Culture & Society

Behula and Urvashi: Poems On The Deities In Love

In the mythology, while Behula’s love won over hatred and curses, Urvashi, the apsara, experienced tremendous pain when proposing to the man she desired.

Poems on the deities in love. (Representative image)

(Love is our deepest value: Love is freedom, love is salvation. If love tears us apart, it also keeps us alive. No matter what, love finds a way, almost always. Going against the grimy grain of contemporary political discourse, we have declared 2022 to be the year of love: for us, talking about love in a time of hatred is a revolutionary act. Outlook's first issue of the year revisited The Beatles’ words of wisdom: “All We Need Is Love.” It didn't stop there: we will publish love stories all year long. The next full moon, which falls on February 16, is all set to put under the spotlight our passions, our romantic quests. On Valentine’s Day, we feature a curated selection of love stories that will tug at your heartstrings.)

When A Woman Conquered God

(after Manasamangal Kāvya)

Hail Padmavati: 
pardon my ignorance. 

Brides in rural layouts 
are reminded of Behula. 
Her commitment and how hard-
ship failed to mute her ardor. 
Onerous it was to fetch your 
favor. Behula reifies devotion. 
Legend stresses a laundress
ushered Behula to heaven
to revive her late spouse.

Derided for your limited vision, 
you evoked fear of well-being.
You were granted the godhead 
as Chand conceded to your ruse.

Did Behula claim indelible stature?
Did she ask homage?
While believers observe Behula as 
loyal soulmate, you remained a deity 
to be worshipped with the left hand. 

Urvashi — Beyond the Siren Avatar

(for Aishikk)


The Mahabharata does not 
ratify your fondness for Arjuna. 
It must be severe when he 
declined your plea. 
Worthy was your forethought
as you imprecated him. 

In his last year of living incog,
Arjuna turned into Brihannala. 


Your son Rishysringa helped
Dasharatha become the father
of Rama. 

Does the Ramayana endorse 
your direction to Treta Yuga? 

(Kiriti Sengupta, the 2018 Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize recipient, is a poet, editor, translator, and publisher. Founder and chief editor of the Ethos Literary Journal, he has authored eleven books of poetry and prose; two books.)