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Bhavani Bharati

— Sri Aurobindo


cover
Price: Rs 75

Soft Cover
Pages: 116
Dimensions (in cms): 12x18
   
Publisher: AuroPublications, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry
ISBN: 978-81-7060-356-6




About Bhavani Bharati

Bhavani Bharati is Sri Aurobindo's only poem in Sanskrit, written between 1904 and 1908. It has 99 verses in the "Upajati" metre which is an apt choice for emoting heroism, power, anger, war. Confiscated by the Calcutta Police, this piece was rediscovered in 1985. The poem depicts the victory of the Shakti, the Mother of the nation, over Ignorance and Evil. This edition contains the original in Sanskrit along with English and Hindi translations.


REVIEW



In the course of a significant debate on Sri Aurobindo spread over several days in the British House of Commons in April 1910, when Sir Ramsay MacDonald, the leader of the Labour Party (later Prime Minister) began reading the article "My Last Will and Testament" in the Karmayogin and challenged the Treasury Bench to point out where the element of sedition lay in it, Mr. J. King interrupted him, saying, "May I ask in a friendly way whether this article is published in Bengali and whether Mr. Aurobindo Ghose is not a Bengali?" The honourable Member, obviously surprised by the quality of the language of that article, suspected that it was Sir Ramsay's translation from Bengali.

     Replied Sir Ramsay, "The article is in the most excellent English. Mr. Aurobindo Ghose could no more write an article in Bengali than I could." (See Sri Aurobindo in the First Decade of the Twentieth Century)

     Needless to say, Sir Ramsay made his observations with profound goodwill for Sri Aurobindo, for he took great pains trying to tell the British Government, in what was probably the first ever debate of that length on any individual Indian leader, that Sri Aurobindo's writing, far from being seditious, was "the one guarantee" against violence. According to him, "Mr. Aurobindo Ghose was practically an Englishman" and had no knowledge of any native language. Little did this statesman know that Sri Aurobindo, by that time had not only mastered Bengali, but also had, with incredible rapidity, developed an understanding of several Indian languages and had completed the study of major scriptures and classics in Sanskrit.

     But between one's capacity to study and appreciate the Sanskrit works on one hand and one's ability to write in that language infallibly on the other hand, the distance is great. The discovery in 1985 of Sri Aurobindo's Sanskrit bunch of verses published as Bhavani Bharati, could be a surprise of immense magnitude, had we not been saturated with so many surprises his genius had given us. In any case, reading this captivating bunch, this reviewer had the feeling nearer to what Keats had when he read Chapman's Homer:

     Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
     When a new planet swims into his ken;

          ...

     With their simplicity and lyrical quality, these verses leave a lasting impression on memory while for their power they invoke the spirit of a bygone decade when the poet was trying to arouse the children of Mother India, the Mother Divine, from the slumber into which they had fallen. Fire of patriotism mingles with a flame-like sarcasm when the poet speaks through Mother Kali: "Not by torrents of blood from hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of goats am I satisfied. Break open your hearts and offer that blood to me...."

     The order of Varnas which had been designed to secure inner progress for all through the external activities in accordance with one's nature, had been rendered meaningless, for none adhered to one's Swadharma, observe some of these verses. Exhortations through powerful imageries and visions dominate the entire range of 99 verses, uninterrupted by a single jarring note in the flow of ideas or in the sailing smoothness of style.

     Written between 1904 and 1908, Sri Aurobindo does not seem to have cared to put the composition into any use (through circulation or publication) or even to have remembered it. Nevertheless, Bhavani Bharati is a beautiful tribute to the language of the great seers of the past by "the last great seer" (to use Romain Rolland's phrase for the Master). The edition contains, along with the original, its authentic and easy-reading rendering into English and Hindi.

— Manoj Das

Shri Manoj Das is a well-known writer. A Padma awardee, he is a recipient of the Saraswati Samman and Sahitya Akademi award.

November 2003