Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

Bharatidasan’s Concept of Nature and Beauty

Dr. V. Ayothi


In his brief introduction to Alakin Cirippu, Bharatidasan writes, “All Nature is beauty. And that beauty manifests itself as a lotus, as the moon and as rays and smiles....” Alakin Cirippu shines as a very good illustration of this concept of Beauty. It contains a string of 16 poems and lyrics portraying the eternal beauty of nature from various angles. Through these lyrics the poet reveals himself as a romanticist, a realist, and as a symbolist. A rich store of images are found in them. Every poem is a painting of an aspect of the landscape; the only difference is that the poet has used a pen and words instead of a brush and colours. When we read the poem, we feel as though we are travelling with a “high priest” of nature who has established constant communion with nature and knows everything about nature. He acts as a sincere guide and explains the various aspects of nature to us.

The first song entitled “Beauty” personifies Beauty as a damsel and the poet finds her in all objects of Nature:

In the tender morning sun I found her;
In the vast expanse of the sea, in the shimmering waters
In the grove, flowers, and in sprouts
Wherever I touched she was visible:
In the melting ruby rays of the even-sun,
In the avenues of banyan trees, in the branches
And amidst the crowd of parrots
That Dame Beauty offered poetry.

She stood like the light that flames the eyes of the child;
In the holy lamp she smiles;
In the twitsting fingers of the lass
Who weaves a garland of flowers, she acts;
She rejoices in the majestic walk of the farmer
Whose shoulder bears the plough.
In the ripe paddy fields she fastens my eyes;

She dwells in my heart and makes me happy.
The direction I saw; the sky I saw,
And I found the infinite variety enshrined within.
All that is in motion and still eternally, I found;
I found Beauty, I found joy.
Look, she is the pulp behind all that is green.
Neither age nor tradition can wither her.
Look around with love, she is everywhere;
If you surrender to her, you won’t have sorrows.
(“Beauty” 5)

In the ensuing pages the poet presents alluring pictures of ocean, breeze, forest, mountain, river, lotus, the sun, the sky, banyan tree, pigeons, parrots and even darkness. He also sings of the village, the town and of Tamil in the last three parts of the book.
“The Ocean” describes the beauty of the sea and the shore. The reference here is to the Bay of Bengal which is in the east of Pondicherry, the birthplace of the poet. The following lines show how the poet enjoyed the sight of the beautiful beach at Pondicherry.

Look, younger brother!
The sand bed all along the edge of the ocean
In the east of the town
Looks like a mongoose;
The waves that climb on it
Rise in exultation, fall and roll
Like the youth at school.
The sea water and the blue sky
Join hands; the flood
Lying between them is a beautiful harp
The wind that blows on it
Is the bard who plays on the strings
To create joy. Brother,
Hear the melodious song of the mellifluous sea!
(“The Ocean” 6,8)

The rising sun brings light and life on the earth.

The tender sun rose up;
And steered his anger towards darkness;
The birds of the sea were joyous
And sprang up clapping their hands;
Pitch darkness hid herself;
To make the heart bloom with joy,
The tender sun showers everywhere
The golden hue.
(“The Ocean” 8)

The Tamils have given different names to the breeze blowing from four directions. The northern breeze is called ‘vadal’; the breeze from the west is called ‘kodai’; from the east blows ‘kondai’. The southern breeze called ‘thenral’ is welcomed by everyone due to its soothing nature. Bharatidasan beautifully describes the nature and activities of the Southern breeze.

The Southern breeze is seen waving the hair on the forehead of the flowery face of children. It is seen dancing on the soft little petals of flowers. It plays with children. It cools the eyes; wherever it goes as a guest, it serves as a balm which alleviates the heat of summer. It spreads everywhere the sweet fragrance of radiant flowers and sandal­wood. It blows the flame in the furnace of the blacksmith and imparts cools to his body while he works near the furnace. Hence everyone welcomes the breeze. Even when the breeze takes the liberty to remove the dress that women wear, they do not get wild and set it aside. The poet is of the opinion that men do not possess even a little quantity of the wisdom embodied in it.

Mother Pothigai
Who grows the tall coconuts
the areca and the fragrant sandalwood
Yielded you; yielded Tamil;
Tamil gives joy to my soul;
And you Southerly, soothe my body;
Shall I forget you, even in dream?
(“Southern Breeze” 13)

Afforestation has become the slogan of the day. If we preserve forests, they will bless us with riches and rains. Moreover forest is a part of nature where Beauty lives joyfully. Therefore, Bharatidasan adores the forest. When the hard realities of life frighten us and tire us and to get ourselves relieved from the stresses and strains that we pick up during the course of our daily routine, we get into the forest at the outskirts of the city. The beauties of the forest can console us and revitalise our body and mind.

In one of the poems, the poet describes a beautiful sight seen by him in the forest:

Seeing its spouse, hen,
the cock ran to her;
A crowd of mosquitoes rose
disturbed by the feather of the cock
Mistaking this crowd as cloud
the peacock spread its full-grown feathers
The bear came and greeted the peacock.
(“Forest” 17)

Like the American poet, Robert Frost, Bharatidasan finds that

“the woods are lovely dark and deep.”

But, however, being a humanist he is often reminded of his obligation to the society. He never forgot that he had “promises to keep and miles to go.”

The high mountain known for its flora and fauna has always been a source of inspiration to the poet. He describes the beautiful sight of the streams that jump down the slopes of the hills, bunches of colourful flowers and the birds that hum around.

Streams are diamond garlands!
Thick creepers are green silk garments!
Sparrows are lump of gold!
The frigid flower is a heep of pearls!
The tiger that attacks the bull
is like lighting over the moon.
Dried leaves are glittering plates of gold
Behold the beautiful scene!
(“Mountain” 18)

The sky offers different shades of beauty on different occasions: the dawn, the day, the midday, the dusk, the night, the midnight. The sunny day, and the rainy day. To Bharatidasan the high and wide sky symbolizes high thinking and broadmindedness. People should never differentiate themselves as high and low. All are equal on earth. This idea is emphatically expressed by the poet in the following lines:

How big the sky is!
Think of you yourself!
This earth is a small green guava
You are just a small ant in it
All, indeed, are
like that only, isn’t it, dear?
Why should the people
Blab like mad men as high and low?
(“The Sky” 10)

Like Wordsworth, Bharatidasan considers nature as a teacher. The relationship between these poets and nature is mostly dualistic. Both would like to read books in running brooks and sermons in stones. They consider nature as an abundant source of energy and vitality which has to be harnessed for the benefit of humanity. One who loves nature receives peace and joy in return as a reward.

Bharatidasan’s concern for humanity sometimes causes a dif­ference in his attitude towards nature. While Wordsworth just enjoys the calmness and tranquility of the starry sky:

The silence that is the starry sky
The sleep that is among the lonely hill.

Bharatidasan, getting obsessed with the suffering and sorrows of fellow human beings writes thus:

All those who toil on earth
Are poor! If they seek their rights,
The rich pierce an arrow into their wounds
The vast sky that witnesses this in the day
Expresses its anguish in the night
Through the boils of stars!
Behold, younger brother!
(“The Sky” 1)

The vast expanse of the sky symbolizes unity, oneness and equality.

“The Purakkal” (The Doves) included in Alakin Cirippu servesas a good example to teach men the need for consistency in their relationship. The one-man-one-woman relationship is strongly sup­ported by Bharatidasan. As an analogy he presents a pair of doves and they are shown to be constant and faithful in their love for each other. None of them is enticed by the beauty of a different dove. The poet asserts that the love-birds cannot be separated from each other till death. The poet ironically remarks that any mark of inconsistency among birds, if noted, must be attributed to its copying of human beings. He makes it clear here that only men and women have to learn a lot from nature without trying to pollute nature. Nature has nothing to learn from human beings.

Like Wordsworth, Bharatidasan seeks to establish harmony between nature and man. The primrose and the daffodil are symbols of nature’s message to man. He believes that man can get lessons from nature for his edification if he brings with him, “a heart that watches and receives” and leaves behind his “meddling intellect that murders to dissect.” To Bharatidasan and Wordsworth nature appeals as a per­meative influence superior to anything else, the educator of senses and mind alike, the sower in our hearts of the deep-laid seeds of our feelings and belief.

Even “Darkness” has a role to play in the scheme of the universe and therefore we see Bharatidasan writing a poem about “Darkness” and includes it in the list of beautiful things. Darkness lies at the bottom of each petal of a lotus flower and serves to identify the petals by providing a three-dimensional effect. A bright or white spot on a bright ground would be invisible; but a dark ground would enhance the visibility of the spot. In the same way shade and darkness, by a method of contrast, define the features very clearly. Darkness dwells in the two sides of the beautiful nose of a damsel; it is also there in the edge of her eye balls, in the centre of her ears and mouth. It only animates identity. The painters know how to use darkness to make features of their painting attractive and clear. According to the poet, ignorance is the springboard of knowledge. In one way darkness is more powerful than light because light cannot beget darkness but darkness can beget light.

Bharatidasan considers even villages and cities as parts of nature. To him ‘pattinam” (city) is a living monument of man’s achieve­ments in science and arts. He appreciates the workmanship of the man and the continuous progress of mankind. He praises the technological advancement made in this century and thinks that only man is capable of handing down to posterity all knowledge he has accumulated. Thus the city exhibits the beauty of artifice.

To Bharatidasan, a village represents the beauty of nature. The green grass, the colourful flowers covered with dew drops, the cows, cowherds, the grove, the various kinds of plants and trees and the playful animals and birds amidst them, the fields, the peasant - all capture the attention of the poet. Nature knows no distinction among men as high and low. It is a lesson in socialism that one has to learn from nature. Before the omnipresent nature man is after all a small thing. Why should he be proud of his possession and position? Man must learn to suppress his ego and live peacefully with his fellowmen.

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