A while ago I had taken a break from any form of publishing of my works (written, visual, etc.) as I wanted to meditate on something that had struck me with all its love and ferocity. I am still working on it but recently I had this urge to compact what runs in my head into 18 verses which would serve as summary and hint to what I am working on. These 18 verses are structured into 36 questions (in 108 lines. Funny isn’t it? 18 * 6 = 108 i.e. the original multiplicand with nothing (zero, 0 ) in between!) which might help an interested person to meditate and ponder further on the intricacies of life. These 18 verses cannot and will not claim to be the one-stop-shop for a glimpse at truth. There is no right answer to these questions, so commenters might do well to refrain from trying to check their answers!

The Goddess

Today is the day spent in worshipping Goddess Saraswathi. Think about it, were it not for her what is it that would have been passed down the ages? Where would all the great works of literature, drama and poetry be? Would we know the gods and goddesses in Her absence (she is also the goddess of speech, hence the Vedas would never have reached us!)?
Not that this is worth Her attention. Not that this is to Her refined tastes. Not that this is the best that can be offered to Her, but this is what I can. This post is offered to Her.What is within alone can emerge...

Isn’t it an attempt at magic,
When we cast life’s rainbow
With half-done words, black and red?
In the infinitely finite desert
Slashed by the winds of time
Do hawks and snakes, like paths tread?
Sitting in the benevolent shade
Biting the juicy fruit, do you recall
What you had once called rotten has grown thus?
When the lifetime of goodness is but
A day in the life of Truth, what is
Good, bad and this duality to us?
Like the swan exclaiming “I am alive”
By gazing into the stagnant lake
Why, in mirrors, search for yourself?
If the “why”s and “how”s matter not
And the beheld is all of truth
Isn’t life a well-stacked shelf?
After listening to the villagers’ words
Did any crow powder itself and
Which donkey sipped honey tea?
Having lost it in the woods
Why gather a dozen strong men
And search it in a well-lit monastery?
Though meats for lions, grains for doves
Fish for seals, and salvation for a sage
Don’t they all want the very same?
While the stolen lasts four nights
And the arrogated, a while longer
What’s time to an untainted gain?
What’s thought to a hungry stomach,
Or God to a bereaved mother
Or reason to whom in love swoons?
Why measure truth in pounds
Or mountains in thumb-lengths,
Or wide oceans in full teaspoons?

And what shall remain is this...7
With all your bags packed
Shouldn’t you know where you are
Before you start to get there?
Why, like dark autumn clouds
Without a drop of wetness within,
Do you rush to thunder and flare?
Without knowing why water is wet
Or why the flame glows warm,
How could you ever know honesty?
When in no storm, does gold leaden,
And no grief makes coal of diamond
Why trade virtue in adversity?
Why does it astonish you that
No sword can bleed the air,
And a feather, no cudgel maims?
In the cold, lonely winter night
Doesn’t every red coal need
Fresh breath to blush with flames?
Does the creeper weep tears,
Because the rusted pole
Broke in half and tore it too?
If every joy and grief were like
A sip of water, can an unbinding
Memory, brew unrest in you?
Why enter the marketplace
And walk amidst baskets of goods
Without knowing what you want?
To a river clearly flowing its course
On to the chosen sea, do shunned
Green meadows and deserts haunt?
When one knows what is, is
How can one ever discriminate,
And how can one not do so?
Though boiled rice by a grain is told,
Would you buy a jewel chest
Going by a single ruby’s glow?

Like an overflowing cup of tea
How can the chatter of the mind,
Allow the Divine to take its seat?
Ever wonder why fishermen, old,
Teach you to tackle and bait, but
Silently bite into the carp’s meat?
In this world of unending action
Who can be happier than the
Dispassionately passionate worker?
When every act of love and labour
Is touched by the deepest flame
How can this man ever ail or suffer?
Have you watched two lovers dance
Stumbling and twirling and tripping
But laughing in their togetherness?
When there are no words, no ideas
No honour, no status, no point to prove
Can there be fear in Truth’s soft caress?
In a haste to understand it all
Why do you cast him in your shadow
When the Divine casts no reflection?
What use is any alien resolve to call
All the Divine and live in a haze
When deep down lies a trembling scission?
Having saved your son from seven deaths
With seven sacrifices and seven fasts
Should you now cry at his grave?
Ever know from where desire comes;
Where borne the effort and ease or,
The fate you fear and fortune, crave?
When there is none to make you think
And none to make you feel or realize,
Why make a God of a wordy ploy?
Although these eighteen known shall
Breathe life and joy, would a soul
Ignorant, not live and enjoy?

Yadakshara padh brashtam maathra heenantu yad bhaveth
Tat sarvam kshamyathaam deva, Narayana namostute
Visarga bindu maathraanee, padh paadhaaksharaanee cha
Nyoonaani cha atirikthaanee, kshamsva Purushottama.


8 thoughts on “Eighteen

  1. Hmmm. The Goddess has no complaints I am sure, since you seem to have been a transparent conduit to Her own Knowledge and Divine Wisdom, when you wrote these verses!I am now a gusher. So bear with me. # how about numbering the verses? it would help exhaustive commenters like ME!1. The inadequacy of words to express Truth is well experienced by all; and yes, each particle is unique, as is the path tread by each.2. Very true indeed. When we have a transcendent view of time, and are able to see past present and future from above, we realize the futility of making instant judgements and labelling things as favourable or not. Each good toggles expertly and easily enough to its opposite bad.3. Truth known to me is known to me. I dont need a second person to tell me of it. Very beautifully put in the swan simile.4. Philosophy is of the mind; whereas a happy life is a combination of mind’s usefulness, common sense, a balanced way of handling people at work and at home and a lot of other things. That’s why philosophy doesn’t redeem life unless, it, philosophy raises the bar and becomes spirituality and allows spirituality to transform life.5. Aaaaw!- “What’s time to an untainted gain?” How refreshing it is to see in this time and age of quickfixes and easy paths, the importance you give the pure means to a great end!6. Indeed Indeed! How can the Infinite Spirit be measured at all? What purpose will even the foolish effort to do so serve?7. Knowledge of ourselves, be it maybe only of our ignorance is essential before we go towards eradicating it. And yes, a lot of commotion without substance is pathetic.8. Beautiful thought, Eroteme! – in prosperity or poverty, Gold remains gold. True class is permanent and ingrained. It cannot be sullied by any thing at all. I am reminded of the tamizh lines “Kettaalum mein makkall mein makkale, sangu suttaalum venmai tharum…” 9. Truly inspired verses! And I cannot stop gushing about them! Can our Divine Destiny be ever destroyed? Not at all!And obviously memory of pain is the water that nourishes pain itself even beyond its time.10. Yes. I agree with you. But why is man given a memory at all, I wonder. Why does everything about man has this artificiality about it, and needs to be either terminated or become something else not itself? Why was man made this way at the outset?11. Knowledge of oneself is essential to be in a blissful conflictless state.12. Excellent!13. Most things cannot be taught by a second person. very well put.14. Beautiful! – “Touched by the deepest flame” 15. A Dance with the Divine Himself!16. Aaahaa! Reminds me of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa’s fable on the Elephant, Mahout and the ignorant man who thought all to be Brahman and ignored the Mahouts shouts and was run over by the Elephant brahman. He did not obviously respect the Mahout-Brahman.17. The Showstopper surely! This verse is exquisite!18. For a person using words with elan, skilfully and sincerely, you dont seem to respect them much, where Truth and Its expression through words go 🙂# The second part of this verse is all humility on the writer’s part. Philosophising enriches a man, and all of us know that nothing beyond food, clothing and shelter are ESSENTIAL per se.And happiness being different for different people, I suppose even without philosophy or enquiry one can be happy…

  2. WOW what an offering:)Thanks for sharing the depths of your mind .There’s far too much to take in here More to find than can ever be found But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky Keeps great and small on the endless round [ofcourse Elton john’s Circle Of Life Lyrics]so here i goAllow me to share this with you…[ Mahasaraswati ] Thy Heart of music-Fire consumes our drowse, Nowhere our journey ends. Thy patience unknown all souls must learn from Thee To march through immortal lands. We hurt Thy Heart’s arabesque supreme of bliss. Ever unplumbed is thy Truth. Our sheaths’ afflicted roots imbibe thy Grace; In Thee the tapestry of Truth. All worlds with ignorance blind immerse in Thy Light, O Queen of perfection-seal Thy birth of Lore supreme within us bursts And makes us eternal, free. Saraswati[Excerpt from The Dance Of The Cosmic Gods by Sri Chinmoy…] What a beautiful image of the GoddessMay be should grab it and make it mine?I do dabble in Tanjore style of painting the Gods and Godesses…another passion, that’s all.But La-saraswati sounds french…hahayes 18 well structured verses Guess i need to ponder over.But, Zero is not nothing, right?didnt Robert Heinlein say something like -A Martian could spend the whole trip contemplating the subtle difference between zero and nothing.”..?and “what shall remain is this” …is a touching image(*_*)Uma

  3. Dear P, You are God’s gift to a blogger. Such elaborate comments are a treat. Although I haven’t been driven by comments, your comments render this coy smile to a faceless comment and goad me to write more. Thank you for your patient reflection. I am in debt.Dear AW, Glad you found it so. 🙂Dear Anon-U, Thanks for sharing the lyrics as well as Sri Chinmoy’s words. Would love to have a glimpse of your paintings, if you would permit. This Saraswathi is extremely gorgeous and might not suit Tanjore painting style. The Saraswathis done in the Tanjore style are not to my taste (pardon me). Have you seen Raja Ravi Verma’s Saraswathi? Amazingly beautiful. One could sit for hours on end watching the smiling face of the goddess. Nevertheless, I would still love to be audience to your paintings if you do permit. Have you read the book “The Book of Nothing” by John Barrow? Very interesting account of the naught. Do you write? Do you have a blog too? Glad you liked that image… 🙂

  4. a great idea, and an awesome offering, both to Goddess Saraswathi and your readers. on the personal front, this post made me wonder.. what did happen to my creative juices… why cannot I think in such lines? what has become lacking? and this is no flattery, but then, your blog is a great place to be.

  5. Dear RS, Thank you for your kind words. I feel the same way when I read Nabokov only to realise that I can never be my true self once I start thinking on “his” lines. Surprisingly it is the lack that permits plenty and not surfeit.

  6. May The Goddess bless you for writing this post.. Parvati’s insight, your beautiful words and Uma’s colorful verses just made me sit back and meditate on the greatness of The divine Goddess.. Sometimes, words just don’t suffice.. I think I understand what you meant when you said this is not the best that can be offered to Her.. However, its many times better than what I could offer Her.. Hence it was a treat going thru’ this post. Thanks to the commentators too. Parvati.. great going!

  7. I think to complete this to a round 36, another 18 verses are crying out to be written, of course, inspired by the Mother Goddess Mahasaraswati Herself. It is time…

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