We present this work in honor of Dr. Ambdekar Jayanti.
Leave your books behind.
Since memory, Like knowledge, is a traitor, Erase every hoarding of your horrible past.
At last, when you enter her world Of fraying edges and falling angels Don’t barter words where touch will do and be the truth. For once allow her silence to sear, strip your life-layers Because she who knows the truth will not know the tale.
Through endless ages, the mind has never changed It has not lived or died, come or gone, gained or lost. It isn’t pure or tainted, good or bad, past or future. true or false, male or female. It isn’t reserved for monks or lay people, elders to youths, masters or idiots, the enlightened or unenlightened. It isn’t bound by cause and effect and doesn’t struggle for liberation. Like space, it has no form. You can’t own it and you can’t lose it. Mountains. rivers or walls can’t impede it. But this mind is ineffable and difficult to experience. It is not the mind of the senses. So many are looking for this mind, yet it already animates their bodies. It is theirs, yet they don’t realize it.
This is how the shloka goes — women, nails and hair once they’ve fallen just can’t be put back in place said our Sanskrit teacher.
Frozen in place out of fear we girls held on tight to our seats. Place, what is this ‘place’? We were shown our place in the first grade. We remembered our elementary school lessons Ram, go to school, son, Radha, go and cook pakora! Ram, sip sugar syrup, Radha, bring your broom! Ram, bedtime, school tomorrow Radha, go and make the bed for brother. Aha! This is your new house Look Ram! Here’s your room “And mine?” Oh, little loony! Girls are wind, the sun and the good earth They have no homes “Those who don’t have a home, where do they belong?”
Which is the place from where we fall become clipped nails, fallen hair trapped in combs, fit only to be swept away Houses left behind, paths left behind people were left behind questions chasing us, too left behind Leaving behind tradition, it seems to me I’m as out of context as a short line from a great classic scribbled on a BA examination paper
But I don’t want somebody to sit down and analyse me to pigeonhole me At long last, beyond all contexts with real difficulty I’ve gotten here
Love is inaccessible, incomparable, immeasurable It is like the ocean – He who comes to its shore will not go back When he drank the wine of Love, Varuna became the Lord of the waters Because he drank poison out of Love, the Lord of the Mountain, Shiva, is worshipped.
Wonder was it when a rock touched by your foot became a youthful woman, Wonder was it when a multitude of boulders floated on water in steadiness, But, what wonder it is when a man by constant thinking of you obtains salvation? on This earth, pleasant one to the daughter of earth, Daasarathii, ocean of kindness!
When Generosity and Greed set out to see Jahangirpur They saw a huge array of forts, towns and villages – How could I possibly recount all their names? They saw lakes and rivers that made them glad. Then they approached the ‘Bir lake.’ Seeing the magnificent Bir lake They sought the appropriate terms for describing it. It gives such pleasure on earth, this body of water! It is marvelous, clear, vast, and profound in its depths. It is home to blossoming flowers, bright like a star-lit sky. It is a place of great coolness, where the heat of summer is forbidden entry: Abode of scents, a place of beauty, effacer of the world’s cares Like the goddess Candika in its dark hue. The tall waves are a cluster of clouds releasing their spray in the wind At sunset the water takes on a red quality, Waves shimmering like lightning, removing the sorrow of men’s hearts. Night and day peacocks dance in all directions to the spray of the lake The lotuses bloom, their white luster like moonlight…
In honor of Vikram Smavat New Year, we present this work by one of modern India’s most evocative poets.
The house of my childhood stood empty On a grey hill All its furniture gone Except my grandmother’s grindstone And the brass figurines of her gods
After the death of all birds Bird-cries still fill the mind After the city’s erasure A blur still peoples the air In the colourless crack that comes before morning In a place where nobody can sing Words distribute their silence Among intricately clustered glyphs
My grandmother’s voice shivers on a bare branch I toddle around the empty house Spring and summer are both gone Leaving an elderly infant To explore the rooms of age