The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
(From Mark Anthony’s speech in Julius Caesar)
Welcome to another edition of Poetics. Punam (Paeansunplugged) from Delhi here. We have had incessant rains over the last week after the almost dry spell in August as well as the first part of September. Monsoon is retreating after a last hurrah and ceding space to Sharad (autumn), thus the early mornings and late evenings have become cooler.
The onset of autumn also means the onset of festivities. The somber fortnight of remembering our ancestors is over and the auspicious period of festivities started yesterday, ie 26th September. It starts with Navratri/Durga puja and ends with Diwali.
Navratri is a major festival held in honour of the divine feminine. Navratri occurs over nine days during the month of Ashvin (usually September–October). It ends with the Dussehra (also called Vijayadashami) celebration on the 10th day. In some parts of India, Dussehra is considered a focal point of the festival, making it effectively span ten days instead of nine. It begins on the same day as Durga Puja, a 10-day festival devoted to the victory of the goddess Durga, which is particularly celebrated in the eastern states of India.
According to Hindu mythology, Dussehra is celebrated after Navratri because it is believed that Lord Ram worshipped Goddess Durga before starting his journey to defeat Ravana, the demon king who had abducted his wife, Sita. The festival marks the victory of Lord Ram over Lanka king Ravana (the 10-headed demon).
Each head of Ravana highlights a distinct quality that symbolises Kama (Lust), Bhaye (Fear), Moha (Attachment), Ahankar (Ego), Lobha (Greed), Jaddata (Insensibility), Mada (Pride), Ghrina (Hate), Krodha (Anger), and Irshya (Envy). Also, the term Dussehra is derived from two Sanskrit words – ‘Dasha’ that means ten (representing Ravan) and ‘Hara’ meaning defeat or overthrow. When the effigies of Ravana are burnt on Dusshera, it signifies the victory of good over evil. We can call it Karma or maybe comeuppance, at the cost of sounding frivolous, but the moral of the story is that the good eventually triumphs.
Meanwhile, Goddess Durga had also killed demon king Mahishasura who had a head like a buffalo on this day. This celebration is also a reminder of the goddess’ victory over evil.
The victory of good over evil is something that is central to most religions. Our focus today is not religion, but the good as well as the evil that resides in each one of us. Rama was considered the ideal man yet he made his wife go through the ordeal of walking through fire to prove her chastity. Ravana was an erudite, powerful man but his act of kidnapping Sita, the wife of Rama, led to his downfall.
Whether it is good vs evil, morality versus temptation or heroes against villains, this classic theme is not uncommon in literature. In poetry we have the long-form epic poems recreating the story of Genesis as well as short pieces confronting the evil of heartbreak. Poets have often wrested with this theme.
On Good and Evil (Kahlil Gibran)
And one of the elders of the city said, Speak to us of Good and Evil.
And he answered:
Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.
For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?
Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.
You can read rest of the poem here.
Read the rest of it here.
Maybe Evil by Langston Hughes will inspire your muse.
So, for today’s challenge shall we write about good and evil! Let’s not make it good vs evil or black vs white, let’s write about mere mortals and about the good in the evil or the evil in the good. You need not write about the triumph of good as it seems like a fable in these times. The form, the meter, the rhyme scheme and the length is up to you. May the good triumph over evil.
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