Narayan Dutt Pandey has come a long way from serving as the administrative and technical in-charge in the office of the former Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan to being a poet. Narayan, also known as Atal Narayan, has published a poetry book titled ‘Agyat Antarman,’ inspired by his learnings on society, culture, life, and self-awareness. Narayan discusses his poetic fascination with him in an interview.
Being the native of Prayagraj, how has this historic place influenced your journey as a poet?
Prayagraj, as the name suggests, is a hub of history, culture, and tradition. It is as alive as any area on the planet. Prayagraj and the splendor of the Kumbh Mela and Triveni Sangam are known not only to Indians but also to people from other countries. I grew up on the banks of the Holy Ganga and discovered the truth ‘Gange Tav Darshnat Mukti’. I joined the RSS and volunteered at the Surya Foundation. I used to travel into the deep hinterlands and villages, where I encountered people living in extreme poverty and hardship. To make a difference in the lives of the villagers, we used to establish educational and health camps. All these experiences have deeply influenced my poetry.
How did you start writing poetry, and what was your source of inspiration?
As a child, I was amazed by the power of poems by Tulasidas and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. There have been numerous sources of inspiration for me. I’m overwhelmed by the beauty in the minor details of nature, places I visit, people I meet, and my diverse life experiences. It could be anybody, monuments, trees, songs, or anything else under the sun.
Tell us about your previous jobs before becoming a poet
So, while poetry and art have always been my first love and real calling, I have a family and a life to support. I’ve worked as a junior engineer and later as a corporate digital telecom specialist. At the former Union Health Minister’s office, I oversaw the technical team and was in charge of the entire social media and personal office staff.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Well, it’s not quite that simple. Ultimately, any artist’s work is a summation of their thoughts and experiences of her, which cannot be attained in isolation. So, in my perspective, empathy, interaction, and personal experiences are what propel an artist’s development.
What does poetry mean to you? Why do you write?
Poetry is to me what soul is to the body. To satiate my spiritual need, I read and write poems. It’s my gateway to my happy place, inner serenity, and chance to comprehend this wide and varied world.
Which poets have inspired you? Do you feel yourself ever influenced by the writing style of a poet?
There is a huge list of poets who have inspired me, but among the most notable are Atal Bihari Bajpayee, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Kabir, Tulsidas, Rahim, Ghalib, Rumi, and Rabindranath Tagore. In terms of influencing my writing, I believe Atal Ji’s words, ideas, and style have influenced me the most.
What is the role of a poet in today’s society?
Poets have served as a social mirror for millennia. Reflecting society precisely as it is, all of its virtues and flaws are shown. Poets have and continue to elicit thought and conscious action to effect positive change. A poet should be both a critic and a spokesperson for society, striving to be the voice of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Tell us about your upcoming book project?
I am working on a poetic book and I would like to recite a para “Hey Sardar, jab dekhta hu tumhe, mujhe yaad aati hai wo lagan, wo tapan, aur hridaya me desh bhakti ka prajjvalan mujhe bal milta hai. Nirbhikta se kaam karne ka, anvarat chalte rehne ka aur path se na bhatakne ka, hey saaardar jab dekhta hu tumhe.”
Any message for the young writers to export new dimensions of creative writing?
The budding poets should be honest about their craft, themselves, and the realities of their lives. So don’t be caught in between the harsh truth of life of earning a living and romanticizing your love and passion for poetry.