Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vande Mataram: Happy Independence Day

This is Sri Aurobindo's translation of the Indian National Song "Vande Matharam". On this occasion of our 62nd Independence Day Celebrations, this song that celebrates the glory of Mother India.

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
bright with orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving Mother of might,
Mother free.

Glory of moonlight dreams,
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Mother, giver of ease
Laughing low and sweet!
Mother I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Mother, to thee I bow.

Who hath said thou art weak in thy lands
When the sword flesh out in the seventy million hands
And seventy million voices roar
Thy dreadful name from shore to shore?
With many strengths who art mighty and stored,
To thee I call Mother and Lord!
Thou who savest, arise and save!
To her I cry who ever her foeman drove
Back from plain and Sea
And shook herself free.

Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou art heart, our soul, our breath
Thou art love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine.

Thou art Durga, Lady and Queen,
With her hands that strike and her
swords of sheen,
Thou art Lakshmi lotus-throned,
And the Muse a hundred-toned,
Pure and perfect without peer,
Mother lend thine ear,
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Dark of hue O candid-fair

In thy soul, with jeweled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Mother, mother mine!
Mother sweet, I bow to thee,
Mother great and free!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Many distrust a bond made across boundaries; for the same can turn into a ploy for infiltration. Though my self is not the high walls of Troy, when my security levels were low, you lured me into accepting your offer of friendship.

You asked me questions that I could not but refuse to answer while you wove lie upon lie to create an image of reality. When you had your fill, the life that I had in me was no more; the faith I had in others and myself had vanished and then you disappeared without a trace.

But by then, my life had degraded into empty words and need for somebody to survive. From independence, you brought me on to mass dependence on lies. An addiction, your lying words often lifted the gloom out of everyday though it ended as fast as it started.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ON TALKING from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran

And then a scholar said, Speak of Talking.

And he answered, saying:

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts;

And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime.

And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.

For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.

There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone.

The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape.

And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand.

And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.

In the bosom of such as these the spirit dwells in rhythmic silence.

When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the market place, let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue.

Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear;

For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered when the colour is forgotten and the vessel is no more.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ernest Hemingway

Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.
You, eager reader, must have read quite a lot of material on how to improve your creative writing skills. While I was attending a writing workshop recently, I had this brainwave. I actually hit upon a brilliant place to generate creative blog ideas.

The professor was discussing Ernest Hemingway’s writing habits. Hemingway chose a quiet room in his house that was neatly cluttered with his typewriter, foolscap sheets for pre-writing stages, an oversize slipper wearing which he stood and wrote and his wastebasket that contained shreds of initial drafts that he improved upon.

On the third day of the workshop, the writing exercise was on visualizing and describing the scene. For me, who is just a hack writer, the writing exercises were a disappointment. At that moment, I could not write anything more than a drab piece of prose that just rephrased what was originally in the article that the professor read out to us.

First, I asked the professor, “May I stand and write?” He said “If that helps”. Then I produced some poor quality writing whose only good point was that I described a person’s bland face coming alive when he smiled. The professor applauded that and wisely ignored the rest, while I sat expecting a word by word analysis of my writing. Well, nothing happened.

In the next twenty minutes, everybody read out their versions of the writing exercise. One was exceptionally well-written and I really saw how good it was, with good illustrations and cleverly planned. Then the clown in my mind started dancing and making faces. He showed me an image of The Carpenters in concert half-clad and inspired.

So to cover my embarrassment of being a writer and not being able to produce a good piece of writing, I started narrating the example of the carpenters and that I needed a good shower to start working on any writing job I have. Bogus or not, I went home and enjoyed some special time in my sacred space and came up with this piece on Ernest Hemingway.

Monday, August 03, 2009

27: Happy Birthday

When the multiplication tables were in
Twenty-seven stood for three raised to three;
Now it stands for the age of this old wine,
The spirit, inside a big barrel called me.

No humble words, the barrel loves to expand,
This spirit grows mellow people say (God knows)
Though it was only yesterday that I was a kid,
Splashing for hours in the mighty river green.

Now the wrong side of twenties beckons me,
For it’s a freefall that all women go through,
From where you slip into the 30s, 40s and 50s,
Wrinkles, complaints and hassles of old age.

A lousy bunch of thoughts on my special day,
That’s me on my twenty seventh birthday!