President's Secretariat10-August, 2006 18:5 IST
President’s address at the conferment of 39th Jnanpith Award for 2003

   Following is the text of the President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s address at the conferment of 39th Jnanpith Award for 2003 here today:

Poetry and Creative thinking

            “I am delighted to participate in the function to confer the 39th Jnanpith Award for the year 2003. I greet the President and trustees of Bharatiya Jnanpith, eminent thinkers, writers and distinguished guests. The Bharatiya Jnanpith during its last four decades of existence has honoured many thinkers of Indian literature who have contributed to the promotion of excellence in literature in as many as twelve different Indian languages. Every year, Bharatiya Jnanpith is selecting the Indian literature of excellence. I extend my congratulations to Shri Vinda Karandikar, the recipient of this year’s prestigious award. He is an essayist, critic and translator and has made notable contribution to Marathi poetry and literature. His life is an example of extraordinary achievement realized through ceaseless search for aesthetic perfection.

Early influences

            I was studying the early life of Vindaji while he was in college and I found that the rhymes and rhythms had already begun to enmesh his soul and outpourings of his sufferings in verse form brought him some relief. Even at that early age, he had decided to fight the demons such as strong sectarian prejudices, superstitions, a world view passed on to him by tradition. His effort towards the process of liberation was to synthesize the west and the east, the past and the present, materialistic and the spiritual worlds. To achieve this, he has passed through several twists and turns in his journey after his formal education. I understand that he was inspired by personalities like Sawarkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Bertrand Russel, Freud, Einstein. His poems generally reflect high level of practical thoughts. I wish to quote one of the verses that impressed me very much:

In my mind lingers not,
Anxiety or sorrow or remorse,
It is enough to know this –
If he gives me tears
He gives me hands too
To wipe them away with.

Poetry and society

             Developing from his early urge to express his thoughts in the form of poetry, Vindaji popularized what is known as new poetry in Maharashtra. By his simplicity in language, incisive practical ideas of use in everyday life, and deep insight into the Indian philosophy, he wrote poems which can be understood and used by common man. Through this, he made modern poetry in Marathi popular and started the movement of public reading of poems.

            His poetry is marked by experimentation, free verse and many other patterns which have his stamp of individuality. His has been a poetry which not only explores rhythmic patterns but also brings out and captures the moods of society and the beauty of nature and spiritualism. He is of course known for his poetry for children.

            Vindaji is indeed a multifaceted poet dealing with philosophy, theology and religion and the human nature and astronomy. I was impressed by one of his poems, " Here begins the quest of universe". Vindaji talks about nebula, Cignes X1, the galaxy, stars, and our planet. The poet in his dream sees Galilieo, Copernicus, Newton and Einstein running a race in an oblong circle, then he refers to black holes. He also gives tributes to Narlikar in a beautiful way.

            Friends I would like you to read in his own words of Vindaji, he says :

‘The Universe is steady;
the old decays, the new rises.
The remainder zero.
According to Einstein the universe always expanding.
Some maintain expansion and contraction go on alternating.
Again the primeval atom, again the big bang, again the Universe’.

            This poem really indicates the author's attempt to reflect on science through poetry. With equal ease, the author talks about nature.

            Let me recall a few lines of his famous poems titled "Panthusth pakshi" or "Migratory Birds". The poem begins like this:-

The tremulous dawn:

in biting winter

looks intently

in the silver mirror

of a still lake.

This poem beautifully brings to life the humanness of nature and tranquility of the Manasarovar lake. What makes Vindaji unique is this versatility.

Contribution to Child Welfare

            Vindaji is hailed as an outstanding children's writer in Marathi. I understand his younger son had a severe fear complex. To distract him and to take his mind off the disturbing thoughts, Vindaji composed a new poem every day to help and to remove his fears. This has resulted in the child overcoming the fear complex. These poems have also helped the society at large by giving a solace for children who have been going through the pain of growing up.

Central Message of Vindaji's life

            What then is the message from Vindaji's life? He has been described as a poet of pure consciousness, with a mind that had gone beyond itself, beyond opposites not bound by the shackles of caste, creed and religion. One can characterize such a mind as an enlightened mind; a mind that is a well-spring of creativity. From this creativity beautiful poetry is born. This is a different beauty with which goes love, and with them is passion. Little wonder that all his life he had deep empathy for the poor.

            Vindaji's attributes are there for each and every one of us, as fellow human beings, living in our great nation that still cherishes spiritual values. There can be intelligence only when there is self-knowledge, the deep understanding of the total process of oneself. We must realize, as the poet did, that intelligence, that is integration of reason and love, is much greater than intellect, that is cultivated merely by book knowledge, important as that is for day-to-day living.

            What is essential for man, whether young or old, is to live fully, integrally through cultivation of intelligence which brings integration. It is very important that we approach our human problems with an integrated point of view both for ourselves and for society.

Creative thinking

            To understand how the creative mind of Vindaji works, I would like to recall the answer given by him to a question by one of his interviewers: The question asked to him was, ‘It seems you always think of people when you write your poetry’. Vindaji answers, ‘This is half truth. In reality when I write a poem, I do not 'think' at all; 'thinking' is prior to creation. And for the same reason there is no room for feeling as I create, at least in the normal sense...’. What a living legend for the younger generation to get inspired by and to emulate.

Conclusion

            I am very happy that Bharatiya Jnanpith promotes Indian literature by recognizing seminal and singular contributions. It is indeed a symbol of nurturing the literary tradition of the nation.

            I consider it a great privilege to confer the Bharatiya Jnanpith 2003 Award on Shri Vinda Karandikar today. May he continue to capture the transformation that our present society is witnessing. This will be an invaluable contribution to the cause of developed India.

            May God bless you.”

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DS/CS


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