Monday, February 08, 2016



--Ram Krishna Singh

Among the post-Savitri Indian English poets,
Krishna Srinivas (b. 26 July 1913, d. 14 December
2007) stands as a learned poet, writing with the
intuitive intellect. He as a seer of poetic truth
composes with the soul-force, expressing the variety
of spiritual experiences and knowledge to emphasize
the essential inward existence vis-à-vis the outward
existence as the basis of true life and living. He
explores the intricacies of nature, its secrets and
surprises, with a penetrating vision and comprehends
the totality of life in a soul-realizing language.
Inwardness is his strong sign: His message has
the all-embracing and all-transcending texture of
the Indian soul and inner contemplation of Eternity
which has been the Indian path throughout the
centuries. His ideal is not to withdraw from life but
to live life by the light and power of the spirit. He
shows preference, not for the fleeting or momentary,
but for the everlasting, eternal, and wants to utilize
human life for realizing the immortal spirit, the
infinite consciousness in him. The world is the
individual writ large, the Platonic magnified man.
He searches it through and within him, and thus
tries to symphonize the natural and divine, the outer
and the inner, the limited and the absolute, the
mental desires and the fullness of peace and eternity.
Peace and harmony are his passion and synthesis out
of chaos his forte.

As a poet of inner aspiration--the aspiration to
know, to feel, to communicate the Reality that
pervades the universe--he explores the unity in
diversity which is, to quote Rabindranath Tagore,
the“inmost creed of India.”Like Sri Autobindo
or Tagore, he attempts at creating a spiritual basis
of our life and being with the awareness of unity
with all beings. He wants us to change the outer
existence by the inner influence so that universal
love, friendship and peace could reign the earth.
It is his quality of the mind and attitude towards
the problems of life, as expressed in his twenty or so
volumes of poetry that render him a distinctly Indian
English poet, remarkable for vision and creative
power. His poems of medium length such as River,
Wind, Ageless Fire, Earth, and Void which later
appeared in an abridged form as Five Elements
(1981) drew world attention for their epic and cosmic
dimension. Though these may defy understanding
“except in primordial terms,”as K.R.S. Iyengar
points out, what is attempted is strictly beyond
attainment. In fact, he creates mantra of words with
total consciousness and maintains poetry as a“state
of being,”a whole distinct way of life, of living,
of approach to life. What he writes is also spiritual
philosophy, assimilating subtle psychological, social
and intellectual truths.

The poet tries to weave webs of relationship
between the cosmic, the historical, the scriptural,
the mythical, and the personal, and the reader is
often thrilled and baffled, edified and exasperated.
Moses and Buddha, Valmiki and Neruda, the Waste
Land and the Solitary Reaper, Zen and dhyan,
East and West—all tumble together, and one feels
exposed to a variety of echoes and intimations from
the poets, prophets, and philosophers of all time. He
appears to be involved in a mystic venture to unite
all differences into one illimitable permanence.
His art consists in his departure from the general
vein of writing in the 1970s and 1980s. The
significance of Krishna’s poetry lies in the greatness
and worth of its substance, the value of its thought.
It is forceful in its substance, art and structure.
Krishna’s poetic perception is characteristically
the interplay of Indian mind and spirit, rich in
symbolized experience and creative capacity,
including the history of man’s past, present and

Like any ancient Indian thinker, Krishna points to
the unchanging inner, spiritual aspect of man. His
spiritual imagination discovers that one is more than
mere human body, and human body is the abode
on non-material essence, the Soul, which is beyond
the physical laws of the world. The soul is truth
consciousness and bliss, which is all pervading, and
is the cause and sustaining force of this universe.
He perceives that the power which created the
external world is just a manifestation of that power,
Brahman. This spiritual motive dominates his poetic
creation throughout. He strives for a socio-spiritual
reformation, when he writes about the ultimate truth
of the spirit, and wants people to refine their actual
life in the light of the truth of the spirit.

One cannot appreciate his creative genius without a
sense of sympathy, spiritual feeling and sensibility,
for he is intensely committed, dynamic, profound,
symbolic, philosophical, prophetic and above all,
spiritual. Constantly in‘sweated quest’for Reality,
he operates at a high level without attempting at
deliberate mystifying: Science, metaphysics and
history in his poetry coalesce to form a refreshing
imagistic pattern; he makes philosophy take into
its fold several sciences. Couched in a natural
intonation, the structure of his pivot ideas provides a
sharp ethical and psychological insight into a fabric
of the present-day moral culture. The despicable,
miserable world conditions act as a catalyst for
spiritual awakening and even revolt. He combines in
him the man, the poet and the prophet.

Poetry for him is a means to realize the truths of
life and philosophy, to experience the transcendent
spirit, understanding the mind-body-self complex.
Through poetry he tries to evaluate and present
the various philosophic systems and religions of
the world. The ultimate realization is: oneness of
mankind, oneness of spiritual values, oneness of the
reality of man and the world:“Vedas, Upanishads/
Bible, Koran/ Sutras, Desert Prophets/Sacred Arts/
Sacred Sciences/Teach all worlds/Teach all spheres/
Teach all beings / in high and low / and Far Afars”
(Void, p. 30). Krishna the poet feels and suffers as
a citizen of the universe and speaks for the whole
mankind, recovering the faith of centuries which had
dissolved like a dream.

One can discern the stamp of Indian culture in
Krishna’s philosophical musing--no idiosyncrasy,
but a genuine human interest--which springs from
spiritual disquiet at the existing order of things:
His system of thought arises out of a restlessness
at the sight of evils that cast a gloom over life in
this world. He tries to understand the source of
these evils and incidentally, too, the nature of the
universe and the meaning of human life, in order to
find out some means for overcoming life’s miseries.
The darker side of things are only initial because of
the awareness of life thoughtlessly led by impulses
and desires. The final brighter side of things appear
with the affirmation of hope, generated by faith
in the eternal spiritual order that poets like Dante,
Wordsworth or Sri Aurobindo present.

Krishna writes with God’s voice. The whole range
of Upanishadic understanding bears upon his
thought-structure: His consciousness is suffused
with the splendor of divinity in which all that is
mean, vile or divisive shrivels and dies. He perceives
the essential unity of all and loves the whole
world as one. He thinks with the whole becoming
the whole: His poetry flows from the spring in
God, the realization of the highest at the heart of
the universe. Sound and silence wend his poetic
progression. He creates a vision of the spirit with
the consciousness of life: Consciousness rules the
material elements and all that emanate from them.
His poetry is spiritual prayer, the Upanishadic tapas.
He has faith in life which enfolds and unfolds the
whole world. He knows the life that is spirit: Spirit in
river, fire, wind, earth and void; spirit that holds the
breath, voice and eye, the ear and mind; spirit that
rests in silence; spirit that is beyond the lands of
good and evil. His intuitive poetic spirituality grows
into true insight, via experiments with expression
that he makes to articulate his own mystic gyration.
As a poet of contemplation and inner reality,
he demonstrates a unique structure-texture
management which has been both praised and
denounced. Yet his verbal and syntactic creativity,
phrasal constructions and coinages, style and theme
are all communicative and interpretative. He acts a
synthesis of various ancient and modern cultures,
religious ideas, philosophical notions, myths ,
symbols and allusions from diverse countries and
scriptures, besides using words, phrases and imagery
that echo Aurobindonian sensibility:‘Illumined
peaks’,‘sun of inconscience’,‘seven centres
heavened and mind illumined’,‘rhythmic tune of
Time’,‘Overmental awareness’,‘Primal purity’,
‘Integral flight’,‘matter mad for life’,‘cosmic

Krishna frequently deviates from the so-called
‘standard’English language patterns at all
levels without being unintelligible:‘BE MANYed’,
THOUed’,‘Void vortexed’,‘Past debrissed’,
‘Birthed and deathed’,‘oceaned floor’,‘aeonic
hunger’,‘The High Edened’,‘Earth genesised’,
‘As urchin unteened’,‘Lord tortoise in base’,
‘Vasty wombs of space’,‘Cradled in Peruvian
roofs/Sported in Canyon depths/Lived in Iceland
towns/Rolled in Yangtste deeps’etc. As he nativizes
the English language thus, he reflects his Indian
sensibility, though his commitments and attitudes
are international. He sees the same river of life
flowing everywhere whether it is the Ganga,
Kaveri, Brahmaputra, or Yangtse, Congo, Colorado,
Mississippi, Hudson, Thames, Nile, or Amazon.
His pursuit of philosophies – of Christ, Muhammad,
Mahavir, Sankar, Ramanujan, Madhva, Vallalar
and others—is no“spiritual propaganda,”rather
it is a leader to different kind of poetry. Krishna
turns a seer poet in the tradition of Sri Aurobindo
just as in his interpretative vision he includes man’s
rationalism, aestheticism, vitalism, and the essential
spirituality with a sense of art and history, and leads
us towards fullness of life and being.

Good art never bores, as Ezra Pound said over a
century ago. Krishna’s language and style derive
from the contemporary age: There is clarity of
thought structure, intensity of feeling, seriousness
of intention, and intrinsic vitality matching his sobre
and gentle tone that provides, among other things,
insight into the country’s cultural ethos vis-à-vis
the cultures of the world. His cosmogonic thinking
has a rare combination of vision, beauty and social
awareness, just as his poems of epical dimension—
Dance of Dust (1947), Everest (1960), Maya (1975),
Five Elements (1981), Beyond (1985) -- inhere the
cultural mind of humankind as a whole.

Krishna is a genius, condensing and recreating in
his poems the profound knowledge and wisdom of all
people and all ages for the people everywhere today.
It is not through the big canvas of classical epic
structure but through the poems of short length-
-readable in one sitting--that he creates subtle
epic effects. It is the greatness and amplitude of
spirit, speech and movement--not length--that
characterize the epic. Krishna creates his epical
thought effects through a tense texture of verbal
harmony, exuberant vitality, celebrating the Ultimate
Reality, the search for the Unknown Truth, the
truly spiritual in man. His verses pulsate with pure
ecstasies, revelations and incantation.

His long poems such as the Dance of Dust,
Everest, and Five Elements--all composed with
a sense of history-- are inner whisperings of the
soul. Krishna’s passionate wanderings of discovery
through histories, philosophies or poetries to find the
one spirit in us are, in truth, everests of the Soul. His
visionary flashes reveal to us the infinite greatness
of our inner world and confirm to us the unity of
all spiritual vision and life. His own translations of
the Tamil Vedas (1984-91)—four thousand lyrics of
the twelve Vaishnavite apostles sung by over sixty
million Tamils all over the world—add to his ageless
effort to blend all worlds, all thoughts ,all times. Not
surprising, therefore, the President of India honoured
this world poet and celebrated editor and publisher
of the Poet monthly (published singlehanded and
without break from Chennai for over 48 years) with
the coveted Padmabhushan award in 2004.

Works of Krishna Srinivas

1. Krishna Srinivas. 1947. Dance of Dust. Madras:
Poets Press India
2. _______. 1960. Everest. Madras: Poets Press India
3. _______. 1975. Maya. Madras: Poets Press India
4. _______. 1981. Five Elements. Madras:
The Christian Literature Society
5. _______. 1983. Sankara. Madras: Bhavani Book
6. _______. 1983. Ramanujan. Madras: Poets Press
7. _______. 1983. Madhva. Madras: Poets Press
8. _______. 1983. Muhammad. Madras: Poets Press
9. _______. 1983. Christ. Madras: Poets Press India
10. _______. 1983. Worlds. Poet, Vol. 24, No.11
11. _______. 1984. Vallalar. Poet, Vo. 25, No.3
12. _______. 1985. Beyond. Madras: Poets Press
13. _______. 1986. Mahavira. Madras: Poets Press
14. _______. 1987. Poetical Works. Madras: Poets
Press India
15. _______. 1984-91. Tamil Vedas. Madras: World
Poetry Society Intercontinental

Published in The Moon Light of Corea (Seoul), pp. 35-37. 대용량 첨부파일 (다운로드기간: 2016.2.9 ~ 2016.2.16)



Depressed mount of sun
and feeble supporting lines
will I die unknown?
left rotting in the sand
and the wind oozing foul smell?

I don’t want the sun
to miss my light and blame
the night for writing
the fate with wintry fingers
licking the legs of scarecrow

they can’t close their eyes
to the images I brew
for burying secrets
against a dusty mirror
against God’s hidden errors


It’s too much to pass
time in a military station
no company and

no one to talk to
amid noises in the sky
day in and day out

remind my status:
an outsider in son’s home
drinking beer or wine

for a change when free
he would unburden the load
share retirement plans

forgetting I’ve grown
older each passing year
need care, but who cares?


It was too late
I realized
long after his passing
I still prayed for my father

God didn’t answer

my prayers had become mechanical
like sex
ejaculation without orgasm
and pilled sleep

The itch prevails.
The tags in the mind
don’t respond:

absent memories
confused faith
faster than remembering

in moments of lapses
God too dozes


The trees are taller than my height
the lips osculate in their shade
I enjoy the wind that shakes them

or undresses my sleepless nights
wrapped in shawl without mirrors of stars:
I survive the missing moon’s light

고려달빛·78호 41

Wednesday, February 03, 2016