Life is all about experiencing the intensity of human emotions. This world revolves around the human mind and the ripples created in the mind makes life liveable and enjoyable. Gaurishankar Govardhanram Joshi, popularly known as Dhoomketu; a writer of Gujarati language, is a man of soil who has paved the way for short story writing in Gujarati language. The study of his stories reveals the mind of the author’s attitude towards life. He beautifully shares his experience and his interpretations of life in the form of a short story. Present article is based on Dhoomketu’s idea of ‘living life filled with happiness’. He has meticulously observed life around him. He raised questions about the contemporary happenings and incidents and incorporated them in the structure of his short stories. And during the development of his short stories he found logical solutions to contemporary issues. However, it can be clearly said Dhoomketu is not interested in philosophizing. But in the process of creation, he carved a path through which one can experience a rhythm of tangible life. He found inspiration from already established principles. For example, a close study of the stories of Dhoomketu highlights the tint of Buddhism as he has observed suffering in human life and has emphasized upon practicing human values for making a better life. Eventually, he created an uncomplicated path of his own to show the right direction to his readers.
Usually a short story delineates a particular incident in a few words. But in that small incident too Dhoomketu has filled up a whole idea and tried to make it an artistic piece which can convey an understanding of life. Moreover, a story is a proper combination of real action, ideal action and imagination which automatically generates a philosophy by the time the entire thought is developed. For the writer carries an opinion of art as having both the qualities of depth and suggestion. Hence, these stories successfully sow a moral seed in the mind of the reader. The creation of the story and development of philosophy can be understood keeping the singular objective of creating reality in mind. In the stories of Dhoomketu man is the centre. Therefore, his stories revolve round human emotions and this is how he creates reality in the form of a story. It seems that each story of Dhoomketu opens up a prattle of a rose and the whole of it depicts one thought that is life is beautiful if one intends to make it so.
Dhoomketu says that man should respect his life as every one’s life is a tiny island in the splendid endless ocean; and everyone has to sing his own song and solve the puzzle of life. And the methodology to solve this enigma is through the knitted emotions of love, happiness, affection, passion, compassion and the like. But man, instead of decorating the beautiful rainbow-like carpet of his tendencies, surrounds himself in to negative emotions and hates life for trivial reasons like false pride, anger, illusive pomp and show. And therefore, he fails to hear the divine song which would help him in realizing his infinite capabilities. Thus, man fails to solve the puzzle of life and the precious god-given life gets wasted. Thus, Dhoomketu worships life.
એ દ્રષ્ટિ એ જોતા એવું નથી લાગતું કે આપણને જીવતા નથી આવડતું, માટે જ જીવન કંગાળ છે. જીવનની ખરી જરુરીયાતો કેટલી ઓછી છે? અને જીવનનો આનંદ પ્રાપ્ત કરવાનાં કેટલા કેટલા સાધન આપણા પોતાના જ જીવનમાં ભર્યા છે!(Dhoomketuni Varato Part -3 43)
(The person, who betrays himself, will be betrayed by all; from this point of view it can be inferred that we do not really know the proper way to live and that is why life becomes poor. The real necessities of life are very few and a lot many things that give birth to happiness lie within our life itself.)
Dhoomketu raises a very fundamental question by showing his rational concern over the implementation of love in society. He says,
Love, that has been talked about a million times, still we are not able to implement it in our day to day life. That is our great defeat. (Dhoomketuni vartao, part-3 46)
Dhoomketu accurately satirizes upon the mechanical nature of human relationships, which, incidentally, is a dark area in contemporary times. One can see that man has become a machine in maintaining relations and performing everyday work. They lack interest or happiness in doing things. Many times man fails to find out life in life too. For example, in the story Govindnu Khetar Dhoomketu emphasizes upon the need to live a pure life in the immediate companionship of nature.
Dhoomketu in the story Bhabhi critiques the vice of hoarding (sangrahvruti) among human beings. When people are close to nature they do not think of storing unnecessary things but when they move away from nature, they start storing things in an irregular fashion. In the story Bhabhi, Laxman and Shangar leave their happy family and village life for the city. When Pani asks Laxman about the reason, he answers saying that he wanted to earn more and more money, and that was possible only if he would go to the city. At that moment Pani remarks:
પૈસો ભેગો કરવાની વૃતિમાંથી જ જીવનનું વર્ચસ્વ ગમે તેમ વટાવી ખાવાની વૃતિ જન્મેં છે, અને સઘળા વિષવૃક્ષોના બીજ આ વૃતિમાં રહ્યા છે. (Dhoomketuni Vartao-2 139)
(All the seeds of the poisonous trees are planted in man’s attitude of accumulating things.)
The root of many problems like poverty, scarcity of edible things, scarcity of land, inflation lay in man’s attitude of accumulating superfluous things. If each person would buy according to his family’s need then there would be no scarcity whatsoever.
In another story, Pruthvi ane Swarg, Dhoomketu advocates the thought that nature generates ideas in the mind of a man. In this story, Doomketu has introduced a land of love, care and happiness in the lap of nature. It is the land where people are living happily and satisfying their necessities and this is what exactly a human society needs. The gist of the idea is:
All the villages have orderliness. Everything has the same price. Only give and take was the rule. One can get milk in exchange for water. Children can eat in the nearby home where they are playing. There was no door in the house. There was no boundary of the house. The boundary of every house was shining with morality. Thus the entire region was happy and peaceful. The people were far away from third rate imitation or competition. Nobody knew about marriage. Everybody had high regard for love; man and woman had accepted each other with the feeling of love only. The society was not smeared with the problem of child widow. It was the world where Nature was sovereign! They were not living in the anarchy of snob and show. There was no kingdom, no king, no temple, no law, no religion…only love prevailed…where religion was worshipped on an open field. Prayers were done from the heart. Everyone was the king of his own. Morality was a law and truth its limit. Virtue was religion and courage was a hymn. (Tankha-1 116)
These words carry a perfect example of humanity. In fact, this human world does not require any religion but humane values. This is not an illustration of a utopian land but is an example of man’s need. But somehow mankind drifted from the notion of simple living to complex living where everybody is a lonely and insecure stranger. This is Dhoomketu’s endeavour to create a society where everyone lives with satisfaction and happiness. Thus, Dhoomketu has perceived a deep connection between man and nature.
Dhoomketu considers the man-woman relationship as an edifice for building a healthy and respectful society. And therefore, in the story Ek Kagad, he questions:
The imagination of love makes life beautiful but the daily routine of the same tears it apart. Since centuries nobody could understand the relationship between man and woman nor could anyone make others understand. The physical pleasure at the beginning of a relationship will create attraction and the same becomes monotonous over a period of time. Why has this been so still remains a puzzle? Maybe an answer is to be provided by the present and future culture and civilization. Either no one has anything to say about this or they don’t know what to say or it is so complex that nobody is able to find the answer. (Dhoomketuni vartao, part-3 45)
Prolific thoughts of Dhoomketu :
By weaving the various thoughts of dhoomketu scattered in different stories one can weave a precious pearl necklace to shape one’s attitude towards life and its mysteries.
Dhoomketu’s story Chowkidaar delivers a simple and profound thought. Dhoomketu gives a universal solution to most of the problems related to man and Destiny. In fact, as most of the people are unhappy thinking about why have they been chosen by destiny (Why Me?), Dhoomketu, rightly provides a simple solution:
If a man wants to remain healthy, he should not question the unfavouable circumstances he is in. (Dhoomketuni vartao-2 15)
Usually people compare themselves with other people and feel unhappy. For such people this is the best solution - accept everything with ease and everything will be alright.
Dhoomketu is of the opinion that one should remain what he is. He was a worshipper of originality. So he says:
Imitation-whether it is of dress, thoughts or life style- indicates death of youth. (Jivan Vicharana 277)
In the story Jivan Sangeet Dhoomketu emphasizes upon being uncommon instead of behaving like a machine who wakes up in the morning and sleeps at night. Tushar speaks:
કા અસાધારણ થજે અથવા નામોનિશાનથી ટળી જજે. સૌના જેવો સવારે ઉઠનારો અને સાંજે સુનારો આદમી ન રહેતો. ( Tankha-4 34)
(Either you become an extra-ordinary man or prefer death. But you must not become a common man who gets up in the morning and sleeps at night.)
Dhoomketu appreciates everyman’s endeavour of inventing their own truths and avoids being credulous in the story Swapnano Varas. This is a burning problem of the common men who, generally speaking, do not think logically. But they are gullible enough to believe what they see or are told. And they experience a feeling of pride in imitating others which in effect destroys their originality and in turn prevents growth. Therefore Dhoomketu states in the story, Philsuf no Bhram:
It was lovely to be myself, but not to be myself was death in life. Do not be tempted to accommodate yourself to the world by moral suicide. (Tankha-2 29)
Thought: Dhoomketu gives importance to literature in life. He says that three things provide infinite interest to life: poetry, thinking and generosity. And that is why in the story Jyare Samanyata Nash Pamshe, Rajendra, the central character donates his entire property to the poor and needy and hires a small room. Rajendra names his room as વિચારમંદિર (temple of thoughts). (Tankha-4 188). Rajendra believes that there is a dire need of change in the thinking pattern. Rigveda also emphasizes upon the importance of the best thoughts for a better life:
Aum aa no bhadraha kratavo yantu vishvato dabdhaso aparitas udbhidah,
Deva no yatha sadmid vrudhe asannapraayuvo rakshitaro dive dive. (Rigveda sukta 89 Sanskrit 1)
(O God, as we are protected by the gods, makes us acquire the best thoughts too from all the corners of the universe for the progress in our life.)
This world is a world of thoughts. It is thoughts which can make or destroy a personality and life of a person. Only good thoughts can stop wrong deeds and inspire good behaviour.
Work is worship:
Dhoomketu was a believer of work and action. He says that life means action. One must get life from the action/work he is doing. This idea can be seen in the story Lagnajivan in which Joravar, whose job was to clean the office, was working wholeheartedly and with pleasure. This positive attitude towards work, even in the smallest of tasks, when executed in the best possible manner provides immense satisfaction to mind too. Dhoomketu describes:
એનું કામ –બીજું કઈ ન હતું –વિશાળ ઓફીસ સાફ કરુવાનું. ઓફીસ ની બારીએ બારી, ખૂણે ખૂણો, થાંભલે થાંભલો, ઉપરનીચે, આસ પાસ સઘળે એ સાફ કરતો. ... એ કામમાંથી એને ક્યારેય એક મિનીટ ની પણ ચોરી કરી ન હતી. (Tankha-4 91)
(His work was to clean a big office. He used to clean everything, each window, each corner and each pillar. He had never wasted a single minute during his work hour.)
Sunder, in the story Mukvani, exercises the idea of getting happiness from work; for her work was worship. And due to her love for work only she could maintain her sanctity as a woman of character.
Dhoomketu says that progress is a matter of the inner self more than the outer self. Further he adds that progress can be achieved by the combination of practice, experience and pure life. This idea is perfectly exemplified in the story Jivan Sangeet where both brother Tushar and sister Sachi progress in their life. Tushar, in the story Jivan Sangeet, finds life caught in the day to day trivialities. He observes life very minutely and reaches to the conclusion that common life is trivial so he leaves his home in quest of his dream. He realizes his dream and finally returns to his village to share his aesthetic experience with them. Sachi, Tushar’s sister, finds truth in helping the people to live a better life and thus improves the society gradually. Tushar develops himself spiritually while Sachi brings about orderliness in her village and thus helps people to live an organized life.
Religion and man:
Dhoomketu’s idea of religion is very realistic. He believes that religion is an instrument to make a person selfless.
Religion is to make a person more humane, cultured, beautiful and powerful. (Jivan Vicharna 253)
Religion for him is an instrument to reach the sublime state and that is why he creates a world without religion, caste, region or anything which divides the human race in his story Jivan Prabhat. Dhoomketu has introduced an ideology through his story, Sapana no Varas. He holds an opinion that a common man in search of truth must not follow any cult or sect without logical understanding. Ultimately man is important and for man a beautiful life and mind is important. If the mind is unhappy life becomes a burden and if the mind is happy, life resounds with melodious music.
Dhoomketu was a true believer of man’s inner strength. Giving an example of the Rope dancer (acrobat), he says that life is all about maintaining balance. The stick which an acrobat uses to maintain balance is useful to him but he in actuality upholds himself on the rope only through his inner strength alone. This idea is exemplified in the story Pranvallabh. Bhogilal, the elder brother does not get married. He sacrifices most of the pleasures of life just to educate his younger brother Pranvallbh. Due to his sacrifices Pranvallabh becomes an ICS officer. However, in lieu of his sacrifices, Bhogilal is unable to find even a small place in the luxurious house of his brother. He feels neglected and is considered as outdated in Pranvallabh’s house. Consequently, his hope gets shattered. But even in such a boundary situation, Bhogilal controls his emotions and thus balances life like a Sthithapragna. The story depicts a very big lesson of life where one should not expect good in lieu of good done to others.
Dhoomketu’s concept of God:
Dhoomketu quotes in his story Ek j shabda –Jivandroh that God is the imagination of man and man is the imagination of God. (Dhoomketu 153) This one line prompts us to think that Dhoomketu was a pragmatic person. For him man himself is responsible for the creation of his own destiny and no God can make or mar his fortune. In the story Svapnano Varas, Dhoomketu has given importance to mind in comparison to God. He says:
The most beautiful things exist in the mind of a man. Even truth dwells in the mind of a man. God is nowhere. If there is God, he is in the Manobhoomi (mind’s land) of a man. The person, who instead of studying his own mind spends his time praying to God, is a fool. (Dhoomketuni Vartao-3 121)
Thus, Dhoomketu very clearly says that God lives in the mind of man. Besides God, the concept of truth and beauty also dwells in the mind. The protagonist of the story admits that since the moment of his realization he has been feeling a new energy in him. In the story, Pruthvi ane Swarg, Dhoomketu talks about an open space where everyone can pray from the heart. This implies that he was not in favour of temples. Dhoomketu is also against God’s rites and rituals (pujaarchana and vidhi). In essence, the world of Dhoomketu is full of humanity. In the story Janmabhoomino Tyag, Vaghji Mochi, the central character, loses his employment due to the harassment of the British government. His unemployment brings to the brink of starvation and for the first time he begs. He comes across a temple. Dhoomketu describes:
થાક ખાઈને તે આગળ વધ્યો. એક ઠેકાણે ‘સુભદ્રાહરણ’ વંચાતું હતું ને ગોળમટોળ ભટજી પાસે કેટલાક સીધાના થાળ પડ્યા હતા! ભટજી સ્ત્રીની પેઠે ઝીણા ઝીણા સ્વર કાઢીને લોકોને હસાવતા હતા. વાઘજી ના કાલાવાલા એ સભામાં બેદરકાર કાન પર પડીને પોતાના જ મો પર શરમની માફક વેરાઈ ગયા! (Tankha-1 90)
(Vaghji, in search of food, reaches near a place where a Brahmin was reciting Subhadraharan, and was surrounded with different offerings. The Brahmin, with his sharp voice, was trying to entertain ladies. Everyone sitting ignored Vaghji’s request for food. )
Dhoomketu mildly satirizes upon one of the prevailing pitiable conditions in the society in which the so called religious people have many things to offer to a Brahmin but not to the poor or the needy. He was of the opinion that if every man would understand his/her responsibility and widen the horizons of their four walls a beautiful order would be established. Therefore none of his characters ever pray to God nor do they believe in destiny as well. Thus, each one of Dhoomketu’s stories deals with a social problem along with its practical solution. Dhoomketu did not talk about anything spiritual. He was a man of the world who experienced, observed and sketched his tangible thoughts on the canvass of the short-story.
Live your inner voice:
Dhoomketu creatively delivers a message in the story Jivan Sangeet by projecting two youngsters with different ideologies. One believes in ‘reality’ while the other upholds ‘imagination’. Here, Dhoomketu clearly states that if one believes in ‘reality’ one should be practical; one should understand; one should be desirous of finding a solution and one should be desirous of implementing it. And if one believes in ‘imagination’, one should be faithful enough to creatively realize it. In the story Jivan Sangeet, Dhoomketu begins the story with his idea of beauty. It carries a fruitful discussion between Sachi (sister) and Tushar (brother). The thoughts of both the youngsters are revealed through the following conversation:
Tushar: ‘I always felt that a person tries to show others that she/he is beautiful by wearing beautiful clothes and adding more and more fad to convince others that they have beauty though they are not left with it anymore. For instance, a vision without beauty would see only ugliness!’
Sachi: ‘But what is the fault of people in it? Common people can’t see anything except imitation.’
Tushar: ‘Many times I feel that instead of living with these common people one should live to accomplish a dream.’
Tushar: ‘What whose?’ the people whomsoever I know, Uncle Mahobatlal, married at 40 for the 5th time and died at 55- leaving a wife of 27. Iswarbhai - six children - salary Rs.40 - not enough - squeezing life. Uncle Madhulal- widower twice – three - three children by each marriage; going to marry third time. Dhirajlal adopted a son; especially to have a daughter-in-law. Don’t you think, it is better to die longing for the achievement of a dream rather than working for the improvement of these people? In the process if life becomes dry and lonely, be that - devote life for imagination.
Sachi: ‘To what are you naming great imagination or a beautiful dream, I do not understand. I do believe in shaping dreams but I prefer to live.’
Tushar: ‘For example you got married, went to in-laws house, you got a good husband; he goes to office and comes, you prepare food, eat together; take tea, watch movies, bringt up children, buy furniture - you do all these things, but where does life exist in it? The occasion for which life becomes life is missing here! In that case I would prefer to look at the colours of Himalaya in a dream.’
Sachi: ‘Are you mad? You lack reasonable thoughts.’
Tushar: ‘What’s wrong if I prefer uncommon imagination (Kalpana) than common thoughts?’
Sachi: ‘In every common life uncommon incidents occur…every moment moulds life. That Bhikhli, a domestic help, left her both husbands, the first, because he cheated her and the other, because he beat her. This act of her is uncommon. Thus, the common occurrence of incidents moulds uncommon life. What more do you want?’
Tushar: ‘Very few will be like her; otherwise most of the people are machines to measure morning and evening. (Tankha-4 32-33)
This conversation introduces the readers to two youngsters who possess clarity of thought. Sachi makes her village a beautiful place by removing dirt from the hearts of the people and from the roads of the village and thus builds an ideal village while her brother, Tushar, infuses life in it by illuminating the mind and the heart of the people of the village by sharing his spiritual experiences. The theme of the story is a proper combination of pragmatism and imagination sprinkled with emotion. This story also develops a new ideology. Sachi, being a beautiful girl with brains does not find it necessary to live a common life by getting married. She prefers to serve society. Tushar on the other hand, single mindedly lives his dream, realizes it and shares his experience for the welfare of the people as life needs aesthetic pleasure too.
Thus, the short stories of Dhoomketu are just like dew drops. It has a picture in it. Every picture is complete in itself; it gives pleasure to each one according to the capability of the reader; and also opens up a new horizon of life. Interestingly, along with artistic imagination the short-stories also display the writers’ pragmatic approach towards life.
Pragmatism is a philosophy in which a man’s actions and its consequent results determine the moral or immoral nature of an action. Accordingly, a person decides upon the course of action that he proposes to undertake in the times to come. Moreover, as observed in contemporary times, the God above (as personified or located in our temples, churches and mosques) has been substituted by the god within (the self), and therefore, life becomes a process of ‘self-examination’ and ‘self-realization’ vis-à-vis our ‘actions’.
The following poem by Dhoomketu substantiates the same thought:
‘We are the music-makers
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams,
World-loser and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems.’ (Sahitya Vicharna 125)
For Dhoomketu, man ultimately is responsible for his condition. His actions determine his character:
A man is a kind of being who is moulded by his actions. The greater he is in his imagination, the greater he will be in his actions. (Sahitya Vicharna 125)
Thus, Dhoomketu’s characters exemplify the upanishadic saying – yad bhavam tad bhavati (a man becomes what he thinks). If man looks upon life as a melodious song, so shall it actually be. And if he looks upon life as a bed of thorns, accordingly it shall be for him. The perspective of how one views and interprets life determines the course of action. Dhoomketu was gifted with the poetic insight to see into the life of things and correspondingly he has captured God here and now through the everyday characters seen in the society.
A thorough examination of the selected stories of Dhoomketu develops the philosophy of ‘simple living’ and ‘high thinking’. Dhoomketu intellectualized that the inherent tangibility of life could also provide beauty and satisfaction if lived with moral boundaries.
The crux of Dhoomketu’s philosophy could be listed as follows: