शनिवार, 20 नवंबर 2010

DEATH-PERCEPTION : LIFE-PERCEPTION -- Poet : Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar

DEATH AND LIFE

.

DEATH-PERCEPTION : LIFE-PERCEPTION

Poet : Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar

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50 Poems & Criticism

1 Gratitude

2 Gratitude; Again

3 The Wheel of Death

4 Free from worry

5 Contemplation

6 A puzzle

7 The Truth

8 Forms of Death

9 Conclusion

10 Life-Death

11 A Pair

12 The Opposite

13 Equal

14 Sakhi

15 A desire

16 Reality

17 The Philosophy of Life

18 Excelsior!

19 Experimenting

20 Meaningfulness

21 A Prayer

22 A Mirage

23 A Vow

24 The Call of Conquest

25 A Call

26 One Day

27 Purpose

28 A Wish

29 As Desired

30 Proved

31 Healthy Vision

32 Compatibility

33 Dreadful

34 The Philosophy of Death

35 An Invitation

36 To The Fairy of Death

37 A Request

38 The Mode of Death

39 A Comparison

40 The Difference

41 The End

42 A Blow

43 Truth

44 A Proclamation

45 I Bow Thee

46 Good Bye

47 Preordained

48 An Ascetic

49 The Last Will

50 Kritkarma

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ARTICLES

1 The Motif of Death in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar —

An Assessment /

Dr. D. C. Chambial, Maranda (H.P.)

.

2 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception' : A Dialectical Study

Mrs. Purnima Ray, Burdwan (W.B.)

.

3 Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's 'Death-Perception : Life- Perception' : An analysis

Dr. (mrs.) Jaya Lakshmi Rao V., (Visakhapatnam) (A.P.)

.

4 'Death' in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar

Dr. D. Murali Manohar, Hyderabad (A.P.)

.

5 Revealing Reflections On Death And Life

Dr. Atma Ram

.

6 Reflecions on Mahendra Bhatnagar's Philosophy of Death

Dr. A.K. Chaturvedi

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[1] Gratitude

Death is;

Death is imminent,

Unavoidable -

That's why

Life is so desired!

That's why

There's such a semblance

Between life and death!

Death's given

Beauty to life

Such

Endless — vast!

Death's given

Man

Life - art - efficiency

Such

Embellishment - adornment!

Indubiously

Transience,

Death element / feeling

Minute by minute death - tension

Are acceptable,

Gratitude

To death

Life's gratitude!

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[2] Gratitude; Again

Death's made life

very beautiful,

Transformed this world,

in fact,

into a pleasant heaven,

We learnt

the meaning of love,

only then

true's true,

Transformed man

into higher beings

than immortal god!

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[3] The Wheel of Death

Cruel is

The wheel of death

Very cruel!

Under which

Lifeless - living

Gradually grinding and changing

Every moment, every minute!

This earth rocks horribly!

Invisibly

Silently

Continuously moves

This wheel of death

Uninterrupted ... unchanged!

Before it

Stability has

No existence

Its motion

Always controls

Life and death,

Earth and sky!

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[4] Free from Worry

Fearing death

will make

living

futile!

weight heavy

dry onerous

pleasureless heart.

So

Life

only meaningful,

when every moment is free

from the dread of death.

It is ill-ominous

to talk about

the fear of death,

or cataclysm

for this reason.

-------------------------------------------------

[5] Contemplation

Death?

A question-mark!

To know the mystery

not only difficult

but also

all unknown

for man.

Body

merges into five-elements

everything scatters

and ends.

Life's

not to return;

impossible

to revive again,

and know the mystery.

When there's no self

death — a puzzle

queer puzzle!

Uninterpreted to-date,

A wonderful puzzle!

All efforts futile —

to explicate

the meaning of death;

it's very intricate difficult

to contemplate.

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[6] A Puzzle

What ?

Body

Not worth living;

Therefore ...

Soul !

You left.

In quest of new

On an unknown path;

Where ?

But where ??

Unknown,

Everything unknown!

A pitch dark night,

Everything

Mysterious!

Who questions ?

Who answers ?

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[7] The Truth

If there were no death,

God wouldn't have any existence,

man

would have never reconciled

with his fate!

God - a symbol,

God - a proof

of man's helplessness

of readiness after death.

The whole philosophy

of hell and heaven

is an imagination.

Man

at each moment

is afraid of death, and

horripilant again and again!

He knows —

'death is imminent'!

So, his each step

is frought with suspicion.

Not only this

he is also

absolutely ignorant

of the so called

Yam's1 world.

That's why

he takes refuge

in God

for eternal peace in death!

That's why

he sings the long song -

'Ram nam satya hai!'

(God's name is the only TRUTH)

O, birth and death

is nothing

save for his cruel-amusing act!

------------------------------------

[1- God, dispensing death in Indian mythology.]

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[8] Forms of Death

Be death natural

or accidental

conclusion is the same -

end of a conscious life,

to change into a senselessness

active life

to sleep for good

palpitation of heart!

Both are the so called

writs of Providence,

the script of fate : invisible, indelible.

But

an act of terminating life

by suicide

or

by murder,

or destruction of the ferocious

in self or social defense,

isn't death,

but, a murder.

Though the end, the same

death!

True death or untimely death.

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[9] Conclusion

Death?

A question-mark?

Stable

Unanswered,

adamant,

stands

as an adversary.

But, man

accept not defeat,

not a bit

think of God

in defense,

in an answer to the question,

no, not!

The mystery of death

to be unmasked ... revealed

sure

sure

some day!

-------------------------------------------------

[10] Life-Death

Death :

An unbreakable string

Tied to birth,

Birth :

One end;

Death :

The other extreme end !

Birth - a shore

Death - an opposite bank;

Birth :

Why a jubilation ?

Death :

Pain ...!

Why ?

Birth - death

When equal ?

One / well shaped;

The other / completely invisible!

Birth -

A beginning,

Death -

Destruction : an assault!

Birth ... known,

Death ... un-known!

Birth : beginning

Death : end,

Birth - initiation

Death - an earthly end!

Birth : yes, a being,

Death : ah! a non-being!

Birth : a new dawn,

Death : a horrendous night!

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[11] A Pair

Sandy desert spread

all around

like the dying lamp-flame

brown

yellow

Palish-green

waterless

slipping age

at he verge of death!

But

countless

waving ... green

oases

Thorny

leafless

growing trees -

flags

of life!

Lake

a resting place ... life giving

infusing life!

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[12] The Oppsite

Life : a jubilation

Death : the last breath

A melody / a cry!

Pious action / loud lamentation!

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[13] Equal

Morning is red

Evening is red

Morning-evening are one.

Wail on birth

Wail on death

Birth-death are one.

It is

the true wisdom,

the real knowledge,

every other consideration

is in vain.

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[14] Sakhi1

What makes you so sad ?

Why do you lose your wits ?

Life - very precious; true

Death - eternal, why do you rue

----------------------------

[1- A detached saintly statement.]

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[15] A Desire

May all children and young live!

Heart-rending is untimely death!

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[16] Reality

''Death —

a birth

over and over again

of soul.''

It's untrue

to consider this idea true?

A blind faith

an irrational faith!

Life / blends in five-elements,

the end / of a creation,

the end / of a person,

a being.

No where

here ... there.

It's true

there be an eternal fusion.

Neither there is any Hell,

nor there is any Heaven,

this manifest world is the only truth.

Death — a truth,

Life — a truth!

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[17] The Philosophy Of Life

External motion —

physical vibration,

Internal motion —

Life.

The transporter of life-motion

I

Ceaseless controller —

I

as long as

life is in flux

History will be created by

human-mind

human-body.

Never there be catastrophe;

Life ever be full of melody,

Every particle be in motion.

To fuse is

To lose internal motion.

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[18] Excelsior !

Struggles and strifes

lead to life,

to be inactive,

an indication - of the approaching death,

to stop - the end of life.

Life : only a flux

ceaseless flux!

To grow,

to change

is to be alive!

Stasis

an established trait

of the lifeless.

Life has a thrill, a throb,

a continuous palpitation in the live hearts!

To stop —

de-existence

invitation to ill-ominous death,

Excelsior ... excelsior!

The only 'mool-mantra'1

to prove life!

--------------------------

[1- Key principle.]

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[19] Experimenting

In man

Wish for life —

Eternal and strongest,

Whereas

The final truth

About every life

Is death!

Yes, end is certainly,

Unavoidable!

But / it is also true -

impatient passion for

Immortality and youth

Will never wane,

Man's queer valour

Longs for melody,

Not for tears!

Every time

Continuous struggle

With the eternal challenge

of death is welcome!

He will be

A mrityunjaya1; he will be!

------------------------------

[1- victorious over death.]

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[20] Meaningfulness

Mere living

isn't a proof of

life's meaningfulness,

Living -

only helplessness

like death - an exit.

Which is natural

in adopting it

without any specificity,

'Living-being'

doesn't mean

to be 'a human being.'

Declaration of

human glory only when

there is perfect peace of mind -

when we give

a new meaning to life,

in pitch dark

open doors

to a world full of lights.

Know the mysteries of life,

Talk to the moon and stars.

Let selflessness

be the motive of our living,

let's devour materialistic hurdles

at every step.

Let's acquire

such capabilities,

then

life may be

dedicated to death.

No regret,

no sorrow.

There isn't

the least difference of opinion.

This life is successful

this life is rare.

Blessed is the Earth!

-------------------------------------------------

[21] A Prayer

I long

not for immortality,

I long for

youthfulness.

Perfect health, diseaselessness,

absolute peace

of human mind and body.

This desired boon

is sought

not from any god.

Self-achieved by self-efforts

not by any prayer.

Body free from pain

mind free from torture.

Yes,

May

we live for

125 years!

For ourselves,

for others.

-------------------------------------------------

[22] A Mirage

Self-willed and ambitious

man

runs after money

after pleasures

at the cost of life.

How strange

at this queer, dirty intention!

If there is life / money must flow in,

If there is life / pleasure must dog in!

Shattered and disorderly life

malady-stricken / frustrated wounded life

momentary

eager to fall into

the death-pool!

Blind, perplexed, ignorant

Man

Construes money to be supreme

thinks pleasure all in all!

He'll spoil / the precious life,

and will lose life / the gift of God!

-------------------------------------------------

[23] A Vow

Absolutely loyal

we,

have descended in

the formidable duel of

life and death !

being soldiers of

an immortal army of life,

will not be surrounded

by the deceitful trick of

any adversary !

May be vanquished,

but, will never admit the supremacy

of death a bit,

won't let our right

to live

be snatched away!

The triumphant-call will echo

till the last breath

struggling

life-strength will fight

till the last edge of hope / effort!

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[24] The Call Of Conquest

The whole world sleeps -

who weeps

in the dead of night ?

It's heard -

in the house hard by

death has suddenly charged,

it's true —

someone has died.

The sharp dagger

of theYama-doot1

has once again

touched the man!

Reach

with ambrosial heart-felt condolences,

may this man

live again and again!

Let life-drum sound

every moment

though

biers be laid!

-----------------------------------

[1- Emissary of Yam / God dispensing death in Indian

mythology.]

-------------------------------------------------

[25] A Call

They who sing Alakh1

have come,

who sing the sweet beloved song

of new life

have come!

Singers of Sohar2

have come!

Players of life-song

on every string of the violin of heart

have come!

Mentally vanquished!

Awake!

Strike by stretching!

Awake!

Jump

into the live sea

of life

O divers!

Stir the stupor!

-----------------------------

[1- A word urging inspiration.

[2- An auspicious song sung at the birth of a child.]

-------------------------------------------------

[26] One Day

Have faith

Life

will be victorious,

fear not the wicked,

fear not!

Let's destroy

every doubt!

Have faith

life will be victorious!

Deep darkness

of dead death

will surround / frighten;

have faith in

the sun's strength / firmness

Let's unmask

every particle of it!

Let's floodlight around!

Have faith

life will be triumphant!

-------------------------------------------------

[27] Purpose

We

who are the artisans of life

should talk only

about life,

discover

the meaningfulness of life,

and know

about the essence of life!

If death

destroys us

let us

strike back at it,

let us

sing the glory of life,

let us

strike a severe blow at

Yama, death!

-------------------------------------------------

[28] A Wish

let there be

no existence of death-serpent

in the garden of life,

let human self

not be terrorized

of death scare!

let every person

enjoy life

without any doubt,

let his each moment be

mellifluous!

Let a lover of life

play with life,

and live life fully

by embracing

every pleasure!

-------------------------------------------------

[29] Longing

As long as

I wished

to live,

lived heartily!

Imagine

the lamps burnt on

even in rains!

None

was kind,

struggled -

with firm faith in

self potence!

-------------------------------------------------

[30] Proved

With a wish to live

one won't

wait for death!

Gold

pure, drossless :

why should it take

a fire-test ?

End the illusion,

Bend the kaal-chakar1!

Associate with life!

Give up this stupor!

----------------------------

[1- Cycle of death / time]

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[31] Healthy Vision

Live

by thinking self

immortal,

laugh and sing

without any concern,

eat and drink

without any worry;

should it

be termed

true living?

When face to face

with the end

Or

Should remain ignorant of it

Should

we call it

true living?

-------------------------------------------------

[32] Compatibility

I sing

I sing the songs

of victory!

I sing

about the triumph of life

over death!

I sing dauntlessly

the triumph of life-bud

of the dearest thing!

I sing

again and again!

The sounds that echo

in the sky of the graveyard

of the liberated-selves of carefree birds

are translations

of my

life-sentiments!

The compatriots

of my

life-adorations!

-------------------------------------------------

[33] Dreadful

Beware!

We have

hoisted the red flags,

on every house, in every village,

in every town,

of life, new life!

In every locality, at every cross,

here, there -

everywhere!

Hoisted

red flags!

Now

the demon of death

won't be able to carry out

his terrorist, fatal, men-devouring

maddening trick!

Ambushes

on entering into the body,

proclaims himself

an unvanquished doota1

of Yama2

lays down

within the body

explosives,

and ...

remote-controls

by hiding

in invisible places!

Let's see,

where from he comes now!

----------------------------------

[1- Emissary. 2- Lord of death.]

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[34] The Philosophy of Death

Death :

When a certainty,

In vain

Why

to doubt,

to fear

so much!

O, tell death -

'Come; when you please.'

At this time

Come,

Let's sing and dance!

Play on varied musical instruments!

Let's end this silence;

Who cares

for death ?

-------------------------------------------------

[35] An Invitation

Death

come,

do come one day!

And take me away

in your flying-chariot;

away ... far away

into hell!

That I may

unite all those

living in hell,

urge on them

for a revolt,

prepare them

for a change in life!

I don't acknowledge

any Chitragupta1

any Yama;

I'll challenge them!

Just, let me jump

into the hell-pond!

Just, let me mingle

with the huge crowd of

hell-denizens!

------------------------------------------

[1- According to Indian mythology an official in the court of Yama who keeps record of righteous and unrighteous actions of living beings.]

-------------------------------------------------

[36] To The Fairy of Death

O death, come

I am ready!

Never think,

I am helpless.

Won't you

Inform ?

Won't you

Oblige me ?

You'll come —

On tip-toes,

Surprising

Like a clever girl.

Alright,

Accepted!

My beloved,

Your this game

Is welcome!

Come quietly,

Come, o death

I'm ready!

I know

It well

That of the book of life

Thou art the end!

Therefore,

For me

Thou art the good news

Of totality!

Come

O death, come

I'm ready!

Awaiting you

I've bedecked myself,

I'm ready!

-------------------------------------------------

[37] A Request

Death -

it hardly matters

if you are feminine,

I can befriend you!

Why do you feel shy ?

Come

be my comrade!

If not a cohabiter

be my neighbour!

You beautiful like the moon,

from the opposite window

peep out,

evaluate —

and one day

all at once

make me accompany you

to the land of the dead!

Just

taunting and teasing!

-------------------------------------------------

[38] The Mode of Death

Death might be overtaking

while dreaming,

Prana1

might be out from the body

just then.

A dreaming man

passes away!

What does he know ?

Ask those living

who

have covered the dead body

with a sheet of cloth!

what happened ?

What happened ?

At last ?

-------------------------

[1- The life-force]

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[39] A Comparison

Between Shiva

and shava1

the difference lies only in the 'I'

(the first vowel sound)

Shiva —

is goodness,

gives comfort!

Shava —

ill-ominous,

only decays!

Shiva has three eyes,

Shava is blind!

A great imbroglio!

--------------------------

[1- Shava — a dead body.]

-------------------------------------------------

[40] The Distance

You remembered

Thanks!

Gave a sweet pain

Accepted!

How strange the coincidence

That the last farewell

O, the first love!

Came

On the disappearing path,

With a wish -

Never to be fulfilled,

Sometime with a true physical touch

Our co-feelings

Never to be distanced!

I go -

Go with memory,

Go with pain!

-------------------------------------------------

[41] The End

Strife

Where is it now ?

Journey -

Where is it now ?

Everything stood still

The running, jumping, the liquid river water

Everything frozen —

Like blood in veins!

All bones of body

Continuously

Crackle with pain,

Who'll press them

Now

Till the dying breath ?

Dark surrounds

While none is around!

Now there is no flutter

Only a stasis,

Now life -

A fatigued filament;

A scatter!

-------------------------------------------------

[42] A Blow

I ...

kept you alive -

so

I'll carry

your living but decayed corpse!

Carry it silently, helplessly!

You

murdered

the faiths,

you

burnt the wishes

in a flaming furnace,

sham, hypocrisy

well enacted

and filled every moment of life

with unbearable pain!

Never became a loved one;

never became a murderer!

O, never snatched the right to live -

though the doubt was unmasked,

every doubt!

When kept alive

I'll burn in the hell-fire

bear all by

being insensitive!

Early or late

all

in an eternal sleep have to fall,

dust unto dust!

O unfortunate!

Then, why to weep ?

-------------------------------------------------

[43] Truth

Life-bird

will fly,

fly away!

Life-bird

will fly away!

Why you try so hard,

sing hymns every morn and eve,

nothing is in your control

you bow in every temple,

one day from the body

Life-bird

will fly away,

that will

never return!

Fly away

Life-bird

will fly away!

-------------------------------------------------

[44] Preordained

It is preordained that

you

one day

will sleep

in the lap of death

silently!

It is preordained that

you

one day

will be lost

in the pitch dark

of the death!

It is preordained that

you

one day

renouncing name and fair form

will be reduced

to ashes!

-------------------------------------------------

[45] A Proclamation

Tell

the world -

now

Mahendra Bhatnagar sleeps!

Sleeps in an eternal sleep!

What

is to happen

happens;

O Man!

Why do you weep?

Life

that is one's own,

one has no right

over it too,

hearth - wealth

that is one's own

that too

in fact

has no essence!

You've no claim

over that!

Becoming

silent - stoic

set out

leaving everything

set out

severing all relations

new and old!

Everyone

has to experience

this moment,

death's eternal

then

why to fear it?

O immortal death!

You may consider me

helpless,

end,

I voluntarily

accept you,

accept you from body and mind!

I sleep

on the comfortable

soil-bed!

I lose my identity

by fusing with the particles

of this soil!

I sow a new life!

As I have accepted life

likewise

O death

I do accept you!

I go,

I go from this world!

I go from this

lovely home, lovely world!

I go

for good ... for good!

I go!

-------------------------------------------------

[46] I Bow Thee

Adieu!

O the springs of the world

Adieu!

O, the shining moon

The twinkling bright stars

Adieu!

Hills ... valleys

Slopes ... marshes

Adieu!

Adieu

O, the high waves of the sea!

Fluttering

wings of illusion,

Eyes

Profuse with love

Adieu!

The strings of

An inextricable knot

The unrealised hopes

Adieu!

Adieu!

-------------------------------------------------

[47] Good Bye!

We

Beaten by fate,

We

Defeated

In the game of life,

Ah!

Tortured by dears,

Hurt on heart,

With a bowed head

Silent

Go for good —

Never

Remember,

Even today

Listen,

Do not light the memory-lamp!

-------------------------------------------------

[48] An Ascetic

To overcome death

one more Siddharth1 — an ascetic

has set out!

Who at each step

trampled the elusive moves of

Yama's legion!

Wasn't trapped

in any vyuha2

tied his noose hard

on death!

He who sings

songs of life

at the edge of doom,

one day —

he will attain

an immortal place

by changing his shape,

preserve this

heritage

by making it a stupa3

----------------------------

1- initial name of Buddha.

2- phlanx, the war movement arrangement of an army to surround or capture the enemy.

3- a Buddhistic tope/sacred spot.

-------------------------------------------------

[49] The Last Will

Never weep,

Never be disinterested!

Bear a blow

Never lose temper.

Let the last act be

free from rituals

let mind be set

only on the mystery beyond death!

Life after death

when none has known

when none has seen ...

All established systems :

imaginary,

illogical.

To follow them - not desired!

O never be a blind-follower,

Let refinement of worship be

in the splendour of knowledge.

Follow -

good faith and good feelings!

-------------------------------------------------

[50] Kritkarma1

Why bewail?

Why bewail

on the renunciation of body?

End —

a sign of perfection,

a successful stage

Why to bewail?

The end of life —

A stage

Why to bewail?

Let us

follow in the footsteps

of the departed

to attain the meaning of life,

glorify it.

Take the last salute!

---------------------------

1- One who has finished one's duty/karma.

-------------------------------------------------

ARTICLES

[1]

THE MOTIF OF DEATH

N THE IPOETRY OF MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR :
AN ASSESSMENT

– Dr. D. C. Chambial

Life is poised between the two antipodal points of birth and death. Where there is birth, there is death. Where one begins the other ends. Birth is welcome and rejoiced. Death is considered terrible and is, therefore, mourned. Enmeshed in the enigma of existence man has been trying since time immemorial to dive into the mysteries of life and death. All metaphysical systems of world are the outcome of man’s endeavour to find truth in this regard. In the modern age of science man has toiled hard to lay bare the mystery of death. However, it still remains beyond the domain of science. Where the domain of science ends, the domain of metaphysics begins.What is outside the physical world is left for the philosophy to explain. Mahendra Bhatnagar has, in his book, 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception', tried to perceive the mystery of life and death. In this paper my endeavour shall be to explore Mahendra Bhatnagar’s views about death.

In order to answer the question : What is death? The poet has nothing to say different from the commonly held notion about it that death is ‘an earthly end’ and compares it to a horrendous night’ (‘Life - Death’ : 22). What the poet calls a horrendous night’ is the state of existence after death. However, this horrendous night’ begins with death. As the one side of a coin cannot be severed from the other, similarly, birth and death are also integral and cannot be separated : an unbreakable string / tied to birth’ (Ibid.) The poet declares the Vedic truth : Death - a truth’ (Reality’ : 32). It is also the truth of existence. Where there is life, there is death.

Man, ever since he began to speculate and meditate about the fate of life after its termination on this terra firma, has found death an enigma to explore. It was, and still is, an enigma for him.

There is a lot about death that one wants to know : what is death? What happens to the individual on death? If body is the dwelling of soul, as the Hinduism and most of the other world religions maintain, then, what happens to the soul on and after death? What would happen if there were no death? Etc. The poet also believes in this arcane nature of death and states : Death? / A question-mark!’ (Contemplation : 10). He, once again, repeats this mystery of death in his poem, ‘Conclusion’, with the same words and is staunch in his faith that man is ever engaged in unraveling and unmasking the secrets about death. He says though ‘death’, at present, is a question-mark’, but a day will certainly come when The mystery of death / to be unmasked ... revealed’ (‘Conclusion’ : 20)

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar, the poet, opens his discourse about death and tells the readers about its imminence. He says : Death is imminent / Unavoidable’ (Gratitude’ : 2). It is very much intone with the Hindu philosophy that states : Jatasya hi dhruvo mrityu ...’ (the Ghagvadgita : II, 27). He further expounds that death which is the end of life on the earth ... is certainly / Unavoidable!’ (Experimenting’ : 38). The fact that whosoever has life and is born on this earth is bound to decay or die. An individual’s life is limited. One cannot go beyond this limit. None can abjure the verity that one day this life on earth has to come to an end. There is no way out. The poet sings :

One day from the body

Life-bird

will fly away,

That will

Never return!

Fly away!

Life-bird

Will fly away!

(‘Truth’ : 94)

Here the poet, with the help of the symbol of a bird, tries to explain that one day JIVA or PRANA will have to forsake this body. It cannot live in for good. This body is subject to the laws of destructibility and transience.

Death has never been a welcome. The very origin of death, according to Christianity, is cruel, for it is the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God : they disobeyed the God, ate the forbidden fruit and the God, in turn, not only expelled them out of Eden but also inflicted death on them. Death has been with man since his first disobedience and the original sin. The poet calls death a cruel wheel that spares no one :

Cruel is

the wheel of death

very cruel!

Under which

Lifeless - living

Gradually grinding and changing

Every moment, every minute!

This earth rocks horribly!

invisibly / Silently

Continuously moves

This wheel of death.

(‘The Wheel of Death’ : 6).

This wheel always goes on like the wheel of time and one and all fall prey to it without any distinction.

The termination of life from the physical body is termed as death. Death is death whatever be its kind or form. The philosopher poet, Dr. Mahendra also declares that Though the end, the same death!’ (‘Forms of Death’ : 18). Nonetheless, he differentiates and recognizes two kinds of death : one, natural or accidental death; two, the unnatural or suicide or murder. In this regard the poet writes :Death natural / or accidental / ... / end of a conscious life’ (Ibid.) These both kinds of death, natural and accidental, are so called because they are the writs of Providence’ (Ibid.) But, about the second kind, suicide / or / murder’, the poet says that it isn’t death, but, a murder.’ (ibid.) Thus, the poet acknowledges two kinds of death with clear difference.

The poet is of the view that one should not fear death. While living one should be free from its fear. Living constantly under the fear of death will make the individual a coward and one will not be able to accomplish anything in one’s life. Thus the whole objective of life and living will be defeated. One is supposed to live and, while living, do such acts that are helpful for the progress of humanity. With this motive in mind, the poet says that Fearing death / will make / living futile! / weight heavy / dry onerous / pleasureless heart.’ (Free From Worry’ : 8). Under the constant fear of death, life loses its meaning. In order to make life meaningful one has to be free from the fear of death. So, the philosopher poet says :

Life

only meaningful,

when every moment is free

from the dread of death. (Ibid.)

The poet seems to echo what the Hindu philosophy says :

v'kksP;kuUo'kkspLRoa izKkoknkaÜp Hkk"klsA

xrklwuxrklawÜp ukuq'kkspfUr if.Mrk%AA

What should not be worried about you should not worry say the wise

Whether one lives or dies does not bother the pundit.

(the Bhagvadgita : II, 11).

The poet, in his poem The Philosophy of Death’ (72) posits :

Death :

When a certainty,

In vain

Why

to doubt

to fear

so much?

O, tell death —

Come; when you please.’

There is no need either to nourish any doubt about death or fear it; it is imminent. In another poem, he says :

It is preordained that

you

one day

will sleep

in the lap of death

silently!

× × ×

in the pitch dark

of the death! (‘Preordained’ : 96)

and then talks about the destruction of the body after death by consigning it to fire : fair form / will be reduced / to ashes!’ (Ibid.) The JIVA forsakes body; body becomes dead because it is senseless to all external stimuli of the physical world, and finally the body joins the five elements - fire, earth, water, air, and sky, the PANCH BHUTA — out of which it had taken shape.

All this happens, the poet argues, when body becomes unsuitable for the soul as it’s dwelling. Then the soul leaves it and looks for a new one that is befitting for it, the poet says :

What?

Body

Not worth living;

Therefore ...

Soul!

You left

In quest of new.’ (‘A Puzzle’ : 12)

as if the soul unfolds the secret of its leaving the body, that is death, to the poet. The poet’s philosophy seems to echo the Vedic philosophy :

oklkafl th.kkZfu ;Fkk fogk; uokfu x`g~.kkfr ujkss·ijkf.kA

rFkk 'kjhjkf.k fogk; th.kkZU;kfu la;fr uokfu nsghAA

As a man discards the old and worn out clothes,

Likewise the soul discards old body and enters new one.

(the Bhagvadgita : II, 22).

In the absence of death there would have no God nor the need for any such supreme divinity. The poet continues his argument that If there were no death, / God wouldn’t have any existence’ (‘The truth’ : 14). It means that in the absence of death man would have thought himself to be the Supreme Being and the God were to be something non-existent. It is the existence of death that makes human being inferior to God and man needs some super power to attribute to that power all the enigmas of physical and metaphysical existence that are beyond the human ken. In the absence of death, even The whole philosophy / hell and heaven’ (Ibid.) would have become redundant. But, there is death that necessitates the existence of God, before whose will the man bows. Therefore, the man realizes the ultimate truth that Ram nam satya hai / (God’s name is the only TRUTH)’ (Ibid.) In other words, the poet contends that only God is the Reality.

It is not that death has made the existence of God feasible but it also has a purpose. The poet maintains that death is not without purpose. It also has its utilitarian value and makes life not only useful but also beautiful for existence on this earth. He posits :

Death’s made life very beautiful,

Transforms this world, in fact,

Into a pleasant heaven,

We learnt the meaning of love,

only then

true’s true,

Transformed man into higher beings

Than immortal god!

(‘Gratitude; Again’ : 4)

.

Whatever man tries to achieve in life and art is also death’s gift to him; so, the poet firmly holds :

Death’s given

Beauty to life

Such

Endless - vast!

Death’s given

Man

Life - art - efficiency

Such

Embellishment - adornment!

(‘Gratitude’ : 2)

It is a fact that death has some objective. But, the poet not only encourages the mankind to shed the fear of death but also suggests to betittle death by finding a purpose of living because :

We

who are the artisans of life

should talk only about life

discover

the meaningfulness of life.

and know

about the essence of life.

(‘Purpose’ : 56)

His panacea for belittling death is :

If death

destroys us

let us

strike back at it. (Ibid.)

But, how can we strike back at death? The poet has himself answered this question successfully in the poem itself that it can be done by discovering ‘the meaningfulness of life’ and by singing ‘the glory of life’ (Ibid.) The meaningfulness of life’ suggests a purposeful life so that he is remembered even after he is dead.

Death is imminent. It cannot be avoided. It is the fate of all living beings on this earth. It can only be relegated to pettiness. Then there is no need to fear death : let human self / not be terrorized / of death care’ (‘A Wish’ : 58). The living ones should always be ready to welcome death. There is no alternative to it. Therefore, the poet has debunked death of all its power and fear and and welcomes death to

come,

do come one day!

And take me away

in your flying-chariot

away ... far away

(‘An Invitation’ : 74).

perhaps, like the persona in Emily Dickinson’s poem, ‘The Chariot’1

To conclude our discussion, we can say that the poet comes out with some very concrete suggestions to tear off the hitherto much significance attached to death. He does not believe in any type of ritual, because these do not form part of the eternal truth; these have been devised and followed by the survivors. He exhorts the mankind : ‘Let the last act be / free from rituals’ (The Last Will’ : 110). What is more important. in order to find the ultimate truth, to unmask the enigma of death shrouded in the mystery, is to approach the hitherto unsolved riddle of death single-mindedly. For this he suggests : let mind be set / only on the mystery deyond death!’ (Ibid.) He also consoles those who are left behind wailing and bemoaning in these words : End - / a sign of perfection, / a successful stage / why to bewail’ and should

follow in the footsteps

of the departed

to attain the meaning of life

glorify it.

(‘Kritkarma’ : 112).

It is ‘the meaning of life’ that has not been found yet and the quest for which is ever going on like the journey of life as propounded by Aurobindo Ghose2. Mahendra Bhatnagar, the poet and philosopher, has very deeply studied and experienced, in his imagination, the concept of death and has made some very radical observations that make him stand all alone as a sedate thinker in the contemporary poetry.

.

Notes :

(1) In the Dickinson’s poem, Death is one of the occupants in the chariot. Death asks the poetess / persona to accompany him. The opening lines of the poem are :

Because I could not stop for death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And immortality.

In Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poem, the poet / persona invites Death to take him / her with himself, because he is not afraid of death and ready to go with him.

(2) In his poem, ‘Is This the End?’, Aurobindo Ghose says that death does not put an end to the journey or quest of life. The poet refers to soul that is immortal and continues its journey ceaselessly. It goes on even after the goal has been achieved. The last two stanzas of them poem, that have relevance to the argument in the present article, are :

The Immortal in the mortal is his name!

An artist Godhead here

Ever remoulds himself in dimmer shapes,

Unwilling the cease.

Till all is done for which the stars were made,

Till the heart discovers God

And the soul knows itself. And even then

There is no end.

.

-------------------------------------------------

[2]

Death-Perception : Life-Perception

— Mrs. Purnima Ray

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s Death-Perception : Life-Perception’ is a collection of fifty beautiful poems translated from original Hindi into English by Dr. D.C.Chambial. The poet, and the translator are already well-known figures in the literary arena, both in India and abroad. The Appendix 1&2 published in this book help us to know their achievements in detail. In short, their bio-notes are as follows -

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is a leading Professor of Hindi Language and Literature, guides scholars, has several published books, and received many awards. His major poetry-collections include Forty Poems’ translated by Shree Amir Mohammad Khan, and Prof. L.S.Sharma, After The Forty Poems’ translated by Dr. Ramsevak Singh Yadav, Prof. Vareendra Kumar Varma, and Shree Amir Mohammad Khan, Exuberance and other poems’, translated by Dr. Ravinandan Sinha, andDr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s Poetry’ translated by Dr. H.C.Gupta.

Dr. D.C.Chambial is a Professor of English, a widely published Indo-English poet and critic, has several published books, poetry collections, and on criticism, and edits an international journal Poetcrit’. At the outset the translator in his note makes clear to us the most important features of Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poetry, which we have to recho in our discussion from time to time in our own way. And we will see that Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems are deep, intense in feeling, suggestive and thought-provoking.

The title of this present collection is very important. One should notice that ‘Death-Perception’ comes first, then Life Perception’. The Death-theme’ is a very common and universal one, but the fact is that we sometimes are aware of it, and sometimes not. Most of us know that it is inevitable and certain, and we are eager to know more about it, and want to escape from its clutches, but we do not know how to do it. It is here the utility of Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems on this subject. He explores all the possible ways with his extraordinary creative spirit, and he succeeds to satisfy our quench for the thirst of knowledge of this kind.

Poet Mahendra points us to see the fact that we are standing on the backbone of ‘Death’, so that our desire for life is being stirred again and again :

Death is;

Death is imminent,

Unavoidable —

That’s why

Life is so desired!

Although we get scared by it every now and then, yet it is acceptable, and for that ‘life’ itself is grateful to Death’ :

Death element / feeling

Minute by minute death-tension

Are acceptable,

Gratitude

To Death

Life’s gratitude!

Because Death’s contributions to Life are unnumbered :

Death’s made life

very beautiful,

Transformed this world,

in fact,

Into a pleasant heaven,

We learnt

the meaning of love ...

and the most important achievement of ‘Death’ is that it

...Transformed man

Into higher beings

than immortal god!

This poet has seen ‘Death’ in the best possible ways, yet

he admits the impossibility to define it :

All efforts futile -

to explicate

the meaning of death;

it’s very intricate difficult

to contemplate.

He does not ignore its dark sides :

Cruel is

The wheel of death

very cruel!

He defines finely in a word :

.. A wonderful puzzle!

Poet Mahendra can establish a truth that man’s all philosophy including the idea of God revolves round ‘Death’ :

If there were no death,

God wouldn’t have any existence,

man

would have never reconciled

with his fate!

For he is always led by this fact :

... ‘Death is imminent’!

So his idea of God is nothing but :

... a proof

of man’s helplessness

of readiness after death ...

Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar equates the relation between Life and death through a fine imagery :

Death :

An unbreakable string

Tied to birth ..

So he rightly poses the stoic question :

... Birth

why a jubilation?

Death :

pain ..!

why?

Birth-death

when equal?

He can justify what he says regarding this by a logical fallacy :

Morning is red

Evening is red

Morning - evening are one.

Wail on birth

Wail on death

Birth-death are one ...

It seems that he wants to say as one cannot detach death from life, similarly life cannot be detached from death :

Death -

a birth

Over and over again

of soul ...

Like the ancient Greek philosophers the poet says :

... this manifest world is the only truth ...

Yet he confirms :

Death - a truth

Life - a truth

The poet gives us the key-principle to overcome death :

... Every time

Continuous struggle

With the eternal challenge

of death is welcome!

He will be

A mrityunjaya; he will be!

At the same time he makes us aware of meaningfulness of life :

Mere living

isn’t a proof of

life’s meaningfulness ...

and his ‘meaningfulness’ finds its expression in humanistic approach to life :

Let selflessness

be the motive of our living,

let’s devour materialistic hurdles

on every step.

Let’s acquire / such capabilities,

then

life may be

dedicated to death ...

So in ‘Prayer’ poet Bhatnagar does not want any ascetic attainment, but leads the mankind in time of need :

I long

not for immortality,

I long for

youthfulness.

Perfect health, diseaselessness,

absolute peace

of human mind and body ...

.

He shows us where ‘death’ takes place :

.

Shattered and disorderly life

Malady-stricken / Frustrated wounded life

momentary

eager to fall into

the death-pool!

.

and the victory of life over death :

.

Have faith

Life

will be victorious,

fear not the wicked,

fear not!

.

Like a Miltonic hero the poet discloses the way :

.

If death destroys us

let us

strike back at it,

Let us

sing the glory of life,

let us

strike a severe blow at

Yama, death!

.

Here also revolution takes place, one has to utter these words:

.

That I may

unite all those

living in hell,

urge on them

for a revolt,

prepare them

for a change in life!

.

It is only then we can realise what he says :

.

With a wish to live

one won’t

wait for death!

.

He does not want the Epicurean way of living be termed as ‘true-living’ :

.

Live / by thinking self

immortal,

laugh and sing

without any concern,

eat and drink

without any worry;

should it / be termed / true living?

.

Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar sings paean of life, but there is something more special in his singing :

.

I sing

about the triumph of life

over death!

.

Like post-Tagorean Bengali surrealistic poet Jibanananda Das he admires the wealth of life :

.

I sing dauntlessly

the triumph of thru life-bud

of the dearest thing!

I sing again and again!

.

One may compare the words ‘again and again’ quoted above with Jibananada’s abar asiba phire (I will come again). The words which poet Bhatnagar used are different, but the total effect is the same :

.

The sounds that echo

in the sky of graveyard

of the liberated-selves of carefree birds

are translations

of my life sentiments!

The compatriots

of my life - adorations!

.

Here he establishes one truth that poets from ages to ages sing life in there unique ways.

Perhaps for that reason poet Bhatnagar can romanticize ‘Death’ :

.

(1) You’ll come —

On tip-toes,

Surprising

Like a clever girl.

Alright,

Accepted!

My beloved,

your this game

is welcome

.

(2) You beautiful like the moon,

from the opposite window

peep out

evaluate —

.

One should notice that the poet attaches feminity to a beautiful object.

Poet Bhatnagar’s creativity finds its fullest expression when he uses the word ‘passing away’ instead of death’ :

.

Death might be overtaking

while dreaming,

Prana

might be out from the body

just then.

A dreaming man

passes away!

.

Yes, the dreaming people are active and creative, they dream before turning themselves into creativity, as Lord Vishnu sleeps and dreams before the creation of the Universe; they do not know the word ‘death’ while engrossing in their way of life. The last lines of this poem makes us thoughtful, leave us in a whirlpool of suggestions :

What does he know?

Ask those living

who

have covered the dead body

with a sheet of cloth!

What happened?

What happened?

At last?

It seems that poet Bhatnagar accepts indirectly the will of God behind death :

It is preordained that

you

one day

will sleep

in the lap of death

silently!

So he says to himself and at the same time to us to renounce all earthly attachments :

Never

Remember,

Even today

Listen,

Do not light the memory-lamp!

He does not forget to remind us the most precious things of life, and he puts all this so masterly in the tongue of a dying-person :

Adieu!

O the springs of the world

Adieu!

O, the shining moon

The twinkling bright stars

Adieu!

Hills ..... valleys

Slopes ... marshes

Adieu!

O, the high waves of the sea!

In a way, he values most the Nature surrounding us, as

Mrityunjaya in Rabindranath Tagore’s short-story ‘The Hidden Treasure’ exclaimed : “I want sunlight, air, sky’’ etc. wanting to live.

For he knows that ultimate truth is, he makes a goodbye to an illusory world behind him :

Fluttering

wings of illusion,

Eyes

Profuse with love

Adieu!

The strings of

An inextricable knot

The unrealised hopes

Adieu!

Adieu!

An Ascetic’ is an important poem, in the sense that the poet gives here a message to the strife - torn world we are living in :

He who sings

songs of life

at the edge of doom,

one day -

he will attain

an immortal place

by changing his shape,

Preserve this / heritage /

by making it a stupa.

The suggestion is if we sing songs of life, then there should be no hankering after life-killing desires and efforts; again the poet’s spirituality lies in humanity, and man’s religion in his Kritakarma’. The poem ‘The Last Will’ can be seen as his consolation for us as well as a clarion call :

let mind be set

only on the mystery beyond death!

× × × ×

Let refinement of worship be

in the splendour of knowledge ..

Here he gives more emphasis on ‘mind’ which controls all body-organs, and on knowledge’, the purest of all things in the world, as we find in The Srimat Bhagavat Gita.

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is, no doubt, an avant-garde Indian poet. Dr. D.C.Chambial excellent rendition extends the readership of

Dr. Bhatnagar’s philosophy and poetic ability. Dr. Chambial has done his job well, for his transcreation has retained all the literary qualities of the original poems - e.g. ‘the economy of linguistic expressions’, lucidity etc.

-------------------------------------------------

[3]

Death-Perception : Life-Perception

An Analytical Study

— Dr (Mrs) Jaya Lakshmi Rao V.

DEATH PERCEPTION - LIFE PERCEPTION is a sensitively rendered volume of 50 poems, originally written in Hindi. The poems retain their natural flavour to a great extent, thanks to the versatility of the well-known poet of national and international fame Dr D.C. Chambial. As the title indicates the mysterious entity of death and the magical polarity called life occupy the mind and art of Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar. The theme of death and life has ever been source of deep contemplation often verging on to obsession for creative writers from times immemorial. Yet it never lost its freshness and vigour due to the mystery that surrounds it, the magnetism it generates and the manifold wonder it evokes. Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poetry bears witness to all the above observations.

Dr Chambial kept the translation as close as the linguistic boundaries between the original Hindi and the foreign English languages have allowed. Praise is to him, who, despite the language constrictions was able to carry and convey the poetic preoccupations of the well­ known Hindi Poet with life and death.

The volume begins with a difference. In the first poem ‘Gratitude’, the poet gleans a reason to be grateful to death. It certainly is a new perception. The poet says: “Death’s given / Man / Life-art­efficiency / Such / Embellishment - adornment.” According to the poet, it is death that makes life beautiful and therefore desirable. Death’s imminence makes life all the more attractive. So, he offers “Gratitude / To death / Life’s gratitude.” The fact that death equals all is mourned in a poem entitled The Wheel of Death / Time’. Death tramps the white radiance of life. Death is relentless, inexorable: “Before it! Stability has! No existence! Its motion! Always controls! Life and death! Earth and sky.”

Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems are not for those who seek the romantic, who look for the sensational. They do not jingle either. There is evidently a deep contemplation, a firm conviction in his poems. Written in free verse, some of the lines remain clearly etched in the reader’s mind. Lines such as: “Invisibly / Silently / Continuously moves / This wheel of death / Uninterrupted... unchanged!” make a mark because in spite of simple terminology the poet has used memorable imagery. When he captions a poem as Wheel of Time’ (kaal chakra), the poet is using a native metaphor. In the cultures of India, time is compared to a wheel, a wheel that is conceptualized with the elements of birth-growth (life) - death that repeat themselves ceaselessly. It is a cyclic process that is inevitable and unavoidable. So, says the poet why grieve over death and spoil one’s peace of mind? —“Life! only meaningful, / When every moment is free / From the dread of death.” Despite the scientific advancement, death is a ‘wonderful puzzle’ for the poet. He sees death as a conundrum in poems such as Contemplation’ and A Puzzle’. It is the fear of death that urges man to take “refuge! In God! For eternal peace. .” Yet the poet firmly believes that man’s invincibility will make him see “The mystery of death / To be unmasked... revealed / Sure... some day” in ‘Conclusion’.

. In poems such as ‘Life-Death’ and The Opposite’ the dividing line between the polarities of life and death are brought to focus. To the poet they are not separate but intrinsically interconnected. One cannot be without the other. They are the beginning and end of a unique cycle. Why then are feelings generated by then different? questions the poet. “Birth : Why a jubilation? / Death : Pain...? Why?” the ironical fact however is, “Wail on birth! Wail on death! Birth-death are one.” (‘Equal’) According to the poet it is futile to think of Hell or Heaven. Suffice to know that “This manifest world the only truth / Death - a truth, / Life - a truth!” The common everyday thought of life and death attains a special significance in the poems of Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar because of the complexity of human emotion and intellectual activity. Although the theme of death is glaring enough, we are especially made to take notice of it due to the rhythm the poet used. It successfully indicates the relative value of his individualized perception. For example in a poem entitled The Philosophy of life’ the poet says that life is “ External motion / Physical vibration / Internal motion - / Life. Real death is to lose ‘internal’ motion, the spiritual death. Now we know where the fuse’ lies. The poetic thought continues on to Excelsior’. If - “Struggles and strifes / lead to life” then “to be inactive” is “an indication - of the approaching death, / to stop - the end of life.”

Here is a rediscovery of the Vedic observation that our life is a pilgrimage and that man is an eternal traveler on the move. Life is an adventure. There is no resting on the journey and there is no end to it either. In the Aitereya Brhmana there is hymn, which ends with the refrain : ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti’ which means “Hence O traveler, march along, march along. One finds an echo in “Excelsior .... excelsior!”

Now that we do not have a key to the puzzle of death, why not we unravel the ‘mysteries of life’, which in turn equips us with the ability to talk to the moon and to the stars’ thus achieving meaningfulness’ of life. In other words, the poet exhorts us to keep in touch with the unseen presence of the cosmic power by its physical manifestation in various forms of nature. True, nature is our guide, friend, and philosopher. It gives according to the poet “Perfect peace of mind / ... a new meaning to life.”

A Prayer’ is an insightful poem on the secret of leading a happy life. In the poet’s opinion happy life is an outcome of self achievement. He says: “We live for / 125 years” only when we have a “Body free from pain / Mind free from torture.” So that we live as much for ‘ourselves’ as of others’ because according to the Indian thought the whole world is a family - Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The foregone thought is entirely in opposition with the feeling that “Blind, perplexed, ignorant / Man. .. construes money to be supreme / Thinks pleasure all in all.” (A Mirage’) In A Vow’ the poet depicts death as an adversary whom we the human race fight like soldiers because life is too precious to lose to a deceitful trick of / Any adversary!”

. A Call’ is a unique poem in which the poet uses a number of sensory images to celebrate the carnival of life. In a Tagore-like lyricism, the poet hails the singers of Alakh and Sohar who play on ‘every string of the violin of heart’. Their songs are mainly meant for the mentally vanquished’, to awaken those whose life turned into ‘stupor’. A number of poems expound the value attached to life, a rare gift. Poems such as One day’, Proved’, A Healthy Vision’, and Compatibility’ sing of Shanti (peace), victory, glory and pleasure of life. He envisages life wherein all will laugh and be merry. Death is compared to a terrorist in the poem Dreadful’ who “remote controls” life - “By hiding / In invisible places.”

In The Philosophy of Death’, An Invitation’, To the Fairy of Death and’ A Request’ there is a new challenge, a new welcome to a hail-fellow-well-met attitude to death. There is neither fear nor fascination towards humanity’s foe i.e. death. But one finds camaraderie, bonhomie, open, and candid. Death is treated as a friend, “a clever girl”, “a cohabiter and “a neighbour.” Thus, we witness a metamorphosis in the poet’s notion of death as it passes from the stage of being the fearful and the awe-inspiring to that of a much­-awaited welcome guest. Finally an agreeable compromise is reached. Peace at last! The pilgrim realizes his futile fencing with an invincible enemy. What cannot be cured must be endured. This endurance is not born of frustration but out of wise realization. that makes a world of difference.

In Comparison’ the poet juxtaposes Shiva, the three-eyed Godhead with shava, the lifeless body. A single vowel shift from ‘i’ to a’ brings in an irreplaceable difference in consciousness i.e. from spandana to jada. A Blow’ shows the futility of involvement because says the poet: “Early or late / all / in an eternal sleep have to fall / dust unto dust!” thus after being enlightened that every one “One day / renouncing name and fair form / will be reduced / to ashes!” (‘Preordained’), the poet proclaims in Proclamation’: “0 Death / I do accept you. . ./ I go / For good. .. for good / I go!”

Now there is loveliness all around. Nothing but peace remains. Not, that which is a result of impotent stupor but the peace one arrives at after experiencing the vicissitudes of life, like the peace one finds in Eliot’s Waste Land, which is the result of understanding the human world. Now the poet avers: “Mahendra Bhatnagar sleeps / . . .an eternal sleep.” He desires “I lose my identity / By fusing with the particles / of this soil! / I sow new life!”

Like Euripides of yore, the poet also sees wisdom of attaining peace in keeping one’s self-above hate, and in being good. He bows out of the stage of life in I Bow Thee’ seeking release from good as well as bad. After going through. the purging experiences of life, wisdom dawns on the traveler, which we witness in An Ascetic’. The poet is Siddarth with a wish to remain immortal. He attains it by singing songs of heavenly bliss he “wasn’t trapped” in “Yama’s region” any more. Fittingly enough his Last Will’ is not to follow “established systems” but to follow “good faith and good feelings!” in the last of the collected poems Kritkarma’ the poet depicts the man who does duty successfully, whose end is a “sign of perfection”. There is no room for regrets in such a life. It is a life which is a “circle of light” encompassing the whole universe, forever glowing, forever guiding those groping in the darkness of ignorance.

This commendable collection merits praise on its linguistic novelty too. It is a well-known fact that the world view of the speaker of one language is entirely different from that of the another. A person’s cultural background and understanding, religion and environment play an enormous role in the shaping of his imagination, and expression. Yet owing to the fact that human feelings and sensibility are much the same throughout the living world, Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems appeal to all, to the speakers of both English and Hindi. Myth and metaphor lend strength and character to the poems. The poet has his own intensities, pauses and quiet places. Yet there is nothing vague or confusing. The rhythm follows the poet’s thought and emotion. We should not forget the flexibility of the living language in which the poems were originally rendered. In good poetry, says a famous critic “the sounds of words, the suggestiveness of simple words and of word sequences are linked organically with the rhythm.”

as for example, in A Call’:

“Jump / Into the live seal Of life / 0 divers/ stir the stupor!”

The sea of life can be a mere amorphous mass if it is not made to yield the treasure of wisdom by thinkers and visionaries. Note the imagery and force of rhythm in it. Look at the colour of imagery the poet uses to bring out the facets of life in A Pair’ : “Sandy desert spreads / All around / Like the dying lamp-flame / Brown / Yellow / Palish-green ... / Slipping age / At the verge of death!”

In good poetry one finds “clear and vivid utterance to most subtle and ambiguous feelings and it is the union of clearness of vision and profound ambiguity of the poet’s attitude that gives the poem its power.” This observation is true of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poesy. To cite an example from ‘A Proclamation’ : “I sleep / on the comfortable / soil-bed! / I lose my identity / By fusing with the particles / of this soil!” The vision is fired with the thought, which in turn is implied in the images of comfortable soil bed’ sleep’ and particles of the soil’. In spite of being personalized, the poems appeal to all, mainly because of the broadness of the theme, the poet has chosen. The duplicity of human behaviour is diagonally opposed to the brutal frankness of death, the inevitable and logical end of the drama of life. attaining peace in keeping one’s self above hate, and in being good. In addition to a lasting theme, economy of words, effective imagery and haunting word music, the poems of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar collected under the title Death-Perception : Life-Perception impress the readers also on account of attractive graphics and special spacing and a symbolic cover design.

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[4]

'Death' in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar

— Prof. D. Murali Manohar

The word ‘death’ is so intimate and at the same time it intimidates every human being. Even if some one were to say that he/she is not apprehensive to death., I don’t agree with that person be him/her a spiritual person or a materialistic person. Every one is panic of death internally and externally, implicitly and explicitly. Philosophers of Greece, Buddhist, and Indian may have discussed on the issue of death.

However, I would like to say that I have been impressed by Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s dealing with the issue of death in his poetry originally written in Hindi and also the translator Dr. D.C. Chambial who has translated the poems into English. I am not an authentic person to comment on translation work, however, the translator seems to be clear, intelligible, retaining the originality and above all making sense with the poet’s profound ideas. When everyone knows that ‘death’ is inevitable, why should one be apprehensive about it? What happens if one has fear of death? Mahendra Bhatnagar says :

Fearing death

will make

living

futile!

Weight heavy

dry onerous

pleasure less heart.

If one is preoccupied and obsessed with the fear of death, then he/she will have a miserable life. The living itself becomes futile. He further says that life is meaningful only “when every moment is / free from dread of death.”

Some of us fear about death and some of us contemplate death. Is one successful in contemplating what is death? According to

Mahendra Bhatnagar :

Death ?

A question-mark!

To know the mystery

not only difficult

but also

all unknown for man.

Several people have tried to know the mystery of death, however, it has been very difficult to know what it is. It is quite interesting to see the combination of death and God. As one cannot predict how the death embraces a human being, the human being has started believing in God. The feeling is that if one believes in god, the god can give strength to lead a life with out apprehension, fear, and panic of death. Thus, man has started believing in God. As a result, Mahendra Bhatnagar in his poem ‘The Truth’ he says :

If there were no death,

God wouldn’t have any existence;

man

would have never reconciled

with his fate!

The poet seems to suggest that the existence of God and faith prevail, motivate, come into been, enter, only because of the ‘death’ to human beings. The words ‘death’ and faith’ are interrelated. The death of a human being links with the fate. If one were to die in an accident, due to ill health, after a long illness, death-in-life, he/she is associated with the fate’. It is because of his/her fate so and so has been dead in an accident, suffers with ill health and does not die early; some people neither die nor recover from the disease/illness and the feeling develops that it is better to die rather than suffer this way; some people lead a life which is almost like a death.

After having expressed his feeling on living the life with fear is a futile, contemplating of death, existence of god arising due to the concept of death, now he turns to the forms of death. Some of the forms of death here he talks about in the poem entitled ‘Forms of Death’ :

But

an act of terminating life

by suicide

or

by murder

or destruction of the ferocious

in self or social defense,

Isn’t a death,

but, a murder.

Though the end, the same

death!

True death or untimely death.

While talking of forms of death, he is interested in pointing out the difference between ‘death’ and murder’. Ultimately both of them lead to the end of life of a human being. In what way the person’s life ends, that is a different matter. In other words, the poet wants to show the difference between ‘true death’ or Ultimate death’ with that of suicide/murder’. He seems to suggest that true death’ is a natural process unlike suicide or murder. Whether one faces hardship in any form or not, one has to face a true death. Though the end of a human life is same but there is a difference in true death and suicide/murder. In other words the poet seems to be in favour of true death rather than in the other forms of death.

After the forms of death, he moves on to the two extremes of human life. If one extreme is life, the other extreme is death thus the title of the poem is ‘Life-Death’. The poet has deeply thought about life and death, the two extremes, and has expressed them in the poem and I would like to show in the following table :

Birth Death

one end the other extreme end

a shore an opposite bank

Why a jubilation? Pain ....! Why?

Well shaped completely invisible!

known unknown!

Beginning end

initiation an earthly end!

yes, a being ah! a non-being!

a new dawn a horrendous night!

To continue with the extremes, the poet goes on to dwell with the ideas in yet another poem entitled ‘Experimenting’ with the life, he says :

In man

Wish for life -

Eternal and strongest,

Whereas

The final truth

About every life

Is death!

Yes, end is certainly,

Unavoidable!

Whatever may be the truth of one’s own life, the man always tries to lead and live his life with utmost wish to live ‘eternally’ and strongly’. He/she knows the ultimate truth of one’s own life is death’. The human being tends to forget the truth’ of life. The end of human life is ‘certain’ and unavoidable’. However, the experience of the life is that :

... it is also true -

impatient passion for

Immortality and youth

Will never wane,

Man’s queer valour

Longs for melody,

Not for tears!

In spite of knowing that one has to end up his/her life surrendering to the death in whatsoever form it may be, yet we have impatient passion for ‘immortality’ and youth’ which will never be successful. The poet also says that man’s queer valour longs for a melody but not for tears. Not only that there are few people who :

Every time

Continuous struggle

With the eternal challenge

of death is welcome!

He will be

A mrityunjaya; he will be!

The bold, the brave people always struggle continuously with the eternal challenge, the death. The poet welcomes such people. Generally, people are afraid of death. They do not even talk of it. Even if some one were to talk, they are found fault with talking in such a manner. Those who challenge and fight the death are considered as ‘mrityunjayas’. Some people escape the death very closely and narrowly. Such people are also called mrityunjayas. Mrityunjaya can be seen from accidents, drowning, falling from heights and speeds and fire, to mention only a few.

If some people experiment with life. the other people try to find a meaning in the existence of life. The poet in his poem entitled ‘Meaningfulness’ the poet says that :

Mere living

isn’t a proof of

life’s meaningfulness,

Living -

only helplessness

like death - an exit.

Any human being irrespective of his caste, religion, creed, colour, social status, rich and poor has his/her own life. Can every human being lead a life with meaningfulness? There are human beings who have a mere living without any undertaking of any kind of social activity in their lives. One can’t say that so and so has lived which is a proof for life meaningfulness. He further says what he means by meaningfulness of living a human life. In the same poem he says :

Declaration of

human glory only when

there is perfect peace of mind -

when we give

a new meaning to life,

in pitch dark

open doors

to a world full of lights.

The only reason Mahendra Bhatnagar seems to have a meaning to life is to have a ‘perfect peace of mind’. If a human being has this perfect peace of mind then he can declare that it is a human glory. The peace of mind also results in opening doors to a world full of lights from the life of pitch dark. The poet also says that life shall have selflessness and dedicate one’s life to death. The lines go thus :

Let selflessness

be the motive of our living,

let’s devour materialistic hurdles

at every step.

Let’s acquire

such capabilities,

then

life may be

dedicated to death.

No regret,

no sorrow.

The poet seems to suggest that the life of human being is to be led with selflessness and dedicate the life to death. The motive of human life is to be selflessness but not selfishness. It is easy to preach but it is very difficult to practice. However, this is a challenge to human life. Moreover, he also asks the human beings to devour materialistic hurdles to lead a life of selflessness. The selfishness arises when one is running after materialistic things. He ought to become selfish if he is running after the materialistic things. One can’t be selflessness if one is after the materialistic things. If one were to lead a selflessness life, one has to devour materialistic things and hurdles at every step. This phrase ‘every step’ is very crucial here. While one is trying to achieve selflessness life at every step, one is lured, tempted, influenced, biased by materialistic hurdles. One has to overcome these hurdles at every step. It is not impossible, however, it is extremely difficult. Thus the poet is pleading one and all saying that ‘let’s acquire such capabilities’. If we acquire such capabilities of selflessness, devour materialistic hurdles then the life may be dedicated to death. One will have no hesitation in dedicating life to death. He/She will be very happy to surrender to death and will have ‘no regrets’ and no sorrow’. In other words the life will have fulfilled all the requirements and he/she will have unparallel happiness even after his/her death. After talking of selflessness, the poet now talks about the self-willed persons in the poem entitled ‘A Mirage’. He says :

Self-willed and ambitious

man

runs after money

after pleasures

at the cost of life.

Unlike selflessness persons, self willed and ambitious people run after money. Their whole and sole aim is to earn money as much as they want. They go to any extent in order to earn money. Ambitious people like Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth goes to the extent of killing his own uncle in order to attain the throne. This is one of the best examples of ambitious persons. These people run after money and pleasure at the cost of their own lives. They do not realize that they are taking the risk of their lives themselves. Thus the poet says : How strange / at this queer, dirty intention!’ This is absolute strange and the dirty intention of people who run after money and pleasure. He calls such a man :

Blind, perplexed, ignorant

Man

Construes money to be supreme

Think pleasure all in all!

He’ll spoil / the precious life,

And will lose life / the gift of God!

The ambitious people naturally become ‘blind’, perplexed’, and also ignorant’ in order to achieve their goals. They consider money as supreme. It is a known fact that money is not everything. Money is not supreme. There are several things apart from money in life. They think money provides pleasure. They forget that the same money can spoil the precious life. This precious life is lost due to longing for money pleasures. It is a gift of god that is lost. Instead of running after the money and pleasure let the man accept the inevitable thing of one’s own life that is death, The poet in his poem entitled ‘The Philosophy of Death’ says :

Death ;

When a certainty,

In vain

Why to doubt,

to fear so much!

O, tell death -

Come; when you please.’

He talks about the philosophy of human being. Death is a certainty in any human’s life. Why should one be in vain to doubt and to fear so much of death? It is an ultimate end. There is no doubt about it. Moreover, he welcomes death whenever it pleases. He is showing his maturity and crystal clear truth on human life.

After welcoming death, the poet expresses his readiness to face death in his poem entitled ‘To the Fairy of Death’ :

O death, come

I am ready!

Never think,

I am helpless.

You will come -

On tip-toes

Surprising

Like a clever girl.

Alright,

Accepted!

My beloved

Your this game

Is welcome!

Come quietly

Come. O death

I’m ready!

He is convinced about death, thus, he says all right and accepted. He is ever ready to face death. He even considers death as his beloved. At the same time he calls the death as a game player. He welcomes this game and expresses his readiness to face death.

After expressing his readiness to face death, he poses an important and pertinent question of believing in god when there is no guarantee of escaping death. He says :

Life-bird!

will fly,

fly away!

Life-bird will fly away!

Why you try so hard,

sing hymns every morn and eve,

nothing is in your control

you bow in every temple ...

He uses the bird imagery for life. When he says life bird will fly away he means to say that life of human being ends with the death. When that is so why human beings try so hard to retain their lives? In order to safeguard their lives. He further points out that nothing is in human’s control with regard to death. Although one prays and bows in temple one cannot control his/her death with morning and evening prayers. Whether one prays or not, life will fly away.

However, after questioning the people who have faith in god, ultimately he makes his last salute to death in his last poem of this book entitled ‘Kritkarma’ :

Let us

follow in the footsteps

of the departed

to attain the meaning of life,

glorify it.

Take the last salute!

The poet at last acknowledges and requests the humanity to follow the footsteps of the departed humans in order to attain the meaning of life. Moreover, we have to glorify the life by accepting the death and offering a last salute to death.

All in all what the poet is trying to do in his poetry with regard to death is that one has to be bold in accepting the ultimate truth of death with out fear, not to try to chase the mystery of death, believe in god, believe in natural process of death rather than in murder or in committing suicide, realize the difference between life and death, not to question and long for immortality, some may fight with death and become mrityunjaya for a period of time, however, on one or the other day he/she has to face death, pleading to lead a meaningfulness and selflessness lives, never run after money with materialistic comforts and death is certain to all human beings; and be ready for it and make a last salute to death.

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[5]

'Death-perception : Life-Perception'
Revealing Reflections on Life and Death

— Dr. Atma Ram

Life and death have been a great enigma and mystery for man from time immemorial. Right from the earliest time he has been interested in understanding his existence on the earth as also his departure from here for good. An area of ceaseless adventure and exploration for mystics and common persons — since the two are basic and essential for all.

In 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception', Mahendra Bhatnagar, a veteran academic and mature poet reflects on various aspects of life and death. The anthology comprises 50 poems. As the very titles suggest — 'The Wheel of Life', 'Free from Worry', 'Contemplation', ' Reality', 'The Opposite', 'Life-Death', 'A Mirage', 'A Vow', ' A Call', 'Purpose', 'A Wish', 'A Longing', 'Dreadful', 'The Mode of Death', 'Good-Bye' — to mention a few — Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar recollects or recreates various moods, scenes, sights of life and death in a simple and poetic ways and conveys to the readers their meaning and worth — in his own way, he tries to unravel the enigma of life and death. He begins with a happy note, reveals the struggle and strife, and finely ends with poems of hope and optimism. And more importantly, perceptions of death meaningfully point to perceptions of life. He urges the reader to voluntarily take the last salute, as life has to be lived :

"The end of life —

A stage

Why to bewail?

Let us

follow in the footsteps

of the departed

to attain the meaning of life,

glorify it.

Take the last salute!" ('Kritkarma')

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar tries to understand death in relation to life, and life with reference death. Hence the apt title — 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception', the use of a colon in=between; the abundant use of signs of exclamation and interrogation in the entire volume. The 'collection' characteristically begins with 'Gratitude', and 'Gratitude : Again'. Says the poet :

"Death is;

Death is imminent,

Unavoidable —

That's why

Life is so desired!

That's why

There's such a semblance

Between life and death!" ('Gratitude')

So he has no fear, like say, Keats, when he thinks about his final exit. Death seems to impart beauty and relevance to life. He asserts :

"Death's made life

very beautiful,

Transformed this world

in fact,

into a pleasant heaven." ('Gratitude : Again')

He holds that life is not mere living. It should constitute a positive, forward outlook to go in for sweetness and light.

"When we give

a new meaning to life." (Meaningfulness')

Indeed, Dr. Bhatnagar presents in these short songs numerous worthwhile perspectives on life and death, in a style marked by pace, precision and simplicity. He prays for a long, active life dedicated to the welfare of all :

"Yes,

May

We live for

125 years!

For ourselves,

for others." ('A Prayer')

As often said, it matters not how one dies, what matters is how one lives. Dr. Bhatnagar thus, wants to live meaningfully with zest and zeal, and finally leave the world silently and peacefully — in a way, to make the best of both the worlds. He implies that death is welcome since it is inevitable, life should invariably be led without any fear or doubt, since what is, is. The poet is naturally prepared to embrace both of them. And as the time comes, he contentedly calls it a day, bids happy good-bye to life :

"Adieu!

O the springs of the world

Adieu!

O, the shining moon

The twinkling bright stars

Adieu!" ('I Bow Thee')

It is a somewhat new kind of approach to life as to death. In general, poets tell about joys and sorrows of life as fears and darkness of death. Or they adopt a philosophical view to delve deep into the labyrinth to extract some viable pattern. But Mahendra's treatment of life and death is unique — he dwells on the usefulness of both and trusts most his own vision and experience. The English-knowing world may find his point of view interesting and enjoyable. No intricacies or complexities referred to; no fear or obscurity to obsess one with. Direct and simple poetic observations, embracing both life and death as they come. The poet knows and knows what he knows — so he is wise and heart-whole. He accepts facts, ripeness is all. And his last will is at once relevant to one and all : "Follow — good faith and good feelings!" ('The Last Will')

Some may find the oriental approach to life and death too complex. But the poet here reflects on their numerous aspects so vividly and joyfully. He does not tremble to think. He exhorts and persuades the reader to weigh and consider his viewpoints. Although it is always a challenging task to render Mahendra's poetry in English — we all know, English and Hindi belong to different groups of languages. However, Dr. D. C. Chambial, himself a highly perceptive and discerning poet in English and Hindi, has done a very good job. All along, his endeavor is to embody the spirit of the songs. He has explained, briefly yet adequately, meaning of some Hindi words or ideas in footnotes. His translation gives the flavor and feel of the original. The English version is often as interesting and grippe as the Hindi text. In fact, Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is quite fortunate in getting competent translators for all the seven volumes of his poems. They finely introduce him to a wider readership, nay the world audience; on the subject of eternal and vital significance. At times, the 'translation' may tempt and good the readers to go to the original — so poems and their translation are given side by side. The poet's creative art thus may contribute much to mutual understanding and international peace. After all, all life is one, and the theme dealt with individually concerns one and all. Surely, 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception' is an excellent anthology of poems on motifs that concern us all. The poet's treatment of the subject is both fresh and original. Beautifully printed and impressively brought out, it is a book to be ''chewed and digested''; to be read over and over again. I am confident the English-knowing world will appreciate and welcome this literary venture.

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[6]

Reflecions on Mahendra Bhatnagar's Philosophy of Death

— Dr. A.K. Chaturvedi

Mahendra Bhatnagar with eighteen published collections of poems to his credit occupies an important place among the distinguished contemporary Hindi poets of India. A poet of high stature, Mahendra Bhatnagar has been widely acclaimed as a versatile genius and literary luminary gifted with in-born poetic competence. A number of his poems have been included in the curricula of a host of Indian universities and school education boards. This article is exclusively based on the contents of the poems that constitute his seventeenth poetic collection titled Death-Perception : Life-Perception.

Death is the last reality of life and marks a great final change. It is conceived as a bitter and ineffably painful experience of life that no living being can escape or avoid howsoever powerful he may be. Like other knotty problems and riddles of life, the riddle of death has occupied the attention of a host of thinkers, poets and dramatists across the globe. Regarded as a serious subject, death has been treated by them in different ways. Some of them have treated it as a cruel enemy, while others have regarded it as a gateway to the other world. Mahendra Bhatnagar's perception of death is worth attention. In his poem Gratitude he holds that there is a co-relation between life and death. If the transicence of life makes death acceptable, the inevitability of death increases the beauty and desiribility of life. Swayed by the attitude of gratitude the poet in his next poem Gratitude : Again gives credit to death for the metamorphosis of this world into heaven and of men into higher beings.

One of the important features of Mahendra Bhatnagar's philosophy of death is a blend of pessimism and optimism. In the poem The Wheel of Death the poet has expressed his pessimistic views about the ferocity of the wheel of death that indiscriminately destroys all animate and inanimate things . The following lines of the poem reveal pessimism :

Cruel is

the wheel of death

very cruel!

Under which

lifeless — living

gradually grinding and changing

every moment, every minute!

This earth rocks horribly!

The poem Contemplation represents poet's pessimistic approach to the riddle of death. The poem begins with a question mark on the rationale of human efforts to know the mystery of death and ends with the pessimistic revelation that :

All efforts futile —

to explicate

the meaning of death;

it's very intricate difficult

to contemplate.

The poet begins the poem Conclusion in a pessimistic mood, but he grows surprisingly optimistic in the last lines of the poem quoted below :

The mystery of death

to be unmasked .... revealed

sure

sure

some day!

The poem Free From Worry reveals poet's keen awakening to the impact of the fear of death on human mind. According to him, talking about death is considered ominous for the reason that the very thought of death makes life dull, burdensome and unworthy of living. While the poem Contemplation represents his negative approach to the enigma of death, the poem The Truth shows that he is very positive in his perception of death. Here (in The Truth) he regards the fear of death as a boon in disguise. He is of the view that if it had not been for the fear of death, the divine attributes like the fear of God and faith in his benign power would have been conspicuous by their absence in human mind. Haunted by the fear of Yama, man turns to God for succour and seeks relief in belief.

The poem Puzzle is interrogative in both form and sense. The universal question as to where soul goes after leaving the body perplexes poet's mind. Under the spell of perplexity and puzzlement the poet utters :

Unknown,

Everything unknown!

A pitch dark night,

Everything

Mysterious!

Death has many forms. It may come in any form at any time. In the poem Forms of Death the poet talks of two forms of death — natural and accidental. Natural death signifies the endless sleep, the cessation of active life and stopping of the palpitation of heart. Accidental death, on the other hand, means the termination of life by suicide or murder. But the final result of both forms of death is always the same. As the poet puts it :

Be death natural

or accidental

conclusion is the same —

end of a conscious life.

Birth and death mark the extreme ends of life. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has drawn a contrast between them in the poem Life-Death. Questioning the propriety of jubilation at birth and lamentation at death he asks :

Birth :

Why a jubilation?

Death :

Pain ...!

Why?

Birth-death

when equal?

Drawing a line of difference between birth and death he writes :

Birth — known,

Death — unknown!

Birth — beginning

Death — end,

Birth — initiation

Death — an earthly end!

Dr. Bhatnagar's views about birth and death are, at places, paradoxical. In his poem The Opposite he holds the view that death is different from birth in that it brings forth a cry or loud lamentation as opposed to birth that causes jubilation. In the next poem Equal the poet puts forth the view that true wisdom lies in treating birth and death as equal.

Extreme pain at the death of a dear and near one is a natural phenomenon. Humans have no option except to bear it. Through his poem Sakhi he suggests reconciliation to the game of death as a palliative. But, this palliative proves ineffective in the case of the untimely death of a child or a young man. That is why the poet in his poem Desire wishes that all children and youngmen should live long. The poem Philosophy of Death presents the essence of poet's perception of death. In the beginning lines of the poem the poet questions the very logic of being afraid of death and suggests that instead of fearing from death man should remain prepared to welcome it with gaiety. He says :

O, tell death —

'Come; when you please.'

At this time

come,

Let's sing and dance!

Play on varied musical instruments!

In the poem titled An Invitation the revolutionary in Mahendra Bhatnagar wakes up all of a sudden and invokes death to come at its appointed time and lead him to hell so that he may unite the victims of the cruelties of Yama and hoist a flag of revolt so as to prepare them for a change in life. How can the dictates of Yama bend those who did not learn to yield to the dictates of the earthly rulers? With his indomitable will the poet vows to lead the sufferers of hell in a fight against the cruel rule of Chitragupta, an official in the court of Yama who keeps record of righteous and unrighteous actions of living beings. His confident and indomitable spirit manifests itself in these lines :

I'll challenge them!

just, let me jump

into the hell-pond!

just, let me mingle

with the huge crowd of

hell-denizens!

The poem To the Fairy of Death presents death as a naughty girl who always prefers to surprise her lover by her sudden appearance. Here, the lover in the poet shows his preparedness not only to welcome death as his beloved but also to happily accept its sudden arrival as a part of its game. Not only this, he restlessly waits for the point of time when he will enjoy the blissful company of death. The following lines show the poet's preparedness to face death gladly :

come

O death, come

I'm ready!

Awaiting you

I've bedecked myself

I'm ready!

Having regard to the femininity of death the poet in his poem A Request extends an offer of his friendship to death and requests it not to be shy of responding to his offer. Here, the poet has personified death as a female friend who likes to be teased and taunted while being accompanied to the land of the dead. The poem titled The End describes death as the cessation of all struggles and activities associated with the journey of life. In the first stanza of the poem the poet raises the question as to where the struggles of life have gone. The following lines of the poem provide a solution to this question with the use of simile :

Everything stood still

The running, jumping, the liquid river water

Everything frozen —

like blood in veins!

Each and every moment of our life leads us to death. No living being can escape the mighty hand of Yama. Human efforts can effect miracles. But when death comes, all efforts fail. The only thing that we can do in the face of death is to reconcile ourselves to its game and it is only herein that true wisdom lies. Weeping over death is absolutely foolish. To bring this fact home the poet writes :

Early or late

all

in an eternal sleep have to fall,

dust unto dust!

O unfortunate!

Then, why to weep?

In the poem Truth the poet compares death to the flight of a bird and declares all human efforts and prayers meaningless in view of the impending disappearance of life-bird with no possibility of its return. In the next poem Preordained the poet espouses the universal truth that the departure of the life-bird is predestined and no power on earth can protect the body from being reduced to ashes. As he puts it :

It is preordained that

You

one day

renouncing name and fair form

will be reduced

to ashes!

Man's fear of death stems from his ignorance of what may happen to him at the time of death and where death may lead him. It is for this reason that he does not want to register in his mind the bitter fact that one day death will detach him from the worldly things that he fears to lose even in dream. But the great saints and poets happily accept this bitter truth and mentally adapt themselves to the conditions death may lead them to. The following lines reveal Mahendra Bhatnagar's inclination to accept death :

O immortal death!

You may consider me

helpless,

end,

I voluntarily

accept you

accept you from body and mind! (A Proclamation)

There is no denying the fact that truth eludes in the beginning and dawns in the end. In the first few poems of 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception' Mahendra Bhatnagar's perception of death is marked with fear and perplexity. Here he regards death as invincible, 'uninterrupted ... unchanged' (The Wheel of Death). Towards the end of this poetic collection poet's fear and apprehension, doubt and delusion disappear and are replaced by the conviction that death can be defeated by following the path taken by the great ascetics like Gautam Buddha. In the poem An Ascetic the poet vents his determination to overcome death by singing 'songs of life at the edge of doom'. Thus, his poetic competence is a weapon in his hand that he intends to use in the fight against his impending death so as to defeat it in the manner a successful warrior defeats his enemies in war.

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