The Villain

Can’t but help post this little gem from an eleventh-century Sanskrit author by the name of Kshemendra. This is the first chapter of his book Desopadesa which is a satirical work on different types of base people in the society. One can’t stop from making the comparison of people around us, particularly those in power with what he describes.

The Villain

Salutations to the villain. He is like a mortar: full of chaff as well as grain, and always fit for crushing both. Friend and foe are the same to him, as are respect and derision, and he is practised at bypassing rules. Thus is he ordained for salvation/ but he is also vile, like a dog: greedy for crumbs, fierce in quarrels and always dirty. His tongue pollutes the worthy as the dog’s does the bowl. In tardiness, malevolence and harming good works out of ill will, he is like the planet Saturn. Strangely, he is also that planet’s opposite: a thunderbolt that strikes mankind. (5-8)

Though a fool devoid of sacred learning, the villain claims to be a scholar because of his past good deeds. In extolling his own merits he is like Shesha, the thousand-headed serpent, and in running down others, like Brihaspati, the guru of the gods.

His throat is so afflicted with jealousy that his tongue cannot utter words of praise for the good, even if it is pulled out with a pair of tongs; though in slandering them, he has eyes and mouths on every side. His ears, too, are everywhere, and he hears all as he bides his time. (9-11)

The villain is like the world: illusory by nature; afflicted by passion, hatred and craziness; deluding even great minds. Whom has he not corrupted? Like a person’s pubic parts, he is, in fact, a source of shame, addiction and infatuation, and an instigator of desire. (12-13)

Ignoring his own and another’s food, the wretch always sits close to his patron, whispering slander into his ear as if it were the cosmic science. Indeed, he talks of everyone’s faults. But who talks of his? For who will ever discuss the blemishes in a dirty garment? As if in sport, the trickster even creates pictures in the sky: But he is still considered base, for among the tall he remains puny: (14-16)

With a villain, influential,

mad for money, base and cruel,

holding high office,

O people, alas, where will you go? (17)

Yet, a villainous fool is preferable to a clever villain, just as a toothless snake is to a deadly serpent, black and winged. Pollution follows the villain as it did the ogre Khara. Both are spoilers of human habitation; arrogant and hostile to the learned; devourers of mankind. Should a villain tum, by some stroke of luck, into a sincere and good person, it would be like an ape in the forest turning to prayer with its arms upraised. (18-20)

To say that a villain will praise merit is questionable, that he will love, unreasonable, and that he will give something, quite meaningless. But to say that he will kill cannot be an untruth. Influencing the master by whispering slanders in his ears night and day, I believe he spreads his control everywhere. What is the worth of anything, in the course of getting which the dust from his chamber door will adorn one’s head? It can only be a defect, never a merit. Arrogant with a bit of money, given to grand talk, the villain is a strange invention of the Creator. With eyebrows raised, he maligns, in public gatherings, the reputations of good men, which are as radiant as the expanse of Mount Kailasa.

(21-24)

from Desopadesa by Kshemendra

Concealing thougts…

Yes, of the kind which men attain!

Who dares the child’s true name in public mention?

The few, who thereof something really learned,

Unwisely frank, with hearts that spurned concealing,

And to the mod laid bare each thought and feeling,

Have evermore been crucified and burned.

–  Goethe. Faust

Hymn of Creation from Rig Veda

This wonderful Hymn of Creation one of the oldest surviving records of philosophic doubt in the history of the world, marks the development of a high stage of abstract thinking, and it is the work of a very great poet, whose vision of the mysterious chaos before creation, and of mighty ineffable forces working in the depths of the primaeval void, is portrayed with impressive economy of language.

“Then even nothingness was not, nor existence.
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?

“Then there were neither death nor immortality,
nor was there then the torch of night and day.

The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.
“At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.
All this was only unillumined water.

That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,
arose at last, bom of the power of heat.
“In the beginning desire descended on it
that was the primal seed, bom of the mind.

The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom
know that which is is kin to that which is not.
“And they have stretched their cord across the void,
and know what was above, and what below.

Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces.
Below was strength, and over it was impulse,
“But, after all, who knows, and who can say
whence it all came, and how creation happened?

The gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?
“Whence all creation had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,

he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows— or maybe even he does not know.

From – The Wonder That Was India – A. L. Basham

The Tyger – William Blake

The Tyger is a poem by William Blake, a English poet, painter and print maker. Blake’s works are considered seminal in poetry and visual arts. This is part of the book called The Songs of Experience published in 1794. It is one of Blake’s most known and analysed poems. Many of the facsimile prints can be seen here.

 

In the original print the poem is illustrated.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night :
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears :
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger, Tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night :
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I first read this poem in the Rendezvous With Rama series by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee. In the book one of the characters is overwhemled by the appeareance of the giant space-ship named Rama and in wonder says the lines from Blake’s Tyger.

As a species tiger is seriously endangered and its survival depends on just a few thousand (~ 1.5 K) indivduals left in the wild. They say that if immediately steps are not taken, we might not see the tiger in wild beyond the second decade of the century. Illegal poaching and destruction of the habitat are mainly responsible for exponential decline in the tiger population in the country.

मेरी दु‌आ…

 मेरी दु‌आ है तेरी आरजु बदल जा‌‌ए

तेरी दुआ से कजा तो बदल नही‌‌ सकती
मगर है ईससे ये मुमकीन की तु बदल जाए


तेरी खुदी मे अगर इनकलाब हो पैदा
अजब नही के ये चार सो बदल जाए


वही शराब वही हया अो हु रहे बाकी
तरीक-ए-सबिक अो रस‌मे कदो बदल जाए


 तेरी दु‌आ है की हो तेरी आरजु पुरी
मेरी दु‌आ है तेरी आरजु बदल जा‌‌ए

अलामा ईकबाल

Love, but know not why

Love, but know not why

Love not me for comely grace,
For my pleasing eye or face,
Nor for any outward part;
No, nor for my constant heart:
For those may fail or turn ill, —
So thou and I shall sever.

Keep therefore a true woman’s eye,
And love me still, but know not why:
So hast thou the same reason still
To doat upon me ever.

– Anonymous

Gather ye rosebuds…

Gather ye rosebuds…

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is the best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be coy not, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

– Robert Herrick

Ghalib and communication…

Nawab Agha Khan Ashq wrote the following lines about Ghalib, which I think also applies to a lot of `intellectuals’.

अगर अपना काहा तुम अाप ही समझे तो क्या समझे?
मजा कहने का तब है, एक कहे अैार दुसरा समझे
जुबान मिर लिखे अैार कलाम सैादा समझे
मगर ईनका काहा ये अाप समझे या खुदा समझे.

(If only you understand what you have composed, what is one to do?
The joy of composing is when one composes and others understand too
When Meer writes and Sauda say we understand
But his couplets only he understands and God, its true.)

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

This is wonderful poem by Frost which reflects lot of my feelings about the things that I have done in my own life. I think I have taken the road not taken, but will have to wait a little longer to see where it leads me…

Zafarnama

Recently while reading about the last great Mughal, Aurangazeb, I came to know about a letter called Zafarnama written by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. Zafarnama literally means letter of victory. The letter was written by the Guru when he escaped a treacherous attack by Mughals in Chamkaur. Earlier oath on Quran had been taken to allow a safe passage to the Guru. There were 40 Sikhs in all who defended a garhi in Chamkaur on 22nd December 1704, amongst them sons of Guru Gobind Singh also gave their lives. 
The letter is in verse form, written in persian. The letter has 111 verses dedicated to different things. It is said that the letter caused great remorse to Aurangazeb and hastened his death.
Maybe the all the fundamentalists should also read this letter and understand, what Aurangazeb understood at the end of his life.
More about Zafarnama here and here. The translation below is from here.
Zafarnama by Guru Gobind Singh
O Master of miracles, O Eternal and Beneficent One,
O The Provider of our sustenance, O our Deliverer, Bestower of Grace and Mercy! (1)
O Giver of Bliss, O Great Pardoner, Who holds me by the Hand,
O Remitter of sins, O Bestower of daily bread, O Charmer of our hearts! (2)
O King of kings, O Giver of Good, O guidance of the Way.
O One without colour, without form, without equal! (3)
He who has no material possessions, no army, no ground to stand upon,
Him too, Thou blessest with Heavenly Bliss. (4)
Separate from the world, yet most powerful, the Presence, Who givest Thy gifts as if Thou wert here before us. (5)
O Thou Pure One, Our Cherisher, our only Giver.
O Thou Merciful One, who givest to every land! (6)
O Greatest of the great, Thou art the God of every land:
Of Perfect Beauty, Merciful and Giver of sustenance! (7)
O Master of intellect, O Embellisher of the meek,
O Refuge of the poor, O Destroyer of the tyrant! (8)
O Protector of the faith, Fountain of eloquence,
O Knower of the Real, O Author of revelation! (9)
O Master of intelligence, O Appreciator of Wisdom,
O Diviner of secrets, O Omnipresent God! (10)
Thou knowest all that happens in the world,
And Thou resolvest all its problems and doubts. (11)
O Thou all-knowing God, O Great One,
Thou alone art the organiser of our lives. (12)
The Memorandum to Aurangzeb
I have no faith in thy oaths,
Even if thou bringest in God as thy witness. (13)
I haven’t even an iota of trust in thee,
For, all thy ministers and thy courtiers are liars. (14)
He who puts faith in thy oath on the Koran,
He in the end, comes to ruin. (15)
But, beware that the insolent crow
Can lay not its hands upon one whose protection is Huma, the Bird of Heaven. (16)
He who seeks the refuge of the tiger
Can he be harmed by a goat, a deer or a buffalo? (17)
Had I vowed even secretly on the book of my faith,
I would have withdrawn infantry and cavalry from the field. (18)
And, what could my forty men do (at Chamkaur), when a hundred thousand men, unawares, pounced upon them? (19)
The oath breakers attacked them, of a sudden, with swords, arrows and guns. (20)
I had, perforce to join battle with thy hosts,
And I too fought with the muskets and arrows as best as I could. (21)
When an affair is past every other remedy,
It is righteous, indeed to unsheath the sword. (22)
Hadn’t I taken thee to thy word upon the Koran,
I wouldn’t have chosen the path I did. (23)
I knew not that thy men were crafty and deceitful like a fox.
Else I wouldn’t have driven myself to this state. (24)
He who swears to me on the Koran
Ought not to have killed or imprisoned my men. (25)
Thy army dressed like blue bottles,
Charged us, of a sudden, with a loud bang. (26)
But, he who advanced from thy ranks beyond his defences,
Was hit with such deadly aim of my single arrow that he was deluged in blood. (27)
But they who aggressed not against us
Were left unhurt, unmolested by us. (28)
When I witnessed thy general, Nahar Khan, advancing for war,
I gave him the taste of a single deadly arrow. (29)
And many of his men who boasted of their valour,
Fled the battlefield, in utter shame. (30)
Then advanced another one of Afghan blood,
Rushing forth like flood, like a gun-ball, or a deadly arrow. (31)
He made many assaults with great courage,
Some with conscious skill, and others like mad. (32)
The more he attacked, the more he was mauled,
And then while killing two of my ranks,
He, too, fell dead in the cold dust. (33)
But the cowardly and contemptible Khawaja came not forth like a man,
And hid himself behind a wall. (34)
Had I but seen his face,
I couldn’t but have helped him too with an arrow. (35)
At last, many on their side fell on the ground
Hit by the arrows and the death dealing bullets. (36)
There was, indeed, an overpowering rain of these,
And the earth turned red like the lalla flower. (37)
Torn heads and legs lay in heaps,
As if the earth was covered with balls and sticks. (38)
The arrows whizzed, the bows twanged,
And, it brought forth from the earth only cries and yells. (39)
There were other dreadful, vengeful noises too, of weapons and men,
When men, bravest of the brave, battled like mad. (40)
But, what kind of chivalry is this in war,
That countless hosts should pounce upon a mere forty of us, (41)
When the lamp of the world veiled itself,
And the queen of night came forth with all her splendour. (42)
He who trusts, however, in an oath on God,
His Protection also in He; in need, He shows the Path. (43)
So, not even a hair of mine was touched, nor my body suffered,
For the God, the Destroyer of my enemies, Himself pulled me out to safety. (44)
I knew not that you, O man, were a perjurer,
And a worshipper of self, and a breaker of faith. (45)
Nay, you keep no faith, nor mind religion,
Nor know God, nor believe in Mohammed. (46)
He who observes the tenents of his faith,
He makes a promise but never to break it. (47)
You have no idea of what an oath on the Koran is:
Nay, you have no faith in the One God. (48)
Now if you were to swear a hundred times on the Koran,
I’d regard not thy word, not an iota of it. (49)
Had you ever a mind to keep thy faith,
You would have taken courage and come to me. (50)
From when you gave your word,
Swearing in the name of God’s Word, it was incumbent on you to keep your faith. (51)
If your majesty were to be present here before me,
I would have with all my heart posted you with your treachery. (52)
Do now what is enjoined upon you,
And stick to your written and plighted word. (53)
The written word and the verbal promise of your envoy,
Both, should have been fulfilled by you. (54)
He alone is a man who keeps his word:
Not that he has one thing in the heart, and another on the tongue. (55)
Your promise was to honour the Qazi’s word,
If that be true, then come thou to me. (56)
If you want to seal thy promise on the Koran,
I would send the document for sure to thee. (57)
If only you were gracious enough to come to the village of Kangar,
We could then see each other face to face. (58)
On the way, there will be no danger to your life,
For, the whole tribe of Brars accepts my command. (59)
Come to me that we may converse with each other,
And I may utter some kind words to thee. (60)
I’d send thee a horseman like one in a thousand,
Who will conduct thee safe to my home. (61)
I’m a slave of the King of kings,
And ready to obey His Call with all my heart. (62)
If He were to order me thus,
I’d with utmost pleasure present myself to thee. (63)
And if you are a believer in One God,
Tarry not in what I ask you to do. (64)
It is incumbent upon you to recognise the God,
For He told you not to create strife in the world. (65)
You occupy the throne, in the name of God, the Sovereign of all creation,
But strange is thy justice, stranger thy attributes! (66)
What sense of discrimination is this? What regard for religion?
O fie on such a sovereignty! Fie a hundred times!! (67)
Stranger than strange are thy decrees, O king,
But beware that broken pledges boomerang on those who make them. (68)
Shed not recklessly the blood of another with thy sword,
Lest the Sword on High falls upon thy neck. (69)
O man, beware and fear thy God,
For, though flattery or cajolery He can be deceived not. (70)
He, the King of kings, fears no one,
And is the True Sovereign of the earth and heaven. (71)
God is the Master of the earth and the sky:
He is the Creator of all men, all places. (72)
He it is who Creates all – from the feeble ant to the powerful elephant,
And is the Embellisher of the meek and Destroyer of the reckless. (73)
His name is: “Protector of the meek”.
And Himself He is dependent upon no ones support or obligation. (74)
He has no twist in Him, nor doubt.
And, He shows man the Way to Redemption and Release. (75)
You are bound, indeed by your word on the Koran,
Let, therefore, the matter come to a good end, as is your promise. (76)
It is but meeting that you act wisely,
And be discreet in all that you do. (77)
What, if you have killed my four tender sons,
When I, like a coiled snake remain behind. (78)
It is not brave to put out a few sparks,
And stir up a fire to rage all the more! (79)
What a beautiful thought has Firdausi, the sweet-tongued poet, expressed:
“He who acts in haste, plays the devil”. (80)
When you and I will, both repair to the Court of God,
You will bear witness to what you did unto me. (81)
But, if you will forget even this,
Then, God on High will also forget you from His Mind. (82)
God will reward you well for your misdeed,
Which you launched with all your recklessness! (83)
This is the keeping of faith: this the act of goodness,
To put God above the love of life. (84)
I believe not that you know God,
Since, from you have come only tyrannous acts. (85)
The Beneficent God also will know thee not,
And will welcome not thee with all thy riches. (86)
If now you swear a hundred times on the Koran,
I will not trust you even for a moment. (87)
I will enter not your presence, nor travel on the same road,
Even if you so ordain, I would oblige you not. (88)
O Aurangzeb, king of kings, fortunate are you,
An expert swordsman and a horseman too: (89)
Handsome is your person and your intellect high,
Master of the lands, ruler and emperor. (90)
A skilled wielder of the sword and clever in administration,
A master-warrior and a man of charitable disposition. (91)
You grant riches and lands in charity,
O one of handsome body and brilliant mind. (92)
Great is your munificence, in war you are like a mountain,
Of angelic disposition, your splendor is like that of Pleiades. (93)
You are the king of kings, ornament of the throne of the world:
Master of the world, but far from religion! (94)
I warred with the idol-worshipping hill chiefs,
For, I am the breaker of idols and they their worshippers. (95)
Beware, the world keeps not faith with any:
He who rises also falls and comes to grief. (96)
And look also at the miracle that is God,
That He may destroy a whole host through a single man! (97)
What can an enemy do to him whose friend is God?
For the function of the Great Bestower is: To Bestow. (98)
He grants Deliverance and shows also the Way.
And He teaches the tongue to utter His praises, in love. (99)
In the time of need, He blinds the enemy,
And protects the helpless from all injury and harm. (100)
And he who acts in good faith,
On him, the Merciful One, rains His Mercy. (101)
He who serves Him with all his heart,
God blesses him with the Peace of Soul. (102)
What harm can an enemy do to him,
On whom is the Please of God, our Supreme Guide. (103)
The Creator-Lord is ever his refuge, even if tens of thousands of hosts were to proceed against him. (104)
If you have the pride of your army and riches,
I bank upon the Praise of God, the Almighty. (105)
You are proud of your empire and material possessions, while I am proud of the Refuge of God, the Immortal. (106)
Be not heedless: for the world lasts but a few days,
And man may leave it, one knows not when. (107)
Look at the ever changing faithless world:
And see what happens to every house, every denizon. (108)
If you are strong, torture not the weak,
And thus lay not the axe to thy empire. (109)
If the One God is one’s Friend, what harm can the enemy do,
Even if he multiplies himself a hundred times? (110)
A thousand times let an enemy assault him,
And yet touch not even a hair on his head. (111)