Theme: Love

Virtue and Vice

When the virtuous man went to heaven
He asked Chitragupta*,
‘Bring up the account of my virtuous deeds.’
Spreading the ledger before his eyes
Chiragupta kept observing the changes in his face.
Startled, the saintly man said,
‘What’s this I see, it’s all rubbish!
There are a lot of entries in the preliminary pages
But the later pages are all blank and white –
How is it I did so many good deeds in my young age
When in the worldly muck I was thoroughly dipped!’
Hearing this Chitragupta inwardly laughed.
Greatly enraged shouted the virtuous man,
‘Why do you give me so many credits
On account of my homage to the gods in my younger days?’
Chitragupta laughed and said, ‘I am afraid,
You will find it a bit difficult to realize
What is known as love is also called homage.’

Translation of the sonnet Punyer Hisab from the collection Chaitali (The Summer Harvest) by Rabindranath Tagore. The original in Bengali script may be viewed at

*Chitragupta is the gate keeper/secretary of Yama, the Indian god of death, a St. Peter of Indian mythology, who maintains a ledger, a sort of Doomsday Book, in which he keeps an account of the virtues and vices of all human beings who after their death are sent either to heaven or to hell according to their good or bad deeds.


More By  :  Kumud Biswas

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