Metaphor of a lone marcher

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Jun 2018 09:47:17


By Vijay Phanshikar,

Tu na thakega kabhi,
Tu na rukega kabhi,
Tu na mudega kabhi,
Kar shapath, kar shapath, kar shapath
Agnipath Agnipath Agnipath
(You will not fatigue ever,
You will not stop ever,
You will not divert ever,
Swear now, swear now, swear now
Walk on the burning coals, walk on...
walk on...)
- An excerpt from
an original Hindi poem “Agnipath”,
by Harivansh Rai Bachchan,
(Loose translation mine).

This poem has etched itself on human memory as part of immortal poetry. When he wrote this poem, Harivansh Rai Bachchan had his own global political view. But this poem transcended all barriers as it talked of a resolute human
journey unfettered by limitations and twists and turns -- towards a sublime destination.

Of course, that is walking on burning coals -- Agnipath!
Of course, that is walking despite my human limitations, like fatigue, like a surging temptation to stop mid-way, like an unstoppable desire to change course ...!

But no, my dear, you will not do anything like that! Swear now, swear now ... and walk on .. walk on .. on those burning coals that singe your feet, that dampen your resolve. But, you the chosen one, you must walk on:
Agnipath Agnipath Agnipath!

Yes, my son, you are born different, born for a different purpose. And my dear, since you are different, since you have a stated purpose of your journey on burning coals, you must walk on ...! - without fatigue,
without stopping, without giving in to
temptation of diverting or even stopping
altogether! For, my son, you are the chosen one. You have a divine dimension to your journey.

In a world all willing to circumscribe itself with limitations of desire, demand and deceit, this destiny of walking on Agnipath may sound rather too harsh, too inhuman,
too unkind!

Never mind all that, dear. I believe that you are honest to oath, loyal to longing for the goal. I believe, your walking on these burning coals will elevate you to a sublime, spiritual zone where you will be in a near-divine
company of those great men and women who have walked on this path earlier. They will be your cohorts, your darlings, your family ...!

Agnipath is no ordinary poetry. Its words are very simple. But when an Amitabh Bachhan recites Agnipath, the whole
meaning changes, the whole metaphor is aflame with purposefulness. Then we realise the power of simple words, the strength of honest expression, the
magnetic attraction of
meaning concealed between lines ...!

All human progress has walked on burning coals, so to say -- since time immemorial. For, even when the first humans walked on Earth millions of years ago, naked and knotted in hair, there was at least one among them walking a path of burning coals -- reaching out for newer frontiers, pushing the limitations farther, braving the community -- (of seagulls who excommunicate Jonathan Livingston to Far Cliffs) and its set wisdom. And after that journey without fatigue, without diversion must have come some peak of human excellence and achievement. And until that became part of the community’s lexicon, the community kept shunning its marchers on burning coals, and warning others from doing so.

But in each epoch, each era, somebody did stand up and stand apart and dared to walk on and on -- regardless ...! And in each human community and culture, a Harivansh Rai Bachchan, too, emerged and hailed Agnipath and urged that marcher on the coals to go on and on.
Agnipath is the name of that metaphor.