Introduction

“Heaven, If You Are Not Here On Earth” is written by K.V. Puttappa popularly known by his pen name Kuvempu. He is considered to be the greatest poet of the 20th Century Kannada Literature. He is immortalized particularly for his contribution to Universal Humanism – Vishwa Maanavataa Vaada.

This poem is a translation of the Kannada poem Swargave, Bhoomiyoliradire Neenu. It reveals the rationalistic outlook of the poet who sees God in Nature. There is no other god for him since he has not been able to see any god nor has anyone else.

Explanation

Stanza 1

Heaven, if you are not here on earth
Where else could you be!

The poet addresses ‘Heaven’ and declares emphatically that if Heaven does not exist on the Earth where else can it be. It only means that the reader need not look for ‘Heaven’ in the skies; if at all there is an entity called ‘Heaven’ one must find it on the earth only and nowhere else.

Stanza 2

If we ourselves cannot be gods
Then there can be no gods!
If we ourselves aren’t heavenly nymphs
The nymphs are not elsewhere!

The poet refers to our beliefs about ‘Gods’ and ‘heavenly nymphs’. The poet expresses his conviction that there is no distinct or substantial entity called ‘God’ and it is Man himself who is God. Similarly, there exist no entities called ‘heavenly nymphs’. He firmly believes that we ourselves are the nymphs, and the nymphs are to be found nowhere else but, on this earth, only.

Stanza 3

While this roaring stream rushes fast
Rolling surf at the edge of waves
The tender sunshine leans on Verdant gardens
And then the gentle Sun – make the earth, heaven!

The poet tries to introduce us to the different forms or parts of heaven that exist on the earth. He presents a mesmerizing picture of ‘Nature’ in its pristine form. The poet states that the ‘bliss’ that we experience when we look at the streams that are leaping down, roaring, from the top of the hills, the waves that come rolling across the seas carrying surf at their edges, the tender rays of sunlight falling on the vast expanse of green forests and the gentle sun warming up the earth make this Earth, ‘Heaven’.

Stanza 4

In the splendour of harvest and of moonlight
Heaven lies all over!
Imbibing and spilling the song of nectar
The poet does create heaven on earth
!

The poet refers to the beauty of the harvest season and the moonlit night. He declares that one enjoys heavenly bliss when one watches the splendour of harvest and the moonlit night. The poet ends the poem by saying that the poet who imbibes this heavenly bliss, spreads the nectar of Heaven through his poetry on this earth. A poet is endowed with a higher degree of imagination and sensibility. With these qualities, the poet appreciates nature’s beauty and in turn, the poet enables others to behold heaven on earth.

Conclusion

The poet, being a rationalist, believes that heaven is on earth. In order to prove his claim that heaven is only on this earth and not anywhere else, the poet gives many examples. He points to the roaring, rushing stream with crystal-clear water, the rolling milky-white surf at the edge of waves, the tender sunshine shining through the lush green leaves on verdant gardens, the gentle sun warming the earth, the golden splendour of harvest, and the cool, divine moonlight — and says that all these make the earth a heavenly place. There cannot be anything more beautiful than all these.

Thus, there cannot be another place called heaven. Common people who are not very observant or articulate, miss the beauties of nature and carry on their mundane lives passively. The poet, being more sensitive and observant than others, imbibes and spills the song of nectar, pointing out the wonders of nature to everyone. In this manner, he creates heaven on earth through his poetry and invites everyone to experience the joy of being amidst bountiful nature. He says it is the poet who makes the earth appears heavenly.