Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sashti-poorthi of the Republic

Our Republic turned 60 today, and like every 60 year old has had more than its share of crests and troughs.

For many of us Republic Day was just another holiday, with flag-hoisting ceremonies in school and in our apartment complexes. Some of us preferred to bunk school, as 'anyway there was no teacher taking attendance', and stay at home. For others, it was exciting to watch each state try to outdo the other with colorful floats which made their way down Rajpath. But what really touched a chord was the co-ordinated marchpast of the various services, along with the children who won Bravery Awards astride their elephants.

A variety of civilian and military awards have been announced. Controversies aside, it was but expected that heroes from 26/11 got their share of recognition. The fact that Tukaram Ombale will be honored with a posthumous Ashoka Chakra is rather refreshing. His tale of bravery is something which must not be forgotten, in a nation which forgets its true heroes easily. It takes a lion's heart to unflinchingly (and not to forget unarmed) take on a terrorist armed with an AK-47 rifle.

And so today, while we salute those who have won awards for bravery, we also pay tribute to those who have laid down their lives and go un-named in battliefieds ranging from the snows of Siachen to the dusty deserts of Northern Africa. There is a poem we learnt in school called "Pushp ki Abhilasha" by Makhanlal Chaturvedi, which rings so true every day, especially today:

पुष्प की अभिलाषा
- माखनलाल चतुर्वेदी (Makhanlal Chaturvedi)

चाह नहीं मैं सुरबाला के
गहनों में गूँथा जाऊँ

चाह नहीं, प्रेमी-माला में
बिंध प्यारी को ललचाऊँ

चाह नहीं, सम्राटों के शव
पर हे हरि, डाला जाऊँ

चाह नहीं, देवों के सिर पर
चढ़ूँ भाग्य पर इठलाऊँ

मुझे तोड़ लेना वनमाली
उस पथ पर देना तुम फेंक

मातृभूमि पर शीश चढ़ाने
जिस पर जावें वीर अनेक ।।

Translation by Prashant (Courtesy of Arch at Rang)

I don't want to be a part of the necklace of the beautiful girl,
I don't want to woo the lady love,
I don't want to be spread over dead bodies,
I don't want to act snob, after someone offers me to the Gods

Just pluck me Gardner and throw me on the road,
which is taken by the brave soldiers to give away their lives for the Motherland !

Profound words, indeed!

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