Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More Pics of the happening


It was 2004 after Bill Morgan and Bob Rosenthal left for New York we were invited to do a happening in the Alternative Theatre Festival in Kolkata. The whole happening was directed by Sharmy Pandey. It was an interactive performance session lasting for 6 hours with poetry readings, paintings, painters reacting with audio sessions of alternative Bengali writer’s sound track, reading their own stuff and one act plays and viewers writing on Graffiti’s paper wall. It all started in a dark room with burning incense sticks-Buddhist chants streaming in from a tape recorder and every body was invited to lie down inside the room. Slowly the aroma changed into an ammonia stench and the show begun lighting up candles and every one introducing them one by one. These are few pics of that event.

Monday, April 27, 2009


By Subhash Ghose

The black police van starts. It moves on and on. It stops suddenly. I get a great jerk so that I fall on an iron rod & receive an injury in my mouth. Two or three of them open the gate and drag me out of the van. Even then my eyes are kept covered with a black bandage. They shut the gate. The van starts again. I try to uncover my eyes. So I begin to tear at the bandage with great effort at last it slips down and hangs over my neck like a black ring. I open my eyes and see everything dim. I rub my eyes again and again with both palms, at first nothing comes into sight. No man no traveler no traffic. I take two or three steps south, then I find a man at a distance. I see his body made half by the waste he searches for something with his bent body around him, staying on the same spot. He searches with deep attention in the semi-darkness. I wish to talk to him so I start. Suddenly I hear something is going on behind me, making sound. I look back and find two or three lanes & bylanes which fly like chased bird and deer. I see a running train of row lane bylane, I see them moving towards Red Road, Rashmoni Road.

Sometimes two or three lanes join while flying, and after joining they run again. Thus comes Fears, Fardice Lane, Rajani Gupta, Decars Lane – some lines are identified, the name plates of others cannot be read. Some of the lanes come carrying broken lightposts, I find on a lane torn bodies and contraceptives, on a lane black curled hair and a haircomb, a lane comes packed with dustbins, broken cups, plates and flowers are seen somewhere, somewhere, bloody lungs are left, lanes carry blue cover and envelope, torn pieces of letters, heaps of race-books; I find the Uttariya (clothes used in the Hindu rituals) of Utpal on Royd Row; chair, benches, drums and glasses of Barduari (a country liquor shop) pass by, there goes the lane Chapatala of Maha (a famous whore), lane carries also broken shed, pen, the Gita, stones from Kamrup, embraced young man & woman, on a lane a naked one-legged man suddenly shouts; College Row, carrying heaps of obsolete and classic books goes, there go the dead to the crematorium, the magic card of Sandipan goes, I find the cutneck of friend Shaileswar, I shout , I cry, a footpath carrying a sleeping man runs away, a thief goes with his loot, there goes the bloody knife, a priest while peeing goes, thus I absorb a continuous moving procession of lane bylane; a garlanded mad I see, I see a night guard, a helpless barking dog; suddenly there runs the Shyamacharan Street which leads me home, I cry, I call it, run towards it, wave my hands, I begin to whisper…’how to go back….how to go home….’

‘please wait and see’…suddenly I hear the voice of that man who searches around him for some lost thing, after a pause the voice again goes…’hereafter roads avenues will begin to run, there will be some limited roads made by all the lanes bylanes rows and streets; and there will be a single road made by those limlted roads; and there will be no other road beside that; hereafter house, small and big, slum building, multistoried building, will begin to move, all those houses and buildings will make some limited number of skyscrapers, and this limited number of skyscrapers will make a single skyscraper; and again there will be no other skyscraper beside this one.’

The dimensions of my eyes begin to spread, eyes become very big and at last they burst, blood comes out. I want to learn from him whether men who are lean and thin, short and tall, who are of under calory and under strength, who are black red and white, will make some limited number of men, and whether this limited number of men will make a single man and whether there will be none but him.

When I finish, the eyeball of that man rolls, rolls like the mad needle of the clock. His eye pupil moves with tremendous speed. His back begins to twist. At last his back takes the shape of a bow. When his spinal chord is made just half, he falls on this ground, throws hands and feet. When he falls on the ground no sound comes to my ear.

Translated by Malay Roychoudhury

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Shadow Loss

there is no honey in my veins
there is your bed
over there
here is your meal
from the shining pot
there is no rest on an airplane
a huge mechanized fire
your hand outs are so vital

sometimes the light in the distance
is not your train
sometimes she’s waiting
wide door’s ready
your seat grins

her name is your sponsor
her pledge lifts your eyes

your sorrow grows old
extra tired stiff
smooth as shoe sole

pathetic that way
out of shape burns that way

love stains don’t wash away
we do

Ode to Cynicism

I alone know what is what
my virtue is unparalleled
trust me
I know where I am going
you will come with me
for you have no say
what you say has no meaning
deconstruct the path
there was no path anyway
deconstruct death
it’s not there
to lack life
is to lack sneers
crime is down
nobody is worth killing
there is not a president nor civil rights leader
worthy of a bullet
I’ll save the rainforest
by eating a chocolate bar
or is it ice cream?
corporations do know what’s best
I will launch my name in dotcom-dom
millions will buy my shares
I am richer than you
I am better looking than you
I go among you wearing my brands
my name is an Orifice
surrounded by B’s
I like children
on TV
I really like dogs
having animals complete me
animals talk to each other
“Hi Siggy you’re cute”.
“Nice seeing you, Venus”.
think how good I am
stooping to scrape up poop!
I’ve branded these Chinese characters on my limbs
one means awesome
the other means something like fat
I broke up with my lover
because he wouldn’t break up with me
Yyears later I took liters of G
I e-mailed him exactly what I thought
the nervy bastard did the same
I refused my food
the waiter didn’t speak English
I screamed in my sleep
it didn’t bother me
I didn’t hear myself
I feel closer now to Fluxus
I really feel good about
my faster connection
I an in my Northface
laughing at you
why should I organize my building
they all speak Japanese
I think the worst thing about me is
that my jeans are Levis-Strauss
why did I say that?
I walk among you in my black Columbia hat
I bypass Starbucks because I am good
now that I am just like you
without liking you
I just had the illest thought
when I die
you do too
sofFollow me
to the end
which was
after all
a long time ago

Drive All Blame Into Oneself

I know something must be wrong with me
I don’t like George Bush
Normally I really like liars!
I am mostly to blame
For the highly non-competitive profits
Enjoyed by Bechtel and Halliburton
Personally I am sorry that I allowed
Israel China Palestine India Tibet Pakistan Ireland Turkey England Greece…
To embrace the forever death dance
I was wrong to adapt a “Wizard of Oz” attitude
About Iraq after the wicked witch was gone
“Gee Dorothy, take her broom too”.
I’ve been meaning to take the “American Lifestyle”
Upon myself – I’ve been a poor
Consumer – I admit it
I have a little problem when given
A lot of authority over na├»ve investors’ money
I screwed up at Enron and Solomon Smith Barney
Now with one hand tied behind my back
I am cooking the books with international currency
To help my Ivy Texas League friends
One of my worst faults was
Voting away a woman’s right to choose
After all not a one of them would choose me
Naturally you’re right to suspect
That I’ve been harvesting gorillas
For food while mining scarce
Cell phone metal in the African wildlife preserves
I’ve been waiting for the right moment to explain
How I merged Barnes & Noble and Starbucks
I’ll have a Grande poetry latte in my initialed cup
I knew almost at once about my mistake
When I let the President’s
Grandfather launder money for Hitler
Even after 1938
I definitely wavered in my mind
When we broke up the only monopoly
That worked – the Telephone Company – I just thought
The babies were so cute
There is a part of me so insecure
In my own marriage
That I would deny this shot at legal commitment
To same sex folk – it just don’t play into my fantasy
Forgive me for wanting to tap
Into your credit card purchases, video rentals and internet
Visits – I can’t help it
If I am curious
I really fucked up on that
Irradiated food thing
But there were blackouts
To think about
I shouldn’t have overloaded those power lines either
My shrink can’t help me figure out
Why I put a leaky nuclear power plant
Just up river from my hometown and sanctioned
A non-viable evacuation plan
It was a bad day
The day I boosted the urban canine slave population
A wimpy pooper-scooper law
Barely assuaged my guilt
Although I do feel bad about
All that I did
Still I shoulder blocked Pandora
To get her outta the way
It’s my little key that opens the future
Let’s talk!

Sharmy Pandey's ganu

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Looking Back

Castrating Falguni Roy with cohesion

A play transcreated from Falguni Roy's writings by Parnab Mukherjee

This entire writing was conceptualized to be developed into a project that shall culminate on the 60th birth anniversary celebrations for Falguni Roy slated for June 7, 2005. In some sense this is a finished work and in some sense this is a work-in-progress.
This play was first performed as a dramatized reading by Out of Context-a theatre project of St Joseph's College, Bangalore, directed by Parnab Mukherjee on June 7, 2003 at Shilalipi bookstore. On February-March 2004-as a part of their new production-Out of Context extended the concept of reading into an "A T-Shirt play for Falguni Roy." The poem in the T-shirt was penned by Parnab Mukherjee-who also conceived the idea. This act of T-shirt performance took place in Bangalore.
Following is the T-shirt tribute to Falguni Roy

I Chant I Rant I Cant
I Untie I Unending I Unzip
I Surrogate I Levitate I Prostrate
Acoustic Plastic Sarcastic
Soot Grime Sublime
Rhetoric Generic Harpic
Theatre 1 Theatre 2 Theatre 3
Postcards from 9/11 Snapshots from 9/11
I Asymptote I Quixote I Gloat
I Davos Circus I Mumbai Circus I Apollo Circus
I Ridiculous I Stupendous I Sensuous
Your Performance, of Reading This, is finally over

Subsequently, an interactive performance of Castrating Falguni took place in Shilalipi* on June 6, 2004 directed by Parnab Mukherjee with musical reactions by Pradip Chatterjee and Dibya Mukhopadhyay of Mohiner Ghoraguli*. A montage of shots on Falguni's ancestral house was documented by Anwita Thapliyal, Charu Maithani and Namita Singh of Indraprashtha College for Women-Delhi as a part of their summer project under Parnab Mukherjee.
All this and more keeps Falguni alive.

Here’s the play. But you must read the preface.
Oh! You have read it already.


Before the space is opened up you can hear sounds of wood being split. And a chorus of voices-disjointed, disembodied. A roundtable with skulls. Inside the eyes of the skull-there’s this glowing candle. And two persons-one with his back to the audience absolutely naked and the other one with a flowing robe and dark glasses. The space has only two principal properties- a wax coated television and a televiosn without any hardware inside. Both have a white banner stuck to it. Written on this banner-using dripping read-is a phrase that says Television for lost souls.
A third person walks up and starts speaking:

Private Bed (1968)
Not Radha, Not only radha
Even the prostitute menstruates
Father of 3 children-the idol for
Family planning
Masturbates from childhood
Doesn’t he
I don’t want to be Rabindranath Tagore
Not even Raghu –the dacoit
I just want to be Falguni Roy-
Falguni Roy
I stay in a road
Where the fertility centre and
The crematorium
Face the opposing ends
You don’t believe
bus route 4,32,34,43
I have noticed that the word
Magazine is more relevant
While applied in the context
Of Rifle

Naked Man: How did you leave the job of the police. Tell me how? Searching for which neon. Now don't argue listen to me carefully. Whenever, I smoke grass I think a number of eyes creep inside my skin and there's this strange tumor that envelopes my consciousness. Maybe grass is greener when smoked. It gives you a vision. See if you have stomach-you will have stomach problem and if you have the willingness to survive then of course there will be hunger.

Naked Man (continues): I don’t have a problem with humankind (1970)
No, I don’t have a problem with humankind
No problems whatsoever
If my moneylender falls sick
I can take him to the hospital
From my former lover’s husband I can easily
Ask for Charminar
My life’s easy like beard creeping on my face

Watching Ramakrishna’s love for Kali
My sexual unrest subsides
Babli’s love for her husband fills
Me up with my kind of meditative wetness
If my chappal gets lost I buy a new pair
No I don’t have a problem with
The humankind

My gaze shifts from my sister’s breast
The day of ‘bhaiphonta’ I walk on the
Streets of nearest brothels
I visualize that when I die I’ll be
Able to see this corridor down
The horizon

I don't know moments before I
Was born that: I’ll be born
I’m a-without-consequence man
I’m a-without-death semi-terrorist being
I’ve noticed a dog inside me weeping in
The dog in me has
This want for mating like the
Saint who’s forbidden apple
Is a craving to screw around with a female saint
Finally, I seek the happiness of life
Through my poetry
Through my rhyme scheme
I don’t have any problem with life
I don’t have any problem
Whatsoever with the humankind

Dark glasses Man: But I do have a problem with mankind. I was this policeman. Once I had a duty in front of Rajbhawan. There was this procession-long, meandering and never-ending almost near the Gandhi statue. The crowd near the statue was getting restless. for peace-I fired tear gas and then fired some rounds and then fired some more (drinks preferably liquor) and then from one of my bullets there was this 23-year old girl who's breasts were filled with blood. From then onwards I started selling life insurance. I left the police job. You can call me a person afflicted by mental disorder. Yes, I did enter a movie hall once to see a Gina Lollobrigida movie and the witch in this seductive thriller laughed and I noticed a little bit of blood on her teeth. My mother's blood. I probably nibbled too much in the womb as did countless other children, husbands and wives.
I came out of the hall and fired at the banner. And the Gina Lollobrgida face in the banner mocked me. No it’s not about a guilt complex. You know till you don’t murder, you won't know a murderer's mindset.
You know sometimes my rifle becomes my bible.
Infact, all the time.
My rifle My Bible(1972)
My rifle; My Bible; I take poems
Of this name and insert them
In my pocket
and start walking towards a prosperity terrain- in this path there is a road and a bazaar named after a revolutionary and a memorial tablet>
named after a slain activist of the 70’s .
College square water reflects the
dangling shadow
replica of a new
library belonging to an older university situated not so far
Away Medical College morgue and bang opposite the place of worship and
from the library a furlong away there's this road meanders into a prostitute Quarter area. I walk this road towards a
Prose poetry terrain- in my pocket
Instead of currency I have 2 poems
There is a vast underneath and
Underneath the white skin- underneath
the skies there is a national conjunction
that pierces my heart but I’m yet
to go to the skinny alley-harkata galli
with a few writing clutched, clasped . I still
walk on a prosperity terrain- with the<
desire to learn. I headed towards a she lover- the book declined my thirst-the woman did not- so I drank her-then I sat near Red blue aquarium and consumed fried fish and gazed at the large protruding
breasts of a prostitute- infact the mound looked less sensual but more
a godown of flesh- my old lover's current husband’s smile recently
reflected less of triumph almost
like a toothpaste ad- infact even the ad reflected a botched triumph I didn’t notice any- pity me

At the Ramakrishna crematorium
Nemai sadhu consumes burnt corpse with the
Same sense of relish as roasted mutton
Occasionally he consumes even his own shit, grass, mud and then
nonchalantly chants the name of Hari- many believe he’s a liberated man also wanted to be liberated but
Not by consuming the same bullshit-<
Even the desires for such a bullshit freedom

is something which I categorically reject
A poet of the colonized India
Once wrote God lies in those hands that tend the land not in the temples- now here I am
A poor poet from free India
Shackled by poverty and by the
Hopeless wish that we shall-we shall
and will unshackle these children who
Still smile wistfully, smiles out

Of innocence, smiles helplessly

Instead of napalms carry two poems in my palm and walk Towards a prosperity terrain
Where there is a road and a bazaar named
after a revolutionary and a memorial after a 70’s activist
who consumed bullets.

Naked Man: I love a girl called Anuradha. We shall get married soon in this place near the Jhajha Mountain. Both of us will sit on the slope and look at the star spangled sky. As the silence will pierce through the cosmic blueness and the green slopes will merge into a blue horizon almost like the endless darkness of the vagina mixing with the breasts. Tomorrow is the independence day. I'd like to smooch somebody that day. But after the smooch, I am fairly sure if the woman is interested in having sex with me and I am game too-before the act-all that I will see is mutilated vagina of Anuradha. I am a murder. I shoot bullets of poetry across fractured vaginas.
Poetry bullet(1984)
Somewhere the memorial tablet
Was broken to give rise to a
Shani temple
Come come let’s break the mandir
And let’s once again
Construct a military base for
An army of marginal voices
Who lost everything
To all comrades who
Died for the overt need of their last sexual
Let us pay respect
As a mark of my respect I
Stopped masturbating
increasing number of TV sets in the prostitute
There is even meat for their
As God dangles in their wall
with a sardonic look
How many genuine girls
For reasons of revolution
Have had their private parts
made Aglow
with marks of police atrocities
How many more women
Will be looked down because
Their lovers are not careerists
And all those intelligent fucked up
Poets crowd coffee house
After the culture pandals get dismantled
In the maidan all
these screwballs who walk in maidan and graze sheep
Let poet’s finesse be known through his craft
Let well earning assholes go to
Marriage parties or brothels
My body will ebb away
But my consciousness will be alive in the body of my words
Future readers are not bothered
How much salary a poet received
Infact they aren’t bothered at all

Third person: We need food-house-clothes
We need wife-poetry
We need liquor-hard liquor
Art is our liquor
Literature is our liquor
Our liquor is the sensation of hunger

Naked Man: There's this twosome standing in the middle of the road
The he revolves with the she
She asks he
he asks she
they reply
in signs and unsaid impulses
only the eyes talk
take our love away
take our love away

Dark glasses man: I want a theatre where one of the drunk person-say me goes to this skull, takes the candle from the retina, inserts his finger inside the blank spot and then the explosion of the skull and then spurting of blood near a cock and then the cock explodes in a pattern of flesh-like ribbon-and then these ribbons take shape of man, woman, dog, goat, pig, piglet, vagina, clitoris, blood-stained pancreas and of course innumerable nerves ripped open. Then in this newly created orb every pattern that was hovering around as images so far turn into a burning candle
And we see the naked man(gestures-naked man comes)turning into Christ (in a crucified posture) and the cock turn into a black serpent and the serpent engulfs the body spewing venom and the Black Christ stands their unapologetic.

Chorus: Can your theatre take this?
Can you show me the tram in which Jibanananda died?
Can you show me an authentic pair of glasses which
Manik Bandopadhayay wore, Roy Gilchrist, Frank Worrell,
Tagore-men-machine gun-Shantiniketan beggars
Pros quarters-one foot below Khidderpore bridge
Why not hungry? Psychotronic poems,
Maternity home, burning ghat, aircooler, refrigerator,
16mm projector, tape recorder, Mark II
my obsession for Benoy Mazumdar
and remember
my death day: 31-5-1981
and my birth day: June 7th, 1945
It is cricket dear
It is cricket
They all raise a placard and leave the space. The placard
says: "Art is Subjectivity-Jean Paul Sartre”.

*Shilalipi a bookstore of alternative Bengali literary books in Kolkata sponsored by GRAFFITI.
*Mohiner Ghoraguli the first alternative Bengali band.

Parnab Mukherjee :A media analyst by profession and is considered as one of the foremost directors of alternative theatre movement in the country.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Impact of the Hungry Generation (Hungryalist)

Impact of the Hungry Generation (Hungryalist)
Literary Movement on Allen Ginsberg

Malay Roychoudhury

Allen Ginsberg, the American Beat poet, was influenced by the Indian worldview in general and the Hungryalist movement in Bangla literature in particular in more ways than one. This was the main refrain of my discourse which I presented to Bill Morgan, the Beat researcher and Bob Rosenthal, Secretary, Allen Ginsberg Trust who along with Sharmy Pandey and Subhankar Das, poets and Ginsberg’s Bengali translators, visited me at my Kolkata residence during the last week of January 2004.

The Hungry Generation literary movement was launched by me in November 1961 with the publication of a manifesto on poetry in English. I had to resort to English as I was residing at Patna at that time. Several manifestoes had been published before Ginsberg reached Kolkata in July 1962. Since they were in English, the Hungryalist bulletins were distributed for free throughout the country and Ginsberg had started collecting them right from the first one when he visited New Delhi on arrival to meet Pupul Jayakar who had requested Beat poets and writers to visit India and popularize use of Khadi wear among hippies. He mailed these bulletins regularly to his friends at California and New York, as well as to his personal archive at New Jersey, later sold to Stanford University.

Allen Ginsberg, the poet of Howl and Kaddish, after his interaction with the painters and poets of the Hungryalist movement, could never remain the same person who had departed for the orient to get rid of negative image he had himself cultivated in the USA after the success of Howl. Ginsberg’s biographers and critics, most of whom are American, are almost ignorant of Indian complexities, have never taken into account the contributory factors that impacted the poet to such an extent that his post India poems changed structurally, semantically and semiotically, though his Indian Journals reveal that he had been making vain efforts to regain rhymes, meters and breath-spans in Howl-Kaddish refrain. Poems written by Ginsberg after his India visit are composed in the breath-span of mantras, pranayamas as well as Bangla poetry of 1960s, all of which remained beyond Euro-American academic comprehension. Unlike T.S.Eliot, whose usage of mantra was a modernist technical intervention outside the Indian world view. Ginsberg’s chanting and singing of mantras were pregnant with values inculcated in a historical faith-penumbra of the people he lived with in India.

Whether be it Benaras, Kolkata, Tarapith, Chaibasa or Patna, Ginsberg invariably visited the burning ghats (where the dead are consigned to flames), accompanied by one or several members of the Hungryalist movement. The experience was so earthshaking for him (quite a normal one for any Hindu) that he could, for the first time in his life, understand the difference between the occidental quest for immortality and the oriental quest for eternity. From the collection of letters of another Beat poet Gregory Corso, An Accidental Autobiography, edited by Bill Morgan, it is evident that Ginsberg had been conveying his state of mind on the subject to his friends in America. His biographers and critics, who are either Jew or Christian, have never taken into epistemic consideration the dedication page of Ginsberg’s Indian Journals. Why were the Hindu sadhus and sannyasies been crelentlessly sought after by Ginsberg consequent upon his association with the poets and painters of the Hungry Generation movement needs to be examined by researchers.

Prior to Allen Ginsberg, another Beat poet Gary Snyder had visited India but instead of directly trying to contact the Hungryalists he sought the help of US consulate. Unfortunately the consulate receives feedback from their Bengali agents who are driven by their personal interests. Snyder was sent by the consulate to the Krittibas group of poets, a pro Establishment commercial renegade coterie whose machinations had led to the arrest and trial of the Hungryalists between September 1964 and July 1967. When Dick Bakken, editor of Salted Feathers wanted to bring out a special issue on the Hungryalist movement, this is what a vocal member of Krittibas group wrote to him on December 12, 1966:

My Dear Mr. Bakken,

I am still bewildered why any one in Portland, Oregon, should be interested in publishing a special issue on the Hungry Generation. Is there not enough local talent in Oregon to fill up the pages of ‘Salted Feathers’, which you describe as a small magazine? Or is it due to an interest in the out of the way, the quaint, and the fantastic? It is like someone in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, bringing out a special number on the Trotskyite poets, revolutionary American poetry by bringing out the ‘Penny Paper of Iowa City’. Hurrah for the public relations work and promotion by Allen Ginsberg, Time magazine and the silly magistrate who convicted Malay.

Very sincerely yours
Jyotirmoy Datta

What Jyotirmoy and critics like him failed to comprehend was that it was we Hungryalists who had created a great impact on Allen Ginsberg and that special issues or supplements US, Latin American and European periodicals such as City Lights Journal(Lawrence Ferlinghetti), El Corno Emplumado(Margaret Randall), Kulchur(Lita Hornick), Evergreen Review(Barney Rosset), Tribal Press(Howard McCord) and Burning Water, San Francisco Earthquake, Intergalactic, Ezra, Damn You, My Own Mag, Vincent, Panic, Ramparts, The Los Angeles Free Press, Eco, Iconolatre, Imago, Where, Work etc on the Hungryalist movement were not for nothing.

Another Krittibas writer Sandipan Chattopadhyay had volunteered to become police witness against the Hungryalists after he dissociated from the movement and submitted the under noted statement to the Police Station on March 15, 1965:

I am a graduate of Calcutta University and employed as an Assistant Inspector, Calcutta Corporation. I am also a writer and used to visit the College Coffee House where young writers of Calcutta generally assembled in the evening. Samir Roychowdhury is a personal friend of mine. I came to know the sponsors of Hungry Generation, Namely Shakti Chatterjee, Malay Roychoudhury and others. Although I am not directly connected with the Hungry Generation but I was interested in the literary movement. Some of the manifesto of the Hungry Generation contains advertisements of my literary works. In one of the publications my name was cited as publisher. This was probably done with a motive to exploit my reputation as writer but since my prior consent was not taken I took exception. The publication in question also came to my notice. As a poet myself I do not approve either the theme or the language of the poem of Malay Roychoudhury captioned Prachanda Boidyutik Chhutar(Stark Electric Jesus). I have severed all connection with Hungry Generation. I had correspondence with Malay Roychoudhury who often sought my advice on literary matters.

Though in court Sandipan had testified against the Hungryalist movement, in 1974 while writing his own introduction in Adil Jussawala edited New Writing in India published by Penguin Books he had claimed, ‘He was also responsible for starting the Hungryalist movement in Bengal, along with Shakti Chatterjee the poet and Utpal Basu, a writer now living in London’. The leader of Krittibas group, Sunil Gangopadhyay, in his letter to me dated June 10,1964 had threatened the Hungryalist movement in these words, ‘I had not destroyed your Hungry Generation in the very beginning quite affectionately as some of my friends are there in that team. Remember, I still have those powers’. Obviously, police swooped down on six of us in September 1964 on charges of conspiracy against the state and obscenity in literature.

As against the cultural politics such as above resorted to by Bengali intelligentia, the impact the Hungryalist movement had created on Allen Ginsberg is evident from the under noted letter dated September 28, 1964 he had written to me from New York.

Dear Malay

I saw clippings from Blitz, Sept 19, 1964 p.6 and also I think Calcutta Statesman 17.9.64 that you were arrested as well as Samir and two boys named Ghosh whom I don’t know, for your Hungry Generation Manifestoes. Are these the same as were printed in the issue of Kulchur 15? As soon as I read about it, I racked my brains what I could do to help and so today wrote a whole bunch of letters to the following; A.S.Raman, Editor Illustrated Weekly, Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Bombay. Sharad Deora, Editor, Gyanodaya, 18 Brabourne Road, Calcutta. Abu Sayeed Ayyub, Editor, Quest (sent message to him indirectly) and member of Indian congress for Cultural Freedom.Shyam Lall, editor, Times of India, New Delhi. Khushwant Singh, novelist and member of Congress for Cultural Freedom, 49 East Sujan Singh Road, New Delhi.

I also wrote to Jyoti Datta and phoned Lita Hornick of Kulchur. I asked, the Indians above all, what they could do to help you, suggested they activate the Congress for Cultural Freedom as this sort of thing is the proper activity of the Congress and Quest magazine and told them that the manifestoes were printed here in City Lights Journal and Kulchur and were not obscene. So the whole mess was scandalous bureaucratic illiteracy. Please, if you need literary help or advice do try to contact these people for support. And in addition perhaps ask for advice/help from Mrs. Pupul Jayakar, 130 Sundar Nagar, New Delhi – she was our protectress in India, we stayed with her, she’s friend of Indira Gandhi and others. I also notified Bonnie Crown here in New York, the Asia Society, 112 E 64 Street, NYC – she commissioned poetry to be translated by Sunil and others and that pack of poems plus your Rhythms etc will be printed together by City Lights. She can send you a letter on her official stationery saying your manifestoes are known, published and respected in US and not considered obscene. I will also enquire of Mr. S.K.Roy, the Indian Consul General here in New York who I do not know what he can do at this distance.

If there’s anything you want me to do, let me know. Write me and let me know the situation is and what the cause of the trouble is. Judging from Blitz I suspected jealous ideological Marxists or something. Are you ruined at the bank? I hope not. Regard to your family. Get the Congress for Cultural Freedom to supply you with a good lawyer who’ll take no fee. If the Indian Congress doesn’t cooperate, let me know, we’ll complain to the European Office. Who are the Ghose brothers? The manifestoes on prose and politics are pretty funny. I thought they were a little literary-flowery, but they must have hit some mental nail on the head. Good luck.

Jai Ram
Allen Ginsberg

The Congress for Cultural Freedom did nothing; rather Abu Sayeed Ayyub had written a dirty letter about the movement to Ginsberg himself. Bengali literati such as Shankha Ghosh, Pabitra Sarkar, Debesh Roy, Ashok Mitra, Amiya Deb, Amitabha Dasgupta, Arun Sen etc who get alarmed if a Latin American or African writer suffers from a sore in his arse, were conspicuous by their stony silence all though the ordeal of the Hungryalists. However non-Bengali intellectuals such as Nissim Ezekil, S.H.Vatsayana Ajneya, P.Lal, Dharmaveer Bharati, Phanishwar Nath Renu, Srikant Verma, Mudra Rakshas, Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre etc supported us. It is these particular brands of Bengali authors who, in order to conceal their guilt, are found to denigrate the Hungryalist movement.

One thing which annoyed me at that time was that Ginsberg was unable to differentiate between the members of avant garde Hungryalist movement and the MNC-funded commercially inclined pro-Establishment Krittibas group.

Ginsberg, however, could comprehend that the Hungryalists had dispensed with the colonial compartmentalization such as Good/Evil, God/Devil etc binary opposites. We had explained to him that each of the triumvirate Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara embody traits which exist in nature itself and nature was never monocentric. This idea has been articulated by Ginsberg to several of his interviewers. The human body is consigned to flames, he was told by Hungryalist artists Anil Karanjai and Karuna Nidhan at Benaras, as it is part of nature, and erecting a graveyard stone on a dead corpse would be against the cosmic spirit. Bob Rosenthal informed us that on death Ginsberg was consigned to flames and his ashes handed over to two different Tibetan Buddhist sects, immersed as per Red Indian ritual and sowed in Jewish cemetery flanked by his parent’s graves.

Ginsberg was overwhelmed with ordinary Indian human being’s tolerance, tenderness, resilience, pluralism, hetero glossia, synereticity and eclectic capabilities. While talking about the moment on the Kyoto-Tokyo Express on his way back from India to USA he had expressed: ‘My energies of the last, oh, 1948 to 1964, all completely washed up’, and that ‘to attain the depth of consciousness that I was seeking, I had to cut myself off from the Blake vision and renounce it’, he was actually revealing the impact of the Hungry Generation on him, a newness beyond Howl and Kaddish which sought ‘cosmic consciousness’ not in visions but in ‘contact with what was going on around me’. It was the Hungryalists who weaned him away from Hollywood world of Judeo-Christian visionary flashes.

The three fishes with one head which became Ginsberg’s logo after his India visit was brought to the notice of Allen and Peter (Orlovsky) by the Hungryalists when they had gone to Emperor Akbar’s tomb. Akbar wanted to combine the basic tenets of Indian religions of Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism into one which the Emperor called Deen-E-Ilahi, Ginsberg’s biographers and critics have never bothered to unravel Allen’s Deen-E-Ilahi fascination and the correlation thereof to his post-Planet News poetry. Ginsberg came across a Persian book at Patna Khudabaksh Library, the leather-bound cover of which depicted the three-fish and one-head design in silver colours.

In April 1963 Ginsberg had stayed for sometime with my parents at Patna. My father was quite angry with him for Allen’s addiction of taking photographs of beggars, paupers, crippled men, lepers etc. We had two vacant rooms at our Patna house which used to be the halting station for hippies on their way from Benaras to Nepal. A tanned Ginsberg in Khadi pyjama-kurta, oiled long hair, a red ethnic towel on right shoulder and vermillion dot on his forehead looked completely Indian and treated as one by my parents. Ginsberg had narrated to me an incident which explains as to why, although his book Indian Journals is full of references to Hindu deities, pilgrim places, saints and sannyasies, he ultimately became a Buddhist.

Allen Ginsberg had come to Patna after a trip to Bodhgaya which had not been developed as a tourist centre at that time and he had no place to stay. There were no toilets. Allen had to sit on two bricks beside a bush for morning chores when he was stunned to find that one of the bricks was actually a broken stone from a temple wherein small replicas of Buddha were curved. He got up, collected the stone, washed and cleaned it with his tooth brush at the nearby pond. The incident had an indelible impact on him.

Ginsberg had carried the stone with him to Patna and used to meditate in front of it. Prior to this incident he used to meditate in front of a wooden Chaitanyadev collected by him at Nabadwip, the paints on which had flaked off due to overuse. The Bodhgaya incident was recorded in his April 1963 notebook which was stolen from Ginsberg’s sling bag at Patna. Allen thought that the theft was the handiwork of some fellow from the Detective Police Department who had been keeping a watch on him from Benaras. His premonition may be correct since his visa was not extended thereafter. Since it was illegal, Ginsberg did not carry the Buddha stone to USA. Bob Rosenthal informed us that Ginsberg had kept an ordinary brick-like stone on his windowsill at New York home.

Allen had accompanied me to my elder cousin sister’s house where my nieces were playing on the harmonium. My sister showed him how playing the instrument was easiest. He had seen ordinary people at Benaras and Patna play the instrument with ease while reciting the classical Hindi poet Tulsidasa. On his way back to USA he had purchased a harmonium at Benaras and used to play it at poetry recitals, of his own or of William Blake’s. Who can deny that Ginsberg’s poetry reading methods had not been indianised? With harmonium hung from his shoulders he started composing extempore poems on the lines of Bhola Moyra, Jaga Kaivarta, Nitai Boiragi etc, pre-modern poets of Bengal who were called Kaviyal. Having come in touch with the Hungryalist writers and painters, Ginsberg’s understanding of relation between language and reality encountered a sea-change due to Indianisation of his being. However, in case of other Beat poets, including Gary Snyder who visited India, they remained at the same metropolitan cultural level.

How and to what extent the Hungryalist movement had been able to invade micro level American poetry circle may be felt from the under noted two letters written to me at that time by poets Carol Berge and Lawrence Ferlinghetti:

My dear friend Malay New York, November 26, 1966.

The Poetry Reading Benefit (St. Mark’s Church) was one of the evenings of great beauty in our lives. As the evening approached, I found that many of the New York poets wished to be included, so that by Wednesday evening we had a fine group and a fine, eager audience. But the feeling of the evening, the emotion, the waves of wishes are what I can only try to describe to you.

The time began by my reading of a selection of excerpts from your letters to me; so that these people (poets and audience) could have an image of you as a man and poet and of your life as you live it. I introduced the poet Allen Hoffman, who then read aloud your poems.

I will tell you the names of the poets who read their work for you that night, with my comments, so that you may know the names of your friends here who have had a part in gesturing on your behalf. Paul Blackburn read and he made a tape recording of the entire night’s events, so that anyone who wishes may know of the evening’s occurrences. Others who read were: Armand Schwerner, Gary Youree, Carol Rubenstein, Allen Planz, Ted Berrigan, Jerome Rothenberg, Bob Nichols, Clayton Eshleman, David Antin, Jackson Maclow. It was unbelievable. When the day comes for you to be with us, we shall share further. Tell us, if you can, how you are faring. We care about you.

Your friend always
Carol Berge

Dear Malay City Lights, SF, California.
March 26, 1966.

I have received the legal decision on your case and thank you very much for sending it .I find it laughable. I want to publish it together with your poem ‘Stark Electric Jesus’ in the next City Lights Journal which will be out this coming summer and I enclose a small payment immediately, since I know you must need it desperately. I am sending a copy of this letter to Howard McCord .Perhaps he knows the answers to the following questions and will send them to me right away, time is of the essence and it may take some time to get a reply from you. I think it is a wonderful poem and I will certainly credit McCord for having first published it. Bravo.

Allen is in New York and his new address is 408 East, 10 street (Apt 4c), New York, NY.

I need to know the answers to the following questions:
1. Was the poem first written in Bengali and was it the Bengali or the English version which was seized and prosecuted?
2. Is this your own translation or whose is it?
3. Do you wish me to use the type written copy of the poem which you sent me last year or the version printed by McCord? (I find some differences).

Let me hear as soon as you can. Holding the press. And good luck. I hope you are still able to survive.
With love.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

American academicians and researches working on Allen Ginsberg will have to rethink the issue and examine the work of the poet in the light of his India visit.

Malay Roychoudhury:Founder of Hungry Generation Movement in Bengali Literature.Has written more than 60 books by now. Poetry, Novel, Essay, Drama, Criticisms; translated some works as well: Neruda, Ginsberg, Lorca, Tzara,Artaud, Rimbaud, Cendrars, Dali, Gaugin, Blake in Bengali (a language spoken by 250 million people)