Poem By Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur
The Jiva Soul:
Alas for those who spend their days
In festive mirth and joy.
The dazzling, deadly liquid forms
Their hearts fore'er employ.
The shining bottles charm their eyes
And draw their heart's embrace;
The slaves of wine can never rise
From what we call disgrace.
Was man intended to be
A brute in work and heart?
Should man, the Lord of all around,
From common sense depart?
Man's glory is in common sense
Dictating us the grace,
That man is made to live and love
The beauteous Heaven's embrace.
The flesh is not our own alas;
The mortal frame a chain;
The soul confined for former wrongs
Should try to rise again.
Why then this childish play in that
Which cannot be our own;
Which falls within a hundred years
As if a rose ablown.
Our life is but a rosy hue
To go ere long for naught;
The soul alone would last fore'er
With good or evil fraught.
How deep the thought of times to be!
How grave the aspect looks!
And wrapt in awe become, O, we,
When reading Nature's books.
Man's life to him a problem dark--
A screen both left and right;
No soul hath come to tell us what
Exists beyond our sight.
But then a voice, how deep and soft,
Within ourselves is left;
Man! Man! Thou art immortal soul!
Thee Death can never melt.
For thee thy Sire on High has kept
A store of bliss above,
To end of time, thou art O! His--
Who wants but purest love.
O Love! Thy power and spell benign
Now melt my soul to God;
How can my earthly words describe
That feeling soft and broad.
Enjoyment, sorrow -- what but lots
To which the flesh is heir?
The soul that sleeps alone concludes
In them it hath a share.
And then, my friends, no more enjoy
Nor weep for all below;
The women, wine, and flesh of beasts
No love on thee bestow.
But thine to love thy brother man
And give thyself to God.
And God doth know your wages fair--
This fact is true and broad.
Forget the past that sleeps and ne'er
The future dream at all,
But act in time that are with thee
And progress thee shall call.
But tell me not in reasoning cold,
The soul is made alone
By Earth's mechanic lifeless rules
And to destruction prone.
My God who gave us life and all
Alone the soul can kill
Or give it all the joys above
His promise to fulfill.
So push thy onward march, O soul,
Against an evil deed
That stands with soldiers Hate and Lust--
A hero be indeed.
Maintain thy post in spirit world
As firmly as you can,
Let never matter push thee down--
O stand heroic man!
O Sharagrahi Vaishnava soul,
Thou art an angel fair;
Lead, lead me on to Vrindavan
And spirit's power declare.
There rests my soul from matter free
Upon my Lover's arms--
Eternal peace and spirits love
Are all my chanting charms.
SARANAGATI (SELF SURRENDER)
By Bhaktivinoda Thakur
Rendered into poetry by Krishna Dharma das
Sri Chaitanya and companions,
descending to this dark abode,
moved by merciful compassion,
the path of self surrender showed.
Everlasting loving service
unto the mighty Lord of all.
Rarely reached, a boundless bliss,
bestowed on every fallen soul.
A path that is the life and heart
of those who truly seek that place,
where none shall ever stand apart
from God’s great glory and his grace.
Humbleness and dedication,
dependence on the Lord alone,
confident of his protection,
by these he quickly will be known.
Acting always agreeably
toward the lord and his command.
Avoiding sin unswervingly,
shall swiftly take us to his land.
The ever youthful Nanda’s son,
Sri Krishna, peerless potentate,
will always hear the prayers of one.
who does this way appreciate.
With straw in teeth the poet falls
before the Thakur and his Lord.
Pray place me on this path he calls,
So I might be to truth restored.
O Lord, please hear this plea now placed,
from one poor soul so long disgraced,
who long ago forsook your feet,
to meet distress and dire defeat.
While still within the womb tight bound,
ever pressed by pain profound,
I had of you a fleeting sight,
And then you left me to my plight.
I swore at once to worship you,
throughout my life I would be true.
But birth soon brought bewilderment
and into darkness swift descent.
Surrounded by adoring kin,
my memories of grief grew dim.
Within my parents’ fond embrace
this world appeared the perfect place.
In lark and laughter life sped by,
no thought that I would one day die.
With all my mind and intellect
I studied to secure respect.
Proud then of my paltry knowledge
I sought but worldly privilege.
Absorbed in family affairs
my heart was lost in carnal cares.
O Lord, I called you not to mind,
No time for worship could I find.
A wasted life, now old and weak,
too late your shelter do I seek.
Eagerly embracing learning,
I filled my mind with mundane lore;
lacking yet the deeper yearning,
to know what life is really for.
Ever growing education
appeared to be life’s very aim.
With it grew my expectation
for worldly happiness and fame.
How futile was this foolish hope,
For this knowledge gave only grief.
Becoming but a binding rope
to atheistic blind belief.
Erudition without wisdom,
to know it should serve you alone,
takes us further from your kingdom
and turns the aching heart to stone.
Bound in bodily conception,
the shining soul becomes an ass.
Bearing on his back the burden
of his material morass.
As one such ass I stand here now,
to seek the shelter of your feet.
I shall illusion disavow
and cast aside my crass conceit.
Attacked by age, in agony,
my paltry pleasures fail to please.
As wordly wisdom comes to be
a deleterious disease.
You lord are the one true treasure
for which all sane men should aspire.
Now all my learning I abjure,
to have you as my one desire.
In my youth my one ambition
was making money, more and more.
Mindless of my life’s real mission
I wed and worked for wealth to store.
With my wife I made a household,
wherein to waste my life away.
As many children joined our fold
I slowly sank in deep dismay.
My hopes for happiness all gone,
crushed and worn by worry and stress,
feeling myself fully undone,
I found no freedom from duress.
Advancing age attacking me,
disturbed in mind incessantly,
beleaguered by debility,
success is but a fantasy.
Still my desires do not depart,
despite my incapacity.
Countless hankerings haunt my heart,
plaguing me with fevered worry.
Now all is darkness and despair.
No path from my predicament.
Fearful and filled with every care,
I offer here my sad lament.
A tide of troubles sweeps me on,
toward a dim and dreadful death.
My vow that with my duty done,
I’d worship you now seems but breath.
Please hear me Lord, as one bereft,
beseeching your benevolence.
Now all is lost and all that’s left
Is prayers for your kind providence
Absorbed in sin and wickedness,
I’m pleased to see another’s pain.
Without concern I cause distress
to ever seek my selfish gain.
Devoid of conscience and of care.
Deceit and cheating are my creed.
Vain and vicious in all affairs.
I staunchly serve both lust and greed.
Assiduous in sloth and sleep,
resisting always righteousness.
N vows or principles I keep,
pursuing pleasure to excess.
While never knowing right from wrong
I proudly preach but to impress,
countless desires my heart do throng,
and every ethic I transgress .
What godly man would ever be
beheld in my vile company?
Deprived of any piety,
I merge myself in misery.
Diseased and in decrepitude.
Ruined and wretched, crushed at heart.
The Thakur prays in humble mood
and does his tragedy impart.
Lord hear this tale of grief I tell.
I drank from out the poisoned well
of worldliness and ignorance,
as if it were sweet sustenance.
Now lacking all enlightenment
and transcendental sentiment,
my fruitless life is fading fast
and I am dismally downcast.
Thus fallen into sin and shame.
The lowest wretch; and yet you came
to save such wicked souls as me.
I call now on your clemency.
Forever Lord you are our friend.
All our adversity shall end
when every breath becomes a prayer
and we are tightly in your care.
If now you judged me you would find.
qualities of the vilest kind.
Forbear dear Lord, pray lift me up,
To deeply drink your loving cup.
Lord I seek your sanctuary
that I abandoned long ago.
The everlasting ecstasy
that mundane mind can never know.
As dry now as a desert plain,
my mind is scorched by worldliness.
Lamenting always for my pain,
I’m falling into feebleness.
Master of the meek and humble,
I turn to you in helplessness.
All my hopes around me crumble,
But that Lord for your tenderness.
Pray give to me the company
of those devoted to your feet,
for with them shall I ever be
immersed within a joy complete.
Discussions of your divine deeds
with those whose love for you is sure,
uproots at once the sinful weeds
from out the heart to leave it pure
A single yearning seizes me,
that constantly I call your name,
in your abode of sanctity,
your love forever to proclaim.
Assigned here by amoral mind,
relief nor rescue could I find,
pursuing only pain and sin,
till your pure servant entered in.
Dear Lord he found me fallen low,
and feeling pity had me know,
how one so great had taken birth
to benedict the blessed earth.
Humbled soul please heed this message,
So said to me that saintly sage.
For by it shall your heart be cheered;
the Lord has with his dhama appeared.
In Navadwip, that holy land,
Chaitanya reaches out his hand,
to lift us from calamity
and lead us to eternity.
As vowed in Vedic verse of old,
a brahmin’s son, of colour gold,
Mahaprabhu, he shall be called,
with brother Nitai, all foretold.
Engulfing all in ecstasy,
Krishna himself has come to free
the souls who suffer in their shame,
by giving them his holy name.
Go then and receive salvation,
was your servant’s exhortation.
Thus falling at your feet prostrate,
In tears do I my tale relate.
Atmanivedanam (Dedication of the Self)
No practises of piety,
nor knowledge of the self I sought.
Absorbed in sensuality,
my useless life has come to nought.
Never given to glorify
your goodness Lord, I thus did cheat
myself, and failed to purify
my heart from Maya’s blind conceit.
Yet you Lord are the fountainhead
of mercy and majestic grace.
Thus all my pointless pride I shed,
for at your feet I find my place.
You promise always to protect
all those whose only goal is you.
If you this sinful wretch reject,
no hope is left for my rescue.
Driven always by dark desire,
I long for freedom and for peace,
when lust and longings all expire,
and ignorant illusions cease.
Thus the Thakur’s contemplation
culminates in one conclusion.
Serving you without cessation
is the final absolution.
In pain Lord now my tale I tell,
of how I turned from you and fell.
Without the slightest shame or sense,
and careless of all consequence.
While in this world my time has been
comprised of sin and only sin.
Thus wracked by torment and by toil
I did my wretched life despoil.
Though prodigal and profligate,
I seek now freedom from my fate.
But surely Lord you will decree
that I be punished properly.
Thus taking birth repeatedly
within this world of misery,
I can but pray Lord that my mind
Will ever be to you inclined.
I beg that by your servants’ side
I shall remain, devoid of pride.
With humbled heart my hope is now
You will on me your grace endow.
Now body, mind and family,
and everything I think I own,
dear Lord of limitless beauty.
I offer unto you alone.
In good or bad or life or death,
though plagued by all perplexity
With your name ever on my breath
I rise above anxiety.
Whatever you may choose to do,
protecting me or punishing,
I shall not swerve from serving you,
for you shall ever be my king.
If I am born at your behest
once more within this world of woe,
I fall down with but one request,
that to your servant’s house I go.
Let me be a worm or lower,
if as your slave I shall remain.
I wish not for the greatest power
if from your service I refrain.
I yearn but for the company
of one who is forever free,
of all that is illusory
and loves but you incessantly.
Father, lover, son and mother,
you are everything to me.
Master, spouse and any other
you alone Lord shall all these be.
Thus does Bhaktivinod pray,
Lord of Radha, I here implore,
That in my heart you always stay,
my life and soul for evermore
From today I shall abandon
all thoughts of I and mine.
All I saw as my possession,
I do to you assign.
I am Lord yours and yours alone;
your glory to proclaim.
All sense of separation gone.
United with your aim.
My body, home and family,
Belong Lord but to you
I ever shall your servant be
Your will I will but do.
This house and everything I have
Are yours Lord from now on
I live here as your humble slave
For pleasing you alone
Now all past sins and piety
from body or from mind
Are burned in their entirety
As I redemption find
Two wills united now as one
My sense of self is lost
I only do what must be done
To please you at all cost.
A single service now remains,
to wait with love on you,
and happily I take all pains,
your pleasure to pursue.
I feel now but one bond within
my heart for you alone,
and all my worldly kith and kin
I all at once disown.
Abandoning all attachment
to all I saw as mine,
I understand that all is meant
For duties all divine.
Quite unaware of good or bad,
in terms of my desire.
That somehow I shall make you glad
is all that I aspire.
I’m but the watchman at your door
who guards your hearth and home.
Everything I earn is for
your happiness alone
My mind and senses you command,
to do with as you pleasel.
Their wilfulness I will withstand
with ever growing ease.
Never seeking selfish pleasure,
your joy is all I crave.
The only hope I now treasure
To be your sold out slave.
In truth dear Lord all things are yours.
The soul can nothing claim.
All other thought will surely cause
suffering and shame.
Identifying with the flesh,
in complete confusion,
we are entirely enmeshed
with illusory possession.
Captivated by this conceit,
I‘m bound by mortal coil.
Fallen from your lotus feet
into this world of toil.
Now drowning in a sea of grief,
I flounder helplessly.
No hope remains to find relief,
till you Lord set me free.
And so in agony I turn
toward you once again.
Lord let me this one lesson learn,
that leaving you means pain.
Let all thought of autonomy
a Abandon me this day;
for fooled by this great falsity,
my true self I betray
Thus falling at Lord Nitai’s feet,
the Thakur begs and prays
for all false pride to soon retreat
through his unbounded grace.
My fallen and most wretched state
is plain for all to see.
No load of sins has been so great,
as which is borne by me
No soul in all the universe,
Could so offensive be.
My dire disgrace grows only worse,
as I strive to be free.
But surely Lord you understand
the full scope of my shame.
Thus helplessly I take your hand;
your glory to proclaim
For you receive the fallen soul
and free him from his pain
Awarding him life’s highest goal;
your company again
This world and all within is yours.
In you offenses die.
For those who have no other cause,
but you to satisfy
All that ever was or will be,
is, my Lord, you alone.
We search for shelter uselessly,
till you in truth are known.
Offenders at your feet like me,
will in the end be free.
When finally we seek to be,