Eighteen Verses – Prequel

Some readers might be aware of a bygone effort of mine in capturing my thoughts and meditations into 18 verses. On my recent trip I felt the need to understand when philosophical enquiry and spiritual pursuits seem appealing or even relevant to an individual. I also wished to understand what are the characteristics of a realised soul and what is available to him which infinite intellectual efforts (medha) cannot rein in. It is this very subject in its foggy constitution that leaves several amateur seekers (like myself) confused with the words of the wise and irritated by the chanting populace which resembles the mass incarnation of parrots. 


This post is an offering to the Divine Goddess Saraswati who effortlessly milks Truth from the bovine world in which we live. Were it not for Her, my life would be sadly meaningless, as it happily is now. In Her there is a union of mind and mindlessness. In Her there is a union of beauty and the banal. In Her there is peace. Om Shanti, shanti, shanti-hi.

This prequel discusses 3 matters vital to the reader before s/he even feels inclined to read the 18 verses. These verses (also numbering 18) are not questions but statements. They have been composed as verses adhering to the 5-7-5 count of a haiku though resembling the haiku in no other manner. Some might but most wouldn’t as the subject is heavy and I am presently incompetent to douse such raging fires in a light linen handkerchief. 

The first few verses cover the characteristics of individuals who would be inclined to philosophical enquiry. The next few verses detail the characteristics and circumstances which discourage one from spiritual development. The last few verses detail the traits a seeker must develop in order to effectively be able to meditate on the 18 verses. The post closes with 2 verses which apply to all philosophical schools of thought.

I will not elaborate on each of them as they are as delicate as the 36 questions raised in the original post. Poetry, unlike prose and laws, allow the fecundity of the mind to dictate the import.


All jump to pluck the

Blossoms from the laden tree –

The roots go deeper.


The monk wonders as

The fish gasp in the basket –

Which sutra they chant?


The merchant’s nine locks

And three guards at his vault – Still

A charm hangs on his neck.


As he falls asleep

The buzzing bee near his ear

Begins or ends his sleep?


A little orchid

Eddies past the praying monk

He smiles, bows once more.


The tree in a seed

In a soft fruit’s belly –

He slowly nods his head.


The Yang-tze flood razes –

He floats on a bamboo mat

Eating from debris.


He sows seeds; it rains

Hundred sacks of golden wheat

He dusts his bed and sleeps.


When the nightingale

Departs, the li’l pup climbs the

Branch and barks. Confused.


Ten fingers count sheep

Till one jumps over the other

Count all over again.


The Spring breeze through

The orchards of apple blooms

Smells of apples.


As I step into

The cold Ganges, I admire

My halcyon shadow.


Come cruel Autumn

All tree obey and shed – Even

One which bore just a leaf.


The mighty river

Too follows the plough’s command

To water a rice field.


Oh! Puissant hunter

Myriad arrows that left your bow

Rust on the wet grass.


The lion mauls the deer;

Cruel? So necessary?

Manjushri’s sabre.


Sweet waters flow swift

Brine stands still gathering all – 

One becoming another.


A vagabond strolls

Through forest, marsh and towns – Paths

Beckoning his feet.

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

Green leaves against the white sun


5 thoughts on “Eighteen Verses – Prequel

  1. Yes.
    Dualities and perception of distinct disparities that are the mainstay of life lived with the aid of our unregenerate human mental consciousness, disappear steadily and eventually completely from our light filled being.

    These prequel verses are as beautiful but bear even greater lightness than the past eighteen verses.

    As I said about your photographs, these verses too have found a deeper source in you from which they can see the light of day it seems.

  2. Dear P,
    I would have assumed that you would be the only one commenting on this! 🙂 I think they had to be lighter for the sake of reach but demanding some meditation as the subject is such. I am glad that they are at least lighter than the main 18 verses. 🙂

  3. Many times the mountains
    have turned from green to yellow.
    So much for the capricious earth!
    Dust in your eyes,
    the triple world is narrow.
    Nothing on your mind,
    your chair is wide enough.

    – Muso (1275 – 1351)

    Enlightened,isnt he, this Muso person? Seems to have a clarity regarding his priorities right.

  4. I cannot comment on the philosophy/idea behind these 18 Verses for spiritual journeys are best made alone. But I really, really, really loved Verses 2, 10, 13, 14..

  5. Dear P,
    Indeed 🙂

    Dear SR,
    All philosophy/realisation is indeed individual and all words are nothing more than a shabby attempt at capturing a personal feeling. The main 18 verses too state that. Nevertheless, somethings can serve as a seed in a willing recipient's soul. Glad you liked those verses. I read them again and enjoyed them. Perhaps Parvati-ji's words do bear some truth.

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