POEMS OF DR. MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR
— Dr. B.C. Dwibedy
Dr. V.N.Mishra has rightly observed in his comments about Poems: for Human Dignity by Dr.M.Bhatnagar -a translated volume of his Hindi poems: “His man fired with faith divine moves on because he is firm in his conviction that one day the heart rose shall bloom in the midst of impediments galore (Poems: For Human Dignity-Introductory cover page remark by Dr. V. S. Mishra). It is definitely a giant leap by the poet towards the quest that this small essay is going to elaborate.
For the last half a century the poet has been with avowed activity towards glorifying human dignity. A majority of his poems flourish with such themes in the hearts of readers who seek human dignity at every step. It reminds us of the humanistic ideal: “the primacy of man in everything” or the Pythagorean maxim “man is the measure of everything”.
In his volume Poems: For Human Dignity at the outset the poet hoists the flag of love as the first marker of human dignity. From love has evolved life and with love life is lived and bereft of loveit is shattered. It is the driving force behind every action of man and this vital factor of life is at stake in the present world. Everything that man does looks at love. Here everything does not include the action of human beasts or rather we can call them human demons that the present world is replete with. The poet expresses his blissful attitude for mankind. He wishes every man to be rich with the worship of love.
Let every man
of the world
in this pure best worship.
(Poems: For Human Dignity-1)
The poet has lived the life of love and dignity and has experienced the pain of undignified life for almost three quarters of a century in the social history of the country. It is not possible for him to withstand such decline. He observes that the scene of love in the life’s drama is full of infidelity that leads to hatred, separation and divorce in conjugal life.
Dr. M Bhatnagar hasunfathomed sympathy for the dignity of woman. The way man is behaving with his creator mother, loving sister, nursing wife or the offspring daughter – it’s all exhibiting only infidelity in the place of love. The poet motivates the world to revive the dignity of woman. Moreover he is inspiring woman to keep her dignity erect on the touchstone of adversity.
Man has tried to utilize woman as a “purse purchased commodity”. The poet rather becomes rough in his voice by using phrases such as ‘soulless slave girl’, ‘brainless hand maid’, ‘lifeless doll’ etc. –metaphors for woman as in the context of today’s deteriorating life style. He has strongly objected to the projection of woman in the world’s eyes as ‘down trodden foot wear of man’. Moreover he rejects the age old Shakespearean maxim by saying that ‘frailty is not thy name’; rather he laments the ignored dignity of woman in every nook and corner of the world.
O, long deprived pitiable, sad,
Prisoner! You jumped in the battle field
Taking the oath of youth
Co-operating with the world-wide
(Poems: For Human Dignity-274)
The poet envisions in every woman the greatness of epic character Draupadi and relates the world affair with the consequences of the fall of her dignity. Draupadi was ravished in the king’s court by Dushasan and the consequence was terrible. A tear from a woman’s eyes is not a good indication for the world. The poet’s prediction is meaningful in this respect.
You will create horrible turmoil
By offering of sacrifices,
Your struggle will not stop, you
Will shake the universe
Have to pay price to you ……
(Poems: For Human Dignity-274)
She is the living embodiment of love herself; when she is ignored her dignity is shattered, love –the driving force gets humiliated, peace is invaded and man’s life becomes barren, he is cursed. The poet’s vision is seen as an eye opener for the human world.
Dr. MBhatnagar invokes integrity in man who is utterly disintegrated from home, land, self and soul for the sake of money. This is another marker of human dignity but today’s man is divided in a hundred ways by caste, creed , religion, birth and so on; as such he is helpless, oppressed and shameful. In a good number of poems Dr. Bhatnagar uses an abusive tongue for man of this world while lamenting the fall of dignity into abysmal depth.
Bottomless fall of creation’s
Mean, narrow heart vomits
Poison creating disaster.
(Poems: For Human Dignity-80)
In a major part of the volume the poet depicts the fall of dignity. The notion that man is the replica of god has changed its meaning in the present context. While exploring the delicacies of human life the poet finds the inhuman substances. Man is not able to recognize his own self.
Again and again
our god incites us
to kill other’s god
to destroy the symbols of
and thus feel that
is secure only for us.
(Poems: For Human Dignity-68)
The poet here definitely points at the selfish attitude of man which induces him to be involved in acts that are not congenial to human dignity.
The division of man in various branches such as caste, religion, birth, status etc. is vehemently criticized by the poet. He inspires man to be united beyond all differences since that unified state of man is a step towards dignity. Then only poverty that compels man to be naked can come to an end.
March, march ahead!
Bestial horns grown on man’s head
And sharp teeth
The inhuman casteism!
In one string
The society and the individual.
(Poems: For Human Dignity-80)
In a major part of his poetry Dr. MahendraBhatnagar has championed the cause of those who live life in an undignified manner due to poverty, untouchability, starvation caused by injustice and suppression by the strong, terrorized and suffering from violence. These ways of life have converted the life into hell. Man leaves with a new religion –that is the religion of deception. The poet strives hard to bring a change and induce man towards human dignity, to create a new surface – a platform – on which human dignity can take a stand.
Obviously, the poet does not appreciate the naked sense of communal dignity which is a vehicle for disharmony. A sense of communality is the allied force of jealousy and violence. Every community, rather every individual should be cautious that no community, no language, no religion gets damaged due to him/them; then only man will deserve the right of safeguarding his own dignity. The same principle works here- ‘do on to others as you wish to get’. The poet observes that communal harmony itself is a part and parcel of human dignity. Tolerating others’ creed is a healthy habit since it fosters positive sentiment in man leading towards safeguarding dignity.
Live in unity,
this is the call of Karim and Shyam,
There should be one Hind
is the call of Rahim and Ram
(Poems: For Human Dignity-80
In order to live life the common man has to work and earn. Love for labour is another facet of human dignity. Believing in wind-fall gain is detrimental to value of life. The poet tries to inspire man to grow with love for labour and not to tame the habit of swindling. That will control a major part of the world wide corruption. He vehemently criticizes those monks, politicians, ministers who suck blood from common man for amassing wealth and show to the world their fame and pride.
Dignity gives man protection from the attack of narrowness. Dignity of culture, heritage, and citizenship of a country helps man living with honour. Deception or a life of double standard is not regarded as a worthy way for man. The poet tries to develop in man an indomitable spirit to dominate his complexes such as greed, avarice, anger etc. However, this is a transcended level that is to be reached at with much concentration and avowed activity by man.
Will rise above each division
Forgetting the difference
Between the familiar and unfamiliar,
Will welcome all.
(Poems: For Human Dignity-58)
It will be a life of self-restrained liberty. The poet wants to see man in the form of a free willed, self-disciplined, controlled and balanced fellow traveller. He observesthat a man who exercises his liberty carelessly so as not to care for another’s prestige and recurrently hurts others is not a man who deserves any dignity.
With a bullet,
(Poems: For Human Dignity-64)
Not only that but if a man worships the same god in another name, another form, another language he is abominated. The poet has an aversion towards such people who cannot understand such minimum surface differences and thus cannot tolerate others. He invokes modern man with a great hope.
Consider different languages
As the accomplishments
Of human intellect.
Now don’t remain mute
And fence sitters.
(Poems: For Human Dignity-69)
The poet wishes to establish a sublime human religion which will be the marker of human dignity and human identity. He gives a clarion call to go back to the age of homosapiens when man’s identity was not linked with a country, a religion, a caste, a sub caste, a language, a dialect, a colour and a race. Through ages we have developed and we have fostered a block of ego for our dignity and that has taught us all the undignified manners.
Sun gives its light equally to the flowers and weeds and that is its dignity. Man will love the rich and the poor equally- that will be his dignity. Man in his present stature gives a shabby look. It is not the Shakespearean man who is known as the paragon of beauty made in the image of God, but it is the man without dignity. The poet does not find any light in the future path of man.
On man’s future path
Reigns the limitless darkness,
Reigns the thick darkness!
No moon or sun visible
Not even alarm trumpet is heard.
On the cliff of death
Stands the hushed humanity
Staggering off and on!
(Poems: For Human Dignity-151)
The poet heavily draws upon the cause of grief in the down trodden men who are deprived of all the pleasures of life and who are left with no choice but to live without human dignity. The poet advocates in support of them and makes a resolution:
Dignity of human may ever
Be secured and respected
It’s our resolution!
We ourselves be the maker of our fortune.
(Poems: For Human Dignity-151)