Saturday, 10 March 2018

Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhavam and the Significance of Nepal as a Promoter of World Peace

Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhavam and the Significance of Nepal as a Promoter of World Peace
Prof. Dr. K. V. Dominic
(Paper presented  at the 37th Annual International Conference on Mountain Literature held at Lakeside, Pokhara (Nepal) on 1-2 March 2018)

Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhavam seems to be one of the ancient most classics in Mountain Literature. Mahakavi Kalidasa is supposed to have lived in the 4th and 5th century CE. It must be admitted that we have absolutely no trustworthy information regarding the personal history of Kalidasa. Where and when was he born?  Who were his parents?  When did he die? etc are unknown to us. The poet has studiously observed utter silence about himself in his works. He was the least of an egotist that he wanted only to have his poetical productions stand as an immortal monument. The most popular theory about his period of life is that he flourished during the reign of Emperor Chandragupta II, and therefore lived around 4th-5th century CE. He was one of the nine poetic jewels in the emperor’s court. Kalidasa’s major works are: Aphijnanasakuntalam, Malavikagnimitram, Vikramorvasiyam. They are all plays. Kumarasambhavam and Raghuvamsham are long epic poems of Kalidasa. In addition, he has written the lyric poems Meghadutam and Ritusamharam. All his works were written in Sanskrit.
Kumarasambhavam talks about the birth of Kumara, the first son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. The abode of Lord Shiva was Himavan or Himalaya, and this country Nepal is part of it. Thus you can be proud of living in a divine holy land where Lord Shiva lived with his wife Parvati. The epic has been divided into seventeen cantos or chapters and basically talks about the courtship of lord Shiva and Parvati. The majority of chapters have vast details about the love and romance between Shiva and Parvati.
The story goes like this: Sati, the daughter of Daksha and once the wife of Siva, was born as the daughter of the mountain Himalaya and Mena. On attaining youth, she was sent, at Narada's advice, to attend upon S'iva who had been practising penance for losing his wife on one of the Himalayan peaks. In the meanwhile the gods, who were harassed by the demon Taraka, went, with Indra at their head, to the self-existing God, Brahma, for counsel. Tarakasura was invincible in his might because of a boon he got from God Brahma. The gods propitiated Brahma with appropriate prayers and he revealed himself to them, and suggested them a way to remove Taraka, their powerful enemy. The only hero to lead the host of Heaven against him and to destroy him was the son of the Dark-necked God, S'iva.   And the gods were told to induce the Trident-holder to take Parvati to wife. Indra, the leader of the gods, thought of Kama and the Mind-born presented himself before his master for order. Kama was entrusted with the mission of shaking the self-restraint of S'iva, who had been practising austerities on the snow-clad peaks of the Himalaya, ever since the self-immolation of Sati. The god of the flowery bow started on the mission, accompanied by his faithful consort Rati and his comrade Vasanta. He appeared on the peaks of the Himalaya, and all of a sudden trees and plants put out fresh sprouts, the earth became clad untimely with vernal glory, the beast of the forest and the fowl of the air showed the influence of Kama. Kama found an unconscious weapon in Parvati who was there, with the permission of her father, to attend upon God S'iva, whom she secretly loved and wanted to marry. The God of love succeeded in disturbing the peace of mind of S'iva for a moment only. But the fire of anger flashed through his third eye on discovering the cause of his disturbance and burnt Kama even as he was preparing to strike him. S'iva then vanished from sight, and Parvati, discomfited at heart, returned home with her two companions. Rati, on seeing her consort turned into a mere heap of grey ashes, lamented over the sad loss, and called upon Vasanta to arrange a funeral pyre, on which she declared her intention of burning herself. The preparations were being made when suddenly a voice in the air commanded them to desist, as Rati would be united once more with Kama as soon as the Trident-holder would lead Parvati to the altar. Parvati, sorely disappointed, cursed her unmatched beauty and seeing no other way to gain her object resolved to practise penance and, permitted by her father, resorted to a forest for that purpose, though much against the wishes of her mother. There she continued mortifying the flesh by all the known processes and was not daunted by the severest tests of penance, ever undergone by the ascetics. S'iva at last relented and came to the penance-forest, disguised as a Sanyasin, to test the strength of Parvati’s attachment. He found fault with the great God, called him bad names, laughed at his poverty and declared him altogether unworthy of her hand and of any heroic attempts at austerities to that end, till at last Parvati could bear it no longer, and in great anger desired her maid to turn him out. Then the great God revealed himself to her and declared that he was thenceforward entirely at her disposal being won over by her penance. Parvati requested him formally to apply to her father for her which he consented to do. The great God then mentally summoned the seven sages to his presence and, on their presenting themselves before him with due respect, he asked them to go to Himalaya and request him on his behalf to bestow his daughter in marriage on him. The sages praised Siva in suitable terms and started on their mission. In a short space of time they reached Oshadhiprastha, the capital of Himalaya, the beauty of which they much admired and descended into the palace of the Mountain. Himalaya received them with proper respect and veneration and after praises had been mutually bestowed—by the Mountain upon the sages and by the sages upon the mountain—asked them in courteous terms the purpose of their visit and they told him and the Mountain showed his delight by asking his daughter to salute the sages as S'iva's bride. They then fixed the date of the marriage for the fourth day from that day, returned to S'iva, informed him of the success of their mission and, permitted by him, went back to their celestial abode. Himalaya made great preparations for the coming marriage in which the townsmen also took an active part. The city was splendidly decorated and when the auspicious time came the bride was made to bathe and the marriage decorations were put on her, an arrow being placed in her hand as enjoined in the case of a Kshatriya maiden. The bridegroom's party, formed of all the principal divinities, arrived in due season and was received in great pomp by the bride's party. The ladies of the town greatly admired the bride and the bridegroom and praised Brahm for having united two persons so worthy of each other. The marriage was concluded at the auspicious hour, all the rites attendant upon a Hindu marriage being duly performed. The newly married couple then saluted Brahma who pronounced a blessing upon it. The goddess Sarasvati also blessed the two. After the conclusion of the marriage the guests dispersed, while S'iva lived at the house of the bride. The first month after marriage was spent by S'iva and Parvati in the palace of Himalaya in Oshadhiprasttha. After that the happy couple wandered through various mountain tracts until at sunset they reached the summit of the mountain Gandhamadana, where, seated on a stone-slab, S'iva described the sunset to Parvati. There they drank wine brought to them by the guardian deity of the Gandhamadana grove. S'iva, with Parvati, then entered a house of precious stones furnished with all luxuries, called into existence by his mental power and passed twenty five years there enjoying the happy company of his wife.
After sometime, Shiva and Parvati were blessed with a son whom they named Karthikeya. He grew up and killed the demon and restored peace and the glory of Lord Indra and the divine world. Thus ends the beautiful Kumarasambhava written by Kalidasa.
This holy land which gave birth to Karthikeya who killed the demon Tarakasur or the embodiment of evil, and restored peace in the divine world, has similar mission in the present world where hundreds of Tarakasuras dance around us to drag us into the ocean of blood, violence, terrorism, and war. Thus this holy country Nepal, though a small one, has great divine potential and can act as an ambassador of peace, love and happiness to the world. Nepal is such a country which was never conquered by the British even though they were ruling entire India for more than 100 years. It’s not that they didn't try to but they couldn't. That shows the divine providence as well as moral and physical courage of the Nepalese people.  True that this country was under the rule of kingship for 240 years but it was never allowed to be conquered by outsiders. In the civil war for democracy you had to sacrifice just below twenty thousand people but several millions of Indians were killed by the British during India’s 90 years of struggle for independence. Of course your population is just 30 million whereas ours is 1350 million.
When Kumarasambhavam remains as a glittering star which showers rays of happiness, love and peace, there are some tragic episodes regularly occurring on the lap of the same Himalaya in the Western side which have produced Mountain literature which itches our minds and grieves our hearts. I am referring to the Siachen Glacier where the Line of Control between India and Pakistan ends. Siachen is the highest battlefield on earth. More than 4000 soldiers of India and Pakistan have sacrificed their lives, mainly due to natural calamities of frostbites, avalanches etc. The irony is that those precious lives have been lost for guarding a place where not even a blade of grass exists. This Everest, the abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, where peace and happiness should prevail always, should not have been made into a battlefield. As I mentioned earlier, war-mongering, blood-thirsty, anarchist Tarakasuras still live among us, particularly, among our administrators. It is the duty of the peace embracing nation like Nepal to dissuade these fighting countries from their irrational confrontations.  I have written two poems about this Siachen catastrophe. The first one is titled “Siachen Tragedy” published in my book Multicultural Symphony in 2014 and the second one is named “Tribute to Siachen Martyrs” published in my next collection Contemporary Concerns and Beyond in 2016. Now let me read both the poems:
Siachen Tragedy*
Siachen glacier,
milky white grey hair of Himalaya.
Seventy kilometers long
and height ranging from
four thousand to six thousand metres
Twinkling by sun, moon and stars
Rarest beauty on earth for the heavens
Winter, winter, winter, forever and ever
Snowfall is thirty five feet
temperature minus fifty Celsius
Not a blade of grass grows
yet world’s highest battlefield!
Thousands of soldiers of India and Pakistan
fight with Nature to secure their frontiers
Billions are spent for their outposts
Siachen glacier feeding several rivers
irrationally axed and dug
inviting vagaries of harmless Nature
Avalanche lodged on seventh April
buried hundred and twenty four soldiers
and eleven civilians under eighty feet snow
Isn’t it high time the governments
stopped challenging benevolent Nature?
*The tragedy took place on 7 April 2012

Tribute to Siachen Martyrs

What a heart-bleeding eye-flooding
scene on the front page of newspaper!
Four month old daughter Meenakshi
shown her father’s frozen dead body!
Lance Naik B. Sudheesh meeting
his darling lone daughter for the first time!
Alas neither of them identifies each other!
What a depressing sobbing sight for mass assembled!
Tsunami of groans, laments, weeps and sighs!
Youth of twenty nine, Sudheesh had planned
to visit home on leave after a month
Could come a month before immersing all in tears!
Married Shalu, degree student three years back
Thus sacrificed his life for the nation along with
nine others in Siachen Glacier at Indo-Pak border
Were buried under thirty feet huge avalanche
Bodies could be recovered only after seven days
Thousands are still patrolling there
ready to die for their nation any moment
Siachen Glacier highest battle field on earth
Twenty thousand feet above sea level
Lowest temperature minus fifty degree
Average winter snowfall thousand cubic meters
Nothing lives there except Indo-Pak soldiers
Indian army controls area since 1984
More than two thousand soldiers
sacrificed precious lives for India and Pakistan
When hundred and fifty crores people
cozily sleep with family in both the countries
thousands of young lives are compelled to leave their family
to fight with merciless climate for no reason or gain
When thousands die of hunger everyday on either side
hundreds of millions are spent on this vulnerable place
Whose craze it is? For whom it is? People’s welfare?
People aren’t iron-hearted to see their patriots
suffer so sorely and sacrifice their precious lives
Let dove of peace fly over Indo-Pak borders
nay, borders of each and every nation
God, kindly sow seeds of peace, love and
compassion in the minds of all nations’ heads

Let me wind up my paper reinstating Nepal’s role as a promoter of world peace. As a member of United Nations Organization, Nepal has been helping the UNO in maintaining peace by sending its troops to UN Peace Keeping Force. The Nepalese Army and Nepal Police have been deployed in many conflicting areas of the world by the UNO as a peacekeeping force. Nepalese troops played a vital role to maintain peace in Kosovo, Lebanon, Somalia, Congo, Sierra Leone, East Timor and so on. Nepal has diplomatic relation with many countries of the world. Foreign policy plays an important role in making such relations. Nepal has made a substantial contribution to the UN peacekeeping operations since 1958 AD. The performance of Nepalese army in peacekeeping operations has earned a good reputation in the world. Nepal has made its identity as a peace-loving. It doesn't attack other but maintains friendly relation and follows the principle of neutrality with the countries of the world. It wants to establish a good relationship with every country and promotes world peace.

A Critical and Comparative Analysis of Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s “The Beggar” and William Wordsworth’s “The Old Cumberland Beggar”

A Critical and Comparative Analysis of Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s “The Beggar” and William Wordsworth’s “The Old Cumberland Beggar"
Prof. Dr. K. V. Dominic
(Originally published in in Literary Studies, Vol. 31, March 2018, by Literary Association of Nepal)

Abstract: Laxmi Prasad Devkota (1909-1959) is regarded as the greatest Nepali poet. Devkota is a Mahakavi who has written five epics and several other short epics and poetry books. He is also a playwright, novelist, short story writer and essayist. He was a Romantic poet in every sense and the Western poets William Wordsworth, John Keats and P B Shelley exerted great influence on him. As a lover of Nature we find great similarity between Devkota’s and Wordsworth’s poems. Nature and human sensitivity, feelings and love are the major themes of his poetry. Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s poem भिखारी (“The Beggar”) is the title poem of the book भिखारीकवितासंग्रह (Beggar - Poetry Collection), probably published in 1945 from Kathmandu. The beggar is portrayed in the poem living in dire poverty and desolation, deprived of human love and material comforts. At the same time the poet gives another dimension of the beggar as the source of compassion placed in the core of suffering and destitution. While Devkota’s “The Beggar” is a short poem of only 64 lines in nine stanzas, Wordsworth’s “The Old Cumberland Beggar” is a long poem of 197 lines published in Lyrical Ballads with Other Poems, 1800, Volume 2. Both Wordsworth and Devkota are highly sympathetic to the beggar and plead for the entire humanity’s mercy to them. When Wordsworth points out the social aspects of treatment to the beggars, Devkota brings out the spiritual elements in them.
Keywords: Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Wordsworth, Beggar, Cumberland, Lord Buddha, Romantic, Compassion
Laxmi Prasad Devkota (1909-1959) is regarded as the greatest Nepali poet even though his precursor Bhanubhakta Acharya (1814 – 1868) is the Adikavi (First Poet) who translated the Sanskrit epic Ramayana to Nepali language and started writing and popularizing poetry in the native language. Born at the night of Laxmi Pooja, the goddess of wealth, on 12 November 1909, the child was regarded by his parents as a gift of the goddess and thus named him Laxmi Prasad meaning one who pleases Laxmi.  But greater than his parents longed for, he became a gift of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. In fact he had a very tragic life full of poverty and miseries in life. Death of his father, mother and two month old daughter in a short span broke him down in his youth and he even underwent treatment in mental asylum. Financial crisis crippled him to such an extent that he wanted to end his life. Besides, his health waned and after a long battle with cancer he succumbed to death on 24 September 1959 at the age of fifty. 
Great poetry comes out of burning hearts. As Shelley says our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts. No doubt, Devkota’s poetry attained sublimity because it had overflowed from a heart which had been bleedings and burning throughout his poetic carrier. His heart ached and itched seeing the sorrows and injustices around him. Devkota is a Mahakavi who has written five epics and several other short epics and poetry books. He is also a playwright, novelist, short story writer and essayist. His first epic poem Shakuntala, in twenty four cantos, based on Kalidasa’s Abhijnanashakuntalam is a masterpiece showing his depth in Sanskrit meter and diction and it happens to be the first epic poem in Nepali language.
Laxmi Prasad Devkota was a romantic poet in every sense and the Western poets William Wordsworth, John Keats and P B Shelley exerted great influence on him. As a lover of Nature we find great similarity between Devkota’s and Wordsworth’s poems. Nature and human sensitivity, feelings and love are the major themes of his poetry. Like Shelley, Devkota was an atheist in his prime age. He opposed the view of attributing everything to God’s willingness and plan. He believed that if at all God is there, it is within human beings and the best way to attain godliness is by serving the less privileged fellow humans. In the poem “Yatri” (Traveler or Pilgrim) he explicitly wrote that God dwells within a human and not in any temple.
Straightforwardness, lucidity and honesty are some of the characteristics of Devkota’s poetic works. His feelings, sensibility and expressions have been blended perfectly and brilliantly with words and meanings that have created an explosion of thoughts and ideas in his writings. We find spontaneous expression in Devkota’s poems and there is no artificial sense. . . . His poems are like flowers grown and blossomed in the forests. . . . Humanitarian feelings are well entrenched in many of his poems through which the poet has advocated egalitarian society free from poverty, hunger, class and creed. For him, there is no class other than human being and no creed other than serving to human being. (“Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota”)
Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s poem भिखारी (“The Beggar”) is the title poem of the book भिखारीकवितासंग्रह (Beggar - Poetry Collection), probably published in 1945 from Kathmandu. The translation used in this paper is by Albert Harris, a Scottish scholar who conducted research as well as translation of the poetry of Devkota at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu. Harris accounts of his translation thus:
     While living in Bhaktapur, one of the three ancient capitals of Nepal, I had eventually come to the dharma via Judaism, Hinduism and atheism.  The profundities expounded by the four noble truths impressed upon me a depth of understanding which belied the apparent simplicity of ideas expressed by the statements and, in a sense, allowed me to discard the accumulation of mere spiritual knowledge accrued through the years to arrive at an experiential verisimilitude of truth. 
    One of the poems I translated was Bikhari, expressing the motif of suffering as a condition of being human. The poem also evokes an understanding of ‘compassion’ for all sentient beings.  (“The Beggar”)
The beggar is portrayed in the poem living in dire poverty and desolation, deprived of human love and material comforts. At the same time the poet gives another dimension of the beggar as the source of compassion placed in the core of suffering and destitution. Thus Devkota connects the beggar with the divine as the ultimate source of kindness and empathy. To quote from the poem:
Fallen from the blackest clouds
            To enter into darker shrouds,
Is he deity or beggar? (“The Beggar”)
While Devkota’s “The Beggar” is a short poem of only 64 lines in nine stanzas, Wordsworth’s “The Old Cumberland Beggar” is a long poem of 197 lines. Wordsworth’s poem was published in Lyrical Ballads with Other Poems, 1800, Volume 2. The poet’s own note on the poem is enlightening:
Observed, and with great benefit to my own heart, when I was a child: written at Racedown and Alfoxden in my twenty-third year. The political economists were about that time beginning their war upon mendicity in all its forms, and by implication, if not directly, on alms-giving also. This heartless process has been carried as far as it can go by the AMENDED poor-law bill, though the inhumanity that prevails in this measure is somewhat disguised by the profession that one of its objects is to throw the poor upon the voluntary donations of their neighbours; that is, if rightly interpreted, to force them into a condition between relief in the Union poorhouse, and alms robbed of their Christian grace and spirit, as being "forced" rather from the benevolent than given by them; while the avaricious and selfish, and all in fact but the humane and charitable, are at liberty to keep all they possess from their distressed brethren. The class of Beggars, to which the Old Man here described belongs, will probably soon be extinct. It consisted of poor, and, mostly, old and infirm persons, who confined themselves to a stated round in their neighbourhood, and had certain fixed days, on which, at different houses, they regularly received alms, sometimes in money, but mostly in provisions. (“THE OLD CUMBERLAND BEGGAR”)
From this note we understand the attitude of Wordsworth to beggars and we find similarity between the two poets who were highly sympathetic to beggars.
               The first twenty one lines of Wordsworth’s poem give a picture of the old beggar found on a highway side “On a low structure of rude masonry / Built at the foot of a huge hill, that they /  Who lead their horses down the steep rough road / May thence remount at ease.” And he started eating from his bag “the dole of village dames.” The mountain birds then approached to eat the shreds that fell from his palsied hands. Wordsworth has written the poem in blank verse. Peoples’ sympathetic attitude to the old beggar is narrated in the next forty six lines. Line 67 to 154 deals with the good qualities of the beggar and his contribution to the society. The concluding lines focus on the reward the beggar gets for the service he has rendered to the society. The poem is a narrative one and the narrator ‘I’ is unnamed and not described. It might be Wordsworth himself who had a personal encounter with a beggar at the time when he was in France during the Revolution. The narrator wants the reader to realise that every human being is worth living and should be respected. It shows them how they can learn from the beggar and how everybody can personally benefit from the act of charity. But it also criticizes people who do charity work only to save a place in heaven for themselves.
Now coming to Devkota’s poem “The Beggar”, since it is a short poem and the focus of this paper is mainly that, it would be apt if the whole poem is explicated stanza after stanza. As stated earlier there are only nine short stanzas with varying length of six to eight lines. The first stanza introduces the advent of the beggar:
Look! – here comes a beggar, limping with every step,       
            His eyes raised, pathetic, adept.
A dense sadness in the silence, the light!
            The string of life he plucks is worn from ages kept.
In the yard with the sunshine bright!
            On one point a round tear wept,
            The history of a lifetime’s plight. (“The Beggar”)
Let us compare this English translation by Albert Harris with Devkota’s original in Nepali:

हेर भिखारी अडि अडि आयो
करुण दृष्टिले नजर उठायो
गाढा दुखको  मौन प्रकाश
झिना आशा-तार बजायो
घाम उज्यालो  आँगन पास
एक बिन्दुमा गोल खसायो
जीवनको इतिहास (“भिखारी”)

One finds that Harris has done cent percent justice to the poem in his translation. It is a verbatim, line by line translation even keeping up the rhyme scheme. Usually the translators transcreate rather than translate. 
The beggar comes limping to the yard of the house. His appearance shows that he is an old weak man. Even the nature reflects the pitiable condition of the beggar. There is dense sadness in the silence as well as the light around him. He is wearing the string of life he has plucked through his voyage through ages. The history of his lifetime’s plight is visible on a round tear wept on his face. Devkota’s presentation of the appearance of the beggar is more touching and sublime than Wordsworth’s.
Look! – look at the shreds and rags.
            Ah!  Time unforsaking,
Wretched and broken on life’s worn flags
            Shivering and shaking!
He spreads his bag, threadbare, flaking,
            The fellow, forlorn, sags! (“The Beggar”)
The poet then speaks of the clothes the beggar wears. It is in shreds and rags and Time has not forsaken them for him. Had it been for other people, Time would have forsaken those dresses and given them new clothes. The poet’s empathy to the beggar is visible in accusing indirectly Time for dragging him in such a miserable condition.  What a superb imagery the poet has used in comparing the rags of the beggar to the life’s worn flags!
Look at the frost formed over the years
            Fallen upon his head!
Look at the runnels formed by the tears
            Meander down a face that peers;
And etched on that chest is spread
            The cracks and fissures fierce. (“The Beggar”)
The gray hair of the beggar is pictured beautifully by the poet as formed by years of frost fallen on the hair. Years of tears meandered down his face has turned into a runnel. Cracks and fissures of wretched life are etched on his spread chest.
Limping and shaking he comes to a stop,
            A silent lament in the air to drop
From out of his heart, distressed and broken,
            The lifeless staff his weight to prop,
He rends the heart in a voice soft spoken,
            “A handful of rice!”
The one cry of a whole life,
            “One handful of rice!” (“The Beggar”)
The fourth stanza is heart rending. The beggar limping and shaking stops at the front door of the house. Supporting his weight on the lifeless staff, comes a silent lament from his distressed and broken heart. The use of the phrase ‘lifeless staff’ is very apt because there is no living human soul on earth who is ready to support the beggar in his life. The soft spoken voice from the beggar--“a handful of rice” rends the heart. How many hearts are rent by such voice of beggars is a big question. The poet is well aware that very few hearts are rent by beggar’s voice. The poet no doubt is deeply felt by such voice and he tries to evoke or arouse such empathy and emotion among his fellow beings.  How touching is the line ‘The one cry of a whole life,’! The forsaken, lonely beggar has only one cry throughout his life, “One handful of rice!’ He has none in the world to communicate or interact. Hence for his survival he goes on crying this door after door. He is never greedy and doesn’t ask for a square meal, but just a handful of rice.
Thus one man before others
            From his heart doth cry.
Begging from his brothers
            One handful of compassion deep
In the courtyard light
            This gloomy sight!
The grieving fern doth sigh
            Amid the laughter of the roses bright. (“The Beggar”)
One can’t read this stanza without out a twinge in the heart and prick of conscience. Here is a man “Begging from his brothers / One handful of compassion deep”.  The poet reiterates that the beggar is not an alien but our own brother. The situation that a brother has to beg for the mercy of other brothers for a handful of rice is that he has been denied what is rightful or due to him. No doubt, as the poet states in the next line, it is a gloomy sight. The poet then compares the beggar to a grieving fern that sighs amid the laughter of the bright roses.  The beggar is a fern which struggles for its survival among the roses or hilarious happy people around him. Very often the beggar has to face the thorns of the rosy people.  This imagery of Devkota is amazing.
Who is this child?  Who can this be?
            Whose father was poor?
Which mother held you on her knee? –
            Two burning lamps for eyes, speaking, sure.
Whose hope opened the eyes, turned them free
            To the eyes of the sun and the moon?
Why has it faded?  Why has it withered?
            Why has this life’s light dimmed so soon? (“The Beggar”)
The grieving mind of the poet then thinks about the birth of the beggar. Who can be this beggar whose father was poor? When he was an infant and his mother held him on her knee his eyes were sparkling with hopes like the eye of the sun and the moon. How then were those sparkles in his eyes dimmed and hopes faded? The poet is wondering or asking (perhaps to the Creator) why the life’s light in the Beggar was dimmed so soon. Such a compassionate poem on an ordinary beggar is seldom found in any literature. 
Before Lord Buddha’s eyes
            This very same beggar came.
The same form, the same sighs
            Expressing a heart-felt pain.
From him passion filled the seas,
            His very words sent waves abreeze:
Humbled Bali, proud and vain:
            In such guise brought him to his knees. (“The Beggar”)
The above stanza shows that the beggar meant by the poet is not a particular beggar like the one referred by Wordsworth. He is a representative of the class of beggars from the very beginning of the human race. And thus the same beggar came before Lord Buddha with the same sighs expressing heartfelt pain. Lord Buddha, the embodiment of compassion, was moved by the beggar’s cry and his very words passed abreeze through the waves to Bali and the proud and vainglorious people there were made humble. The reference here might be the impact of the Buddhist philosophy of love and compassion to all beings which was spread in Bali. Another interpretation is possible that Lord Buddha himself can be considered the beggar begging to all his bellow beings for mercy and compassion to all creatures and creations. 
Fallen from the blackest clouds
            To enter into darker shrouds,
Is he deity or beggar?
            Buddha speaks – his words pierce the heart,
Wandering from house to house, yard to yard,
            Now speaking with a voice of pain:
His heart in sorrow cowed. (“The Beggar”)
The beggar who descended on the earth from the blackest clouds had to enter into darker shrouds. The interpretation of the imagery is that the beggar was born as an unlucky person and had to lead a hellish life or that of a living dead. Now the poet asks himself as well as to the world if the beggar is actually a deity or a beggar. As Lord Buddha says that the beggar’s words pierce the heart, the poet assumes that the man is indeed a deity and not a human being. The beggar who appears before you and cries for alms and mercy is a disguised God in religious terms.  When you give food and help to the poor, it is to God that you give, all religions teach.
From age to age the ne’er–ending tears
Distilled, repeated through the years.
Through countless, opening lips He speaks!
            He comes upon the earth
            And from his brother begs for alms –
           The beggar in the yard. (“The Beggar”)
Through the concluding stanza the poet emphasizes that the beggary is a common phenomenon from the very beginning of the human race and it will continue till the end of the world. And through the beggar’s lips He, the Creator speaks. The ironic situation of a man begging to his own brothers for a handful of rice has been going on in this world from the very beginning and this injustice will continue till the end of the human race.
The beggar is a symbol of the vast majority of human beings--the poor, downtrodden, marginalised and under privileged people who had to beg for mercy to the rich and the privileged classes. They are begging for their legitimate property and rights which were looted and denied from them. The beggar can stand for both individuals and nations. The poor and underdeveloped nations have to beg for alms and mercy to the rich and mighty nations. The rich nations help the poor not because of any spirit of charity but because of selfish profit motive. They, in fact are strangling the poor nations by loans which the poor countries have to repay with high interests. Unable to repay in time they take more and more loans forfeiting their citizens’ liberty and rights to the rich countries. As Frantz Fanon says in The Wretched of the Earth what the rich countries give as charity to the poor countries is only a moral reparation. Fanon states that the wealth of the imperial countries, amassed through capitalist exploitation, is in reality the colonized people’s wealth too (59).
Laxmi Prasad Devkota’s poem “The Beggar” is thus a very powerful and marvellous poem having different layers of meaning. It is applicable to all times and space and thus has attained immortality. It has a divinity which is absent in Wordsworth’s poem. Both Wordsworth and Devkota are highly sympathetic to the beggars and plead for the entire humanity’s mercy to them. When Wordsworth points out the social aspects of treatment to the beggars, Devkota brings out the spiritual elements in them.
Works Cited

 “The Beggar by Laxmi Prasad Devkota translated from the Nepali by Albert Harris.” Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.

Fanon, Frantz. The Wrteched of the Earth. Translated from the French by Richard Philox. Grove Press, 2004.

“Mahakavi Laxmi Prasad Devkota.” Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.

 “THE OLD CUMBERLAND BEGGAR.” Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.

Wordsworth, William. “The Old Cumberland Beggar.” Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.

यात्री, भिखारी Accessed 24 Jan. 2018.

Friday, 12 January 2018


The Spectral Visions of the Menace of Capitalism Masquerading as Modernity: an Explication of Bond’s Summer, Saved and The Pope’s Wedding
--S. Chelliah
Digital Humanities and Literary Studies: A Conceptual Study
--S. Kumaran 
The Metaphysical Quest of Raja Rao 
--Ramaswamy Subramony 
An Ecofeminist Analysis of Kamala Das' Select Short Stories
--Armstrong Sebastian
Third Gender in India: Reconfiguring Identity
--Poonam Wadhwa
The Negro to Black Conversion Experience in Alex Haley’s Roots
--Rosebel Wilson C & Baskaran Gavarappan
War and Women: Enslavement and Emancipation: New Afghan Women in
Khaleid Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns
--Nirjharini Tripathy
Multicultural Ethnic Identity: Paradox of Being and Becoming in Malaysia in K. S. Maniam’s In A Far Country
--A. Athiappan
Devdas to Dev.D: Transformation in the Cinematic World of Devdas
--Benazir Manzar & Aju Aravind
Empowered Prodigious Protagonists in Paulo Coelho’s Novels
--Giftsy Dorcas E. & Raichel M. Sylus 
Toni Morrison’s Paradise: A Saga of Race and Violence
--Sebin Justine
Masks and Masqueraders in Ramesh K. Srivastava’s Short Stories
--Shipra G. Vashishtha
Plays of Activism: An Analysis of Badal Sircar’s Legacy 
--Soumitra Chakraborty
Leadership Lessons from the Life and Achievements of Kanakadasa, in Dr Basavaraj Naikar’s Kanakadasa, the Golden Servant
--Sumathi Shivakumar
The Crisis of Female Identity in the Novels of Jane Austen and Shashi Deshpande: A Comparative Study
--Sweta Anand
Manas Bakshi’s Parnassus of Revival: A Review Article
--K. Rajani
The Poetic Sensibilities of Poonam Dwivedi in The Confluence and Other Poems: An Analytical Study
--Manas Bakshi
T. V. Reddy’s Sound and Silence: A Collection of Poems
--Patricia Prime
Ramesh K. Srivastavas Road Not Taken and Other Stories
--Smita Das
K. V. Dominic’s “Silence! Silence!! Grave Silence!!!”: An Exegesis
--Ramesh Chandra Mukhopadhyaya
Sweet Revelations
--Ramesh K. Srivastava
Puppets in the Hands of God
--K. V. Dominic
Who is She?
--Manas Bakshi
--Manas Bakshi
City 5:00am
--Rob Harle
Homage To The Mud-Dauber Man
--Rob Harle
--Rajiv Khandelwal
--Rajiv Khandelwal


--K. Shiva Prasad
--K. Shiva Prasad
--K. Shiva Prasad
--K. Shiva Prasad 
--Pathajit Ghosh
An Episteme
--Pathajit Ghosh 
Independence Again
--Ansulika Paul
The Bleeding Dove     
--Sharmila Bhattacharjee
He and She
--Tanuja Patil
Would You
--Tanuja Patil
Look closer
--Tanuja Patil
List of Contributors

For abridged version of this issue kindly visit the page: