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'Your ideals should liberate you'

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Speaking Tree
24th August, 2019 16:52 IST

Natarang Pratishthan celebrates Nemichandra Jain’s birth centenary. SONAL SRIVASTAVA reports

History can be cruel; it records specifics of people who govern, but forgets common people. It obliterates their lives from its records or reduces them to being mere footnotes in the grand scheme of things. Poet, author and theatre critic, Nemichandra Jain was disenchanted with the way history is recorded. He placed emphasis on personal histories, for their richness creates a world more vivid than the dry annals of recorded history that centres on politics and politicians.

On Saturday, August 17, Natarang Pratishthan — a charitable trust for promotion of art and literature in India, established by Nemichandra Jain, popularly known as Nemiji — staged a play, Sakshatkar Adhura Hai, to celebrate his birth centenary. The play gave the audience a glimpse into Nemiji’s thought processes and ideological leanings. The actor enacting Nemiji’s role brought to the fore his disillusionment with Marxism and dissatisfaction with the history’s ignorance of arts and literature.

“Nemiji’s view was that when we talk of history, we talk of wars and dynasties, but during the same period in history, a lot of creative achievements have also been made; classics have been written; languages have been developed but history takes little notice of them. It only notes, who won the war, who became the king. Vinoba Bhave had said that ‘We say that Tulsidas was a great poet who happened to live in the time of Akbar the great. Why can’t we say, sometimes, that during the time of a great poet Tulsidas, lived Emperor Akbar?’” said Ashok Vajpeyi, managing trustee, The Raza Foundation.
Vajpeyi adds that on one hand, the role of the arts and literature is to be a witness to what is happening and to keep a record, be a chronicler of troubled times and, on the other hand, they have to keep the larger vision of human compassion, sympathy, empathy, support and cooperation alive. Literature and arts never succeed but in their failure is their moral success.

“History is always focussed on politics; it neglects life and living. Political history is only one aspect of history and a bigger aspect of it is whatever is happening around us, in our lives, but history ignores it. Arts encompass history. From personal histories, you can create a bigger picture and connect it to the greater history, and then history will become well-rounded and complete in itself,” said Rashmi Vajpeyi, director, Natarang Pratishthan, explaining that what is recorded as history “is superficial, it is decided by those who are politically governing you.”

She asked, “But what about the undercurrents that are feeding the greater history; if these undercurrents are not there, then how will political histories survive?”

stories survive?” Rashmi ji said that we should think over whatever is happening around us. We are not willing to take risks. “Money has become important. Nemiji was a Marxist and was deeply associated with many organisations, but he questioned those and when he felt that certain things were not right, he left them. He did not leave Marxist values that he was attracted to but the narrowness of its practitioners and its orthodoxy and bondages,” said Rashmi ji. “In the end, your ideals should liberate you and not make you a fanatic. If you are not humane then whatever ideology you follow has no meaning.”

Born in Agra in 1919, Nemiji taught at NSD, and wrote for The Economic Times, after completing Master’s in English. To mark his birth centenary, Natarang Pratishthan plans to hold discussions on Hindi fiction, poetry, theatre and culture at Sahitya Akademi Conference Hall on the 16th of every month. It will also print some volumes of Nemiji’s collected works and organise memorial lectures. ■

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