Mahendra Bhatnagar

Rookie (26th June 1926 / JHANSI [U.P.] INDIA)

[1] Death And Life - Poem by Mahendra Bhatnagar

DEATH AND LIFE
.
DEATH-PERCEPTION: LIFE-PERCEPTION



Poet: Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar

50 Poems & Criticism

1 Gratitude
2 Gratitude; Again
3 The Wheel of Death
4 Free from worry
5 Contemplation
6 A puzzle
7 The Truth
8 Forms of Death
9 Conclusion
10 Life-Death
11 A Pair
12 The Opposite
13 Equal
14 Sakhi
15 A desire
16 Reality
17 The Philosophy of Life
18 Excelsior!
19 Experimenting
20 Meaningfulness
21 A Prayer
22 A Mirage
23 A Vow
24 The Call of Conquest
25 A Call
26 One Day
27 Purpose
28 A Wish
29 As Desired
30 Proved
31 Healthy Vision
32 Compatibility
33 Dreadful
34 The Philosophy of Death
35 An Invitation
36 To The Fairy of Death
37 A Request
38 The Mode of Death
39 A Comparison
40 The Difference
41 The End
42 A Blow
43 Truth
44 A Proclamation
45 I Bow Thee
46 Good Bye
47 Preordained
48 An Ascetic
49 The Last Will
50 Kritkarma

  

ARTICLES

1 The Motif of Death in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar —
An Assessment /
Dr. D. C. Chambial, Maranda (H.P.)
.
2 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception': A Dialectical Study
Mrs. Purnima Ray, Burdwan (W.B.)
.
3 Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's 'Death-Perception: Life- Perception': An analysis
Dr. (mrs.) Jaya Lakshmi Rao V., (Visakhapatnam) (A.P.)
.
4 'Death' in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar
Dr. D. Murali Manohar, Hyderabad (A.P.)
.
5 Revealing Reflections On Death And Life
Dr. Atma Ram
.
6 Reflecions on Mahendra Bhatnagar's Philosophy of Death
Dr. A.K. Chaturvedi

 



[1] Gratitude

Death is;
Death is imminent,
Unavoidable -
That's why
Life is so desired!
That's why
There's such a semblance
Between life and death!
Death's given
Beauty to life
Such
Endless — vast!
Death's given
Man
Life - art - efficiency
Such
Embellishment - adornment!
Indubiously
Transience,
Death element / feeling
Minute by minute death - tension
Are acceptable,
Gratitude
To death
Life's gratitude!

[2] Gratitude; Again

Death's made life
very beautiful,

Transformed this world,
in fact,
into a pleasant heaven,

We learnt
the meaning of love,
only then
true's true,

Transformed man
into higher beings
than immortal god!

[3] The Wheel of Death

Cruel is
The wheel of death
Very cruel!
Under which
Lifeless - living
Gradually grinding and changing
Every moment, every minute!

This earth rocks horribly!

Invisibly
Silently
Continuously moves
This wheel of death
Uninterrupted... unchanged!

Before it
Stability has
No existence
Its motion
Always controls
Life and death,
Earth and sky!

[4] Free from Worry

Fearing death
will make
living
futile!
weight heavy
dry onerous
pleasureless heart.

So
Life
only meaningful,
when every moment is free
from the dread of death.

It is ill-ominous
to talk about
the fear of death,
or cataclysm
for this reason.

[5] Contemplation

Death?
A question-mark!
To know the mystery
not only difficult
but also
all unknown
for man.
Body
merges into five-elements
everything scatters
and ends.
Life's
not to return;
impossible
to revive again,
and know the mystery.


When there's no self
death — a puzzle
queer puzzle!
Uninterpreted to-date,
A wonderful puzzle!

All efforts futile —
to explicate
the meaning of death;
it's very intricate difficult
to contemplate.

[6] A Puzzle

What?
Body
Not worth living;

Therefore...
Soul!
You left.

In quest of new
On an unknown path;

Where?
But where? ?

Unknown,
Everything unknown!
A pitch dark night,
Everything
Mysterious!

Who questions?
Who answers?

[7] The Truth

If there were no death,
God wouldn't have any existence,
man
would have never reconciled
with his fate!

God - a symbol,
God - a proof
of man's helplessness
of readiness after death.

The whole philosophy
of hell and heaven
is an imagination.

Man
at each moment
is afraid of death, and
horripilant again and again!
He knows —
'death is imminent'!

So, his each step
is frought with suspicion.
Not only this
he is also
absolutely ignorant
of the so called
Yam's1 world.
That's why
he takes refuge
in God
for eternal peace in death!

That's why
he sings the long song -
'Ram nam satya hai! '
(God's name is the only TRUTH)
O, birth and death
is nothing
save for his cruel-amusing act!

[1 God, dispensing death in Indian mythology.]

[8] Forms of Death

Be death natural
or accidental
conclusion is the same -
end of a conscious life,
to change into a senselessness
active life
to sleep for good
palpitation of heart!
Both are the so called
writs of Providence,
the script of fate: invisible, indelible.

But
an act of terminating life
by suicide
or
by murder,
or destruction of the ferocious
in self or social defense,
isn't death,
but, a murder.
Though the end, the same
death!
True death or untimely death.

[9] Conclusion

Death?
A question-mark?

Stable
Unanswered,
adamant,
stands
as an adversary.

But, man
accept not defeat,
not a bit
think of God
in defense,
in an answer to the question,
no, not!

The mystery of death
to be unmasked... revealed
sure
sure
some day!

[10] Life-Death

Death:
An unbreakable string
Tied to birth,

Birth:
One end;
Death:
The other extreme end!

Birth - a shore
Death - an opposite bank;
Birth:
Why a jubilation?
Death:
Pain...!
Why?

Birth - death
When equal?

One / well shaped;
The other / completely invisible!

Birth -
A beginning,
Death -
Destruction: an assault!

Birth... known,


Death... un-known!
Birth: beginning
Death: end,
Birth - initiation
Death - an earthly end!

Birth: yes, a being,
Death: ah! a non-being!

Birth: a new dawn,
Death: a horrendous night!

[11] A Pair

Sandy desert spread
all around
like the dying lamp-flame
brown
yellow
Palish-green
waterless
slipping age
at he verge of death!

But
countless
waving... green
oases
Thorny
leafless
growing trees -
flags
of life!

Lake —
a resting place... life giving
infusing life!

[12] The Oppsite

Life: a jubilation
Death: the last breath
A melody / a cry!
Pious action / loud lamentation!


[13] Equal

Morning is red
Evening is red
Morning-evening are one.

Wail on birth
Wail on death
Birth-death are one.


It is
the true wisdom,
the real knowledge,
every other consideration
is in vain.

[14 Sakhi1

What makes you so sad?
Why do you lose your wits?
Life - very precious; true
Death - eternal, why do you rue

[1 A detached saintly statement.]

[15] A Desire

May all children and young live!
Heart-rending is untimely death!

[16] Reality

''Death —
a birth
over and over again
of soul.''

It's untrue
to consider this idea true?
A blind faith
an irrational faith!

Life / blends in five-elements,
the end / of a creation,
the end / of a person,
a being.
No where
here... there.

It's true
there be an eternal fusion.
Neither there is any Hell,
nor there is any Heaven,
this manifest world is the only truth.
Death — a truth,
Life — a truth!

[17] The Philosophy Of Life

External motion —
physical vibration,
Internal motion —
Life.

The transporter of life-motion
I

Ceaseless controller —
I
as long as
life is in flux
History will be created by

human-mind
human-body.

Nev er there be catastrophe;
Life ever be full of melody,
Every particle be in motion.

To fuse is
To lose internal motion.

[18] Excelsior!

Struggles and strifes
lead to life,
to be inactive,
an indication - of the approaching death,
to stop - the end of life.
Life: only a flux
ceaseless flux!
To grow,
to change
is to be alive!
Stasis
an established trait
of the lifeless.

Life has a thrill, a throb,
a continuous palpitation in the live hearts!

To stop —
de-existence
invitation to ill-ominous death,

Excelsior... excelsior!
The only 'mool-mantra'1
to prove life!

[1 Key principle.]

[19] Experimenting

In man
Wish for life —
Eternal and strongest,

Whereas
The final truth
About every life
Is death!
Yes, end is certainly,

Unavoidable!

But / it is also true -
impatient passion for
Immortality and youth

Will never wane,

Man's queer valour
Longs for melody,
Not for tears!
Every time
Continuous struggle
With the eternal challenge
of death is welcome!
He will be
A mrityunjaya1; he will be!

[1 victorious over death.]

[20] Meaningfulness

Mere living
isn't a proof of
life's meaningfulness,
Living -
only helplessness
like death - an exit.

Which is natural
in adopting it
without any specificity,
'Living-being'
doesn't mean
to be 'a human being.'

Declaration of
human glory only when
there is perfect peace of mind -
when we give
a new meaning to life,
in pitch dark
open doors
to a world full of lights.

Know the mysteries of life,
Talk to the moon and stars.
Let selflessness
be the motive of our living,
let's devour materialistic hurdles
at every step.

Let's acquire
such capabilities,
then
life may be

dedicated to death.

No regret,
no sorrow.

There isn't
the least difference of opinion.

This life is successful
this life is rare.

Blessed is the Earth!

[21] A Prayer

I long
not for immortality,
I long for
youthfulness.
Perfect health, diseaselessness,
absolute peace
of human mind and body.

This desired boon
is sought
not from any god.

Self-achieved by self-efforts
not by any prayer.

Body free from pain
mind free from torture.

Yes,
May
we live for
125 years!
For ourselves,
for others.

[22] A Mirage

Self-willed and ambitious
man
runs after money
after pleasures
at the cost of life.
How strange
at this queer, dirty intention!

If there is life / money must flow in,
If there is life / pleasure must dog in!

Shattered and disorderly life
malady-stricken / frustrated wounded life
momentary
eager to fall into
the death-pool!

Blind, perplexed, ignorant
Man
Construes money to be supreme
thinks pleasure all in all!

He'll spoil / the precious life,
and will lose life / the gift of God!

[23] A Vow

Absolutely loyal
we,
have descended in
the formidable duel of
life and death!
being soldiers of
an immortal army of life,
will not be surrounded
by the deceitful trick of
any adversary!

May be vanquished,
but, will never admit the supremacy
of death a bit,
won't let our right
to live
be snatched away!

The triumphant-call will echo
till the last breath
struggling
life-strength will fight
till the last edge of hope / effort!

[24] The Call Of Conquest

The whole world sleeps -
who weeps
in the dead of night?

It's heard -
in the house hard by
death has suddenly charged,
it's true —
someone has died.

The sharp dagger
of theYama-doot1
has once again
touched the man!

Reach
with ambrosial heart-felt condolences,
may this man

live again and again!

Let life-drum sound
every moment

though
biers be laid!

[1 Emissary of Yam / God dispensing death in Indian
mythology.]

[25] A Call

They who sing Alakh1
have come,
who sing the sweet beloved song
of new life
have come!

Singers of Sohar2
have come!

Players of life-song
on every string of the violin of heart
have come!

Mentally vanquished!
Awake!
Strike by stretching!
Awake!

Jump
into the live sea
of life
O divers!
Stir the stupor!

[1 A word urging inspiration.
2 An auspicious song sung at the birth of a child.]

[26] One Day

Have faith
Life
will be victorious,
fear not the wicked,
fear not!

Let's destroy
every doubt!
Have faith
life will be victorious!

Deep darkness
of dead death
will surround / frighten;
have faith in

the sun's strength / firmness
Let's unmask
every particle of it!

Let's floodlight around!
Have faith
life will be triumphant!

[27] Purpose

We
who are the artisans of life
should talk only
about life,
discover
the meaningfulness of life,
and know
about the essence of life!

If death
destroys us
let us
strike back at it,
let us
sing the glory of life,
let us
strike a severe blow at
Yama, death!

[28] A Wish

let there be
no existence of death-serpent
in the garden of life,
let human self
not be terrorized
of death scare!

let every person
enjoy life
without any doubt,
let his each moment be
mellifluous!

Let a lover of life
play with life,
and live life fully
by embracing
every pleasure!

[29] Longing

As long as
I wished

to live,

lived heartily!
Imagine
the lamps burnt on
even in rains!

None
was kind,
struggled -
with firm faith in

self potence!

[30] Proved

With a wish to live
one won't
wait for death!
Gold
pure, drossless:
why should it take
a fire-test?

End the illusion,
Bend the kaal-chakar1!
Associate with life!
Give up this stupor!

[1 Cycle of death / time]

[31] Healthy Vision

Live
by thinking self
immortal,
laugh and sing
without any concern,
eat and drink
without any worry;
should it
be termed
true living?

When face to face
with the end
Or
Should remain ignorant of it
Should
we call it
true living?

[32] Compatibility

I sing
I sing the songs
of victory!
I sing

about the triumph of life
over death!
I sing dauntlessly
the triumph of life-bud
of the dearest thing!

I sing
again and again!

The sounds that echo
in the sky of the graveyard
of the liberated-selves of carefree birds
are translations
of my
life-sentiments!
The compatriots
of my
life-adorations!

[33] Dreadful

Beware!

We have
hoisted the red flags,
on every house, in every village,
in every town,
of life, new life!

In every locality, at every cross,
here, there -
everywhere!
Hoisted
red flags!

Now
the demon of death
won't be able to carry out
his terrorist, fatal, men-devouring
maddening trick!

Ambushes
on entering into the body,
proclaims himself
an unvanquished doota1
of Yama2
lays down
within the body
explosives,

and...
remote-controls
by hiding
in invisible places!

Let's see,

where from he comes now!

[1 Emissary. 2 Lord of death.]

[34] The Philosophy of Death

Death:
When a certainty,
In vain
Why

to doubt,
to fear
so much!

O, tell death -
'Come; when you please.'

At this time
Come,
Let's sing and dance!
Play on varied musical instruments!

Let's end this silence;
Who cares
for death?

[35] An Invitation

Death
come,
do come one day!
And take me away
in your flying-chariot;
away... far away
into hell!
That I may
unite all those
living in hell,
urge on them
for a revolt,

prepare them
for a change in life!
I don't acknowledge
any Chitragupta1
any Yama;
I'll challenge them!
Just, let me jump
into the hell-pond!
Just, let me mingle
with the huge crowd of
hell-denizens!

[1 According to Indian mythology an official in the court of Yama who keeps record of righteous and unrighteous actions of living beings.]

[36] To The Fairy of Death

O death, come
I am ready!
Never think,
I am helpless.

Won't you
Inform?
Won't you

Oblige me?

You'll come —
On tip-toes,
Surprising
Like a clever girl.

Alright,
Accepted!
My beloved,
Your this game
Is welcome!

Come quietly,
Come, o death
I'm ready!

I know
It well
That of the book of life
Thou art the end!

Therefore,
For me
Thou art the good news
Of totality!

Come
O death, come
I'm ready!
Awaiting you
I've bedecked myself,
I'm ready!

[37] A Request

Death -
it hardly matters
if you are feminine,
I can befriend you!

Why do you feel shy?

Come
be my comrade!
If not a cohabiter
be my neighbour!

You beautiful like the moon,
from the opposite window
peep out,
evaluate —
and one day
all at once
make me accompany you
to the land of the dead!
Just
taunting and teasing!

[38] The Mode of Death

Death might be overtaking
while dreaming,
Prana1
might be out from the body
just then.

A dreaming man
passes away!

What does he know?

Ask those living
who
have covered the dead body
with a sheet of cloth!
what happened?
What happened?
At last?

[1The life-force]

[39] A Comparison

Between Shiva
and shava1
the difference lies only in the 'I'
(the first vowel sound)

Shiva —
is goodness,
gives comfort!
Shava —
ill-ominous,
only decays!

Shiva has three eyes,
Shava is blind!

A great imbroglio!

[1Shava — a dead body.]

[40] The Distance

You remembered
Thanks!
Gave a sweet pain
Accepted!

How strange the coincidence
That the last farewell
O, the first love!
Came
On the disappearing path,
With a wish -
Never to be fulfilled,
Sometime with a true physical touch
Our co-feelings
Never to be distanced!

I go -
Go with memory,
Go with pain!

[41] The End

Strife
Where is it now?
Journey -
Where is it now?

Everything stood still
The running, jumping, the liquid river water
Everything frozen —
Like blood in veins!

All bones of body
Continuously
Crackle with pain,
Who'll press them
Now
Till the dying breath?
Dark surrounds
While none is around!

Now there is no flutter
Only a stasis,
Now life -
A fatigued filament;
A scatter!

[42] A Blow

I...

kept you alive -
so

I'll carry
your living but decayed corpse!
Carry it silently, helplessly!

You
murdered
the faiths,
you
burnt the wishes
in a flaming furnace,
sham, hypocrisy
well enacted
and filled every moment of life
with unbearable pain!

Never became a loved one;
never became a murderer!
O, never snatched the right to live -
though the doubt was unmasked,
every doubt!

When kept alive
I'll burn in the hell-fire
bear all by
being insensitive!

Early or late
all
in an eternal sleep have to fall,
dust unto dust!

O unfortunate!
Then, why to weep?

[43] Truth

Life-bird
will fly,
fly away!
Life-bird
will fly away!

Why you try so hard,
sing hymns every morn and eve,
nothing is in your control
you bow in every temple,

one day from the body
Life-bird
will fly away,

that will
never return!
Fly away
Life-bird
will fly away!

[44] Preordained

It is preordained that
you
one day
will sleep
in the lap of death
silently!

It is preordained that
you
one day
will be lost
in the pitch dark
of the death!

It is preordained that
you
one day
renouncing name and fair form
will be reduced
to ashes!

[45] A Proclamation

Tell
the world -
now
Mahendra Bhatnagar sleeps!
Sleeps in an eternal sleep!

What
is to happen
happens;
O Man!
Why do you weep?

Life
that is one's own,
one has no right
over it too,
hearth - wealth
that is one's own
that too
in fact
has no essence!
You've no claim
over that!

Becoming
silent - stoic

set out
leaving everything

set out
severing all relations
new and old!

Everyone
has to experience
this moment,
death's eternal
then
why to fear it?

O immortal death!
You may consider me
helpless,
end,
I voluntarily
accept you,
accept you from body and mind!

I sleep
on the comfortable
soil-bed!
I lose my identity
by fusing with the particles
of this soil!
I sow a new life!
As I have accepted life
likewise
O death
I do accept you!

I go,
I go from this world!
I go from this
lovely home, lovely world!
I go
for good... for good!
I go!

[46] I Bow Thee

Adieu!
O the springs of the world
Adieu!
O, the shining moon
The twinkling bright stars
Adieu!

Hills... valleys
Slopes... marshes
Adieu!

Adieu
O, the high waves of the sea!

Fluttering
wings of illusion,
Eyes

Profuse with love
Adieu!

The strings of
An inextricable knot
The unrealised hopes
Adieu!
Adieu!

[47] Good Bye!

We
Beaten by fate,
We
Defeated
In the game of life,

Ah!
Tortured by dears,
Hurt on heart,
With a bowed head
Silent
Go for good —

Never
Remember,
Even today
Listen,
Do not light the memory-lamp!

[48] An Ascetic

To overcome death
one more Siddharth1 — an ascetic
has set out!

Who at each step
trampled the elusive moves of
Yama's legion!

Wasn't trapped
in any vyuha2
tied his noose hard
on death!

He who sings
songs of life
at the edge of doom,
one day —
he will attain
an immortal place
by changing his shape,

preserve this
heritage
by making it a stupa3

:
1 initial name of Buddha.2 phlanx, the war movement arrangement of an army to surround or capture the enemy. 3 a Buddhistic tope/sacred spot.

[49] The Last Will

Never weep,
Never be disinterested!

Bear a blow
Never lose temper.

Let the last act be
free from rituals
let mind be set
only on the mystery beyond death!

Life after death
when none has known
when none has seen...
All established systems:
imaginary,
illogical.
To follow them - not desired!
O never be a blind-follower,
Let refinement of worship be
in the splendour of knowledge.

Follow -
good faith and good feelings!

 

[50] Kritkarma1

Why bewail?
Why bewail
on the renunciation of body?

End —
a sign of perfection,
a successful stage
Why to bewail?

The end of life —
A stage
Why to bewail?

Let us
follow in the footsteps
of the departed
to attain the meaning of life,
glorify it.

Take the last salute!

:
One who has finished one's duty/karma.




ARTICLES

[1 ]
THE MOTIF OF DEATH
N THE IPOETRY OF MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR:
AN ASSESSMENT

– Dr. D. C. Chambial

Life is poised between the two antipodal points of birth and death. Where there is birth, there is death. Where one begins the other ends. Birth is welcome and rejoiced. Death is considered terrible and is, therefore, mourned. Enmeshed in the enigma of existence man has been trying since time immemorial to dive into the mysteries of life and death. All metaphysical systems of world are the outcome of man’s endeavour to find truth in this regard. In the modern age of science man has toiled hard to lay bare the mystery of death. However, it still remains beyond the domain of science. Where the domain of science ends, the domain of metaphysics begins.What is outside the physical world is left for the philosophy to explain. Mahendra Bhatnagar has, in his book, 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception', tried to perceive the mystery of life and death. In this paper my endeavour shall be to explore Mahendra Bhatnagar’s views about death.
In order to answer the question: What is death? The poet has nothing to say different from the commonly held notion about it that death is ‘an earthly end’ and compares it to ‘a horrendous night’ (‘Life - Death’: 22) . What the poet calls ‘a horrendous night’ is the state of existence after death. However, this ‘horrendous night’ begins with death. As the one side of a coin cannot be severed from the other, similarly, birth and death are also integral and cannot be separated: ‘an unbreakable string / tied to birth’ (Ibid.) The poet declares the Vedic truth: ‘Death - a truth’ (Reality’: 32) . It is also the truth of existence. Where there is life, there is death.
Man, ever since he began to speculate and meditate about the fate of life after its termination on this terra firma, has found death an enigma to explore. It was, and still is, an enigma for him.
There is a lot about death that one wants to know: what is death? What happens to the individual on death? If body is the dwelling of soul, as the Hinduism and most of the other world religions maintain, then, what happens to the soul on and after death? What would happen if there were no death? Etc. The poet also believes in this arcane nature of death and states: ‘Death? / A question-mark! ’ (Contemplation: 10) . He, once again, repeats this mystery of death in his poem, ‘Conclusion’, with the same words and is staunch in his faith that man is ever engaged in unraveling and unmasking the secrets about death. He says though ‘death’, at present, is ‘a question-mark’, but a day will certainly come when ‘The mystery of death / to be unmasked... revealed’ (‘Conclusion’: 20)
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar, the poet, opens his discourse about death and tells the readers about its imminence. He says: ‘Death is imminent / Unavoidable’ (Gratitude’: 2) . It is very much intone with the Hindu philosophy that states: ‘Jatasya hi dhruvo mrityu...’ (the Ghagvadgita: II,27) . He further expounds that death which is the end of life on the earth ‘... is certainly / Unavoidable! ’ (Experimenting’: 38) . The fact that whosoever has life and is born on this earth is bound to decay or die. An individual’s life is limited. One cannot go beyond this limit. None can abjure the verity that one day this life on earth has to come to an end. There is no way out. The poet sings:
One day from the body
Life-bird
will fly away,
That will
Never return!
Fly away!
Life-bird
Will fly away!
(‘Truth’: 94)
Here the poet, with the help of the symbol of a bird, tries to explain that one day JIVA or PRANA will have to forsake this body. It cannot live in for good. This body is subject to the laws of destructibility and transience.
Death has never been a welcome. The very origin of death, according to Christianity, is cruel, for it is the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God: they disobeyed the God, ate the forbidden fruit and the God, in turn, not only expelled them out of Eden but also inflicted death on them. Death has been with man since his first disobedience and the original sin. The poet calls death a cruel wheel that spares no one:
Cruel is
the wheel of death
very cruel!
Under which
Lifeless - living
Gradually grinding and changing
Every moment, every minute!
This earth rocks horribly!
invisibly / Silently
Continuously moves
This wheel of death.
(‘The Wheel of Death’: 6) .
This wheel always goes on like the wheel of time and one and all fall prey to it without any distinction.
The termination of life from the physical body is termed as death. Death is death whatever be its kind or form. The philosopher poet, Dr. Mahendra also declares that ‘Though the end, the same death! ’ (‘Forms of Death’: 18) . Nonetheless, he differentiates and recognizes two kinds of death: one, natural or accidental death; two, the unnatural or suicide or murder. In this regard the poet writes: ‘Death natural / or accidental /... / end of a conscious life’ (Ibid.) These both kinds of death, natural and accidental, are so called because they are the ‘writs of Providence’ (Ibid.) But, about the second kind, ‘suicide / or / murder’, the poet says that it ‘isn’t death, but, a murder.’ (ibid.) Thus, the poet acknowledges two kinds of death with clear difference.
The poet is of the view that one should not fear death. While living one should be free from its fear. Living constantly under the fear of death will make the individual a coward and one will not be able to accomplish anything in one’s life. Thus the whole objective of life and living will be defeated. One is supposed to live and, while living, do such acts that are helpful for the progress of humanity. With this motive in mind, the poet says that ‘Fearing death / will make / living futile! / weight heavy / dry onerous / pleasureless heart.’ (Free From Worry’: 8) . Under the constant fear of death, life loses its meaning. In order to make life meaningful one has to be free from the fear of death. So, the philosopher poet says:
Life
only meaningful,
when every moment is free
from the dread of death. (Ibid.)
The poet seems to echo what the Hindu philosophy says:
v'kksP; kuUo'kkspLRoa izKkoknkaÜp Hkk'klsA
xrklwuxrklawÜp ukuq'kkspfUr if.Mrk%AA
What should not be worried about you should not worry say the wise
Whether one lives or dies does not bother the pundit.
(the Bhagvadgita: II,11) .
The poet, in his poem ‘The Philosophy of Death’ (72) posits:
Death:
When a certainty,
In vain
Why
to doubt
to fear
so much?
O, tell death —
‘Come; when you please.’
There is no need either to nourish any doubt about death or fear it; it is imminent. In another poem, he says:
It is preordained that
you
one day
will sleep
in the lap of death
silently!
× × ×
in the pitch dark
of the death! (‘Preordained’: 96)
and then talks about the destruction of the body after death by consigning it to fire: ‘fair form / will be reduced / to ashes! ’ (Ibid.) The JIVA forsakes body; body becomes dead because it is senseless to all external stimuli of the physical world, and finally the body joins the five elements - fire, earth, water, air, and sky, the PANCH BHUTA — out of which it had taken shape.
All this happens, the poet argues, when body becomes unsuitable for the soul as it’s dwelling. Then the soul leaves it and looks for a new one that is befitting for it, the poet says:
What?
Body
Not worth living;
Therefore...
Soul!
You left
In quest of new.’ (‘A Puzzle’: 12)
as if the soul unfolds the secret of its leaving the body, that is death, to the poet. The poet’s philosophy seems to echo the Vedic philosophy:
oklkafl th.kkZfu; Fkk fogk; uokfu x`g~.kkfr ujkss•ijkf.kA
rFkk 'kjhjkf.k fogk; th.kkZU; kfu la; fr uokfu nsghAA
As a man discards the old and worn out clothes,
Likewise the soul discards old body and enters new one.
(the Bhagvadgita: II,22) .
In the absence of death there would have no God nor the need for any such supreme divinity. The poet continues his argument that ‘If there were no death, / God wouldn’t have any existence’ (‘The truth’: 14) . It means that in the absence of death man would have thought himself to be the Supreme Being and the God were to be something non-existent. It is the existence of death that makes human being inferior to God and man needs some super power to attribute to that power all the enigmas of physical and metaphysical existence that are beyond the human ken. In the absence of death, even ‘The whole philosophy / hell and heaven’ (Ibid.) would have become redundant. But, there is death that necessitates the existence of God, before whose will the man bows. Therefore, the man realizes the ultimate truth that ‘Ram nam satya hai / (God’s name is the only TRUTH) ’ (Ibid.) In other words, the poet contends that only God is the Reality.
It is not that death has made the existence of God feasible but it also has a purpose. The poet maintains that death is not without purpose. It also has its utilitarian value and makes life not only useful but also beautiful for existence on this earth. He posits:

Death’s made life very beautiful,
Transforms this world, in fact,
Into a pleasant heaven,
We learnt the meaning of love,
only then
true’s true,
Transformed man into higher beings
Than immortal god!
(‘Gratitude; Again’: 4)
.

Whatever man tries to achieve in life and art is also death’s gift to him; so, the poet firmly holds:
Death’s given
Beauty to life
Such
Endless - vast!
Death’s given
Man
Life - art - efficiency
Such
Embellishment - adornment!
(‘Gratitude’: 2)
It is a fact that death has some objective. But, the poet not only encourages the mankind to shed the fear of death but also suggests to betittle death by finding a purpose of living because:
We
who are the artisans of life
should talk only about life
discover
the meaningfulness of life.
and know
about the essence of life.
(‘Purpose’: 56)
His panacea for belittling death is:
If death
destroys us
let us
strike back at it. (Ibid.)
But, how can we strike back at death? The poet has himself answered this question successfully in the poem itself that it can be done by discovering ‘the meaningfulness of life’ and by singing ‘the glory of life’ (Ibid.) The ‘meaningfulness of life’ suggests a purposeful life so that he is remembered even after he is dead.
Death is imminent. It cannot be avoided. It is the fate of all living beings on this earth. It can only be relegated to pettiness. Then there is no need to fear death: ‘let human self / not be terrorized / of death care’ (‘A Wish’: 58) . The living ones should always be ready to welcome death. There is no alternative to it. Therefore, the poet has debunked death of all its power and fear and and welcomes death to
come,
do come one day!
And take me away
in your flying-chariot
away... far away
(‘An Invitation’: 74) .
perhaps, like the persona in Emily Dickinson’s poem, ‘The Chariot’1
To conclude our discussion, we can say that the poet comes out with some very concrete suggestions to tear off the hitherto much significance attached to death. He does not believe in any type of ritual, because these do not form part of the eternal truth; these have been devised and followed by the survivors. He exhorts the mankind: ‘Let the last act be / free from rituals’ (‘The Last Will’: 110) . What is more important. in order to find the ultimate truth, to unmask the enigma of death shrouded in the mystery, is to approach the hitherto unsolved riddle of death single-mindedly. For this he suggests: ‘let mind be set / only on the mystery deyond death! ’ (Ibid.) He also consoles those who are left behind wailing and bemoaning in these words: ‘End - / a sign of perfection, / a successful stage / why to bewail’ and should
follow in the footsteps
of the departed
to attain the meaning of life
glorify it.
(‘Kritkarma’: 112) .
It is ‘the meaning of life’ that has not been found yet and the quest for which is ever going on like the journey of life as propounded by Aurobindo Ghose2. Mahendra Bhatnagar, the poet and philosopher, has very deeply studied and experienced, in his imagination, the concept of death and has made some very radical observations that make him stand all alone as a sedate thinker in the contemporary poetry.
.
Notes:
(1) In the Dickinson’s poem, Death is one of the occupants in the chariot. Death asks the poetess / persona to accompany him. The opening lines of the poem are:
Because I could not stop for death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And immortality.
In Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poem, the poet / persona invites Death to take him / her with himself, because he is not afraid of death and ready to go with him.
(2) In his poem, ‘Is This the End? ’, Aurobindo Ghose says that death does not put an end to the journey or quest of life. The poet refers to soul that is immortal and continues its journey ceaselessly. It goes on even after the goal has been achieved. The last two stanzas of them poem, that have relevance to the argument in the present article, are:
The Immortal in the mortal is his name!
An artist Godhead here
Ever remoulds himself in dimmer shapes,
Unwilling the cease.
Till all is done for which the stars were made,
Till the heart discovers God
And the soul knows itself. And even then
There is no end.
.


[2]
Death-Perception: Life-Perception
— Mrs. Purnima Ray

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s ‘Death-Perception: Life-Perception’ is a collection of fifty beautiful poems translated from original Hindi into English by Dr. D.C.Chambial. The poet, and the translator are already well-known figures in the literary arena, both in India and abroad. The Appendix 1&2 published in this book help us to know their achievements in detail. In short, their bio-notes are as follows -
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is a leading Professor of Hindi Language and Literature, guides scholars, has several published books, and received many awards. His major poetry-collections include ‘Forty Poems’ translated by Shree Amir Mohammad Khan, and Prof. L.S.Sharma, ‘After The Forty Poems’ translated by Dr. Ramsevak Singh Yadav, Prof. Vareendra Kumar Varma, and Shree Amir Mohammad Khan, ‘Exuberance and other poems’, translated by Dr. Ravinandan Sinha, and ‘Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s Poetry’ translated by Dr. H.C.Gupta.
Dr. D.C.Chambial is a Professor of English, a widely published Indo-English poet and critic, has several published books, poetry collections, and on criticism, and edits an international journal ‘Poetcrit’. At the outset the translator in his note makes clear to us the most important features of Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poetry, which we have to recho in our discussion from time to time in our own way. And we will see that Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems are deep, intense in feeling, suggestive and thought-provoking.
The title of this present collection is very important. One should notice that ‘Death-Perception’ comes first, then ‘Life Perception’. The ‘Death-theme’ is a very common and universal one, but the fact is that we sometimes are aware of it, and sometimes not. Most of us know that it is inevitable and certain, and we are eager to know more about it, and want to escape from its clutches, but we do not know how to do it. It is here the utility of Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems on this subject. He explores all the possible ways with his extraordinary creative spirit, and he succeeds to satisfy our quench for the thirst of knowledge of this kind.
Poet Mahendra points us to see the fact that we are standing on the backbone of ‘Death’, so that our desire for life is being stirred again and again:
Death is;
Death is imminent,
Unavoidable —
That’s why
Life is so desired!
Although we get scared by it every now and then, yet it is acceptable, and for that ‘life’ itself is grateful to ‘Death’:
Death element / feeling
Minute by minute death-tension
Are acceptable,
Gratitude
To Death
Life’s gratitude!
Because Death’s contributions to Life are unnumbered:
Death’s made life
very beautiful,
Transformed this world,
in fact,
Into a pleasant heaven,
We learnt
the meaning of love...
and the most important achievement of ‘Death’ is that it
...Transformed man
Into higher beings
than immortal god!
This poet has seen ‘Death’ in the best possible ways, yet
he admits the impossibility to define it:
All efforts futile -
to explicate
the meaning of death;
it’s very intricate difficult
to contemplate.
He does not ignore its dark sides:
Cruel is
The wheel of death
very cruel!
He defines finely in a word:
.. A wonderful puzzle!
Poet Mahendra can establish a truth that man’s all philosophy including the idea of God revolves round ‘Death’:
If there were no death,
God wouldn’t have any existence,
man
would have never reconciled
with his fate!
For he is always led by this fact:
... ‘Death is imminent’!
So his idea of God is nothing but:
... a proof
of man’s helplessness
of readiness after death...
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar equates the relation between Life and death through a fine imagery:
Death:
An unbreakable string
Tied to birth..
So he rightly poses the stoic question:
... Birth
why a jubilation?
Death:
pain..!
why?
Birth-death
when equal?
He can justify what he says regarding this by a logical fallacy:
Morning is red
Evening is red
Morning - evening are one.

Wail on birth
Wail on death
Birth-death are one...
It seems that he wants to say as one cannot detach death from life, similarly life cannot be detached from death:
Death -
a birth
Over and over again
of soul...
Like the ancient Greek philosophers the poet says:
... this manifest world is the only truth...
Yet he confirms:
Death - a truth
Life - a truth
The poet gives us the key-principle to overcome death:
... Every time
Continuous struggle
With the eternal challenge
of death is welcome!
He will be
A mrityunjaya; he will be!
At the same time he makes us aware of meaningfulness of life:
Mere living
isn’t a proof of
life’s meaningfulness...
and his ‘meaningfulness’ finds its expression in humanistic approach to life:
Let selflessness
be the motive of our living,
let’s devour materialistic hurdles
on every step.
Let’s acquire / such capabilities,
then
life may be
dedicated to death...
So in ‘Prayer’ poet Bhatnagar does not want any ascetic attainment, but leads the mankind in time of need:
I long
not for immortality,
I long for
youthfulness.
Perfect health, diseaselessness,
absolute peace
of human mind and body...
.
He shows us where ‘death’ takes place:
.
Shattered and disorderly life
Malady-stricken / Frustrated wounded life
momentary
eager to fall into
the death-pool!
.
and the victory of life over death:
.
Have faith
Life
will be victorious,
fear not the wicked,
fear not!
.
Like a Miltonic hero the poet discloses the way:
.
If death destroys us
let us
strike back at it,
Let us
sing the glory of life,
let us
strike a severe blow at
Yama, death!
.
Here also revolution takes place, one has to utter these words:
.
That I may
unite all those
living in hell,
urge on them
for a revolt,
prepare them
for a change in life!
.
It is only then we can realise what he says:
.
With a wish to live
one won’t
wait for death!
.
He does not want the Epicurean way of living be termed as ‘true-living’:
.
Live / by thinking self
immortal,
laugh and sing
without any concern,
eat and drink
without any worry;
should it / be termed / true living?
.
Poet Mahendra Bhatnagar sings paean of life, but there is something more special in his singing:
.
I sing
about the triumph of life
over death!
.
Like post-Tagorean Bengali surrealistic poet Jibanananda Das he admires the wealth of life:
.
I sing dauntlessly
the triumph of thru life-bud
of the dearest thing!
I sing again and again!
.
One may compare the words ‘again and again’ quoted above with Jibananada’s abar asiba phire (I will come again) . The words which poet Bhatnagar used are different, but the total effect is the same:
.
The sounds that echo
in the sky of graveyard
of the liberated-selves of carefree birds
are translations
of my life sentiments!
The compatriots
of my life - adorations!
.
Here he establishes one truth that poets from ages to ages sing life in there unique ways.
Perhaps for that reason poet Bhatnagar can romanticize ‘Death’:
.
(1) You’ll come —
On tip-toes,
Surprising
Like a clever girl.
Alright,
Accepted!
My beloved,
your this game
is welcome
.
(2) You beautiful like the moon,
from the opposite window
peep out
evaluate —
.
One should notice that the poet attaches feminity to a beautiful object.
Poet Bhatnagar’s creativity finds its fullest expression when he uses the word ‘passing away’ instead of ‘death’:
.
Death might be overtaking
while dreaming,
Prana
might be out from the body
just then.
A dreaming man
passes away!
.
Yes, the dreaming people are active and creative, they dream before turning themselves into creativity, as Lord Vishnu sleeps and dreams before the creation of the Universe; they do not know the word ‘death’ while engrossing in their way of life. The last lines of this poem makes us thoughtful, leave us in a whirlpool of suggestions:
What does he know?
Ask those living
who
have covered the dead body
with a sheet of cloth!
What happened?
What happened?
At last?
It seems that poet Bhatnagar accepts indirectly the will of God behind death:
It is preordained that
you
one day
will sleep
in the lap of death
silently!
So he says to himself and at the same time to us to renounce all earthly attachments:
Never
Remember,
Even today
Listen,
Do not light the memory-lamp!
He does not forget to remind us the most precious things of life, and he puts all this so masterly in the tongue of a dying-person:
Adieu!
O the springs of the world
Adieu!
O, the shining moon
The twinkling bright stars
Adieu!
Hills..... valleys
Slopes... marshes
Adieu!
O, the high waves of the sea!
In a way, he values most the Nature surrounding us, as
Mrityunjaya in Rabindranath Tagore’s short-story ‘The Hidden Treasure’ exclaimed: “I want sunlight, air, sky’’ etc. wanting to live.
For he knows that ultimate truth is, he makes a goodbye to an illusory world behind him:
Fluttering
wings of illusion,
Eyes
Profuse with love
Adieu!

The strings of
An inextricable knot
The unrealised hopes
Adieu!
Adieu!
‘An Ascetic’ is an important poem, in the sense that the poet gives here a message to the strife - torn world we are living in:
He who sings
songs of life
at the edge of doom,
one day -
he will attain
an immortal place
by changing his shape,
Preserve this / heritage /
by making it a stupa.
The suggestion is if we sing songs of life, then there should be no hankering after life-killing desires and efforts; again the poet’s spirituality lies in humanity, and man’s religion in his ‘Kritakarma’. The poem ‘The Last Will’ can be seen as his consolation for us as well as a clarion call:
let mind be set
only on the mystery beyond death!
× × × ×
Let refinement of worship be
in the splendour of knowledge..
Here he gives more emphasis on ‘mind’ which controls all body-organs, and on ‘knowledge’, the purest of all things in the world, as we find in The Srimat Bhagavat Gita.
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is, no doubt, an avant-garde Indian poet. Dr. D.C.Chambial excellent rendition extends the readership of
Dr. Bhatnagar’s philosophy and poetic ability. Dr. Chambial has done his job well, for his transcreation has retained all the literary qualities of the original poems - e.g. ‘the economy of linguistic expressions’, lucidity etc.

. .

[3]
Death-Perception: Life-Perception
An Analytical Study

— Dr (Mrs) Jaya Lakshmi Rao V.


DEATH PERCEPTION - LIFE PERCEPTION is a sensitively rendered volume of 50 poems, originally written in Hindi. The poems retain their natural flavour to a great extent, thanks to the versatility of the well-known poet of national and international fame Dr D.C. Chambial. As the title indicates the mysterious entity of death and the magical polarity called life occupy the mind and art of Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar. The theme of death and life has ever been source of deep contemplation often verging on to obsession for creative writers from times immemorial. Yet it never lost its freshness and vigour due to the mystery that surrounds it, the magnetism it generates and the manifold wonder it evokes. Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poetry bears witness to all the above observations.
Dr Chambial kept the translation as close as the linguistic boundaries between the original Hindi and the foreign English languages have allowed. Praise is to him, who, despite the language constrictions was able to carry and convey the poetic preoccupations of the well¬ known Hindi Poet with life and death.
The volume begins with a difference. In the first poem ‘Gratitude’, the poet gleans a reason to be grateful to death. It certainly is a new perception. The poet says: “Death’s given / Man / Life-art¬efficiency / Such / Embellishment - adornment.” According to the poet, it is death that makes life beautiful and therefore desirable. Death’s imminence makes life all the more attractive. So, he offers “Gratitude / To death / Life’s gratitude.” The fact that death equals all is mourned in a poem entitled ‘The Wheel of Death / Time’. Death tramps the white radiance of life. Death is relentless, inexorable: “Before it! Stability has! No existence! Its motion! Always controls! Life and death! Earth and sky.”
Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems are not for those who seek the romantic, who look for the sensational. They do not jingle either. There is evidently a deep contemplation, a firm conviction in his poems. Written in free verse, some of the lines remain clearly etched in the reader’s mind. Lines such as: “Invisibly / Silently / Continuously moves / This wheel of death / Uninterrupted... unchanged! ” make a mark because in spite of simple terminology the poet has used memorable imagery. When he captions a poem as ‘Wheel of Time’ (kaal chakra) , the poet is using a native metaphor. In the cultures of India, time is compared to a wheel, a wheel that is conceptualized with the elements of birth-growth (life) - death that repeat themselves ceaselessly. It is a cyclic process that is inevitable and unavoidable. So, says the poet why grieve over death and spoil one’s peace of mind? —“Life! only meaningful, / When every moment is free / From the dread of death.” Despite the scientific advancement, death is a ‘wonderful puzzle’ for the poet. He sees death as a conundrum in poems such as ‘Contemplation’ and ‘A Puzzle’. It is the fear of death that urges man to take “refuge! In God! For eternal peace..” Yet the poet firmly believes that man’s invincibility will make him see “The mystery of death / To be unmasked... revealed / Sure... some day” in ‘Conclusion’.
. In poems such as ‘Life-Death’ and ‘The Opposite’ the dividing line between the polarities of life and death are brought to focus. To the poet they are not separate but intrinsically interconnected. One cannot be without the other. They are the beginning and end of a unique cycle. Why then are feelings generated by then different? questions the poet. “Birth: Why a jubilation? / Death: Pain...? Why? ” the ironical fact however is, “Wail on birth! Wail on death! Birth-death are one.” (‘Equal’) According to the poet it is futile to think of Hell or Heaven. Suffice to know that “This manifest world the only truth / Death - a truth, / Life - a truth! ” The common everyday thought of life and death attains a special significance in the poems of Dr Mahendra Bhatnagar because of the complexity of human emotion and intellectual activity. Although the theme of death is glaring enough, we are especially made to take notice of it due to the rhythm the poet used. It successfully indicates the relative value of his individualized perception. For example in a poem entitled ‘The Philosophy of life’ the poet says that life is “ External motion / Physical vibration / Internal motion - / Life. Real death is to lose ‘internal’ motion, the spiritual death. Now we know where the ‘fuse’ lies. The poetic thought continues on to ‘Excelsior’. If - “Struggles and strifes / lead to life” then “to be inactive” is “an indication - of the approaching death, / to stop - the end of life.”
Here is a rediscovery of the Vedic observation that our life is a pilgrimage and that man is an eternal traveler on the move. Life is an adventure. There is no resting on the journey and there is no end to it either. In the Aitereya Brhmana there is hymn, which ends with the refrain: ‘Charaiveti, Charaiveti’ which means “Hence O traveler, march along, march along.” One finds an echo in “Excelsior.... excelsior! ”
Now that we do not have a key to the puzzle of death, why not we unravel the ‘mysteries of life’, which in turn equips us with the ability ‘to talk to the moon and to the stars’ thus achieving ‘meaningfulness’ of life. In other words, the poet exhorts us to keep in touch with the unseen presence of the cosmic power by its physical manifestation in various forms of nature. True, nature is our guide, friend, and philosopher. It gives according to the poet “Perfect peace of mind /... a new meaning to life.”
‘A Prayer’ is an insightful poem on the secret of leading a happy life. In the poet’s opinion happy life is an outcome of self achievement. He says: “We live for / 125 years” only when we have a “Body free from pain / Mind free from torture.” So that we live as much for ‘ourselves’ as of ‘others’ because according to the Indian thought the whole world is a family - Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The foregone thought is entirely in opposition with the feeling that “Blind, perplexed, ignorant / Man... construes money to be supreme / Thinks pleasure all in all.” (‘A Mirage’) In ‘A Vow’ the poet depicts death as an adversary whom we the human race fight like soldiers because life is too precious to lose to “a deceitful trick of / Any adversary! ”
. ‘A Call’ is a unique poem in which the poet uses a number of sensory images to celebrate the carnival of life. In a Tagore-like lyricism, the poet hails the singers of Alakh and Sohar who play on ‘every string of the violin of heart’. Their songs are mainly meant for the ‘mentally vanquished’, to awaken those whose life turned into ‘stupor’. A number of poems expound the value attached to life, a rare gift. Poems such as ‘One day’, ‘Proved’, A Healthy Vision’, and ‘Compatibility’ sing of Shanti (peace) , victory, glory and pleasure of life. He envisages life wherein all will laugh and be merry. Death is compared to a terrorist in the poem ‘Dreadful’ who “remote controls” life - “By hiding / In invisible places.”
In ‘The Philosophy of Death’, ‘An Invitation’, ‘To the Fairy of Death ‘ and’ A Request’ there is a new challenge, a new welcome to a hail-fellow-well-met attitude to death. There is neither fear nor fascination towards humanity’s foe i.e. death. But one finds camaraderie, bonhomie, open, and candid. Death is treated as a friend, “a clever girl”, “a cohabiter” and “a neighbour.” Thus, we witness a metamorphosis in the poet’s notion of death as it passes from the stage of being the fearful and the awe-inspiring to that of a much¬-awaited welcome guest. Finally an agreeable compromise is reached. Peace at last! The pilgrim realizes his futile fencing with an invincible enemy. What cannot be cured must be endured. This endurance is not born of frustration but out of wise realization. that makes a world of difference.
In ‘Comparison’ the poet juxtaposes Shiva, the three-eyed Godhead with shava, the lifeless body. A single vowel shift from ‘i’ to ‘a’ brings in an irreplaceable difference in consciousness i.e. from spandana to jada. ‘ A Blow’ shows the futility of involvement because says the poet: “Early or late / all / in an eternal sleep have to fall / dust unto dust! ” thus after being enlightened that every one “One day / renouncing name and fair form / will be reduced / to ashes! ” (‘Preordained’) , the poet proclaims in ‘Proclamation’: “0 Death / I do accept you.../ I go / For good... for good / I go! ”
Now there is loveliness all around. Nothing but peace remains. Not, that which is a result of impotent stupor but the peace one arrives at after experiencing the vicissitudes of life, like the peace one finds in Eliot’s Waste Land, which is the result of understanding the human world. Now the poet avers: “Mahendra Bhatnagar sleeps /...an eternal sleep.” He desires “I lose my identity / By fusing with the particles / of this soil! / I sow new life! ”
Like Euripides of yore, the poet also sees wisdom of attaining peace in keeping one’s self-above hate, and in being good. He bows out of the stage of life in ‘I Bow Thee’ seeking release from good as well as bad. After going through. the purging experiences of life, wisdom dawns on the traveler, which we witness in ‘An Ascetic’. The poet is Siddarth with a wish to remain immortal. He attains it by singing songs of heavenly bliss he “wasn’t trapped” in “Yama’s region” any more. Fittingly enough his ‘Last Will’ is not to follow “established systems” but to follow “good faith and good feelings! ” in the last of the collected poems ‘Kritkarma’ the poet depicts the man who does duty successfully, whose end is a “sign of perfection”. There is no room for regrets in such a life. It is a life which is a “circle of light” encompassing the whole universe, forever glowing, forever guiding those groping in the darkness of ignorance.
This commendable collection merits praise on its linguistic novelty too. It is a well-known fact that the world view of the speaker of one language is entirely different from that of the another. A person’s cultural background and understanding, religion and environment play an enormous role in the shaping of his imagination, and expression. Yet owing to the fact that human feelings and sensibility are much the same throughout the living world, Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poems appeal to all, to the speakers of both English and Hindi. Myth and metaphor lend strength and character to the poems. The poet has his own intensities, pauses and quiet places. Yet there is nothing vague or confusing. The rhythm follows the poet’s thought and emotion. We should not forget the flexibility of the living language in which the poems were originally rendered. In good poetry, says a famous critic “the sounds of words, the suggestiveness of simple words and of word sequences are linked organically with the rhythm.”
as for example, in ‘A Call’:
“Jump / Into the live seal Of life / 0 divers/ stir the stupor! ”
The sea of life can be a mere amorphous mass if it is not made to yield the treasure of wisdom by thinkers and visionaries. Note the imagery and force of rhythm in it. Look at the colour of imagery the poet uses to bring out the facets of life in ‘A Pair’: “Sandy desert spreads / All around / Like the dying lamp-flame / Brown / Yellow / Palish-green... / Slipping age / At the verge of death! ”
In good poetry one finds “clear and vivid utterance to most subtle and ambiguous feelings and it is the union of clearness of vision and profound ambiguity of the poet’s attitude that gives the poem its power.” This observation is true of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s poesy. To cite an example from ‘A Proclamation’: “I sleep / on the comfortable / soil-bed! / I lose my identity / By fusing with the particles / of this soil! ” The vision is fired with the thought, which in turn is implied in the images of ‘comfortable soil bed’ ‘sleep’ and ‘particles of the soil’. In spite of being personalized, the poems appeal to all, mainly because of the broadness of the theme, the poet has chosen. The duplicity of human behaviour is diagonally opposed to the brutal frankness of death, the inevitable and logical end of the drama of life. attaining peace in keeping one’s self above hate, and in being good. In addition to a lasting theme, economy of words, effective imagery and haunting word music, the poems of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar collected under the title Death-Perception: Life-Perception impress the readers also on account of attractive graphics and special spacing and a symbolic cover design.

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[4]
'Death' in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar
— Prof. D. Murali Manohar

The word ‘death’ is so intimate and at the same time it intimidates every human being. Even if some one were to say that he/she is not apprehensive to death., I don’t agree with that person be him/her a spiritual person or a materialistic person. Every one is panic of death internally and externally, implicitly and explicitly. Philosophers of Greece, Buddhist, and Indian may have discussed on the issue of death.
However, I would like to say that I have been impressed by Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar’s dealing with the issue of death in his poetry originally written in Hindi and also the translator Dr. D.C. Chambial who has translated the poems into English. I am not an authentic person to comment on translation work, however, the translator seems to be clear, intelligible, retaining the originality and above all making sense with the poet’s profound ideas. When everyone knows that ‘death’ is inevitable, why should one be apprehensive about it? What happens if one has fear of death? Mahendra Bhatnagar says:
Fearing death
will make
living
futile!
Weight heavy
dry onerous
pleasure less heart.
If one is preoccupied and obsessed with the fear of death, then he/she will have a miserable life. The living itself becomes futile. He further says that life is meaningful only “when every moment is / free from dread of death.”
Some of us fear about death and some of us contemplate death. Is one successful in contemplating what is death? According to
Mahendra Bhatnagar:
Death?
A question-mark!
To know the mystery
not only difficult
but also
all unknown for man.
Several people have tried to know the mystery of death, however, it has been very difficult to know what it is. It is quite interesting to see the combination of death and God. As one cannot predict how the death embraces a human being, the human being has started believing in God. The feeling is that if one believes in god, the god can give strength to lead a life with out apprehension, fear, and panic of death. Thus, man has started believing in God. As a result, Mahendra Bhatnagar in his poem ‘The Truth’ he says:
If there were no death,
God wouldn’t have any existence;
man
would have never reconciled
with his fate!
The poet seems to suggest that the existence of God and faith prevail, motivate, come into been, enter, only because of the ‘death’ to human beings. The words ‘death’ and ‘faith’ are interrelated. The death of a human being links with the fate. If one were to die in an accident, due to ill health, after a long illness, death-in-life, he/she is associated with the ‘fate’. It is because of his/her fate so and so has been dead in an accident, suffers with ill health and does not die early; some people neither die nor recover from the disease/illness and the feeling develops that it is better to die rather than suffer this way; some people lead a life which is almost like a death.
After having expressed his feeling on living the life with fear is a futile, contemplating of death, existence of god arising due to the concept of death, now he turns to the forms of death. Some of the forms of death here he talks about in the poem entitled ‘Forms of Death’:
But
an act of terminating life
by suicide
or
by murder
or destruction of the ferocious
in self or social defense,
Isn’t a death,
but, a murder.
Though the end, the same
death!
True death or untimely death.
While talking of forms of death, he is interested in pointing out the difference between ‘death’ and ‘murder’. Ultimately both of them lead to the end of life of a human being. In what way the person’s life ends, that is a different matter. In other words, the poet wants to show the difference between ‘true death’ or ‘Ultimate death’ with that of ‘suicide/murder’. He seems to suggest that ‘true death’ is a natural process unlike suicide or murder. Whether one faces hardship in any form or not, one has to face a true death. Though the end of a human life is same but there is a difference in true death and suicide/murder. In other words the poet seems to be in favour of true death rather than in the other forms of death.
After the forms of death, he moves on to the two extremes of human life. If one extreme is life, the other extreme is death thus the title of the poem is ‘Life-Death’. The poet has deeply thought about life and death, the two extremes, and has expressed them in the poem and I would like to show in the following table:
Birth Death
one end the other extreme end
a shore an opposite bank
Why a jubilation? Pain....! Why?
Well shaped completely invisible!
known unknown!
Beginning end
initiation an earthly end!
yes, a being ah! a non-being!
a new dawn a horrendous night!
To continue with the extremes, the poet goes on to dwell with the ideas in yet another poem entitled ‘Experimenting’ with the life, he says:
In man
Wish for life -
Eternal and strongest,
Whereas
The final truth
About every life
Is death!
Yes, end is certainly,
Unavoidable!
Whatever may be the truth of one’s own life, the man always tries to lead and live his life with utmost wish to live ‘eternally’ and ‘strongly’. He/she knows the ultimate truth of one’s own life is ‘death’. The human being tends to forget the ‘truth’ of life. The end of human life is ‘certain’ and ‘unavoidable’. However, the experience of the life is that:
... it is also true -
impatient passion for
Immortality and youth
Will never wane,
Man’s queer valour
Longs for melody,
Not for tears!
In spite of knowing that one has to end up his/her life surrendering to the death in whatsoever form it may be, yet we have impatient passion for ‘immortality’ and ‘youth’ which will never be successful. The poet also says that man’s queer valour longs for a melody but not for tears. Not only that there are few people who:
Every time
Continuous struggle
With the eternal challenge
of death is welcome!
He will be
A mrityunjaya; he will be!
The bold, the brave people always struggle continuously with the eternal challenge, the death. The poet welcomes such people. Generally, people are afraid of death. They do not even talk of it. Even if some one were to talk, they are found fault with talking in such a manner. Those who challenge and fight the death are considered as ‘mrityunjayas’. Some people escape the death very closely and narrowly. Such people are also called mrityunjayas. Mrityunjaya can be seen from accidents, drowning, falling from heights and speeds and fire, to mention only a few.
If some people experiment with life. the other people try to find a meaning in the existence of life. The poet in his poem entitled ‘Meaningfulness’ the poet says that:
Mere living
isn’t a proof of
life’s meaningfulness,
Living -
only helplessness
like death - an exit.
Any human being irrespective of his caste, religion, creed, colour, social status, rich and poor has his/her own life. Can every human being lead a life with meaningfulness? There are human beings who have a mere living without any undertaking of any kind of social activity in their lives. One can’t say that so and so has lived which is a proof for life meaningfulness. He further says what he means by meaningfulness of living a human life. In the same poem he says:
Declaration of
human glory only when
there is perfect peace of mind -
when we give
a new meaning to life,
in pitch dark
open doors
to a world full of lights.
The only reason Mahendra Bhatnagar seems to have a meaning to life is to have a ‘perfect peace of mind’. If a human being has this perfect peace of mind then he can declare that it is a human glory. The peace of mind also results in opening doors to a world full of lights from the life of pitch dark. The poet also says that life shall have selflessness and dedicate one’s life to death. The lines go thus:
Let selflessness
be the motive of our living,
let’s devour materialistic hurdles
at every step.

Let’s acquire
such capabilities,
then
life may be
dedicated to death.

No regret,
no sorrow.
The poet seems to suggest that the life of human being is to be led with selflessness and dedicate the life to death. The motive of human life is to be selflessness but not selfishness. It is easy to preach but it is very difficult to practice. However, this is a challenge to human life. Moreover, he also asks the human beings to devour materialistic hurdles to lead a life of selflessness. The selfishness arises when one is running after materialistic things. He ought to become selfish if he is running after the materialistic things. One can’t be selflessness if one is after the materialistic things. If one were to lead a selflessness life, one has to devour materialistic things and hurdles at every step. This phrase ‘every step’ is very crucial here. While one is trying to achieve selflessness life at every step, one is lured, tempted, influenced, biased by materialistic hurdles. One has to overcome these hurdles at every step. It is not impossible, however, it is extremely difficult. Thus the poet is pleading one and all saying that ‘let’s acquire such capabilities’. If we acquire such capabilities of selflessness, devour materialistic hurdles then the life may be dedicated to death. One will have no hesitation in dedicating life to death. He/She will be very happy to surrender to death and will have ‘no regrets’ and ‘no sorrow’. In other words the life will have fulfilled all the requirements and he/she will have unparallel happiness even after his/her death. After talking of selflessness, the poet now talks about the self-willed persons in the poem entitled ‘A Mirage’. He says:
Self-willed and ambitious
man
runs after money
after pleasures
at the cost of life.
Unlike selflessness persons, self willed and ambitious people run after money. Their whole and sole aim is to earn money as much as they want. They go to any extent in order to earn money. Ambitious people like Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth goes to the extent of killing his own uncle in order to attain the throne. This is one of the best examples of ambitious persons. These people run after money and pleasure at the cost of their own lives. They do not realize that they are taking the risk of their lives themselves. Thus the poet says: ‘How strange / at this queer, dirty intention! ’ This is absolute strange and the dirty intention of people who run after money and pleasure. He calls such a man:
Blind, perplexed, ignorant
Man
Construes money to be supreme
Think pleasure all in all!
He’ll spoil / the precious life,
And will lose life / the gift of God!
The ambitious people naturally become ‘blind’, ‘perplexed’, and also ‘ignorant’ in order to achieve their goals. They consider money as supreme. It is a known fact that money is not everything. Money is not supreme. There are several things apart from money in life. They think money provides pleasure. They forget that the same money can spoil the precious life. This precious life is lost due to longing for money pleasures. It is a gift of god that is lost. Instead of running after the money and pleasure let the man accept the inevitable thing of one’s own life that is death, The poet in his poem entitled ‘The Philosophy of Death’ says:
Death;
When a certainty,
In vain
Why to doubt,
to fear so much!
O, tell death -
‘Come; when you please.’
He talks about the philosophy of human being. Death is a certainty in any human’s life. Why should one be in vain to doubt and to fear so much of death? It is an ultimate end. There is no doubt about it. Moreover, he welcomes death whenever it pleases. He is showing his maturity and crystal clear truth on human life.
After welcoming death, the poet expresses his readiness to face death in his poem entitled ‘To the Fairy of Death’:
O death, come
I am ready!
Never think,
I am helpless.
You will come -
On tip-toes
Surprising
Like a clever girl.

Alright,
Accepted!
My beloved
Your this game
Is welcome!
Come quietly
Come. O death
I’m ready!
He is convinced about death, thus, he says all right and accepted. He is ever ready to face death. He even considers death as his beloved. At the same time he calls the death as a game player. He welcomes this game and expresses his readiness to face death.
After expressing his readiness to face death, he poses an important and pertinent question of believing in god when there is no guarantee of escaping death. He says:
Life-bird!
will fly,
fly away!
Life-bird will fly away!
Why you try so hard,
sing hymns every morn and eve,
nothing is in your control
you bow in every temple...
He uses the bird imagery for life. When he says life bird will fly away he means to say that life of human being ends with the death. When that is so why human beings try so hard to retain their lives? In order to safeguard their lives. He further points out that nothing is in human’s control with regard to death. Although one prays and bows in temple one cannot control his/her death with morning and evening prayers. Whether one prays or not, life will fly away.
However, after questioning the people who have faith in god, ultimately he makes his last salute to death in his last poem of this book entitled ‘Kritkarma’:
Let us
follow in the footsteps
of the departed
to attain the meaning of life,
glorify it.
Take the last salute!
The poet at last acknowledges and requests the humanity to follow the footsteps of the departed humans in order to attain the meaning of life. Moreover, we have to glorify the life by accepting the death and offering a last salute to death.
All in all what the poet is trying to do in his poetry with regard to death is that one has to be bold in accepting the ultimate truth of death with out fear, not to try to chase the mystery of death, believe in god, believe in natural process of death rather than in murder or in committing suicide, realize the difference between life and death, not to question and long for immortality, some may fight with death and become mrityunjaya for a period of time, however, on one or the other day he/she has to face death, pleading to lead a meaningfulness and selflessness lives, never run after money with materialistic comforts and death is certain to all human beings; and be ready for it and make a last salute to death.

. .


[5]
'Death-perception: Life-Perception'
Revealing Reflection
s on Life and Death

— Dr. Atma Ram

Life and death have been a great enigma and mystery for man from time immemorial. Right from the earliest time he has been interested in understanding his existence on the earth as also his departure from here for good. An area of ceaseless adventure and exploration for mystics and common persons — since the two are basic and essential for all.
In 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception', Mahendra Bhatnagar, a veteran academic and mature poet reflects on various aspects of life and death. The anthology comprises 50 poems. As the very titles suggest — 'The Wheel of Life', 'Free from Worry', 'Contemplation', ' Reality', 'The Opposite', 'Life-Death', 'A Mirage', 'A Vow', ' A Call', 'Purpose', 'A Wish', 'A Longing', 'Dreadful', 'The Mode of Death', 'Good-Bye' — to mention a few — Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar recollects or recreates various moods, scenes, sights of life and death in a simple and poetic ways and conveys to the readers their meaning and worth — in his own way, he tries to unravel the enigma of life and death. He begins with a happy note, reveals the struggle and strife, and finely ends with poems of hope and optimism. And more importantly, perceptions of death meaningfully point to perceptions of life. He urges the reader to voluntarily take the last salute, as life has to be lived:
'The end of life —
A stage
Why to bewail?
Let us
follow in the footsteps
of the departed
to attain the meaning of life,
glorify it.
Take the last salute! ' ('Kritkarma')
Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar tries to understand death in relation to life, and life with reference death. Hence the apt title — 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception', the use of a colon in=between; the abundant use of signs of exclamation and interrogation in the entire volume. The 'collection' characteristically begins with 'Gratitude', and 'Gratitude: Again'. Says the poet:
'Death is;
Death is imminent,
Unavoidable —
That's why
Life is so desired!
That's why
There's such a semblance
Between life and death! ' ('Gratitude')
So he has no fear, like say, Keats, when he thinks about his final exit. Death seems to impart beauty and relevance to life. He asserts:
'Death's made life
very beautiful,
Transformed this world
in fact,
into a pleasant heaven.' ('Gratitude: Again')
He holds that life is not mere living. It should constitute a positive, forward outlook to go in for sweetness and light.
'When we give
a new meaning to life.' (Meaningfulness')
Indeed, Dr. Bhatnagar presents in these short songs numerous worthwhile perspectives on life and death, in a style marked by pace, precision and simplicity. He prays for a long, active life dedicated to the welfare of all:
'Yes,
May
We live for
125 years!
For ourselves,
for others.' ('A Prayer')
As often said, it matters not how one dies, what matters is how one lives. Dr. Bhatnagar thus, wants to live meaningfully with zest and zeal, and finally leave the world silently and peacefully — in a way, to make the best of both the worlds. He implies that death is welcome since it is inevitable, life should invariably be led without any fear or doubt, since what is, is. The poet is naturally prepared to embrace both of them. And as the time comes, he contentedly calls it a day, bids happy good-bye to life:
'Adieu!
O the springs of the world
Adieu!
O, the shining moon
The twinkling bright stars
Adieu! ' ('I Bow Thee')
It is a somewhat new kind of approach to life as to death. In general, poets tell about joys and sorrows of life as fears and darkness of death. Or they adopt a philosophical view to delve deep into the labyrinth to extract some viable pattern. But Mahendra's treatment of life and death is unique — he dwells on the usefulness of both and trusts most his own vision and experience. The English-knowing world may find his point of view interesting and enjoyable. No intricacies or complexities referred to; no fear or obscurity to obsess one with. Direct and simple poetic observations, embracing both life and death as they come. The poet knows and knows what he knows — so he is wise and heart-whole. He accepts facts, ripeness is all. And his last will is at once relevant to one and all: 'Follow — good faith and good feelings! ' ('The Last Will')
Some may find the oriental approach to life and death too complex. But the poet here reflects on their numerous aspects so vividly and joyfully. He does not tremble to think. He exhorts and persuades the reader to weigh and consider his viewpoints. Although it is always a challenging task to render Mahendra's poetry in English — we all know, English and Hindi belong to different groups of languages. However, Dr. D. C. Chambial, himself a highly perceptive and discerning poet in English and Hindi, has done a very good job. All along, his endeavor is to embody the spirit of the songs. He has explained, briefly yet adequately, meaning of some Hindi words or ideas in footnotes. His translation gives the flavor and feel of the original. The English version is often as interesting and grippe as the Hindi text. In fact, Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is quite fortunate in getting competent translators for all the seven volumes of his poems. They finely introduce him to a wider readership, nay the world audience; on the subject of eternal and vital significance. At times, the 'translation' may tempt and good the readers to go to the original — so poems and their translation are given side by side. The poet's creative art thus may contribute much to mutual understanding and international peace. After all, all life is one, and the theme dealt with individually concerns one and all. Surely, 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception' is an excellent anthology of poems on motifs that concern us all. The poet's treatment of the subject is both fresh and original. Beautifully printed and impressively brought out, it is a book to be ''chewed and digested''; to be read over and over again. I am confident the English-knowing world will appreciate and welcome this literary venture.
.


[6]
Reflecions on Mahendra Bhatnagar's Philosophy of Death
— Dr. A.K. Chaturvedi

Mahendra Bhatnagar with eighteen published collections of poems to his credit occupies an important place among the distinguished contemporary Hindi poets of India. A poet of high stature, Mahendra Bhatnagar has been widely acclaimed as a versatile genius and literary luminary gifted with in-born poetic competence. A number of his poems have been included in the curricula of a host of Indian universities and school education boards. This article is exclusively based on the contents of the poems that constitute his seventeenth poetic collection titled Death-Perception: Life-Perception.
Death is the last reality of life and marks a great final change. It is conceived as a bitter and ineffably painful experience of life that no living being can escape or avoid howsoever powerful he may be. Like other knotty problems and riddles of life, the riddle of death has occupied the attention of a host of thinkers, poets and dramatists across the globe. Regarded as a serious subject, death has been treated by them in different ways. Some of them have treated it as a cruel enemy, while others have regarded it as a gateway to the other world. Mahendra Bhatnagar's perception of death is worth attention. In his poem Gratitude he holds that there is a co-relation between life and death. If the transicence of life makes death acceptable, the inevitability of death increases the beauty and desiribility of life. Swayed by the attitude of gratitude the poet in his next poem Gratitude: Again gives credit to death for the metamorphosis of this world into heaven and of men into higher beings.
One of the important features of Mahendra Bhatnagar's philosophy of death is a blend of pessimism and optimism. In the poem The Wheel of Death the poet has expressed his pessimistic views about the ferocity of the wheel of death that indiscriminately destroys all animate and inanimate things. The following lines of the poem reveal pessimism:
Cruel is
the wheel of death
very cruel!
Under which
lifeless — living
gradually grinding and changing
every moment, every minute!
This earth rocks horribly!
The poem Contemplation represents poet's pessimistic approach to the riddle of death. The poem begins with a question mark on the rationale of human efforts to know the mystery of death and ends with the pessimistic revelation that:
All efforts futile —
to explicate
the meaning of death;
it's very intricate difficult
to contemplate.
The poet begins the poem Conclusion in a pessimistic mood, but he grows surprisingly optimistic in the last lines of the poem quoted below:
The mystery of death
to be unmasked.... revealed
sure
sure
some day!
The poem Free From Worry reveals poet's keen awakening to the impact of the fear of death on human mind. According to him, talking about death is considered ominous for the reason that the very thought of death makes life dull, burdensome and unworthy of living. While the poem Contemplation represents his negative approach to the enigma of death, the poem The Truth shows that he is very positive in his perception of death. Here (in The Truth) he regards the fear of death as a boon in disguise. He is of the view that if it had not been for the fear of death, the divine attributes like the fear of God and faith in his benign power would have been conspicuous by their absence in human mind. Haunted by the fear of Yama, man turns to God for succour and seeks relief in belief.
The poem Puzzle is interrogative in both form and sense. The universal question as to where soul goes after leaving the body perplexes poet's mind. Under the spell of perplexity and puzzlement the poet utters:
Unknown,
Everything unknown!
A pitch dark night,
Everything
Mysterious!
Death has many forms. It may come in any form at any time. In the poem Forms of Death the poet talks of two forms of death — natural and accidental. Natural death signifies the endless sleep, the cessation of active life and stopping of the palpitation of heart. Accidental death, on the other hand, means the termination of life by suicide or murder. But the final result of both forms of death is always the same. As the poet puts it:
Be death natural
or accidental
conclusion is the same —
end of a conscious life.
Birth and death mark the extreme ends of life. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar has drawn a contrast between them in the poem Life-Death. Questioning the propriety of jubilation at birth and lamentation at death he asks:
Birth:
Why a jubilation?
Death:
Pain...!
Why?
Birth-death
when equal?
Drawing a line of difference between birth and death he writes:
Birth — known,
Death — unknown!
Birth — beginning
Death — end,
Birth — initiation

Death — an earthly end!
Dr. Bhatnagar's views about birth and death are, at places, paradoxical. In his poem The Opposite he holds the view that death is different from birth in that it brings forth a cry or loud lamentation as opposed to birth that causes jubilation. In the next poem Equal the poet puts forth the view that true wisdom lies in treating birth and death as equal.
Extreme pain at the death of a dear and near one is a natural phenomenon. Humans have no option except to bear it. Through his poem Sakhi he suggests reconciliation to the game of death as a palliative. But, this palliative proves ineffective in the case of the untimely death of a child or a young man. That is why the poet in his poem Desire wishes that all children and youngmen should live long. The poem Philosophy of Death presents the essence of poet's perception of death. In the beginning lines of the poem the poet questions the very logic of being afraid of death and suggests that instead of fearing from death man should remain prepared to welcome it with gaiety. He says:
O, tell death —
'Come; when you please.'
At this time
come,
Let's sing and dance!
Play on varied musical instruments!
In the poem titled An Invitation the revolutionary in Mahendra Bhatnagar wakes up all of a sudden and invokes death to come at its appointed time and lead him to hell so that he may unite the victims of the cruelties of Yama and hoist a flag of revolt so as to prepare them for a change in life. How can the dictates of Yama bend those who did not learn to yield to the dictates of the earthly rulers? With his indomitable will the poet vows to lead the sufferers of hell in a fight against the cruel rule of Chitragupta, an official in the court of Yama who keeps record of righteous and unrighteous actions of living beings. His confident and indomitable spirit manifests itself in these lines:
I'll challenge them!
just, let me jump

into the hell-pond!
just, let me mingle
with the huge crowd of
hell-denizens!
The poem To the Fairy of Death presents death as a naughty girl who always prefers to surprise her lover by her sudden appearance. Here, the lover in the poet shows his preparedness not only to welcome death as his beloved but also to happily accept its sudden arrival as a part of its game. Not only this, he restlessly waits for the point of time when he will enjoy the blissful company of death. The following lines show the poet's preparedness to face death gladly:
come
O death, come
I'm ready!
Awaiting you
I've bedecked myself
I'm ready!
Having regard to the femininity of death the poet in his poem A Request extends an offer of his friendship to death and requests it not to be shy of responding to his offer. Here, the poet has personified death as a female friend who likes to be teased and taunted while being accompanied to the land of the dead. The poem titled The End describes death as the cessation of all struggles and activities associated with the journey of life. In the first stanza of the poem the poet raises the question as to where the struggles of life have gone. The following lines of the poem provide a solution to this question with the use of simile:
Everything stood still
The running, jumping, the liquid river water
Everything frozen —
like blood in veins!
Each and every moment of our life leads us to death. No living being can escape the mighty hand of Yama. Human efforts can effect miracles. But when death comes, all efforts fail. The only thing that we can do in the face of death is to reconcile ourselves to its game and it is only herein that true wisdom lies. Weeping over death is absolutely foolish. To bring this fact home the poet writes:
Early or late
all
in an eternal sleep have to fall,
dust unto dust!
O unfortunate!
Then, why to weep?
In the poem Truth the poet compares death to the flight of a bird and declares all human efforts and prayers meaningless in view of the impending disappearance of life-bird with no possibility of its return. In the next poem Preordained the poet espouses the universal truth that the departure of the life-bird is predestined and no power on earth can protect the body from being reduced to ashes. As he puts it:
It is preordained that
You
one day
renouncing name and fair form
will be reduced
to ashes!
Man's fear of death stems from his ignorance of what may happen to him at the time of death and where death may lead him. It is for this reason that he does not want to register in his mind the bitter fact that one day death will detach him from the worldly things that he fears to lose even in dream. But the great saints and poets happily accept this bitter truth and mentally adapt themselves to the conditions death may lead them to. The following lines reveal Mahendra Bhatnagar's inclination to accept death:
O immortal death!
You may consider me
helpless,
end,
I voluntarily
accept you
accept you from body and mind! (A Proclamation)
There is no denying the fact that truth eludes in the beginning and dawns in the end. In the first few poems of 'Death-Perception: Life-Perception' Mahendra Bhatnagar's perception of death is marked with fear and perplexity. Here he regards death as invincible, 'uninterrupted... unchanged' (The Wheel of Death) . Towards the end of this poetic collection poet's fear and apprehension, doubt and delusion disappear and are replaced by the conviction that death can be defeated by following the path taken by the great ascetics like Gautam Buddha. In the poem An Ascetic the poet vents his determination to overcome death by singing 'songs of life at the edge of doom'. Thus, his poetic competence is a weapon in his hand that he intends to use in the fight against his impending death so as to defeat it in the manner a successful warrior defeats his enemies in war.

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Comments about [1] Death And Life by Mahendra Bhatnagar

  • (1/14/2013 11:51:00 AM)


    Dr A K Chaturvedi in his article beautifully describes the reflections of poet's philosophy of death. Dr. Chaturvedi is eligible for appreciation. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, October 2, 2009

Poem Edited: Friday, October 2, 2009


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