Diwali, or The Second Exile

Lord Rama is still barred from returning to his birthplace, thereby prolonging the agony of his worshippers.

Diwali, or The Second Exile

Prologue

Every year on a moonless night in the month of Kartika, the Hindu festival of Diwali or Deepavali is celebrated in remembrance of Lord Rama’s return to his home – Ayodhya – after the vanquishing of Ravana, the evil king of Lanka, who had abducted Sita Devi, Lord Rama’s beloved wife. The Lord’s return to Ayodhya also marks the end of his fourteen-year long exile from the kingdom which was rightfully his to rule. In the highly politicised sociocultural climate of twenty-first century-India, a country that till this day remains largely colonised in its thinking and actions by its erstwhile Abrahamic Western political occupiers’ foreign ideologies and worldviews, Lord Rama cannot get back to his homeland. While archaeologists and historians have already established, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a Hindu temple existed on the land which Hindus have traditionally regarded as the sacred birthplace of Lord Rama (or Ram-Lalla in the local dialect), beneath a mosque that was built after razing the temple down during the Mughal Period, contemporary politics and a visceral hatred of all things Hindu have kept the deity of Ram-Lalla from setting foot on his birthplace. The deity had been worshipped for centuries since the desecration and destruction of the temple in makeshift camps just outside the quarters of the mosque, named after Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty – thus reinstating and perpetuating Lord Rama’s metaphorical second exile from his own land.]

I

Let us depart, then, O Lord,

They don’t want us around.

I know You would disagree

In another Avatar, and say:

Ours is to fight, for what is

Rightfully ours; but the day

Is not yet come. Perchance

Your unworthy servant will

Live a prolonged life, to see

How the wheel of inevitability

Gently hurls the tyrant aside

Into the pit of bleak obscurity

But that day is not yet come.

Let us go; a long road awaits.

II

Let us depart for the long exile.

And You’ll have company, too,

Like You’ve had the last time.

Your votaries must come along.

Their Crown Prince is exiled, n’

So are they, likewise. No country

For good men in the land of Sun;

Bloodied feet, confused, they run.

III

I remember, Lord, you were still

A young lad, poised to be king;

Blessed by an affectionate father

Yet rejected by luck, Sweet Lord,

Unexpected it came, Fate’s sting:

Upon the most Steadfast Head.

Would it please the Lord to teach

This servant a lesson on fortitude?

IV

A prolonged hour of dark befalls

Those who guard the Lord’s history.

So with every bit of the Passion

That comes not from vanquishing

The enemy’s bands, or from rule

Unfelled by the invader’s horde,

No! But from equanimity divine

That Man has kindled in his mind,   

Let Thy servant faithfully recount

My Lord’s glory on a starlit night

When the moon forgets to mount

Her heavenly throne upon the sky;

Setting all the lamps brighter still,

Each aflame with an unbending will

Unwavered by the treacherous wind

Blowing cold from the cruel West.

On such an Eve the Lord returned

His beloved home, ‘mid rejoicing.

He returns triumphant, evil slain,

Every year; but here, in disdain

The corrupt device of false alarm

Leaves many a defender disarmed;

Paints the wolves as mere sheep,

While the good King’s men weep,

While late autumn bathes in blood

Of good men, in primordial flood.

Order recedes, Madness Supreme

Dazes the Earth in a murky dream.

Fortune wanes, a nation’s dole

Subsumes in fire, single and whole.

Who wakes? Who keeps watch?

No Brave Raptor on a lofty perch? 

Nothing to save us from wily guile

No respite from another exile.    

About Author: Sreejit Datta

Sreejit Datta teaches English and Cultural Studies at the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University in Mysore. Variously trained in comparative literature, Hindustani music and statistics; Sreejit happens to be an acclaimed vocalist who has been regularly performing across multiple Indian and non-Indian genres. He can be reached at: Email: sreejit.datta@gmail.com Blogs: https://medium.com/@SreejitDatta http://chadpur.blogspot.in/

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