From Latin

Sulpicia Curses Herself

May I not now, my life’s light, be as fervently yours
As I appeared to have been a few days ago,
If I have done anything in my entire foolish youth
Which would make me regret it more
Than the fact that I left you lonesome last night,
Desiring to disguise my ardour.

ne tibi sim, mea lux, aeque iam fervida cura
ac videor paucos ante fuisse dies,
si quicquam tota commisi stulta iuventa
cuius me fatear paenituisse magis,
hesterna quam te solum quod nocte reliqui,
ardorem cupiens dissimulare meum.
  Sulpicia (in works of Tibullus 60-19 BC)

From Sanskrit

Human Culture

As a grown-up was going for a bath
A certain little lass of tender mind
Spoke insistently,
Stumping him for a reply.

‘I want to watch your bath,
Can I come with you?’
And she does not know why the grown-up
Does not grant her wish.

‘Ah! Why do these grown-ups
Hide what they do
When they see every day
Everything I do? Oh!’

Ah! What, indeed, is this way
Of human culture?
For as one ages, step by step,
One moves away from naked truth.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Will and Culture

Will is the force of the mind;
On will is all activity based.
No achievement of any kind exists
Which cannot be secured by will.

And the root of will is thought;
Thought arises from observation;
Thought is inferring and ascertaining
The existence of cause and effect.

Curiosity is the root of thought,
And it is the nature of the mind.
A man who lacks curiosity
Is like a brute or a stone.

From curiosity springs knowledge,
Which nourishes its cause;
Knowledge and curiosity
Are the twin roots of human culture.

Will motivates us
To create requisite means
To achieve a goal, once a goal is set;
Hence one should formulate a goal.

In devising novel means
Human genius is ever honed;
All acquired human might
Depends on means.

No fish, one can dive deep into the sea,
Without wings soar into the sky,
Sitting at home converse
With people anywhere at all,

Roam on the surface of the moon
As on the earth, with ease,
Set orbiting the earth
New satellites as spies.

All this has its source in the will;
The will has no master.
The will creates, the will destroys;
It is surely not different from God.

The will’s power to create
Knows no bounds;
The will’s power to destroy
Also knows no bounds.

Destruction follows creation –
Such is the nature of the world.
‘When will it happen?’ – with this thought
It is awaited by helpless people…
Unless the power of culture
Can harness the will,
And if it is not defeated
In the clash with the wild.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar


Ownership may be [defined as] the exclusive right in goods bought,
To enjoy, to give and to sell – as in a field, as in a house.

The right in respect of goods bought begins with the buying;
And with the selling of goods, the right lapses.

‘Of inanimate things, animals and also birds
(Human beings excepted, of course) buying and selling is legitimate’ –

So declare legal experts, people of cultured outlook;
They censure the buying and selling of humans as barbaric.

What buying and what selling [can there be] of things created by the Lord?
This is just a convention fabricated by none but mankind.

The possession that is seen of a husband by a wife, and of a wife by a husband,
In the form of devotion to each other, is not related to sale.

It is founded simply on convention, for polygamy is seen,
With differences of place and time, and polyandry too is seen.

Where ownership arises even though a person is not bought
Divine or human justice is, indeed, totally annihilated.

Or perhaps the mind, by its very nature, is inclined to owning,
Whether of inanimate or living things – and there is no cure for nature.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Holy War

‘My faith alone is true,’
Taught the prophet to the people,
‘All other faiths are false;
They lead to Hell.’

Therefore exert yourselves so that,
Whether espousing it or otherwise,
Others may go to heaven:
Assisting others is the sacred duty of the good.

For a man merely slain
By true believers goes to Heaven,
As well as a true believer
Slain in holy battle.

To fight for the spread of the faith
Is your one and only duty;
Whether you survive or die,
In either case is your gain assured.

Those who place unswerving trust
In the prophet’s words
Deem their one sole duty to be battle
With followers of other creeds.

Eyes blind with faith
That from a holy death comes Heaven,
They rush into the jaws of Death,
Creating Hell on Earth.

Convinced that the prophet’s words
Will truly come to pass
One way or another,
May they reach Heaven swiftly…

…As did, in Afghanistan,
The faithful in their thousands,
Slain in battle by infidels
Raining death on them from the sky.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Delightful Ignorance

‘I have a baby in my tummy,’
Says a tot of three or four.
‘When is it coming out?’
‘When I’m as tall as Mummy.’

The wise always extol knowledge
And decry ignorance.
What delightfulness there is
In ignorance, they do not know.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Counsel to a Marriageable Girl

Good girl, choose a husband
Who walks in the direction of his nose-tip,
Who is content on the beaten track,
Unambitious, and obedient to your command.

A man with a vaulting ambition
Explores all directions
And, driven by heroics and zeal,
Does not stick long to home.

What is the use of a husband
Who does not accompany his wife
In the worthy acts of participation
In lectures, plays, concerts and ceremonies?

If you care more for your interest,
Avoid by a long way,
And do not think of marrying,
A man with men’s goals.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Love and Love Professed

‘You are my treasure, my life;
You are in my heart forever.’
Thus do lovers always
Promise each another.

If the behaviour of each towards the other
Is not agreeable,
Such an assurance surely
Becomes the surety of an oath.

If merely by a declaration
Anything in this world is confirmed,
A pauper would become a Croesus,
A worm, the lord of the three worlds!

‘Love is the bonding of minds,
And lust, of bodies’ –
People who like to play with words
Make such a distinction.

If bodily connection
Is not at all required in love
Why is there grief
When one of a pair physically dies?

Love does not know limits;
It ventures to do whatever
Is within the power of the two
But which does not risk another’s life.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Devotion and Love

Devotion is the adoration of God; here on earth it is accounted twofold by the wise.
Arising from propitiating or opposing Him, it is based on incessant thoughts of Him.
Of these the former is consummated in the grace of God, and the latter, in damnation –
So that those who resort to either path attain the supreme state.

Love is also of two kinds: one intent on pleasing and the other at loggerheads.
Of these, the former is consummated in sweet talk, caresses, body contact and the like.
Does not the latter suggest a secret, abiding delight in thinking of each other
Even from a distance, through conversations in the guise of verbal tit for tat?
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar


Relationships are of two kinds :
Motivated and inherent.
The first of these ceases
When the motive is no more.

The inherent, however, continues
Even after gaps in time:
Hair comes into existence again and again;
The heart till the end of life.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Living Together

Body, learning, intellect,
Activity, likes and dislikes
Mould a person’s character;
No one can out-step them.

Who can accept some of these
And discard others?
Can a single hen be used
For cooking and for laying?

Living together, accordingly,
Is dialogue between two to a high degree.
How, where there is duality,
Can total unity exist?

No dining, no sleeping,
No bathing, no coming and going
Located in someone else
Ever effects another’s purpose.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

The Force of Attraction

Newton declared: “The earth all objects pulls;
Hence, each and every thing thrown up falls down.

This force, known as attraction, acts up to a certain reach;
Exceeding that, an object would not fall on earth.

Each thing possessing mass is subject to this law,
Unless it goes beyond gravitation’s bounds.”

Albeit wise, he did not say whence comes this force
In men’s and women’s minds, though they are devoid of mass.

And this force knows no boundaries made by place and time;
It rules the whole gamut of life from the Creator down to worms.

This force does not at any time operate one-way
Like the earth’s on massy objects; it inheres in both.

The scheme of men’s and women’s bodies is both similar and contrary;
It is these contrary modalities of theirs that are attraction’s cause.

Nor does this force require at all a falling or a soaring to begin;
It manifests its power in any circumstance.

That best of men who has the power to render this power a straw,
Set free from the noose of life, attains the immaculate abode.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

The Sky and the Stomach

Clouds rumble, gales blast,
Lightning goes wild, the heat is unbearable –
These are the indicators of a downpour in the sky;
They all are found in the stomach too.

Whatever is housed within this lump of flesh, pervading it,
Also permeates the span of the universe –
Such is the canon in the parlours of the learned;
And everyone experiences this philosophy in their own body.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Old, Yet Not Aged

Someone whose senses are not slack in their work,
Who does not use a stick,
Who is far from needing a doctor,
Whose hands and feet do not suffer from fatigue,
Whose intellect neither shrinks from work
Nor is incapable of creativity,
Even though he is old,
Is generally not liked by others of his age.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Four Kinds of People

Everyone in this world instinctively
Forms friendships for pleasure;
If after some time they bring pain,
What is the point of maintaining them?

“Nothing leads only to pleasure,
And nothing, only to pain,”
Reflecting thus, the wise
Honour whatever befalls them.

The ignorant, however, suffused with ego
And slave to mental states,
Overwhelmed by pleasure and pain,
Are ruined by delusions and sufferings.

But average people normally
Fall between these two extremes;
Their consciousness of pleasure and pain
Diminishes with time.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Eternal Danseuse

Dancing on the stage of the universe,
Entrancing the living world,
Entangling the Soul, the spectator,
In the net of emotions, eternally,

Disporting tirelessly,
From beginningless time,
Nature does not lose her ardour;
Nor does the Soul, watching her.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Sweet Sayings


The sun is itself, the moon is itself,
And days are all alike –
Yet a birthday becomes beautiful.
[Indeed], mankind is tied to sentiments.
Gentle Tasks

Gentle tasks call for gentle means alone.
What good is a sledge hammer for shaping gold ornaments?

Water and Life

Floods vitiate life in monsoon after monsoon.
Yet no one hates rivers, the nourishers of life.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

Stages of Poetry

In the writing of poetry
There are four stages of florescence:
Idea, development,
Word-formation and perfectation.

The four stages of the tree of poetry
Are well known among cognoscenti:
The seed and the sprout,
The leaves and flowers, and the fruit.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar

The Child and the Poet

Treating playthings as real as household goods,
A little girl cooks in a trice a meal complete in all respects.
She calls the adults, sets before them an array of dishes,
And announces loudly the names of the various foods.
Insistently she serves the fare onto their plates,
And hearing from their mouths approving words, exults.

Reflecting life, the genius of children, like that of poets,
Conjures unreal objects into real.
The attainment of utter delight is equally the benefit of both.
Poetry survives in verbal form; play does not survive.
Performing the task instantly and easily, the child excels;
The poet requires – alas! – much time and effort.
Sanskrit original by Krishna S Arjunwadkar