To See Tukaram, Shakespeare Came Over


Vindā Karandikar


Govind Vināyak Karandikar (August 23, 1918 – March 14, 2010) ,was born at Dhalval village in the present-day Sindhudurg district of

Maharashtra.Better known as Vindā Karandikar, he  was a well-known Marathi poet and writer. He was also an essayist, literary critic, and atranslator.Experimentation has been a feature of Karandikar's Marathi poems. He also translated his own poems in English.He translated Poetics of Aristotle and King Lear of Shakespeare in Marathi. He was conferred with 39th Jnanpith Award in 2003, which is the highest literary award  in  India.  He  also  received

Keshavasut Prize, Soviet Land Nehru Literary Award, Kabir Samman and the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship.



Sanjay Pendse 

    Tukaram is to Marathi, what Shakespeare is to English, said  Dilip Chitre(1938-2009). Chitre's  contemporary (alias G.V.) Karandikar actually conjured up a meeting between Shakespeare and Tukaram, in a poem, “To See Tukaram, Shakespeare Came Over”.

    Up above in the heavens, perhaps, Shakespeare comes calling on Tukaram, the great 17th century poet-saint.The two hug one another. Tukaram hails Shakespeare for completely capturing the earthly human experience. The Bard laments though that he missed Vitthala (or the Divine) referred to in the poem as “that which you saw, on the brick!”.

    Tukaram replies in a lighter vein that there is nothing to lament for the pursuit of the Divine wrecked his own earthly experience.  Words are vain after all, and each path has its own thorns, Tukaram adds. As the twain proceed again on their own paths, the Divine can’t but help wonder at the two of His greatest creations.


   Sanjay Pendse is Pune-based freelance  journalist. Sanjay wrote on cultural affairs for the Times of India, Pune, from 1997 to 2006. He also topped a nation-wide course on environmental  journalism conducted by the BBC World Trust on behalf of the European Environment Commission.

To See Tukaram, Shakespeare Came Over

To See Tukaram, Shakespeare Came Over

To See Tukaram, Shakespeare Came Over;
the meeting took place, in the shop.

Both met each other, in a deep embrace,
passing everything, from bosom to bosom.

Tuka said, “O Will,your work is great;
the whole of earthly life, you have depicted.”

Shakespeare said, “No, that is left out;
that which you saw, on the brick!”

Tuka said, “O my boy, it's good, you left that out;
that has cracked, my family life.
Vitthal is subtle; his ways are inscrutable;
my slate remains blank, in spite of writing!”

Shakespeare said,“Why!, Because of your words,
that ‘Inexpressible’ itself, played in the soil ”

Tuka said, “My friend, in vain is all word-play.
Everyone has to go, his separate way.
On different ways, there are different thorns;
but along with the thorns, one meets Him again.
...Now, listen, listen, there tolls the temple bell;
the shrew at home : is waiting...”

Both went their ways, in different directions;
The sky couldn't check, its wonder!

The Sacred Heresy:  Selected poems of Vinda Karandikar ;
translated from the Marathi by G.V. Karandikar ;
edited by Dilip Chitre
by Vinda Karandikar
Sahitya Akademi Publication.
First published in 1998.

Excerpts from the Introduction - The Sacred Heresy

      Vinda Karandikar is one of the major Marathi and Indian poets of the twentieth century and yet, as in the case of many other equally eminent writers of our time, it is extremely difficult to place his work in a historic perspective. The chief reason for this difficulty is the ongoing conflict between what, in cliched terms, is known as the tradition, and modernity. In the Indian situation, neither 'tradition' nor 'modernity' can be used in the singular. Since the nineteenth century, there have been ruptures in cultural continuity and explosions of mutation in our literatures that seem mind-boggling. It is not a simple case of a cultural conflict between the East and the West. For few serious and preceptive observers would consider either the East or the West monolithic. What we are looking at is a literary awakening that has no parallel in our cultural history except the emergence of the Bhakti era, at different times, from the deep South up Northwards in a wave that could compare in its trasformative sweep with the European renaissance. 
     Though some of his contemporaries' poetic achievement seems to outshine his, Karandikar's importance as a practitioner of poetry outweighs theirs. In Karandikar we find the best example in modern Marathi literature of a restless innovator and explorer, a conscious experimenter unafraid to use unorthodox techniques and forms. Karandikar's work is exuberant and energetic. He is the kind of artist for whom constant invention is the supreme need and basic ethos of creative work. When one looks at the sheer diversity and range of Karandikar's poetic output, one is awed by his prodigious resourcefulness.
     Karandikar sums up how his intellectual passion affects his poetry : "My poetry is the poetry of an Indian who has come to terms with his heritage through modern art and modern science. The Indian and the exotic elements interpenetrate in its substance, sensibility, and form." Karandikar then proceeds to tell that he believes in 'an open view of poetry.' When questioned what he means by 'an open view of poetry', Karandikar comes out with an answer that is a very important statement of his creative as well as critical credo: "An open view of poetry believes in the possibility, the usefulness and the aesthetic significance of many kinds of moods, many kinds offorms, and many kinds of style. It doesn't equate 'purity' with certain states of emotions, 'sincerity' with self-cen tred consistency, or 'beauty' with particular attributes ofform. It doesn't belittle traditional forms and modes in its enthusiasm for experiments or dub normal moods and attitudes as essentially non-poetic. It admits ugliness, dirt and vulgarity, but refuses to worship them as new deities." 
     Karandikar's originality lies in his use of many voices. His poetic act is more versatile and it does not aim at projecting a single, distinctly identifiable image of the voice of the poet. Karandikar also has the rare tendency to de-form well-known poetic genres. He has created his own kind of free-verse sonnet in Marathi, and he has created rhythmic 'analogues' of the taals of North Indian classical music in poetry evoking, at the same time, images that interpret the spirit of each taal chosen by him. He has brought dramatic monologues and dialogues back into poetry, reviving the spirit of the bharud, a folk poetic form that makes wonderful theatre and of which Eknath, the great sixteenth century poet-saint was a master exponent. Karandikar's poetry is rooted in memories of kirtans, bhajans, bharuds, Dashvatar performances and other such folk and traditional elements drawn perhaps from his childhood memories of rural Konkan. All these are forms of performed poetry. Karandikar echoes them in his work giving it dimensions so different from subjective lyrical poetry that even literary critics find it difficult to describe or analyse them.
     The present selection is made fron: Poems of Vinda, More Poems of Vinda , Omkar: Four Representative Poems of Vinda, and from hitherto unpublished translations of his poems by himself. Karandikar himself provides the notes. Most of Karandikar's translations acknowledge 'consultation' with the late A. K. Ramanujan, one of the finest Indian poets in English and an outstanding translator of both classic and contemporary poetry from Tamil and Kannada. Raman and his wife Molly were very close to Karandikar and the interaction between Karandikar and Raman, both of them poet-translators striving for excellence, is an exemplary instance of collaborative effort. I have also translated the poetry of Karandikar and it has been published elsewhere. However, I thought it wise to select for this volume only Karandikar's own translations and notes so that the work presented here is consistent in itself.My editorial role is limited to making a selection and writing an introduction to Karandikar's poetry in general and the poems in this volume in particular. Even though my role is thus limited, my task has been daunting. Perhaps I should confess here that I have been reading Karandikar's poetry since I was a teenager and that I reviewed his second collection of poems when I was barely out of high school and only sixteen years of age. First impressions are deeply imprinted on the mind and early first impressions become formative influences. Karandikar was also my teacher and I studied English literature under him for two years. In a sense I have been a poet of the next generation who watched Karandikar's poetic career unfold from an uncomfortably close position. To view him in perspective, from time to time, I had to distance myself critically. I have been a practising poet for forty-five years now and all these years Karandikar has been my senior contemporary, a poet whom I greatly admire and who, despite the nation-wide recognition he has won, remains somewhat neglected by literary critics.
Dilip Chitre 
14 July 1998