Saturday, April 10, 2004

Khushwant SinghTHIS ABOVE ALL
The potent Gayatri Mantra
by Khushwant Singh

I HAVE succeeded in memorising the lines (like to show-off the little knowledge Ihave) but I have failed to comprehend their meaning nor understood why Hindus regard it as the mantra of all mantras. To me it appears to be no more than a hymn in praise of the sun. Allama Iqbal in his poem Aaftab also regarded it as a litany of solar worship. I have two other versions in translation. The first is by Professor V.N. Datta. The second by Nafay Kumail Radaulvi. Before their versions I reproduce the original:

Aum Bhur Bhuvah Svah, Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat

Professor Datta translates the lines as follows:

"O Lord, who pervades the earth,

The intermediate world and the world of life,

We mediate on the supreme light

Of the illumining Sun-god,

That he may impel our mind."

Rudaulvi, who is himself a poet of some calibre, translated the same lines in more poetic words:

Oh Lord, the soul of this beautiful world and the founder of day and night

You are the creator of the universe and the provider for all

The Moon the Sun are there due to you and help creation

The life and death is subject to your existence

You are the Noor that is everywhere

The heart beats and all breathe with your permission

Please have mercy in the name of that noor

The knowledge and Aql gets the right intellectual orientation

Can some reader tell me why this mantra is looked upon as the most potent?

Loving tigers

Many years ago, I happened to be in the Nagerhole Wildlife sanctuary. I drove through the early part of the night, hoping to catch a glimpse of a tiger or two and other beasts of the jungle. All I saw was a herd of elephants, a few gaur and lots of cheetal deer. My disappointment was compensated by running into Vivek Sinha and his wife. Vivek, who retired as Additional Secretary, had made his home in evergreen Bangalore, which is close to a few wildlife sanctuaries and rich with bird life. Vivek’s passion in life is to shoot wildlife with his camera. Three years ago, his The Tiger is a Gentleman was published. I was enchanted by his pictures and the encounters he had with those ferocious rulers of the jungle. Recently, he has come out with another book The Vanishing Tiger: Wild Tigers Co-predators and prey species (Salamander). As the title claims, besides tigers, it has photographs of leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, foxes, varieties of deer, a python and lots of birds. The pictures are spectacular and show animals and birds living in total freedom in their habitats. I haven’t seen any better.

In the covering letter that Vivek Sinha sent me, he included a few couplets in Urdu composed by him. The first two pretty well capture his philosophy of life:

It is time to revive Hindustani
April 3, 2004
Recipe for cooking bestsellers
March 27, 2004
Relative appeal of beauty and films
March 20, 2004
Khayyam was a rationalist
March 13, 2004
Look for your goldmine
March 6, 2004
Of scarecrows and political satire
February 28, 2004
The importance of punctuating thought
February 21, 2004
Ghalib knew his worth
February 14, 2004
In the sunset of their lives
February 7, 2004
Chennai, the city of achievers
January 31, 2004
Pakistanis are like us only
January 24, 2004
Farid was the first to use Punjabi in poetry
January 17, 2004
Sahir’s tortured soul
January 10, 2004
The colourful story of dull dictionary
January 03, 2004
Guru Gobind Singh did not want to separate God from God
December 27, 2003
The art of doing nothing
December 20, 2003
Manto’s description of the mayhem of 1947
December 13, 2003
Election fever spreads
November 29, 2003
Jayalalithaa has grown more enigmatic with time
November 22, 2003

Dozakh-o-jannat kay chakkar mein nahin phanstaa

Yeh mahaz Sheikh-o-Birahman kee rozee kay zareeye hain

Pasey-marg kaun jaaney kay hota hai,

Zindgi jeeta hoon, maaloom hai kya hota hai

I do not entangle myself in the maze of heaven or hell, They are items preachers of Islam and Hinduism sell, who knows where we go after we are dead? I live my life to the full, I know what it is, I live it well.

In his second composition, Vivek Sinha spells out another aspect of his falsafa (philosophy):

Gunahgaar hoon to apna hoon;

Kisee aur ka naheen;

Rahta hoon sadaakat say

Par Kisee Khauf say nahi

I am a sinner; my sins be on my head

I do not sin against anyone else;

I live in peace with myself.

I do not live in dread.


Bharatiya limericks

You got it wrong

How they talk to Muslims, Messers Vajpayee, Advani

"We will mend our ways, vote for us; see,

We are friendly with Pak

But they forget when they talk

That Indian Muslims are Indian, not Pakistani.

Saffron bandwagon

Why such crowding after BJP bandwagon rides?

Is there some ulterior motive that guides?

The reason is obvious

Intentions, though dubious

It is the bread that’s buttered on both sides.

Hefty Heptullah

Najma Heptullah is making statements brave

Strange are the ways the politicians behave

Or is it no more strange

That genes too undergo change

Maulana Azad must be turning in his grave.

(Courtesy: J.R. Jyoti, Secunderabad)

Name game

Sandeep JoshiA smart Malayalee — Debo Nair

A rich Malayalee — Millio Nair

A dynamic Malayalee — Pheno Menon

A talkative Bengali — Chatter-jee

A Maharashtrian who acts as James Bond — Rajan More

A Jat who falls at people’s feet — Charan Singh

A Jat who falls at people’s feet and stays there — Gir Charan Singh

A Jat who falls at just anyone’s feet — Har Charan Singh

A Bihari who distributes stale food at temples — Kalka Prasad

A Bihari who is above the law — Law-loo Prasad.

(Contributed by Brig Sukhjit Singh, Kapurthala)