Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

My Poem Published in The Bengal Post

I was delighted when my poem - Lincoln's Letter to an Indian Guru, Political, Spiritual or Otherwise - was published in The Bengal Post under the heading 'Seeking Justice'.  

The issue of women's rights is close to my heart and I wrote this poem in the aftermath of the horror of 16 December in Delhi. When a mainstream newspaper publishes a poem such as mine, it is taking my message out to a wider audience - if this poem makes even one person rethink their attitude towards women, it's worthwhile.

In case you can't read the poem, here is the link to The Bengal Post page.

As always, let me know what you think.


  1. Of low birth, the Bhagavad Gita declares them,
    In the same category as shudras, it consigns them.
    Where in the Gita? Could you please tell the exact sloka?

    1. Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9, verse 32.

      mam hi partha vyapasritya
      ye ’pi syuh papa-yonayah
      striyo vaishyas tatha shudras
      te ’pi yanti param gatim

      For those who take refuge in Me, O Partha, though they are lowly born, women, vaisyas as well as sudras, they also attain the highest goal - translation by S.Radhadkrishnan

    2. Firts of all, Congratulations for the poem.
      Thank you, for because of this poem of yours, I got my hands on the ten year old and untouched copy of Bhagvad Gita.
      I am giving here the translation and explanation of Swami Ranganathananda of R.K. Mission of the same sloka 9.32:
      "For, taking refuge in me, they also, O son of Pritha, who might be inferior in birth, as well as women, vaisyas, as well as sudras- even they attain to the supreme goal."
      Further he explains it thus:
      " This particular verse has been translated differently by different scholars. mam hi partha vyapasritya, ' truly those who take refuge in me' let them be anybody; papayonayah, ' those who are of sinful birth' , let them be people of such types; or striyo vaishyas tatha shudras, ' women, vaisyas, as well as sudras, let them be any one of these; te ’pi yanti param gatim, ' they also get to the highest goal' when they take refuge in me. The main stress is: those whom society has neglected, whom society has condemned, My Bhakti is there to lift them up, every one of them. That is the main theme.
      Isn't it pretty much similar to what Dr. S. Radhakrishnan has interpreted.
      I just can’t figure out where in the sloka, Sri Krishna declares women as of low birth? As I understand it, The Gita was simply referring to the social condition prevailing in those time. Krishna simply gives everyone a hope of salvation.
      He even doesn’t spare the Kings and Brahmans in the next verse 9.33.
      Kim punah brahmanah punya bhakta rajarsayastatha;
      Anityam asukham lokam imam prapya bhajasva mam – 9.33

      “What need to mention holy Brahmans, and devoted rajarsis! Having obtained this transient, joyless world, you worship me”. (Translation by Swami Ranganathananda)

      Notice that he offers Moksha to only holy Brahmins and devoted Rajarsis. Not all the Brahmins and Kshatriyas just because they are born in to the caste.

      I was even skeptical of the translation of Swami Ranganathanananda and even Radhakrishnan’s interpretation may have been coloured by the age in which they lived. So, may be they were translating it to suit our times. In short, they may be sugarcoating it. So I went back to Madhvacharya and Ramanujacharya, two pillars of the vaishnavite movement and even their interpretation of the verse 9.32 is almost similar to Swami Ranganathananda and Dr. Radhakrishnan. You can get the vaishnavite school of interpretation here:
      Enough of my rambling above.
      Sorry for the anonymous comment in the first instance. I was overwhelmed by you; a writer recommended by not less than Gulzar; who is one my Heroes.

    3. Thanks.

      One can go into myriad interpretative callistenics but the original verse is there for all to read and one thing cannot be denied: the text places women, the entire gender, in a category which is inferior to the superior male. The sheer hubris behind such an act of arrogation is of course divine, and thereby not to be questioned.

      To what extent the text is discriminatory and disparaging of women can be debated endlessly but what cannot be denied is that whatever the original intent of the text, the manner in which it is popularly understood and practised is prejudicial to women.

      Take for instance the practise of barring menstruating women from entering Hindu temples. That this medieval practice exists in modern times is indicative of the deep bias in which women are held. Why should a woman's body be subject of a religious command? Why is it that a function that gives a woman strength to give life is held up as a cause of shame? Who ordains these rules and practices?

      And just for the sake of consistency, shouldn't the temples dedicated to female deities also remove the deity from the temple for five days when presumable the deity is menstruating? Or do goddesses come with an in-built male-ordained menses-suppressing capability?

      The sooner we open our eyes, the better it'lll be for our society. No nation can progress if it insists on suppressing 50% of its population. Traditional texts have to be reworked, reinterpreted and challenged until they portray women as equal to men - a concept that is surely not alien to any living being in today's world.

  2. a very aptly written poem.loved it mam :) and congrats for it getting published! You write extemely beautifully with precision.

  3. congrats ma'am for getting the well written poem published in the newspaper..

    hope this poem does act as an eye opener for one and all !

    1. Yes, Rahul, I wrote it with that hope as well. Thanks!