Archives for the month of: November, 2014


We tend to dismiss the ubiquitous, humble pigeon as a grey feathery blob,  just a common bird if not a pest. But be not deceived, inside its feathery breast resides a heart far more adventurous than yours. As it forages on the ground bobbing its head and courting with its dance steps, we are persuaded that it is a land creature. Yes in its little mind there is much knowledge about land – where to look for seed and feed, how to use its feet to traverse the ground and how to move its legs in an intricate dance number – but that is only a small part of its life.

bird-pigeon-flying-transparent-background-0400-10049.previewThat little mind knows much more – how to take flight, spread its strong other limbs, its folded unseen wings and rise into the air, far into the sky. Those eyes not only are expert in looking out for seed and worm a few inches away but know how to survey from far above, hundreds of meters away, like when one is in a plane, and make out distant features on earth, recalling in swift flight the route to its nest, how to utilize warm currents of air far above for effortless gliding, doing areal acrobatics for fun, knowing how to join a flock and move together, flapping its wings in quick flight in the absence of currents and gracefully landing expertly with reversed flaps of wings precisely where it wishes, to resume its land creature aspect. It also knows the precise location of the nest it has built deep down a well under the earth and how to descend to the ledge which is home, or enter a building secretly to the enclosure it has chosen over a pillar, a vent or aperture , deftly to laboriously build its nest, lay eggs in the company of its mate’s encouraging gurgling calls, and after hatching to care for its brood and bring it out to learn how to forage and fly.

ROPI_formationFlight_Kumon_b_wikiThis is not what it seems – a mere creature we see strutting about – it is terrestrial, arboreal, areal and avian – a creature of land and air, earth and sky, tree and buildings, wells and towers, outdoors and indoors, earthy minutiae and macro areal  landscapes, capable of maneuvering dexterously in both – pedestrian and pilot rolled into one. We need therefore to wonder, of how much its mind must encompass of these contrasting elements and diverse dimensions – it must be a remarkable being that can handle both and be at all times aware of being a creature of two worlds, capable of switching at will from the terrestrial to the areal – something beyond our imagination and scope as Homo Sapiens.

We need to marvel at the heart of this little creature which must feel dual emotions at once of remaining on land or flying high in the sky. Close your eyes and imagine that you too could have such dual capacity, then sit down and read a book but suddenly decide to take off and swing through the clouds viewing the speck of your home where the book is resting on a table far below and then decide that you need to read some more and swiftly descend and alight gracefully at your door – breathless? sure – but now you look forward to a little more reading – and of course you wont need that car anymore since you can visit friends or go on a date ( as the pigeon does on the parapet of yonder high rise) by simply landing at the door.

Whenever I see the humble pigeon just beyond the reach of my hand as I throw some seed and it comes close to pick at it I know that he has just been flying high in the sky and you could not suspect that it has. It is also the kind of emotions an amphibian would have at home in two elements where land is for procreation and rearing young and the sea is for food and fun.



parth sarthi


The central teaching of The Gita is that there should be no obsession with the fruits of ones actions, performed more as a duty to be discharged with ones entire being rather than a hankering for results, producing neither euphoria in success nor despondency in failure. but act you must not pretending renunciation in inaction.


‘You only have a right to your actions no claim to the fruits thereof; do not be moved by the fruits of action; nor be inclined to inaction.’


‘Motivated action is, O Dhananjaya (winner of wealth – Arjun), far inferior to that  performed with equanimity of mind; take refuge in the evenness of mind; base are they who are seekers of results.’


‘As the unenlightened act from attachment to action, O Bharata, so should the enlightened act without attachment, desirous of guiding the multitude.’


‘When one has renounced all desire for fruits of action and no longer clings to  objects of the senses, then alone one is said to have attained to Yoga.’


‘Better indeed is knowledge than ritual practice; better than knowledge is meditation; better than meditation is the surrender of the fruits of action; peace immediately follows (such) renunciation.’


‘The yogi, abandoning attachment, performs action only with the body, the mind, the intellect and the senses, for purification of the soul.’

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Everything can be reckoned as a gift of God, from oxygen to flowers to oceans to planetary homeostasis, the tilt in the Earth’s axis, its spinning on it, and its circulation around the Sun, which together produce our congenial life supporting atmosphere, our days and nights and seasons. But there are some gifts that are more noteworthy than others, though there is no end to the gratitude we should feel and which is due to God.

I have often pondered on those gifts that may be really special and finally put together a handful of such extraordinary gifts which we tend to take for granted. Gravity is at the top of that list. The force which attaches us to the planet, prevents the oceans and the atmosphere from escaping, gives us weight and defines our physicality. We know what happens to astronauts in space denied gravity. Here of course you jump and land firmly back to earth and your substance begins to have meaning. All the labour-saving miracles of wheels are entirely on account of gravity. Often when I take a trolley full of purchases in a supermarket, I thank gravity ( and the Earth) for lifting the weight which otherwise I might have had to carry. We can go to the Moon and back because of that gravity, and now the Rosetta has landed a lander from its probe on a comet because of the gift of gravitational pulls. No wonder the word gravitas has been coined to indicate a charismatic personality with admirable qualities – a person having his own gravity. Poetically we can thank gravity for waterfalls, flowering, rainfall, flowing rivers, ball games, finding things where we left them, swallowing – the list is endless. But you are warned not to misuse, or be careless with the gift – no jumping from skyscrapers, no dropping of bombs.

Another rare gift is sexual procreation. There are organisms like the amoeba, bacteria and virus that can multiply without need of a partner through asexual reproduction. But the sexual kind is a gift of a higher order which creates empathy, attraction affection and love which otherwise may not have been necessary. It makes beings less hedonistic. If we could all procreate without a partner, happily producing clones identical to ourselves (a narcissistic act if ever there was one), we would be chasing one another not out of attraction but for elimination, out of hate not love. Imagine a world full of ego maniacs concerned only with their own survival, not even concerned for their cloned progeny. From asexual to bipolar love comes compassion, caring, sacrifice, art, culture, civilization and humanity, though its misuse as with jumping from a skyscraper can also be equally disastrous with crimes of self-serving passion. But that is not why it was created – equally true for sexuality as for gravity.

Another rare gift is the deeply embedded maternal instinct which creates the best examples of humanity and altruism we know of. The instinctive maternal compulsion to preserve, protect and nurture progeny is a vital implant and gift. It produces the rarest altruism in all species of living beings, even the extreme sacrifice of life itself for the sake of progeny and that wonderful word mother, which is perhaps the most beautiful noun in any language. It ensures that there are no natural orphans among living things – can you think of a better gift? The maternal instinct improves upon the sexual instinct in raising life to a higher order of altruism. From birds rearing their chicks to mothers suckling their young, it makes living beings fully worthy of existence as admirable and beautiful as opposed to hateful and disgusting, when hedonism alone is at play.

Life of course is the ultimate gift, the infusion of matter with soul. Imagine being a block of stone or metal. Even that is actually quite dynamic, if one looks at atomic structures whirring and being condensed into packets of energy with some form. A form that is neither able to be aware of its existence nor its environment. A form without consciousness. The gift of life enables material forms to experience, move and interact with its environment. Thus organic matter has a gift greater than the inorganic.

But the human form has the greatest gift, that of intelligence and not merely consciousness but self-consciousness. That gift enables it to know itself, not merely sense its environment but to harness it and finally to look beyond at the stars, the universe and creation itself, if not the creator. That gift enables it to seek the creator, much like a child is constantly assisted with skills by its parent to begin a relationship with the parent.

The final gift is the gift of death. Mortality is a subtle and less appreciated gift of finitude, which infinite and ethereal beings must envy.Startling change from moment to moment, from when you first crawled to when you first walked, from when you first grew pubescent hair to when it turned grey, from when you began to read to when you began to write, from love for a mother to love for a partner, from love of a child to love of a grandchild – yes, from infancy to youth to senility, constant experiential  changes from moment to moment, which neither a stone nor an ethereal entity  can experience. Mortality within a given time-frame becomes another rare gift to cherish. An ageless coming into being would be dour, full of endless routine and with a scary changelessness. Who wants to be a vampire. No wonder souls incarnate and reincarnate.

Thus the special gifts of God are, gravity, sexuality, maternal instinct, life and death. Please do share your thoughts about any other such rare gifts that may occur to you.


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When Matter tries to multiply, seeking to ape the Spirit, to become eternal, it appears most attractive and appealing. Generation after generation it revives afresh but  suffers degradation, for Time will not leave it alone. It dies and is born again, while the Spirit looks on amused as it vainly tries to drink from the mortal cup, the elixir of immortality. This cute effort gives rise to mortal love, bringing two material poles together to regenerate, revive and reproduce, defying its stern master Time, putting on a new fresh face, even as the older ones atrophy.  That is why mortal love has an ethereal quality as it replicates the beauty of the Spirit’s immortality and that is also why the Spirit appears as if it is perpetually in love.

The intense attraction, the passionate kiss, the deep embrace are the material urges to become eternal and therefore when consummated,  the poles fall apart and become ordinary matter again, losing their gloss but having in that moment assured eternal continuity, while the Spirit looks on amused at this extraordinary effort to follow in its footsteps. Thus Matter’s efforts to copy the Spirit becomes the very reason for living, and the very meaning of life – Love.



Halls of ochre butcher as they chase

One drop.

Not one insect spared but splits

In parching,

Sound of dry grass crackling,

Eyes thaw in ochre dust.


Like a dwarf sits the cactus.


Awkward limbs but affection in the interior,

Soft pulpy green-walled translucency

Where the moisture drips.

But without,

Its challenged thorn-lusty prurience grapples

With the desert’s grip.


Hate is an outer armour,

Love’s moisture is in the stem

And there is proof for when

The desert awakens in the rain,

Bulbs of chlorophyll

Explode in monsoon blooms

The milk pulp making fissures on the ragged skin;


Blood red hues, hibiscus violet

Flowers fed on milk. Then

How large the hidden heart

Bandaged in bristling brutality

For survival.

And now is the time of seed’s revival;

Another need brings the dwarf’s art.






A poem by the late Rick Fields occupies a place at the top of my anthology collection of poems I treasure. Though it is an imaginary Buddhist Sutra it conveys a cardinal truth about the essential unity of spirit and matter in our being, quite inseparable – two facets of the same coin as doubtless our maker is too. Rick fields was a journalist, poet and leading authority on Buddhism’s history and development in the United States. The beauty of his poem and its inner depth takes my breath away whenever I read it again. So I thought I should share it here for friends and readers.




Thus have I made up

                                      Once the Buddha was walking along the

forest path in the Oak Grove at Ojai, walking without

arriving anywhere

or having any thought of arriving or not arriving


and lotuses shining with the morning dew

miaculously appeared under every step

soft as silk beneath the toes of the Buddha


When suddenly, out of the turquoise sky,

dancing in front of his half-shut inward-looking

eyes, shimmering like a rainbow

or a spider’s web

transparent as the dew on a lotus flower,


—the Goddess appeared quivering

like a hummingbird in the air before him


She, for she was surely a she

as the Buddha could clearly see

with the eye of discriminating awareness wisdom,


was mostly red in color

though when the light shifted

she flashed like a rainbow.


She was naked except

for the usual flower ornaments

Goddesses wear


Her long hair

was deep blue, her two eyes fathomless pits of space

and her third eye a bloodshot

ring of fire.


The Buddha folded his hands together

and greeted the Goddess thus:


‘O Goddess, why are you blocking my path.

Before I saw you I was happily going nowhere.

Now I am not sure where to go.’


‘You can go around me’,

said the Goddess twirling on her heels like a bird

darting away,

but just a little way away,

‘or you can come after me.

This is my forest too,

you can’t pretend I’m not here.’


With that the Buddha sat

supple as a snake

solid as a rock

beneath a Bo tree

that sprang full-leaved

to shade him.


‘Perhaps we should have a chat’

he said.

‘After years of arduous practice

at the time of the morning star

I penetrated reality, and now..’


‘Not so fast, Buddha,

I am reality.’


The earth stood still,

the oceans paused,


the wind itself listened

—a thousand arhats, bodhisatvas, and dakinis

magically appeared to hear

what would happen in the conversation.


‘I know I take my life in my hands,’

said the Buddha.

‘But I am known as the Fearless One

—so here goes.’


And he and the Goddess

without further words

exchanged glances.


Light rays like sunbeams

shot forth

so bright that even

Sariputra, the All-Seeing One,

had to turn away.


And then they exchanged thoughts

and the illumination was as bright as a diamond candle.


And then they exchanged mind

And there was a great silence as vast as the universe

that contains everything


And then they exchanged bodies


And clothes


And the Buddha arose 

as the Goddess

and the Goddess

arose as the Buddha


and so back and forth

for a hundred thousand hundred thousand kalpas.


If you meet the Buddha

you meet the Goddess,

If you meet the Goddess

you meet the Buddha.


Not only that. This:

The Buddha is emptiness

the Goddess is bliss,

the Goddess is emptiness

the Buddha is bliss.


And that is what

and what-not you are

It’s true.


So here comes the mantra of the Goddess and the Buddha, the 

unsurpassed non-dual mantra. Just to say this mantra, just

to hear this mantra once, just to hear one word of this mantra

once makes everything the way it truly is: OK.


So here it is:


                                     Hey, silent one, Hey, great talker

                Not two/Not one

                                    Not separate/ Not apart

                This is the heart

                                  Bliss is emptiness

                                  Emptiness is bliss

                Be your breath, Ah

                Smile, Hey

                And relax, Ho

And remember this : You cannot miss.


 R I C K     F I E L D S







Rama is India’s epic hero, divine avatar and the archetype of the most honourable and righteous man. While this mythical hero of the epic Ramayana has no historicity, for Indians by that very token he is greater than any historical figure. For them he is God incarnate and like God he transcends historicity. The story of the epic has so enthralled the Hindu mind that it has assumed a reality far beyond the actual, becoming embedded in the Indian psyche, art, culture and ideals as no other single factor. People adopt names after characters in the epic. Streets, quarters, towns, rivers, natural features, projects and institutions are all named after the Avatar and other protagonists of the Ramayana. In virtually every quarter of every town temples are dedicated to Rama and his idols adorn every home. Major festivals are linked  to this amazing personage. He is more like a phenomenon than a person. Myths and legends are replete with engaging stories of his sojourn on the temporal plane. Temples resound with hymns and songs sung in his praise by worshipers and devotees across the land. The epic poem is recited from canto to canto in temples and at vast congregations reminding devotees of the events portrayed of his life. A morning greeting consists of not good morning but ‘Ram Ram’.  At death, a cortege of mourners recites, ‘the name of Rama is truth’.

Even the gods in legend crave witnessing his earthly incarnation and its journey through the physical plane. This reminds one of the angels who are forever shown hovering about the infant Jesus. The Supreme Universal Essence itself becomes ecstatic in relating his story to his feminine energy aspect, Lord Shiva to his energy form Shakti and together they assume human form to sneak up and catch a glimpse of the adorable infant Avatar, much as in the Christian theme of the Adoration of the Magi.


Ram and Sita in Indonesian national ballet

The myth of Rama has even crossed Indian shores and over millenia interwoven itself into the art and culture of Indo-China. Even in Indonesia which is essentially an Islamic country the saga of Rama enjoys a revered place in theatre and art and in Java and Bali becomes an article of faith. I have personally met Indonesian acquaintences with the unlikely fusion of Hindu and Muslim names such as Sita Rehman and Angad Ahmed. Sanskrit names are of course common  – three Indonesian presidents carried them: Sukarno,  Suharto and Sukarnoputri. The Indonesian national theatre frequently presents excerpts from the Ramayana story as ballet and through shadow puppetry. The ballet performed in central Java was acclaimed by Guinness World Records as the most continuously staged performance in the world with the largest cast.

On the other hand the Kings of Thailand style themselves as Rama, though the religion of Thailand is Buddhist. The present king Bhumibol Adulyadej is referred to as Rama IX. The queen carries a Sanskrit name, Srikirti meaning the fame of Laxmi, consort of Vishnu and the one who incarnated as Rama’s wife Sita. In the fourteenth century the Siamese capital was called Ayuthyia after Ayodhya, capital of Rama’s kingdom. A town by that name exists to this day in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India with a raging controversy about Rama’s birthplace there, which in a communal frenzy led tragically to the desecration of a Mosque built by the Mogul emperor Baber in the sixteenth century allegedly over the presumed birthplace of Rama. The desecration had far reaching consequences in pitting Hindus and Muslims against one another and stirring a cauldron of rioting and communal disharmony in the state of Gujerat and elsewhere.

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Ram and Sita in Cambodian national ballet


Ram and Sita – Laos temple sculpture

In Cambodia and Laos the epic is well known and  its themes adorns the bas – reliefs of numerous temples like the famed Ankor Vat temple known as the largest religious monument in the world. It is also enacted in the Cambodian dnace theatres. We see that the Ramayana left its imprint on the countries of South East Asia, also  including Burma  Malaysia and Vietnam and through Buddhist influences right into China and Japan.

Deeply moved by this universal adoration, through a kind of mystical inspiration, I composed a poem in tribute to Rama which emerged quite spontaneously and surprisingly requiring no editing. During  an official visit by the Indian Prime Minisiter Vajpayee to Oman where I was serving as Ambassador, I felt emboldened to share the poem with him. Quite unorthodox for an envoy to commence his interaction with his Prime minister with recitation of a poem rather than a diplomatic presentation! However, he did not mind my incongruent and childlike enthusiasm in reciting the poem to him, being a poet himself. When I had finished he was quite moved and  remarked : ”Wow, what can one say” ( Vah, kya kehene).                                                                                                poem to Vajpayee

Before I share the poem on this post, I wish to recount briefly the story of the epic for the benefit of those friends and readers not familiar with the Ramayana.

Lord-Vishnu1 (1)-001

Lord Vishnu reclining on the Cosmic serpent Shesh, with Laxmi at his feet


King Dushrath of Ayodhya had no children. A sage finally gave him a potion which cured his wives inability to conceive and they were blessed with four sons. In fact Lord Vishnu, the sustainer of the universe, resting in the cosmic ocean had heard the prayer and feeling the time right to redress the growing disharmony and burgeoning evil in the world decided to despatch an aspect of himself as an exemplary Avatar to the phenomenal world. While Rama, the eldest son was to be the Avatar, his persona bifurcated into all the other three brothers as well,  to become the protagonists in the enfolding drama. Laxman, Rama’s inseparable brother who accompanied him into exile, is also yet another incarnation of  Vishnu’s inalienable hydra headed serpent Sesh who provides protective cover as a kind of umbrella to the cosmic lord as he lies recumbent on his coils. Their close affinity and intimacy are reflected in the relationship between Rama and Laxman on the temporal plane. It is interesting that the divine pair are seen again to incarnate together in a later epic as Krishna and his brother Balrama. Vishnu’s consort Laxmi, representing his feminine dynamic alter-ego, also joined as an important protagonist as Sita the princess of  Mithila who would eventually wed Rama and drive the saga to its climax. The antagonist of the saga was Ravana, the evil demonic king of Srilanka. In fact he was the door keeper of Vishnu’s celestial abode and was cursed by sages to eternal mortality, for disallowing them to meet the resting Vishnu.. The curse was modified by Vishnu according to which Ravana would be born as his enemy and return to his portals after being slain by him as Rama. Thus all protagonists and antagonist descend from the spiritual realms and fall into place in the saga to be played out for the benefit of man.


Dushrath grieves as Rama, Sita and Luxman prepare to go into exile

Returning to our temporal world, Dushrath’s eldest son Rama was the apple of his eye and the beloved of all the queens. the day finally dawned when the adult Rama was to be crowned heir apparent. the night before, Dushrath’s youngest and favourite wife Kaikeye, who had been joyous about the forthcoming coronation was confronted by her evil maid Manthara. She rebuked her for being foolishly sentimental about her step-son’s anointment as an heir to the throne, urging that she demand from her doting husband that her own son Bharat be anointed as heir instead and that the only way to be rid of the influence of Rama was to demand that he be exiled for fourteen years. Kaikeye’s shocked resistance was finally overcome by Manthara and the Queen had a change of heart, retreating sulking to the Chamber of Sorrow. Kaikeye’s transformation was in fact engineered through divine intervention. The goddess of learning and speech was ordained to confound her intellect and create egotistical passions alien to her true nature,  to create the circumstances for Rama to go into exile and set the saga of the Ramayana into motion. Dushrath then sought to assuage her inexplicable grief. Kaikeye reminded him of two boons he had granted her when she had saved his life in an earlier battle and demanded that Bharat be declared the heir and Rama be sent into exile for fourteen years. The king was distraught and overwhelmed with grief but had no option but to honour his promise.

rama-and-the-people-of-ayodyaRama dutifully embraced his exile and discarding his royal garb, donned the attire of a mendicant. his wife Sita insisted on following suit and his inseparable brother Laxman also joined him. Bharat, the bone of contention was out of town. The royal house and the populace mourned the departure of their favourite and heroic prince. Bharat on return was horrified at his mother’s conduct, telling her that he wished he had never been born. Bharat becomes the archetype of the ideal brother and is a common name in India. His efforts to locate Rama and bring him back failed as Rama insisted on honouring his fathers word and Bharat returns with his sandals which he places on the throne. Dushrath meanwhile had died pining for Rama and holding himself responsible for the terrible exile on which he was forced to send his faultless son. The tragedy had reached its climax. Keikeye repented her folly but it was too late as the queens were widowed and Bharat himself donned the garb of a mendicant as penance.


Khewat the boatman takes them ashore

Rama’s sojourn took him through the hamlets and villages of India, resting at the hermitages of sages and defending them from the atrocities of demonic forces. The tribal folk he encountered on the way  greeted him with love as their king wherever he went but he did not tarry and kept moving on. A tribal boatman Khewat who was to take them across a river refused to accept Sita’s ring as payment for his services but wished for another favour. Rama explained that he had no other valuables to give to which Khewat replied that as two people engaged in the same trade he coulod not accept any fee. Mystified, Rama enquired what trade did they have in common. Khewat repled, ”I am a boatman and so are you. I take people across the river and you too take people across the river of life to the other shore. when I come to your bank, Sir be kind and guide me to the other shore.”

shabariAnother episode relates to the story of an out-caste woman devoted to Rama who had been waiting all her life for his passage through her forest glade. Daily she would place a bed of flowers on the path leading to her hut in the hope that one day her beloved Rama would grace her cottage. She gathered berries for his repast. When at last the day miraculously arrived and her dream became a reality with the soft footfalls of the Avatar approaching her hut, she was overwhelmed with ecstatic devotion and led Rama joyously to her hut and sat at his feet with the basket of berries. In her mystical love she took each berry and tasted it first for its sweetness, casting away those that were not sweet before handing him the choicest berries. Thus the lord of the universe savoured the half eaten berries of love of a mortal and never had He tasted anything sweeter.

Many other episodes later, arriving at the sylvan forest glade  of Chitrakoot, the royal exiles were entranced by its beauty and decided to stay a while there. Rama and Laxman set about building a thatched hut of straw so that Sita could find a place to rest. Flying overhead, a demoness, Surpankha, became totally besotted of the handsome youth Rama and Laxman and changing into a beauteous damsel arrived in their midst. at first she tried to seduce Rama but he jocularly  turned her away saying that he already had a spouse and asked her to try her luck with Laxman. Back and forth she went, each pointing her to the other. download (1)Finally laxman, short-tempered and belligerent by nature, was less polite and rebuffed her advances. When she persisted he slashed her nose. The demoness then assumed her terrible form, holding her bleeding nose and vowed revenge. She hastened to her brother the great demon overlord Ravana of Srilanka and recounted the indignity she had suffered at the hands of the exiled princes of Ayodhya.


CREDIT : Sita wants the golden deer

Ravana, the overlord of all demons was also a devotee of Lord Shiva and through penances and prayer had acquired great powers and the boon of infallibility  He was the very antithesis of Rama, arrogant, cruel, licentious  immoral and unscrupulous. angered by his sisters humiliation he vowed to avenge her honour and teach the princes of Ayodhya a lesson. He had also heard of the fabled beauty of Sita and coveted her. One of his demon commanders was then asked to assume the form of a golden deer to entice Sita. Seeing the fabulous deer Sita was enchanted by its beauty and wanted it captured for herself. She pleaded that Rama pursue it and he left asking Laxman not to leave her alone under any circumstances. the demon then let out a wail as if Ramawounded was calling out to Laxman for help. Sita forced a reluctant Laxman to go after his brother. Laxman as a last resort drew three magical lines around the hut and cautioned Sita never to cross them.


Ravana slays the vulture king flying in to protect the abducted Sita

The wily Ravana then assumed the form of a holy mendicant and appeared before her cottage begging for alms. She brought him a basket of fruit and nuts and placed it on the floor without crossing the red lines. but he refused the offering coaxing her to approach him and be truly and respectfully charitable. She then crossed the lines and immediately he assumed his terrible form and abducted her, taking her away in his flying chariot across the sea to his kingdom in Srilanka where he confined her in a garden resort asking her to be his queen. Her purity and divinity made it impossible for him to touch her without her consent.

To cut a long story short, Rama then gathered an army of several tribals and finally overcame and killed the terrible demon Ravana and secured the release of Sita, returning with her to Ayodhya as fourteen years in exile had been completed, to be coronated King. The saga continues with Sita’s estrangement on account of a citizen, a wicked washerman, doubting her chastity after her abduction by Ravana and Rama’s inability to fully come to her defense  Sita thus humiliated leaves for the forest forsaking her husband and the kingdom and finds shelter in the hermitage of a sage. There she gives birth to twins who unknowingly challenge their father’s soldiers. a battle ensues in which the adolescent boys defeat their father. When he realizes that they are none other than Sita’s sons and his own, he seeks her out and tries to bring her back to the Kingdom. But she declines aware that some people  in Ayodhya continue to doubt her chastity and with the knowledge that Rama and his sons are now united she asks mother earth to reclaim her. The goddess earth then appears and reclaims her daughter and both descend into the earth.

Thus the full saga plays itself out. The god of death Yama disguised as a Brahmani meets Rama and tells him that the purpose of his Avtar has been achieved. Rama then proceeds to the river Sarayu and disappears into it. The surviving members of the royal house also follow and merge into the river. Finally the citizens, who are really spirits from the divine realms incarnated to assist in the enfolding of the saga, also join their master and enter the river, thus returning to their spiritual abode, their purpose on earth having been completed. Ayodhya is left with Luv and Kush the sons of Rama and the sons of the other brothers with their retinues to become the progenitors of righteous kingdoms on earth. The saga of the Ramayana thus concludes with the Avatar and his protagonists and antagonists returning to their origins and with the lessons for mankind delivered. While the story of Ramayana is engaging it is only a subtle vehicle for conveying profound Hindu philosophical precepts and moral and ethical norms through aphorisms which are interspersed liberally throughout in conversations between sages and the Avatar and other protagonists and thereby get embedded in the minds of the humblest villager who has no recourse to scriptures being illiterate or to common folk high and low who have no time and patience to engage in philosophical and metaphysical insights. The imagery and symbols thus have a transformative effect on the noblest and meanest alike.


I now reverentially present my poem:


R  A  M  A


Everywhere your footprints

In this land,

Everywhere great bow in your hand,

Blue of the darkest thundercloud

You stand,

Gentle warrior.


Your name in every feature

Of this land,

Your fame enraptures every man,

As you hold the humble berries

In your hand,

Of deep compassion.


Your father’s sorrow

 On every morrow,

Your mother’s heart

Breaks in every part,

As you depart

With a humble bow,

To keep the vow,

Into your exile

 We follow.


In every forest

 Your journey rests,

Every village has witnessed,

Your righteous pilgrimage.

Your footfalls echo

In mountains and in meadows,

Every boatman dreams

That you would help him cross

The river to the other shore,

Every tribal has danced with you before.


Every deer that springs

A shadow brings

Of her abduction,

Eclipsing the land,

The fiend’s hand

Upon her hand.

Every man shares

Your deep despair.


For nine days

The power welled,

From every trickle

To a flooding swell,

The air was thick

 With prayer,

As for battle you prepared.


The darkness of despair was dispelled

And lamps were lit

Across the land,

As the fiend

Striken by your hand

Was felled

Upon the tenth.


But like a gentle branch you bent,

Upon your knees with compassion knelt,

Gathering his fearsome form

In the cradle of your arm,

As if a wounded swan you held,

Your caring lotus eyes

Upon his eyes,



Then the land broke into dance

And song and merriment,

And earth and sky were rent

With conches to your coming,

As shedding your garb of saffron

You were anointed as our king.


Every day in this land

We see you go,

Every day you return victorious

O lord of indigo,

In our hearts and in our minds you reign

Standing with your bow,

Relieving us of our pain,

Shining bright with light and halo;

And temple bells across the land

For you are ringing,

O gentle saffron king of kings.






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