Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sway of Mystical Poetry

Some of the most ancient poetry was sacred poetry and song as a vehicle for sacred teachings. The Vedas of India, for example, are sacred verses that are traditionally chanted. It is said that they are not merely descriptions of doctrines, but revelations of Truth. The Quran and its mesmerizing chant in the original Arabic held sway many believers during the time of the Prophet and later in the development of Islamic Spirituality. The Sufi movement understood this dimension and tried its best to elevate the Islamic tenets to a higher level than what is delivered through rituals and diktats. These texts had the power to transform consciousness because of the fact that these verses are a homogeneous mix of spiritual and life empowering truth with an auditory tuning to touch the inner most realms of one’s consciousness. Truth was not revealed by mere words but by a process of aligning the whole physical dimension of one’s existence to the words and content of the poetry or verse so that there is a transformation at the most subtle level of the physical structure’s makeup. According to this tradition, poetry is not merely a fanciful and pleasant play of words and sounds that might evoke some surprising images or emotions, but a direct manifestation of a deeper reality that has the potential to radically transform us and shift us out of fixed modes of awareness.

Thomas McFarlane, author of “Einstein and Buddha: The Parallel sayings” writing on this subject says: “Moreover, it is said that all existence manifests in this way from a fundamental seed syllable or vibration, OM. As the
Mandukya Upanishad says, This eternal Word is all: what was, what is, and what shall be, and what is beyond eternity. All is OM. The Greek word poesis (related to our words poetry and poem) means simply making or creating. The divine poetry is thus the divine creation, which is the world made manifest through the act of divine speech, such as in Genesis where it brings heaven and earth into existence. The world is God’s speech, God’s poem. As Meister Eckhart puts it, the simple being of a stone is the speech of God. It, and everything else, is the divine OM. When we begin to sense this, then we become the poetry.”

It is consciousness giving expression and this is for this reason that when we read any sacred verse in its original language the feel is totally different from reading a translation where only the dry meaning is transmitted.
For example reading the great Tamil
bakthi (devotional) poem of Thiruvasagam in its original gives you a natural surrender to the divine. The same feel cannot be generated when we read the translation by G.U. Pope in English. Another classical example, from my own experience, is when we listen to Sankara’s composition to ‘Annapurani’ sung in the original Sanskrit. Invariably throughout the song one gets an elevated feeling of consciousness. There are many example including listening to the Our Father prayer being recited in the original Aramaic or listening to the Gregorian chant of the Latin vespers in a Gothic cathedral.

Poetry is the language of the soul and this is the reason that most wisdom traditions used poetry and music to touch the soul of the initiates.

Love to you all


  1. The Annapurna chant had been sung by many eminent singers but the one from Arbindo Ashram can take us to greatest heights!

  2. Very true. The CD's name is NADAKA and it is a three volume set.

  3. I wrote an article on similar thoughts, and a reader commented as if it could be mine own. She says, Reminds me of a quote by Lesley Walmsley in his compilation book, C. S. Lewis on Faith. He quotes Lewis as referring to God as “that great Imagination which in the beginning, for Its own delight and for the delight of men and angels and (in their proper mode) of beasts, had invented and formed the whole world of Nature, submitted to express Itself in human speech, that speech should sometimes be poetry”.

  4. As someone who has attempted to write poetry,this blog makes me to reflect how far my words have come from the soul.Very occasionally or scarcely only it had been so.We do need to empty ourselves inorder to become the via media of divine poetry.

  5. Thanks for your feedback reflecting on the thoughts of C.S. Lewis. The sequence of the primal thought of the Cosmos is reflected in Nature and this finds expression through humans, the highest level of consciousness in this evolving Gaia system, is so very true.

  6. Thanks Subathra for your sharing. On reading your translation of Gitanjali I am convinced that your operate from a dimension of higher consciousness.
    Any poetry that appeals to a reader's inner self has to transcend the rational and mind dominated dimension and this is what you call emptying one self.