Monday, 4 February 2013

The sacrosanct nature of text (IV)

Naishabdar Buke Mi Chetan Satta by Champalal Sinha
Translated and annotated by Ramlal Sinha

LATE Surachandra Sinha, father of poet Champalal Sinha, did give his own explanations to around nine to 10 poems of his son. The explanations of some of the poems have been retrieved so far. “The Imago” (Chhabihan) is one of the poems that had been explained by Late Sinha. 

Poet Champalal Sinha and his father were complementary even when the son was just a child insofar as intellectual skill and quality are concerned. It was through his son, with a gifted power of conception, that Late Sinha studied the religious scriptures meant for sadhaks that he had inherited from his preceptor, Guru (Late) Vidyapati Sinha of Bangladesh. In the process, the poet acquired knowledge that was generally not expected of a teenager. Theirs was a cottage redolent of spiritualism with their round-the-clock conscious breathing (the ajapa japa). The poet has won accolades from various quarters for the depth of his poems and his way of presenting them, words chosen to convey the message he wants to give to his readers and his unique art of keeping the central idea concealed in a web of words by leaving only one or two keys for readers to grasp. The spiritual poems of Champalal Sinha and their depth make it very difficult for one to pigeonhole him under one bracket, along with his contemporary poets, though his poetry has many themes common with theirs. His diction and technique make the task of the translator truly Herculean in the real sense of the term. When a poem or any other literary work is translated into another language, the translator has to see that the import of the original is not lost. He/she should challenge the cliché that a book or a literary work loses something in translation, no matter how successful he/she is.

The Imago 
Aglow you’re
In the fantasy of the universal poet!
I know not where the Styx is,
Wending my way into the solar orbit
Illusive feelings ripe with 
Challenge the Three Powers
For horizontal dancing.
Where’s the Styx?
Amid pleasure and pain
The mixed feelings of life herald a new era,
That’s what my head’s imbued with
Like that of an omniscient oldster,
And het up about their D-day
The manuscripts of my poems, a Cinderella,
Keep staring at me with its sheets torn
Like that of an old almanac,
‘Where’s the Styx?’
Why this query keeps me boring!
Aglow you’re in the fantasy of God!
Lifeless yet so lively you’re
I do feel your heartbeat — lub-dub
In the core of my bosom,
I had a whale of a time with God
Over a thousand nights,
That the universe moves on the wheels of
God’s chariot is hackneyed yet ageless. 

Hints given by Late Sinha: 
The cloak of mystery of God keeps the universe wrapped under it. The paradox of hedonism is what a person in the pursuit of pleasure has to undergo. Under the influence of the Panchabhut — air, water, fire, land and the sky — a person either becomes wise (jnani) or unwise or ignorant (ajnani).
A self-conscious person, however, is always engrossed in the thought of the Supreme Power. He is full of consciousness and felicity. To him, the Styx is just a curiosity. No hurdle like the Styx is a hurdle for him, in each sense of the term. To him, living and non-living things are alike. Even a non-living thing can feel the touch of a living thing, and which is why his mind is blissful forever. 

Explanation by the translator: 
By the phrase ‘The Imago’, the poet means the ‘image of his guru’ with ‘whom’ he can talk, touch, pay his obeisance directly and whatnot. When viewed from the standpoint of science, an image is essentially an inanimate phenomenon that cannot talk, feel and do all sorts of work that an animate object like a man, an animal et al can. If what Late Sinha says— to a conscious man, all living and non-living things are alike, and even a non-living thing can feel the touch of a living thing, and which is why his mind is blissful forever — is anything to go by, talking and exchanging feelings with an image is very much possible.

The Styx (Tiropunir ghat or Boitarani): This, according to the Hindu mythology, is a barrier or an obstacle or a river that is very difficult to cross over for a person while breathing his or her last. It is believed that the souls of the dead are ferried over this river. 

Breaking the barrier of Styx is very difficult. The kanthavera (the last phlegm) that troubles a person and prevents him/her from having the last glimpse of his guru or God at the anjachakra while breathing his/her last is not a problem for a successful sadhak. Kanthavera and the Styx are no barriers worth the term for him/her.

Wending my way into the solar orbit /Illusive feelings ripe with hedonism/challenge the Three Powers/ For horizontal dancing: With these phrases, the poet describes one’s sexual urges that seek satisfaction or gratification.

Such powerful urges do challenge the Three Powers — rom, shom and dom — as stated in Vaishnavite codes. While rom means sex meant for creation, shom means love meant for protection and dom means destruction. Late Sinha rightly says that under the influence of the environment comprising Panchabhut — air, water, fire, land and sky — a person either becomes wise (jnani) or unwise or ignorant (ajnani). For one who deviates from the right course under the influence of the Panchabhut, getting ferried across the Tiropuni (Styx) can never be a cakewalk. 

Amid pleasure and pain/The mixed feelings of life herald a new era...Like that of an old almanac: Pleasure and pain give us a mixed experience of life, and the poet is no different from having such an experience. Unlike an ordinary man, such experiences do keep the poet thinking and his thoughts get reflected in his poems only to be left unpublished for years and on, making them victims of the voracious rudiments of Panchabhut air, water, fire, land and the sky —— that are strong enough to reduce his manuscripts into the constituent elements of paper and ink. Keeping his feelings behind the cloak of phrases like ‘het up about their D-day/The manuscripts of my poems, a Cinderella,/Keep staring at me with its sheets torn/Like that of an old almanac (chhirabira panjir patahanirsade, the poet describes the fate of his numerous unpublished poems that could otherwise make a large oeuvre had they been published on time. The works of the poet keep staring at him for their D-day (release or mukti) as they are under the evil influence of the Panchabhut that is powerful enough to break them down into smaller and smaller pieces and convert them into basic elements. Such phrases, when compared with the ground reality, throw enough light on the fact that the oeuvre of nine anthologies of poetry under the credit of the poet is not even 1/30th of the volume of his literary works. 
The penury-driven poet who has been writing right from the era of Fagu (a Bishnupriya Manipuri literary magazine no longer being published now) has an abysmally large number of literary works that have not been published as yet. His are manuscripts that get assimilated with the Panchabhut under his very nose.

Aglow you’re in the fantasy 
of God!
Lifeless yet so lively you’re
I do feel your heartbeat — lub-dub
In the core of my bosom,
I had a whale of a time with God
Over a thousand nights,
That the universe moves on the wheels of
God’s chariot is hackneyed yet ageless.

This stanza lays bare the realisation of the poet on Guru and God. He sees his Guru no different from God. In the phrase ‘lifeless yet so lively’, the poet draws a line between science and theology. What science says is: the image of anybody’s guru is indeed lifeless. What is beyond science is: one’s gurubhakti (devotion to a preceptor) can enliven the image of a guru and make the exchange of views and all forms of communication between a guru and a shishya (a teacher and a taught) possible, no matter if the guru is dead. According to the Hindu scriptures, guru is shapeless (nirakar). In conformity with the properties of the material world, a shapeless object like water takes the shape of its container. When water is kept in a glass, it takes the shape of the glass and if it is kept in a cup, it takes the shape of the cup. Since guru is shapeless (nirakar), it takes the shape of his container (bhando as called in the philosophy of Baul). If a devotee takes Sri Sri Bhubaneswar Sadhuthakur as his guru, the guru takes the known shape (image) of Sri Sri Bhubaneswar Sadhuthakur. Likewise, if somebody takes Sathya Sai Baba as his guru, the guru takes the known shape (image) of Sathya Sai Baba. A Vaishnav (devotee) who can impose life on a lifeless object like his guru with the strength of his sadhan-bhajan is great. Apart from God, it’s a Vaishnav or a sadhak who can enliven all non-living things around him through the power of his devotion to God, albeit with the help of gurubhakti. Maybe, this is one of the reasons why it is stated in Hindu scriptures that the Guru, Krishna and Vaishnav are all one playing three different roles for the wellbeing of jivas (living organisms). As stated by Late Sinha, a devotee who experiences all non-living things around him as living things is ever blissful, and he is immune to all earthly woes.

Aglow you’re/In the fantasy of the universal poet!, the very first sentence of the poem, 
perhaps, has become a self-explanatory sentence now.
Om akhanda mandalakaram byaptam jena characharam
Tatpadam darshitam jena tasmai shree gurabe namoh
(He whose presence occupies the infinite universe Salutations to my guru for revealing this 
Agyana timirandhashya gyananjana shalakaya
Chakshurunmilitam jena tasmai shri gurabe namoh
(He removes the dark blindness of ignorance, with the light of knowledge, Salutation to the 
Guru who has opened my eyes.) To be concluded

Courtesy: Seven Sisters Post
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