THE GADDAR, UNIVERSAL POET-SINGER-PERFORMER OF OUR TIMES
At last an effort to assess a greater than the greatest than poet-singer of our times Gaddar is being made. It is not that easy task to locate him at one single point. He is a singer, poet, composer, choreographer, critic, political commentator, orator, and more over a political activist, and the great communicator.
As the writer of this mono graph Dr. Kesava Kumar rightly puts, ‘There are many reasons for celebration of Gaddar as an icon, a legendary figure or an institution in revolutionary cultural politics of Indian society. I think here Kesava Kumar intends to mean the revolution that is being lead by Maoist party. However, in each and every revolutionary moment weather that is lead by Dalits, Women, Madigas, what not? His song echoed on every dais of the peoples movement.
When he, due to heavy repression in the regime of Telugu Desam party he was forced to go to under ground. The people living in the lowest layers of the society along with some other lovers of his song whimpered for missing him, i.e., his song.
Song! my song where are you? How you disappeared from our eyes and melted in the crescent of full moon? For the sweetness of the breast milk that is disseminated by the song it self, for the affection of mother’s lap that is engrained in the song, for the anger and anguish of a peoples warrior that is reflected in the song, for the confidence that is given as the song. Make themselves to fit to cope with anything in the times of crisis, for lamentation, for provocation, for the encouragement, for a sense of security in odd times that his song invokes in the hearts of masses, whole world wailed, shed tears, wondered in search of him in every nook and corner of the earth.. But he is not seen, however his song is heard everywhere, in the forests, in the dalit colonies, in the tribal habitations, everywhere his song has been echoed.
On April6, 1997, there was an as assassination bid on Gaddar, while two of the three bullets the assaults fired into him were removed. One was untouched because of medical complications. The near fatal attack, which, the balladeer believes was engineered by the police, did not deter Gaddar from being a champion of the down trodden. The growing importance of and popularity of Gaddar can be understood from the (alleged) state attack on him. He miraculously escaped from death and still survives having a bullet in his body. Another poet and Gaddar’s associate from the beginning wrote a song, lamenting people after Gaddar’s situation is declared stable.
Jamedari koyalo Jamedari koyalo
Gaddaranna Patavinaka Niddara polevate
Anna agamavvaledu, kannula niddura polevate
Tadi pettaka jamedari koyalo
Hundreds of poets wrote songs, poems and essays condemning assassinate bid on Gaddar. Even after the assassination bid still he is holding his aims and objectives on.
In fact there are several singers and poets are there in the state, who can sing more melodiously than Gaddar. There are performers, composers. The uniqueness of Gaddar is he just not sings with his throat. He moves is his hands, his hands sing. He just throws back his gray hair that is falling on his face. His hair sings. His legs decorated with gajjelu, jumps rhythamatically, that is a song. Movements of his body, his body language, whole of his body is a song. Moreover, the millions of people who are witnessing his performance feel that each of them is personally moved by the great poet- singer- performer amidst the crowds of people. That capability of Gaddar makes the difference and draws a line between him and his contemporary eminent poets.
Dr. P Keseva Kumar is bringing forward the concept of Mahakavi once again. There has been a lot of hue and cry over this controversial issue, though the notion of Mahakavi was not rejected. Who is Mahakavi (great poet)? Nannayya? Viswanatha? Krishna Sastry? Sri Sri? Arudra? Srirangam Narayana Babu? Sheshendra? Narayana Reddy? Poets who wrote even pale verse tried to claim themselves as Mahakavi. Sri Sri, who is recognized as progressive writer, also jumped into the controversy and gave statement. “Till now I followed the Telugu literature, from now on I am leading and taking forward the Telugu literature.” This statement has become much more controversy. All the poets made the literary world a fish market.
In spite of his greatnessn Gaddar maintained silence and never tried to claims him as Mahakavi. That is his modesty and greatness.
Now Kesav is bringing forward the notion of Mahakavi. He calls Gaddar as Mahakavi of our times. After reading this statement I was embarrassed a bit. How ever after discussing with Souda and Aruna so many of my doubts were cleared. Yes, yes, Gaddar is Mahakavi of our times.
Kesav says, ‘To say Gaddar as Mahakavi of our times is a new proposition. First of all, many people identified him as a singer, cultural performer and balladeer, but not as a poet. Poets have edge over the singers by claiming highest expression of creativity and make the people to think. In literary world, poetry writing is treated as most privileged act than other. The singers are treated as entertainers, and invoke the element of experience rather than thinking. In this sense, it is easy to dismiss Gaddar as a poet. But I am using the phrase Kavi to Gaddar in much broader sense. Secondly, critics may argue that to rank the peoples artist with titles reflects the feudal attitude rather than revolutionary sprit. Partially I do agree with this point. My intention to designate him a Mahakavi is only to highlight the unique phenomenon and personality of Gaddar in world literature in general and Telugu literature in particular. One should not forget that in Telugu literature, even in progressive camp the tradition of naming writers with Mahakavi already exists. Thirdly, is it possible to see Gaddar in isolation to Jana Natya Mandali and revolutionary movement? In fact, he does not want to see himself in isolation of JNM and on going revolutionary struggles. At the same time, at present nobody matches him for such creative potential in enliving the people’s culture and directing towards democratic change. To establish Gaddar as Mahakavi, historical developments of Telugu literature may provide clues. What is literature? What is the role of writer? What is the purpose of literature? The answers to these questions may help in assessing the strength of Gaddar.’
Though Kesav proposes Gaddar as Mahakavi, he has some reservations about that. I too, influenced by some most renowned so called Marxist intellectuals, thought that ranking any poet with the title ‘Mahakavi’ is a feudal attitude. A poet- singer can be ranked with the title Mahakavi if he/she influences his /her poetry and literature. Gaddar is the only literary personality who is influencing our times .So many poets enjoyed various titles and awards while Gaddar was beaten and arrested even faced assassination bid. So many so called progressive and revolutionary poets and writers have been enjoying the right opportunities and left image, Gaddar has been receiving life threats everyday. This is only to remember the people about the political commitment of Gaddar. Kesav also hesitating to call a poet because he is just treated as a singer, performer and an entertainer by few so called critics. Nay, put all his songs together, cancel all the rhythm and tunes. Just written words. You can smell the birth pangs and the fragrance of the breast milk of the mother who gave birth to a new baby. He is a born poet and instant poet. He erased the dividing live between prose poem and the song. As Kesav says, ‘ In Telugu society Gaddar has not only democratized the literature and used it as instrument for the liberating masses. As a poet singer, he revolutionised the literature for a social purpose. The created a social situation that one can not separate life, literature and struggle. For this he creatively investing his energies and even not bother to face the consequences.’ Kesav is rightly intends to designate Gaddar as Mahakavi is only to high light the unique phenomenon and personality of Gaddar in world literature in general and Telugu literature in particular.
Like so many so- called Marxist intellectuals, Kesav also opined that one couldn’t imagine Gaddar without JNM. It is a partial truth. It is true that JNM created daises for him. It is true that politics of Naxalite movement sharpened his voice and Pen. However, there are so many talented singers and performers are there in JNM. But why not a second Gaddar or an equivalent to Gaddar produced? Gaddar is self made Poet singer performer with all these influences he made himself a unique creative personality. This statement is not to undermine the other talented artists in JNM. His birth, his experience, his empirical Knowledge, his relentless and labourous exercise and his committed to life itself made him a unique Mahakavi. Even Sri Sri who unnecessarily claimed himself as Mahakavi had to praise the creative potentialities of Gaddar.
Kesav tried with good intentions, to fit Gaddar into the shoes of Gramsci and Althussar with due respects to their efforts to creative applications of Marxism to the Social and regional conditions. I would like to say that Gaddar is more closer to Indian revolutionaries and cultural commissars like the Buddha, Kabir, Jotiba Phule and Dr. Ambedkar Gaddar loved Marx just like Ambedkar loved him. However he drew inspiration from the Indian Social revolutionaries. And there is no second thought that Gaddar is a Marxist .
Though the main activity of Gaddar is said above by Kesav in the biographical note in first chapter, that is not the only activity. If one goes through Gaddar’s correspondence with the party about the caste and role of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in Indian Social reconstruction, reformation and reformation of the Indian Society and the caste system. The Correspondence has been recorded.
Some ignorant and sympathetic people thought that he is confused. Some people who claim themselves to be intellectuals that thought it is a sort of ambivalence. Basically, I feel, Gaddar is a Pragmatist, who would always rise to the occasion, and evolve strategies and tactics. Some feel that this is his weak point. However this is strongest point that made him darling of millions.
Dr. Kesava Kumar is a well-read person and presently working as Asst. Professor, Pondichery Central University. I know him as a Marxist where dogmatic perceptions were prevailing as official theories in Central University. Then he seemed to be changed his opinions regarding caste/class relationships/gender/regional and other movements of assertion. Though he did not declare himself as a non- Marxist he started deeply studying Ambedkar and to try to assimilate two theories of liberation. Now he believes that, I feel, without Ambedkar and his propositions Indian Social revolution cannot be completed. I think this is the case with Gaddar. He loves Marx. He loves the Buddha. He loves Phule. He adores Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Perhaps this made some people think Gaddar was confused or diluted whose opinions are least to be bothered. The history is in making.
Dr. P. Kesav Kumar toiled a lot to locate Gaddar. He made relentless efforts to redefine the concept of Maha Kavi, (Great Poet) and disimated Gaddar as Mahakavi of our times.
He also discussed the popular culture and ideology.
However, though he mentioned some name of subaltern poet-Singers and Philosophers of Andhra Pradesh, Kesav is seekingly depended on Western thinkers. It may be useful to some extent. However Gaddar does not belong to their schools of thought. He himself has his own school of thought that encourages, educates, agitates and organises the marginalised sections of the society.
Inspite of peeping into Kesav’s private space, I tried my best to restrain myself from introducing though I was tempted to put my hands on the language used. I could not do it. At first I thought that the languages used is too elite. And the concepts borrowed were too Western. However I thought that let there be a discussion be generated. Let Marx, Lenin, Mao, Gramsci, Althusser and Gaddar sit side by side and continue their discourse over the liberation of the human kind on whole.
For attempting this monograph Dr. P. Kesav Kumar is blessed. I am very much blessed to have a little acquaintance with these illuminatories.
(Foreword written by Kalekuri Prasad to Dr. Kesava Kumar’s book Gaddar : Mahakavi of Our Times to be published)