Konkani literature boasts of a rich tradition spanning over many centuries. Several luminaries have enriched its fertile soil with their exemplary writing skills. Ramesh Bhagwant Veluskar has pride of place among them. His critically acclaimed forays into various facets of Konkani literature have yielded a number of masterpieces, revealing the inherent traits of an inquisitive, sensitive and enormously talented wordsmith.
Nature in all its vivacious exuberance takes centre stage in much of Veluskar’s writing. This is not surprising, considering that he was born and brought up in the picturesque and pristine environs of a tiny village in a state richly endowed by nature. Palem is a scenic hamlet on the banks of the quietly meandering Siridao River, and boasts of a rich folk tradition, where Konkani folk forms like Zagor, Dhalo, and Fugdi flourish even today. It was in this milieu that Veluskar grew to be a litterateur full of vigour, finesse and originality.
His father is an accomplished dramatist and a consummate exponent of Hundustani classical music. Veluskar also had the privilege of basking in the glory of another renowned son of the village, the late R. V Pandit, an acclaimed Konkani poet and writer, as well as a photographer. All these influences find expression in Veluskar’s poetry; its roots dig deep into the soul, yet the fragrance of its concepts and reflections suggests an ethereal origin.
Ramesh Veluskar is a multifaceted personality. This otherwise sentimental poet took up the rather sedate vocation of a teacher, joining St Andrew’s School in the village of Goa Velha in 1969. He opted for voluntary retirement in 2002, to devote all of his time to his writing. In between, he served on the Board of Studies for schools in Goa, and on the editorial board that prescribed textbooks for Standards VIIIth to XIIth. He conducted hundreds of literary broadcasts for the Panaji station of All India Radio, and translated a number of plays and other programmes into Konkani. He also wrote a large number of songs for AIR, some of which have been set to music by renowned music directors like Ghodkhindi Venkatesh, Yeshwant Dev and Somnath Chari. Veluskar has also been the editor of a children’s magazine, Bhurgeancho Rajhauns, and a family magazine, Bimb.
He has translated a large number of works from other languages into Konkani, and has a great deal of critical writing to his credit.
The sheer sweep of his writings is vast. It encompasses poetry, one-act plays, short plays, translations, children’s literature, novels, short stories and reviews. His collections of poetry include Morpakhan (Peacock Feathers), Maati (Earth), Angani Nachta Mor Morya (The Dancing Peacock), Savulgori (Dusky Beauty) and Hiranyagarbha (The Sun). The varied situations and moods in these collections reveal his intense observations of the subtle interplay between nature’s offerings and human urgings, like the transcendental revelations of a man emboldened by all the longings within. Nature in all its glory surrounds the, reader of these volumes, tempered with ancient but the ageless spiritual wisdom. There is an intrinsic rhythm, a magical the ring in the words, which dredge up forgotten but incredibly apt ‘folklorisms’. Veluskar also displays a willingness for experimentation that occasionally borders on the extreme. Four more collections of verse are presently under publication: Dariya (The Sea), Ihalokichem ek Penney (Civilisation Rides a Palanquin), Kallkachya Jhillmill Kusveant (In Dusk’s Womb) and Sapeksh (Common Aspirations).
Morpakhan speaks to the reader in a people’s idiom common in Goa before it was liberated from Portuguese rule. It puts across his views on the evolution of language in an age of globalisation and an increasing monotony of cultural, social and ideological thinking, in which individuals are compelled to search for their roots. Maati and Hiranyagarbha take Konkani poetry to new levels of literary accomplishment. They emphasise that mankind is a product of the Earth, to which it owes all its accomplishments, only to abuse Mother Earth in return. They underline the fact that it is only by embracing Mother Earth that mankind can rise above hate and violence to find its true destiny. Both collections speak a universal language and are easily amenable to translation. Hindi and English translations of these collections have been critically acclaimed.
Savulgori, the collection of poetry which won Veluskar the Sahitya Akademi award in 1990, embodies nature with a human form. Casting off the yoke of the past, it revels in the present, weaving together a vision for the future. A thrifty minimalism in words yields an enormous abundance in imagery of nature and civilisation. Tanarjyoti is yet another significant compilation of Veluskar’s poems. Here the dreamer within him sets out on an avid voyage, plumbing the intrigues and intricacies of human existence.
Veluskar’s writings showcase the forgotten and undiscovered wealth of the Konkani language. Often, it is as if they define the positioning of the Konkani character in the contemporary world. His writings contain a number of subaltern phrases, plucked from the forgotten vocabularies of pastoral peoples and from times gone by. Where no appropriate words suffice to properly describe a situation or convey an emotion, he coins his own, enriching the contemporary language and infusing it with a new vigour.
Once Veluskar noticed that there were children in the audience in every village, but he and his fellow Konkani writers had nothing to offer them. That is when he started writing for children, for which he says, he had to go back deep into his own childhood. His anthologies of poems for children include: Bhook Bhook Bhishu (Bark, Bark, Bhishu!), Chandimama (Uncle Moon), Fulpakham (Butterflies), Chu Chu Chani (Choo, Choo Squirrel) and Ghuru Ghuru Varo (Sound of the Wind).
His gripping play, Apowne Aailan Saiba Naucnpaku (An Invitation to Dance), is a scathing rebuke for the proponents of astrology. His novel, Parvanava (The New Age) followed Moni Vyatha (Silent Suffering), a novella. He has written numerous short stories, short plays for children, and extensively reviewed the work of contemporary poets. He has toured the country, participating in various literary meets and assemblies, in Kerala, Karnataka, Mumbai, Gujarat, Allahabad, Kolkata, Delhi and Orissa.
Winner of the acclaimed ‘Kaviraj’ award of the Konkani Bhasha Mandal, Ramesh Veluskar has won awards for his works like Morpakham, Maati and Bhook Bhook Bhishu. Goa’s Kala Academy has also honoured him with two awards for Bhook Bhook Bhishu and Moni Vyatha. He is also a recipient of the B B Borkar Award from the Goa Hindu Association, Mumbai, in 1997. In recognition of his services to the Hindi language, he was honoured with the ‘Rashtriya Hindi Seva Sahastrabdi Samman’ at the Sahastra Vishwa Hindi Sammelan, 2000.
Humble to a fault, Veluskar credits much of his literary finesse to his experiences in Shantiniketan, the university set up by Rabindranath Tagore, where he spent some months in 1981, after two months of learning Bengali at the Purbanchal Bhasha Kendra at Bhubaneshwar. This stint at the cradle of India’s renaissance culture, he says, brought about dramatic changes in his thinking.
Veluskar’s wide-ranging explorations into the literary world have expanded his horizons. Freed from the tyranny of a job, Veluskar has started writing in Bengali and Hindi apart from Konkani and English. An anthology of his Hindi verse called Samudra Mudrika (Stamp of the Sea) is due for publication shortly.
Associated with several literary organisations for long, Veluskar was elected chairperson of the Konkani Bhasha Mandal and an associate member of the Goa Konkani Academy (1991), and has also served on the advisory board of the National Book Trust, India.
Ramesh Bhagwant Veluskar is undoubtedly one among those Konkani litterateurs whose indelible imprint on the various facets of the language will continue to enthral generations of readers. His literary work, especially his poetry, can at once dazzle, mesmerise and enlighten the reader, imbuing him with a delicate sense of deja vu, as he takes a joyride through a literary wonderland of authentic, original and earthly writings grounded firmly in the folk heritage of the Konkan.R veluskar and Kavita Trast
A SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
Poetry Children’S Poetry
MORPAKHAM 1979 BHUK BHUK BHISHU 1980
Sobit Sahitya Rajhans Vitaran
MATI 1983 CHANIMAMA 1983
Konkan Times Publication Rajhans Vitaran
AANGANINACHTA 1988 FULPAKULEM 1985
MOR MORYA Sanjivani Prakashan
Rajhans Vitaran CHU CHU 2005
SAVULGORI 1989 Lokved Abhyas Vedi
HIRANYAGARBHA 1993 GHURU GHURU 2005
Rajhans Vitaran VARO
Lokved Abhyas Vedi
Novels Childern Drama
MONI VYATHA 1974 KUNNE KUSKUR 2007
Jaag Prakashan Goa Konkani Akademi
ANDHA YUG 1998
1947 Born in Palem, 10-11-1947
1969 Kaviraj Puraskar , Konkani Bhasha Mandal
1970 Took up post as a teacher in St. Andrews High School
1974 Moni Vyatha Published
1976 Kala Academi Puraskar for Mani, Vyatha
1979 Attended First Poetry workshop of Sahitya Akademi in Mumbai
1980 Bhuk Bhuk Bhishu published
1981-82 Went to Bhuwaneshwar to study Bengali
1982 Married to Mithilesh Srivasthava
1983 Kala Academi Puraskar to Bhuk Bhuk Bhishu
1983 Mati Published
1983 Channimama Published
1985 Fulpaakulem Published
1988 Aangani Nachta Mar Morya Published
1989 Savulgari published
1990 Sauulgori, a poetry book won Sahitya Akademi award
1991 Member, Goa Kala Academi, Goa
1991 President, Konkani Bhasha Mandal
1992 Member, Goa Konkani Akademi
1997 Member, Advisory committee National Book Trust, India
2000 Honoured with the ‘Rashtriya Hindi Seva Sahastrabdi
Samman’ at the Sahastra Vishwa Hindi Sammelan
2002 Opted voluntary retirement
2003 Attended AIR’s All Indian Languages Poetry Meet
2005 Lokved Abhyas Vedi Trust
2006 An exhibition “Torture of Tree” Poetry and painting,