Roses Without Thorns…a busy lawyer’s feelings for society

Wednesday, 06 March 2024 | VK Bahuguna

Ever since the human intellect and civilisation evolved the poets and their poems have played a very vital role in shaping the destiny of human societies by making them a bit more sensitive to emotions and a little more evolved with virtues of humanity and appreciation of beauty. In India our civilisation was influenced by great poets like Kalidas who was the greatest poet and playwright of ancient India. Rabindranath Tagore was the most popular national poet of the modern era whose poetry resonated with the spirit of the nation and helped our people to rise to the occasion during the freedom struggle. Poets are the soul of any society. So when the attorney general R Venkataramani sent an invitation through a WhatsApp message it came as a pleasant surprise to me as I never thought of him being a poet.  The chief justice of India DY Chandrachud released the book Roses Without Thorns -Reflections of an Immaterial Wanderer by Venkataramani. To have a poet amongst lawyers, the country’s attorney general himself, is in itself a remarkable achievement. As I know him, Venkataramani is an embodiment of humility and a perfect gentleman which makes him immensely popular wherever he goes and whatever he does and with whomever he comes in contact with. I came in his contact when he was appointed receiver for the Amrapali projects in Noida by the Supreme Court. This book is a compilation of 160 poems written by him during the last many years in diverse locations and touching all segments of life reflecting the condition of our contemporary society and its milieu. Venkataramani writes with remarkable sensitivity on nature, poor/rich/animal/birds/fishes and about forgotten ethos and virtues of people and things that surround us.

He starts with his first poem on roses and asks “Oh Nature, great and infinite, Is your painting brush in order?” In this poem he asks why roses cannot be grown without thorns. It reflects the desire of a very stable and progressive society which can live in harmony with itself, fellow living beings and nature. It is for the readers to chart out a good life for themselves as a responsible part of the ecosystem. In another poem on the thrill of the swords of poison he targets the people who are killing people in the name of religion and says, “All prophets and religions have always preached love, But people of all ages have always enjoyed the thrill of the sword and the sound of the wars”. The last poem describes how the contemporary social media has taken over our life. His style of poetry is direct and sometimes mixes with prose style. On his poetry I would like to quote (from the foreword of the book) one of his Guru and mentor, the great legal luminary of our country, the late VR Krishna Iyer, former Supreme Court judge, when he sent his collection of poems to him for his comments. He said, “Great poetry is sometimes a mystery as in the case of Tagore, but poets like Alexander, Pope or Goldsmith are too plain to be different from prose although the lines are charming to read and recite”. After reading a few poems I feel some of his poems are like a mystery and some are in prose style but nevertheless make the reader dwell deep into the lines.

In nutshell, it is an incredible attempt by an extremely busy lawyer to express his feelings for the society he comes from. One hopes the book will revive the poetry by motivating other professionals to use their inner self to bring ideas for enriching the soul of India. After all, poems are the heart of any vibrant culture. The book priced at Rs 750 is an excellent exhibition of talent, emotion, sensibilities and fragilities of life. Those who buy this book will enjoy the content and style. Congratulations to Venkataramani for the splendid work of literature.

(The reviewer is former director general of Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education)

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