Paramparaa – The Tradition Continues…

Poetry on animals, birds and insects – part 3

Nakulan (a) Dr.Sreeram Jaganathan Setlur

रजसाssवृतनेत्रं तु शरीरं तमसाssवृतम् ।

तथापि चावयोः सत्त्वे कदापि सुस्वरः पिक! ।। 1

Our eyes are enveloped by rajas (passion /redness), body is enveloped by tamas (ignorance /dark colour), even then due to our sattva (existence) sometimes there is good svara (poetry and cooing)!


With the same hands we embrace and discipline our children. It’s not surprising. What is surprising is the fact that Lion (and the like) make use of the same mouth with those sharp teeth to hunt their prey as well as to fondle their young ones!

आमिषमारणे चापि शिशूनामुपलालने ।

अहो सिंहैतदाश्चर्यं तदेव तीक्ष्णदन्ति ते ।। 2

Lion! Alas! this is surprising. The very same mouth with sharp teeth is used by you in hunting your prey and fondling your young ones!


Dogs are wonderful creatures to befriend. The puppies, especially, are lovely. How easily they come forward wagging their tails with those bright eyes! Yesterday I spent some nice time with a couple of street puppies when I offered some biscuits. I was abound with joy watching their friendly gestures!

कुतो वाssयाति विश्वासः मयि ते मुष्टिकान्नदे ।

शुनकार्भक! तद्धि स्यात् स्वाभाविकोsथवा सदा ।। 3

Puppy! From where do you get that faith (an ingredient for friendship) in me, giver of a handful of food, otherwise it should be natural to you always! There is love everywhere!


कार्यं न करणाधीनं संकल्पसाध्यमेव तत् ।

पादैर्विनाsपि लोके वै प्रसरन्ति सरीसृपाः ।। 4

Completion of a task is not dependent on means/instrument but on sankalpa (will / resolve). Indeed the snakes move without legs! If there is will, even without the right instrucment, a task can be accomplished!


पक्षेण पूर्वेण तथोत्तरेण तारापथे पक्षिवदेव शास्त्रे ।

उड्डीयमाने भवतीह सौख्यं लोकद्वयस्यापि दिशं भृशं वै ।। 5

This is indravajra metre.

Comparing ‘the pleasure of flying in the sky by a bird with two wings’ to ‘the pleasure of studying the sastras with two pakshas (arguments)’ and indeed the aspect of gaining knowledge of two worlds (earth and sky) (material and spiritual). A lot can be said further but it is left to the thought process of readers!


To me the pigeon symbolises rajo guna. It is a personification of the rajo guna infact.

डयने त्वं निवासेsपि प्रासादादौ प्रसीदसि ।

सम्भोगे कलहेsतोsसि कपोत! साजसाकृतिः ।। 6

You rejoice in flying (speedily here and there), in living in palaces etc, in enjoyment and quarrelling, pigeon! therefore you are a personification of rajo guna!


ऊर्णनाभ! नमस्तुभ्यं जगदुभयकारणे ।

ब्रह्मणि पद्मनाभे तु त्वय्युदाहरणे ननु ॥ 7 ॥

Without examples some concepts are too abstract to understand. The Upanishads state Brahman is both the material and efficient cause of the Universe (There is no other cause apart from it). How do we understand this? Well the Spider is quoted as an example. It created its web from saliva which it brings out from within itself and it alone builds it (efficient cause). Likewise, Brahman brings out the world from himself and creates on his own. Therefore salutations to that Spider which serves as an example to visualize it!


अन्ननाभस्य मे हन्त त्वत्तो शक्तिमती परे ।

ऊर्णनाभस्य ते किन्तु सङ्कल्पाय नमो नमः ॥ 8 ॥

This is addressed to a spider. Compared to you my capability and intelligence are higher. Yet your sankalpa (resolve in rebuilding your web countless times) is amazing. Many salutations! I am not as resolute as you. I call myself अन्ननाभ (thoppul mel kanji as in Tamil).


सदासि दूराद्विषयान् हि पश्यन्

          भ्रमन्नपि त्वं च शिरस्सु तेषाम् ।

यदाsनुकूले समये किलाssप्ते

          भुनत्सि वै चित्त सुपर्णतुल्य ॥ 9 ॥

Mind is compared to a Kite. Like a kite the mind is also always focused on its objects from far and revolves around their heads (thinks about them always). When the right time arrives the mind tries to relish its desires. In this it is equal to a kite!


अनेकजिह्वो विषात्मदन्तः बिले निवासं बहुरूपवेषम् ।

अपादयानं विषमं सवेगम् अहो मनस्तेsहिसमानवृत्तम् ॥ 10 ॥

Mind is compared to a snake. Both have more than one tongue (speak differently), poison in their teeth (harmful speech), living in a hole (hidden), many forms (snakes curl and stretch themselves), crooked and speedy movement without legs! Mind you are indeed akin to a snake!

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