Our Sovereign Artist has encountered this “queen of the forest delicate as a bud of the Champak flower” in the very early morning hours of the Vasant season. This was March-April of 2004 when Mumbiram and Vrinda were living at Dashrath-Mangaltai´s Raut Galli house in Akshi. This is the same thorny patch of forest that had to be crossed to come out at the ocean that we saw when Raja Ram Mohan Roy had appeared at high noon on a walk to the ocean.
Except here the camera is in Mumbiram´s hand, mostly.
The poem that is amazingly fitting the leela is a little known very short sweet work of the celebrated Marathi poet Balkavi. Many will agree that Marathi poetry saw its zenith in romance that was ensconed in gentleness, honesty and innocence in this poet´s work. Maybe Borkar, Kusumagraj and Padgaokar came close.
Balkavi´s real personal life was famously tragic. We read about it in Laxmibai Tilak´s “Smritichitre”. The poet´s life came to an abrupt end at a tragic mishap on the railway tracks at a very early age. His young wife survived him to live to ripe old age. She has blamed the abuse by the poet´s elder brother and his wife for the poet´s unhappy married life.
Mumbiram`s own personal life could have turned out to be a similar tragedy. Instead Mumbiram has avenged the tragedies that his heroes underwent. His artist grandfather was one example that comes to mind. This poet might be another.
The poem was set to music by maestro Jitendra Abhisheki when it appeared in a popular Marathi musical drama. It has been sung by many singers ever since. The rendition by Jitendraji´s daughter Mekhla is exquisite.
Neither Mumbiram (and certainly) nor Vrinda were aware of Balkavi´s amazing composition when they were inspired to these very same rasa ecstasies. The sheer coincidence and congruence make your trust in the creator´s merciful grace stronger.