are in control,
while consequences
often aren’t.

Have our heroes in history
been more chance than else?

In living though,
Doesn’t ‘why’ matter
a little more than ‘what’?

To be stable amidst
the confounding effects
of chance and effort…
Far from effortless.

But what if one focuses
on ‘bhavana’ in life,
Doesn’t karma follow
like plant from a seed?

Of course, you may say,
easier said than done.
But isn’t it, in some ways,
Easier done than said ?


Bhāvanā (PaliSanskrit, also bhāvana) literally means “development” or “cultivating” or “producing” in the sense of “calling into existence.” It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis (Patipatti). The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as citta-bhavana (the development or cultivation of the heart/mind) or metta-bhavana (the development/cultivation of lovingkindness). When used on its own bhavana signifies ‘spiritual cultivation’ generally. (source: Wikipedia)


ਲੋਹੜੀ ਤੋਂ ਪਹਲੇ ਦੀ ਰਾਤ

ਮੈਂ ਸੋਚੇਯਾ ਭੁਲ ਗਈਆਂ ਨੇ
ਪਰ ਗੱਲ ਬਾਤ ਯਾਦ ਆਉਂਦੀ ਏ ।
ਅੱਜ ਲੋਹੜੀ ਤੋਂ ਪਹਲੇ ਦੀ
ਇੱਕ ਰਾਤ ਯਾਦ ਆਉੰਦੀ ਏ ।।

ਰਜਾਈਆ ਵਿਚ ਵੜ ਕੇ
ਪਤੰਗਾਂ ਬਾਰੇ ਸੋਚਣਾ ।
ਓਹ ਰੰਗ-ਬਿਰੰਗੇ ਖਯਾਲਆਂ ਦੀ
ਇੱਕ ਉੜਾਨ ਯਾਦ ਆਉੰਦੀ ਏ ।।

ਕਿਵੇਂ ਲੋਹੜੀ ਨੂ ਉਡੀਕਣਾ
ਡੋਰ ਦੇ ਪਿੰਨੇ ਨੂ ਸਮੇਟਣਾ ।
ਇੱਕ ਮੂੰਗਫਲੀ ਦੇ ਛਿੱਲਡ ਦੀ
ਮਿਹਕ ਯਾਦ ਆਉੰਦੀ  ਏ ।।

ਲਾਲ ਰਜਾਈ ਦੇ ਨਿੱਗ ਵਿਚ੍ਚ
ਨੀਂਦ ਨਾ ਆਉਣੀ …
ਇੱਕ ਤੜਕੇ-ਤੜਕੇ ਦਿਨ ਦੀ
ਮਿੱਠੀ ਧੁੰਦ ਯਾਦ ਆਉੰਦੀ ਏ ।।

ਮੈਂ ਸੋਚੇਯਾ ਭੁਲ ਗਈਆਂ ਨੇ
ਪਰ ਗੱਲ ਬਾਤ ਯਾਦ ਆਉਂਦੀ ਏ ।
ਅੱਜ ਲੋਹੜੀ ਤੋਂ ਪਹਲੇ ਦੀ
ਇੱਕ ਰਾਤ ਯਾਦ ਆਉੰਦੀ ਏ ।।

Inspiration: ‘Invictus’ by W E Henley


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

— William Ernest Henley

More about the poem and the poet here. Many leaders have drawn inspiration from this poem, including Nelson Mandela, who had it pasted on the wall of his prison cell.

Favorite Poems II

A few days back, I posted some of my favorite poems. Now is the time to append that list with stuff suggested by others, and some that I mistakenly left out. This selection will be somewhat more spiritual and self-reflection oriented than earlier, just so you know before you tread further 🙂

I loved the Song of Six Perfections by Milarepa, which I came across through Nisheeth’s blog. Reproduced below, it is a concise, practical expression for enlightened living.

A Song on the Six Perfections, by Milarepa

For generosity, nothing to do,
Other than stop fixating on self.

For morality, nothing to do,
Other than stop being dishonest.

For patience, nothing to do,
Other than not fear what is ultimately true.

For effort, nothing to do,
Other than practice continuously.

For meditative stability, nothing to do,
Other than rest in presence.

For wisdom, nothing to do,
Other than know directly how things are.

Dhaarini was kind enough to remind me of the beautiful poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. It is another gem of love and wisdom, that begins with these simple lines:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

We all go in to the noise and haste, and get caught up. But to go placidly, and to remember the peace that there may be in silence… is the essence. To me, “remember” here does not mean to keep thinking about silence, but to go in to the world, with a deep-seated inner peace, and let the external stay confined to waves on the surface of a deep ocean. I could go on meditating on these lines, each one for some time, but well… Here is how the poem ends:

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

It is still a beautiful world. In the 13.7 billion years of the cosmos’s known existence, we are born in the one tiny window of time where we can comprehend, travel, witness, communicate, share, love and celebrate. Most of all, a fact that is often forgotten, we are in the best conditions that there have ever been to live.

Gibran‘s Prophet is another favorite. It is a poem with chapters on topics like work, love, self-knowledge and more. In one of the chapters, Gibran shares brilliant insights on Good and Evil:

You are good when you are one with yourself.
Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.
For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.
And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.

I have not read much of Rumi, but here are the verses that I found very close to my own reflections on cosmic unity.

A stone I died and rose again a plant;
A plant I died and rose an animal;
I died an animal and was born a man.
Why should I fear? What have I lost by death?

I begin to digress, but the work below is another testament to the genius of Rumi — from a poem on love: Like This

If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.

Like this. Like this.


Kabir‘s couplets bring the esoteric to the confines of our comprehension. Brief and subtle, they have a haiku-like feel, their essence somewhere far beyond the words. I’ll reproduce two of them here (translations from Rajender Krishan):

Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye

I searched for the crooked, met not a single one
When searched myself, “I” found the crooked one

Chinta Aisee Dakini, Kat Kaleja Khaye
Vaid Bichara Kya Kare, Kahan Tak Dawa Lagaye

Worry is the bandit that eats into one’s heart
What the doctor can do, what remedy to impart?

Favorite Poems

This post is just an effort to put some of my favorite poems at one place. I will list some lines from the first two poems and leave links for other poems so that everyone can take a look.

1. Robert Frost’s memorable lines “… miles to go before I sleep from Stopping… have always inspired me. These lines have a message of hope, enthusiasm and vitality. The natural imagery, description of sounds and the rhythm create an almost magical effect.

Frost’s Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

2. Another all-time favorite is Rudyard Kipling’s If. Although Kipling’s opinions and overall legacy are a matter of debate, there is no denying the beauty of precious wisdom that he managed to convey through If.

If – Rudyard Kipling

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Other poems that I’ve liked a lot include:

3. The Road Not Taken — Robert Frost

4. I’m Nobody. Who Are You? — Emily Dickinson

5. Hope — Emily Dickinson

6. If You Forget Me — Pablo Neruda

7. Haiku (Frog) — Basho

8. Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines — Pablo Neruda

9. Risk — Anais Nin

10. Auguries of Innocence — William Blake

When it comes to humour, one must take a look at the works of Ogden Nash and Spike Milligan. Milligan has also written some cute, mushy verses like this one:

If I could write words
Like leaves on an autumn forest floor,
What a bonfire my letters would make.

If I could speak words of water,
You would drown when I said
“I love you.”

Are there any writers that you especially like? Which poems are your favorites?
P.S. — To conclude, below is the first stanza of hope:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all…

— Emily Dickinson

P.P.S — Recommended by Vidya: Poems of Margaret Atwood

Recommended by Dhaarini: Desiderata &
Considering the Snail

Faves from Ghalib

I have been reading Gulzar’s book on the maestro of Urdu poetry recently. Need a place to keep some of the verses… may add translations later.

You have any faves of your own? Feel free to leave a comment.

Na tha kuchch to Khuda tha, kuchch na hota to Khuda hota
duboya mujhko hone ne, na hota main to kya hota ?

ragon mein daudte firne ke hum nahi kaayal,
jab aankh hi se na tapka to fir lahoo kya hai?


Khuda ke vaaste pardaa na Kaabe se utha zaalim
Kahin aisa na ho yaa bhi vahi kafir sanam nikale….

Hum ko maloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat, lekin
Dil ke khush rakhne ko, Ghalib yeh khayal achha hai.


Un ke dekhe se jo aa jaati hai chehre pe raunak
Wo samajhte hain ke beemar ka haal achha hai.


Jala hai jism jahan, dil bhi jal gaya hoga
Kuredte ho jo ab rakh, justuju kya hai?


Ishq par zor nahi, hai ye woh aatish, Ghalib,
Jo lagae na lage or bujhae na bujhe


Mat pooch ke kya haal hai mera tere peechhe
Tu dekh ke kya rang hai tera mere aage.


kahoon kis se main ke kya hai, shab-e-gham buree bala hai
mujhe kya bura tha marna agar ek baar hota


Ye masaail-e-tasawwuf, ye tera bayaan ‘GHalib’ !
Tujhe ham walee samajhate, jo na baada-Khwaar hota…


Nikalna khuld se aadam ka soonte aaye hain lekin
Bahot be-aabru hokar tere kooche se hum nikle


Hui muddat ke Ghalib mar gaya, par yaad aata hai
Woh har baat par kehna, ke yun hota to kya hota…


You have any faves of your own? Feel free to leave a comment.