Jul 062017

At Last We Have One Icon of Our Own:  Lakshmi Unbound


Susri Bhattacharya


Name of the Book- Lakshmi Unbound

Author – Sanjukta Dasgupta

First Edition – March, 2017

Published By Chitrangi


Price: Inr 200


Recently  Chitrangi , has  launched  their  new  anthology  of  poems   –  Lakshmi Unbound , written  by  the  famous  scholar  and  writer  Prof. Sanjukta Dasgupta  . This volume contains all together thirty-one poems and the chief criterion is of course to highlight the lost human sensitivity. This loss has many aspects and reflects its glimpses through gender violence, trauma and torture.  This book dedicates its signature poem to all ‘liberated Lakshmis’; to those who are the non-conformist soldiers of this battle within and without; to those who are strong enough to earn their alms by themselves and to those who can rise beyond such stereotypical identities of lakshmi or alakshmi. In the inaugural poem the narrator herself comes to the readers, almost by tearing apart the pages like 3D animation and voices all the wish and aspiration of a mind seeking pure pleasures of the world freely-fearlessly. The ending couplet is the most powerful statement –

                                           “I am Alakshmi

                                           Trap me if you can …”


In India people do write poems for expressing their own ideas, being a participant member of socio-cultural circumstances. But, in this book she is heading towards a nouveau theory by mingling Indian myth and culture to the present scenario. Mrinal’s First Letter, which is inspired by one of the short story of Rabindranath Tagore (Streer Patra), becomes at once radical and revolutionary as it declares Mrinal to be the ‘elder sister of Nora’ ( Ibsen’s A Doll’s House). Literary spaces connect and form a powerful sisterhood that can easily announce –

                            “… I shall not return to 27, Makhan Baral Lane

                                   ever again…”

The poems invite characters from other texts and the human characters like Chandalika, Lachmia, and Mrinal can strike a symphony with mythic superpower-holders like Lakshmi, Kali, or Chitrangada. Reality is full of ambiguity and ambivalence.  In the Festival Of Lights the energy of Kali and the grace of Lakshmi are celebrated while a young woman in her ‘dirty faded sari’ dances under the flyover, finding a momentary celebration of her virtual empowerment in Lakshmi puja or Kali puja.

The poem Eleventh Muse brings us for the very first time a new Asian Muse – Ardhanariswar. There was a classical tradition of the poets, invoking Muse for aiding them to create lyrical-aesthetics as they are the generative symbols; a creative signifier to air the individual talent. Automatically question strikes – if a woman decides to write poetry then what will be the gender identity of her muse? So to speak, what is the muse of Anna Akhmatova or Emily Bronte? Do they need any magnificent-male counterpart as their muse to create poetry? Or, are they bold enough to take the bruises or bravos directly upon themselves?  Ardhanariswar is the newfound symbol. It’s a spirit – animated version of dualism in energetic harmony – a fusion of two Indian gods Shiva (male) and Parvati (female), symbolizing gender equality. The concept of Alakshmi itself is a challenge to the notion of our religious scriptures. In Puranas, we can find that Lord Shiva has also a similar notorious counterpart named – Jalandhara. In that lore he is portrayed at the end as a part of Shiva and he is even worshipped in Madhya Pradesh while Alakshmi faced a total abandonment in our society and culture.

This book contains poems which are inspired by newspaper reports. The poems like Talaq or I Killed Him M’Lord take us to the psychological forum of those persons and thus bridge the gap.

To conclude I would like to fetch one stereotypical question “why poetry? Is it for the large audience who won’t be able to understand these coded lyrics?” History says when rhythm and words are mellifluous, the words live on and ideas flow on from person to person. This book is engrossing for its magic of simplicity and keen sense of word-art. Professor Dasgupta has made my task easier as through her words only we can answer to this question –

                 “Yet like a speck of sparkling diamond

                  The inviolate poem will linger somewhere

                As long as words survive.”


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