By Nitin Chandola
Sumitranandan Pant is well known for his poetry in the Chhayavaad and Rahasyawad genres. He was born and brought up in the beautiful Uttarakhand village, Kausani, in district Bageshwar. Being one of the poetic legends of the Kumaon region, Pant’s work is well known for its romanticism of the natural aspects and beauty of the mythical behavior of nature. Sumitranandan Pant is known as the Wordsworth of Indian literature, and is best known for bringing on the Chhayavaad movement in India. Pant was born in a higher class brahmin family of Bhardwaj gotra, hence his family was bounded by many spiritualistic and social standards. Many of his near relatives were journalists, poets and writers, allowing him the space a young poet needs to contribute his work to Indian Literature. Pant was born on 20th May, 1900 and was initially named Gusain Dutt. His mother passed away of child-birth, leaving Pant as the youngest member of the family. Pant’s father, Gangadutt Pant took care of him with utmost sensitivity; the sanctity and sensitivity of Pant’s works is the gift of the care given by the Himalayan aura and caring father.
Pant wrote in his book Saath Varsh : Ek Rekhankan ‘enclosing my eyes, whenever I turn my memories to the childhood, I imagine a small garden, below a tree of which I read bedtime stories and grandma sings “Arti” of Kuldevtas, that still echoes in hills of Kausani’.
In “Atima, Kurmanchal ki Prati”, Sumitranandan Pant explains how he was brought up by nature instead of any human being.
माँ से बढ़कर रही धात्री, तू बचपन मे मेरे हित।
धात्री कथा रूपक भर: तूने किआ जनक बन पोषण
मातृ हीन बालक के एयर पर वरदहस्त धर गोपन।
The place of the nature for Sumitranandan pant was like “Dhatri”, who guided him to the path of spiritualism, and was reflected back in form of Chhayavaadi and Rahasyavaadi poetry. Pant’s attachment to the Himalayas can be predicted by his writing in Shilpa aur Darshan, his first ever creation, in which he wrote that the great Himalayas and green hills filled with Chids and Devdar have imparted these poems by his character of utmost silence and shadows of those orchards”. He wrote ‘I aspire from this silent voices and soulful aura and make the chain of words out of it in form of poems’.
In early days of his adolescence in the local vernacular school in Kausani, Sumitranandan Pant was deeply impressed by literature like Meghdoot by Kalidas, Kautilya by Chanakya, Shakuntalam, and Amarkosh. At home, he also learned the basics of Hindustani classical music, he used to take a keen interest in singing Khadi Holi and Baithi Holi of Native Kumaon.
This deep and sensitive method of education and knowledge imparted by nature made Sumitranandan Pant say in one of his AIR interviews ‘in childhood I was in love with Kausani’s greenery rather than books and literature. Kausani imparted the sanctity and sensitivity in my nature. In my opinion, the child should spend his time in the open and green environment. The chapters, a child can learn from nature is surely not taught in the academic books’.
Another example of his affection towards the Himalayas can be clearly seen in his statement of Shilp and Darshan, ‘the best efforts were reflected in poems when I visited Almora, by the end of the fifteenth year I was able to carve the words in best possible way’.
Pant completed his high school and intermediate from Almora, where he changed his name form Gusain Dutt to Sumitranandan. In his opinion, he wasn’t able to connect to the name, as most of the Gusains of the Kumaon used to wear Rudraksha and Pant actually disliked it. Sumitranandan also adopted the Oscar Wilde look-alike get up, with long hair and western suits. According to Pant, his long hair was inspired by Napoleon’s youth look. In his secondary education, Pant wrote for the handwritten magazine of Gobind Ballabh Pant. In eight standard Sumitranandan pant was influenced by the creations of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay. He missed examination to learn the books like “Chatrasal” and “Anandmath”. Bengal was then the mine of all the intellectuals in India, hence Pant also was influenced by the characters like Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Tagore, Bankimchand, and Vivekananda. This influence is clearly reflected in prose of “Vani Amritika”
रामकृष्ण और रामतीर्थ के
वचनामृत से थी भू प्लावित
पुनजागरण का युग था वो
दीप्त विवेकानंद वचन घन।
In 1915 to 1918, Pant published a lot of poems and published it in a local newspaper of Almora, His creation “ Tambakhu ka dhuan” was published in Almora magazine, which has no existence today. “Veena” is the collection of his adolescence work. During his stay in Almora, pant had an effect of Kalidasa, in most of his writings, he used the word “Nandini” as the character because, in “ Raghuvansh”, the cow named Nandini was used by Kalidas.
According to Sumitrnanadan Pant, he came out of the comforting shell of the Himalayas in 1918, when he visited Benaras. The educational and spiritual aura of Benaras changed his perspective of writing a literature. He opted Rabindranath Tagore as a role model and was astonished to see the creation of Tagore. With Sarojini Naidu’s poems, he took the art of perspective formation and induced in his poems.
He said “ Naidu’s word usage was such incredible that her poems describing the natural beauty was memorized by me”
For Tagore Pant quoted in book “Vahi” that on reading the poetries by Tagore and Sarojini Naidu a sense of mysticism revolves in front of his eyes, in his opinion, Tagore’s creation induced a feeling of newness in him”.
After completion of high school pant returned to Kausani, where he wrote two small novels “ Veena” and “Granthi”. These were published in 1927 after the publication of “Pallav”, these two publications had the impressions of Tagore’s writing. These two initial creation was the silver lining for the Hindi poetry’s new genre of Rahasyawad.
For Sumitranandan Pant, Kausani and Almora were the “Janmabhoomi” and Allahabad later became “Karambhoomi”. In Benaras, Pant was affected and influenced by the idea of Gandhism, as the Non- cooperation movement in 1920’s was at its peak. Sumitranandan Pant used to spend time near ghats of river Ganges, he wrote in one of his poetry “Nauka Vihar”
इस धारा से ही जग का क्रम
शस्वत इस जीवन का उद्गम।
He quoted for Prayag in his book compilation “Saath Varsh: Ek Rekhankan”. “After I settled in Prayag, an evolution of knowledge in perspective to the literature took place. Starting with the works of Kalidasa, I was influenced by the way the natural beauty of this world was inscribed.” In Prayag, only Sumitranandan pant was introduced to some famous poetic works by John Keats, Wordsworth, and Tennyson. Sumitranandan pants work in the genre of “Chayawad” and “ Rahasyawad” is usually compared with William Wordsworth works.
The house of Sumitranandan pant situated at a side of Bageshwar Almora highway still has his remains like chairs and collection of his unpublished works. Pants life was simple and he lived an unmarried life, this is why the poems written by him have a soft and sensitive side. Whereas, in Nirala’s work this kind of sensitivity in “Chayawad” genre is hidden behind the reality of society. Sumitra Nandan pant adopted a child girl in his adulthood to experience the part of being a father. Kausani still echoes in the poetry of Sumitranandan Pant. The beauty of his birthplace not only inspired Mahatma Gandhi but also gives aspiration to the representative of Hindi literature till date. Pant came back to Almora and Kumaon, after winning Gyanpeeth award for “Chidambara” but, for mere formality, as he accepted that Prayag is where his adulthood and later days belonged too.