The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

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I'm a peace-loving married Indian male on the right side of '50 with college-going children, and presently employed under government. Educationally I've a master's degree in History, and another in Computer Application. Besides, I've a post graduate diploma in Management. My published works are:- (1)"In Harness", ISBN 81-8157-183-5, a poetry collections and (2) "The Remix of Orchid", ISBN 978-81-7525-729-0, a short story collections with a foreword by Mr. Ruskin Bond, (3) "Virasat", ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9, again a short story collection but in Hindi, (4) "Ek Saal Baad," ISBN 978-81-906496-8-1, my second Story Collection in Hindi.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An Image of a Poet: an attempt at Translation

Shri Gouri Shankar Kar, a colleague of mine has to his credit three collections of poems in Oriya that he self-published between 1998 and 2004. The poems are immensely readable. In my attempt to try my hand in translation I have already translated a few of his poems and posted them in my blog. They can be viewed at these links * *. The poet himself has encouraged me by giving a positive feedback on my attempt. So here is another one. It is from his poetry collection, "Kanta Koili" 2004.

An Image of a Poet


Let me make it clear, and

Let me warn you

Don’t make the blunder of berating

A poet…a life lived in meaning

So come one and all

That declare themselves as poets

That are absorbed in poetic callings

And let us behave poet-like

And live a life of meaning.

Don’t caw the harsh cry of a raven

And don’t peck at things random.

Look, how a poet can crack the cloud

Yet can do little to liberate his own

From the sweet dungeon of lotus petals.

He can even build romance in the void…

Aren’t you making a fuss

Of how the poet can devour the soil?

Yes, he can do that with ease

He can even show you the universe

If he just opens his soiled mouth!

The poet can eat the soil but stays above

And sometimes beyond all the terrestrial frames

Into the space and farther off

Measuring the dimensions, layer upon layers.

The millions of stars, the moon and the clouds

Move but in compliance with his wish.

So, don’t shoot an arrow at him

Just because he is a real white swan

Flying in the sky his flight of passion.

Listen what his muse recites for him--

The seasons are pregnant,

The fragrance of jasmine wafts

Across the garden of imagination,

Leave the humming bee alone

Out for saving his words and passion.

Aha! The poet is prodigious

He’s capable of celebrating light

Aboard a flotsam of murkiness,

He can climb into the sky

Along the dangling tail of a python,

Bestriding a high bough of existence

He alone can cut its root with aplomb.

So, don’t caw the harsh cry of a raven

And don't scream for no reason.


A Poem by Shri Gouri Shankar Kar

Translated by A. N. Nanda

Bubaneswar:: 28/09/2008



Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Reluctant Announcement

I'm a little hesitant yet I cannot delay the announcement any further. It is about my next book. Hold it, it is not about "The Roadshow" , for I could not sustain my progress over these months to come up with the finished product. The work still continues as per the scheme I declared at my earlier post "The Narrator"…and I should be able to do something about this only in the coming year. Now I am going to share that my next book "VIRASAT" [ISBN 978-81-7525-982-9] is almost ready and doing the last round of its polishing forage. As the name suggests, it is going to be a book in Hindi--it's my maiden attempt to pen something in national lingua franca.

Why I had to write in Hindi, and not in English? "The Roadshow", had it been completed by now, would have been my third book in English in a row! Well, there's nothing special about my decision to try something in Hindi. I just thought I should prove myself: I continue to be favoured by Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning; I can push myself to the limit of my ability; I have people waiting in new areas with their love and encouragement… . I want to assure the lovers of the national lingua franca that their effort to disseminate the language is really bearing fruit. Or else how would a person whose mother tongue is not Hindi, who has actually not studied the language with all the rules of its rigorous grammar and its rich literary resources ever venture to pen something in that medium?

There is another consideration behind this effort. I intend to share a part of my creativity among the people with whom I'm working. Yes, "VIRASAT" is going to be a collection of twenty-seven short stories and all of them are drawn from the historical organization called post office. We have in this volume humour and tragedy, pride and despondency, quibble and sanctimony--the book should appeal everybody that has ever valued the tradition of unadorned story-telling. Let me quote a few lines of text even though they are still being assayed through.

आज वक़्त गया की हम डाक की रूमानी यादों को रोमन्थन करें, उन ऐतिहासिक पलों की यादें ताज़ा करें जब चिठ्ठियों के सहारे समय का मोड़ बदल जाता थाआज नहीं तो कल इस ऐतिहासिक संस्था को मरना होगा... या तो इसे पुनर्जन्म लेना होगाइस बदलाव की संगीन घड़ी में जन्म लिया है यह मार्मिक सृजन, "विरासत" । सत्ताईस कहानियों के माध्यम से लेखक यह कहना चाहता है की हमें अपना इतिहास भुलाना नहीं चाहिए, तरक्की की घमंड से बसा-बसाया आशियाना उजाड़ना नहीं चाहिएअनुष्ठान पुनर्जन्म ले सकता है, इन्सान का पुनर्जन्म हो सकता हैबस, चाहिए विश्वास और विश्वास की रूहानी ताकत

This is going to be a self-published volume, for whatever it may mean to all those involved in book business. With the experience I got from "The Remix of Orchid", I should not falter in circulating some 5 thousand copies. The publishers could only go to the extent of saying "प्रयास सराहनीय है" and not beyond that. Now it is my baby, I should take its care.
A. N. Nanda

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Soft Return


It's a rambling text I wrote way back in June 2006. Spiritual ambivalence is the hallmark of a common fellow that constantly shuttles between god-denying confidence and god-fearing cowardice. This is something I would like to use to describe myself, for whatever it means. Maybe this is an inevitable path to spiritual realisation. Maybe it is not. Ultimately flippancy matters. Spiritual depth presupposes gravity and lo, I'm trying to reach there adopting flippancy!


Today I am in a mood to stray into the spiritual field. Yes, India is a spiritual land. Here god exists everywhere. (Not in Kerala alone, they seem to have made a tourism blurb out of god for their state: God’s Own Country.)

I will just refer to a scene in Srimad Bagvatgita, the most sacred of all scriptures, where lord Krishna himself motivates Arjun to fight a war against the forces of evil. Of course, it is an internecine war where Pandavas and Kauravas fight between themselves for eighteen days. Blood flows like a rivulet, dead bodies float on it, and the luckless survivors ride them across the bloody stream. The result is predictable: Pandavas win the war and their brother Kauravas lose it along with their kingdom and lives. There is nothing to wonder here, for lord Krishna has been there with Pandavas, planning the strategy of the war, and manoeuvring the war chariot for Arjun, the second of the five brothers on the winning side.

Earlier, when Arjun enters the battlefield and finds himself face to face with his own brothers, war-ready and sneering, a sense of righteous resentment dawns on him. He protests the meaninglessness of the fight and does not want to shed the blood of his relations only for a kingdom. But lord Krishna prevails upon him, saying that the fight is waged for cleansing the society of the bad fellows, the Kauravas, who have indulged in sins of every kind, including the outraging the modesty of a woman, the common wife of five Pandavas. If it were not for the lord himself, the woman would have been disrobed in front of all Kauravas and their cronies. Whatever lord Krishna says explaining the wisdom of right work, devotion, secrets of life and birth cycles, the spiritually recommended way of living and so on, Arjun is just not convinced. Finally, the lord relents and does something he has thus far postponed: he shows him his Universe Form, unfathomable, indescribable, inscrutable, beautiful, awe-inspiring…. It is something like an out-of-this-world phenomenon which contains all the elements of macrocosm, both in their miniature and blown-up forms.

Arjun has now no further question to ask; he gets the answer to everything that has been bothering him: everything begins and ends with the lord…. Behind anything outwardly ephemeral, there is a spirit of permanence that guides its function, defines its purpose of existence and demise. The truth is applicable to everything and everybody—humans and wild creatures, forces of nature and elements, all those that are either conscious or unconscious.

Arjun, now wise and composed, chants his prayer and it is couched in the language of surrender before the lord. They are the ultimate words of realization, spiritual strength, and desirelessness.

“ Jānāmi dharm na cha me prabriti,
Jānāmi dharma na cha me nibruti,
Tvayā hrishikeshena hridi sthitena
Yathā nijuktosmi thatā karomi.”

Translated to English, the above may sound something like this:

[I know now, Dharma is not the proclivity in me
I know now, Dharma is not the aversion in me
In my heart thou exist, Oh Lord Krishna
In whatever action you employ me, I just do that much.]

The meaning is simple: God exists everywhere. Our heart is the abode of god. In the shape of knowledge, He guides us to choose between good and bad; and there is nothing that can be done without his direction.

There can be various renderings of the above—some maybe more erudite than the other, but richness of the theme is always born out of its simplicity. It is through this simplicity that the scripture continues as the most useful treatise not only of the Hindus but also of everybody that leads a thinking life on this earth.

*** II ****

And now I will tell a story I heard long back about the worldly application of this wisdom.

One day a thief comes to a wise man with his doubt and asks:

‘Oh seer, didn’t you tell us that god in us does all the acts we’re seen to be doing?’

‘Well, yes, and what’s your problem?’ the seer enquires.

‘Then when I go to steal, isn’t it the god in me who goes for thieving?’ the thief demands. He looks absolutely clear-headed.

‘Course yes, where is the doubt then?’ the seer counter-questions.

‘Then tell me, seer, why do they take me to jail? Why do they punish me for no fault of mine? Isn’t it unfair?’ the thief asks.

The wise man understands this. The thief, despite his criminal calling, has an innocent query. This has to be decided once for all lest people find the spiritual instructions a big twaddle.

‘Where is the unfairness in it, my dear thief? Why do you say they’re taking you to the jail? Why don’t you say it’s god in you who is going to jail?’ the seer poses the question with a knowing smile.

The thief understood. The wisdom of Srimad Bahgvatgita is not open for misinterpretation, let alone its misuse. It is for use in our daily life and life is to be lived in a society created by humans under the guidance of the lord.

I am sure it is not the theory of the divine origin of society that I am supporting. It is just my effort to understand a beautiful wisdom enshrined in our scripture.



A. N. Nanda





Monday, September 01, 2008

With a Good Book

Sometime back I read a book entitled "Who Moved My Cheese" by Dr Spencer Johnson. It is a book on self-help obviously written to prescribe methods for developing personality. The author claims that unlike other authors he does not believe in burdening his readers with so many dos and don'ts. Instead he would ask people to buy the book and leave it on the shelf. Then the process of self-development would start automatically. How exactly would it happen? Even going through the whole of the book I could not find any tips. The author is probably up to making fool of the readers. But the bottom line proved me wrong: the book is said to be a blockbuster!

Now I'm faced with a similar question. I've a desk calender that has many of the educative and profound sayings of Mahatma Gandhi. I have been keeping it on my desk for last several months. But nothing in the shape of self-development has wafted out of it into my life. So let me do a little extra. I'm going to copy those sayings into my blog. Maybe, Dr. Spencer meant something like this. Keeping it on the shelf is also like posting it onto the blog.

Einstein on Gandhi:
Generations to come, it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.

I believe that Gandhi's views were the most enlightened of all political men in our time.

We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil.

So said Gandhi:
Harbour impurity of mind or body and you have untruth and violence in you.

There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no cause that I am prepared to kill for.

I want to find peace in the midst of turmoil, light in the midst of darkness, hope in despair...

To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness.

Love never claims, it ever gives.

In order to be truly useful, self-sacrifice has to be combined with purity of motive and true knowledge. Sacrifice without these two has been known to prove ruinous to society.

If we are to reach real peace in this world, we shall have to begin with the children.

Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the State becomes lawless and corrupt.

Satyagrah is a priceless weapon and those who wield it are strangers to disappointment or defeat.

The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.

True morality consists not in following the beaten track, but in finding out the true path for ourselves and in fearlessly following it.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us...we are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption on work...he is the purpose of it.
He is not an outsider to our business, he is part of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him...
he is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do it.

Religion is more than life. Remember that his own religion is the trust to every man even if it stands low in the scales of philosophical comparison.

Use truth as your anvil, non-violence as your hammer - and anything that does not stand the test when it is brought to the anvil of truth and hammered with non-violence, reject it.

Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects of the same state. There is as little reason to deplore the one as there is to be pleased over the other.

Man never loses by trusting and the deceiver ever loses.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

If not during my lifetime, I know that after my death, both Hindus and Musalmans will bear witness that I had never ceased to yearn sfter communal peace. My longing is to be able to cement the two, Hindus and Muslims, with my blood, if necessary.

A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.

Men say I am a saint losing himself in politics. Fact is that I am a politician trying my hardest to become a saint.

A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Our bodies are the real temples rather than buildings of stone. The best place for worship is in the open with the sky above as the canopy and mother earth below for the floor.
जब राज्य निरंकुश तथा भ्रष्ट हो जाता है तब सविनय अवज्ञा एक पवित्र कर्तव्य बन जाता है

स्वतंत्रता अपने साथ अनुशासन एबम नम्रता लिए रहती है

अहिंसा के उपासकों को केवल एक ही भय होता है और वह है इश्वर का

सही रास्ते का प्रथम सूत्र है सत्य बोलना, सत्य सोचना और सत्य ही करना

युद्धोन्मत दुनिया को शान्ति की कला सिखाना नारी का कम है

सेवा और त्याग-भावना की जीवित मूर्ति के रूप में मैंने नारी की पूजा की है

अधिकारी के सामने जो आदमी स्वेच्छापूर्वक खुले दिल से और फिर कभी करने की प्रतीज्ञा के साथ अपना दोष स्वीकार कर लेता है वह शुद्धतम प्रायश्चित करता है

जब आपको कभी किसी विरोध का सामना करना पड़े तो उसे प्रेम से कीजिए

मेरे सपनों का रामराज्य तो रजा और रंक दोनों के समान अधिकार को सुनिश्चित करता है

जो लोग स्वेच्छा से कष्टों से गुजरते हैं वे ख़ुद ऊँचे उठते हैं

साहस, सहिष्णुता, निर्भीकता और आत्मत्याग- ये गुण हमारे नेताओं में अपेक्षित है

मैं ऐसे भारत के लिए कोशिश करूँगा जिसमें गरीब आदमी भी यह महसूस कर सके की यह उसका देश है

अपने पड़ोसियों से यदि हमें प्रेम नहीं है तो कितना भी क्रन्तिकारी परिवर्तन हमारा कुछ भी भला नहीं कर सकता

किसी देश की सुव्यवस्था की पहचान वहां रहने वाले लखपतियों की संख्या से नहीं बल्कि उसकी आम जनता में भुखमरी की अनुपस्थिति से होती है

सत्य को अपनी कसौटी बनाओ, अहिंसा को उसे परखने का हथियार और जो कुछ भी सत्य और अहिंसा की कसौटी पर खरा उतरे उसे अस्वीकार कर दो

मैं ऐसे भारत के लिए कोशिश करूँगा जिसमें उंच-नीच का कोई भेद हो और सब जातियां मिल-जुल कर रहती होसारी दुनिया से हमारा सम्बन्ध शान्ति और भाईचारे का होगा

राजनैतिक सत्ता कोई लक्ष्य नहीं, बल्कि लोगों को जीवन के हर एक क्षेत्र में अपनी स्थिति उत्तम बनने योग्य साधनों मै से एक है

सबको सन्मति दे भगवान

जाति मन पूछो, मत बोलो, मत सोचो

धर्म, मनुष्य को एक दुसरे से अलग कराने के लिए नहीं बल्कि उनको जोड़ने के लिए होता है

प्रार्थना, नम्रता की पुकार हैयह आत्म-शुद्धि और अन्तः खोज की गुहार है

ईश्वर और सत्य एक दूसरे से बदले जा सकते हैं

मैं इस पथ से परिचित हूँयह सीधा और संकरा हैयह तलवार की धार जैसा हैमुझे इस राह पर चलने में आनंद आता है
A. N. Nanda