Category Archives: Hindu Poems

Unending Love by Rabindranath Tagore

Video

It has been a long time since I have posted my last message here. But I will continue to keep the Blog up and, from time to time post some thoughts or as today something I have worked on for some time. It is one of my favorite poems from Rabindranath Tagore. I have combined the spoken text with the Piano Concerto N° 5 from Beethoven. The image is a wallpaper image I downloaded from http://www.mrwallpaper.com. I have put subtitles to give the watcher an easy and joyful experience. I hope you like it.

Currently I am studying Vedanta scriptures, the Upanishads and more precisely the Advaita Vedanta. Reading does not bring enlightenment as we are already enlightened. It is through awareness and by giving attention to the experience of perception rather than to the object that is perceived that we will discover oneness, love… But these ancient texts, the Vedas, are of tremendous beauty if your heart is open. The Vedanta, or Upanishads, are the latest text of the Vedas. Vedanta is composed by the two words Veda and Anta. Anta means “the end”. Vedanta can be translated as the End of the Vedas. The Vedas are the most ancient texts known by mankind composed more than 5000 years ago by several sages over a period of time. The four Vedas talk a lot about rituals and ethics, the worldly religious knowledge, and as soon as self inquiry and self introspection comes into play we speak about the Vedanta. Advaita Vedanta speaks about non-duality and the most famous sage was Shankara, who commented and developed the Advaita Vedanta philosophy further. There is a lot more to say about these texts but the mere knowledge about them is not helpful. They are the finger that points to the moon. Some spend their lives analysing the finger, chewing and sucking on it and intellectualizing everything and the others simply look to where the finger is pointing… the moon.

Metta,

Shanti

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Quote

Kabir

They call Him Emptiness who is the Truth of truths,
in Whom all truths are stored!
There within Him creation goes forward,
which is beyond all philosophy;
for philosophy cannot attain to Him:
There is an endless world,
O my Brother! and there is the Nameless Being,
of whom naught can be said.
Only he knows it who has reached that region:
it is other than all that is heard and said.
No form, no body, no length, no breadth is seen there:
how can I tell you that which it is?

— Kabir – Songs of Kabir – LXXVI  (transl. Rabindranath Tagore)

(image source: poemhunter.com)

They call Him Emptiness

Quote

Sri Aurobindo

There are two beings in my single self.
A Godhead watches Nature from behind
At play in front with a brilliant surface elf,
A time-born creature with a human mind.

Tranquil and boundless like a sea or sky,
The Godhead knows himself Eternity’s son.
Radiant his mind and vast, his heart as free;
His will is a sceptre of dominion.

The smaller self by Nature’s passions driven,
Thoughtful and erring learns his human task;
All must be known and to that Greatness given
His mind and life, the mirror and the mask.

As with the figure of a symbol dance
The screened Omniscient plays at Ignorance.

— Sri Aurobindo – The Dual Being – Sonnets 1930-1950 – Collected Poems – p. 152

(image by Henri Cartier-Bresson – source : Kheper)

The Dual Being

Quote

Rabindranath Tagore

The ‘I’ that floats along the wave of time,
From a distance I watch him.
With the dust and the water,
With the fruit and the flower,
With the All he is rushing forward.
He is always on the surface,
Tossed by the waves and dancing to the rhythm
Of joy and suffering.
The least loss makes him suffer,
The least wound hurts him–
Him I see from afar.
That ‘I’ is not my real self;
I am still within myself,
I do not float in the stream of death.
I am free, I am desireless,
I am peace, I am illumined–
Him I see from afar.

— Rabindranath Tagore – The Later Poems

(Imagesource: Famous Poets and Poems)

From Afar

Quote

A STILLNESS absolute, incommunicable,
Meets the sheer self-discovery of the soul;
A wall of stillness shuts it from the world,
A gulf of stillness swallows up the sense
And makes unreal all that mind has known,
All that the laboring senses still would weave
Prolonging an imaged unreality.
Self’s vast spiritual silence occupies Space;
Only the Inconceivable is left,
Only the Nameless without space and time:
Abolished is the burdening need of life:
Thought falls from us, we cease from joy and grief;
The ego is dead; we are freed from being and care,
We have done with birth and death and work and fate.
O soul, it is too early to rejoice!
Thou hast reached the boundless silence of the Self,
Thou hast leaped into a glad divine abyss;
But where hast thou thrown Self’s mission and Self’s power?
On what dead bank on the Eternal’s road?
One was within thee who was self and world,
What hast thou done for his purpose in the stars?
Escape brings not the victory and the crown!
Something thou cam’st to do from the Unknown,
But nothing is finished and the world goes on
Because only half God’s cosmic work is done.
Only the everlasting No has neared
And stared into thy eyes and killed thy heart:
But where is the Lover’s everlasting Yes,
And immortality in the secret heart,
The voice that chants to the creator Fire,
The symboled OM, the great assenting Word,
The bridge between the rapture and the calm,
The passion and the beauty of the Bride,
The chamber where the glorious enemies kiss,
The smile that saves, the golden peak of things?
This too is Truth at the mystic fount of Life.

— Sri Aurobindo – Savitri

To realize our true Self, and unify with the One is not the end of the journey!

Quote

Allãh-Rãma,
I live by Your Name:
show me Your mercy,
my Lord.

If Allãh resides
inside a mosque,
then whose is the rest of the land?
Hindus claim His Name
inhabits an idol:
but God can’t be found
in either place.

The southern country
is Hari’s home,
the west is Allãh’s camping ground.
Search your heart,
your heart of hearts:
that’s His abode,
that’s His camp.

The brahmin fasts
once a fortnight,
the qãzĩ fasts for Ramadãn.
Each devotes
eleven months to himself,
then looks for rewards
in a month of fasts.

Why go off to Orissa
for ritual immersions?
Why bow your head in a mosque?
You’re a crook at heart,
you pretend to pray:
why go all the way
on a hajj to the Ka’aba?

These men and women,
The whole lot of them,
are nothing but Your forms.
I’m a child
of Allãh-and-Rãma,
everyone’s my guru-and-pĩr.

Kabir says, listen,
O men and women:
seek shelter with the One and Only.
Repeat His singular Name,
you creatures: for only then
will you be able
to cross life’s ocean.

Note from the translator:

The poem opens by compounding ‘Allãh’ and ‘Rãma’ into a single name, and addressing that compound God directly as a unified divinity. This pada attacks the ‘externalized’ rituals and institutions of both Hinduism and Islam. Its main strategy is to question the reasonableness of central Hindu and Muslim beliefs as well as practices; to point to the unacceptable contradictions within the two religions; to highlight the pretension and hypocrisy embedded in their actual practices; and to expose the absurdity of their practices in relation to their professed principles. The poem then rejects the actuality of Hinduism and Islam by proposing an alternative to both, which claims that God ‘exists’ in the human heart of Self; that all human beings therefore are ‘forms’ of God; that any human is hence God’s ‘child’; that we should therefore seek shelter with that one and only true God; and that we should repeat His divine Name as the sole mantra of mukti. ‘Allãh-Rãma’ is an instance of the ‘theological secularism’ characteristic of the Kabir poets.

— Kabir – Allãh-Rãma – The Weaver’s Songs (transl. Vinay Dharwadker)

Allãh-Rãma by Kabir the Weaver

Quote

Tell me, O Swan, your ancient tale.
From what land do you come, O Swan? to what shore will you fly?
Where would you take your rest, O Swan, and what do you seek?

Even this morning, O Swan, awake, arise, follow me!
There is a land where no doubt nor sorrow have rule: where the terror of Death is no more.
There the woods of spring are a-bloom, and the fragrant scent “He is I” is borne on the wind:
There the bee of the heart is deeply immersed, and desires no other joy.

— Kabir – One Hundred Poems of Kabir (XII – Translated by Rabindranath Tagore)

Tell me, O Swan, your ancient tale