Sunday, April 05, 2009

Random Thoughts (21 Feb - 5 April)

Isn't Hanuman Chalisa most popular Hindi poem ever written?

The verses written by Goswami Tulsi Das continue to be recited throughout the North India with much affection and faith. Fully translated version exists online at

You can listen to these on youtube here:

I was particularly offended by the portrayal of Hanuman in White Tiger. Perhaps Arvind Adiga needs to hear these verses as well, but I doubt if the meaning and intent of Hanuman Chalisa can be explained to the faithless, irreverent folks.

The verses written in 'khadi boli' (old Hindi, 'the language used while standing') are written metrically. This is a verse that describes Hanuman as a great warrior sage. As you recite Hanuman Chalisa, you are reminded of the whole Ramayana, how Hanuman plays a central role in the story of Lord Ram. While Lord Ram is portrayed as an ideal human, Hanuman, even though he is a monkey, possesses superhuman abilities. The chosen God of wrestlers, as well as of "brahmachari" (bachelors forever), the most entertaining character of Ramlila (stage performance of Ramayana in ten days preceding festival of Dussera), the superhero of my childhood, Hanuman exercises a strong influence on the spiritual development of nearly every Hindu. These verses have inspired faith and valor in us for five centuries already, and here, I again thank Tulsi Das ji for creating Ramcharitamanas, the poem for common man which has been our moral code and religion's cornerstone for centuries.

After Valmiki's Sanskrit verses found Tulsi's khadi boli rendition, a new era of Bhakti and bhajans set in. While Tulsi is (with Valmiki, Kalidas, Tagore, Bachchan, Dinkar, Tiruvullar and Kabir) one of the most important Indian poets ever, our modernized, Westernized education has kept us away from his verses and message. Perhaps it is not too late for people like me to rediscover and read the iconic verses of our language.


On April 1st: I love fools day... its reminds me of a group of friends in High school, who wanted to make a World Fools Association, with Ashish as the President... and recited doggerel verses continuously :)

On another note:
Poetry about drinking
One of the finest Ghazals about drinking:
Dev Anshul (Arbit) introduced us to this song in IIT days (kal jo pi thi uska nasha hai)
If you are wondering why I recommend this song, the answer is simple:
sharab pio na pio, gaana sunnan witch ki harz hai?
suroor to hamesha se raha hai mujhe,/ pehle bahana jaam ka nahin banaya karte the...
{Weird translation:
How does it matter if you drink or not... you can still appreciate Ghazals.
From ever I have been on a high/ but earlier, we refused to blame the goblets}

I was amazed that someone issued a fatwa against Madhushala, nearly eight decades after the book length collection of rabaiyats (verses) was published. Even Mahatma Gandhi, did not object to Harivansh Rai Bachchan's verses which use Madhushala (tavern) as a metaphor. Haven't the masters, Ghalib and Hafiz, written likewise about drinking, tavern and wine?

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