Those great kingdoms you can see –
Vidarva, Virat, Ayodhya, Panchal, Kanchi -
Haughtily smiling they touch the sky
In immense pride
They are full of noise and dust –
The horses neighing
The elephants trumpeting
Clattering of swords and bows
Singing and dancing
The panegyrists singing paeans
In victories and festivities
And noisily working.
Not far from them is the Brahmin’s hermitage
It is somber and full of peace.
Here are the power and glamour
Of the proud kshatriyas
There is the Brahmin’s calm and quiet glory.
Translation of the sonnet Prachin Bharat from the collection Chaitali (The Summer Harvest) by Rabindranath Tagore. The original in Bengali script may be viewed at http://www.rabindra-rachanabali.nltr.org/node/10469.
Notes: In ancient India the Kshatriyas were the ruling and warrior class while the Brahmins were given to intellectual and spiritual pursuits.