Feedback About Us Archives Interviews Book Reviews Short Stories Poems Articles Home

ISSN: 0974-892X


Jan-July, 2014



All in One

Dr. Basavaraj Naikar

Professor Emeritus of English, Karnatak University, Dharwad


            Dr. Pashupati Jha is a late bloomer in the garden of Indian English Poetry, but this belatedness happens to be a blessing in disguise, as it frees a writer from juvenile inanities and helps him leap to the higher level of rich experience, mature thought and well accentuated and modulated articulation.

All in One, which happens to be Jha’s third collection of poetry, shows a remarkable growth in his absorption of experience, deep meditation and finely chiselled expression. It contains forty-eight poems on a wide variety of themes testifying to his super sensitivity and reflective-ness. For example, in the very first poem, ‘Move On’, he strikes a philosophical note by saying that reaching the destination and resting is rather boring and satiating, but moving on eternally like stars keeps him young.  This desire for movement, flow or flux has a cosmic touch about it as it corresponds to the concept of ‘Process’ of A. N. Whitehead and similar ideas of other philosophers. His poem, ‘History Will Not Repeat’ is anti-romantic and is suffused with his righteous anger.  He says:

History is written
In gilded letters amid
The splash of wars- deaths
Mutilations, rapes, and loots (P.4)

His idea of history easily corresponds to Arnold Toynbee’s views on history. For example Toynbee says that in the human history of 3000 years, 8000 wars have been fought.  Pashupati Jha does not believe in the dictum that history repeats itself, but on the contrary, he hopes like a visionary that the wolves, vultures and war-mongers will be guillotined like common criminals and their places will be offered to those who live and die for love.

            In another poem, ‘Dilemma’, the poet expresses his dilemma about the opposite poles and principles of life like love and hatred; creation and destruction and wants to know if both of them are necessary for the cosmic rhythm of cyclicity.

            Jha satirizes the modern Indian society wherein people have lost all moral values and become shameless opportunists and grabbers of gold and lust.  It is said that it is foolish to be wise among fools (Just as it is foolish to be honest and non-corrupt in the midst of corrupt revenue offices).  Similarly it is foolish to be an idealist in an opportunistic, corrupt and callous society. Jha lashes on the back of Indian society when he confesses that

I am a confirmed fool
They say
Because I feel
And do not do
As others do-
To snatch everything
From everyone around
After digging my dagger
Deep into their entrails
And then never looking back (P.53)

The betrayers, the ungrateful, selfish and murderous rascals may be seen in almost all the walks of life –like business, bureaucracy and politics.  Corruption, betrayal and opportunism have been standardized in our society. Again Jha’s righteous anger is expressed in the guise of his self-criticism and confession.

            ‘Pebbles and Pearls’ happens to be one of the beautiful poems in this collection.  The metaphors like pebbles and pearls hold up the contrast between the superficial and the deeper things of life and human search for them. Pebbles are easily available on the sea shore whereas pearls are to be gathered with great difficulty, and adventure accompanied by many risks and dangers. There is a qualitative difference between the two. The metaphor of the ocean of life (samsar sagar) provides the backdrop of those of pebbles and pearls fore-grounded here. The poet shows that pearls are not impossible to gather, but only difficult to get, but courage and conviction will definitely help man to possess them.  Pearls are not only the real ones but also symbolize the highest achievements of life. Thus the poem has two dimensions, i.e. real and symbolic and can be understood by the reader according to his own mental level.

            It is said proverbially (in Kannada and in other Indian languages as well) that there is no kin greater than the mother and nothing tastier than salt.  It is the loss of mother for his two children that the poet laments. He is able to bear the loss of his wife somehow or the other with the help of philosophy and literature, but his children are to small to bear the loss as the very foundation of their emotional life is removed and consequently they are reduced to experience the excruciating agony of the loss of their mother and the resultant sense of forlornness. They cannot communicate with their mother, who has departed to Heaven or the country of the unknown. The poet uses the modern technological imagery to highlight the impossibility of communication between the dead mother and her living children.

Your final departure
To the country of the unknown-
Without mobile or e-mail
Where nothing works
To connect you to them (P.61).

The poet points our further that

For these innocents
Have no world
To live in without
That two-lettered word (P.61).
Though the two children have lost their mother, they cannot live without the memory of her i.e. the two-lettered word ‘Ma’, which is charged with great energy and inspiration.

            The last poem in the collection, ‘Autobiography: Short and Simple’ recounts the profound simplicities of his life. For example, he remembers how he learnt love from his mother; the age-old wisdom from his father, who was a moral mountain; love for humanity from his school and college; moral discrimination from his wife; and reliving of childhood experience from his children. He concludes his autobiography by commenting on it as short and simple.

            The poem is interesting and impressive for its compression of the entire life-span and human experience into five stages involving interaction with mother, father, school/college, wife and children. It is reflective and philosophical in its affirmation of the life of simplicity, but loaded with conviction, which is the hall mark of all the great men of the world.

            Thus, the poems in this collection, All in One are not only interesting but make us think about the serious problems of life. Reading these poems is definitely a rewarding experience for any sensitive reader.

Pashupati Jha, All in One, Adhyayan Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi, 2011, Pp.64. INR 125