Tibet has always inspired writers and poets with its beauty and inaccessibility, the land among the peaks, the land of spirituality and peace. ‘Deviant Flames’ by Elancharan Gunasekaran, published by Author’s Ink India Publication, is a paean to this mystic land, whose people have died many deaths over the centuries under a despotic rule. ‘Deviant Flames’ takes inspiration from the hidden and elusive world of a land that yearns to be free, and sings of the daily wars in life faced by the Tibetans in powerfully moving verses that encapsulate the wonder that is Tibet.
This offering of verses lauds the fight of the natives who immolate themselves, rather than resort to violence to spill the blood of the innocent. They believe that their lives of privation will forge a path to everlasting peace, and a better world after they die. They offer a supreme invitation to the Saviour to come and punish the wrong doers – “so casually they defile our lands” evoking “anguish on faces” of those who are “chased from serenity of home”.
The writer speaks of a choice to the people of the land, a choice between selfish personal gains and that of the path towards independence, even as he invokes them to “worship the land/ you step on” for Nature is not theirs to claim or corrupt. The elements, Fire, Earth, Water and Wind all prophesy the birth and the deeds of the Saviour who will die a thousand times to serve humanity, to alleviate the wrath and the agony of the Tibetans who are ready to rekindle the fire of freedom within their hearts.
“No religion is strange/Nor does it teach one, /To do wrong”. Much of the destruction in the world arises when “in the name of gods, zealots fight”. The author talks about the lord of the sky who soars in the blue sky, “urging brave souls to fly/ against all odds”. Redemption awaits all, and the good are rewarded while the evil are awarded venom on “the wheels of karmic balance”. However, the moot point remains that when the last sages pass away, who will then keep Nature in check?
The writer also describes the curse of capitalism, the elevation of human standards and the repetition of the glory of civilization, combined with “the meaningless chatter of words”, questioning the need for advancement. “Primitive as we were once/we had peace”. He abjures the alien ruler, “the mad man who sits upon the mountain throne, serving his own greed” to stop his cruelty to his subjects.
There is another man, a ruler in his own right, who strives to end the suffering of his people, through selfless service to them. He hopes to lead them to freedom, to turn the tide of cursed industrialization that has filled “the air with poisonous fumes”. If only they could go back to where their ancestors once crawled in search of peace, away from the hunting wolves!
The man creates tattooed scripture on his skin, mixing blood with ink, even as he screams to his followers, pleading with them not to let the invaders take the fire from their souls. Even when he is captured, he holds his head high, refusing to be overcome, refusing to yield, refusing to die.
It is finally Love, “the brightest flame of all” that conquers, Love that burns away the darkness and creates a whole new world of freedom and hope.
The lyrical quality of the work is its strength, and the headings on every page give the readers a hint of what lies within. The poetry and the turmoil within the land act as a foil to each other, and take the story forward, to narrate the saga of a beautiful non-violent land to the world.
Reviewer: Deepti Menon