Sweet & Sour
… Tribhuwan N. Bhan
Remembering Prof. D.N.Madan -
on Sunday morning, I watch the programme 'Rangoli' on TV presented by the
vivacious and eternally elegant actress Hema Malini. I like to watch this
programme of songs and dances from old Hindi movies. Their lyrics have
meaningful words and are set to music by vetern music composers like
Naushad, Roshan, Shankar Jaikishen, C.Ramchandra and others. Lyricists and
music composers together created haunting melodies then. I go on a
sentimental journey down the memory lane while watching this programme, as
most of the sequences were shot in picturesque valley of Kashmir, the
abode of my forefathers and my birth place.
Some weeks ago, I was engrossed in watching the
sensuous dance of Zeenat Aman, dancing to the words 'Satyam, Shivam,
Sundaram' and to the tunes of music directors Laxmikant Pyarelal. The
dance sequence was from Raj Kapoor's block-buster movie. These words made
my mind travel back to the year 1956 when I was a student of Gandhi
Memorial College, Srinagar. My mentor of English Literature at this
college was late Prof. D.N.Madan. He took to teaching for the love of
English language and literature. To pursue his love of this language, he
gave up his father's lucrative hardware business. After acquiring Master's
Degree in English from Lucknow University, he started to teach at
G.M.College. One of the founding fathers of this college was his father
late Pt. S.K.Madan.
Incidently, his younger brother Dr. T.N.Madan followed
in the footsteps of his elder brother professionally. He obtained his
Doctorate in Anthropology from Australia. On returning to India, he was a
luminary professor at Delhi University till his retirement some years ago.
As a student at S.P.College, Srinagar, he was the distinguished student of
my cousin Prof. Som Nath Dhar. Together they edited the English section of
the college magazine those days. Their relationship as teacher and taught
was really ideal and worth emulating.
During the very first class, Prof. D.N.Madan gave us a
lecture on Keat's poem 'Ode on a Grecian Urn'. My mentor's diction of
English language was flawless and impeccable which almost mesmerised us.
When he recited the lines "Heard melodies are sweet, Those unheard
are sweeter", he gave a simple and laconic explanation that the
former represent 'worldy pleasures' which are short-lived and the later
signify 'happiness' which is everlasting. One is finite and the other
infinite. While I was glued to the small screen, watching Zeenat Aman
dancing, the words "Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all;
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know" reverberated in my
mind, being synonymous with the words of lyricist Narendra Sharma:
"Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram
Satya Hi Shiva Hai,
Shiva Hi Sunder Hai".
It took me quite sometime to retrack from past to
present. But the words of Keats side by side with words of the movie song
echoed endlessly and simultaneously.
In his book 'How to know God', the internationally
acclaimed author and celebrated spiritual thinker Dr. Deepak Chopra says,
"God is the source of every impulse of love. Beauty and truth are
both children of this God". This shows that intellectuals think
alike. Be he a poet like Keats or an author like Chopra.
During one of the last lectures of English Poetry at
the college, Prof. Madan took up the poem 'Solitary Reaper' by William
Wordsworth. In his own inimitable style, he gave us a memorable
biographical description of Wordsworth as a poet of nature and as a
precocious child, who would roam about the countryside and talk to the
trees, birds, rainbows and all the other aspects of nature, and the
emotional parting of ways with his friend Coleridge.
In the words of Wordsworth "Poor Coleridge was in
bad spirits and had grown too much in love with his own dejection".
After taking a degree at Cambridge, followed by a brief stay in France,
but due to the cruelty following the Revolution, Wordsworth was
disillusioned and he returned to England to spend his life at the
landscape of the Lake District. In 'Solitary Reaper', the poet says,
"The music in my heart I bore
Long after it was heard no more".
These words of the poet are significant for me, as for
nearly half a century I have carried within my heart the sound of the
sonorous voice of my mentor, even though, death has stilled that voice few
years ago. Not only was his explanation of English Poetry absolute
perfection, his teaching of English prose was par-excellence. It was his
explanatory narration that created our interest in the historical
biography of Queen Victoria authored by Lytton Strachey. I still remember
his exhaustive character sketch of Prince Albert.
He was well read in Urdu and Kashmiri poetry too. Quite
often he would recite a couplet or two from Ghalib who was his favourite
Urdu poet, or from Kashmiri poets like Rasool Mir, Habba Khatoon or
Mehjoor. He would thus make his explanation all the more lucid and down to
earth. Thereby, we students adored him indeed. My friend and batchmate
late Chamanlal Koul later known as Poet Chamanlal 'Chaman' turned out to
be one of the most original and promising poets of Kashmiri language,
mainly because of the encouragement he got from Prof. D.N.Madan and Prof.
P.L.Handoo. Unfortunately all the three are no more today.
A connoisseur of the fine arts, Bakshi Ghulam Mohd.,
the dynamic Prime Minister of J&K state (1953-1963) felt that the
youth were drifting away from Indian traditions and were drawn towards the
western culture. In order to revive our culture and tradition and to wean
away the youth from the western influence, he directed various social and
cultural organisations to arrange a festival of dance, drama, music and
sports all over the State. The mammoth festival held sometime in mid
fifties was called 'Jashn-e-Kashmir'. Students of G.M.College took part in
this festival. They staged a drama 'Dhak Ghar', an adaptation of Tagore's
play and also a ballet. Prof. D.N.Madan along with his colleagues
Professors P.L.Handoo, H.L.Misri, M.K.Ogra, O.N.Bhan, D.N.Kaw and others
went out of their way to give the right direction, timely advice and
assistance to the participants. The efforts of students and the staff of
G.M.College were rewarded by acquiring a certificate of merit from the
judges headed by the State's eminent poet and author Shri Dinanath Nadim.
The contribution of Prof. Madan towards the success of the events was
immense. It was during this period that I realised that my professor not
only excelled in academics but was indeed versatile and had enviable
knowledge of Kashmiri literature, culture and traditions.
After day's work when in the solitude of home, my weary
eyelids fall on my eyes, I hear the cho of his resonant voice and I hum a
tune in unison. Not
only in solitude, but even while I travel in Mumbai's
jam-packed local trains, I see the vision of my 'Sir' who was one
of the most immaculately dressed persons of Srinagar. He carried himself
with dignity and commanded every one's respect particularly of his
students. I was fortunate to be one of them.
The memory of the time I spent as my mentor's student
is indeed very precious to me and the experience of his appearing in my
dreams and occupying my thoughts, is celestial experience for me, more
valuable than any worldly treasure. I shall guard the same jealously till
I am with my mentor once again up there.