Born in 1930,s.c. Narula studied Physics and Astronomy for his graduation at Government College, Ludhiana, but switched to English Literature for post-graduation and then later got his doctorate in the same from Delhi University. He has been writing for the Sahitya Academy journal Indian Literature and has published a collection of his poems called The Third Passenger. He is an elected Fellow of the International Academy of Poets, International Biographical Centre at Cambridge, England and listed in the International Who’s who of poetry published by the I.B.C. Cambridge, England.
Taar Saptak, The Series of four Anthologies of Contemporary poetry edited by Satchidanand Hiranand Vatsyayan Agyeya is a mounmtntal work by measure and indeed a landmark in the field of Hindi Literature, especially poetry, for it brings together the best poetry written in the galf century gone by. It covers the range of twenty- eight poets-seven poets in each volume of the Saptals and therefore so called by that name. Agyeya launches the first volume beginning rightly with work of Gajanan Muktibodh, who like Yeats dominates his contemporary poet Rajendra Kishore . The four volumes are no less than a classic among poetry reference books of the period on the quality of the verse, responsive sensibility of poets, and their experimentation with verse forms with an idea to incorporate contemporary socio – political ideas. Most important of all is that Satchidanand Vatsyayan, himself a poet has introduced every volume with his very sensitive and perceptive comments. He takes into his ambit the general literary trends and movements, like progressive literature, experiments with the use of free verse, realism In terms of the immediate social and political reality of the period- particularly the influence of Leftist thinking on the writing if these poets. And then he goes on to place the experiment of each poet in perspective.
It is not as though experiment with verse form had begun with Muktibodh. Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala ‘ and Mahadevi Verma before him not only successfully experimented with rhymed stanzaic form but also with unrhymed free verse. In face Nirala, like Coleridge in England, was the first to have used with unmatched excellence unrhymed free cerse most successfully and powerfully. But the age of poets like Jaishankar Prasad, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Surya Kant Tripathi Nirala and Sumitranandan Pant with their visionary Romanticism and mysticismwas passing by. They left only in traces their influence on the poetry of new generation of poets like Muktibodh, Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal and Ram Vilas Sharma both in terms of content and form.
These poets endeavored to keep their language of poetry close to the spoken word, one which was also capable of expressing the influence of latest researches in psychology I the west. These poets and those that followed made it all new by experiment to accommodate the awareness of the experience of living in the existential reality within the emerging political ideologies. Consider, for instance, the limes from Nemi Chandra Jain’s angry outburst against exploitation of man by man in his poem, Kavi Gaata Hai (OThus Sings the Poet):
Princely palaces these,
In the foundations of which were sacrificed
Thousands the hungry skeletal labourers,
Sluiced by their warm blood today,
Stand proud these stately palaces,
Beside, of course, the prevailing conditions I the country created by the aftermath of the ongoing struggle for freedom from foreign rule and cerebral self-analytical approach of the mind involved in situations of conflict engaged their writing. For instance the introvert probing lines of Muktibodh may be considered in which the abstract acquires material images which has also been used as metaphor in his poem, Atma Samvaaad:
In the same word wide journey, among boulders,
In the lowering gloom of an evening,
(Like radiance f the hear) in solitude,
A homestead bright lit up in electric llight,
Around which were there
Some darkling trees,
Steadied as though in heavy foliage,
Very heavy, huge lumps of pain.
Even when sending out a call to countrymen to awaken them ad muster a force against tyranny it can be noticed that, Bharat Bhushab Aggrawal’s patriotic fervor is tinged with Leftist ideology in Jaagte Raho:
Behold O comrade!
We shall not sleep, task reains for us to do,
Script of progress is yet yndone,
Awake ever awake must be our aim!
And behold on the horizon-
Rises a star, O the red star, the star of our vision,
Guiding star for us all
And a promise of triumph.
Or, in the similar tone Ram Vilas Sharma cries out against the paradox created by what generally is known as material progress, but which causes corruption of the simple life of the people. He says in the context of the very desirable and ubiquitous peace among the people of the world in his poem, World-Peace:
Cold dew-ladem winter night,
And the sky is red with flames!
It’s the fore of revolt,
Breaks out of the forgiving breast of earth,
And rises in a thousand tongues
Towards the golden throne in heave.
Nor can such poetry be dubbed entirely as propaganda poetry.
Fourth rich experience of a whole gamut of human emotions that issues form the myriad and complex situations imaginable that go to form the milieu in the present day life of man is to be found expressed in these poems.
Readers of Hindi poetry have benefited immensely from the Saptak anthologies. For not only do they find the best of all the rising and experimenting poets in one place, but also those chosen for their promise to have risen to eminence of established poets- justifying their place and fulfilling their promise.
It would certainly be a service done to Hindi poetry and to Hindi literature if such a work, even in parts, were to be presented to a wider range of readership through the medium of translation into English language.
Indeed, it is an ambitious project and no less daunting; but I am emboldened to take up the challenge by the successful work of translation that I have been doing for the Sahitya Academy and Birla Foundation vesides Macmillan, Indian and The Servants of People Society, Lajpat Bhavan. The ultimate judge, of course, is the reader. It is with some trepidation that I offer these translations to your all.
(The first edition)
Historical Perspective and some Explications:
Taar Sapatak together the poems of seven young poets (or seven poet youths) . How these poems came to be together in one place has a history behind it. Before looking into the poems or this anthology it would be useful to look back at the history.
A couple of years ago when All India Writers’ Conference was held in Delhi, some enthusiastic colleagues mooted the idea that instead of bringing out stray and small volumes of verse it would be better to plan a consolidated comprehensive collection. The smaller collections, it was said, get lost like drops of water in the ocean besides facing the problems of publication. The present author, already notorious for being a “Believer of plans”, was told of the plan at once. It keeping with his renown (notoriety is still to e known!) accepted the challenge of the plan.
What exactly was the configuration of the plan initially, and who all were the poets considered enterprise was accepted as the basic principle of the project, that is, all those poets who participated in the project, that is, all those poets who participated in the project would be equal partners in the anthology. The money to pay for the paper would be collected and pooled. For printing and publication the co-operation of a press would be solicited, which can afford to wait for the sale of the book, or buy back copies of the book as repayment! The other principle was that the poets included in the collection must e such who believe in experiment as an essential part of poetry. They do not lay any claim that they have realized the truth if poetry, and claim that they have realized the truth of poetry, and consider themselves as mere seekers after truth.
On such grounds I was entrusted with the responsibility of giving practical shape to the plans.
So much is the history of publication. Now let me dwell on the aspect of its contents.
Seven poets have been anthologized in Taar Saptak and all of them know one another. How else could there have been such co-operative enterprise? Yet this should not leas to the conclusion that they belong to any particular school of poetry; or they are members of any particular literary group or coterie. On the contrary, the reason behind their coming together is that they do not belong to any definite school, they have not reached any destination, and they are journeymen yet. Not even journeymen, but they are seekers of their path. Their opinions are not sikilar to the others in the volume. In all matters of importance related to existence they have their own separate opinions. They differ on almost every matter, such as society, religion, politics, substance of poetry, use of stanza form and rhyme, style and diction and the responsibilities of a poet towards society, etc. So much so, that sometimes they do not agree even upon certain universally accepted and eternal truths, like the necessity of democracy, privatization of industry, utility of technical knowledge in war, damaging effects of hydrogenated oils , and well , the excellence of the singing of Kanan Bala or Sehagal. They belittle and laugh at one another’s and go to the extent of not sparing their friends and even their pet dogs. This collection of Taar Saptak is not very comprehensive. It is hoped, therefore, that from among the readers, there must be some who are familiar more or less with the work of one or the other poet of the collection. They shall be able to understand that this is not the publication of my ideological group. Maybe the seven poets have had to take upon himself the imposition of the half of the ghost personality of the editor.
In spite of all this they are still anthologized in one place and the reason has been stated already. The attitude of a seeker in the field of poetry clubs them together. It does not mean, thought, that each poem in the collection is an example of experimentation, or the poems of this poem have remained untouched by tradition. Nor is it the claim that these are the only experimentalist poets and the others are mere poetaster. No, there is no such claim. The only claim is that all seven of them are devoted seekers. The reason why exactly were these, who finally comprised the Saptak, is vecause the familiar and co-operative plan made it possible. In this connection there were a few more names which were proposed but their work did not manifest the kind of experimentation that had been taken as the deciding measure. They indeed would have gained in eminence by being among the poets of the anthology, and not lost anything. There is not a single poet of the collection whose poetry would give stood its ground merely in the name of the poet. All are prepared to have a common measure (of value framework of evolution) created yet, because all of them are striving t seek the attainment of the ideal beyond which the need of a measure is redundant. In fact, the achieved ideal then becomes the measure of measures.
A word or two is necessary about the getup of the anthology. Of late, generally poetry has been published to appear beautiful on printed page by fancy printing and large margins. If poetry were merely decoration of words, it would then be of some relevance. The poetry of Taar Saptak is not that kind of ornate work, nor indeed could it be. There was a time when even the swords and the cannons were ornate and studded with gems, but today even the ornaments are mounded directly from moulten metal, and diamonds from metal particles heated to a very high temperature under from metal particles heated to a very high temperature under pressure! Considering the appearance or format as secondary to Taar Saptak, our efforts has been to include maximum amount of material in the collection. This has been our commitment not only to the reader but also to the author. Since whoever comes forth in public is a finally claimant (of public attention), and if so, he should come forward with sufficiently adequate material in his support. The plan was to let every poet have a specific pointed form of large dimensions in which to present all his material. The material in the anthology in its present form is no less than what the form would have contained. In view of these facts, it is our belief that this volume of Taar Saptal contains material equivalent to the material of three volumes for the same price.
There may be readers to object that such canvassing is properly the publisher’s job and not the editor’s evidently, in the co-operative project of Taar Saptak the writers are the editors and publisher too.
Besides, they are their own biographers and their own spokespersons. And (this should not be considered as audacity, only preparedness to take the consequences of one’s own actions) they are prepared for a situation that they alone may be left as the readers of Taar Saptak. For, those who are given to experimentation should not be very attached to the object of their research.
The serial order, in which the poets have appeared, to an extent, it is to present the entire material in the most properly impressive manner. The editor appears t the end, because he happens to be the editor. To try and draw conclusions about the merit of the status of a poet, or to get an idea of the editor’s opinion of the poet, from the position at which a poet appears in the serial order, would be absurd.
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