(Excerpts from Oriya Kāvya ‘Tapasvinī ’ of Poet Gańgādhara Meher.
English translation by: Dr. Harekrishna Meher.)
[Like Kālidāsa in Sanskrit and William Wordsworth in English, Gańgādhara Meher is regarded as ‘Prakriti-Kavi’, Poet of Nature, in Oriya literature. ‘Tapasvinī’, an eleven-canto Oriya epic poem, is the magnum opus and a great classic of this illustrious poet. With the prevailing sentiment of Pathos, this kāvya depicts the post-banishment episode of Sītā in the hermitage of Sage Vālmīki. In this Rāmāyaņa-based literary composition, the poetic presentation is well-embellished with originality and significant innovations.
Sītā, the daughter of Earth and the devoted wife of King Rāma, in her later life appears as a ‘Tapasvinī’, A Woman practicing penance or An Ascetic-maid, in the pen of Gańgādhara Meher. This epic poem reveals the ambition of the poet to portray the brilliant character of a devoted wife steeped in Indian culture in the domain of literature. With vivid and prominent delineation of Sītā’s life-deeds, Tapasvinī kāvya may be construed as a ‘Sītāyana’ in the field of Indian Literature.]
Ushā, the blooming lotus-eyed dame,
in her heart cherishing keenly
thirst for a vision
of the virtuous Jānakī
Bearing dew-pearls as presentation
in her hands of leafage,
in the outer courtyard
of Sītā’s cottage,
in cuckoo’s tone spake she :
“O Chaste Lady !
Deign to give your sight ;
Dawned the night.”
The saffron costume
of auroral shine,
flowers’ smiling bloom
and tranquil mien
make a room
in the mind to presume :
Some goddess of Yoga reaching the place,
by sweet words giving solace
calls to render relief
from pangs of grief.
From heaven on earth as if
has descended to bestow a new life.
Musical tune Zephyr sang swinging,
Black Bee played on lute charming.
By Ushā’s bidding, in dance
rapt remained Fragrance.
Kumbhātuā bird as a royal bard
began to eulogize forward.
As the panegyrist premier
Kalinga bird appeared there
and spake in voice gracefully sweet :
O Queen of the empire of chaste ladies !
Dawned the night.”
With heart eagerly restless
at the end of the night,
Tamasā, the hermitage-hostess,
strewing on the yard flowers pleasant,
sprinkling water fragrant,
kindling auspicious Lucifer-lamp bright,
with her fish-eyes frequently gazing thus,
was awaiting Sītā’s arrival gracious.
Accompanied by Anukampā that moment,
Sītā, the jewel among the chaste,
highly applauded in the world by the overflow
of endless endearment
rendered by hermit-maidens, in haste,
from the hermitage went to the river-flow.
Her on own lap Tamasā placed,
with the wave-hands lovingly embraced.
“Wandering over several woods wide,
never wavering astray
by illusion of any gorge,
surmounting many an impediment
in my life limpid,
never deeming darkness
as a distress,
never thinking light
to be a delight,
for a remote way
ahead I’ve continued to forge
with my head humbly bent.
Gratifying every bank-dweller
with offering of water,
fruitfulness of my birth
I’m realizing worth.
Stepping on my banks, My dear !
you’ll kindly meander
on pretext, presenting supernal splendour.
Earning this, the sylvan trees
will cheerfully bear
the pride of deities ;
also peace they’ll grant.
In the foliage, sure,
will remain perpetually pure
the lustres, rosy, darkish and elegant.”
Bana-Lakshmī, The Sylvan Beauty
“By Pushpaka plane when
you were returning through the sphere,
I standing here
bearing in hands a gift of flowers fine,
with gazelle’s eyes woefully gazing above
was calling you with keen love
in the voice of peahen
from a long way.
Friend dearest mine !
Did you come today
remembering this companion
after so many days gone ?
In the company of the noble
remains noble feeling ever-unsplit stable,
just like blue colour in the sky.
Nigh the noble companion
never in vain goes aspiration.
Your gracious sight, that’s why
I could obtain
at the time opportune.
Verily attainable is this gain
on favourable fortune.
O My Dear Friend Intimate !
Your feeling made me very fortunate.”
To extinguish the conflagration
of severe separation
in the forest of Sita’s heart, that moment
Sylvan Beauty, sweetly attractive,
seemed in mind’s view
like a cloud-mass appeared anew.
Said Janaki with endearment :
“O Dear Companion !
In your prison
myself became life-long captive.”
(Extracted from Canto-IV of Tapasvinī kāvya)