FOREWORD AND PREFACE TO KAVITHANJALI AND A FEW EXTRACTS OF POEMS
Latest (sixth) Tamil Poem collections of Ya.Su.Rajan
brought out by
Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy (SASTRA) Deemed University
Thanjavur-613402, Tamil Nadu
It was presented to H.E. President of India by the Vice Chancellor, SASTRA Prof. R Sethuraman on 31st March 2006 at Rashtrapati Bhavan
English translation of Foreword, parts of Preface, three poems and also copies of a prepared talks for the presentation ceremony are attached herewith
By Prof. R.Sethuraman
I am extremely happy to write a Foreword to ‘Kavithanjali’, an anthology of devotional poems indited by Y.S.Rajan, the Tamil Poet from the world of Science. I consider it an honour to have had the opportunity to be closely acquainted with him for over 10 years now. Whenever I had occasion to meet with the Rashtrapathiji, I had the good fortune to know intimately Dr. Rajan, one of the important members of the celebrated team of scientists working under Dr.Kalam’s captaincy.
Dr.Y.S.Rajan, I am proud to say, is a cherished friend, well-wisher and adviser of SASTRA University. The whole of India knows the dedicated work Dr. Rajan is doing in close association with Dr.Kalam in all the indispensable and paramount nation- building activities such as Space Engineering, Science and Technology, Economic Planning and Human Resources Development. The outstanding book ‘India Vision 2020’ which Rajan has published jointly with our President is indeed a brilliant blueprint and vision-statement for India’s future.
‘Kavithanjali’, the collection of Tamil poems by Rajan charged with divine fervour, reveals Dr.Rajan as a good Tamil poet also.
I am immensely pleased that this book comes out as a publication of SASTRA University.
I pray that God may bless Dr.Rajan with long life and health, to continue his invaluable service to the nation as a Scientist and Technologist and as a Poet and Writer.
R.Sethuraman, SASTRA, Thanjavur
When I began to write a Preface to Dr. Y.S.Rajan’s 'Kavithanjali' collection, almost the first thing that came to my mind were the following lines from Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharati’s well-known poem 'Vinayakar Nanmanimalai'
" O mind, perform these three for me:
Poetry is our profession and too, labouring for
The Nation’s weal and not to rest for even a wink;
Let the Lord God of the Hosts, Ganapathi
Make our line prosperous."
What a happy coincidence! Bharati’s wife Chellammal hails from my village Kadayam in Tiruneveli district, which is also the native district of Rajan.
Hence it is that when our learned Vice Chancellor Prof. Sethuraman bade me do the needful to bring out 'Kavithanjali' as a SASTRA publication, I was doubly happy to do so. I first met Dr.Rajan as the Principal Secretary of the then Principal Scientific Advisor of the Prime Minister, Dr. Abdul Kalam, when he had visited Shanmugha Engineering College a few years ago. When he knew that an English professor was a Bharati devotee and English translator, he took me to his heart and our friendship grew by leaps and bounds. I was drawn by his poetic output in sincere, simple diction such as Nenjaga Malargal (Blossoms from the Bosom), Vatratha Ootrukkal (Perennial Springs), Marakkatha Thedalgal (Unforgettable Quests), and Azhiyatha Uyirgal (Deathless Lives). Our association became closer with subsequent meetings, as when he accompanied President Dr. Abdul Kalam for the inauguration of the Srinivasa Ramanujan Centre, of SASTRA in 2003, our friendship took on a new dimension as master and disciple.
The poet and the scientist
At the peak of their achievement, both the scientist and the artist-poet have the same aesthetic joy. At the point of culmination of their individual experience both of them perceive the Beauty of Truth and the Truth in Beauty. When an Archimedes or a Galileo succeed in their quest, there is the same supreme satisfaction, sense of wonder, aesthetic pleasure even like a great poet or any other kind of artist, while completing their work. When scientific geniuses like Einstein or Heisenberg succeed in their discoveries, the soul satisfaction experienced by them at that scintilla of time is one of aesthetic pleasure. Divine awareness, God apprehension, poetic pleasure, consciousness of supreme truth, all of them belong to the same, rare supra-human experience. Therefore when a scientist like Rajan, Rajan the technologist, writes poems with a divine fervour, he attains the same aesthetic pleasure.
In Rajan we find a rare fusion of true wisdom, science, poetic insight and divine ardour inextricably intertwined with one another. In this anthology, we see not only Rajan the scientist but also Rajan the seeker of after true knowledge, Rajan the dreamer and the social thinker, Rajan the devout singer of songs of the Divine, Rajan the planner and Rajan the patriot. It was Einstein who said once that it is the scientist who is closer to God for he is ever in quest of truth and God is Truth.
All the dreams which our poet-president Dr. Kalam and Rajan dreamt in their INDIA 2020 are echoed in Kavithanjali. Rajan treading the path chalked out by Bharati does not stop with the dream that the poorest of the poor in the country should attain prosperity. We see in Rajan, the humanist, his passion for raising the standard of living of the common man by developing science, technology, space engineering, economics and agriculture for the service of all people in the country. Through his planning, work, technical expertise, social service and development of human resources and writings, Rajan, the patriot has been tirelessly working to make Bharati’s dream a reality.
We rarely see a scientist or a technologist writing poetry. A poet writes only poems conveying the messages through his fine frenzy and dreams. It is therefore something of a marvel when we see noble thoughts, practical wisdom, executive expertise and poetic talent clamouring for release and expression within the same individual. Such men are rare to come by, who think for others’ weal, draw plans for the nation’s prosperity and also succeed in executing their plans. Rajan belongs to this exclusive club of thinkers, planners, men of action, dreamers and poets.
Bharati and Rajan
Even like Bharati who sang always about the prosperity of people of the country and the world at large, Rajan in his poems prays to his patron deities for the commonweal. Like Bharati too, he uses the diction of everyday speech, a revolution which Wordsworth made in English poetry two centuries ago in England.
Both Rajan and his mentor Dr. Kalam believe that the country will become prosperous and great if the individual develops himself. In the upgradation of the individual as the unit of society, lies the elevation of the nation.
Rajan’s religious fervour and humanitarian culture
All the deities in the Hindu pantheon, besides Jesus and Mary and also the Buddha, appear in their individual virtues and glory in different poems. He wants Muruga to make his spear a pen in his hand to write with. In the poem entitled 'The Grace of Shiva', even like Bharati, Rajan implores thus:
" By the Grace of Shiva’s feet
Let pettiness and meanness vanish from the world:
May the evil effects of the past be burnt away:
May the Earth become luxuriant with plenteous crops:
May love blossom everywhere;
May good deeds proliferate
I shall try my best to perform tapas
For the good of all the people on earth;
This I pray to Shiva:
O mind, help me attain this
For I am in need of this facility."
The poet’s style is free from any false pretensions. The sincerity and passion bubble forth in simple words of everyday speech. In one of his poems, he addresses the Vedas as the Great Mother and prays to her thus:
" May the immaculate white lotus
Blossom soon in the mire of my mind."
In the poem on Prakriti, Rajan, the scientist and Rajan, the devout worshipper merge the earth, all living things, animate and inanimate objects, the stars, the heavenly bodies, all the universes in space are seen by him as part of the primal material source of creation (Moola prakriti) and at the same time as manifestations of Goddess Parvathi, Shakthi, Kali, and Bhavani.
The devotional lyrics of Rajan with their simple and limpid poetic expression, reveal his intense patriotism, clear vision, deep insight, noble humanitarianism, his thirst for knowledge, commitment to intense socio-economic awareness and his passionate longing for making the India of Bharati’s dream a reality. He sends out a clarion call to the youth of the country, even like his hero Dr. Kalam, to put forth their best by striving hard for making India a great power. We can very well say that Gandhiji’s taraka mantra " Humanity is my soul and social service my religion ", has been adopted by Rajan as his article of faith and theme statement.
As an old Professor of English, as a literary critic and as a lover of Bharati, I have great pleasure in blessing the scientist-poet, Dr. Y.S. Rajan thus:
" May you live long, continuing your good work through poetry !
May the dream of Bharati become a reality
Through your passionate outpourings in pellucid Tamil !
May your endeavours be crowned with success,
By the Grace Abounding of the God Above!"
Prof. K. G. Seshadri,
Dean, Humanities and Sciences,
22. Mother Nature
O Mother Earth
O revolving planets
O scintillating stars
O myriads of heavenly bodies
Shining in the milky way
O all things moving and unmoving:
O infinite embryos in the womb of Mother Nature:
O numberless lives flourishing on earth
O inanimate objects without life
O Nature manifesting out of the great void
In various forms and aspects!
O primordial Prakriti !
You are our mother
Engendering us, fostering us, rearing us !
O life giving Alma Mater, bountiful mother !
In infinite forms and names
As Goddess Parvathi, as Rajarajeswari
As Kali, Bhavani or Adi Sakthi,
Sakthi that is eternal
Ever present and everywhere present :
You are within me :
Awaken me and make me conscious
Of your presence within me
Mother mine, O, Goddess Mahashakthi !
34. The Burden of Mother
O Mother !
I do not need the burdens you’ve given me !
Aren’t you the one
Who created the world ?
This Bharat is your tireless creation ;
The people herein are your children :
They are your atoms,
And I in their midst
Form a part of them all.
You gave me the impulse
To work for others’ prosperity and happiness.
What did you do, mother,
To Bharati who wrote :
You’ve created me as one with intellect bright ;
Won’t you give me the strength to live,
Such that I benefit this land ?
You gave him clear intellect, deep insight
Felicity to write verses sweet in Tamil.
But I think he inly suffered much pain :
What do you say, mother, to my charge ?
I do not have his strength of mind
Nor do I have his blazing intellect.
A little science, some technology,
A bit of economics, something of commerce -
You gave me a capacity to envision
All these as parts of one whole :
You gave me the power to ignite in others
Their latent potential for action good.
You caused the birth of great institutions in the land
And made them well-established.
I have become tired and weary,
Doing the same thing over again,
Like a lean bullock
Going round and round the oil press :
In fact there is no one even to separate,
The oil from the oil cake !
All the tricks I adopted
To keep my mind steady
Telling myself : The sun is revolving ;
The earth is revolving and so do the electrons:
Why don’t you also revolve ?
Turning and turning
I have lost my self in weariness and fatigue.
You know well that the burden
You have placed on me
Is pressing down on me.
But you came close to Ramakrishna
And showed him your life-breath
Coming out of your statue.
You may say that he suffered
Not a little :
Yes, before him I am but a mouse;
But it is you who created me along with him !
O Mother, enough of the burdens,
You have made me bear :
Keep me by your side
And put me to sleep.
40. Song of a Little Boy
O Lord Jesus !
My shoulders have no power
To carry crosses ;
No strength in my mind,
No brightness in my intellect :
However some of your teachings
Come to my mind :
Love of mankind
And service to people.
I try hard for the ideas
To blossom fully in my mind.
For it’s you who protects me
From the undesirable passions-
Such as greed for money,
Envy of others
Desire for power
And fanatical hatred.
For this I bow in gratitude,
To the Father in Heaven
And to you Holy Mother Mary !
By bearing the divine child
And rearing him up
And then losing him,
You have made the world fruitful and fertile !
Bless this little boy too,
As your own child,
O Mother mine !
Humanities and Sciences
Aldous Huxley speaks of pontifex maximus, makers of bridges who build bridges between the material and the spiritual, between the human and the divine.
The literary man’s function today is to build bridges between art and science (scientific humanism ' SASTRA ' Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology and Research Academy). The literary man has to connect objectively, observed facts and immediate experience. Wordsworth in his ‘Preface to the Lyrical Ballads’ says ‘the remotest discoveries of the chemist, the botanist etc will become for the poet a suitable subject matter on condition that they become interesting to human beings at large. Facts of science cannot become suitable material for poetry and literary art in general until they become emotionally tinged and involve us as persons.
Hotspur in ‘Henry IV’ by Shakespeare says:
‘But thought is the slave of live and life time’s fool
And time that takes survey of all the world must have a stop.
1. We can’t think absolutely without being involved as physiological beings as living men on the planet.
2. The passing of time undermines everything and produces constant change.
3. Time must have a stop in the timeless and eternal world
4. There is a religious, spiritual side to life. There will be three words then.
1. The world of abstraction and concepts
2. The world of the immediate experience and objective observation
3. The world of spiritual insight
These three must be brought together in integration.
"Specialised knowledge is a series of organised celibacies." The different subjects live in their separate monastic cells apart from one another and simply do not enter into marriage to produce children, they ought to produce. The problem is to try to arrange marriages between the various subjects in the hope of producing valuable progeny. Differenet departments of knowledge have to be brought together from their isolation. The parody the Bible, one can say :
"That which nature has brought together
let no man put asunder".
Let not the arbitrary academic division into subjects tear apart the closely knit web of reality and turn it into nonsense. However, specialization is essential for penetrating deep into certain aspects of reality. But carried too far, it can become fatal.
We have to discover some way of making the best of the worlds - of the highly specialized world of objective observation and intellectual abstraction and what may be called the married world of immediate experience in which nothing can be separated. We must have both objective knowledge of the outer world and subjective experience.
The humility of the scientist in the fact of fact and observation is of tremendous importance from an ethical point of view (of. Newton).
The great value of science is to lessen human want and human suffering. But mere knowledge without love can be profoundly corrupt and even evil.
Huxley believes that somehow bridges must be built between facts and values. The most important sociological factor of modern times is the growth of technology and the technicization of every aspect of human life.
Every time a new concept is proved or an innovation is made, there is a spurt of job which is equal to the joy of creation, the joy of conquest. The thrill of meeting a challenge and the euphoria after achievement are common to both science and technology on the one hand and poetry on the other.
The humanist and scientist, both have the same goal i.e. the search for truth. The scientist is concerned with facts while the humanist, a seer, a rishi, a poet or a musician arrive at the truth by a process of sublimation. The seer and the visionary ‘through intense tapas, through a mystical tremendum’ in the words of Dr K R S, 'see into the life of things'.
The right combination or fusion for a modern man can only be Scientific Humanism. We are proud in India today that we have a scientific - humanist as our Rashtrapathi to lead the country.
Let me now speak of Rajan, the Poet-humanist. The Poet sees beauty in nature, life and things around him as the Truth. The Scientist seeks Truth in fact; he uncovers a pattern, a symmetry or a design in his work as Fidtjof Capra would see, in his Tao of Physics. A Michaelangelo, essentially a sculptor in marble, could be a painter as well as a writer of Italian sonnets. The motivations of a scientist and a poet are perhaps similar. The Scientist probes for the truth behind facts while an artist beholds the truth underlying beauty. Perhaps this is what Keats meant when he wrote his famous lines:
'Beauty is truth’ truth beauty, -- that all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
That is perhaps why a Chandrasekar could speak in the same breath about Shakespeare, Newton, Beethoven or pattern of creativity in his Nora and Edward Rearson Lecture in the Chicago University in 1925. There is a perfection of pattern in Shakespeare’s development from first to last which no other dramatist has ever approached. In the case of Beethoven one finds the same kind of brilliant perfection in his great sonates, every work being greater than its predecessors in the previous period. In the case of Newton also his mathematical genuis once aroused, continued to scale greater heights, but in the case of Newton we have an example of humility unrivalled by any other genius.
Says Sir Isaac Newton :
I do not know what I may appear to the world,
But to myself I seem to have been only like a
Boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting
Myself in now and then finding a smoother
Pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst
The great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
G H Hardy’s essay 'A Mathematician’s Apology' is described as the most beautiful statement of the creative mind ever written or ever likely to be written, says C P Snow. A Ramanujan or a Christopher Marlowe or a Galois or a Shelley or a Keats are examples of such inheritors of unfulfilled renown in the field of Science and Humanities. All of them were practitioners of genius, of the same height of the twin-peaks of arts and science. It was Kepler who said 'Mathematics is the Archetype of the Beautiful'. David Herbert compares science to 'a flowering garden delectable to the eyes' Keplerr spoke of the harmonious concord of the different planetary orbits as 'the music of the spheres'.
There is a profound connection between the Intelligent and Intellectual and the Beautiful and the Good. Shelley’s great poem is aptly titled 'Hymn to Intellectual Beauty'. Chandrasekar quotes the example of the reaction of a great Scientist to this aspect of beauty at the moment of revelation of a great truth, that is, Heisenberg’s description of the state of his feelings when he found the key and opened the door to all the subsequent developments in the Quantum Theory in 1925. A scientist like Heisenberg or Chandrasekar or even Srinivasa Ramanujan have a sense of 'shuddering and shivering' before the Beautiful during the course of their encouter in the mysterious mazes of the number, or the atom or the energy principles or the mathematical structures. To them beauty is that to which the human mind responds at its deepest and most profound. A Latin goes thus :
'Pulchritudeo splendor veritatis'
His Excellence has graciously found time
To receive the first copy
Of this offering of devotional hymns
Indited by Dr Y S Rajan
Like himself, a poet and a dreamer
And a planner, a scientist and a patriot
A pontifex, a maker of bridges
Between the material and the spiritual
Between the human and the divine
Between science and humanities.
The great value of science is to lessen
Human want and human suffering
Aldous Huxley believes that
Bridges facts and values.
The right combination therefore
For a modern man, can only be
A fusion between Science & Technology
On the one hand
And Humanities and ethical imperatives
On the other
We are proud today
That we have a great scientific humanist
To lead our country
And poets and writers like Dr Rajan
Whose work reflects the spirit
Of scientific humanism
Prof K G Seshadri
TALK BY Y.S.RAJAN
Amongst the many good fortunes, God Mother has blessed me with it is a very great fortune to be having the affection and blessings from you, for my family and me. Most people knew you as the conqueror of outer space through launch vehicles, missiles and for enabling systems capable of brightness more than thousand suns. But you r inner space is much most vaster and grander with million suns, - I had the good fortunes of a far glimpses much earlier and now the world sees some parts of it. Starting from my first poetry collection 'Nenjaga Malargal' (Blossoms from Bosom) for which you wrote the foreword, 'Kavithanjali' is the sixth one - having a special fortune of coming into the Rashtrapati Bhawan to be received by excellency.
I often think of my Mahaguru Subramania Bharathiar having to run around to print his writings / poems during 1900’s. I, who is far less in stature, am fortunate to have a magnanimous souls in Prof. Sethuraman, Vice Chancellor in making Kavithanjali to come out so well. His contributions to high quality education and skills and continued support of scholarly activities is a great service to the nation, its people and culture. Then, of course, my Guru who has seen all through my Tamil & English Poems inspired me to rise up to a level to make Kavithanjali a sizable book. I pray for his long life to finish printing of English Kambaramayan and present the six volumes to you.
I am looking forward to a day when Dr.Selvanethy brings out a full series of Kavithanjali in CD form in his melodious voice sweetened by inner beauty.
All of you have come here to bless this occasion and to inspire me further. God comes through people.
Thank you all.