Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Intoxication , philosophy and a candid life....

मिट्टी का तन, मस्ती का मन, क्षण भर जीवन, मेरा परिचय

(A body of clay, a mind full of play, a moment’s life - that is me).

This is how Harivansh Rai Bachchan introduced himself . He was born exactly 100 years back on this day . Though today's generation will know him as father of superstar Amitabh Bachchan and grandfather of Abhishek Bachchan , he attained the fame which very few poets in Hindi can boast of. He lived a candid life and the reflections of his sorrows, achievements and joys are found in his poems.
जो छुपाना जानता तो जग मुझे साधू समझता
शत्रु बन मेरा गया है छल रहित व्यवहार मेरा "
His poems are so real, so close to life that they are still recited in literary societies, in students' hostels and even in mainstream movies. His great collection 'Madhushala (मधुशाला)' is perhaps the most quoted book of modern Hindi poetry . While thousands know about him and his 'Madhushala' most are not sure about his place in literature. Till about 1975, he was a phenomenon to reckon with, but after that he was ostracised as belonging to a non-literary world (perhaps because of the rising glory of his son in the Bollywood) and no attempt was made to seriously evaluate him as a poet.In Harivansh Rai, the neglect caused a side-effect. He learnt to depend for his inspiration more upon his readers and committed audiences and built an unprecedented relationship with them. .
Reacting to critics' prejudices, Bachchan had in 1973 declared his retirement from poetry. He had announced it formally in his address to his readers in the last volume of his poem titled Jaal sameta where he wrote
जाल समेटा करने में भी वक्त लगा करता है मांझी ,
मोह मछलियों का अब तो तो छोड़ ...

"It takes time in closing the day(arranging the net) O fisherman, leave your desire for more fishes now"

He also promised to his readers in a different medium such as prose. By that time, Bachchan's first two volumes of the autobiography were already published and his reputation as a prose-writer was established. After some years, when the other two volumes were published, even his worst critics could not ignore him. Yet for most of them he was a better prose-writer than a poet. As against the belief that he was a poet of private pain, he was indeed a poet of joy. And 'joy' was indeed the nickname that he had given to his first wife 'Shyama'. Even his poems of sorrow collected in 'Ekant Sangeet' and 'Nisha Nimantran' have an intimation of joy and beauty, and by the time the poems of 'Milan Yamini were published, in which the lovers meet and meet, the joys of life can be seen as real and palpable. Harivansh Rai Bachchan cannot be dismissed simply as a popular poet. Talking like a common man, he was really a serious-minded poet. Of all his writings, his 'Madhushala' is the most misunderstood. This is no celebration of wine, which Bachchan never touched. It was in fact a comment of the social hypocracies and behaviour by taking wine as a metaphor . Listen to a part of it here . As a salut to this great poet and writer I want to share these beautiful lines from his pen:

मैं कितना ही भूलूँ, भटकूँ या भरमाऊँ,
ही एक कहीं मंजिल जो मुझे बुलाती ही,
कितने ही मेरे पाँव पड़े ऊंचे-नीचे,
प्रतिपल वह मेरे पास चली ही आती ही,
मुझ पर विधि का आभार बहुत-सी बातों का।
पर मैं क्र्ताजं उसका इस पर सबसे ज्यादा -
नभ ओले बरसाए, धरती शोले उगले,
समय की चक्की चलती जाती ही,
मैं जहाँ खडा था कल उस थल पर आज नहीं,
कल इसी जगह पर आना मुझको मुश्किल है,
ले मापदंड जिसको परिवर्तित कर देतीं
केवल छूकर ही देश-काल की सीमाएँ
दे मुझपर फैसला उसे जैसा भाए
लेकिन मैं तो बेरोक सफ़र में जीवन
इस एक और पहलू से होकर निकल चला।
जीवन की आपाधापी में कब वक़्त मिला
कुछ देर कहीं पर बैठ कभी यह सोच सकूँ
किया, कहा, माना उसमें क्या बुरा भला।

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