Sati’s Story ( Bal Kanda)

Doha:

Puni puni hridayam bicharu kari Dhari Sita kar roop/

Aagem hoyi chali panth tehim jehim aavat narbhoop//

Sati took the guise of Sitaji and went to the path where, as per her, the king of humans, Ramachandraji was coming.

**

Lacchiman deekh umakrit besha/ Chakit bhaye bhram hridayam bisesha//

Kahi na sakat kacchu ati gambhira/ Prabhu prabhavu janat matidhira//

Lakshaman saw Devi Sati in Sita’s form and felt trepidation rising in his heart.He was dumbstruck and could not utter a word. The prince, firm of mind, knew the glory of his brother Sri Ramachandra.

**

Sati kapatu janevu surswami/ Sabdarsy sab antarjami//

Sumirat jahi mitayi agyana/ Soyi sarbagya Ramu bhagwana//

The all pervasive, omniscient Ramji understood Sati’s subterfuge immediately. Sri Ramji is the Lord, on whose mere remembrance, all ignorance flees.

**

Sati keenh chah tahahu duravu/ Dekhavu nari subhav prabhavu//

Nij maya balu hridayam bakhani/ Bole bihasi Ramu mridu bani//

Satiji was trying to deceive the all-knowing Lord himself; she was showcasing the peculiarities of woman’s nature! Mulling over the power of his own maya, Lord Ram smilingly said …

**

Jori pani prabhu keenh pranamu/ Pita samet leenh nij namu//

Kahevu bahori kaham brishketu/ Bipin akeli firahu kehi hetu//

First, Lord Ram joined his hands together and reverently wished Satiji. Then he introduced himself, including the name of his father. Then he asked ‘Where is Lord Shiva? And why are you wandering through these forests all by yourself?’

Doha:

Ram bachan mridu gudh suni upaja ati sankochu/

Sati sabhit mahes pahim chalim hridayam badh sochu//

Listening to Sri Ramji’s pleasant and mysterious words, Devi Sati became very perturbed.  Terrified, she decided to return to Lord Shiva, her mind caught in deep anxiety.

**

Mai Sankar kar kaha na mana/ Nij agyanu Ram par aana//

Jayi utaru ab dehavu kaha/ Ur upaja ati darun daha//

‘I did not listen to my Lord Shiva and alleged that Sri Ramachandra was a mere human due to my ignorance. What answer shall I give Lord Shiv now?’ Brooding thus, Satiji felt herself burning due to great worry.

**

Jana Ram Satim dukhu pava/ Nij prabhavu kacchu pragati janava//

Satim deekh kautuk mag jata/ Aagem Ramu sahit shri bhrata//

Lord Ram understood that Devi Sati was unhappy and so conjured an enchantment to enlighten her about his true nature. Sati saw the Lord, accompanied by Sita and Lakshman walking through the forest.

**

Phiri chitva pachem prabhu dekha/ Sahit bandhu siya sundar besha//

Jah chitvahim tah prabhu aseena/ Sevahim siddh munees prabeena//

When Sati turned to take a backward glance, there was the Lord, again with Janakiji and his brother Lakshman! Wherever she turned, Satiji saw the resplendent Lord, with his wife and brother, served by many devoted sages.

**

Dekhe siv bidhi Bishnu aneka/ Amit prabhavu ek tem eka//

Bandat charan karat prabhu sewa/ Bibidhi besh dekhe sab deva//

 Satiji saw innumerable Shiv, Brahma and Vishnu who were stunning in their glory. There were beautifully dressed devas who were reverently bowing at the feet of the beautiful Lord Ram.

**

Doha:

Sati bidhatri indira dekhim amit anoop/

Jehim jehim besh ajadi sur tehi tehi tan anuroop//

Devi saw countless Sati, Brahmani and Lakshmi. In whichever form Brahma and other celestial gods were present, their Shakti equivalent (feminine powers) also manifested with them.

**

Dekhe jah tah Raghupati jete/ Saktinh sahit sakal sur tete//

Jeev charachar jo samsara/ Dekhe sakal anek prakara//

Wherever Sati saw Lord Rama, the Lord was surrounded by these countless forms of gods and goddesses. She saw all the living and non-living entities on the universe in multiple forms.

**

Soyi Raghubar soyi Lacchimanu Sita/ Dekhi Sati ati bhayi sabhita//

Hriday kamp tan sudhi kacchu nahim/ Nayan mudi baidi mag mahim//

Wherever she cast her eyes, the same beautiful manifestations of Lord Ram, Janakiji and Lakshman! Sati became terrified. Her body started trembling and all control over the senses seemed to be getting lost. Closing her eyes, Sati sat down on the path.

**

Bahuri bilokevu nayan ukhari/ Kacchu na deekh tah dacchkumari//

Puni puni nayi Ram pad seesa/ Chalim taham jaham rahe gireesa//

When she opened her eyes, the daughter of Daksha, could see nothing. Bowing her head before Lord Ram (in her mind) she returned to Lord Shiva.

**

Doha:

Gayim samip Mahes tab hasi puchi kusalat/

Leenh pareecha kavan bidhi kahahu satya sab baat//

When Sati reached Lord Shiva’s side, he laughed and asked her to explain how she tried to test Sri Ramachandra.

**

Satim samuchi Raghubir prabhavu/ Bhay bas Siv san keenh duravu//

Kacchu na pareecha leenh gosayi/ Keenh pranamu tumharihu nayi//

Having been stunned by the glories of Lord Ram, petrified, Sati hid the truth from Lord Shiva. She said, ‘Hey Lord, I did not attempt any test. I just paid him my respects like you.’

**

Jo tumh kaha so mrisha na hoyi/ Morem mann prateeti ati soyi//

Tab Sankar dekhevu dhari dhyana/ Satim jo keenh charit sabu jana//

(Sati said) ‘What you pronounce shall never be wrong. I am very confident of that fact.’ Then Lord Shiv meditated and through his inner eyes watched whatever had transpired and how Sati had behaved.

**

Bahuri Ramamayahi siru nava/ Preri satihi jehim chhut kahava//

Hari iccha bhavi balwana/ Hridayam bicharat Sambhu sujana//

Lord Shiv bowed before Sri Hari’s Maya which made even Devi Sati utter lies. The Lord contemplated that the power of Sri Hari to assume any form was so great.

**

Satim keenh Sita kar besha/ Siv ur bhayavu bishad bisesha//

Jaum ab karavu Sati san preeti/ Mitayi bhagati padhu hoyi aneeti//

Knowing that Satiji assumed the guise of Sita herself, Lord Shiv felt very sad. He felt that if he continued to love Sati, it shall cause the path of Bhakti to end and usher injustice.

**

Doha:

Param puneet na jayi taji kiyem prem badh papu/

Pragati na kahat mahesu kacchu hridayam adhik santapu//

(The Lord thought) ‘Sati is very pure and I cannot leave her. But if I love her, that will be a sin too.’ Lord Shiv was not saying anything, but his heart weighed heavy with unhappiness.

**

Tab Sankar prabhu pad siru nava/Sumirat Ramu hridayam as aava//

Ehim tan satihi bhet mohi nahim/ Siv sankalpu keenh mann mahim//

Lord Shiva bowed before Sri Ramachandra’s lotus feet in his heart. As soon as he remembered Sri Ramji, the thought arose in his mind that he cannot ever physically accept Sati as his wife anymore. Lord Shiva took that decision at that moment.

**

As bichari Sankaru matidheera/ Chale bhawan sumirat Raghubeera//

Chalat gagan bhai gira suhayi/ Jay Mahes bhali bhagati dridayi//

Remembering Sri Ram, Lord Shiv, renowned for steadiness of mind, returned to his abode in Kailas. When he moved, there was a celestial announcement ‘Lord Shiv, may you be forever glorious! You have shown exceptional firmness in your devotion.’

**

As pan tumh binu karayi ko aana/ Rambhagat samaradh bhagwana//

Suni nabhgira sati ur socha/ Poocha sivahi samet sakocha//

‘Who else but you can take such an oath? You are divine, a devotee of Sri Ram and all capable.’ Listening to the divine voice, Sati felt a sense of trepidation. She hesitantly asked Lord Shiv…’

**

Keenh kavan pan kahahu kripala/ Satyadham prabhu deendayala//

Jadapi Satim poocha bahu bhanti/ Tadapi na kahevu tripur aarati//

‘Compassionate Lord, tell me what oath have you taken? Lord, you are the epitome of truth and kindness incarnate.’ Though Sati pleaded in various ways, Lord Shiv did not respond.

**

Doha:

Satim hridayam anuman kiya sabu janevu sarbagya/

Keenh kapatu mai Sambhu san naari sahaj jad agya//

Sati understood that Lord Shiva knew everything which had occurred. ‘I have deceived Lord Shiv. I exhibited the foolish and non-discerning nature of women!’

**

Jalu pay sarees bikayi dekhahu preeti ki reeti bhali/

Bilag hoyi rasu jayi kapat khatayi parat puni//

The enchanting way of love is interesting:  water mixing with milk gets sold at the same price…whereas, with the passage of time, the milk curdles due to the impurity and the taste (purity of love) is slowly lost.

**

Hridayam sochu samuchat nij karni/ Chinta amit jayi nahim barni//

Kripasindhu siv param agadha/ Pragat na kahevu mor aparadha//

Sati’s regret over her own mistrustful actions was so much that it cannot be described. (She thought) ‘Lord Shiv being an ocean of compassion, shall never openly speak to me about my misdeeds’.

**

Sankar rukh avaloki Bhawani/ Prabhu mohi tajevu hridayam akulani//

Nij akh samuchi na kachu kahi jayi/ Tapayi avam iv ur adhikayi//

Seeing Lord Shiv’s demeanour, Sati understood intuitively that he had discarded her from his heart. She was extremely worried. Sati could not speak up about her error but like the fire inside the potter’s kiln, her heart was burning in agony.

**

Satihi sasoch jani brishketu/ Kahim kadha sundar sukhhetu//

Barnat pandh bibidhi itihasa/ Biswanadh pahunche kailasa//

Sensing that his wife was perturbed, Lord Shiv narrated many beautiful stories to soothe her. In this way, elaborating on various Itihasas, Lord Shiva reached his abode, Kailasa.

**

Tah puni sambhu samuchi pan apan/ Baide battar kari kamalasan//

Sankar sahaj sasroop samhara/ Laagi samadhi akhand apara//

Remembering his oath, Lord Shiv sat down for meditation, in lotus posture, under a banyan tree. He assumed his mendicant form and immersed himself in deep spiritual trance.

**

Doha:

Sati basahim kailas tab adhik sochu mann mahim/

Marmu na kovu jaan kachu jug sam divas sirahim//

Satiji lived in Kailas, her mind fraught with misery. Nobody knew the secretive happenings. Each day passed like an aeon (yuga) for Sati.

**

Nit nav sochu sati urb hara/ Kab jaihavu dukh sagar para//

Mai jo keenh raghupati apamana/ Puni patibachanu mrisha kari jana//

Every moment new and heavy thoughts germinated in Sati’s mind about crossing the ocean of sorrows. ‘I humiliated Sri Ramachandra and mistrusted my husband’s wise counsel…’

**

So phalu mohi bidhatam deenha/ Jo kachu uchit raha soyi keenha//

Ab bidhi as boochiya nahim tohi/ Sankar bimukh jiavasi mohi//

( Sati thought ) Destiny has rewarded me with just results ( the fruits of my action). But, Lord, it is not right that I continue to be alive when my beloved Lord Shiva has turned his face away from me.’

**

Kahi na jayi kachu hriday glani/ Mann mahu ramahi sumir sayani//

Jaum prabhu deendayalu kahava/ Aarati haran bedh jasu gava//

One cannot describe the pain inside Sati’s heart. The intelligent Devi prayed to Sri Ramji. ‘Dear Lord, you are the epitome of compassion. The Vedas hail you as the remover of all sorrows…’

**

Tau mai binay karavu kar jori/ Chutavu begi deh yeh mori//

Jaum morem siv charan sanehu/ Mann kram bachan satya bratu ehu//

‘Now I plead that I lose this mortal body of mine (to which my husband become averse). If my love, surrendered at Lord Shiva’s feet, is pure, if in my heart, words and actions, I have been true to that love, then…’

**

Doha:

Tau sabadrasi sunia prabhu karavu so begi upayi/

Hoyi maranu jehim binahim shram dussah bipati bihayi//

‘Lord who is all-knowing, provide a solution that I die and this insufferable disaster (where my husband has renounced me as his wife) no longer exists.’

**

Ehi bidhi dukhiat prajeskumari/ Akadhaneey darun dukhu bhari//

Bitem sambat sahas satasi/ Taji samadhi sambhu abinasi//

The daughter of Daksha was in excruciating agony which cannot be put in words. After 87,000 years, Lord Shiva opened his eyes, awaking from his meditation (samadhi).

**

Ram naam siv sumiran laage/ Janevu satim jagpati jaage//

Jayi sambhu pad bandanu keenha/ Sanmukh sankar asan deenha//

When Lord Shiv started chanting Sri Ramji’s name, Sati recognised that the Lord had woken up from his meditation. When she approached her husband and bowed before him, Lord Shiv offered her a seat by his side.

**


Tell Me About Rama (Bal Kanda)

As bichari pragatavu nij mohu/ Harahu  nadh kari jan par chohu//

Ram naam kar amit prabhava/ Sant puran Upanishad gava//

Recollecting that, I am daring to expose my ignorance. Kindly obliterate this lack of knowledge. The sages, Puranas and Upanishads all espouse the great power of chanting Rama’s name.

**

Santant japat sambhu abinasi/ Siv Bhagwan gyan guni rasi//

Aakar chari jeev jag ahahim/ Kasim marat param pad lahahim//

The incarnation of auspiciousness, greatness and wisdom-Lord Shiv himself chants ‘Ram, Ram’ every moment. There are four clans on this universe; and whoever dies at Kashi, shall attain the abode of the Lord.

**

Sopi Ram mahima muniraya/ Siv upadesu karat kari daya//

Ramu kavan prabhu puchavu tohi/ Kahia buchayi kripanidhi mohi//

‘Great sage, it is the greatness of Rama’s name that Lord Shiv kindly grants moksha reciting His name. Can you please tell me who this Ram is? Hey, kind-hearted one, please make me understand.’

**

Ek Ram avadhes kumara/ Tinh kar charit bidit samsara//

Naari birah dukhu lahevu apara/ Bhayavu roshu ran ravanu mara//

‘There is the prince of Kosala, Ram, about whom the whole world knows! He was agonised on losing his woman and in his fury, he killed Ravan.’

**

Doha:

Prabhu soyi Ram ki apar kovu jahi japat Tripurari/

Satyadham sarbagya tumh kahahu bibeku bichari//

‘Tell me, is that the same Rama whom the Tripurari (Lord Shiv) worships?  You are the epitome of truth and is omniscient. Speak to me in your wisdom.

Jaisem mitai mor bhram bhari/ Kahahu so kadha nadh bistari//

Jagbalik bole musukayi/ Tumhahi bidit Raghupati prabhutayi//

‘Please narrate that story in all details so that my grave doubt is cleared.’ Hearing sage Bharadwaj’s words, the wise Yagyavalkya smiled and replied: ‘You know about the glory of Ragunath very well.’

**

Rambhagat tumh mann kram bani/ Chaturayi tumhari mai jani//

Chahahu sunai Ram guna guda/ Keenhihu prasn manahu ati muda//

You are a devotee of Sri Ramji in mind, words and deeds. I have understood your cleverness. You desire to listen about Sri Ramji’s undisclosed qualities! And that is why you asked this question as if you are a naïve idiot.

**

Taat sunahu sadar manu layi/ Kahahu Ram kai kadha suhayi//

Mahamohu mahishesu bisala/ Ramkadha Kalika karala//

‘Dear son, listen carefully! I am going to narrate Sri Ramji’s beautiful story. Heavy ignorance is like Mahishasura and Sri Ramji’s story is like the fearsome Kali herself ( Durgaji who killed him).

**

Ramkadha sasi kiran samana/ Sant chakor karahim jehi pana//

Aiseyi samsay keenh Bhavani/ Mahadev tab kaha bakhani//

 Rama’s story is like enchanting moonlight which the sages, who are like chakor birds, keep drinking. The same question you raised, was once posed by Parvati Devi herself. And Lord Shiv had given an elaborate reply.

**

Doha:

Kahavu so mati anuhari ab Uma Sambhu sambad/

Bhayavu samay jehi hetu jehi sunu muni mitihi bishad//

‘Now, to the best of my ability, I shall narrate the conversation between Lord Shiva and Uma. Now listen to how and when it happened and your ignorance shall flee.’

Ek baar treta juga mahim/ Sambhu gaye kumbaj rishi pahim//

Sangh Sati jagjanani Bhavani/ Puje rishi akhileswar jani//

In Treta Yuga, once, Lord Shiv, accompanied by his wife Sati- the mother of the multiple universes- went to visit sage Agastya. The seer did all welcome rites of the great Lord (Akhileswara).

**

Ramakadha munibarj bakhani/ Suni Mahes param sukh mani//

Rishi puchi Haribhagati suhayi/ Kahi Sambhu adhikari payi//

Sage Agastya recited Lord Ram’s story and Bhagwan Shiv relished listening to it. Then the sage asked about the intricacies of devotion to Hari (to the Lord) and Lord Shiva, knowing him deserving, narrated it in detail.

**

Kahat sunat Raghupati guna gadha/ Kacchu din taham rahe girinadha//

Muni san bida magi Tripurari/ Chale bhavan sangh Dacchakumari//

Narrating and listening, few days passed by and Lord Shiv stayed in the hermitage. Then bidding farewell to Agastya, Shiv and Sati (Daughter of Daksha) returned to Kailas.

**

Tehi avasar bhanjan mahibhara/ Hari Raghubans leenh avatara//

Pita bachan taji raju udasi/ Dandak ban bicharat abinasi//

In those days, Sri Hari had taken the avatar in the clan of Raghus, to reduce the burden of Mother Earth. The Lord was wandering in the guise of a mendicant in Dandakaranya, obeying the command of his father Dasrath and abdicating the kingdom.

**

Doha:

Hridayam bicharat jaat har kehi bidhi darsanu hoyi/

Gupt roop avateruvu prabhu gayem jaan sabu koyi//

Lord Shiv contemplated how he could get the darsan of the Lord. ‘He has taken an avatar secretively. When I understand the avatar, the rest of the world too shall be able to appreciate it.’

**

Sankar ur ati chobhu sati na janahim marmu soyi/

Tulsi darsan lobhu mann daru lochan lalachi//

Inside Lord Shiva’s mind was the chaos whether it would be fruitful; but Devi Sati could not discern it. Tulsidasji says, Lord Shiv was apprehensive whether his inner thoughts were obvious, yet his eyes were yearning to catch a glimpse of the Lord Sri Hari.

**

Ravan maran manuj kar jacha/ Prabhu bidhi bachanu keenh chah sacha//

Jaum nahim javu rahayi pachitava/ Karat bicharu na banat banava//

‘Ravan had desired death at the hands of a human being. Lord Vishnu will always obey the words of Brahma (Honour Brahmaji’s boon). But if I don’t go near him, I shall regret it deeply.’ Lord Shiv was thinking of many such possibilities, but nothing seemed to point a way forward.

**

Ehi bidhi bhaye sochbas eesa/ Tehi samay jayi dasaseesa//

Leenh neech mareechahi sanga/ Bhayavu turat soyi kapat kuranga//

Lord Shiv was caught in a maze of thoughts, Meanwhile Ravan approached Mareech and the asura took on the guise of an illusionary deer.

**

Kari chalu moodh hari Baidehi/ Prabhu prabhavu tas bidit na tehi//

Mrig badhi bandhu sahit Hari aaye/ Ashramu dekhi nayan jal chaye//

The foolish Ravan treacherously stole Janaki.  He had no awareness of who Sri Ramji really was. When the Lord returned with his brother, after killing Mareech in his deer form, he saw the deserted hermitage. Tears filled his beautiful eyes.

**

Birah bikal nar eev Raghurayi/ Khojat bipin firat dovu bhayi//

Kabahu jog biyog na jakem/ Dekha pragat birah dukhu takem//

Sri Ramji is lamenting like any normal human, having lost his wife. Both the brothers are wandering through the forests, in search of Sitaji. The holy one who never exhibits any attachment or pangs of separation, now is radiating pain in all its intensity! (The Lord is suffering like any other human being)

**

Doha:

Ati bichitra Raghupati charit janahim param sujan/

Je matimand bimoh bas hridayam dharahim kacchu aan//

The story of the Lord is very intriguing, only those wise men who knows His nature understands the unfolding tale. The dim-witted ones, caught in illusions, shall comprehend something totally different.

**

Sambhu samay tehi Ramahi dekha/ Upaja hiyam ati harashu bisesha//

Bhari lochan chabisindhu nihari/ Kusamay jaani na keenhi chinhari//

Lord Shiv saw the Lord at that moment, and he felt enthralled with joy. He filled his eyes with the ocean of Sri Hari’s radiance but sensing that the time was inappropriate (The Lord was mourning over the disaster of losing his wife) he did not approach Lord Ram.

**

Jai sacchidanand jag pavan/ As kahi chalevu manoj nasavan//

Chale jaat siv sati sameta/ Puni puni pulkat kripaniketa//

‘Glory to the Sacchidananda (sat-chit-ananda: incarnation of truth, ultimate consciousness, happiness)’, hailing thus, Lord Shiv went on his way. The ocean of kindness, Lord Shiv, was in thrall, repeatedly his hair stood on end in ecstasy on observing Sri Hari; and he moved with Devi Sati.

**

Satim so dasa Sambhu kai dekhi/ Ur upaja sandehu biseshi//

Sankaru jagatbandh jagdeesa/ Sur nar muni sab navat seesa//

When Devi Sati saw Shiva in that state, a deep doubt arose within her. She thought, ‘My Lord Shiv is revered by all the worlds, he is the God of all universes: Jagadeeshwar. Humans, devas, sages- all bow before him.’

**

Tinh nripsutahi keenh parnama/ Kahi sacchidanand pardhama//

Bhaye magn chhabi tasu biloki/ Ajahu preeti ur rahati na roki//

(Devi thought) ‘On seeing a royal prince he equated him with the Sacchidanand  paramdhama : incarnation of all happiness, truth and consciousness. Seeing his radiance, my Lord has become so entranced and overwhelmed that he cannot control the love brimming over in his heart!’
**

Doha:

Brahma jo byapak biraj aj akal aneeh abhedh/

So ki deh dhari hoyi nar jahi na janat bedh//

Can the Brahma, which is omnipresent, devoid of maya, without origin, invisible, desireless, that does not discriminate; the One which even the Vedas cannot claim to understand, can such an entity assume the form of a human being?

**

Bishnu jo sur hith nartanu dhari/ Sovu sarbaya jadha Tripurari//

Khojayi so ki agya eev naari/ Gyandham Shripati asuraari//

‘Lord Vishnu, who takes the guise of humans for the welfare of the devas, he too is omniscient like my Lord Shiva. That treasury of wisdom, husband of Devi Laxmi, enemy of asuras, shall he desolately search for a woman like a bewildered, ignorant man?’

**

Sambhugira puni mrisha na hoyi / Siv sarbagya jaan sabu koyi//

As samsay mann bhayavu apara/ Hoyi na hridayam prabodh prachara//

(Devi brooded) ‘But then, my Lord Shiva’s words cannot be wrong! Everyone knows he is wisdom incarnate.’ There was a mayhem inside Sati’s heart and light was not dawning at all within.

**

Jadhapi pragat na kahevu Bhawani/ Har antarjami sab jani//

Sunahi sati tav nari subhavu/ Samsay as na dharia ur kavu//

Though Sati never spoke a word, the all-knowing Lord Shiv understood her concerns. He said, ‘Listen, devi. Your behaviour is that of a typical woman. You should never entertain such doubts in your heart.’

**

Jasu kadha kumbhaj rishi gaayi/ Bhagati jasu mai munihi sunayi//

Soyi mam ishtadev Raghubeera/ Sevat jaahi sada muni dheera//

‘The one, whose story Agastya narrated to me, and about whose ways of devotion, I advised Agastya, He is my favourite Lord Ram. All the learned sages worship Him.’

**

Muni dheer jogi siddh santat bimal mann jehi dhyavahim/

Kahi neti nigam puran aagam jasu keerati gavahim//

Soyi Ramu byapak brahma bhuwan nikay pati maya dhani/

Avateruvu apne bhagat hith nijtantra nith Raghukulamani//

Saints, the valiant, the yogis, the siddhas: the One to whom they pray with pure hearts, the One praised by the Vedas, Puranas and Sastras as ‘Neti, Neti’ (Not this, Not this); that all pervasive, master of all universes, husband of Maya, eternal, ever-free Nirgun Para Brahma, Sri Ramji, has taken the avatar as the crown jewel of Raghu clan, for the sake of his devotees.

**

Laag n aur upadesu jadapi kahevu sivam baar bahu/

Bole bihasi mahesu harimaya balu jaani jiyam//

Although Lord Shiva tried to make Devi understand, she continued to be perturbed. Then, realizing the effect of Sri Hari’s maya, Lord Shiva smilingly said…

**

Jaum tumhare mann ati sandehu/ Tau kin jayi pareecha lehu//

Tab lagi baid ahavu battchahim/ Jab lagi tumh ehahu mohi pahim//

If you have such serious doubts, why don’t you undertake a test? Until you return to me, I shall be seated under the shades.

**

Jaisem jayi moh bhram bhari/ Karehu so jatanu bibek bichari//

Chalim sati siv aayasu payi/ Karahim bicharu karamu ka bhai//

Use your wisdom to think of a way for alleviating your deep apprehensions. Taking Lord Shiva’s leave, Devi Sati proceeded, brooding about the next step to be taken.

**

Iham sambhu as mann anumana/ Dacchasuta kahu nahim kalyana//

Morehu kahem na samsay jahim/ Bidhi biparit bhalayi nahim//

 Here, Lord Shiv was thinking, Sati, daughter of Daksha was not prospering. Even when he had tried to soothe her doubts, Sati had persisted in worrying. When the destiny was misaligned, Sati could not be expected to flourish.

**

Hoyihi soyi jo Ram rachi rakha/ Ko kari tark badavai sakha//

As kahi lage Japan Harinama/ Gayim sati jah prabhu sukhdhama//

(Lord Shiv contemplated) ‘Whatever Ramji has planned, will eventually be carried out. Who will argue with that truth and worry?’  Lord Shiv started reciting the name of Sri Hari again.  Devi Sati went to the place where Sri Ramachandra, the embodiment of serenity, was staying.

**


The Nature of the Wicked: From Bal Kanda

Bidhi Hari Har kabi kobid bani/ Kahat sadhu mahima sakuchani//

So mo sank ahi jaat na kaisem/ Sak banik mani guna gana jaisem//

Even Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, poets and scholars are tongue-tied when it comes to describing the greatness of sages! So, how can I do that? It will be like asking a vegetable seller to explain the qualities of precious gems!

**

Doha:

Bandavu sant saman chit hith anahit nahim koyi/

Anjali gat subh suman jimi sam sugandh kar doyi//

I prostrate myself before the saints who are tranquil and full of equanimity always. They have no friends nor enemies. Consider the flowers which spread their fragrance on the hands which pluck them. Likewise, the sages shower their graces on both friends and foes.

**

Sant saral chit jagat hit jaani subhavu sanehu/

Balbinay suni kari kripa Ram charan rati dehu//

Saints are extremely tender hearted and are well-wishers of the Universe. Such sterling character and love inspire me and fills me with adoration. Becoming cognizant of my immature affection, may the kind hearted Lord Ram grant me the blessing of being devoted to His lotus feet.

**

Bahuri bandi khal gan satibhaye/ Je binu kaaj dahinehu baye//

Par hit hani labh jinh kerem/ Ujarem harash bishad baserem//

Now, with utter sincerity, let me offer respects to the wicked! The souls, who, without reason, commit wrong on even those who are benevolent towards them. In their eyes, harming others is delightful; they feel happy watching the downfall of another and get depressed when he gains success.

**

Hari Har jas rakes rahu se/ Par akaj bhat sahsabahu se//

Je par dosh lakhahim sahsakhi/ Par hit khrit jinh ke mann makhi//

They are like Rahu to the full moon of Vishnu and Shiva. Wherever Lord Shiv and Vishnu are praised, they create disturbances! When it comes to speaking ill about others, they are like Sahasrabahu the great warrior himself! These wicked souls watch the faults of others with thousand eyes. They are always alert to catch another’s smallest error.They are like buzzing flies to the ghee of another’s reputation. Even at the cost of killing itself, a fly shall dive into the ghee and spoil it. Likewise, the jealous, wicked souls shall attempt to destroy someone else’s work and achievements even at the risk of their own lives.

**

Tej krisanu rosh mahishesa/ Agh avaguna dhan dhani dhanesa//

Uday ket sam hit sab hi ke/ Kumbhkaran sam sovat neeke//

These vile, wicked, evil humans are like blazing fire when it comes to harming others. They are like Yama when it is about getting provoked and angry. They are rich like Kubera, when it comes to the accumulation of bad qualities and sins. Their growth is as inauspicious like Ketu the inferior star, because it destroys others. It is better for everyone that such people are allowed to sleep (are rendered useless) like Kumbhakarna.

**

Par akaju lagi tanu pariharahim/ Jimi him upal Krishi dali garahim//

Bandavu khal jas sesh sarosha/ Sahas badan barnayi par dosha//

Hailstones melt after destroying farm lands, and similarly these wicked ones throw themselves into harming the work of other people! I bow before the wicked, who like Seshnag possess a thousand tongues, and speak unceasingly about the faults of others.

**

Puni pranavavu prithuraj samana/ Par agh sunayi sahas das kana//

Bahuri sakra sam binavavu tehi/ Santat suranik hith jehi//

I bow before the wicked knowing that they are like Raja Pridhu (the one who wished for a boon of ten thousand ears to listen to the glories of the Lord) when it comes to listening to gossip about others with ten thousand ears! By the way, liquor too can be helpful sometimes. Even the wicked has their uses in this universe of ours.

**

Bachan bajra jehi sada piaara/ Sahas nayan par dosh nihari//

The wicked humans love using harshest words always and watch out for the slightest mistakes of others with a thousand eyes!

**

Doha:

Udasin ari meet hit sunat jarahim khal reeti/

Jaani  paani jug jori jan binati karayi sapreeti//

The nature of these indolent, wicked characters is that they blaze with jealousy on hearing about the success of anybody- friend or foe. I offer my loving respects, with folded hands, while being fully aware of their nature.

**

Mai i disi keenh nihora/ Tinh nij or na laub bhora//

Bayas paliahim ati anuraga/ Hohim niramish kabahu ki kaga//

I have extended my requests (hoping for peace), but these people shall never deviate from their nature even a bit. Even if you look after a group of crows with great love and affection, will they ever relinquish their desire for flesh?

**

Bandevum sant asajjan charna/ Dukhprad ubhay beech kacchu barna//

Bicchurat ek pran hari lehim/ Milat ek dukh darun dehim//

Now I bow at the feet of both the holy and unholy people. Both render sorrow, but there is a difference in the manner of its occurrence. When a holy, kind soul departs, one’s heart gets broken. while intense agony happens on meeting a wicked, unholy character.

Note: Saints give sorrow while departing from us and the wicked humans impart sorrow when we encounter them on life’s journey!

**

Upajahim ek sangh jag mahim/ Jalaj jonk jimi guna bilagahim//

Sudha sura sam sadhu asadhu/Janak ek jag jaladhi agadhu//

Both the sages and the vile souls are born in the universe together. But like a lotus and leech, their natures differ. The lotus delights at sight and with its touch. The leech sucks your blood as soon as it encounters you. The saintly soul or sadhu is like amrit or sudha  helping you to rise above the mortal world; while the asadhu or wicked one is like intoxicating liquor which grants sluggishness, desire, arrogance. The source of origin of both is the same, deep worldly ocean. It is through the churning of the ocean that both amrit and madira have emerged.

**

Bhal anabhal nij nij kartooti/ Lahat sujas apalok bibhuti//

Sudha sudhakar sursari sadhu/ Garal anal kalimal sari byadhu//

Guna avagun janat sab koyi/ Jo jehi bhav neek tehi soyi//

The good and bad characters, as per their deeds, reap fame and notoriety respectively. Everybody knows about the good qualities and bad qualities of the amrit, moon, Ganga, sage, poison, fire, Karmanasha river (carrying all the sins of Kaliyuga) and a violent tiger. Whatever appeals to one’s intrinsic nature, one follows that path.


The Beauty of The Lord

I completed ‘Lanka Kanda’ in 2021, and the book is going to be released in 2024. It is nearly 300 pages long.

I owe much to the publishers, Nageen Prakashan, Meerut; for their wonderful efforts with the SriRamacharitmanas Sopan-translation project. The first book, ‘Sundar Kanda’ was released in 2017, ‘Kishkindha Kanda’ in 2019, and ‘Aranya Kanda’ in 2022.

If the Lord decides, the next book will be ‘Bal Kanda’, possibly in two parts. I am fascinated that the whole of Sati-Shiva-Parvati story is narrated therein with all gusto!

This is in utter gratitude and delight…a big thank you for the divinity which guides us all. May we make You proud through our thoughts, words and deeds.

And my Hanumanji, on every page!


Cloaked In Words, This New Year…

I have been fortunate to translate the works of three brilliant writers over the past few years. Three books of V.J.James have been published by Penguin Random House : Anti-Clock, Nireeswaran and Dattapaharam. We are hoping to see ‘The Book of Exodus’ published this new year. Sheela Tomy’s book, ‘Do not ask the river her name’, will be out this year too. And I sincerely hope that Sonia Rafeek’s two beautiful books, ‘Herbarium’ and ‘House of Girls’ will find suitable homes soon. Perhaps, V.J.James’s Laika and One Legged Crow will grace the bookshelves of readers without much delay too.

From my own writer’s kitty, I am looking forward to seeing ‘Lanka Kanda’ published and a book of cartoons/graphics with pithy reflections , titled, ‘Wisdom@ 50’: what I have garnered during my life journey till now.

Time to say gratitude to the Lord. And it is time to thank all the men and women, whose words have made my life more meaningful, the past year.

Bless you all.


Women Talking

I have gone back to sketching after more than a decade. My daughter, off for her doctoral studies, gifted me her tab, sat me down and taught me like a kindergarten teacher : how to sketch in it.

“Amma, enjoy the technology. Go back to drawing.”

Never was I more petrified, never more delighted like a kid.

In the influx of joy, I sat down and blew on the embers of my soul. Maybe, one day, another book…:)


The Canticle of Effort

Certain books call out to you. They have your destiny entwined in their pages. Back in 2017, when I read ‘Purappadinte Pustakam’, something in its sparkling originality touched my heart. I reached out to the author and offered to translate it to English. I felt that the world deserved to meet the wonderful characters; laugh and cry along with them. The author, V.J.James, always affable and humble, erudite and kind, responded encouragingly. The journey began there. As the famous quote from Dao De Jing goes, ‘ A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’

Today, we have translated six books together. Three novels : Anti-Clock, Nireeswaran and Dattapaharam have been released by Penguin Random House India. Next year, we hope to see ‘Purappadinte Pustakam’ or ‘ The Book of Exodus’ published. James had to struggle for more than a decade to see his debut novel in print. It evolved over the years, stained with sweat and tears.

Ironically, though it was the first book we completed together in the year 2018, the book took its own time to come to fruition. It has made me believe again in the subtle magic of words. We control nothing; only the effort is our portion. And when the results arrive, we have to humbly bow before the occurrence.

In an interview, long back, James was asked:

‘When do you think your books will get to a global audience?’

‘I believe in Akshara Shakti : the power of words.’

That makes me pause. And I reflect on the somber truth behind it all.

For words to grace us, we have to deserve their benedictions. To read and write more, to make the receiving vessel sparkle and shine, that choice alone is left to us. When and how the blessings pour, that is still under veils.

Every day gives us an opportunity to ready ourselves for the unseen grace. Though the mood is dark and apprehensive, or cheerful and sunny, or stoic and serene, we have to focus on the work at hand. The toil itself is the canticle. When raised to the heavens, by singing with a pure heart, the answer surely comes.

May the Lord guide us all into more and more fruitful endeavors; while staying detached and committed.


Laika and One-Legged Crow : V.J.James

Two novellas by V.J.James : Laika and One-Legged Crow.

Few excerpts from these stunning novellas…(in translation). Hope they spread their sweetness across the world.

Laika…

When the year 1957-58 was declared as the International Geophysical Year, both Russia and America, without each other’s knowledge, had started working on artificial satellites. Both parties spared no effort in spying on each other too. Yet, Russian space successes were always one step ahead of the game. It caused a grave injury to American pride that we succeeded in launching Sputnik, while US failed in putting in space a satellite weighing 2 kilograms. It was this defeat of the hitherto frontliner which motivated USA to establish NASA in 1958.

In the next decade, both the countries together contributed in sending almost 5000 artificial satellites to circle the earth. The credit of the first human in space in 1961 went to Russia while America conquered the moon in 1969- all a direct result of the invisible space race.  It was during the early stages of the space feud, which extended for years on end, that Laika the pup arrived; with the historic assignment of being the first link in the space journey, and I ended up narrating her tale to Priyanka.

Though named Laika, the nomenclature was not referring a lone canine. Laika was the common name for the breed of hunting dogs in Northern forests of Russia and Scandinavian countries. Alsatian, Pomeranian, Daschund…like these divisions, we too named the pup after a specific breed. From among the mongrels caught from Moscow’s streets, after ‘interviewing’ many, did we choose Laika as the space traveller. Her kind was adept in hunting down small creatures and birds like squirrels and partridges.  Howling wildly to indicate the presence of bigger animals, they were great enthusiasts in chasing and tiring out the preys, along with the owners. Though petite in appearance, their capacity to bark fiercely was legendary. That was why the breed got the name of ‘the one who barks’. They were very faithful and loving by nature. Besides, fitting her in the payload compartment was easy, considering her small size.

We Russians have a great liking for dogs. Most citizens consider owning high pedigree canines as a status symbol. The dogs are granted prominent positions within a household. Not only inside homes, but dogs have been companions in Russia’s scientific experiments also. It was because its blood circulatory system and respiratory mechanism were similar to that of a human being, that a dog was chosen as the first space traveler.  Although, considering the resilience and fortitude to overcome extreme cold and hunger, many street dogs were trapped and some canines were purchased from owners, the cast lots was in favour of Laika, due to her light weight, obedience and her non-ambivalence towards the special space food.

Irrespective of all the tricks up their sleeves, four adroit dog catchers could not snare this super smart little pup. She eluded their ruses many times. The catchers became provoked and determined to snag her in their nets by all means. By the time she was caught by the shore of a frozen lake, the dog trappers were perspiring even in the chill. That was the artificial lake we visited often in Moscow. Made by the arduous efforts of hundreds of political prisoners over a matter of years, that lake had a major influence in Russia’s ecology.

On hearing the finer details, Priyanka shot an array of questions.

‘What food do you give her? Mutton, fish?’

‘No dear,’ I replied, ‘a dog going to space cannot take fish or meat along. We give her a special gelatinized form of food.’

‘Where does she sleep, Papa?’

‘Inside a canister! She is very smart. So smart that she does not create a ruckus or get agitated like other dogs. Do you know what we tried last week? We made her don a space suit and conducted experiments inside a plane flying at high altitudes. There are so many more experiments pending trial…’

Priyanka, adept in the world of imagination, went on visualizing a space-suit clad dog. Insisting on seeing a picture, she made me sketch the scene.

‘Huh! What’s this? A mouse?’

Since I was poor in drawing, the dog I depicted was pathetically resembling a mouse!

Even Engineering Drawing had always been scary for me.

‘Today happens to be Sunday, right?’ To save face, I attempted a ploy. ‘See, if one sketches a dog on a Sunday, it will look like a mouse!’

‘Good that nobody sketched your picture today, Papa. Wonder which creature it would have resembled!’

When the guile, tried to deceive the innocence of childhood, was returned with its edge broken, I was rendered answerless. Yet, Priyanka did not abandon my dog belonging to the mouse species.

That night the child slept after listening to many more stories related to Laika.

***

One Legged-Crow

At the very bottom of the letter, there was an underlined reminder to Amma about feeding the One-legged Crow.

Though Amma fed all the crows, she had a special care for the one-legged one. Especially because Simon and his father had nurtured it until the little fledgling could spread its wings. It could neither land in places where other crows frequented nor maneuver itself and snatch a morsel of food. The leftovers were its sole hope. But chances for such crumbs were very small in a village. And so, Amma would always put aside something for the One-legged Crow. The bird too was aware of the routine. Without being the part of the raucous crowd, it would wait patiently in the anointed place, for its turn.

Apart from the crow, there was a squirrel too in the yard, that Amma fed regularly. There was a story behind the squirrel becoming a frequent guest. Once as it was relishing the rice drying on the palm-frond mattress, a cat had pounced on it. It was a smart aleck of a feline! If any dog wandered into the yard when it had given birth to its litter, the cat would unleash a terrible assault on the invader. It would scratch, hiss and yowl terribly. Due to the unexpected and ferocious nature of the attack, any mighty dog would lose its equanimity and flee for its life! The squirrel had been caught in the jaws of that canny cat!

Amma had somehow managed to salvage the squirrel from the fangs of the feline. The squirrel had bitten Amma desperately as it thrashed around for its life. A squirrel’s bite caused an intense, stinging pain. In spite of the agony, Amma was adamant on her life saving mission. The squirrel was on the verge of death, its neck mangled and bleeding. Ensuring water for the wretched creature, applying butter on the wounds, she murmured prayers while it lay on her palm and caressed it tenderly. Like a dead person resurrecting, the squirrel regained its life.

For a fortnight, the squirrel stayed close to Amma. On being able to climb trees, it scampered back but returned every day to eat cooked rice directly from Amma’s hands. One would be wonderstruck at the intimacy between animals and humans observing such interactions. Amma looked after the One-legged Crow and squirrel with the same dedication with which she cared for Simon. The pristine goodness of the village did not envisage distances between humans, animals or trees.

After writing the letter to his mother, Simon wrote in his daily diary with his black pen. It was a habit instilled in him from the ‘moral studies’ class at school. Then he scrawled a crow’s picture on the diary page too. There were many pictures scattered across the diary. Unconsciously, each picture would encapsulate the day’s poignancy. The last picture he sketched depicted the pang of separation in a dry, desolate background. His moral studies teacher at school had intoned that regular habits of writing and drawing helped to overcome inhibitions and even gain a mastery over both. Simon had used his golden pen for diary writing until now.

Now that Simon had to use the black pen, he was vexed at the start, but slowly the heavy burden seemed to move away. The humungous fears turned to be deceptive. It was easy to write with the black pen. There was an allure and elegance about the alphabets it crafted. Simon decided to use the pen for his immediate requirements until he visited home.

Simon’s hostel room was in the third floor. Intermittently, the resounding boom marking time from the tall tower could be heard. Especially during the nights, when all other sounds died down and nature stilled, the chime of the clock rang out louder and clearer. Since Simon was in the floor whose window opened out to the clock-tower, it was probably he who heard the time ring out first, feeling it most powerfully. Every time the clock tolled the time, Simon stared at it through the window. He saw the divine form standing with the hands spread over time.

Simon imagined sprouting two wings and taking a single flight from the hostel and landing at the zenith of the monument. In a way, it was predestined that he lived in such close proximity with the structure. The tower lured him to the days he spent with his Appan. It brought to mind Mesthiri, Outha and the village. Ruminating that Outha will be watching the same tower, which he watched at close distance, through his binoculars back in the village, Simon felt the distance between him and his home dwindling fast to become nullified. He visualized a hanging bridge connecting the acme of the clock-tower to the porch of his village home.