- VISION, MISSION, TRUTH AND HUMANISM - PILLARS OF Y S RAJAN’S POETRY
By: Dr. Shujaat Hussain
Writing about Y S Rajan is a delightful task. His bushy beard and Samsonean hair bear miraculous strength that ignite spark in the realm of his poetry. It provides pulpit to view Indian culture, people and their activities in depth that fascinates and enthralls the readers. Poems’ progress with virility and amazing illustration of crumbs produce vision to enlighten, inspire to have a mission, truth to adhere in every condition, cultivate selfless patriotic attitude, irrigate uncanny humanism, and adore beauty as there is a voice of God in poetry, so is the ingredient of humanism, poetry truth, truth beauty to become victim of hypnotizing and philosophical description of poems, and that is a Rajan’s vision which works on a mission.
Rajan was born when Indians were struggling to get freedom from slavery and the country was reverberated with the clarion call of Gandhiji ‘do or Die’. He was the product of national movement. His association with the Bharata Ratna Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam over the last 30 years thereby incessant influence, intense inspiration and long cherished aspiration have played pivotal role in emerging him as a poet. He is a renowned scientist by profession and developed missile with our former president of India. He has a remarkable academic and professional career to his credit, is the author of four books namely Blossoms of the heart (July 2002) translated by C V Karthik Narayanan, Agony and Harmony (September 2002), Jumping Genes (May 2006) and Ode to an Earthworm (October 2008).
There is a flow of his thoughts knitted with the element of truth, raises voice against dishonesty and injustice, a kind of feeling that turns into light wrapped into the rays of hopes and spread its strong wing on the pages and attains eternity. The words of his poetry are simple but well thought, chosen and artistically chiseled. Undoubtedly tone and texture truly represent his culture and age where he was brought up and that in fact Wahrheit und Dichtung.
Rajan’s Curiosa felicitas will be considered seminal in poetry because of its merits and manners. His poetic attitude bears courage when he utters the truth in his poem twenty first century 2006 (Ode to an Earthworm, Page 26). When our own scientists in laboratory have the following passion what would be the future of the country:
The path of truth
And amassing wealth
And wearing crowns of power!
This poem has nine parts and all of them work as a bulldozer that crush century’s old Indian glories and shatter hope of people. India is the largest democratic country where it is all fairy tales, the poet says in part 5:
Nearer home in India
A near chaotic democracy
Mixed with hypocrisy
Leftist, rightist, or centric
Looks like isotropic
Centred around oneself
With hidden agendas
Rajan ironically addresses our leaders in his poem TO A LEADER (Jumping Genes, Page 32) as “Respected Sir,/My dear Sir/You are so good/With intent so great”. Readers mark lethal attack on their action and decision which is unfriendly to the citizens of the country:
Their weapon to kill is to ‘tender’!
For their own monopoly action
The cover is a cabinet decision;
When others attempt actions
They drown them in coordination
Their great escapade for inaction
He does not only target Indian democracy, politicians and their policies but also intellectuals and other dominant maladies:
Intellectuals with selfish goals
Market pundits with sensex trends
Common people with day’s income
Being only their lives’ main theme
Survival at one extreme
Supremacy as another theme
Global forces and local tyrannies
Rajan’s feeling soars high and catches clippings of the globe that he descries in the part 4 of Twenty First Century 2006. Men behind cruelties and annihilation are unmasked but the countries behind the replenishing of funds, arms, ammunitions and logistic supports and their motives to the terrorists are to be explored and condemned:
Symbols of the extremist violence
Shaking the walls of Western liberals
Unable to grasp the links
With Punjab, Kashmir, Afghanistan
Iran, Iraq, Pakistan
Kargil, Balkans, Palestine,
Chechanya and tiny Eastern Timur
Jews and the Nazis terror
Earlier times of colonial plunder
Annihilation of heathens and tries
Single truths and ideologies
In the concluding part i.e., 9 the poet puts a sensible question before the nations and its heads who want to establish peace with their dollars, pounds, euros, sophisticated arms, laser guided missiles, Drone, Daisy Cutter and carpet bombs without caring innocent’s blood, mother’s wail, sister’s sighs, suppressed voice, wounds’ pain, hearts’ ache, God’s fear whose hell’s fire is ready to devour. His question creates fear in them if not havoc:
Will twenty first century
Evolve the human
In search of a new divine
With science in full union
And ten billion humans
Living in a grand unison
With local traditions
In convergence with universal
And cultural diversity
Along with scientific unity
Cherishing individual liberty
In harmony with the collective
Opposites in symbiotic
And multiples in syncretic
Unity in diversity
And diversity in unity?
His art and skill, couple with humanistic thought, blended with fair feelings and creative imagination enables him to soar and twinkle on the horizons of poetry. He is truly and highly regarded today for his simplex munditiis, expressiveness et creativity. Rajan’s thought has taken shape what he felt Ab imo pectore vision and mission.
Those States and Head of States who are keen in establishing peace must read, remember, revere from the true heart and adopt its meaning in spirit of the poem A Charioteer (Jumping Genes, Page 113). The reference is mythical but even intellectuals, scientists, elites and people from all walk of lives and classes will harmoniously say wow and bow their heads before the following lines:
Krishna, the charioteer
Starts his Gita
Gopis turn into Arjunas
Ready for a war
Not the one that creates a scar
But on forces that pulls us aaprt
Darts of dialogue ’n open heart
Win over mental divides
Regenerate fractured minds
Scattered flowers turn into a garland
All Arjunas in a cause so bonded
Move in pride to win more minds!
To measure the depth and scale of the height of vision and mission, humanity, honesty, truth, sincerity and sublimity we will have to march on the path that has been constructed by the words blended with his thought on the pages of his books. The more we move, cover, measure, the more we feel to move ahead as an endless feelings come out as the sun appears every day with the new heat and glow.
His poem new axial period is a joint venture of Sudhamahi and Y S Rajan. Words which are the part of this poem speak volume. ‘Violence’, ‘silence’, ‘wounds’, ‘indignation’, ‘corpses’, ‘inaction’, ‘opiated by organized spirituality’, ‘deluded by altruistic imagery’, and ‘confused by super-speciality’ are flabbergasting whereas optimistic, humanistic and positivistic provide ‘tranquility’, ‘virtues’, ‘peace’, ‘amity’, ‘comfort’, ‘oneness’, ‘human’, ‘delight’, ‘simplicity’, ‘sharing’, ‘loving’, ‘innocence’ and ‘inspiration’. This poem is simple yet approaches towards human and all his related concerns.
Men and women have been distinguished on sexual ground. It is a surmise of mortal men. If equal opportunities are provided and adequate facilities are available, both of them – men and women can prove their worth. Nature extends their bounties and blessings irrespective of men and women. Light of the sun, water, air, honey, fragrance of flowers, snow spread on the peaks of the mountain, grown fruits and vegetables on earth, heaven and hell are for both men and women.
Nature teaches us – no discrimination so is the approach of Rajan too. Poems such as Birthday of a Daughter (Ode to an Earthworm, Page 25), Vvdav Frolika Poem (Ode to an Earthworm, Page 49), The New Age Heroine (Ode to an Earthworm, Page 52), A Birthday Song (Ode to an Earthworm, Page 53), and Dear Nitika (Ode to an Earthworm, Page 67) narrate the theme of progress, prosperity, and achievement of the girls and women. India has a long queue of the successful women and they belong to the primitive age to till date. Even men have been bowing their heads and worship them – Saraswati, Durga, Parvati, Draupadi, Kunti, and Sita. Rani Laxmi Bai, Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Pratibha Patil, Lata Mangeshkar, Bhachendri Pal, P. T. Usha, Sania Mirza, Nafisa Ali, Shabana Azami, Aishwaria Ray, Shusmita Sen, and Shabana Azami are prominent to name them. Forms of women are daughter, wife and mother – needs care, love and reverence.
Success and glory of women makes Rajan happy. His unbound joy and best wishes reflects in the poem Birthday of a Daughter:
Fly higher and higher
M dear bird
Even higher than eagles
Conquering the sky and earth.
Yet in another poem Vvdav Frolika Poet Rajan’s gaiety seems unlimited to see girls:
Cooling the eyes
Awakening the hearts
Calming the brains
Of the Great Mother
Appearance, presence, glitter and essence are everywhere. To feel and experience need sincerity and enthusiasm. Such is the tone and texture of the poem the New Age Heroine. Word ‘Oh’ used twice with sign of exclamation shows the attitude of men in belittling girls/women:
You won’t notice her oh men!
Nor can police detect her oh men!
Look everywhere and see her eternal presence
By turning your spirit through your sense
Hear her songs of world peoples
Sing, dance, get lost in giggles
You will then discover your eternal presence
Some call it as Universal essence!
Nature is with you. Mother’s blessings are there. Sixteen petals, seven colours, and eternal might will give you beauty and melodious songs in your lives. Rajan wishes girls – colours, scents, radiance, and wisdom in his poem Dear Nitika:
Nikita dear! Your life will bloom
As a mighty flower no one has seen
Colours, scents, radiance and wisdom
All will flow and spread out to world
A lovely head girl to a mighty woman
A steady and speedy transformation
Awaits you dear with Mother’s blessing.
Rajan attracts the attention of the students in his poem TO STUDENTS (Jumping Genes, Page 79). He awakes them from slumber and infuses spirit with precious tips that he has for them. The world is your oyster. You are your master, no need for dejection. Value comes through knowledge fusion. Value addition, wealth creation are the makings of the world in competition. Just thrive, in competition, be adapting to the ever changing situation, be fearless, bring skills into action and develop it through oriented education. To give practical shape, invariably think of and abide by your tradition. Pay heed to values, culture, spiritual devotion, service to humanity and universal compassion. You will be victorious. The poet sympathetically and affectionately says, “My dear students now march ahead with passion!”
Rajan has composes several poems on his country Mother India. He deplores the degeneration, sings song of glory and predicts the future. In his poem OPENED WOUNDS (Jumping Genes, Page 50). We find disgust and indignation of the poet:
Scholars lose their cool
Everybody looks like a fool!
India’s past weighs heavy,
The present and future look gloomy!
The universal heritage of India
Is splintered by the mass mania
Mahavira and Buddha shudder!
the Bharat Mata sobs
If the ideology of Rajan be the pursuit of the entire Indians for the sake of the country problems like hatred, enmity, chaos, and riot etc will be automatically disappear from the Motherland. Would that all Indian wish the same as Rajan wants in INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENTIATION (Jumping Genes, Page 45):
I want to hold You
As Mother in my heart;
I want to see you all creation
As Your image so beautiful;
I want the strength
To pluck out the hurting thorns;
Bless me Mother
To sleep in your laps!
There are various poetic forms of poetry. Poets try their chosen art, versed skill and excellent mastery over these forms according to their gathered thought, arisen situation compels to shape it or spontaneous flow takes the course and finally it is called what is suited to the form.
Different forms are – shape, sonnet, quatrain, villanelle, tongue twister, palindrome, monody, free verse, epitaph, haiku, zen, and ode etc. I want to concentrate on ode only because of Rajan’s book Ode to an Earthworm has influenced me to do so. He has killed two birds with one stone. As all of us are quite aware of the definition of Ode, it is a poem that provides and glorifies a person, place or thing.
Don’t you know “Ode” comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and belongs to long and varied tradition of lyric poetry. There are three kinds of Odes – The Pindaric, Horatian, and the Irregular. The Pindaric is named for the ancient Greek (Theban) poet Pindar, who is credited with inventing the ode. Wordsworth practiced it.
The Horatian Ode, named for the Roman poet Horace, is generally more tranquil and contemplative than the Pindaric ode. The Irregular Ode has employed all manner of formal possibilities, while often retaining the tone and thematic elements of the classical ode. For example, Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats was written based on his experiments with the sonnet. Other famous Odes include P B Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind, Robert Creeley’s America, Bernadette Mayer’s Ode on a Period and Robert Lowell’s Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket.
Now Y S Rajan’s Ode to an Earthworm, it is a “delight to read and covers a very wide spectrum”, says N Vittal (Ode to an Earthworm, Foreword Page 3). Vittal has scholastic observation about this ode, “it is a poetic dialogue of ideas, perceptions and insights between the two gifted people. The poem is not only enjoyable in itself but also carries a very valuable message from our modern times”.
Ode to an Earthworm is highly acclaimed and widely admired poem due to its classical structure, comely diction, conflicting and punching ideas and current content:
Virtuous loops of interconnections
Can be knotted only with love’s potions
What about the conflicts within life
They are steps that help the rise
What about the violence of humans
Woven they are into the tapestry of selection
Knowledge of violence, violence of knowledge
Reveals that truth is far from sweet
If we understand the gamut of meaning of the words used in this poem like capacity, variety, complexity, posterity, humanity, utility, interdependence, askance, knowledge and violence etc, there will be an Eden on earth. Just live on earth as an earthly being:
Yes, yes brand new chaotic hope
And give imagination a long rope
Living life as the earthworm does
Proliferating, invigorating, in itself immersed
Even in hope in Nature and Life
In earthly model of the androgynous wise.
Rajan calls his country my mother, amma it is clear from the title of the poem INDIA MY MOTHER, AMMA (Jumping Genes, Page 81). Amma is a word of his mother tongue that means mother. He feels India well deep inside and it dwells in all of us. He sees in our songs and in the crowds that throng to offer prayers be it a temple, church, mosque, gurudwara, riverbed or be tree and abodes they feel holy. Each and every place and particles of motherland is holy, so holy to bow and worship. Everything of the country glitters, gold, beautiful and holy. There is diversity but undoubtedly Indian, part of motherland. Beyond the crowds and noises his amma does many wonders – modern knowledge, resultant businesses, agriculture and artisanal skills.
His motherland provides wonders and beauties but its progeny is not as he wishes to be:
Her sons are often lazy
Some of them are crazy!
Her daughters are always busy
Their lives aren’t that rosy!
Despite this fact mother is mother. She bears love and affection. It always wants welfare of the sons. She does not show any sign of anger, no rivalry instead similar sight on all:
But mother cares for the world!
Along with Her angry dance
Takes her children on her laps
Versus disappears in inclusiveness
Opposites merge in her singleness
Appeasing as an endless conituum
Of beautiful diversity ad infinitum!
Words used smiles, love, lifts, lap, caress, gentle finger on the head, vision and sublime show the love and reverence Rajan has is exemplary and lesson who pays lip service but ruining centuries old glory of the motherland:
Mother India smiles with love
The Amma lifts you like a wave
To place you on her lap
To caress you with her taps
With her gentle fingers on your head,
To give a vision supreme
Of an Indian life so sublime!
Does mother love all her sons irrespective of their ills? We may see this effect in our home. Such a question arises in the mind of the poet too. Can a snake be liked as on the head of Siva? LEAKING INDIA (Jumping Genes, Page 37) displays in abundance shortcomings in Indians and in their activities:
Mother India! You are full of water
In rivers, oceans and melting snows
Still Motehr! Why do your children leak
Some silly drops in your mighty presence?
Do you like these drops
As Siva likes on His Head?
Mother leaves the decision on you as there is a thorn with rose and it means evils lies with good that is the surmise of the poet in VALUES FOR THE YOUTH (Jumping Genes, Page 37):
Mother mixes evil and good
Rice grows, weed also grows!
Rose is there along with thorns!
Take the weed out don’t blame the wheat!
How beautifully and exquisitely he compares lady to science. A lady is made of blood, bones and fleshes whereas science is without it. However, science is made of laws, models and generalizations. It is formal, elegant, powerful and attractive. It has different forms – a female for an adolescent, a seductress, stern teacher and wise simple mother. We cannot particularize as it is universal. Rajan says in this particular poem LADY SCIENCE (Jumping Genes, Page 109):
I need her, Lady Science
For thrills and wealth.
Different forms and roles of women are also magnificent. Giggling girl, exploring adolescent, soothing wife, friend in distress, and pain relieving mother possess him fully like lady science. She is also source of creation and beauty. It is not a glorification but a fitting justification, comparison and evaluation of Rajan:
Lady Science comes
Is subsumed in the woman
Possessed fully by poetry
Care I not tossing,
Sense, enjoy or be awake!
How much he is dedicated to the duty of his Motherland is permeates from the poem ARMED WITH POETRY(Jumping Genes, Page 111). Rajan was assigned pioneer task. He toured several countries to accomplish magnificent and aspired assignment. It brought rapid changes in him and worked on several fronts as a nation’s duty. Space missions open the petals. Butterfly turns into a Caterpillar machine and new groups emerged. He has much reverence for his motherland. He wants to work with passion and keep Mother in sight and still engaged in working in his field at Mother’s commands and prays to bless spirit, inspiration, stamina and energy what is required to serve:
Mother arms me with poetry
To save my soul from deadly drudgery
New child I turn into with compassion in mind
With passion subdued and Mother in sight
Beard grows grey child still calm
In Mother’s lap enjoying Her might
Working still on what She commands as right!
Easy, very easy and simple to understand Rajan’s poetry, it is like a flower that spreads fragrance, a bouquet to charm the mind, a light to overcome darkness, and Heavenly spark to enlighten the ignorant. The only resource for his thought to express is word.
Rajan’s poetry tells the truth. It believes that it takes one at the top of the idea where one’s thought can’t fly, sweet as honey; as lofty as the seventh sky. His poetry reveals the movement of the men and shows light like the sun. When it runs sans peur it has the miraculous power to join million hearts and heads together. How can we resolve to abide by in all weather?
His knowledge and experience spread on the pages unfold the fact and make it easy to understand what is wrong and what is right. Absence of truth, honesty and integrity have waged world wide war and atmosphere has been made poisonous, yet another war hangs over since we are far from truth what our holy scriptures such as the Bible and the Gita teach and saints preach. Practices of false are the sole reason that subjects or human beings face injustice. But Alas! How much are we far? Creator spiritus est suaviter in modo, fortit is the most lethal weapon in the literary armoury of Rajan. He uses at right time so it yields desired outcome. He is quite aware of the gamut of veritas odium parit.
He does not only talk of evils and satans, politicians and policies, hatred and enmity diplomacy and demon, democracy and feudalism, conceit and insanity, culture and vulture, storm and scorn, thorn and threat, sour and bitter, and fear and tear but also speaks about temple and worship, hale and hearty, serenity and eternity, vision and mission, freedom and fidelity, passion and compassion, dove and love, harmony and welfare, virtue and wisdom, verve and virility, flower and fragrance, sermon and saints, hip and breast:
He avoids the way Dr. Harish Thakur uses scatology in alcoholic thought. He delineates various types and sizes of breast without any sense and sensibility - immature breasts, dried breast, morbid breast, bare breast, soft breast and firm breast. It is not an emotional, generic pleasure or sexual attraction at all when Y S Rajan describes breasts in his poem FEMININE BREASTS (Jumping Genes, Page 15), it is full of wisdom and civilized yet with a purpose. He traces truth and demonstrates erudition:
Or cusps with tips
Being singular points
Of origin of Universe
Look similar to
Rajan describes that if a soft touch of breast fires the man, feminine breasts feed the child as well. Southern temples are abounding with sculptures of goddesses, Rakshashis, Gandharva damsels breasts stand out in divine forms. Saints and sages have described its motions and forms in countless tastes. The quest of Rajan is:
It is an eternal quest
Of a man to
Win over old age
By becoming a child
In his mother’s breast.
Generally people have an idea that centre of body is the epicenter of sex. Rajan makes aware of sex to the readers as where it lies at certain stages that we find in the poem SEX TRAJECTORY. During infant-hood it resides in lips, along with growth it moves to hips while for mature person whole body acts. When a person is old sex goes to brain cells and all images are drawn from the mind and these are the universal facts.
Is there any need of poet in the world where might is right? Will a poem solve the problems heaped in the entire world? How much the world need the poet’s help, how greatly the world is benefited by it, a moment’s thought will show. We do not come across that Rajan’s poetry is for pleasure and publicity. It is with a mission to propagate positive aspect which is good and useful to mankind.
EARTHLY HEAVEN speaks the heart and mind of the poet. When the people read and appreciate the poems of the poet he finds unbound joy:
Poet’s mind is a tender lead
Shrivels when feeling somebody’s grief
With some training, it takes sunshine
To grow into a big leaf thick ‘n green;
Life keeps giving tender leaves many
Poet’s mind feels them very heavy!
A good friend comes ‘n reads his poems
Speaks good words ‘n marks a few poems,
Poet then flies into an earthly heaven
Winging the tender leaves fuelled by feelings human!
He gives gifts to the suppressed and exploited persons to face with philosophy, “A man can be destroyed but cannot be defeated”. He makes effort to heal wounds with their mellifluous words. He leaves something behind for coming generations. His words are roses and the books preserve them, get eternity. I have gone through the books of Rajan. I clap sensibly setting aside emotion or intimacy and express thanks God because he is a creation of His skill and art and shows Vita sine litteris mors est of the poet of these books. He touches the majestic heights due to his sincere efforts and remarkable creations.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has a very good opinion about his poetry, “All are mellifluous poems. He has created the poems about patriotism, humanism, lofty ideals and also science and technology”.
My heart bleeds for the country so I sincerely request to YS Rajan, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Dr. Mohammed Fakhruddin, Dr. Rita Malhotra, and other host of poets and writers to also focus on the theme of terrorism and communalism because these are the worst enemies of our amma, Motherland. Escapism from the truth can cause erosion in the centuries old glory and disintegrate in the unity of diversity.
His verse is marked by virility of thought, decency of tone, precision of language, and stirring feeling. Many of the poems have different rhyme schemes, and variations of lines within stanzas. His individuality magnifies his stature among Rajan’s peers in the realm of poetry. His creation has elegance, fragrance, delights the mind, touches conscience and provides provision to vision. He writes with a sweet simplicity, a lyrical evocativeness that speaks of the eternal longings of the soul. Whatever he has written writes forcefully, convincingly, plainly and without disguise. Now the poets, writers, critics and readers will have a new look on Rajan after going through this article. People will look at him as a torch bearer and saviour because of his vision, mission, truth and humanism. He deserves a berth in the front row in Indian English poetry.
(Dr. Shujaat Hussain is an Indian prolific book reviewer, prominent poet and celebrated critic)