A CRITICAL TRIBUTE TO A REBEL POET

A  CRITICAL TRIBUTE TO A REBEL POET

ENGLISH   POETRY  OF   RAJKAMAL    CHOUDHARY.

Not many  people know that Rajkamal Choudhary  whose Hindi  and  Maithili  poetry, short stories and novels had created revolution  in the world of literature, was  also a versatile   genius of English  poetry. As he has himself remarked  in a publisher’s note  on an anthology titled  ‘ INDIAN  NIGHT’ —- “a major literary  event, the first collection of  real Indian poetry since  Sarojini Naydu and Toru Dutta, from the mind of a modern Indian  man  with extreme intelligence  in  his  probing’s of the BABOO CULTURE,  unsophisticated sick pious  unpoetically  designed, celebrated a chronicle  of  the Indian wilderness of  the individual  insecurity, failures, suicides, murders, rapes, adulterations and  black  magic”. Whether the “Inddian  Night” deserves to  be a ’’ major literary  event”and  if it  is  the first collection    of real Indian poetry since Sarojini Naydu and Toru Dutta” is a separate  issue  that  needs  to  be discussed and analyzed by   critics  .  But a random view  of the  galaxy of  images  presented  by the poet in some 60  poems in English   are equally mature in content and style and from aesthetic  point of view, they are equally significant as their Hindi and Maithili counterparts despite some limitations. While  attempting   Rajkamal’s contribution to Maithili  and Hindi  literature  critics  used  to  mention  merely  that he had also  written  a large  number  of poems  in English  and  Bangla  literature. But never before  was  any  of  his  English  writing  ever  brought to  light in  any  of the  magazines  or books  published  after  the   premature  death  of  the   poet in  June 1967.  It  could be  possible   only  after  49  years ,when  a  reputed publishing  house  in  Delhi,  Rajkamal Prakashan.(It may  be kept  in mind  that the author, Rajkamal  had no  connection —  direct   or  indirect—- with   the Publishing house.  In 2015,Rajkamal  Prakashan published the complete works  of  Rajkamal  Choudhary  in Maithili and Hiindi  languages.   Comprising   eight  volumes  the anthology presents  the  entire  gamut  of Rajkam al’s Hindi  and Maithili literary  world—- his  poems,short  stories ,novels,  private letters  and his literary   comments  on  individual  authors and  literary  trends. It is   an  undisputable  fact  that  among  his  great  contemporaries    Maithili, and  barring  some exceptions  like Agneya,  Hindi  too,  Rajkamal Choudhary   was  probably the most   erudite  author . Reading  books   was  his greatest  passion. Rajkamal’s favourites  included Indian scriptures,Vedas  and Puranas,the classical Sanskrit and  Hindi English  and  Hindi  literature . A new trend of poetic  movement launched  and  pioneered  by a  group of  young Bengali  poets  led  by  Malay  Roy  Choudhury, Subimal  Basak and     others drew attention  of  the  readers  during  the  sixties. This  controversial  group  was  named Hungry  generation and the  individual  poets   who were anti-establishment in  their personal  life as  well  as in  their  writings  were identified  as  Hungryalists.  The  Hungry Generation inspired  him  the most mmainly because of  his psychological  proximity . Reputed American poet,Allen  Ginsberg  although  not a  pioneer of the Hungryalists was  closely associated with this poetic  movement and Rajkamal Choudhary was an ardent supporter of  the  group  mainly Allen Ginsberg  and Malay Roy Choudhury  whose  are frequently mentioned in  his  writings  .   Like  D H Lawrence his religion was  the religion  of  flesh.  Freudian psychology  combined  with   and the existentialist  philosophy were his  favourites. American  novelist  and  thinker,Ayn  Rand finds her  name and  the  title  of her  novels  mentioned frequently in many  of his  poems.

Rajkamal  was a born  rebel. He was deadly averse  to  the  present  form  of democracy. In one  , of  his  short  poems he  vows  to  boycot all the  government  facilities  and welfare  schemes. His anger becomes  so   deep and  intense  that  he promises not  to  cast  his  vote   in  any  election for  electing  a public  representative.——–

MY   PRAYER – SONG (AUTUMN 66)

I  will  cast  no   vote, pay  no  taxes

Stand  in  no  line to  form a  Q

Take and  accept no title no award

No  licence no   policy no passport no  permit,

No whisky-coupon,  no  job

No AIR  contract no  wife

No  never,

I don’t want  any social  security.

I shall rather go  to the Himalay caves

Than  bear the  ledger  books

On  my heads and gun on  my  shoulders

For my masters  to shoot

Me  and  my  child.

( Rajkamal  Rachnavali,vol.2, English  poetry  section, Ed. Deo Shankar Navin, Rajkamal  Prakashan , Delhi. )

He abhors  democracy because  he  feels  the  sacrosanct  tenets   of  the  system has  turned  into  mobocracy.   The  entire  democratic apparatus  and  institutions are working  against  the man as   an individual and  all  the  development  and welfare  programmes   are making   individuals  poorer  and  more vulnerable. In his  most  celebrated Hindi  poem,  Mukti Prasang, he  justifies  his  anti- democratic   principles—–

आदमी को  तोड़ती नहीं है लोकतान्त्रिक पद्धतिया

केवल पेट के बल उसे झुका देती हैं

धीरे धीरे  अपाहिज

धीरे धीरे  नपुंसक बना लेने के लिए

उसे शिष्ट  राजभक्त देशप्रेमी  नागरिक  बना लेती हैं

आदमी को इस लोकतंत्री संसार से अलग  हो जाना चाहिए

(Prasang 8, Mukti  prasang,,1966,Neelpatra  Prakashan,Kamayni,Bhikhna  pahaadi, Patna.)

 

(Eng.  Translation

Democratic  system  doesn’t  break  a man

But bends  him on  his  abdomen slowly

 To  make  him handicapped

, impaired     Slowly 

Impotent  shapes  him as a disciplined  patriotic  citizen.

Man  should keep  himself away  from this democratic  world.

                                                (Translation  By BKC)

Rajkamal’s main concern in poetry is  hopes  and despair, aspirations ,frustration and disillusionment suffered by the common man ,more particularly  the lower middle class   in the present day social institutions   largely dominated  by  sexually pervert and starved  capitalists  But Rajkamal  never indulges in rhetoric ,sloganeering or  didactic  melodrama. In stead, he picks  up   his characters and  situations  from  among  the masses  and knits  his  narrative in  such a deft  manner  that the  characters  become  his  mouthpieces and a strong  weapon  to attack    the system,not the individuals. This however needs   to  be   kept in mind  that the  effects of such  exercises are not  limited  in  range  but  universal  in appeal. In  his poem, The Prose  order, Rajkamal admits very  frankly that ‘he was nobody  in  the  game of alphabets’ because  of  his  bourgeois  character. He was nowhere  in  the poetic world as  his thoughts are untranslatable and  non- commutive. The poet’s  yearning  for the  world of  letters  becomes  poignant when he pleads gross injustice  done  to  him  by  the society :   

I am not sure of  anything,not even suicide.

The  mob  of weeping children,

The barren landscapes

The  alphabets  of existence in the society,

The    myths   have disowned  me.

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Now .a few words about the text.Some sixty poems  of Rajkamal Choudhary have been compiled  in the anthology. As I have  not seen the manuscript personally, I can  not say  anything  for  certain. But I must  admit, the  poems are  pricking the  reader’s  eyes. The arrangement  of lines mostly the  use  of capital and  small  letters  are strangely haphazard  and ill- conceived. I want to bring these glaring mistakes  to notice  of  the  publisher  as well   as   the   editor,Sri Deo Shankar  Naveen and request  them  to go  through the  text  once again and come  out with  due   modifications if possible , in the   next  edition (reprint) of  the book.    

                                                                                 Bashi  Kant Choudhary.       

                                                                                Mahishi, Saharsa, Bihar.

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