Wednesday, 30 November 2016
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
when deep inside I know that
we will perhaps never meet again.
It's been such a long time spent
with you and also without you
Sitting with you on that bench
speaking to you in low hushed tones
laughing at your jokes,
looking in your eyes.
Sharing those secrets with you
and listening to your stories.
I miss them, I miss them all.
Monday, 28 November 2016
Feel the pain
that completes you
Feel the pain,
that changes you.
Feel it inside,
through your veins.
Feel the pain,
that breaks you from within.
In moments of glory
feel the pain of the loser.
In the shattering defeat
feel the pain of trying hard.
Feel the pain all through the night
when sleep eludes you.
Feel the pain of broken dreams,
in the busy chores of the day.
Nothing else will matter,
when you can feel the pain.
You can try to run away
But you can never beat the pain.
Monday, 21 November 2016
The face of Lord Shiva was filled with a childlike smile. A deep resonating voive echoed around them "Get up, O dear Ashwathamma . I am so pleased with your sacrifice. Perhaps you don't know, a part of me in my Maharudra avatar is already there in you. You have pleased me tonight with your prayers. i never return my followers empty handed from my presence. Ask for whatever you want.
Ashwathamma , still prone on the ground sobbed " O Lord, there is nothing that I have not received in this world, by your benevolence. Sighting you has been the best experience that can happen to anyone. I have got my salvation , Master . But I have only a very small thing to ask for. I have promised my king and to keep the promise I have to eneter the Pandava camp and fight with them. Remove the wall of safety which you offer them my Lord and let me enter. The rest I leave to my destiny and the strength in my arms."
Mahadev was still smiling "O brave son of Drona . I was guarding the Pandava camp on the request of Krishna only for the period of the war. Krishna is most dear to me by his truth , purity,sincerity,austerity, vows, forgiveness, devotion, patience, thought and words. There is no other person equivalent to him in this world. Protection of Panchalas was to honour him . But now, time has something else in store for them . No one can be ahead or behind time because destiny is written by time . The Panchalas have their time running out. And you are only a vessel to fulfill what their destiny has in store for them . Enter the camp, O son of Drona, for I will be with you till you come out of it".
The ethereal form contained in the light now fell directly on Ashwathamma and vanished as if soaked by his body which radiated with a brilliance and stood erect on his feet. It was an incredible sight for Kritabarma and Kripcharya to behold as a battle cry emanated from Ashwathamma , standing upright with his sword raised in his right hand . He turned around to them and said "O brave warriors, you need not enter the camp, for there is no way they can stop me now. Both of you stand guard here , at the entrance and make it sure that nobody comes out of the camp alive .
Wednesday, 16 November 2016
Standing guard in front of the main entrance to the camp was a gigantic figure. A dazzling bright halo surrounded the person. A loin cloth made of tiger skin was draped around his waist and a deer skin adorned the upper torso. A huge hissing snake was thrown across his shoulders like the sacred thread of the Brahmins. He seemed to have many hands, each of them holding a deadly looking weapon. Fire belched out of his open mouth and nostrils there was a big eye at the centre of his forehead which rotated. All in all it was a grotesque yet fascinating sight to behold.
Ordinary mortals would have fainted at the sight but these three were among the elite fighters in the whole of Aryavarta. They immediately brought out their bows and invoking different mantras started aiming arrows at the figure. But all their efforts went in vain. The monstrous apparition devoured all their weapons. Ashwathama aimed a blazing javelin; it just broke into pieces like a falling meteor. All the three of them were surprised. They could not understand what really was happening. Kripacharya and Kritavarma were retracing their steps back but Ashwathama brought out his sword and holding it high above his head recited a mantra learned from his father. The sword blazed with blue lightning. Aiming the sword straight, he threw it to pierce the body of the unknown monster. But the sword just broke into smithereen like a sparkler.
Filled with anger at this obstacle to his purpose, Ashwathama used an array of weapons on the strange figure. But nothing appeared to bother it. But it was also not attacking them. Feeling dejected, he turned back at the two warriors for support.
Kripa shouted at him “O mighty son of Drona , I had already warned you about the fallacy of considering human effort to be supreme over destiny. We seem to be wasting our time in attacking this person. For surely it can’t be anything human or Rakshas. It must be a divine intervention which stands guard against anyone trying to attack the Pandava camp. I again ask you to reconsider your decision and step back from this frenzy that has you in its grip.”
Ashwathama was surprisingly calm now. He replied, “Uncle, I cannot go back from this point. I have vowed to decimate the Pandavas and that will happen tonight. Or else I will sacrifice myself here in front of this divine spirit who keeps watch upon their camp.”
Saying this, he kneeled on the ground and closed his eyes reciting verses invoking Lord Mahadeva “O great Sankara, the creator and Lord of this universe. You hold the reins of this universe. People know you by many names. The most benevolent of powers and the source of all energy, your devotee Ashwathama has many impurities and negatives in him. Nothing is beyond your knowledge, my Lord. I have promised to my dear friend and benefactor, king Duryodhana that I will avenge his death. Resolving so, I have come to this point. Help me Lord; remove all obstacles from my path. If you don’t help me now, I will understand that being of an impure soul; I can’t receive the shower of your benevolent blessings on myself. I am ready to sacrifice myself and purify my soul to do penance for all the actions that I may have committed in my lifetime and achieve eternal salvation at your altar.”
The moment he said this, a large altar of fire appeared from nowhere and lit itself up in flames leaping up the sky. Along with that numerous strange animals appeared all around him. They were of different shapes, sizes and varieties. In a cacophonous unison they approached him from all directions in a menacing way, as if to devour him or tear him into faces. It was frightening and any normal human would have been terrified beyond his wits. Seeing them, even Kripa and Kritavarma hastily stepped back for cover, not knowing what to do. But Ashwathama was calm.
Bowing down before the altar of fire he said “O great Lord, I am just a toy in your hands. You who his child-like in his innocence yet combine the fury of thunder and earthquake in your anger. You, who pardon all with a smile, destroy all with your wrath. King of kings, you who live like a beggar and have only a tiger-skin to cover your body smeared with ash, I pray to thee. Take me Lord under your tutelage. Permit me to complete my vow or let me leave this mortal body here and purify my soul.”
Saying this, he stepped into the altar with his palms folded in a pose of worship. Before the eyes of his two companions, his form was engulfed by the raging flames.
Tuesday, 15 November 2016
After the felling of Duryodhana, Yudishthira decided to stay the night at his capital Indraprastha with his brothers. He had a lot of planning to do. Along with his brothers, he needed to assure the entire Aryavarta about the continuity. Most of the kings and warriors who took part in the great war, either for the Pandavas or the Kauravas have met their fate on the battlefield. It was necessary to appoint kings and governors in various places in consultation with Krishna and Vidura. And he was to perform the awkward ritual of visiting his uncle emperor Dhritarashtra and the empress Gandhari. This was the most difficult of formalities which he dreaded.
So Yudhisthira along with his brothers and Krishna had left the camp. When Satyaki learnt this, he too accompanied them. Everyone understood why. There was no love lost between Satyaki and Dhristadumnya and it would really be a miracle if they would not come to blows if left together. Satyaki the unconquered was the only Maharathi other than Dhristadumnya from the Pandava side to have survived the war. But he was a loner. Unlike other great warriors, he did not join the war with his own band of supporters. Because his clan the Vrishnis were all fighting the war under the command of Kritavarma.
The Pandava army were majorly composed of the Panchalas and the Matsyas, the two kingdoms who were solidly behind them by relations of marriage. The Panchalas under king Drupad were the major source of support as Draupadi was their daughter. The king Virat of Matsya who died in the war along with his son was father of Uttara, the princess who was the wife of Abhimanyu. Pandavas by themselves had a much smaller army and it was rendered much smaller by the war.
With the five Pandava brothers away along with Krishna and Satyaki the mood in the camp was less formal and the binge drinking started quite early. The five sons of Draupadi, each from her five husbands were great followers of their uncle Dhristadumnya and instead of visiting their mother at Indraprastha, chose to stay back and join the revelry inside the camp. The soldiers had seen the most terrible carnage for the last eighteen days and now as the war ended they wanted to drown themselves and forget the dreadful memories of the war. By the nightfall most of them were too asleep, too drunk to move or enjoying coitus with the maidservants.
Dhristadumnya himself was fully inebriated and lying on the couch as the Dasis gave him foot massage. He had visited the quarters of Shikhandi, his hermaphrodite sibling and discussed about the future plans. He had instructed Shikhandi to start for Panchal the next day itself and take care of the kingdom till he returned. As the commander of the Pandava army it was his duty to set things right and assist Bheema and Arjuna to take over the kingdoms of the fallen kings. But as it happened, half of his own country Panchala was still under the rule of Ashwathama, his sworn enemy.
Deep inside him Dhristadumnya had a cruel personality hid behind a suave exterior refined by the upbringing of a prince. It was not entirely his fault. For he was born of this dark desire for vengeance. King Drupad begot him from the fires of the altar to fulfill his revenge on Drona. And he was drilled with this thought. In spite of being taught by Drona, he hated him from within because what he did to his father. Together the three siblings, himself, Draupadi and Shikhandi were vessels of destruction. Destruction of Hastinapur, death of Drona, death of Bheeshma. Their own father died in the war but they survived. Completing what fate had destined for them. And now each of them were poised to play their part in the post war situation. His father must be smiling in heaven.
The soft fingers of the Dasis were working on his battle ravaged body and the effect of wine had dulled him. But he could not sleep by himself. A lot of thoughts crisscrossed his mind. He was thinking about Satyaki and Ashwathama alternately. He considered both of them as his enemy. Ashwathama was an old enemy by virtue of their individual parentage. But with Satyaki, the matter was slightly different. He never liked the loner Satyaki. The only Yadav from the Vrishni clan to take up arms in support of the Pandavas.
Satyaki had joined the Pandavas out of his respect and affiliation to Arjuna and Abhimanyu. In the intricate political mosaic of the Indraprastha court, Abhimanyu was always considered as the chosen one. And Satyaki was a Maharathi too. just like Kritavarma on the Kaurava army. He never gave Dhrishtadumnya the respect as the commander of the army and took his orders from Arjuna. The Panchala prince bore it without showing his displeasure. On the surface both maintained a formal and civil relation for the sake of unity.
But the thin veneer of formality broke the day he killed Drona, his father's slayer. As Drona sat on the battlefield mourning the news of his son's death, falsely informed by Dharmaraj Yudhishthir, Dhrishtadumnya saw his chance to avenge his father's death. With a swift flow of his sword. he finished off the enemy. The same person who taught him how not to show mercy on the enemy in the battlefield. What followed was unbelievable. Instead of applauding him, the Pandavas roundly castigated him for this and accused him of the crime of Mahapatak - the killing of their teacher. But what else could he do. Drona was reducing the number of Pandava army with his waves of attacks and their was a direct danger of the tide turning in favour of the Kauravas. As the commander of the army, he did what he thought best.
But Satyaki was enraged . He abused him with the vilest words and had challenged him to a duel. Even Arjuna supported him, for he was the favourite student of Drona. The same Drona who was one of the seven warriors who entrapped his son Abhimanyu and killed him in an unequal fight, against all norms of warfare. But Krishna intervened and stopped the imminent duel between the two. They embraced each other and truce was called but the animosity between them was now firmly established. Since then, they did not cross each other's path. And it was good that Satyaki chose not to stay in the camp. He will deal with Satyaki later. He needed to savour this hard fought win. Leading an army of seven aukshahini he defeated the the Kauravas with eleven aukshahini strength.
He reached for the young Dasi . Tonight he would enjoy this nubile young girl. And then if he felt the need, he could have another. Tomorrow would be another day.
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Monday, 7 November 2016
Ashwathama felt the rush of excitement within him. As the idea flashed upon his mind, he could not contain himself. Involuntarily he started pacing in a circle, around the tree, oblivious of the situation. Even with the slightly chilly winds blowing, he was perspiring. Kripacharya observed him. In a gentle voice he called him “Come on, son. You need some rest to revitalise yourself.”
He stopped suddenly and came up to both of them. “Yes, uncle, we can do it. We can be like the owl and hunt them, in the darkness of the night. “His voice was in a whisper but very distinct. Both Kripa and Kritavarma were jolted out of their blankness of mind. They could not see each other’s face distinctly in the darkness.
Ashwathama went on in a low but excited voice, as if speaking to himself “Don’t you see? O mighty Kritavarma, the scourge of enemies on the battlefield. The owl has been sent by the heavens to show us a way. Blessed be the forefathers dwelling in the stars, who had been kind enough to guide us on our road to vengeance. Our hearts are burning with the fires of revenge, for which the time is ripe. And the time is now. We must start this very moment”.
Seeing them silent, he continued “I have great reliance and faith on the abilities of our trio, as together we are like the trident of the Lord Mahadeva, his blessings be on us. But at the same time, I am realistic about our chances. The Pandavas are not like ordinary kings or princes that we have slain before. We may not be able to harm them on the battlefield. And they have the support of the scheming Krishna to help them. But we have already vowed before our king Duryodhana, who may not remain with us for long. We also have to keep our solemn word..”
“Taking them on the battlefield will be an act like ants rushing towards the blazing fire. We have to use cunningness and guile to defeat the enemy of such multifarious talents as the Pandavas, considering that we do not have an army with us. Only this way can we be sure of a degree of success. I don’t care about what the scriptures and textbooks say about the war and I have read quite a few of them in my lifetime. The only certainty in a war is that someone ends up on the winning side. Scriptures and laws are written by the winners. And I want to be on the winning side, whatever I have to do for that, I will do.”
Kripa started to say something, but Ashwathama was not finished yet. Raising his hand, in a sign of impatience he carried on with his monologue “O uncle, Kripacharya. You are the repository of knowledge and the princes were your own students, even before me or my slain father came into contact with them. Along with the great Vidura and Pitamaha Bheesma, you must have given them umpteen numbers of lessons in ethics and morality. Then tell me why the Pandavas resorted to all those trickeries in the battlefield. If indeed they followed the rules of Dharmayudha, Why did they fell the greatest of the warriors, their own grandfather by hiding behind Shikhandi? What was their motive in lying to their revered Guru? And do not forget, they gave no chance to brave Karna, who was on foot when he was killed . My friend and master the mighty Duryodhana was invincible in the fight with maces. They killed him brutally by hitting him below the navel. Our scriptures have decided justice based on the grievousness of the error. Correct me if I’m wrong ‘but I remember clearly what I’ve learnt – The enemy’s forces , even when fatigued or wounded, eating or retiring or resting within the confines of their camp should be destroyed.”
He stopped for a fraction and then said in a deeper voice” There is nothing wrong in attacking them now when they are sleeping. This is the only way that our resolution to destruct them completely can be achieved. “
Both of the warriors listened to him with their heads bowed down. They could not believe their own ears . They said nothing and kept still . But their silence spoke a thousand words. Even in the darkness, the language of their taut bodies gave away their revulsion to hear out such a proposal, as outlined before them. Ashwathama understood their sense of dismay. These were, after all the cream of the elite Kaurava warriors, grown up on the highest principles of war and ethics. He had another way to try out his proposal before he forced them to obey his diktat as their commander, for they were bound by their words to follow him.
Speaking softly and a voice filled with emotion he started “We are fighting this war to establish the glory of our Lord and King , the great Duryodhana, who was my hero and my friend. He lies there, gasping his last breath. The master who mobilised eleven akshauhinis of troops at his clarion call now lies fallen among the dead bodies of his great army, nothing worthwhile of which remains anymore. Struck down by the evil tactics of that glutton Bheema who was cheered by the assembled carrion of Panchala troops. They were jeering our fallen king by blowing conch shells and beating their drums. The sound of their obscene jubilation and laughter that carried far and wide in the winds was deafening. Till a little while ago we could hear it. “
Then with a choked voice he appealed to them “Very rarely have we seen or heard of such a havoc. We are the only three persons unconquered. But we had the stalwarts on our side. Make no mistake, dear uncle and O great Yadava scion, they were all Maharathis. Some were endowed with the strength of hundred elephants, some were master of all weapons, yet some were invincible. But time reversed everything and there they are , slain at the hands of the sons of King Pandu . But still we are left unharmed. There must be a deeper reason for this. Pray, tell me. Break your silence and guide me, I beseech you. “
Kripacharya broke his silence "Ashwathama, my son, I can well understand what is going through your mind. You are now the leader of the Kaurava army and it is my duty to follow you. But this old man has something to tell you my dear nephew. I've been advising the king and princes of Hastinapur and you too shall not be bereft of my experience and knowledge."
He continued " O mighty warrior , son of the great Drona, mark my words. In our lives we have to achieve a balance between our destiny and our efforts because both are complementary. To achieve success in our lives ,we need to create a union of them both. For neither of them can deserve sole credit for what we become. All our purpose of living is subsumed into managing them in good proportions. Our actions as also our abstentions are to be seen through the crystal of these two attributes. Nothing can be achieved by clouds that pour on a mountain top. But the same cloud can produce a great harvest when it rains on a cultivated field. Without destiny all our endeavours come to a nought and again in spite of our efforts nothing happens unless it is in our destiny. The exertions of a competent person with all the skills even when well directed will bear no fruit without the concurrence of destiny. But it does not behove of men of intelligence to sit idle and wait for destiny to unfold. The absence of action brings misery upon us."
He stopped for a moment and said “Between the impatience of action and the inevitability of destiny lies the conscience which helps us in choosing the right direction to shape our course of life. Often we need wiser counsel from the experienced to seek accomplishment of the purpose of our lives. Duryodhana was my student and the king for whom I fought the war. But I am constrained to say that he has never paid heed to the wise counsel provided to him by the elders. In his blind pursuit of his selfish purposes, he chose to disregard all those who dissuaded him from the path of hostilities with the Pandavas. The catastrophe that has befallen him is nothing but a product of his efforts along the wrong path that he chose to follow his destiny."
Kritavarma nodded. Coming over his stoic silence he spoke " I am not an educated person nor from a background of princely status. Whatever I have learnt has been from the harsh experience of life. But I can say this, O worthy son of Drona, this war has taken a heavy toll on the warriors of this great land and not only confined to Hastinapur alone. Though I offer my unflinching support and loyalty to you, as a soldier, I want to fight my opponents face to face on the battlefield and if defeated attain heaven. There is no place to carry personal grudges because all these acts of revenge create new wounds instead of closing the old ones. I too think that we can do with some good advice from the wise ones before we continue with the hostilities. That is my humble submission." He stopped rather overwhelmed by his own comments.
Kripa said again" Let us go and meet old king Dhritarashtra and the queen mother Gandhari. Let us consult them and ask from the wise minister Vidura on our next course of action."
Sunday, 6 November 2016
14122016All of us may not have
forgotten the recent spate of violence in Kashmir and how it was played up by
different organisations and people with their vested interests. Burhan Wani, said to be a Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant was killed by the security
forces in an encounter on 8 July
this year. His killing triggered a long
spell of unrest in Kashmir, necessitating
imposition of curfew across the valley for more than three months at a stretch.
News reports mention that the Jammu and Kashmir government has now
cleared ex-gratia payment for the next of kin of 17 people who were killed in various
militancy-related incidents in the Valley, over a period of time . It is very
interesting to note that the list of those killed include Khalid Muzaffar , the
brother of Burhan Wani .
Khalid Muzaffar was killed on 13th April 2015 by the army in the
forests of Tral. Army termed Khalid a militant and said he was killed in an
encounter. But his family and the villagers of Tral disagreed. The father of
the deceased, Muzaffar Ahmad Wani at that time said his son was “tortured to
death” because his younger brother Burhan Wani is a militant. Terming the death
as a custodial killing , he had questioned “If my son was killed in an
encounter then why his body didn’t bear a bullet wound ?”
The killing of many youths by
the armed forces in Kashmir has often been mired in controversies because the
nature of these so called encounters. Rightly or wrongly, there has always been
the suspicion of foul play and the arbitrary extra judicial nature of such deaths
have been stressed time and again by various Human rights organisations , Kashmiris
as well as many non-Kashmiri Indians. On the other side there are quite a significant
number of people who justify these “encounters” as the only solution against
terrorism. We may remember how the Kashmir incident raised a groundswell of
patriotism and nationalism earlier this year among Indians , when they were not
busy with their preoccupation of exchanging or withdrawing currency notes from Banks and
ATMs across the country. The ruling party BJP, true to its platform of nationalism
tried to build up a wave of support for itself by using the difficulties faced
by the armed forces in containing the terrorism in Kashmir. Anybody feeling any
sympathy with the Kashmiris or trying to put the actions of the armed forces in
the proper perspective was immediately dubbed as anti national.
Therefore it is very strange
that The J&K Government , of which BJP is a part has taken the decision to
compensate the family of a “terrorist” killed by an Army “encounter”. Let us consider the facts1.
act of paying compensation itself is an acknowledgement that the killing of the
deceased Khalid Muzaffar by the army was a mistake and gross abuse of
fundamental and human rights .
BJP being a partner of the coalition government in J&K cannot evade the responsibility of being a party
to this decision of paying compensation to the kin of a “terrorist”.
Khalid was really a terrorist then what is the effect of such compensation on
the morale of the armed forces engaged in fighting terrorists in J&K ?
Khalid was not a terrorist then what action has been taken against the armed
forces personnel who were responsible for the alleged “custodial death”.
the BJP support the J&K government’s decision of paying compensation and
accept that Khalid was not a terrorist ?
it does support the J&K Government’s decision, then does it condemn the
action by the armed forces and will the Defence minister order an enquiry into
the incident ?
it does not support the J&K government’s decision then why does it continue
as a partner in the government ?
doesn’t the Central Government dissolve the J&K government for showing
sympathy to the terrorists ?
Those who are ambivalent or
maintain their neutrality in all matters , I ask them – If this is not the
example of political expediency then what is ? Running with the hares and
hunting with the hounds has always been the credo of BJP and its leaders. Do
you still believe in this government ? Are you sure that in a given situation the
armed forces will not mete out the same treatment to your own family member if
they are given such wide ranging powers? Do you realise that the BJP and its government
is lying and fooling us with their every action that they try to package as a
great thing for the nation. If you have a small amount of consciousness left in
you please protest, in your own way against such duplicity . Call their bluff. There are many BJP supporting Bhakts whose heart bleed at the tiniest barb aimed
at the wrong doing of the armed forces or the BJP government. There are diehard
nationalists who keep no stones unturned in their efforts to label, vilify ,
attack and suggest stringent punishments for people like me whom they dub as
anti-nationals . These are great patriots whose sole aim of life is to prove
and project the greatness of only one person who is otherwise busy projecting
himself. Will these worthies please come forward and give their considered
views on the subject matter, without trivialising, without bringing in
extraneous references to people and parties and without invoking the last seven
decades. Because, I am sick of your diversionary tactics and limited premise of
discussion which only showcases your
#Justsaying. The preamble on the RBI website says - “To regulate the issue of Bank notes and the keeping of reserves with a view to securing monetary stability in India and generally to operate the currency and credit system of the country to its advantage”. Please don't laugh after reading this.
#Randomthoughts The food habits which we have in India presently is largely influenced by the foreign invasions and colonial rule that we were subjected to. The diehard nationalist puritanical Bhakt may not even be aware that most of the common vegetables that (s)he swears by, has its own story. These food items have slowly integrated themselves with the soil, habits, culture of our land and have now become indistinguishable. Farmers who produce them are not aware about their foreign origins. Actually, with the rampant use of hybrid and genetically modified seeds, it will be very difficult to single out fruits ,vegetables and plants that are originally from this land. And this may be true for all countries; not only limited to us.
So sometimes, I find it very amusing to see certain food items being offered as Prasad during religious functions and suddenly the question that comes to my mind is – What were the fruits and vegetables that Rama would have eaten during his exile along with Sita and Lakshman. Now there are some people who believe that Rama was indeed a historical figure and also designate a certain place as his birthplace. But strangely they will not be able to answer to questions about the dress, food, lifestyle of that period. All that we have as records are mythical literary creations. Based on myths if someone has a religious affinity, I don’t mind. Frankly, I am not bothered too unless someone forces me to believe that it is authentic history.
There are so many type of plants and trees around us; so many type of birds. I only know the names of a few. My ignorance is larger than my ego.
Fifty days will be too long a time which people may want to give.
#RandomThoughts Today the 14th November is a Bank holiday . And in the literal sense it is a well deserved one for the bank employees in branches after the harrowing time they had during the last few days of madness triggered by shoddy implementation of a lofty idea. Their travails are not finished yet because from tomorrow they will again have to take up their positions and face the fire. They have already foregone their holidays on Saturday and Sunday preceding this holiday today and maybe this will be the template for the whole of this month.