Pu La Transformational Stories, Peston Kaka reposted blog to further refer to Siddharud Swamy referred by Peston Kaka .. Ashok Ranade interview of Pt Mansur .. 12 minutes play and you hear about the Swamy …
Pu La ’s transformational stories: Cultural Symbiosis in his story Pestonji or Peston Kaka:
When I shared my earlier blog on Pu La (Acharya P K Atre’s article on him in Maratha 1965) with one of my creative writer Marathi Playwright friend he didn’t seem to be pleased on my choice of writers : Prahlad Keshav Atre and Purushottam Lakshman Deshpande. <br>
The possible reason could be that these writers being pro establishment or that they were not vociferously supporting the class and caste annihilation through their writing. Their sensibilities were probably close to the middle class.
My friend and host of others are surely still under the spell of Marx and his ideas of social transformation. Therefore, I have deliberately given the title to this blog as ‘Transformational Stories of Pu La’
However, in today’s post modern world in which we believe that technology is a great leveller it will be wrong to straight jacket writers in certain categories or classify them among the various sections in the society.
Atre was the first playwright after Deval’s Sharada and Gadkari’s Sindhu who made the woman to leave the family in his play Gharabaher (घराबाहेर)
Later M G Rangnekar adapted Ibsen’s Doll’s House in his Kulvadhu (कुलवधू)
In our blindly following western critics and their theories we throw all old writers in the category of pro-establishment writers. This has two serious bad effects. The literature in which today’s young generation might take keen interest .. we are deliberately drawing them away from those classics. In our attempt to force them to toe our intellectual line we give them exposure only to so called anti establishment literature which is not read out of literature classes in which there is a miniscule minority of young reading public and they too read it for the sake of examinations.
My friend’s anger on Pu La seems to be in this line. However, how can we forget his Phulrani? (ती फुलराणी) , the beautiful adaptation of My Fair Lady, which was an adaptation of Shaw’s Pygmalion.
In the original play Shaw has shown the transformation of a slum girl who sells flowers into a princess by the means of her refined language and polished manners which she displays in a public gathering.
Mastery on language transforms our personality. Our status in society changes irrespective of our family background. I as a student and teacher of English have experienced this in my career of 33 years. Students who took hard efforts at their B A English in a college in whatever small village in India in last few decades have been extremely successful in their career in big metros as teachers of English, advocates , corporate persons , bank officers etc.
Now, when I see actual message of Shaw’s play transformed in reality like this how can I term him as old fashioned pro establishment writer, pro empire writer and how can I force my students to uphold only modern playwrights because we have given them the label of
anti-establishment? Does the so called modern sensibility mean that we should throw all that’s old into a dustbin?
There is indeed a sound alternative to that. We must Re introduce our students and reading public to old classics but in a different transformational perspective. Well , the whole discussion is diverted to the importance of these old writers and searching a new insight in their works.
The work under discussion here is a story by Pu La called Peston Kaka ( the English version would be Pestonji ) in which an Asst Foreman, who worked earlier under the British officers , is now retired from Railway and he is shown as having extremely high knowledge and taste in classical music (Abdul Karim Khan), religious compositions (Gopala karuna kyon nahi ave of Khansaheb , Tukaram’s abhangas of Vishnupant Pagnis) , Hindu spirituality (Vivekananda, Siddharur Swami in Hubli … ……..
by the way this Siddharur Swami is referred by Ashok Ranade in his interview of Pt Mallikarjun Mansur… taken in 1960-70s for Doordarshan but available on You Tube …I don’t know how the name is spelt or pronounced .. Siddharur or Siddharood, another point I want to make here is that Pt Mansur ran away from home two times and his father anxiously brought him to this Swamy .. obviously a Lingayat Mathpati Swamy .. and Ranade tells us that this Swamy was a great supporter of music. He had blessed Pt Keshavrao Bhosale who is considered as a better natyageet exponent than Balgandharva or Master Dinanath Mangeshkar .. reference Vidyadhar Gokhale .. well my point is that can someone give me one name and of a Hindu Swami or a spiritual leader who blessed art and music and gave to the listening public such diamonds like Keshavrao and Mansur ? Now , the Karveer Peeth Shankaracharya Vidyanand Bharati was a Keertankar and is the son of a great Gwalior Gharana singer Keertankar Karhadkar Buva but his gayaki is lost in the heavily ritualistic nature of Hindu religion .. I’m sorry to say this but it’s a fact. I have heard this Karveer Shankaracharya ’s Keertan in my childhood and have been fortunate to chew the first ever areca nut .. or arica nut .. सुपारी to put it in simple terms from his nut cracker अडकित्ता sitting on his laps, so my observation is based on my own experience) , …
Well, coming back to Peston Kaka .. He displays this knowledge in informal talk to the writer in a train journey. He is such a romantic and loving husband that he is still sensually tickled at the age of 78 when his wife pinches him. I think Pu La attacks the very pro-establishment middle class sensibility by portraying this character. Music, Literature , Spirituality is not the ‘jagir’ or monopoly of a certain caste or class. Whoever is exposed to good music, effective communication skills at an early age can easily share the elitist sensibility or can move with confidence among intellectuals, corporate persons and scholars.
Pu La gets down at the next station and he shows the stark contrast between his own seemingly hypocrite ideas of being famous, having high taste and a scholar and Peston Kaka (actually under You Tube the pronunciation is written in Marathi as पेस्तन काका so I spelled it as Pestan earlier but my Parsee friend corrected it as Peston and I wrote this blog with corrections and additions) who has entered into the core of music and literature.
The thing to be noted is that he is not a teacher , artiste or a professional… these type of middle class persons are popularly portrayed by writers or are popularly considered by general public as the owners of good taste in music , stage and literature. (Read this as : Marathi middle class , Puneites , Mumbaikars or all such people living in other towns but who take pride in displaying a lineage to these towns) …
Peston Kaka was born in Mumbai but he has settled in Hubli (actually Hubli , Dharwad are the towns which are again described by Punekars as small Punes but these towns gave great artistes like Pt Bhimsen Joshi , Vidushi Gangubai Hangal to Hindustani Classical Music and since Bhimsen chose Pune for certain autobiographical concerns in his life Punekars got the advantage to associate them to great Marathi middle class taste. Pt Kumar Gandharva from Athni and Pt Mallikarjun Mansur from the village with his surname .. these artistes hail from Karnataka)
Peston Kaka is from Mumbai and is settled in Hubli .. he refers to Ustad Abdul Karim Khan Saheb singing his famous bhajan in Bhairavi “ Gopala karuna kyon nahi aave .. गोपाला करूणा कयों नही आवे। .. in a concert in Hubli. Karim Khan Saheb lived in Miraj. He founded the Kirana Gharana. His disciple Rambhau Kundgolkar alias Pt Sawai Gandharva lived in Kundgol near Jamkhindi . Bhimsen , Firoze Dastur lived at Kundgol and learnt music from him. Gangubai used to travel from Dharvad to Kundgol and learnt from him. Though Bhimsen earned great status to Kirana Gharana by his extremely hard efforts , strong voice and terrific strength of his lungs (he was a wrestler earlier in his childhood) other two artistes were also of immense capacities.
The referred composition गोपाला was sustained in the memory of the listening public primarily by another Parsee (like Peston Kaka , the topic of this blog) Pt Firoze Dastur. I will share another video of Pt Dastur on You Tube .. a DD Bangla program .. where he is seen presenting गोपाला and you can see Bhimsen and Pt Kanan on the first row among the audience. The point was that Pu La has deliberately portrayed this character of Peston Kaka who is beyond all popular criteria of music and culture loving middle class in Maharashtra. He is a Parser, a foreman, eats mutton openly , says ‘sala, sala ’ which is otherwise an abusive term but talks about Vivekanand , Siddharur Swamy, Shivanand as great divine souls. He considers Vishnupant Pagnis as the very Tukaram who lived among us. He insists Pu La to sing ‘Aadhi beej ekale , beej ankurale roap wadhle आधी बीज एकले , बीज अंकूरले , रोप वाढले .. the seed comes first , then the sapling grows from it .. the Abhang of Tukaram made famous by Vishnupant in the movie. Peston Kaka becomes the very Tukaram in that railway compartment itself imagining Vishnupant who has entered in his mind and body at that moment. Such oneness with the divine through art and music is more valuable according to Pu La than all middle class hypocrite babble of how they love music and literature. This also applies to the whole class of people who talk of Pu La as their favourite writer. They have indeed not still understood the real message in Pu La ’s writings and his personality. Pu La’s great admiration for Peston Kaka is the indication of his strong belief in equality in society through art , music and literature. Therefore , I’m surprised by my friend Marathi playwright’s sarcastic question to me about the significance of Pu La as the choice of the writer in my blog. What happens after these Abhangas rendered by Pu La exclusively for Peston Kaka in that train journey is also important. Pu La tells us that organisers of his speech , people who have come to greet him on the station greet him with ‘crest fallen stale flowered bouquet … what Pu La actually indicates here is the deep down hypocrisy and double standards of the middle class. They do everything just for its display value. Peston Kaka , however, openly orders non veg food in the compartment while Pu La eats home made tiffin …. there is fantastic ability of self ridicule in this writer.
(I had stopped this discussion at 5.46 pm on 14-5-2017 and completed it in this Re-blog at 1.14 am 15-5-2017, posted edited blog under Pt Firoz Dastur Gopala, reposted now for reference to Siddharud Swamy blessing Keshavrao Bhosale and Pt Mallikarjun Mansur at 2.38 pm 15-5-2017 and edited this post earlier here on FB and this is the final version)