In the blood-soaked paddies of Kalinga
Corpses strewn till eyes can see,
The Stench overwhelming the senses.
Inviting jackals to feast the dead,
Crows gouging the eyes
Vultures gorging on entrails,
These had life not long ago,
“Soldiers, civilians, enemies, fathers,
They all perished for my lust.”
“My hunger to dominate, to rule.”
“Will their widows be protected?”
“Who will feed their sons, daughters?”
“What if someone sold them in slavery?”
“Is Anantha’s gold worth these dead,”
Does the famous artisans of Utkala,
Now lay waste among these carcasses?
What merit does this carnage bring,
What songs, hymns will shroud these stains,
Which penance may cleanse my soul?

Siddharth Sehgal

Siddharth Sehgal is a 2019 Best of the Net Poetry Award nominated poet, an op-ed columnist and the Editor in Chief of Indian Periodical

Poem Post Note:

Ashoka was a king in India in around 263 BCE, in his conquests to build an empire he attacked several states and his eye-opening moment came when he saw the ghastly destruction in battle of Kalinga. His change of heart in the battlefield and the carnage that his violence had wrought was the turning point in his and India's history, he converted to Buddhism and helped spread the Buddhism in Sri Lanka and wider parts of Asia and China. He united the land to bring about reform and peace, to teach people about the consequences of lust for power. Indian national emblem has been adopted from a monument this king built.

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