Dear Yosemite

I left behind a little bit
of me with you

When my sight took a flight
from the crown of your peaks
When the time stood still
on misty meadows tranquil

I left behind a little bit
of me with you

When the many sunsets
sparkled across the valley
When the wild wind whirled
with it, every waterfall swirled

I left behind a little bit
of me with you

When I sat down beside
the river in awe of a dome
When the trail I embraced
refused to return home

And so when you I adore,
like the growing morning dew
I leave behind a little bit more
of me with you.

The Present

Standing amongst the
snow-clad mountains
soaking in waters of
the holiest rivers
bowing down in the
tallest of the temples
singing  hymns in the
most silent shrines

None of this alone
nor any deed
no single thought
neither any trick
can bring peace
to the mind that
rues the past
revels the future

But the one who
surrenders to what is
the present moment
in all its glory
can find inner peace
to forge actions
to change the self
and with it the world

झोका

अंधारलेल्या झोपडीत
नको शोधुस छाया
दिवा आणू कुठून?
फकीर माझी माया

हक्काचा एकच दागिना
तूझी हसरी काया
थोडं पुण्य हिशोबी
असेल लेखणीत राया

आता स्वप्ने देखील
पाहवयास परवडत नाही
बांधली तुझ्या नशिबी
अनेक वादळांची शिदोरी

निज तोवर शांत
देते तुज झोका
हाच फक्त माझा
तुझ्या भाग्यात वाटा

It is a much too familiar scene that is hard to miss. Inside a dark make-shift shack belonging to the migrant laborers there often sits a mother trying to put her infant to sleep on a cloth swing. As the rest of the country celebrates a festival of light, I wondered what a mother, without any worldly belongings, would be saying to her child on one such road side sighting.

English Translation: Search not for a shadow to play with in this shack, my child. This darkness forever lives with us here. I carry no glitter tonight to light up your world. The only treasure I live with is your smiling face. I must have done a good deed or two in my past life to have you with me today. Beyond this, I have nothing else to share with you, not even any dreams for your future. What I do see are many a storms brewing that you need to grow up and face. But until then, rest easy tonight. Until then, my only role in your destiny is for your sound sleep tonight.

An Unbound Happiness

To the hands that planted
To the eyes that nourished
To the muscles that carried
To the strength that grounded
To the mind that imagined
To the effort that gathered
To the diligence that cooked
To the attention that served
And to the infinite energies
Of Earth, air, water, and light
That preserved and flourished
Many a generation of greens
From whom the seeds were born
Thus this meal was formed
To all of them I sound
Stream of happiness unbound.

The Sanskrit phrase अन्नदाता सुखी भव (Anna data sukhi bhava) literally translates to “Those who are providing me with this food, let them be happy.”

Neti Neti

I am not my body
that I cling to
but instead
let me dissolve
like the air that
in any shape can grew.

I am not my feelings
worn out by weight
but instead
let me float
like a feather
free from any freight

I am not my perceptions
coloring my judgement
but instead
let me disappear
like the glass that shares
all light without abatement

I am not my intentions
Nor the dreams they hound
but instead
let me be content
like the still water
steady in the sound

I am not my consciousness
molding a mirage wholesome
but instead
let me expand
like the rain drop that falls
to one with the ocean become.

Like we disregard the sensations within a dream as unreal, the sages of Upanishads discarded everything that was in a constant process of change as unreal. Their principle was neti, neti atma: “this is not the self, that is not the self”. When you dig into your own personality deeper, you find layers of perceptions, thoughts, emotions, drives, and memories. The sages found that none of this is permanent. In their search for a constant, they defined what was left – the intense awareness – as the atman, the Self.

Desire

When after worthless wars
And losses unknown
We draw imaginary lines
To mark our own

When after earning the alms
And growing it many fold
Still sleepless we count
Our neighbor’s gold

When in need to be faultless
Photoshop and filters we use
Our very own reality
Is what we abuse

When yet again we choose
To sever from a mate
Slicing the once beloved
With words of hate

Then a desire is met with
and a wish appears to be granted
Only to spawn another longing
For a thing we never wanted.

The Sanksrit word samskara literally means “that which is intensely done”. Samskaras are thought, speech, or behavior motivated by desire to get some experience for oneself. It is one of the five ingredients Buddha uses to describe personality. The others are rupa (form), vedana (sensation or feeling), samjna (perception), and vijnana (consciousness).

What You Seek Is Seeking You

Much like the wind
that powers the sails
for the soul lost at sea
seeking a refuge
until the shores
yet to be discovered
are no longer in wait,
the desires deep down,
known and unknown,
seek a destiny
in an entangled world
of cause and effects
until a sigh rests
in the arms that await.

Text from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.5

अथो खल्वाहुः काममय एवायं पुरुष इति स यथाकामो भवति तत्क्रतुर्भवति यत्क्रतुर्भवति तत्कर्म कुरुते यत्कर्म कुरुते तदभिसम्पद्यते

And here they say that a person consists of desires. And as is his desire, so is his will; and as is his will, so is his deed; and whatever deed he does, that he will reap.

About Me

My Inspiration

“…ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world.”
— Stephen Hawking, “A Brief History of Time”

Philosophers and scientists alike have longed for an explanation for human existence. And often in their exploration, they find themselves at the edge of the existing knowledge. They are unable to articulate a theory or an observation, until they hit a new breakthrough, identify a new concept and the cycle goes on.

Our personal lives are no different and to expect ourselves to process every aspect of our emotions is a tall order. Ironically, whenever I have encountered an emotion that was novel or difficult or confounding to express in day-to-day language, that’s when I have been most effective in writing a poem about it.

My Favorites

Poetry is subjective and touches everyone differently based on their prior experiences in life. My inspirations come from three completely different eras and geographies of the world.

Metaphysical Poetry

My love in poetry started with the metaphysical poets of the 17th century England. As an engineer, I was naturally inclined to these group of poets that simultaneously appealed to the heart and brain of the reader. The poets skillfully use conceit to introduce striking ideas on love, life, and existence with help of highly figurative language. I almost always discover a previously hidden idea every time I re-read poems in this collection.

Pawadas

Closer to home, I admire the Pawadas or historic ballads that were handed down by memory from one generation to another by the wandering bards called Gondhali in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is one of the most irregular of all rhythmic forms in Marathi literature, filled with rude versification and frequent omission of words essential to the meter of the verse. But when sung in the right context, they speak volumes of the bravery and sacrifice that went in to establish independent self-rule.

Shayari

Lastly, I am fond of the Urdu poetry in the form of Shayari that expresses deep feelings using the rich vocabulary that comes with the language. While the partition of India into two states in 1947 split apart the major contributors of Urdu poetry, this form continues to flourish in both countries even today. The Urdu language itself is a beautiful concoction of Hindustani, Persian, Arabic, and Turkic words. While it takes some effort to understand the vocabulary, the resulting poetry makes it more than worth the study.