Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shiv Batalvi: Religion of Pain

Shiv: Pain as a prophet
Shiv (Batalvi) not only celebrated pain but actually "deified" it. He was the most powerful among those who sought to explore and reveal pain as a prophet. But he was not the first though he was the brightest in a long row of shining stars who put pain on the pededstal as a cleansing and uplifiting experience. The pain of separation was a not a new theme:"Birha Tu Sultaan" cried out Farid. What high pitched plea for pain is there: "Jis tan birhaa na upje so tan jaan masaan." The Gurus spoke of pain as the ultimate relief "Dukh daaru ..." starts Rehraas. But Shiv really spun a religion out of pain, and he danced with sheer ecstasy in the realisation that he was destined to reap the richest harvests of pain. He virtually begged for pain as a source of life: " peeraan da paraaga bhunn de!". Death was a climax of that experience of pain and no one known in human history ever longed for death with as much joyous expectation as did Shiv, and his choice of words really reveals how death to him had become an eqauivalent of warmth of love, the coziness, comfort and security of a mother's lap :" Kabraan udikdiyaan mainu jion puttraan nu maavaan." Shiv declared time and again that his poetry was not an off spring of frustration in love, that he had received love like no one else before had, that he had had a most fulfilling love life. (And this despite his adolescent distinction between physical conssumation and emotional love-- mainu lakhaan da tan mil giya, par ik da mann bhi na miliya) And yet he chose pain as a vehicle to express the intensity of his love just as he chosen death to express his passion for life. Whenever I met Shiv, I never found him sad, and the more poignant his poetry became, the more at peace with himself he seemed. No one ever saw Shiv in tears, and Punjab remembers its best loved poet as a smiling romantic little child who sang his way to death. "Pain", in Shiv's poetry, becomes what Eliot calls "an objective correlative" to intensity of joy of living. And Shiv death in the prime of his youth was the most powerful vindication of his poetry. Imagine Shiv writing "assaan taan joban rutte marna" and yet suffering from gout and senility at the age of 85. Shiv's death upheld the convinction that ran through his poetry. I think under unsymathetic socialistic criticism, Shiv pretended to be trying in the later years to disown his true meaning. But no one really remembers those years of denial And Shiv himself told me once that his later turn-around was his "joke on society." He was a sweet-heart , a most irresistible darling full of child-loke contradictions, and yet overflowing with innocence and passion that is a virtue of unsullied childhood. On another level, he walks pretty close on the bounds of mysticism -- though I am aware that no one has ever even considered that aspect in him.

Let there be more light on this shining star that will continue to smile and shine on the world of art and literature throughout the world. But what a pity that no language other than Punjabi is rich enough to hold the mighty floods of Shiv's genius. Or will someone please try a translation that trascends transliteration.!! The trouble with poetry is its untranslatablity.

No comments: