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Ajanta by Hoshang Merchant

Hoshang Merchant  is India’s pre-eminent voice of gay liberation. Born  in  1947  to  a  Zoroastrian  business  family  in  Bombay, India, he  graduated  in  1968 with  a major in  English  and a  minor  in the culture of India. On his mother’s side, he descends from a line of preachers and teachers. He holds a Master’s from Occidental College, Los Angeles, USA. At Purdue University, Indiana, USA, he specialized in the renaissance and modernism. After leaving Purdue  in  1975,  Merchant  attended  the  Provincetown Fine Arts Work Centre, Massachusetts, USA, and lived and taught in Heidelberg, Iran, and Jerusalem. He has studied Buddhism at the Tibetan Library, Dharamsala, India, as well as Islam in Iran and Palestine. Since 1979, seventeen of his books of poetry have been published. He recently superannuated from the University of Hyderabad, India, after twenty-six years of teaching.


For Said bin Mohamed

Hyderabad artist

All art is local

Vlaminck, Russian artist

Repeating something makes you own it:

A child's thrown ball

Mother's picking it up

Artists copying Ajanta over and over

They want to own mastery


The cave is dark

A lit match

Whites of eyes dart out of darkness

A world recedes

A world is born

Out of black comes all colour

Here the monks imagine

The repeated lives it took

To make a Buddha

Bird, beast, fish, flower

Padmapani holds a flower

A moment of a day

His eyes pools of compassion

Our bodies brands afire

A lit match

Eyes dart out

Lover, sage, master, artist

Art is what is made


A light out of darkness

I must find the midnight clew


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