Monday, July 08, 2013

BIPLAB MAJUMDAR: A POET OF SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS



BIPLAB MAJUMDAR: A POET OF SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

     By:

  R.K.SINGH and  PALLAVI  KIRAN 

Biplab Majumdar, an emerging voice from West Bengal, writing for more than two decades in English and Bangla, is no exception to one of the recent trends that reflect humans caught in the process of dehumanisation. The poet shows a wide eyed awareness of the decadent air that the present modern culture breathes. He reflects on growing individualism, materialism, hypocrisy, environmental degradation, extremism, moral degeneration etc. Through his poems, Majumdar expresses the tale of humanity and benevolence. In an interview with Anil K. Sharma, he states:
       I prefer to speak for mankind in the voice of the unheard. My deeds and my creations speak for the deprived lot. I am not an active member of any social organisation and political party; neither am I leftist or rightist. But contemporary events are reflected in my writings. As a poet and writer, I think my duty is to present my thoughts, beliefs, reactions, protest, philosophy of life etc before the world in an aesthetical and artistic manner.”1
With such a wide range of subject and evolving thought pattern, Biplab Majumdar’s poems evince a blend of philosophy and social consciousness. He knows: “In quest of truth/ In quest of light, I move on/ Along path of time”2 and “Poet’s can’t resist/ Inevitable blows of reality/ They bleed through verses”3
His three collections namely, Virtues & Vices(2001), Golden Horizon(2004), and Island’s Dolphin Song(2009) are characterised by concrete experiences of life, nature, spirituality, worldly woes, aesthetic values, and tradition and culture of India. He proffers an ironic vision:

                                           Milk in polypack
                                                     Who knows when gets a leak
                                                     Life within body4
and
                                           Below watery epidermis
                                                   there is stream of white
                                                  transparent unworldly lustre
                                                 And some salty insult,
                                           
                                                 A terrible vow became muscular gradually
                                                 in every bones
                                          
                                                A stony promise picks up a burning charcoal
                                                 in his fist of consciousness5

Biplab Majumdar moralises life and living in poems such as ‘Life’, ‘Discipline’, ‘Humility’, ‘Truth’, ‘Patriotism’, ‘Commonsense’, ‘Courtesy’, ‘Peace’, ‘Righteousness’, etc. To quote from the poem ‘Simplicity’;
                                        Simple living and our simple wants
                                               Faith in god in humble chest,
                                               Keep us healthy, happy and wise
                                               Simple life is always best.6

With a didactic streak, he presents the advantages of a simple life which leads to ‘Dharma’ or righteousness. The poet’s irony lies in his playing with the adage ‘Simple living and high thinking’ or the nursery rhyme, “Early to bed/ Early to rise/ Makes a man healthy/ Wealthy and wise” and thus, sounding philosophical too.
However, the modern reality pertains to have an overall satisfaction from the perspective of wealth and richness. The idea that emerges from the poem is that dharma affects the future according to the karma accumulated7. The poet brings out the importance of human values that often get reflected in the way we live our own lives.
It is true that globalisation is not synonymous with finer sensibility and human sensitivity. Everyone around is addicted to ‘self’:
                                         A man who thinks for self alone
                                                Lives in self made glass capsule,
                                                His soul suffers, the world ridicules
                                                Inevitably he dies of dire suffocation.8

Human beings fail to realise their internal enemies that make them restless and often corrupt their existence.
Analysing the contemporary reality, Biplab Majumdar reflects that life is a picture of light and shadow, where good and evil co-exist, yet there also exists a way out that can set things on the track by looking within and changing the self. He is convinced that ‘self-revolution’ alone can reconstruct life and society:
                                         When we are our own enemies
                                                Want to get rid of our hellish past,
                                                Self-conquest is our firstmost goal
                                                Self-revolution is then basically must.9

This idea is further strengthened in the poem titled ‘Thinking’ and even more in the poem ‘Forgiveness’, where he appeals to the people to understand their true self;
                                           Let’s focus the light within us
                                           Our past misdeeds, our secrets sins,
                                           Let us forgive ourselves first
                                           To make our heart neat and clean.10

The poet here stands out for his deep insight. Majumdar seeks to contain inner restlessness through meditation and exploration of the self for positive communication. He tries to mirror his “emotional escape” through “perpetual deconstruction”11 of life which is directed towards the idealist human unity and  universal peace and happiness. He echoes what Sri Aurobindo propounds as spiritual:
it is in the service of spirituality that Art reaches its highest self expression. Spirituality is a single word expressive of three lines of human aspiration towards divine knowledge, divine love and joy, divine strength and that will be the highest and the most perfect Art which while satisfying the physical requirement of aesthetic sense, the laws of formal beauty, the emotional demand of humanity, the portrayal of life and outwardly reality...expresses inner spiritual truth.”12
Thus, the great thinkers, philosophers and radicals held the view that poets are not religious men but with experience of life and intense observation they learn to live life more purposefully. Biplab Majumdar’s vision of spiritualism seems to revive the ideas of the great philosophers and thinkers for the enhancement of human life: “Poets are worshippers/ Eternal worshippers of truth/ To enlighten world.”13


 As a seeker of truth, Biplab Majumdar paints his poetic canvas with the practical colours of experience. He partakes of beauty of nature and without overlooking the negative aspects of human existence: “We live like the earth/ Being wounded, bloody by dear ones/ Compelled to cry within.”14

 In the poem ‘Dead Bird’, Biplab Majumdar pictures the image of a cage that projects the depressing condition of a bird in the following lines: “The emptiness of a cage without birds was/ swaying within my heart”15
Like a keen observer the poet views the rampant absurdity that prevails within and tries to correlate it with the contemporary mindset:
                                           Never you will see
                                                 Butterflies sit for minutes
                                                 Mind is fugitive16

The poet conveys the self-illuminating ideas melded into nature, subverting what Coleridge said in one of his poems:
                                                 O Lady! We receive what we give
                                                 In our life alone doth nature live.17
     
Further, his poems reflect an awareness of the ultimate reality through the decaying standards of human life and behaviour. With his ironic vision of social reality, he seeks to set things on the right track:
                                                 Adjust according to time and place
                                                  Be strong in woe, humble in weal,
                                                 Keep balance in pain and pleasure
                                                That is life where peace does dwell.18

The poet visualises an idealist midway to accommodate virtues and to face the adversaries with a positive frame of mind:
                                                 Let’s break off the chains of past
                                                 In order to develop a newer vision,
                                                Let’s turn and march on ahead
                                                 To give our life a better dimension.19

Thus, his idea reminds one of Sri Aurobindo’s vision which pleads for an organic, fresh, prophetic and missionary life against the mechanical, uninspiring, flat and complacent life.  

To sum up, Biplab Majumdar is a potential poet who is equally alive and responsive to the present situation of the world:

                                       Wish to mop up the grains of jealousy
                                       from all human hearts

                                       Wish to extinguish all the burning candles
                                       of selfishness with a single puff

                                        Salty pang absorbed in the blood gradually, why
                                        the invitation of alphabets embraces me
                                        so intimately?20

 He intends to make each and everyone aware of the degeneration of the social beliefs and customs that cause the existential crisis. He believes that the need of the hour is to develop a sensitive understanding of our common human situation. Though the anthology English Poetry in India:A Twenty First Century Review (2012), edited by Pronab Kumar Majumder, features him as a 21st century poet, he largely shares the sensibility of the earlier century. The present century is less didactic and is characterised by a greater sense of tolerance for differences, varieties, and a ‘newer’ sense of morality, including sex and sexuality.

                                      


WORKS CITED
1.     Anil K. Sharma. “Literary Legend Speaks.” Contemporary Vibes. Vol.4, Issue No.14, March  2009, p.9
2.     Biplab Majumdar. Golden Horizon. Kolkata: International Poetry Society of Kolkata, 2004, p.14
3.     Ibid., p.16
4.     Biplab Majumdar, op.cit., p.27
5.     Biplab Majumdar.Island’s Dolphin Song. Kolkata: International Poetry Society of Kolkata, 2009, p.10
6.     Biplab Majumdar. Virtues & Vices. Kolkata: Mainstream Publication, 2001, p.16
7.     Subhamoy Das. “What Is Dharma? - About the Right Path of Righteousness”. About.com.Hinduism. 3 March 2013. http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/a/dharma.htm
8.     Biplab Majumdar, op.cit., p.110
9.      Ibid., p.45
10.                         Ibid., p.84
11.                         Biplab Majumdar. “Preface.” Golden Horizon. Kolkata: International Poetry Society of Kolkata, 2004, n.p.
12.                         Quoted in R.K.Singh. Savitri: A Spiritual Epic. Bariely: Prakash Book Depot, p.52
13.                         Biplab Majumdar, op.cit., p.14
14.                         Ibid., p.10
15.                         Biplab Majumdar. Island’s Dolphin Song. Kolkata: International Poetry Society of Kolkata,2009, p.16
16.                         Biplab Majumdar, op.cit., p.14
17.                         Dr.A.K.Choudhary. “The Rays of Truth in Biplab Majumdar’s Epiphanies”. Poetic Perspectives of Biplab Majumdar. (ed. Arbind Kumar Choudhary). Begusarai: IAPEN, 2012, p.13
18.                         Biplab Majumdar. Virtues & Vices. Kolkata: Mainstream Publication, 2001,p.9
19.                         Ibid., p.46
20.                         Biplab Majumdar. Island’s Dolphin Song. Kolkata: International Poetry Society of Kolkata, 2009, p.13                                                 
  
ABOUT THE AUTHORS: 

·        R.K.Singh, Professor of English. Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian School of  Mines. Dhanbad-826004

·        Pallavi Kiran, M.Phil (English), Research Scholar, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad-826004

Published in The Journal of Indian Writing in English, Vol. 41, No.2, July 2013, pp. 34-40. 

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