Ghanashyam

Sarojini Naidu has expressed the Hindu religious ethos in all its varieties through the treatment of Radha- Krishna legend the myth of Radha-Krishna love, the milk made symbolizes the yearning for the infinite.

In ‘Ghanshyam’ the poet sings the glory of Lord Krishna, the Divine flute – player of Brindaban . His sweet music takes every human heart away from mortal grief and attachments he is worshiped in different forms. In the present poem the poet praises lord Krishana who gives the colors to mountains, laughter’s to snow- fed fountains ,beauty and blackness of his hair to the storm’s unbridled tresses her prayer to Krishna is:

O take my yearning soul for thine oblation

Life of all myriad lives that dwell in thee.

Lord Krishna gives the healing breath to the forest pines. He scatters the joy of his caresses upon the limpid air. The poet begs him to do a favour. She wishes to be lost in his waves of ecstasy. She says;

Let me be lost, a lamp of adoration,
In thine unfathomed waves of ecstasy.

The poet attempts to brings the rich tradition of Krishna poetry into Indian English. Here we find Sarojini turning from human to divine love.


Critical Analysis of Ghanashyam


This poem appeared in Kamala Das’s fourth volume of poems in 1977 under the heading of ‘Stranger Time’. Ghanshyam, as every Hindu knows, is the other name of Lord Krishna of the Mahabharata fame. As a boy and as a young man Lord Krishna used to play with girls of whom abored him and who used to feel delighted and thrilled by the sweet strains of music which he could produce from his favourite musical instrument, the flute. In course of time stories became current that a girl by the name of Radha had fallen deeply in love with him; and centuries later, a woman by the name of Mira Bai fell in love with him though she could love him only in her imagination. Mira Bai composed a large number of poems and songs in celebration of her love for him. It is against this background that Kamala Das, after having felt frustrated by the failure of her marriage and then by the total unsatisfactoriness of her many sexual relationship with men, sublimated her sexual desire by visualizing herself as a seeker of Lord Krishna’s love.

The poem is addressed to Ghansyam, and the person a is, of course, Kamala Das herself. She tells Ghanshyam that he has built a nest in the garden of her heart and the her life, which was till now a silent and sleeping jungle, is now stirring with the sounds of music.

Ghanshyam,

You have like a koel built your nest in the arbour of my heart.

My life, until now a sleeping jungle is at last astir with music.
You lead me along a route I have never known before

Ghanshyam, she says, has been leading her along a route which she had never known before, and that every time, when she is about to come close to him, he simply disappears.

But at each turn when I near you
Like a spectral flame you vanish.
The flame of my prayer-lamp holds captive my future
I gaze into the red eye of death
The hot stars of truth unveiled.

She goes on to say that life is moisture, that life is water, that life is semen and blood, and that death is the want of moisture and water, that death is the hot sand bath, and that death is the last sob of the relative of the person who lies dead. She then says that she is using words to weave a garment for Ghanshyam and that she is composing songs to produce music which would have the power to make the oceans dance.

Life is moisture
Life is water, semen and blood.
Death is drought
Death is the hot sauna leading to cool rest-rooms
Death is the last, lost sob of the relative
Beside the red-walled morgue.
O Shyam, my Ghanshyam
With words I weave a raiment for you
With songs a sky
With such music I liberate in the oceans their fervid dances

Kamala Das described her married life which was a failure because her husband wanted merely to satisfy his lust and was unable to give her any love or affection in any real sense. She had found that the only way in which she could survive was to reconcile herself to her desolation and her loneliness. She has been trying to imagine that, whenever her husband indulged in the sexual act with her, it was Ghanshyam who was making love to her. She consoles herself with the thought that Ghanshyam appears to her in many shapes because he has many names. When any other man, beside her husband, makes love to her, she thinks that it is Ghanshyam making love to her.
Kamala Das next says that she seeks peace so that wisdom can come to her imperceptibly and silently. Ghanshyam has, like a fisherman, cast his net in the depths of her ,mind; and her thoughts are rushing towards him like a fish which briskly enters the fisherman’s net under some mysterious urge.

Thus this poem reveals to us Kamala Das’s spitirual longings which have been dormant in her and which have come to the surface as a consequence of her sexual frustrations. At first she kept thinking that every man with whom she performed the sexual act was Ghanshyam in disguise. Then she began to feel confused as to the real identity of the men with whom she performed the sexual act next she felt disillusioned about those casual lovers of hers. Finally she feels cleansed of the desires of the flesh and wants only Ghanshyam as her lover. These are the stages by which Kamala Das sublimated her sensuality.

In this poem Kamala Das speaks not only of physical evolution but also of spiritual evolution. Kamala Das’s poems on the Radha-Krishna myth, namely Ghanshyam, Radha, the Maggots etc., are specifically representative of her faith in the spiritual evolution of man. In the poem Radha, Kamala Das speaks of spiritual love and spiritual evolution by means of surrender. Radha in that poem represents the spirit of surrender which is the very first step towards spiritual evolution. For the consummation of spiritual love, Kamala Das mingles her complete self with the self of Lord Krishna. We feel inclined to regard this poem as one of Kamala Das’s masterpieces because of its content and also because of the manner in which she had dealt with its theme. There are a number of excellent similes and metaphors in this poem; and it is characterized by a felicity of word and phrase which really evokes our admiration.

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