Kaun Jane

Balkrishna Rao is not a very well known Hindi poet. But one of his poems got stuck to my head when I was a little boy- “Aaj hi hoga“. Over the years, I’ve recited the poem in small gatherings and parties. I’ve sung it to many of my friends many times, and it got stuck in many of their heads too 🙂 After a long time I found another poem of this poet. As brilliant as the earlier one, perhaps better. Here is it:

झुक रही है भूमि बाँयी ओर, फिर भी
कौन जाने,
नियति की आँखें बचाकर,
आज धारा दाहिने बह जाए !
[नियति == destiny]

जाने
किस किरण-शर के वरद आघात से
निर्वर्ण रेखाचित्र यह बीती निशा का
रँग उठे कब, मुखर हो कब
मूक क्या कह जाए !
[किरण-शर == an arrow of light rays] [वरद == blessed] [निर्वर्ण == colorless][रेखाचित्र == sketch] [निशा == night] [मुखर == here it means to become expressive]

‘संभव क्या नहीं है आज ?’
लोहित लेखनी प्राची क्षितिज की
कर रही है प्रेरणा या प्रश्न अंकित ?
[लोहित == red] [लेखनी == pen] [प्राची == east] [क्षितिज == horizon]

कौन जाने
आज ही निःशेष हों सारे
सँजोए स्वप्न
दिन की सिद्धियों में –
या कंही अवशिष्ट फिर भी
एक नूतन स्वप्न की संभावना रह जाए !
[निःशेष == dissolved, complete] [सिद्धियों == achievements] [अवशिष्ट == remainder] [नूतन == new]

Significance of a song!

In the highway, in the hedges, in the highway, in the hedges…. I’ll be somewhere working, I’ll be somewhere working…. I’ll be somewhere working for my lord.

Ok. I’ll not talk about the news. Bala Saheb, to Test Victory, to Ajmal Kasab and what now. The world it seems have been busy. But I have no feel of it. You know why? Because 6 months back, I took a huge decision of my life – to get rid of my TV connection. I can’t tell you what sort of a hell you guys are living in with that thing in your living room. I now know why the elite urban middle class of India can never enjoy nature, or empathize with the so called lower class – because they don’t see them, because they are busy watching TV, even when they are not watching it. Yes, yes.. you are right. I am a communist 🙂

Ok. I’ll not talk about politics. Politics is insignificant, like money. I see the bemused look on your face. Yes money is insignificant. Not because we don’t need it, but because the things we want are usually not significant. The traditional religious ones say “kya lekar aaye the, kya lekar jana hai” … but that’s not my point. My point is – money has very less contribution to my quality of life RIGHT NOW. No, not in the future or the past, not in the abstract, but right now, in tangible form – it has very very little effect on my “quality of life”. I realized this during my last-three-year-stint at remotely managing our family farms in Vidarbha. One of our on-ground managers, earns close to 60,000 rupees a year, lives in a 3000 sq foot house built on land, eats healthy fresh vegetables, has three cows giving ample milk and dahi and ghee. I earn some n-times more than him, but I’m poorer than him. And I want to be rich. But money is not the only thing I need to earn. Yes, yes.. you are right. I am retrograde. 🙂

Ok. Back to politics. Like money has very little effect on quality of life, similarly politics has very little effect on the country. That’s why they need the media. To make them ‘sound’ significant. Think about it. Without Indira Gandhi – there would have been no License Raj – people would have been free to enterprise, and we would have taken care of our good living. Manmohan Singh’s great deed of liberalization would not have been needed. The political forces just cancel each other’s effects. We people go on with our lives and make our own living environments (You can call them markets, communities, cultures – whatever). If there is something the state does, it hinders. I know, I know … you all are going to scare me with, the system breaking down, and chaos, and anarchy, and disease, and law and order situation and what not. I am too much an Indian to get scared by that. Keep a hand on your heart, and tell me – do you really think the law and order is okay because of the government? Do you really think human nature needs a 60 year old book to organize itself? Yes, yes … I am an anarchist. 🙂

If you are wondering why I started the post with that song, it’s because that song is from a George Clooney film. 🙂

Dastoor

Habib Jalib, was a Pakistani revolutionary poet, who spent most of his life fighting against dictatorial regimes and ruling classes there. Because of which, he did spend a lot of his time in prison. This is his best known poem along with the video of his own reading in a public meeting:

दीप जिसका महल्लात ही में जले
चंद लोगों की खुशियों को लेकर चले
वो जो साये में हर मसलेहत के पले
ऐसे दस्तूर को,
सुबह-ए-बेनूर को,
मैं नहीं मानता, मैं नहीं जानता।
[महल्लात == palaces (plural of महल)]
[मसलेहत == expediency]
[दस्तूर == system, convention]
[बेनूर == dark]

मैं भी खाइफ़ नहीं तख्ता-ए-दार से।
मैं भी मंसूर हूँ कह दो अग़ियार से।
क्यों डराते हो ज़िन्दों की दीवार से?
ज़ुल्म की बात को,
जहल की रात को,
मैं नहीं मानता, मैं नहीं जानता।
[खाइफ़ == one having fear (खौफ़)]
[तख्ता-ए-दार == platform for execution]
[मंसूर == martyr]
[अग़ियार == strangers, used here in the send of tell ‘the world’]
[ज़िन्दां == jail]
[जहल == stupidity/ignorance, virtue of being जाहिल]

“फूल शाख़ों पे खिलने लगे”, तुम कहो,
“जाम रिंदो को मिलने लगे”, तुम कहो,
“चाक सीनों के सिलने लगे”, तुम कहो,
इस खुले झूठ को,
ज़हन की लूट को,
मैं नहीं मानता, मैं नहीं जानता।
[रिंदा == drinker]
[चाक == torn slits]
[ज़हन == difficult to translate, means roughly soul or heart]

तुमने लूटा है, सदियों हमरा सूकूं
अब न हम पर चलेगा, तुम्हारा फ़ुसूं
चारागर दर्दमंदो के बनते हो क्यों?
तुम नहीं चारागर,
कोई माने मगर,
मैं नहीं मानता, मैं नहीं जानता।
[फ़ुसूं == deception/magic]
[चारागर == healer]

On Cultural Revivals … and Gandhi!

Had a discussion about Gandhi’s “Hind Swaraj“, and difference between western and Indian thought, and how good some old things were, and do we need a revival. And this came to mind:

उस सूखे ठूँठ पर नई टहनी पर नए पत्ते आए हैं।
यह उस पुराने, विशालकाय, छायावान पेड़ की याद नहीं दिलाते,
जो बुढे ज्ञानी बाबा के समान था, और अब ठूँठ बना खड़ा है।
यह टहनी तो आंगन में खेलती, छोटी, प्यारी बच्ची की याद दिलाती है।
पत्तों का आकार भले ही वैसा हो,
पर इस टहनी को फिर विशालकाय छायावान वृक्ष बनने मे समय लगेगा।
कितना ही गुस्सा, आंदोलन, तमाशा कर लो,
पर पेड दिनों मे बड़े नहीं होते।
ना ही ठूँठ अपनी पुरानी रौनक को लौटते हैं।
छाया फिर चाहिए,
तो वह छोटा-सा ठूँठ का तुकड़ा ढूंढो,
जहाँ अभी नमी बाकी है।
उसे सींचो,
और प्रार्थना करो कि वहाँ एक नई टहनी फूटे,
जो सालों बाद हि सही, पर छाया ज़रूर दे।
तब तक बुज़ुर्गों के सुनाए बूढ़े, विशालकाय, छायावान बरगद के किस्सों से ही काम चलाओ।
और तब तक,
कोई भी मिनटों मे ठंडे छायादार आराम का लोभ दे,
तो उस पर विश्वास न करो।

Haseen Shaam Na De

Wrote another gazal in quick succession… seems like I’m getting back to form 🙂

तबाही की ख़बर अब सर-ए-आम न दे,
रोज़-ए-नाकाम को हसीं शाम न दे।

मैं जानता हूँ वजह तेरी बेरुख़ी की,
अपने फ़ैसलों को मजबूरी का नाम न दे।

दहशत के लम्हों बाद, निकला है सड़कों पे,
अपनी गरज़ को हौसले का ईनाम न दे।

सफ़र-ए-मुहब्बत मे बहुत मक़ाम बाकी हैं,
अपने कदमों को बेवजह आराम न दे।

नूर-ए-इलाही की अदनी किरन काफ़ी है,
अब ज़िन्दग़ी को तबाही का अंजाम न दे।

इस बरस बसंत मे अमराई ना खिली,
बुलबुल-ए-बन को तू ये पैग़ाम न दे।

मय-ए-ख़ुदगर्ज़ी मे जो धुत है हर पल,
या रब, किसी वतन को ये अवाम न दे।

Hyderabad is a Plastic Jar

Hyderabad is not a city. It’s a plastic jar. With flowers. without the handle. With water. Without the lid.

It had not grown out of nature, like a Banyan tree does. It has been planted, like a wheat plant is. It feeds well, but has shallow roots. It has many indistinguishable cousins, but has short life. Next year, a new hyderabad would be born. It’s seasonal, it’s stale.

There are some people who think that they are living. There claim of life, is almost as real as Kapil Sibal’s credibility. Most of them live in Hyderabad. In fact, on the outskirts of it. Almost all of them write code. At least, most of them think that they do so. Very few of them really do. They get paid well. They remind me of seagulls.

Then there is some water, in the lid-less jar, evaporating quickly in the dry Hyderabadi heat. Most of it full of life, like most water is. And it lives in the old town – near the Charminar – fast evaporating. But still not leaving its leisurely-ness.

And then there is Secunderabad – the colonial hangover. It is not bad. They started making plastic there. When they had enough of it, they built a jar – on the outskirts – but forgot the lid – without which the water, and with it the life, evaporates.

Aao ki khwaab bunein…

Found a gem by Sahir Ludhianvi:

आओ कि ख़्वाब बुनें, कल के वास्ते
वरना ये रात, आज के संगीन दौर की
ड़स लेगी जान-ओ-दिल को कुछ ऐसे कि जान-ओ-दिल
ता-उम्र फिर न कोई हसीन ख़्वाब बुन सके

[ संगीन दौर == difficult time ]
[ ता-उम्र == till the end of life ]

गो हमसे भागती रही ये तेज़-ग़ाम उम्र
ख़्वाबों के आसरे पे कटी है तमाम उम्र

[ तेज़-ग़ाम == fast ]

ज़ुल्फ़ों के ख़्वाब, होटों के ख़्वाब, और बदन के ख़्वाब,
मैराज-ए-फ़न के ख़्वाब, कमाल-ए-सुखन के ख़्वाब,
तहज़ीब-ए-ज़िन्दगी के, फ़रोघ-ए-वतन के ख़्वाब,
ज़िन्दा के ख़्वाब, कूचा-ए-दार-ओ-रसन के ख़्वाब

[ मैराज-ए-फ़न == proficiency in an art form ]
[ कमाल-ए-सुखन == excellence in expression/poetry ]
[ तहज़ीब-ए-ज़िन्दगी == good and civilized life ]
[ फ़रोघ-ए-वतन == nation’s progress ]
[ ज़िन्दा == prison cell ]
[ कूचा-ए-दार-ओ-रसन == the path leading to gallows]

ये ख़्वाब ही तो अपनी जवानी के पास थे
ये ख़्वाब ही तो अपने अमल की असास थे
ये ख़्वाब मर गए हैं तो बेरंग है हयात
यूँ है कि जैसे दस्त-ए-तह-ए-संग है हयात

[ असास == basis ]
[ दस्त-ए-तह-ए-संग == hand pressed under the force of a rock ]

आओ कि ख़्वाब बुनें, कल के वास्ते
वरना ये रात, आज के संगीन दौर की
ड़स लेगी जान-ओ-दिल को कुछ ऐसे कि जान-ओ-दिल
ता-उम्र फिर न कोई हसीन ख़्वाब बुन सके

Iqbal Again – Lab Pe Aati Hai Dua

After the previous post, I did substantial research on Iqbal. And read a few of his works available on the net. I am surely going to buy a book now. But here’s one more great nazm by him:

लब पे आती है दुआ बन के तमन्ना मेरी
ज़िन्दगी शम्मा की सुरत हो खुदाया मेरी

हो मेरे दम से यूँ ही मेरे वतन की ज़ीनत
जिस तरह फूल से होती है चमन की ज़ीनत

ज़िन्दगी हो मेरी परवाने की सूरत या रब
इल्म की शम्मा से हो मुझको मुहब्बत या रब

हो मेरा काम गरीबों की हिमायत करना
दर्दमदों से ज़इफों से मुहब्बत करना

मेरे अल्लाह बुराई से बचाना मुझको
नेक जो राह हो उस रह पे चलाना मुझको

[ ज़ीनत == beauty/decoration ] [ इल्म == knowledge/education ] [ ज़इफों == old and weak ]

Iqbal

I never really got into reading much of Allama Iqbal. I knew that he’s the one who gave us the legendary “Saare jahaan se accha” and “ab tak magar hai baki naam-o-nishaan hamara“. My blog will tell you that I love Faiz, and almost any musical thing remotely Pakistani 🙂 … but Iqbal somehow never appealed to me. Untill the day before yesterday, when I heard “Kabhi ai haqeeqat-e-muntazar…”. By far the best modern “Sufi” composition, that I’ve read. The God is referred and not referred. It is a prayer and not a prayer. It is about love, and not about love. It is well, out-standing.

As Faiz would have said – “Jo Gayab Bhi Hai, Hazir Bhi. Jo Manzar Bhi Hai, Nazir Bhi”.

Here it goes:

कभी ऐ हक़िक़त-ए-मुन्तज़र, नज़र आ लिबास-ए-मजाज़ में
कि हज़ारों सजदे तड़प रहे हैं, मेरी जबीन-ए-नयाज़ में

[ हक़िक़त-ए-मुन्तज़र is long-awaited reality ] [ लिबास == attire ] [ मजाज़ == material ] [ सजदे == prostrations of prayer ] [ जबीन == forehead ] [ नयाज़ == expectant / needy ]

तू बचा बचा के न रख इसे, तेरा आईना है वो आईना
कि शिक़स्ता हो तो अज़ीज़तर है निगाह-ए-आईनासाज़ में

[ शिक़स्ता == broken ] [ अज़ीज़तर == preferred ] [ निगाह-ए-आईनासाज़ == eyes of the mirror-maker ]

ना कहीं जहाँ में अमाँ मिली, जो अमाँ मिली तो कहाँ मिली
मेरे ज़ुर्म-ए-ख़ानाख़राब को, तेरे अज़ो-ए-बंदा-नवाज़ में

[ अमाँ == refuge ] [ ज़ुर्म-ए-ख़ानाख़राब == wretched sins ] [ अज़ो-ए-बंदा-नवाज़ == (gracious) forgiveness ]

ना वो इश्क़ मे रही गर्मियाँ, ना वो हुस्न मे रही शोख़ियाँ
ना वो गज़नवी मे तड़प रही, ना वो ख़म है ज़ुल्फ़-ए-अयाज़ में

[ गज़नवी == Mahmud Ghaznavi, a dominant ambitious ruler ] [ ज़ुल्फ़-ए-अयाज़ == hair-locks of Ayaz, Ayaz means slave – but her it refers to Malik Ayaz ]

जो मैं सर-बा-सजदा हुआ कभी, तो ज़मीन से आने लगी सदा
तेरा दिल तो है सनम आशना, तुझे क्या मिलेगा नमाज़ में

[ सर-बा-सजदा == head held is prostration ] [ सदा == voice / call / echo ] [ आशना == lover ]

… and I have four different renditions, in four different compositions to share. Here they are:

Ibrar Ul Haq

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Ghulam Ali

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan

Experiments, with Truth

In the town, where i was born, lived a man, who sailed to sea…
and he told us of his life, in the land of submarines…

No, this has nothing to do with The Beatles. I was born in Sewagram. This is where Gandhi (the original one) lived for a substantial part of his life. And he did sail to sea, albeit not as a sailor; but as a student once and as a guru later. And he did tell us of his life in the land … well not of submarines, but of just marines. More interestingly, he told us of what he did on those trips. In the first one, he experimented… With truth. The most elusive substance on earth, and may be beyond. And somehow, we Indians, and especially the ancient Indians have been obsessed with this thing called truth.

Recently, i have been introduced to a new paradigm of experimenting with truth. It says that truth is not a substance, its a method, or may be an act… Like sex. It says that, don’t seek the truth, rather “do” the truth. Though grammatically awkward, it seems to work – while interacting with clients, co-workers, families and friends – “doing” the truth works. So how do you do it?

by just responding to the tiniest reality in front of you.

Here’s an example. One of your coworkers lied to you, yesterday, on an email. By the time you reach office today, you can conjure up a huge conspiracy theory of why he has lied to you, and who else might be involved in the conspiracy, on how this is going to affect your promotion to the post of CEO in 2029, and how the next increment may be affected and your wife might feel bad about not buying the second car you could have bought with the increased EMI capacity, and if you are not married how silly you would look to the blue-eyed girl CCed on that untruthful email.

OR,

you don’t think about the lie at all. You just go to the office – read what has been written – and respond to that line – just that line. And forget about it after you press send. If he replies with another lie (chances are, he wont; but in case he does), its a new experiment to respond then, tackle it afresh. Each response to the tiniest reality in front – is an experiment with truth.

I was advised to do something like this by a colleague recently. And he helped me do it – it was nice. Hope it works.

And, if we lack the temperament it takes to stick to this practice, consult the Buddha.