POEMS BY SRI ANDAL
A thousand elephants followed
as you walked in.
The town was adorned
with flags and banners,
And at every threshold
stood a golden urn…
I dreamt this dream, my friend…
Singing the praises of the most excellent, who lifted his leg to measure the world,
If we all bathe in the waters for our pavai rites,
The land will be rid of evil. Rain will fall thrice in a month.
In the rice fields that are full of growth, the fish will play amidst clumps of lilies.
The bees will relax with eyes closed on the lotus blooms.
When their udders are held firmly, the large milch cows will gladly yield milk that fill vessels to the brim.
Such will be the undiminishing prosperity of the land, Oh my dear pavai.
POEMS BY KABIR
O traveler! purify your body
in a simple way.
As the seed is within the banyan tree,
and within the seed are the flowers,
the fruits, and the shade:
So the germ is within the body,
and within that germ is the body again.
The fire, the air, the water, the earth, and the ether;
You cannot have these outside of You.
O traveller, consider it well:
what is there, that is not already in you?
The water-filled pitcher is placed upon water,
it has water within and without.
Don’t give it a name,
lest it call forth, the error of dualism.
Kabîr says: “Listen to the Word,
the Truth, which is your essence.
He speaks the Word to Himself;
and He Himself is the Creator.”
Between the poles of the conscious and the unconscious, there has the mind made a swing:
Thereon hang all beings and all worlds, and that swing never ceases its sway.
Millions of beings are there: the sun and the moon in their courses are there:
Millions of ages pass, and the swing goes on.
All swing! the sky and the earth and the air and the water; and the Lord Himself taking form:
And the sight of this has made Kabîr a servant.
I have been thinking of the difference between water
and the waves on it. Rising,
water’s still water, falling back,
it is water, will you give me a hint
how to tell them apart?
Because someone has made up the word
’wave,’ do I have to distinguish it
There is a Secret One inside us;
the planets in all the galaxies
pass through his hands like beads.
That is a string of beads one should look at with luminous eyes.
To what shore would you cross, O my heart? there is no traveller before you, there is no road:
Where is the movement, where is the rest, on that shore?
There is no water; no boat, no boatman, is there;
There is not so much as a rope to tow the boat, nor a man to draw it.
No earth, no sky, no time, no thing, is there: no shore, no ford!
There, there is neither body nor mind: and where is the place that shall still the thirst of the soul? You shall find naught in that emptiness.
Be strong, and enter into your own body: for there your foothold is firm. Consider it well, O my heart! go not elsewhere,
Kabîr says: ‘Put all imaginations away, and stand fast in that which you are.’
Do not go to the garden of flowers!
O Friend! go not there;
In your body is the garden of flowers.
Take your seat on the thousand petals of the lotus, and there
gaze on the Infinite Beauty.
The Hidden Banner is planted in the temple of the sky; there the blue canopy decked with the moon and set with bright jewels is spread. There the light of the sun and the moon is shining: still your mind to silence before that splendour. Kabîr says: “He who has drunk of this nectar, wanders like one who is mad.”
O sadhu! purify your body in the simple way. As the seed is within the banyan tree, and within the seed are the flowers, the fruits, and the shade: So the germ is within the body, and within that germ is the body again. The fire, the air, the water, the earth, and the aether; you cannot have these outside of Him. O, Kazi, O Pundit, consider it well: what is there that is not in the soul? The water-filled pitcher is placed upon water, it has water within and without. It should not be given a name, lest it call forth the error of dualism. Kabîr says: “Listen to the Word, the Truth, which is your essence. He speaks the Word to Himself; and He Himself is the Creator.”
There is a strange tree, which stands without roots and bears fruits without blossoming; It has no branches and no leaves, it is lotus all over. Two birds sing there; one is the Guru, and the other the disciple: The disciple chooses the manifold fruits of life and tastes them, and the Guru beholds him in joy. What Kabîr says is hard to understand: “The bird is beyond seeking, yet it is most clearly visible. The Formless is in the midst of all forms. I sing the glory of forms.”
POEMS BY A K RAMANUJAM
I resemble everyone
despite the well-known laws
the portrait of a stranger,
often signed in a corner
by my father.
to a sentence.
Now you know what you always knew:
the country cannot be reached
by jet. Nor by boat on jungle river,
hashish behind the Monkey-temple,
nor moonshot to the cratered Sea
of Tranquillity, slim circus girls
on a tightrope between tree and tree
with white parasols, or the one
and only blue guitar.
Nor by any
other means of transport,
migrating with a clean valid passport,
no, not even by transmigrating
without any passport at all,
but only by answering ordinary
black telephones, questions
walls and small children ask,
and answering all calls of nature.
The round blazing sun
creeps in the sky,
raging as a fire
in the forest,
and the silk cotton tress
yet in flower
without a bud,
like a long array
of red lamps
in the month of karttikai
by bustling women,
in the fruitless forest
where the pools are dry,dusty.
he’d spent the time with me,
it would go fast,
if only he’d walk swiftly with me
on the dunes
over hung with flowering boughs,
where the forest stream flows now
and the sand
is laid out like a woman’s bodice,
he could have what arms desire,
body entering body,
and then my guiltless eyes
that now fill
ceaselessly like barren pools
fed by secret springs
could put aside
their daily sorrow
and find some sleep.
Composed as I am, like others,
of elements on certain well-known lists,
father’s seed and mother’s egg
gathering earth, air, fire, mostly
water, into a mulberry mass,
carbon, even gold, magnesium and such,
into a chattering self, tangled
in love and work,
scary dreams, capable of eyes that can see,
only by moving constantly,
the constancy of things
like Stonehenge or cherry trees;
add uncle’s eleven fingers
making shadow-plays of kings
and cats, hissing,
becoming fingers again, the look
of panic on sister’s face
an hour before
her wedding, a dated newspaper map,
of a place one has never seen, maybe
no longer there
after the riots, downtown Nairobi,
that a friend carried in his passport
as others would
a woman’s picture in their wallets;
add the lepers of Madurai,
male, female, married,
lion faces, crabs for claws,
clotted on their shadows
under the stone-eyed
goddesses of dance, mere pillars,
moving as nothing on earth
can move —
I pass through them
as they pass through me
taking and leaving
affections, seeds, skeletons,
millennia of fossil records
of insects that do not last
body-prints of mayflies,
a legend half-heard
in a train
of the half-man searching
for an ever-fleeing
through Muharram tigers,
hyacinths in crocodile waters,
and the sweet
twisted lives of epileptic saints,
and even as I add
I lose, decompose,
into my elements
into other names and forms,
past, and passing, tenses
caterpillar on a leaf, eating,
POEMS BY RUMI
Notice how each particle moves.
Notice how everyone has just arrived here
from a journey.
Notice how each wants a different food.
Notice how the stars vanish as the sun comes up,
and how all streams stream toward the ocean.
Look at the chefs preparing special plates
for everyone, according to what they need.
Look at this cup that can hold the ocean.
Look at those who see the face.
Look through Shams’ eyes
into the Water that is
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.
Open your hands,
if you want to be held.
Sit down in the circle.
Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.
At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.
Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.
You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”
Twenty more will come.
Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.