The gods of this earth
dragged me bound and chained
to the battlefield of choice.
Amidst the noise and rain,
they laughed and said,
“Behold the armies here aligned;
survey now what will be lost,
and what, if aught, you'll gain.”
My feet were motionless,
locked in the hardened mortar
of my dharma.
I rattled my hapless chain.
The gods cackled and shrieked, “Look:
There is no worldly goal, no aim,
no task before God but dharma:
Do your duty, day after day,
There’s no Sabbath, so claim no rest.
There is no rest to claim.” (1)
Another whispered hoarsely—“Yes!
Stick to your wretched dharma,
given you by Nature, God and Guru!
There is only hope for you
if you unravel your hopes:
For these are the binding ropes.” (2)
I strained to see the Vraja fields,
once held up to me as hope.
“Will I get this from my dharma?”
I cried. And they said, “Nope.”
“Surrender!” urged the worldly gods.
“Do your karma! Take your karma!
Fear for sankar of the varna!
Worry ‘bout the kula dharma!
"Oho! Show your stuff to them
who disdain your God.
Love means you’re not a stain
on your guru's spotless raiment.
Love means you take the pain,
even when there’s nothing
in this world or the next to gain.”
And, as an afterthought, they said:
"Save yourself from shame."
“Make your choice, make your choice!” They egg'd.
“The choice has long been made,” I said.
“It has been made by my concrete boots,
and by this tree with both upward
and downward roots,
for I have eaten of its
shrivelled, lifeless fruits.”
[**This cannot be! This cannot be!
Did I have no real choice
that would have set me free?]
*Based on (1) and (2) from Religions in Four Dimensions by Walter Kaufmann (NY: Reader's Digest Press, 1976). Pages 290 and 242 respectively. Originally these were quoted in full, but have now been totally altered.
** To be whispered.
A little heroism, Arjun,
a little less moping in corners.
Wherever heroes die,
there are always joyful mourners.