It is a fact that literary achievements of Vidyapati has not been touched or reached by any other poets of his age. He has been a source of inspiration for many young writers and scholars. At a time when Maithili Literature was rising at its prominence then it was thought that in the field of literature it will serve the world as a milestone. Shiva, Shakti and Vishnu were the three popular deities of Mithila and it was considered as one of the important centers of spirituality. Vidyapati wrote Shaivasarvasvasara and he has also composed Nachari and other poems in the honor of Lord Shiva. His style and features are unique and it cannot be found in the any other genres of literature. The devotional songs of Vidyapati have been widely circulated and still today it is often quoted. The most common poetry of Mithila is Tirhuti and it has a kind of lyrical expression which is indigenous in nature and origin. It has all the kinds of love affairs in it starting from union to separation of the lover and the beloved. I have not talked about the ending because it is very subjective. If we take separation of the lover and the beloved as its beginning then we cannot say that the unification is the last phase because love gets deeper and deeper in separation. Vidyapati has written several songs and poems on such issues. One of the very famous forms of such kind of writings is Batagamni. Here when heroine or nayika goes to meet her lover then this kind of song is sung with a melodious voice. Vidyapati is the most celebrated writer for such kind of poems and songs. Some famous style of writing of such songs are represented by Lagni, Malara, yoga, samadauni and sohara. Samadauni is sung on the occasion of Navaratri and thus it is a kind of adieu to Goddess Durga. One can also bid farewell to his daughter at the time of her marriage by singing such kind of songs.
Keywords- inspiration, separation, love, spirituality, marriage
Vidyapati is a kind of writer who is very conscious in choosing words for his poems. He tries to write accurate and matching words for a particular emotion. It is one of the reasons that in his songs there are preferences for tadbhava words. It does not mean that the tatsama words are absent from his songs. Tadbhava words are preferred in his writings because they bring out the linguistic peculiarity of any geographical region and thus it looks more real. During the time of Vidyapati from Gujarat to Bengal Apabhramsa Avahatta was the most famous literary language which had some local variations. There also the tadbhava words are widely used. It is interesting to see that it parallels to the sonnet tradition. The sonnet came out from two strains of language and literature. One is native which started from the feudal courts of province whereas the other started from the regions of thirteenth century Italy. Any provincial reader can find out the images and attitudes which got vanished with the time. The local languages and dialects were changed by the poets and authors according to their own interest. Even Chaucer has tried and experimented linguistic variations in his own writings. In English Literature we can find so many words of different origins. Some are French, some are Italian and it shows that how language evolved in any particular area. With the adaptation of new words the religious views of the people also changed drastically. Language is a kind of identity and if we do some addition or subtraction of words from a particular dialect or language then it also changes the identity of a particular region. Thus there is a constant influence of language over any form of writings. There are occasional touches of gaiety which is a result of surviving lyrics in any genre of literature. It seems that love in the form of poetry has become frail which is pitiable and it is flourishing over the mercy of readers-
“Mirie it is while summer ilast
With fugheles song;
Oc nu necheth windes blast
And weder strong.
Ei, ei, what this nicht is long!
And ich with wel michel wrong
Soreghe and murne and fast.”1
The above lines are provincial in origin and the poet is feeling sad because it is spring time and he is feeling secluded. The nightingale sings in the moonlight. It seems that the language used is of Troubadours who were famous at the time of Angevin England. With the advancement of time the lyrics also changed. Either it is Maithili Literature or English Literature both of them we can find evolution and there are drastic changes in the use of words, metaphors and similes. I am writing this chapter to encompass style and features used by Vidyapati and some British Poets. In British poets I shall try to compare and contrast poets from different ages. I have already mentioned that Vidyapati followed a very different style of writing but still there are some similarities between him and few British Poets. When I write about the features I mean stylistic features of different poets which will be focused in this chapter. While reading the poems of Vidyapati I was surprised to find that there are similarities in terms of style and features between Vidyapati and Romantic poets especially of John Keats. In Endymion John Keats has said that happiness is a state of our mind. It means that our mind has the capacity to decide our happiness and our minds are raised to a certain kind of fellowship filled with essence and we are left alchemized-
“feel we these things? that moment we have stept
Into a sort of oneness, and our state
Is like a fleeting spirit’s. But there are
Richer entanglements, enthrallments far
More self – destroying, leading by degress
To the chief intensity.”2
It is well known to the world that John Keats got carried away into the realms of ecstasy whenever he witnessed the beauty associated with visible things. he was a kind of poet who considered truth as beauty and beauty as truth. In case of Vidyapati we can find that he was also a kind of poet who always gave priority to truth. He was also considered as a sensual poet who wrote several songs and poems on the topics like love and beauty. He has presented a beautiful picture of a beloved in terms of her physicality. She was beautiful enough to make her lover stand alive from his grave. He has also written devotional songs of Radha and Krishna but to him truth and beauty was always a chief concern. The understanding of reality for John Keats was unique. In comparison to William Blake this understanding was narrow. According to Blake the realm of imagination can also be real. Thus William Blake presented an active understanding of reality whereas John Keats presented a passive form of reality. We have already talked about the role of imagination in case of Vidyapati. Truth and beauty are two different things. There can be a truth which can be bitter. This bitter truth is beautiful or not it depends upon the given situation. Sri Aurobindo has translated the poems of Vidyapati in English language and in one of the songs he has associated the beauty of a lady with brightness. Few lines from the song needs to be quoted here-
“How shall I tell of caanou’s beauty bright?
Men will believe it a vision of the night.
As lightning was his saffron garment blown
Over the beautiful cloud-limbs half shown
His coal –black curls assumed with regal grace
A peacock’s plume above that moonlike face.
And such a fragrance fierce the mad winds wafts
Love wakes and trembles for his flowery shafts.”3
The above lines project the clear picture of beauty associated with natural things. It is like a vision of the night. This vision is so clear that it has been associated with the brightness of the nature. Sometimes scholars have also said about Vidyapati that he is a kind of poet who loves to write about nature. This nature is both the nature of the human being as well as the external form of nature. There is a kind of fine balance between the internal as well as the external form of nature. This kind of imagination where the internal form of nature fuses with the external nature is not wild. They are controlled through poetic justice. It is very interesting to see that Coleridge one of the other great Romantic poets has justified this by his paradoxes. It is to be noted here that there are not much comparisons between Coleridge and Vidyapati but what gave an upper hand to Coleridge was his trust on his imagination. This trust was deeply rooted in him and he often thought that the shape of life is given through imagination. In his poem Dejection he has tried to explain that imagination is a kind of nature which acts like a faithful companion to all the living beings. It lives inside a normal human being and from there it creates several external images. These images play a very vital role in understanding the values of life. Thus Coleridge always considered imagination as a superior form to all the living forces. Few lines from the poem can make us understand his views which matters a lot to him. It needs our attention when he writes-
“Ah! From the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
Enveloping the Earth-
And from the soul itself must there be sent
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element!”4
It is very unusual to quote Vidyapati and Coleridge together as they hardly have any form of comparison but their stylistic features are striking and noteworthy. I have tried to measure the brightness of imagination associated with Vidyapati with the fair luminous cloud of imagination associated with Coleridge. Both are the poems of different genres but it looks that somewhere they think alike. Their style of writing is also different yet there is a match between their school of thoughts and in this regard Vidyapati exceeds the limits of Coleridge. It is a fact that Coleridge does not think so far as Vidyapati in the claims which he shows for fanciful imagination. He gets hampered by the external world and the balance between the internal and external form of nature is broken. His imagination is shapeless and thus his use of symbols and images are also not concrete. It is a kind of shapeless creation. There are other comparisons also but they are not worthy enough to be mentioned here because this chapter is dedicated to style and features only. In terms of intonation we can see that Vidyapati has successfully written his poems which can be sung beautifully as there is a kind of proper rhythm and pattern in his poems. He hesitates to write the free verse and he has discovered his own style of writing which is certainly unique but still inspiring. He begets his inspiration from God and it proves that he is far better than almost all of his contemporaries. The devotional songs of Krishna and Radha are still today celebrated and sung. It seems that these songs and poems are new and fresh. Every time when we read the poems of Vidyapati we find something new as there are numerous references to Indian mythology and philosophy. They are not only philosophy but they present the stark reality of life. These realities are not applicable to only a particular place but they are universal in appeal as well as tone. They are the rare collections of Indian tradition and culture. Apart from these facts we can also notice some linguistic peculiarities in the writings of Vidyapati. In most of his poems and songs third person narrative form has been used. We can find third person verbal form in several other poems of Maithili Literature. It shows that poets are literary genius and they have very special kind of knowledge. It is one of the reasons that they are known as the creators. Shelley has written in his Defense of Poetry that poets are not common and their knowledge is really praiseworthy. He has tried to convince that a poet is a “forseer”5.Shelley considered a poet as a seer who has a peculiar insight and thus he is a kind of gift to the world. It is the nature of reality that gifted minds have peculiar insight as well as habits. A normal man cannot perceive the world like a poet and it does not mean that poets are not normal. They have something very special to them. Shelley has used the theory of knowledge given by Plato and he has applied it to the beautiful mind of a poet. This concept of Shelley is equally applicable to poets like Vidyapati. Shelley and Vidyapati have nothing to do with each other. They both belong to different ages yet the poems written by Vidyapati prove that he was a creator. The theory of Shelley is applicable to all the poets who are acting like a source of inspiration for the coming generation. It is the beautiful mind of a poet who gives life to images and symbols through the use of his creativity. We have talked about the use of verbal forms by Vidyapati. It is a kind of tool which has been used by Vidyapati in his poems. It is derived from the past participle form of archaic transitive verbs. It also justifies the gender used in the poetry. It was a popular mode of writing because several popular poets have used this form extensively in their writings. The adverbial forms of the poems dedicated to spirituality have also been used by the poets like Vidyapati. It is one of the reasons that songs of Krishna and Radha got popularity in almost all the parts of India. Although Vidyapati has been admired by different critics and scholars but Pandit Janaki Vallabh Shastrijee has a different view point. He says that Vidyapati has written different poems on Radha and Krishna but in all of his poems he has depicted Radha in terms of beauty and desire. Radha as depicted by Vidyapati is a figure of Vasna or desire but in the poems of Surdasa the same Radha acts like an epitome of firmness. Now, we have two forms of Radha one is beautiful but weak but the other is not ugly but strong. Thus there is a view point that beauty is associated with weakness. A lady who is beautiful and submissive is weak or we can say that she is considered as the weaker section of the society. As far as I think Vidyapati has no doubt portrayed Radha as a beautiful lady but no where it is refereed that she is weak. She is soft but not weak. She is submissive but it does not mean that she is weak. We are studying about the love poems of Vidyapati and British poets and we have seen the approach of Petrarch towards beauty. In the writings of Petrarch and in the theories of Platonic love we have seen that a lady or the beloved has been depicted as beautiful and submissive but she is strong enough to make her lover persuade her. In the poems of Sidney and Spenser we have seen that a beloved is beautiful enough to be treated as a kind of guiding star by her lover. The lover blindly follows her and it does not mean that she is weak. It is all about love and one needs to be submissive in love so that the other partner can remain active with her. If both the lover and the beloved will be active in love then the relationship is not going to last forever. Pandit Janaki Vallabh Shastrijee has tried to compare the beauty associated with Radha to the kind of firmness projected by Surdasa . in Vidyapati we can find Radha as a kind of girl who is soft spoken. Surdasa has a different approach to beauty which is not soft but firm. The combination of softness and firmness cannot assure a healthy relationship. It is one of the reasons that Vidyapati has associated beauty with softness which must be handled with care. In the poems of John Donne we can also see that the beloved or the lady is beautiful and submissive. The lover feels complete in the presence of his beloved and it is equally applicable to the beloved also. We cannot deny that Vidyapati is a sensual poet who has associated beauty with desire but we cannot affirm that the beautiful beloved is weak. These facts are also associated with imagination. The poet tries to mix reality with imagination. Sex and gender is associated with society and both these terms are not alike. There is power associated with sex and gender. This power politics affirms that sex is determined biologically but gender is constructed by the society. This is one of the reasons that there are several individuals who are male but they behave like a female. This is also applicable to females who behave like a male in a particular society. This can be one of the reasons that Spartan women are considered equal to the men because they have trained like that from their childhood. Thus it is proved that gender is a kind of tool which is created and sharpened by the society. There can be a lot of reasons that why do some and female act opposite to their sexes in the society. It can be an effect of naturalism because according to the naturalistic philosophy identity of any individual is an outcome of heredity and environment.
- E.K.Chambers &F.Sidgwick, Early English Lyrics, Sidgwick&Jackson publishers, London, 1937.p.1
- Wikisource contributors. “Page:Keats – Poetical Works, DeWolfe, 1884.djvu/40.” Wikisource . Wikisource , 28 Dec. 2016. Web. 7 Oct. 2018.
- Wikipedia contributors. “A Defence of Poetry.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Aug. 2018. Web. 7 Oct. 2018.