Rajendra Prasang


Reaching out to the rural space of Indian culture, the Centre collaborated with Sahitya Akademi, Sardar Patel University (Vallabh Vidyanagar), Dharmasimh Desai University and UTS Mahila Arts College, both at Nadiad, and the Citizens’ Council at the town of Kapadavanaj,   to organize a three day long Conference to commemorate the birth centenary of the Jnanpeeth Award winner Gujarati poet, Rajendra Shah, on December 20-22, 2013. Away from metropolitan space, the event, which engaged participants from different areas of Gujarat and India, was located at three towns in farmlands of central Gujarat. This facilitated participation of a cross section of Gujarati society. It was marked by a large and strong presence of common people of the poet’s hometown, Kapadavanaj, engendering a conversation that expanded the boundaries of the discourses that took place in the different sessions of the Conference. Participants included   a large number of students and teachers from five universities of Gujarat, and others from Kutch, Saurashtra, North and South Gujarat and Mumbai. Eminent Gujarati authors including Niranjan Bhagat and eminent Indian writers from Hindi, Bengali and Oriya, Vishvanath Prasad Tivari, President of Sahitya Akademi, Sitakant Mahapatra, eminent Oriya poet, Nabaneeta Debsen, eminent Bengali poet, and Jyotsna Milan, eminent Hindi novelist-poet, interacted with other participants. Vice Chancellor, Prof Harish Padh, of Sardar Patel University, Vice Chancellor Prof H M Desai of the Dharmasimh Desai University of Technology, Shri Kulichandra Yagnik, former Vice Chancellor of North Gujarat University, and Prof Mahavirsimh Chauhan, its former Pro-Vice Chancellor, participated in the Conference.


The Conference focused on three modes of time-binding with the poet: Pranati (homage to the poet and his times), Pariprashna (critical inquiry in to his work) and Prastuti (presentation of his lyrical and dramatic poems through music and dance). Sitakant Mahapatra, Jnanpeeth Awardee poet from Orissa, gave the keynote address in the inaugural session on December 20 at Nadiad. Vishvanath Prasad Tivari, President of Sahitya Akademi, who chaired the session, spoke engagingly on Indian ways of poetic communication. Dr Sreenivasa Rao, Secretary of the Sahitya Akademi welcomed the guests and Sitanshu Yashaschandra, eminent Gujarati author and Convener of the Gujarati Board at the Akademi, presented the bhoomika of the Conference. On December 21, Niranjan Bhagat, a pioneering modern poet of Gujarati, gave the keynote address commenting on basic concerns of Rajendra Shah as a poet. On December 22, Mahavirsimh Chauhan, eminent Hindi critic, and Suman Shah, eminent Gujarati critic, discussed the larger context of Rajendra Shah’s work. Prof Harish Padh, Vice Chancellor of the S P University, Vallabh Vidyanagar, chaired the session.


NIRANJAN BHAGAT. KAPADVANAJ                                                                        NIRAV PATEL

In Pariprashna sessions over the three days, some of the foremost Gujarati critics and poets critically evaluated Rajendra Shah’s work and its context. These included Chandrakant Topiwala, Chadrakant Sheth, Shirish Panchal, Dilip Jhaveri, Raman Soni, Suman Shah, Dalpat Padhiar, an eminent poet who also is a guiding Guru of the rural Gujarati ‘panth’ of Ravi Bhan saints of the Kabir tradition, and Nirav Patel, an excellent Dalit poet, brought out relevant aspects of Rajendra Shah’s poetry; while Hasit Mehta, Kamal Vora, Jaydev Shukla, Harish Minashru and Manilal Patel looked at the “main-stream” aspects of Shah’s poetry.

In Prastuti, Amar Bhatt, well-known composer-singer, rendered many of Rajendra Shah’s poems through music and Parul Shah, a well-known dancer and teacher, led her troupe in presenting his poems through classical dance and abhinaya.

The location, structure and functioning of the Conference pointed out to some of the ways in which language of poetry, music and dance, and language of critical discourses moving across multiple layers and locations of a society, could be understood and used, and, creatively produced.


                                                                   PERFORMANCE BY PROF PARUL SHAH                                 PERFORMANCE BY SHRI AMAR BHATT, NADIAD