Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


Haiku from India


Angelee Deodhar (Chandigarh)



acres of darkness
outside, inside
then a firefly

sharing an umbrella
your wet left shoulder
my right one

a light breeze
the moon in the birdbath

early winter dusk
the only sound
wind through the pines

its sound
forever stilled in spider's web
the ancient bell

leaden sky
near the weathered boat
a white heron

swimming back and forth
in the fog

in the mist
lost on mountain
temple bells

toad —
brother to Basho's frog
how can I dissect you?

weekend blizzard
on the T.V. show
a Hawaian holiday

old bird bath
now full of ivy
the bird song missed

after lights out
the silent barracks
only the cicadas

sudden blackout
so many fireflies
in the garden

on the afterdeck
in the lantern glow
— lunar eclipse

baby squirrels
found nestling
in the missing socks

closed night club
only the neon lights

in the temple
the silence of bells
whisper of rain

fading into the tan
of her shoulder
a tattooed butterfly

between us
vapors from the teacups
autumn chill

haiga workshop
in the downstroke of the brush
the sound of rain

in the silence
of the zendo
my stomach growls

harvest moon
scooping it out of the lake
the rustle of leaves

darkening sky
between mimosa blooms
an iridescent honey-eater

far from home
their songs missed
— those frogs

rumors of war
up into a darkening sky
— a child's newsprint kite

pail in hand
I trace the muddy path
of childhood mushrooms

winter silence
the flames in brandy glasses
and our eyes

late again for zazen
roshi how do I explain
the white butterfly

Homesick for dogs
in each room my host's cats
greet me

Drowsy afternoon -
the cat and I synchronous
with a blue bottle

Chocolade caramel dessert
through the cherry laurel
a cat reappears

Cloudy afternoon -
haijin exchange news
a turkey pigeon calls

an I.V. line
anchors me to the monitor
thoughts still wander

in the monastery
rising above the plainchant
a warbler's half note

— cake sale
diet forgotten bringing home
the sweetest one

cloudy afternoon -
munching sunflower seeds
with coffee

the school bus gone
from room to silent room
the dog follows me

burning leaves —
the incandescent scarecrow
mumbles and grumbles

spider strands anchor
the wheels of a cannon
deepening autumn chill

plum blossoms
in and out of buddha's shadow
a pair of squirrels

moonless night —
from the harvested field
the hoot of an owl

letting out the dog
in the chill of dawn
the drifting stars

Easter morning
in the cool quiet grass
a wild rabbit

Midnight walk
the dog nudges me down
our moonlit walk

winter dusk
from last year's diary
a pressed maple leaf

New Year's bells
all the way to the horizon
frosted cabbages

A sparkling cross
protruding some from
the colored leaves

autumn diary —
with the last red crayon
I color the leaves

in the twilight
against dusky bougainvillea
the white wall whiter

Japanese dance
in her fan
the changing seasons

heat wave shimmering sideways
on the discarded kimono

passing car lights
coloring the rain slick pavement
— another monsoon

after the storm
in the first moonlight
a cricket starts to sing

in the attic
packing away grandma's clothes
the fragrance of lavender

in first rain
pale against the dark sky
a stone angel cries

snow flurry
at the turn of a wrist
a paper weight winter

soft predawn
wind chimes moving gently
on new year's day

Christmas Eve
the new baby finally asleep
— Silent night

sudden fragrance
a whiff of orange blossom
on this still night

on the afterdeck
the lantern glow
reflected by plankton

night's indigo shawl
dripping off her shoulders
dawn yawns awake

sunlight and shadows ~
the cat and I both startled
by the peacock's cry

thoughts scatter
with the sound of a gun shot
frightened white birds

shaken away, in the wag
of a duck's tail

grandfather's wake
through bubbles of champagne
a shooting star

rain filled day
asleep at my feet
this warm dog

bright umbrellas
all pulled inside out
— storm warning

glowing pumpkins
smiling through the windows
Halloween moon

a dark ripple
through wind bent reeds
a water snake

spider's web
capturing summer night
cicada song

fuchsias —
so many ballerinas
this summer

gardener in cemetry
only the lapwing cries
far away bell tolls

on Good Friday
white roses on the altar
fragrance of her hair

fresh dug grave
covered with tears,
wind blown leaves

on the lake
diving for breakfast
hibernal ducks

homeward bound
smell of fresh bread
quickens footsteps

crunching underfoot
the breakfast cereal
sounds of autumn

over fireplace
Van Gogh's sunflowers
Make room warm

frangipani blooms
softening iron balustrade
of the stone terrace

at the exit gate
arrested by
a shock of sunflowers

in sulphur spring
her shivering flanks
my hot hands

banana leaves
tattered by the storm
wave surrender

water warm boulders
so smooth now
against callused feet

azure butterflies
flitting about
flakes of sky

in sudden squall
the gentle swaying
abandoned wing



Our backyard, a long and narrow strip of grass bordered by basil bushes, the area between the new neighbours' house and ours catches the afternoon sun. After the house tour and the drinks the conversation turns to their children's children. Not having any leaves us listening silently.

old thorn tree
the empty weaver bird nests
sway in the breeze


Haiku: An Indian Perspective
Written by Dr. Angelee Deodhar

India ,with eighteen officially recognized languages, uses English as an additional official language. The Indo-Aryan languages evolved from Sanskrit. Hindi is the official language of the Government of India, and is also the official language of six states. Hindi has several dialects.

Haiku has not gained popularity in India for several reasons. Although the haiku poem was known to poets as far back as the beginning of the twentieth century it did not become popular and the spread of Haiku poetry was sporadic. The Indian Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote eloquently about Japanese culture and literary heritage. He was aware of the haiku poem and his collection of haiku like poems 'Fireflies' was published in English and Bengali. In 1916 the other national poet - Subramania Bharati wrote a long under the title -Japaniyat Kavitai
(Japanese poetry) which was a lengthy critical appraisal of haiku where Bharati examined at length the opinion on haiku poems expressed by a Japanese poet, Yone Noguchi.

A three day seminar on 'Impact of Haiku in Indian literature' was held at the Institute of Asian Studies based in Chennai (Madras) from 29th-31st of March 2000.Several poets from India and Japan participated in this seminar but till now the abstracts of papers presented there are still not available.

The pioneer of haiku is India's first Japanese scholar Prof. Satyabhushan Verma - whose first translation of Japanese haiku into Hindi - 'Japani Kavitaian' was published in 1977. In 1981 Prof. Verma started a newsletter in Hindi called 'Haiku'. This was in the form of an aerogramme. This publication was discontinued in 1989. Prof. Satya Bhushan Verma, a professor emeritus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, was chosen for the Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Prize in 2002 .He shared the one million yen prize with an American poet - Cor van den Heuvel.

The second Indian whose efforts are to be commended is Prof. B.S. Aggarwala who publishes a Hindi quarterly journal called 'Haiku Bharati', started in 1998 and continuing till today. There are about 300 poets writing in their native mother tongues associated with this quarterly Hindi journal. Some haiku are translated from the original into Hindi, and then published. Prof. Aggarwala, the author of several books in Hindi is currently working on a history of haiku in Hindi.

English language haiku in India is slowly finding a foothold and there are quite a few haijin writing in English, but most of these poets' haiku is being published abroad. Some poets are bilingual or multilingual but haiku written in one language does not get easily assimilated into another.

One sees every recognized form of the English poem taught in schools all over India,but haiku is not taught.

Unfortunately, India does not have any formal haiku association or club. There are some Indian poetry magazines in which haiku are being published in English; however the Indian haiku scene is still far from satisfactory and needs all the help it can get. Books about haiku are still almost non existent and difficult to obtain. Unless haiku is introduced into the schools it will not gain the attention it deserves. The language for the study of haiku in India will have to be English, so that Indian poets can communicate and share h aiku with poets worldwide.



Mohammed Fakhruddin (1942-)


Haiku Self-Exploration
By Mohammed Fakhruddin
Paperback / Poets International Society / June 2004 /

Your vitality
Is liquid crystal within…
Fuel for longevity.

Eyes are beautiful,
Windows of the heart and soul;
Feelings are blissful.

Let eyes speak volumes,
Burning Jungle generate heart;
In silence love fumes.

Mind is a diamond
Cosmic rays when made to pass,
Creates a spectrum!

Love is a white dove
Which leads life to peace sublime.
Night is dark shadow.

Twinkle in your eye
Gave birth to platonic love
Between you and I.

If God be for us
Like the vast sky to the Earth
Who is against us?

A thing of beauty
Is the nature's miracle…

A walk in moonlight
Make twinkling stars watch with fun;
Crickets creek at night.

Leads one to the inner space —
Insight through vision

Poetry I write
To forget myself a while
And sing with snow-white

Sunrays plant kisses
On dew drops set on green grass
Breeze greets them wishes

Bees buzz, flowers yawn
Sunnays pierce thro' life line
Dewdrops fly with dawn

Bright and graceful glance
Bewitching smile on lips make
Stars twinkle in trance

Blushing is a sign
Rarely to be found today
As sweet as old wine

Respect Human Rights
Egoism kills humanism
World State stops all fights

Day in and Day out
The time skips within a wink
Complete life is out

Nature is not free
So are birds and so are thoughts
All slaves, so are we

Bow my head in shame
When I see children begging
Know not whom to blame

Worst of all powers
Is money power which buys
The God for favour

Politics pays well
Only to lucky those who
Knows which cat to bell

Life is compromise
Nourish it with poetry
Day breaks with sunrise

Poetry is a rose
That grows certainly not in
Everyone's garden

Painter of nature
Paints, repaints, landscapes
For His sheer rapture

Music is divine
Aesthetic tastes are better
Than woman or wine

The main key of life
On the Earth or in Heaven
Is nothing but sex

The sky stoops to Earth
And make a mirth at sunrise
Birds fly in surprise.



Rajiv Lather
Copyright © Rajiv Lather 2002-2004

darshan of Brahman
as children laugh and play
maya leads away

moonlit gate
the chain's shadow
slithers over my toe

posh restaurant —
a blind man removes glasses
to inspect the bill

early spring
coiled around the tree
a dormant vine

winter logging
a tree charred by lightening
alone in graveyard

why and
why not

published in 'Frogpond xxvi:3, Fall issue 2003'

discourse on karma
the eagle swoops
to catch a mouse

stream flows
freely around the rocks
chess in the cabin

himalayan shrine
a hermit with hash pipe
drifts in clouds

published in Modern Haiku 35.1

sloshing in paddy —
the shoes on my head
shelled with hail

school bell —
pomegranate branches
sweep the ground

winter night
the four wheels
still spinning in air

winter fog
with the wind, my will
waxes and wanes

violets blue
I stop to watch the view
crushing a few

monsoon greenery —
a few drops
on the bald patch

a flight of geese
across the rainbow —

freezing dusk —
funeral fire
and the outstretched hands

published in 'Frogpond xxvi:3, Fall 2003'

a detour
around the haunted tree

winter waves
moving backwards I see
my footprints walk away

train berth
hot tea from a clay pot
tasting of earth

published in 'The Heron's Nest' - Feb, 2003

foot prints in sand —
the saffron kiss
melds into red

the scent of rain
from somewhere

published in 'The Heron's Nest' - Aug, 2003

sudden itch
pants off —
the spider's last spin

farmers' market
the caged parakeet
picks a fortune card

moonless night —
glow of the afterburner
chases a shooting star

naked trees —
a babbler fights itself
against the window

grandfather on cot
the puppy bites into two
a snake's molt

late summer
a cuckoo chased by crows
lays an egg on the sill

bird watching —
naked boys in the canal
make a pose

published in the April, 2003 issue of 'The Heron's Nest'

among fallen leaves
dried grass
that had been a nest

hospital to home
the smell
that followed me

hand in hand
frog and her
both jump

bright midday —
below the mango bloom
cat catches a bulbul

fresh sown wheat
a crow alights
on the scarecrow

thunderclap —
letter written on kite
lands on her father

published in Modern Haiku 35.2

humid heat —
under the fan
her breath on my neck

late night —
I head to the bathroom
to finish the book

night stroll —
under every light pole
I shrink

published in Mainichi Daily News (Japan), December 2003

thirty-eighth birthday
fancy icing
covers the cake

peacocks dance —
farmer sticks the sand
to gauge the rain

winter fog —
steaming shadows bathe
under a roadside tap

night jasmine
in the outhouse a trail
of wet slippers

published in Modern Haiku 35.2

fitting room —
reflecting on reflection

flooded paddy
an egret waits
as drongos dive

cold night —
kettle's whistle
stifles a distant train

published in Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Feb, 2004


I hear everything

spring dusk
facing the tv
young faces change color

summer siesta
a fly on its fifth try
gets killed

spring ends
the old acacia
remains leafless

published in 'The Heron's Nest' - June, 2003

moonless night
a pair of circling nightjars
feed on stars

published in 'Frog Pond xxvi:2, Summer 2003'


Haibun is a combination of brief descriptive prose and haiku, written in the form of a travelogue. Basho, a Japanese monk and haiku poet, was the originator of this particular form. He wrote Haibun as a travel account during his various journeys to different parts of Japan.

A Haibun consists of one or more paragraphs with one or more embedded haiku. The prose part ordinarily comes first and is usually concise. It records a scene, or a special moment, in a highly descriptive manner. The accompanying haiku has either a direct relation with the prose or a subtle one, but it encompasses the gist of the recorded experience. The contrasting and striking combination of prose and haiku provides the reader with more powerful insight, from what might have been possible from either one separately. It is important not to say anything directly, but to paint a picture of the moment and let the reader use his or her imagination to immerse in the experience of the writer.

Most haibun are generally limited to five paragraphs and the same number of haiku. There is no set length to a paragraph, and no maximum or minimum word count. However, brevity in prose and abbreviated syntax are preferred. The writer of haibun tries to avoid generalizations and paints the scene in a detached manner. While the prose may be a part of a journal entry, great care has to be taken to revise and edit the same, to produce a polished final product. In a good haibun, the prose part will not "give away" the haiku; rather the haiku will amplify the defining moment of the experience. The haiku, related to the prose in an oblique manner, avoids repeating main nouns, verbs and adjectives used in the prose.


Haibun # 1 - by Rajiv Lather

Climb to the Churdhar Peak

Trail curves left and right through dense forest, always climbing. All are short of breath not used to such high altitude. Heavy rucksacks dont make the job any easier. The air gets more fragrant but chillier. On the way, a pack train loaded with supplies overtakes us. We are now above the tree line, and even though it is early summer, patches of winter's snow can be seen. By evening the temple on the peak is reached and it has started raining. The weather and the fact that journey back to the village will take more than six hours, forces us to spend the night here. Priests and their help, cook us a dinner of paranthas and hot tea. As no one is allowed to sleep inside, the visitors huddle together in the verandah. Wet and shivering our team gets inside their sleeping bags.

icy dawn
the stink of our shoes
covered in mule dung

published in 'Frog Pond xxvi:2, Summer 2003'



Haibun # 2 - by Rajiv Lather


The old tree stands tall. Wooden stairs coil around it like a vine, leading up to the hut-like machaan (wildlife observation post) high among the branches. The machaan, painted a leafy green, is situated with a clear view of the waterhole. Our jeep looks tiny from where we are sitting. The prevailing stillness is infused with a symphony of mysterious jungle noises. With packed sandwiches, water bottles, binoculars and camera, we settle down for the long wait. This is the only waterhole that has not gone dry this winter. Remembering the fresh droppings we had seen on the way, we are confident the elephant herd will turn up.

Attracted by food, a swarm of tiny insects hovers above us. I swallow at least one while yawning. Trying to wave them away, I hit my face. As I feel something wet, my brother shouts that I am bleeding through the nose. I tilt my head back; ten minutes and many bloody tissues later, the flow finally stops. Completely shaken, we now watch the trees for leopards that may have caught the smell of blood. Nothing turns up. It is evening and we have lost hope of a sighting. Looking frequently toward the pool, we slowly get ready to leave.

silent shadows
one becomes
an antlered stag

dying light —
a lunge for the camera
spooks the shot



Haibun # 3 - by Rajiv Lather

The Wait

It is a very hot afternoon with blinding sunlight and a bright blue sky. Parched fields, many of them overrun with dunes, radiate heat. Under a stand of banyan and bo trees, men smoke, play cards, and discuss the drought. Not far is the village pond, now shrunk in size, where teenagers bathe their buffaloes and take a swim. Camels lazily feed on tiny leaves of babul, their ploughs idle.

In the main street a long queue of women waits in front of the hydrant for the one-hour supply. They are dressed in long blouses over long skirts, their thin cotton shawls speckled with yellow, orange and red. Heavy silver jewelry, with a touch of ivory and gold, glitters around their ankles, arms and neck.

sand whirls
in adobe shadows
toy carts and rag dolls

There is a buzz down the line as water begins to flow. Women leave for home; balancing full earthen pots on their heads with the help of a thick cloth ring. As the hour comes to a close, a fight breaks out between the woman filling her third pot and the one behind her. It starts with an argument, moves on to shrieked abuses and ends in hair pulling. The supply shuts down and the two furious women leave empty-handed.

late summer dusk —
spreads faster than night

The next day, people gather in two groups. Meetings and lengthy discussions take place. Tempers flare as the temperature rises, and the situation becomes tense. The warring parties arm themselves with sticks and sickles to take over the faucet.

dark clouds —
the embers in hookahs
die out

published in 'Frog Pond, 2004'



Kala Ramesh

dense fog . . .
I dream walk
my sense of I

in the darkness
of womb, a life swims
into my life

lotus leaf . . .
a water droplet rolls
the moon

the darkening sky splits into
liquid night

I fold in
the rose petals . . .
mother's sari

in the wake of dawn
harvest songs sung
in childhood

summer moon
a wave's white foam
glazes the rock

the child-like joy
seeing a star streak
a new moon sky

weathered field —
slowly coming to terms
with my aborted child

harvesting grapes . . .
the season slips through
her fingers

forest walk —
a spider's shadow
climbs the tree

wading through
leaves . . . with each step
the thoughts

howling wind —
an autumn note within
the bamboo flute

trying to know me
deep within me
autumn day

winter loneliness:
the sofa she vacates
holds her shape

winter rain
colder than ever
this bowl of rice

even inside the temple:

mountain bridge —
I pass through
the clouds

desert sands . . .
I enter the whole
of nothingness

the suddenness
of scented breath
night jasmine

mango blossoms
a welcoming

Indian dance recital:
long plaited hair in step
with her hips

taking flight —
a butterfly shrugs off
its shadow

between the birth
and cry of my baby
my breath

slicing wind
the skylark alone
knows the pull

hospital room
the empty chair takes
all the sunshine

slipping in
beneath the kitchen door
-first sunlight

paper moon-
falling off almost
this argument of mine

winter rain-
colder than ever
this bowl of rice

Publication Credits (1st publication):
"dense fog" (Simply Haiku, Summer 09);"in the darkness" (Simply Haiku, Summer 09); "lotus leaf" (Annual Selection 2008, Mainichi Daily News); "thunderclap" (Presence, Spring 09); "in the wake of dawn" (Notes From the Gean, June 09); "summer moon" (Simply Haiku, Summer 08); "weathered field" (World Haiku Review, Spring 09 & Shintai, The Ten Best, Third Prize); "harvesting grapes" (Magnapoets, January, print edition 09); "forest walk" (Asahi Shimbun, Nov 05); "wading through" (Simply Haiku, Autumn 09);"howling wind" (BHS James W. Hackett International Haiku Award 07); "trying to know me" (Simply Haiku, Autumn 09); "winter loneliness" (Bottle Rockets, Fall 06); "winter rain" (tempslibres 06); "mountain bridge" (First Prize, 5th Annual Poets' Choice Kukai Results 07); "desert sands" (Simply Haiku, Autumn 09); "Indian dance recital" (Haiku Harvest, Fall 06); "taking flight" (Mainichi Daily News, June 08); "between the birth" (World Haiku Review, Spring 09); "slicing wind" (Roadrunner Haiku Journal, August 07).

According to Kala Ramesh, "searching" is the one word that seems to say everything about her. She progressed along the path of Indian Classical Music, first instrumental then vocal, and from the South Indian Classical tradition crossed over into North Indian Classical music, performing in various cities throughout India. Then she plunged into yoga, Hindu philosophy and vipassana—which accidentally led her to haiku, in 2005, and since that time it has been haiku, senryu, tanka, haibun and renku that she breathes.



Ram Krishna Singh (1950-)

Unattached --
drop of water on
lotus leaf

Alone on the platform
wait for the train
swatting mosquitoes

After the sunset
wheels of a returning cart
along the paddy

Her wet lingerie reveals
more than her body:
I drown in her sea

Away from home --
smell of frying fish
in the air