Theme: Clowning

The Fool

The king of Kanchi once went on a campaign against the king of Karnat. He won the battle. His elephants were overloaded with sandal wood, ivories and jewels and gems. On his way back home he offered puja to the goddess Baleswari flooding her temple with a lot of blood. On the occasion he was clad in purple cloth, wore a garland of red hibiscus flower and a blob of red sandal wood paste on his forehead. His only companions were his minister and the clown of his royal court. At one place he found some children playing in a mango grove. The king told his companions, 'Let us go and see what game they are playing'.


Placing two rows of dolls face to face the children were playing a game of war.
The king asked them, 'Who is fighting with whom?'
They replied, 'It is a fight between the kings of Karnat and Kanchi'.
The king asked, 'Who has won and who has lost?'
Proudly they replied, 'Karnat has won and Kanchi has lost.'
The minister's face became grave, the king's eyes red and the clown began to loudly laugh.


When the king returned with his soldiers the children were still playing.
The king ordered, 'Flog these boys tying each to a tree.'
From the village their parents rushed to the spot and said, 'They are innocent children, they were only playing, please forgive them.'
The king called his commander and said, 'Teach these people a lesson so that they never forget the king of Kanchi.'
Saying this he went to his camp.


In the evening the commander came to report to the king. 'Great king, except dogs and jackals none in that village will ever make any sound.'
The minister said, 'The prestige of the king has been saved.'
The priest said, 'May the goddess Visweswari always bless our king!'
The clown said, 'My lord, please allow me to leave your court.'
The king asked, 'Why?'
The fool replied, 'I don't know how to kill. By the grace of God, I only know how to laugh. I shall forget it if I stay in your court any more.'

Translation of Bidushak from Lipika by Rabindranath Tagore. All through his life the poet went on experimenting with the style of his compositions. Lipika is the first collection of what he called 'prose-poems'.


More By  :  Kumud Biswas

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Comments on this Poem

Comment Glad I've failnly found something I agree with!

Glad I've failnly found something I agree with!
10-Jun-2011 10:58 AM

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