Ishwar Chandra Gupta

(March 1812 - 23 January 1859 / 24 Parganas / British India)

Duryodhan At Dvaipayan - Poem by Ishwar Chandra Gupta

In the far horizon streaks of blood
merge into the black gloom;
Below, on the darkling solitary plain
whose form sprawls, alone?

--Know you not who I am? That name have I not
forgotten-- king am I-- Raja Duryodhan!
Kurukshetra, is it over?--
Where am I-- is this Dvaipayan?
O Queen, queen Bhanumati--
where are you, my wife, in calamity?
--Chariot; my chariot,-- driver, charioteer--
Where, where are the guards gone?
Oh! the pain-- torment agonising--
who calls the royal surgeon?
Royal valour, hero's fortitude--
will even they give way today?
--Yet, yet I do not fear,
alone will I fight undeterred;
Yet, in unfair battle defeat
I spurn!--
Alas, my fate! even that I cannot,
shattered these thighs in dust lie;
Refuge-less my valour only
cries out its impotence!
Vrikodara, wolf-waisted, Pandavas' shame,
you blackened Pandu's face--
like a thief in the night
dharma you burnt,
firing it with your own hands;
Un-Kshatriya in Kshatriya clan--
proof aright of Wind-god's son--
On that tarnished Pandava name
of yours shame, shame,--
a thousand shames.
Did none have eyes in this world?
Alas, who is left in this wide world?
Bhishma, Drona, Karna gone--
Who will punish whom?
All, that deceiving Krishna's work,
cruel intriguer's evil counsel--
'Dharma-rajya', righteous rule,
confusing words ever on his lips.
With Krishna a band of rogues
call him 'friend', serve as slaves.
That shame of Yadava clan
manipulates them, smiling.
Where's Balarama, generous, valorous,
radiant-white Raivatak?
And where the clan's shame, his brother,
partisan and cheat!
Oh-- that pain, again, again!
Who's there?

Come near, O Sanjaya,
See your invincible Duryodhan's
calamitous condition!
Kuru clan-is it uprooted then--
Kurukshetra-- is it annihilation?
Speak, Counsellor, why silent?
What is left to realise!
--You muse, to Duryodhan you won't
relate that inauspicious news,--
Alas! at death's throes now
has that any worth?
Today I recall in that assembly hall
Uncle's folded hands-
Had then I known of today,
Would've I berated him so bitterly?
Yet, considering royalty's honour,
I repent not--
Who among his enemies is unaware
of Duryodhan's sense of honour?
His morals, his acts, all,
all befit the King of kings--
The noble were honoured, genius welcomed,
bounty seeker returned with wealth.
Oh! That incident?
Kshatriyas' right to gamble's well known--
Who calls it sin? No tearful remorse
touches these eyes!
If violence you regard a crime,
you're a coward;-- proof of it:
Perpetual strife of god and titan
though brothers-
What say you to that?
Violence's natural to creatures,
violence--bred food nurtures life--
Time's desire mirrored in violence
is figured forth in the dynasty.
Panchali? Mention not, Counsellor!
Who marries five husbands,
as bride-price wins perpetual right
to mockery as fate's boon!
King's duties are grave, profound,
Desires, wishes, aren't for him,
All life a one-pointed dedication,
you well know, O Sanjaya.
Kunti's sons, Draupadi's husbands-
too harshly treated?
Kuru patriarch, in his kingdom,
is impartial, adamantine!
Needlepoint's land I refused
Pandavas? Because I was miserly?
Duryodhan's munificent hand
who knows not on this earth?
It's not that, Counsellor,--
Justice's just an excuse
of enemies to demand rights!
Were it a prayer? Gifting kingdom away
the forest would receive Duryodhan.
Only one thing I cannot forget,
Counsellor, which even today
pierces my heart,--
Abhimanyu's heinous murder
by seven chariot-heroes!

--Oh, that agony! Shooting up
from thigh to skull
blacks all out!
Blind eyes, frenzied mind,
doomsday roar drumming in ears!
No physician left? Send messages
summon, call them-
this necklace as prize.
Dusk deepens in skies o'erhead
at plain's end forest-skirted,
after lake waters grow black
in deepening darkness!
Hundreds of will-o'-wisp eyes light up
thronging Kurukshetra-plain;
Ravening carnivores roam roaring!
Sanjaya, stay awhile,
perhaps my last night this!
Defeat, victory-- not the issue,
they're life's partners I know.
Regrets have I none in this life,
by nature King is this Duryodhan;
above blame and fame
his all-ruling throne!
Only, a hundred pranams convey
at my father's feet, Counsellor,--
tell him-- I am that great father's
renowned dynast.
Death I own proudly, easily,
my constant servitor,--
Life he steals,
steal he cannot fame
that is eternal.
What if father's eyes are blind-
what can't fate do?
Love for his son--I know,
is limitless. Yet not blind.
Desiring progeny's welfare
shackling in chains of state-rule
in war he could've been party
following conventional advice;
--Of counsellors there was no shortage,
--Krishna, Vidura, heroic Bhishma,--
Yet with faith in his son
that head high-held bowed in respect.
--Better than cowardly peace
is even war eternal,--
In paternal love that kingly ethic
never forgot, that ruler of men.
--For proud son's befitting father he,
supernal radiance in mind's eyes;--
At his feet, hence, again and again
I bow today with body and soul.
Night deepens,--farewell, friend,
return home with pranam;
May Duryodhan's glorious fame
live, constant companion!
As nearby Dvaipayan ripples,
hallowed by Vyasa's holy name;--
may Kshatriya valour's radiant star
shine in the gloom-- Duryodhan.

[Transcreated by Pradip Bhattacharya]

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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 19, 2012

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