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.)
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?’
Jarat sakal sur brindh bisham garal jehim pan kiya/
Tehi an bhajasi man mandh ko kripal Sankar sarisa//
Hey my dullard mind! Why don’t you meditate on Shiv- the one who willingly drank the dreaded Halahal Poison to end the agony of the Devas (who were burning due its poisonous fumes?)
Who else is as compassionate as Him?
Aagem chal bahuri Raghuraya/Rishyamuk parbat niaraya//
Tah rah sachiv sahit Sugreeva/Aavat dekhi atul bal seemva//
SriRamji walked onwards. He reached near Rishyamuk mountain. There, Sugreev was staying along with his ministers. On seeing the radiant and strong young men…
Ati sabheet kah sunu Hanumana/Purush jugal bal roop nidhana//
Dhari batu roop dekhu teim jaayi/Kahesu jaani jiyam sayan buchayi//
A terrified Sugreev said thus: Listen, Hanuman! These young men epitomise beauty and strength. Disguise yourself as a Brahmin and go to them, understand the reason of their arrival( find the truth) and convey that to me through your gestures.
Padaye Bali hohim mann maila/Bhagaum turat tajaum yeh saila//
Bipra roop dhari kapi tah gayavu/Madh nayi poochat as bhayavu//
If these are men sent by Bali- the one whose mind is polluted- then I shall leave this mountain immediately. On hearing these words, Hanumanji approached SriRamji in the guise of a Brahmin and enquired thus:
Ko tumh syamal gaur sareera/Chattri roop firahu ban beera//
Kadin bhoomi komal pad gaami/Kavan hetu bicharahu ban swami//
Hey valiant ones !In dusky and fair hues, looking like Kshatriyas, you are roaming around these forests. Who are you?
Hey Swami! Your soft feet are traversing these tough terrains; why are you wandering through the forests in this manner?
Mridul manohar sundar gaata/Sahat dusah ban aatap baata//
Ki tumh teeni dev mah kovu/Nar Narayan ki tumh dovu//
Your beautiful, attractive forms enchant the mind. You are enduring the intolerable heat and air of these forests. Are you Brahma, Shiv or Vishnu-or are you Nar and Narayan?
” Urag shwaas tribidhi sameera,” is how Tulsidasji describes Ramji’s plight when bereft of Sita in Sriramcharit Manas.
The breeze with three qualities, namely coolness, fragrance and gentleness felt like a terrible serpent’s breath to Ram.
In Malayalam, Ezhuthachan’s Harinamakeertana( Prayers of Hari) gives a description:
” Gharmatapam kulirnilavennu tambiyodu, chemme paranju nija patnim pirinjalavu..”
It means: “When you were in the avatar of Ram, you found the cool moonlight excruciatingly hot and complained to your brother about it-because you were separated from your beloved…”
Well, comparisons of poetry apart, it is the exiled King’s plight that I wanted to follow today.
In front of me lies Salman Khurshid’s ‘ Sons of Babur’- a play in search of India. It is a well written script with an intrepid student trying to understand the history of his country’s syncretic culture, by interacting with the Emperors who ruled India. Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, who suffered intensely and died at Rangoon, far away from India, is a character in the play. He was a gifted poet and his poetry in Urdu, is dotted throughout the play, very beautifully.
Sarah: An emperor’s unfinished quest..what were those lines by Bahadur Shah about two days of desire and two days of existence!
‘ Umre daraz maang ke laye the chaar din,
Do aarzoo mein guzar gaye , do intezaar mein!’
( I wished for a long life, was granted four days in all-
Two were spent in tears, another two in waiting.)
It is an erudite book, and has been enacted on stage, with Tom Alter playing the key role.
The need today, is to weave threads of human emotions together, to discover how very similar we are, when faced with life’s challenges. Language, time, space, genre regardless.
The intense pain of being away from his beloved land, is like a serpent’s breath in Zafar’s poems.
‘ Na kisi aankh ka noor hun,na kisi dil ka karar hun
Jo kisi ke kaam na aasake mein vo ek muste ghubar hu.’
(I am not the delight of any eyes nor a heart’s yearning
Not of use to anyone, just a fistful of dust)
Four texts, different genres, four languages, same emotion.
Beloved is an imagery: loved one or mother land. Bereft of the beloved, life itself reminds of a serpent’s breath.
History, poetry, mythology will resonate to that concept; along with humanity.