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Wednesday, February 9, 2011




O Kateera !

The Birth of Ganga

O Flower-gatherer !

The Cuckoo and her Little Ones

I Remember I was on the Swing of Love

The Search of Jumna

Love and Wisdom: Told by a Nightingale and a Wayfarer

The Sun-Wearer

The Song of the Godavari

He Speaks Not, Nor Doth He Smile

I Always Think of Him

I cannot Control my Heart

The Play of our Master

Who Dares Drink with Me ?

I made my Mind a Beggar’s Bowl

To my Chrysanthemums,—Good-Bye !

The Creeper’s Cry

The Flowers of the Garland

The Kikar Tree

Under a Lime-Tree at Amritsar

The Punjab Autumn : The Season of the Cooling Dew

On Separation from the Stars and the Sky

We are the Evergreen Branches of the Orange-Tree


I am the dewdrop trembling on the lotus-leaf,

As the flower floats on the water !

Borne on a ray of the sun, I dropped,

Like a pearl strung on a thread of gold.

I quiver on the lotus-leaf as quivers the morning ray,

The hand that dropped me from on high

In itself holds all the strings of guiding light.

It is the hand of my King !

I play on the lotus-leaf to-day;

To-morrow I shall be with him !

He drops me, and he draws me up —

A dewdrop on the lotus-leaf.


Sweet ones, wild ones ! moonlight dances !

A myriad tiny feet, like the feet of heavenly cherubs, fall upon the dark green needles of the ancient deodar !

I almost hear the footfalls.

There is such a storm of joy.

The beams of the moonlight fall on the boulders like a pattering rain of needles.

I saw them falling on the flowing river, one by one,

Slowly, softly, softly, slowly, dancing run the footfalls of the moonlight, on the eddying waves.

The needles play on the bosom of the crystal water,

The needles glint in the air,

The myriad feet on the moonlight weave rich measures of music on the ground,

A flood of rapture !

And the unmoving moonlight, calm above, gazes into the face of the moon,

And the moon gazes deep into the soul of the moonlight.

Sweet ones, wild ones ! the whole of the moon has turned into one long look !

He has been looking on her for ages long;

And she has been loving him for centuries.

He pours his love on her, the moonlight that flows out of his soul.

He loves to gaze into her eyes, the eyes of his very soul.

He floods the moonlight with new, new love every night,

He floods her with the threads of an unbroken rain of love.

The moonlight spreads along the ground, she roams everywhere;

She wanders over the river and the rocks, over the fields and the forests;

She enters the cities, the lanes, the huts of the poor and the mansions of the rich;

She touches with silver joys the foreheads of both sinner and saint;

She illumines the door of the mighty and weak;

But it is all the dance of the little, little feet of the million-footed moonlight.

It is the storm of joy here below, it is the universal quivering of her feet.

The unmoving moonlight gazes deep into the face of the moon,

Her heart is strung up on high with the sacred, secret lotus.

Out of the love of a single twain, so much blessing flows for the worlds below,

With every one, yet with none.

Sweet ones, wild ones ! The moonlight is up in heaven, her feet only tread our velvet grass !

The moon and the moonlight!

The dance of her million feet on the shifting sea of the sands of time!

And the repose above of the sacred two in the realm of eternal love!

Sweet ones, wild ones! The dancers of the moonlight’s love !


He came this way; that way he went;

I saw him and I lost him.

He was but now before my eyes;

He has just gone that way.

He has just gone, and cannot yet return.

Ask me not what I am doing in the open—in the rain, sunshine and storm !

Touch me not, advise me not!

He came this way; that way he went.

I saw him and I lost him.

He was just before my eyes;

I am not searching for him,

I am but looking the way he went;

They said he would not return;

But my left hand shades my eyes,

And I look—my eyelids do not droop—on the road that he has gone.

My eyes close not, they are still looking for him who hath not yet returned,

He who wakes in me ever new a thousand feelings yet unborn, and things of love unknown to me—

He, he, who took my heart away by one glance at me !

Touch me not, advise me no more, pray !

I am not concerned with the hundred roads that go;

I sit, and here I will sit, by this road where he has gone;

I will wait here for him.

I will fix my eyes on this road,

He will look this way,

For this way I saw him go.

I am sad now for his love,

I will still sit and wait for him,

And let pass the pageant of the world.

It shall be nothing to me, if ages pass;

He will soon be coming this way.

Touch me not, advise me no more !

My mind has let go the hold of all the things it had;

It is only an eye, a beautiful eye, a fixed gaze, an unwearying look, a woman’s vow;

It is only looking in the way I saw him go.

My mind is filled with sudden joy;

I feel he is coming, my eyes burn brighter;

But my heart soon fails with pain again, and my eyes grow dim with tears.

O the pain grows unbearable !

And my eyes mourn as if the life of my life has gone from me for ever.

I caution myself; no such ill forebodings will I allow to rule within.

My eyes glow again from a hundred auspicious signs,

I make offerings of joy to gods,

And I look along the way he went—surely he cannot be very far!

Day changes into night and night into day,

But change not my eyes.

They are fixed now for ever;

They have forgotten how to close,

They know no sleep, no rest;

My life needs neither meat nor drink,

It is all at gaze, on the way that he has gone.

Touch me not, advise me no more !

Destroy the tasks of duty !

Let go, in the great fire of death and change, the deeds and the calls of life!

My vocation of life is this. Go from me. I am not yours !

My body fails, let it fail, let it fade and extinguish !

But never shall the gaze of my eyes turn from the way that he has gone!

Touch me not, advise me no more !

Life goes, let it go;

My soul is in my eyes, that look along the way he will return to me.

Let eye and brain dissolve,

Let limb after limb fail,

Let my stems and my leaves drop;

But let my eyes last a little while more !

My life is in my eyes,

The elements try in vain to dry me up by drying blood and flesh and bone.

There is a little lamp of life lit by love and set in the shrine of my eyes,

And I tell you the winds of death know not how to blow it out.

It is the light of the beloved,

That bums in the infinite storm of change, unchanged in my eyes.

My eyes are a spark of heaven;

I live and live as long as heaven is,

As long as love and life are.

My eyes beam and glisten,

And they are fixed for ever on the road he has gone !

They shall look without an eyelid’s droop for ever along that way.

All other limbs are dead, let them die; but let my eyes remain.

The green stem has turned dry,

But heaven and earth feed the life in my eyes.

Heaven and earth nurse them who have ceased to nurse themselves,

Eternity now is mine !

My eyes have been looking along the way my love has gone from me.

In the name of Allah, I swear,

I had but one glimpse of him !

He came this way, that way he went,

I saw him, and I lost him.

He was but now before my eyes.

He has gone, and hath not yet returned.

It was but one glance, one glance that made me so selfless.

It was one glance that made me for ever pale and white.

And on and on for ever, I look for him !

He made me death-pale, white and ill;

He took my sleep and rest away.

O Allah ! I had but one glimpse of him !

My eyes are as cups held in a beggar’s hands, waiting still to be filled with love.

He came this way, that way he went!

I saw him and I lost him.

He was but now before my eyes.

He has gone, my love has gone that way !

He has gone, and hath not yet returned !


The ‘Tree of Joy’ of the bride and bridegroom,

O Kateera !

The ancient dye of the bride’s hands !

O Kateera !

The joy of the merry wedded life !

O Kateera !

The perfume of two wedded souls made one,

O Kateera !

O love ! thine by ancient rights of joy, is Kateera !

O Kateera !

I saw the Kateera of the wild fields growing in the garden here. Thine, I thought, is still
Kateera !

O Kateera !

I went to the garden to bring home the ‘Tree of Joy’ for thee, my love;

But the gardener would not let me,

O Kateera!

He would not let me touch it,

O Kateera !

Though I cried, with a thousand strains of joy, in the voices of my quivering soul, the
gardener would not listen !

O Kateera !

The world’s worth I gave to him, he would not give me even a leaf of Kateera !

O Kateera !

My heart is sad for the garden and the land where the flowers of love and joy are scattered to
the ground.

Up, my love! Up, my ruby red of heart! Put on thy turban now, And take me where Kateera
grows in nature free and wild !

O Kateera !


A spark of life, I saw shooting into the heavens.

The half-visible mist, borne on the southern sea, scented winds, seemed to roll it on,

A ruby glowing in the mist!

It was winging in an aerial cradle, hung on the golden rays of the sun in midmost sky.

It was the cradle of mists,

And a spark of life was glowing within;

And the angels with their breath were fanning the spark of life that was soon to have its birth on the earth.

Down below, far below the mist, the white clouds gathered on the Himalayan summits; like many hoary-
headed sages to receive the spark of life from on high.

A burning ruby, like the morning sun, shot through the air, And down it fell into the clouds.

The mist rolled on the life-spark to grow and generate on earth ! Those were the clouds of the Himalayas,

With the spark of life glowing within.

The clouds could hardly hold for long the precious gem, so heavy they were with it.

The clouds dropped down in a storm of snow on the Himalayan peaks.

And concealed in this storm of snow, the spark of life descended on the loftiest mountain of the globe !

And the spark of life burned within !

The spark of life, the Ganga of ancient fame, was seated like a Jogi in the perennial snows;

Her legs were crossed, her backbone straightened as she brooded in thought;

Her eyes were closed, her mind lost in Nirvana calm !

Her soul was gathered all within,

There was she seated like a Jogi in the snows.

But not the mists, the clouds, not the snows, could hold for long the spark of life;

No trance of Jogi nor of Nirvana could long hold the moving life motionless.

There is a grain of burning fire, a gleam of the seed of eternal life still glowing in the heart of Ganga.

This little grain of fire melts the glaciers,

And from the opened Gaumukh1 of the glaciers flows the Ganga down.

It is a little silver current of crystal joy water,

And the spark of life glows within !

Stealthily tumbling out of the Himalayas’ lap,

Down she rolls dancing over rocks and stones,

And sparkles bright, catching the flying rainbows in her hundred waves.

Undaunted flows the River Ganga, and nothing bars her way.

Each little current of water, each little drop of dew, that falls on the Himalayan grass, she beckons to herself,
and everyone obeys her call.

The rivers come, the rivulets come :

And mightier, and larger, and happier flows the River Ganga !

Day and night, unresting, doth the river go,

And the spark of life glows within !

From the Himalayas down she descends on the Sivaliks;

And from the Sivaliks on to the East,

On to the East, the river goes,

Still brighter bums the spark of life within !

On to the East the Ganga flows,

Scattering the heavenly wealth around !

Plenty and prosperity to each and all!

The gifts of horses, cows and bulls !

The gifts of corn, of fruits and flowers !

Jewels and gems she scatters as she goes.

The mightly cities stand on either side of her banks, waiting, like so many beggars, for her alms.

Something for all, nothing denied, the Ganga distributes life and joy as she rushes down.

The thirsty creatures of the forests drink from her cup as she holds it to their lips.

Man, bird and beast rejoice !

The Ganga knows the ways in which heaven does good to all,

The heat of the heat-oppressed she takes to herself.

She fain would be muddy, if only others may be made clean.

She gives and forgives; she knows how to serve with her coolest waves, if only others may be happier thereby.

Attracted onward by the vision of the ancient teachings,

The Ganga seeks the sea,

To be one with the great infinite,

To be lost in the one great stream—the oneness of things.

At last she goes to the great ocean, blue and broad, one infinite stretch of things,

To rest in one unmoving motion.

All day and night, unresting, through the land she goes, and never turns back.

The sea to the approaching Ganga said, “Who and from whence art thou?”

Thou art great, full of every gem and scent.

Thou art fragrant with the fragrance of the earth and many a herb!

Thou bringest the joys of the land of the people, rich-laden with gold and pearl thou comest!

Thou hast been showering joys on all,

Thou hast brought blessing to all!

Pray, tell me thy tale, where is thy land, thy home, O beautiful one ?”

Proud of her Father-Himalaya and her high descent from heaven,

The Ganga raised her head aloft and said :

“I come from the Himalayas,

From the largest, greatest, highest height,

And the deepest deep,

From him self-lost in Joga.

All I have now or did ever bring with me is his, 0 sea!

All I gave to any that met me on my way is his.

The gifts are his, he the giver !

I am but a messenger of the great Himalaya—stem ancient lover of men.

His waters are sweet.

His ore and precious stones are so fair and bright.

The gold shines in the sands there.

His air breathes everlasting ecstasies.

His trees are talisman-trees.

His herbs are weighted with charms.

His seasons revolve in endless fascination.

All glorious are his lights.

Those shades of deodar, the moonlit-snows,

The sudden falls of Auroras of the north.”

When the sea heard of the greatness of the Himalayas, a snake-like wave coiled round his heart, and he
angrily replied :

“True”, he said, “he is high, but is not a very Hell below, in the depths of his valleys ?

That greatness is of no avail which has so much low, dark littleness by its side.

O beautiful one ! those that are high have enough of the low !

Look at me ! O fair new-comer from afar !

I am always of one level, neither high nor low,

Nor great nor small; one great vastness I.

I receive a thousand rivers and I increase not,

A thousand rivers go out of me and I decrease not.

Nor have I any high peaks to show,

Nor is there any sudden rise or sudden fall in me.

No deep dark valley is in me, no half-scooped caves,

No cracked fissures or frowning wrinkles are one my face,

One great level, one vastness, one oneness I am !”

The Ganga collected herself, in supreme wrath,

And turned her steps back from where she came.

She murmured to herself:

“Back I will go. I will not stay with such a jealous wretch as the sea, so proud of his own low level.”

And aloud she spoke with the voice of an angry goddess :

“Ah ! I had thought that the ocean is ever calm, silent and deep.

Thou hast spoken but as a shallow water-pot.

Thou hast not weighed what thou hast said.

It is true the Himalaya has deep valleys, deep wrinkles on his face;

But, O sea! his lowest level is higher far than the highest thou canst boast.

The high ones are ever high,

But higher even their lowest pitch than the highest crest of thy waves.

I wonder thou, so low thyself, speakest ill of him who sends thee feeding streams.

Knowest thou not thy Gehenna-depths of hell below this water-garb of honour !

Knowest thou not thy treacherous caves below !

Knowest thou not how mean is this deceptive level of thine !

But thou knowest how to hide thy ugly gulf below this shining water sheet.

And there the high Himalaya, my father, stands bare in his own glory and joy, caring not to conceal even a
single blot on his skin.

There stands he, the highest, with all his scars and wrinkles on him.

There rise up his highest peaks, abode of angels and gods, in the transparent blue—

The snowy summits are kissed daily by the rising sun.

Behold the daily showers of gold on the hoary head of my father!

Heaven pouring itself down on him,

How sublime is he ! How mean art thou !

How he stands for eternity to feast the world with his flesh and blood !

How thou cringest here eating every crumb that each one throws to thee !

He is the giver.

Thou art but a beggar.

A beggar can brook not the greatness of his benefactor.

Concealing well thy black depths, thou proclaimest thyself

without shame and fear, so faultless thou, that art so low.

Go ! I curse thee, thou shalt for ever drown in the deeps of thy own black hate.”

Then the Ganga turned away from the sea.

And the sea, self-drowned in shame, cried out:

“Go not, Ganga, go not away ! Come back, come back to me,

I have been waiting so long for thee.”

But the Ganga turned away indignantly from the ocean,

The spark of life blazing high within !

The sea flatters her;

But on she goes; her eyes turned up to heaven, heaven’s eyes gazing into hers,

Still the sea, catching her by the hands and holding her round the waist, tries to take her back to his home.

“O God! I will not stay with this monster of winds and waves,

I will not stay with the slanderer of my great father.

Pray, heaven ! send down thy beams and bear me upwards in their embraces.

And take me back to the lap of my father !

I will not stay with this monster of the waves.”

The Ganga ascends.

On the shoulders of the winds, in the cradle woven of the rays of the sun and moon, she is lifted high to the

To the Himalayas back the Ganga flies.

In the cradle of light is her ascent,

Where the spark of life is fanned by angels.

Once again she tries to forget the world,

Once again, in the lap of Himalayas, the Ganga lies and plays.

Once again she is lost in Nirvana.

Once again her legs are crossed, her backbone straightened as she broods in thought.

Her eyes are closed, her mind is lost in calm.

Once again her soul is all gathered within,

Seated like a Jogi in the snows,

The eternal unmelting snows,

And buried in them, and aglow is still the spark of life !

The Ganga sleeps, she sleeps again in trances on the snows.

But the spark of fire she has in her soul rouses her again.

Again she moves, again she flows; again she goes to bless and love.

Tired and spent, again she returnes.

Filled and refreshed, again she flows,

She is alive, and the spark of life in her soul burns for ever.

1. The spot in the glaciers from where the River Ganga first issues is likened to the “Mouth of the Cow”, or


“O Flower-Gatherer !” says the rose;

“Tear me not away from any parent-stem !

Linked with it, the life-sap of the infinite life flows through me.

I blossom and glow and perfume the very universe.

All that come hither may drink of joy from the fragrant scent of my soul.

“0 flower-gatherer ! why dost thou take me away, to have me all for thyself, thine only, denied to all others !

Ah ! it will be so, it will be so—thou wilt have me all for thyself.

But thou wilt retain me for less than a twinkling of an eye.

And I, my perfume, my beauty, my soul, and all I am will die.”


The singing cuckoo has arrived,

Her songs of Spring are blazing high.

Her sleeping brood awakes in the crows’ nests.

The little ones are restless and sad,

The nests to them are harsh as hell.

The nursing birds are in distress,

For the little ones swallow the sparks of love’s fire,

And fly blindly after the voice of the cuckoo.

But as they fly the crows seize them with beak and claw;

Back they take them to the nests and hold them prisoners there;

And a thousand nursery rhymes they caw and chant to turn the little ones from the songs of the cuckoo;

But the call of the unknown makes them still restless.

The cuckoo-song steals their souls away.

The little ones fly blindly after the songs,

Nothing else can give them peace.

The parents who fed them from their own beaks keep jealous watch; but the little birds fly away.

Perched on the topmost branch, the crows brood over their loss and think:

“Our own children, born of us !

They who were to bear our pains and share our joys, love us not.

They have become thorns for us,—a sad, sad fate.

The cuckoo flies from wood to wood singing.

Her monotonous song overwhelms the wood with a magic fire that the very air and water seem to catch.

A rolling river of the fire of song flows through her little throat

Her strains cut the soul with pain.

The storm of love that blows from her makes empty all the nests.”

At last the crows understand that the charmed voice of the cuckoo is the cause of their loss.

The cuckoo henceforth is their foe—they vow to revenge themselves on her.

The cuckoo dares not fly near their nests;

A hundred crows gather to tear her down.

But her voice is enough, heard even from afar,

As she unrolls the ancient scroll,

Singing the ancient songs of love.

By means of song she stirs the souls of her young ones, so

fatefully lost. At last they fly away, forgetting the home of those who have nursed them;

And fly blindly whither the call from the unknown for ever calls to them !



I remember I was on the swing of love, and it was swinging high.

The very height made me pure and selfless.


As we swung, the beloved held a bowl to my lips.

I drank of it, my lips were honey-sealed.

It was, I saw, the wine of life, the bestower of love and freedom.

I cast but casual glances downwards : the things on earth looking up with sweet appeal.

I knew not that my very looks and smiles would be my bondage.

My own smiles and looks became the chains by which the things of earth bound me down.

They began to sling their sorrows and shades, and the pains of hell, about my heart.

I blame no one, I only blame my binding looks and smiles.


Ah ! again the swing of love and the freedom of the air, the sun, and the soul !

These chains would drop, if I could but catch again, as before,

As before the hem of the flying garment of him who flies so high!

If he would only hale me, and if I could but hold firm his helping hand!

Ah ! if I could bind him down to myself by his image of love within my heart!

If he would only lift me up, and if I could but hold his helping hand in mine!


And now I fly again, for thus my chains did drop.

Again I am seated in my swing of love.

It is swinging full and high.

And the bowl is sweet, my love holds to my lips.

I drink of it, and to its lips my lips are honey-sealed :

It is, I see, the wine of life, the bestower of love, and the freedom of the air.



O sisters ! He once came and camped at Paonta.

Who was it, that sportive swimmer?

Who was it, that vina-player

Who played his vina at Paonta once?

Where is that fountain of life, O sisters mine ?

The fountain of life that gave life to all that touched him?

He came once, camped at Paonta and bathed in me.

Ah ! I bathed in him, or he bathed in me !

Sweet illusion!

He came all-sparkling and glowing;

He came and laughed and sported, and swam in me,

And how I leapt and laughed, forgetting myself in joy of him.


O sisters ! Such a dream it was, one that no waking can ever break !

He came playing and sporting, and made us play with him.

He stood in the middle, and we all round,

In a glowing ring of sport and song !

He came, and oh ! his laughter !

He made our voices ripple with joy, in that echoing, laughing peal of us, all in the valley of Paonta.


He came, transfixing us all in the motionless joy of his soul.

He played his vina,

The vina whose strings did draw us hither and thither at will,

The vina whose billowy, tremulous voice tossed our hearts and souls up and down as it wished.

His vina, so enrapturing !

it was like silver in his hands;

O ! the moving dream-like tunes it made,

The gentle, killing, loving call of his vina!

The all-thrilling symphony

Of his warbling vina !


He came and he loved us,

And having loved us, O sisters,

He came and stole our hearts.

And having stolen our hearts, O sisters !

He came, he strained us to his soul.

And having strained us to his soul, O sisters !

He bound us fast with strings whose ends were in his hands.

And having tied us fast with the strings in his hands, O sisters !

He has now hidden himself.


My soul has caught fire in the search for that unknown fountain of life.

I asked of yonder heights,

I asked about him of the distant depths.

O sisters ! In my search supreme I have visited every one,

Till all my relations caught my pain;

I searched for him and they ran hither and thither for news of him.


We searched the lands, we searched the sea;

Nor I nor my relations found that mystic joyous swimmer.

He was not found on earth, the ardour of my search burned high in me;

Riding on clouds, driving an aerial chariot all day and night.

I raised my head from the ground, and afar I looked for him in the aerial regions.

I looked for him from isles to isles, from sea to sea,

I wandered over all the continents,

In every street of the world my chariot rolled !

From my chariot, my wrappings blown by the winds that passed, I gazed all intent into space.

Travel wearied me, flight tore me, tattered and shattered, worn and torn, like a ship-wrecked mariner, I
returned to the Himalayas!


I left my aerial chariot. In restless fire of soul I rode again the current of water that I saw tumbling down
from the Himalayan precipice!

I began again a search in places I had searched before,

Once again I came along those very paths,

Once again to the vale of Paonta !

I looked again for him; but my eyes saw him not.

Nowhere I met my vina-player.

I had no leisure, my every single look inquired from the hundreds assembled around.

I looked in haste from face to face so blank and vacant. My very glances wandered!

And on and on I went.


In waters I found him not,

Nor found him on land.

Never again I met him, never again!

Months sped and years rolled away,

Centuries passed me by,

But no news !


Yogis came, and they of self-control,

The seers came, and they of ascetic mould;

The slow grinders came, the men of customs and conventions, and they of a thousand powers.

I inquired from all the holy ones, and each replied in stale spiritual phrase.

“He is soul”, they said;

“Transcending figure and form, he has blended himself with cosmic light and life !

Seest thou not heaven ablaze,

And seest thou not light that shines in the still higher firmament!

Seest thou not that the rocks and rivers and all this earth beat with his transcendent life !”


Good-bye, my friends ! Good-bye !

Is this the knowledge admired by the Yogi and these men of self-control!

Is this the thought of assuage the unrest in their hearts; the thought that gives them peace !

Alas ! words arid pious phrases like these can never quench the fire of my soul.

No, my wise friends ! Good-bye !

No altered form, no portrait, pray !

I wish his own beauty were before me !

No greater glory, no truer thing, pray !

I wish my own king of life were before me again.

A sun-like shining crest he wears on his turban;.

I wish the same crest might shine before my eyes again !

And with it the gold-tipped arrow of that high-strung bow he carries.

I wish he would come and stand before me as then, with his bow and arrows.

Nobody else nor any other charming thing, pray !

I wish my own king of life to be with me.

I long for this to take place once again.

If only he would come in the same old way !

Bringing with him that nimbleness of his, that laughter that leapt from wave to wave.

If only he would come and swim again and sport again as he used to swim and sport !

If only he would come and transfix me again by his glory!

If only he would come and touch his vina again,

And sing to us once more his songs,

Then my thirst would be appeased.

The fire of my soul would leap from wave to wave in joy,

My every limb and organ would burst with the blossoms of life as it once was when he was with me.


But if he is not to revisit Paonta !

If all this has but been to torment me with an everlasting longing,

Only to waken in me an eternal pain !

Welcome then is the life of pain !

And welcome is the everlasting longing!

And welcome is my task of searching for him for ever.

I will have him and the vision only,

Nothing else, and nothing else !


Let ages go and come !

Let cycles roll as they may,

And let him be wherever he wills,

My search shall never cease,

My longing for him will never end.

Enough for me, this vocation of pain,

I revel in this killing thirst,

The misery of this hunger is my life and joy for ever.

When there flashes on my soul the thought of him,

My soul with its million waves of voice revels in ‘naming him.’

And my life bleeds arrow-pierced.


But he pulls me always; the strings are still in his hands.

I live, and the arrow of love shot from his bow is still in my heart.

And thus I wish to go on for ever and ever, moving towards no certain goal.

Nothing else and nothing else !

From land to waters, and from waters to land again !

To fly in air, to roll in sand, and yet arrive nowhere,

A Yogi blessed in his pain.


O sisters ! Stay a while, turn not your backs on me !

Go not till you have listened to me as I relate my pain !

I had but one glimpse of him, and then no more,

One glimpse of him has brought to me the pain that shall last for ever.

Such it means to see that unknown fountain of life.

Turn not, sisters, your backs on me !

Bless me before we part.

And wish that my lord may come to me again,

That the soul of life may return in those very limbs which I saw and touched once and for ever.

But there steals forth no hand to take me to his realms of beauty.

No sleep stirs in me that dream.

Pray for me that he himself in great compassion return to me !


He who made me athirst for him will moisten my parched mouth.

My eyes shall seek him in space for ever !

My heart shall ever flow in a flood of tears,

My soul shall put the supreme inquiry to every-one.


His thought is in me and his name is on the tongues of my hundred waves of feeling.

I will flow in his name for ever.

And I will be as I am now,

Till my beloved himself come and stand before me, as once he did stand at Paonta.

Till I say, “Peace ! 0 sweet ones.! Peace ! He has come to me.”


O sisters, he once came and camped at Paonta!

The man whom we thought we know so well, and yet so dimly, O sisters !

Where, where is that vina-player whose vina drew us out of ourselves for ever ?




“The sunny day grows dark.

Vacant is the abode of my love;

His garden, once so full and gay, is empty to-day

No flowers bloom, no fruits hang luscious on the boughs !

No golden pods, no seeds; no honey drips below !

O gods ! this is but a cruel deception.

The rose-bearing branch is trampled low in dust,

Torn is the tree wherein the bees swarmed in their myriads.

Where have they gone—the fresh shoots and the bursting youth of the trees and creepers he loved ?

Where is that living greeenery of moss, and those leaves and grass ?

No more one sees those ripening buds, those full-blown blossoms smiling;

But naked, thorny, blanched boughs, like bones, instead !

The eyes of the trees are closed,

They stand as blind men, and the doors to the soul are shut for ever.

The sweet omnipresence of beauty, sweeter still, the fairy harmony—all are gone.

Oh, who has stolen the life of all that glory ?

The glory is gone !”

A lonely nightingale sighed thus, and spoke to a passer-by :

“Brother wayfarer ! God bless thee ! Stay, stay a while, and say why the abode of my beloved is but a
wilderness now !

Where ? Where is that all-owner of the loveliness of youth ?


The wayfarer replied:

“Long long ago the heaps of flowers lay below the trees,

The gardener of the garden reaped the harvest of thy rose,

The flower-sellers and the perfumers thronged around,

In open mart was sold long, long ago what thou callest thy love !

The glory of the garden then shifted to the city streets.

The flowers were woven in thousand fancy forms,

The delicate-limbed maidens wore them in their ears,

And in love-garlands round their lissom necks;

And flower-offerings passed from one to another,

And wristlaces, necklaces, ear-rings, were passed round the town;

And shy were the new brides in the presence of their new bridesmen—veils of flowers concealing their
blushes beneath.

With the flowers a tide of love rushed into the city;

The beds were strewn with roses,

The people sat under the shades, drinking sherbet scented with petals of thy rose,

And others distilled the leaves and caught the flying scent in water and in crystal glasses.

So went the rose, from palace to palace, bound in the painted vases.

Thy rose ! thy rose is gone !

Wings can no more take thee to him;

O stricken little bird ! Nothing availeth now,

Nor can he come to thee, nor canst thou go to him.

In vain the pain of love ! In vain is thy longing now !

But where hast thou been so long ?”


The nightingale sings:

“Spring was in all its glory, and the leaves were new, as my eyes first drank the light of the sight of my love.

But as I made my flights of joy from bough to bough,

As I sang my songs of mirth, I was caught prisoner.

The wily gardener caught me and put me in a cage.

The walls of my prison were strong and high,

The door of the iron bars was bolted tight.

Pain entered into my soul.

The loss of the beams from the brow of my beloved darkened for me all outside.

Oh ! I had sold my liberty for love. I was torn from the home of my ancestors, the wild spaces of the forest,
the old laughter, the joys of those free-will flights over hills and dales, over the expanse of rivers,
those fiery wingings in the blue.

Gone for ever the ancient home and the chosen freedom that was mine ! All gone, because I loved !

Alas ! the cruel hand of fate took away my love from me.

In anguish did my soul flutter its wings within the cage.

I tried to fly; but the hard prison bars struck me almost dead.

This was heaven’s reply to my prayers for one more glimpse of my love.

O gods ! When would it open—this door of iron bars ?

When should I see again that light ?


“But no feelings of compassion came to the jailer’s heart.

He would stand with his children about my cage,

And they would clap their hands and dance and say, ‘What a beautiful warbler!’

When I, in bitter anguish of soul, unable to control my heart, cried at last,

‘Who knows the state of an imprisoned soul whose freedom is in the will of another ?

Better death than loss of the freedom of living. If freedom depart from the soul it is better that life should
cease for ever.’


“Men have fought, and they fight still for freedom’s sake. Great are those who lose their lives to be free and
to set free,

But the earthly life of bees, of birds, and of fakirs and saints is at the mercy of others.

If any hurt them, they will but smile in reply.

O brother wayfarer! I knew not my garden would thus be laid waste.

I knew not all would thus be ruin, dust and ashes, beyond my control.

I passed my days hoping, one day, to be free; that I might see my love again.

To-day, the little child of my jailer left the door open;

And I, taking my chance, stealthily flew out,

And came and saw my garden, a dreary waste.

My heart gushes out in thousand streams of blood to listen to the story thou hast told me now;

My love ! O my love !”


And the wayfarer replied :

“Tragic is thy tale !

Alas ! there is none can assuage pains like these.

But I understand not how thou canst call this garden thine.

The gardener planted all that is here with his own hands.

He sowed, he weeded, he watered the roots of all these fruits and flowers;

His praying eyes watched the growth day and night.

Truly all this is the fruit of his labour.

All that the garden grows is his, by every law and human right,

He is the owner of his own; say not a word, blame him not,

Thou hast no claim,

Thy sense is caught in overwhelming illusion.

Give up these wild fancies.

Thou canst not have what is not thine.

Know this—be wise and sing, forgetting thy pain.

There is still a song in thy little throat, the song that heals the wounds of woe;

Why not sing, O little bird, and heal thyself!”


The nightingale sings:

“O wayfarer ! thou art full of wisdom, but empty, meseems, of pain;

Thy heart is whole, no pangs of love within, no wounds of life are there ! Ay ! thou art free of pain !

But, traveller ! the pain of love is great.

He knows who has the wounds of love within,

When love chooses to pierce the heart, there is no human cure for this sweet, sweet ailment.

No song is there that can allay the heat of the pain of love; the true song makes it more intense.

All cures that are prescribed for this pain increase it the more.

Thy words are of wisdom, the flowers and fruits are truly the gardener’s;

But now let wisdom turn back to my old home, where I and my love lived in peace.

He lived in me and I in him,

My life and his were one,

But they plucked my rose and made a garden out of my forest!

My tender wings could not forbid, nor the tremblings of my heart prevent the hand of might that removed
my beloved from the ancient home.

O wise man! why fight with fancies, building castles of words, when might alone is right on earth ?

Why all this discourse on justice and right ?

Ponder a little O brother wayfarer !

Who loves the rose ?—the gardener or the helpless heart of a bird?

Beneath all that sowing and weeding, watching and longing, seest thou not the self concealed ?

The gardener sells the rose that he loved without a thought, as thou sayest;

Gold rolls into his humble hut, and sufferings fall on the head of the rose.

What pain has the gardener felt ?

He has but pain for his gold.

The heart of Bulbul is clean, not a speck of self or desire is there;

Drawn by a thin thread of love, to a foreign land she came flying for her rose, and flying knew not why.

Love-bound, this little life was thrown into a thousand fires,

Self-abandoned were the forests of God (planted by Nature’s own hands) for a nest in the garden of man,

There was no wish within the fibres of my flesh save one tremendous longing that he might be before my

That I might be somewhere near him,

That he might dwell within the depth of my eyes,

Bathing in the nectar, in the joys of this little life and breath, trembling with infinite emotion from the songs
of his praise !

O brother wayfarer ! we birds learn the law of beauty when we are fledglings in the nest;

We know that beauty is ever-growing joy when we surrender ourselves to things of beauty.

He cheats himself who thinks ill of them; and thereby the eye of the soul in him grows dimmer day by day.

If that eye be undimmed and clean

The soul gleams in eternal glances,

Glory in the soul, and the soul in glory !

O brother wayfarer ! we know of a life above this life,

The life of rapture caught from the lips of the rose,

It is a subtle, subtle feeling,

Both unbalanced and balanced joy;

Both unconscious and conscious love,

A soft reeling, a little rippling,

And a slow, slow breeze,

It is a heart full of glory,

And a life full of peace,

O wayfarer ! say which is right, which is wrong ?

Love seems frail and might seems strong.”


And the wayfarer replies :

“Thy reason is great, 0 bird of deep pain !

But who loves the right purely for its own sake ?

All is might that reigns, because right asserts not itself.

Selfishness sways the common world;

Dearer than all else to man is self,

And no one seems willing to love truth.

They would rather close their eyes and see not its intense light.

O bird ! thou art so frail and weak.

To cry for thy rose in this wilderness of noise is in vain !

The drums of self and desire beat loud, and louder resound the cries of men.

Oh ! in such a storm of noise, who will listen to thy voice so subtle and sweet ?

For if thy voice were heard, this world would be a garden of roses, its very dust would shine as particles of

No one would hurt another, each would be free in himself, related to others by dear love and service, tied to
others by self-sacrifice and the joys of living; all care would be over, all would be as it is in heaven.

But since this seems never to be,

Why not think of some other cure for thy pain ?

So I offer thee my thoughts, that they may heal thy pain;

And may Allah bless thee !

It is true, thou didst surrender thyself to the beauty of thy rose.

It is true thy love is deep and clear, without a speck or spot of self; and clean is the eye of thy soul that drinks
the light of thy rose.

But pray, why did not thy eye discern that one day all this would die—both the garden and its blossoms gay ?

Why can it not see that spring shall die,

And the autumn of dead and decaying leaves take its place;

And the flowers and leaves fall to the ground dust with dust!

Ah ! Why can it not see that autumn shall destroy thy rose !

If the gardener were not to come,

Nevertheless, still would come the dark day that troubles thee so much;

False, meseems, was the voice of spring if it promised to stay with thee for ever.

Such was fate, and vain is thy grief!

In vain are thy lingering looks !

And unfair, meseems, to blame anyone else, when nothing can avert the coming of this day for thee whose
love and joy is bound up with spring.

Sure, this lack of wisdom makes thee so full of sorrow and pain.”


The nightingale cries out:

“O love ! If death too was to be thy end at last,

Then why this life ?

Why then that promise if thou wert to die, my love ?

And why hath not death seized me too ?

In vain is this crowded fair of life, if thou art really gone.

Why am I not already dead ?

Impossible is life if love be gone, as the sunlight without the sun,

It is like the existing of what cannot exist, the living of the not-living.

O brother wayfarer ! O heart of compassion ! Pity me !

Tired now am I of my life, pray end it for me !

Darkness spreads around me, the void seizes my soul, this moment for me is the moment of all-death !

Pray, brother ! pray be kind, end, end my life !

My mind is dark, the flame of my heart is extinguished !”


And the wayfarer replies :

“Grieved am I to see that my words have given thee so intense a grief!

It seems I almost took your life, O bird of passionate heart !

Weepest thou for the past, and wishest thou to die now for no reason,

But knowest thou not the hidden future ?

All that is must pass, as the wheel of change revolves;

‘Changing permanence’ it is, that marches without a moment’s rest;

No halt here; continuous the march of the divine caravan.

Spring with its blossoms is gone,

Autumn sets in; this too shall go,

And the spring shall come again.

These thorny leafless branches cause thee pain,

But the wheel shall roll, the zephyrs blow, the season again shall come;

Again the purple leaf-buds ! again the green leaves shall appear in millions,

Again the buds blow, and the armies of flowers come and encamp again !

Why weepest thou, O bird !

Why desirest thou thy death ?

Wait but with patience a little while more !

Sure, thy distress shall soon be ended.”


The nightingale sings:

“If beauty lasts not for ever,

Of what worth then is beauty?

If my garden waves not for ever,

If all is the sport of time,

If time conceals him we love behind its ever-enwrapping sheets, and reveals him at will below its folds,

And conceals him again from us,

If love is not our own, but time’s,

If time is supreme, and we only propose for time to dispose, and our heart is merely to run to waste in time’s

Then all wanderings in search of him, ay, even life and goodness, all are as death;

To thirst for love, to roll through despair and separation for the hope of meeting him is all illusion:

If the lighting-flash of love shows itself only to kill us, then where, where is love ?

If all is change, and there is nought save waiting and thirsting, and waiting and thirsting for nothing to be,

If this is the law eternal as thou sayest,

If we are but the passive balls that a mocking destiny rolls;

Then let me tell you that too sad, too sad is life.

To be sad, then, is our vocation.

So let me tear my robe; and wear the garb of sadness,

And shatter this heart to pieces.

For to be sad is all that is left.”


The wayfarer replies:

“Peace ! Peace ! O lovely bird !

There is the rose, still perfuming thy tender heart,

If it be thy wish to see the glory that fades not,

If it be thy longing to be with thy rose for ever,

Turn within, turn within thine own self thy love-thirsty glance !

In vain is thy search for thy rose in this visible world of change.

The eternal spring is theirs who have entered in and seen him within their soul.

If it be thy wish to dwell in the eternal glances of thy love, then be at peace with thyself,

Let the flame of the heart burn slow and steady,

Let the mind be calm, like an unrippling clear, transparent lake;

And pass, O bird, into the being of the beloved, whence come these forms of beauty !

Thou hast indeed thy rose when thy heart falters not—sure, unmoved; witness of the ruin of all the sensual

O bird !

The worlds are all within thyself,

There blossoms thy rose which no hand of might can rob or destroy;

The eye of the soul, so fixed on the beloved, drinks deep at the fountain of life.

Good-bye, O bird ! This is the ancient wisdom !

The law of beauty that ye learn amid the young brood in the nest,

This is the law of true life, which is the life above this life,

The life of rapture caught from the lips of the rose,

The rose that blossoms within, where eternal spring doth roll.

There, as thou sayest; and only there—only there !

It is a subtle, subtle feeling,

An unbalanced and balanced joy.

An unconscious and conscious love; soft, delicious reeling, a little rippling, and a slow breeze.

The heart is full of glory,

And the life full of peace.

Within that Golden Land there is neither right nor wrong; And might is frail and love is strong.”


On the anniversary of the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh

(The poet’s life is an unending passion for his master inspirer. His longing for him is worshipful. He composed
a little music and a dance-measure on the anniversary of the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, of which the following is a
crude rendering.)


O beautiful sun-wearer, with the sun is thy crest!

I am sick at heart!

Thine arrow has pierced me, the ray that darted from the sun thou wearest in thy crest.

Pray come and stand before my eyes,

And heal my hurt, my love !


O beautiful wearer, with the sun in thy crest!

My strange, strange friend !

So soon as I was enchanted,

So soon as I fainted away,

Thou didst depart;

Thou didst take aim, and the arrow of separation hath found its mark.


So soon as thou didst love me,

So soon as thou madest me thine,

So soon as thou madest me the bee of the lotus which is thy feet,

Then, then, without a word to me,

Thou didst depart;

And I knew nothing, my love ! Oh, I knew nothing then !


I have sought that honey from flower to flower,

I have looked above, below.

I find nowhere and in no flower the honey I tasted then.

I find nowhere the life of the love thou gavest me.


O love ! Why, why hast thou gone across to the other side of the river ?

I know not how to swim,

There is no hope of my swimming across;

Come thou thyself, my love !


Thou dwellest on those high far mountains,

And I, a bird without wings, lie here below.

Come to me, or take me with thee,

O friend of the poor !


I have nor beauty nor art,

By thy favour I am;

Thou madest me !

And thou art God.


O beautiful sun-wearer, with the sun in thy crest!

Come and meet me, come and meet me,

Meet me to-day, and greet me with a kiss;

Thy love is all my life.

In the name of thy beautiful, beatific vision,

Come to me, my love ! Come to me !


(The river Godavari feels a glorious joy as Guru Gobind Singh from the Punjab wets his feet in her waters, and
the river bursts into the following ecstatic song.)

The thrill of life, the lotus-touch of his feet, has made me sweetly insane with joy,

The sacred moon has drawn to me the trembling tides of song.

In every wave of mine throbs the rhythm of the celestial song,.

And I tremble as a little reed shaken by the wind.

It has kindled suddenly every ripple of mine with the glow of life,

And in my myriad waves I quiver forever, restless in love, like the lightning of the sky.

It has lifted me off my feet, and I float in sweetest confusion of love;

I rise out of myself, every drop trembling in this universe of song.

I melt into a million ripples at his feet.

O sisters ! say what strange and sweet gift is this.

That has made me free?

Many an adept came; I ran to touch the feet of each.

I laved the feet of hundreds of the jogi-saints,

I bathed with devotion the feet of many priests and pious men,

But my soul returned, finding no fountain of life where I had dreamt so love-thirsty.

But, sisters, who has been so sudden kind to me to-day; and so like a shower of heavenly grace ?

Who makes me, the least of his devotees, the queen of heaven ?

Who has pierced me to-day with the tip of his love-arrow, from whose delicious pain 1 have become a
perfectly-tuned string ?

Who overwhelms me thus with the infinite ?

And who transfixes me in wondrous love, quivering forever with song, shuddering forever with the glow of
his love ?

Say, sisters, who has been so kind ?

1. The Godavari, like the Ganges, is a sacred river where hundreds and thousands of the Hindu saints, adepts
and yogis go on pilgrimage.


He speaks not, nor doth he smile;

My love is like a status made of spotless white marble }

He ravishes my soul—Ah ! the all-beautiful!

My heart aches and aches, but he unravels not the passion of my soul!

I desire, and he filleth me not.

I fain would turn away from him, but ah ! the all-beautiful!

Let my soul ache!

He speaketh not, nor doth he smile !

Enough for me is his presence !

Enough for me these eternal desires and their eternal unfulfilment.


I always think of him !

Deeper than thought, unseen and unknown, in me lives this unending thought of him.

A thousand quivering melodies shake my depths.

This thought of him is celestial music.

My soul is now the heaven of song.

A million strings vibrate in me; every moment new and newer, more and more the symphonies roll!

The strings of my soul are strung and tuned to new and newer strains of love; and every moment I give forth
sweet joy;

I am an unending song in the thought of him.

I always think of him.

Deeper than thought, unseen and unknown, in me lives the unending thought of him.


I cannot control my heart.

Out of my control it goes, if only to touch his palace-door.

My blind senses feel the marble of his towers so high.

The flesh of my soul is lost in ecstasy at the touch of his marble walls.

Ah ! I cannot stay there nor return.

I am drowned in oceans of joy. I am dumb with song,

I say nothing, I know nothing.


As the thunder-cloud lowered again, the mountain cried from mortal fear:

“Ah ! my foe, with slow-creeping gait, is coming again !

Whence and from whom may I get a cover, a cover so vast that it will shelter me from rain !

Oh ! the ancient foe with slow-creeping gait is on me again.

Oh, he that covers all, he that covers the sky,

May he protect me under his roof to-day !”

The praying mountain cowered down like a black buck before the lion-maned thunder-cloud as it sprang high
in air !

But softly he looked at the fear-stricken mountain;

He smiled, he tore his bosom asunder—to show his heart of love. It was a flash of lightning !

“O brother mountain ! fear naught from me !

True, thou givest me thy flesh and blood; but I too keep nothing, I only bear the gift.

He is the giver, thou art his gift,

And I am but a slave of him and of thee that spread the feast divine all around.

By his will thou givest!

By his will I will go and distribute the gift :

Alike we work his will; nothing in the world is ours.

All this is the play of our master.”


Who dares drink with me,—except the rolling waves of the Chenab ?

The quarrels of Ranjha1 are not ended yet.

His bowl is yet on the potter’s wheel.

On the moonlit bank of the Chenab standeth she, the daughter of Jhang Syal.

The river rolls on, and she pours out at last her golden vase of wine on the Chenab.

The wine trickles in a thin ruby thread on the rolling waves;

And the majestic river rolls on !

1. Ranjha is the classical hero of the Punjabi literature who gave up everything for the love of the daughter of
Jhang Syal, the Hir of the Punjabi poetry.


I made my mind a beggar’s bowl.

I wandered, and begged the bread of learning from door to door;

I filled it with crumbs that fell to me from every house of learning.

I crammed it very full; I made it heavy, and I was proud;

I thought I was a pundit,

I wished to walk far above the earth in my pride,

My steps hardly touched the ground.

One day I went to my saint.

I placed my bowl before him, and I gave it as an offering;

“Dirt, dirt”, he said, and turned it upside down.

He threw the crumbs away,

He rubbed it with sand, he washed it with water, clean of all the dirt of learning.


My chrysanthemums!

I was seeking you in space for one whole year !

You came, and now you are going away.

Our meeting has been but for a brief interval.

You have been to me a vision of glory.

I forgot the features of man in yours.

You have been the close friends of my leisure.

You healed my wounds of a day,

You made me whole with your smiles.

And how you beamed and glowed as we met;

Not a single line of woe was on your foreheads,

Not a single streak of difference was in your hearts,

Which were as gay as pure.

And you knew not how to think or hate.

You met me as beings made of joy and love and song;

All so unlike the men I am wont to meet.

You have been a vision of glory to me,

My heart bloomed with joy as it nestled in your blossoms.

Your looks have been the light of my heart !

Your love lifted such a burden from my soul!

I rolled in sweet, sweet fancies,

And returned to you again and again in my joy.

Neither world nor man I missed under the spell you cast about my heart.

But you came, and now you are going away.

When you are gone,

When your faces are hid below the veil,

My house will be but a wilderness !

Then who will meet me with smiles like yours?

And who will revive my tired soul ?

Ah! who will come to the lovesick ones, and lighten the pangs of their hearts ?

O innocent friends ! O fairy wearers of the attire of beauty !

Why are you preparing to go ?

Why this rolling up of the beds ?

Why this closing of the windows ?

Why this shutting of the door ?

My chrysanthemums ! More than men and women, you are my very kin;

They say that man is the crest of the wave of life.

But what is man, since he has forgotten his soul and dropped his blossoms in a helpless waste of thought!

And what is man who is lost in the smoke of the fire that bums within him!

Ah ! what is man who bums and troubles and frowns and hates,

Whose heart doth seethe like a cauldron with the dark passions of self!

Ah! he has become a wilted flower, a dead and decaying leaf;

He is not the lord of creation.

For he is lord of creation

Only if he be lord of himself.

My chrysanthemums, you are better than man and woman, for your hearts are pure.

You live and bloom in the sun of life, borne on the very root that shoots up and rears you in air and sky, on
the very stem that gave you birth !

You have come ! Welcome ! But stay !

And let the vision of you last a little longer,

For your faces send forth heaven’s gleam.

The lonely poets turn their back on man;

They love to live in your beauty, your joy, and your innocence !

My chrysanthemums!

I was seeking you in space for a whole year.

You came, and now you are going away.

Our meeting has been for but a brief while.

Must it be good-bye, then ?

Good-bye so soon; our joy has just begun !

Good-bye then ! For you must go.

Go ! But my hope goeth not away.

I will look for you again,

I will long for you again for one whole year.

I still will love your faces ! O fairy wearers of the attire of beauty !

And you will come again to me.

For I shall dream of you for one whole year.

Good-bye then, my chrysanthemums, go !


When being torn from the tree

Ah ! drag us1 not away from here !

And pull us not aside !

Do not rob us of our slumber of love.

Separate not those that are bound, like us, in love’s most sweet embrace.

O fellow-man!

Ah ! I am alive, I feel pain;

Thy scythe cuts me,

Thy pulling hurts me,

Thy tearing down wounds me !

Break not the years’ long reverie of us two,

O fellow-man!

Ah ! bruise me not,

Do not throw me down in the dust

Or tear me from the neck of the beloved.

What loneliness will fall on me,

O fellow-man!

It is not good to separate the twain that love unites,

It is not good to sever where two have met together,

It is not good to take away the prop and stay of things,

It is not good to tear apart the loving twain that mingle, to make them broken single things,

O fellow-man!

Learn higher joy, and look at things as they mingle in each other.

And do not wrong thy secret self by severing them !

The perfect union of love is rare, oh ! very rare !

Look at us now and fill thy soul,

O fellow-man!

Differences and distances abound,

Cracks and fissures show where shattered love has been,

The fallen bough is single in itself,

But the twain, love-united into one, how rare,

O fellow-man!

The blessed ones have conquered time and change.

They have become as one.

Good it is to look at them, they are happy.

Break not the garland of arms round the neck of the beloved,

O fellow-man!

1. ‘Us’ is the Punjabi woman’s ‘me’, which has become plural on account of her supremacy of feeling, as if
she was the very queen of life and love.


Loosen not our fragile arms from thy neck, pray !

Quench not our flaming hearts with thine hand !

Turn us not away from the door of thy heart !

Cast us not from thee !

We have no one else but thee, O beloved !

We have left them behind who gave us birth,

We have torn ourselves away from those who were ours,

We have given up our home and our land of birth,

To have but a moment with thee.

We have broken into two the frail reed of life;

We have faced death, or be what it may, for love;

Stepping with joy on the suli1

We have now stepped within thy door,

To have but a moment’s glimpse of thee !

A glimpse and all is over !

A moment let us be with thee.

We must go away from one another, and at that moment cast us not from thy soul.

A moment, and we shall be no more !

We lack the sense of men,

Their motion and their life;

We are low in the scale;

We cannot love as they, we cannot worship thee

Like the crowds of beauty and joy and song that gather to pay thee homage with their perfume.

A million bees hover in thy musk-scented black tresses, maddened by thy love,

And each swarm is more glorious than the other.

Glory in glory, and glory on glory, circles round thee.

But all these things are blossoms hanging still on the boughs of the trees that gave them birth,

And all are in underlying union with the life that feeds them with blood.

And all are so tight bound still to their past,

For they are moving things.

All are astir with thy life whose current breaketh not;

They turn again and again, and look at thee :

But who will shelter us, flowers torn from the bough,

If thou wilt not shelter us !

Thou art the friend of pain; shelter us, flowers plucked from the stem.

All broken, torn and shattered is our past,

The delicate thread of life is gone !

O friend of ruin and wreck ! Our future will never come.

Worn away are all the projections of past and future,

Here are we thine for a brief, brief moment!

The world has ceased for us, and we have ceased for the world.

Let us remain with thee a moment; throw us not off, be but ours for a moment!

For the sake of thy God of Love !

In his great name,

Let us still keep touching thy limbs with our frail hands !

Let us still keep garlanding thy neck with our tiny arms — swooning from thy pefume !

For thy love, O friend of nothing !

We have thrown ourselves away for a riotous ravage of joy !

What are we but what we lose in thy love !

Pray let us still keep touching thy limbs with our frail little hands!

Pray let us still keep garlanding thy neck with our tiny arms so helpless from thy perfume !

1. Suli is sharp-edged steel rod by which mystics like Mansur of Persia were killed. It is said poetically that
someone asked Mansur, “Which is the way to the Beloved ?” and the suli, piercing Mansur through his heart,
replied, “This way”. Reference is also made to the needle that pierced the hearts of flowers and threaded
them into a garland for the saint.


I grow upward, my march is heavenward,

My face is turned to the God of the skies !

Nor village, nor city, nor palace, nor hut I need in this world of thine;

I am he who can pass his days without a roof over his head, in rain, sunshine, hail and storm.

I love to look at the God of the skies.

I need but a small piece of ground for my roots to stand in, to blossom, bear fruit and die !

I need neither raiment nor food from thee, O world !

The rain-water is enough for me; I drink and I grow !

I live on air, I desire naught,

I am all alone in myself; the ascetic of centuries passed, and the ascetic of the centuries yet to come !

And yet for me, O world, thou hast but an axe !

1. Acacia Arabica, a tree which is common through the Punjab, and generally cut for fuel.



Under a lime-tree white and pink with the flower-clouds of Kama1

I heard two different voices;

They came from the closed chambers of the heart of an unopened bud.

I stood motionless, listening.

The heart of the flower was inspired with love,

And a vision-like figure grew from the fragrance born of the flower-limbs.

What I saw was her life, her form of youth, her beauty, her Nirvana.

I thought I heard the daughter speak to the mother behind the veils

As I stood motionless below a blossoming lime-tree at Amritsar —

Stood listening.


The Daughter:—Untie the knot of thine arms, my mother !

Unroll the thread of love thou hast spun around me !

I have grown, mother; I am growing;

Thy arms can no more contain me,

My youth is about to burst into a shower of blossoms.

Too narrow the circle of thine arms.

I can no more be what I have been with thee, my mother !

Thou hast given me birth,

Thou hast given me my limbs and my growth,

But the chamber of thy arms can no more hold my youth and beauty, mother !

Thou hast named me Fragrance, mother !

But a sweet scent steals into my soul from some far-off place, I know not whence !

And a new, new fire has wakened in my soul.

What omen is it I know not! But I am restless,

And nothing will let me be what I have been with thee, my mother !

I dream of the infinite regions outside,

And a finite man therein, O mother !

Who loves me, though I know not who he is.


The Mother:—0 young, impatient, my large-limbed girl!

Bide with thy mother,

And know the peace of the mother’s lap,

And know thy youth is sweet slumber.

Thou art safe in the small circle of my poor arms;

Stay here, still here, my daughter !

Know thy mother’s lap is enough for thee.

Once thou steppest over my door-sill thou wilt be lost;

Like wisps of mist thus wilt be shattered to nothingness in the infinite void about which thou so sweetly

Thy dreams of the infinite will make but a fragile dream of thee,

Play not so with thy youth and thy life, my daughter !


The Daughter :—Forbid me no more, mother !

Advise me no more, my soul is all prepared.

Let go my garment, pray !

And no more pull me back;

Let me go,

I dream a dream within a dream,

I dream of the finite within the infinite,

I dream of the infinite, infinite regions outside,

And a finite man therein.

My mother ! he is my man; I am his, though I know him not!

I shall not be lost in air, nor in space, nor in the infinite void.

I will go and be lost in him as a drop loses itself in the sea,

Such death in him, my mother, is life, is love !

They call him the free mind of man and nature,

They call him God.

I will drink from his looks in those fairy-free realms of his,

Mother ! Be no more anxious for me,

I know nothing clearly; but I feel he is standing just outside our door waiting for me.

I must away soon.

Now let go the hem of my garment.


As I stood under the lime-tree white and pink with the flower-clouds of Kama

I saw her wrench her wrist from the hold of her mother’s hand,

And I saw her flee, without a word more, from her mother.


The flower-born now in seen flying free in the regions of her dreams !

She seems to float over both the garden and the desert air,

And to inquire from every leaf and blade, from every wind, as a stranger in a strange land,

“Pray tell me where ? Where is that man ?”

Someone told her at last of his abode,

And she found him the man of her dreams !

She flung herself into his arms, and melted away in him as a snowflake melts into the sea;

I saw her go, but no one ever saw her return;

Daughter of the flower, and of the Nirvana !

1. The flowers of the citrus species.


(Composed on the birthday of Guru Nanak, 1916)


The piping of the rain-birds has ceased,

Dadar and peepiya are silent now,

The dance of the peacock is over,

It is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


The clouds have stopped their thunder,

The lightning has hidden her spark,

The floods of the Punjab rivers have rolled away,

The rivers have shrunk low;

The storm is over, and the winds blow soft and slow.

It is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


The sweet, sweet dew wets all with joy.

Wet with joy are the night and the moon.

And dewdrops quiver over the stars on high.

And joy-wet blows the wind on my face.

It is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


The cool, soft touches of the falling dew calm my soul;

And my mind, blessed with the dew-joys calm and cool, is at rest !

My beloved ! come to me as the dew of my eyes !

Come to-day as the dew cometh !

And cool my soul parched by the pain of long, long separation !

My beloved ! it is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


O master of the order of the Seli !1

O dweller of heaven !

O great giver !

My Guru Nanak ! Come to me to-day !

O light of lights!

Thy seats are the sun and the moon !

My beloved ! return to me to-day !

It is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


It is the season of slumber and dew.

Cruel is all separation !

Pray remove the distances that divide me from thee.

My beloved ! it is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


My love ! stay no more in distant lands away from me !

Come into the vacant courtyard of my heart!

Dye my soul with the joys of thy presence,

And make it now thy home.

Stay at home ! Go no more out of me !

Dwell in my soul, before my eyes !

And for ever be there the perennial draught of my eyes.

My love ! it is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere, And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


Fill my tearful gaze for ever with thy celestial face;

And let my eyes be for ever wet with the joy of seeing thee !

My love ! dwell for ever in my eyes !

It is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


It is now the dewy season,

The season of the happy meetings of love,

The season of the quenching of all fires of pain.

To me everything seems to be dew-wet;

From the blue of heaven the dew is falling soft;

It is the dew of deep, deep unions;

And wonder and worship is in the eyes.

The separated ones shall meet!

It is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


Now is the time of everlasting embraces !

My beloved ! come, meet me to-day !

Take me to thy bosom !

The dew is flooding things with joy.

My love ! come to me !

It is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.


The dew cometh from heaven down !

It bringeth heavenly peace for all.

It wetteth all with sweetness.

Invisible, it raineth deep into souls.

It raineth love and peace and joy.

It raineth sweetness.

Dew ! dew ! my comrades !

It is the season of the cooling dew !

The dew is falling everywhere,

And wet is every rose.

The gentle breath of heaven blows.

1. Seli, or the small round string made of black wood that Guru Nanak used to wear at times.


(These thoughts were strung together by the poet on the first winter night when, for his night’s rest, he had to
descend from the roof to the rooms below.)


Good news, my soul ! Good news for thee !

The supreme hush of the night,

The sweet loneliness that love needs,

For thee, my soul! at last!

The din and clatter of the day has died,

Nothing stirs now, not a leaf-drop is heard.

Make no sound now, awake no one !

The city sleeps, a hundred feuds are buried in sleep.

In death-silence sleeps at night the restless mind of man.

At last the dust has settled, my soul!

And all is tranquil calm.


The night-air, free of the day’s fever and passion,

Blows over the sleeping foes,

That are almost friends in sleep.

The lips that moved to hurt are motionless,

The teeth that clenched in anger are sealed with sleep.

The tongue, the sword-like thing that cut so sharp, such unhealing wounds, is sheathed.


The day was filled with a thousand passions,

The air was thick with thoughts,

The restless eyes of passion led, the blind leading the blind:

The eyes that laughed without the lips,

The eyes that spoke without a tongue,

The eyes that shot invisible arrows without a bow,

The eyes that cast nets of chain-armour,

And held many a mighty man prisoner,—

They smote well and hard without a weapon.

The martyrs fell and cried for life,

The eyes that had no lighting torch yet lit fires as they glanced,

The eyes that rained down a shower when there was no speck of cloud in the sky,—

They led the world, the world laughed as they laughed, and wept as they shed tears.

The eyes that made both a glancing and a staring, a beckoning and a gazing, a laughing and a loving, that had
in them both the nectar and the poison, held the worlds in sway,

These almighty eyes are now closed, the lids have dropped on them.

Thank God ! The magic of eyes has ended;

The tired world sleeps at last.

This is the time, my soul, for thy love-making with the stars.


I am glad, the prison-walls of my house have dropped away from me,

And I am on the top of my roof.

I feel as a victor feels when he enters a conquered city.

The cruel roof was between me and heaven;

I conquer the roof by being on the roof.

My soul breathes freedom at last,

I am nearer heaven, and heaven is nearer me.

I see the clouds, I see the stars.


A million eyes twinkle, high in heaven;

They pour down a soft sweet rain of nectar.

What a solace in life at last I obtain,

As my eyes look into the million eyes of heaven.

No smouldering fire bums in the sky,

No cheek is pale with passion;

No trembling with fear, no restlessness, no dual spirit divides!

No sense of keeping things for oneself!

No faithlessness resides in the sky.

No changing whims cause pain,

It is all God’s face;

The night is wet with His love,

His grace fills all space,

The divine substance pours down in these wondrous showers of starry light.

One great illumination, one great beauteous twinkling of a million eyes!

One supreme repose ! I see God.


Infinite the azure of heaven;

The azure has the omnipresent sense of His presence,

He touches me with this infinite scene of wonder.

His touch ! It makes me calm;

The eyes of the stars pour bliss into mine.

Ah ! how strange when on the day that I stood in my full stature, erect and high, my eyes fell on the meanness
of the common life of the city !

And now on my roof, as I lie in my lowly starlit bed, giving myself up to the beauty of the infinite, on my eyes
bursts the sublimest vision of the Most High.

The stars tell me—He is.

Wave on wave of wonder breaks;

Silence still more silent grows.

Light and ambrosia patter on my roof,

I feel some One unseen gathering me in His arms.


Are the stars the eyes of God,

Whom Guru Nanak sings as One that hath a million eyes and yet no eyes,

The eyes whose glances make all things continue,

Of Him who knoweth the love even of a small heart on earth,

And keepeth Himself so bare that He may be visible to the heart that beats in love ?


Or is it that the bygone saints shine as stars ?

Is it their souls that glow, as beacon-lights on the path to heaven to guide their fellow-men ?


Or is this azure a huge curtain that hangs over the sacred secret?

The divine rays are stealing down to us from higher worlds of light through some little chance aperture in the

And these are not the stars, but the flashing glimpses of the world of souls beyond.


Or are they strange worlds, where men of light are concealed in light?

Where they in loving play throw round our hearts the threads of light,

And pull the threads, with our souls enmeshed by the ends they hold in their hands ?

Or else why do our souls feel such an invisible gentle attraction for the stars?

We think we love the light of the stars.

After all, it may be the love of God throwing these sacred threads, for thought to climb.


The stars, we know not what they are,

But from the stars we drink the immortal light of heaven.

The stars, we know not what they are,

But we gaze at God as we gaze at stars.


My friendship with stars is old;’

At midnight down they come to me, sliding down the strings of rays,

And they enter into my soul with all the wealth of heaven;

Every night they fill my life with God.


On other nights, when the milk-white showers of moonlight fall,

It is like a sea of molten silver,

On the bosom of which glides my little boat;

And in the boat I lie as it glides,

Cutting the billows of the surging sea of the blue !


My bosom-friends are the moon and the stars,

I exchange the secrets of my heart with the vast azure.

My mistress is the silent night,

The tranquil, still soul of vastness.

With their aid I live a divine forest life on my very roof,

And I feel as if I were in heaven while I am still on earth.


With these divine friends I passed a full seven months of the year,

And for full seven months I was an idle explorer of the glorious night-scenes of the sublime.

I walked hand in hand with stars,

An inspiration of life to me was my voyage on the moonlit azure in my little boat,

But now I must descend from the roof,

And stay below for the five winter months;

And to-night is the separation night;

The cruel roof divides me again from my love making with the stars.


To-night the stars have disappeared from me,

To-night the vast azure has vanished from me.

O brother-moon ! why hast thou left me,

And why does a little thin thatch hold us fast and spoil our promises?

Is this what they call destiny ?

My freedom-loving soul is to be shut up again within four walls, with a stifling roof above them to weigh me
down !


My eyes ! close down now; shut your doors and drop your shades!

The scene is over;

Those that you loved to see are gone !

Better by far not to be than to be without those whom we love.


In an orange orchard at Amritsar,

The tree just shorn of its branches sighed thus :

“I am the orange-tree of the city of the immortals,

I came and stood here to confer with men,

I posed in a hundred delightful ways for them, to the incarnate beauty of the blossom and the fruit.

I spread my hundred leafy arms to welcome them to the feast of my flesh and blood,

To the feast of the flowers,

To the feast of the fruits,

To the feast of fragrance,

To the feast of the life-sap,

But they have understood me not.

Now in my old age their axe has run amuck, and I am shorn of my leafy wings.”

“Farewell! 0 parent root!” said the torn off branches of the orange-tree; “thou immortal root of life !

We fall, it is an accident of birth.

But knowledge cometh in the majestic flow of light beyond this moment’s darkness.

Losing thy blossom from within is real death.

We ourselves die, no one can kill,

No axe can cut a flowered twig.

We fall, but we will rise again;

We are the evergreen branches of the orange-tree.”
Kulinder singh.

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