Sacred without God: <i>Bhakti</i> in the Poetry of Arun Kolatkar
AbstractOf all literary traditions that have silhouetted the contours of modern Indian Poetry, the tradition of Bhakti poetry stands out pre-eminently from the rest; it provides a creative template out of which modern Indian English Poetry stems forth. In fact, the subversive poetics of the saint poets that characterises Bhakti poetry becomes a ready tool in the hands of many anti-establishment movements of contemporary Indian literature to critique the established hegemonic structures of the society that prevent a free play of creativity. It is in this context that we can locate the significance of Arun Kolatkar's poetry. An extensive reading of contemporary Indian English Poetry reveals that no Indian English poet has internalised the sensibility of Bhakti tradition to the extent that Arun Kolatkar has in his works; such internalisation makes his poetry the most fascinating site to look for the contemporary manifestations of Bhakti. Hence, this paper attempts to explore the influence of Bhakti poetry on Arun Kolatkar, arguably the greatest Indian English poet, and seeks to delineate the way the spirit of Bhakti creeps into his poems while detailing the material world. Although Kolatkar is least interested in using poetry as a means to express the intense longing for a personal deity as the Bhakti poets did, his passionate devotion towards life matches the devotion of saints in its intensity. The paper, thus, attempts to bring out the quality of devotion that has an existence in Kolatkar's poetry without any concrete references to God and religion.
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