Legendary poet's birth centenary low-key affair - Few remember novelist Nagarjun, the literary force behind JP Narayan-led Total Revolution

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  • Published 16.06.11

Patna, June 15: The birth centenary of the legendary Hindi poet and novelist, Nagarjun, who was the main literary force behind the Jaiprakash Narayan-led Total Revolution (1974-77) was a low-key affair today with the deputy chief minister Sushil Modi merely doing the formality of garlanding his statue here.

It was the hectic political activity on June 5, the day of Total Revolution, with Lalu Prasad’s RJD leaders and workers hitting the streets to campaign against corruption and ruling establishment leaders, Nitish Kumar, Sushil Modi and Shivanand Tiwary — all products of the JP movement — lined up to garland JP’s statue.

But Vaidyanath Mishra “Yatri”, who got the new name Nagarjun following his conversion to Buddhism, was forgotten, almost. During his sojourn in a Sri Lanka monastery he penned several poems.

Indu ji, Indu ji kya hua aap ko (Induji: what has happened to you?)” — the famous one-liner spontaneously attracted the huge gatherings and Nagarjun was reverentially referred to as jankavi (people’s poet.) People recited it on Bihar’s streets invariably during the emergency. Indu ji in his poem was in reference to then prime minister, Indira Gandhi.

In fact, the Bihar chief minister, who is at present on a trip to China, recalled how Nagarjun’s recitation of “Indu ji” stimulated him and several other activities of the JP movement to carry forward their agitation against the emergency and corruption at a literary function at a book fair here on March 21.

The poet had been sent to jail for playing a “pro-active” role against the Emergency for 11 months during the JP-led “revolution”, which eventually culminated in the overthrow of the Indira Gandhi government at the Centre in 1977.

Incidentally, the Bihar leaders have chosen to forget Nagarjun on his birthday when his centenary is being celebrated this year on the national scale.

Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was an integral part of the JP movement, had paid an extremely emotional tribute on Nagarjun’s death in November 1998.

Nagarjun was primarily a poet of people and contemporary politics. He wrote several verses defending the Naxalbari movement in Bengal, Telangana movement in Andhra Pradesh besides peasant and proletariat movement in Bihar. His poems were full with satire and earthy humour.

In the last phase of his life, Nagarjun chose to lampoon “Madhu crazy M.F. Hussain” and also Lalu Prasad for “flourishing” at the cost of the health and wealth of Bihar’s poor people. Nagarjun was born and brought up in a lower middle class family at Tarauni village of north Bihar’s Mithila region.