Article Published in DECCAN HERALD
Sarna on Zafarnama
Navtej Singh Sarna is India’s Ambassador in Israel. Though our embassy and his residence is in Tel Aviv, which is like any European city, he spends all his spare time in Jerusalem which is replete with historic buildings of three faiths — Judaism’s Wailing Wall, Christianity’s Bethlehem and Islam’s Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa mosque.
However, despite his interest in other faiths, his principal concern is with Sikh religion and history. He is thorough in his research and writes in very lucid prose. His latest offering is Guru Gobind Singh’s ‘Zafarnama’, Epistle of Victory’ (Penguin Classics).
We are not certain where and when Guru Gobind Singh composed his ‘Zafarnama’, nor if it was ever received by Emperor Aurangzeb. In all probability it was the Guru’s thesis on justification of taking up arms to fight injustice. He had lost all his four sons — two were killed in battle, the other two executed by being bricked alive in a wall.
So he had all the justification he wanted to unsheathe his sword and turn his peace-loving Sikhs into the Kirpan carrying Khalsa.
The ‘Zafarnama’ is long poem of all couplets written in Farsi (Persian) as spoken in northern India. The most favour lines were taken from Firdaus’s:
Chun kar azhameh heelate dar quzasht
Har haal tey darquzhast
Halal ast burdan
Ba Shamsheer dast
When all avenues have been tried
Yet justice is not in sight
It is right to pick up the sword
It is then right to fight.
Sumita is an IAS officer holding a high position in the government of Haryana. She is also good-looking and gifted. She writes poetry in Hindi and English, which have been published in different journals.
Two years ago she sent me a few. I liked them and published some verses in my columns. I also suggested she send some to ‘The Statesman’ of Kolkata. She did. A few weeks later half a page was devoted to her poems. Now they have been published in a book entitled ‘A Life of Light’ (Unistar). I quote two verses from a poem entitled ‘My Failure’:
I wear my failure well,
Like a magic cloak
It guards me snugly
Against seeking eyes, against success
Its distortions and perils
Failure clings to me
Like the smell of stale nicotine
I light up my life
And inhale, wondering
Why do I seek you Success?
What can you give me
That I do not already possess?
Santa Singh’s answers in the entrance examination to become a doctor:
Anti-body — against everyone; artery — the study of the paintings; bacteria — backdoor to a cafeteria; Caesarean section — a district in Rome; cardiology — advance study of poker playing; cat scan — searching for lost kitty.
Chronic — neck of a crow; coma — punctuation mark; cortisone — area around local court; cyst — short for sister; diagnosis — person with slanted nose; dislocation — in this place.
Dilate — the late British Princess Diana; duodenum — couple in blue jeans; enema — not a friend; genes — blue denim; impotent — distinguished/well known; labour pain — hurt at work; lactose — people without toes; lymph — walk unsteadily; microbes — small dressing gown; obesity — city of Obe; pacemaker — winner of Nobel Peace prize; pulse — grain; pus — small cat; red blood count — dracula; tablet — small table; urine — opposite of you’re out; vericose — very close; secretion — hiding anything; ultrasound — radical noise.
(Courtesy: Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)
Banta came home from the office and found Banto sobbing. She told him: “I feel guilty I was ironing your suit and I burnt a big hole in the seat of your pants.” Banta consoled her: “Forget it, remember that I have got an extra pair of pants for that suit.”
“Yes, and it’s lucky you have, I used them to patch the hole,” said Banto drying her eyes.
(Contributed by Shivtar Singh Dalia, Ludhiana)