Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Who is the giver? Who is the receiver? [1]

On 60 years of India's Independence:

Navi Mumbai Development Plan

Who is the giver? Who is the receiver? [1]

(Poem written on 23-02-1997: I was writings a review of a workshop, "The Idea of New Town, Looking at Navi Mumbai". While writings I was stuck for many reasons. One of them was the stalwarts in architecture and planning from India and abroad attended the workshop. Sant Tukaram came to my help, and I composed the following poem. On the occasion of 60th Anniversary of India I re-publish it. )

Oh Vitthala*, while you stand steadfast
On a single brick, the foundation bestowing
Courage and joy through Gyanoba-Tukoba*:
There is no beginning – no end.

On the threshold of Third Millennium
Of "English" calendar, what are a few decades
Of life of New Delhi, Chandigarh, or New Mumbai
But specks of dust in a hay stack?
We have lived through cities thousand years old.

The sperms of Navi Mumbai were laid in an incubator
By an industrial corporate body, legitimized
By the CIDCO* of Swadeshi Raj here
Of your beloved Maharashtra and of the displaced.

Oh Vithoba1, your beloved people of India
Are blessed by Mother Earth for millennia,
Living in million villages, who nurtured and helped
To sustain cities of Gods, kings and Nawabs.

In the age of rape of Mother Earth
And ecological-cultural subjugation of the sons of soil,
Pushed them to the brink, to make a fast buck
While the sun shines, through manufacture and market;
The machine does not make maize neither milk.

Corporations know not "boundaries", – neither of values
Nor culture, – Their tentacles reach afar
Under different garbs and masks anew;
What are the new towns across the continents
In the name of urbanism – yet another mask?

Swarms of corporate locust devouring resources
In decades, what had been plentiful for millions
Of living entities for centuries, to leave behind
“Holes in the sky". City planners are by-products.

We witnessed the destruction of Hiroshima-
Nagasaki, calamities-man-made with impact;
the shudder of earth that reduced Kobe to debris.

You hold aloft Kedarnath – Kashi – Kanyakumari
Through the times of turmoil, age after age.
Bhagiratha4 brought Mother Ganga to revive
His five thousand ancestors in peril.

In the age of annihilation unsurpassed
His offspring struggle to survive in numbers.
Will the sons of soil survive or perish?
Oh, Vitthala, Give your holy verdict.

In the era of contraception - condoms - abortions,
The steel-glass-concrete jungles of modern towns
Are sprouting, sprawling, swelling, multiplying
To celebrate triumph of "Post-historic-Man".
Will New Town, living a hybrid life on life saving
Drugs, shall be or not be an abortion?

Desperate planners are gripped in two-three dimensions
When Newtonian Age passed away hither thither;
In spite of revelation of Time and Eternity;
And half-truth of second law of thermodynamics.

Tied to a mill of self-cantered ego, they go in rounds
Endless, locked in cells. Will some glimpse liberate them?
Oh Vithoba*, It is time again to release Vishwakarma*
from the bondage of Indra*, we pray.

We recite the past, or speculate the future in mechanical
Actions; run into political impotency;
when confronted to the Present, take refuge
of numbers in perpetuity, dividing, sieving, grading,
degrading the humanity at the cost of creativity.

Now the "Bhasmasura"* of modern technology is let loose
Shattering the ancient limits only to defile and displace
Land and Waters, to eliminate the living entities.
New Towns offer man a life of hydroponics.

His tentacles reach deeper and wider through his weapon –
"The Cities" – to bring slow death to regions afar without impact.
Oh Vithoba, heed to our invocation to give us Insight
Into the Present, the People, the Life, the Nature's Way.

At the end of second millennium, they struggle
In the narrow compartments of 2D – 3D to establish
Credibility; offer the urbanites "New Town Neurosis"
They are yet to awaken to hyperspace;
How could the planners be Visionary?

Architecture is poet's imagination to serve
The two in hundred of the world;
Planning demands vision in Universal Truth
Of a sage – of a humble farmer – who lives
In the timeless eternal NOW.

* * * *
Remigius de Souza

* Vitthala, Vithoba: Most venerated deity in Maharashtra (an incarnation of Vishnu).
* Gaynoba - Tukoba: Jnaneshwar and Tukaram are saint-poets of Maharashtra, India.
* CIDCO: City and Industrial Development Corporation, Maharashtra State, India.
* Bhagiratha: a character from Mahabharata.
* Vishwakarma, Indra, Bhasmasura: characters from Puranas. Bhasmasura is similar to Midas in the western mythology. However end of Bhasmasura comes reducing him ashes by his own folly, which is inevitable. There is no room for repentance.

(This poem was written on the occasion of the Workshop - "The Idea of New Town: Looking at Navi Mumbai", held at Coomaraswamy Hall, Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai on 21-22 February 1997.)

Remigius de Souza