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Timeless India

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The Aryans appeared from the hinterlands,
Searching for better weather and safer harbors.
When in Sindh, they encountered the Harappans,
Here, they decided to settle as their neighbors.

Here they found rivers of Sindh fertile and friendly
And their memorized Vedas, they preached.
Aryans were well equipped, with horses and chariots,
In Harappa they shared, lived and flourished.

For generations the Aryans ruled the Harappans,
Who were peaceful, simple, but quite civilized.
As time passed, the differences became imperceptible,
Contrary to reports, the Aryans never brutalized.

The magnificent Vedas evolved over time,
Becoming more and more esoteric, and logical.
Great thinkers then added the Upanishads,
With great discursions, those were philosophical.

The wisdom and the good word spread,
To the Gangetic plains and then to the South.
Aryan gods became accepted deities,
And the Vedas spread from mouth to mouth.

Gods like Indra and Varuna, Mitra and Agni,
From the ritual sacrificial fires, they arose.
Sacrifices to these Gods were extolled,
Showering praises, in both poetry and prose.

Corruption and decay led to the castes and power,
Upper classes ruled, lower castes suffered.
Then came great souls like Buddha and Mahavira,
Equality and salvation to all, they offered.

As Buddhism gained in popularity,
Many more teachers taught paths to salvation.
The mystical religion of Hinduism was established
Professing self-denial, meditation and renunciation.

Dissenters shunned caste discrimination.
Drifting towards Buddhism and tranquility.
Emperors and monarchs searched for enlightenment,
Who were kind, and they preached equality.

Epics and puranas were written by patient poets,
Life in the kingdoms flourished and prospered.
The richness of the culture and intelligence of Vedas,
Were exported, and their freshness never withered.

Hindu religion became dominant in Bharathavarsha,
Vedanta, Ramayana and Bhagavad-Gita became texts sacred.
Upanishads guided the way, for codes of conduct,
To live an ethical life, with good karma, and life consecrated.

The marauders and invaders were always aplenty,
Crossing the Hindu Kush, they looted, and sealed their fate.
Some were kind and some were cruel,
None of them as magnanimous as Alexander the Great.

Great kingdoms rose in the North,
Magadha and Maurya – Chandragupta and Ashoka,
In the Aryan traditions they ruled,
Not forgetting the wisdom of the Vedic shloka.

More empires followed - the Guptas and Harsha,
Who followed Shunga, Shaka and Kanishka’s Kushanas,
In the south, were more kings and emperors,
Great temple builders – Cholas, Hoysalas and Shatavahanas.

Chalukyas were the early temple builders
In the South, with the Pallavas, they competed.
Pulakeshi II was a conqueror king above par
His kingdom, with honor and justice he administered.

Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas were eternal rivals
Fighting, and winning many a glorious battle.
Rajaraja and Rajendra Chola conquered worlds beyond
Their names made Lanka shudder in fear and rattle.

Buddhism flourished and was exported to Far East.
The religion of Hinduism was slowly reformed.
Sankara and Ramanuja brought together worshippers
Of Shiva and Vishnu, Hinduism they transformed.

Bhakti cult, now replaced Vedic sacrifices,
A personal God became the order of the day,
Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti were worshipped,
The three great Acharyas paved the way.

The Muslim conquest saw blood and gory,
The Afghan invaders from Gazni and Ghor.
Pillaged and looted, destroying idols,
The defenseless people watched with abhor.

The Sultans ruled Delhi with some flair,
But were no match for the Mongol Khans.
With repeated incursions, they lost their empires,
And were replaced by the Mughal diwans.

The Mughals held power for a long time,
Some were master builders, many were not.
After their tolerance for Hindus waned
They fell into disarray, disrepute and rot.

Islam made steady progress in the new millennium
Architecture and art reached a peak in the North
Soon the empires spread to Deccan and beyond
Bahminid Empire, Nizams, and many Sultans set forth

In the Southern Hindu kingdoms, there was resistance
To conversions and spread of Islam, and its influence.
With the likes of Krshandevaraya and Shivaji’s Marathas,
They held their own, preventing a Muslim confluence.

In the war of religions, there were no winners,
It was another group, another religion – Christianity,
That was the eventual winner; occupying India
With their viceroys, governors, and British sovereignty.

The British supplanted the Mughals in the North
Insidiously they conquered the whole subcontinent.
By playing crafty politics of divide and rule,
They brought large areas of India under their tent.

Many heroes arose in India fighting occupation
Even the Sepoys rose against the British rule.
Yet, to the British who had entered as traders,
India was now considered a crown jewel.

Under the British a new flock of intellectuals emerged,
They abolished arcane rituals; changes much needed.
Mohan Roy, Saraswati, Paramahamsa and Vivekananda,
Reformed Hinduism, and the masses of people heeded.

Then arose another great soul, Mahatma Gandhi,
With no guns or swords, only the idea of non-violence.
When, Gandhi mobilized the whole nation,
British gave up power, and awarded independence.

Free from all dependence and occupation,
India should have seen contentment, harmony and peace.
But, religious strife that started thousand years ago
Has the nation in an emotional chokehold, refusing to cease.

Today India has people belonging to many faiths,
Who should live as peaceful neighbors, in tolerance.
All the rivers lead to the same ocean, say Hindu philosophers,
This should serve as a model for universal acceptance.

Mother India has been divided, and partitioned,
Yet, thugs have slaughtered, in the name of religion.
A unified world religion, with mutual respect,
Seems to be the only hope for this complex region.

Many religions have been preserved here,
Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Zoroastrian and even Jew,
Find their home in this hospitable country,
In the world countries with such amalgam, are but few.

So, let us all take an oath right now,
To accept all, and our lives we intertwine.
And every soul regardless of religion,
Has a piece of God and is potentially divine.


More By  : Dr. Neria H. Hebbar

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