Prof. Govinda Raj Bhattarai, PhD
Gopal Paudel ‘Basanta’ is a well-read scholar, a well-versed poet and now a retired University Teacher of English known for many years. He possesses the knowledge of Eastern Philosophy and transforms the same into the western language. He translates the oriental mind, in the literal sense, into the words of world literature that is English. In fact, he does not translate rather composes poems with that theme. He produced two collections of meditative poems a few years ago, namely “Hoonkar“, “Mana” and “Mana and Prana“ and now he has appeared with a new anthology of poems.
For me, he is like an elder brother so I address him Dai, We have been together for more than fifty years since we met in Banaras in the early 1970s as young students earning university degrees there. Having completed higher degrees, later on, we happened to work together for a decade as colleagues teaching English language and literature to the university students in the college of Dhankuta, eastern Nepal.
Gopal Dai produced a small collection of Nepali poems a long way back in the 1980s. But since he has learned enough of Sanskrit classics, he knows the essence of oriental philosophy and literature. Then he began to compose poems containing the essence of the rich language and literature. Therefore, his poems contain the essence of existence that is concealed inside the oriental gems like the Upanishads and Vedantas, Puranic tales, and the Gita. Only an experienced jeweler like him can extract the essence. He realizes this and puts in a poem:
Evergreen cosmic beauty blooming
Every piece of his poem echoes a glimpse of philosophy, an essence of wisdom and realization beyond reach for a common person. So his poems call for the greater attention of a wise thinker. The poems are epigrammatic pieces, formulaic, in scanty words speak in succinct and condensed style. Two lines from The One
I pray to the One all the time.
This is nothing but I am.
The poet gives an idiosyncratic tone to the language of the creation, maybe too personal, non-rhythmical with the grammar books and style manuals but must one understand it. So I suggest the readers- please decipher the poet’s mind and spirit not the literal sense of the lines in the poems. He hints at universal essence and worldly wisdom both. These lines really surprise a reader,
Structure of mind is the mystery of mystery.
Civilization is the mind’s history.
Mind is the body’s engine.
It is the source of reason and emotion.
It is the best art of creation.
It invents God.
(Mind is Wonder)
Gopal’s poems are the sweet songs of a spiritual world, songs of existence and realizations. They extract the essence from the physical appearance whose inner self is controlled by a boundless spirit unknown to us. The supreme existence is enigmatic, he bows to Him. Each of the poems like Live Fully or Impatient like I am Thou Art or I am Enlightenment each creation is the result of meditative mood, each is an essence urging one to realize the boundless existence, the light, the pure, far away from the impermanence. He is a yogic poet. I’m highly impressed with his poems. He experiences cosmic energy breathing in the works of the maker. Each of his wise expressions symbolizes an epithet, an expression dipped in truth such as:
Materialism has marginal utility.
whereas spirituality has increased capacity.
But materialism causes super-naturalism.
The root of spirituality is materialism
The poet says he would like to have a great dream nightly and compose a great poem daily but he fails. In fact, there is no point of satisfaction to an artist. He is always in making. He realizes bliss everywhere, he finds great joy every second.
These are the poems of power and perfection, poems leading to freedom and eternity. Sometimes he sings a prayer for the afterlife. He says it is only a transition. These are pieces of contemplation on the present life its Maker and life hereafter, on the wonders and beauty of creation. For him, respiration as suggested in Yoga leads men to experience eternity. He suggests meeting a cosmic super soul. The mind, body, and spirit all immortal in existence, in the play of the Panchamahabhuta the rest is void and vacuum, protected by AUM and the ocean. Time and again he convinces the audiences towards meditation. He has many poems on Yoga detailing nadis such as Ida, Sushumna, and Pingala. These channels run vertically in the body. He experiences each situation and calls us to realize the great power in the physique. As a micro part of the Supreme Being, he experiences the ultimate through yogic karmas. He talks of the Prana again and again. This symbol was discussed in the previous anthology too but he is deep into the abstract Hindu wisdom related to the body as well as spirit.
Correct type of breathing being the ultimate source of the ultimate experience of the existence he focuses on the topic again and again. In the poem titled ‘Be Stable’ he puts:
Let dark come and go.
Let light come and go.
But you stay with a smile.
Let the weal and woe go while.
But don’t stay with them.
Only keep observing Him.
Be stable to all of them.
I also had an opportunity to write introductions for the anthologies like ‘Reflections of Life’ by Professor Dr. Krishna Chandra Sharma, Clouds by Ayam Basnet, and Pen by Bishnu Bhattaral. Of them, Dr Sharma’s philosophy compares with that of Gopal Dai when Sharma says:
Physical life mere a segment
Spiritual life the real life
Unbound in time and space
These are great oriental scholars writing in English. They are our spokespersons as they speak of our Shastras (Scriptures), scholarship, values and understanding of the boundless joy that a yogi feels. Gopal’s poems convince one.
Through Gopal Dai’s poems we can convince a reader that our cultures and language as well as philosophical backgrounds are so rich and sublime.
Finally I would like to suggest the curriculum designers that they should think of incorporating poems of such thinkers and creative writers of our soils.