Ravikumar C.P.

(Bangalore)

Wisdom


A composition of Kanakadasa
English translation by C.P. Ravikumar


A dip in the holy river seems redundant
When the company you keep is truthful.
The fear of going hungry has no meaning
When the Lord has the strings in control.

You seek knowledge, but it is of little use -
When you pay no attention to teachers or elders
You work on sculpting your body, but why,
When it brings no solace to others?
Has life any meaning, with no prayers to the Lord?
Of what use is a king who protects not his followers?

Of what use is wealth that one cannot share or consume?
Of what value is life when you live without dignity?
Why live among those who only count your negatives?
Why make a fortune when you can't share with your fraternity?

Of what use is a wife that follows not her husband's signs?
Of what use is friendship that recognizes no differences?
You have brought nothing with you, then why do you expect returns?
With Lord Keshava of Kaginele on our side, why do we seek any others?

Submitted: Saturday, August 09, 2014

Topic(s): wisdom


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa are the most famous among the poets of the 'Dasa' genre in Kannada. A Haridasa, or Dasa for short, is a follower of Lord Vishnu. Literally, the word Haridasa means a slave of Hari, another name for Vishnu. Dasa poets walked on foot from home to home and sung songs of devotion. Their songs often had words of advice and social criticism. To this day, their songs are sung in musical concerts and temples. In this song, Kanakadasa questions a number of social practices. Many of these may still seem relevant.

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