Since May 22, 2004
My opinions are NOT reflected by my posting behaviour. Most articles I post will attract genuine interest, and so, you are cautioned against being pulled into verbal arguments with fellow FReepers®.
P.S: You are seeing this boring picture above for lack of a better one.
NOTE: This section below, according to plan, is supposed to alter every month (if I can overcome my laziness).
If you intend to read the poetry below, please do it justice by reading the entire thing.
Akbar's Bridge by Rudyard Kipling
Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind,
Moved his standards out of Delhi to Jaunpore of lower Hind,
Where a mosque was to be builded, and a lovelier ne'er was planned;
And Munim Khan, his Viceroy, slid the drawings 'neath his hand.
High as Hope upsheered her out-works to the promised Heavens above.
Deep as Faith and dark as Judgment her unplumbed foundations dove.
Wide as Mercy, white as moonlight, stretched her forecourts to the dawn;
And Akbar gave commandment, "Let it rise as it is drawn."
Then he wearied--the mood moving--of the men and things he ruled,
And he walked beside the Goomti while the flaming sunset cooled,
Simply, without mark or ensign--singly, without guard or guide,
Till he heard an angry woman screeching by the river-side.
'Twas the Widow of the Potter, a virago feared and known,
In haste to cross the ferry, but the ferry-man had gone.
So she cursed him and his office, and hearing Akbar's tread,
(She was very old and darkling) turned her wrath upon his head.
But he answered--being Akbar--"Suffer me to scull you o'er."
Called her "Mother," stowed her bundles, worked the clumsy scow from shore,
Till they grounded on a sand-bank, and the Widow loosed her mind;
And the stars stole out and chuckled at the Guardian of Mankind.
"Oh, most important of bunglers! Oh, my daughter's daughter's brood
Waiting hungry on the threshold; for I cannot bring their food,
Till a fool has learned his business at their virtuous grandam's cost,
And a greater fool, our Viceroy, trifles while her name is lost!
"Munim Khan, that Sire of Asses, sees me daily come and go
As it suits a drunken boatman, or this ox who cannot row.
Munim Khan, the Owl's Own Uncle--Munim Khan, the Capon's seed,
Must build a mosque to Allah when a bridge is all we need!
"Eighty years I eat oppression and extortion and delays--
Snake and crocodile and fever, flood and drouth, beset my ways.
But Munim Khan must tax us for his mosque whate'er befall;
Allah knowing (May He hear me!) that a bridge would save us all!"
While she stormed that other laboured and, when they touched the shore,
Laughing brought her on his shoulder to her hovel's very door.
But his mirth renewed her anger, for she thought he mocked the weak;
So she scored him with her talons, drawing blood on either cheek....
Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind,
Spoke with Munim Khan his Viceroy, ere the midnight stars declined--
Girt and sworded, robed and jewelled, but on either cheek appeared
Four shameless scratches running from the turban to the beard.
"Allah burn all Potter's Widows! Yet, since this same night was young,
One has shown me by pure token, there was a wisdom on her tongue.
Yes, I ferried her for hire. Yes," he pointed, "I was paid."
And he told the tale rehearsing all the Widow did and said.
And he ended, "Sire of Asses--Capon--Owl's Own Uncle--know
I--most impotent of bunglers--I--this ox who cannot row--
I--Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar, Guardian of Mankind--
Bid thee build the hag her bridge and put our mosque from out thy mind."
So 'twas built, and Allah blessed it; and, through earthquake, flood, and sword,
Still the bridge his Viceroy builded throws her arch o'er Akbar's Ford!
- Rudyard Kipling
RUDYARD KIPLING was born in Bombay, India, on December 30th 1865, son of John Lockwood Kipling, an artist and teacher of architectural sculpture, and his wife Alice. His mother was one of the talented and beautiful Macdonald sisters, four of whom married remarkable men, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Sir Edward Poynter, Alfred Baldwin, and John Lockwood Kipling himself.
Young Rudyard's earliest years were blissfully happy in an India full of exotic sights and sounds. But at the tender age of five he was sent back to England to stay with a foster family in Southsea, where he was desperately unhappy. The experience would colour some of his later writing... Read more at Kipling.org.uk
AKBAR - Emperor of Mughal India, circa 1500s
The third Mughal emperor of India (1556-1605), generally considered the true founder of the Mughal Empire in India. He was a rare ruler, legendary for his tolerance and a patron of all major religions of his immense empire. He took the unprecedented step, as a Muslim emperor, to appoint Birbal, a Hindu, as a witty minister to his court. The interactions between Akbar and Birbal have been enthroned in countless wisdom tales. Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, built the famed Taj Mahal to immortalize the love he had for his wife, Arjomand.
Son and successor of Humayan; oversaw building of military and administrative systems that became typical of Mughal rule in India; pursued policy of cooperation with Hindu princes; attempted to create new religion to bind Muslim and Hindu populations of India.
Birbal - Born as Maheshdas, a poor Hindu commoner. He rose to be a minister at the court of the secular emperor Akbar, where he was both admired and envied for his skills as an administrator, a warrior, and a jester. The interactions between Akbar and Birbal have been enthroned in countless wisdom tales.
Akbar adopted two distinct but effective approaches in administering a large territory and incorporating various ethnic groups into the service of his realm. In 1580 he obtained local revenue statistics for the previous decade in order to understand details of productivity and price fluctuation of different crops. Aided by Todar Mal, a Hindu scholar, Akbar issued a revenue schedule that optimised the revenue needs of the state with the ability of the peasantry to pay. Revenue demands, fixed according to local conventions of cultivation and quality of soil, ranged from one-third to one-half of the crop and were paid in cash. Akbar relied heavily on land-holding zamindars to act as revenue-collectors. They used their considerable local knowledge and influence to collect revenue and to transfer it to the treasury, keeping a portion in return for services rendered. Within his administrative system, the warrior aristocracy (mansabdars) held ranks (mansabs) expressed in numbers of troops, and indicating pay, armed contingents, and obligations. The warrior aristocracy was generally paid from revenues of nonhereditary and transferable jagirs (revenue villages).
An astute ruler who genuinely appreciated the challenges of administering so vast an empire, Akbar introduced a policy of reconciliation and assimilation of Hindus (including Jodhabai, later renamed Mariam-uz-Zamani Begum, the Hindu mother of his son and heir, Jahangir), who represented the majority of the population. He recruited and rewarded Hindu chiefs with the highest ranks in government; encouraged intermarriages between Mughal and Rajput aristocracy; allowed new temples to be built; personally participated in celebrating Hindu festivals such as Deepavali, or Diwali, the festival of lights; and abolished the jizya (poll tax) imposed on non-Muslims. Akbar came up with his own theory of "rulership as a divine illumination," enshrined in his new religion Din-i-Ilahi (Divine Faith), incorporating the principle of acceptance of all religions and sects. He encouraged widow re-marriage, discouraged child marriage, outlawed the practice of sati, and persuaded Delhi merchants to set up special market days for women, who otherwise were secluded at home.
By the end of Akbar's reign, the Mughal Empire extended throughout north India even south of the Narmada river. Notable exceptions were Gondwana in central India, which paid tribute to the Mughals, Assam in the northeast, and large parts of the Deccan. The area south of the Godavari river remained entirely out of the ambit of the Mughals. In 1600, Akbar's Mughal empire had a revenue of £17.5 million. By comparison, in 1800, the entire treasury of Great Britain totalled £16 million.
Beyond Akbar, the Mughal Empire was a repressive, tyrannical strangle-hold on India's Hindu populace. Successive revolts by the Sikhs and Marathas, followed by the arrival of the British in a severely weakened India lead to the eventual demise of the Mughal Empire, and the birth of modern India.
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Sunrise at the Western Ghats, Kerala, India.
Munnar, India. Foreground: Tea plantations.
All of the above six: Kalamachal, Kerala, India. One of the few unknown heavens on earth.
"My hand has sowed love everywhere, giving unto all that will receive. Blessings are offered unto all My children, but many times in their blindness they fail to see them. How few there are who gather the gifts which lie in profusion at their feet: how many there are, who, in wilful waywardness, turn their eyes away from them and complain with a wail that they have not that which I have given them; many of them defiantly repudiate not only My gifts, but Me also, Me, the Source of all blessings and the Author of their being."
"Be not the destroyers of yourselves. Arise to your true Being, and then you will have nothing to fear."
"Who am I? I am that which thou hast searched for since thy baby eyes gazed wonderingly upon the world, whose horizon hides this real life from thee. I am that which in thy heart thou hast prayed for, demanded as thy birthright, although thou hast not known what it was. I am that which has lain in thy soul for hundreds and thousands of years. Sometimes I lay in thee grieving because thou didst not recognize me; sometimes I raised my head, opened my eyes, and extended my arms calling thee either tenderly and quietly, or strenuously, demanding that thou shouldst rebel against the iron chains which bound thee to the earth. Pitiful and foolish is the man who seeks what he already has, and does not know that he has it. Yes, Pitiful and foolish is he who does not know the bliss of love which surrounds him and which I have given him."
"O ye who sit in bondage and continually seek and pant for freedom, seek only for love. Love is peace in itself and peace which gives complete satisfaction. I am the key that opens the portal to the rarely discovered land where contentment alone is found."
"Children, look at the flowers at your feet; do not trample upon them. Look at the love in your midst and do not repudiate it. Look upwards with your beclouded eyes, and a world full of joy and love will disclose itself to you, a rational world made by My wisdom, the only real world. Then you will know what love has done with you, what love has bestowed upon you, what love demands from you."
Of those who love you as the Lord of Love,
Ever present in all, and those who seek you
As the nameless, formless Reality,
Which way is sure and swift, love or knowledge?
For those who set their hearts on me
And worship me with unfailing devotion and faith,
The way of love leads sure and swift to me.
Those who seek the transcendental Reality,
Unmanifested, without name or form,
Beyond the reach of feeling and of thought,
With their senses subdued and mind serene
And striving for the good of all beings,
They too will verily come unto me.
And slow is the path to the Unrevealed,
Difficult for physical man to tread.
But they for whom I am the goal supreme,
Who do all work renouncing self for me
And meditate on me with single-hearted devotion,
These will I swiftly rescue
From the fragment's cycle of birth and death
To fullness of eternal life in me.
Still your mind in me, still yourself in me,
And without doubt you shall be united with me,
Lord of Love, dwelling in your heart.
But if you cannot still your mind in me,
Learn to do so through the practice of meditation.
If you lack the will for such self-discipline,
Engage yourself in selfless service of all around you,
For selfless service can lead you at last to me.
If you are unable to do even this,
Surrender yourself to me in love,
Receiving success and failure with equal calmness
As granted by me.
Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice.
Better than knowledge is meditation.
But better still is surrender in love,
Because there follows immediate peace.
That one I love who is incapable of ill will,
And returns love for hatred.
Living beyond the reach of I and mine
And of pleasure and pain, full of mercy,
Contented, self-controlled, firm in faith,
With all their heart and all their mind given to me
With such people I am in love.
Not agitating the world or by it agitated,
They stand above the sway of elation,
Competition, and fear, accepting life
Good and bad as it comes. They are pure,
Efficient, detached, ready to meet every demand
I make on them as a humble instrument of my work.
They are dear to me who run not after the pleasant
Or away from the painful, grieve not
Over the past, lust not today,
But let things come and go as they happen.
Who serve both friend and foe with equal love,
Not buoyed up by praise or cast down by blame,
Alike in heat and cold, pleasure and pain,
Free from selfish attachments and self-will,
Ever full, in harmony everywhere,
Firm in faith such as these are dear to me.
But dearest to me are those who seek me
In faith and love as life's eternal goal.
They go beyond death to immortality.
Those who are free from selfish attachments,
Who have mastered the senses and passions,
Act not, but are acted through by the Lord.
Listen to me now, O son of Kunti,
How one who has become an instrument
In the hands of the Lord attains the Absolute,
The supreme consummation of wisdom.
Unerring in discrimination,
Sovereign of the senses and passions,
Free from the clamor of likes and dislikes,
They lead a simple, selfreliant life
Based on meditation, using speech,
Body, and mind to serve the Lord of Love.
Free from selfwill, aggressiveness, arrogance,
From the lust to possess people or things,
They are at peace with themselves and others
And enter into the unitive state.
United with the Lord, ever joyful,
Beyond the reach of selfwill and sorrow,
They serve me in every living creature
And attain supreme devotion to me.
By loving me they share in my glory
And enter into my boundless being.
All their acts are performed in my service,
And through my grace they win eternal life.
Make every act an offering to me;
Regard me as your only protector.
Make every thought an offering to me;
Meditate on me always.
Drawing upon your deepest resources,
You shall overcome all difficulties
Through my grace. But if you will not heed me
In your selfwill, nothing will avail you.
If you say, I will not fight this battle,
Your own nature will drive you into it.
If you will not fight the battle of life,
Your own karma will drive you into it.
The Lord dwells in the hearts of all creatures,
And he whirls them round on the wheel of time.
Run to him for refuge with all your strength
And peace profound will be yours through his grace.
I give you these precious words of wisdom;
Reflect on them and then choose what is best.
These are the last words I shall speak to you,
Dear one, for your spiritual fulfillment.
Be aware of me always, adore me,
Make every act an offering to me,
And you shall come to me;
This I promise, for you are dear to me.
Leave all other support, and look to me
For protection. I shall purify you
From the sins of the past. Do not grieve.
Do not share this wisdom with anyone
Who lacks in devotion or selfcontrol,
Lacks the desire to learn, or who scoffs at me.
Those who teach this supreme mystery
Of the Gita to all those who love me
Will come to me without doubt. No one
Can render me more devoted service;
No one on earth can be more dear to me.
Those who meditate on these holy words
Worship me with wisdom and devotion.
Even those who listen to them with faith,
Free from doubts, will find a happier world.
Have you fully understood my message?
Are you free from your doubts and delusions?
You have dispelled my doubts and delusions
And made me ready to fight this battle.
My faith is firm now, and I will do your will.
I am the same to all beings. My love
Is the same always. Nevertheless, those
Who meditate on me with devotion,
They dwell in me, and I shine forth in them.
Even the worst sinner becomes a saint
When he loves me with all his heart. This love
Will soon transform his personality
And fill his heart with peace profound.
O son of Kunti, this is my promise:
Those who love me, they shall never perish.
-Excerpts from the Bhagavad Gita (The Song of the Lord).
P.S: I believe that each and every word of every religion on Earth, are all works of Man...
... for now.