in the Modern Mode:Poems and Essays
selection of seventeen poems by twelve contemporary Marathi poets,
chosen by S.S. Bhave and translated and annotated by A.R. Kelkar,
is presented first, so that the reader may deal directly with the
poetry. This selection is followed by an essay by Bhave, linking the poems
to age-old Hindu ideas. A response by Kelkar challenges some of Bhave’s
statements and widens the perspective to one which goes beyond Indian/Hindu
poetry. Bhave, with his stress
on the strength of tradition, has the last word. The result of this
“coda” is not only the presentation of traditional Hindu ideas in
modern Marathi poetry but also insight into the differing attitudes
and interests of two contemporary Maharashtrian intellectuals.
Although Kelkar and Bhave originally prepared “Bhakti in the
Modern Mode” for this volume, we gave permission for slightly different
versions of it to appear in Vagartha 21, (1978): 13-39, and
in the South Asian Digest of Regional Writing 6(1973):3-28.
Bhave’s death on October 5, 1986, as this volume was being
edited has unfortunately brought an end to Kelkar and Bhave’s dialogue
(E.Z. and M.B.)
Hardness in Me Break2
the hardness in me break,
the sourness clear from my mind,
let my voice sing
notes of my love for you.
the taint in my known
your seeds in the unknown
of my inspiration.
my freedom extend
to speaking forth,
the letters intone the shape3
forth by your lungs
the greed of my tongue burn,
all hatred freeze, and
the quality of Draupadi herself 4
the body of my speech.
the me-centered meanness vanish,
all into my embrace,
my feeling rival the test
my ambition vaunt of
pillars of your virtue, 5
my ambition throb to
beats spoken by your heart.
my hands feel for and grasp
rudder of your remembrance,
great patience pervade my temper
itself for the great effort
by the desire for you,
by the devoid of luck,
by my eyes
my eyelids in vigil.
me the courage, the humility
all that I must,
my intellect bend
take through the senses
impact of the world,
burn to the core for that
lies beyond the senses.
are the master of meaning:
beggar is but the bearer of the word.
asking knows no end
the giver is the Lord
what possibly can I ask for?
possibly can you give?
world where you alone are the giver
you yourself the taker!
heart Fills to the Brim6
the heart fills to the brim
sweat is wrung from the body
words take the bit – thy bit,
digs firmly into their flesh,
may this sinful hand
some white on black –
then! Else, the selfsame
writ on white!
Thy Stone-still Brow7
I not hurled names at thee? Even so
prostrate to thy feet,
laid low I look thee
eyes, letting my eyes scald.
was the earth born? And
did the blue fumes jell
did this stillness
with mind joined to mind?
blue champak might bloom
of a blue conduit of fire
a bed of sensings
feelings from the joined consciousness –
hapless one sears his
feet over the coals
the distress? Will the sky
low? I’ll live on, afire,
they stone-still brow
before my eyes the least little!
I not hurled names at thee? Even so
prostrate to thy feet,
laid low I look thee
eyes, letting my eyes scald.
Five Red Hibiscus Flowers9
across five red hibiscus flowers
greeted me: Aren’t they
And luscious? I mean
cups I’ve filled among these trees.
wounds of Jesus came to my mind10
honey welling up from them:
saw my mind thrilled
the Cross drenched in fragrance and nectar.
from Mother’s Home to Find11
back from Mother’s home to find
my man gone I dunno where
my belongings mud
my children gone their separate ways.
line’s all open leaving
on a limb, a lightning tree
the endless sky.
here or there: but their caresses
hug in the air.
the blue sky
the quiet sea.
are led away
abides in me
the Laps spends the Night15
on the lips
name is Hari
this maid of the forest16
livelong night, saying Hari.
in the heart
of the heart
else? The same Hari
flowering maid of the forest17
livelong night, the flame in the heart
of the limbs
Radha, maid of the forest
livelong night, limb by limb
house this, but it’s yours
it bright and strong and fair!
day I felt it was mine
the blind sway of self,
guard at the doors
me in from surrender!
heart of hearts I now see
but of your retinue,
riches of life within
but a shaft of your glory!
glory that fills the stars
lights up night and day
brings life to this earth –
of which lights me indoors!
blooms in the flowers, thunders from the clouds,
down the river, blows in the winds –
same being of yours abides here,
of mine, it’s but your temple!
here either grandeur or splendour:
throne stands within all the same,
here a moment, call it your own
songs bloom songs over the void within!
dark recess for a moment
up the pure flame,
up the walk that’ll bear
shadow as long as they stand!
god’s sake pull
covers over my legs,
don’t you, Lord, let
feast on this life
in your hands
moments writ to my account
for the water of mercy,
quilt, Lord, is held
by seams threaded
blood of Jatayu22
by some lone vein,
in this tangled skein
to get lost –
out these cupped hands
make a clean sweep,
be then some time, Lord,
quit the travelling bed
on my way.
Paths of Lightning24
1. Down the paths of lightning tumble the moments free,
Through the darkness plunges the arrow unknown
come to your house down the paths of lightning25
precise moment when cosmic knowledge strikes
hammer away at themselves,
lifebreaths escape into the storm.
come to your house seeing it all,
the burden of a mind.
2. Let one come to your house down the paths of lightning
That are seen for a moment from the darkness
It’s not for the feeble voice to sustain the notes
past the spheres of the compass
rather come to your house wreathed in rivulets,
into dust the while
all streams of melody are lost,
not for anyone to bear the pity of it.
come to your house on the crest of the melody
the doors of desire
spirit expend itself in a burst of surrender
cosmic know come undone
3. Down the darkness plunges the arrow unknown
in the driving patter of melodic feet
up in the enveloping moistness is my mind
come to your house down a different path
by a different malaise
the sands the cloud-shade-water
brim ablaze, the fire within
measure my steps
the path of deliverance:
of the Cosmic Ovum
of snow –
on either side
in Sorrow, Fills with Sorrow29
begins in sorrow, fills with sorrow,
may stay to the end for aught I know and care.
body burns on the pyre to see the others through.
and dear ones too keep their distance
gathering rosebuds turns out to be a chore
life’s burden weighing you down –
the eyes shutting the darkness in.
my farmland –30
the trees spread me a bed of roses.
art the retreat
of Pandharpur. 33
Not My Mind34
fear touches not
I walk around and who walks around with me,
the one that walks men around
one has his own pace, treads his own soil.
on their lips may be Krishna, Buddha, Christ
the One they’re about.
who bring down the wall, build up the wall
in Berlin or in China
end it is the word alone that lives,
goes for me too only when I write a poem,
alone am I truly living.
I Am Not around Here These Days38
I am not around here these days
I do drop in once in a while –
of course, I have my folks
I must say I find it difficult to keep track of things
I am not around here these days –
do I live? You ask
you don’t know!
it’s possible you don’t
visits that town –
so big – the house hasn’t got any walls.
Yes, the ceiling of it is and isn’t
threshold of the same sort
crosses the threshold
river play moon and starlets.
must have seen the flowers discarded after p£j¡
at the water’s edge – I’m among them somewhere
– well, and in the fresh dreams of the flowers.
I have company
d’you call him – sure, he has a name
thread is giving way slowly –
the throat, which is just finding its freedom.
has come up to my lips – shall I?
of the time when the Katyayani Vrata was performed in the Yamuna:39
have long been the Kadamba branches
the anatarp¡¶ – s¡vadh¡n!
into the blue song
down the blue river – along with the discarded flowers.
not around here these days
I do drop in once in a while
Holy sepulcher of Shri Dhyaneshwar42
blue void of the sky
Tumbara, the clouds scattered
is the halo brought on by the Gandharvas43
plays by himself
is the devout Vaishnava throng
of the drum has ebbed away
The v¢¸¡ strings stand still, as do the cymbals
are back in their homes
stays, the petal withers
is the rib in the withered skein.44
Thanks are due to the poets and their heirs who were generous
with their permission and to those who commented on the translations
and offered suggestions (Borkar, Rege, sawant, Bhave on their respective
work and Nissim Ezekiel, Vrinda Nahar, James Beveridge, Maxine Berntsen,
Eleanor Zelliot, Vinay Hardikar, and Bhave on the translations of
Modern Marathi Poetry :
These poems are not just modern but contemporary, spread over
the last twenty-five years or so.
“Modern poetry” in Marathi is about a century old.
Marathi critics generally date it from the poet Keshavsut [1866-1905]. Earlier Marathi poetry – in contrast to modern
– is (it is held) renunciatory, other-worldly, spiritual, and devotional.
The British connection brought people into contact with values
like liberty, equality, and fraternity.
With them came also rationalism, secular humanism, nationalism,
the integrity of the individual, love of nature, the dignity of womanhood,
and social reform. “Modernity” for navmtv¡d as it is sometimes called in Marathi came
to be identified with the composite of all these values. The Marathi
poetry of the last hundred years is modern or navmatv¡d¢ according to
A finer exploration of the century’s poetry, however, would
not wholly bear out this assessment.
True, modern values gradually “arrived” and modernity was recognized
as important. But the older values were by no means displaced, and
did not suffer any real loss of prestige.
There has been a constant effort to achieve a synthesis of
the two value systems, to accept the new without destroying the old,
indeed to accommodate the new within the older framework.
This urge was in evidence in the poetic personality of Keshavsut
cherished the notion of advaita (non-duality), the interpenetration
of prak¤ti and purush (the female principle of passive knowingness).
Not too different is the pull underlying these lines of Kusumagraj:
But then comes to mind (rousing even longings)
The still small lamp flame near the hearth.
The union of the individual
person and the Cosmic Person, the sense of one’s own incompleteness,
and other such older ways of thought are still very much there. The simple and direct expression of these beliefs – bhakti,
in other words – is apparent in the poems of all the following major
Marathi poets of this century – Keshavsut, Narayan Waman Tilak (a
Christian minister), Vinayak, Balakavi, Govindagraj, Tambe, “Bee,”
Yashvant, Madhav Julian, Savarkar, Anil, Kusumagrja, and Borkar.
The poetry written after the Second World War accepted the
revolutionary lead of B.S. Mardhekar and is held to be even more modern
than the earlier poetry. This is not to be denied. One can certainly
characterize the “new” modern poetry (navkavit¡) in terms of a revolt against established values, a
stance against the tradition (even against the notion of tradition
itself), an excessively individualist view of life, a need to take
a stand against any sort of establishment, and an acute sense of frustration
engulfing any sort of optimism.
One wouldn’t have been surprised to have found no room for
the old bhakti theme in this new modernity.
But, notably, the devotional theme of the Indian tradition
has a place in this poetry. Let’s go over the selected poets and poems.
Each poet has made a reference, mostly direct, to God or Hodhead
– Lord (mur¡rÌ),
by Mardhekar; Jesus, by Borkar; Hari, by Rege; Lord (prabh£), by Arati Prabhu; Dyaneshwar, by Arun
Kolatkar. Then there is a direct address (the Marathi t£) in the poems of Muktibodh, Kusumagraj,
Chitre, and Sawant. Sawant
also specifically speaks of Him (the Marathi to). Borkar has an indirectly
suggestive mention: Mother’s home (m¡her),
i.e., God’s house. Padma alludes
to Krishna’s Katyayani Vrata games.
Mahanor sees Godhead in his farmland (r¡n).
The wholeness of God, the less-than-wholeness of oneself, and
consequently the hoping for and begging of divine grace – these are
the three important constituents of bhakti. And they are all there
in these poems to a greater or lesser extent.
Let the quality of Draupadi herself
Grace the body of my speech
These lines are from a
Mardhekar poem that has all the three elements.
It goes on to say:
You are the master of meaning:
This beggar is but the bearer of the word.
Lines which are not too
different from the seventeenth-century saint-poet Tukaram’s :
Breaking into the storehouse –
All this is the Lord’s property –
Me but a lowly porter
The poem is overfull of
the sense of the less-than-wholeness of oneself – one has only to
look at the harsh words Mardhekar hurls at himself:
hardness, sourness, taintedness, greed, hatred, meanness, vaunting
ambition, and (in the third poem) haplessness.
In contrast, Muktibodh speaks of God’s wholeness as:
Your bondless glory
(Glory is what the Almighty
has – aishwarya (lordship) is the attitude of Ishwar.) Kusumagraj refers to the body as earth house.
Arati Prabhu expresses an acute sense of the tangled skein
and the abject hunger of existence, as does Dilip Chitre of the feeble
voice. Mahanor speaks of life’s sorrow and burden. Padma has chosen the image of discarded flowers,
and Sawant spots the soil on everyone’s feet.
The essential worthlessness of this world and the worth of
union with God – or at least some treasured moments of realization
“in this very body, with these very eyes” (in Tukaram’s phrase); life
as the progressive winning over (s¡dhan¡)
of this goal; the need of God’s grace to fulfill and complete this
progress – this characteristic spiritual progression of the Indian
tradition can be seen in the poems selected.
Arun Kolatkar writes:
The fever of the drum has ebbed away.
The drum (m¤idang) is the earth (m¤id) that is body (anga). The
ebbing of the fever of m¡y¡ (the magical illusion-creating energy)
marks the fulfillment of s¡dhan¡, the liberation from the hold of illusion.
Make it bright….
Tarry here a moment…
Such is the prayer of
Even so I ccome prostrate to thy feet…
So confesses Mardhekar. Chitre has neatly expressed the traditional
devotional image in
Let the spirit expand itself in a burst of surrender
And the cosmic knot come undone.
The power of surrender
(l¡ch¡rÌt shaktÌ) is very much in the spirit of the medieval Marathi saint-poets.
The bhakta (devotee) is the child – nay, the bade. God is mother.
Wherein does the power of the baby lie?
In its total dependence on the mother.
What is left for the baby to do?
To express openly and unreservedly this powerlessness, to send
out a piercing howl without budging an inch, eyes shut tight and mouth
stretched wide. The mother runs down, picks it up, clasps it to her bosom. And she
is doing no favour to the baby. It’s
her duty. It’s the baby’s privilege – this is bhakti, Marathi style.
Chitre’s poem is in august company. Grace wants
The doors of the Cosmic Ovum
To open. That can’t be
so long as the worldly bond has not snapped.
The silk thread is giving way slowly
To realize this image
of Padma’s is also to recall another breaking of the thread – the
seventeenth-century sage, Ramdas’s
For God’s friendship’s sake
May I break with the near ones.
The realization and the approach to realization – as described
in these poems – is quite in line with the bhakti tradition.
Rege hints at the experiential progression in “Wooing…Flowering….Blooming.”
The robes have long been draping the kadamba branches
I am turned into the blue song
The trees spread me a bed
To the brim ablaze, the fire within
So runs Chitre’s line
Me out on a limb, a lightning tree
this is Borkar’s variation;
I look thee
in the eyes letting my eyes scald
Such is the searing experience
of Mardhekar, who has felt the power of that moment in:
Then may this sinful hand
Work some white on black-
Suffice it, I should think.
Exploring the expanding circles of meanings through all these
poems is letting oneself in for unending delight.
But that’s not what this essay is for.
The point, the question rather, is: why does this traditional
bhakti theme appear in this ultra-modern poetry? Mardhekar, Borkar,
Kusumagraj, and Muktibodh belong almost to the same generation, but
nobody can accuse them of belonging to the same school! – the individualistic,
pessimistic Mardhekar; the socialistic, radical Muktibodh; the incorrigibly
romantic Borkar; the idealistic Kusumagraj. The generation of Chitre, Khanolkar, and Sawant
is again a different story. Padma,
Arun Kolatkar, and P.S. Rege do not admit of any labels. With all
these differences, what is the source of this common affinity with
the bhakti tradition?
It is not for me to offer a complete answer – or even to choose
from among the varied answers that might be forthcoming from sociologists,
social psychologists, or ethnologists.
May be I can, however, suggest one for consideration – something
“felt” along the way, so to speak.
I think that, broadly, almost to a man, the Indian consciousness
has remained just where it has been for centuries.
It accepts the idea of the other world, rebirth, the fruit
of karma of past births, karma, God, nonduality, renunciation, s¡dhan¡,
realization, liberation. Indeed
these ideas are ingrained in it.
Howsoever the context of life may later, howsoever modern it
may become, the Indian preserves his detachment.
Once the life here is taken to be secondary, unreal, something
to be quickly gotten through, one cannot really be excited about changes
in it. Maturity in age and attitude only confirms an Indian in this wisdom.
Wisdom – am I not begging the question in so calling it? Wisdom or folly, knowledge or ignorance – who can say? A comparison with other peoples and times may
be to our disadvantage. But
then which other attitude can support an individual into self-sufficient
contentment irrespective of circumstance and society?
None that I know of.
Translated by Ashok Kelkar
A Response to Sadashiv Bhave’s Essay
It may seem curious that Bhave repeatedly speaks of the Indian
tradition consisting of a worldview and a simple and direct expression
of it in bhakti. This, for him as for us, provides perspective for
bhakti in contemporary Marathi poetry. But the perspective needs to
be broadened further.
It is not so much a question of a pedantic correction, namely
for “Indian” read “Hindu,” for are not all the poets selected Hindus
(in any case for census purposes)?
In point of fact, Bhave does mention the pre-contemporary modern
Marathi poet Narayan Waman Tilak, born a Hindu and converted to Protestant
Christianity, and Jesus, who makes his appearance in one of Borkar’s
poems. (Sadanand Rege is another
contemporary Marathi poet who uses the Christ theme without being
a Christian. One may also
recall the Indian Sufis or premam¡rgÌ (path
of love) bhaktas among Muslims).
Indeed, “Hindu” may not be enough of a correction to satisfy
the exact historian. After all Bhave’s account of the worldview
is unmistakably Vedantic, and Vedanta is not the whole of Hinduism
despite popularized accounts of it.
Hinduism is not a “book faith” (to borrow a convenient Greek
complex of myth, ritual, philosophy, and morals which impinges on
the life of a family or rather a person.
PAGE NO. 316 & 317 MISSING
worldly bonds. The sense of anxiety has religious intimations,
but not necessarily religious consequences.
A second and perhaps more important point has already been
hinted at when I spoke of Borkar and Sadanand Rege “using “ the Christ
theme. Sawant’s lines are quite explicit:
In the end it is the word alone that lives,
That goes for me too: only when I write a poem
Then alone am I truly living
Here is a poet using the
religious perspective for a poetic purpose, and not a s¡dhak (religious seeker) using the poetic stance to convey
a spiritual quest. The important
thing is that one cold read Muktibodh’s poem as a mood poem and Chitre’s
poem as a love poem. One doesn’t
have to, but one could. But
this already means that one doesn’t have to read either of them as
a religious poem, though one certainly could and Bhave obviously has.
The modernist poets in Marathi pointedly reject a good deal
of the inter-war poetry, which is their immediate heritage, as factitious
and recognize a true lyricism in the medieval bhaktas – it
is a poetic rather than a religious affinity.
To write a bhakti poem in the modernist mode is perhaps to
write a modernist poem in the bhakti mode.
Of course contemporary modernist Marathi poetry has many other
modes; and Bhave of course is not denying that in confining his attention
to a specially-made selection out of it.
A Response to Ashok Kelkar’s Response
“Indian” of course is not an exact rendering of bh¡ratÌya
(or of belonging to Bharat) in my original Marathi version. (The Constitution
of India, to be sure, speaks of “India, that is Bharat.”) “Bharatiya”
reminds us, as “Indian” does not, of the Hindu tradition. Buddhists,
Jains, Muslims, Christians, nay, even the Marxists, of today’s Indian
cannot help partaking of it – they are all Hindu-Bharatiya at heart.
What is to be a Hindu-Bharatiya?
What does it involve? Chiefly,
the accepting of the other world as well as this world, the attempt
to reconcile the two. But between the two, the other world comes
first. Brahman and
are both real, but Brahman is the ultimate Reality, m¡y¡
being the provisional reality. This
ultimate/provisional duality has best been resolved into a unity in
the Vedanta of non-duality (advaita).
In the world of Hindu thought Advaita Vedanta is themost dominant. In Maharashtra, moreover, all the bhakti sects,
with the exception of the Mahanubhavs, are Advaita Vedantist and Veda-accepting.
And the Mahanubhavs were never accepted by the Marathi people,
whos e aversion to them became evident as early as the latter half
of the fourteenth century. Not only is bhakti in Maharashtra Vedantist,
but many other sects have been either brought into the bhakti fold
or have disappeared. Dnyaneshwar
brought the Nath Sect into the Varkari fold in the thirteenth century,
and Eknath the Datta sect in the sixteenth century.
The Ramdasi sect of the seventeenth century had no future after
the death of its founder, Ramdas.
The highway of the Varkari sect has always remained the most
frequented ever since the thirteenth century.
I should account for this fact on the following lines:
The unification of the Shaivas and the Vaishnavas in the Varkari sect
– thanks to Dnyaneshwar, its thirteenth-century founder – constituted
To see God, Vithoba, in the image of a mother is the distinctive feature
of bhakti in Maharashtra, which saved into from the excesses and the
morbid possibilities of madhur (sweet) bhakti which sees God in the
image of the beloved.
Another feature of bhakti in Maharashtra is the wonderful reconciliation
of the spiritual and the temporal.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the saints’ way
of seeing the practical life as but an aspect of the spiritual was
innovative. Besides, this came in handy for coming to terms with the
Islamic invasion. Even Savta Mali, the humble gardener, could declare:
radishes, greens –
all mother Vithoba to me:
To spiritualize the practical life, to think of the allotted
necessities of life as form of s¡dhan¡ – this bold step did not remain limited
to Dnyaneshwar in the thirteenth century. That everybody, a goldsmith, a tailor, a barber, a lowly Mahar,
a humble serving maid, even a Muslim Varkari, came to realize this
difficult abstraction is as much a token of the prior dissemination
of advaita Vedanta to all strata of the Hindu-Bharatiya society
as it is of Dnyaneshwar’s achievement.
So, when the Advaita insight (dny¡n)
of Dnyaneshwar was joined to the passion for God’s name (n¡m) in Namdev in Maharashtra, the way
of bhakti proved to be not only the easiest way but the chief way
– the Varkari sect becoming the principal vehicle.
Naturally, in Maharashtra no less than in the rest of Bharat,
the bhakta is no mere bard dreaming of union with God.
In his personal life he is a social worker. This two-fold urge
is as present in the poetry of Keshavsut in the nineteenth century
as in the contemporary poetry of Kusumagraj or Muktibodh.
Mardhekar’s poetry presents a clear retreat from the twofold
stance, but most of the contemporary intellectuals of Maharashtra
display this dual stance in their critical activity.
So, therefore, the quivering unease of modernist Marathi poetry
relates not only to the artist’s restlessness but also to the Hindu-Bharatiya
tradition. That’s why it is not possible to read Chitre’s
poem as a simple love poem there
are word-images in that poem that definitely transcend the sentiment
Bal Sitaram Mardhekar (1909-56) was a poet, critic, and literary theorist
who also wrote novels and operetta.
2. From Ë¸khÌ khÌ kavit¡ (Bombay: Mauj, 1951):3-5.
3. “Intone the shape”: the original word is k ¡k¡r “shape,” whose other sense, “the vowel aa,
often used by singers to sustain a note,” is also relevant here.
4. “Draupadi”: the wife shared by the Pandavas who won the
Mahabharata war; in a famous episode Dushshasan tries to disrobe her,
but Krishna covers her nakedness in answer to her prayer; she is fiery
in speech and purpose (in consonance with her birth from the sacrificial
5. “Virtue”: the original word tap (Sanskrit tapas)
means power, especially power accrued through single-minded austerities:
the element of penance or self-mortification may or may not be present.
6. From Ë¸khÌ khÌ kavit¡ : 1.
7. From Mar·hekar¡ncÌ kavit¡ (Bombay:
Mauj, 1959): 160-61
8. Balkrishna Bhagavant Borkar (1910-84) was a poet and speaker.
He also wrote personal essays and a novel.
He wrote both in Marathi and his native Konkani and translated
9. From Caitrapunav (Bombay: Mauj, 1970):84
will be recalled that the stigmata marking Jesus’ wounds were five
11. From Caitrapunav, 1970:17.
12. Shankarachandra Madhav Muktibodh (1921-85) was a poet, novelist,
and Marxist critic, he was the younger brother of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh,
who wrote poetry in Hindi.
13. From Y¡trik,
14. Purushottam Shivram Rege (1910-78) was a poet, novelist,
short story writer, literary theorist, playwright, and economist.
15. From Priy¡l
(Bombay: Mauj, 1972):73
16. “Maid” theoriginal word gauri means “the fair-skinned maid,”
also an epithet of the mother goddess.
17. “Flowering”: the original word phulavit refers to
the flowering of a bud as well as the growth of a flame.
18. Kusumagraj (Vishnu Waman Shirwadkar, b.1912) is a poet,
playwright, novelist, and speaker.
19. From Kin¡r¡ (Pune: Deshmukh, 1952):75
20. Arati Prabhu (Chintamani Tryambak Khanolkar, 1930-76) was a poet
and song writer, a novelist, short sotry writer, and playwright.
21. From Jogav¡
(Bombay: Mauj, 1959):39
22. “Jatayu”: the vulture in the R¡m¡ya¸a that fights courageously by himself
for Rama against Ravana.
23. Dilip Purushottam Chitre (b.1939) is a poet, translator of poetry
from and into Marathi, critic and commentator, dramatist, filmmaker,
and writer of short stories and literary travelogues.
24. From Kavit¡
(Bombay: Mauj, 1960):40
25. “Your”: this poem could also be read as a love poem.
26. Grace (Manik Godghate, b.1937) is a poet who has also edited
literary reviews and written personal essays.
27. From Sandhy¡k¡lcy¡ kavit¡ (Bombay: Popular,
Dhondo Mahanor (b.1942) is a poet who also collects folklore when
he is not tending his farm.
29. From R¡n¡tly¡
30. “My farmland”: the original word r¡n also means woodland in other contexts,
a farmland may have trees in it.
31. Vasant Ladoba Sawant (b.1935) is a poet and the author of a forthcoming
study of the Marathi travelogue.
32. From Svastik (Bombay: Popular, 1973):52-53
33. “Pandharpur”: with its temple of Vithoba, it is the City
of God visited by the Vaishnava pilgrims of Maharashtra.
34. From Svastik:53.
35. “Sandalwood”: yields a lasting fragrance as it is ground
to a paste, which is applied to the icon in a p£j¡.
36. From Svastik:78-80; this is the fifth out of the six stanzas
in the original.
37. Padma (Padmavati Gole, b. 1913) is a poet.
38. From Ëk¡shve·i
(Bombay: Mauj, 1968):67.
39. “Katyayani Vrata”: allusion to an episode narrated in the
Bh¡gavata pur¡¸a; the Gopis are bathing in the Yamune on a religious occasion
of this name, Krishna playfully makes away with the milk-maids’ clothes,
hangs them on a nearby Kadamba tree, and watches their discomfiture
from the tree as he plays the flute.
40. “The antarp¡¶”:
the cloth held curtain-like between the bride and the groom by the
priests reciting the wedding mantras, whose refrain is s¡vadh¡n!
(alerting the couple and the others that the two are entering into
the blessed union)
41. Arun Kolatkar (b.1932) writes poetry inMarathi and English and
translates Marathi poetry (some of it his own) into English, he is
also a graphic artist.
42. From Aru¸ Kola¶karcy¡ kavit¡ (Bombay: Pras, 1977):49.
43. “Gandharvas” : the court singers of Indra, the god of thunder,
Tumbara being one of them. The
rishi Narada, along with Tumbara, sings in attendance on Vishnu. The Gandharvas beclouded thenight sky to deceive
Pururavas into losing Urvashi.
44. Dnyaneshwar had himself immured, sitting in a trance. The
refers to the mystic trance and metonymically to the holy sepulcher
where a sany¡si is buried. (Sany¡sis are not cremated.)
There is a tradition that he urged the poet Eknath in a dream
to disentangle from his bones the roots of the tree planted on the
spot. Eknath, who did so, also edited the next text
the poetic exegisis of the BhagavadÌgt¡.
This was published in: Experience of Hinduism: Essays on religion in Maharashtra. Ed. Zelliot, Eleanor; Bernesen, Maxine. Albany. NY : State University
of New York Press, 1988. (Indian ed. Delhi : Indian Book Centre).
P.297-320. The volume was a tribute to the Late Irawati
This was published earlier in 1978 (V¡gartha
April). 1985 (in Marathi, Navbh¡rat).