By Justice Markandey Katju
“Deen sabhan ko lakhat hain, deenahi lakhay na koye
Jo Rahim deenahi lakhay, deenbandhu sam hoye “
“The poor look towards (i.e. seek help from) everyone, but no one looks at (i.e. cares for) the poor
The person who cares for the poor becomes like God “
To my mind the above doha ( couplet ), by the great Hindi poet Rahim, is the greatest couplet ever written in all literature in the world. Let me explain.
There are basically two driving forces in human nature, reason and emotion.
Reason was emphasised by the French Encyclopedists—Voltaire, Diderot, Holbach, Helvetius, etc. They said that men should give up superstitions and become rational. They regarded religious faith as superstitions and placed emphasis on science and scientific thinking.
On the other hand, emotion was emphasised by the great French thinker Rousseau ( see Will Durant’s ‘ The Story of Civilisation : Rousseau and Revolution ‘ ).
Rousseau said that by too much emphasis on reason men become calculating and selfish creatures, inhuman machines who only think of their own interest, and are not bothered about the sufferings of others.
Rousseau said that we should also care for others, not just for ourselves, and this is possible only if we have a strongly developed conscience, and a strong desire to help those in distress.
The word ‘Deenbandhu‘ literally means ‘friend of the poor’. But in Hindi literature, it is often used for God. Rahim has used the word in the couplet in that sense.
Rahim says that everyone cares only for his own good, but there are a few people in the world who care for the good of others. Such people are like God.
Thus to my mind Rahim, in just two lines, has laid down the entire philosophy of the great Rousseau.
(Markandey Katju is an Indian jurist and former Supreme Court judge of India who served as chairman for the Press Council of India. He is the founder and patron of the Indian Reunification Association (IRA), an organisation that advocates for the peaceful reunification of what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh with India under a secular government.)