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NOBINCHANDRA'S IDEAL IN HIS POEMS
The modern Indo-European Renaissance in literature, as has already been said, began with Michel, Hem, and Nobin on the one hand, and Bankim and Vidyasagar on the other. Western Individualism, imported into the East by Michel in his great epic, (both with regard to form and matter) was transformed into a form of abstract patriotism after the European model. Nobinchandra's youthful imagination eagerly seized the spirit of Michel and Hem. The result was his "Palashir Yudha" where he opens the floodgates of his intense firy love for his dear, dear native land. About this time the theory of the humanitarianism of August Comte found its way into this country through Dr. Congreve. Thus the disenchantment of Nobin was perfected. The new theory appealed to Nobin's liberal mind. His combination in a singular way of the transcendentalism of Coleridge and other Lake poets with the humanitarian theory of Comte and the theory of universal brotherhood of man as expressed in Tennyson's Locksly Hall, fed and strengthened the new Natonalism of his days in his three great poems, Raibatak, Kurukshetra and Provas-the same great lesson that Bankim taught in his Krishna Charitra and Dharmattava, and in his novels Devi Chowdhurani, Anandamath, and Sitaram. Nobin's lofty ideal was the ideal of the Mahabharat-the establishment of universal brotherhood in the vast Indian continent, full of racial antagonism and discordant notes of multifarious sects and religions. The keynote of all his poems-the pole star on which he kept his eyes fixed-was the establishment of "one religion, one nation one throne."
NOBIN'S PLACE IN LITERATURE
A time there was when Nobinchandra's name was a household word in Bengal. He and his contemporary Hem were the two poets that delighted the Bengalees of the last generation. With Nobin died the last great poet of the Renaissance period. Like Byron he led a truely romantic life. He was a seeker of beauty. He was born and passed a great portion of his life among the beauties of nature. His mind was elevated and his heart was touched by them. The long glories of the rising or setting sun, the magnificent spectacle of the boundless sea, so sublime in its marvellous tranquility, so majestic in its turbulent state, the hills rising one above another "in gay theatric pride", and the forests "teeming with wild fertility", the sweet carols of birds fluttering in bright sunshine, the perfumed zephyr
playing gently over the green leaves, and the meadows gleaming with emerald grass not only brought delight to his eyes, but were full of mystery and suggestions to his poetic soul-were to him "opening paradise." The vast sparkling expanse of silvery waters gave him that largeness of the soul and liberality of heart whose grandest expression we find in his wonderful poetic conceptions. His sublime ideas rose out of the fierce manifestations of elemental warfare.
Nobin's influence on literature was not so epoch-making as that of Michel in poetry or that of Bankim in prose. Neither Nobin, nor Hem, was a creator in the sense in which Michel may be called so. Of the two Nobin had a larger number of imitators. Nobin was the idol of the younger generation of the eighties and nineties of the last century. The sweeping metre of his jolting verse knows no exhaustion. He pours out his unpremiditated lay with perfect ease. His poems do not smack of lamp oil. He sings his native woodnotes with the cheerfulness of a gay songster. The two maxims of Horace-that poetry must handle universal things and thoughts of all men with an individual turn which makes them its own, and that it must not only be "fine" but sweet and charming-and the great canon of Milton-that it should be simple, sensuous and passionate are equally fulfilled by him. His poetic value lies in his excellence of sincerity and strength." In those blessed moments of inspiration he is another man. He has good many verses of high quality, many more of rare excellence. He has eloquence and grace; and force and energy. He has an exquisite discrimination for an exact word, for structure and rythm. He is singularly devoid of vulgarity and cynicism. Though Zeit Geist (Time Spirit) is no longer favourable to him, he was once a mighty personality and a great one in literature.
Nobin's other books were Kristocharit, Bhanumoti, poetical renderings of the Bhagbat Gita and the Chandi and his letters. The posthumous auto-biography of Nobin is still being published in parts. The letters were written to his wife in the course of his journey in different parts of India. They were not intended for publication. The subject-matters of these letters and their style are charming. The auto-biography shows that he could handle prose as well as poetry. It has been seen that poets write a poetic prose. In the autobiography he is a facile writer. Here he "unlocks his heart," and makes a clear breast of
his thoughts. But matters which are trifling and could have been easily passed over, have been inserted as if to impress on us his own importance. The book is interesting but the interest flags as the writer begins to blow his own trumpet even about small things in which even men of less talents would have been as successful as himself. He is flaunting and vain. He has no self-command. The book is a loosely combined whole. On the other hand we see that he had a sweet soul and a graceful heart. His nature was sympathetic and kind. Above all his filial devotion and the portraiture of his parents are commendable.
BEHARILAL AND SURENDRANATH
Next we shall speak something about two poets who are little known to fame. Beharilal Chakrabarthy's name will fall strange upon the ears of many but on that account the intrinsic merit of his poetry will not suffer the least. A day will come when the poetry of Beharilal Chakrabarthy and that of Surendranath Mazumdar will be recognised and they will be as widely read and appreciated as any popular poet. It is a pity that even in these days of literary revival their poems should lie untouched upon the dusty upper shelves of an almirah and be neglected by our people. Those who followed in their path have become famous. The greatest of our living poets has acknowledged, a debt to Beharilal from whom he drew poetic inspiration.
The "Sarada mangal", "Banga-Sundari" and other poems of Beharilal, and "Mahila" and "Sabita Sudarshan" of Surendranath will ever continue to give delight to the real lovers of our literature. These two poets were contemporane
F the great war poets of the world who have by their fiery poetry inspired great kings and warriors to wage great battles and thus moulded the destinies of millions of men and upreared new and dismantled" old sovereignties, Chanda Bardai occupies the foremost place. His poetry has led to the most momentous events in the history of India and has once been the arbiter of its fate. He is the wielder of the war tomahawk of medieval India. The incessant efforts of Prithiraj and his warriors to roll back the tide
ous with each other and they belong to the same school. Their ideal is noble, their aim is high, their thought is sublime, and their composition is marked with the stamp of genius. But Beharilal's poetry is of a higher strain than the poetry of Surendranath. In another respect they differed. In "Saradamongal" the language is polished and refined but in "Mahila ", it is not so clear, not so free from defects.
But what I am going to say is that Beharilal, though little known to the world, deserves an honourable distinction as a better poet. He had a pre-eminent mastery over the art of expression. We do not find in him the meaningless niceties of a virtuoso, nor the useless affectations of a mere madrigal writer. Sometimes he rises to the highest poetic conception. In sublimity and pathos he is not wanting. There is a superb combination of the breadth of interest and sympathies in him. Purity and harmony of language are is qualities. The modern man of letters strains himself into the grotesque. Reaction against the old spurious dignity of style has carried our literary men so far that many vulgar words and slangs have asserted their permanent place in literature. Beharilal's style is plain but this plainness has nothing to do with the assumed bluntness which so often passes for the natural homeliness of style. His vivacity, sprightliness, combined with a certain undercurrent of the melancholy view are as much worth mentioning as his imaginative and idealistic arts. The cool reception and limited praise bestowed upon him, is most unfortunate. But light cannot be hid under a bushel and he will in time assert his place among the great masters of thought.
Chanda Bardai: The Greatest War Poet of India
LALA KANNOOMAL, M.A.
of Mohammedan invasion and save the motherland from its dire consequences were all inspired by the war genius of this poet.
Of the early life of Chanda only so far is known that he was born in Lahore in 1126. His father Bain by name was a bard by profession. His teacher was one Gurupershad about whom nothing more is known. From his very childhood Chanda had come over to Ajmere where he became a favourite of Prithiraj, who on becoming the king of Ajmere, appointed him one of his
three ministers. He had a great regard for Chanda, and Chanda on his part was wholly and solely devoted to him and he laid down his life for his master. Chanda was not only a minister but also the poet-laureate of the court of Prithiraj whose implicit confidence he enjoyed. He had two wives named Kamila and Gouri, by whom he had twelve children one of whom being a daughter. One of his sons called Julban was a poet like his father and it is said that it was he who completed the Prithiraj-rasa left unfinished by his father.
In 1191 Prithiraj having been defeated in a battle was taken prisoner and carried away to Gazni where Chanda accompanied him leaving behind all his worldly possessions. While at Gazni the Mohammedan Conqueror desired to see whether the story about the inexcellable bowmanship of Prithiraj was true or not. He had heard that Prithiraj could accurately shoot his mark blindfolded by the mere clue of a sound. He was eager to see this feat himself. He took his seat in a high balcony with a cage of a parrot and ordered that Prithiraj might be brought blindfolded at the foot of the building and asked to shoot the parrot in the cage. Poor Prithiraj had no alternative but to do as directed. Chand Bardai-his indispensable companion was there. He read out to his master a couplet composed for the occasion informing him of the exact distance at which the Mahommedan despot was sitting and also warning him not to fail that time in shooting him as he had failed seven times before. Prithiraj took the hint and shot his arrow so accurately at Mohamed Gouri that he was instantly brought down dead from his position of advantage. This incident gave rise to a great excitement among the king's followers eventuating into a fight in which both Prithiraj and his faithful companion were killed, but they had wrought a great havoc in the ranks of the enemy before they died. Thus died the soldier-poet of Prithiraj in 1192 at the age of sixty six,
While Chanda has always been held in great respect by the posterity for his soldierly qualities -more especially for his inalienable devotion and faith to his master, his name has become immortal as the author of Prithiraj-rasa-the monumental work in poetry describing in elaborate details the heroic deeds of Prithiraj-his sovereign master. The book is not confined to mere hollow eulogies of that king but it deals with all important subjects of the time and is in brief the Mahabharat of the medieval Rajput India. While most graphic and vivid accounts of battles are
given, and the war passions stirred up to the highest pitch, the author has not omitted to relieve the monotony of his subject by weaving in romantic, ethical, social, political and other topics relating to every-day life.
The poet's observations on hunting, land sceneries, rainy season, spring, autumn, gardens, parks, forests, birds, beasts, battle tents, marches, swords, women, love scenes, recreations etc., are very interesting and highly poetical while his descriptions of coronations, marriages, and other social functions are not only accurate but full of incalculable value to a historian of medieval India. The work covers nearly 2500 pages and is divided into 69 chapters. It awaits researches at the hands of scholars who will find in it ample material for the construction of the history of India just as it was before the time of Mohammedan invasion.
As to the poetical merits of the work all critics have agreed in pronouncing it to be a masterpiece. Although the language employed therein is not pure Hindi-it being then in an inceptive stage-and that a strong admixture of words of Sanskrit, Persian, Magdhi, Surseni, Ondhi, Kanouji, Panjabi, and Rajput dialects prevail which makes it difficult to be read and understood, yet the poetic beauties are so great and varied that it pre-eminently deserves the high place it occupies in the poetic productions of the world. Most appropriate similes and metaphers have been employed and an interesting variety of metres beautifully robe the boldly expressed sentiments and thoughts of the author. Among these metres, one called Chapia-a six lined stanza has been freely used and it has been carried to such perfection that no succeeding poet has ever been able to imitate -far less to excel, it.
Chanda Bardai is veritably the Chaucer of Indian poetry in that he is its first and foremost poet. But in that he was a war poet who inspired battalions to battles, a soldier who died fighting bravely for his master, and a statesman who thought out State measures for his King, Chanda stands severely alone sharing no similarity with any other poet eastern or western.
No English translation of Chanda's work has yet appeared, and so his merits have yet remained hidden from the appreciative eye of the western scholar. The only Hindi edition of this work is one published by the Nagri Picharni Sabha, Benares, but it needs many improvements. Let some Indian scholar make it a work of his life as did Col. Tod as for as the history of Rajputana was concerned.
The Young Turk Party
Sir Edwin Pears writes in the March number of the Contemporary Review about the young Turks who rose to power in the revolution of 1909 and whose influence vanished away completely just about the time when the war closed. The extreme elements among them, soon after Abdul Hamid was deposed, took the lead, intended to create a new nation and decided that everything ought to be Turkish, including language, books, accounts and even religion. The leading young Turks, notably Taalat and Enver were convinced that Turkey ought to be a nation in which everything was to be Turkified and all people who would not be Turkified were to be got rid of.
The real rulers of Turkey were Taalat, Enver and Waugenheim, the German Ambassador. They did not derive their authority either from the Chamber or from the Sultan. Enver with German money and training converted the Turkish army into a good fighting force. As soon as the war began, Germany had nearly succeeded in taking possession of the Turkish army and made energetic efforts to gain the Turkish fleet; they alternately cajoled and bullied the Turks into committing infamous acts of war which would force Turkey into siding with Germany. To the Germans, were partly due some of the worst of the Armenian massacres.
Taalat and Enver struggled on, but their failure together with the death of the kindly but incompetent Sultan Mahomet V and the accession of his successor encouraged the long smouldering opposition to them to declare itself. And when Temfik was appointed Grand Vizier, they disappeared, and by last Christmas were fugitives. The dream of young Turkey was originally a noble one; but it was led by extremists who had no sympathy with the dreamers and Germany gained possession of her prey and Germany and Turkey stood together and fell together.
The Future of Persia
The Right Honourable Ameer Ali, writing in the February number of the English Review, discusses the fate of Persia, whose independence Russia has been persistently endeavouring to destroy. Now that Russia has dug its own grave and the Romanoff family has fallen, Persia can hope for a better and more prosperous era under the leadership of England in Asia.
The Persians are one of the smaller nations who deserve the sympathy and support of the great Democracies of the West to maintain their national existance intact and uninterfered with. Through long centuries of vicissitudes the Persian people have clung to their national ideals and retained their national characteristics. Persia's past history, her place in middle Asia, the influence she has exercised on the development of the neighbouring nations, above all the courage and restraint with which her people won their emancipation from a grinding tyranny, and her loyal stedfastness to the Allied cause, merit general interest.
* it remains for England, which has fought this great war as the champion of liberty for all small nationalities, to be true to her own ideals, true to herself, and to give Persia a helping hand to make the best use of the free system of Government her people wrested from the hands of a tyrant.
The constitution of Persia consists of eight enlightened and patriotic men, assisted by an assembly elected on a broad basis of constitutional liberty. "All men above the age of twenty-five have the franchise and the right to vote in the election of members to the Persian Parliament. There is only one house; and all creeds and nationalities are represented in the assembly in proportion to their numbers and importance. The young Shah is a constitutional Monarch, carefully brought up during the regency of that gifted statesman, Nasir-ul-Mulk, and seems to possess qualities which might make him a benefactor to his country. The writer then adumbrates the right policy that should guide the future relations between England and Persia :
What appears to me essential is the necessity of avoiding even the semblance of an attempt to "Egyptianise" Persia (to borrow a French phrase) and of not repeating the mistake which was common twentyfive years ago in the native States of India of allowing British officers an undesirable and impolitic latitude in their treatment of the native Government
The British Congress Committee In the Modern Review for May Mr. Saint Nihal Singh records an interesting interview with Dr. G. B. Clark of the British Congress Committee in London. Mr. Nihal Singh describes how the British Committee came into being, what work it has done and what it hopes to do in the future. He begins with a short biographical account of the life and career of Dr. Clark showing his intimate association with the Congress veterans of an earlier era. "I asked Dr. Clark," writes Mr. Nihal Singh, "What relation ship the committee was to bear with the Congress in India."
He answered that the two bodies were designed to work hand in hand. The men who had been mainly responsible for the organisation of the Congress composed the Committee, and in consequence the Committee from the very beginning enjoyed a great prestige, a prestige that placed it above control or even criticism from India.
Lastly the paper India which has been ably edited successively by William Digby, Sir Gordon Hewart, Prof. Muirhead, Mr. H. E. A. Cotton and Mr. H. S. L. Polak is an avowedly propagandist journal widely distributed among members of Parliament and leading clubs in the United Kingdom. Asked as to why the Committee has not been re-organised since the death of Sir William Wedderburn, Dr. Clark said :
"After Sir William's death we resolved not to expand ourselves because we thought that the situation in India was extremely vague, and we waited until we could receive first-hand information about it. When Mr. Basu arrived in the spring of last year and told us how things were there, we decided to continue that policy until the Montagu-Chelmsford scheme was out and India had declared herself. Since that Report appeared there has been a very sharp division in Indian opinion and in that of the Committee. The only thing that we thought possible if we were to work together was to preserve as neutral an attitude as possible until such time as the various deputations could come from India and we could ascertain from them just what the position was there and to what extent we could co-operate. These deputations will arrive towards the end of May, and after conferring with them it will be possible for us to make up our minds what course we will take.
"I do not mind telling you," added Dr. Clark, "that the men in India whom we know and with whom we have worked are the Moderate leaders who have seceded from the Congress. It is but inevitable that many of us should want to continue our association with them. But then the question arises: How can we work with those who have seceded from the Congress and still remain a Committee of the Congress, whose name we bear, and which has met our expenses, not wholly, but largely ?. But as I have said before, no decision is possible until we meet the deputationsespecially the one that the Congress is sending here with general authority to confer with us.'
Indian Poverty Problem
That the various causes that have conspired to make India poor form a sort of a vicious circle of which it is always difficult to fix the starting point is the thesis that B. G. Bhatnagar puts forward in the current number of East and West. He starts with the general lack of education in the widest sense, proceeds through the resultant low standard of living leading to carelessness both in pro-creation and production with the result of less means of subsistence and inadequate education, and so the evil cycle continues perpetuating a careless procreation and production. The