Literary Communication: Rethinking Love and Divinity in Some Select Texts

 

Suchona Patnaik, Ashok Kumar Mohanty

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, SOA (Deemed to be University) Bhubaneswar.

*Corresponding Author E-mail: patnaiksuchona24@gmail.com; suchonapatnaik@gmail.com

 

ABSTRACT:

The world of literature embodies rich experience of Love and Divinity. It is an ever-changing perspective, highlighting different contours of writers’ engagement across the world who has dealt with the stated themes with great candour.

This paper attempts to draw insights from John Keats, Eliot, Yeats and a regional writer Kanheilal Das to project a balanced view of love and divinity.

John Keats is an English Romantic poet whose verse is known for its vivid imagery and great sensuous appeal. His beloved Fanny Brown remained engaged in love until Keats’ untimely death. Keats’ letters embody commonest of human passion. He wrote, “You have absorbed me. I could be martyred for my religion i.e, Love. Similar echo is found in Charlotte Bronte, Vladimir Nabokov, Franz Kafka, Leo Tolstoy and others. Like John Donne, Andrew Marvel is not in the least romantically concerned with his beloved. Later B Teats and Maud Gonne liked each other but they were not in love. When W B Yeats says, ‘Love is false or true, it reflects the uncertainty of love-making’.

Kanheilal too lives in his stories, filled with intense quest and longing. His love real or elusive is still illuminative. The stories are like window shutter through which they see the pathetic poignancy of their emotions of love. The paper examines the primordial emotion of love, divinity and its aberrations/manifestations in the proposed texts.

 

KEYWORDS: Sensuous love, Humanised God, Metaphysical Love, Odia Fiction, Love and Divinity.

 

 

 


INTRODUCTION:

Literary Communication is not literal but mostly metaphoric. Language for a text is perfectly reflected in the textual world. (Fasold Joseph and Taylor.2001)

Whorfian hypothesis hold s that language reflects the reality of the world. The discipline of pragmatics grew up at an amazing pace in the 60s and 70s because of the theories of Austin, Searle and Grice who contributed to the contextualisation of the text.

 

These theories show how we interpret metaphor and symbolism in a coherent manner in literary texts. The message here is conveyed through the indirect use of words of dialogue and characters. We can reread a text by accounting for Reader’s Response and adding extra meaning to the text.

 

This paper analyses John Keats metaphysical poets and Kanheilal Das because of two reasons. (i)They celebrate the power of imagination in experiencing Love and Divinity. (ii)Kanheilal, little known but deserves to be known.

 

A new perspective of love and divinity has been added and observed the changing streams of these primordial emotions.

 

DISCUSSION:

John Keats bicentenary birth year deserves special mention. When we read Keats we wish he were alive for more years. Both Shelly and Keats died young but left a rich legacy of Romantic thought Keats’ twin concepts “Beauty and Truth” “Negative Capability” are milestones in critical theory.

 

John Keats is a sensuous poet. It refers to human love and the gratification of it. He understands the sorrow and agony of life too well. His poetry has variety:-sonnets narrative poems and odes, dealing with themes of love, nature, art, beauty and muses of poetry. His sonnet “Bright Star” juxtaposes the permanence of the star with the transience of Human love, “La Belle Dame Sans Mercy”, A Ballad”, is a love poem based on medieval legend, which echoes the agony of disappointment in love. “Ode on a Grecian Urn”. “Heard melodies are sweet…Those unheard are sweeter…”.

 

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty” are notable sparks of his poetic excellence. Significantly, Keats’ Ode on a Melancholy”…Beauty that must die” and Ode to a Nightingale… “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. None can forget the immortal lines.

 

A poet is most un-poetical of anything in existence. Every phenomenon of the world has a fixed identity. Deconstructionists have a challenged the unchangeable attitude and argue that the text has no “fixed centre” but is ‘polyvalent’ with multiple meanings.

 

Things are changing fast. Change is the only constant. Tolstoy’s great novel Anna Karenina is a tragic story of illicit love; It is the wild, elemental force over which Anna had little control. She thinks of desire as a duty. It is a “perilous balance between sexual freedom and sexual convention. (Gurucharan P197). A woman may still live with a man she does not love. Religion and culture have enslaved us by denouncing erotic pleasure in human life.

 

It is apparent in metaphysical poets. John Donne, Herbert where emotion and imagination are so powerful that they read like real experience. Unlike Romantic love, the beloved rose from platonic imagination to be deified with devotion.

 

In T S Eliot’s, be it typist girl or ‘Wasteland’ love is futile and raises the question what lovers really want and how do they balance sex as licence/freedom and to respect custom convention and enlightment/ transcendence and public morality.

 

Same conflict is evident in Rabindra Nath Tagore’s, Charulata, “not content to be a passive Hindu wife, trapped in the brocade cage of home”. She wants sexual freedom.

Some of the regional Odia fiction writers like Late Manoj Das, Akhil Mohan Patnaik, Jagdish Mohanty and Prativa Ray are quite popular for their work. However, Kanheilal Das, a lesser-known writer, stands apart for his stylistic treatment. He died young like John Keats and P.B Shelley, the romantic poets of the 19th century. The comparison though seems to be farfetched, has profound connotations. His short stories were published posthumously and title as “Kanheira Katahghara” that roughly translates to Kanhei’s House of Stories.   

 

Somewhere it harps like Mozart died poor but lived in the richness of his symphony. Kanheilal still lives on in his stories filled with intense quest and longing. Kanheilal’s love stories are very popular. Some stories of Kanheilal deal with that imponderable theme called love, as real as elusive, as illuminating as blinding and still remaining inscrutable. These stories are quite popular for their excruciating tragic summation. In view of this many readers easily establish a hearty correspondence with his stories. The stories are like the window shutter through which they see the pathetic poignancy of their emotions of love for someone dying down in the dimming of life and time.

 

The history of humanity loves partly by storytelling. It is by stories that the symbiotic relationship has evolved down the ages, between cultures of different civilisation. Story telling has a fascinating tradition of oratorical vibrancy and captivating narrative styles. In contemporary times short stories lived as a distinct genre of literary expression. Kanheilal’s stories though not widely translated in English have the same literary and emotive qualities of writers like Albert Camus, Anton Chekov, Oscar Wilde and Leo Tolstoy, O Henry etc. In fact the existential and experiential aspects if Kanheilal’s life sneak into his stories bringing in echo of Oscar Wilde’s famous story, The Nightingale and the Rose.

 

It is relevant here to be familiar with Wilde’s style. All that the lover seeks is a red rose for his beloved. The garden blooms are in all colours but red. He yearned for a red rose but it was nowhere to be seen. The hapless lover’s anguish was noticed by a nightingale that evoked overwhelming emotions of generosity in the nightingale. The nightingale flew around in the garden and bushes speaking to the plants for a red rose. The tree said,

 

If you want a red rose, you must built it out of music by moonlight, and stain it with your own heart’s blood. You must sing to me with your breast against a thorn. All night long you must sing to me, and the thorn must pierce your heart and your life-blood must flow into my veins and become mine. These became meaningless when the beloved neglected the flower for jewellery and another man. The Nightingale both in Oscar Wilde and Kanheilal is a metaphor and they themselves are protagonists, writing in blood and bleeding simultaneously.

 

Diana Athil in her “Instead of Letters” self scrutinised herself and says. “I have not been beautiful or intelligent, or good, or brave, or energetic, and for many years I was not happy.

 

Athill has a gift of observation and she says that ‘seeing things remained, through the dreariest stretches of my life, a reason for living’

 

Ivan Turgenev’s First Love,” she tore herself away, and went out. I cannot describe the emotion with which I went away. I should not wish it ever to come again; but I should think myself unfortunate had I never experienced such an emotion.”  The theme of universality of longing for love is found here. Similarly, Bertrand Russell, rationalist has confessed his longing for love which is transcendental and beyond rationalisation. Bertrand Russell opines of all forms of caution in love. Caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

 

DIVINITY RETHINKING:

Kanheilal’s narrative style captivates the reader. The title of one of his stories, in his anthologies, Proyajaniya hathyakanda ra Sadajantra may be translated as A Conspiracy for a Much-Needed Murder.

 

The story begins abruptly with a surprising dramatics “How old are you God! You must be younger to me. Now I am twenty-five years old. But you don't even have beard. You are still a minor. I have seen your pictures and idols and I have noticed you don't have any hair on your body. Your gender.......! You are really selfish. Once, an emaciated beggar was begging on the road. I had a ten paisa coin and I threw at him. He picked it up and said, God is kind and God Bless. Wah! I showed him kindness but you became kind-hearted. God I wish you were a human being, then you would realise the pathos of life. You are all pretension, you are formless and all pervasive. Wind is also pervasive, is it your creation! Are you taking pride in creating the atom!

In this non dual world he is part of God and God is very much a part of him. Kanheilal’s spiritual epiphany has an electrifying charge in his story telling.

 

Kanheilal holds God as a betrayer. The story teller is simmering inside with vengeance and wants to avenge God’s act of betrayal. That is why he kills God and makes love to his beloved besides the bloodied lifeless body of God. Lastly, he kills his beloved and commits suicide.

 

The readers remain hypnotised. He begins, “Devi, this is your illusion, and you should know nobody has a prolonged right over anything or anybody in this world. Look at your south, once that was home of somebody, now in ruins and home to birds, serpents and stray animals”.

 

God! I know you are dead. Today I will infuse life into you. I will sculpt you as a human. I will make you helpless and lonely. Then I will murder you. God! Will you be my friend after I make you a   human? We can wish each other and spend some time together sipping tea and smoking.

 

This address to divinity also echoes in John Donne’s poem, Batter My Heart Three Personed God

 

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your forces to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,

But am betrothed unto your enemy;

Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,

Take me to you; imprison me, for I,

Except you enthral me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

 

Donne implores God to make him anew by burning him in the holy flame. It is the same with Kanheilal who humanizes divinity by befriending God.

 

In Mahabharata, an Indian epic, Arjuna treated Lord Krishna as a friend until he saw his pervasive presence.

 

The question whether god is kind nor cruel, benevolent nor malignant remains an unsolved mystery. It can be believed that most of Kanheilal’s stories are archetypes of the bleeding nightingale.

 

All writers try to use language to persuade the readers for a set of beliefs. Mythologies are reinterpreted in the context of new knowledge. Be it, John Donne, Kanheilal, Nietzsche, William Walse, Devidutta Patnaik, they decode the fuzziness, paradoxes and revels in multiplicity of meaning. The Divine-discourse can be considered as an interpretive device.

 

A metaphor as a stylistic device is used to beautify sacred text. From a philosophical point of view, a language use in Divinity Discourse illustrates the transcendental dimensions of religious world view.

 

God’s love is central.

“Love thy neighbor”.

Romantics’ Pantheistic God.

Sails’ Love all, serve all.

 

Buddha prioritized enlightened living, devotional literature are celebration of divine glories. Time is ripe. We must delink political and religious partisanship and foster the consciousness that of “Basudevam Kutumbakam”.

 

This paper now analyses some contemporary view on Divinity. Sadguru Jai Vasudev ji belied that there is a science behind spiritual science. Experience of God which is an absolute truth cannot be shared. Buddha spent all his life demolishing all Gods. The moment he left people made him into God.

 

Richard Dawkins says, “one can continue to be good without God’s divine surveillance. Some are more skeptical. If Jesus could heal a blind person, then why not heal blindness. To Deepak Chopra, “God is infinite intelligence, who represents empathy, insight, tolerance forgiveness, reverence and compassion. It may be opined that every person is entitled to some versions of God or the other.

 

CONCLUSION:

From time immemorial the emotion of love and divinity has been put to crucible of experiences, arriving at no coherent, meaning. Love and Divinity themes have therefore become a serious aspect of enquiry in many texts. Various episodes, cited in our study, explicate the fallibility of human beings in grasping the true outcome of Love and Divinity. The ambiguities of both the concepts are not fully grasped because various texts fight at cross purposes. This is a riddle to the researcher.

 

REFERENCES:

1.      Athill, D (2001) Instead of a Letter, Granta Books,

2.      Donne, J (1995) Batter my heart three- person’d God

3.      Heidegger, M (1977) The World of Nietzsche: God is Dead: The Question concerning technology and other Essays (P53112)

4.      Trevelyan, G M (1942) English Social History: A Survey of Six Centuries Chaucer to Queen Victoria. Longman (London)

5.      Turgenev, I.S First Love (Penguin)

6.      Wilde, O (2015) The Nightingale and The Rose. Book classic

 

 

 

 

Received on 13.01.2022         Modified on 27.01.2022

Accepted on 09.02.2022      ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2022;13(1):17-20.

DOI: 10.52711/2321-5828.2022.00003