Book Reviews

K. H. Prabhu’s Rhymes of Wisdom

K. H. Prabhu’s Rhymes of Wisdom
ISBN 978-93-85945-38-0

The book in English language was published in 2015 which is meant for Kindergarten children. This is a translation of short poems majority of which are from ancient epic literature like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagawat Gita, Vikramcharitam etc. Of course there picks of ‘Wisdom’ from medieval age also like Kabir & Purnadas Baul’s compositions. From modern age, I found Mahatma Gandhi’s quotes also.

Poem No. 66 ‘Among the languages’ states “Of all the languages Sanskrit is great / It is divine, humane and always sweet…”. Yet, the author presented us translations of all the ‘Wisdom Poems’ in English as it is the lingua franca of the World and ‘Wisdom’ should not remain confined forever within any narrow geographical limit. I’m inclined to invoke Tagore here while the Poet eulogizes ‘Bharat Mata’ ~

“…The First Sun in the sky
In glory, on the horizon did lie;
Amid Thy Tapoban, (= ‘Ashram in the solitude of the forests set up for 
                                   schooling of the students under the aegis of the Gurus 
                                   on religion, ethics, morality, epics, mathematics et al)’
With Veda Mantra’s sermon
Resounded in the horizon,
Many a sacred tales of Wisdom….”

The author’s endeavor to liberate ‘Wisdom’ through English among the children worldwide is indeed commendable. In his Preface he questions the utility of rhymes like ~ ‘Black sheep’, ‘Pussy cat’, ‘a cat going to London to look at the queen’ etc. being served to the children profusely. I understand, in America, such sort of verses are largely being replaced in the children’s lesson books by more sensible ones to help them develop their judgment and practical senses. I did not collect any details of such transitions. But now after Prabhu’s book coming to my hand, I’m just pondering, while the transitions in America are welcome, did not ancient India far excel modern America millenniums earlier for which Prabhu’s book is a pointer? Again I quote Prabhu’s preface ~  “(these verses) even a grown up man can utter with dignity” ~ in support of the lessons they imparted to the folks in the yore to saturate their minds with ‘Wisdom’.

I shall conclude by a few random quotes from Prabhu’s book, not necessarily verbatim, hoping the readers will sit up to access ‘Rhymes of Wisdom’.

Based on the book ‘Subhasita’:

(a) Message ~ “Wherever you go, ‘character’ is money, which excels the reward of ‘learning’, ‘merit’ or even ‘good senses’.
(b) ‘Politeness’, ‘soft words’, ‘humility’ and ‘good nature’ beautify every person’.
(c) Noisy birds lose liberty, while silent cranes and seagulls have their satiety.
(d) A dullard will be called a learned man, when in the com[any of noble men.
(e) Through discourse you can win a learned man as opposed to ‘money’ to a greedy man or ‘folded hand’ to an angry man.

B. Based on Kabir

(a) Kabir travelled in search of a fiend to find it nowhere, except ‘in his heart he did see the villain great’.
(b) Kabir welcomes ‘slander’ which without soap and water, your washing is cleaner.
(c) “You only cried when you were born;/ but all rejoiced when it was known;/ Noble deeds will make you laugh/ When you part/ People will weep.
(d) God is there inside every heart/ The ignorant would know it not.
(e) Everyone remembers God in their sorrow, but not in one’s euphoria; but to bear Him in heart all the time will ward off ‘sorrow’.
(f) Between Teacher and Creator, one should revere Teacher, as he showed way to the Creator.
(g) By stupendous learning one’s mind is vacuous; only two letters denoting ‘love’ make one wise.

C. From Ramcharitmanasa

‘Promise’ is greater than life itself, which is the Raghu dynasty’s heritage.

D. From Mahabharatam

(a) Happily accept when prosperity comes,
Happily accept when adversity comes;
Fortune may smile, fortune may glower,
The wheel will move forever and ever.

(b) Beauty is marred by physical disorder,
Excessive desire destroys all the valor;
Jealousy is destructive of good nature,
Pride ruins everyone and everywhere.

(c) Heavier than Earth is the Mother,
And higher than the sky is the Father;
Faster, swifter than the wind is Mind,
Grass has limit, thoughts have no end.

E. Purnadas

Better, better, quarrel with the wise
Than be friend of the people unwise;
Better, better you live in the forest
Than be a friend of the dishonest.

F. Mahatma Gandhi

(a) The deceiver will deceive himself finally,
And his deceit bounces back ultimately;
None has prospered practicing fraud,
Deceivers are always punished by God.

(b) Certainly I’m the wisest man,/ Agreed the greatest Athenian.
Because I know my ignorance –
Confessed without arrogance.


More by :  Rajat Das Gupta

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Views: 3503      Comments: 1

Comment Very beautifully written Book Review Rajat Das Gupta ji.
The review is a wonderful window to the world of children who are presented with such marvelous poems which shall guide the younger generation towards a bright future.
Thanks Rajat ji for this beautiful Review of KH Prabhu Ji's book . Congratulations to you and to KH Prabhu for presenting this treasure of knowledge!

Giti Tyagi
09-Jan-2021 13:53 PM

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