Thursday, December 27, 2012

More fleeting than wind

What is more fleeting than the wind? asked the Yaksha
and do tell me, what is more numerous than grass

Think only of a monster with a thousand eyes,
of festering refuse in the dark,
fodder for a million feeding flies,
seemingly somnolent, yet nurturing life's spark.

And of dancing flame, congealing as ice,
or a garden of solace, weeded with strife,
the fission of thought, imploding, imprecise,
myriad reflections in the barrenness of night.

Look, Yudhishtar, up into the empty sky
To the shadows of clouds, racing along.
Iridescent bubbles brilliant to the eye,
Blown apart by a cyclone, vicious and strong.

The mind, O Yaksha, is more fleeting than the wind.
Thoughts are like grass, fecund, undetermined.

And say, O Yudhishtar, who is the best friend
Of one whom death has just beckoned? 

When the moment comes, an end to life
And man takes hold of death's cold hand
Nothing matters then, not wealth nor wife
Just man, along in an unfamiliar land.

Come, be the leaf, a little above the earth,
fluttering lightly to its final rest.
A candle when it dies is at its widest girth.
Before it droops, a flower looks it best.

Saffron, O gods, is the burden of the pyre.
A life, like wood, floats on ripple of desire.
finds release only by merging with fire
Let it, at last, transcend the reflex to acquire.

A prayer beyond want, reaching the open sky.
Charity is the best friend of one about to die.

O Kaunteya, I'd like you to tell me now,
what is that which sojourns alone? 

A memory rose, of a bird at dusk.
indifferently watching a column of light,
The day, empty, except for its visible husk,
swept easily away by the swirl of night.

A temple in the morning caressed by the sun;
shadowless at noon; then to darkness resigned.
Things of this earth are so easily undone.
And arc remains above, to its path aligned/

O Yaksha, often on the busiest trail,
silence persists, quietly, almost on the sly.
To be aloe is to burn inside a veil,
like fireflies against an opaque sky.

Shadows suspended from a glow that has grown.
The sun, O Yaksha, is that which sojourns alone.

And what, Yudhishtar, is the highest refuge
of virtue, and then of exalted heaven?

Good and bad, and such like themes
are, in themselves, diffult to decree:
Like passing shadows reflected on streams
uncertain of their path to the sea.

Virtue, O Yaksha, is always exalted
When it can accept several points of view.
If unbending it will always be faulted
liberality is the highest refuge of virtue.

As to the heavens, this is my insight
A man, his destiny, death and release.
And along this path, the divine light,
dispelling gloom, guided only by caprice.

The illusion of choice is a deceptiove subterfuge
To be true to oneself is the only refuge


Like oars to a boat
seeking the bank across the river
a skill, not learnt by rote,
is the most laudable endeavor ..

Raindrops at rest after a storm is spent
The best kind of happiness is to be content

- From Yaksha Prashna, Yudhishtar & Draupadi by Pavan Varma

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