Duty Of A King - Poem by Harekrishna Meher
On the bank of Bhā gī rathī while
Lakshmaņ a deserted Sī tā to exile,
Sunshine had spread that moment
all over the regions
of the world along with oceans
neath the fair firmament.
As if it was a white screen
draped over by Sun
that a shame it would be, if the affliction
of Rā ma’s Queen was seen
to the deities’ dominion.
Knowing that secret discreetly,
to disclose the flaw of Sun’s race,
Dusk lifted swiftly
the screen from earth’s surface.
Called by the birds nearby,
Stars in the courtyard of sky
coming one after another
hugely assembled together.
Rā machandra, the scion of Sun’s ancestry,
has sat alone in the yard, vast solitary.
With tears appeared
his eyes were bedewed;
with dejection visage withered.
He was thinking:
“The right of a king
is in fact a guise
of great slavery.
In this high seat,
the only job is
to render service sincerely,
at the people’s feet.
While hundreds of mouth
together a lie tell,
it is oft accepted as truth
obeying them very well,
though to be sure,
it’s known falsehood pure.
In the peace-sacrifice of public, again
king’s happiness is oblation indeed.
Fastened with the strong duty-chain
in his work he can’t proceed.
What is done coronation
is really a mere reformation.
What shall we call fanning the chowries?
It’s nothing but whisking flies.
There might, of course,
be no remourse
in happiness even in the heart of a deity.
The king, therefore,
is a great god and furthermore
relishes the ambrosia of celebrity.
People’s blood forms water-drops.
Acquiring the throne of high props
the king becomes cloud mere,
for the public welfare.
In the water of earth, no thunder resides;
but in cloud, it naturally abides.
Mace in the hands of public
is not a matter of power,
but it’s terrific
in the hands of the emperor.
By the fire of lightning,
burnt may be own heart however,
compelled is cloud to give water.
Forsaking all the happiness, when the king
keeps his people gratified,
he, as an object
of supreme respect
Forming the highly elevated
head of ladder to heaven, if kingship
in the world-circle, is deviated
from own destination,
the king suffers destruction
falling into the doom’s abysm deep.
With equal vision and equal feeling,
holding a sceptre,
and rejoicing on kingship’s string,
turning very meek
doesn’t think of own life-chapter.
If the acrobat doesn’t proceed
after placing feet on the string,
some spectators shall indeed
jeer at him by clapping.
There the drum-holder
shall scold him further.
With life slackened verily
by severe separation
from my beloved Maithilī,
if I don’t perform any action,
the human society
shall taunt me more in reality.
From people’s lips remark will slip:
‘In Raghu’s royal race
Rā ma was born a disgrace.
And niggard in being scrupulous
he abandoned the kingship,
Best is the Vā naprastha state;
but for me, it’s not the time appropriate.
To discharge the duties of mine indeed
how shall Bharata be agreed?
Day by day, affection
for a thing on lap deteriorates;
since it’s observed very often.
When empty becomes the lap,
pining for the same thing after gap,
the hearty affection proliferates
many multiplied times to measure
like a zero-suffixed mathematical number.
Never immortal is the gross body.
Ever immortal is mind only.
When link is not severed from mind,
happiness is happiness in true sense to find.
Has anybody kept his life for ever,
by earning material treasure
in the world of mortals
and adorning the gold crown
on his head own?
As his rivals,
glory and slander, being uncontrolled
by time, stand very bold.
People of the world very well
determine the way to heaven and hell.
Setting aside all rumours of others,
the mean mind endeavours
to hanker after the enjoyment,
material and transient. ”
[Translated from Gangadhara Meher’s Oriya epic-poem ‘Tapasvini’]
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