Saturday, December 26, 2020


Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya 


 Shivapoojan Sahay

This memoir, translated from Hindi by me, was originally published in Hindi in 1962. In it Acharya Sahay reminisces about his meetings with Malviyaji during the 20s of the last century. Today is the 159th Birth Anniversary of the great Indian social reformer, educationist and political leader during the Indian freedom movement. It presents an intimate portrait of the Mahamana (Great Soul).The piece is an extract from  the soon to be published book  ,MY LITERARY MEMOIRS, by Shivapoojan Sahay. Some of his other translated memoirs of Nirala, Prasad and Premchand are already published earlier on this blog in 2011-12.                                         

It was in the second and third decades of the 20th century. I was then living in Kashi. On the eleventh of every month of the Hindu calendar, I had several occasions of listening to the discourses on Geeta by Malaviyaji at the ‘Kala Mahavidyala’ (Arts College) of the Kashi Hindu Vishwavidyalay (BHU). Generally I would go there with Pt Kedarnath Sharma ‘Saraswat’, the editor of  Suprabhatam ( a Sanskrit monthly), who was also living in Kashi in those days. When ‘Mahamana’ ( as Malaviyaji was popularly known) sat there for delivering his discourse, he reflected a strange aura around himself. With sandal paste smeared on his forehead and wearing a silken wrapper over his shoulders, with ‘Ramnam’ printed all over it, and a garland round his neck, he would look like a veritable ‘Vedvyas’ (expounding saint). Once he had revealed to his audience that his late father was also a great religious raconteur of Shrimad Bhagawat Puran*. Reminisceing about his father, he would recall how the latter could recite the entire tenth chapter of the great epic by memory and how tears would start flowing on his cheeks as he recited the Ras Panchaadhyayi Prakaran*.

Malaviyaji also would often recite from the Shrimad Bhagawad  and had many of the ‘shlokas’ of its various episodes by heart. He would keep reciting and expounding the ‘shlokas’ in a flow, in a soothing tone, without looking at the text. His divine exposition would keep flowing like pure nectar into the listeners’ ears and would gratify their hearts with celestial pleasure.

In any prolonged sitting, all the time of his discourse would be spent in explaining only a few ‘shlokas’ of the Geeta. And as the discourse proceeded, he would expound with great perspicacity on various contemporary concerns – social, political and religious. Speaking on a particular chapter of Geeta, he would explain some of its most significant ‘shlokas’ in such a manner that the central import of the whole chapter, and what Lord Krishna’s core message is in that particular chapter, would be beautifully illumined in the minds of the listeners. The intent was that the message of Bhagawad Geeta could be communicated to every home in society. He would always advise his listeners that Geeta should be read regularly in every family.

 Malviyaji was a great sage of the modern age. The whole Indian cultural scene appears to be a barren land in his absence. Also of the cow,he was a real benefactor. While presiding over the Delhi Congress, in his last extempore speech, with tear-filled eyes, he leaned over the shoulders of Hakim Ajmal Khan, chairman of the reception committee, bewailing the cruel neglect of the cow-protection issue. His heart was made as if of soft clay. And similar was his love for Hindi. His strenuous campaigns for the use of ‘nagari’(Hindi) script in government offices is too well-known.

C.F. Andrews, in one of his memoirs, had written about an incident when he was on a stroll with Gandhiji. Walking ahead of them were Malviyaji and Shri Shankaran Nayyar, a Justice of the Madras High Court. When he (CFA) complimented Gandhiji about the success of his non-cooperation movement, the latter pointed with his walking stick towards Malviyaji and said – “Till this gentleman accepts it, even if all 40 crore Indians are following it, I won’t consider my campaign to be successful.”

I was living in Kashi when the journal Sanatan Dharma was being published from BHU. I had been jobless for the past two years. My friend, Pt Ramanugrah Sharma told me one day that Malaviyaji wanted me to see him. I was rather surprised and sceptical about the sudden invitation. But I knew that Sharmaji was in the good books of Malaviyaji. Believing in his words, I went under great hesitation to meet Malaviyaji, specially because I did not want to thwart Sharmaji’s solicitation.

The very first question Malaviyaji put to me was – “What is your qualification?”. To this I humbly replied – “Hardly any qualification worth mentioning to you”. But then Sharmaji started telling him all kinds of things about my special merits. Finally, I was asked to come next day again which I did. I was told to shun all selfishness which I could not presume to practise, because it was something I felt myself incapable of. For two more times Sharmaji took me there. But my only attainment of those visits was touching those holy feet on all those occasions, and my realization of the noble visions that seemed to fertilise that great mind.      

The annual convention of Hindu Mahasabha was being held in Calcutta, under the chairmanship of ‘Panjab Kesari’ Lala Lajpat Rai. There was an unusual excitement among the ‘sanatani’ (orthodox) Hindus. It was an open session. Lala Ramprasad, the editor of the Urdu daily Vande Mataram, presented a resolution in support of the right of the ‘shudras’ and untouchables to study the Vedas. Seconding the resolution Swami Satyadev Parivrajak said –“ When all ‘shudras’ are not bereft of sunshine, air and rains, why should they be barred from availing of God’s message in the Vedas?” At this, a lot of commotion ensued in the pandal.

Malviyaji was present on the dias. On the request of the chairman , he rose to speak amidst thunderous applause. With great composure, and with a beatific smile on his lips, he began by quoting a ‘shloka’ from Geeta – sarvopanishado gavo dogdha gopal nandanah (Krishna’s teachings come from his milking all the Upanishads). And then he said:

 “God’s bounty is available for all creatures. But the study of the Vedas requires great perseverance and tenacity, which is not for everyone. That is why, He has made the essence of all the Vedas and Upanishads available for us in the Shrimad Bhagawad Geeta. Indeed, it is the Song of God, and is the highest among all scriptures in the world. And, what is more, study and reflection of Geeta is easily available for everyone. Even ‘shudras’ and the ‘antyajas’ (the most down-trodden) in society can study and benefit in life from it. As for the study of the Vedas, that will necessitate a long, persistent and tenacious study of them, which is not possible for all. Any mere resolution securing the right for all to study the Vedas will, therefore, serve no purpose.

“Let’s try to make the Geeta available to every home,  one copy of it for every Hindu. The ‘shudras’ and untouchables also should be able to read it and, through it, be enlightened of the core wisdom of the Vedas. The Christians would preach their religion by distributing cheap editions of the Bible costing an anna (a penny) only. Geeta embodies the heart of the Hindu faith. Let us also publish its cheap editions to make the central core of the Vedas available to every Hindu. Once you read that, you will need no other Hindi scripture for your study.

The whole pandemonium settled down to peace. The great philanthropist Birlaji immediately rose to announce the publication and free distribution of one lakh copies of Geeta among people. The entire problem of discord melted away in a moment.

(C) Dr BSM Murty

Photo: Courtsey Google

 Other important blog posts you may like to see here:


2010 : Sahitya Samagra : 5 Oct / 2011 : On Premchand: (26 May) / Has Hindi been defeated by English? : Shivpujan Sahay : (7 Dec) / 2012 : Memoirs on Prasad and Nirala : (25-26 Oct)/ 2013 : Sheaf of Old Letters (10 Oct) / 2014 :  Shivpujan Sahay Smriti Samaroh:( 27 Jan) / On Amrit Lal Nagar: (18 Aug)/ On Bachchan : (27 Nov) / 2015 : On Renu: (3 Mar) / On Trilochan: (1 Apr) /Odes of Keats + Shantiniketan: (25 May) / Premchand Patron Men: (3 Aug)/  Suhagraat: Dwivediji's poem: (13 Nov)/ 2016 : Three stories of JP:(6 Jul) / On Neelabh Ashk: (24 Jul)/ / Dehati Duniya: (8 Aug)/  Anupam Mishra: Paani ki Kahaani :(Dec 25) /   2017 :  Doctornama: memoirs of Shivpujan Sahay (July 10):  On Prithwiraj Kapoor (Nov 6) / Rajendra Jayanti Address @ Bihar Vidyapeeth, Patna (Dec 14)/ 2018:हिंदी नव जागरणशिवपूजन सहाय  और काशी           (1 Mar)/Tribute to Kedar Nath Singh (25 May) /  राहुलजी और हिंदी-उर्दू-हिन्दुस्तानी का सवाल (12 Jun)/ Neelabh Mishra (16 Jun)/ Death of Shivpoojan Sahay(17 Jun) / बाबा नागार्जुन (1 Jul)/ On Kedarnath Singh (with full translation of ‘Tiger’, 15 July)/Five poems of Angst (14 Aug)/चंपारण सत्याग्रह : भारतीय राजनीति में सत्य का पहला प्रयोग (26 Nov)  2019: On Kamaleshwar’s stories collection: ‘Not Flowers of Henna’ (26 Jan)/ Why Gandhi was killed (30 Jan)/ ‘Wings on Fire’: The Art of Himanshu Joshi ( 18 April) मंगलमूर्ति की कुछ कविताएँ (28 April)/ Stanley Wolpert (12 June) / Three Eminent men (3 Aug) / Kedarnath Singh & his 10 poems       (30 Aug) / Those Motihari Days! (DP Vidyarthy, 2 Nov)

 Extracts from my biography of Dr Rajendra Prasad

 Some extracts from my biography of Dr Rajendra Prasad: First President of India are also available on this Blog (Scroll by year and date). Also, some other articles on him.

 2011:  The Indigo Story (28 May) / A Planter’s Murder (17 Jul) / The Butcher of Amritsar (July 18) / 2014:  The Seven Martyrs, The Last Act, The Pity of Partition, Lok ewak Sangh (14 Sep) /  Early childhood in Jeeradei ( 3 Dec) /   2015:  Congress in disarray, Swearing of First President (30 Jun) / 27: Clash of Convictions: Somnath (27 Aug) / Presidential Itineraries ( 8 Oct) / Congress at crossroads            ( 20 Dec)  2016: Election for Second Term (15 Mar) /  Visit to Soviet Union (13 May) / Limits of Presidency, Code Bill (24 Aug) /  The Last Phase (28 Aug)   2017:   Dr Rajendra Prasad: On Kashmir Problem ( 12 Jul) / The Swearing in of Dr Rajendra Prasad (24 July) / Remembering Dr Rajendra Prasad (Patna Univ Centenary) (15 Oct) / Dr Rajendra Prasad & Bihar Vidyapeeth (14 Dec) 2018 : A Book is born (on my newly published biography of Dr Rajendra Prasad)

 You may also visit my Hindi blog –

mainly for Hindi articles related to  Shivpoojan Sahay, some of my other Hindi writings, and my translation of Shrimad Bhagawad Geeta, Ramcharit Manas and Durga Saptshati (retold). For my English and Hindi poems please look up  my third blog: & please also record your comments on these blogposts.

 Dr BSM Murty, H-302, Celebrity Gardens, Sushant Golf City, Ansal API, Lucknow:226030. Mob. 7752922938 & 7985017549                   

Friday, August 21, 2020


A tribute to Shivpujan Sahay

THE PIONEER : Tuesday, 14 August 2018 | Sachida Nand Jha

As we celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of the literary icon, it would be pertinent to emulate his contributions to Hindi literature. Besides writing and editing books, he also wrote many novels and short stories

Shivpujan Sahay, whose 125th birth anniversary is being celebrated this year, should be seen, understood and interpreted as one of the harbingers of what is often called “Hindi Renaissance”, which began in the immediate aftermath of the first war of Indian independence in 1857 but remained in a nascent stage till it attained distinctive visibility as a literary movement through the commendable and concerted efforts made by prominent pioneers such as Bharatendu Harishchandra and Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi.

The movement relentlessly continued with a roller-coaster ride for which countless anonymous others willingly chose to  contribute to the making of Hindi literary cultures along nationalist lines in whatever big or small ways they could. Adequately equipped with a nationalist mindset, Sahay in particular made “tremendous contribution to the growth story of Hindi public sphere”, to borrow a phrase from a contemporary Hindi critic, Francesca Orsini, who has written extensively on this idea.  However, Sahay did not get the kind of critical reception and literary recognition he deserved for his immensely impressive contribution despite the seemingly sound accolade like “Hindi Bhushan” thrown early on his way by the Hindi literati even before he could be awarded Padmabhusan by the Government of India.

Apart from being a well-known practising journalist, Sahay was a veteran editor who led many magazines, such as Marwari Sudhar, Matwala Aadarsh, Upanyasa Tarang, Samanvay, Madhuri, Ganga, Jagran, Himalaya andSahitya for which he wrote cutting edge, topical editorials. In doing so, he tried to not only inculcate among the masses a taste for literature but to also educate them about the importance of modern education, health, sanitation and so on. He also edited significant books like Dwivedi Abhinandan Granth, Rajendra Smarak Grantha, autobiography of Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, and a novel of Munshi Premchand. Publishers, namely Dulare lal Bhargava and Chintamani Ghosh, who had unqualified admiration for the editorial skills of Sahay, trusted only him for editing the novel Rangbhoomi by Premchand. Sahay not only did a wonderful job but also wrote in an interesting manner about the ways in which he did so.

Distinguished dramatist Jagdish Chandra Mathur, too, has written movingly about the outstanding editorial abilities of Sahay who was gifted enough to write beautiful idiomatic Hindi. Contemporary critics as well as those from yesteryears tend to completely agree with what Mathur rightly underlined. Eminent literary critic Namvar Singh often reiterates this. He never forgets to mention the fact that Sahay used to edit with consummate elegance and write the kind of flawless prose which is extremely rare to find these days. In addition to successfully editing numerous magazines and individual works of authors, he consistently wrote in elegant prose diaries, memoirs, letters, short stories and novels revolving around myriad issues, including those relating to social obscurantism, women empowerment, nationalist ideas and principles as well as a democratic mindset.

People usually tend to forget that much before Phanishwar Nath Renu could write about village life with all its complexities in Maila Aanchal and even Premchand could give his voice to the voiceless in Godaan, Sahay had already written about the rural world with all its simplicities, eccentricities, obscure and brutally unjust practices in his novel Dehati Duniya.

Narratorial perspective in this classic novel unfolds both the merits and demerits of community life and also brings us intimately closer to the layered social oddities and superstitious habits entrenched in the village life of north India during the early decades of the 20th century. Poverty and dark underbelly of the countryside are brought to the fore and so is the gradual disintegration of terrifying feudal tendencies which had made the people from the periphery suffer immeasurably. The pathos and suffering of lower castes and women have been vividly captured and so is the plight of the rich and the powerful since the former is caught up in the mess created by unending poverty and the latter in the utter darkness of deep ignorance.

Moreover, the colonial intervention which put the so-called modern police force in place, for instance, that did wreak unimaginable havoc on the fearful villagers and in turn caused certain foundational distortions at the psychic level among the rural folk, is ironically articulated in a subtle but effective manner. With adequate and abundant uses of local phrases, popular proverbs and metaphors, Sahay helped us know about people’s ever increasing rupture with the essence of indigenous collective wisdom.

Essential human traits and attributes like simplicity, humility and personal integrity, which should be the guiding principles of humanity, have been made subservient to the notion of immediate gain and material fulfillment. Various social etiquettes, which were central to human existence in the rural areas of India, have been rendered almost entirely unintelligible and so obviously insignificant. Both in terms of its weeknesses and strengths, Dehati Duniya  offers us a very comprehensive and deeply intimate picture of a representative north Indian village for the first time in the literary genre called novel. So it paved the path for a realistic tradition of prose-writing in the domain of Hindi literature. As a matter of fact, it not only laid the foundations but was also a worthy precursor to what was later known as provincial novel-writing of Renu variety and realist novel-writing of Premchand variety respectively.

Revisiting Dehati Duniya makes us understand the importance of keeping our ideological persuasions aside. While reading a literary text,  which gives us many opportunities to come to terms with the complexities of human experiences, readers and interpreters should look carefully at the representations of socio-political circumstances that are too complex to fit into the framework of a particular political predilection. Rethinking the content of the novel makes it abundantly clear that the nation, with its intricacies and subtleties, has been narrated for the sake of re-awakening our national consciousness. Also so that newer possibilities can be explored to eradicate abominable practices in order to enable the residents of those places to develop a democratic and nationalist disposition.

Not only in his novels but also in short stories, notably Kahani ka plot, Mundmaal andBulbul aurGulab, Sahay does not lose sight of the indisputable fact that ideas and experiences matter much more than ideologies and political posturing for creative purposes.

Ideologically-oriented literary practitioners, who dominate the contemporary literary scene in Hindi, will be benefitted a great deal if they take a cue from what Sahay says about literature and its nuanced relationships with ideas and ideologies. The pertinent reason to mention this is that ideologically motivated literature, which exhibits its primary, unconditional preoccupations with political stance of one kind or the other,  tends to lose its soul.

The proverbial blood, sweat and tears Shivpujan Sahay shed to help Bihar Rashtrabhasha Parishad take shape as a pre-eminent institution in its own right and the kind of quality publications he ensured  from this organisation further reinforce his unflinching commitments to and unflagging preferences for the primacy of ideas over ideologies, constructive, complex human experiences over apparently simplistic political bickering.

(The writer is Assistant professor of English at Rajdhani College, Delhi University)


Sunday, August 16, 2020


                                                 Raghuveer Narayan  



                                              Indo-Anglian Poet from Bihar


“Creative writing”, according to Professor lyengar  “Whether in one's own or in an adopted language - calls for a truly dedicated spirit.” This simple axiomatic assertion holds doubly true in the case of a poet from Bihar who possessed this ‘truly dedicated spirit’ as fully as any other of his peers. Raghuveer Narayana was the name of this poet whose creative period coincides closely with that of the great Tamil poet, Subramania Bharati. Barring a few exceptions, Raghuveer’s best poetry in his own language is as sublimely patriotic as Bharati's, and as deeply philosophical. On the other hand, Raghuveer’s poetic creations in English - and here the comparison with Bharati necessarily ceases - are of an equally high standard. And there is a third dimension also, to his poetic genius: besides writing excellent poetry in English and Hindi, Raghuveer has written at least one poem in his native dialect Bhojpuri which has already immortalized him among the speakers of that dialect, now scattered practically all over the globe.

Raghuveer Narayana's creative life is very nearly contemporaneous with Sarojini Naidu's. In fact, both in birth and death, Sarojini preceded him by exactly five years. Though Sarojini's creativity was for more prolific than Raghuveer's and far more kaleidoscopic, and richer both in reach and in intensity, Raghuveer shows ample evidence, within his own limited ambit of themes and moods, of a ‘truly dedicated spirit’ of creativity. His total volume of published poetry consists of just a little more than a couple of thousand lines of verse - approximately the length of the unfinished 'Hyperion' by Keats - and that includes his two longer narrative poems 'A Tale Of Behar' and 'Sita Haran' as well as an assorted collection of shorter poems, about thirty in number, called 'Way-side Blossoms'. The best of all these long and short poems were composed in the first five years of the present century.

Raghuveer Narayana was born at Chhapra in Bihar, on October 30, 1884. His father, Jaidev Narayana, was prominent lawyer of the town, and belonged to a land-owning kayastha family of the nearby village, Nayagaon. Many among his forefathers had been worthy poets in Persian and Hindi, Even his mother was well-versed in Sanskrit and Persian. He was admitted to the Chhapra Zila School at the early age of seven, and passed the entrance examination at fourteen. In the dedicatoiy verse (addressed to the then Commissioner of Bhagalpur, Mr. J.A. Hubback) prefacing his last collection of poems, Way-side Blossoms, he wrote –


When, a dreamer-boy,I wander'd

By fair saryu's lovely braes

And, besides my school companions,

Piped my earliest childish lays!


Raghuveer, indeed, had precocious talent, and could compose verses effortlessly from early childhood.


When, a child, I loved to ‘lisp

in Numbers, for the numbers came.’


He was admitted to Patna College in 1899. It was one of the premier institutions of higher education in the country at that time. Great professors like Dr. C.R. Wilson, Jadunath Sarkar and H.R. James taught him to love English poetry and encouraged him to write it.


Happy days :- when Doctor Wilson

Taught me Milton's Epic grand

And Sarkar, through honey'd lectures,

Led me through the Border Land

To enjoy the magic harping

In Sir Walter's chanted hall,

Bright with warriors, maids and merlins:-

And we talked with Burke and ‘Noll’*

And Sarkar did lead me on to

Witness Arthur's passing scene !

And we lived in Aylmer's mansion,

And with Spenser's Faerie Queen !

Feather-like he smooth'd her tresses,

And in Avon's golden stream

Made her freely bathe, and revel

'Neath Hyperion's gorgeous beam.

From bis pregnant words she learnt to

Long for the celestial fire,

Charged in Wordsworth's songs ot

Nature and in Shelley's wondrous lyre.


Most of the poems of Raghuveer were written while he was still at Patna College, between 1902 and 1905. Due to his fragile health, he could not earn his F.A. in 1903 and, though he took the Honours course in English literature, he could not pass it in 1905. All his teachers, who loved him so much,were rudely shocked by his failure. He had to abandon his studies due to precarious health, and could only join as a teacher of English at Monghyr Zila School in 1909. He joined the Chhapra Zila School in 1911, but went to Bhagalpur, for a degree in Law, in 1912. Soon, next year, he joined the Banaili State as the Private Secretary of Raja Krityanand Singh, and served in that capacity almost till the end of his life. He died in January, 1955. Though Raghuveer Narayan had an almost normal span of life of about 70 vears, he had practically abandoned writing poetry in English much before 1930.


In fact, almost all his poetic output in English in the first decade of the present century, was completed by 1905. Of course, some of his poems published in the three small booklets in 1929, were composed off and on till 1929, but practically all his significant poetry was composed by 1905. He did, however, compose some verses in English eulogising the reigning British monarch or praising the Indian effort towards the First World War, but surely his heart was not in them.  Also, some of his other teachers and well-wishers were inspiring him to write in his own tongue. So he had decided to switch over to poetry-making in Hindi and Bhojpuri, the dialect of his native area. He had written two patriotic poems, one each in Hindi and in Bhojpuri, which were widely acclaimed.   His Hindi song 'Bharat Bhawani' become so popular that it was sung not only as a welcome song at almost every political meeting in the Hindi belt just before the civil disobedience movement, but was even sung by the prisoners in jails to the rhythm of their ringing shackles.


You have sons chanting Vedas,

Driving their chariots across the heavens,

Why now your strength dwindles, O my Mother!...


The Bhojpuri song 'Batohiya'(Traveller) become even more popular, and has been sung by the Bhojpuri speaking Indians in Mauritius, Trinidad and South Africa, It is undoubtedly the best poem written in Bhojpuri.


Lovely and auspicious is the land of Bharat, O Brother!

In its icy caverns, O Traveller, dwells my soul.

Go, go and see my Hind, O Brother Traveller!

Where the koel coos and sings her song ....

Where groves of peepal, kadamb, neem and mangoes

Lie amid the flowering ketaki and rose, O Traveller ...

Where the sages, Valmiki, Gautam and Kapil

Awaken the eternal soul, O Traveller ...."


These two patriotic songs, which remind us here of the nationalistic songs of Subramania Bharati's Swadesh Geelangal, will immortalise Raghuveer more than anything else that he has written.


Raghuveer Narayana had been writing poetry since his early childhood, but the great upsurge of creativity came during his college days. It is indeed remarkable that Raghuveer, like Bharati, had gained his inspiration for writing patriotic poetry from the great theosophist Dr. Annie Besant. He had been invited by Dr. Besant to contribute to the Central Hindu College Magazine, edited by her and published from Benares. He had published a couple of prose articles in that journal under the serial 'Folk Tales of Behar'. These had led him to write his first full scale long poem 'A Tale of Behar', which was first published in 1905. The poem contained 500 lines, and had nineteen sections, followed by a concluding 'Bard's Song'. 'A Tale of Behar' is modeled on Scott's famous narrative poem 'Marmion' and has its lines as epigraph. There are external similarities in the plot, and even the verse-pattern has striking resemblance. It describes a fight between two Rajput chiefs, near a village in the Saran district in North Bihar.

Bhim Sen is marrying his daughter to a bridegroom of his choice, against her wishes. But his daughter is in love with another valiant Rajput chief, Tej Singh. On the very night of the wedding Tej Singh attacks Bhim Sen's palace, and after fierce fighting, defeats him in battle. Finally, Bhim Sen gives the hand of his daughter in marriage to Tej Singh, willingly. The poem had all the verve of heroic poetry, and the versification was remarkably supple and agile.


In gaudy dress apparell'd fair,

With weary eyes and braided hair,

She sits within her lonely bower,

The angel of King Bhim Sen's tower ....

But though she feigns to look so gay,

The mad'ning thoughts her mind's a prey;

For yet not distant trumpet blast

Proclaims that Tej Singh's coming fast.

To save her from becoming bride

Of one she loathes to stand beside.


The battle-scene has an unmistakable stamp of Scott:


         Then, rattling arrows rush'd like hail,

        As if propell'd by stormy gale;

        And horsemen prick'd their chargers proud

        That, dashing wildly, neigh'd aloud;

        And underneath a cloud of dust,

        So fiercely went the blow and thrust;

        And mix'd-up cries of joy and pain,

        And shrieks from comrades who lay slain,…


The nature-painting is equally exquisite, and the sonorous music of the verse creates a magic spell reminiscent of Keats and Tennyson.


The bright-hair'd sun, in splendour born,

In lustre bathed the laughing morn;

The rooks with wings as black as jet

Were in their noisy councils met;

And here and there, the clus'ring trees

Had form'd dim groves and shady bowers,

Where thousand gaily buzzing bees

Were feasting on the sweets of flowers;

And there, again, a champac crown'd

With many a creeper clinging round,

Rear'd, in the air, its leafy head .....

When morning, with his rosy tint,

Vermilllions airy domes of flint;

When tinged is ev'ry rushing stream

With infant Phoebus' morning gleam;

And his mild rays gild buildings royal,

And beam on plains and farmer's soil;

When insects shake their tiny wings

And dance around in countless rings;

When blushes every rose-bud coy –

Then, then, is Nature's hour of joy ! ..


The poem had been praised by contemporary English poet like the then poet laureate, Alfred Austin, and Lewis Morris. Austin wrote - "I receive many volumes of verse from my countrymen at home that cannot compare in execution with yours". Lewis Morris went further and said: "it seems to me that not only must there be a closer tie of national feeling binding England and her Indian subjects than exists between her and the continental nations of Europe, but that English literature is more easily and thoroughly assimilated by them than by our French and German or other neighbours". The poem was favourably reviewed in The Indian Education published from Madras. It wrote: "This is an Eastern tale, told in a style and verse reminiscent of Scott.... The versification is remarkably correct, the poetic feeling true and refined."


'Sita Haran', originally written in 1905, was recast during 1909-10 and was first published in a journal Young Behar published from Bhagalpur in eastern Bihar. Like his other two works, it was finally published in 1929. It was a part of the poet's proposed fuller work 'Scenes from Ramayan', which could not be completed for some reason. In the canto entitled ‘In the Gloomy Dandak', the poet describes the chase of the golden deer, Ravana's abduction of Sita, Jatayu's fight with Ravan, and Rama's lament.   The most poetic and lyrical part of the poem is ‘Rama’s lament' which consists of five songs.


"O ye Nature's sweet-toned singers'

Blossoms woo'd by you black bee,

Have ye seen My consort passing

O'er the verdant forest lea ?"

But the bee

Danced in glee;

And the careless birds, rejoicing,

chirp'd and flew from tree to tree ....

“Spring has brought its joys and pleasures;

All are happy, all are gay;

But I've lost My sweet-eyed charmer -

Who will charm My grief away ?

Glades and murky thickets answer

To the joyous cuckoo's note;

Many a bird of gleaming plumage

Pours around its quavering throat.

Peacocks cry and dance in sunshine,

Noisy parrots perch and talk

Pigeons coo and flap their white wings;

And the swans they proudly walk.

Mountain waters, tumbling downwards,

Greet us with their thund'ring tone;

And, so sweeten'd by the distance,

Comes Papiha's soothing moan ...."


Raghuveer's rendering was a free and imaginative transcreation, rather than a faithful translation of the episodes from the Ramayana, as was done by his elder poet, Romesh C. Dutta, whose renderings of the two great Indian epics had been published only a decade before, in 1898-99. In its review of the poem, The Beharee wrote:


“We have been keenly interested in the poet's achievements and progress, and we have been all along struck with the spontaneity, harmony of rhythm, and majestic flow of his poems ... We are particularly glad to find our poet has been rendering into English verse scenes from Shri Tulsi Das's Ramayana, keeping the spirit of the monumental work in a preeminent degree. We are firmly convinced from the specimens that with unabated energy in his sacred and patriotic work of presenting the lofty thoughts and holy reflections in the Ramayana ... our country will boast of a production which ‘posterity will not willingly let die’ and which may well be linked with the existence of English poetry itself.”

In the Preface to his last-published book Wayside Blossoms, the poet said: “This work is a collection of my miscellaneous poems which were written from time to time to suit particular occasions or were inspired by particular scenes and surroundings. It includes my earliest poems some of which date so far back as the year 1902. In the long dedicatory verse passage, he said:


But to-day my themes are varied,

Varied are the songs I raise,

Like the prattling of a brook that

Babbles on the thousand ways.

Intermingled with these, rise up

Many a strain of early years –

Half-forgotten precious relics

Of the past that lives in tears .....


The book contains 32 poems, including the Dedication, which is lyrically autobiographical. In the other poems also the autobiographical element is quite palpable, by and large. Some of the titles make it obvious: The School Boy and the Warbler', 'At my Village Home', To the Village of My Fathers', etc. Quite a few of the poems have been inspired by the School and the College he attended. A fifth of the poems are panegyrics addressed to the reigning British Monarch or the war-effort and are obviously uninteresting from the literary point of view. There is one poem on ‘The Loss Of The Titanic', and the last two are enchanting transcreations of Bihari lullabies or nursery songs. One fourth of the total poems have nature or spiritual meditation as their themes. The dominant metrical pattern in a majority of the poems is the four-stress iambic line with a generous sprinkling of the trochaics. But the poet gives ample evidence of his technical virtuosity and mastery of the art of versification, particularly in the panegyrics.


Edmund Gosse had advised Sarojini Naidu not to be 'falsely English' and 'to be a genuine Indian poet', in his Introduction to her first volume of poetry The Bird of Time(1912). Raghuveer's poetry is fully and and genuinely Indian in spirit right from the beginning. One could go on quoting from his exquisite poetry in support of the observations made so far:


           But bonny flower, why dost thou rear thy head,

           So meekly bright, when all around is still ?

           Dost thou expect a lover's hasty tread,

           Or wait the waking of the sleeping rill ?

           Thy bonny face ! - Oh! let me tell thee, fair,

           That beauty has its thief as any gem -;

           Some ruder hand may touch thy golden hair,

           Or pluck the bloom from off thy slender stem.

(‘To a Marigold’, 1902)

“On thy breast the sunbeams quiver

Why so hasty, foaming river?

Rushing on with headlong motion,

Art thou making for the oceans?"

"Stranger, wouldn't thou hear my plight? –

I was born on mountain height;

Meand'ring sadly, shedding tears,

There I spent my early years.

"Tempests came and made me leap

Made  me cry and made me weep;

Driven by their tyrant force,

Fled I moaning, groaning hoarse ....

"Yet I did not curb my speed,

But went on like frighten'd steed;

Fragrant breezes fann'd my face,

As I swept from place to place.

"Having reach'd this fertile plain,

Now I flow to join the main,

'Neath whose troubled, seething breast,

I shall find eternal rest."

(‘The Man and the River', 1902)


Raghuveer's poetry was full of great promise. The versification was near perfect. The ethos was completely Indian. The imagery was delicate and vibrant. The themes were homely. The treatment was utterly simple. The spirit was exquisitely lyrical. Hear the music of these stanzas from 'At My Village Home' (1905):


Afar, the gorgeous garden glooms; -

A touch of sadd'ning joy I feel,

As gliding glow-worms glance and wheel

Their dances round the breathing blooms.

I chased them in my infant days,

When, borne on gusts of evening air,

They sparkled here, they sparkled there,

Along the thousand zigzag ways.


Raghuveer Narayana's name is not to be found in any critical account of the development of Indo-Anglian poetry. Even among academics in Bihar specializing in the field of Indo-Anglian literature, Raghuveer's remains an obscure name. His poems are not to be seen in any anthology of Indo-Anglian poetry. He has been consigned to total oblivion, and, perhaps, some others like him, too. One is grimly reminded of Professor lyengar's story of how Professor Walsh of the University of Leeds had once Jocularly asked him whether he had not actually invented many of the Indo-Auglian authors! Raghuveer Narayan’s name is only the latest to be added to that list. But he is only like distant star- a new planet which swims into our ken. And we are at once reminded of Eliot's admonition about the supervention of the new work, altering the whole existing order. If ever so slightly'. Raghuveer Narayanan abandoned writing English poetry almost midway in his life, turning towards his own mother tongue, amid deeper spiritual compulsions, including patriotism, but the brief and intense consort, that he had with the English Muse, should provide him a secure niche in the pantheon of what has come to be critically accepted as Indo-Anglian poetry.                                                                        

 (C) Dr BSM Murty                                                                                   

[This article was presented in a session on Indian English Poetry at the All India English Teachers’ Conference, University of Madras (Dec., 1990). All quotations of verses are from Raghuveer Narayana's three booklets of verse - 'A Tale of Behar', ‘Sita-Haran' and 'Way-side Blossoms', published by The United Press, Bhagalpur, in 1929. He is said to have written some more poems also like TheVictor’s Return', 'Champa', The Rose of the Child', The Battle of Kuru', ‘The Wheel of Time', etc., but these remained unpublished and are not available now. The extracts from the reviews and opinions of contemporary journals, poets and persons are also quoted from the appendix to these booklets. Extracts from his Bhojpuri poems are translated by the author. *Noll= Goldsmith’s nickname.]

A Hindi article on Raghuveer Narayan can be read on my complementary blog : shortly.