Sharada, fog of mercy

In Arts, Music, Music, Poem, Social, Women on September 7, 2013 at 7:24 am


O Sharada!
Your spotless white saree,
wraps your broken shell;
A gauze bandage
covering cigarette-butt burns.
I can’t see ’em,
My injured Goddess.
You hide them just well.

Above the river’s
turbulent waters,
Sunlight drenched,
you dazzle, you float.
A white mist, a fog
Of mercy you wear
like a white cloth.

Your Vina’s
Manicured music,
hides a string-bend,
pulled beyond it’s limits.
I strain to hear it,
O Sharada!
I thought it was music all along.

Are we ecstatic,
In your presence?
Are we blind to your cry?
Do we not hear
That your music
Is one of pain?

Should I lightlax3
My protest vigil candles
At your feet, Sharada?

Or if you so wish
Some fragrant mombattis
May cover the abuse
Just as perfectly as you have
All along.

Wealth and wisdom flow
much like a river gush.
Your discerning swan, though
sinks with a puzzled blush.

Take my eyes off from,
your broken face.
I need a loving smile.
Glossy calendar art,
Focus, help me pray
on godly things.
Of rituals I must complete

Here’s some talcum you may need,
to look just like her.
Take it, my gift to you.
A touch-up, a cover-up.
Sharda, a dab will do.


  1. Jagadodharana : Veena S Balachander
  2. Inspired by the “Save our Sisters” campaign against domestic abuse
  3. The campaign simply and effectively captures India’s most dangerous contradiction: that of revering women in religion and mythology, while the nation remains incredibly unsafe for its women citizens. – Ad agency Taproot
  4. Today, more than 68% of women in India are victims of domestic violence.
  5. Pranav Bhide, Art Director, Taproot
  6. Simon Redgrave, Sum of All Forms
  1. As beautiful and heartfelt as this poem is I just cannot agree that this is some kind of brilliant campaign. It is an unfair and discriminating attempt to connect abuse specifically with Hinduism, which is absurd. It would be the equivalent of spreading a campaign in the United States showing the Christian Mary with cuts and bruises insinuating that abuse only takes place within Christian society, which again is absurd.

    So why not show other religious icons in the same fashion? Why single out Hindus in this way? They are a people who have been disenfranchised within their own country by so called secularism and other religions, such as Christianity and Islam. It seems that they are fair game while the others are above reproach.

    So while I can appreciate the poetic beauty of this piece I am saddened by it’s significance.

    Most Warmly,

    • Thank you for your input, Nirvani. The campaign is in no way uplifting and seems to be misguided at a certain level. It does appear that this campaign maligns Hinduism, but my opinion differs.

      Indians are predominantly Hindus and the rest of the religions have a minority makeup in this country of 1.2 billion people. Culturally speaking, we are all Hindus here. Though the rituals a Muslim or a Christian practices is different from what Hindus practice, the way we treat each other without prejudice is the same. For the most part it’s a country in harmony with various religions, with edge conditions of disharmony splashing the news channels, making the viewers think this is a belligerent society. Far from it actually. But, there is work to be done. A lot of it too, especially in the area of gender rights and gender equality.

      Having said that, a print campaign that maligns a Christian icon or a Muslim one might have shocked a minority population and might not have had a desired effect on the majority population.

      The impacted target audience being India, Hindu icons were used. I have voiced the same concerns of the campaign in my poem. The narrator’s duplicitous attitude is clear.

      While he is busy deifying his goddess, fawning over her with false affections, she has in turn demonized him by manifesting herself as his personal abused victim.

      Culturally, this duplicitous behavior cuts through all ranks and religions. One may even extend the theme beyond India. But as you mentioned, a different religious icon may be necessary. Here is a country specific campaign that I thought probably had a similar effect:

      Hope this explanation helps.

      Peter Vas

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