Beyond The Beaten Track: Offbeat Poems From Gujarat (Heritage Collection)

Six Adversaries (Prajaram Raval)


Of a sudden
waves invade strike hard
between chest and belly
deliver blow after blow
like the full moon's tide mighty.

Arrives the cavalcade
of the invincible all-conquering host
this adversary foremost
this lust.


Via an old vent
the boiling lava rises
quickly pierces the crest

Will it flood the outside?
A volcano within the frail human frame!
The leaping blood-flame of anger wicked.
Ah! Misery.


Here this worldly skeletal figure
thin and stringy
locks dry, tattered, short, flapping
this always famished witch
hungrier the more she gobbles
eyes rolling wildly
squats this hag
this greed.


the pitch-black, hefty, young, virile, wild
eyes shut, ardent bull
tail curling that
butts in rage
like a massif
on Yama's1 gate
fit as Yama's mount
is infatuation vast.


Ravishing maiden
hair woven tight
crescent mark on the forehead
appropriately bedecked
wearing resplendent ornaments
and make-up
deigns finally
to look into the mirror -
vanity incarnate!


In the corner
of a dark, empty chamber
huddles slack-limbed
a middle aged male
weak, limbs cramped, ugly.

Watches intently
with envious, vermilion2-daubed eyes
whose rise?
In male mould envy.

1 God of death
2 Red powder

ષડ્ રિપુ (પ્રજારામ રાવળ )


વક્ષ : ઉદરની વચ્ચે વાગે છોળ અચાનક
પૂનેમે સિન્ધુની ચંડ પ્રચંડ ભરતી સમી,
થપાટો પે થપાટો દે, એકાગ્ર ચડી આવતી;
પરાજય નહીં કો દી જાણેલા સૈન્યની સમી,
સવારી આ દુરાઘર્ષ ષડ્ રિપુશ્રેષ્ઠ કામ-ની !


સુરંગ મહીંથી જૂની ઊકળતો જ લાવા ચડે,
ઊંચો, સરસરાટ, ભેદી શિર, ઊભરાશે બહિર્ ?
મનુષ્યતનુની ધરા મહીં સજીવ જ્વાળામુખી;
ભૂંડી ઊછળતી જ ક્રોધ તણી રક્ત જ્વાલા, દુ:ખી !


નહીં આ લોકની, લાંબીપાતળી, હાડ-પાંસળી,
લુખા વીંખાયેલા, ટૂંકા વાળની લટ ઊડતી,
ક્ષુધાર્તા વ્યંતરી નિત્ય, ખાય તેમ વધુ ભૂખી,
ભમતી આંખ હા, વ્યગ્ર : બેઠી છે લોભ-નારી આ.


કાળો ડિબાંગ, માતેલો, પુષ્ટ, વન્ય, મહા, યુવા,
મીંચીને આંખ, ક્રોધાંધ, વળ ખાયેલ પૂંછડે,
પ્હાડ શો, મારતો ઢીંક યમને દ્વાર ઠેલતી,
યમનું વાહન યોગ્ય, પાડા શો મોહ છે મહા !‌


યૌવના, રૂપરમણી બરોબર બનીઠની,
આભૂષણ ધરી અંગે સર્વે પ્રકાશતાં,
કસીને કેશ ગૂંથીને, લલાટે કરી ચન્દ્રક,
સૌ શૃંગાર સજી લઈ,
અરીસામાં જુએ છેલ્લે પ્રતિબિંબ ?-સ્વયં મદ !


અંધારા ખંડમાં ખાલી, ખૂણે, શિથિલ કાયનાં
સંકોચી સર્વ અંગોને, બેઠો છે પ્રૌઢ કો નર,
કુરૂપ, શક્તિથી હીન, કોનો ઉત્કર્ષ ન્યાળતો
એકાગ્ર, લાલસાવાળાં નેત્રે સિન્દૂર આંજિયાં
-નરને રૂપ મત્સર.

Category in Beyond The Beaten Track

Human Nature


Are the passions – sex, fury, greed, infatuation, vanity, and jealousy – enemies of man or his friends? Is the survival of our species possible without these? Can there be a market economy without these passions stimulating the adrenalin that powers competitive striving? Can family life be fun without these emotions? In the Hindu spiritual tradition, humans have to struggle with these ‘enemies’ and overcome them before they can attain ‘moksha’ or liberation. But these are difficult to fight because they are all inside the person, invisible, but potent. The poem magnificently evokes their power in Sanskritized but crisp Gujarati. And it turns them into icons that can be targeted!

About The Author

Prajaram Raval, graduate in Ayurveda (1917 – 1991) was born in the town of Wadhwan, Saurashtra. He studied Ayurveda in Patan and became a vaidya (practitioner of the Indian indigenous system of medicine). He taught in a college in Bhavnagar and became its principal. He was influenced by Sri Aurobindo. Raval declared that he learnt to write before he learnt to read! He got addicted to meters at an early age, and at 12 he decided to write poetry. At 20 he began to write sonnets. So great was his passion for poetry that as a medical trainee, once while putting on an apron he got a poetic inspiration, he quickly doffed the apron and asked a friend to request leave for the day on his behalf. He then retired to a tree, sat under it, and wrote a 70-line poem! Raval’s poems extol nature and reflect Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. Raval authored or co-authored four volumes of poetry. He translated Sri Aurobindo’s poems and Kalidasa’s ‘Raghuvansh’ (Raghu’s Lineage) into Gujarati. He co-compiled a volume of poems, and also published a book on Ayurveda.