From the sequence:

Words for a Lost Sub-Continent  

 

                                               Krishna’s advice to Arjuna

 

             14: If the soul meets death when Sattva  prevails,

                    then it goes to the pure regions of those who are seeking truth.

              15: If a man meets death in a state of Rajas,

                     he is reborn amongst those who are bound by their restless activity;

                     and if he dies in Tamas, he is reborn in the wombs of the irrational.

 

                                 The Bhagavad Gita, XIV, transl. Juan Mascaro.

 

 

       « It is incorrect to assume that Hindu thought strained excessively after the unattainable and was

          guilty of indifference to the problems of the world. We cannot lose ourselves in inner piety when

          the poor die at our doors, naked and hungry. The Gita asks us to live in the world and save it. »

 

                                          S. Radhakrishnan,  The Bhagavadgita.

 

                                   --------------------------------------------------------------

 

         When Thodti was born at Nelveli in the latter half of the XXth century

his ancestors had been living out-of-right

                            for the past XXX centuries

                                                                                                 hovering

    on never-never land under villages with-out-back  twenty-hutments

           now overgrown to two one-thousand hovels in towncentre marshalling yards

no sewers gurglecourse under their feet

              nor piped potable water flush their long-curdled alimentary canals

                                               nor showers chase the clinging cloaca stench

                                                                             nor even un-broken drains

                                                                                              tarred roads

                                                                                        garbage removal vans

find mouth on election platforms

     

the towncentre = the bus-terminal churning flipping putrid mud after three-day       

                             drubbing storms

  and bulging humanfleshed trains  

                                                                run on forgotten time

               the lav’s stinging week-long turds splashvomits the feast of flies

 

temples carved with mantric-mouthed hands from the VIIteenth & VIIIteenth

         gopurams in congested tiered runaway curlicue rococo-baroque fantasy

    rose chalk kunkumam ripe mango yellow pitch black indigo

             bulging fuming thick mascara eyes  Zapata moustaches dangling  over

                                                                     burgeoning bellies

   lithe white cows gracing Ganesha’s flanks     

        garlands of roses  hibiscus   jasmine

  identical buxomy lasses  ballooning commodious backs  ample thighs their sarees

a deliberately clasped transparent veneer of pudeur

        the jingling nautch girl anklets  

     vain reminders of Kannagi 

 bangles bracelets armlets tiaras talis earrings noserings  fingerings  toerings kolusus

the prancing stained eyelashes   the full lascivious lips

  and that eternally round-eyed vacant supercilious stare

   past the invisible sanctum sanctorum

 the vast sinking steps of the holy tank murky with blodok

torn bookmatches ceremonial paper ferns water-lilies lotuses and centuries-old ooze    

         caked ulcerous washing feet and tick-milling matted hair

 

 see how trailing reams of wishes and private wants

rise in pre-paid puja-thin mantric magic smoke to high heaven

      

          for Thodti trailing barefeet his dried coconut-stick broom on cracked macadam

     in the gutter festering oozing fresh month-old drying turds urine remains of fed-up banana-leaves skins withered jasmine garlands drained motor-oil from scooter-taxis  overfed flies lean stray kids fowl cows 

                                  all that was wonder from afar

                 magic mythic mystery   the lingo of gods on earth 

     the brahmin vegetarian clattering-pans over order shouting eating-hotels

as though the heavens deigned to camp down on his doorstep

      derailed on their celestial inter-galactic circuit

 

his mind if he cared to exercise one was of little use to him

     nor were they to his ancestors

                                                     called upon only to clean the bottoms off those who

    shat upon his forefathers for ages

his only use for his intelligence

                                                     is to know his place

      minus the alphabet

                minus arithmetic

                           minus the patinenkilkkanakku

                                      minus the grandold Vedic mystic gods and rishis

                                                 minus the right to think for himself   

 

only the dullard’s right to die   daft dull damned

       and be reborn in the womb of ignorance

 

So much for your Godly advice Charioteer Krishna

For don’t Gods only talk to Gods on Earth

 

Detach yourself first  then

KILL 

Do not feel for those you kill

 

For what lofty ideal the Mahabharatha

     pitted mythically gambling polyandrous cousins

 

Is India today a magical-realist myth

    or a cranking up Indo-Pak Armageddon

 

Sattva   Rajas   Tamas

 

                                   Sattva  Rajas  Thodti

 

 

 

Notes

 

Sattva: pure intelligence and goodness

Rajas:  impure mental energy and restless passion

Tamas: dullness and inertia

 

Blodok or belodok (also beluduh): Malay for large-eyed goby, found in tropical or

                equatorial muddy flats

Gopuram: the tiered, sculptured towers over the main entrances to Hindu temples

 

Kannagi: heroine of the medieval Tamil epic Cilappatikaram

Kolusu: ornamental anklet chains with bells worn by Tamil women

Kunkumam:   saffron ( yellow or red) powder serving as adornment marks of

                            auspiciousness on women’s faces

Patinenkilkkannakku: the traditionally collective name for eighteen Tamil classical

                works

Tali: usually gold chains worn by married Tamil women round the neck or tumeric-

            stained cords in lieu of

Thodti: a caste name for Night Soil Men

 

 

 

© T.Wignesan May 26/27, 1997  Revised June 2002 Paris

 

From the sequence “Words for a Lost Sub-Continent” in longhand notes (a binding of poems). ISBN 2-904428-14-3