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Deceit: छल

Deceit, deception, fraud, falsehood — there are numerous synonyms of that bad, we hate a lot. But sometimes, even the most virtuous person has to play deceptive when life turns out to be a mayhem. In the battle of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna played deceptive tricks several times to safeguard the truth. He even forced Yudhishthir to speak a half truth half lie— “Ashvathama hato, naro wa kunjaro wa.” He misguided Guru Dronacharya about his son Ashvathama’s death. Though an elephant, his namesake had died. Dronacharya was killed by Dhrishtadyumna (Dhrupad’s son) just because of Krishna’s deceit. Lord Krishna is mentioned as Challiya in mythology.

There are multiple such examples of deceit mentioned in the Mahabharata. Lord Indra cunningly usurped Karna’s kavach and kundal exploiting him for his generosity. He turned deceptive to save his son Arjun’s life. Even Karna’s mother Kunti wrested him off his life by begging for her other five sons’ life. Though it was emotional, but indeed was kind of deception to Karna’s part. Rain and king god Indra was infamous for his deceptions to save his throne. Thus he used the beauty of Apsaras to woo several Maharishis and malice their tapasya.

In the history of India, Chanakya has taught Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka to harness deception to their acumen. His ‘chanakyaneeti’ has various such examples where deceit is told to be mandatory for survival, development and excellence. I am not promoting deceit through this post. How could I provoke such bad? But is this that bad that one should choose to die over deceit? For me, being virtuous is foremost. Still I think, I can opt it over destruction!



अग्नि की दहक और जल की धार
आक्रोश के अनगिनत वार |


कुछ व्यग्र से, उद्वेग से
जैसे वार हों पत्थरों के |


फिर चटख गया मेरा कांच घर
टुकड़े-टुकड़े वह गया बिखर |


दीवारों में बंद सिसकियाँ
गूंजी उनसे राहें-गलियां |


कुछ रुके थमे आंसू बहे
और डूब गए सब चौराहे |


रोका मैंने पर वो न रुके
चुन-चुन समेटे मैंने कांच-टुकड़े |


नयी पीड़ा, नित नए घाव,
घायल उँगलियों का रक्तस्राव |


तब हाथ आया कुछ अवांछित
चिपचिपा सा, कुछ कलंकित |


रुक गया हाथ से रक्तस्राव
धीरे धीरे सब भरे घाव |


मेरे कांच घर के सारे टुकड़े
चुनकर उससे मैंने जोड़े |


वो अवांछित चिपचिपा सा
सामान था मेरी घृणा का |


आक्रोश अब हुआ विफल
क्योंकि अपनाया मैंने छल |


अब सत्य नहीं छल ही एक हल
जिससे जोड़ा मैंने कांच महल ||

I don’t want to translate the poem in English. It might lose its soul and spirit. But I would like to explain it in a nutshell for the people who don’t understand Hindi much.

“Anger and arrogance are like those stones that broke the glass castle of innocence and trust. Then I opted for deception (deceit, छल). That acted as an unpleasant, fowl-smelling antiseptic to heal my fingers, hurt during picking up my precious glass pieces. Deceit even mended the broken glass pieces by working as a sticky adhesive (epoxy). Though I found it dirty and filthy, yet deception helped me to recover my glory and regain my tranquility. Though it hurts that the innocence is diminished.”

Sometimes, deceit becomes the synonym of hypocrisy and to the ultimate level it turns out to be sophistication. When you cannot become loud, arrogant, rough and uncultured, you are deemed to adopt falsehood for your survival in this utter brutal world.

Here I’m seeking my readers’ opinion on this complex approach of life while I’m advocating bad. Please share your views on it.

Sangeeta Mishra

  • Very intense poem. True and touching. Well written!

  • If it doesn’t harm anybody (rather does more good), it is ok with me! There are numerous examples along the same lines all around

    • Yes you are true. Sometimes this is the only option you are left with, if you have to survive fighting with the wrong. Thanks !

  • Deceit has become part of our life….We deceive not just others but ourselves too..And this is the undoing of many…..Your poem is so beautiful Sangeeta……Have you read The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni?

    • First of all my heartiest apologies for this late reply sunaina! Your views on deception are really thought provoking. Deceiving our souls is what we often do and it’s indeed irreversible. All because we have to survive in this concrete of illusions called life.
      Well, I haven’t read the book yet, but would love to, ‘coz you suggested 🙂
      Thank you so much for appreciation. 🙂

  • I think deceit is an integral part of politics and, as we know, politics is a term that can be applied anywhere and everywhere. A thought-provoking post on the whole, Sangeetaji… 🙂

    • What a wise opinion Maniparna! Commencing deceit in our regular life is no less than a diplomatic task. So, it’s indeed a matter of serious polity.
      Thank you so much for your opinion. 🙂

  • Rajeev Moothedath

    Everything emanates from one’s’belief and so be it- We don’t need to defend our beliefs.If from deep within the signal is to go ahead, then go ahead….

    • Well said! But defending our beliefs is due to the morals rooted somewhere deep in our conscience, which haunts us before doing any wrong, even if its done for betterment.
      Thank you so much for your opinion and wise thoughts Mr. Rajiv. 🙂

  • Very powerful poem, Sangeeta Ji. Awesome is the word. Btw, Arjun didn’t kill Dronacharya but Dhrishtadyumna (twin brother of Draupadi). 🙂

    • Thank you for the correction Ravish. Just edited with the changes. Glad that you liked the poem. Thanks again. 🙂

  • Abhijit Ray

    Nice poem. I think deceit is part of life. Sometimes we do it for personal gain and sometime for greater common good. Sometime without deceit it may not be possible to move a recalcitrant person. Like everything in life, deceit has its use. It is neither bad nor good. Our intent decides how we use it.

    • Thank you so much for dropping by and for your opinion Mr. Ray. I can relate to your thoughts so very well. Sometime life leaves us with nothing but all things not-so-good. We all learn with time how to use bad things for the betterment of all.
      Thanks again for your wise thoughts.

  • Well translated. The soul isn’t lost.

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