ঢাকা ২৫শে জুন ২০২৪ খ্রিস্টাব্দ, ১১ই আষাঢ় ১৪৩১ বঙ্গাব্দ, ১৯শে জিলহজ ১৪৪৫ হিজরি

Perspective: Epic Novel and a Prakritoj Shamimrumi Titon

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প্রকাশিত মে ৯, ২০২৪, ০৮:২৮ পূর্বাহ্ণ
Perspective: Epic Novel and a Prakritoj Shamimrumi Titon

Nurul Hoque

The Bengali language has already been recognized as one of the world’s finest languages. Particularly, our readers are very refined and well-informed, especially when it comes to epic literature. I consider this a matter of pride for us. The first analysis of the epic novel by Prakritoj Shamimrumi Titon has stirred the minds of readers, and I myself feel quite inspired and proud. Some friends had requested a bit of analysis before discussing the epic and its hidden flavors and structure.

By the term ‘epic’, we generally refer to a long and extensive poetic shloka. Irrespective of time, place, and characters, it presents a comprehensive description of the heroic tales and events of a specific culture. It is not subjective, but rather objective for the most part. It is not an expression of the author’s inner feelings, but rather a presentation of factual events. An epic is not like the melodious notes of a flute in lyrical poetry; instead, it is like the resounding sound of a war trumpet in full battle gear. Moreover, it is extremely glorious, vast like the radiance of the Himalaya, slow-moving, massive, and solemn, peaceful, sublime, and signifying greatness.

 

Not all epics are equally large, although an epic means a large poem, such as the ‘Mahabharata’. This ancient epic is incredibly large. Initially starting with twenty-four thousand verses, this epic now contains eight hundred thousand verses. Over the years, across ages, new elements have been added, and the old stories have lengthened, much like a river increases in size as it approaches the sea. What began as a composition of twenty-four thousand verses has transformed into an epic of eight hundred thousand verses. This growth has continued for seven to eight hundred years. The current form of the Mahabharata dates back to the fourth century AD.

Not only in size, but an epic is also grand in another aspect. An epic is a saga of heroism. The story of a hero forms its foundation. The greatness of the hero, his bravery, his exceptional qualities—all are captured in an epic. In an epic, there is one hero around whom the story revolves. It’s not just large, not just filled with heroism, but the story of an epic is the story of a community. It’s not just about one special person, but about the life of a people, of a particular civilization. Like a river that becomes part of the places it flows through, so too does the story of an epic become the story of a locality. Though it starts as the story of one person, it becomes the story of many. That one person—whom we call the hero—is a representative of many.

When Valmiki composed the epic Ramayana, what was the inspiration behind it? It emerged from a profound introspection. In his early life, he was a robber named Ratnakar. Later, he transformed into a sage and ventured into the forest. During his time in the wilderness, one day he was gathering wood when he suddenly noticed two birds sitting atop a tree. At that moment, without warning or sound, an arrow aimed at the birds was released. One of the birds fell down, while the other began lamenting. Witnessing this, Valmiki was filled with remorse from within. Through his inner vision, he discovered love. In this world of love, he found the revelation of the divine.

He observed that whatever he said came floating in tune, filled with rhythm. In that way, his epic was composed. This story contains metaphors and essence. Literature emerges from within a person. And the deepest reason for this creation of literature is sorrow. Our most beautiful songs are stories of great sorrow. Sorrow is the heaviest; its stories are the most heartfelt and touching. Yet, it is true that tragedy is fragmented. An epic is much more expansive than a tragedy. And these stories are truly like flowing rivers—vast and immense in both length and breadth, no matter how they are considered.

Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh was written in a different country, in the Persian language. There too, there is history, the history of dynasties. But in what sense does an epic contain history? Do we not know that poetry is essentially a product of imagination, and in that imagination, there is chemistry, a sense of taste, and a mix of truth and falsehood? Isn’t it an eternal complaint against poets that they speak in embellishments, and whatever they say has color added to it? Yet, history is definitely present in epics—there is the history of time, society, and the surrounding environment. Reading an epic is not just reading a story, but also reading the history of a particular time’s society and culture. This history is much more alive than the history in history books. Because this is the history written by a poet, who is deemed a great poet, and his composed history is considered part of his works. The poet’s imagination opens many doors effortlessly, which otherwise would remain closed. The poet’s imagination penetrates the darkness, breaks through complexities, and enriches itself, reaching new heights.

Homer, despite being blind, had a vision sharper than that of ordinary people, as evidenced by his two epics, ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’. How could one person write both epics? Some have questioned this because, although these two epics are stories about the Greeks, they are completely different from each other in many respects. However, that’s a topic for another discussion. The main point here is that the poet did not just imagine; he used his imagination to vividly recreate the Greek life of that era. There is mention of how the Greeks fought. But at the same time, the epics also delve into their meditations, thoughts, behaviors, sports, dining—in short, everything. What didn’t they contemplate? What was their worldview? Where did dangers arise from, and where did happiness and sorrow stem from? All these aspects are explored in these two epics. The picture of the home merges with that of society. Not only that, but the gods and goddesses, in whom the Greeks believed at the time, also appear. In fact, these deities can be recognized by observing the people, because they behave like humans. Humans are like reflections. In this way, an epic becomes a richer history of the world and human life.

In ‘Amrit Rase Mrigatrishna Preme,’ the sky, the netherworld, the universe, space, clusters of stars, planets, Earth, humans, and the allure of love—all blend into one. Through the hero’s eyes, in the infinite light of the universe—the moon, the sun—both the living and non-living, mountains and oceans, the sky and air, dust particles, river waters, and nature, full of beauty, color, and essence, along with its life-force, revolve around a central pivot. Here sits a supreme lord who controls everything. He is the creator, and at his command, everything submits, circulates, achieves, stirs, and merges. The hero of ‘Amrit Rase Mrigatrishna Preme’ is instantly overwhelmed with emotion. Observing all this in the universe, he understands the existence and vastness of the creator. In an instant, the hero’s heart and unseen eyes open wide. He sees all the mysteries of the universe. Suddenly, filled with reverence, devotion, and love, he bows his head in humility.

“The planets of the universe all whirl endlessly—
In the family of planets, Earth too revolves in the void.
In the sky of the mind, lovers fall into restless crises.
In the emotional sky of the earth, life-love is in great jeopardy.
How thirsty the restless mind is in thirst—consumption—
Day and night, traps of death laid—with a resolute mind…”

In the hero’s mind, images of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, and Einstein emerge. His mortal eyes transform into countless eyes. He begins to traverse from one constellation to another nebula. And he sees that the universe has no bounds, no beginning or end of time.

Even if humans do not know what is happening elsewhere in the universe, he can perceive it with his insightful vision. He never tires while searching through the various branches of astronomy. Countless nebulae, whose distances are billions of light years! The light we see from those distant nebulae started its journey thousands of years ago! Therefore, when we see this universe, we are actually seeing the universe as it was thousands of years ago! Here too, the great hero of ‘Amrit Rase Mrigatrishna Preme’ becomes excited. He remembers great scientists like Galileo and Copernicus and their contributions. It seems as if the hero is observing with the naked eye the numerous invisible stars that Galileo’s telescope had captured. At that time, only six stars could be seen in the Pleiades constellation with the naked eye; but Galileo observed 36 stars through his telescope. Observing the mysterious Milky Way of that era, the scientist Galileo showed that it was actually a collection of countless stars. The hero continues to float in the waters of his wisdom.

“Let life expand into the realm of souls — the world of light,
Adorned in the Milky Way,
Within the depths of heart and soul,
Achieve complete fulfillment,
An eternal, everlasting life.”

Again, sometimes, the hero of ‘Amrita Rase Mrigatrishna Preme’ seems to become one soul with those great-hearted heroes of astronomy, burning like nebulae in the sky. Nothing stands as an obstacle before him. And how could there be any obstacles? He is the great hero, whose influence spans across the ages. God himself shows him the way. In his words, whoever seeks something finds it. The celestial paths are illuminated. What an irrevocable assurance of fearlessness!

” In the earthly body,
the honeyed night of love sinks and floats,
As many love-filled drops as there are in the night of your love,
You and I drink the nectar of immortality in one body–
Love plays the eternal stream of immortality on Earth!
Whoever wants,
He gets,
The stars show the way ——-”

Earth, the third planet from the Sun, serves as the vital heart of our solar system. Above the Earth’s surface, above the multi-layered atmosphere, there is a layer without air, and even further above, zero gravity, a place for floating in the space. Beyond Earth, there are the Moon, Mars, meteorites, and other planets. It’s like a wondrous play of light and darkness. It’s as if all the secret mysteries of creation have finally revealed themselves faithfully to their unattainable lover in all their glory. In the vast expanse of the universe, countless planets and stars are floating—floating alongside each other yet belonging to no one. All are alone. In space, the immense loneliness of planets and satellites is a majestic yet tightly controlled whirling that seems like a grand manifestation of beauty.

“In space, planets gaze upon endless solitude,
A reservoir of sap in the Earth’s body, an infinite thirst for life!
Like them, the stars spin endlessly alone.
What do I know? What purpose do they spin for—humans know!
Gazing with unceasing sky-eyes at the Earth’s body—
The arrangement of the planets’ beginnings and ends on the Earth’s surface…”

It’s like an epic aesthetic. There’s a hint of awakening everywhere. The rotation of the moon, sun, planets, and stars creates a perpetual silent symphony that spreads like cosmic rays throughout the space, and the hero of the nectar-like passion discovers himself in the melody and rhythm of this music, caught in a unique, mesmerizing cycle. Completely captivated, he listens to the triumph song of life.

“In my life resonates the tune that in your life,
Plays the same tune in undifferentiated eternal love!
In unity, a single note gloriously in the cosmic life
You and I, all our words are of this Earth!
The unborn embryonic life will write as needed
Will break and make forever—in belief and disbelief!
Sky and earth beneath—earth in fire, wind, water…”

The measure of profound love upon the Creator diminishes at an immeasurable rate. It diminishes into a sense of gratitude. Yet, in the self-proclaimed verdicts of some esteemed scientists of our planet, the hero’s mind becomes overwhelmed once again. Listening repeatedly to the thunder of rebellion in the abyss of atheism’s cruel grasp, they grow weary. The renowned Big Bang theory becomes both amusing and disillusioning to them. Big Bang opens their inner eye to the dynamics of the previous universe.

“He has created the mimicry of the big bang—fatwa issuance!
In a Planck-world, where time and space are unknown, origin-less—
Is the human god dying in the practice of issuing fatwas?
Hiding greed and desire secretly within the heart
while relentlessly solving math in the brain!
Calculating the geometry of the body,
playing with radical numbers in the necklace of intellect!
Love and affection, the pleasures of indulgence, don’t abide by remaining debts,
Entangled in the laws, the burden of the world has grown!”

The Big Bang is a theory about the creation of the universe. According to this theory, about 15 billion years ago, the universe was created as a result of the explosion of a massive entity. From this time, the current age of the universe is calculated. In 1927, Belgian physicist Georges Lemaître first published the Big Bang theory based on Einstein’s theory of relativity. According to this theory, about 15 billion years ago, all matter in the universe was concentrated into a single giant atom. Georges Lemaître named this atom the “primeval atom,” which later exploded to create the universe. In 1929, Edwin Hubble supported and explained this view. However, it was George Gamow who established this theory through a detailed explanation. Hubble’s observations proved that the galaxies in space are moving away from each other at a consistent speed. According to him, the galaxies were created due to the initial Big Bang, and their behavior of moving away supports the Big Bang.

“Expanded in inner consciousness—as far as the universe extends!
Ah! What a glorious and profound love in the deep mind,
Limitless, boundless possibilities in a radiant heart!…
Who knows what neglect in body and soul, life’s tribulations
have snatched away all joy with ravenous hunger!…
Is the meaning of life dying after death?
In the greedy darkness, submerged is the primal human light—
In the heart of consciousness, the eye of conscience awakens no more!…”

 

In the epic novel ‘Amrita Rase Mrigatrishna Preme,’ the diverse, flavor-rich presentations of the universe are intricately scattered across every layer. Its author, poet Prakritoj Shamimrumi Titon, was initially able to perceive humanity’s love for mystery and the irresistible attraction to the unknown. From the dawn of civilization, the curiosity about the sky that arose in human minds led to the development of concepts about space and the universe. In ancient times, scholars placed Earth at the center of space research and tried to analyze space. Over the ages—from ancient times to the present—scientists in regions like Greece, Rome, the Middle East, Egypt, China, and India have tried to understand the universe in various ways. Although ancient ideologies may not hold as much value today, they have made significant contributions to the continuity of research.

 

Part 02

As I stated part one, we know that
from the ancient times to roughly the medieval era, the epic’s journey, which began with a specific place and the expression of a hero’s greatness has naturally faded away. Just as this is true, similarly, we can say that the hero, who carried the myths of thousands of years in armor and sword, riding a horse, and showing heroism in heroic attire, no longer goes to war. The place of that shield and sword has been taken by modern weapons of destruction, which at any moment could reduce an entire civilization to dust. In this era of globalization, people also have to move along aerial routes at the speed of wind, using sophisticated technology.

 

In light of a renowned philosopher’s recent speech at the United Nations, it becomes evident that today’s modern civilization, coursing through our veins as an ever-flowing, ever-vigilant embodiment, is a harmonious blend of all civilizations we have witnessed since the start of world civilization to the present. Looking back, we can see the Egyptian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Chinese, Indus, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and Mayan civilizations. The Egyptian civilization is one of the most ancient ones in the history of the world. This civilization developed along the banks of the Nile River in Egypt between approximately 5000 BCE and 3000 BCE. Geography and climate played a unique role in the emergence and development of the Egyptian civilization, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Nubian Desert to the south, the Red Sea to the east, and the Libyan Desert to the west.

In fact, it was due to the Nile River, the lifeline of Egypt, that the most long-lasting, important, and prosperous human civilization began in this region. Initially, Egypt was divided into 40 nomes or city-states. King Menes first established a unified state. Then about 30 dynasties ruled Egypt. Egypt first came under Greek, then Roman, and then Arab rule.

The emperors of Egypt were called Pharaon or Pharaoh. By the middle of the second millennium BCE, the Egyptians had made significant progress in the economic field. This progress became possible largely thanks to their success in irrigation, dam construction, and drainage work on the land.

To truly savor the essence of an epic, an introduction to ancient civilizations was provided above. We have to navigate the ceaseless flow of inanimate and animate existence. The profound intimacy and engagement between the creator and creation, which forms the core subject of this epic, is largely akin to nectar in its richness.

Unlike the epics of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Iliad, and Odyssey, the novel ‘Amrita Rase Mrigatrisna Preme’ belongs to a different genre. In th just-mentioned epics, there were wars, constant clashing of shields and swords. There were battle cries and bloodshed for the sake of ascending the throne. There were sagas of bravery.

In “Amrita Rase Mrigatrisna Preme,” there is a kind of war that is not life-threatening. It is not a devastating war like the Trojan War. This war is about humanity, and it is waged for the establishment of truth and justice. The inanimate and living worlds, both seen and unseen, along with fate, light, and darkness, are all depicted against a supernatural and epic backdrop in this novel. In it, the hero wanted to sacrifice himself by churning the oceans and piercing the underworld in search of the ‘Amrita’ (elixir).

In fact, the prerequisite for uncovering the mystery of eternal life before grasping the essence, form, and splendor of this universe is the pursuit of the elixir. Without this essence, life is bleak. A life devoid of essence carries no value in heaven; it becomes utterly meaningless. Even love loses its significance in an immortal life without essence. The hero of this epic novel does not seek to consume this essence for his personal satisfaction alone. Instead, he envisions sharing the pursuit of this rare essence with everyone, partaking collectively to achieve the ultimate bliss of celestial paradise, and fostering a common aspiration to become inhabitants of heaven.

 

In the novel ‘Amrita Rase Mrigatrisna Preme’, the hero is a dedicated seeker and a philosophical explorer who tirelessly traverses both heaven and earth. Venturing through nebulae, he seeks the infinite light of the stars. He envisions using that touchstone and the visible rope of infinite light to unite the world through the bonds of human love.

Whoever desires someone finds them. The pole star guides the way.

What divine words, what invincibility. Once upon a time, we used to know that sailors in the great ocean used to recognise their destination by looking at the constellation in the sky. Through this line ‘Whoever desires someone finds them. The pole star shows the way’, we can perceive the deep connection the hero shares with the invisible forces of fate.

The womb of the world is bound to the umbilical of earthly love – the primordial water, the elixir of life. The branches and sub-branches of this celestial river, along with its veins, joints, and cells, are continuously fraught with conflict. Even now, remnants of this blissful elixir linger in the ocean, though they are threatened by a human-induced catastrophe that scorches the womb of nature with climatic fires. The hero’s heart is instantly weighed down. In a moment, an enduring image of devastation emerges before his eyes.

 

“In human crises, Manu silently weeps with a noble soul
Atomic bombs stand in the way of human love – such tragedy!
Unnoticed and unclaimed for billions of years,
those who have signed the auction agreements,
where are the footprints of their descendants,
caught in the net of enemies, maddened by consumerist desires.
Did Manu really sign a contract of servitude in such obscurity?
Has the marriage contract been declared invalid?
as desires have increased the thirst for consumption …”

In the horrific quagmire of human-caused natural disasters. Natural pollutants include lead, mercury, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc. Artificial pollutants include various pesticides, powdered soaps, medicines and cosmetics, and even plastics. Some of these compounds persist in our environment for a long time. Sun, water, air, and germs cannot harm them. Environmental scientists are more concerned about such compounds.

Through the eyes of environmental scientists, the hero witnesses the stark scene of destruction. Global warming, deforestation, industrialization, pollution, and urbanization are all contributing to a sustained negative impact on the climate. However, global warming is the most significant driver of climate change. As the Earth’s average temperature increases, various natural disasters, such as cyclones, floods, and tidal bores, are wreaking havoc on human settlements.

On the one hand, carbon dioxide emissions are continuously increasing; on the other hand, forests are being cleared in the name of ‘development’. As a result, more carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons and some other deadly harmful gases are accumulating in the atmosphere, creating the greenhouse effect. The ozone layer outside the atmosphere is gradually depleting. Due to the depletion of the ozone layer, the entry of ultraviolet rays from the sun to the earth is not being blocked as much as before. Climate change has greatly disrupted normal human life and is a terrible threat to nature as well.

Natural and man-made factors ultimately cause soil erosion, earthquakes, water and soil salinity, pollution, and arsenic contamination. Cyclones and tidal bores cause erosion in coastal areas and cause severe damage to alluvial land. Groundwater from deep tube wells in coastal areas has become a source of drinking water. But excessive extraction of this water brings immense risks to nature. Climate change is melting the snow on the mountain peaks and glaciers of the polar regions. As a result, the sea level has started to rise. Eventually, saline water from the sea will flood vast areas.

On one side, the horrors of the environment; on the other, the effects of nuclear vapors. Amidst these challenges, the disillusioned hero alternates between sinking into the darkness of hope and despair, only to resurface again.

“In the star-studded night, alone, empty wails,
Love without hope, a colorless shadow of sorrow!
Enshrouded in the guise of relentless pain, the eclipse continues!
No one sees the heart’s wailing burning the soul,
Within the walls of the earthen fortress, suspicions nest,
The virus of doubt infiltrates the DNA,
And in the trap falls the heart, between trust and distrust.
The costumed believers do not know each other…”

Currently, among humans who have fallen to the depths of moral decay, a game of disintegration has begun. Deception, duplicity, disinterest, and distrust towards one another, the decline of ethics and morality, uncontrolled desires for indulgence, and intoxication with debauchery cloud people’s vision in a haze of black smoke. The irregular clashing and naked turmoil in the skies of nature create a deep wound in the hero’s heart, which, on one hand, tears him apart, yet on the other, inspires him to dissent. He sees…

“The world of humanity swarms with venomous creatures,
Eyes, ears, and mouths on a severed head held aloft—caught in the void.
The lexicon of the world weaves subtle meanings,
Spreading desires and fury like the flared hood of an enraged king cobra.”

The hero overcomes all this decay, offers people words of hope, and issues a noble call to humanity. This call is to build a world of love. This call is about becoming refined by paying the earth its dues in the cloud of labor. This call is to demonstrate the ultimate pinnacle of life. In this way, to the hero, this great earth and thus this universe becomes radiant in the youth of love.

“Eternally, in life and the universe, youth shines brightest in love”.

In this universe adorned with infinite clusters of stars, this planet becomes its mother, whose infinite form is pure and supremely maternal. How indescribably beautiful her form is. The sky, air, mountains, mountain ranges, clouds, and river waters illuminate the mother’s veil and the widely spread land, and above all, paradise beneath the mother’s feet. Searching for the value of life without this earth mother is nothing but audacity.

 

“Who is he? Without Mother Earth, searching for the meaning of life,
What is life’s essence in body, soul,
and heart?
Whether you are a daughter, wife, or mother, within your womb,
If you do not hold an embryo, no creation is taking place…”

In this way, the hero, carrying his uniqueness and individuality, becomes a strong believer in himself and uncovers various mysteries of the surrounding environment. Neither visible nor invisible constraints can stop him. In sense, love, joy, and the beauty of creation, he becomes a mighty superhero. He remains immersed in the elixir of this illusionary love.

“Asleep in the dark night, absorbed in the delusion of dreams,
In the morning, the night maiden engrossed in love in the night waters,
In the half-dark night, in the whirl of the festival of love,
Two loving owls soak in the night’s water,
Sucking love all night, the night-hungry in the intense darkness,
Enters the cavity of the burrow in the eyes of the night.”

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