Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tagore's Balaka



Habba Kadal, 2008
"I was in Kashmir. One evening, I sat by the River Jhelum. There was stillness all around. I felt I was sitting besides the Padma. Of course, when I lived on the Padma I was a young man, now I am old. Yet that difference seemed to have been wiped out by some link transcending time. A flock of geese flew over my head across Jhelum...I seemed to hear some ineffable call, and be led by its impulse to some far journey." (Kshitimohan Sen, Balaka-Kabya-Parikrama,p.55)

Balaka
A Flight of Swans

The curving stream of the Jhelum glimmering in the glow of evening
merged into the dark like a bend sword in a sheath;
at the day's ebb the night-tide
appeared with the star-flowers floating on the dark waters;
at the foot of the dark mountains were rows of deodar trees;
as if Creation, unable to speak clearly, sought to reveal its message in dream,
only heaps of inarticulate sounds rose groaning in the dark.
Suddenly I heard at that moment in the evening sky
the flash of sound rushing instantly far and farther in the plain of emptiness.
O flying swans
Storm-intoxicated are your wings
the loud laughter of immeasurable joy awakened wonder
which continued to dance in the sky.
The sounds of those wings,
the sounding heavenly nymphs
vanished after breaking the quiet of meditation.
The mountains, engulfed in darkness, shuddered,
shuddered the forest of deodar.
As if the message of those wings
brought for a moment the urge for movement
in the heart of ecstatic stillness.
The mountains desired to be roaming clouds of April,
the rows of trees spreading their wings,
desirous of severing the fetters of earth, were lost in a trice,
while in search of the end of the sky following that trail of sound.
The dream of this evening is shattered.
The waves of agony rise.
There is longing for the far,
O roaming wings.
In the heart of the universe is heard the agonized cry,
'Not here, not here, but somewhere else!'
O flying swans,
tonight you have opened to me the covers of stillness.
under this quiet I hear
in air, water and land
those sounds of the undaunted and restless wings.
The heaps of grass are flapping their wings in the sky of the earth;
in some dark obscure corner of the earth
millions of sprouting swans of seeds are flapping their wings.
Today I see these mountains, these forests fly freely
from one island to another, from the unknown to the more unknown.
In the beating of the wings of the stars
the darkness starts crying for the light.
I hear the myriad voices of men flying in different groups to
unknown regions
from the shadowy past to the hazy and distant new age.
In my heart I heard the flight of the nest-free bird with innumerable
others
through day and night, through light and darkness
from one unknown shore to some other unknown shore.
The wings of the empty universe resound with this song -
'Not here, but somewhere, somewhere, somewhere beyond!'

Translated by Bhupendranath Seal (Modern Indian Literature, an Anthology, Volume 3)

 "It is becoming easier for me to feel that it is I who bloom in flowers, spread in the grass, flow in the water, scintillate in the stars, live in the lives of men of all ages.
When I sit in the morning outside on the deck of my boat,before the majestic purple of the mountains, crowned with the morning light. I know that I am eternal, that I am anado-rupam, My true form is not that of flesh or blood, but of joy. In the world where we habitually live, the self is so predominant that everything in it is of our own making and we starve because we have to feed ourselves. To know truth is to become true, there is no other way. When we live in the self, it is not possible for us to realize truth.
[...] My coming to Kashmir has helped me to know clearly what I want. It is likely that it will become obscured again when I go back to my usual routine; but these occasional detachments of life from the usual round of customary thoughts and occupations lead to the final freedom - the Santan, Sivam, Advaitam."
 ~ extracts from a letter written by Rabindranath Tagore in Srinagar, Kashmir on October 12th, 1915. [A Miscellany by Rabindranath Tagore]
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