|Pandit Nalin Vilochan Sarma|
|Born||February 16, 1916
|Died||September 12, 1961 (aged-44/45)
|Occupation||Writer, Professor - (Hindi Literature), Critic|
|Alma mater||Patna University, Patna|
|Notable work(s)||Swarna Manjusha, Drishtikon, Sahitya ka Itihas Darshan, Maapdand (on literary criticism) etc.|
Professor Pandit Nalin Vilochan Sharma (1916-1961) was a professor of Hindi Literature in University of Patna. He started the Nakenwad movement in Hindi literature. He was the son of Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Ram Avatar Sharma and was born in a family of Brahmin scholars and pursued the same path of scholarship becoming the professor of Hindi Literature in University of Patna.
Nalin Vilochan Sharma, or Nalin Vilochan Sarma, was born in Patna on February 16, 1916. He was the fourth child and eldest son of his father, Ramavtar Sarma. From an early age, Nalin's father taught him such Sanskrit classics as the Amarkosh, Kalidas's Meghdoot and Suryashatakam. Ramavtar Sarma always maintained that filling a child's mind with as much knowledge as possible would sustain him through his adult life and all he would have to do then would be to pick the words out as he wanted and use them when he or she liked. Ramavtar died when his son was just twelve- or thirteen-years-old, leaving his eldest sister, Indumati as his closest guardian and guide.
Sharma joined Patna University as a lecturer in the Hindi department — same department his father had helped build. Nalin had a critical and exlorative mind and he was well versed in European literature. In Europe as well as India, Marxist poetry had swept the stage with an immensity that overwhelmed academia. In India the Chayavaad style of writing verse had dominated the scene between 1918 and 1936 when it started yielding place to Pragativaad, or progressive poetry, between 1936 and 1950. The 1950s brought with it a new trend in thinking — a search for a middle path, an equilibrium, an understanding — and into this stepped Nalin Vilochan Sarma with his Nakenwad.
Sharma was a revolutionary with a strange propensity, deeply influenced by western thought and literature. He believed that the raw material of poetry should be drawn from the immediate past, the surrounding present, not necessarily the classic era. He believed that poetry is an inner force which could be enriched in its expression through symbols around us. In 1943, Agyeya had written his Taar-Saptak in which he had included seven poets including Muktibodh, Bharat Bhushan Agrawal, Prabhakar Machve, Girija Kumar Mathur. Each of these represented some new poetical style, mostly experimental. This style came to be known as Prayogvaad.
Nalin's thinking signifies a positive influence of Agyeya and his Taar-Saptak. He believed that in poetry, words, music, rhythm and play of intonation mattered, and that the technique and diction of poetry mattered more than the content. This went against the established philosophy of poetics which had dominated Indian poetry, a philosophy which emphasised that content was of the greatest significance in poetry. Through Nakenvaad, (three poets had combined their work, Nalin, Kesari and Naresh, hence Naken) Nalin sought to extend his philosophy that words, if exact, rhythmic and lyrical in quality, could lend to poetry what words propped around subject could not.
He also contended that the language of poetry flowed in close proximity with prose, that poetry and prose supplemented and enriched each other. They were in no way contrary or opposed to each other. Nalin was a leader, a non-conformist. He advocated use of commonplace language like William Wordsworth did and maintained that the choice of words in Hindi literature had taken on nuances of artificiality as if finding the right words had become a labour. Thus, he maintained that the chasm between prose and poetry was likewise artificial. The trio of Nakenvaad had used syllables in staccatto arrangement -- Kul-kat-ta-Pun-jab-Mail -- or the Calcutta Punjab Mail. Similar arrangements appear in his book on Nakenvaad appearing in in a vertical order using one syllable to a sentence. This he said lent a descriptive rhythm to the train he wrote about and made it xonomatopoetical in nature.
This technique had already been tried out by E E Cummings in 1926-27 and by French poets in the 1930s, evoking great appreciation from some quarters and bitter criticism from others. But Nalin maintained that in order to keep Hindi literature alive and growing it was essential to incorporate the latest trends from English and French poetical experiments.
Simplicity was Nalin's forte and he retained extensively the use of Sanskrit words, traditional concepts and images from daily life. Nalin Vilochan Sarma also left his mark as a dramatist. His unique contribution was the introduction of the chamber drama. One immortal work of his is entitled Bibbo ka Bibbok. Bibbok is a word derived from Sanskrit dramatology and is a little known form of drama while Bibbo is the heroine's name, derived from that. But it was as a short story writer that Nalin attained his literary peak. He used to say that writing a good short story was a 'krichh sadhana' or walking along the edge of a sword. The time that Nalin made a mark as a short story writer was when post-Freudian psycho-analysis had not made its mark in Hindi writing. And when Nalin introduced the physical reality in its frailest of sumblime aspects it sent shock-waves round the world.
However, it will be as a pioneering critic that Nalin Vilochan Sarma will always be remembered. In his immortal Maapdand he brought into use the newest modes of critical appreciation from the west -- France and England -- and juxtaposed them in the most natural manner with ancient traditional style and in doing so enriched Hindi literature immensely. He dedicated his Maapdand to his eldest sister's husband, K D Tewari, of whom he was an ardent admirer.
The confidence that Nalin had in his erudition was mammoth. Once, when a colleague suggested he should take the examinations for the title of Mahamahopadhyaya, he casually replied, 'But who will check my paper?' And he died soon after, on September 12, 1961, still with ages of creativity in him, leaving a void no one could fill. (An article entitled Legend in his Lifetime by Shruti Shukla was published in The Hindustan Times, Patna Edition on October 19, 1991)
Among the numerous schools of poetry which sprang up in the 1950s was Nakenwad, a school deriving its nomenclature from the first letters of the names of its three pioneers - Nalin Vilochan Sharma, Kesari Kumar, and Naresh Mehta all poets of note in their own right. Apart from being a poet, Nalin Vilochan was also a brilliant critic, with a wide perspective on literary history. His critical attitude is marked by a synthesis or coordination of various disciplines of human knowledge - philosophy, history, art and culture, all pressed into the service of literary appraisal and analysis.