Revealing the Mystery of Haiku poetry

(Part of the speech delivered at World Haiku Meet In Pune University by Raju Samal)


In the presence of this august gathering of poets from across the globe, I am reminded of one incident in the life of Michelangelo the greatest artist, this world has ever produced. Every day while walking from his home to his workplace, his intuitive gaze would fall on a huge piece of marble lying in a road side shop. One day in the morning he stopped at the shop and revealed his intention to buy that piece of marble.  The shopkeeper instantly offered to part with the marble free of cost because it was unnecessarily occupying a large area obstructing his  day to day business  transactions. Michelangelo

moved the marble to his studio and worked on it for two years after which he invited the  shop keeper to his studio and pointed at the brilliant statue of Mother Mary holding the body of crucified Jesus, a piece of divinity hollowed out of that piece of  random   stone. The shop keeper could not believe his eyes and asked a naïve question. How was this heavenly creation possible? To which Michelangelo replied “Every day when I used to pass by your shop, I could see Jesus imprisoned inside the marble beckoning me “saying come and free me from the stone”. I have not done anything great but only have eliminated the unnecessary portions from the stone.” Such brilliant statement is only possible from an enlightened artist like Michelangelo. I had the opportunity of seeing this statue installed in a glass house beatifying the heavenly abode of St, Peter Basilica in Rome recently. Although it was sculpted five hundred years ago, it looked as new and as fresh as just finished.

A Michelangelo miracle: Time cannot wither nor customs stale its divinity.

Crucified Jesus in the lap of Mother Mary ,1499 A.D

Friends ,religion is experience of divinity and Art is expression of that  divinity. When man experiences divinity , it overflows in form of art and literature.

There are two processes through which creativity in literature functions. One is the process of elimination that was what Michelangelo  did with the stone. That is  what poets do with words-eliminating the unnecessary to get the perfection of form. The second one  is the process  of addition. That is what the novelists and play wrights do with their plots and characters. That is what the painters do with their colors and ideas.

Raju Samal with Susum Takiguchi Ex-Professor of Japanese literature,Oxford University,at World haiku Meet in Pune University.

But Haiku poetry does not belong to either processes of literary creativity. Haiku poetry is not written .It has the uncanny way of happening at the moment of sudden enlightenment. Haiku is not imported from Japan. It existed in India from the time immemorial. Whatever Kabir sang spontaneously was Haiku. He was illiterate. All his poems happened to him. Each one of his poems was overflow of divinity with delightful spontaneity. Saint Tukaram had rightly said about his Abhangs “these poems are through me but are not mine,”

Veds happened and were handed over from one generation to another through human memory till they were clothed in written words many centuries after. Ramayan happened because Valmiki was  enlightened. Mahabharat   happened. Like Mira Bai sang. All these creative activities overflowed from divine experiences of poets. Whatever written is poetry. Whatever happens is Haiku. We have to wait for the divinity to sing a tune of its own composition in our heart. Like a flower bearing tree when spring comes. When divinity descends, it does not differentiate between gutter and the Ganges. Like sunshine, Like rains, Like cool embrace of the moonlit night. If we are ready to wait indefinitely, it may happen instantly. Haiku has the uncanny way of shaping itself in a human heart that beats with the rhythm of  the universe, perceptive to the beauty of the unknown and sensitive to the message of the unknowable.


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