Beyond The Beaten Track: Offbeat Poems From Gujarat (Heritage Collection)

Peacocks among the Mountains (Nanhalal Dalpatram Kavi)

Jaya: Peacocks among the mountains are trumpeting
responding are pea-hens!
Within my heart are leaping tendrils
life is swinging!

Jayant:Jaya! No call of life is this
nor is it the call of atman1
or of springs of heart, it's all illusion.
This commotion is just of wilderness!

Jaya: Gods are conversing among the peaks
goddesses are chuckling.
The essence of my life remaining
dwells in the forests and peaks.

Jayant: Jaya! This is no world's psalm
no invitation of the immortals
no divine inspiration – just all illusion
some trick it is of the demons!

Jaya: Peacocks among the mountains are trumpeting
responding are pea-hens!
Within my heart are leaping tendrils
life is swinging!

1 Soul as a particle of the supreme Godhead.

ગિરિઓમાં મોર (ન્હાનાલાલ દલપતરામ કવિ )

જયા : બોલે-બોલે છે ગિરિઓમાં મોર,
ઢેલડ ટહુકો કરે;
મ્હારે અન્તર ઊછળે અંકોર,
જીવન ઝોલે ચ્હડે.

જયન્ત : નથી જીવનનો બોલ, જયા ! એ
નથી ટહુકો એ આત્મનનો;
નથી ઉરઝરણં, એ ભ્રમરમણા;
એ ઘોર ધ્વનિ કંઈ વનવનનો.

જયા : બોલે-બોલે છે શિખરોમાં દેવ,
દેવીઓ હાસ્ય હસે;
મ્હારા આયુષ્યનો અવશેષ
શિખરે ને વગડે વસે.

જયન્ત : નથી જગતનો મન્ત્ર, જયા ! એ
નથી ન્હોતરું એ અમરોનું;
નથી પ્રભુપ્રેરણા એ સહુ ભ્રમણા;
એ ઇન્દ્રજાળ કંઈ અસુરોનું.

જયા : બોલે-બોલે છે ગિરિઓમાં મોર,
ઢેલડ ટહુકો કરે;
મ્હારે અન્તર ઊછળે અંકોર,
જીવન ઝોલે ચ્હડે.

Category in Beyond The Beaten Track

Existential Despair and Choices

Appreciation

This is a fragment of a long poem of Platonic love. But I found the struggle between the libido and the superego, or if you prefer, the contest between Shiva and Shakti, the ascetic and the sensuous, interesting. What triumphs? The creative force perhaps?

About The Author

Nanhalal Dalpatram Kavi, M.A. (1877 – 1946) was born in Ahmedabad in a brahmin family with affinity for the Swaminarayan sect. Mother died early and there was conflict between father and son. Kavi studied in colleges in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Pune. His bachelor’s degree was in philosophy and his master’s degree was in history. He also studied Persian. In initial years he taught in schools for princes, but interspersed this with stints as a judge and deputy ‘divan’ (minister) of a princely state. He also officiated as the education officer of Kathiawad (now Saurashtra) agency. Following Mahatma Gandhi’s call for non-cooperation with the colonial government, he resigned from service and settled in Ahmedabad, where he died. Kavi was associated with the Prarthana Samaj (Association for Praying). Kavi has been hailed as a ‘maha kavi’ (great poet). His output was prodigious and variegated. He wrote several volumes of poetry, songs for children, poems of epical length, devotional songs, songs for festive occasions, narrative poems, etc. He was a pioneer of blank verse in Gujarati. He also wrote a number of plays, novels, short stories, essays, the biography of his father (from whom he had got estranged), several volumes of autobiography, literary criticism, short stories, novels, etc. A number of volumes of his lectures were also published. He translated some Sanskrit classical works and scriptures into Gujarati. But his forte was love-suffused poems, poems extolling nature’s beauties, and devotional poems. He attempted a massive work titled ‘Harisamhita’ (Lord’s Hymn), in which Krishna, on completing 100 years, takes family members on a 16-year pilgrimage all over India, the intention being to re-establish religion (death intervened before the epic could be completed). But Kavi also had a practical side to his creativity: he also wrote useful works for students, such as on Gujarati and English grammar, Gujarat’s geography, and exercising!