Saturday, July 05, 2008

Poet Gańgādhara Meher is influenced by Bhavabhūti

Tapasvini of Gangadhara Meher: A Critical Observation
Gańgādhara Meher, popularly known as ‘Swabhāva-Kavi’ is one of the illustrious makers of Indian literature. Dr. Harekrishna Meher

In the verses of Kālidāsa, ‘Tapas’ (penance) is clearly meant for Sītā in the later part of her life. Gańgādhara happens to take the word ‘Tapasvi’ from Kālidāsa and has used it as ‘Tapasvinī’ in feminine gender for Sītā. Moreover, the poet in the Preface of Tapasvinī kāvya mentions : “The main purpose of this book is to elucidate how Sītā strengthened and heightened more and more, her devotion-to-husband (pati-bhakti) by deeming exile as her own misfortune and how she as a ‘Tapasvinī’ elapsed time by rendering her forest-dwelling into penitential austerity beneficial to her husband.”(9) The poet further expresses his hope that the wise readers would once unveil the memory’s curtain portrayed with the brilliant impeccable and sacred character of Sītā of their own hearts and would render uplift of the hearts of women.(10)

Gańgādhara is very distinct and doubtless in his writing. Sītā is the heroine of this epic poem that analyses the social condition of a married woman and contends to give appropriate honour and status even after separation from her husband. Tapasvinī mainly treats of the plight of Sītā’s later life, yet the entire story of Rāmāyana has been recounted contextually. So in this perspective, this kāvya may be regarded as a ‘Miniature Rāmāyana’ in Oriya literature. Just as Rāmāyana is named after King Rāma with depiction of his life-deeds, so in a greater sense Tapasvinī kāvya may be construed as a ‘Sītāyana’, as it prominently features the sublime character of Sītā in the entire story.(11)...

POETIC STYLE: Tapasvinī, as the masterpiece of Gańgādhara Meher, enjoys an outstanding position in the arena of language and literature. The desideratum of the poet in composing this kāvya was mainly to fill in the gap of a character of devoted chaste wife flourished with Indian culture, in the domain of Oriya literature and to establish the language of Orissa with its epical excellence. Befitting the modern taste, the poet has utilized different nine melodious metres (Chaturdasākshara, Rāmakeri, Bańgalāśri, Chokhi, Rasakulyā, Kalahamsa-Kedāra, Kedāra-Kāmodī, Nata-Vānī and Kalyāna-Paditāla), collaborating the old metres with the modern ones.

Musical melody, grace of diction, serenity, rhythmic eloquence, lucidity with emotional touch and sweetness of meaning are the remarkable features of this epic poem. Various figures of speech such as alliteration, simile, metaphor, imagery and the like also find proper and praiseworthy places in this literary work. There occurs no verbosity or stiffness of speech. Predominance of meaning and sentiments is greatly appreciable. Words of Gańgādhara are pleasantly intelligible and imbued with emotions. So this kāvya has become unhesitatingly attractive and appealing...

In Classical Sanskrit Literature, Bhavabhūti is the first poet and dramatist who advocated and elucidated the Sentiment of Pathos (Karuna Rasa) in a separate style and presented it as the original source of all sentiments.(14)...Poet Gańgādhara is influenced by Bhavabhūti. In Tapasvinī, the excellence of Pathos begins from the outset. Though other emotions are accessories in the middle, sentiment of Pathos is prominent. The poet has avoided to end the kāvya in a tragic description and made the ending comically happy, depicting Sītā’s union with King Rāma even in a dream state. Apropos filial affections of Sītā for her twin sons (Canto-X), also that of Anukampā and River Tamasā (Canto-IV) and as well as of Godāvarī (Canto-VIII), Vātsalya Rasa is contextually blended in this kāvya.

Kālidāsa’s words are mostly indicative or suggestive of sentiments, while like Bhavabhūti’s, appropriate words of Gańgādhara are mostly expressive and directly appealing to the hearts of the readers. In comparison to other sentiments, Pathos directly touches the core of heart and Gańgādhara has successfully portrayed the sentiment that leaves an ever-lasting impression in the mind...

Gańgādhara vividly and exhaustively delineates the beautiful facets of Nature. With his poetic insight, he sees human feelings, conscious life and internal beauty in her. Nature imbibes her comely, gracious, fierce, tranquil and auspicious forms in various contexts.

Gańgādhara is a prolific painter of Nature. Depiction of Dame Ushā (Dawn) in Canto-IV is most popular all over Orissa. Here Nature honours Sītā as an esteemed Queen and offers all the royal formalities of worship. Dawn, the blooming lotus-eyed lady, cherishing hearty desire to behold Sītā and bringing presentations of dew-pearls in her hands of leafage, stands in the outer courtyard of the hermitage and in cuckoo’s voice speaks to grace her with Sītā’s benign sight. The retinues of Dame Dawn perform their duties to wake up Sītā...

PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE: The ideology of Bhavabhūti along with the naturality of Vālmīki and Kālidāsa are intertwined in the poem of Gańgādhara. The quintessence of poet’s philosophy of life has been contextually reflected in Tapasvinī. Forbearance, theistic trend, noble endeavours for the attainment of goal and high aspiration are signified in his work. He believes in both deed and destiny, but never adheres to pessimism. For instance, life of fortitude, benevolence and polite activities is indicated in Canto-IV...

Gańgādhara’s humanistic approach of reaching the destination through incessant practice is traced here. Simplicity, modesty, purity, harmlessness and noble services are the gem-like features of his work and life. Whatever may be the obstacle, the poet’s optimistic insight pervades the realm of life. “Simple living and high thinking” is his view-point both literary and empirical.In spite of negative attitude of some fault-finders in social life, one should patiently and courageously go ahead to establish one’s own goodness and virtues valuable to others.

[ Published in ‘Kalahandi Renaissance’ (Research Journal), Vol.-1, 2005, pp. 39-52. Courtesy : Government Autonomous College, Bhawanipatna, Orissa, India.]* For My English Translation and related topics, please see :
REFERENCES : 1. Meher, H.K., Kavi Gańgādharańka Tapasvinī Kāvya : Hindī-Ińgrājī-Sanskruta Anuvādara Trivenī,‘Bartikā’, Vishuva Special Issue, 1999, pp.178-209.Saraswat Sahitya Sanskrutika Parishad, Dasarathpur, Jajpur, Orissa. 2. Meher, H.K., Canto-IV from the Complete English Rendering of Tapasvinī Kāvya,‘Kantāraka’, 2000, pp.14-20, Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi.* * * Posted by Dr. Harekrishna Meher at 10:49 AM Address: Dr. Harekrishna Meher, Reader & Head, Department of Sanskrit, Govt. Autonomous College, BHAWANIPATNA-766001, Orissa (India). * Phone : +91-6670-231591 * Mobile: +91-94373-62962 *** Email : * * * * URL :

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