Skip to main content

Train of thoughts in Sanjiv Bhatla’s poems moves at an enormous velocity

By Moin Qazi*
“The poetry of earth is never dead” – John Keats
“Looking Back” is Sanjiv Bhatla’s maiden collection of poems. He has several authoritative and scholarly works on religious and spiritual subjects also to his credit. His poems are equally brilliant and bear out the finer sensibilities in him. His anthology was originally published by Orient Longman (now Orient Black Swan).It has now been brought in its new avatar by Crabwise Press. There are minor changes in the edition but the original flavor remains the same. In his brief but pithy introduction, Nissim Ezekiel describes Bhatla as a poet of “great promise ‘and is able to spot the subtle flashes of brilliance that only a great poet like him can decipher in the work of an emerging poet. He writes “…Lovers of serious and difficult poetry have much to brood over when they confront the subtle characters who appear in this book…they remain convincingly human in Sanjiv’s perception of them. He is not their Creator but their Companion, exemplary in his sympathy, even if mildly ironic…”
In ‘My Country Friend And I On A Train Journey’ we have the typical tale of the milkman portrayed with dry irony and wry humor. The ’Café Intellectual’ is a typical satire written in the poet’s characteristic style. Most poems of Bhatla are not fully evolved, using pregnant phrases, revealing partial truths but hinting at possibilities as thoughts are tossed about to germinate and sprout.
Bhatla’s clear-eyed attention and his sensitive mind bring each subject starkly into focus. The economy of words and clarity combined with deft phrasing, grace and wit create an immediacy that is surreal. For instance,
“Life here bustles with activity/ Busy men rushing about everywhere/ in passages and undergrounds; traffic/ tantrums in the sun”
Poetry has been one of the most ancient creative channels for man. With the birth of writing came the efflorescence of poetry. It became the vehicle of expression for all great men, philosophers, saints, savants and even kings.
Like in the case of most modern poets, Bhatla’s poetry is impatient with tradition, unwilling to tolerate any form of binding or control. Bhatla keeps innovating and therefore sheds conventions, abandons set forms, and is always ready to redefine paradigms. The poems demonstrate that in a world being rendered almost totally comprehensible, it is poetry which surprises us by its discoveries, its ever-lively sense of mystery of the universe, its attempt to restore the mysterious, to rehabilitate the sacred and to reiterate the abiding reverence for all life. Just sample this verse to get a peek into Bhatla’s craftsmanship:
“A cat now gapes, sitting/ atop a junked car-hulk lying/ in the backyard of a haunted/ house. Now I find it/ easier/ to develop a logic above pride”
Bhatla casts away the floridity of colonial Indian English verse and uses naturalized language to describe the colours, the heat, the skies, the light, the animals, the surroundings and the crowds in the Indian situation, and breathes Indianness in every poem. He handles complicated and messy subjects with a strong sense of formal order and emotional restraint. We can find meaning and vitality in the verse, “how personal dilemmas can so easily imply/human misery over a cup of coffee?” and “some unformed poem ceaselessly/turning in a poet’s mind, heedless/of the poet’s imploration, netting facts”.
Bhatla’s is a style (and temperament) that is understated, seeking to understand and learn, rather than preach. This is the mark of the liberal, and also perhaps of the poet. The liberal is attentive to the waywardness of social life; the poet, to the incongruities he can spot in human characters. There is an appealing hesitancy to the poems of Bhatla, which comes from a desire to interpret rather than judge.
“Outside, there stood a demon/ Stooping, raking a fire/ That glittered in his big eyes/ Just above the windowsill”
Bhatla’s bold attempt to pursue poetry may come as a strong riposte to those who believe “Poetry is dead, long live poetry!” All these critics miss the broader point. Poetry can’t meet its demise, any more than air or water can die, because poetry in the more expansive sense is not “poetry” in the narrow. Poetry is currency; it is permeative; and it is, thankfully, too big to die. By meaning that poetry is permeative, I would like to emphases that the poetic alchemy of Bhatla is always synthesizing: trying to relate each subject of observation to some other force, phenomenon, or abstract — to find the links between self and community, past and present, inspiration and its source.
One needs to immerse in Bhatla’s poems with great seriousness because the train of thoughts moves at an enormous velocity. Those who are familiar with Bhatla’s prose understand the intense philosophical vigour that permeates Bhatla’s writings. Professor Alastair Niven, who was then the Editor of Journal of Commonwealth Literature (in the late 1980s), wrote about this book: “I am happy to have encountered Sanjiv Bhatla’s immediate and often very touching poems: a series of gentle yet vivid vignettes.”

*Development expert

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Why convert growing badminton popularity into an 'inclusive sports opportunity'

By Sudhansu R Das  Over the years badminton has become the second most popular game in the world after soccer.  Today, nearly 220 million people across the world play badminton.  The game has become very popular in urban India after India won medals in various international badminton tournaments.  One will come across a badminton court in every one kilometer radius of Hyderabad.  

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Faith leaders agree: All religious places should display ‘anti-child marriage’ messages

By Jitendra Parmar*  As many as 17 faith leaders, together for an interfaith dialogue on child marriage in New Delhi, unanimously have agreed that no faith allows or endorses child marriage. The faith leaders advocated that all religious places should display information on child marriage.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Ayurveda, Sidda, and knowledge: Three-day workshop begins in Pala town

By Rosamma Thomas*  Pala town in Kottayam district of Kerala is about 25 km from the district headquarters. St Thomas College in Pala is currently hosting a three-day workshop on knowledge systems, and gathered together are philosophers, sociologists, medical practitioners in homeopathy and Ayurveda, one of them from Nepal, and a few guests from Europe. The discussions on the first day focused on knowledge systems, power structures, and epistemic diversity. French researcher Jacquiline Descarpentries, who represents a unique cooperative of researchers, some of whom have no formal institutional affiliation, laid the ground, addressing the audience over the Internet.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

Hindutva economics? 12% decline in manufacturing enterprises, 22.5% fall in employment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The messiah of Hindutva politics, Narendra Modi, assumed office as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. He pledged to transform the Indian economy and deliver a developed nation with prosperous citizens. However, despite Modi's continued tenure as the Prime Minister, his ambitious electoral promises seem increasingly elusive.