Saturday, June 18, 2011


Dear Friends,
Please do not try to find any poetic form or fineness in this poem; because you may find none. It is not a poem in the true sense, but a candid expression of what went on in my heart while visiting my home town after a gap of so many years.


Taking the cover of night
Like a thief
I sneaked into the town
And into its streets
Into the glare of its lights.

Familiar faces
Once to me my very own
Suddenly seemed so alien
Making me feel so forlorn.

Like the bird rendered homeless
Searching frantically for its lost nest,
I roamed the streets
In search of the address
Where I spent my best.

Hidden behind the darkness
I sought after the faces
Of my friends;
With no intention to meet or say 'hello'
Lest one might ask the reason of my long absence .

How could I've explained to them
I was that uprooted tree;
Hiding in me
A suppressed wail;
Pining to be free
And to return to my soil.

How I missed the waves, the sky,
The fragrance in the air
Of my birth place
To me once so dear
Suddenly seem so near
Yet so far.

I could've touched them
Could've held them in my hands
But I could not
Lest I could be caught.

With sobbing eyes
And a bleeding heart
I bade farewell
To my dear town
With a promise to return
This time not as a thief
But like a friend long lost
Into its welcoming breast.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happiness is a bird…..

Happiness is like a bird. The more you run after its pursuit; the more it keeps eluding you by hopping from branch to branch & finally flies away, out of reach, into the oblivion. Yet we all want to be happy in life. Some get the happiness they so fondly want; but some miss the bus for ever & make their lives miserable. Like love, happiness has different definitions & holds different meanings for different people. There is no universal definition for it.

To some happiness means affluence, power & social standing. Some feel happy when they achieve something or get their heart’s desire. Some feel happy after having a sumptuous meal; while some others become happy when they are in the midst of like minded friends. Listening to a soulful tune or reading a good novel makes some people happy. It means that everybody has his own way of feeling happy. The problem with this sort of happiness is that it is short lived & one ceases to feel happy as soon as he is removed from the means of his happiness.

So can’t there be anything like unperturbed & perennial happiness, the bliss, in search of which our ancient sages & ‘rishis’ spent their whole life & were able to achieve it through years of penance & meditation? But we are not living in that period, when there was no constraint of time or when they do not have to spend sleepless nights thinking & planning for the next day. We are living in an age, where we have to take every step cautiously & fight with ourselves as well as with the forces that are always in the look out for keeping us out of the race. Even in this scenario, our quest of happiness makes us to try different avenues, in the hope that one or the other may lead us to get the happiness we want. We try to be rich thinking that once we become rich, we will be happy. We become successful in our efforts & get affluence. But in stead of giving us our much desired happiness, it enhances our thirst for more & more riches, which ends in amassing unaccountable riches but not getting an iota of happiness. Rather by that time so many diseases might have come with it as a bonus.

Then how can we be really happy? It is said that he is the happiest man who thinks the most interesting thoughts & one can think interesting thoughts only when he can train himself to come out of the humdrum of monotonous thoughts which revolves around creature comfort. But thinking creative thoughts is a disciplinary process. For it one has to read, study & converse on current events, politics, science, philosophy and has to escape from dull self-centeredness. His participatory awareness of life in its infinite vitality will tend to produce the excitement which is inherent in happiness. A man can experience it when he stops thinking about his own happiness & say to himself that he does not want to get that happiness for which others might have to suffer & be unhappy. One has to transform himself by renewing his mind.

The principle of happiness should be like the principle of virtue. It should not be dependent upon things but should be a part of one’s personality. The art living rightly is like all arts. It must be learnt & practiced with utmost care. We have to remember that, in the words of Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Happiness is like a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you”.

Thank you.

New Delhi.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


World’s biggest phenomena ---- the Car Festival or Rath Yatra of Lord Jagnnath is going to take place today (Asadha shukla dwitiya, the 24 June) in the holy city, Puri. Lakhs of people, from all over the world are going to be assembled in Puri to participate in the Rath Yatra. I am not going to describe here about the Car Festival. What I am going to discuss here is; how Lord Jagnnath, his abode Sree Mandira or Bada Deula& the Car Festival stand for universal brotherhood, without the consideration of caste, creed, sect or religion.

The temple of Lord Jagnnath is called Sree Mandira, denoting the ownership to Sree or Laxmi, the consort of Lord Jagnnath. The pragmatic or modern idea of untouchability, which was unheard of, unthinkable & unbelievable at a time a few centuries ago, was first propagated by none other than Sree Laxmi herself & endorsed by the Lord of the universe Jagnnath.

The legend, according to Laxmi Purana by the devout poet, Sri Balaram Das goes like this that once Laxmi, being pleased by the devotion & cleanliness of Shreya, a low born sweeper woman, visited her house & accepted her offerings. By doing so, she incurred the wrath of Lord Jagnnath, first; as she did not take his prior permission & secondly as she visited the house of a low caste sweeper woman. He expelled her from the temple, branding her as a chandalin, a low caste woman.

Laxmi took a vow & cursed Him that one day he would have to accept food from the hands of a chandalin in order to satiate His hunger. It so happened that after the expulsion of Laxmi, the temple became devoid of its sree or grandeur. Lord Jagnnath & his elder brother Balaram had to leave the temple in search of food to fill the stomach. Driven by the pang of hunger, Lord Jagnnath tried to sell the gold ring on his finger, so that they might buy some food. But they were being insulted for trying to sell a ring that had turned to be of a fake metal. Then, desperate for food, they tried their hand at begging. But there was also no luck for them. People refused to give them alms due to their healthy & robust figure. They considered them, as good for nothing shirkers.

Roaming the streets for food, empty bellied & drained of their stamina, they were met with success, when at one end of the city, on the shore of the sea, the maid of a palatial building offered them food, on condition that they would have to cook on their own as the mistress of the house is a chandalin; & as she did not wish to commit a sin by feeding such high caste Brahmins like them. But when their entire attempt to light the fire of the oven failed, they broke the earthen pot meant for cooking & blind with hunger, begged to be fed by the low caste mistress of that palatial building.

After they took their bath at the behest of the maid, they were seated on beautiful asanas & were served with a sumptuous dish of sixty four verities of food, the usual fare that they were used to have everyday. Half way through the dinner, Lord Jagnnath realized that the food tastes like the food being prepared by Laxmi. Unable to control his emotions, he could not eat any more. Then Laxmi revealed her identity & told them that as they had eaten food offered by a chandalin, they had also lost their caste & had become chandals. Jagnnath realized his mistake & promised to Laxmi that hence forward, there would be no discrimination on caste in the Sree Mandira & the “mahaprasada” would be partaken by all, irrespective of their being high or low caste from the same plate, with the least fear of loosing one’s caste ,polluted by touch.

Another incident that high lights the communal harmony is as follows:

Sal Beg, a poet & a Muslim devotee of Lord Jagnnath, whose Samadhi or tomb is situated on Badadanda or Grand Road, the heart of the holy city ,Puri Dham. Sal Beg was the son of a Hindu Brahmin mother & a Muslim father Lal Beg, an official of the emperor Aurangzeb. Sal Beg, though born as a Muslim, became a staunch devotee of Lord Jagnnath. Once during the time of Rath Yatra, he happened to be in Vrindavan, hundreds of miles away from Puri. He vehemently wanted to be present at Puri during the Car Festival & set out on his journey towards Puri. But it was very difficult & nearly impossible on his part to travel such long distance by walking on foot & reach in time.He vehemently prayed Lord Jagnnath to remain on the chariot until he reaches Puri, so that he could be able to see Him on the chariot.

The auspicious hour for the chariots to be pulled came. But lo & behold; no amount of endeavor or force; & even the services of royal elephants employed to pull the chariot could move it an inch from where it was parked near Balagandi,half way from the GundichaTemple,the final destination. Lord Jagnnath listened to the prayers of Sal Beg & waited till he arrived. As soon as Sal Beg touched the ropes of the chariot, it began to move. Sal Beg fell down there & breathed his last.

After the death of Sal Beg, in his honour, a tomb was allowed to be built near Balagandi on the heart of Puri town. Since then, every year during the Car Festival, Lord Jagnnath’s chariot halts in front of the tomb of Sal Beg twice, on his onward & return journey between Sree Mandira & Gundicha Temple, to accept the offerings made to Him on behalf of Sal Beg.

The two incidents I have cited above high light the fact that Lord Jagnnath, His Car Festival & the holy city, Puri have risen above the discrimination of caste, creed or religion, since a time when lowly born were considered to be un touchable & even whose shadows could have the power to pollute the high castes & when Muslims were considered to be jabanas.

It is no wonder that the Car Festival attracts millions of people from all over the world to come, mingle & bathe in the nectar of love & universal brotherhood.