गिरिजाकुमार बलियार सिंह के ओड़िया काव्य-संकलन "चारण चर्या"का हिन्दी अनुवाद

Published On 02-10-2023

The critical appreciation of poem ‘Ahalya’swaiting’

With a total of 65 poems written from her ‘Covid bed’, A Song, Half & Half by Nandini Sahu came to me as a pleasant surprise, with a beautiful cover by the gifted poet herself. I rather read the Editorial and most of the poems at one go, each one in tandem with the other, and each piece addressing the very important theme, femininity and feminine power with sublime love. The book has the art of winning a heart incline. The poems have a predisposition to the theme of love as panacea, and as a reader, I felt this seminal book is the need of the hour. In the midst of so much of odium and abhorrence in the planet, love is the answer to all our existential questions—Nandini understands that, being a devotee at the altar of love.
The intriguing title, A Song, Half & Half, says half the story—a song of love, a life of love written/shared half and half by two persons in love. The Preface by Nandini herself talks about a world that is beautiful with the touch of Muses and free-flow of melody and euphonic poetry. About this collection, Nandini herself says, “All the poems are about my moods, modes and mores, they are about the roller coaster rides that I had, and of course about the most complex human emotions. My readers and researchers may find these poems very different from my earlier poems. Mythical poet, folklorist Nandini writing romantic, jovial, humorous, light poems, while talking about the existential issues at the same time! I have always advocated social mobility literature, Witness Literature, backed with myth and folklore as my poetic tools. The mood of these poems is unlike my other collections.”
Nandini Continues to write social mobility literature here, through a poem like “Ahalya’s Waiting” where the personae Ahalya waits for a benevolent touch from her lord/lover, but not to redeem her of any sin that she never committed!
Prof. Nandini Sahu is progressive poetess. Her Ahalya is totally different from Tulsidas's Ahalya. Because in this context, in true sense, Tulsi Das was misogamist, so he promoted male dominance through his poetry. Tulsidas says in The Balkand (210/11, 12) of Manas:
आश्रम एक दीख मग माहीं,खग मृग जीव जन्तु तंह नहीं।
पूछा पुनिही सिला प्रभु देखि,सकल कथा मुनि काही विसेषी॥ (मानस,बाल210/11-12)
(On the way, Ram saw an Ashram in which there were no birds and animals. Seeing a rock there, Shri Ramchandra asked Muni and he told the whole story in detail.) The essence of the story is :-
गौतम नारी श्राप बस उपल देह धरि धीर
चरण कमल रज चाहति कृपा करहु रघुबीर। (मानस,बालकांड-210)
(O Raghuveer! Gautama's woman has patiently turned into a stone due to the curse, she wants the dust of your lotus feet, please be kind to her. )
The detailed story is that Indra and Moon together duped both Gautam Rishi and his wife. She had cohabited with Indra only after thinking him to be Gautam Rishi. Later, on the arrival of Gautam Rishi, when Indra was asked, she came to know that she had been cheated. When Ahalya told lie in such dire situation, the sage cursed her that she would become a stone immediately.
Ahalya was guilty of two crimes, the first, sex with another man and the second, of lying. She had done the sexual crime as she was deprived and the crime of lying was done due to fear. These both crimes made her to remain stone for ages. Is there a single instance or example in all Indian mythological literature, where any Rishimuni had turned into stone because of someone's curse for such a crime? After being a stone for ages, when Ahalya became alive by the touch of Ramchandra's feet, she prays-
“मैं नारि अपावन प्रभु जगपावन रावनरिपु जन सुखदाई” -मानस,बाल 211/छंद2
(I am an impure woman and you are Ravanaripu who purifies the world and gives happiness to the devotees)
Now It is a matter of discussion that due to this crime, the moon did not become impure, he remained the Lunar God. Indra did not become impure, Indra remained a deity as yet, Gautama did not become impure, he remained Gautam Rishi forever. Then how did only Ahalya become impure ? Apart from this, what other reason can be given that she was a woman? Ram Laxman's visit to Janakpuri, breaking the bow, Parshuram dialogue etc. are the most focused events of 'Ramcharit Manas'. When Shri Ramchandra went Janakpuri, one of Sita's friend expressed her confidence about Ramchandra’s virility and said:-
परसि जासु पदपंकज धूरि,तरी अहिल्या कृत अधभूरी।
सो कि रहिहि बिनु सिव धनु चरें,यह प्रतित परिहरिअ न भोरें। -मानस,बाल 223/5-6
(The Ahalya,the sinner, got salvation by touching the dust of lotus feet of Ramchandra, then How will he remain without breaking Shiva's bow! )
Now Sita Swayamvar is over. The king and queen were hypnotically washing the holy feet of Ramchandra. How those feet are-
जेपरसि मुनिबनिता लही गति रही जो पातकमई (-मानस,बाल324/छंद2)
(By touching the Muni wife Ahalya, who was a great sinner, also got salvation, whether she was saved or not, it can also be the curiosity of a skeptical atheist.) But that is not the question here. The question is, why has the poor Ahalya been remembered here as Pataki so quickly? Are both Chandra and Indra, who deceived her, being worshiped as Gods? The Muni who was duped by these two Gods also did not become the object of negation. Then why was Vanchita Abla forced to become the only Stone ? There is only one answer - she was the woman of Tulsi Das's imagination, not Nandini’s Sahu.
Different texts have various stories about Ahalya’s salvation. Commentators of Vedic literature have considered it a metaphor. 'Ahalya Bhoomi' means that the land in which the plough has not been carried out, it seems natural as the land is related to Indra, the deity of rain. In later literature, Ahalya’s story developed substantially and the relationship of her salvation was linked to Rama. In the Mahabharata, Gautama is considered to be Ahalya’s husband. In fact, it is written in Vedic literature that Indra used to call himself as Gautama.
Shadbish Brahmin - There is a story in this book, in which both the Gods and the Asuras were fighting, Gautama was doing penance between the two armies. Indra requested him to become his detective, but Gautama rejected him. Then Indra took the form of Gautama and proposed to become a detective, which he accepted. Perhaps on the basis of this story, it was believed that Ahalya’s husband's name was Gautama and Indra was called Ahalya Jar.
Valmiki Uttarakanda has presented another aspects in this context. According to it, Brahma took the best parts of other beings and created a woman who completely lacked 'hala' (ugliness). It is also highlighted by the poetess in her poem in following lines
‘Ahalya’ connotes the ‘one with no ugliness’.
The woman beautiful turned into a stone there and then.
Reek of patriarchy with
the social game of victim-blaming began.

So she was named as Ahalya. Indra used to desire Ahalya, but Brahma kept her in custody of Gautam Rishi. After many years, Gautama returned her to Brahma and Brahma, seeing the accomplishment of the ascetic Gautam Rishi, gave him as her wife.
According to Harivansh Purana, Vaghyasva and Menaka had two children, Dividas and Ahalya. Ahalya became Gautam's wife and gave birth to Shatanand. The Brahma Purana says something else in this context. According to it, to get Ahalya as wife, there was a condition that the God who came to Brahma first after circumambulating the earth, he would be given Ahalya. All the Gods went out to circumambulate the earth, but Gautama circumambulated the arddha-prasuta cow Surabhi and Shiva-Linga and got Ahalya.
According to the Paumchariyam, Ahalya is the daughter of Jawalan Singh and Vegvati, who rejected King Indra on the occasion of her swayamvar and chose King Nandimali (or Anandmalakar). Later, Nandimali became disinterested in wordly life and took initiation. Someday Indra had tied that meditating Nandimali, which resulted Indra to defeat by Ravana. In the Western account, Ahalya is mistakenly considered as Vishwamitra's wife. In the Skanda Purana and Mahabharata, the example of Gautama's son is Chirkari, who rejects his father Gautama's order to kill Ahalya for being an adulterer. In Chirkari's eyes, his mother was innocent, because Indra changed his form before Ahalya in Gautama's absence. According to the Assamese Balkand, Ranganatha Ramayana, this act was carried out with the aim of obstructing Gautama's penance. 'Brahmavaibrata Purana' considers Indra a misdemeanor and Ahalya innocent. According to Kirtivas Ramayana, Indra was the beloved disciple of Gautama. Similarly, there are many forms of Gautama's curse.
According to Mahabharata, indra's beard was yellow, according to Valmiki Uttarkand, Meghnad defeated Indra and he got half the fault of human sins, Indra being a snake etc. as per Valmiki Balkand, Balram Das, Kamban Ramayana, Indra became Sahasranayan, according to Padam Purana. Ahalya got no curse in Mahabharata.
Pashanbhuta Ahalya is first time mentioned in Raghuvansh and later in Narasimha Purana, Skandha Purana, Mahanatak, Sarla Daskrit Mahabharata, Ganesh Purana. In Valmiki's Balkand, Gautama said that after welcoming Rama, Ahalya would come to him in her human body as before, that is, Vapurdhariyishasi. Perhaps this is story, from where the notion of Ahalya becoming a rock arises.
According to Ramkien, Gautama cursed her so that at the time of Ramavatar, she would used to build the bridge and should be buried in the ocean forever. A curse of Gautama according to which Ahalya became a dry river, is less prevalent.
According to a legend, Ahalya’sdaughter Anjana is mentioned. When Gautama learned about Ahalya’s adultery from his divine vision, he asked Ahalya about the reality. Ahalya replied that he was Marjar, which had two meanings. Indra taking two forms or her adultery. On this, he cursed Ahalya to become the rock and Indra to become Sahasrayoni. According to legend, Ahalya and Gautama had two sons Bali and Sugriva.
The story of 'Pashanbhuta Ahalya', the author of Adhyatma Ramayana connected Ahalya with standing on the rock and doing penance. In this way, a famous mythological story of Ahalya from Brahmin texts and merged into the devotion of Ahalya Tarak Ram, taking many forms. The playwrights have had no hesitation in changing the narrative of Rama. In Janaki Parinay, the story of Ahalya salvation comes in such a way that when Rama wants to kill himself by jumping off the rock after seeing the life of the elusive Sita in danger, Ahalya appears from the rock with the touch of lotus feet of Rama and told him the secret of demonic Maya.
European scholars compare Indra to the Greek myth Zeus. Both are Gods of the sky and are famous for their love affairs with women. Zeus mongoose, impersonating the sun's rays or their husbands, rapes many princesses and nymphs, and gives birth to great heroes such as Porseus and Hercules. Some critics conclude men with the sky culture and women with earth culture, while some see this story as a symbol of the relationship between Dev culture and Aryan culture. Narendra Kohli, in his novel 'Ramkatha', attempted to keep the narrative of Ahalya and Gautam in modern perspective.
The renowned Hindi poet Udbhrant speaks about Ahalya in his poetry collection ‘Treta’ that there was a great bonding of love between Gautama and Ahilya. But once he set fire to his family life by inviting neighbor King Indra to stay at his place. Indra was the king of the nearby Surpur kingdom. He was fascinated to see Ahalya. In the absence of Gautam Rishi, to fulfill the evil wish of his mind, he tried to go to Ahalya in the guise of Gautam on the night of Amavasya. But Ahalya’s sixth sense caught Indra's intentions and signaled him to get out, but then the entry of Gautam Rishi made her a victim of wrath. Gautam Rishi became suspicious of his wife and left her alone to live life in a solitude like a rock. The condition of innocent women in the then conservative society was not good. They were expelled from society. When Ram came in contact with Ahilya, who did not go outside from her place, Ahalya again got social acceptance.
Narendra Kohli took this fact of Udbhrant with a different angle. At that time, the Ashrams were equivalent to modern schools or universities, and the sages were the heads of departments of those institutions like vice-chancellors. As per the contents of Narendra kohli's novel, Gautama gave shelter to Indra as he was the king of the neighboring country. Ahalya was sleeping with her fever-stricken son Shat, but Indra, seeing the very beautiful woman, considered her futile to suffer association with a poor sage. Indra accepted hospitality at Gautam's place and while drinking alcohol, Gautam wanted to see Ahalya alone in the absence of Rishi. Ahalya was asleep, but could experience that unknown touch well. When Ahalya’s mouth sneezed and her son started crying loudly. The people of the neighborhood gathered, at that time Gautam Rishi returned to his hut, Indra threw a sentence towards the crowd with shameless wickedness, "First she called me and now she is pretending" - saying this, he sat in his plane and went to his country. The reason behind Vishwamitra telling this story to Ram-Laxman was to present the background of revolution, not only the role of struggle in life. but also to provoke anger against injustice in the public mind. If a woman calls a man and the man accepts it and comes to her, then the society will blame the woman only, Indra has done such a trick. By stigmatizing Ahalya, he wants to hide serious crimes and sins of raping Rishi's wife. Gautam Rishi put the matter of insulting Ahalya in front of the sage society and called upon them to remove Indra, the devotee of Dev culture and the guardian of the sages, but even though a section considered Ahalya innocent, but her chastity had been tarnished. Ahalya could not be saved by punishing Indra or not. Due to the devaluation of social prestige, various questions were raised about Gautam Rishi, being the Vice-Chancellor of the Ashram. The question arises that if a sinful man tortures a weak woman, will his Ashrams also considered as corrupted ? Only on this, the tortured one is a woman. Not only this, wherever Gautama will go, every person raise a finger towards him as he is husband of Indra's Bhogya Ahalya and even when his son will grow up, the society do not refrain from sledging him. Such accidents do not unite the people to stand against the ruling class in the general, holding the power of office, the power of money, the power of paramount. The pioneer in the field of knowledge, fame and honor endangered the existence of citizens like Gautam Rishi, who not only fed on their development, but also for future generation. These ideas made Ahalya to go underground for living a lonely life and forced Gautam Rishi to go another place for his future life. When Great men like Rama saved Ahalya by finding that abandoned Ashram at the behest of Vishwamitra, then again she regained social dignity and freed from living an unaimable, lonely life in human society. On getting the protection of Ram, thinkers, sages, priests, Brahmins stopped considering Ahalya as criminal at the social and moral level.
In this context, if Hindi Dalit Critic Kanwal Bharti's points are not considered, then this review will remain incomplete. He considers this story as a relationship between Aryan and Dev culture. Ahalya of Ramayana was not innocent. According to the Ramayana, when Maharishi Gautam was not at the Ashram, Shachipati Indra went there in disguise of Gautam Muni and said to Ahilya, "Always be careful, Sundari! The lover do not wait for time. I want to have sex with you. ” Ahalya also recognized Indra in the guise of Muni. 'Hey! Devraj Indra wants me' – Out of curiosity, she accepted the offer to have sex with him. After sex, Ahalya said- "I am grateful to have sex with you, now you leave soon before Gautama comes and protect me."
Then Indra also said to Ahilya, "Sundari! I was satisfied too. As I came, I'll go the same way immediately. At that time, Gautam came and saw both of them. Immediately cursed Indra that his testicles should fall and he became testicleless. He then cursed Ahilya, “You will lie here for many thousands of years only by inhaling air or fasting and will live in the ashes of this Ashram by remaining invisible from all beings.” The poem of Nandini’s Sahu started from these lines:-

Later, on Indra's request, the seniors Gods saved Indra by putting sheep testicles, but Ahalya was saved by Ram by touching his feet. The following questions emerge from this narration:
1) Why did Indra say that men who want sex do not wait for time ?
2) How did Ahalya recognize Indra even in Munivesh?
3) After recognizing Indra, why did Ahalya say that Aho, Devraj wants me?
4) Why did Ahalya accept Indra's proposal?
5) Why did Ahalya say after sexual intercourse that I was grateful for your intercourse?
6) Why did Ahalya ask Indra to run away immediately after sexual intercourse ?
7) Bhadet Anand Kausalyan thinks differently, If the touch had to be done, what could not be done by hand ? why by legs ?
“मुनि तिय तरी लगत पग धुरी, किरति रही भुवन भरी पूरी”
The only answer to these questions is that Ahalya and Devraj Indra had a physical relationship with mutual consent. Indra was recognized by Ahalya because she was already aware of his coming in Munivesh. Ahalya herself was willing to have sexual intercourse with Indra. So she accepted Indra's proposal and both of them got complete satisfaction after intercourse. All the above questions of renowned critic Kanwal Bharati are replied in this poems, specifically regarding touch. As per her, Ahalya did not want touch by hand or legs, but by sentiments,language, behavious etc, which can be seen in the following lines of poems :-
Your touch should be your creative language,
your behaviour, your basic attitude.
With my touch, stars ought to dance across your skin.
Your touch must take away my fears of
all Goutamas and Indras.
Love, soothe my anxiety and
fill my senses with your compassion.
Touch my cognizance and you can redeem the stone.
Make me your Muse.
You know, touch is where miracles arise
And exchange of the light and dark begin.
The curse of Rishi Goutama may be immobilized
with your touch, with this assertion.

All the Indian litterateurs , whether renowned Hindi poet Udbhrant was writing his poem on Ahalya in his collection 'Treta', whether novelist Narendra Kohli was writing 'Ramkatha', no matter how much mythological literature, all men were supremacists and believed in man’s dominance in society. No writer has shown the courage to read Ahalya’sinner heart. It is not only right for the writer to raise questions of any character, but also to find the psychological reasons behind it. The poetess has dared to discover these reasons in her poem in these lines:-

Father presented me, the puppet, to husband on his free will.
Husband couldn’t fulfil me as a woman.
Indra tricked me to satiate his desire, not mine.
Inept, impotent husband cursed me
with what right, oh, with what right,
to become a stone exactly at a moment
when I was satiated as a woman!
And now why do I need yet another man, you,oh Ram,
to touch me and cleanse me of my uncommitted sin?

'Ahalya' the main character of the poem. In West Asia, the woman has been considered as a beautiful toy. In moments of rest, she is the beloved, otherwise she is an the object. The deep abyss of inequality between the male and female. Whereas in Europe the woman has never been victimised in any era. Our country is perverted even today, despite we talk about sexual purity, but our ideas about marriage and sex are generally rotten. It is true that throughout the globe, once upon a time men have framed protocols about the ideals of chastity, purity, specifically about women.Regrettfully these ideals are limited to woman’s body that even any small part of her body should not be touched by any man.. Before marriage, It is prohibited. Later on, touch should be made only by husband. Once she is married, then no person other than her husband should not come into picture in any condition. Even though such thoughts would have been considered as natural for the man in the whole world at that time, but in India these thoughts are widely rooted and blossomed in such a manner that are beyond indescribable. By religion, by formula, by social organization and finally by body systems, it is engrossed in our mind that marriage is only solution to transform the girl into pure woman. Unless the girl is sanctified by marriage, she has to spend her life in infinite loneliness. For thousands of years in Indian history or mythological works, poets have created strange inequalities between man and woman, while the poetess Nandini’s 'Ahalya’s waiting' gives the message about fundamental right of womanhood. I admire 'Ahalya', it does not mean that I allow other women to follow her as their ideal, who has more than one lover, or together or one after the other. My problem is like that of Ram Manohar Lohia. Man and Woman should be equal. If you want to make the world better, then if man can love one after the other, then there should be such scope for woman also. 'Savitri' has been composed for women, but not for men? Isn't this inequality? Today the woman has become a bundle of theories. Instead of doing anything in the society, she is treated as unnecessary burden. On the other hand, how many dirty ideas about sexual purity are still prevalent in our country, as a result Indian women are forcibly bound to such ideas. Indians either make the woman sit on the head or put them under their feet. Either Goddess or Maidservant. Never think of sitting next to you. Indian mind is badly deteriorated because of pretentiousness and the prevalence of wrong symbols. Should Padmini have committed Jauhar or fought the enemy's army? Should the Hadi queen behead her or go to the battlefield with her husband? Whom would you as a wife - the one who is with you and respect your love, your devotion or one who commit suicide in your absence. In our country, girls are strangled as soon as they are born or they are killed in the womb. The Indian man is so mad that he beats his wife in his house, insults on the road, on the farm, in the shop, taunt - he has no limit. Nandini ji 's 'Ahalya' is a symbol of those women. According to her, unless the lost souls of women do not awaken in our country, no matter how hard you try, our country cannot be revived. She writes :-

My redemption lies not just in your touch
but in zero tolerance of
any marginalization.
I need a rejoinder from the society
and from you, oh the most knowledgeable one,
for my quintuple patriarchal relegation.

Today there are some scientist women in Europe and America, who compete with men, such as Madame Curie. Whereas in our country there is abundance of Satis. Immediately someone will add the name of Sati Anusuya. Such Satis have been innumerable in every country. But a visionary like Gargi, Maitreyi, Tejasvini like Draupadi and a beloved like Radha are not found in the history or legends of other countries, but in our country, there are still many Ahalya residing in society, the victim of their husbands.

Blogs By Dinesh Kumar Mali


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