Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Critically appreciate ‘Lakshman.’

Lakshman:  Historical religious character:-
          Lakshman is a historical character. He was a prince of king Dashrath. In the great epic, ‘The Ramayana’ he is almost a shadow of Lord Rama. He is known for his brotherly love, faith and bravely.
          Toru Dutt was fascinated to ancient mythical stories. Her one collection refers the same. Many of her poems have issues or themes from the history. So Lakshman isn’t new for us but Toru’s poetic art is our concern. She narrates as she found him.

Faith and Helplessness of Lakshman; theme:-
          Lakshman is a great example of faith. In the forest he wanders with Rama and Sita. In a situation Rama goes for hunting on demand of Sita, he asks Lakshman to guard her at any coast. While he was guarding her, Sita heard a cry and believes it is her husbands shouting for help. She asks Lakshman to go and save but he denies and tells that his brother can not be defeated or killed so easily. It could be a mistake. At this time Sita becomes so angry that she tells a lot to Lakshman. For him on one side obedience to his brother is there and o the other Sita’s taunts and bitter remarks make him helpless. Lakshman’s helplessness is brought out by the poet.

Rama’s going away:-
          The poem begins with the conversation between and Sita and Lakshman. Rama had gone to hunt a deer. The deer was so beautiful that Sita demanded it to bring her. Actually it wasn’t a deer but a form of Maricha. To take revenge on Rama for his sister’s insult, Ravana had planned this. Rama goes to hunt the deer which is actually Maricha. Ravana comes to the hut where Sita is left behind. Maricha makes foul cry in the similar voice of Rama, so than Lakshman goes away and Sita be left alone. Ravana would take her away. Accordingly it happens.
          Maricha begins to roar piercing cries: “Oh Sita, “Oh Lakshman”. Sita hears the cry and requests Lakshman to go swiftly and save his brother. Sita thinks that her husband is terribly hurt by enemies and that is why he is making terrible cries. Lakshman has many arguments favoring Rama but she doesn’t listen to any. She becomes angry and scolds him for his inaction.
Swift in decision, prompt in deed
Brave unto rashness can this be
The man, to whom all looked at need
Is it my brother that I see!
          Lakshman speaks highly of Rama’s courage and asks to dispel her all fears. HE tells her that demons, ghosts and gods are equally afraid of his might. This can not bee his cry. It is certainly a plan of foe. But Sita blames him on different grounds, including cowardice. She tells him of having malice of in him. He has something different in this mind. He himself wants to remove his brother so that he can take away his wife and kingdom. She insults him with these words:-
 “Learn this, -whatever comes may come,
But I shall not survive my Love-
Of all my thoughts here is the sum!
Witness it gods in heaven above.”
          Lakshman is unable to bear it any longer her taunts. He asks her to hear him before he goes. He says that she has misunderstood him and cruelly wrongs him. He also says that in her grief she has also forgotten her decorum. He says if he goes away he would break his brother’s order. Moreover he doesn’t consider him as the brother only but as the chief. It is a crime to disregard or disobey. To follow it be faithfully is his sole responsibility. Yet he is ready to break the rule for her sake and tells her he would be responsible in such a case for any mishap.  Before he goes he draws a magic circle on the ground him his arrow, asking her not to go beyond it, lest she should come to harm. He acquits her of all blame and invokes a blessing on her. He departs and is confident of speedy return of himself and of his brother. His departure is attended by ill- omens. The end of the poem suggests what is to be followed.

Lakshman- Heroic & Sita- common Woman:-
          If we read the Ramayana we find these characters completely different. Lakshman is almost same but we have to take note that he is also similar to common man. His language is not suitable to his structure. Toru wants bring the same Lakshman but he isn’t so and we have to assume him so. As the human being Toru’s idea is to bring pathetic condition and inner thoughts of Lakshman which is new and the poet should be congratulated for the same. Sita is not the Ramayana’s Sita but she is a common woman. She becomes angry, taunts Lakshman and accuses him wrongly. Slowly Sita is becoming like a common woman- the transformation of her is an interesting aspect of the poem. The opening brings her anxiety.  Lakshman’s stand and justification, his determination and faith make him more likeable than Sita. Her feminine weapon of bitter sarcasm makes her mean.

A narrative poem: Ballad:-
          Lakshman is a narrative poem. It tells us a story of the heroic character Lakshman. Sita also comes in the picture. Rama remains at the background. Even thought it is a known tale, Toru attempts it to create poetry. The following aspects make the poem as the narrative one.

(a) Narrative dialogues:-
          Mostly the poet describes the character, event or action. Toru does both narration and dialogue. Major part is a dialogue between the main character Lakshman and Sita. These aspects give liveliness and directness. e.g.
“Hark! Lakshman! Hark, again that cry?
It is – it is my husband’s voice…”
“He said and straight him weapons took
His bow and arrows pointed keen…”
“We part as friends- is it not so?
And speaking thus-he sadly smiles!”
          Regarding Rama’s might the poet has described some beautiful stanzas. They show words are flowing and she is able to put down on paper.

(b) Simplicity of Diction:-
          As the poem is a narrative one, simple language is suitable. This is not epic. Simple sentences, simple questions and direst understanding give it simplicity. The following lines prove the point.
Þ  He calls on the
Þ  I can not bear suspense
Þ  He has a work- he can not die
Þ  Art thou a coward?
Þ  I did not know thy mind before.
          The poem begins quickly. As we read we come into reference and context. Things become clear then. The poem also ends dramatically. We have been left to find what happened to Sita. This is done to engage the readers into the poem. As we are aware of the epic we know that happened to Sita. Dialogues are dramatic. These things are helpful to raise the poem at the level of a heroic poem.
(D) Repetitions:-
          Words, lines, phrases are often repeated. They create a peculiar style as well as rhythm. They intensify the meaning and serious shades.
          Hark! Lakshman! Hark…
          That cry – that cry, it seems to …
          In the stanza the possessive pronoun ‘his’ has often been used: “His hope’, ‘his ignoble foes’, ‘his banishment’, ‘his death’. Etc. Similarly ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘you’, ‘your’ etc are also found many times. Nouns are also repeated as there are dialogues.

(E) Rhythm:-
          The poem follows a bit fast rhythm as there’s such a mood. Dialogues in critical condition show that Lakshman and Sita are important. Quickly the lines change. Words flow quickly as well.
          “Rakshasas, Danavas, demons, ghosts
          Acknowledge in their hearts his might
          And sink to their remotest coasts
          In terror at his very sight.
          How swiftly, easily these lines run! And these are plenty of such examples.

(F) Clauses and phrases:-
          The poet has descriptive power. She uses clauses and phrases to build the atmosphere and rhythm e.g.
Swift in decision, prompt in deed
Brave unto rashness can this be
The man, to whom all looked at need
Is it my brother that I see!

          Most of the stanzas have such kind a combination. Because of this the poem becomes heroic poem.


  1. i like this composition. this poem is in my syllabus and now it helps me alot to understand this poem Lakshmana by toru dutt.

  2. Please provide notes on Ramayana book 3