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Exclusive: Need Courage? Here’s The Poetry That Keeps Manoj Bajpayee Going

It was my greatest support during my days of struggle, and even to this day, whenever I am feeling intensely depressed, I recite the third canto aloud, to myself!

From where does one derive courage during the days of hardship?

Most people would say ‘from God, love, intoxication,’ but for Manoj Bajpayee, it comes from the epic poem ‘Rashmirathi,’ which translates to ‘Sun’s Charioteer.’
“It was my greatest support during my days of struggle, and even to this day, whenever I am feeling intensely depressed, I recite the third canto aloud, to myself,” he says.

Almost everyone trying to find a foothold in the acting industry has faced long, hard days of struggle and uncertainty, which are filled with darkness.

Manoj Bajpayee
When the sounds of rejection fill your sky from every possible direction, you lose confidence in your own self. Your talent, nurtured year after year appears to be meaningless and worthless. Suggestions pour in from all over, “Go back! There seems to be nothing happening here right now for you!”
Very few manage to survive this phase and end up kissing their tinsel dreams goodbye. They return to the cosy confines of their home.

In such dismal period, Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’s’ long narrative poem ‘Rashmirathi’ was the sole companion of this Bihari boy.

Ramdhari Singh Dinkar

‘for years wandering in the woods

hurdles-obstacles met, were kissed

endured sun-blaze, rain and hail
The Pandavas shone, hearty and hale
Good luck slumbers not forever
What laid ahead, still a wonder’
Along with Draupadi, the Pandavas have returned from their exile spent in hiding. Now it is expected that Duryodhana and the rest of the Kauravas will give them their share of the kingdom. However, Duryodhana refuses, and in harsh words, states that the Pandavas will not get even half of the kingdom; not even five villages.
Krishna then visits Duryodhana in his royal court as an emissary of the Pandavas to advise him. However, he is infuriated by Duryodhana’s misconduct and manifests his gigantic divine form, but that does not affect Duryodhana. An angry Krishna leaves the court saying the given lines, extremely disturbed about the war looming large and ominous.
‘the message of wellness you refused
friendship for you alas had no use
watch, as I too shall leave now
in the final resolution, you will see how
no more pleading, now its war
let life towards victory or death, soar’
If possible recite these lines aloud. The first thing that you will notice is a music, a rhythm in them which can very easily be memorised. Then, you shall discover an energy floating in the words which makes Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’s’ writings spectacularly unique.
You can pick any of his books, and a fluid, musical, positive energy will course through your veins. His writings effect you not only mentally but also physically.

‘Rashmirathi’ (1952) is considered to be one of the greatest epics of Hindi literature.

It establishes Karna as an important heroic character. Many scholars consider this to be Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’s’ best work.
In the video below, Manoj Bajpayee is reciting a portion of the Third Chapter (Canto 3). This reading will energise and inspire you; I have no two thoughts about that.
As you watch him read, you can see that he is not reading for an audience, and seems to be in an exquisite dialogue with his own self.

Click on the link. Enjoy!

Read this story in Hindi here.

About the Author: Manish Gupta is an NRI filmmaker returned to India to make millions fall in love with Hindi Poetry. Translations from the Hindi original by Aparna Anekvarna, a Delhi-based writer


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