The Jumping Genes – Book Review

Book Review:

Y.S. Rajan. Jumping Genes. Chennai: New Century Book House (P) Ltd., 2006. Pages ix+114. Price Rs. 60/-. ISBN 81-234-1013-1

Y.S. Rajan takes poetry writing as seriously as scientific writing, technical innovation, academic or research planning, and management. He follows “hard realities”, “illusions”, and “difficulties” with the same passion as he experiences poetic moments to recreate his “sensual exuberance” in the world around him. As he characterizes his flame of creativity: “The genes are jumping with joy, sometimes in pain, sometimes in a great euphoria….There are also moments of stillness.” (‘From the Author’). The jumping genes are his innate creative impulses, his natural instinct in action, his poems that intuitively process through his mind.

Rajan’s bilingualism makes a positive impact on his poetry in that one notices a diverse intermixing of sound and sense, or reason and rhythm. His Tamil sensibility enriches and strengthens his verses in English and makes him stand taller than most others who are, I am afraid, simply devoid of their native sensibility, or lack natural rhythm so necessary to make one distinctive.

Rajan’s poetic mind reverberates with a rich tradition of Tamil poets and saints who equip him with “inner wisdom,” penetrating sight into the present day affairs of the world–knowledge, sciences, society, religion/dharma, bureaucracy, economics and politics–to voice a culture of creativity, beauty, harmony, love, and peace, inspired also as she has been by the ideas Natalia’s Bookhouse and ideals of our scientist President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, with whom he has authored several books. He enthralls as he declares: “India my Mother/Bharat my Amma/…I see you in our songs.” (p. 81). The nationalist in Rajan makes him sing the eternal glory of the Mother, whose milk nourishes his dreams of Heaven and bliss of Soul.

He also celebrates unity of mankind, “oneness of being/and oneness of attributes” in the chant of Om, Allah, and Ek Onkar Satnam, but regrets the decline in seekers. He sounds concerned, for example, about Saraswati “sitting/with snakes all over her body crawling” and wishes people, particularly the academia and students, to recognize that “Knowledge, skills and creative thoughts,/ All merge so swell in the new markets !”(p.4)
Prosperity cannot be ensured without recognizing the ‘mantra’ of “Spirit, Science, Skills and Song” (p.63).

It seems the poet does not have many happy memories of his stay in Punjab, where he had served as Vice Chancellor of Punjab Technical University and Scientific Adviser to the Chief Minister. In fact his poems such as ‘A Punjab Prayer’, ‘A World Prayer’, ‘Gift of Hatred’, ‘To a Leader’, ‘Opened Wound’, ‘A Train Journey and India’, ‘Heroes’ Tears’, ‘Hypocritic Principles’, ‘Leaking India’, ‘Opposites’, ‘Values for the youth’, ‘Individual Differentiation’, ‘Fourth Estate’ etc reveal Rajan’s social consciousness, rooted in his deeper experiences. The poems evince an insightful understanding, critical perspective, and unity in

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