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Anil Saari

 The AstrologerLast Call to Bithoor –
To the Good Memory of a Great Sufi: Khawaja Moinuddin Chisthi                                                       

Hanuman ji

You are the god of the underdog,
are you not?

A monkey god,
A leader of the unseen tribals
– India’s invisible men.

A messiah of the forgotten folk,
cast beneath the shroud of poverty
like so much dust,

God of the losers
– the multitudes of our land,
their faces battered
in the jungle of deprivation,
looking like a monkey-god!

Hanuman ji

Like you I want
to wrap my tail with fire
and burn down
the world that chokes me,

like you I want
to have no family
full of despair,
or greed,

like you I want
to fly over the sea
and breathe life into a new
empire of emotions.

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Hanuman ji – 2

My lord, Hanuman ji –

Was he not also
a lord of the working class
and of secret human skills?
Both blue collar and white collar.
There was nothing that he could not perform
to the satisfaction of his God …..

He was perhaps a master technologist;
an artist of the material world,
who could fly over the ocean waves
that no one dared take on.

He could also be as explosive
as a new idea,
and perhaps he was
a master of alternate medicine too.

Though the tales we weave about him
speak too much of his sheer strength,
it was both courage and guile
that took him past the guards and spies
into the prison-garden of the lady
incarcerated by Ravana’s bureaucrats.

He was so wise at marshalling his arts
that he dared travel like a solitary soldier
into the lands of the unknown;
and the jungle of the enemy’s imagination
and the valleys and hills of his web.

Yet so modest – Hanuman ji!
Always speaking with a bow,
always listening on bended knee,
For he was one who knew
how to get things done …..

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The Astrologer

In the old days
the soothsayer was a scholar,
a theoretician of many trades
and a friend of the maestros
of commerce and the martial arts,
of psychologists and chess players,
geologists, meteorologists, and
an information expert himself.

He was a lawyer
as well as a scholar
who could sit down
and make his point.
He was also a good listener,
and believed that he was
a master of many trades
because he could learn something
from anybody he met.

He knew how spies thought
and administrators manipulated
their groups and lobbies.
In his spare time
he?d look upon the stars
and become a poet-astronomer
who gave names to the suns of the night,
and wove games and patterns in his mind.

His life was divided in two:
half of it was given to chatting with himself,
on all that he heard during the day
and all that he saw at night.

But he believed only in his own imagination
and he wrote songs and ballads
with the metaphors of everyday life:
if you do this, then this shall happen,
or, if this happens to be seen,
you may go ahead and do this, or that.

He understood the secrets of the life-force,
because he was with the world,
yet, without it as well.

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Last Call to Bithoor

This is where Valmiki lived.
That is what we believe.

And that makes the land sacred
for us, the children of the plains
that reach out to the mud-bank
overlooking the river.

The River Ganges.

Bithoor was only a village
on the southern bank.
an ancient village,
prehistoric, legendary.

And though Valmiki lived there once
it never became a place of pilgrimage,
for the devout
who look upon the Ganges
as the mother of their fertility;
Because Valmiki died only a poet
And his book became greater than him.
His protagonist: an incarnation of god,
The poet himself forgotten.

And nobody who visits it
from the outside world
believes he could have
composed the Ramayana at Bithoor

or sung his ballads as he walked
along the sand-banks
that stretch as wide as the river

At Bithoor
there is neither a plaque nor a ruin
only a historical memory
from one generation to the next.

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To The Good Memory of a Great Sufi:
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti

You have to pay a price to evil
to reach that feeling of the good.

Were it not for the poor
who come ceaselessly in his memory,
the Khwaja who listens
would be listless and alone,
among those who demand you pay
a price to evil
before you reach his goodness.

Beneath the sheets stained by greed,
the Khwaja’s thoughts are bare —
quiet, unto themselves,
like the stone of marble
that shuts him out
from those who prey on the poor.

the poor that he listens to,
the Khwaja
whom we remember
in our helplessness,
in our desire
to stand up and be counted
among those who do not need
the Khwaja to listen to.

It is
the price we pray,
before
we can reach out
to his goodness
for a few moments of the day.

Christ had said
bless are the meek
for they shall inherit the earth.
And Karl Marx said:
blessed are the poor

And the poor come ceaselessly
in the memory of the saints,
that they be blessed
by those who listen,

for the poor will ask
why they are meek —
as they  come ceaselessly
to the oasis, seeking
the memory of the saints

that they be blessed

And perhaps the Khwaja
waits for them,
in his memory,

As they come
to pay the price
to reach out to the good.

(Ajmer; January 26-27, 1996)

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