Saturday, December 28, 2013

How Sumitranandan Pant Rediscovered Dharma

28th December is the birthday of the late, great poet of India, Sri Sumitranandan Pant.

here is the picture source.

Return from Marxism
Sumitranandan Pant appears to one of many in the Indian artistic and intellectual traditions who were initially drawn into Marxism and communism. However, over time, these thinkers became disillusioned after either seeing through the fraudulence, or the narrow materialist view of the world, and returned to their Indian roots, seeking a deeper and more honest meaning to their life and art. Fellow Jnanapith award winning poet Nirmal Sharma is perhaps another example of a poet who appears to have returned to dharmic roots after dabbling with Marxism.

Quest For Truth
The questions we can ask here is: Did they find a deeper meaning in dharmic India that Marxism failed to provide? If so, what is that? But before we get to that, a seemingly unrelated but important event occurred today. Rajiv Malhotra, author of 'Breaking India' and 'Being Different' landed in India on a trip that will soon launch his latest book:
Indra's Net: Defending India's Philosophical Unity

The connection will become clear shortly.  Let us now return to Sri. Pant's quest for a deeper truth. For that, we turn to this interesting article on Sumitranandan Pant at
"......he was deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda. Another influence was also slowly making an impact on his sensibility. This was Marxism which came through his friendship with P. C. Joshi who later on became the Secretary of the Communist Party of India....Pant was also drawn towards that movement and wrote some immaculate verses about social reality. He, however, soon realised that this movement was committed only to a change in the externals and was indifferent to the urges for a basic change in the sensibility. ...The poet was convinced that it is the duty of the creative artist to unite the external and internal worlds; ... In the first phase of his creative career society was on the margin of his artistic picture while nature occupied the centre. In the second phase of his creative career it was the social reality which advanced towards the centre and occupied it. Nature and soul-stirrings remained there but they were pushed to the margin. Sumitranandan Pant was now on the brink of a new breakthrough which could unite the two worlds into a new harmony through an adequate creative alchemy....

....This breakthrough came through a contact with the famous Indian dancer and artist Udayshankar. Udayshankar had lived for sometime in Almora in Garhwal and an intimacy developed between the two kindred souls. Both became partners of a pilgrimage to search a principle of unity between the outer and the inner worlds. The ballet and other stylized forms of dance also attracted Pant. Udayshankar made a film named Kalpana (Imagination) which interpreted the outer and inner realities through stylized pictures and movements. Sumitranandan was also associated with the making of this picture. This film was made in South India where Pant came into contact with Sri Aurobindo and his philosophy. Sri Aurobindo confirmed many of Pant’s own speculations and the former’s philosophy gave resonance and richness to the ideological residue of Pant’s poetry. Like Sri Aurobindo the poet also believed that true spirituality should not mean a repudiation of external reality. It should irradiate and impregnate the external reality and make it more meaningful and oriented towards God. Sham spirituality should be replaced by true spirituality which takes as its junior partner the social reality. The later poems of Sumitranandan Pant give expression and celebrate the union of the outer and inner worlds....His poems are verbal artifacts containing warm human experience. They are neither intellectual exercises nor philosophical abstractions."

Return to Dharma 
This is an amazing narrative.
1) A poet, disconcerted by the Marxist lack of an inner reality is struck by an Indian dancer/theater artist's remarkable ability to harmoniously bridge the inner and outer realities and depict it effortlessly in art-form, and without any need to reconcile 'conflicts' between the two, and also do so beautifully. How come there is no conflict?

2) The poet, after internalizing Aurobindo's philosophy learns how the inner- and outer-reality co-exist in dharmic harmony. He was able to recognize the integral unity in dharma that was different from the synthetic unity of the west, and not even possible in the materialistic Marxism due to the outright rejection of an inner reality. Perhaps, this was Pant's 'A-ha' moment.

3) Pant was finally able to creatively replicate and incorporate into his poetry, like UdayShankar's artistic dance/theater representation, the dharmic harmony of inner-outer reality. He had elevated his poetry to a higher level and also make it more accessible by tying it to a human experience rather than stopping at either intellectual abstraction or some fuzzy spirituality. This achievement was not a fluke or a one-time thing. It is a classic example of the Bandhu, the correspondence principle of dharma at work, that also gives Hinduism its remarkable anti-fragility. As Rajiv Malhotra writes in 'Being Different':

"Bandhu is a concept used to explain how the whole and the parts are held together in integral unity. All aspects of the world stem from a common ineffable source, and what we perceive as nature is but a pointer to a higher reality. There is interlinking among the various faces of this reality, such as sounds, numbers, colours and ideas, and this interlinking is bandhu.... 

.... Not only does each discipline presume this unity; so does the relationship among disciplines. All the arts and sciences are interrelated and may be seen as manifold ways in which human nature, itself an emanation of cosmic unity, expresses itself. One discipline contains and reflects the others. Delving deeply into any one of them eventually leads to similar integral principles and structures..."

... Bandhu accounts for the survival of dharmic spirituality, for even when certain disciplines and practices were destroyed, other disciplines encoding the same principles survived and helped revive the overall tradition."

.... Natya Shastra treats Natya as the total art form, including representation, poetry, dance, music, make-up, and indeed the whole world. It is an organic and integral view encompassing the vedic rituals, Shaivite dance and music, and the epic tales..."

Integral Unity

Thus, the principle of Bandhu breathed a new and refreshing life back into Sumitranandan Pant's poetry. He was able to seamlessly integrate his social realities and nature/atma-stirring ideas into verse. These 'realities' was like a jewel that reflected the shine of the other, like those in Indra's Net, as Rajiv Malhotra further notes in his book 'Being Different':

"The conceptual matrix of Integral Unity is illustrated in the metaphor of Indra's Net ... which symbolizes a universe with infinite dependencies and relations interwoven among all its members, none of which exists apart from but only in the context of this collective reality..."

Now this is a genuinely 'holistic' (or holographic) view.

Indra's Net
The unity in diversity in dharmic India is truly integral, unlike the brittle, synthetically fused versions of unity that we see are slowly falling apart in western and middle-eastern countries as their immigrant diversity increases.  Unfortunately, external forces either opposed to or seeking to gain leverage over India (read 'Breaking India' for full details) appear to have zeroed-in on the critical role played by this integral unity in ensuring the long-term survivability of India. India's last line of defense must be defended at multiple fronts. Rajiv Malhotra's new book may tells us more.

No comments:

Post a Comment