- The Immortal Straight Line of Right and Justice!

The immortal straight line of right and justice!

By Shiva Kant Jha

a collection of poems by Dr S L Peeran,
Member (Judicial), CESTAT
Published by Bizz Buzz, Bangalore

WILL Durant was exploring to answer : What is the meaning or worth of human life? He wrote to persons like Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rabindranath Tagore to get ideas from them whose credentials Will Durant thus explained in his letter to Bertrand Russell:

"Perhaps the verdict of those who have lived is different from that of those who have merely thought. Spare me a moment to tell me what meaning life has for you, what help - if any - religion gives you, what keeps you going, what are the sources of your inspiration and your energy, what is the goal or motive-force of your toil; where you find your consolations and your happiness, where in the last resort your treasure lies."

These lines abided in my mind while I went through Dr. Mr S.L. Peeran's In Rare Moments. Dr. Peeran lived and worked, thought and reflected, and then he expressed himself in the poems which present, not the reveries in the ivory-towers, but a critical insight in words and images with deep evocative resonances. This reviewer feels that if Alvin Krenan, the author of The Death of Literature, ever reads some of the poems in this collection of poems, he would surely desist from writing an obituary on the demise of poetry even in our locust-eaten years.

Dr Krishna Srinivas has quite perceptively observed, while writing on the 'Poetry Peeran':

"He [Peeran] chooses his words to act as missiles that will explode in the reader's mind."

I would wholly endorse his comment, yet I would add a few words. Dr. Peeran's poems, at least some of them, possess that supreme quality of poetry which in Indian poetics and philosophy is called 'sphota' which literally means 'to bud out, to break out, to come out with energy and impact'. It is what flowers inside one's mind on reading a poem. And, once it happens, one is enriched and stimulated.

"Are hopes and dreams mere mirages?", the poet asks (at p. 2). Civilizations have grown in richness with a high quotient of dreams and hopes. It is through dreams that great ideas turn into visions before being concretized in life; it is hope which sustains us through life's criss-cross. But now we see a great danger in this society of calculators, and sophisters as these nobler qualities are fading all around us. The poet has pithily expressed this tragic flaw of our times by a simple but profound observation: "Indian mind is like a stock-exchange." (at p. 4). The portrait of our plight is well expressed by the poet:

"Let's adjust, Let's adjust" is the wholesome cry
"Cut the corners, here", "Cut it there, anywhere."
The sole enemy of the day is money
The bull in the market is currency.   (at p. 22)

If this be the state of our affairs, we are surely caught in the throes of the Seven Sins to which Mahatma Gandhi referred.

Politics without principles
Wealth without work
Commerce without morality
Education without character
Pleasure without conscience
Worship without sacrifice.

Dr. Peeran's poems express a profound vision of life, and shows strong commitments to struggle to achieve what are the very 'human specifics'. It is not the Darwinian struggle to survive and grow in animal delight, but it is an evolution which is not bedeviled by the syndrome of an imbalance between the high technological growth and moral stagnation, if not degradation. The poet has well said:

Battles of life are worth being fought.
Than hang the head in shame and be mocked. (at p. 15 )

The task is difficult, but it is the struggle to get over such difficulties which makes life worth living.

The poet's deeper reflections on life led him to discover the main culprit perpetrating all the ills of our days. The poet aptly says:

Waves of mind distorts
The crystal-clear waters
Of sublime soul. (at p. 25).

The poet is quite conscious of the fact of correction is uphill. He expresses his apprehension by saying: "You need million Suns to lighten our Nation."

All this makes the poet think that even God can be questioned on His work:

Being lonely, alone and desolate.
Everyone wishes to melt away and
Reach God to question him -
Where were they at fault?    ( at p. 11)

Similar question had been asked by Job in the Book of Job. God's answer is very unsatisfactory. He silences Job by His majesty of light which is meant to make the poor man feel that he is congenitally incompetent to understand His ways. God's answer is no answer; or if it is, it is Fascist in style. When Bali asks Shri Rama certain inconvenient questions, He answers persuasively and at length. The poet has himself answered by describing us in these words of profoundest wisdom:

The poet, in effect, draws attention to a profound doctrine of revolution. One of his poems ends with:

'Annal Huq' : I am Truth.  (at p. 48)

In fact, most of the poems leave in mind the sphota of Annal Huq which bring to mind these famous lines of Faiz Ahmed Faiz :

'Bas naam rahega Allah ka
Jo ghayab bhi hai hazir bhi
Jo manzar bhi hai, nazir bhi
Uthega Annal Huq ka nara
Jo mai bhi hon aur tum bhi ho
Aur raaj karegi Khalq-e-Kuda
Jo mai bhi hon aur tum bhi ho
Hum dekhenge
Lazim hai hum bhi dekhenge
Hum dekhenge ...!'

And when all is said, the poet sings the paean of 'straight paths' suggesting how much simple and easy it is if we just move on the straight line of justice! The poet says: 'Let my progeny walk on straight paths.' ( at p. 61). This reminds me what Earnest Barker had written to Albert Einstein: "If at your command, the straight lines have been banished from the universe, there is yet one straight line that always remains - the straight line of right and justice." Most of the poems by Dr. Peeran invite us to discover this straight lines of right and justice, and inspire us to tread on them with courage and imagination..

The poems in the collection under review have diverse themes, but they all seem to emanate from a root metaphor: the cultural crisis of our times morbidly begotten by the present-day consumerist culture. But in the poems, the ideas are not a set of dry bones. Their rhythm and images make them alive, and lead them to poetic richness. The reviewer wishes that Dr. Peeran should keep alive his interest in high creative pursuits. But when all is said, the reviewer quotes with approval what William Cowper said:

There is a pleasure in poetic pains
Which only poets know. - Links on Shivakantjha - Links on Shivakantjha

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