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Dream India Dream by Manas Bakshi


Dream India Dream by Manas Bakshi


Reviewed by

Prof. (Dr.) Sagar Mal Gupta


Dream India Dream | Poetry | Manas Bakshi |

Deys Illuminate Publication, INR 249

ISBN: 978-93-92780-04-2

Dr Manas Bakshi, an internationally renowned poet, figures in fifty anthologies of poetry including World Poetry Anthology from 1999 to 2008 edited by Dr Krishna Srinivas. He has authored fourteen books of poetry from 1988 to 2023. He is a major poet with a difference. The variety of themes on which he writes is astonishing.. He writes reflective poems rather than descriptive ones. His style of writing is elitist and outstanding. He talks about social and political ills not in a realistic way but about their impact of this change on the mind and psyche of a conscious individual.

The title of the collection ‘Dream India Dream’ has a poem of that name (80, 81) which states that we only dream of a change but it remains only a dream and does not turn into a reality.  We dream to change, autocratic and dynastic administration; we dream of changing the pitiable condition of the lower strata of society but are unable to change:

Dream India Dream

Long live Demos, Kratos or no Kratos

Thrive on the pomace, don’t, long for the cream (81)

The advocacy of democracy, the reign of the country by populace, irrespective of their meager resources is laudable.

There are three poems ‘on confronting covid’ (48-50); they bring out the menace of covid to all irrespective of ‘prince and pauper’, ‘young and old’ and ‘priest and atheist’. Things look different from outside but, in fact, nothing has changed in society.  Man has become a victim of ‘medieval tyranny’ behind the mask of civilities. During covid, man is forced to spend his time in isolation; the only salvation is a prayer to God to’ save his life’:

Flutter wings

In the glare and glaze of cyber craze

When corona affected prince and pauper,

Priest and atheist, young and old

All in a Quarantine praying only for His grace (49)

The disease of corona has confined man indoors but has given liberty to animals to roam around without any danger.  This highlights the good effect of corona. The poet also regrets that there is no open space in cities even for children to play; they are replete with a concrete jungle and they too are confined to stay indoors:

Some animals have come out in the open

Roaming dauntless ……….”

Some migratory birds flocking to a rural lake

Pure and serene as after the first monsoon rain. (49)

But the worst sufferers during corona were the migrant workers who walked back to their homes starving and some of them reached homes but most of them died on the way. How sad it is!

Misfortunes in life do not come alone but bring a host of   other maladies with them. Corona too brought ‘Amphan’ the diabolic super cyclone in its trail.  The twin disaster not only shattered the economy of the country but also the life   of birds and animals. thus corona brought out all over devastation and death..

The plethora of themes on which Bakshi writes poetry is astonishing..In the poem ‘Cry’ (58), he pleads for peace against the atmosphere of religious warfare whereas in ‘Pulwama’ (59), he advocates revenge for the barbaric terror attack.  In both the poems, he creates an atmosphere of desolation, destruction and insurgence by using  evocative images such as ‘mind’s desolate shore’ (58), ‘dead shells of crabs and lobster’(58); ‘human vultures’(58) ,’groaning of rickety dogs’(59),’woes of footpath beggars’(59),’winds blowing stormy waves turning turbulent’(59).

In the poem ‘Sequel’ (62), the protagonist laments that the supreme creation of God----that is man seldom bothers to care for other species of nature including women. Because of this predicament, he can go neither to heaven nor to hell and is in a fix and there is nobody to help him. There are innumerable cases of ‘rapes’ every minute in the country; there are innumerable cases of feticide in the country.  Who is responsible? It is certainly man, the so called supreme creation of God:

Mother—like caring, this earth

Ruptured with each rape with each rape victim

Looks pallid

In your fragmented psyche---- (63)

The poet has written a number of poems on the social, political and religious maladies affecting the country today such as religious intolerance, mob-lynching, love-jihad, honour killing, jingoism, rapes and murders. Two poems ‘Prognosis Irrefutable’ (66) and ‘Parasites’ (67) illustrate these ills beautifully and poignantly. The perpetrators commit these crimes by wearing the mask of innocence on the one hand and by using trickery on the other:

Strangers in darkness

Enter the fray and escape (66)

These criminals get scot free because there are no witnesses to expose their crimes.  Very effectively, the poet describes this:

It is all about a known face,

The tree can’t disclose, nor can the street.

The predatory opportunists on the prowl

Apt to gag the voice of protest. (66)

It seems even nature helps these criminals to go scot free:

Before it rains----rains to wash off

The remains of the burnt-out effigy

Of rapist, plunderer and murder of democracy. (66)

Using a beautiful image of ‘fructifying tree’ for the newly won freedom of India, the poet is worried about the people who are assailing this tree by narrow walls of religious intolerance, honor-killing love-jihad  etc. and thus they  are acting as parasites to check its growth:

A fructifying tree

A nation born after huge sacrifice

Encircled by shrubs and parasites

Finds not enough space to stretch

nor can it rise---(67)

The poet completes the poem by saying that for survival, the country is compelled to compromise with unwanted elements.

 ‘O Mother India’ (52) is a highly emotional poem bringing tears to the eyes of the reader when he notices the sorry state in which the country is embroiled in spite of 75 years of independence. Describing the emotional state of the teenager, who has witnessed the rape of her elder sister and suicide of her father, the poet says that she has no tears any more in her eyes but fire.  The poet further refers to the pitiable condition of the farmers, who are compelled to commit suicide or live under the feudal bondage throughout their lives. The poet satirizes those human beings who propagate prosperity and peace in India on social media falsely and have no respect for these farmers, who are food producers of the country.  He ends the poem by invoking ‘Mother India’ to wipe her tears at the sorry condition of the majority of people till the exploiters’ conscience is awakened:

O mother India

Let darkness celebrate seven decades of independence

Till this holy land is awakened by winter—end sun rays:

Stirred –up human conscience. (53)

The poet is not only a singer of pessimism like Thomas Hardy but also sings of tunes of optimism like Robert Browning for India.  In the poem, ‘Taking It from Nature’ (64), he exhorts the citizens of India not to be torn apart by barriers of caste, gender, religion and political affiliations but to live in peace and harmony by overcoming these barriers. He gives a highly logical reason for adopting this dictum.  He avers that the horizon in nature is brimming with confluence of all religions.  After a shocking calamity ---flood or drought---man starts living with animals and reptiles without any grudge like the hero in Yen Martel’s novel ‘The Life of Pi’ and he becomes God incarnate:

To survive catastrophic agony

Hand in hand, man and woman

Hindu, Muslim, Jain Sikh, Christian

Forsake religious barriers

Learn to work in Unison


‘The Soul of India Survives’ is a powerful poem redolent with optimism and philosophical underpinnings.  The poet asserts that the soul of India does not reside in age old myths or vortex of anarchism and terrorism but in the inherent truths and values; in the aura of faith in divine life (82); in ‘Kazi Nazrul’s fiery rebellion poem’; in the noble creation of Tagore or love for all His beloved creations, And brotherhood of mankind pronouncing Vasudhaivakutumbkam:

The World is my family:

Soul of India survives in the great souls

Of Krishna, Mohammad, Buddha, Nanak, Jesus

Forget not their lessons

The future is ours, only ours.(84)

Compare this exhortation with another one in the poem ‘Poetry of Untold Pain ‘ (85)where he pleads for a lesson of life ,to live with all, animate and inanimate.

What lofty and great ideas!

Dr Bakshi. Kudos for your thoughts!

Love is an essential part of life. Life is dull and insipid without intense relationship between man and woman .Right from the beginning, poets of all countries and age have written about love.  The spirit of love allows Wordsworth to connect with other people as well’ to see into the life of things’.  For Shelley, love is a cosmic force .Metaphysical poetry is highly intellectualized ‘paradoxical and complicated in thought. Manas Bakshi has three love poems in the collection.  Two of them have the shadow of metaphysical poetry.

These poems are ‘Reciprocal’ (57), ‘You Say So’ (14) and ‘Who Is She’ (60). ‘Reciprocal’ is a dialogue between and woman. Man says to woman that she is an inseparable part of his life as sunshine to the universe, ‘moonbeam to the night’ and ‘flow of water to the sea’. Woman talks of bonding of two minds in sublime love and man woman relationship is complementary to each other.

In the poem ‘You Say So’, the protagonist asserts that love is not the satisfaction of carnal desires but love is much more than this.  Love in real life   is connected with the union of mind, body and soul.  Compare this poem of Bakshi’s with Donne’s poems ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’ and ‘Canonization’. In the ‘Canonization’, he fuses sexual or romantic love with religious motifs and imagery.  Love becomes a sort of religion in itself---a sanctified thing. One can see a similarity between ‘sanctified’ (Donne) and ‘salvation fructifies’ (Bakshi).  Bakshi’s emotion exhibits a balanced measurement of love like A. H. Baqui’s love haiku:

Love is in fact some

rosy blooms, thorny bowers

and young metaphors.

In the poem, ‘Who Is She’, the protagonist loves an imaginary woman; an enigmatic woman:

She is nobody’s ladylove

Nobody’s her bed partner

Perceptible as both—real and psychic;

She is a love story—Unsaid

But felt in the   groan of bruised veins! (60)

The perceptible woman is both real and psychic.  Sometimes she appears real; sometimes imaginary.  These feelings are reflected in Donne’s poem ‘A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning’.  Donne likens the relationship between him and his wife to a religious or spiritual bond between two souls: couples who are bonded physically but don’t have this deeper spiritual connection.

There are several lines in the poems of this collection which are satiric and ironic in tone. Take one poem ‘Amorously? Never’ (71) , in which  a snake charmer  kisses a snake not out of love but to extract venom from his sac to sell it at a great price.  This is an effective satire on the snake charmer’s behavior as uttered by the cobra:

You kiss me once in a fortnight—

No, not amorously

But for the venom in my sac

Priced as much

As blue you extract. (71)

According to Aristotle, poetry is more philosophical than history because to unfold a convincing plot, the poet must grasp and represent the internal logic, the necessity of the outcome of these events. In Sidney’s view poetry is superior to philosophy and history because poetry presents compelling examples of not what has been or will be but what should be. Philosophy articulates abstract description of an ethical principle.

Irrespective of what the above critics say, my main thinking is that poetry is wedded to philosophy. Most of the great poetry has philosophical underpinnings. A poet expresses his opinion and refers to humanitarian values. There are a number of lines in the poems of this collection which contain philosophical ideas and concepts about life.

In the poem, ‘At the Juncture’ (79), the poet asserts that the beginning of something is certain but the end is uncertain. If one does not obey the rules of life, one should be prepared to face disastrous moments:

Certain was the beginning

Uncertain is the end

 Inscribed on a leaf of life

 Floating alongside

Rules of the earthly game

 Not obeyed

One has to pay for

The disastrous moments.(79)

In the poem ‘Satyameva Jayate’ (68), the poet upholds that it is truth in life that ultimately wins. Power-wielders grab more than they need in life thorough trickery.

But it is truth that would ultimately prevail and expose the trickery of the power-wielders.:

Latent is the power-wielder’s trick

To grab in guileful ways

More than they need

Truth is the other name of civilization

Unmasking the shameless inhuman face! (69)


Compare the extracts from the above poem with the Bangladeshi poet A. H. Baqui:

Literature tells lies

 that gives at times great truths

 better than real truths.

This haiku is a good reply to Plato who said poets are liars.

An image is a word-picture that enables a reader of poetry to relive the sensational and emotional experience of the poet. Every poet uses imagery to convey his unique experience of life, society, country, and the world. Imagery allows the reader to clearly see, touch, taste, smell and hear what is happening and in some cases even empathize with the poet or his subject.

Manas Bakshi uses all kinds of imagery that is visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory and gustatory very effectively and relevantly. He employs similes, metaphors and symbols as devices to create images. Sometimes he uses a fusion of two kinds of images to the delight of the reader.

Describing the rift between a couple, the poet uses very effectively a fusion of audible (melodious song) and gustatory (venomous) in the poem ‘Hidden Threat’ (51).


When that

Melodious song

Faltering midway


An unknown

But venomous

Snakes hissing! (51)

In the poem ‘O Mother India’ (52-53), the poet uses very effectively the metaphor of panther-like nocturnal animals for political goons to create a visual imagery.

In the poem ‘Pulwama’ the poet uses a fusion visual and tactical image very effectively.

Last night’s cold wave

Couldn’t douse

Tonight, winds blowing stormy

Waves turning turbulent

Soil for cracking in protest


Barbaric terror attack in Pulwama,

Demand revenge. (59)


The collection is replete with examples but a sample has been given above.

To conclude we can say that Manas Bakshi is a poet with a difference. He has created a niche for himself in the modern poets writing in English. He has an uncanny knack to create extraordinary poetry by choosing ordinary events. His poetry is a Disney land of images which places him at par with metaphysical poets of the 17th century. His poetry is an ocean of gems and to get the meaning, one has to make several dips.  The more the reader dives, the more meaning he gets. I enjoyed reading the poems and I am sure you will too if you decide to have that enjoyment.

I end the present renewal with a quotation from W.H. Hudson:

“A great book is born of the brain and heart of its author; he has put himself into its pages;…; for what we call genius is only another name for freshness and originality of nature, with its resulting freshness and originality of outlook upon the world, of insight and thought. The mark of a really great book is that it has something fresh and original to say, and that it says this in a fresh and independent way (6, 7).

Works Cited

Bakshi, Manas. Dream India Dream. Kolkata: Dey’s Illuminate Publication, 2022.

Hudson, W.H. An Introduction to the Study of English Literature. Jaipur; Indian Publishing House, 2010.