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Subhadra Kumari Chauhan


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Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

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Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

Put away the road maps now.
To go there.
You do not need helicopters any more:
wherever there is hunger, Kalahandi is there.
The god of rain turned away his face.
There was not one green leaf left on trees to eat.
The whole village a graveyard
The ground, cracked 
River sand, dried up.
All plans failed;
the poverty line receded further.
Wherever you look,There is a Kalahandi:
In the sunken eyes of living skeletons,
in rags which do not cover frail bodies,
in utensils pawned off for food,
in the crumbling hutswith un thatched roofs,
in the exclusive prosperity
of having owned two earthen pots.
Kalahandi is everywhere:
in the gathering of famished crowds before charity kitchens,
in market places where children are auctioned off, 
in the sigh of young girls sold to brothels,
in the silent processions of helpless people leaving their hearth and home.
Come, look at Kalahandi closer:
In the crocodile tears 
Of false press statements, 
in the exaggerated statistics 
Of computer print-outs,
in the cheap sympathies 
doled out at conferences, 
in the false assurances presented by planners.
Kalahandi is very close to us:
In the occasional contrition of our souls,
in the unexpected nagging of conscience,
in the rare repentance of the inner self.
In the nightmares 
appearing through sound sleep,
in disease,
in hunger,
in helplessness,
in the abject fear
of an impending bloodshed.
How could we then walk
Into celebrated portals 
of the twenty-first century,
leaving Kalahandi behind?

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Manoj Krishnan

जब भी मौत आएगी मेरी, मैं उसे चूम लूंगा,
उसकी बेचैन आँखों को चोरी से देख लूंगा।
जिनसे दुनिया, सहमी हुई, फिरती दिखेगी,
उनमें समा कर, शायद थोड़ी ख़ुशी मिलेगी।
थोड़ा तो ज्ञात है मुझे, उसकी भी मनोदशा,
उसे क्या पता इस आंलिगन का भी है मज़ा।
कब से प्रतीक्षा है मुझे इस अंतिम घङी की,
उसके स्पर्श एवं उसमें विलीन हो जाने की।
रह जाएंगी मेरी यादें और मेरे कुछ अवशेष,
अति सुखद होगा इस एकांकी का पटाक्षेप।
इस तरह मेरी ये कहानी समाप्त हो जायेगी,
पर, अल्पविराम के बाद कथा नयी आएगी।
संभवतः आपके लिए ये वदनापूर्ण विषय हो,
हो सकता है थोड़ी असमंजस एवं संशय हो।
परन्तु, इसको मैं परमोक्ष की प्राप्ति मानूंगा,
मृत्यु का वरण कर, जीवन का अर्थ जानूंगा।
जब भी मौत आएगी मेरी, मैं उसे चूम लूंगा,
उन होंठों की कम्पन को, हौले से पढ़ लूंगा।
मृत्यु के चेहरे पर आती ये शिकन बताएंगी,
इक अल्पविराम के बाद कथा नयी आएगी।

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अफ़सोस कहाँ हम आ पहुँचे

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

अब प्यार हुआ इलज़ाम यहाँ, है मक्कारों की पौ बारह,
नफरत में जीना आसान है, अफ़सोस कहाँ हम आ पहुँचे !
क्या शोर हुआ, क्या ज़ोर हुआ,यूँ मर मर के मैं और हुआ,
बस बाकी होश ज़रा सा है, अफ़सोस कहाँ हम आ पहुँचे !
कोई आँख भरी ना ठंडक से, कोई हाथ नहीं है कंधे पर,
हर शख्स यहाँ घबराया है, अफ़सोस कहाँ हम आ पहुँचे !
ना सत्य सुना,ना वाद सुना, ना कल कल जल का नाद सुना,
इक कर्कश स्वर भर आया है, अफ़सोस कहाँ हम आ पहुँचे !
करुणा की गंध भी महकी थी, मुक्ति की हवा भी बहकी थी,
खुदगर्ज़ी ने भरमाया है, अफ़सोस कहाँ हम आ पहुँचे !
तलवार उठा और बाँध कमर, अब आँख उठा और देख सहर,
आने वाली नस्लें न कहें, अफ़सोस कहाँ हम आ पहुँचे !

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तू अब भी है

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

सब लुट गया तो क्या, तू अब भी है,
अँधेरी रातों में तेरी महक अब भी है !
टूटती नहीं ये खुमारी क्या करें,
वजूद में मेरे घुली मिली, तू अब भी है !
जानता हूँ खूब नज़र फिर गयी तेरी,
दिल की तन्हाईयों में मगर , तू अब भी है !
तेरे होने, ना होने से अब फ़र्क नहीं कोई,
इस आशिकी के जुनून में ,तू अब भी है !
दौर-ए-हिज्र में हालांकि हुए घायल,
एहसास-ए-शुक्रमंदी में, तू अब भी है !
तिजारत की दुनिया रखे हिसाब तेरा,
इश्क में आज़ाद तू तब भी थी , तू अब भी है

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Zakhm phir se khula

Dr. Pariksith Singh

ज़ख्म फिर से खुला तो हुआ आईना
लहू की जगह बस एक शुआ आईना
तेरा ही अक्स झलकता था नज़रों में
दिल से उठती बस एक दुआ आईना

A wound opened again and became the mirror
In place of blood, a ray of light the mirror
Your reflection alone shimmered in my eyes
Only a prayer arising from my heart the mirror

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Waqt Guzar Gayaa

Dr. Pariksith Singh

वक़्त गुज़र गया मेरे दोस्त मगर शाम वही है
पीने वाले गुज़र गए पर जाम वही है
बाजारों में भाव भी कल उठते चले गए
बिक जाने का मगर दाम वही है
Time has passed us by, my friend, but the evening is the same.
The revelers have passed us by, but the wine is the same.
Yesterday, the prices of things in the bazaar went up high
The price of getting sold here still remains the same.

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Dr. Pariksith Singh

Recently, I was invited to Pondicherry Literary Festival, held August 17-19 last month. This came as a surprise request from a well-known critic and poet, Makarand Paranjape. We had renewed our acquaintance just a couple of days prior to this request. I had sent him a booklet of my poems, ‘The Fawn’, in 1991 to which he had responded in a kind but critical manner. And I always remembered and appreciated that. While he was visiting the US recently, a mutual acquaintance got us connected. This chance invitation started a sequence of events that amazed, amused, perplexed and annoyed me.
I accepted the invite after some hesitation since it came just a couple of weeks prior to the LitFest and we had little time. But I agreed to join the Festival since it seemed too fortuitous to me at that time. I would have the opportunity to visit Pondicherry, a city I have visited since I was in Medical School, and that too on August 15, which is the birthday of Sri Aurobindo, for whom as a revolutionary, writer, poet and visionary I have utmost respect. It was the time I was planning to release three books of mine, two on poetry and one on Health Care in the US. So, I thought, the event might help give the books some publicity. I had no idea about the political storm that was brewing.
While I was in Newark airport, getting ready to board the flight to New Delhi, I came upon a press event held in Pondicherry by a few leftist organizations that opposed the festival. They referenced the article from Le Monde, a newspaper in France that mentioned my name and called me a rightist and therefore opposed the LitFest since it was an event organized by rightist forces. I was surprised since I had not known yet that I belonged to the right-wing. I pulled the article that Le Monde had referenced and found that it was something that I had sent to several media outlets more than a year ago. It was an article that cautioned Modi against concentrating all the power in the Prime Minister Office since it could have harmful and unforeseen consequences. Rightlog chose to publish it. Nowhere in the article was there blind worshipping of Modi, nor did I support him whole-heartedly. I praised him for what I thought were his achievements and brought up my reservations where they were due.
I was tagged as a rightist since Rightlog published it. The content of the article had no meaning. I doubt that the Le Monde correspondent read it. Nor was there any attempt to ascertain my views on Modi, the LitFest or even what I thought about the liberal-conservative divide in the US or the Congress-BJP battle in India. It was sloppy journalism at its worst but the leftist parties in Pondicherry picked it up and petitioned Alliance Francaise to stop supporting the event.
By the time, I reached Pondicherry the little turbulence had gathered into a hurricane. Alliance Francaise dropped out at the last moment from allowing the organizers to use its venue to stage the event. They had to hustle to find alternative sites. On the morning of the inauguration, a group of miscreants gathered at Alliance Francaise to protest against the event. Fortunately, the event had already been moved to another site by that time.
I came to hear some of the best speakers, writers and thinkers of India at the event some of them can easily represent India internationally. We had Bibek Debroy, Sanjiv Sanyal, R Jagannathan, Alok Pandey and Makarand Paranjape among many others. I did not realize that the event had been tagged, labeled, and consigned to oblivion by the Left because it invoked Sri Aurobindo and Bharat Shakti, because the leftist writers and thinkers had chosen not to attend it even though they had been invited, because some of the organizers had been labeled already as rightists. The event was not attended by mainstream media. No coverage was given to stalwarts such as Bibek Debroy and others in the newspapers. My own father who was travelling with us tagged an exhibition on Indian Civilization and Spirituality as rightist because there was no Gandhi in it. That is when I received a vital insight.
I realized that the atmosphere in our country over the last 20 years had moved to an extreme divisiveness where raw emotion and sensationalism had taken over journalism and reason had fled our shores. And it was similar to what I had experienced in the US over the last decade or so. In any case, I visited Sri Aurobindo’s room and paid my respect. I sat at his Samadhi without a single thought or reaction over how vitiated our social discourse had become. I was just grateful that I could sit there on August 15 and release my books.
We came to Jaipur and my father arranged a press event, where, thankfully, all his journalist-friends whom he had known over the last 30 years came. I was questioned in a professional manner. I was interviewed for various TV channels and I did a poetry reading of my English and Hindi poems. Then came the question I had not expected in that more friendly atmosphere. “Are you a rightist and are your poems affiliated with a particular political party?”
And as I answered, I got my second insight. I said that the division between the right and left to me sometimes seemed artificial. I am a doctor who chose this profession because I wanted to help and heal. Does that make me a leftist? And I believe in free enterprise? Does that make me a rightist? And if caring for people, advocating health insurance for everyone, having empathy for the downtrodden and the poor and the weak made me a socialist I was proud to be one. And if supporting enterprise and businesses and individual freedom made me a conservative, I would be happy to hold that flag any day. Then I quoted something I had heard recently, “A bird needs two wings to fly, both the right and the left. So does our country.”
And I was done. And I had just begun.
When did loving one’s country became the right of one side or the other? I refused to accept the tag. I rejected them with all my passion and my being.
When did Swami Vivekananda become a rightist? He who loved the oppressed and forgotten and wanted to worship ‘Daridra Narayana’, the Divine who lives in the poorest and the most miserable, and had the deepest empathy for anyone who was suffering?
I am a leftist and a rightist. I am a green party member and I am libertarian. I refuse to allow others to pin me to who I am and who I choose to be and who I am allowed to be. I escape all categories and eschew all classification.
Truth is neither left nor right; Truth is the center. The only true one.
How shall I be pinned? I am invisible. I defy classification.
And I am reminded of Walt Whitman as I say this:
“You say I contradict myself.
Very well then, I contradict myself.
I contain multitudes.”

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ठुकरा दो या प्यार करो

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan

देव! तुम्हारे कई उपासक कई ढंग से आते हैं
सेवा में बहुमूल्य भेंट वे कई रंग की लाते हैं
धूमधाम से साज-बाज से वे मंदिर में आते हैं
मुक्तामणि बहुमुल्य वस्तुऐं लाकर तुम्हें चढ़ाते हैं
मैं ही हूँ गरीबिनी ऐसी जो कुछ साथ नहीं लायी
फिर भी साहस कर मंदिर में पूजा करने चली आयी
धूप-दीप-नैवेद्य नहीं है झांकी का श्रृंगार नहीं
हाय! गले में पहनाने को फूलों का भी हार नहीं
कैसे करूँ कीर्तन, मेरे स्वर में है माधुर्य नहीं
मन का भाव प्रकट करने को वाणी में चातुर्य नहीं
नहीं दान है, नहीं दक्षिणा खाली हाथ चली आयी
पूजा की विधि नहीं जानती, फिर भी नाथ चली आयी
पूजा और पुजापा प्रभुवर इसी पुजारिन को समझो
दान-दक्षिणा और निछावर इसी भिखारिन को समझो
मैं उनमत्त प्रेम की प्यासी हृदय दिखाने आयी हूँ
जो कुछ है, वह यही पास है, इसे चढ़ाने आयी हूँ
चरणों पर अर्पित है, इसको चाहो तो स्वीकार करो
यह तो वस्तु तुम्हारी ही है ठुकरा दो या प्यार करो

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Mantras from Savitri

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh

All can be done
if the God-touch is there
Only a little
The God-light can stay.
A traveller between summit and abyss.
The human in him
Paced with the Divine.
God shall grow up
While the wise men
Talk and sleep.
We are sons of God
And must be even as he.
Beyond earth’s longitudes and latitudes.
Our life
Is a holocaust
Of the Supreme.
Oh, surely one day
He shall come to our cry.
None can reach heaven
Who has not
Passed through hell.
Our human state
Cradles the future god.
The One by whom all live,
Who lives by none.
Escape brings not the victory and the crown.
In absolute silence
Sleeps an absolute Power.
A God comes down greater by the fall.
A giant dance of Shiva tore the past.
Whoever is too great
Must lonely live.
The soul in man
Is greater
Than his fate.
The life you lead
Conceals the light you are.
The great are strongest
When they stand alone.
The day-bringer
Must walk
In darkest night.
Our life is a march
To a victory
Never won.
Man can accept his fate,
He can refuse.
His failure is not failure
Whom God leads.
I wear the face of Kali
When I kill.
One man’s perfection
Still can save the world.
He who would save the world
Must share its pain.
All is too little that the world can give.
I shall save earth,
If earth consents
To be saved.
He Who Chooses The Infinite Has Been Chosen by the Infinite
Truth born too soon
Might break
The imperfect earth.
A cave of darkness guards the eternal Light.
A death-bound littleness is not all we are.
A Light there is that leads,
A Power that aids.
A moment sees,
The ages toil to express.
All our earth starts from mud and ends in sky.
All rose from the silence;
All goes back to its hush.
All things are real
That here are only dreams.
An idiot hour destroys what centuries made.
Love is a yearning
Of the One
For the One.
Mortality bears ill
The eternal’s touch.
The spirit rises mightier
By defeat.
The soul that can
Live alone with itself
Meets God.
There is a purpose
In each stumble and fall.
A future knowledge is an added pain.
To know is best,
However hard to bear.
But few are they who tread the sunlit path.
Death helps us not,
Vain is the hope to cease.
Earth is the chosen place of mightiest souls.
Eternity speaks, none understands its word.
Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.
For joy
And not for sorrow
Earth was made.
Heaven’s call is rare,
Rarer the heart that heeds.
My God is Love
And sweetly suffers all.
Only the pure in soul
Can walk in light.
The gods are still too few
In mortal forms.
We are greater
Than our thoughts.
Even the body shall remember God.

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