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Feb 24, 2017

Gitanjali: Tagore

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I know not how thou singest, my master! from Gitanjali
by Bijay Kant Dubey

I know not how thou singest, my master! is the number three song included in Gitanjali carrying on the same bhakti stream of thought and delving with utmost devotion and dedication to the Divine who is  not only the Creator, but the Preserver and the Destroyer.  A poem of three line-breaks, we mean stanzas, it carries on the same thought which it marks Gitanjali, the poem is no variation on it. Barring the sing-song quality, looking back in admiration, there is nothing more in it.

The poet says it that he knows it not how to sing. How to appreciate and admire the Divine; accept His Gifts in utter thankfulness? He just listens to in amazement. The songs he has sung are the songs mundane and mortal, but the Lord-God the Singer Divine, the Singer of singers. The melody of his songs will engulf with mellifluousness.

The light of His Music illumines the whole world and it runs from sky to sky. The holy stream with its pearly waters rushes through the fine and fair works of nature and the wild. Who has made them? Whose creation is this? It is but of God. God has made them.

On hearing the song, he too wants to join in, but how to sing it as he has not got proper words and melodies of it to continue. The speech breaks it not into songs and he feels baffled. Ah, it is His Love which but mesmerizes him, it is His Love which is but entangles him with maya and moha! The bonds of maya are boundless.

‘I know not how thou singest, my master!’ actually is in the form of prayer approaching the divine and that too in appreciation and acknowledgement. The poet too sings the songs, but his songs are not as much those by the Almighty.

The words thou singest and listen in silent amazement add to the poem, the light of thy music illumines, the life breath of thy music runs from sky to sky and the holy stream of thy music breaks are prominent in the second stanza.

The line, Ah, thou hast made my heart captive in the endless meshes of thy music, my master! is central to the understanding of the poem and expresses the philosophy of the poem.

To appreciate Tagore in the absence of Surdas, Kabirdas, Mirabai and other poets of the Bhakti Age of Indian poetry will be injustice to them. The work is in the same lineage and tradition of thought and idea, is no exception to them. Tagore has just moulded them; presented afresh if seen from that angle otherwise these are novel. Classical love poetry has held us over the ages with its mellifluousness and sway. Can we negate Rashkhan and Rahim?

Apart from devotional love poetry, Tagore has got benefited from his reading of English classics and the Holy Bible which one can mark in the use of the vocabulary. The Singer, the Divine Singer and Nature are the cardinal points around which the poem revolves.

I KNOW not how thou singest, my 
master ! I ever listen in silent amaze- 

The light of thy music illumines the 
world. The life breath of thy music 
runs from sky to sky. The holy stream 
of thy music breaks through all stony 
obstacles and rushes on. 

My heart longs to join in thy song, 
but vainly struggles for a voice. I 
would speak, but speech breaks not into 
song, and I cry out baffled. Ah, thou 
hast made my heart captive in the end- 
less meshes of thy music, my master!

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Feb 13, 2017

Kali The Mother: Swami Vivekananda

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Kali The Mother: Swami Vivekananda
By: Bijay Kant Dubey

Kali The Mother is one of the poems of Swami Vivekananda which he composed during his tour and visit of Kashmir and more specially the Kshir Bhavani Temple after having retuned back from America famous for his speeches delivered in the Parliament of World’s Religions at Chicago. The poem commemorates his passing of the night in a houseboat on Dal Lake together with his disciples and Sister Nivedita and the spur of the moments in which he visualized the Divine.`The terrible form of the Divine he invokes and adores here in this poem. The ordaining deity is Bhawani, Kali the Supernatural, Nocturnal Divine, the terrible form of shakti.

With the stars blotted out, clouds covering clouds, in the darkness vibrant, sonant, the saint poet invokes Her, the Dark Goddess, Kali the Creatrix. With the winds roaring and whirling which reminding him of the spirits of the lunatics loosened from the prison house he thinks of his approach of the Divine which none but a sadhaka can imagine it. Kali bhaktas too hold in such a view. The trees seem to be wrenched by the roots, sweeping all from the path. The sea too seems to have joined the fray and swirls up the mountain-waves to reach the pitchy skies. The flash of the lurid light reveals on every side a thousand, thousand shades of death begrimed and black scattering plagues and sorrows, dancing mad with joy. Against the backdrop of all that, the saint poet invokes the Mother Divine, Bhavani Goddess of the Kheer Bhavani temple of Kashmir. 

Terror is Her Name, death in Her Breath and every shaking step destroys a world for to be created afresh. The sadhakas who too want to feel the Ways of the Divine cannot feel it unless they invoke Her in their full sincerity. To invoke Her is not so easy, but to assimilate the poise and grandeur. She is the Terrible Form of the Feminine Power, the Motherly Consciousness. When vices and sins aggravate they on earth with the satans having their laughs, She comes, comes to balance it all. She is the Dark Side of Creation; the Awe bizarre and grotesque. The path of sadhna is not so easy; a very difficult path to tread on indeed.

The night of sadhna and the Night of Creation, what to say about? The Night Nocturnal and Supernatural? What about Shiva Tandava not, prachand Kali rupa? 

Kali the Mother as a poem is one of those poems which take to their narration the visit to the Kshir Bhavani temple of Kashmir intermixing pilgrimage with myth-making.The rupa, Divine Rupa of Kali, the Ways of the Nocturnal Divine, the Dark Goddess, how to envisage it, how to hold in with confidence the mythical things of racial and archetypal consciousness? The Goddess of death and destruction is the picture of Creation. Sometimes the sadhakas too err in keeping themselves in strict restraint and self-control. Sometimes drunken with power and aboriginal prowess, we too err in and injustice and tyranny add to our woes. At that time Kali incarnates to annihilate and destroy to create it again.

The setting of the poem is one of the dark night full of nocturnal experience and experimentation. The beauty and mystery of the nocturnal night, none but a sadhaka can say it. Kali, the Night of Kali is really matter of reckoning. Kali who is Kaal-rupa is not only dreadful, but blissful too. There are different images and forms of Kali and it is very difficult to say, what is Kali? Kali is perhaps motherly force and consciousness; the creational force.

The stars are blotted out,
The clouds are covering clouds,
It is darkness vibrant, sonant.
In the roaring, whirling wind
Are the souls of a million lunatics
Just loose from the prison-house,
Wrenching trees by the roots,
Sweeping all from the path.
The sea has joined the fray,
And swirls up mountain-waves,
To reach the pitchy sky.
The flash of lurid light
Reveals on every side
A thousand, thousand shades
Of Death begrimed and black —
Scattering plagues and sorrows,
Dancing mad with joy,
Come, Mother, come!
For Terror is Thy name,
Death is in Thy breath,
And every shaking step
Destroys a world for e'er.
Thou "Time", the All-Destroyer!
Come, O Mother, come!
Who dares misery love,
And hug the form of Death,
Dance in Destruction's dance,
To him the Mother comes.

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