Art, Literature, Culture · Dams · Environment · Ganga · Rivers and Culture · Rivers in Literature · Wetlands

“Padma, I have seen you many, many times.”

Part 2

(Part 1 is here)

Anna Akhmatova, who translated Rabindranath Tagore’s poems into Russian in the mid-1960s, described him as “that mighty flow of poetry which takes its strength from Hinduism as from the Ganges.” [i]

Although he explored the beauty of Upnishads and revered the “sacred current of the Ganges”, Tagore was not tied to them. A beacon of Hindu-Muslim unity, his poetry took strength from myriad precious details.

While he talks of Padma’s might, he also returns with a sense of belonging to smaller rivers like Kopai and Ichhamati. Continue reading ““Padma, I have seen you many, many times.””

Dams · Free flowing rivers · Riverine Literature · Rivers and Culture · Rivers in Literature

Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes: An adventure, swift as the river!

My son is twelve years old and a voracious reader. His favorites include series like Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus, Spy School and Space Runners. In short, nothing of the sort I read as a kid. I do not know these books and am frankly, a bit bewildered at the mix of mythology, science fiction and middle school dilemmas.

And hence, when I kept a copy of Neeraj Vagholikar’s “Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes” in his hands, I was a bit unsure. There were no kids here with gadgets, but a youth in robes studying to be a monk, his friend from Tawang and a wildlife biologist! Continue reading “Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes: An adventure, swift as the river!”

Dams · Riverine Literature · Rivers and Culture · Rivers in Literature

Riverscapes of a Lonely Poet: Jibanananda Das

Again I shall return to the Dhansiri’s banks, to this Bengal,

Not as a man, perhaps, but as a shalik bird, or a white hawk.

As, perhaps, a crow of dawn in this land of autumn’s new rice harvest,

I’ll float upon the breast of fog one day in the shade of a jackfruit tree.

Or I’ll be the pet duck of some teenaged girl — ankle bells upon her reddened feet —

I’ll spend the whole day floating on duckweed-scented waters.

Once again I’ll come, smitten by Bengal’s rivers, fields, to this

Green and kindly land of Bengal, moistened by the waves of the Jalangi.

 

Perhaps you’ll gaze at buzzards soaring, borne upon sunset breezes,

Perhaps you’ll hear a spotted owl screeching from a shimul tree branch,

Perhaps a child is strewing puffed rice on the grass of some home’s inner courtyard.

Upon the Rupsa river’s murky waters a youth perhaps steers his dinghy with

Its torn white sail—reddish clouds scud by, and through the darkness, swimming

To their nest, you’ll spot white herons. Amidst their crowd is where you’ll find me.

~ Jibananda Das, from Ruposhi Bangla (Bengal the Beautiful) Sonnet 1 Continue reading “Riverscapes of a Lonely Poet: Jibanananda Das”