Poetry at Sangam




1. The Day of Massacre at Nalanda

Bakhtiyar and his men
play buzkashi in my alleys today
monks are being burnt alive; and
those who try to escape are beheaded.
Dharmagunj – the nine storied library
has burst into flames
smoke and ash from burning books 
have turned the day into night.

The sun has disappeared from the sky today
and even my bricks bleed,
sacred chants that once purified Magadha 
have turned into shrieks of a falling humanity.
The light of the world is fading today
to face ravages of time alone
abandoned, scorned, forgotten
or perhaps, to be reborn into many Nalandas.

2. The Rise of Nalanda

Forlorn under the red earth 

buried for centuries

I rise today like a phoenix,

eight hundred years later
from ashes of my burnt books.

I open my arms today to embrace you

whoever you are, from wherever you are

come, walk into my enlightened fold

as once Buddha and Mahavira did

seeking shelter in my grooves.

I remember Hiuen Tsang and Faxian –

the ancient travelers from the East,
I hear footsteps of Aryabhata and Charaka

in my ancient compound today

you too come; come as I rise again.