Looking at Kurukshetra through the third eye

Dr. Rati Saxena

Time and man are interrelated. When time subdues the man, there is chance of delusion and when man tries to hold time, the time gets set to teach him a lesson. Very interesting thing in this relation is that time remembers only those, who can stand straight in front of them. Kurukshetra is one of the literary approaches in this direction.
When I was trying to learn about Malayalam literature. I heard about Dr. Ayyappa panikkars long poem Kurukshetra that was considered very complicated one specially for translation. I was told that it is impossible to translate this poem. This make me interested in this poem to read and understand and bring it in to Hindi through translation. Naturally this was a big challenge for person like me who had limited knowledge of Malayalam language. But good poems cannot be limited in the boundaries of languages. Language is only medium of expression core of the poem can not kept in the brackets. I tried to read this poem with help of other people. I was careful that the people who read for me should not know Hindi much as there interpretation could misguide me. I wanted to understand this poem independently that is why I read it line by line. Surprisingly every line of this poem had strong identity. They are interrelated but same time they could be read separately. That is why translation and correlation between meanings have to go together. That makes translator's job difficult. But same time it give space for understanding and reach in heart. For a translator who does not interested in mere language translation, who wants to reach in heart of meaning, this poem is very significant.

The period of this poem was 1951 to 1957. This was the time when people started realize the test of discontentment after freedom. Common was not only unhappy but astounded also. Naturally seeing all these changes in society disturbed a young mind. Yes, a young village boy wrote this poem on the canvas of whole world. It is strange, but not too much, as poetry does not need the boundaries of age and worldly knowledge. Another specialty of this poem is that it took almost six years to complete. In first glance it is a long period to complete a poem of almost 200 lines, but when read it seriously every line is able to give new direction. It is compelled in such a manner that a number of ideas settled in few lines. Above all the poem is never loosing its rhythm. The time is concentrated in form of meaning.
Kurushetra is the battlefield of fight between selfishness of same generation belongs to same family. When quarrel take place between "ours" ( Mamakah) and yours (Pandavas), than humanity returns back few steps. Poetry is an attempt to call it to move forwards. Kukshetra is not opening the path of sorrows but trying to search new ways.
This world is a market place, where every one is selling them and buying them. This is the place where roots are eating branches and branches to flowers. Life giver is becoming eater. In this strange time a star of hope goes up in the sky. It's dim light helps man to revealed the sorrows and unmoral of society.

O love star of my life!
look down, this is my world
the drama stage of men
can you here the sorrows of men
who are dancing and singing
this world is big market
traders come and go here
bargain for themselves
roots are sucking flowers
earth is soloing crops.

Earth is reality and sky is expend of its imaginations. Both of them interrelated. When man is unhappy, his imagination try to find the way out. So earth does not have any identity without sky. That is why man always try to solve his earthy difficulied looking at sky. Religion is the man made thought, which could help him to remain him in his humanity. But when religion takes advantage of innocent people. Temples, churches and mosque started hurting humankind in place of helping, where does the common man go? Who can help him?
Under this sky
temples churches and mosque
knocking back the chest of man
be happy while
playing with their hearts

Common man is still hoping for some miracle. Morning sunlight like innocent girls, like humming evening young girls, with shining cheeks the moonlight women, Clear days like mothers have still have faith in God. Sweet innocent girls, like dawn light, girls wearing skirt like going down evening are still forwarding for religion. Now question rises, whether religions are really helping humankind, whether religions are still source of peace and harmony. This poem becomes significant in modern time, when whole world is divided in different religions. the cause of wars are limited to superiority of religions. All religious places are change in to war houses.
It is fact that man has becoming powerful day by day. He has controlled the nature even. When man is so powerful that even death is scared of him, then why he is so sad? This question rises in every ones mind. Whether power and happiness are interrelated? If it is not so than why man is blindly trying to gain more and more power. The poem is putting very significant questions in front reader. Most of the time poet is including reader in his thoughts.
The poet has doubt about culture also. The culture should refine the man. It makes difference between man and animals. But when the culture it self become blind, Humanity is left on the mercy of time and space, who can understand the pain of man. The poet is raising question against so called culture. Whether culture is responsible for the rise of humanity or it is making him blind against nature. The nature verses culture is the question in sensitive minds. Kurukshetra is again rising questions in this aspect.
Another big question, which disturb man is - why did man born on earth? Naturally he has some more responsibilities compare to other creatures because of he has more intelligence. But what he is doing in name of culture? Woman like Seeta are send away in the Jungle in mercy of animals. A brave intelligent leader like Ravan is killed by cheating. The man like Vibhishan and Sugreeva, who have cheated brother are getting respect. If we try to uncover the achievements of Ram, who is the model man, we find that noting is left in his credit. Same way cleverness of Chankya is also use less. If these were neither happy and nor could humankind happy than who could be our model? If our leaders lives couldn't be useful humankind, than what is the cause to take birth in this world?
The world of astronomy talking about space. time etc. when the power of atom is glorified, than the earth which is a useful part of space is still struggling with pain and sorrow. The songs of human being are burning in the universe of positive and negative powers. Sufferings of man is reflection of universal atoms or it is created by man only. Man has a little roll in Universe. There are number of other creature, which are more power full than man. The Earth is not only planet in universe. Than why the suffering is more in the earth than other planets? This could be question for not only intellectuals, but scientists also. Kurukshetra is putting it's doubt in this direction also.
Poet is putting question on the roll of World Bank. In modern world we feel same way. So called globalization and world economy is making life cheap. Do we need some coins in name of help or we have to grow ourselves from inside. strangely, this question is becoming bigger and bigger day by day in our modern time.
At last poet is confident that if we want to find our own way, we can not follow some one blindfolded we have to reborn in our own navel.
Thus the Kurukshetra is a poem of future, even though it talks about past. it deals with present. This always relevant to the time of it's reader. This is the quality of poem, which makes it world wise worthy. Most of the good poems can not be old, if they are really related to human kind. Kabir is the poet of all time because of this quality. Kuruskhsetra comes in this category. This is a poem of thought which deals human emotions, This is the song of sorrow, which searches the causes of happiness, This is the path in darkness in search of light.

As I told previously, this poem is challenge for translator. Translator can not dependant on words and their meanings only. He has open his third to reach in the core of poem, He has to rebuilt his own structure and coin his own meaning. The poem is so strong that a number of translations are needed to understand the poem in different angles. Translators third eye is not Shiva's third eye which destroy every thing. Here one has to search the meaning from ashes and interpreted in ones own time and space. At last it gives full satisfaction to translator.

Dr. Rati Saxena
K.p.9/624, Vaijayant, Chettikunnu,
Medical college P.O.
Thiruvananthpuram- 695011



My Voice | Poetry At Our Time | In The Name Of Poetry | Editor's Choice | Our Masters
Who We Are | Back Issues | Submission | Contact Us | Home