Laxmi Prasad Devkota

What was Devkota all about?

In Nepal, it is difficult to find an intellectual unstained by Hindu/Buddhist or some sort of political ideology. This tendency might be a global phenomenon, yet, in Nepal, it stretches to a nauseating degree, so much so that you can correctly guess an intellectual’s entire idea-set by merely knowing his/hers religious/political inclination.

The person I am writing about today called Laxmi Prasad Devkota however, struggled with both those elements and yet managed to live and create in a way that included and transcended them.

You can’t predict him, you can’t guess him and you get both annoyed and exalted by his spontaneity and randomness: in other words, by his poetic genius.

There’s a lot of myth surrounding the man.

Stories of him giving away his coat to the poor; writing lengthy poems in cigarette packs; struggling immensely with money; being sent to Ranchi (a city in India known for mental treatment) — are abound. It was in this context that he was called a geographical mistake by a Brit whose name I cannot recall.

Yet some had enough sense to recognize him and call him a Nepali Mahakavi (Great Poet). But apart from that, his works and ideas aren’t popular in a folk sense and his presence is mostly limited within dull school-books.

Yes, such is the society of Nepal and such was the man born here: ahead of his time, inappropriately in space!

He mostly wrote poems (epic, short, metered, unmetered) spanning from Nepali Shakuntala to Prometheus. His seminal work Munamadan is still considered to be the greatest work of Nepali Literature. It is a tragedy about a man who leaves his wife and mother to go to Lhasa for a better financial life.

He wrote songs. He also wrote a lot of short stories and a novel.

His essays are brilliant and it is in this context that I would like to introduce his ideas to people who aren’t familiar with him.

A few years ago I published a collection of poetry in English named PARANOIA:

When I reached to the final stages the work — set to publish — I had the idea of using my work as a medium to interpret a couple of Nepali writers — in English. I translated certain lines I liked from Devkota’s essay collection and placed it in.

The translations include his thoughts on a wide array of things: creativity, art, science, philosophy, spirituality, education, life, god, etc.

I now want to quit this rambling of mine and insert those translations/interpretations so that you can judge and hopefully enjoy his ideas on your own.

Heart

Truth shines through feelings…

In the heart lies the luminosity of God.

Feelings or emotions are primary

Desiring and thinking come later.

Beast

Eyes identify

Brain understands

Ears listen

Heart feels.

To be devoid of these four is the sign of being a beast.

Depth

Difficulty doesn’t imply depth.

Difficulty doesn’t mean Art,

Incomprehensibility doesn’t have any value.

Schools are:

Industries

To manufacture machines.

Education system

And the soul desires a thing,

education provides something else.

All I’ve learned till B.A

in three years

I believe,

I can put into little children’s minds better,

reciting stories…

Folly

That we usually call Education

is making man stupid.

Creation Love Art

And love is the chief element of creation

Whilst Art is the chief action of love

Curiosity

I yearn to see:

What lies there in the heart!

Natural curiosity!

Sinner

I want to bow my head

As if the all pervading God is scolding me.

I know that I am a sinner.

Art

The beautifully illustrated Truth is Art

Which springeth from the creative imagination.

The truth lies in our life

and unless it comes from the formlessness to the form:

we do not realize it.

Civilization

Civilization hasn’t yet started.

We haven’t learned to respect life.

Real progress will start

The day our sentiment of brotherhood gets firm

Vairagya

As long as we aspire to become great in this world

or hold feelings to do things

and show our pride,

Vairagya is impossible.

Doubt

To doubt is better,

as it helps understand,

assists searching.

Question is everything, answer is maturity.

Dare

It is cowardice to not move forward in opportunity.

We cannot live in a life devoid of danger.

What Science does not

Science cannot satisfy man’s curiosity

and he searches for glimpses

beyond the Sciences

through the magic of emotional and imaginative world,

where man feels self-satisfied as if he is near the truth.

What Art not

The works done by mathematical formulas,

even though are the works of brain,

do not deserve to be called Art.

Painting is Art, Photography is not.

Where Art springs

When the creative imagination sees new dreams

Rising from imitation

And maneuvers its works in its own manner,

Art springs.

Let’s get small

There is fun in being small

We can see others’ significance dance around.

There is pleasure in the peacefulness of ego;

We can see others’ pretense.

Subtle Conscience

The energy to manufacture Art

Doesn’t come from the mere superficial darshan of objects

nor does it comes from mere intellect and knowledge;

It comes from those subtle consciences,

Which find emotional caressing from divine experience

rising above bestial eyes.

The beast merely looks and remains satisfied,

but man tries to touch the heart of everything.

Teacher and teaching

Science cannot locate everything

and our psychological studies end

within the darkness of the intellect.

This is why no teacher can teach.

Creativity

In the divine talent of the Creator

The word was born

And we,

studying this creation

attain clear messages of

Divine Conscience,

Divine Truth,

Divine Beauty and

Divine knowledge.

In the creative imagination of God,

Totality works and provides beautiful

lines and colors and forms

to the Truth of God.

We realize the ‘beautiful’ through the sensing of Truth

and where there is no Truth there isn’t beauty.

This Self-Illustrating form of God

manifests in artistic creativity such that

truth becoming beautiful descends to the outer forms of the senses.

Imaginative Truth

For me,

practicality is limited and

philosophy, intellect is blind.

I enjoy imaginative truth the most

and through it find the glimpses of God

Gambling

I enjoy gambling,

As I find ample opportunities there

To engage my mind and study.

Why is God silent?

It is the consequence of the

Western Civilization that,

God doesn’t speak in

Wind and Water.

Shadows

I speak with the shadows

For me,

The optical world is merely

The manifestation of the inside

And all solid objects are liquid.

The Poet

In the heart of the poet

The rocks speak

And the leaves have tongue.

Cadavers

Those who say,

The world doesn’t speak

Are Deaf

Those who say,

There isn’t life in the hills and the trees and the stars

Are cadavers.

Human Beings

If anything

Elucidates the affinity

Between man and God

It is Human-Heart and Imagination

In Art

Man seeks to

Show

His identification with the unknown

And in the world of the known

Seeks for the kingdom of the unknown

True Study

For studying the life of any culture

There’s nothing more enlightening

Then the Arts of that culture.

Near

We feel we’ve reached near to the Creator

When that eye in our inner world opens

Which

Can bring to form the unavailable and the irregular

And fill it with colours.

Imagination

A small spark of

The fundamental creative dream energy of God

In humans:

Is Imagination.

Man

He tries to create

Embrace nature

Runs after fresh magic to improve the world

Listens to the call of the unknown,

Ascending beyond sights and sounds

Seeks for the inner sparks and sounds

He turns forms into sounds and words into pictures

He dislikes boundaries

He wants to fly and pluck

Peek from darkness and

Steal the fire from heaven.

Work and Art

In a simple table,

The work of carpentry is done

Not Art.

But,

If a carpenter

Creates a table as if a beautiful dream

Art it becomes.

Dreams

We call those creations Art

Which are within the boundaries of truth and beauty

If they’ve got the natural affect

For the heart of life.

Empty dreams aren’t Art

As long as they don’t get published.

Truth and Beauty

Beauty arises from the prodigious consciousness of truth

As if truth,

Melting into life

Descends to the forms alive.