Scholarly article on topic 'The Whole World is a Family—Modern Hindi Poetry and the Larger Cause of Humanity'

The Whole World is a Family—Modern Hindi Poetry and the Larger Cause of Humanity Academic research paper on "Sociology"

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Academic research paper on topic "The Whole World is a Family—Modern Hindi Poetry and the Larger Cause of Humanity"

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Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 2 (2010) 7435-7445

Selected Papers of Beijing Forum 2004

The Whole World is a Family—Modern Hindi Poetry and the

Larger Cause of Humanity

Jawarimal Parakh

Professor, School of Humanities, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, India

On 15 August, 1947, India became independent from colonial rule of about 200 years. Freedom for the people of India came at a heavy price. The partition of India forced millions of people from both sides to uproot from their birthplaces. Thousands of women were raped and murdered in the frenzy of communalism and thousands of children became orphans. The savagery of communalism did not even spare Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), the Father of the Indian nation, who was assassinated at the hands of a communal fiend. In spite of tragedy and trauma accompanying their independence, the people of India had determination in their hearts to make a new India. This determination of the people of India was expressed eloquently by the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) on the eve of independence at constituent assembly. He said: "Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge...At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance, it is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity... We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again."

This speech of Nehru was a harbinger of the times to come: the direction, the futuristic project of India would take. India's freedom struggle was fought under the leadership of giant leaders like Gandhi and Nehru. It was neither a chauvinist struggle nor did it have a racist undertone. India's freedom struggle was futuristic in essence with inspirations from humanistic approaches of Gandhian philosophy and socialist worldview. The leaders of Indian National Movement were not only struggling for Indian people but also for all human beings the world over; for freedom from political slavery and economic, social and cultural bondages of the past and present as well. This understanding of the freedom struggle is echoed in the literature of those times.

The great Hindi and Urdu novelist and fiction writer of the early decades of the twentieth century, Premchand (1880-1936) who was also the contemporary of Maxim Gorky and Lu Hsun asked, "Are we then to give up our ideals?" He himself answered the question: "If that were so, the human race might as well perish. The ideal which we have cherished since the dawn of civilisation, which gave birth to religion—the history of human society is a history of the struggle for the fulfillment of this ideal—we too have to place that ideal before ourselves; we have to accept it as an unalterable reality and then see the vulgar pride. Ostentation and lack of sensibility in the one, the strength of modesty, faith and endeavor in the other. And our art will notice those things only when our artistic vision takes the entire universe within its purview; when the entire humanity will form its subject matter; then it will no longer be tied to the apron strings of a particular class. Then we shall no longer tolerate a social system under which a single individual can tyrannise over thousands of human beings; then our self-respecting humanity will raise the standard of revolt against capitalism, militarism and imperialism; and we shall not sit quiet and inane after doing a little bit of creative work on pieces of paper but we shall actively participate in building that new order which is not opposed to beauty, good taste and self respect. The role of literature is not simply to provide us with amusement or recreation, it does not follow, but is on the contrary, a torch-bearer to all the progressive movements in society.""

1877-0428 © 2010 Beijing Forum. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.05.109

The above statement of Premchand was also a torch-bearer to the literature of tomorrow. Premchand not only defined the objective of literature in the light of the new phase of freedom struggle but also widened the boundaries of the literature. When he says that the whole world should be in our artistic approach and whole humanity should be the subject of our literature then he liberates literature from sectarian approaches of regionalism and nationalism and literature is no longer an object of mere entertainment and amusement. In fact he links the great objectives of humanity with the literature. We can say that these great objectives are the main creative force of Hindi literature of

twentieth century. In this article I analyse and evaluate this aspect of the modern Hindi literature.

* * * *

As we all know the Chinese and Indian civilisations are among the world's oldest and richest civilisations. India has many rich languages and their prosperous literatures. Sanskrit is not the only ancient language of India, many other languages like Tamil, Pali, Prakrit and Apbhransa are also rich and prosperous in language as well as in literature. Many modern Indian languages including Hindi are developed from Apbhransa. The history of Hindi literature is about one thousand year old. Hindi is the language of the largest number of people in India and if we include Urdu-speaking people in this group then we could say that Hindi is the largest link language of the Indian subcontinent. Hindi is the third largest language of the world after Chinese and English.

The nature and tradition of Hindi is different in many ways. To quote a famous Hindi Poet Kedarnath Singh, "Hindi has a language with no locale, an artificial language. However people from different areas enrich it by their dialects."111 The present structure of Hindi is built on Khari boli. Khari boli is also derived from Aprabhansa. Some northwest districts of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state of India, use Khari boli as dialect. Urdu is also derived from Khari boli. The main difference between Hindi and Urdu is not the grammar but the script and vocabulary. Hindi derives words mainly from Sanskrit origin and Urdu mainly from Persian and Arabic origins. But as spoken languages, they have hardly any differences.

However, the traditions of Hindi and Urdu literatures have developed separately right from their inception. While in the history of Hindi literature, literatures written in different dialects of Hindi regions are also included, in Urdu literature, literature written only in Urdu script is included. This does not mean that the present day Hindi literature includes the literatures written in different dialects. On the contrary, modern Hindi literature means literature written in Khari boli and in nagari script only. Khari boli was almost non-existent for literary purposes in medieval period. In modern era when Hindi literature has being written in Khari boli, the yesteryear's languages like Dingal, Brij, Avadhi and Maithili became dialects and Khari boli that was earlier a colloquial language became the lingua franca. Therefore, we can say that one thousand years of Hindi literature is full of diversities in respect of dialects. Some great Hindi poets are in fact the poets of dialects of Hindi. Vidyapati is a poet of Maithili, Kabir is a poet of Bhojpuri (with great influence of other dialects of Hindi region), Jayasi and Tulsidas are poets of Avadhi and Surdas and Bihari are poets of Brijbhasa and Meera a poetess of Rajasthani (influenced by Brijbhasa). All these poets never wrote in Khari boli but Hindi tradition always includes them in its ambit. Not only this, the architect of Modern Hindi literature, Bharatendu Harishchandra wrote poetry in Brijbhasa but prose in Khari boli Hindi.

Thus, Hindi has had many great poets in its history of one thousand years. I have already mentioned the names of Kabir, Jayasi, Meera, Surdas and Tulsidas. These poets wrote devotional poetry that is not religious in a narrow sense. On the contrary, Kabir always emphasized that people should rise from narrowness of caste and creed and understand the oneness of humankind. He believed that God is not in the temples and mosques and we could not reach Him through external religious rituals. God is in our own hearts and in our Karmas.

They say God is in images

In places of pilgrimage

But none has seen Him in either

In the east lives the Hindus' God

In the west the Mussalman's Allah

Seek him in your heart and nowhere else,

Ram and Rahim are both there.iv

Modern Hindi literature has proudly linked its tradition to Kabir. Its ideological basis was laid in the era of colonial rule when the struggle for freedom was being fought on many fronts. Literature was one of them. Literature was not confined to the arena of political freedom. Writers were exploring various dimensions of the future of independent India: Who will be our rulers? Would the oppressed and exploited classes get equal treatment and opportunities in all fields of life? These questions were to be viewed in a historical context. India was a plural country through centuries. People of different religions, races and languages had come from various parts of the world and settled here forever. Some of them came as invaders, some as traders and many as refugees. They brought their languages, literatures, paintings, music, food habits, customs and rituals. In short, they brought their cultures. In thousand years of assimilation, their independent identities merged in the land of India. Today, India means not a country of one religion, or one culture or one language or one ethnicity. Plurality of languages, religions and cultures are the only identity of India. The significance of the tradition of one thousand years of Hindi literature

cannot be recognised without understanding this tradition of plurality.

* * * *

It is now acknowledged that modern Hindi literature began in the middle of the nineteenth century with the sepoy revolt of 1857 against the English rulers in the leadership of feudal rulers of northern regions where Hindi was the main language. Peasants also participated in a big way in the struggle. However, the British crushed the revolt and with this, the possibility of revival of feudalism also died forever. It was a significant change in the history of India. The colonial rule in India became more powerful due to the failure of the 1857 revolt, but it also opened the doors for a new modern India. The British had carried out limited industrialization, opened new educational institutions similar to their western counterparts and established a westernised bureaucracy and judiciary. This changed the basic nature of the system. A new educated and modernised middle class emerged in the newly industrialised cities like Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras etc. They were nationalist in a new and modern sense. They wanted India to become a modern and liberal country like England. Initially they believed that England would be instrument in the modernisation project but later on they realised that the colonial rulers had no interest in modernising India. They just wanted to exploit the natural resources of our homeland. This middle class initiated movements to turn their homeland into a new India guided by a new social and cultural ethos. However, the new India was inspired by two opposite worldviews. Where one section wanted to create a new India on the basis of an imaginary golden age of the past, the other section wanted to turn India into a modern, industrial and democratic nation like the industrially developed countries of the west. We can say that the former was inspired by revivalism and the latter by the enlightenment movement of Europe. Modern Hindi literature began with the process of synchronization and conflict between these tendencies. We can see these tendencies in all writers of those times simultaneously. The Hindi literature of the second half of the nineteenth century, which is called in the History of Hindi literature as a literature of the new enlightenment or a literature of renaissance, can be understood in this ideological background.

This conflict can be seen in various forms in the writing of new enlightenment era of Hindi literature. As I have said earlier, Hindi and Urdu both derived from the same Khari boli. But the writers in Hindi prose, consciously tried to make the Hindi language they used distinct from Urdu through derived words from Sanskrit instead of using words of Arabic and Persian origin. This tendency is evident in Urdu writers as well who used words derived only from Arabic and Persian and avoided the words of Sanskrit or colloquial traditions. Historians have analysed this tendency as an impact of revivalism as well as communalism.

We can see the impact of revivalism and communalism on the works of Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850-1885). However, he simultaneously emphasised Hindu-Muslim unity to achieve the goal of freedom and development of the nation. Although he praised the role of colonial rulers in the development of India in his writings, he did not hesitate in criticising them for exploiting the natural resources and draining the wealth of India. In 1884 he wrote a small poem of four lines called mukari. Mukari is like a puzzle in rhyme. The first three lines depict a question and the last line gives the answer of the question. He used this traditional verse for creating political satire. In one of the mukaris, he reveals the exploitative nature of the British rule:

Sucking stealthily the entire juice from within;

Smilingly grasping the body, heart and wealth;

So adept in making glib profession, Is it your husband? No, the Englishman/

Bharatendu realised that India could not become free as long as we lagged behind in the race of modernisation and industrialisation. But he and his fellow writers had no comprehensive outline of a modern India and also no vision of how to achieve it. The Hindi literature of the first two decades of twentieth century, which is known as Dwivedi yug,vi could not develop the future project of the Independent India; though in comparison to writers of the past, their social and ideological outlook widened considerably.

The modern Hindi literature attained a new and large sentimental and ideological domain in the thirties with the emergence of a new phase of freedom movement. In the nineteen twenties, significant historical events had occurred both nationally and internationally. The first and foremost was the October Revolution. The second was the conflict among imperialist countries, which resulted in First World War. The third was the mass participation of working class in the freedom struggle of India. Working class organisations like Kisan sabha, trade unions, and student federations had been set up and their demands were also included in the freedom struggle. Moreover, the changing scenario the world over, influenced the freedom movement. Echoes of anti fascist struggle could be heard everywhere in those days. Obviously, Hindi writers could not remain isolated from the new developments. The emergence of Chhayavad (Romanticism) in Poetry and Premchandvii in fiction writing is the evidence of its new phase. Chhayavadi poets knew that the twentieth century is not the century of sectarianism and chauvinism. It is not the century of hatred in the name of religion, caste and creed. It is the century of humanity and the human values. Therefore, Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, one of the representative poets of Chhayavad, wrote:

Twentieth Century the Sea of knowledge,

Breaking the barrier of wealth and arrogance, Flows with a roar— The Literary voice— That is not a buzzing bee;

All human beings are the same, Whether white or black or poor Piercing the mud Like a lotus it blooms The pious voice of Humansviii

Nirala was aware of the changes that had occurred during the twentieth century and these were reflected with great passion in his prose writing too. He wrote, "People of the world were beneficiaries of world civilisation due to the kneading of all countries in it. As a result, the narrowness of sectarian nationalism that was reflected in the Arts, was broken by the tenderheartedness of mutual exchange. Art was now created by liberal thought. People's own art was influenced by relating it with what was best in every other nationality."™

I have quoted the statement of Premchand in the beginning of the paper, which also explains that the thinking of Hindi writers had been assuming not only an extensive humanistic domain but also acquiring an internationalist political view. The Indian writers who assembled in the first conference of Progressive Writers' Association at Lucknow in 1936 passed a resolution against the fascist forces. The Progressive Writers' Association warned the writers about the dangers of the war due to fascist upsurge. The writers resolved, "We consider that literature is the heritage of the whole human races and is not divisible in national, racial or geographical boundaries. Further, we consider that collectively and individually we stand in the ranks of those who are striving to build a new social order based on equality, freedom and peace, and as such we cannot but protest against the anti cultural forces of fascism and militarism. We declare that war is a brutality and is a serious menace to human culture and progress.""

Progressive movement gave a new direction to the Indian literature. Hindi literature went beyond the idealistic realism, which was the main ideological force of Premchand's fiction. Progressive movement also left behind the romanticism of Chhayavad. Realism became the main thrust of Hindi literature. Realism was reflected not only in content but also in language, structure and style. Progressive writers expressed creatively not only the life of people of India but also all such events happening in the world, which influenced humanity. Hindi writers wrote on various

subjects like October Revolution in Russia and its impact on the colonial nations like India, increasing protest of the anti-fascist forces, solidarity with antiwar democratic forces of Indian writers and international situations of the world during the second world war and cold war. Muktibodh wrote the epic story about the defeat of fascism and victory of the peace forces in his famous long poem "Zamane ka chehra" (Face of the time). Muktibodh creates the allegory of the unity of peoples of the world against the fascist forces through the struggle for liberation of Stalingrad from Hitler's forces. It shows not only the commitment of the writer but also his creative capability:

When the enraged sea of Asian sorrow

Merged with the Euro-American seas

On the wharfs of Africa

In the vast field of the universe

United through the threads of tears, related in pain

And the burning fire in the hearts,

When Human beings

United through love and became one

On the banks of time

Then were destroyed the rocky walls of imperialist forcesxi

Muktibodh described the grand unity of the people of Asia, Europe and Africa; he also wrote about the attempts made by the imperialist forces to break this unity. Although Muktibodh believed that the anti people forces had been defeated, he knew that they had not been eliminated:

Half body of the Imperialist animal-sun Almost set in the sky

Is still fightingxii

Sachchidanand Hiranand Vatsyayan Agyeyaxul described the horror of war in the context of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two cities of Japan, which were victims of atomic bombing by USA. Thousands of people were vaporized into thin air and millions were crippled for generations. Agyeya wrote a poem on Hiroshima where he also used the Sun as a symbol, not for imperialism but for the atom bomb:

The sun created by man

Absorbed the man, turned into vapor by it!

This burnt shadow

Engraved on stone is

Evidence of the human being.xiv

Muktibodh wrote a short story called Clad Etherly on the imaginative character of the pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. It is a symbolic story, which narrates the political and cultural conflicts in developing countries like India. The main theme of the story is the political and cultural manipulation by the west; especially American elitist cultural influence on the educated middle class of the developing countries. The narrator in the story describes how the writers of countries like India assume that the concerns of the culture and spirit of the America are our concerns. This is the reason why writers and poets of the third world dive in the literatures and ideologies of the America, Britain and west Europe and provide education and culture to their selves. Is this not true?xv Further, Muktibodh asked, "Have we drawn inspiration from the Indonesian or Chinese or African literatures or the poetry of Lumumba? Fie, their literatures are the literatures of animals, of quadrupeds! And what about Russian literature! Oh, it is a selfish question! It has a different reason. We just want their help but we are scared too."xvi

This does not mean that Muktibodh was influenced by chauvinism. On the other hand, he was committed to genuine internationalism. It is not simply a coincidence that the narrator of his most valuable and renowned epical long poem "Andhere men" (In the darkness) associated himself with Gandhi as well as Tolstoy. In other poem "Chand kamuh Tedha hai" (The Face of the Moon is Crooked), the narrator associates with Buddhism as well as Christianity:

In the flaring flames of the desolate pyres

Of truth's half-burnt corpses (suddenly)

The tatters of light rose trembling above the trees,

Casting shadows

Like grievous tales of woe

Seeing which, hearing which

The round pot-like faces

Of some cultured ghosts

Started saying

In soft, whining voices

With hands folded in supplication to the world—

'The dreams of mankind

Got buried, entombed

In the Buddhist stupas!!

The wings of Jesus

Were shed, torn away.

The bodice of the temple prostitute of truth

Was removed, stripped off.

The bowels of all dreams, were cut, split open

The rest is hollow

Life's cavity.xvii

In fact, in Indian literature the idea of universalism is very ancient and unique. The famous Rigveda sutra says: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, that is, the whole world is a family. Our ideal should be brotherhood among mankind in the whole world; this is the main thrust behind it. However, the idea of globalisation is entirely different from it. Globalisation is a political concept, which is being imposed on the third world through political and economic hegemony. Literature always raises questions about this phenomenon but spreads the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The conflict between these two conceptions of globalisation is visible in the post independence Hindi literature. This may be understood in the social context. Two trends emerged in the educated middle class after Independence. One section derived inspiration from democratic movements and progressive ideology but the other section had been influenced by the cold war ideology. Individual freedom is the most valuable human value, they declared. They were also deeply influenced by existentialism. Remonstration against industrialisation and mechanisation, apprehension about science, considering masses as mob, emphasis on transitory experiences, glorification of marginality, over emphasis on cultural crisis etc. were the indications of influence of existentialism and modernism. The influence of modernism on post independence Hindi literature especially on poetry should also be understood in a proper context.

Modernism is an attempt to establish the bourgeoisie democratic values against the feudal value system. Nai Kavita (New Poetry) is the movement of modernism in Hindi poetry. The same influence was expressed in the Nai kahani (New Short story) movement in the same period. After attaining independence, the priorities of the nation had changed. Now, progress and development were the main issues. The first Prime Minister Nehru had promised a new and better future for the people. The first decade of the independent India was full of hope and faith. But in the 60s the educated middle class slowly lost their faith and hope turned into despair and anxiety. Now the previous generation was not as idealistic in the eyes of the new generation. The hero of Kunwar Narayan's famous poem Atmajayi (The Self conqueror, 1965), Nachiketa represents this new generation. He has lost faith in his selfish father and is in search of genuine knowledge through the experience of death, He feels that only our inner self is the main source of faith and no external person, institution and value can guide or inspire us. The struggle of two generations through two ideologies can be seen in Dharamvir Bharati's mythical dramaAndha Yug (The Dark Era). Andha Yug is based on the epic Mahabharata. Here the Pandavas and Kauravas represent the two camps of the cold war, socialist and imperialist. But the writer does not take sides. He criticises both the camps. According to him both sides are wrong. Both are far removed from truth. Both are inspired by selfish goals and not by the peoples' interest.

These developments do not mean that the new poets had lost all faith. They still struggled for human values. The new poet thinks that in evil times it is hard to remain human:

Actually, I'm not the one you saw writhing on the ground. You must have seen me take to my heels, In evil times, it's hard to remain human. He too must have been human, a man like you and me. But, as I said, he meant nothing to me whom you too heard cry out, in extremis, for help, until the breath left his body. Perhaps it was then, in that dark moment, when, like a scared beastie, I had abandoned him, that he, run finally to earth,

turned into a wild thing.xviii

Progressive poets like Nagarjun, Kedarnath Agarwal, Trilochan Shastri and Muktibodh were still writing about the suffering and despair in the lives of the working people. The momentary pleasure in a peasant's life after long suffering of famine can fill several colours in the life.

For days and days the hearth stayed cold, the handmill quiet For days and days the one-eyed bitch slept nearby For days and days lizards paced on the wall For days and days rats too were miserable

Grain came to the house after many a day Smoke rose above the courtyard after many a day The eyes of the household shone after many a day The crow scratched its feathers after many a day. xix

In the 1960s, Nai Kavita was replaced by Akavita (Anti Poetry). Nehruvian utopia had been shattered. Three wars with neighboring countries, growing unemployment among educated middle classes, growing crisis in economy due to the devaluation of rupee and unbroken feudal social structure had created disillusionment among masses. Even middle class youths were more concerned about the future of their life than the life of the nation. A frustrated middle class had emerged, an anti-hero. Middle class youth had been more aware about their position in society. But they found themselves in a state of bondage, totally marginalised. They felt torn between the traditional value system and their own ambitions of a new free life. They found themselves in a tunnel, tunnel of despair and haplessness.

My breathing has been enclosed in a box, I have breathing shoved in a dark tunnel And the mouth of the tunnel is closed.xx

Akavita representative of a negative worldview offered a picture of reality that had in it the distortions and decay of life, the poet's impotent rage and verbal aggression, but not the positive side of life. According to Hindi critique Dr Chaman Lal, " The late sixties and early seventies saw the rise of another rebellious trend in Hindi poetry. It has many facets. On the one hand, it has a kind of nihilistic attitude and on the other, it was a revival of the earlier progressive ideas in a more radical form. It has an element of existential thought. A sense of alienation is also found in many of the poets of this trend, which continues even to—day. The feminist voice also found a place in this multi faceted trend of the seventies and the eighties. Since this trend has a deep sense of humanism at its base, it is also related to its early tradition of progressivism. That is why poets from Nagarjuna to Devi Prasad Mishra are sailing in the same boat. This trend could be called 'neo-humanist' or 'neo-progressive'."xxi

Poets of Akavita felt that there is no meaning in the life. On the contrary life means boredom, frustration, despair and anxiety. Nothing else. They had different thinking about women in comparison to earlier modern Hindi poets. They had love-hate relationship with the woman's figure and flesh. They expressed sexual relationship boldly and

without hesitation; on the other hand, their expression didn't show the honour for women. Even Dhumil (1936-1975) was not free from this tendency. Dhumil was deeply influenced by Akavita but at the same time, in comparison to his contemporaries, he was socially more vigilant and politically a more committed poet. We can see the middle class frustration regarding women and sexual relationship in his poetry. Dhumil and other contemporaries were came from middle class families from either the countryside or small towns where marriages were arranged by parents. The poet could not resolve the contradiction between his modern sensibility and his family life. Dhumil reflected this contradiction in many poems. Makaan (Home) is one of them where he expressed the dilemma of an ordinary man and his poet:

I explained to my unbridled friends

How the start of this conspiracy

Takes place at the moment in which a man

Bored by freedom and time

Together with his local customs and cheap books

Becomes an attractive 16 x 12 foot room

And in that instant he is killed

When in order to distinguish between

Flower and the flesh, erasing all the evidence,

Between the bed and the window

He lies down to sleep.xxii

I earlier discussed the western influence in the context of Nai Kavita. This influence can be seen more deeply in Akavita. In fact, Akavita emerged when democratic movement became weak everywhere. It gave more space for the decadent value system of the west in middle class. But in the second half of the seventies, the poets who were pushed into the background in the uproar of Akavita again got importance due to the emergence of the new democratic movement on a large scale. Progressive poets like Nagarjun, Kedarnath Agarwal, Shamsher Bahadur Singh, Trilochan Shastri and post independence poets like Raghuvir Sahay, Sarveshwar dayal saxena, Kedarnath Singh, Prayag Shukla who never accepted the cynicism of Akavita became more relevant. Muktibodh became the central inspiring force of this new democratic movement in Hindi poetry. A new generation of poets emerged who rejected Akavita's cynicism and explored the new language and style in progressive genre. Poets like Vinod Kumar Shukla, Vishnu Khare, Ibbar Rabbi, Arun Kamal, Girdhar Rathi, Mangalesh Dabral, Asad Zaidi, Rajesh Joshi and Aalok Dhnwa. A famous Hindi poet and critique of the same generation Ashok Vajpayi rightly underlined this era as the era of kavita ki vapasi (return of poetry). After Muktibodh, Raghuvir Sahay (1929-1990) was the outstanding poet of the post independent Hindi literature. As Harish Trivedi said, "Raghuvir Sahay is the poet of the Indian nation twenty years after independence, at the moment of irredeemable disenchantment for the common man after two decades of buoyant hope and aspiration.'"™ Raghuvir Sahay wrote several poems on the tragic life of women besides political poetry. We can see the social realism of Indian society in the expression of misery of the woman's life; on the other hand, we can also see the irony in the life of woman in a male chauvinistic society in today's world. Probably due to this reason, Raghuvir Sahay normally addressed woman as woman in his poetry and did not give her any name:

An old and always self-assured old doctor

Feels the pulse. The woman silent, waiting.

Twenty years of her youth compressed in movement, now frozen.

With the pulse beat time ticks by but the woman is still.

She knows the symptoms she's going to describe.

A doctor's job is like no other job.

Her lips are delicate, her eyes larger,

Eyelashes fine and long, her jaws set tight

Which, when opened, would flash her face's character,

Her fingers house-worn in domesticity,

Green bangles,

The doctor now looks at her face and finds

The years of her youth come alive on the patient's features.

The woman has aged, the doctor fallen silent Not in wonder but in deep regard.xxiv

As I said earlier, Akavita represents a negative worldview. It lacked that simple beauty which would awaken faith in life. It presented only one side of life, and that too in a fragmentary and self-obsessed way. In the din surrounding A-Kavita, the voice of progressive poetry had also been somewhat suppressed. But that period also saw some poets who refused to drift along with the current trends in poetry, and who forged their own way, but without self-advertisement. Following their own separate path, they did not turn their back on life's beautiful truths. Prayag Shukla (born 1940) was one such poet.

Right from the start Prayag Shukla has been a poet of certain distinctive images and experiences and truths regarding life. Life and poetry are not separate for Prayag Shukla. What is there in life is there in his poetry as well. Nevertheless, he selects experiences in keeping with his interest, his samsakara and world-view, and transforms them into the poetry. The material world enters Prayag's writing in its totality. Nature in it is not separated from the human, far from being in opposition to it:

Look, Look

In the veins of the tree too is flowing That tale

Which at this moment

Is in your thoughtsxxv

This intimacy of the poet with the material world is the key to understanding his poetic vision. In Prayag Shukla's poetry nature is not isolated from human life. What is significant is that the picture of nature emerging in the poet's mind is not merely a visual image; the poet's sensibility too can be glimpsed through it.

The poet's perspective on life is very uncomplicated. He views himself in the context of the vastness of creation, finding not only himself but also the distances and differences that have cropped up amongst human beings to be very small. But this does not result in his getting entangled in any mystical arguments, all he desires is that people place themselves in the context of the vastness and continuity of creation and realise that a relationship of intimacy between the human being and nature is the only natural and easy one. That is why he is opposed to that "frenzy" which creates divisions between human beings and between the human being and nature (Unmad ke khilaf Ek Kavita, A Poem against Frenzy). Prayag holds that human beings are related to each other at a level of intimacy quite apart from that of formal introductions. And there is a deep attachment to life, an attachment to all such things without which human life is meaningless. The desire to keep the humanity within him alive under all circumstances is what makes his poetry so meaningful:

May I perceive every anxiety Present in the air Within the drops of dew And outside.™

It is precisely that wish that links the poet to those who have been deprived of the true joy and beauty of life. It is true that Prayag Shukla lacks the courage of Muktibodh and Raghuvir Sahay to venture poetically on life's more intricate pathways, but he also does not sidestep anything that is encountered on the road of life. His poetic vision increasingly comes to rest upon those things in which the paradoxes surrounding us are more clearly articulated:

The Children have gone to sleep The cricket-playing ones The ones who ride tricycles Have gone to sleep

The children are awake

Washing plates and saucers Carrying loads

They are awake.xxvii

Prayag Shukla knows what is beautiful and what is not beautiful. He also knows what is unjust and with great ease introduces it into his poetry. But beyond this, instead of any political statement, he points, with a deep faith towards the future:

Somewhere deep In the soil

A seed, a pregnant stone, Turning, writhing

Raises its headxxviii

It is this very faith that makes Prayag Shukla's poems relevant and necessary even today, poems without which contemporary Hindi poetry is incomplete, which have made Hindi poetry more productive, humane and meaningful.

The modern Hindi poetry has travelled a long way in the last two decades. It is still committed to humanistic and rationalist ideologies. But today it confronts some grave challenges, which had never appeared before it. Contemporary Hindi poetry faces pressure from divisive forces of cultural nationalism, as well as forces of globalisation. But in the same last two decades, Hindi poetry has become more sensitive towards the oppressed and marginalised sections of the society. The poets and writers of these sections intervened in the world of Hindi literature as the representatives of new emerging forces of the society. It is a positive change in Hindi literature. The history of Modern Hindi literature is evident of its commitment to the larger cause of humanity and it will never sacrifice the ideals of a democratic and egalitarian world.

References Books

Agyeya, S.H.Vatsyayan, 1980. Ari O Karuna Prabhamaya (Hindi Poems). New Delhi, Bharatiya Gyanpeeth Prakashan. Chandra, Sudhir, 1992. The Oppressive Present. New Delhi, Oxford University Press. Dalmia, Vasudha, 2003. Orienting India. New Delhi, Three Essays Collective.

Gopal Sarvepalli,1979. Jawaharlal Nehru: A Biography, Volume Two: 1947-1956. Delhi, Oxford University Press. Muktibodh Gajanan Madhav, 1985. MuktibodhRachnavali Vol-1 to 4. New Delhi, Rajkamal Paperbacks. Narayan, Kunwar, 1965. Atmajayi (Hindi Poem). New Delhi, Bharatiya Gyanpeeth Prakashan.

Pradhan, Sudhi (Edited and Compiled), 1979. Marxist cultural movement in India: Chronicles and Documents (1936-1947). Calcutta, National Book Agency Pvt.Ltd.

Pradhan, Sudhi (Edited and Compiled), 1982. Marxist cultural movement in India: Chronicles and Documents (1947-1958). Calcutta, Navana. Rai, Alok, 2000. Hindi Nationalism. New Delhi, Orient Longman Ltd. Rai, Sara (Edit.), 2003. Hindi: HandpickedFictions. New Delhi, Katha.

Sahay, Raghuvir, 1976. Aatmhatya ke virudha (Hindi Poems). New Delhi, Rajkamal Prakashan Pvt. Ltd. Said, W. Edward, 1995. Orientalism: Western Concepts of the orient. New Delhi, Penguin Books. Shukla, Prayag, 1995. Yaani kayi Varsh (Hindi Poems). New Delhi, Praveen Prakashan. Singh, Namvar, 1968. Chhayavaad (Hindi Criticism). Delhi, Rajkamal Prakashan Pvt. Ltd.


Hindi Vol.1, No.1 (Edit. Rustam Singh). April-June 2000. New Delhi, Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University.

IndianLiterature153 (Edit. K.Satchidanandan). Jan.-Feb'93. New Delhi, Sahitya Akedemi.

IndianLiterature154 (Edit. K.Satchidanandan). Mar.-Apr'93. New Delhi, Sahitya Akedemi.

The Book Review Vol. XVIII, No.4 (Edit. Chandra Chari). April 1994. New Delhi.

The Book Review Vol. XVIII, No.5 (Edit. Chandra Chari). May 1994. New Delhi.

The Little Magazine (Edit. Antara Dev Sen) Delhi.

' Nehru Speeches, 5 Volumes, New Delhi, Vol. 1, Page 25; quoted from 'India after Independence by Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee and Aditya Mukherjee, Viking, New Delhi, 1999, p.68.

" Quoted from Marxist cultural movement in India, Volume 1: Edited by Sudhi Pradhan, National Book Agency Pvt. Ltd. Calcutta, 1979, pp.55-56.

"' Quoted from Indian Literature-153, Jan-Feb'1993. p. 124.

11 Quoted from IndianLiterature153, Jan-Feb'1953.

v Quoted from the book The Oppressive Present: Literature and Social Consciousness in Colonial India by Sudhir Chandra; Oxford University Press, New Delhi; 1992; p.32.

vi Dwivedi Yug (Era of Dwivedi) named after Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi. Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi was editor of famous Hindi Journal Saraswati from 1903 to 1920. He was a pioneer figure in developing Hindi Literature in first two decades of Twentieth Century.

™ Premchand symbolises the idealistic realism in the Hindi fiction writing. He was not only influenced by nationalistic struggle but also by internationalism. He was inspired by Gandhian ideology as well as socialistic thought.

v111 Quoted from the book, Chhayavad written by Namavar Singh, Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi, 1968, p.24.

ix Quoted from the book, Chhayavad written by Namavar Singh, Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi, 1968, p.24.

x Quoted from Marxist cultural movement in India, Vol.1; Edited and compiled by Sudhi Pradhan; National Book Agency Pvt. Ltd. Calcutta; 1979; p.94.

xi Quoted fromMuktibodhRachnavali, Vol.2; Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi; 1985; p.76.

x11 Ibid., p.83.

x111 Sachhidanand Hiranand Vatsyayan "Agyeya" (1911-1987) was known for Prayogvad (experimentalism) and modernism. He initiated the Prayogvad movement in Hindi poetry and was regarded as an important representative of New Poetry movement. He was also a famous novelist, essayist and storywriter.

xiv Quoted from Agyeya's anthology Ari OKaruna Prabhamaya; Bhartiya Gyanpeeth, New Delhi; 1980; p.155.

xv Muktibodh Rachnavali, Vol.3; Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi; 1985; p.158.

xvi Muktibodh Rachnavali, Vol.3; Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi; 1985; p.158.

xv11 Lucy Rosenstein translates this Hindi poem. Quoted from Hindi, vol.1, No.1 Editor Rustam Singh; Published by Mahatma Gandhi International University.

xvm Quoted from Kunwar Narain's poem "Remaining human", translated by Deniel Weissbort with the Author; Indian Literature-153; Jan-Feb'93; Sahitya Akedemi, New Delhi.

xix Nagarjun's Poem "Famine and after", Quoted from Indian Literature and translated by Nalini Taneja.

xx Quoted from Jagdish Chaturvedi's (born 1933) poem "Kapalik Priya", translated by Mariola Offredi, Hindi vol1, No.1.

xxi Quoted from article "Trends in Contemporary Hindi Poetry: An Overview", IndianLiterature-153, Jan-Feb'1993; p.143.

xx11 Translated by Mariola Offredi, Quoted from Mariola Offredi's article "A note on marginality in Hindi Literature", Hindi Vol.1 No.1, April-June 2000.

xxm "Poetry and Democracy" review article on Raghuvir Sahay's poetry, The Book Review, Vol. XVIII, No.5, May 1994; p.6.

xxiv "The Hakim and the Woman" translated by Harish Trivedi, Quoted from The Book Review, May 1994.

xxv Per (Tree) in Yeh Jo Hara Hai (This That is Green); Translated by Maya Joshi, The Book Review, May 1994; p. 10.

xxvi Translated by Maya Joshi, The Book Review, May 1994: p.10.

xxv11 Ibid., p.11.

xxvm "Beej" (Seed) from Beete kitne Baras; Translated by Maya Joshi; The Book Review, May 1994, p.11.