Lokdhuni Conference: Shabad, Sant Vani Evam Kavita ki Duniya
Lokdhuni probed into the conscience of resistance in the Bhakti Era and its various sects like Kabirpanthis, Ravidasis, Satnamis, Shivnarayanis, Mahima Dharma, etc, to decipher how these were able to give tongue to dissent. What creative influences these sects have in our contemporary society. To understand these issues a cultural discourse on Shabad, Sant Vani Evam Kavita ki Duniya, was organized, as Lokdhuni, at Hotel Glen View, Panchmarhi, on May 22 and 23, 2010.
Day One: May 22, 2010
Project Director of Dalit Resource Centre, Badri Narayan welcomed the guests in the Lokdhuni Conference. Poets, critics and cultural activists will discuss and debate issues. We are in a modern condition where memory has meaning. Bhakti Movement gave a liberating consciousness and language; are these present in contemporary poetry and if so, in which form. How does modernity negotiate its tradition? When the progressive mind composes poems does liberating consciousness influence it, and if so, how? Poetry is a review of civilization, a review of culture, what is the meaning of this traditional consciousness in poetry. We need a new perspective whereby we could understand poetry and consciousness. He felt that in the calm and serene ambiance of Panchmarhi, far from the madding crowd, poetry would blossom best. Namvar ji has understands our literary past as well as Bhakti and contemporary poetry.
Prominent Hindi critic, Prof. Namvar Singh, Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, Vardha, in his inaugural address said that literature has been written for the neglected people of today and of tomorrow. Words like Dalit and women in discourses are worn out. These problems have been nagging us for 2500 years. It troubled Buddha and Mahaveer. It continued to trouble the saints of the Bhakti Era. It remained a problem for the social reformers of the 19th century like Bhartendu and Ram Mohan Roy. During the freedom struggle there was Poona Pact wherein different reservations were demanded. This problem continued, kept on dragging. And now we have reached a point when this has become a major issue: census on the basis of reservation and castes. These will not end caste divisions but strengthen it. If the trend continues, reservation would be demanded when literature or history is written, so many chapters on such and such issue. In 1937, to remove the caste system a meeting was organized in Lahore. Though Ambedkar did not attend the meeting, he sent his paper, Annihilation of Caste. The organizers opined that it would spoil the environment rather than improve it. Gandhi commented on it. A long debate ensued. Gandhi took refuge of the saints, from Gyaneshwar onwards. Ambedkar said that Gyaneshwar has taken shelter of the Brahmins. Eknath declared himself as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ambedkar left Tukaram. He did not take names of saints of the South. If these saints tried to remove caste system in vain it was not their fault. Gandhi gave more seats to Ambedkar, who had an important role in the making of the Indian constitution, in place of his demand for separate electorate. But, what was the result. Later, Ambedkar embraced Buddhism. He said that though he was born a Hindu but he would not die as one. He did not say, “I was born a Dalit and I will die a Dalit.” Why did he embrace Buddhism? Hindus included Buddha amongst the Dasavatara (ten incarnations of Vishnu). Ambedkar rejected all the saints to take refuge with Buddha, who was a Rajput.
The problem of caste system is very complex. The shortcut of reservation would strengthen caste divisions. A long and correct path has to be discovered through literature. Like a blazing torch Bhakti Movement showed, and is showing, us the path. Bhakti Movement gave the modern Indian languages a new consciousness. The oldest and the best literature in all languages are found in Bhakti Movement. If it is alive to this day in the hearts of the masses, it is because beyond the four principle human values of Dharma (religion, duty), Artha (economy), Kaam (work, sensuousness) and Moksha (salvation) is Prema (divine and mundane love), which needs to be accepted. Prema is the highest of all human values. In literature we have Sringaar Ras but not Prema Ras. Prema is stable. It is emancipatory.
The first poet of Punjabi was not a Shikh but a Chamar. The first poet of Hindi was Mulla Daud, who wrote the story of Lorik-Chanda, in Chandayan. It was not an accepted norm of the society then. It demolished the caste system. We have to find the soul of the folk. Bhakti kept the folk in its truest form; we need to understand its immenseness properly.
Go close and save the folk. Now, even in villages we do not find good Magadhi, good Bhojpuri. This is the biggest danger before us. Even if we do not achieve the heights of Bhakti Movement, let’s ensure that in every art, dance and music we have elements of the folk. The best writings of Habib Tanveer are in Chhatasgarhi, not Khariboli. The best writings in Marathi, like Tamasha, are in folk form, not in the traditional form. That’s why in theatre and art, language that is our weapon, or musical instruments, are decaying. In good poetry, even today, folk dissent emerges strongly. The foundations of the folk elements are within us; these should be used in stories, poems, theatre – the very elements that were present in the Bhakti Era. These elements are latent with all of us. We need to bring these out.
Badri Narayan, summing up the discussion said that Namvar ji shed light on several important issues particularly the immensity of the Bhakti Movement and how it helped in the creation of Dalit literature. By negating it we are belittling ourselves and it is being transformed into middle-class concern and how it has affected our literature. He talked about a mediaeval saint of Bihar, Dharni Das, on whom he is studying and writing a chapter. It can be seen how the Bhakti poets used bazaar and durbar in their compositions, how they protested and contested. It’s amazing how they gave an imaginative flight to the folk language. We need to probe if the folk words present in contemporary poetry have been reduced to mere archeological words or are these acquiring new meanings; these poets gave new meaning to the words. There is inner-dialogue and critical consciousness, which is the soul of Bhakti. There are poets of several languages amongst us, who will enrich our discourse.
Earlier, a rendition of Bhajan by Sant Ramdas and lighting of the ceremonial lamps, the conference commenced. At the end of the session, three books, A Fragile World by Aidan Singh Bhati, Khudai mey Hinsa and Kahe Gaili Bides both by Badri Naryan were released.
Prominent critic from JNU and Kannada poet Prof. HS Shivaprakash acclaimed the brief and very comprehensive presentation of Namvar ji, adding that he had nothing much to add, except make a few footnotes to the remarkable keynotes of the Hindi critic. In Karnataka, we have very strong Bhakti traditions: Vaishnavites and Shaivites. The latter believe that Bhakti belongs to the ancient traditions. Buddha used Dhavonansasta in his Dhammapada. Buddha valued non-hatred and compassion in the ancient language. The great Kannada poet Bendre revived the idioms of Kannada poetry differently from the modern poets who were influenced by the English language. Bhakti poets taught us how to speak, think and connect the world with the past, present and future. This tradition has a liberating effect on us. It frees us from the suffocating present in which we are living. Despite all reservations and reforms, we have not been liberated from caste. Bhakti gave us a culture. We need not wait till the end of the revolution. We need not wait till the 21st or 22nd centuries’ technocrat society but can be liberated, here and now. The Bhakti poets expressed it in a powerful language.
Tukaram in his Abhangas unravels the power of words. Words are our only worth. Words are the weapons with which we create and destroy the world. Bhakti Movement is such that it spoke in different accents and idioms at different times, at different places of India. Most of the studies on Bhakti that we come across are misguided. These have been undertaken by foreign scholars or Indian foreign scholars who utterly failed to understand the spirit of Bhakti. While some called it a religious movement, others described it as a social movement. Today, we have become slave of this imported language. If we have to understand Bhakti, we must liberate ourselves from the burdens of both colonial and neo-colonial discourses. The great Tamil saint-poet Appa, who recreated and reinforced Tamil language, demolished all the conventions of classical Sangam poetry. Some people argued that Bhakti was an anti-sensitive movement but nothing could be farther from truth because Sanskrit poetry’s rebirth in the 7th and 8th centuries proves otherwise – it has unity as well as diversity. Akhma Devi says that ancient poetesses wrote so powerfully that even men could not excel them. Bhakti created many colours, hues and flavours in India. However, in modern times Bhakti has become a show, a means of profit. At such a time we should understand the nature of Bhakti.
In Bhakti tradition, women have always been given priorities. In Tamil tradition, among the eleven Alawars, Andal is the greatest poetess. Whatever reverence is due to other Alawars is given to one of the earliest poetesses. Amongst the Shaivites, one such poetess was Kanikalaya, who composed fantastic devotional poems, unparalleled even today. In Karnataka, Mahadevi was the leader of Bhakti Movement that empowered the women. Bhakti is a lore where you give everything and do not take anything back. This is the easiest way to end egos of human beings and create a harmonious society. Because of this great driving force, one of the American philosophers said that one of the greatest instincts is the ontological instinct, how man relates to the cosmos. This is the source of all spiritual aspirations and expressions. Bhakti has the greatest ontology of uniting the self with the cosmos. Cosmos has to be discovered inside and outside the self that is completely broken in dualistic thinking: Judo-Christian traditions and the ideologies inherited from the Judo-Christian traditions, like Marxism, liberalism and the worst expression of this in post-structuralism. As Bhakti traditions consists of all the languages it enriched all aspects of culture. So culture means any society without ethical exclusiveness will degenerate the hierarchy of terrain. This happened to Fascism, Marxism and liberalism. Bhakti poets created a new Samhita. They rejected all exploitative ideology and created a new one. Tamil Nadu became the part of Saguna Bhakti. Karnataka became a part of the Nirguna Bhakti. Bhakti Movement of Maharashtra and Bengal were different – it was a mixture of the two.
Badri Narayan summed up the discussion saying that Prof Shivaprakash traced the development of Bhakti from the ancient time to the present era. His holistic perspective was an attempt to trace radical consciousness.
Dileep Jhaveri opined that history of literature from Epics onwards is full of pleasant surprises and perplexing paradoxes. Talking about Dalits and women he said that they were deprived from ancient times and later they adapted to these conditions. Religion superimposed so many irrational laws on them. Bhakti came as a socio-cultural emancipator force. It tried to establish a relation between the individual and the cosmos. It escapes anthropocentrism. Man is not at the centre but life is at the centre of the universe.
Badri Narayan added that Bhakti is not an innocent spiritual faith but has manifold meanings that have to be explored.
Rajesh Joshi opined that the language of dissent evolved in people’s consciousness as they had to face oppressive power-structures through culture. There was no such challenge before modern Hindi and in the past through cities and metropolises’ mediums it had itself become a language of the power-structure. Then poetry grappled with the problem of how to fit dissent in this language. Such dissent was found in folk and classic theatres. The patrons of the classic were the well-fed Brahmins, while the folk were represented by the hungry lower castes – they used to abuse the entire power-structure, again and again. This dissent challenges us time and again. It’s interesting how poetry hits the intellectuals of its time.
Bishnu Mohapatra stated that people from all over the country rebelled against certain kind of hierarchies; Bhakti was an instrument for that. It was the dissent of the people from different parts of the country that was able to de-root the hierarchies. Bhakti was trying to shake the root of caste and class. Bhakti was dissenting but not strong enough to destroy the iniquitous caste structure. Historians and social scientists have to explore the vision of the movement. His mother used to ask why modern poetry was not ‘touching us’. He asked if she tried to understand them. She replied, “You have come down to communicate your emotions.” Bhakti poetry begins with an urge to ‘make it understand to common people’. Bhakti poetry is the urge to know; the urge to create a new vision. Bhakti has emotions, pain, suffering, sensibility which links it to people; it breaks rurhiya (old worn out orders). Bhakti is strength; it has the ability to take society on the right path.
Day Two: May 23, 2010
Speaking in the first session of Lokdhuni conference, Multi-lingual Poetry Meet and Kedarnath Agarwal Memorial Lecture, Senior Director of Doordarshan – New Delhi, Ashok Tripathi stated that this is the birth centenary year of four major Hindi poets: Ageyye, Nagarjun, Shamsher and Kadernath Agarwal. Commenting on an article of Rajesh Joshi in Nai Duniya that described Kedarnath as a poet of liberation, he said that this was a limited view of his persona. But, if he were to talk of Kedarnath as poet of dissent, just one aspect of his life and time, it did not mean that there were no other dimensions of his life and work. When Kedarnath was born or even before that, irrespective of the era, mainstream and grassroots literature documented protests and dissents, rising against exploitation and violence. Kedarnath represented that legacy. If literature does not depict dissent it is better not to accept it as literature. Kedarnath composed 2500 poems and penned almost as many pages of prose. The truth of dissent is in the prose and poems of Kedarnath.
The literature of dissent represents suppression, exploitation, cruelty, injustice, inhumanity and upper-versus-lower divisions as anti-human. It speaks for those who are suppressed and neglected. It resolves their inner contradictions and conflicts. Kedarnath achieved these goals through his life and works, epitomizing protest in his persona. He raised his voice against all kinds of injustices be it colonial powers, wars and the price that was paid for India’s independence. In 1946, when the Congress indulged in saudebaji (unfair trade) for independence that was achieved by ensuring the security of the British Raj and capitalist forces Kedarnath protested.
It would be an interesting study to note the works of the progressive poets of that time when Kedarnath was composing such poems. It would remove all doubts about the socio-political understanding of the progressive poets and would also reveal who was standing where. He said that we might say that we are about to emerge as economic power based on statistics the truth is that 77 per cent of the nation’s population survive with anything between Rs 6/- and Rs 20/- per day. In November 1975, he composed another poem Khamosh Sadkey (Silent Roads), in which he stated that sunrise was lost in sunset. He was full of hatred for the exploiters. His poem Mazdur ka Janm (Birth of Labourer) deals with the birthday of a labourer’s child, which also is also possible. It’s not something that rich, well-to-do children should enjoy. Through the new-born babe, a symbol of hope of labourers, he made us realize their strength. He picked up several neglected issues. He felt that people of his city and village lack awareness.
Badri Narayan invited three young poets Naval Shukla, Urvashi Pandya and Aidan Singh Bhati of the 90s in the first session, adding that the relationship of dissent in contemporary poetry with the emancipatory poetry of the Bhakti Era needs to be explored in modern conditions.
Hindi poet Naval Shukla said that in the discourse amongst the neglected people Dalits are not isolated in any way. There is an entire group of neglected people comprising Dalits, women, tribal, artists, craftsmen and the performing artistes who sang and danced. In north India, especially during wedding, showering abuses on guests are important ritual that cuts across all castes. Amongst them are the people of oral tradition, particularly the women whose repertoire of songs includes rituals from birth to death. People from the working class, farmers, labourers, those who make musical instruments, are engaged in pottery, make brooms – are the people who with their creativity take forward arts and crafts but still remain neglected and marginalised. The Brahminical society neglects the intellect and fragments the society. On the one hand is the neglected lot, while on the other are the powerful people, from villages to cities, where the culture of muscle power thrives. Martial arts, wrestling arenas, bull fights and cock fights are part of this culture. It begins with violence. When we define and talk of contemporary poetry, it is difficult to say what happened during the Bhakti Era or what are its elements. Bhakti (devotion) is the state after love. But what kind of love are we talking about – social, mortal or divine. The divine love that is there – also present during the Bhakti Era – its relevance is less in folk life. Mortal love carries us forward. When we discuss contemporary poetry we find there are two kinds of vocabulary. Firstly, a vocabulary which has such elements that is transformed by people into the folk, countryside, rural or village. The maximum strength of dissent is in the folk element, as without it life, composition or resistance cannot survive. Secondly, in opposition to it are those poems, those languages, which have no link with the folk element. This vocabulary is born from cities and metropolises, better known as the language of the media. Compositions in the urban vocabulary have superficial relation with Indian culture and tradition. Distinguishing these vocabularies, he went on to explain how Nirala, Kedarnath Agarwal and Trilochan belong to the tradition of language that has folk elements in it. Shukla went on distinguish between Hindi dialect and Hindi language, stressing that it is an evolved dialect with diverse elements in it. If poets of folk traditions compose poems and describe their vocabulary as dialect, then we must question the established distinctions between dialect and language. A poet does not merely use words from the dictionary, but he adds value to such words. Talking about the influence of painting in the poetry of the nineties, he argued that without folk vision one does not become a great poet.
Talking about her two Hindi poetry anthologies (in translation), Purvaja and Anuja, young Gujarati poetess Urvashi Pandya informed that her entire poetic creativity is medieval. It follows the cultural tradition and is heavily influenced by her shared Brahmin life-experiences. The bedtime stories for the children in her family included reading out stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata, other than listen to the sayings of Kabir, Tusli, Rahim, et al. The result of their Sanskara, the menu of griha-katha (home-lore) is contextual in her compositions. These were there. Thereafter, several literary works of Indian and foreign authors, which shook her inner self, became the garment and soul of her compositions. Together, all of them shaped her poetic sensibilities. Talking about the dynamics of composing poems, she revealed that a poem is written and revised several times; it is read amongst friends for months, but even after this if she felt that her composition is not up to the mark, it is rubbished. She candidly accepted that her poems were confessional in nature, which not only dealt with her own sensibilities and experiences but also those of others – to liven oneself through someone else’s experiences is a Leela (divine play) of creativity.
Rajasthani poet Aidan Singh Bhati dwelled on why poems are composed and read. If this question is asked to oneself the answer would be clear. The poems of contemporary times are not just words or vocabulary but treasures of the folk aspects of human life, which we have in abundance. Folk aspects are an important aspect of lives. During weddings and religious festivals poets are called. They recite poems and are applauded by the audience. This wah-wah (applause) attracted him to compose poems. If someone said that he was not writing for recognition then he would differ with that person. He was not prepared to forgo the Rajasthani words present in poems. He explained that the element of love is the strongest form of dissent in literature. It has a strong tradition in Rajasthan.
The session concluded with a devotional path by Vivek Das.
Initiating the concluding session, Badri Narayan stated that we have been constantly discussing on shabd, sabad, sant vani and the poetry of contemporary times. Furthermore, we also got glimpses of Prof. Namvar Singh’s perspective, which was taken forward by Prof. H S Shivaprakash and now, we are advancing towards the conclusion of this interesting conference. When we talk of tradition, there is no bigger authority on the subject than Namvar ji. It’s worth reflecting on the discourse that emerges and the questions that arise from it, so that we are able to transform it into an academic form.
Yesterday, Namvar ji made an interesting comment that no space is left in politics and amongst the saints of other societies too this space is shrinking. If this space is for innovativeness then it’s the world of poetry, for which different places and space must be created. He requested Namvar ji to shed light on this subject.
With a smile on his face, Prof. Namvar Singh pointed out that it is not a concluding speech, better known as ‘valedictory’ in English; in a way it’s a farewell request to you all. He recalled a novel, Punarnavah, of his Gurudev (Master) Hridaya Prasad Dwivedi. Quoting from it, he said that Parvati performed Tapasya (meditation) to win and appease Shiva. Lord Shiva changed his appearance to test Parvati. But, annoyed Parvati was ready to leave, when Shiva appeared in his true form…I too have achieved Purnanavat. Such functions were once held in Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal. These have come to an end. Similarly, in the initial days, such functions were held at the National Academy of Literature. There is no scope left there too. Shishir Kumar Das has written the history of Indian Literature in the modern period. Give or take, it seems that the soil of literature does not tolerate vacuum. In Panchmarhi, few good people arrived. No place is ever vacant; someone or the other fills it up. Here, Badri has done this work, though he does not have a literary organization but represents a social science organization. But, he made space for culture and literature. The young have no need of Punarnavah; an elder like me needs it. We have a tradition whereby the young provide youth to the old. Weapons and mind get rusted no matter how sharp. You all have shaken it up, especially the seriousness with which poems were read here. He said that he was able to hear poems from various languages, like a beautiful bouquet of flowers. One doesn’t see such programmes everywhere but Badri made it possible in Panchmarhi. There was no digression. The concentration and focus that was seen here is often missing at most places, where it is more of a khanapurti (paperwork). The string of Prema (divine love) was achieved with melodious Kabir bhajans. It was nice to learn that people of Bengal raised the issue of subaltern long ago. Some of it still remains, but in the realm of literature Bengal has almost forgotten the subalterns. The discussions on Dalit discourse and women discourse is, after all, subaltern. In literature, there was a huge deluge of the subaltern. Social scientist Badri gave space to the subaltern in literature. Without creating much noise and din, without calling them subaltern, he handled the issue in a creative way. He set an example that such issues can be handled creatively; not by engaging in academic debate. He linked these with Bhakti Movement; one thousand years of literature, art, music and theatre. If you want to shoot an arrow you have to pull the bow string back, the more you draw the bow string back the further will the arrow go. In literature, if you want to shoot an arrow accurately from a great distance, you have to go back as further as possible. This is the message of this conference.
Prof Singh candidly accepted that he felt the surge of a new energy from within. Discourse is not enough. Aradhan is replied with aradhan; it is replied with compositions, not by raising slogans. This is Punarnavah. The raga that Tansen sang long ago is now being rendered by Bhimsen Joshi, but every time we find something new in it. We should take lesson from our classical music that when people move from away from their land then they remember their country. Bazaar does not allow anyone to remain as they are. That we do not become saleable, keep media at a distance is good. It’s nice to see how the youth have internalized Kabir.
Explaining that he is a critic, he wished to end his comment with a story. A critic is Vishwanindak (finds fault with the universe). He is miserly in appreciation. There was once a Vishwanindak. The gods said that nothing please him. Indra, the king of the gods, proposed that let’s organize an event in Indralok (heavens) and find out how he can nitpick and find any fault with it. A grand event was organized in Indralok. The gods were invited. When the event came to an end, Indra and Indrani (his wife) waited at the gates of their palace with iliachi, paan and supari bidding the guests farewell. But, Vishwanindak did not arrive for a long time. When he came, the couple asked, “Maharaj, you said nothing?” In Bengali the Vishwanindak said, “Etho bhalo o bhalo na!” (So much good is also no good!). He said that like the Vishwanindak that’s his comment as well.
Sant Ramdasji rendered Kabir bhajan.
The vision-statement of the Lokdhuni was:
- Prof. Namvar Singh: Eminent Hindi critic, author and Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, Vardha, inaugurated Lokdhuni. Dealing with the contemporary issues, he looked back at discourses of the Bhakti Era, dealing with the issues of caste discrimination, reservation, culture and language. Kabir is like a blazing torch for the present generation. Bhakti Movement gave a new idiom to Indian languages, it was a renaissance. Bhakti Era freed and emancipated the masses by helping them find meaning in everyday life, as the sage-poets linked themselves with the common people.
- Prof. HS Shivaprakash: Prominent critic from JNU and Kannada poet, he said that though the Bhakti Movement burst like streams in many parts of the country, we find that it flowed in unison. Bhakti is not mere individual experience it has deep social links.
- Rajesh Joshi: A prominent Hindi poet, he opined that poetry is the essential link to the language of dissent. The feelings of the folk should be viewed critically.
- Ashok Tripathi: Director of Delhi Doordarshan, he dwelled on the life and times of the prominent Hindi poet Kedarnath Agarwal in his centenary year. The literature of dissent represents suppression, exploitation, cruelty, injustice, inhumanity and upper-versus-lower divisions as anti-human. It speaks for those who are suppressed and neglected. It resolves their inner contradictions and conflicts. Kedarnath achieved these goals through his life and works, epitomizing protest in his persona. Dealing with the hardships of the poet’s life, he went on to establish how Agarwal life and works reflected protest.
- Naval Shukla: A young Hindi poet, he dealt with the neglected lot of the society. Dealing with folk elements and various aspects of language, he distinguished between Hindi dialect and Hindi language, stressing that it is an evolved dialect with diverse elements in it. If poets of folk traditions compose poems and describe their vocabulary as dialect, then we must question the established distinctions between dialect and language. A poet does not merely use words from the dictionary, but he adds value to such words. Talking about the influence of painting in the poetry of the nineties, he argued that without folk vision one does not become a great poet.
- Urvashi Pandya: A Gujarati poetess, she candidly accepted that her poems were confessional in nature, which not only dealt with her own sensibilities and experiences but also those of others – to liven oneself through someone else’s experiences is a Leela (divine play) of creativity.
- Aidan Singh Bhati: A Rajasthani poet said that if someone said that he was not writing for recognition then he would differ with that person. He was not prepared to forgo the Rajasthani words present in poems. He explained that the element of love is the strongest form of dissent in literature. It has a strong tradition in Rajasthan.
- Dileep Jhaveri: A Gujarati poet, he opined that Dalits and women were deprived from ancient times and later they adapted to these conditions. Religion superimposed so many irrational laws on them. Bhakti came as a socio-cultural emancipator force. It escapes anthropocentrism. Man is not at the centre but life is at the centre of the universe.
- Badri Narayan: The Project Director of DRC explained that the reason to organize this meet in Panchmarhi, a hill station, is to felicitate discourse and dialogue in favourable ambience. Critics, poets and cultural activists would share thoughts freely. Bhakti Movement created an emancipated and discourse-friendly language, which continues to be relevant today. We need to see if the language of that period is or isn’t present in contemporary times. Through poetry and songs, we need to probe if the poems merely act as intellectual leaders of that time or does it move beyond the realm of just being poetry and review civilization and culture. What place does this traditional consciousness have? How did these heterogeneous sects break the prison of the dominance of languages, giving a new flight to language? How these emancipated resources of the Bhakti Era surface in the politics of the present era. If poetry is cultural analysis then what place does it have in our cultural history? We need a new perspective to understand these cultural resources.
- Bishnu Mohapatra: A prominent Oriya poet, he stated that people from all over the country rebelled against certain kind of hierarchies; Bhakti was an instrument for that. It was the dissent of the people from different parts of the country that was able to de-root the hierarchies. Bhakti was trying to shake the root of caste and class. Bhakti was dissenting but not strong enough to destroy the iniquitous caste structure. Historians and social scientists have to explore the vision of the movement. Bhakti is strength; it has the ability to take society on the right path.
Outcome of Lokdhuni Conference:
The outcome of Lokdhuni was that it focused on the issues of Bhakti and Dissent, carrying forward the theme of Social Justice of the earlier Lokdhuni (FF-I) a notch higher. The objective of the Lokdhuni series is to facilitate interaction between poets of different Indian languages (Bhasa) and dialects (Boli). Several languages and dialects continue to be pushed to the periphery. Thus, these languages and dialects remain marginalized, often suffering the hegemony of the mainstream languages. The suffering, however, is not silent. Dissent and protest begin to bloom in the folk traditions. Interesting parallels emerged between words, rhyme, symbols, meter, experiences and sensibilities of the poets of different languages. Lokdhuni also furthered the links between the cultural, political and democratic consciousness of the marginalized societies. It was an attempt to understand the grassroots criticisms and poetic devices that the poets of marginalized languages and dialects continued to employ.
Prof. Namvar Singh said very aptly: Social scientist Badri gave space to the subaltern in literature. Without creating much noise and din, without calling them subaltern, he handled the issue in a creative way. He set an example that such issues can be handled creatively; not by engaging in academic debate. He linked these with Bhakti Movement; one thousand years of literature, art, music and theatre. If you want to shoot an arrow you have to pull the bow string back, the more you draw the bow string back the further will the arrow go. In literature, if you want to shoot an arrow accurately from a great distance, you have to go back as further as possible. This is the message of this conference.