There is still considerable mystery surrounding many circum- stances in the life of the great Indian poet known as Nirala (1899?—1961). The meaning of some passages throughout his work and even his sanity, along with many biographical- details, such as the exact date of his birth, are matters of continuing dispute. To describe Nirala’s role and his importance in modern Hindi literature requires a somewhat detailed consideration of the literary and linguistic background from which the poet emerged. But since it is my hope that Nirala’s poetry itself will command the chief interest of most Western readers of this book I have accordingly reserved a general survey of Nirala’s life and work, in the form of an afterword, along with some remarks on the translation, for the end of the book.
Nirala was extremely fond of short lyrics describing the various Indian seasons, a tradition that can be traced back to classical Sanskrit literature as well as to Prakrit and vernacular poetry. For his own anthology of his work up to 1950 Nirala chose the title “Apara,” the experience (or wisdom) of the world and hence the contrary of transcendental. There is doubtless an ironic overtone in this designation, or Nirala apparently believed, like the Madhyamikas and some Vedantins, that the physical universe, though it may be termed ultimately unreal, is nevertheless the vehicle of revelation of the absolute reality and, even, not to be distinguished from it by an enlightened awareness. In inventing a title for this collection of translations or Nirala’s work I have sought to suggest these elements of the “worldly” or earthly life A and the transitory and cyclical character of the physical universe.
The translator wishes to express his appreciation to Shri S. P. Nirash of Delhi University, Mr. Asad Rahman and Mrs. Shaista Rahman of Brooklyn College, Dr. Vasant Joshi of the University of California in Berkeley, and Shri Vishnu Khare, the Hindi poet, for their many valuable suggestions regarding Nirala’s language and style; to the American Council of Learned Societies for the fellowship making possible the research in India for this book; to Mrs. Bonnie R. Crown, Director of the Asian Literature Program of the Asia Society, and Miss Andrea Miller, Assistant Director, for their constant encouragement and support in completing this work; and to Shri Ramakrishna Tripathi, Nirala’s son, and to Lokbharti Publishers and Bharati Bhandar of Allaha- bad for their kind permission to publish these translations.
About the Book:
The work of the modern Indian poet Nirala grew out of an early twentieth-century literary revolution as well as tempestuous personal life. Nirala was easily the most extraordinary figure of the Chhayavad movement, which rejected the Braj traditions and the flat realism of early writing in Khari boli, the new literary medium, creating a genuine renaissance in Hindi literature. A voluminous writer, whose poetry alone runs to eleven volumes, Nirala outgrew the Chhayavad phase to fashion a new poetry employing mystical symbols, an intense awareness of natural forces, and complex emotions. He was ultimately recognized as the finest Hindi poet of his time.
The poems in this volume were selected to represent as fully as possible the wide range and variety of his work. David Rubin's translation, sensitive to all dimensions of Nirala's language, allows these poems to speak on their own terms.
In the translator's concluding note a significant reference is made to the art of conveying formal, emotional, and imagistic facets of a poem; if these qualities cannot be recreated, they must be implied. The simple, literal translation will appeal to students and scholars of Hindi poetry and literature, as well as to a general readership.
About the Author:
David Rubin was visiting professor at Columbia University, New York. He is a widely published writer and an award-winning novelist. He has translated Windows, Wives and Other Heroines: Twelve Stories by Premchand (OUP, 1998) and The World of Premchand: Selected Short Stories (OUP, 2001).
Children’s Books (474)
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend