Silent Gods – A Political Poem

This poem was written to the prompt ‘भारत भाग्य विधाता चुप है’ (Bharat Bhagya Vidhata chup hain).The Indian national anthem addresses the ‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’ (the benefactor of India’s destiny). This prompt suggests that the benefactor is silent.

Trigger warnings: My poem contains other references to the national anthem & some of the political events of Independent India. There are references to political turmoil, riots & other violent incidents in Indian history.

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Silent Gods

 

My country houses many gods

Every corner, every turn yields another deity

They loom large, they lurk in every breath

Bow to the stage, pray to the machine, lights for money,

Engrave your worries on nimbu-mirchi

The names of gods adorn many doorways

Etched into varna locks, no entry, no exit

Branded as lines of destiny, bhagya, dharma, karma

Many gods look on in corridors & stairwells here

Inscribed on walls everywhere, don’t spit there

Silence! in the name of god

 

My country is spoken for by many gods

Intoning in the voices of godmen

Prescriptions for sautan mukti, santan prapti, 

parivarik sukh, koi bhi dukh,

dushman se chutkara, naukri, talak,

Work is worship, annadatta is bhagya vidhata, 

protected by shani kavach,

Underwritten by the gods,

religious marks are

statistics of conversions

numbers become weapons

Silence! as we chant

 

My country was birthed by many gods

They held scalpels & botched the surgery of land in 1947

Kashmir, Lucknow, Hyderabad

Once again, the prayers chant,

In 1971, carving up aamar shonar bangla

Try it another time – Godhra 2002

Tripura burning in 2021

So many saviours but no healing in sight

Silence! in the operating theatre

 

My country is painted by many-hued gods

Blue stars rising over a golden temple in 1984

Saffron flag draped over a green dome in 1992

The gods now autograph every union

Drawing lines between love marriage & love jihaad 

Now marriage acts are legislations in religion

Love is a crime, art censorable, life dispensable

But the name of God is unerasable

Silence! as we pray

 

My country is a battlefield of many gods

Every avatar is a brand new sword

Editing, splicing language, ritual, geography

Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha

And in these histories written in blood

Forgotten seeds & weeds chafe & burst forth

Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu, Konkani, Telugu, Odiya, Bangla

Ask what about us?

Silence! at the editing desk

 

My country has many people & even more gods

God is the purveyor of a vote bank

carved on half a billion Indian wombs

It’s cheaper to kill than to birth

Yet our population explodes

because bhagwan ki deyn is another mouth to feed

Those who die become martyrs and with enough prayers, new gods

Holy are the names, sacred even their tainted legacies

Polytheism in the name of a single truth,

my country is cremated, buried, eaten alive,

sent down the Ganga, thrown over lines of control

Silence! One minute of silence for the dear departed.

 

My country swears allegiance to many gods

We even birth & adopt new gods

Capitalism prayers to the deities of trade & progress

Currency over identity,

from rice bags to bank notes

We are demonitised,

we are privatized,

we are owned by industry & devotion

Silence! in the treasury

 

My country speaks of many gods

A country is a conversation, a communion of many ideas

Of self, of belonging, of community

But there are thorns in these words

Bloodlust in the names, promises camouflage swords

The people pray only for hope for another day

Rain, food, sleep, breath

Any name, any colour, any tongue, any flag will do

Cremation prayers in villages, ambulance sirens in cities

When media stories are written in blood flowing down streets

Bharat Bhagya Vidhata stands quiet

Silence! As we bow to our silent gods.

5 thoughts on “Silent Gods – A Political Poem

  1. my fav lines

    • Etched into varna locks, no entry, no exit

    • Branded as lines of destiny, bhagya, dharma, karma

    • my country houses many gods

    Every corner, every turn yields another deity

    They loom large, they lurk in every breath

    • So many saviors but no healing in sight

    • My country is a battlefield of many gods

    • A country is a conversation, a communion of many ideas

      1. Hey idea, a happy sunday morning to you. Well , i think i am able to see polytheism and polyamory in same frame and i say this respectfully in a positive sense . Our country had always been hungry for spiritual knowledge the many gods we have attest to this fact. Also maybe so much of the religion is all hypocrisy. And am extremely skeptical of religious people, its weird on one hand we are seeking God and the other hand we are kicking humans who are created in the image of God.

        Sorry to say this but am thoroughly convinced that we are a nation of hypocrites. We act holy in temples and churches and do all sorts of evil outside the places of worship. who are we fooling i do not understand? God? others ? or ourselves?

        To sum it up, the poem reflects the hypocrisy of human nature. And am thoroughly convinced much of the evil that happens under the sky, happens in the name of good and God.

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