B.S Gautam Anurag’s ‘Burns Within’ makes a lot of burning spots on my heart. My heart cries and the echoes are heard again and again appealing me to extend my hands to help the needy as the poet makes this call to each reader of this volume.
Translated volume of his poems in English is due to the magnificent efforts of a great literary giant Dr. Abnish Singh Chauhan. The excellent thing about the translation of B. S Gautama Anurag’s Hindi poems into English is that the soul and heart of each poem remains the same. Diction used by Prof. Abnish Singh Chauhan is really commendable, apt and contextual and also shows his mastery on English Language.
While reading the poems included in the anthology ’Burns Within’ made me feel like roaming about in a garden where there are multi-coloured beautiful flowers, a good feast to the eyes and the nose. The very first poem of the anthology ‘Set Free’ speaks of humanitarian approach. The poet calls God to come and reverse the evil system into a world where there are fountains of love and affection. The poet seems to say that the biggest religion is humanity in the poem ‘Bloody Chaos’. Darkness prevails on the earth and chaos is everywhere. Patriotic fervor of the poet is reflected in the poem ‘How May We Call’. The poet not only loves the humans but also loves the birds and animals and nature too. The poet says, “Heard, every moment/lament of wild dogs, jackals and cats……………Blood is flowing in the rivers, instead of water….”
The pangs and pains the Nature feel is exhibited in the poem ‘Come To See.’ The poet cries, “The benevolent of world!/To hear elegy of Each tree here/ you come.” The cries of the birds also shiver the poet as he says, “To hear cries of birds/ fighting with death/ you come.” The poet gives a call to the people to come and see this pathetic picture of life. Tagore’s surrender to God is akin to the poet’s. In the poem ‘Dance of My Indigence’, the poet says, “O my God! / My indigence in your love/ wants to dance, sing alone.” ‘Your Compassion’ is God’s compassion. God’s compassion is needed in the world today to “transform now into sharp luster and dewy spring” from “the dried, unsmooth autumn.” The poet pines for the golden currency of compassion from God as he says in his poem ‘Make Me Rich’, “Scattering/ golden currency of your compassion/ in my life/ please make me rich/ like a vine laden with flowers.”
Selfishness has crept in the world. Flowers seem to have no fragrance. The world is waiting for the coming death. The poet is cosmopolitan here like Tagore shows it in his poems. (The Coming Death).Tagore’s spiritualism is found in poet’s sense of believing in the power of God. The poet sings in the poem ‘On Getting This Invisible’, “He is in our senses, not only in the senses,/He inhabits the dimension beyond the sense.” The poet opines that human existence is in God’s existence. He says, “I am the part and parcel of Your existence.” (Only You Are). The poet’s creation ‘Tears of Pain’ has the power to make anyone feel the pains the underdogs feel in their lives. The pathetic saga of peasant is evident. The poet seems to be nostalgic as he talks of mother’s contribution in bringing up the son. The poet paints a picture of a group of people who curse their luck for not being rich and blame God for their desperation and helplessness.
T.S Eliot speaks about hollowness of man while the poet refers about hollowness of life as he says in his poem ‘Everything Is Pointless’, “Ours sobs,/ scared of iron claws,/ are clashing with mountains/ but everything is pointless.” The poet exhorts to be united. In a bitter satirical tone the poet makes fun of those who believe in caste system. Nature is in unison while “human family is divided/ in classes, in castes, in languages.”The poet’s ardent love for being poet till the last breath is highlighted in the poem ‘Bonds’. The poet becomes Wordsworthian in the poem ‘The Call’ as he beautifully depicts the plight of nature when he puts up, “The call of pain/ stricken green Doob /is unheard today/ Laugher of Chameli,/ milky childhood of Mahua/ and puberty of odorous rose/ are brutally murdered.” Anurag is perhaps one of the few poets in the firmament of poetry who has so beautifully depicted the pain of Doob and of Mahua. Life’s hollowness again finds its place in the poem ‘The Whole World.’ Like a social reformer the poet counts the social and personal vices like greed, immorality, dissatisfaction, corruption, malpractice, lovelesssness, hatred, wrath, allurement, hunger, crime and poverty and also speaks of lack of faith in patience, trust and truth in his poem ‘The Whole World’.
The character of Ghasiram in the poem ‘Ghasiram Is Upset’ is symbolic of all those farmers who are upset on having their fields and houses mortgaged for the survival of their families. The comparison of the rich and the poor can be seen in the lines “On the day Sawan Purnima,/ the money lender’s house is bursting with joy,/ and Ghasi’s house is/ filled with sorrow/ in the chock full rain of Sawan.” The poet’s agony on the ailing life of villagers again finds a place in the poem ‘The Firewood’. The poet says, “Their life is worn out due to scarcities./ Their wet clothes are also/ causing pain to them.”
The life of the capitalists and that of the poor is presented in sheer contrast in the poem ‘The Biting Cold’ where the poet says, “Due to the scarcity of food,/ the poor farmer is sustaining his life/ by water only/ whereas the capitalists are flourishing.” ‘Intellectuals’ is about degradation of values of life. Intellectuals have become blackmailing intellectuals. The same theme is built in ‘Whom To Tell’. The poet is pained to note the loss of Ram’s reign, honesty being put on test and bombs being made to spread terrorism. Definition of modern man is given in his poem ‘Today’s Man’. Modern man is surrounded with doubts and skeptics. As an environmentalist the poet is worried to notice the boom of industrialization that emit poison making life hell for animals, birds, vegetations and even for human beings.(Inch By Inch). As an ardent lover of mankind the poet wishes to shed everyone’s tears off. He says in the poem ‘Let Me Fight’, “Give me tears of one and all to drink.”
About the Book:
Title: Burns Within (Translation of Hindi Poems into English)
Poet: B.S. Gautam Anurag
Translator: Dr Abnish Singh Chauhan
Publisher: Sanjeev Prakashan, Daryaganj, Delhi-110002 (India)
Edition: First, November 2015
Price : Rs. 200/- (Hardcover)
Web address: http://burnswithin.blogspot.in/
About the Reviewer:
Dr. Mosam Sinha
Department of English
Teerthanker Mahaveer University
Burns Within is a collection of 30 poems translated by Dr. Abnish Singh Chauhan from B.S. Gautam Anurag’s Hindi poetry collection Sanson Ki Samadhi. While journeying through the various stages of life, the poet persona in Anurag sees, meets, and observes the people and things, becomes shocked at the naked dance of crime, hunger, and pain everywhere, cries within at man’s loss of faith in patience, trust and truth, and feels burns within when he finds human life that has become superficial, shallow, delusive and hollow. He wonders why the fountains of love and affection are dried, why explosives and guns are grown in the fields, why gods born of religious narrowness are transplanted everywhere, and why Indian culture—divine in nature is locked in the prison of devils.
The poet Anurag prays to Jagatpita for setting free this motherly earth from smoke-fog of faithlessness and inhuman behavior. He wonders how humanity will exist on this earth and hence dreams of a world where people may not be in the bog of narrowness, where there may not be the darkness of ignorance, where the flowers of love and relationship may not fall in the stinking pond of blood, where people may not be dominated by selfishness, where the storm of sorrow may not shroud the abode of happiness, where people may not be the victim of slavery, where there may be the reign of truth and justice, where the rich may not exploit the poor for their gains, where men may not attempt to become gods themselves, where people may be conscious of the environment and danger of heating earth, and where there is no shadow of black storm over the humanity.
The poet, no doubt, has painted the landscape of his poetic world with contemporary colours but there is one more colour—the colour of devotion which offers a bright contrast. He finds himself a particle of dust in the cosmic family and feels pleasure while bathing in the light of His compassion. He finds himself poor before Him and asks Him to play on His flute and spread the aroma of His songs so that He may see the dance of his indigence. He has nothing to offer Him for anchoring the boat of his life as he has already entrusted everything to Him. What he needs now is the golden currency of His compassion. He knows that he cannot get the Infinite through his senses. He does not have any separate existence from Him as He is in him. He speaks frankly that his efforts to get Him are futile as he finds Him everywhere and himself nowhere. But, he does not wish to be detached from this celestial earth for the sake of liberation. He wishes to serve all the creatures of this earth to make his life triumphant. He sows the seeds of love in his songs, which sprout from the burns within to offer the cathartic experiences. Burns Within will make the readers muse over the burns of life while offering them a cure—which lies in unflinching faith, truth and complete surrender to Jagatpita, the Absolute.
Dr Sudhir Kumar Arora
Dept. of English
Moradabad, U.P., India