Literature

No Regrets

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1878-1972), popularly known as ‘Rajaji’ or ‘CR’ was a renowned advocate, statesman, writer, freedom fighter, journalist, and political leader. He was hailed as M K Gandhi’s conscience-keeper (somebody had to be, for better or for worse). A voracious reader, original thinker, astute politician, and prolific writer, Rajaji was a modern-day renaissance man. He was also a devout Hindu with a firm belief in the almighty and great admiration for saints like Shankara and Ramanuja.

A Story for a Verse - Sriharsha

साहित्ये सुकुमारवस्तुनि दृढन्यायग्रहग्रन्थिले
तर्के वा मयि संविधातरि समं लीलायते भारती ।
शय्या वास्तु मृदूत्तरच्छदवती दर्भाङ्कुरैरास्तृता
भूमिर्वा हृदयङ्गमो यदि पतिस्तुल्या रतिर्योषिताम् ॥

A Story for a Verse - Sriharsha

गोविन्द-नन्दनतया च वपुःश्रिया च
मास्मिन्नृपे कुरुत कामधियं तरुण्यः ।
अस्त्री-करोति जगतां विषये स्मर स्त्रीः
अस्त्रीजनः पुनरनेन विधीयते स्त्रीः ॥

Sriharsha, the great exponent of Sanskrit poetry in 12th century C.E., was erudition and creativity personified. Srihira and Mamalladevi were his parents. His Naishadhiya-charitam is one among the pancha maha-kavyas (five epic-poems).

A Story for a Verse - Vikatanitamba

तात बाहट मा रोदीरेषा वै कर्मणो गतिः ।
दुषि धातोरिवास्माकं गुणो दोषाय क्ल्प्यते ॥

The central character of this story is Vikatanitamba, who lives on to this day through her muktakas (stray, independent verses). No work of this fine poet has come down to us in full; they have been swept away in the flood of time.

O Great Life!

Sukanta Bhattacharya (1926-1947) is counted as one of the great Bengali poets along with Rabindranath Tagore, Jibanananda Das, and Kazi Nazrul. For someone who died at twenty, that is quite something. Many of his poems have sociopolitical undertones but are romantic at the core.

No Fear

Subramanya 'Bharathi' (1882-1921) or 'Mahakavi Bharathiar' was among the foremost of modern Tamil poets. He was not only a poet but also a journalist, social activist, and freedom fighter. His poems covered a wide variety of topics and many of them are even sung as classical compositions.

The first poem of Bharathiar that I learnt was one that he wrote during the freedom struggle. It is a stirring poem that exhorts his compatriots to fearlessly face the British. The poem in Tamil goes: