Thursday, July 13, 2006


Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949), Indian freedom fighter and poet, wrote this poem after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919. She depicts Punjab or India as the wronged Draupadi, a principal character in the Sankrit epic Mahabharata. The poet equates the five rivers of Punjab with the five Pandava brothers, Draupadi's husbands, who avenged her dishonour at the hands of the Kauravas.

Panjab 1919

Sarojini Naidu

How shall our love console thee or assuage
Thy piteous wounds? How shall our grief requite
The hate that scourges and the hands that smite
Thy loneliness with rods of bitter rage?
Lo! Let thine anguish be our battle-gage
To wreck the terror of the tyrant’s might
That mocks with ruthless scorn thy tragic plight,
And mars with shame thine ancient heritage:
O beautiful! O broken and betrayed!
Endure thou still, unconquered, unafraid,
O mournful queen! O martyred Draupadi!
The sacred rivers of thy stricken blood
Shall prove the five-fold stream of Freedom’s flood
And guard the watch-towers of our Liberty!

No comments: