प्रथम मैथिली पाक्षिक ई पत्रिका

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Gajendra Thakur

Rajdeo Mandal- The Poet, the Novelist

Issue No. 88 (November-December 2019) of Muse India at http://museindia.com/Home/PastIssue displays Maithili literature in a very poor light. Moreover, it wrongly claims to be a representative review of Maithili Literature, whereas it was only in line with the Sahitya Akademi, Delhi; a mere representation of the so-called "dried main-drain". It is expected that Muse India will correct itself by announcing an issue exclusively devoted to the parallel tradition of Maithili literature. -Editor

T.K. Oommen writes in the "Linguistic Diversity" Chapter of "Sociology", 1988, page 291, National Law School of India University/ Bar Council of India Trust book: "... the Maithili region is found to be economically and culturally dominated by Brahmins and if a separate Maithili State is formed they may easily get entrenched as the political elite also. This may not be to the liking and advantage of several other castes, the traditionally entrenched or currently ascendant castes. Therefore, in all possibility the latter groups may oppose the formation of a separate Maithili state although they also belong to the Maithili speech community. This type of opposition adversely affects the development of several languages."

T.K. Oomen further writes: "... even when a language is pronounced to be distinct from Hindi, it may be treated as a dialect of Hindi. For example, both Grierson who undertook the classic linguistic survey of India and S. K. Chatterjee, the national professor of linguistics, stated that Maithili is a distinct language. But yet it is treated as a dialect of Hindi". (ibid, page 293)




The constant shedding of Tears -Maithili poem by Sh. Rajdeo Mandal - from his anthology of poems "Ambara"

Out of the eyes of my beloved

tears like a river

always keep flowing

and in that water of tears

people plunge

some feel cold

and some feel hot

some say wow!

and some feel bad.

but my blind-deaf accomplice

does not care,

her tears always keep flowing

but from some time her tears have stopped coming out

now perhaps she has emptied herself of tear


is she storing it !?

Verse is  not a popular genre, it is appreciated by a few. For a language like Sanskrit, the volunteers who are engaged in its popularisation, are using simple Sanskrit prose for it. They translate short stories and novels from other Indian languages into simple Sanskrit. But here translation of verse is barred as verse is read by none. A language, the number of whose speakers are so little that a need has been felt for organising camps for its spoken form, translation from verse into that language is considered misuse of resources.

In Maithili the situation has become grave. If we envisage a situation where there are no villages left, the number of speakers of this language would become almost NIL. People would speak in Maithili only in seminars and sittings. The need is already being felt for pronunciation and vocabulary enrichment classes even for the authors and singers of Maithili.

Then what is the purpose of writing verse in this language? What is the purpose and what is the need for it? People write verse due to paucity of time, as the other genres require devotion of more time. The situation becomes even more grave when people give the reason for writing verse in this way.

In this situation the happenings of the neighbourhood, personal ambition, derogatory remarks on others; and the travelogue, all these have become the subject matter of verse. But why not use prose for these kind of subjects? The short stories are transformed into drama form for the purpose of staging it. But what is the purpose of converting prose into poem?

The answer is both obvious and simple for those who know the so-called dried main-channel of Maithili literature. The readers of the converted poems are only the partisan-critiques. And writers of those great poems themselves throw eulogies on themselves as they have understood the call for self-sufficiency in this way. Why to depend on others for it! They write long prefaces in prose and add it to their collection of verses, declare their verses as great and path-breaking!

Who will understand the value of creation of verse? The personal worldly experiences, if these are not allowed to percolate deep down, would not be able to transform in great poems, even though those might be in rhythm. The spiritual and other-worldly thinking, howsoever non-concrete would still not be able to mesmerise, if that is not able to meet the worldly and make itself relevant, even though it is non-rhythmic or subscribes to a particular partisan-grouping or uses crutches of ideology. The essential needs of man are food, clothes and housing. And after that the spiritual thinking and related needs. When Buddha asked this question to all those who were seen participating in the festivities, asked whether they know the eventuality of death and if they do, how can they participate in those festivities? Likewise the modern Maithili poets, when they find the base of their language-culture and economics missing behind their feet, even then they refuse to accept that truth and then they try to insert the -isms to the national-international happenings into their poems, they want to create a patronising literature for the depressed classes and the natives, they want to become benefactor and so it fails to have a cutting-edge effect.

But when Rajdeo Mandal writes:

From the percolating drops of blood

The earth has become freshly-bathed

The bird then asks

Asks from its heart

In the incoming heavy and pitch-dark night

Would our species survive?

, then it goes into our blood and the blood starts running fast. The species of the poetics of the poet or the species of that bird? No nod of partisan-critiques, or a self-obsessed preface is required for this poem. No groupism or crutches of ideology is required for this creation.

So the poem needs excellence. It requires base of language and culture. It does not need imported plots and subjects, which is imported to do favours to the poem. It also does not need the imported emotion, which would be a superficial attempt for searching for the disappearing language, culture, which has gone missing; and during times of dwindling economy of the region.

Good poem can be written on any subject, it can be written on the anxiety of Buddha, regarding future of mankind, for consoling the heart also otherwise people will have to go to the pseudo-preachers, on and for the language, culture and economy otherwise we will soon have to start camps for Maithili. The transmigration of imagery is also required, otherwise we will have to create an artificial atmosphere for the poet; and for their poems we will have to arrange stages, a stage-camp will have to be organised for their artificial vocabulary and ideology. And people would have to be trained for it. The poets of the so-called mainline of dried-drain are just doing that.

The rhythm and ups and downs of Maithili language, the cultural and professional superiority of its proletariat brimming with confidence, having all kinds of professional and cultural skills, the superiority of its cooperative living style, cultural conservatism, polity, daily affairs, social values, morality, economic situation and adaptation in the midst of flood ravaged economy; the religion and philosophy all should be the subject of Maithili poem. And if that does not happen it would become one-sided, it will get entrenched after getting lopsided, would become dead, fit to be framed and put onto the wall.

To create poetry is a necessity, a literary urge for creation for fulfilling this urge. When the people of Mithila would go to the camps for learning Maithili language, then can only we start questioning the need for writing poems and purpose for creating all types of verse forms. Only then we should discuss the futility of writing poems in Maithili. And that day must not come, for that the poets would have to remain alert. And so is Rajdeo Mandal and that is why "Ambara" a collection of poem written by him has become the best collection of this genre in the first decade of the 21st Century.  His collection of poems "Vasundhara" is the next step. The excellence of verse created by Rajdeo Mandal is because of its foundation, the foundation of language and culture. The excellence is because he does not have to import the contents of his subjects. He does not import emotions either, you will find none. The expressions of his imagery lies in the rich vocabulary that he possess. To create poem is the only way left for Rajdeo Mandal. He has to create poem, it's a literary hunger and essentiality of his literary existence. The emotions are poured out in spinning rhythm and become his poetry.

"Rahab Ahink Sang"- (Will remain with you only)- From "Ambara"

Crying, calling

My throat dried

The lips dried

As if I was thirsty

The corpses all around

Are laughing at me

Nobody is listening to my voice

Where has went

My society

It was necessary to break

The conservatism

Turning of direction

For the future

You all are yourself the Greats

Move forward and leave the squabbling

No interruption will be able to stop it

I have not done any big crime

Hey Respected you, come here

Do not get angry

I will not break any law henceforth

I will not bother any of you now-on

Keep your kingdom

I do not want the headgear, the throne

I will not change my colour anymore

I will be with you all only, peacefully.



"Paro" of Nagarjun-Yatri, (notwithstanding the unanswered question whether it was written originally in Maithili or was a translation from Hindi into Maithili by the author himself) did depict first hand account of dwindling culture of his Maithil Brahmin caste of contemporary times. He did depict the socio-cultural situation of the period. The novel "Hamar Tol" (My quarter of the village) by Rajdeo Mandal is a first hand account of his "Dhanuk" caste of Mithila and has been written in the settings of the socio-cultural situation that this caste is peculiarly placed in. He inserts everything in it, the belief, which are sometimes not rational; social reform, love, hate, hope as well as disappointment. There was a void after Lalit. The mainstream, as it is called, writers of Maithili language got themselves into a maze due to their chosen subjects. The dark enveloped the literary scene wherein they found the exit tough, the going-on impossible.

The "Hamar Tol" of Rajdeo Mandal purifies the account of the second-hand account by Lalit in "Prithviputra"; and as a result the parallel movement of the stream was able to take along the main course of literature and moved it forward and made it relevant.

The author, being a realistic writer, has been forced to make the ending a tragical one. He refuses to see some struggles, or is not able to see those, or nobody is able to see these. But he gives details of those struggles too.

"Everyone left the scene in a hurry.

There began a fight between the Crow and the Myna. That fight remained unseen, only the tree saw it. And the tree saw many more things, but yet the tree remained silent".

The complexity and perplexity of that silence could be refined and presented owing to the first hand experiences of those unseen things by the second-hand accounts. And that's why this novel has secured its position in the literary history of Maithili literature.

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