,
And darkness will die out,
But the light of youth
Shall never grow dim!
Time shall pass away
But youth will endure!"
('Youth', Vol. 1, p. 28)
Despair is not written in the dictionary of the youth. He will pass through dark nights with flashes of lightning, braving the storms but he will never lose his heart. This is another facet of humanistic will. The poet wants the man of new order to be blessed with peace. On the contrary in order to achieve peace in the world man has to be peaceful in himself and with others.
Where there is life there is growth. Life cannot be suppressed. Growth is the basic characteric feature of life. Man is an element of nature. As a tree grows, an animal grows, so a man grows naturally collecting food, air and water from nature. He is the doer of everything himself. He will survive all adversities and again grow. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has
highlighted this aspect of life in his poetry :
"May be, under deep-deep layers
Life lay asleep
Lost in the by lanes of murkiness
Water with dedication of the core within
May be, breaking rocks
New sprouts sprang up,
The womb of earth barren
Were vibrant with life new!"
( 'Faith', Vol. 4. p. 9)
Modern machines have taken the place of man. In a way it is a sort of dehumanisation. Machines do the work in factories and industries. Man gets no work and thus is reduced to a powerless being without work. The ape-man of Darwin's age has reached such a developed stage through evolution by dint of his merit. This man who one day took a long time to learn how to use and keep fire, now possesses, controls and uses atomic energy. Humanistic principles are thus reflected in modern man's character.
In many fields of life man has started feeling helpless and suffocated. He has to be made free to live his life with exuberance. This is another principle of humanism which Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has highlighted through out his poetry :
" Breath is overcast with helplessness-
Smouldering is life smarting-burning fed,
Full of poisonous dense dust particles
Is sky of man's wishes
Sing, so that suffering a music became!
Sing, so that life a lyric became!
('Sing', Vol. 4, p. 35)
Another bright example of humanistic will is the epic character Karn of the Mahabharat, who has braved numerous challenges to keep his existence erect. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar
is a poet of challenges that indicate the inevitability of humanistic will. Karn the great giver is one of the finest representation of humanistic character. He is a man dwindling in moral and spiritual dilemmas struggling for existence. He is presented as an individual ignorant of his parents brought up by someone who has no social recognition, in the hands of others' mercy, utterly confused about the world's ways. Getting the support of Duryodhan he could be able to show his face in the society in a dignified manner. He could neither live nor die. He could neither support nor oppose the injustice of Duryudhan. Life became a challenge for him. Without any support from any corner – not from heridity, not from Master (Guru), not from society; even being a victim to the psychological terror created by Krishna, by dint of his merit Karna kept his dignity erect.
Karan is every man of today's society. Hindrances are welcomed by him as challenges. In the prevailing circumstances society needs such men and such characters as marked by indomitable humanistic will :
" They evoke
All latent capabilities inert
Neither fear nor helplessness remains!
Lightning flashes in mighty body
New resolutions rise in mind!
Hindrances : challenges are
To accept them
of humanity – greatness!"
('Hindrances Are Challenges!', Vol. 4, p. 46-47)
Man's original hankering is to rise to eminence. The charcteristic sign of life is longing to live and grow. Human beings also long to grow. It is a growth towards eminence. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has marked this characteristic in his poetry. He supports the idea of natural living with a natural
smile on the lips. He has pointed out that self's expansion is inevitable for man. Narrowness is sin. He has to discard his meanness. Without these charateristics man cannot rise to eminence :
" Were it but once
Felt ourselves risen to eminence,
For moments a few."
('A Longing', Vol. 4. p.89)
Another longing of human life is freedom. Man is in chain everywhere. He has to surrender himself many a time to respond to the cries of his hungry stomach. That is a major issue of life and taking advantage of man's hunger man tries to predominate over others. Every relation in human life is based on certain want. If there is no want there is no relation. In spite of that man wants to be free in life. The love for freedom is a prime hankering of man. Real love is instrumental to freedom. Where there is real love man will never feel that he is under the power of somebody, entangled with something or tied with bundles of relations. He will never cry to be free from the tie of pure love because love gives utmost peace and strength of mind. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has expressed this idea in his poetry with due examples from life. He has recognised the relation of love and freedom in human life. When there is love, darkness of mind is dispelled and there is no feeling of narrowness :
" Free I am
The door of cage
Opened all of a sudden
The parrot flapping wings
Should soar high in the sky
Amongst age-group co-mates mingle,
Should fondle with life-partner
Peck and kiss!
× × × ×
It looks –
Entwined serpent-traps of years
Clouds of poisonous rains
('Freedom-Spree', Vol. 4, p. 119)
The poet has wished a great change in human life and that will be the beginning of a new age — an age of freedom. He has started feeling the presence of such motive among modern people.
In an age of dehumanisation, when machines have made life too much mechanical, human values have diminished and man has been reduced to a status lower than machine the poet laments the rise of many other antihumanistic currents in the society. These forces well indicate what according to the poet the basic principles of humanism in the modern age are.
"Racial jealousy born
Religious hatred spread
Regional - linguistic jealousy barked
Dirty is environment!
Giant's garb everywhere!
Poison mixed water
('Inhuman', Vol. 4, p. 149)
In such a terrible situation the poet imagines man to be indomitable. Humanistic will is never dominated by any situation. Nothing can block the path of a man who is determined to reach the destiny.
To reach his destiny Doctor Faustus the Marlovian hero
sells himself to the Prince of darkness, Lucifer. Faustus represents every man of the society. His story is universal. That is the story of an individual who in order to seek the highest knowledge pledges his soul to the Devil. It is the case of a spiritual combat within the soul of one man. He seeks power as every man does for gaining excellence.
What happens in Marlovian play Tamburlain? A shepherd chief becomes a great conqueror. He struggled hard to achieve excellence and finally he reached his goal. These are the examples of persons representing the humanistic ideals. Faustus has an undying thirst for knowledge, a weakness for beauty and a superhuman ambition which are quite but natural with any human being. A time comes when he realises the futility of all and seeks divine grace and transcendence. That is the humanistic limit which Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has pointed at in his poetry while analysing human character. It is a critical moment in man's life when man is not able to stand in front of adverse situation. All his confidence in himself falters. As Dr. R.S.Sharma observes in his review — "Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar knows what it is to feel failure and disappointment, but his abiding strength is in courage and will to survive and overcome. The poet is aware of his broken dreams when the sweetness of a loving heart changed into poison." ( 'Unwanted' /'The Quest', June 2002, p. 94) His thoughts have echoes of the thoughts of Christopher Marlow. When Doctor Faustus pledges himself to Lucifer the Devil he does not understand what he has done as he was blinded by his thirst of knowledge. Thereafter a time comes when he is not able to stand the pains that he has earned. His mind touches the thinner level in his tragic hours. He transcends the lower nature. Who comes to rescue his soul? Here he has to cross the humanistic limit. His confidence is not enough to save him. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has almost touched this situation in his poems. He has studied the world situation and perceives the idea that man is helpless in his life. He is affected by his own complexes and is not able to secure or save himself. Then he seeks the support of the supernatural :
" .... in this lustful, pining
wells and pools
do not soak me like that
Soak me not.
In these unrestrained limbed
lasciviously longing since ages,
Wells and pools
don't thus soak me
Soak me not!
('Imperceptible / Untouched', Vol. 6, p. 42)
Man thus cries in his helplessness.
Epic Mahabharat poses to us a dynamic example of humanistic limit in Arjun the warrior. Seeing his near and dear ones in the battle-field of Kurukshetra he refuses to fight and sinks into despair (Vishad). Like every human being he was highly influenced by his emotional attachment to his people and got divested of his heroic nature. His courage is liquidated and he accepts the injustice done to him by the Kauravas. His mind is baffled : his knowledge is clouded. Lord Krishna, his friend and charioteer comes to his rescue and teaches him about the necessity and importance of fighting. Arjun after being enlightened by the teachings overcomes his sentimental inertia and expresses his willingness to be guided by Krishna and finally transcends his human limitation. He is an individual totally confused about the meaning of life, unwilling to do the duty of a warrior with fear of bloodshed. He is just like an aimless boat trying hard to escape the sentimental turmoil. He, finally, does not escsape it, he faces it with courage and becomes successful. It was possible only due to the decent of the divine in him through Lord Krishna. Man's longing is definitely for the support of a broader world, a healthier motive and a stronger power. He wants a recognition in all situation.Alienation is too difficult for a common man. He alienates himself as a mechanism against frustration. The poet has identified this characteristic feature of human mind and analysed it in a number of poems. He finds that in the midst of a crowd man feels himself to be alone. He seeks the support of something positive to live and grow :
" In a life of loneliness
In a life
Thrown out forcibly
In a deep well
In a life that suffered
Merciless blows and assaults,
Someone shall like us,
('Expectation', Vol. 7, p.14)
It is an intense electrified, suffocating atmosphere, the unrest resounds heart rending, life is ruined as if confined in a prison. In such disastrous moments a desire springs up some- one shall like man standing beside him giving him moral support. Here man has to cross the humanistic limit and proceed towards a broader world, that is divinity :
" In those disastrous moments
A desire springs up
That someone shall like us,
Now and then!"
('Expectation', Vol. 7, p. 16)
The poet appreciates the excellence of man that is earned by his own perseverance. He wants man to be a successful human by dint of his merit :
" All my life
On my own strength
I have borne
The raids of storms!
× × × ×
In the realm of dearth
in cities and in villages!
Here and there
I don't know when and where."
('Ever Deprived', Vol. 7, p. 18-19)
Here is described a man who is oblivious of all hindrances while proceeding in the way of life. It seems as if hindrances are his life-long companions. Such a man is awake through out the nights to face the countenance of tribulations. His feet got stuck in the mire. He stayed on spreading fire on his bed. The poet gives all this description in order to see man ever lively, ever progressing on his merit and without submitting himself to the unknown.
However, within the boundaries of humanistic ideal the poet has emphasised a superior state of mind, that may be regarded as a super mind which is beyond the difference of evil and good and even dying and living. Such a state of mind does not come to man spontaneously. Man has to undergo certain practices. The poet remarks that the ascetics attain this state of mind through their avowed activities thereby crossing the humanistic limit. For those who have lived asceticism there is no difference between dying and living, drinking poison or nectar.
The poet refers to a feeling of love and affection which he says is original with man and the best choice in the creation. He also mentions of a sort of human compassion which should remain amidst all living beings. This love and compassion is the best worship in man's life. The phrase 'amidst all living beings' is essential in the context of the poet's humanistic ideas. Here he refers to a universal love and compassion which includes not only human beings but also animals and plants and living things. Thus he wants to establish that love and compassion are two positive forces that uphold the existence of living things and that is a basic principle of modern humanism. They are the best form of worship. Here the poet refers to a sort of spirituality without submission to the unknown, or any particular religion. The love that is discussed here is free from all lust of life.
As two prominent humanistic principles love and compassion have broad pactical approaches in the society. A boy struggling hard to solve a mathematical problem with sweating forehead and aching nerves succeeds and gets a 'thanks' with smiling lips from the teacher or a lady struggling hopelessly with labour pain to give birth to a child finally succeeds and gives a 'thanks' to the doctor. The love and compassion expressed in these situations are truly humanistic spirit. In humananism selfishness has been seen as a negative force though it is quite but natural for human beings. At least Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has an abusive tongue in this regard. Selfishness and treachery are two draw backs about which the poet has expressed his disgust :
"Rascals they are
In an ambush
To deliver deadly assaults!
× × × ×
They grab property
And other belongings
Using their polluted mind,
('Usurpers', Vol 7, p. 104)
At the next step the poet beckons man to a change assuming the human attributes in himself. He is conscious that the task of humanism is to make man a true human and frame a society worthy of him. He dreams of a society in which man will be the measure of everything, there will be no unwise submission to the unknown and peace will pervade. Man will think of his excellence. The ape of Darwinian age has excelled up to the condition of the modern man through the process of humanism. This proves the excellence of humanistic will through ages. The poet expects a transition :
The sun rose
And the light has spread
Have full confidence
We will be free
('Transition', Vol. 7, p. 112)
In his latest volume Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has lifted his vision to the Zennith of humanistic will. He wants modern man to turn the blows of defeat to a source of your strength :
"At every time
Let the blows of defeat
Become a source of your strength,
Let your mind, engaged in work
Be filled always
With virility and vigour!"
('Awakening', Vol. 7, p. 116)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has no poem directly accepted as that of humanism but in fact man is his most valable property
and his poetry is replete with humanistic principles.
Humanism helps man realize his original greatness. It reminds man in clear terms that only through his efforts he would be able to realise his full potential, 'A man' writes Moses Hadas,"becomes a hero not by bowing to tradition but by transcending it."(Moses Hadas, 'The Living Tradition', p. 10) The question arises whether tradition as we know it can encourage man to overcome his limitations and achieve such a heroic stature. Transcending the tradition may become a necessity for such growth. It is not only to change the old model of activities but to bring into it something unprecedented thereby opening new era in human action.
When man shakes off his gloom and moves into the centre of the world gathering his original importance his attitude towards it changes. Attitudes to external authority becomes more critical.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has a reforming zeal in almost all his volumes. He tries to reform human nature in the light of humanistic principles. Not only man but also woman should move beyond her tradition to make the world beautiful as he observes. He rather feels disgusted to see the woman of our society and asks them to come out of the old order and excell to the zennith's height :
"No longer are you the
Down-trodden foot wear of man,
Not a source of pleasure and
pastime any more.
× × × ×
I simply wish to bind you
With bonds silken of eternal love!"
('Woman Reborn', Vol. 1, p. 26)
Observing from all sides it will not be an exaggeration to say that Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is a reformist poet of modern era. It will be rather better to say that he is a social reformer who has tried through poetry to reform man thereby bringing up a new age.
We have yet to discuss his style of writing.
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar has developed his independent style. Being a Hindi poet he has access to the rich symbolism and imagery of Hindi poetry of the modern era. In most cases foregrounding has been taken as a means for expressing poetic emotion. His style is largely the result of his vision and experience.
Experience comes through the senses. Emotion and thought are also two vehicles of experience. While describing things in poetry the poet has to depend on his sense impressions that he might acquire seeing different objects to evoke an emotion in the reader. As such his language becomes more sensuous than ordinary language. Representation of sense experiences through language may be roughly taken to be imagery. Poet appeals to the reader by creating a mental picture or in other words when poetry projects to the reader a clear mental picture already contained in it a sense of experience achieved. The role of mind's eye is essential here. An image may represent a sound, a smell, a taste; an internal sensation such as hunger, thirst or nausea.
Mahendra Bhatnagar in most of his poems communicates experience, not information. His lines contain images that appeal to the senses with utmost sharpness. The sharpness and vividness of his images ordinarily depend on how specific it is and what effective details it includes. Mahendra Bhatnagar's imagery is a peculiarly effective way of evoking vivid experience.
Giving a human status to idea or a concept in poetry is a frequent occurence in Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry. Another image that ascertains confidence in modern man be 'the moving invisible hand' which the poet says 'the invincible citadels, echoing the distressed cries / of the ill-fated ones!'
Man is bathed by injustice on one corner of the world and in another corner he weeps seeing the countenance of tribulations.The poet describes the ruthless act of man as his 'vulture teeth are red with the blood of teeming millions.' (As above, p. 5)
The poet's sympathy with the down-trodden multitude has surpassed all other emotions. He has drawn two powerful images to show this sympathy. 'The dormant ocean of humanity' and 'the thick walls of the exploiter's citadel' describe neatly the predicament of the down-trodden in the poem 'The Tremor of Trampling Feet.' (Vol. 2, p. 25)
Mahendra Bhatnagar's diction is remarkable. In order to depict a situation in 'What is the Secret?' he has made use of figurative language and his selection of words as well as images add to the poetic beauty . He does not give a direct description of the situation, rather brings out the effect in a better manner through poetic diction and imagery that gives an ironical touch.
"The wind is cold!
The night is still
Listless like your lips
What the matter is!
What the mystery is!
That asleep is each ripple!"
( Vol. 4, Foreword, p. 4 )
In a latter poem we can find one more image of clouds with the deep salty sea. The poet has accepted as a challenge for modern man to confront the destruction-beaconing storm with a smiling face. The clouds and the storm have knocked the doors, and man has to welcome them gladly – those who have brought the gift of pain.
Another aspect of the poet's style is alliteration and assonance that enhance the poetic beauty. Examples may be taken from his poem 'The Irony of Fate'. The collocation that the poet uses is also in alliance with his imagery :
"In the flower-beds of my heart
I caused the fragrant flowers to bloom
All, all my life
The flowers of feeling!"
('The Irony of Fate', Vol. 2, p. 51)
Besides this, 'bewitching birds', 'silken slips', 'flying free' 'vain venomous' are also the examples of alliteration in imagery.
In most of the poems we find a disappointed poet and while in the midst of such disappointment the poet invites rich images to express his emotion. Man tries to bring the sun and the moon to kill the darkness but in response to his endeavour he gets something that the poet says an error of providence :
"That the body is tightly tied
With countless snakes
And is encircled with sharp thorns;
That the persistent strokes of the gale
Give gifts of vain venomous dust!"
(As above, p. 53)
At the end of 'After Forty Poems' the poet feels as if
he has reached the dusk of life. His examples have symbolic of
decadence, as fall, an end. The end has come after a prolonged
despair. He invites 'stone' images :
"On that hillock –
Hesitatingly sprawls a massy stone
Black and nude and crude."
('The Dusk', Vol. 2, p. 67)
He mentions a 'dark soil' on which is spread a blanket that covers the one who 'sleeps', the setting sun, homebound birds of twilight etc. However at the end the poet indicates at a redamption, a regeneration, a morning with rising sun.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry of 21st. century comes up with new exuberance as a symbol of regeneration. Dryness is gone, there is rain, darkness is gone there is light, "the eager wind has started knocking the door expected, unexpected!" (Vol. 3, p.1 )
He has invited nature images to express the exuberance that he has envisioned for the new age. The butterfly is depicted as the one 'wearing pied printed sarees' and the mustard flowers are 'spring-yellow, love-mature and talkative'. Both the objects of nature 'loved abundantly' and 'danced together from field to field / The whole day long.' ('Yearnings', Vol. 3, p. 59). Spring's rejoicing time is coming forward as a symbol of regeneration and revival. The winter has also started beautifying the world instead of giving pain and suffering. The dew-drops have slowly decended through the ice-cold silence of the earth. 'The love-puppet night' has started dancing on leaves and flowers, the 'artist-mist' has constructed a canopied dwelling. ('Winter-Wet', Vol. 3, p. 61) This is how the poet has given a new mode to the age-old images of sorrows and sufferings. The wind is intoxicating waiting outside the door to take man to love and pleasure.
In the vision of the poet nothing looks more beautiful than love, more comforting than love and of course, nothig is more difficult than love. He has symbolically depicted love in
his poem 'Exuberance'. The poem leaves the reader athinking.
The words and adjectives selected for expressing the emotion are unique.
"The eager wind
Knocks the door
Far and near,
In fields, in market places
and on the cross roads
And knowingly getting trembling-wet
Is the beloved's body!
('Exuberance', Vol. 3, p. 1)
The poet has invited images from nature to support his ideas of love. What wind is referred to here? Where is it knocking? Is it the wind of nature or emotion of the beloved? The body of the beloved is getting trembling-wet. It is a positive condition as against dryness.
The touch of love is instrumental in bringing freshness to mind. Here love is the supreme knowledge. It is not lust. It is spiritual. The poet has used figurative language to show this :
"In my heart
Suddenly burst forth
Morning fresh flowers
The countless thorns
And desert bushes
Of my path!
('Touch', Vol. 3, p. 17)
The style of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is largely shaped by the linguistic choices he has made for communicating his view of realty. These choices include a variety of syntactic and lexical items. Syntactic items are concerned with sentence
types, length of sentences, kinds of clauses and phrases and
the nature of the connectives. The lexical items are concerned with the type of words chosen, frequency of their occurence and the grammatical categories preferred.
In Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry we find symmetrical or parallell constructions of sentences and types of adjectives. The poem 'Failed' may be taken as an example :
(1) The wave like / Bouncing hopes in my heart died down.
(2) That twittering branch / Of the evening / Went deaf and mute.
(3) The waiting / Sleepless / Eyes / Wept helplessly.
(4) The mourning night / Washed the whole creation / With droplets of dew.
(Vol. 3, p.19)
The poem contains four sentences of simple past pattern with four noun phrases such as 'Bouncing hopes', 'Twittering branch', 'Waiting sleepless eyes' and 'Mourning night'. Such symetry is foud in many of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poems. In his poem 'Waiting' the poet asked three questions intermittently. All of them have the same pattern :
(1) How long / Can we keep awake?
(2) How much more – / Can we bear quietly?
(3) How long / Can we tell / The story of our agony?
(Vol. 3, p. 21)
The poet has used three other sentences of almost similar pattern :
(1) The night is cold and endless –
(2) The night is wet.
(3) The shivering body / In the fog / Leaves droop,
Repitition has been used as a device to show emphasis in many of the poems. His repitition is marked by a sort of variation. In his poem 'It Has Never Happened Before' in order to describe the intensity or seriousness of words the poet uses
three constructions :
Such swift words,
Such darkness destroying words,
Such fire like piercing words."
(Vol. 3, p. 25)
Another example in the same poem is
"That they have become lame
that they have fainted
That they have cooled down!"
There is no regular rhyme scheme in any of the poems. Almost all the poems are in free verse pattern. They are in short lines with a more controlled rhythm than ordinary prose as it is usually seen in free verses. The length of the lines is also irregular and variable, as such the rhythmic effect of the poems largely depend upon repetition and variation of phrases :
"The whole day long –
In the shade
Of fresh heavy laden flowers,
In the embrace
Of greenish thorns,
In the inebriating fragrance
In the branches
Of shy innocent buds
Of long thin pods!
Swung arm in arm
With each branch, each leaf,
Swung the whole day long!"
('Yearnings', Vol. 3, p. 57)
In many poems like this we find repetition of phrase patterns and verb patterns that give a sort of musical effect to the poems thereby enhancing the poetic beauty. For example in this particular extract we find the phrases – 'In the shade', 'In the embrace', 'In the inebriating fragrance' and the verb patterns – 'Swung in the branches', 'Swung arm in arm', 'Swung the whole day long'. This process of presentation is recurrent in all the seven volumes of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's syntax consists of a series of declarative sentences in many poems with intervention of other patterns such as interrogative and exclamatory ones used to break the monotony. In many other poems he has used long complex sentences with a variety of parts of speech and in most cases they are fore grounded. A cosiderable number of his poems consist of single sentences only :
Man loves his fellow beings,
Above each division
Between the familiar and the unfamiliar
And welcomes all –
Will become true,
And the world
Will appear friendly."
('Meaningfulness', Vol. 3, p. 159)
The poem 'Meaningfulness' is a single sentence poem with several punctuation marks and one fullstop. The beginning draws the attention of the reader since it is fore grounded. A single subject 'Man' commands three verbs such as rises, forgets, welcomes and all in simple present form. The first eight lines pose a condition and the last four lines the result. The usual skill with Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is single principal clause followed by several subordinate clauses without connectives.
Another befitting example may be cited from the poem 'Suicide'. The poem consists of three stanzas all of which begin
with the phrase – 'We ourselves' followed by present progressive constructions in the first two such as 'Are destroying' and 'Are throwing hand-grenades'. In the third there is a little change as if to indicate a change in the poet's motive. The poet expresses a sort of despair that he experiences in him looking at the people of the world today. He says :
"Our hearts and mind
By the primitive and savage insanity
('Suicide', Vol. 3, p. 127)
The lucid flow of words signify a simple and unique linguistic pattern that constitutes the style of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. He is quite simple in his thought, philosophy of life that he has built and his look towards the modern generation of youngmen.
This look has greatly affected his style. A considerable number of times the poet has expressed his surprise looking at the world today. This sense of surprise has been expressed in exclamatory sentences in most of his poems.
Figurative language constitutes a major part of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's style. Metaphor and simile are two main aspects. They are both comparisons between things essentially unlike. In simile the comparison is expressed but in metaphor it is implied :
"Well thought over
Moves of chess
Begin to move
Like a defective computer,
Even the controller,
× × × ×
The vanished present
Descends from that very sequence
Like the result of an earthquake.
Like its very form as before!"
('Comparison', Vol. 7, p. 42)
Simile is quite explicit here. 'Moves of chess' itself is a symbol having certain deep connotation and it is compared to a 'defective computer' that symbolises the maddening situation of today's society. In many cases the metaphors are implied in a special way. One example may be taken from the poem 'Affection' :
"A dark cloud of tears surges
From the deep undiscovered
Pilgrimage of the heart!"
('Affection', Vol. 7, p. 4)
In the vision of the poet tears are dark clouds and heart is a pilgrimage. While explaining his vision on love the poet says any restraint on love is just like iron pillars. Metaphoric expressions are found in abundance in Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry. In his poem 'Experience' he says :
"I am a destitude of wisdom!
× × × ×
When I stood face to face
Before the truth
Hung on the cross –
I have experienced
Countless electrical shocks
( Vol. 7, p. 46)
The poet here says something and means something else.
The surface meaning is physical that connotes something mental.
His similes and metaphors remind us of poets like Tennyson, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and many others. Shakespear says in his poem 'Spring' – "merry larks are ploughmen's clocks", Tennyson in his poem 'Eagle' writes – "Clasps the crag with crooked hands' and Dickinson in her poem 'Presentiment' writes – "Presentiment is that long shadow on the lawn." Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry contains similies and metaphors in varieties of forms and situations.
Another strong divice of figurative language used in his poetry is personification – so to say – a subtype of metaphor. Human attributes are given to objects or ideas :
In the storm
('Birthday', Vol. 3, p. 13)
Here death has been given a human status. With a little deviation the poet has expressed his feeling of secret sympathy in a special situation :
"My eyes were lost in you,
The heart spread wings
To touch the sky!"
('Meeting', Vol. 3, p. 15)
Here the poet expresses the feeling of elevation by giving
the heart the wings of a bird. A similar example may be taken from his poem – 'It Has Never Happened Before' :
Do not walk on crutches
They rise in the boundless sky
For hundred of years!"
(Vol. 3. p.23)
Personification is clear from another poem – 'Moon -light' :
"Giving herself airs the moonlight approached me,
Knowing me alone, the moonlight beguiles me ever!
Slowly on the parapets comes down the moon-light,
Lovely and sweet song sings the queenly moonlight!
On my roof and tin-shade spreads the moon-light,
With my hands and face openly plays the moon-light!
Sleeps not herself nor allows others, the moonlight!
At dawn, nobody knows where flees the moonligfht!
This moon-light speaks not to me none knows why,
Fills the heart with strange nectar this moonlight!
(Vol. 1. p. 50)
The poet has expressed his high spirit on nature's bounty through moonlight and to give nature the most practical picture he has given the moonlight a human status. This proves the depth of his love for nature which he feels is always lively.
In a general sense all words are symbols. A symbol is applied to a word or a set of words that signifies an object or event which suggests a range of reference beyond itself. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has used a set of powerful symbols both conventional and innovative to beautify his poetry. In a number of cases he has exploited the preexisting and widely shared associations with an object or action. But his personal symbols are more attractive and more scrupulously used. In order to express his terrific condition – that is the condition of a modern man the poet says :
"My feet got stuck in the mire
Serpents coiled around
My neck and ankles,
I am bound by cobras
Black and venomous!"
('Lively', Vol. 7, p. 22)
Definitely the poet is not describing cobras or serpents. He wants to say something different through these traditional symbols. Serpents and cobras that too black and venomous definitely mean a tragic and terrific situation of modern man's life from which there is no hope of liberation, it is a death-situation. What mire is he refering to? Definitely it is nothing other than the deep rubbish of earthly bondage an intenser condition of the 'dirt and brownish dust' that he refers to in the previous line.
In another poem the poet describes the change in modern society :
"Iron pillars of restraint
Break and tumble down
The girders of discretion
Are swept away
Like blades of grass!"
('Violation', Vol. 7, p. 26)
Here the poet uses some personal symbols such as 'iron pillars', 'blades of grass' which mean strength and weakness respectively. He means to say that strong restrictions have dessolved or swept away like grass. The meanings of all human values have undergone drastic change.
When the poet is lamenting the past days he says :
On one day
Has to cool down!
Has to disappear
('Premonition', Vol. 7, p. 30)
The poet is definitely not describing here the geographical volcano. He means to say something else that is hot painful and that has given him great shock. He wishes it to cool down and disappear for ever. That disappearance may be the
end of his life. However 'Volcano' is a symbol here to describe
certain situation of the past days of the narrator's life.
While rediculing the situation of the followers in a victory-celebration in politics the poet gives an eye-catching example
which can be taken as a metaphor or with an implication of a
deeper meaning as a personal symbol :
"They are the herds
Of useless domestic 'goats',
Of the harmless stupid 'sheep'
draped in shawals,
Of stout wild 'boars',
And of scared and coward 'jackals'!
('Victory Celebration', Vol. 7, p. 94)
The names of the animals mentioned here represent men and connote their foolish action in a political field. The poet satirises the blind show of enthusiasm of modern man.
In several cases it is found that fore grounding has been used as a device to express poetic emotion. Fore grounding is here taken as a permissible deviation from the normal English sentence pattern especially in poetry. One example may be taken from the poem 'Reality' :
Of the path
We keep on walking!"
(Vol. 7, p. 6)
It is definitely a deviation from normal sentence pattern as if to express despair. The next stanza also is a bit fore grounded. Both the parts of the sentence look disjointed as if to indicate such life of modern man :
Spread out on far off lands
Never becomes less
Even a little."
('Reality', Vol.7, p.6)
The first part is followed by the second part without any
punctuation mark. This indicates the precarious condition of modern man's life. Thus it is observed in many poems that fore grounding has been used as a divice of interpretation of poet's emotion. Foregrounding referred to here is that is the translated pieces of poems only. In the Hindi poems the foregrounding is more attractive, more deviation from the norms of Hindi sentences.
Though a Hindi poet Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has dived deep into the world of poetic emotion as depicted in English language system. His translated poems exhibit extraordinary style. The most prominent factor in the entire collection of poetry of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is his inspiration to modern man irrespective of age towards a new age, a new rise, a new world civilization. This motive has modulated his style of writing. His poems are didactic. It is not poetry for poetry's sake. It is a type of poetry dedicated to social reform. It will not be an exaggeration to call him a modern reformist poet. His reforms pertain to social, economic and political consciousness.
GROWTH OF POET'S MIND
(His poetry at a glance)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar, one of the established Hindi poets started his poetic career in 1941 when he was at the prime of his youth. He got his first publication in 1944 and his first published poem was 'Hunkar'. The name of the poem itself indicated that 'Exuberance and regeneration' would be the all time theme of his poetic life and today at the dusk of his life we observe still finer poetry, finer thought is generating from this poet's mind but with the same theme. Thus it can be said that he is a poet of exuberance and regeneration.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is the man who has survived the horrible tribulations of Second World War as well as the struggle for freedom of India. His poetic life continued for more than half a century reflecting all the rapid changes of the modern world. Introduction of English in Indian system of education, social and economic reforms brought forward by British rule, industrial revolution are regarded as the formative influences of his poetry.
His poetry is not for poetry's sake, it is for the sake of society, education, humanism and rise of the common man to the level of super human. His career as a poet has a thorough development and the growth of his mind as a poet is quite natural and spontaneous. He was not influenced by any celebrated poet or literary personality for writing poetry. Somewhere his poetry may be spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, like the Wordsworthian concept and somewhere it is intellect and emotion yoked together like metaphysical poetry. Be what it may at least one thing is clear that Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar had a close watch on the social, economic, moral, cultural and religious aspect of man and his perseverance was for an all round change of man. He beckoned man towards a new age.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetic genius flowed spon taneously at an extraordinary tender age and his poetry was so popular that most of his poems were translated into English. The first translated volume is 'FORTY POEMS'. The translator & editor L.S. Sharma observes that, "His is an important and well known name among progressive Hindi poets. 'Hunkar' is his first published poem which graced the March 1944 issue of 'Vishal Bharat' (Calcutta) and after that his prolific pen poured poems after poems in an endless chain." ('Forty Poems', Editor's Note, p.8.)
The first poem of the first translated volume begins with a brave statement that shows the depth of poetic genius in him :
"The man lives on
By the cravings of love!"
('Lust For Life', Vol. 1, p. 14)
The line has been repeated four times in the poem. Unlike many other poets Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar does not have an immatural mind in any of his poems at the first stage. He flourished in a time when the world had just left behind the horrors of war and entered in an era of religious conflict on one side and being devoured by so called modernity - sexual perversity, religious barrenness on the other. From the beginning his motive was a reform of human character. He has poured out his despair in this poem :
"The death's orchestra plays on,
The mango-groves once jubilant and gay
Are silent and deserted now;"
(('Lust For Life', Vol. 1, p. 14)
His poetry has thus generated from a conflict between faith and doubt with a covering of ornamental language that shows his poetic genius. A large number of his poems are on human attributes such as conviction, betrayal, day-dreaming, grievance, suffering, dilemma, lust for life, peace and numerous other topics related to human character. His language has a straight growth towards simplicity. Nowhere it suffers from obscurity though a sharp development in authenticity of the language is marked in his later poetry. It is observed that at an earlier stage the poet was more fond of figurative language replete with numerous similes and metaphors. As the poetic mind developed with time his language became simpler, sweeter and more meaningful with a finer lucidity. The second translated volume 'AFTER FORTY POEMS' exhibited almost the same style, same maturity of mind and a similar type of theme. After a gap of a score of years again appeared five consecutive volumes which can be regarded as the poetry of 20th century - in 2001 'EXUBERANCE and other poems', in 2002 'DR.. MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR'S POETRY' and 'DEATH-PERCEPTION : LIFE-PERCEPTION' — which exhibit other facets of poetic values.
The volume 'Exuberance and other poems' sswhich include poems from four of his original Hindi volumes reflect the personality of the poet, his mental strength and the milieu in which he is creating. As Prof. Prakash Chandra Gupta (Professor of English : Allahabad University & well-known progressive critic of Hindi) observes, "he writes of the beauty of nature,s of love and hate, of joy and sorrow, he writes with zest and a feeling of exaltation. His poetry has both strength and beauty." In his early poetry no doubt there is wonderful richness of thought and language. His poem 'Reap The Paddy' reminds us of the pastural beauty and gladness of harvesting season referred to in Keats's 'Ode to Autumn' and no doubt Shelley's 'West wind' has an echo in his poem 'O Wind'. The difference is that Mahendra Bhatnagar is extremely positive minded and he has a very simple style and expression – as such far away from any obscurity. The raising of dust is so fierce and shaking of the boughs is so terrible in Shelley's 'West Wind' but those in Mahendra Bhatnagar is so vigorous and yet mild. This shows the bent of poet's mind towards nature.
The superior status of diction of early poetry has changed in many ways. It seems as if the stormy wind that blew in poet's mind for reforming the society has become calm and composed gathering strength and confidence in his later poetry. A cossummate blending of scholarship and poetic genius is marked. It is the symptom of rapid growth of poet's mind towards maturity. His latest two volumes (published in 2005) 'POEMS : FOR A BETTER WORLD' and 'PASSION and COMPASSION' show a kind of triumph of language and art which is different from that in the poems he had composed in his earlier days. His picturesque depiction of scenes and situations has developed into an artistic presentation of images and symbols.
In all the seven volumes Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has composed six poems directly with the title 'Life'. 'Life Today' – vol.1, 'Life' – vol.2, 'Life' – vol. 3, 'Life' – vol.4, 'Philosophy of Life' vol.5 and 'Lively' vol.7. His vision on life has undergone a thorough change through these seven volumes and that indicates the growth of poet's mind.
In the first volume he writes :
"The smile of life has withered away
And dark clouds shroud the moon!"
× × × × ×
So much has life been crippled,
It falls and staggers paralysed!"
('Life Today', Vol. 1, p. 76)
The poem was composed in a post war world (1955) when the poet's mind was ransacked by the horrors of religious fanaticism, sexual perversity, moral barrenness, economic bankruptcy and the like that were pervading in the society. The poet was bubbling with energy and exuberance – at the age of thirty. His hopes met the world wide despair.
The next poem in vol. 2 that came up a few years later shows that the poet's thought was moving rapidly towards consummation, the seriousness of lamentation has decreased. Compared to the first poem it is seen that hope has started rising :
"It falls and staggers paralysed!"
(Vol. 1, p. 76)
"Yet I live
On the bed of fire!"
('Life', Vol. 2, p. 37)
A good many metaphors the poet has set for life and in all cases certain positive sense is hinted at. Out of despair here emerge hopes and wishes that seem never to diminish in the sands of time.
In the third volume life has changed its shape. The poet was then a well established adult with all fulfillment, peace. prosperity, dignity and social respect. Positive thinking is well on its healthy ways. The poetic vision is prepared to face all eventuality. Time has furnished in man such strength :
"Each arrived moment
Holding my hand rises the day
Riding on my shoulders
Grows the day,
Out of my mind
A new piece of writing
Is shaped by the day
× × ×
The unconquered, ceaseless battle
Before me bows
Each approaching moment
('Life', Vol.3, p. 45)
Despair has gone far behind. There is no more lamenting. Humanistic Will is at its height.
Shifting over to volume – 4 we find a poem under the same caption 'Life' expressing a completely positive view as if a new age has started, a new star has risen, hopes and wishes are no more dry. The poet's philosophy of life is yet to be formed :
Like a Harsingar flower
That blooms today
Shall tomorrow shed!
× × × ×
On glowing milky smile,
Be there no restraint
Being played on breath-veena!"
('Life', Vol. 4, p.15)
The poet laments the shortness of life. This shows that he has started loving life on earth giving more and more value to it. Life is no more painful. After undergoing pains, sufferings, austerities, avowed activities the poet has gained success in his life. He has gained dignity and maturity of mind. Certain authentic idea about life has formed in him. A philosophy of life has developed in vol. 5 that has got its expression in the poem 'The Philosophy of Life'. It is in 2002 that the poet has formed this philosophy. He is in his dusk of life. Evening is yet to come. The growth of the poet's mind is parallel with his growth in other aspects of life :
"External motion –
Internal motion –
The transporter of life motion
Ceaseless controller –
as long as
life is in flux
History will be created by
Never there be catastrophe;
Life ever be full of melody,
Every particle be in motion
To fuse is
To lose internal motion!"
('The Philosophy of Life', Vol. 5, p. 34)
Through his vision and experience he has got his ideas strengthened. It is no more changing, it is no more fluctuating or flickering. It has gained the strength of an undisturbed flame of candle giving light straight away. He has identified certain internal motion in man that he says to be the main igredient of life.
In the recent days poet Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar who has already spent a major part of his life so to say the entire life is observing life beyond the decay of the corporeal frame. He has attained a point of realisation. He has realised his self and its indomitable strength. Through his remembrance he revisits his past days and is conscious that life is not an easy game. It is an avowed activity Sadhana through and through. Not a single moment is to be wasted. Bubling with experience in his realised moments the poet has paved the path of progress for the modern youth. What he says through the most matured language and thought of his latest volume 'Passion and Compassion' constirnates the heart of modern youth and crowns all his philosophy. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is felt to be a winner of time, a victorious soldier in the battle of life :
"I was awake throughout nights
I was awake throughout days
Iwas awake throughout my life
I stay on
Wrapping up my body
With much dirt and brownish dust!
× × × × ×
My feet got stuck in the mire
Serpents coiled around
My neck and ankles,
I am bound by cobras
Black and venomous!
I stay on
Spreading fire on my bed!
Shooting out flames of fire
Keeping it ablaze!"
('Lively', Vol. 7, p. 22)
Figurative language is at its height. The poet's mind is quite matured. He wants to live. He is a representative of modern man who is burning every moment in the reality of life and still staying on. This is his message for the new age. This is his passion for life and compassion for the living beings :
When I saw you –
I want to drink
A bit of poison!
In this life
Brimming with bitterness!
I want to live further!"
('Willing to Live', Vol. 7, p.68)
Time has played a vital role in the life of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar and time proceeds leaving him a victorious man, no more a tragic protagonist. The growth of poet's mind is from a tragic protagonist to an immortal hero, from lament- ation to assurance for life, from despair to hope.
Poetry of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is an account of human mind for not less than half a century. His response to the questions of modern man has become quite befitting. Still his avowed activity of writing poetry is on progress. The poet's immortal pen still beckons the future, goads modern man towards life's realty. His nectar-sweet words have an internal appeal for the modern youth. His last lines of the last voume have appeared like a decree that stands erect beyond time and space :
"It is the man
Who can face
('Attribute', Vol. 7, p. 148)
And that is the best human attribute. Will it be exaggerated for us to take the poet as a progressive humanist of the new age?
Of the path
We keep on walking!
× × ×
We keep on deceiving death!
At each and every step
How can one find his goals?
There are only heaps of pebbles,
Where are pearls?"
('Reality', Vol. 7, p. 6)
These lines make us believe that the poet is a realist. He believes in things witnessed by him. His voice is full of sympathy with the human beings. It is appealing to the reader. The poet's study of man is impartial and meticulous. Like Sri Aurobindo the Indian yogi philosopher and poet Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has an ideal view on man which is natural and realistic. Man is a helpless serf in the hands of nature and his fate. Sri Aurobindo's views have an echo in Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar :
"I am the Man of Sorrows, I am he
who nailed on the wide cross of the universe;
× × × × × ×
I am man the rebel, man the helpless serf;
Fate and my fellowmen cheat me of my wage.
× × × × × ×
I am the victim of titanic ills,
I am the doer of denoniac deeds.
× × × × × ×
I am the seeker who can never find
I am the fighter who can never win.
(Sri Aurobindo, 'Savitri', 1993, p. 505-07)
Thus the eternal toil and effort without success has been shown as the attributes of this man of sorrows. On the contrary the same man has been described in a positive way :
"I fear not for the angry frown of Heaven
I flinch not from the red assault of Hell.
× × × × × ×
I am the battle's head, the journey's star.
(Sri Aurobindo, 'Savitri', 1993, p. 509)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's concept of man is an expression of his normal humanistic potential. Another highly appreciable view on man in English literature lies with R.W. Emerson – American poet philosopher. His man is a divine man like that of Sri Aurobindo. Emersonian concept has also been echoed in poet Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. "A man has to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if everything were tifular, ephemeral but him. (Emerson – 'Self Reliance', 1926, p. 77) Man is timid and apologetic no longer upright; he dares not say 'I think', 'I am', but quotes some saint or sage. He is ashamed before the blade of grass or the blowing rose." (Emerson – 'Self Reliance', 1926, p. 88). Emerson has here rightly judged the predicament of modern man. Almost a century after Emerson Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has studied man in a parallel way. Emerson has further idealised man as a part of God associating him with nature :
"I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the universal being circulate through me; I am a part or
parcel of God."
(Emerson – 'Nature', p.13).
Similar thoughts have also risen in Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's minute study of human predicament has paved the way of reform in modern man. His poetry instigates man to asertain the humanistic will in him
and to be indomitable in his progress.
The man in this century has undergone a lot of pain to save his existence. Love is the base on which existence stands, life progresses, death is overthrown. In a way love provides power for regeneration. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has spared his pen to generate in man the love – may it be love for self, love for soul, love for man, mankind or mother land, it makes man's living worthy and peaceful. The thought of Francis Bacon on love has echoes in the poetry of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. Bacon says that love is a great power that can rush to anybody's heart. Love can find entrance not only into an open heart but also into a heart well fortified, if watch be not well kept. There is in man's nature a secret inclination and motion towards love of others. It makes man human and charitable. Here comes the appeal of poet Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar to mankind through love. Keatsian concept of love as oneness or a fellowship with essence is also reflected in his poetry. Thus he says that love brings regeneration and then life grows.
With regards to faith and optimism Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar looks self-contradictory at various situation. In some of his poems he seems to be bubbling with optimistic appeals to the mankind and in some others of the same period the poet laments the death of faith and confidence in man and loses faith himself in regeneration. In most cases he cannot rely on man. For a long time he looks undecisive in his thoughts. He has tried all the time to attach a higher meaning to human life.
Modern faith is liberalism according to which men need no authoritative code of values to guide or discipline them; they are happiest when left most completely free for self-expression. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar wants man to have self expression and self confidence. He has seen man vanquished
in his bitter struggle for life but still he does not lose faith. Man knows he is defeated but still he wants to win again, to
get up again, to live again and not to die :
"Treat your defeat
As a prior intimation to your victory,
Treat the darkness
As the background of Sunrise!
Let this dam faith
Shall not crack!
Let this dream of new age
Shall not break
Let this thread of feeling
Shall not be loosened!
('Vision', Vol. 7, p. 108)
The Bible says :
"It is better to go to a home where there is mourning than to one where there is a party, because the living should always remind themselves that death is waiting for us all. Sorrow is better than laughter; it may sadden your face, but it sharpens your understanding." (The Bible, Good News Edition, p. 653)
In Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's view man's heart is hardened due to frequent attack of calamities both natural and man- :made. In such a situation he has to find positive aspect of everything, he has to learn to play with fire and live with dangers. The Biblical current of thought at several instances look parallel to his thought. Time and again the poet has made man conscious of this sense. In his poem 'Sing' he says :
"Breath is overcast with helplessness suffocation,
Smouldering is life smarting-burning fed,
Full of poisonous dense-dust particles
Is sky of man's wishes,
Sing, so that suffering a music became!
Sing, so that life a lyric became!
('Sing', Vol. 4, p. 35)
This is, of course how the poet guides man towards an elevation through values. Man's strength, power, tolerance, fellow-feeling and other values that make him a true man and enable him to create a society worthy of him. The poet does not want to lift man to the God or the Supernatural or the Supreme Unknown. He has just tried to lift him from the lower nature and to make him stand on his own feet to think his own thoughts to eat his own grains and to speak his own words, not to imitate. Thus the poet in his attempt to make man transcend, has become a true humanist for whom man is the most valuable property and who supports not Arjun – supported by the supreme powers, all the time assisted by superiors – but Karna who stands by dint of his merit. Now the vital question – "can humanism fulfil the spiritual need of man?" – is automatically answered.
We have come to conclude our study of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar as a man and a poet. I agree with all his critics to say that he is a progressive poet of modern times. Besides, he is a humanist, a reformist, a teacher and preacher of human creed with an unique and innovative style.
Works Cited / References
Primary Materials :
1 Bhatnagar, Mahendra, Trans. Amir Mohammad Khan, L. S. Sharma / 'Forty Poems' / S. Chand & Co., New Delhi / 1968.
2 Bhatnagar, Mahendra, Trans. Dr. R.S. Singh Yadav, Vareendra Kumar Varma, Amir Mohammad Khan / 'After Forty Poems' / S. Chand & Co., New Delhi / 1979.
3 Bhatnagar, Mahendra, Trans. Dr. Ravi Nandan Sinha / 'Exuberance and other poems' / Indian Publishers Distributors, Delhi / 2001.
4 Bhatnagar, Mahendra, Trans. Dr. H. C. Gupta / 'Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's Poetry' / Indian Publishers Distributors, Delhi / 2002.
5 Bhatnagar, Mahendra, Trans. Dr. D, C. Chambial / 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception' / Indian Publishers Distributors, Delhi / 2002.
6 Bhatnagar, Mahendra, Trans. Kedar Nath Sharma / 'Poems : For A Better World' / Sarthak Prakashan, New Delhi / 2005.
7 Bhatnagar, Mahendra, Trans. / Dr. P. Adeshwar Rao / 'Passion and Compassion' / Indian Publishers Distributors, Delhi / 2005.
Secondary Materials :
8 Aurobindo Sri, 'Savitri', Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1993
9 Aurobindo Sri, 'The Life Divine', Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1993
10 Emerson, R.W., 'Emerson's Essays and Poems', Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Introd., New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926
11 Bible, The. Good New Edition, Today's Eng. Verson, Bangalore : The Bible Society of India, 1997-98.
12 Hadas, Moses. 'The Living Tradition'. N.P. : The New American Library, 1967
13 Lahiri, J. & A.L.,Ganguli, Ed. 'Bacon's Essays', : Educational Publishers, Agra.
14 Whitman, Walt.,'Leaves of Grass', Ed. S. K. Kumar, New Delhi : Eurasia Publishing House, 1962.
15 Shelley, P.B., Ode to West Wind (poem)
16 Dwivedy, Dr. B. C., 'Towards a Definition of Humanism', (Unpublished Dissertation) 2001
17 Sharma, Dr. R. S. – Book Review : 'The Quest', June 2002, p. 94.
18 Perrine, Laurence., 'Sound and Sense', New York : Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.
19 Shakespeare, W. Drama – 'Hamlet'.
20 Albert, Edward – 'History of English Literature.'