Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rudyard Kipling and Bhagwad Gita

Being born in Western UP, English has been a weak link for me ! Poetry specially. As a result, till recently, I was unaware of a rather influential and inspiring poem by Rudyard Kipling. Today a friend annihilated my ignorance. The poem is called "IF", written in 1895 and roughly it describes the character traits of a "great man". The poem has been an inspiring work for generations for gentlemen. I couldnt help notice that the ideas captured in the poem are very much inspired from Bhagwad Gita. Gita was composed between 200 BC to 100 AD as per many debates and at any rate, it was 2000 years before Mr Kipling's work. Mr Kipling produced his ideas independently or gave a poetic interpretation to Gita is just a matter of personal speculation. I couldnt help but notice Mr Kipling also wrote White Men's Burden. Its ironic the ideas that made Mr Kipling an inspiring figure, the colonial subjects of White Men's Burden had those ideas 2000 years ago.

Below is given a link to the poem "IF" and I am quoting some verses from Gita which strikingly portray the ideas elaborated by Mr Kipling. Source of these verses is "A Source Book in Indian Philosophy" by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (Ex President of India, Bharat Ratna awardee). One can read and interpret the similarities for oneself.

Gita Verses:

"Fixed in Yoga, do thy work, O Arjun, abondoning attachment, with an even mind in success and failure, for evenness of mind is called Yoga".

"He whose mind is untroubled in the midst of sorrows and is free from eager desire amid pleasures, he from whom pasion, fear, and rage have passed away-he is called sage of settled intelligence".

"But a man of disciplined mind, who moves among the objects of sense, with the senses under control and free from attachment and aversion - he attains purity of spirit".

"He who is equal minded among friends, companions and foes, among those who are neutral and impartial, among those who are hateful and related, among saints and sinners -- he excels".

"He who abandons all desires and acts free from longing, without any sense of mineness or egotims - he attains to peace".

"Fearlessness, purity of mind, steadfastness in knowledge and concentration, charity, self control and sacrifice, austerity and uprightness....... compassion to living beings, modesty...... freedom from malice and excessive pride -- these, O Arjun are the endowments of him who is born with the divine nature".


Sri Harsha Kondapalli said...

I am reading this article in 2015 and found it reflecting my thoughts exactly. I have however taken a reverse path of realization. "If" has been my favourite poem since I first heard it in 1994-95. I have always looked at it for inspiration and confidence.

Though being a devout hindu and living in India for 30 yrs of my life, I never actually read the "Gita", until today when I bought it from an ISKCON member in Canada.

As I read the translated version, I realized that the poem IF captures the essence of Bhagavad Gita.
I felt happy that I have followed ideologies that have deep roots in tradition and have inspired humanity for centuries and are still relevant across cultures.

Niharika Singh said...

Exactly..! This poem will feel very familiar to everyone who has read "Gita". No wonder this poem is well famed, it is inspired from one of the most brilliant books of the world.