The Master Wit


The DSC awards for South Asian Literature has announced its long list. My friend K.R.Meera’s book- The Poison of Love- is in the long list of 13 books selected by an eminent jury. I am thrilled that her  amazing talent as a writer has yet again been recognised.( I have lost count of the number of awards she has already won:) I am also happy that my role as a translator has been recognised.

My job takes me to very traumatising places at times. Like a place of suicide. A severed head  and torso- lifeless-of what once was a very brilliant young man. When you stand looking at the gory remains of a human body, you realise yet again the futility of ego. The way death beckons with a loving smile. Love can be poisonous. It can tempt people into twisted ways of paying back. I have experienced it in my own life. Is it love at all?  Isn’t that sort of love rather evil?

Perhaps as Gibran’s Prophet explained: ‘.. For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst.Verily when good  is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves and when it thirsts, it drinks even of dead waters…’

I see the ripples of love turned poisonous in both the lifeless body now firmly etched in my memory and in Meera’s iconic novella. Tulsi epitomises the peculiar way women can sometimes love. Men too, for that matter. The theme is universal and yet so enlivened by traditional montages and nuances. The human mind is the greatest mystery ever created by The Lord.

I think the Lord has a taste for black humour at times.He has taught me once again that He is the master wit of them all.





Sugreev Speaks -9

Kah Sugreev sunahu Raghubeera/ Bali mahabal ati randheera//

Dundubhi asti tal dekhraye/Binu prayas Raghunath dahaye//

Sugreev said- My Lord! Bali is very strong and very ferocious a warrior. He showed SriRamji the skeleton of Dundubhi rakshasa( whom Bali had hurled from his palace when he challenged Bali in the form of a buffalo) The Lord destroyed it effortlessly.


Dekhi amit bal baadi preeti/ Bali badhab inh bhai parteeti//

Bar bar navayi pad seesa/Prabhuhi jaani man harash kapeesa//

Seeing SriRamji’s extraordinary strength Sugreev felt very happy and he was very sure that Bali would be killed by the Lord. He bowed at SriRamji’s feet and was full of joy due to the turn of events which led him to the Lord.


Upaja gyan bachan tab bola/ Nadh kripa man bhayavu alola/

Sukh sampati parivar badayi/ Sab parihari karihavu sevakayi//

When he became aware( when he was graced with wisdom)he said- Lord, due to your blessings, my mind has become calm. Leaving aside luxury, prosperity, family and  ego, I will devote myself to your service.


Eh sab Ramnhagati ke badhak/ Kahahim sant tav pad avaradhak//

Satru mitra sukh dukh jag mahim/ Mayakrit paramarath nahim//

All the pure souls who worship your divine feet say that all these( luxury, prosperity et al) are barriers to devotion. All the dualities that we see in this world( enemy- friend, joy and sorrow etc.,) are all  creations of  Maya . These are not real.



The Lord Reassures Sugreev-8



Sunu Sugreev marihau Balihi ekahim baan/

Brahma Rudra saranagat gaye na ubarihi praan//

The Lord said: ‘Listen, Sugreev! I shall kill Bali with a single arrow. His life cannot be saved even if he approaches Brahma or Rudra.’


Je na mitra dukh hohim dukhari/ Tinhahi bilokat patak bhari//

Nij dukh giri sam raj kari jaana/Mitrak dukh raj meru samaana//

The one who is not pained by his friend’s pain, is not worthy.( It is a sin to see such a person ) The  true friend views his own mountain like trouble like a speck of dust and the dust like pain of his friend like a huge mountain.


Jinh kem asi mati sahaj na aayi/Te sad kat hadi karat mitayi//

Kripadh nivari supandh chalava/ Gun pragatai avagunaninh durava//

Those who are incapable of such discernment by nature, why should they try to make friends at all? It is the dharma of a friend that he stops one from going down the wrong path and point out the correct way. He should help the best qualities to grace his friend and the bad qualities to take a back seat.


Det let man sank na dharayi/ Bal anuman sada hit karayi//

Bipati kal kar satgun neha/ Shruti kah sant mitra gun eha//

He will have no doubts in his mind during any giving or taking with his friend.( His interactions are pure). He will always do the best as per his capability for his friend. During times of adversity he shall love  his friend a hundred times more than usual. (Stand lovingly by his side) The Vedas proclaim that the signs of a superior friend are these.


Aagem kah mridu bachan banayi/Pachem anahit man kutilayi//

Jakar chit ahi gati sam bhai/ As kumitra pariharehim bhalayi//

The one who will approach you sweetly and pretend to be very nice but bitterly backbite you in your absence(  gossip about you behind your back), the one who is wicked in reality, and his mind is crooked like a serpent’s path- it is better to forgo such a person ( bad friend) from your life!


Sevak sad nrip kripan kunary/ Kapati mitra sool sam chary//

Sakha such tyagahu bal morem/ Sab bidhi ghatab kaj mai torem//

A foolish servant,  a miserly king,  a treacherous woman, and a deceitful friend- these four hurt grievously like a sharp spear.Hey Friend! You leave your worries to me now. I will help you in all ways.



Sugreev Tells His Story-7, Kishkindha Kanda


Nath Bali aru mai dvou bhai/ Preeti rahi kacchu barni na jayi//

Maysut Mayavi tehi navu/ Aava so Prabhu hamare gavu//

Sugreev said: ‘Hey Lord! Bali and I are brothers. We loved each other beyond description. The son of asura Maya, called Mayavi once came to our place.’


Arth rati pur dwar pukara/ Bali ripu bal sahayi na para//

Dhava Bali dekhi so bhaga/ Mai puni gayavu bandhu sangh laaga//

He challenged us in the middle of the night outside the city gates. Bali could not endure that taunt. He ran outside and Mayavi fled. I too accompanied my brother.


Giribar guham paid so jaayi/Tab Balim mohi kaha buchayi//

Parikhesu mohi ek pakhvara/Nahim avaim tab janesu maara//

Mayavi entered into a cave by the mountain side. Then Bali told me: ‘ You wait for me for fifteen days. If I do not return till then, understand that I have died,’


Mas diwas tah rahevu kharari/ Nisri rudhidhar dhar tah bhari//

Bali hatesu mohi marihi aayi/ Sila deyi tah chalevu parayi//

Hey Kharari! ( Enemy of Khar) He did not return  even after a month. Then a heavy stream of blood emerged from the cave. I thought that Mayavi had murdered Bali and would come to kill me. I covered the face of the cave with a boulder and fled from the place.


Mantrinh pur dekha binu sayim/Deenehu mohi raj bariaayi//

Bali tahi maari grih aava/Dekhi mohi jiyam bhed badava//

The ministers compelled me to take the throne of the king less territory.Then Bali returned after killing Mayavi. Seeing me seated on the throne, he was enraged beyond words. ( He thought that I had intentionally blocked the cave to kill him and usurped the kingdom.)


Ripu sam mohi maresi ati bhari/ Hari leenhesi sarbasu aru nari//

Takem bhay Raghubeer kripala/Sakal bhuvan mai bhirevu bihala//

He fought with me like a bitter enemy ( He hurt me) k away everything, including my woman.

Hey Compassionate Lord! Terrorised by him, I have been wandering all over the world.


Iham sap bas aavat nahim/ Tadapi sabheet rahavu man mahim//

Suni sevak dukh Deendayala/ Pharki udi dvau bhuja bisala//

‘Due to the curse of Matanga, Bali could not step foot on Rishyamook mountain, and hence I decided to stay here.’ On hearing his servant’s unhappy story, SriRamji’s got up, the muscles flexing in his arms.( He was perturbed by the pain of Sugreev.)



Sugreev Recollects Seeing Sitaji-Kishkindha Kanda 6


Keenhi preeti kacchu beech na rakha/ Lachhiman Ram charit sab bhasha//

Kah Sugreev nayan bhari baari/ Milihi nadh MithilesKumari//

Both became friends from their hearts, nothing was hidden within. Then Laxman narrated SriRamji’s story. Sugreev became teary-eyed and said-‘ Oh Lord! The Princesss of Mithila shall be found.’


Mantrinh sahit iham ek baara/Baid rahevu maim karat bichara//

Gagan pandh dekhi mai jaata/Parbas pari bahut bilpata//

“Once I was sitting here with my ministers, and contemplating on certain matters. Then I had seen Sitaji in the custody of the enemy, wailing in distress, as they travelled through the skies.”


Ram Ram Ha Ram pukari/Hamahi dekhi deenehu pat dari//

Magaa Ram turat tehim deenha/Pat ur laayi soch ati keenha//

“She was crying ‘Ram Ram Ha Ram!’ Seeing us, she dropped a piece of cloth.” Lord Ram asked Sugreev for that cloth. On receiving it, he hugged it close to his heart and became lost in sad thoughts.


Kah Sugreev sunahu Raghubeera/ Tajahu soch man aanahu dheera//

Sab prakar karihavu sevakai/Jehi bidhi milihi Janaki aayi//

Sugreev said- “Hey Raghubeer! Forgo your sad thoughts and calm your mind. I shall serve you in every possible way so that we can retrieve Janakiji.”



Sakha bachan suni harashe kripasindhu balseev/

Karan kavan basahu ban mohi kahahu Sugreev//

The sea of  compassion and the epitome of strength- SriRamji- became joyous on hearing these words. Then he asked: ‘Tell me Sugreev, why are you staying in these forests?’



Hanumanji Introduces Sugreev -5 ( Kishkindha Kanda)


Dekhi pavansut pati anukoola/ Hridayam harash beeti sab soola//

Nadh sail par kapipati rahayi/So Sugreev  das tav ahayi//

Seeing the Lord’s compassion, happiness filled Hanuman’s heart and all his agonies disappeared.( He said) ‘ Lord, in this mountain dwells King Sugreev, and he is your loyal servant.’


Tehi san nadh mayatri keeje/Deen jaani tehi abhay kareeje//

So Sita kar khoj karayihi/ Jah tah markat koti padayihi//

Hey Lord! Please become friends with him. And knowing that he is suffering, make him fearless with your companionship. He will search for Sitaji and send out crores of monkeys in that mission everywhere.


Ehi bidhi sakal katha samuchayi/ Liye duvau jan peedi chadayi//

Jab Sugreeva Ram kahu dekha/Atisay janma dhanya kari lekha//

Telling them the whole story, Hanumanji made SriRamji and Laxman sit on his gigantic shoulders. When Sugreev saw SreeRamji, he considered that his birth had become finally successful. ( Seeing the Lord had made his  existence  worthy and meaningful.)


Sadar milevu nayi pad madha/ Bhetevu anuj sahit Raghunadha//

Kapi kar man bichar ehi reeti/Karihahim bidhi mo san e preeti//

Sugreev bowed before Sriramji’s feet and greeted him with great respect. The Lord hugged them all close to his heart. Sugreev was wondering in his heart- Will this divine prince consider me worthy of his friendship?



Tab Hanumant ubhay disi ki sab katha sunayi/

Pavak sakhi deyi kari jori preeti dridayi//

Then Hanumanji narrated to SriRamji and Sugreev the other’s story, and making Fire as the holy witness, pledged their friendship to each other.