Author: Ramdhari Singh Dinkar
Publisher: Lokbharti Prakashan Pvt Ltd
Publishing Date: 2009
Cost: Rs. 62.40 (Kindle edition)
Rashmirathi, which means 'the Sun's charioteer', is one of the most popular epic poems of Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar'.
This is the story of the mythological figure ‘Karna’. Karna was firstborn son of Kunti whom she had abandoned at birth as he was an illegitimate son. Karna grew up in a lowly family yet became one of the best warriors of his time.
In the Great Mahabharata war, Karna was obliged to fight from the side of Duryodhana. Karna fighting from Kaurava's side was a great worry of Pandavas as he was reputed to be unconquerable in war.
Rashmi: Light rays, Rathi: One who is riding a chariot - is centered around the life of Karna, who was the son of unmarried queen Kunti (Pandava's mother) in the epic- Mahabharata.
After his work ‘Kurukshetra’, Dinkar explains the thought process behind taking up this subject:
“I got a feeling that I should write a poem which is not only thought-provoking but also has some story-dialogue and a kind of narration that is clear to understand. This fascination in me originated from the ‘Ura tradition’, whose best representative is Rashtrakavi Shrimathilisharanji Gupta.”
The rhythm used in the verses is pure genius. It has the elements of ‘Veer Ras’ in it. The readers are bound to get mystified and transported into another era. It is amusing as how the poet could reimagine the era and use his creativity for re-creating the unsung hero ‘Karna’ in Mahabharata.
The present Prime minister of India, Narendra Modi wrote a message appreciating the translation of Rashmirathi into English by the Mauritian cultural activist Leela Sarup by writing, "The story of a man blessed by the Gods but rejected by Destiny, Rashmirathi is the magnum opus of Dinkar. Reproducing its original in moving English poetry has been a labour of love for Mrs. Leela Sarup.”
Dinkar’s works were not just nationalistic, they were also deeply insightful takes on the moral dilemmas faced in a complex world. He touches subjects of Violence vs Non-Violence, War vs Peace in the contemporary political circumstances, even with the sub lying context of ancient stories.
The way Dinkar has presented the story of Karna with all human emotions trapped in moral dilemmas is simply marvelous. The rhythm and meter are lilting. The choice of words and purity of language is exhilarating. The work has timeless relevance and is a must-read.
Milestones of the Book:
- It won the Jnanpith Award in 1972.
- A musical play adaptation of "Rashmirathi" has been directed by Dr. Shakuntala Shukla and Vyomkesh Shukla. This play is produced by the banner of "Roopvani, Varanasi". It has been performed 47 times until now.
About the Author:
Ramdhari Singh Dinkar (23 September 1908- 24 April 1974) was a renowned Hindi essayist, critic, and poet from before the Indian Independence era. He remerged as a poet of rebellion as a consequence of his nationalist poetry written in the days before Indian independence. He was also a freedom fighter. He was a member of Parliament. He was highly influenced by Gandhi and the Gandhian movement. He received many awards for his contributions to Hindi literature. His poetry used to be overflowed with ‘veer rasa’ and he has been hailed as a Rashtrakavi ("National poet").
As a mark of respect for him, his portrait was unveiled in the Central Hall of Parliament of India by the former Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh on his centenary year, 2008. He received awards from Kashi Nagri Pracharini Sabha, U.P Government, and an award by the Government of India for his epic-poem ‘Kurukshetra’. He got the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1959 for his work ‘Uravshi’. He was also a recipient of Padma Bhusan in 1959 by the Government of India. Dinkar was awarded the Jnanpith Award in 1972 for Urvashi.