Classic Poetry Series. Harivansh Rai Bachchan. - poems -. Publication Date: Publisher: (romantic upsurge) of early 20th century Hindi literature. He was. translation of Shri Bachchan's Hindi poems, Ihesitated. This was not in my line at Harivansh Rai Bachchan, arguably the most loved poet in. Hindi living, has. Hindi Poet:Harivansh Rai Bachchan,Hindi Poems of Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Collection of Harivansh Rai Bachchan Hindi Indian Poems.
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A Hindi Poet from Allahabad: Translating Harivansh Rai Bachchan's Autobiography Author(s): Rupert Snell and Harivansh Rai Bachchan Source: Modern Asian. The poet known to the Hindi literary world as 'Bachchan' was born as 'Harivansh Rai' in to an Allahabad Ka¯yasth family. His given name derived from a. Harivansh Rai Bachchan needs no introduction; his writings are considered to be a landmark in Hindi literature. A rebellious poet who.
George Macbeth ed. Thus on the seventhday of the seventh monthof , Bachchantakes his leave. Posthumous conferral — — — — — — — I recall anotherincidentwhenthe sub-committee on non-scientificvocabu- lary,chairedbythe poet Dinkar,was discussingthe translationof the term 'Customs House Officer'. There was a wholegroupof poets fromKanpurwhowrotekavitt verses;Navinji,thougha Kanpuriyahimself, kept aloof from them. The expression kamdnkarna 'to command' in the context of a universitytraining corps not only delivers a clear meaning through a widely understandable English loanword lightlyIndianized by dropping the final -d , but also man- ages to suggest a militarycontext throughassociation with the Hindi word meaning 'bow'.
His autobiography tellsofa close personalfriendship witha boyhood neighbour, Karkal, and of Karkal's untimely death aftercontracting a fever;we also learn of Bachchan'sintimateconnectionwithKark- al's widowChampa. This relationshipis adumbratedbythe following fromthetranslated Quotations textare fromHarivansh Rai Bachchan, In the ofTime: RupertSnell Delhi, PenguinBooks, This content downloaded from Champawas a fair,willowy girl,herbodyslenderlikea goldencane; her facehadno easy-going cheerfulness,noneoftheflightiness thatis admired in girlsofherage,buta languorous look-perhapsbornoftherepressive controlofherfoster-mother-which seemedto cravesympathy whilealso being keen to bestowit on others.
Yet perhaps thecircumstancesin which I first seteyeson Champaconcealedhertrueform, whichI was to see two or threemonths laterwhenshewas sitting on thelowparapetoftheroof terraceoverlooking MohanChacha'shouse,wearinga lightbluesari,free ofjewellery or adornments. Immediately belowin MohanChacha'scourt- yardtherestooda lasoratreewhoseupperbranchesoverspread the roof whereshe sat, and whosehalf-open foliageseemedto imitateher own incipientbeauty.
At thattimeI lackedthewordstodescribeit: The intimate descriptionof Bachchan's relationshipfirstwith Karkal and thenwithChampa is remarkableforits candour;while leavingmuchto be read betweenthe lines,the accountofthe friend- shipwithKarkal has led the Hindi criticNamvarSingh2to reckonit the firstpublishedconfessionin Hindi of a homosexualrelationship.
HarivanshRai's subsequent marriageto Shyama ended tragically with her illness and death, an event which cast a long and dark shadow over the young poet. He used his familyendearmentof 'Bachchan','littleone' derivingfrombacca'child' , to sign his lyric poems,notingthat 'I accepted the pet name myparentscalled me byas a child,and used it formywritingcareer,despitethe factthat a terse,unimpressiveand domesticname such as "Bachchan" had littleresemblanceto the literaryand mellifluous-sounding appella- tions that writersgenerallyaspired to in those days.
Other formativeexperiencesincluded close contactwiththe sharperend of the independencemovement, specificallythose figuressurroundingthe writerand revolutionary Yashpal.
Bachchan'sengagementherewas morepersonalthanpolit- 2 In a personalcommunication. Falling under the spell Fitzgerald'sOmar Khayyam,Bachchan of translatedit intoHindi,and in the same year,, wrotehis own poem Madhusald,'The House of Wine',3the workwhichestablished his reputationas a poet whose impassionedkavisammelan recitals attractedmassivecrowds. In the early s a combinationof cir- cumstancestook Bachchan to Cambridgewhere he wrote a Ph. Henn in St Catherine's.
Bachchan is oftendescribedas the firstIndian to take a Ph. His researchincludeda spell in Ireland,workingon originalYeats documentswiththe encourage- mentof Yeats' widow. Back in Allahabad in the earlyfifties, Bach- chan found himselfcold-shoulderedby his jealous universitycol- leagues, and eventuallyfounda new career as 'Officeron Special Duty-Hindi' in the foreignministry of his fellow-AllahabadiJawa- harlal Nehru, Prime Ministerof the newlyindependentIndia.
By thistimeBachchan,aftersome inconclusive if formative romantic attachments,had marriedTeji Suri, a Panjabi girl froma Sikh family,and togethertheymade the move fromthe familyhome in Allahabadto thecapital,accompaniedbytheirtwoyoungsonsAmit- abh and Ajitabh. The old linkswithAllahabad were neverbroken, but the subsequentdecades were spent mostlyin Delhi or Bombay, withthe magnetismof the lattergrowinginexorablywithAmitabh's meteoric success in films.
Bachchan's poetry-writing continued throughout a successionof government assignments, which included a termas a memberof the Rajya Sabha and severalforeigntours. Dr Bachchanand his wifeTeji now live in Bombay,shelteredin old age by theirfamily. The literarystatusofBachchantodayis ambiguous. His Khayyam- inspiredMadhuialdis stilla popularwork,muchanthologized,peren- niallyin print,and given a new lease of life by the recordingof Manna De in which the poet himselfrecites the opening verse.
Harish Trivediobserves: The translationhas a briefprefacebyJawaharlalNehru,whonoted 'Bachchanis a well-known Hindi poet and I like thisMadhushalaof his'. Indeed,it was thismildblasphemywhichgave the poem its abilityto shock when it firstappeared and ensuredits succesde scandaleparticularly among the Hindi-Hindureaders by whom the Persian-Muslimjoys of imbibing were seen as deliciouslywicked.
A tempting translation for halavad, though admittedly working better on the silent page than when vocalized, might be 'Bachchanalia'. Like its Victorian model, Madhuiala has acquired a kind of Golden Treasury immortalityeven if only rarely accorded the dignityof aca- demic study; and when the name of Bachchan the poet comes up in conversation, this is the work which springs most readily to people's minds.
But the world has moved on, and that sweet pre- independence lyricismis severely out of fashion in today's literary circles. Bachchan's poetrylacks the incisive ironyof more contempor- ary verse, nor can it claim the automatic security of 'classic' works from earlier periods.
His position lies in the grey area between the intellectual rigorousnessof Eliot-and-Pound groves on the one hand, and the newly-sanctifiedarcadia of popular culture on the other. Thus Bachchan has committed one of the worstcrimes of the modern literarycontext: Scathing in his own writingsof the popularizing antics of the contemporarykavi-sammelan or verse recital, which he regards as artisticallybankrupt, Bachchan himself rode to fame on just this public vehicle, or a less decadent version of it; and the wildlyenthusiastic public response that his recitations won over many years is itself an extraordinary phenomenon that deserves serious critical attention while the memories of those live audiences are still available for research.
Bachchan's total output of prose and poetry is not exhausted by the nine substantial volumes that make up his Racanavalf or 'col- 4 Harish Trivedi,ColonialTransactions: EnglishLiterature and India Manchester, , p. The four volumes all have allusive titles. The first,Kya bhalqikyayad karui,was written between and ; its title, 'What should I remember, what should I forget? Baserese dar or 'Far from home' was written in and , and includes a long section describing Bachchan's sojourn in Cambridge and Ire- land.
It was intended to be the last volume of the autobiography, and ends in valedictory mode as follows: And so, reader forgiveme foraddressingyou like Montaigne ,7mybook is a greatlie in the face oflifeand I see no reasonwhyyoushouldbe seduced by myprettywordsintoexpendingany morevaluable timeon suchworth- less and purposelesspastimes.
Thus on the seventhday of the seventh monthof , Bachchantakes his leave. The title of the fourthand positivelyfinal volume, DaSdvarse Sopan tak,alludes to the two houses which frame this part of the narrative: At that timeI did not have the close contactwithDr Bachchan whichwould have allowed me to consulthimabout such a task;and the knowledgethata would-be editorhad been denied permissionto prepare an abridgededition ofhis Hindi textearnedadditionalnervousness.
However,re-reading the text suggesteda set of prioritiesand conventionson whichthe abridgement-cum-translation mightlogicallybe based.
One had to take intoaccountthe factthatthe autobiography was writtenover a period of some 22 years: At the beginningof thisperiodDr Bachchanwas a year-oldgovernment servant,workingforNehru in New Delhi; at the end of it, he was 78 and retired.
Naturallythis passage of yearsbroughta changing perspective,and the last of the fourvolumes of autobiographyis more detailed and perhaps more prolix than the first: The narrativeof the first volumeis tightly written,witha fineeye forsynecdochicdescription; its historyof the author'sfamilyemergesbeautifullyfroma retro- spectivegaze cast back into the mistsof dynastictime,tracingthe psychological stereotypes withwhichcaste-basedsocietyhas adorned or defaced the image of the Kayasths over history.
Examples of observeddetail includean uncle's eye-witness accountoftheJallian- wala Bagh massacre, anguished tears floodingthe smallpox scars on his cheek; or Bachchan'sown childhoodrecollectionof standing nervouslyin his headmaster'sstudy,noticinghow the framedwall- map oftheUnitedProvinceslookedlikea dog,wihJhansiand Mirza- pur districtsas its legs and Dehra Dun as its head.
The UnitedProvincessurvivedtheirtransformation to UttarPra- desh withinitialsintact,even thoughthe mootedformationof the new state of Uttarakhandmay now threatenBachchan's dog with decapitation. But manyfeaturesof U. This seemed best done by graduallyincreasingthe textual deletionsexponentiallyfromvolumeto volume,preservingmostof the earliersectionsbut onlya muchreducedproportion of the later.
An advantage of this technique was that it brought a balanced time structure to the resulting single volume-such as might arguably This content downloaded from There were some problems in the compression of the narrative; for example, innocent remarks made earlier in the storytake on an ironic burden with later developments, as when an elderlyuncle of the author's writes to him saying, 'I hear your boy Amitabh has become an actor' it is rather as if someone wrote, 'Dear Nancy, I hear Ronald is going into politics'.
But a nar- rative thread was maintained, the divisions of the four books being retained as separate sections in the translation,with the fourthand last-the afterthought-being labelled an 'epilogue'.
The second criterionfor abridging the text was a more subjective assessment of its contents and of its likely English-language reader- ship. As a writerwhose predominant activity,character and psycho- logy is that of a lyricpoet, Bachchan necessarily devotes much space to the quotation and discussion of large amounts of verse-whether his own or that of others.
In the Hindi original the poetry blends well in both context and register with the surrounding narrative, which picks up their points of reference and weaves the verses seam- lessly into the whole.
But translate the poetry into English and this delicate balance is immediately disturbed: Accordingly most of the poetry and its accompanying discussion was excised from the translation.
When the narrative itself depended on the existence of a verse passage, then of course it had to be retained. In one such passage, illustrativeof contemporarymores and of the poetic world,Bachchan describes his defence of Madhusdla when someone had complained to Mahatma Gandhi that the poem promoted the consumption of alcohol.
I have manymemoriesof the [Indore]kavi sammelan,chaired,I fancy,by Mahadeviji,'oas in Delhi theyearbefore. There was a wholegroupof poets fromKanpurwhowrotekavitt verses;Navinji,thougha Kanpuriyahimself, kept aloof from them. SiyaramSharan Gupta spun cottonwhile reciting, but forgothis lines,and his recitationdisintegratedintoa stammeringcon- fusion; the public is very unforgiving, and he had to leave the stage, desertedby his muse.
His poetrywas worthybut dry,like the cottonhe workedso deftlyin one hand. PanditAnup Sharma 'Anup' seemed a clown in conversation,but became a lion when recitingkavitt,not speakinghis lines but roaringthem. A verse of hersis citedlater in thispaper. The audi- ence was enraptured,thoughmanyperhapsdid not understandwhat this 'house of wine' was all about. Somebodyhad complainedto Gandhiji that the Conferencehe was chairingwas glorifying the consumptionof alcohol.
I was summonedto see Gandhijione nightjust beforea midnightmeeting of the executivecommittee. Even people anxious to meet Gandhiji were not gettingappointments, so I feltbothhappyand a littleapprehensiveat being called; if he said thatI shouldnot reciteMadhushalaor shoulddestroy it, howwould I be able to refuse?
Gandhiji mentionedthe complaintand asked to hear a fewverses. I adopted a certaincaution in my choice of rubais,selectingthosewhose symbolicmeaningwouldbe readilyaccessible to him: Now steps the drinkerfromhis home, The drinkinghouse his eager aim; 'Whichpath to take? The passers-bygive thisor that Advice,but hearkennow to mine- Take any road you like,myfriend, You'll findforsure the House ofWine.
By mosque and templeall's divided, All is either'mine' or 'thine'; But feudsthusforgedare all at last Forgottenin the House ofWine. He had his meeting to go to. This was the firstand last occasion on whichI sat in close proximityto Gandhiji.
Another example of a verse retained in the translation is from Bachchan's Allahabad schooldays, when the children were made to sing a four-linehymnextended by an additional line declaring fealty to the imperial throne.
This particular passage turned out to be a translator's dream, because the quoted verse was followed by the 12 m W'r, ,4. Here then was an invitation to write bad English poetry in the interests of faithfulnessof translation. Oh Lord,whoyieldsall bliss and joy, praygrantus wisdom'sgift; and all ignoblevices' burdenfromus swiftly lift; Grantus refugesafe and sure,on virtue'spath proceeding; Faith-protecting,celibate,to strengthand truthacceding. Long lifeto George the Fifth,our king: God, kindlyhear our drift.
His grandfather had copied out in manu- script the text of the verse dictionaryKhdliqbarf optimisticallyattrib- uted to Amir Khusrau , and this was entrusted to the young Bach- chan when he began to learn to read.
Representing India: Literatures, Politics, and Identities. Oxford University Press. Harivansh Rai Bachchan recalled how some of the Urdu vocabulary used by audiences in appreciating poetic recitals in Hindi kavi sammelans was consciously changed to Sanskritized Hindi creating an artificial Hindi idiom.
He was influenced by Persian and Urdu poetry, especially by Omar Khayyam and started versifying in the Bachchalian style. An Autobiography: CS1 maint: Padma Bhushan award recipients — Kelkar M.
Wagle Prem Nath Wahi Yashpal. Patel D. Krishna Murti T. Ramachandra Rao A.
Muthiah Chettiar M. Husain Pothan Joseph N. Gundappa V. Sivaramamurti E. George Sudarshan. Srinivas Thenpattinam Ponnusamy Meenakshi Sundaran. He was the first Indian Ph. It was today, in , that Harivansh Rai Bachchan breathed his last, leaving behind his words that mesmerize us till date. On the death anniversary of this great writer, we pay our tribute with excerpts from 10 of his most popular poems. All images designed by Lakshya Vij. We'd like to show you notifications for the latest news and updates.
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