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Creation and Criticism

ISSN: 2455-9687  

(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal

Devoted to English Language and Literature)

Vol. 06, Joint Issue 22 & 23: July-Oct 2021


Three poems of DC Chambial

Ramesh Chandra Mukhopadhyaya


1. Seeds of the Kind

(from Mellow tones)


The bed’s been made,

Weeds removed,

Manure blended,

Seeds sown in sevens,

In rows half a score.


Curious to see

The seeds to sprout,

Heat and moisture

From sun ‘n’ dew enough.


This morn I saw

The sandy soil

Steadily stir

And tender bud

Peep out into the sun.


Then a host of them

Stirred like warriors in sleep

In perfect rhythm

Valiantly arrayed in field.


In my fancy I find

Green buds turn red,

Full of season’s hue.

Sparkle in morning dew.

In my little dream bed

Seeking seeds of the kind.


The poem, “Seeds of the Kind”, opens with an objective word painting.

The bed’s been made,

Weeds removed,

Manure blended,

Seeds sown in sevens,

In rows half a score.


The pointedness of description reminds one of Keats who shut the wild wild eyes of la belle dame with kisses four and of W. B. Yeats as well. Seven the number stands for every positive and valuable thing in existence. With some numerologist seven implies connection with the universe. In India such ploughed scapes could be found anywhere in the countryside. The poet dons the role of a farmer and exclaims:

Curious to see

The seeds to sprout

Heat and moisture

From the Sun ‘n’ dew enough.


In other words, provided certain conditions are satisfied: provided the Sunrays and moisture are enough for the seeds to sprout. And, it is curious to see seeds sprout. Wordsworth was engrossed with the sight of the daffodils along the margin of a lake even though it was a common sight in Wordsworth’s Lake District. It was a static view, a joy for ever for the poet. But with Chambial, a ploughed landscape, a common sight in rural India, speaks of becoming, especially, in cultivated Nature. At the same time, the poem speaks of Dependent Origination theory1 of Buddhist philosophy. No single cause is responsible for bringing about an effect. The seed is not enough for bringing about a seedling. Enough sun and moisture should be there. And many other conditions should be fulfilled. With Dependent Origination theory at the back of the text, the text, ironically, reminds the readers that there is no substance. Everything is evanescent in the phenomenal world. Despite that, whatever is a creative activity in the context of Nature is time and again. It seems that the poet is one with the physiocrats2 in his economic thought. In the following morning, the poet saw the sandy soil gradually stir – showing movement. It is not visible to the eye. But, when a seedling’s tender trunk excelsiors and its tender root delves into the earth the equilibrium of the earth is surely shocked. The poet is a seer and he can see the tremor of the soil when especially sandy. In other words, any thing new, which shows up, changes the equilibrium of the existence. The slightest tremor is not to be neglected. And, here, in the farm land, tender buds peep out into the sun. With the present author, the imagery points out that every birth is sacred in its a priori zest for sun or creativity and nobleness of heart. One must not deride population growth: When a child is born it is born with a brain and a heart and limbs eager to work. In the name of population control, many devilish projects and acts are launched in the name of civilization. But, a little later, a host of these buds stirred like warriors in sleep in perfect rhythm valiantly arrayed in field. This is an imagery which is used time and again. On one level, it reminds the Indian readers of the epic war of Kurukshetra, where the warring parties in battle array are described. On another level, flowers are too fragile to hold out against Time. This reminds us of Shakespeare. But, Chambial’s vision is different. He finds flowers in battle array in a dream. This author with limited resources can avouch that a battle of flowers with the rest has never taken place hitherto in prose or rhyme. Think of a war between flowers and all that is crude and gross in the existence. It is heroic poetry that is reminiscent of the symphony of Bach or Edward Elgar. Coming events cast a shadow often in dreams. And, surely, after an Armageddon the age of flowers will follow the age of the wolves of today.


But the objective situation often provokes the subconscious to interpret the same in symbolic terms just as flowers spring from the rugged earth. Just as the seeds of the kind have been sown on earth to conjure an army of valiant flowers so could seeds of the kind could be sown in our mind. The poet exclaims: “In my fancy I find / Green buds turn red…seeking seeds of the kind.” Does it not necessarily mean that the youth of our country long for initiation or vija mantra. Here, Chambial reminds us of Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha tells the Brahmin farmer, Kashi Bharadvaj, that he is also a farmer. He sows the seeds of truth in the furrows of human mind (Kasi Bharadwaj sukta).




1. Pratītyasamutpāda (Sanskrit: प्रतीत्यसमुत्पाद pratītyasamutpāda; Pali: पटिच्चसमुप्पाद paṭiccasamuppāda), commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key principle in Buddhist teachings, which states that all dharmas ("phenomena") arise in dependence upon other dharmas: "if this exists, that ...


2. According to one late-19th century historian, the physiocrats (who called themselves the "économistes") created "the first strictly scientific system of economics". Physiocracy was a theory of wealth. The physiocrats, led by Quesnay, believed that the wealth of nations was derived solely from the value of agriculture.



2. Eternal Truth 

(from Mellow Tones)


नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः।

न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः।।2.23।।


Some years hence

to go through the door,

some more couple of years

the door will open for exit

out of the beauties of the world.


The wheel goes on

up and down

like a merry-go-round.

The innings is over,

the part played on the stage.


Will it all be over

with exit?

What about the bird

that sits in the tree and sings;

the harper

who silently strikes the strings;

the charioteer

who, without heeding

for the sonorous sounds around,

without caring for the rainbow beauties

that try to magnetize and delude,

goes on steering the wheels,

leads to the Beyond?


Beyond to Beyond—

Void to void—

the Home of

all Truth,

all Beauty:

one strives to know,

one needs to know;

the rest

a mist;

all alike

at the dead of night,

at the prime of day.


I am! I am! I am!


जातस्य हि ध्रुवो मृत्यु

this world – a short sojourn]

to do good,

to look for

Satyam, Shivam, Sundram

(the True, the Good, the Beautiful)

without being attached to

this or that

for, all:

you, he, and I

in HIM,

He metamorphosizes into he,

he into He;

an endless cycle.


Graciously gravid …

आश्चर्यवत्पश्यति कश्चिदेन माश्चर्यवद्वदति तथैव चान्यः

when that moment

 of leave-taking comes

becomes a tortoise

to enter the HOME

in full effulgence.


The poem opens with a quote from Srimadbhāgavad Gitā1 :

नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः।

न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः।।2.23।।

The weapons cannot tear it, The fire cannot burn it;

The water cannot wet it, The air cannot dry it.


Lord Krishna told this in the face of an impending battle. The two sides of belligerent armies in battle array were facing each other. And the first arrow was shot. It would be a fight to the finish. No one would flee the battle field for life. Hence, mayhem lay in the logic of affairs. At this crucial moment, the Lord incarnate, Lord Krishna, by chanting this sloka to be heard by everyone in the battle field reminded everyone that the body might be destroyed in a war but the ‘it’ cannot be torn with weapons. What is the it but the self? According to Indian philosophy, the body is not permanent; it is foredoomed to destruction. Whatever exists in the phenomenal world is subject to destruction and dissolution. But the body is not the self. When Krishna says this, the hearer is in the melting point. He starts asking himself who he is. He is neither the body nor the mind, nor the ego nor the intellect. He is something else and beyond. He is the self, weapons cannot tear it, and fire cannot burn it. So when somebody dies, it is his physical death. The self does not die. This speech surely had a tonic effect on all those warriors gathered in the battlefield. They learnt that the notion of death is a myth. Since they have ever been fighters and since they were born as ksatriyas. If it were the last fight, Krisna exhorted, let it be the best and the last one. We are also born into a battleground as it were. Do we belong to the tender buds stirred like warriors valiantly arrayed in field taking up arms against a sea of troubles, where the ghosts of pollution, nuclear war, the forces of hatred and jealousy gambol. In the above quoted sloka, Krishna exhorts not to fear death: With death your body is destroyed but you will not die. Hence, the poet, by way of quoting Krishna, charges us with a zest for life and asks us to wage a relentless war against the forces of evil.


If the self does not die with the destruction of the body one is apt to ask – if the body dies, where does this self go? Unlike the philosophical systems of other countries and other  cultures most of the philosophical systems of India pin their faiths on the tenet of transmigration of souls. Well in the context of the notion of the transmigration of soul, death is mere exit out of the beauties of the world. But, will it all be over with exit? Nope. Some years hence the self must go through the door to be born, some more couple of years should pass by till the door will open for exit once again. But deaths and births again! The wheel—birth and death and birth again—goes on up and down like a merry go round. The period between birth and death is called life. And one has to undergo life over and over again. Every life is, as it were, an innings. In other words, while in the contingent every life could be ear-marked as a battle, in a larger context, life is but a sport. When an innings is over the players rest a while in the pavilion and show up in the field later to resume the game. And, there one had better welcome rebuff that makes earths smoothness rough. Or else, life is, as it were, a stage; we play different roles on the stage. As roles, we show up and disappear but we are not the roles. Each one of us is a self. In the next play, one must put on a different role and play. And one wonders who could be the spectator of the game or the spectator of the play. The poet asks–

what about the bird

that sits in the tree and sings;

the harper

who silently strikes the strings;

the charioteer

who, without heeding

for the sonorous sounds around,

without caring for

the rainbow beauties

that try to magnetize and delude,

goes on steering the wheels,

leads to the Beyond ?


The Srīmadbhāgavadgītā states:

अव्यक्तादीनि भूतानि व्यक्तमध्यानि भारत।

अव्यक्तनिधनान्येव तत्र का परिदेवना।।2.28।

Avyaktaadini bhutaani vyaktamadhyaani Bhaarata

Avaktanidhanaanyeva tatra kaparidevanaa.


The existence leaps from the non-manifest and leaps into the unknown and unknowable. Only the middle is manifest. And that is life of every man and every thing under the Sun.  That is the commonsense description of life. But, the poet is not satisfied with such an understanding of existence. He has already dwelled on the transmigration of soul. Life is a stage, where we appear and disappear only to return to the stage. And after an hour of strutting and fretting we disappear from the stage (Macbeth V: 5)2 only to reappear on the stage to play a different part. So, one wonders is the repetition of birth and death and birth again is all that we should understand by life. No. The poet has told us that apart from the bird which participates in the phenomenal world there is another which looks upon it. This other bird is not within the ken of ours, the ordinary run of men. Sometimes, the moon is up there in the sky even during morning. We know that moon is there but cannot see it. We hear a bird in the empyrean height. We cannot espy the bird. But we know that the bird is there with the aid of semiotics or the song of the bird. True, our life is a journey from one void to another void. But, with Nagarjuna3 and the poet, void is not altogether void. The poet feels that there is something in that void, though the poet cannot chain it. It is loaded with archetypes of the creation who could be christened as the other bird looking upon the bird that participates in the world. How is it that the other bird who carries the archetypes of creation looks upon the creation itself? These are the riddles of Sphinx4 and an Oedipus5 is yet to come to resolve them. But no. The poet posits that unless we realize we are He, we cannot understand how Beyonds, at the beginning of life and at the end of life, do exist. We are obsessed with the I-consciousness. We are, as it were, in a frenzy of I-consciousness. The three pronouns—I, you, and he or it—make the mundane world or the world of appearance. But, in fact, all are alike at the dead of night or at the prime of day. In fact, the all is He: the unknown and unknowable. A man breathes some seventeen to thirty thousand times a day. During breathing, we inhale and say I, and when we exhale, we say He, unaware. In order that we could be aware of the other bird who does not participate in the work a day world, the poet exhorts us to look for Satyam Shivam and Sundaram the Truth, the Good, and the Beautiful. That is the highest message a poet can give to the world.


The poet asks: Will it all be over with exit? In other words, is the death of the body or rather death in common parlance, the end of the being or the self? The poet further asks what about the bird that sits in the tree and sings? It reminds us of deva Suparna of the Upanishads. The poet of the Upanishadas sees two birds in a vision. One of them feasts upon the fruits of a tree while the other is seated on another branch of the same tree looking upon the former enjoying the pleasures of existence. While the first one is the individual soul, which is not neither wounded by the weapons nor burnt by the fire. Thus, the individual soul is, as it were, not mortal. It is an eternity. But there could be greater eternities. In the contingent, the body dies but the individual soul does not die; hence, it is an eternity. But there is an eye that looks upon the individual soul that enjoys the pleasure and pains of the contingent world donning perishable apparels made of earth and, especially, the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and void. The other bird stands for the eye. One who looks upon the existence woven with will and woe without any attachment is an eternity which is greater than the eternity of the individual soul.


It is said in Brahmasutra6 that Ikshate iti Ishwarah—one who is an onlooker without attachments is god himself. The bird which is an onlooker is symbolic of god himself. But, Chambial, on the surface, transcends the Upanishadic vision. He points out that the second bird which is the onlooker sings. In other words, when the individual soul is plunged in drinking deep in the fountain of mundane joys and sorrows the God sings. This is not the Upanishads. Here a reader might find the anxiety of influence as propounded by Harold Bloom7. Be that, as it may, could we infer that the bird is the song? Or the song of the Overmind rhythm is bird; and, at the same time, the word, bird, puns with bard. And, does it necessarily mean it was the bird that created the multi verse. In the beginning, there was Word. God said, let there be light and there was light. It was the Overmind rhythm that was struck by the onlooker bird, who does not participate in the battles and the fruitions of life. When God said let there be light, God played the role of a bard. The onlooker bird, or call him Brahman, silently strikes the strings. The String theory of physics posits that whatever we see, whatever we hear, whatever we touch, or whatever we taste, is one dimensional string at bottom. A string has length and no width. And, it is the vibration of the strings that makes this great wide wonderful world. And, with Chambial, the vibration of myriad of strings has been effected and attuned by the divinity. Is not the bard that sings the divinity referred to? Or the God is the Mysterium Tremendum that cannot be described only as one, who propels the merry go round, or as an umpire, who conducts the cricket match, or a bard, who feeds on the fruits and fruitions of existence, or an onlooker, or a singer. With the poet, the Mysterium Tremendum is here a charioteer, who without heeding for the sonorous sound around, without caring for the rainbow beauties that try to magnetise and delude, goes on steering the wheels; leads to the Beyond. In fact, the individual soul rides the chariot of the body and the onlooker Bird is the charioteer. The charioteer drives the chariot on to its destination unperturbed by the madding crowd’s ignoble strife. In fact, we cannot move a single grass without the grace of   the charioteer. We are, as it were, pushed into a machine through our ignorance and machine in turn grinds us.




1. Srimadbhāgavad Gitā. Geeta Press, Gorakhpur.

2. Shaskespeare, William. Macbeth. Act 5, sc. 5.

3. Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna’s concept of Sunyavad.

4. Sphinx (plural sphinxes or sphinges) is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. In Greek tradition, the sphinx has the head of a woman, the haunches of a lion, and the wings of a bird.


The Riddle of the Sphinx

Soon after, Oedipus hit upon the terrible Sphinx, who had plagued the region of Thebes for some time then, destroying crops and devouring travelers who had either refused to answer her riddle or answered it wrongly. The Sphinx asked Oedipus the same question she had asked the unfortunate ones before him: “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three at night?” No one had ever answered the question correctly before. But Oedipus thought carefully and eventually solved the riddle: “Man – who crawls on all fours as a baby, then on two legs as an adult, and then with a walking stick when in old age.” The Sphinx, unable to bear the fact that her riddle had been answered correctly, hurled herself off the rock she was sitting on and to her death.


5. Oedipus: The son of Laius and Jocasta, King and Queen of Thebes, Oedipus is the unfortunate main protagonist of “one of the best-known of all legends” in Ancient Greek – or any other – mythology.


6. Brahma Sutra: The Brahma sūtras (Sanskrit: ब्रह्म सूत्र) is a Sanskrit text, attributed to Badarayana, estimated to have been completed in its surviving form in approx. 400-450 CE.  The text systematizes and summarizes the philosophical and spiritual ideas in the Upanishads.[2] It is one of the foundational texts of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Wikipedia.


7. Harold Bloom: (July11, 1930–October14, 2019) was an American literary critic and the Professor of Humanities at Yale University. Following the publication of his first book in 1959, Bloom wrote more than fifty books, including twenty books of literary criticism, several books discussing religion, and a novel. During his lifetime, he edited hundreds of anthologies concerning numerous literary and philosophical figures for the Chelsea House publishing firm. Bloom's books have been translated into more than 40 languages.


Bloom was a defender of the traditional Western canon at a time when literary departments were focusing on what he derided as the "literature of resentment" (multiculturalists, feminists, Marxists, neoconservatives, and others). He was educated at Yale University, the University of Cambridge, and Cornell University. Wikepeadia.




Life is music

attuned by

maestro divine.


Pleasant to those

who pick

and dance with the song.


Jargon to those

who fail to find rapport

on the steps of melody and heart.


In the earlier poem Chambial asked:

The Sun and Moon

have their natural course.

Why should I,

then, stir

from my stance? (“Steadfast” 15)


In other words, everything in Nature has been priorily ordained. The course of the Sun and the Moon are also priorily ordained. In the like manner, the poet thinks that his task in life is a priorily ordained as per the rules of guna and karma. He does not want to deviate from the same. Why? There is a harmony in Nature. With the poet, life is a music attuned by maestro divine. The string theory of physics seems to see eye to eye with it. Those who have the ear for it; those whose hearts dance to it, find the existence a pleasure garden. The poet thinks that if one were as steadfast in pursuing his station/position and duties as the Sun and Moon do life becomes pleasant for him. But those who fail to synchronise their steps with the overmind rhythm, with the melody immanent in the creation find the existence inscrutable.


What is life? Life should be precisely defined as existence as an animate being. Life implies living organism as distinguished from inorganic entities. Life multiplies on its own and it has openness about itself. Life responds to stimuli. It repairs itself on its own. It is subject to changes. In other words it has adaptability. And it has a time period through which it exists. Finally, it merges into inorganic entity. Dust thou art dust returnest. The Bhagavad-Gita describes life as avyaktaadini bhutani vyaktamadhyaani bharata/Avyakta nidhanyeva tatra kaa paridevanaa,(II: 28); in other words, the existence is non manifest prior to creation. And during its life time presently with its birth it becomes manifest. With its destruction or death it turns again into non manifest entity. Thus, life as such is short interregnum between birth and death. One can perceive life then only. But before its showing up as well as after its disappearance life remains unknown and unknowable. 


And Macbeth describes life as a brief candle and as a dull story told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Longfellow retorted – tell me not in mournful numbers life is but an empty dream. May be, life is neither sweet nor bitter, thinking makes it sweet or bitter. That is Shakespeare. Be that as it may the visionary poet seems to have overmind rhythm or the OM. The Durga saptasati  worships devi Durga or the creatrix of the universe as – sudha tvamaksshare nityaa / tridhaa maatraatmikaa sthitaa. And the Bible said –in the beginning there was Word and God said Let there be light. And with the poet words are the source of knowledge. And words imply vibrations. The zen rishi describes a primordial word as the clap with the help of only one palm. It is the primordial word or the overmind rhythm whence the world of eye and ear has wobbled up. Hence with the poet unlike Shakespeare or Longfellow life is music. Sometimes poets are seers, who see into the life of things, and curiously enough, the string theory of universe is unfolded by the visionary poet. According to the string theory the particles of particle physics are replaced by the one dimensional strings. Vibrating strings make up everything that we see or feel or measure. Clearly, thus, a music outpoured by the vibrations of the strings is at the core of the creation. Life is music. We do not know as yet how the vibrations of countless strings make a symphony. The poet says that they have been attuned by divine maestro. This imagery reminds an Indian of Nataraja whose dance creates, maintains, and destroys the multi-verse.


With the poet those who dance in tune with the Overmind rhythm or those who live in harmony with the music of the divinity find life pleasant and enjoyable. The statement—Lfe is pleasant to those who pick and dance to the song engineered by maestro divine—is meaningful on many levels. On one level, it implies that man had better float with circumstances and vagaries of time. Man must not go against Nature both within and without. The individual will should be identified with the will of God. Or else life is a jargon to those who fail to find rapport on the steps of melody and heart. In other words life is a dull story, a noise, a riddle of Sphinx which is not decoded by any Oedipus. To such men it is indeed a dull story told by an idiot.


Thus, the poem tells us what pleasure is and what pain is. At the same time it gives us how the existence operates. The scientist might put it in terms of Mathematics. The poet describes the same in the language of feelings sensations and heart throbs of vision.



About the Author:


ramesh-chandra-mukhopadhyaya-1Dr Ramesh Chandra Mukhopadhyaya (b. 1947), M.A. (Triple), M.Phil. Ph.D. is a retired college teacher, now residing at Belur Math, Howrah (West Bengal). Being a bilingual writer (Eng. & Bengali), he has been writing on different subjects for the last thirty-one years. His brilliant interpretations of the poetry of various poets have won much acclaim. He is a soldier of the Underground Poetry Movement in present day Bengali literature. Dr. Mukhopadhyaya has been awarded Ashutosh Mukherjee gold medal for writing a treatise on modern Bengali drama. 



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