Tuesday, January 21, 2014




Kehri Singh Madhukar (1930-2000 )

I came to know this Grand Dogri poet through my friend Madan Singh Slathia . This friend once read Madhukar’s poem “Ambar Khadotaa Chhadaa Chupp-Chaap Dikhadaa or Silent Stood the sky nearby watching everything ”. The poem bore  Marxist thoughts   but the humanism and imagery in this powerful poem belonged to   poverty laden rural  India. Any person anywhere would have immediately identified with the moving thoughts of the poem. I too was touched . It also reminded me of Albert Camus”s line “ The Benign Indifference of the Universe ” .

After that , I read everything about Madhukar that I could lay my hands on. His songs , Gazals and beautiful poems. I found his work Lyrical and provoking . His poems do not settle in your mind alone. They keep hovering around your heart again and again . Surely he was a revolutionary and visionary but always full of compassion. I can also say that he was all in one .

One can feel the inherent music and flow of Words in his poetry . And once you translate him from Dogri , he comes up as eloquent as Naazim Hikmet of Turkey. My study also makes me to believe that he was a Naadim of Dogri renaissance . What poet Dina Nath Naadim did for kashmiri , Madhukar brought the same Modernism to Dogri.

His admirers included Prof. Jay lal Kaul , Bakshi Ghulam Mohd, Ghulam Mohd Sadiq ,Com Dhanwantri, Ram Piara Saraf, Pt Trilochan Dutta, Girdhari Lal Dogra and Pandit Shiv kumar Sharma ( Santoor Maestro ).

                            Madhukar belonged to a reputed family of Dogra Rajputs. His father Thakur Kripal Singh was a Major in the State Forces.During a visit to Village Gurah Slathian ( presently Samba district ) , I also happened to see the ancestral house of this poet near Devak river . In 1961, Madhukar joined J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, as Editor Sheeraza Dogri and stayed there till 1974. In this short span of thirteen years, he did an incredible job for the collection of folk literature and the development of modern Dogri literature.

For some time , He also worked as announcer with radio Kashmir jammu . He was treated summarily by the official Patrons of Art And Literature who just handed him a Sahitya Akadmi Award in 1977 for his book "Main Mele Ra Janu" when he deserved much more for changing the face of the Dogri poetry . I am informed that Madhukar wrote so many songs for the Radio station jammu which probably have been lost . Four collections of poetry are to his credit entitled Namian Minjrain, Dola Kunn Thapea, Main Mele Ra Jannu and Padam Gokhru. He wanted to publish one more collection of poetry, compiled under the title "Parabhat Panchi Bolea" but he died before the book could see the light of the day. Neither did his family show any interest to publish his last poetic collection. Yes “Dola Kunn Thapea ”has been translated in Hindi by Padma Sachdev and published by Sahitya Akademi New Delhi. It is placed in classic literature series of Indian literature.

A master contribution in the field of translation from Madhukar appeared in 1961 when he translated 101 Bangla poems of Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore
In the shape of a Book titled “Ekottarhati ”. Apart from this He has written radio plays, operas as also undertaken important translation works into English of some well known books in Indian languages.

Liquor came in his way frequently. It disturbed his creative and professional life. It finally proved fatal for him and he breathed his last on 24th August 2000.

Now something about his poems .

 Madhukar's most popular poem “Kohlu ” is based on exploitation of labour by the rich and the privileged .It is an attack on the system . Like the Ox of the oil expeller, the poor man keeps labouring hard bearing everything even starvation for some other person’s comfort . Madhukar uses “ Kohlu ” is a symbol to present the condition of the common man in the corrupt and selfish society .This common man keeps the Kohlu of labour running totally oblivious of Chaitra and Sawaan or the changing seasons

I quote some lines from his poems ..

“Chur-Mur Chur- Mur Kohlu chaldaa
Baladh Chaley Ek Chaal .
Aey Janamey Da Raahi Bacheraa
Keh Mahiney Keh Saal..
Jajari Jajari Tora Turdaa
Gal Thankey Gangroal.
Undaa Khichadaa Bakhar Fisdaa
Taan Thhondaa Fi Teil.
Jorein Jorein Chhantaa Bajdaa
Pindey Laasaan Paun
Akhiin Khopey Soajh Gwaachi
Keh Chaitra Keh Soan”

And again in this poem he adds .

“Hazar kroh eh painda karda.
Phi bi uhai thhaan
Teli baichey teil bazaarey
Nein dandai da naan.”
("The Ox  covers a thousand kilometres but remains tied to the same spot. still The Teli ( Oil seller ) sells the oil in the market and earns while none makes mention of the ox.)

Pralay di Gataa Ganondhi Rehi
Par Lau suraj di mukki Nahin....

Mere Kaaran Desay Andher
Falaiya Hirakh Pyaar
Chalay Bapaari Pardesein Gi
Kardey Banaj Bapaar.............

Another example of his beautiful verse:

“Jo lehar kanara tappi ja.
O lehar kanarai hoi jandi
Mitti di goda sei jandi
Mitti de rangai rangoi jandi “
(The wave that crosses the bank goes beyond the boundary and sleeps in the lap of the earth and ultimately becomes one with it.)

Before his death he kept informing his friends to keep meeting and visiting. He would often say that this life and the breaths that one inhales could not be relied upon . Hope of someone around could be more trusting and satisfying . His simple but lyrical poem conveys these sentiments :-

"Iney sahain da ke parbhasa jindey
Asain laggi de raini hai asha jindey
Aoundhe jande raina,
mildhey gildey raina"

Only Madhukar could write like that .

 ( Autar Mota 22.01.2014 )
Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

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