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Bilingual Poet Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar


Of the many Indian poets whose literary careers were shaped by poetry in the post-independence India of 20th century , the name of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is one of them. He is a progressive poet of renown. His poetic career covering several decades demonstrates his humanistic vision from beginning to end. His many books of poems have been translated into English; viz – 'Forty Poems' by Amir Mohammed Khan and Prof. L. S. Sharma, 'After The Forty Poems' trans. by Professor Ram Sevak Singh Yadav, Prof. Vareedra Kumar Varma and Amir Mohammed Khan, 'Exuberance and other poems' trans. by Dr. Ravinandan Sinha, 'Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's Poetry' trans. by Dr. H.C. Gupta, 'Death-Perception : Life-Perception' trans. by Dr. D. C. Chambial, 'Poems : For The Better World' trans. by Mr. Kedar Nath Sharma, 'Passion and Compassion' trans. by Dr. P. Adeshwar Rao. I have gone through most of the works of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. In all these works the thread of his humanistic vision can be seen vividly. He wrote poems to bring about a change in the world. 

His humanistic vision has its own distinction : it is connected with a world vision. He believes that a progressive, prosperous and purposeful world can be constructed. His poetry contains joys and sorrows of common men. He is endowd with the gift of free imagination dedicated to bring about change in our soulless heartless, dead, disintegrated, disunited, disillusioned capitalistic world where common man is foredoomed to be exploited, cheated and looted at every step. Prof. Mahendra Bhatnagar is a first rate intellectual, who analyses, interprets, evaluates and describes his emotions in the light of his humanistic vision. The forces of establishment and power – both Governmental and non-Governmental have crushed the hopes and dreams and ambitions of common people. A poet like Prof. Mahendra Bhatnagar uses irony to expose the fraud of exploiters. He has ultimately emerged in his poetry as a champion of the common humanity. He so often exposes the enemies of the labourers and the peasants of India. With his humanistic vision he constantly compels the readers to distinguish between power and propriety. He is alert, careful, and cautious, sometimes reminding us occasionally of Brecht, Auden, Pablo Neruda and of Carl Sandburg.

Like them he is a spokesman of the people, and he employs a rare sensitivity, a rare intellectuality and a rare humanity like them. Without the quality of their free imagination and immense love for the people Mahendra Bhatnagar's poems would not have seen the light of the day. A humanitarian poet he has always given his eyes and ears to his mother India. If one wants to know the sufferings and agonies of common people in India, he must give his days and nights to the poetry of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. His poem 'Helplessness' typical of its kind reveals not only his own helplessness but also of the common
people of India :
Thrust upon, undesired life, I lived.
Every instant, every step, shame I lived
History, now you ask me what
Folly and dirtiness of the world, I lived.

I have quoted this poem because this is a poem which reflects his free imagination and humanistic vision fully. The poet opposes those forces which resent change. The last 110 years have been the years of wars, terrorism, apartheid, exploitation, unemployment, violence, criminalisation of politics, betrayal of godmen and bureaucrats. The dynamic poet Mahendra Bhanagar powerfully attached to this period of moral degeneration and disintegration. He is rightly of the view that this period has been a period of shame, helplessness and corruption all over the world. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry mirrors our era of shame, helplessness and corruption. As an intellectual he stands on earth and questions, examines and tests terrestrial things. He employs irony and understatement to expose the enemies of people. He does not spare even those who are at the helm of affairs. Like Mulk Raj Anand and Premchand, the novelists he takes the side of the people and not the fascists, dictators and capitalists. We do not find servility syndrome or tendency of hero-worship in Mahendra Bhatnagar. In his several volumes of poetry, he emerges as an artistic reporter of the agonies and dreams of people. His poems have authenticity and sureness of death, and dynamism, truth, beauty and goodness of life. His great and valuable poetry should not be underestimated because of the fact that he is a Hindi poet and originally wrote in Hindi. Indian criticism does not have that free imagination, love for people and humanistic vision which creative writers have in abundance. Critics are either slaves of ideology or write with some selfish motive to please Academies or some gods. But a poet like Mahendra Bhatnagar is always free and has actively participated in the drama of mankind. The humanistic vision of Mahendra Bhatnagar is broader than that of Muktibodh and Kedar Nath Agrawal. His humanistic vision often combines compassion of Gautam Buddha, martyrdom of Jesus Christ, love for common objects of Kazuyosi Ikeda, commonness of Auden, skepticism of Brecht and involvement with mankind of John Donne. He is a fine poet of people's consciousness and his volumes of poems confirm this. Each poem gives a definition of life; each poem gives a clarification of life. He uses people's thoughts, consciousness and their language adeptly. So far as sensuous comprehension of thought is concerned, so far as love for people is concerned, so far as exposure of fascists, tyrants, terrorists and enemies of people is concerned, he is second to only a few. So far as quality of depiction of criticism of life with a sense of poetic truth and beauty is concerned he is second to none. He is clearer than Muktibodh, wider in emotions than Agyeya, deeper than Kedar Nath Agrawal and more readable than Shamsher Bahadur Singh.

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar does not belong to any group or coterie of poets and critics. All his poems as well as his entire corpus suggest that man belongs to a large family. Man cannot live and should not live like an island. Man should choose to love and help each other and fight against enemies of people, country and democracy unitedly. Every man is a part of mankind.

Last but not the least, Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar knows Indian people and their pathetic conditions. He has given an authentic poetic record of the common humanity of India. He is a good observer of the life around him. His honesty, integrity, sincerity, authenticity and brevity are appealing and so are his sensitivity, subjectivity and tempestuous poetic capacity. He is a prolific poet whose books cannot be forgotten. He observes everything through his free imagination and humanistic vision. One is astonished to see the wide scope and vast canvas of his poetry which surveys all the occupations, classes and regions of India. The poet is seen shaking hands with the crowd, talking to them and rubbing shoulders with them. His books of poems reveal the collective wisdom of the people. The wisdom lies in synergy, cooperation, unity, collaboration, hard work, naturalness, peace and in Auden's thought – "We must love each other or die." and Arnold's thought – "Oh love! let us be true to each other." Mahendra Bhatnagar is a great poet of 'living moments and people alive.'
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— Dr. Suresh Chandra Dwivedi
Professor & Head : Dept. of English, 
Allahabad University,Allahabad .




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