Gandhi’s Key


by Needhi Aasai Theeppori


A British reporter interviews Gandhi.   

The old man’s opinion seeks he,

about the civilization of the west.

The wise old man does suggest

that civilization of the west is a good idea.

What guts has the half-naked man from India!

He has not just wisdom but also wit and acumen

to deconceptualize the white man's burden.


This interview deconstructs the philosophies

of those who use the subaltern as they please.

The minds whose basic concepts are most abusive

have been teaching the whole world how to live.

Is not civilizing these savage minds a good idea?

Yes indeed! Reconceptualization – the best panacea!

Deconstructing all power-maniac philosophies

will save not just humankind, but all species.


Well-formed multi-conceptual minds see nature

as a living companion, guide and teacher.

Malformed mono-conceptual minds presuppose

that every living thing is a mere resource.

All members of nature abused as capital

by those whose epistemologies are brutal.

Both east and west have many a vulgar episteme

constructing some lives as low and some as supreme.


Millennium after millennium of environmental racism

made possible by the power of epistemic narcissism.

Tainting indigenous identities with false accusations

is colonizer’s key to justifying foreign invasions.

Ancient narratives have many a dramatic episode

demonizing subalterns using conflation as mode

and glorifying heroes who follow their religious code

to slay native-dwellers who strive to guard their abode.


Compassionate readers will be tongue-tied

to know that it used to be a matter of pride

for legends to commit arson and genocide

in each and every land they have occupied.

Eastern epic heroes who commit atrocities

are celebrated as “subjugators of hostile cities”

for burning many a tribal race and many a species

of innocent birds, animals, and life-sustaining trees.


The earliest eastern epics shamelessly narrate

how legendary heroes plunge and subjugate.

Warriors undoing peaceful abodes at divine request,

portrayed as both necessary and selfless conquest.

Kings and princes destroy forests not for selfish ends,

but for the sake of demigods and saintly legends.

They see wild beasts, hissing snakes and tribal activity

as a nuisance to meditation, salvation and tranquility.


With disappointment demigods have viewed

how in Khandava forest all flames are subdued

by elephants who use their trunks to pour water

whenever fire is set by a divine intruder.

Frustrated demigods seek help from epic heroes

To burn down all their forest-dwelling foes.

After days of gruesome battle, forest lives come to a close

with blazing fire, choking smoke and wailing animals’ woes.


As scorched animals cry in pain and run pell-mell,

forests that used to be a heavenly abode are now a hell.

While victorious heroes are congratulated and blessings showered,

native geographic and epistemic constructs lay disempowered.

Nature in feminine terms the epics do graciously describe,

while simultaneously killing Thadaka forest’s matricentric tribe.

When uprooted subaltern lives are in headlong chaos,

epic heroes and demigods rejoice without pathos.


Today’s demigods are nature-devouring corporate capitalists

who send native-dwellers to the top of endangered species lists.

What weapons are there to set the world free?

From where roots this capitalist killing spree?

It roots not from violence but from sick philosophy.

Reconceptualizing with peaceful guts – the only working key!

To unlock ill-fed mono-conceptual minds, of what use are guns?

Guns will regain only geographic spaces, not epistemic ones.            

Needhi Aasai Theeppori is the poet's penname. She is an independent researcher interested in uncovering the relationship between dominant epistemologies and environmental disempowerment. The poet's country of origin is India.