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.
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.
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