By Dr. Pretti Kumar

GARIMELLA’S “ Heat of India”



The struggle for India's freedom was unique in many ways. It was essentially an anti-colonial movement, the first of its kind, on such a mass scale in the annals of the world. It involved hundreds of millions of people in a seemingly non-violent path. The origins of the movement could be traced back to the middle of the 1 9~ century and, in particular, to the Great Revolt of 1857. Nationalism in
its embryonic form was perceived in this Revolt. The revolt was more anti British than anti colonial in its character. The ire of the rebels was directed against the over powering might of the British in a more political than economic sense. However, it lacked a clear and progressive socio-economic and political picture of India's future.

The exploitative colonial rule of the British was an objective reality. Its realization by Indians constituted the subjective factor.

Thus arose Indians nationalism as an awareness of the Indian people about the clash of their interests with England in India rcsulting in the struggle against colonialism.

By 1919, younger men were replacing the moderates, and for them, the recently announced British reforms were not adequate, they made no thrust regarding the transfer of power. Agitations and riots prevailed. The British rulers were virulent; arrests and imprisoning without trials were the order of the day. In response, Gandhiji advocated Civil disobedience. Passing through several vicissitudes, the national movement reached a crescendo by 1920's involving the masses in laree numbers. The changes brought about in the agrarian economy with the consequent shins in the relation of agrarian classes introduced a significant change in the movement. The post- war situation coupled with the assertion and strengthening of the Indian capitalist class, the struggle took new dimension under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi became the new Messiah of Indian freedom. The era of `responsible cooperation', came to an end and the stalwarts of the earlier struggles like Lokmanya Tilak made an exit. The Jallianwallabagh massacres and the policy of repression let loose by the British, made people determined to fight to the finish. Gandhi, grasping the new awakened mood of the Indian masses, decided to launch a popular struggle. It took the form of the non-cooperation movement. Introducing the new weapon of Satyagraha on the plank of twin principles of truth and non-violence, pleading for class harmony and social peace, Gandhi promised freedom through the
non-cooperation movement within a year. It was the first genuine direct mass action programme, which involved almost all social classes including the peasantry.


The ordinary man was completely shattered. It is in this historical backdrop that frail Garimella, the foremost national poet of Andhra Pradesh, surfaced to voice defiance of his people against the mighty British Government. He realized that the British could only set free men and there was no need for that –Free men set themselves free. His rise into prominence as a poet in Andhra coincident with the non-cooperation movement of 1921-22 with the composing of the song” We do not want the white man’s rule (Makoddee Tella Dorantanamu) This is the historical song of 162 lines perhaps was the longest song sung in the days of our freedom struggle. “Heart of India” was Garimella’s first work in English. His spirit revolted against the total subservience of his countrymen. His poetry is a blend of socio-political concerns, and is marked by a unique vigour and exuberance of expression. His anger has not only been salutary in a climate of political expediency and literary compromise, but has also kept his voice truly unique and dangerously distinct to be banned. He felt the boycotters of Simon Commission and the welcomers both were anxious to enter into an era of peace and friendship with government. The fact that some Indian leaders were slavishly aping the western ways of living and thinking was repugnant to his soul. Several of his verses express this feeling.



"You partake in official dinners sweet,
The governors ten times per day meet
For shameless benefits touch their feet,
Yet, pretend to have an enemy's heat"
Tall Talk



According to Garimella, this book was not written for this party or that, but to defend the cause of all good souls, who thought it their duty to render all the help necessary to the Commission, ever in the face of the opposition offered by the Liberals and organized by the Congress.

He was against both- the Liberals and the Moderates:


"Rejoice now, our mother, O Ind!
For even now your Liberals find
A plea, for a forward view to mind,
For action though they lag behind".

Liberalism

"The prince of the Moderates Malaviaji
Proposes to build by the end of this thirty
A Swaraj by negotiation and tea
With the masters of our mighty sea".

Liberalism


He believed that there was no use either of them trying to pretend to be more heroic, frightful and valorous than the other-s For, the country had got its Own sense of judging things not only by the temporary outside glare and glitter, but also by the modesty, earnestness, carefulness and farsightedness which virtues are their own rewards.

In February 1921, Garimella Satyanarayana was arrested at Rajahmundry. The Kakinada Magistrate had sentenced him to imprisonment for one year, for writing the first part of Swarayya Songs (Swarajya Geetaalu) in Telugu. When he had written the second part and was found singing them, he was arrested again and arraigned before the Presidency Magistrate, Egmore, who sentenced him to two years rigorous imprisonment

In the Court of the Presidency Magistrate Egmore. Madras on July 24, 1922, the Presidency Magistrate did not permit Satyanarayana to read out the statement The statement was handed over to the Magistrate

He felt it was a misfortune to reconcile or yield at every stage instead of adhering to a principle. The policy of giving up resistance on certain issues though reluctantly out of a feeling that it would impair friendships or cause alienation or give offence, would be productive of undesirable situations.

It was not new in India to resist the British. This resistance had been going on ever since the British established themselves in India But the qualities like accepting dutifully what others suggest believing that all would be well when the time comes and a moderate attitude should be preferred to the extreme one, had become 50 natural with the Indians that even in conclaves of statesmen these qualities had become guidelines These qualities had been inhibiting progress and had become impious inhumanistic influences leading to mean compromises.


Garimella matured in an atmosphere of cultural and national upheaval when India was shaking off its age-old cultural and political stagnation and slavery. He had by now understood,

Speech is civilization itself.., the word, even the most contradictory word, preserves contact- it is silence which isolates.


HE decided to speak.

"Though after a rule of three hundred years;
We find naught here but bones and tears,
We dare not ask you leave this strand
And make your home in your island land".



Garimella's `Heart of India `is primarily concerned with the Simon Commission and its experience.

We all have an inner need to line more deeply and fully and with greater awareness, to know the experiences of others and to know better our experience. The poet from his own store of felt,
observed, or imagined experiences, selects, combines and reorganizes. He creates new experience for the reader, significant because focused and formed, in which the reader can participate and which he may use to give him a greater awareness and understanding of it. It can be done so in two ways by broadening our experience or by deepening it. Garimella'S poetry is of entirely exceptional vitality, grace, authenticity and finesse. What strikes a reader is the compelling originality~ freshness and also his command over the verse technique and English language, which was an alien medium with respect to our poets writing in this language, and above all Garimella, detested it.

"Custom ridden and privilege swollen"
Your English shall not treat us equals,
I am content to be a subject stolen,
Give me my food, I will cease my quarrels".
The Heart

In spite of Garimella's political differences with English he did not deny the importance of English literature. He maintained the rhythm and the richness of the language without tampering its poetic form.

"Of thy breast I took no sip
My tongue thy accents did not tip:
My playful pen I could not keep
It ventures into thy treasures to peep".

The Muse

"Charge rue not, oh gentle mistress!
That oft I miss thy tone or stress;
If thou judge my passion sweet
It is more than a proper grasp of feet".

The Muse

He restricts to four lines with a set rhythmical pattern as best Suits his purpose (ab ab or at times aa bb). `Heart of India' is almost written in the lines of Gurajada's “Congress- Madras”


"The bureaucracy has laid its web,
You do not sink in its direst ebb
But wade through it and see the Light
That dawns in the East with a pleasing sight".
The Heart

"It is not through hatred, pride or spite
That dared we spurn your world-wide might;
With faith in God, in truth, in you,
As subject friends we trumpets blew
The Heart

"Nor do we fret for your cruel torture,
But consider it as a reward due
For our noble service to your empire
Which rules the world like a famous shrew".
The Heart

`The greatness of his work lies not so much in his soul-stirring strains of poesy as in his relentless efforts to stress the essential dignity of man and restore him to the former position of pride am glory both by precept and example.

"Your cruel revenge is filled, I think,
`When the way-farers are forced to sink
On their nose and bellies, till they drink
The blood that the rough road brings to the brink".
India`s Despair

He was born at a time when India was eclipsed by the clouds of foreign tradition and Philosophy. The soul of India was lost since the time of Sri Harsha and it was not found until the time of Tagore. During the time of British rule in India, the Western city wall civilization made its encroachment on Indian soil and cast a deep spell on the minds of Macaulay-made gentlemen of India.

"The fate of my young men, clustering round
Your college walls for a living sound,
Is tilling my eyes with tearss amid throbs;
For the college is the source that robs".
The Heart

"Though several men agitate to start us more schools.
I beseech ye my lords not to make us more tools
if ye please, pray, give us but only the choice
With equal equipment to revive our true voice". .
Paramount Question


Garimella, again like Tagore, is well known for his song of patriotism. Yet he condemns it wholesale, if it comes to clash with the higher ideas of internationalism and hopes for a comity of states living in a state of perpetual amity and understanding.

Love occupies a prominent position in his works. Love and non-violence are twins. He felt we were able to be near the threshold of freedom and later to achieve it too because we adopted the novel, courageous, heroic but loving and patriotic method of struggle:

Literary revolution (led by Bankim Chatterjee and religious reforms (preached by Raja Rammohan Roy).

Garimella's mind being as incisive as a surgeon's scalpel and sensitive as a seismograph, registered the best features of those movements and quested for suitable media in song and literature. He believed that truth consists not in facts but in harmony of facts and that this love of outward simplicity and inward truth is India's message to the world. He sought fulfillment not in escape but in activity. He lived and worked in freeing the mind of man.. .while he fought against the exploitation of India by the foreigner, he fought equally against the inward slavery of the Indian mind. Social problems exercised his mind and drew forth from his pen fierce satire on the society.

Subramania Bharati (1882-1921) was Garimella's contemporary, committed to the similar cause. He was not only the greatest of 2oth century Tamil poets, but also one of the major creative forces of the Tamil renaissance. Sarojini Naidu once said about Bharati "He has created Beauty not only through the medium of glowing and lovely words, but has kindled the souls of men and women by the million to a more passionate love of freedom, and a richer dedication to the service of the country."

He too dreamt of

"Clear vision
Willed action
Woman free
A fecund land
The Lord's grace
Truth triumphant
A new Heaven
A new Earth".
Aspirations

He stated in Glory of Womanhood:

"Let us rejoice in praise of womanhood,
Let us dance to the cry of "Victory to Woman!"
For womanhood is the sanctified union
Of mother's fame and the spouse's name".


Garimella's thoughts were not baseless. The government had been very ably enforcing a policy of suppression and had detained numerous citizens. The government had imposed all sorts of taxes and duties which reminds one of the insects like scorpion and snakes. The government had appointed additional police forces to terrorize the people, to threaten them with whipping and to make bonfires of the Swaraj flags. All savage arrangements were made to deter people going from)) one place to the other to spread the message of freedom. Some were forced to remain helpful to tile government. Tile police whisked away some people detained them, while humiliated and tortured other men and children:


"Are prostitutes your trothed friends
That you should call them down to show
The nakedness of our brothers in bands?
Is this the virtue even of a foe?"
India's Despair

"What sedition could the children talk,
That they should in hot sun walk
Or rather run sans food sans drink
And senseless in the mid-way sink?
India `s Despair

Wit and humor though sparsely seen are not completely absent in Heart of India.

For example for Sambam

"More busier than the Madras bus
Never staying and ever horning,
He sounds aloud and stormy warning
That the ideal is the test of pain and fuss
The Madras Procession


"If the ancient mountain would not walk
To hear the Prophet Mohammed talk,
The prophet, in his wisdom, must kindly wend
His feet towards this mountain friend".
Unity At All Costs



His poetry and philosophy refused to be cribbed and confined within any particular geographical boundary; they embraced within their purview the whole humanity, past, present and future. He devoted himself to elucidating the real meaning of tile great  cultural and spiritual struggle of man which has been going on throughout history, in spite of many and recurring setbacks. His love for his country and his appreciation of the role it should play in the world was also visualized against this wider background. This development really illustrates a deepening and enriching patriotism and not its weakening or rejectiot1. For him any doctrine which basis itself on exploitation and hatred and fails to appreciate the true and essential humanity embedded in the heart of man is unacceptable. This view has been aptly expressed in the following verses:

"Why don't ye all the slaves of the world, `I
One day, in common union curled,
Fail into the deep from tile mountain hurled
And stand with freedom's flag unfurled?
Slave Races

We then could see with what food fed
The modern Imperial freedom can tread
Over black, brown and colored blood
And wax upon these living dead".
Slave Races

"Tile universal culture is never free-given
Even such as is given, is not to enliven
Our pride or glory, but only to inspire
How noble our slavery, how grand their empire
Paramount Question


Garimella's Heart of lndia seeks for Liberation and thus is very purposefully written, not merely to entertain the reader but to bring him, along with pleasure, fresh insights, or renewed insights, important insights, into the nature of human experience. It gives a deeper and broader understanding of life, freedom, human sufferings, struggle with a qualification, of course, that the kind of insight which literature gives is not necessarily the kind that can be summed up in simple `lesson or moral'. It is knowledge- felt knowledge, new knowledge- of the complexities of human nature tragedies, sufferings and excitements that characterize the human experience.

Greatness in literature, in fact, cannot be entirely dissociated from size. In literature, as in basketball and football, a good big man is better than a good little man The greatness of a poem is in proportion to the range and depth and intensity of experience that it brings to us- its amount of life.

"Of freedom, brotherhood and equality
Without a trace of loss or frailty!
May the stronger help the weak to strength!
And tile richer folk the poor to wealth"!
Closure

"And thus may tile Almighty fulfill
His noble good and eternal will!
And all the dangerous ambitions kill
O tile cruel, to raise the weak to the hill".
Closure

He is less an artist than a human being, with the same sorrows that we have, with the same instinct to cry as we do. Indeed, he has come very close to writing the poetry of concrete universals.




 

(BRIEF ACCOUNT OF MODERN TELUGU POETRY>
                  
 


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