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Poem byKabir (1398-1450*)
Vocal and Tambura: Prahlad Singh Tipaniya

ह्रदय मांही आरसी, और मुख देखा नाहीं जाए
मुख तोह तब ही देखियो, जब दिल की दुविधा जाए
Within the heart, there is a mirror, but can’t see the face
You will only see the face when, doubt goes away from heart

ऊंचे महल चुनावते, ने करते होड़म होड़
ते मंदिर खाली पड़े, सब गये पलक में छोड़
You built high palaces,
scrambled and ran about
The temples empty out –
Everything, gone in a second

आया है सब जाएगा, राजा रंक फ़कीर
कोई सिंहासन चढ़ चले, कोई बंधे ज़ंजीर
All who have come will go
King, beggar or fakir
Some go seated on a throne
Some have to be dragged in chains

सब आया एक ही घाट से, और उतरा एक ही बाट
बीच में दुविधा पड़ गयी, तो हो गये बारह बाट
Everyone came from one place
and took the same road
Half way along, you fell into doubt
Suddenly: twelve roads

घाटे पानी सब भरे, अवघट भरे न कोय
अवघट घाट कबीर का, भरे सो निर्मल होय
They all draw water at the river banks
No one draws where there is no bank
No-bank is the bank of Kabir
The one who draws there, becomes pure

जो तू साचा बानिया, तो साची हाट लगाए
अंतर झाड़ू देई के, यह कचरा देत बहाए
If you’re a true trader
Then set up a true shop
Clean up the inside
And throw out all the trash

रंग महेल में अजब शहर में
आजा रे हंसा भाई
निर्गुण राजा पे सिरगुन सेज बिछाई
In your colorful palace, your wondrous city
Come, my swan brother,
A lovely cover spreads over the formless king

अरे हाँ रे भाई, उना देवलिया में देव नाहीं
झालर कूटे गरज कैसी ?
Oh, yes, my brother
there is no God in that temple
So whats the point
in beating the gong?

अरे हाँ रे भाई, बेहद की तो गम नाहीं
नुगुरा से सेन कैसी ?
Ah yes, my brother,
there is no road to the limitless
What sign will you show
to one without a guru?

अरे हाँ रे भाई, अमृत प्याला भर पाओ
भाईला से भ्रांत कैसी?
Ah yes, my brother
share freely your cup of nectar
Why keep it from your friends?

अरे हाँ रे भाई, कहें कबीर विचार
सेन माहीं, सेन मिली
Ah yes, my friends
Kabir says, think about it
find the sign
in the sign!
(meaning – only you can see the sign – stop asking others to reveal it to you!)

*The years of Kabir’s birth and death are unclear. Some historians favour 8 June 1398 – 3 June 1518 as the period Kabir lived.

I was speaking to an Indian-American colleague (born in the U.S. to Indian immigrant parents) who regularly used to visit India every year. When asked about this year, said she was reluctant to go there alone due to the high incidence of rape and sexual assault on women.
This post is in response to that.



If I am raped tomorrow,
Leave me on my own,
Please don’t forward messages for my sake,
I am not worthy of your status’ ache.

Don’t give me your pity,
Don’t pray for my soul,
You are the same people who did not care when I lay there in a hole.

Your e-protests are not getting me justice,
Nor my sisters any protection,
The government is going to sensitize the issue, just to win the coming election.

First they objectified me,
Now the turn is yours,
How dare I step outside, I am just meant for the household chores.

Don’t console my father
Don’t try to cheer up my Mom,
It’s something you can forget tomorrow, but for them I’m forever gone.

I am dead now,
Humanity died with me
For I am a girl, I deserve every bit of this, I’m not to be seen equally.

This society is esoteric
A ‘fatal lie’, a ‘deadly truth’
it propagates such evil, and is the one to protest that it is ruth.

It cries for me and still mocks my death
for a few days later you’ll all forget,
hundreds like me will come and go,
For we are all going to reap what we once did plow.

Years ago the seed was sown,
‘She is a woman, she has to be tamed and made to moan’.

Now live with it, and dance with joy,
See her being meddled with, like a cheap plastic toy.

For she is a girl, she deserves every bit of this,
for her’s is weak and Mightier is His.!

Source: Gurnoor Kaur, Yes Punjab


If this video doesn’t touch you… please watch again! (:

I don’t endorse any product in my blog and am not promoting this soap here. However, truth be told, like all budget conscious Indians, I grew up using the brick like carbolic acid smelling Lifebuoy. When I was a student living alone on a thinner than shoe-string budget in Delhi, I could stretch this soap to last me a month and a half. Here is the image of the original Lifebuoy (which has now been replaced by a fancier looking smaller soap).

Now living in the US, I no longer use the above soap. Heck, even most people in India rarely buy it as its considered a poor man’s soap from grandfather’s era.

This soap was featured in the classic movie A Christmas Story where Ralphie as the narrator says, “Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap. Though my personal preference was for Lux, I found that Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor – heavy, but with a touch of mellow smoothness. Lifebuoy, on the other hand… (Yechh!)” . His mother makes him wash his mouth with this soap after he blurts out the ‘F’ word!

The above video is closer to truth in under-developed countries like India where lack of hygiene and clean water is the leading cause of Child Mortality (source: Unicef). Simple fact that shows nutrition alone is not what is deprived for third world children. Though I admit, as a kid I did not always wash my hands before food unless forced to.


What price do you put on someone you love? That’s the real and unasked question in the debate on passive euthanasia – terminating the lives of the incurably ill who are no longer conscious or capable of acting on their own. I recall a family’s terrible dilemma which i found myself involved in some years ago.

One of the sisters in the family was stricken by an irreversible and fatal disease that attacks the auto-immune system and for which there is no known cure. The diagnosis had been made too late to try alternative therapies which might have deferred the inevitable. The patient – to whom i was not related but who was as close to me as if she were my own sister – went into a coma and was taken to a state-of-the-art medical facility in Delhi.

The moment she was admitted into the hospital, the patient, in effect, ceased to be a human individual with human attachments of family and loved ones and became instead the property of a team of medical specialists. No longer conscious of where she was or what was happening to her, she was put into an intensive care unit which no one could enter except those who were treating her. We could see her through a glass pane, attached to mechanical devices which took over from her the business of existence: the breathing of the lungs, the beating of the heart, the circulation of blood, the intake of nutrition. She became a machine, linked to other machines.

Regular as clockwork the attendant team of specialists would look in on the patient. Literally look in. Open the door, look at her from the doorway, make a note on clipboards they were carrying and go away. It was a large team and day by day it seemed to get larger. Who are all these people? i asked a nurse. Doctors, she replied.

What sort of doctors? i asked. Special doctors, said the nurse. They were indeed special doctors, as i discovered. One was a dietitian. Another was a dermatologist. Why did a patient unable to take in any nutrition other than through a drip need a dietitian to visit three times a day? No one knew. Why did the patient need a dermatologist’s visit every day? No one knew.

But each time these specialists would look in on her, the visit would be put on the bill. Which, like the team of specialists, was daily growing bigger. It was, after all, a state-of-the-art private hospital. With high overheads, including specialists who occupied expensive offices and had to earn fees in order to pay their rentals.

Twice a day we’d go to see the head doctor. No, there was no change in the patient. No, no change could be expected. No one could bring themselves to ask the question that hung in the silence like a thunderclap: How long do we go on like this, how long can we go on?

The family was reasonably well off. But how long could they afford to keep the patient in the hospital? One month? Two? A year? There were other expenses to meet, a son to be educated, futures to be provided for. But how do you put a cut-off price on a life? Even on the life of a machine kept alive by other machines.

The family couldn’t do it. So i volunteered. I told the head doctor there was no more money for the ICU, for the machines. The doctor looked thoughtful. I see, he said. There was no talk of the law, or of ethics. No talk of the sanctity of life. No talk of miracle cures.

Sometime that day, we weren’t told when, the machines were switched off. The patient stopped being a patient and became a closed file and a final bill. Which the family paid, racked with remorse, feeling that what they were paying was blood money. Was this sum what a life was worth, no more and no less? To the loss of a loved one was added the burden of guilt.

Parliament (in India) can legislate on the ethics of euthanasia. Who’s going to legislate on the economics of death, and the cost that conscience has to bear? What is the price of someone you love?

by Jug Suraiya in The Times of India

P.S. In Nov. ‘10 my mother was in ICU in Chennai for the last 10 days of her life where she died due to complications from breast cancer. This article describes the exact state of events that happened to me and my family. I couldn’t have described it better.

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