Meena Sharma/ The Philosophy of life in Poet As a young Man by Vihang A. Naik

Meena Sharma

Lecturer, PUSSGRC

Bajwara, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India

Abstract

The paper attempts to explore the poetic analysis founded over the philosophic pedestal for the poems collected in Vihang A. Naik’s Poetry Manifesto. In the first look these poems seem to be simple and short but with focused study, hidden philosophic realities are explored to the extreme extent. These beautiful swings of poetry titled ‘poet as a young man’ take the reader to the sky of fantasy even pivoted (hinged) on a peg of philosophy. In this book there are seventy two poems further divided into eleven sub titles. The present paper is to include the third sub –section ‘Poet as a Young Man’. The objective of this paper is to uncover the extent to which philosophy can contribute to our everyday living and how Vihang’s poetry supports to win such an objective.

Keywords Poetry Manifesto, philosophy, life, poet, young man.

Poetry is said to be the oldest and most demanding form of literature .It is the magical form of language which conveys a lot in limited words. It has been admired that in a poem the words should be as pleasing to the ear as the meaning is to the mind [1]. Vihang Ashokbhai Naik is one of the contemporary bilingual poets from Gujarat. He has authored many collections of poetry in English as well as in Gujarati. He is a fabulous translator and has translated many Guajarati poetry books into English. He has to his credit four books of poetry, first ‘City Times And Other Poems’ (1993) published by Kolkata Writers Workshop India, second is ‘Jeevangeet’ a Guajarati poetry published by Navbharat Sahitya Mandir Ahmedabad (2001), 3rd one is ‘Making a Poem’ Published by Mumbai Allied Publishers and the latest one is ‘Poetry Manifesto’ (2010) published by Indialog Publications Private Ltd, New Delhi. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree of English and philosophy from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Vadodara. He has written what he has experienced in and around his personal setup. He has magical tools to narrate much more than theology. In an interview conducted by Dr Sanjay Prasad Pandey poet himself reveals the fact that poetry writing has a context. Writing does not exist in vacuum. It takes birth in a particular context/ out of conflicts at times. Good writing can have multiple meanings and messages [2]. Being a scholar of philosophy Naik has intimacy with the study of rational investigation of truths and principles of being, knowledge and behavior. He has deep insight to visualize every little thing which others do not watch usually. His approach is so fundamental and philosophical that some scholars claim “Vihang opens a few avenues inviting critical aggressiveness and rash attacking remarks by making a choice of preferring philosophy and sacrificing aesthetics ruthlessly. Wild poetic ecstasy has been readily compromised in some of his poems where the poet seems to be committed to prove his philosophical jurisprudence [3]. His poetry presents a perfect alloying of tradition and modernity. Poet has used the metaphor of modern time for conveying the message of passionate and meaningful life. He is actually a seasoned poet of English literature having Indian roots of his philosophical concept. Each poem of the selected title presents kaleidoscopic view to the reader/ reviewer. Each pattern conveys different meaning to the different readers but certainly meanings are more dimensional than they appear on their surface. They are born from the soul of the poet, travel through words and meet the soul of reader and merge as their own identity. “Naik seems to be greatly inspired by the Indian philosophy because there is clear inclination of his being influenced by it, as we see many poems in the collection are philosophical in tone [4]. Poem especially ‘At Seventeen’, ‘A Play’, ‘A Story’, ‘A Poem Profiles’, ‘The Poet As A Young Man’, ‘A Matter of Life’, ‘A Stage’, ‘Failure’, ‘Growing Up’, ‘Poetry Manifesto’, ‘A Poem And Questions’, ‘Are You Looking For That Poet?”, ‘Making A Poem’, ‘A Poem Come Alive’, ‘Making A poet’. The collection is sufficiently providing its readers with even little details of English language and at the same time appreciation of the glorified Indian poetry is highlighted. Most of poems are written in free verse but dig deep inside the heart of the reader. Poet is a philosopher and is concerned with the new thoughts by means of conventional tools of philosophy. His poems are based on many different themes like realism, city life, religious, economic, social, cultural, emotional and political aspects of life. But one common ingredient in all these themes is the fundamental philosophical approach weaved in the issues of modern era. For example: ‘New Websight’ is the beautiful representation of the contrast of inner personality to the outer one of a modern man. In this particular poem through symbols of technical terms of internet and cyber world poet has put a hint to man’s inner man to lead a balanced life instead of running blindly behind aimless race of new era. Let’s have a look on some lines from this poem:

                        “User Name: Vihang

                        Password: Naik’s poetry

                        Verifying………………

                        Characters incorrect.

                       ………………………

………………………

Can love be programmed?

…………………………….

Here there is no boundary

You need no permission

                     To enter into

                       any body’s site.

………………………………

                 With open sites

                 Run anti-virus

                   ……………………..

                   And life.

                 Search……

                 Site not found.” [5]

Philosophy is the study of fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence especially when considered as an academic discipline. It is a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behavior. Its doctrine supports the life of human beings as a mighty foundation.

As per dictionary philosophy refers to the study of proper behavior and the search for wisdom. The original meaning of word ‘philosophy’ comes from the Greek roots; ‘philo’ means love and ‘Sophos’ means wisdom. When someone studies philosophy, he/she wants to understand how and why people do certain things and how to lead a best life. In simple words they want to know the meaning of life. In the discipline of humanities and arts philosophy intend to provide general knowledge intellectual skills rather than occupational or professional skills. [6]

The term Indian philosophy whose Sanskrit meaning is ‘darshan’ refers to any of the several schools of philosophical thought that originated in the Indian subcontinent. All these branches of philosophies have a common underlining idea of ‘dharma’, ‘karma’, ‘swarga’, ‘naraka’, ‘moksha’. In 21st century, philosophy has increasingly become a professional discipline practiced in educational institutions. “Now philosophy has become a highly organized discipline, done by specialists primarily for other specialists. Not only is the broad field of philosophy today is too vast to be embraced by one’s mind, something similar is true even of highly specialized subfields”[7]. Philosophy is rationally critical thinking of a more or less systematic kind about the general nature of the world, the justification on behalf of and the conduct of life. Everyone wants to govern his/her conduct by directing it to desired or valued ends. Ethics or moral philosophy in its most inclusive sense seeks to articulate in rationally systematic form, the rules or principles involved”. [8]. There are at least two senses in which the term philosophy is used. In the formal sense, philosophy is an academic study of the fields of aesthetics, ethic, epistemology, logic, metaphysics and social theories. One’s philosophy of life is philosophy in the formal sense, as a way of life whose focus is resolving the existential questions about the human existence.

Vihang A. Naik in my consideration is a big poet of small poems. Poems are slim and short but put a deep cut like a mechanical chisel on false pride of ego. Most of the poems are written in free verse but captivate the mind of reciter to take it to the journey of fantasy even after hinged on the peg (pivot) of fundamentals of philosophy.

‘’Meditation on love and wisdom in a slim poetry collection from Naik………….Aiming toward philosophical even existential concerns, these light-fingered lyrics leave too much unsaid.’’ [9]

Among his numerous magical poems, some specific poems project the essence of philosophy inside them. Poem “A matter of life” is one such example. Using symbolic issue of how to make a poem consistently even after repeated failures, it indeed describes the issue of life of man .All the difficulties hurdles and dissatisfactions for the real barriers faced by human being poet in their entire course of life time and again. Let us have a glimpse.

“How about making a poem within

a poem? You smell ocean and

the sand. A life within a poem.

She composed herself from the surf.

The night lamp burns.

At the corner of the desk

Life is a philosophy

Book with pencil marks,

wounds and comments. A poem

You cancelled at the end…” [10]

Poet seems to humanize the objects touching and enhancing the emotions. The ‘Odhani’ of the poem stuck to the pen of poet. This incident is exploring a number of possibilities for further inference of philosophy. The touch of ‘odhani’ may initialize and motivate poet to write ahead or it may pluck him out from the sphere of reality to the space of dreams. Poet feels the content of poetry merged within the content of life. Poetry is a recipe of truth wrapped in ornamental beauty. The story of life is running at the same track as the story of poem is flowing with. Reader’s insight is growing anxious to go hand in hand with poet’s insight.

“His intuitive and philosophical lines leave the readers in the state of numbness. The ‘self-portrait’ as the poet entitles the fourth poem of anthology really surprises the reader with few strange yet effective lines”. [11]

The poem ‘At Seventeen’ clearly highlights the desire of ultimate peace during and after the physical existences of man. In a telephonic interview, the poet clarifies that moksha is a practice instead of an attainment; one has to work out for salvation every day. He also adds that philosophy of life goes hand to hand with the philosophy of poetry. There is a base of philosophy working regularly under the surface of poetry. Youth is the carrier to bring about positive changes in the society.

As per Indian philosophy the ambition of ‘moksha’ is prominent to every being. The benefits of ‘swarga’ (heaven) and the punishments of ‘naraka’ (hell) are also described in ‘puranas’ and other holy texts. In this particular poem, poet has compared little tasks of teenage with the sustainable outlook of a matured poet. At teenage, man has many ideas but most of them are far away from practical basis. Teenagers have a full volume of ideas but these ideas are neither oriented nor defined. Rather these are scattered to different directions. On the other hand, when the maturity of opinion is accompanied by the maturity of age is attained then it may develop a step above the concepts of even heaven and hell. This super high stage is symbolized as ‘moksha’ (salvation). Poet adds that a teenager poet ‘writes’ poem whereas the matured poet with developed insight ‘makes’ poem. If analyzed in philosophic view, writing is confined to pen, page, title, heading, comma, dots, words, lines etc. It’s like an external structure and physical outlining of something. ‘Making a Poem’ on the other way is erupted naturally deep within from heart of poet. In such a phase pen and page are only tools to witness the flow of thoughts in an artful manner. Poem making is a result of a number of experiences, emotions, feelings, passions, hardships, grievances, setbacks, attachments and break ups encountered by heart time to time.

‘ Vihang A. Naik’s poems are intuitive, thoughtful, philosophical and creative pieces of art, where the poet displays a confident command, mature, with a fine balance of emotional intensity. Irony, ranges from themes and places with experimentation”. [12]

Adolescent’s aims are not firmed in a final draft but brand of mind is pure and free from any falsehood. That’s why poet has called teenager poetry as enjoyable as heaven. As we grow older; mind becomes more complex and opaque. A wide gap is generated between what is said and what is being done. This dualism is compared to the hell. As far as the issue of salvation is concerned, it is the stage of an awakened consciousness where it is above the reach of any plus or minus; it is the state of progression ahead of hell and heaven.

Poem ‘A Play’ carries a symbolic notion. Contents of Greek mythology have been described to pace them in accordance with the Indian philosophic basis. “To him life is a philosophy/book with pencil marks/wounds and comments. A poem/you canceled at the end. The pain of broken heart of a sensitive poet makes the reader shudder from pain too” [13]

As per the Greek mythology, muse is the goddess of art, science, dance and knowledge. She is the sources of artistic inspiration. During the entire course of life one has to play various roles as decided by destiny time to time. Man has no capacity to choose the role as per his own interest. What has to be performed has to be performed by the being selected as a performer. As founded by Williams Shakespeare that all the worlds a stage, and we are merely players, Naik has same underlining idea working in his poems. At a given time one has to play part in the ‘real drama’ of life as the role of a poet, as a philosopher or even as a fool. The basic essence of positivity is to face the life as it comes his way. It is not a concern to decide upon which role is to play, but the target must be realized by playing the assigned part with full sincerity and honesty. “Poems of Naik exhibit a clean influence of William Shakespeare. In his attempt to indianize the entire book. He introduces words like: ‘moha’, ‘maya’, ‘mukati’, ‘moksha’. He talks about the characters like: ‘Draupadi’, ‘Vishwamitra’, ‘menaka’. He speaks about ‘odhani’ (dupatta) and ‘Gazal’. [14]

In philosophic terms playing the role of fool holds a differ meaning. ‘Fool’/clown are indeed great who which make people laugh by making fun of their own fool actions. The comedy that a clown performs is usually the role of a fool whose everyday actions and tasks become extraordinary and fun making to the audience. In the famous film “Mera Naam Joker” (my name is joker), actor Raj Kapoor had played a role of joker, doing funny deeds and by making intentional joke of himself he share smiles to his spectators. He lost his individual identity to bring a smile on others’ face. Charlie Chaplin, the great comedy hero make silly things in a mute mode, but his ultimate motives are to serve deep meanings to all along with his comedy.

A story is another brilliant poem of this collection. It explores the idea that whatever has been generally conveyed by means of words is not the complete truth. In fact a greater portion of the total volume of thoughts had been vanished away before it could reach its destination. Poet claims that the actual story slips out through back door but all eyes are set to welcome it at the front door only. This is the rule of world that everyone wants to see only the bright side of a coin. When no co-reference is available to compensate the original story with understanding, then much of its quantum flows down in the invisible zone and thus the story loses its real meaning. The sentiments of the author are usually evaluated at the mercy of readers. Not every story is feasible to narrate and not each narrated story is capable to catch expected interpretations. Some communication gap plays a root cause for by-passing of stories. Poet argues that the art of poetry is dominating above the art of language. Words are means of transporting message but without words the same is sometimes conveyed. A famous quote tells: “if you can’t understand my silence, then you can never understand my words”

“A story always slips

Out of your

Hand. And opaque zone

Of language…”       [15]

 

“A poem profiles” is again a philosophic poem of Vihang a. Naik which discovers the state of blank zone where a poem seems as a stranger to others. It may happen due to the communication gap, emotional gap, language gap or understanding gap. But this wide gap is extremely dangerous and may depart poem from the poet and even hinders it to reach its readers. This is the condition of ‘vacuumed poetry’ when nothing is in thought or on page.

The theme poem of this section in hand is titled as “The Poet as a Young Man”. In young age one is usually overconfident and proud enough after acquiring a bundle of papers called certificates. These papers are the proof of authenticate the bearer as ‘an educated being’. But what about the evils which are still propagating inside of an educated personality? Poet conveys that in young age, one is full of enthusiasm, zeal, courage, guts etc. then he is least concerned about the implementation of the acquired knowledge in his routine life. After becoming so called ‘educated’ he leads a shallow life. When he visualizes himself in the mirror of soul, he does not find himself; instead he finds an animal in place of a young poet. Why this contrast occurs in the group of educated gentry? This is a question of modern philosophy. We can pretend a clean image of self in front of outside world but we cannot cheat our mirror of soul as it is the mirror of truth only. And it never tells a lie.

 

“Credited with certificates

If education makes

Man to look himself.

He saw an animal in front of mirror.

A portrait of poet as a young man” [16]

In the above poem word ‘animal’ do not signify a wild beast, but it represent a living being or a living creature which is having life signs. When human being loses its ethics, insight and etiquettes then in spite of being a human, he is to be taken as an animal. The mirror of soul reflects the real picture of young man’s persona. Vihang’s poetry is a guided voyage from animalism to become human. S.N. Singh rightly remarked that the philosophical overload of his poems will keep on inspiring his readership community to pose Himalayan questions in the years to come [17].

To conclude, the poems collected in Poetry Manifesto are full of energetic expression of this modern poet on the things happening around him. These appear to be simple and small but have acute depth and impact of the hidden meaning. His philosophy has given a way to his unique style of poetry which is spontaneous, straight forward, intellectual, meaningful, and carry adequate emotional intensity. Being positive as well as committed in life is a formula which turns obstacles into the golden opportunities. The poet knows very well the real world of writer and the scope for the same. He starts from philosophy of life, continues to flow like an ever fresh lake of lyrics and contain several precious gems deep inside its surface. Right from epics like ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’ up to the extent of World Wide Web and e-mail; his scope of poetic philosophy is grown enough to cater the interest of a wide range of readers. Life is an opportunity to transform pessimistic choice to a pessimistic one. It may turn grievances to the treatment of the same. Aristotle’s catharsis theory was working on the same philosophy. Being positive as well as committed in life is a formula which turns obstacles into the golden opportunities. On the whole, philosophy in his poetry is right to be named as the ‘modern philosophy of poet as a young man’. His message is common to all but he wants to bring a positive change ridden on the shoulders of young generation.

 Works cited

 [1]. Marianne, Moore. “Poetry”: n.pag.web.19 November    2015.www.bookrags.com>study guide-poetry.

[2].Pandey, Dr Sanjay Prasad. “Book Talk: Vihang A. Naik on City Times and Other Poems” The Achievers Journal.1.1.(2015): 72-74.Print.

[3]. Arora, Sudhir Kumar. “Book Review: Poetry Manifesto” Dialogue: A Journal Devoted to Literary.6.2.(2010).Print.

[4]. Arolia, Jitendra. “Kaleidoscopic Vision in the Vihang Naik’s Poetry Manifesto” Research Scholar: An International Refereed e- Journal of Literary Exploration.1.2.248-252(2013).Print.

[5]. Naik, Vihang A. “Poetry Manifesto: New and Selected Poems” 1. New Delhi: India log Publications,11-12(2010)Print.

[6]. http://www.vocabulory.com / dictionary / philosophy

[7] Home: Oxford English Dictionary /www.oed.com

[8].Quinton, Anthony. “The Ethics of Philosophical Practices” Oxford: OUP, 666.Print.

[9]. Kirkus. “Reviews of City Times and Other Poems by Vihang A. Naik” n.pag.web.18 November 2015. http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/vihang-naik/city-times-and-other-poems.

[10]. Naik, Vihang A. “Poetry Manifesto: New and Selected Poems” 1. New Delhi: India log Publications,61(2010)Print.

[11]. Gosh, Argha. “Books review on City Times and Other Poems”.n.pag.web.18November2015.www.spectrahues.com/books/book- review/2015/11/city-times-and-other-poems-a-review.

[12]. Bite, Vishwanathan. “Review: Philosophy in Poetry of Vihang’s Poetry” The Criterion.2.4 (2012).n.pag.web.19 November2015.www.the-criterian.com/v3/n4/vishwanathan bite.pdf

[13]. Dixit, Kalayani. “Colossal Range of Experiences and Philosophical Vision of Vihang A. Naik in Poetry Manifesto (New and Selected Poems)” Research scholar.1.4 (2013):1-4

[14]. Dixit, Kalayani. “Colossal Range of Experiences and Philosophical Vision of Vihang A. Naik in Poetry Manifesto (New and Selected Poems)” Research scholar.1.4 (2013):1-4

[15]. Naik, Vihang A. “Poetry Manifesto: New and Selected Poems” 1. New Delhi: India log Publications, 55 (2010) Print.

[16]. Naik, Vihang A. “Poetry Manifesto: New and Selected Poems” 1. New Delhi: India log Publications, 57 (2010) Print.

[17]. Singh, SN. “Book Review: Poetry Manifesto” The Achievers Journal.1.2.(2015) 79-81.Print.

 

 

 

 

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