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Sunday, April 8, 2012

UNSTRUNG BEADS.

UNSTRUNG BEADS PROSE AND POETRY FROM THE PUNJAB by PROF. PURAN SINGH WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ERNEST RHYS E book prepared by Kulinder singh. kulindersingh@yahoo.com TO MY CHILDREN WHOM I CALL GARGI, NAINI, SATI AND BHATU Puran singh. INTRODUCTION THIS is the second book in which Puran Singh has distilled his Indian essences for the English reader. It is natural to use something of his own figurative mode in considering his apothegms and poems, and to use that reference in parti­cular, because of his other work as an analytical chemist. For his writings often suggest the imagination of one who has carried over into the spiritual region his investigation of the physical properties of the kindred elements,— earth, air, fire and water. Yet his purpose in his poetry, however trained upon concrete instances, is far from analytical. He takes a flower, a flame, a water-drop; but not to break its atoms. Rather he seeks to recreate it by the subtle alchemy of the imagination. In his earlier book he wrote of the precious ruby, “precious beyond value,” which to some appeared a mere common thing. Yet the seers, the mystic jewellers, could say of it: This Enchanted Stone contains all God. Or again, he wrote of the Cup like the Grail, the pitcher of companionship,—the red clay pitcher with a shallow cup for its lid, set in a bed of golden straw like a bird’s nest. Abeakful of water, sipped by a bird out of that pitcher, is the sign of the secret community between man and the wild creatures. When we try to penetrate further into his mode, we do not need to look for any abstruse formula. His secret is one of the simplest known to poetry. As we read, we are driven to look for its explan­ation in a sentence of his inspirer and forerunner, Rabindranath Tagore, about the source of Indian Wisdom: The wisdom came neither in texts of scripture, nor in the symbols of deities, nor in the religious practice sancti­fied by ages; but in the voice of a living man, and in the love that flowed from a human heart. Because of this closer human touch, the present book may have a greater chance of being understood in the West than his earlier one, Sisters of the Spinning Wheel. It depends less on a range of allusions, which must often necessarily sound remote to English ears. The background of an English poet, let us remem­ber, is one we are all familiar with. But the region that Puran Singh draws’upon is that of the mighty and unknown Punjab; and in his poems inspired by the old Saints and Gurus of the Sikhs, or by the sacred haunts of their country, we do not at once knit up the asso­ciative fibres on which so much of our ready appreciation in poetry must depend. These eastern pearls, Unstrung Beads, then, are not too closely sealed of the Sikhs. They reflect the open Orient. And they are perhaps more likely to appeal to us to-day because, strange as it may seem to think so, of our common war-troubles. It was during the late war that some of us British, folk must have come, for the first time, to know what the spirit of the true Sikh was— simple, loyal, brave; tender and yet death-de¬spising. I remember being taken one winter even¬ing at R—— to an Indian camp. At the gate stood a figure that looked formidable: a turbaned Indian sentinel, whose drawn scimitar flashed in the light of our lamps, as our car swerved through the gateway. But within the great hut an oriental silence and a deep peace had settled on the inmates. As we entered they rose up, one and all, from a table where they were having a lesson in French, and shook hands delightedly with us. The friendly dark eyes, the childlike greetings, were so unlike the sterner signs of war, in marked contrast to the scimitar at the gate. By that night-visit and its impressions a new sense of the gentlest and fiercest of all our allies was conveyed to us; and by some oblique cast of memory the scene recurs to me in reading some of Puran Singh's naive and memorable sayings: I have a horse, a fairy creature, with long-maned neck; ... I have a camel, whose saddle is inlaid with dia¬monds; ... I have a sword, bright as lightning; ... I have a little hawk that flies before dawn. The horse, the camel, the sword, the little hawk, are figures and fragments of the Vision of Freedom. It was because they loved Freedom so dearly and desired above all things to hold their country free, that the Sikhs fought as they did. Let us turn to Puran Singh's own words for an account of the deathless love with which they regard their land of the Five Rivers: We of the Punjab [he says] are a race apart. We love our country with a childlike belief in its destiny, and with absolute devotion. And yet, we think of it as being one with the heartbeat of the universal life, and not an exclusive region that has no sympathy with others, east and west. As the gatekeepers of India, our hearths and homes have been so often razed to the ground that our life seems to us like the bubbles that rise and break on the flowing waters of our great rivers. Our love-stories are all tragedies. We sing our love under the "Shade of Swords." The evil omens of our past and our transient life still cast their shadows upon us. But remember, if the soldier has been called up in us the saint is seated in our soul. But for him, the Punjab must have dried up by this time, if for no other reason than by the loss of its blood so lavishly spilled on our soil. The garden of our land is still green, for we have the temples; and the shrines of the saints. We worship the very shade of^ trees- under which they sat. We hold big fairs round the mounds where once lived the men of God. The real Punjab is not to be seen in the modern over-educated Punjab. It is still to be seen in its pristine culture of faith and love, wonder and worship, awe and reverence, when we are worshipping the saints. If saints cannot be found, we and our women become superstitious and begin to worship their images (even their false images), so great is our thirst for their inspiration. Nowhere else on the globe are man and woman such . perfect comrades. When young, we play together on the wheat-scented fields in the moonlight, singing: Are we not tunes of the one Same Dream? Are we not stars of the one Same Gleam ? Are we not fruits of the one Same Tree ? Are we not waves of the one Same Sea? We need one another to accentuate our deepest craving for enshrining the Man of God in our souls. He is our common Beloved. Our inmost life continuously ascends with extraordinary intensity; and we are wedded together only to become His. We ourselves are merely lights and shades with which to paint some aspect of this Great Love. We accept no book, whether prose or poetry, in our liter¬ature, unless it has been given to us by a saint as his own biography. Sometimes we get only a single song instead of a whole book, and we gratefully accept this small gift. We take up a small stringed instrument and sing to it, but the one song; knowing that one couplet of a true poet is worth more than many uninspired books. By this confession of his belief in the ministry of the true poet, we see that Puran Singh relies upon a kindred feeling, a spirit of love, an enthusiasm, in his readers. Also, he does not appeal to them as a mere writer of books, with a literary tradition behind him. He is more akin to the old wandering minstrels. He is an improvisator among the poets, writing and singing out of the abundance of his heart. If we look for his immediate inspirers, we must turn first to the sacred poets and tie saintly teachers among the Sikhs, the Gurus; and then to the influence of Rabindranath Tagore in India and Walt Whitman in America. Let us add, as final clues to the Indian labyrinth of his thought, which leads us to his Golden Temple, three characteristic passages from a little red book of his, lately published by the Alijah Darbar Press at Gwalior: We are as old and as new as the opening flowers of this very hour, we have nothing to say, only that the Master has made us infinite by His love. . . . Our joy of the white blossoms of the infinite light within us is the guide of our wandering feet. ... The good people living beyond the door of death come to meet us like figures of the strange music of Heaven. The imaginative touch in the last of these sayings of Puran Singh is in the true vein of the masters and the seers of his race, who believe in the direct image and the living word. ERNEST RHYS. CONTENTS PAGE INTRODUCTION .... vii I. UNSTRUNG BEADS .... I II. MAN AND WOMAN II III. FREEDOM .... 19 IV. INTELLECT AND VISION .... 27 V. A GATHERING OF FLOWERS 35 VI. THE CHILD AND THE WORLD .... 39 VII. THE WONDER OF CREATION .... 41 VIII. WOMEN ARE LIKE BIRDS .... 47 IX. HOW CAN I THINK HE HAS FORGOTTEN ME? 51 X. THE PLAYING CHILDREN .... 57 XI. THE SPORTS OF LOVE .... 6l XII. THE MAGICIAN .... 67 XIII. THE KINGS OF YESTERDAY .... 71 XIV. NATIONS .... 8l XV. THE BEAUTY-BORN ONE 85 XVI. THE VEILED DWELLER .... 91 XVII. ON THE HILL-SIDE .... 93 XVIII. RAKHI BANDNAM .... 97 XIX. THE COMING OF RAIN: THE PLAYING GIRLS 101 XX. THE HOMES OF BLESSEDNESS 107 PROSE & POETRY FROM THE PUNJAB I—UNSTRUNG BEADS THE Sky told me: "Whenever I wish to string garlands of pearl beads I scatter first the unstrung pearls far and wide." * * * The bubbles danced incessantly on the crystal pools of water made by the falling rain, and said: "Where then is death, when it rains down such joy!" * * * Music is the mingling of our beings in the waters of the Infinite; like the waves of the sea, laughing as they dash into each other, weeping as they part. * * * Loneliness is akin to blindness: it shsuts off light. I droop when alone, like a flower that slowly dries up, sighing for its' sister flower that disappears without leaving a word to the other. My eyes lose their sight, and my lips their smile; my tongue is tied. I lose all my words as the scorched grass of the moor loses its seeds. In my loneliness I cry aloud like the child whose mother, leaving it, goes out of sight. My own cry then becomes my companion. * * * Once, as I went along an ochre-coloured path that followed the meandering edge of "-a hill stream, I was seized with thirst. So I dipped my feet in its icy waters, I bathed my face and eyes, and I quenched my thirst. The touch of cold water is a refreshment both for body and mind; the scattered self returns with a sudden rush at its touch. A huge milk-white boulder, clean and smooth, was dividing the current in the middle of the stream. I stood looking at it and wondering what it could be: it was the pure, milk-white Bull of Shiva—Nandi—taking its bath. * * * A single dewdrop fills up the empty bowl of a thirsty flower. What need has it of ministering rivers ? * * * Purity of knowledge, or of feeling, or of deed, has but one common colour. Innocence * * * Love is the paradise within us; but few find it. * * * Out of me goes the illusion of desire, that makes the shadow walk hand in hand with the real on aimless travels of pleasure. * * * Out of me goes the pale illusion of love oneself, whose very intensity splits it into pieces with myriad attractions. * * * Song rushes through the empty valley of my mind like a river in flood, leaving behind a green silence of song. I wonder which is more vital, the song gone abroad or the song come home? * * * Thoughts on Immortality turn a living man into a dead statue. * * * As a baby I knew more than as a boy, and as a young man more than as an old man. And yet true knowledge is the fragrance of the ripened life. * * * God loves most to watch the mother absorbed in the child. * * * A poet told me he often finds the clothes of men more beautiful than the wearers thereof. * * * The only garment that truly fits me is my body. * * * Nor the snows of Paradise, nor the fires of Hell, can lower or raise the temperature of a man of true peace seated at the door of God. * * * The flower dies silently, the tiger makes much noise. * * * To the ignorant, Life appears in her terrible form only when they are hurt; to the wise, always. The ignorant grow afraid of her in this sublime aspect, the wise all the more familiar with her inner beauty. * * * Man is ugly when angry, but God is all the more beautiful for being so. Behold Christ in the temple of the Pharisees! Behold Beauty herself with a frown on her eyebrows. * * * The true philosopher studies himself, the false one everybody else. * * * Lightning resides occasionally in the face of the woman, but always in the feet of the Saint. * * * The true dwelling-place of the rain-cloud is not the sky, but the eyes of men in love. * * * The greatest gift of kings is inanimate gold, but the daily gift of the Saints is the live spark torn from their burning selves. * * * Kings feed upon the flesh and blood of others, but the Saints feed others verily with their own flesh and blood. * * * The eternal home of Love is in the hearts of the Saints, as the real home of God is in their Word. * * * The Saint is always a surprise; seldom like the one painted in the sacred traditions of man. * * * When food ferments it produces fever in the system. When thought ferments it produces stupor of indifference—worse than death. * * * The selfishness of man assumes a thousand fascinating altruistic disguises to assert itself. * * * Meanness can give itself a myriad charming names. * * * The men of God swallow their silence, the men of the world their speech. * * * Man gives each new-born child a name, but the Creator forgot to do so in His joy over the loveliness of its features. * * * Men are vain of their knowledge, the Saint wonders at their ignorance. * * * Men emptied of themselves seek solitude, the Saint full of himself seeks society. * * * Men extinguish themselves like their evening lamps during the night, the Saints burn like stars quietly through the night. * * * "The little room of a good man can hold hundreds like himself, but the whole empire of a king has no space for another."—SAADI. * * * The pale rose on the face of Poverty has a divine aroma which the crimson rose on the face of Riches has lost in its false flush. * * * Man loses Truth during the interval when he looks about for a vase to hold it. * * * Men always part first and foremost and most willingly with their prayers to help others, but seldom with their gold; while the Saints always part first with everything they have, but seldom with their prayers. * * * Roses within and thorns without—with Saints. Thorns within and roses without—with Men. * * * Shiva rides a white bull because of its quiet patience. * * * Men looked up to see God, but heard only a Voice. * * * In my spirit is a temple on whose door-sill I have now laid my forehead for ever. II.—MAN AND WOMAN THRO' the eyes of the woman I love it is that I see; I am a shipwrecked mariner, and they are my boats to ferry me across the sea of loneliness. * * * The coming of woman brings with it the perfume of the presence of God. * * * As a sword meets its scabbard, my glance meets the glance of the woman I love. * * * Our eyes send messages which neither of us can interpret without the other. * * * Our hearts melt into a white felicity by the fire of our looks. In this ecstasy we murmur in broken, joy-inspired language the stories of the past and the stories of the future. * * * The memory of all our past lives is kindled in us by the two burning lamps of her eyes. * * * Our days are the flower-showers of smiles at each other, and our nights the meteoric gleams of starry dreams. * * * In this reverie of our love time is like a gurgling hill-torrent that goes rushing past us; and we, seated on its green edge, dip our feet in its current and talk and laugh together. * * * We grow in each other and to each other. I see the crown of her head touching the very * * * sky, so tall she grows before my admiring gaze! She wears with as simple an ease the light-blue shawl of heavens glittering with diamonds as if she took it out of her own wardrobe. * * * How can I describe one whom I love so blindly? My eyes see no fault in that absolutely divine workmanship. * * * Her fragrant form pervades both my body and soul, and fills the earths and heavens for me. * * * She is the wife—her head bent down with the weight of her full blossom, like the flower with its face bent down along its stalk in bash-fulness of its own beauty. * * * We seek in each other the selflessness and forgiveness, without limit, of the mother and the child. * * * We shut our eyes and see each other at great distances. I see her seated in one corner of the sky playing like a young girl with the white pebbles. Then from behind I go and blindfold her with the palms of my hands, and disturb her pebble-playing. When she opens her eyes we find we have just met for the first time. * * * Wonderful distances realised simply by shut¬ting our eyes give us new glimpses of one another which the blind walls of nearness shut off. * * * Our quivering lips keep the red fire ever aflame, in which we cast continuously our complaints of each other. * * * We are as breath and body that interchange places continuously; at times I am breath and she is body, at others she is breath and I am body. * * * Proudly I garland her with flowers and pearls, and think much of it, and she conceals one love-wreath timidly in her soul for me, and thinks little about it. As I enter her chamber there is the infinite fragrance of that silent welcome with the garland of her arms round me. * * * She is a holy shrine to me where I offer myself. * * * She is my palace in a lowly little hut. As I look at her seated by me on the bare floor, I feel I am the owner of kingdoms that few have seen. * * * She is the lamp of my dark night by which I see the stars of Heaven. * * * She is the rose that bursts open and blossoms on its own twig and on its own root in the Infinite. I never think of plucking it to adorn my turban, as the whole of her, fed by the life-juices of the Infinite, is the feast of my soul. * * * We close our eyes in the joy of each other, and meet in pure beauty. * * * She is my vision of the Infinite that for ever thrills me with its glowing colours of life. * * * Man and woman are not red ripe enough for love like ours till they both have drunk of the cup of wine from the hands of the same Cup¬bearer; and the back door to the Paradise of infinite peace within is left ajar for both of them by the Beautiful One with Her silver footprints shining on the path! III.—FREEDOM FREEDOM is the ceaseless fluttering of the winged moth in the joy of a Beauty that burns everywhere in myriad lamps. * * * When the bee is wrapped in the garment of the lotus it does not buzz any more. * * * Hushed for ever is the volcano of the worst passions of my own mother-born that made the earth dark with its smoke and ashes. Ended are their feuds with me, for I have left the Canaan of desire and have, by chance, found the Egypt of my freedom. * * * I live watching intently the blossom of my half-closed eyes, protecting it from the hot winds. In the heart of this blossom ecstasy is flaming upward by the grace of the All-bestower, and I am, through it, in touch with the gods. * * * I sit under the pines of the Himalayas evapor¬ating the essence of man-made thought in the flying odour of the pine, and thereby cooling the fever of my freedom for a moment. * * * I gather only those moments that glow with joy in my sight, and let the rest slip. And I make of them a rosary, remembering those for ever which made me happy. * * * As the rain comes playing with the winds and renewing the life of the grass and the tree, a musician from the sky enters me dressed in garments made of the pearl strings, with his vina of a million rays of rain, which trembles under the touch of his fingers. * * * At times sleep fetters my freedom — so I wake up and go roaming at midnight frater¬nising with the starry sky. Who would say whether I pass in to the sky, or the sky passes through my half-closed eyes; but my freedom is retouched with the rapture of the Infinite, and I sleep, starlit, on the green turf. * * * Freedom is a sacred jewel that an angel gave me in a dream, and ever since I am overjoyed that I have helpers in the Unseen. * * * As I told you, I am in incessant exultation, and in my eyes are seated a hundred Sakis (the Cup-bearers), who sprinkle wine all around. * * * My place is amongst the shouting boys who throw down the tent of the sky and run aim¬lessly brandishing its golden pillars as flags of liberty. * * * My place is by the side of the woman who after long journeys has just entered the city of faith. * * * My place is by the side of the man who has finally laid down his tools of action and has just entered the shelter of mercy. * * * I have a green horse, a fairy animal, with his long-maned neck arching with pride and his eyes fixed on the beauty of his own swift limbs as he goes prancing on earth. His right foreleg is already in the air as if he were about to fly. His long mane is strung thick with pearls, from which the light falls in dazzling showers over his path. * * * I have a camel whose kachawa is nicely inlaid with diamonds that burn at night as we cross the desert sands together. And from his high neck hang garlands of tiny bells of gold that ring their song of endless journeying in my ears. * * * I have a sword as bright as lightning itself when out of its scabbard. * * * I have a little hawk that flies before the dawn, leading me to a better place for the day that it knows and not I. * * * The horse, the camel, the sword, the white hawk are fragments of the Vision of Freedom. On the back of the horse He rides. The kachawa on the camel's back is His seat. The sword hangs by His side. The hawk is for ever flying from His wrist. No one knows my next camp for I follow the hawk; and the horse and the camel and the sword travel with me in my half-closed eyes. * * * I am what all seek, but few find. I am always travelling with the precious fragment of the Vision of the Beloved, and only my shadow is seen moving in the places where they seek me. * * * I laugh and pass when I hear the wise men crying that Freedom is yonder, snatching thrones from those who have already usurped ours, or usurping the thrones of others that cannot defend themselves. * * * The animal in man is everywhere of the same size and shape, thirsting for the blood of man; and the man in man is the same divine shape everywhere, thirsting for the love of man. * * * There is an individual who by His very touch can cast the animal out and make man the home of angels. * * * Freedom is in the very touch of the dust of His Feet. But have you seen HIM ? IV.—INTELLECT AND VISION Intellect said to Vision: I sweep ages, and strain them, and gather the grains of gold and throw the dross away. I melt this metal come from all great men, and cast it into universal shapes in which I think they will see their own image. Vision replied : You are a strainer of the dust of centuries; their soul flew away long before the commencement of your opera¬tions. You merely play with the fragments of your own fancy and the toys made of your own dust. Intellect: You spread superstitions everywhere. What is greatness but thought, that lessens the misery of man and rebuilds for him his society on a more stable basis than that on which it finds itself ? Vision: Your eyes are still covered with your own eyelids like those of the new-born cub. What can you understand of the universe above you ? Thoughts get their very life from the breath of gods; and it is not thoughts but the breath of gods above you, unseen by you, that attend the word of the great man. The great man is the Word ("Logos"). The misery of man is never lessened by new con¬structions and reconstructions of his dwelling-places and societies, but by the breaths of gods that touch him at the rare advent from a higher world, of his true saviour, the Word. Intellect: But my men can preach exactly the same things as they did—for example, your Christ and Budha; aad millions of men follow the preaching o£ my men. My men, by the largeness of their following, by the clarity of their thought, by their sincerity of human service, are every one Christ-like, Budha-like. Piston : You talk nonsense, naming in the same breath your toys of clay and the great saviours of men. On Christ's Word the whole heavens keep a watch. There is a double lock on it, and only those have entrance to it whom God favours. The very ease with which the eloquence of your men is caught by millions of men only shows they are just like their followers. Intellect: But you are wrong, always importing into your estimates the fables of the Unseen. That is what disgusts me. My men, Christ-like, take up the cause of masses and fight their battles and suffer as He did. And they are sincere. Vision: Ah! Sincere! As far as they see; but they by their very structure cannot see very far. Unless you see other worlds you cannot distinguish the living from the dead. Like a child, you are absorbed in your plays. Your Christ-likes are merely dolls made by your hands in the traditional appearance of Christ and Budha. There is still a vast majority of heathen in this world; for the earth is still an infant in its swaddling clothes; and it is the million of heathen that swarm to worship those idols, the false gods of your fashion. You cannot understand Christ; even your poets and philosophers fail to do it. Christ is God's breath with a human form, and your Christ-likes are mere human forms without that breath. As I told you, your greatest ones only play with these human dolls that are scattered over the globe, even if they know the movements of these puppets best of you all. In your measurement, when the forms are similar, there can be no further difference if both happen to contain just an equal quantity of the mass of thought. Intellect: But even in His age, who followed Christ but common fishermen and a courtesan and such like ? How could they understand Him and not our great masters ? Vision : You do not see. Mary Magdalen and these fishermen were poets of Heaven, of gods, and your master-poet is only a poet of masses of mere men who are as worms crawling on the earth. Intellect: But after all winnowings I find even great men leave nothing behind but this dust of thought, as you call it; and it is the dust by which I measure them. For the dust of my Christ - likes and Budha-likes closely approximates to theirs both in quantity and in quality. Vision: What a grave-digger you are! It is your function to measure dead bodies and bury them after you are satisfied that their graves fit them. You have made this earth a graveyard. And woe unto those who accept your even measurement of these "Infinite-likes" and "Eternal-likes." Intellect: But I take no cognisance of things un¬seen. It is superstition which invests the past with exaggerations of all kinds. My men suffer because of your hallucinations. Vision : I cannot talk to you. Come out with me, I will show you God-Christs and Budhas; and then know that greatness is but His miracle, His glory. Intellect: Yes, I come. To tell you the pure truth, I feel tired of my profession of reducing things to my own finalities. Vision: Come. Intellect: But I am Vision as I come. Vision : And I am Intellect as I go. Intellect: 0 brother Vision! Are you lifting me up from my earth on your shoulders, for I feel I am rising and rising from the ground towards the sky! I am losing my foothold, my head is reeling. I am feeling lighter and lighter in my body. I am feeling my eyes are being uncovered on a world I never saw before. My Christ-likes now seem mere worms crawl¬ing in the mud of centuries. Vision : You are being bathed in the approaches of the great ones, you are being lighted inwardly from the rays of the lamps of the Unseen. The scales are dropping from off your eyes! Intellect: But this sensation of pleasant levita-tion is melting me away, melting me away like a cloud, into you, into you, 0 brother Vision! I am being drawn like a particle of iron into you, into you, my magnet! Vision : I am you, you yourself when you are free from the misery of the dirt and filth of ages. Intellect: Brother Vision, I am gone; lost now in you, in you! My eyes are closing in ecstasy; half,is in my eyelids, half is in the heavens. My lips move with the word "Glory! Glory!" and my whole body quivers with you, you, you! Vision : Come, Intellect, my sister! Fall on your knees! The name that quivers in your very blood, the song that vibrates on your lips, the peace of thankfulness that fills every pore of your body, the "Glory, Glory," that escapes you, is His, the Great One's! 0 sister Intellect, there is no one else great but He! His name is Great! Fill yourself with its gladness! And be calm. V.— A GATHERING OF FLOWERS THE day passes, gathering my smiles and maiden blushes as it goes; and the night stays, making my tears its own. —— Said the Rose. * * * My own flame burns me down, life is but a moment's firework. —— Said the Poppy. * * * I drink every day a cup of rays from the hand of the sky, and am quite content in my nest of green leaves. ——Said the Morning Glory. * * * I am the white moth dropping in dust at the feet of the beauty that burns before me. —— Said the Jasmine. * * * I am the bee that gathers honey from the rocks. ——Said the Violet. * * * I am the conch-shell of the sun, the white song of creation. ——Said the Lotus. * * * I am the rose-cloud of pleasure floating in the dream of the Spring. ——Said the Cherry. * * * I am looking for myself; ah! where has it gone? ——Said the Narcissus. * * * We do not quite remember whose faces are ours. ——Said the Pansies. * * * We are the brass bells just dropped from the hands of the idol-worshippers that passed in the sky singing hymns and beating cymbals. ——Said the Cowslips. * * * We are the braids of the village milkmaids that do not know the art of self-adornment. ——Said the Wistarias. * * * We are the camp-fires of the shepherd boys. ——Said the Marigolds. * * * My mother says I am a pendant hanging in the ear-ring of the wind. ——Said the Red Hibiscus. * * * We are the flakes of snow just fallen that are melting, melting. ——Said the Peach and the Plum Blossoms. * * * We are the blue flames dropped from the rain-clouds that are still burning. ——Said the Irises in full bloom. * * * We are the wistful eyes of the meadows waiting for our own tears. ——Said the Hyacinths. * * * We are the white wings of the angels. ——Said the Lilies. * * * We are the crowns of kings not yet born. ——Said the Saffrons. * * * We are the sceptres of the queens of love. ——Said the Honeysuckles. * * * VI.—THE CHILD AND THE WORLD The Child asked a River : " When do you go to bed, I wonder? I always see you running, sir! " The River replied: " There is a moment, my child, smaller than the smallest moment, which no one has seen, when the day just meets the night, when your upper eyelid just meets the lower, when the cow just meets the calf, when the devotee meets his God; just then my rushing waters halt and I go to rest." The Child asked the Stars : " Stars, when do you sleep ? I see your shining eyes are always winking." The Stars replied: " There is a moment, my child, smaller than the smallest moment, which no eye has seen, when the day just meets the night, when your upper eyelid just meets the lower, when the cow just meets the calf, when the devotee just meets his God; just then our eyes close and we sleep." The Child asked the Winds : " You always keep blowing in the streets of the world, and scaling the mountains and running down the hills endlessly. When do you go home, 0 sisters, and where is your home ? " The Winds replied : " There is a moment, smaller than the smallest, which no one has seen, when the day just meets the night, when your upper eyelid just meets the lower, when the cow just meets the calf, when the devotee just meets ;his God; just then we go home. " There is a cave which no eye has seen, where the day sleeps with night, where the mother sleeps with the child, where the cow sleeps with the calf, where the devotee sleeps with his God; just there is our home, O child!" VII.—THE WONDER OF CREATION A GENTLE breeze was blowing, with the tidings of rain, upon the summer-scorched grass. The purple rain-cloud covered the sky, and on the violet sands of the river below I saw the mother and daughter, dressed from head to foot in deep crimson saris, going to their homes after the day's labour, playing with empty baskets in their hands. As both the saris flew, filled with air like the wind-filled sails of two red boats gliding on the blue sky, I saw they were two souls beautiful like the two red suns rising in the east. Only no one saw the light they shed on their path. * * * I saw a farmer woman of the village going to the market with a basket of green vegetables on her head, and holding by her hand a little child who was saying to her what only she could understand. She sent a great thrill thro' me, for I remem¬bered how long ago my mother had done exactly what she was doing, and how my mother had listened exactly to what she was listening then. * * * I saw a beautiful woman amongst a crowd of others at the well, glowing like fire amid pale embers. Her beauty was saying, in the lan¬guage of flame, that she adorns equally well the pearl palaces of the kings and the grass-thatched huts of the poor. * * * Beauty is something like the rainbow in the sky, which lives in my eyes but is for ever beyond the touch of my hands. * * * I love to see the brush of the wind painting cloud-figures in the sky. * * * I love to watch the evening breeze playing with the hair of the stream. * * * Whenever I wish to go to the sky, I shut my eyes and touch the stars with my brow. * * * When I think of Him the flowers begin to drop from on high in such floods that I can find no measure out of my joy. * * * I love all shapes—be they of brass or gold, of stone or chalk—only they should bear in them the touches of the chisel of my Master. * * * The tree bending with the burden of its fruits is a picture in colours of a dedicated soul. * * * The eyes of a solitary lamp in an empty house are full of tears. * * * When a great river falls over rocks, it rises in song, filling the valley with the music of its fall. * * * I hail Him as a man long at sea hails the sight of land. * * * What a boat is on the sea, a lake is on the land; both are equal solace of my eyes. * * * I love to see the dreams the moonlight creates along the river-bank. * * * The child trying to learn and the learned man trying to be a child again only show that there is still a greater vista not yet seen. * * * All is finite that we see and sense; the infinite ever unsensed around it makes the finite, glow with its hidden beauty. * * * The greatest art consists not in merely making statues, but in falling in such deep love with them that they may awaken to life like Galatea. * * * The most beautiful sight to me is a man bending his knees before the wonder of creation. VIIL—WOMEN ARE LIKE BIRDS WOMEN are like birds shot unaware while flying in the sky. * * * Akbar the Great ordered the immediate execu¬tion of his beautiful maid of honour, Anarkali (Pomegranate Blossom), when he saw the furtive exchange of love-glances between his son, the Prince Saleem, and the poor maid. * * * The eyes of a tyrant king are as blind swords that fall like fire on the blossoms of life. * * * The Saints of God revive with their mercy the soul scorched by man-made law. * * * Earth and Heaven conspire to bring lovers together. * * * "My eyes are as black bees," says Zulaikha; "and He is the white lotus. Tell me, tell me how can I forbid them from seeking Him? "How can I refuse complete surrender to God's full beauty? "Those who say they can resist so divine a face have surely not yet seen Him." * * * In human affairs there are occasions when sin is seen together with the beauty of the soul, like the thorn by the side of the rose. Only the Saints of God know that the rose is worth all the lacerations they receive from its thorns. * * * As a brass ring inset with false sapphires and worn on the finger of a king seems to shine as bright as a ring of gold inset with true sapphires on the finger of a humbler man, so the very faults of beauty shine like gems on the proud robes of personality. * * * The dim eyes of the moralists view the high soaring cranes as if they were common crows and sparrows, for they can see no difference between the two. * * * I wonder how these things called men gather enough courage to cast into hot fires of passion the flowers fashioned by the hand of God? How can they break statues and burn pictures and yet be men? * * * Love, to the Higher Ones, means only the developed dream of the "black bees of the eyes " slumbering in the blossoms of the Beloved. * * * Love is like a wild gazelle of the forest-listening rapt to the sounds coming to her from where she knows not. * * * I am waiting for an age when all swords will be thrown aside by man, walking, in the armoury of God, who alone looks beautiful with a spiritual sword in His holy hand. IX.—HOW CAN I THINK HE HAS FORGOTTEN ME ? LIKE a sweet woman she came, the cold wind from the North, came to me in Central India, and took me in her lap, just when I was gasping for life. She put her thin long fingers through my hair in fond caress, and made me sleep by swinging me like a little child in her arms. How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * The mid-day sun burnt above me, and the hot sands of Rajputana burnt under my feet as I trudged wearily, wearily along. I saw a man with flowing hair and long beard a few steps ahead of me, just as I was about to swoon away. He turned back, looked at me and smiled. Suddenly, the reviving clouds gathered above my head; my feet were bathed in fresh strength and I reached, all in a moment, the place where I had to go. I ran after the man, but found only that twinkling smile of the vast desert which had healed me and vanished. How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * I had gone much beyond my depths in the swift river. I had been all but drowned. I felt a powerful hand outside catching me by my long hair and pulling me out of the water to the safe shore. How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * Many a time I am tempted to wish many things during the day, to fulfil which some Hidden One comes to me at night in my dreams. After fulfilling every one of my wishes He laughs and says: "Here is the harvest of your follies!" How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * It was a lonely autumn night whose heart was willing but whose steps were too shy to come to me like a veiled Hindu bride. * * * I thought life but an idle dream waiting for nothing. I extinguished my little lamp and she came with a girdle of bells round her waist ringing with the melody of His Presence, and saying : " How could I come to you when others were with you?" How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * My foes, the sorrows—with their knitted brows, hairy and frowning—came threatening me, like black clouds with red eyes. As I felt a little afraid of them they laughed and departed. How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * I lost a chair, but I gained a throne. How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * My fellow-beings wished to engulf me in the honey of their love. And then I did something wild and foolish, which soured the sweetness of their love. I began crying, when He came all of a sudden and embraced me, and said: " My child, you have fallen and broken your limbs. Come, I will heal you. Doubt not your friends, they are your limbs." How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * In the frenzy of my wild passion I shut my eyes and kissed the air round me, imagining I was kissing His lotus-feet. As I opened my eyes I found Him standing before me, my lips at His feet and His feet wet with my kisses. How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * I was fully asleep on my bed, the rosary that He had once given me in my right hand. At midnight, by chance, my eyes opened and saw Him sitting on my bed and telling the beads of Nam for me. How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * When all the rain floods had passed over me and I was left behind like the dry bed of the once foam-covered sands, I thought, "What is this life that comes and goes?" But suddenly from below my sands broke, like a minstrel of ages, a singing fountain, and covered my life with its crystalline waters. My very sands shone as precious gems of myriad waters. How can I think He has forgotten me ? * * * When I ran after the world it ran away from me. But when I turned my back on it, and went away quietly, kissing the footprints of my Master, the lotus petals of heart and mind, f the sun and stars stood behind me, patiently begging from me a share of that rich joy. How can I think He has forgotten me ? X.—THE PLAYING CHILDREN The playing children asked the Moon: "O beauty-faced child! We are all playing, why don't you come down to play with us?" The Moon replied: "My friends, I am still a suckling. I am curled in the lap of my mother, drinking milk from her fountains of life. I am just peeping out of her skirt for a moment to see you playing, and I must again hide myself under her skirt to suck more milk." * * * The playing children asked an old street-beggar in tattered clothes who looked like an old tree with dry leaves: " 0 Grandpa, what is the difference between you and yonder Peepul tree ? You look so alike." Old Beggar: My boys, the parents of the Peepul tree, when it was a nursling, took care to put its roots in fertile soil, and for that reason, even now in its old age, its heart is young; it still puts forth those purple leaves and that tender bloom of its infancy, for old age to it is but an empty trunk through which the juices flow up the more the older the trunk grows. But my parents had set my roots in pleasant flower vases and put me in the show-windows of life; and therefore in my old age I am like an uprooted Peepul tree, and not like a growing one." * * * Children: "But, Grandfather, can we not help you to put your roots back into the soil, so that you too may be young in spite of the hollow trunk of old age ?" Old Beggar : "My children, my roots have not been trained to grow in the depths of the soil, and now it is too late." Children: "But, Grandfather, we can dig a large hole for you and put you in. Are these arms and legs your roots ?" Old Beggar : " My boys, you cannot see my roots. I am a Peepul tree upside down. My soil should be in Heaven. It is too late now." Children: "But then we see you quite well rooted under the sky; you can go nowhere away from it. Why is it you cannot drink the juice of Heaven from above as the Peepul does from below? " Old Beggar: "My children, my roots, that are like dry threads now, have lost their fine mouths by being shut up in the blind walls of the hard flower vases, and it is too late." XL—THE SPORTS OF LOVE MY love came once dressed in clothes like petals of flowers. In the joy of her coming I crushed her in my arms and madly tore her dress into a thousand ribbons; and then she stood with her back half turned to me, still un-tattered. She frowned like an angry goddess, and was red with wrath. I was abashed to make her so angry, and was about to hang my head in shame, when swift from beneath her frowns there came a smiling look from the corner of her eyes, which said: "I never knew you! Tearer of clothes!" * * * My love went away from me, but tears flowed from her eyes, and then from mine; and these waters of the River of Separation kept us tied to each other. * * * Once my love, playfully drawing a veil over her face, asked me: "Guess, who is under the veil?" I replied: "The Dawn." * * * My love stole away from my side at night and, going up to the roof, called me: "Look! who is on your roof?" I replied: "The Moon." * * * In fun my dear love hid herself from me for days, and when she appeared she asked: "Can you guess where I was?" I replied: "In my eyes." * * * My love asked me: "Do you hear the tumult in the street? Wherefore this' clamour of the people?" I replied: "My love, they are withered trees crying at the approach of the storm." * * * One day my love bought a young dromedary, swift of foot and bright. She bathed it clean, she bought a golden kachazva for it, and had it fully caparisoned from head to foot. She gave her own shawl to cover it. Round its neck she hung a hundred bells, and round its ankles silver anklets too. In its nose she put a nose¬gay set with pearls from her own jewel-case, and a long string of blue silk with which to lead it. She dressed herself in a rough violet woollen suit such as the camel drivers wear; bareheaded and barefooted, she took it grazing under the trees. She lopped the leaves from the high branches and fed her dromedary. She took it to fresh springs, and gave it to drink of new waters every day. One day she invited me, and said to me: "Look! How tall and beautiful my dromedary has grown!" And then she led it out richly arrayed, and the dromedary followed her gentle hand, prancing with joy, and its hundred bells chimed like the birds of the morning. When we were out of the city and no one else was there, she spoke a secret word in the ear of her dromedary, and immediately it knelt on all-fours. My love sprang on its back and sat in the golden kachawa. As she rode along, she asked me: :Look, sir! Who is riding on the road?" I replied: "My joy." * * * One day she caught hold of a frisky little donkey colt. It was of dark grey colour and very pretty. She spent the whole morning in decorating it with her best Bokhara silks and with her choicest garlands of pearls. And she did not fail to put bells on all its pretty limbs. She asked me: "How would it do in your study, sir?" I replied: "It would be like a song from you in the morning." * * * One day she set out to bring a present for me from the garden. She returned and said: " Guess what I have brought for you." "A bedewed rose," said I. "No," she said. "Guess again." "A twig of plum blossom." "No; guess again." " Only leaves of green grass." "Not yet; guess again." "Yourself, perfumed with the morning!" said I. And here she put on my head a crown of white lotus-buds and clapped her hands, say¬ing: "Ah! you could not guess what a simple thing I brought you." XII.—THE MAGICIAN I SEE Him appearing to me in mid-air, coming down from the sky like a dream in the night. I see Him seated in the sun as I look for Him, the very first I meet in the morning. How can I forget my Magician, O Mother ? * * * That silent man's touch gives me whatever I need and whenever I need from within myself. In hot deserts I feel he has playfully thrown me into a Monsarovar of Nectar. I am swim¬ming in its blue purity. My naked limbs, my arms and legs, are tossed in its calm waters, splashing them in all directions in aimless pleasure. I catch the sun in the net of the pearl-drops that drip from my tossing hands and feet. I catch the moon in the net of the ripples of my bliss. How can I forget my Magician, O Mother? * * * He! whose very remembrance shakes me with the entire passion of peace and bathes me in the tremulous music of His Presence. My sins are crushed for ever, my self shines reju¬venated in its virgin freshness. I quiver, I quiver with life! How can I forget my Magician, O Mother ? * * * He! who looked at me so that I was like one mad for joy, roaming in joy of nothing, repeating His Name as if I were drinking one after another full cups of red wine! How can I forget my Master, O Mother ? * * * He came and took me away to a lonely place, my hand held in His. My heart danced within me, and I felt He had lifted me from Earth to Heaven on His mighty shoulders. Ah! the sweet wonder of those dizzy heights! How can I forget my Master, O Mother ? * * * In His face I see the faces of Krishna, Budha and Christ and others flitting across my sight as faint glimpses. I see the host of angels gathered round Him! How can I forget my Master, O Mother ? * * * When no one owned me He made me His Own; When the World talked against me He glorified me; When I had lost everything and no one would think of me, He came and put a crown of glory on my head; When I was mere clay of the common street He made me divine by His breath; When I was an outcast, untouchable, despised, wretched, sinful, He embraced me and called me His daughter; When I was naked with shame and poverty, He clothed me with the holiness of His rapture. How can I forget my Master, O Mother ? XIIL—THE KINGS OF YESTERDAY THE kings of yesterday were speaking to the people seeking for peace behind the wall of life, when I overheard their swan-song in snatches. * * * " We are no good, we go; but our crowns lying at your feet will spring up and sit on your heads to-morrow." Such is Solomon's magic investing the crowns. * * * Roots are many, but flowers are few. The roots, sick of their dark chambers and tired of the richness of the flowers, hurled them down to their own hidden place. The flowers died, and the roots were suffocated of themselves. * * * In this valley of sorrow we have been gather¬ing only the harvest of pain, for we never saw anything else growing here. * * * The winds of the desert howled to make the sand surface as smooth as that of a calm sea, but they were breathlessly busy all through life in carrying the sand-hills of the desert from one place to another, till they died of sheer exhaustion. * * * If you invite the sea to you, your lands will vanish in its flood. * * * The trees, tired of growing as of old, have begun tearing their roots out of the soil and fraternising with the flood. * * * You rise like wounded lions at the thought that we are the cause of your misery, but take care you do not die of your own roars. * * * There was just one loaf in our hands, the other was and still is in the hands of God. We found millions hungry, and we saved a few with this one loaf. As you come now and snatch it from our hands and give it to all, you save no one. * * * As kings we have been no worse men than you will be when you occupy our thrones under new names. You will also have to bury in soil your roots as we did. This, pathetic as it is, is the evil and mystery of Life which depends upon growth. * * * The cultivation of the people that you seek, we too have been seeking for ages; and look at the smiling gardens that we made out of the forests! But you will find, as we found, that the cultivated and delicate garden trees tend to die for want of water in a single day, while the wild timber trees stand green for a long time without it. You thought it was otherwise. "Why should gardens receive more water and forests less?" So you turned the water away; your gardens dry up and your forests grow no better. * * * We could not prevent the sword in the hand of Death from mowing the people down. Let us see if you can stand against it to save the remnant from destruction. * * * Down-trodden masses, as you call them, are like the moor grass scorched by the sun. The sun invokes the hot winds, which dry them all the more. But only the rain-cloud can revive them—that which itself flies above all moors. * * * After all, what is this struggle about ? To raise democracy into aristocracy, or to degrade aris¬tocracy into democracy? Because as long as on this earth things grow with their heads turned upwards towards the light of the sky, you cannot wipe out the aristocracy of genius, or of beauty, or of inspiration, or the aristocracy of the soul; though we agree that an aristocracy of blue blood is absurd. * * * Is not life a climb uphill begun at different times by different climbers ? And how should all be now reaching the summit at exactly the same time? * * * Remember this, that you will never be able to make "kings amongst men" into beggars, though you may succeed better than ourselves in making some more beggars kings. But on the whole the attempt to establish the difference will not be worth the blood with which you have made your days so red. * * * Wars and revolutions are accidents like the tempests in the sea. Men ride horses, but some¬times horses ride men. Revolutions or wars do not change the realities of life, but only stir the current for a while. * * * All governments start with the freedom of the individual and end by crushing him. * * * We can get rid of everything by our laws except ourselves. * * * The cure for misery lies somewhere in the direction whence descended to man the old in¬spiration with the miracle and gift of prophecy. But the people have turned their backs on the sun of divine inspiration in favour of the glow¬worms of ethics which are now being "made to order" for all homes. Tell us, can mere ethics compel the tiger and the lamb to drink at the same pool in peace unless the miracle occurs that creates the great love of the enchantress ? * * * Things are made valuable by the amount of human fancy invested in them. No one has the patience to evaluate the really valuable. * * * The grossest superstition concerning the value of gold clings to men, the more so as they grow more civilised. And how universally do they now find themselves trembling on this quagmire of glittering sands! * * * They run about seeking repose all their lives, for themselves and their children And so have their forefathers done before them. But both they and their children's children have gathered only "running restlessness." * * * The labourer prayed for a little "rest" for his labouring hands, and asked for labour-saving tools. The tools came and took his place, driving him altogether out of work, saying: "You take rest, I will do all for you." * * * Tools usurped the place of man, because men combined to ruin each other by competi¬tion—which shows that the human mind is still under the spell of tiger-eyed war—brothers killing brothers to decide the share of a worthless patrimony. * * * It is no good calling ourselves "brothers," for brothers fight like foes. It is best to call ourselves "slaves" and to live up to the old song of service. By being slaves, you might solve the human problem with much less cant than by " universal brotherhood." * * * Self-sacrifice is the practical religion of the slave; and the slave has developed a heroism that no slave-keeper can yet boast of. * * * To run headlong through the back door to primitive ways of life may at last prove to be the easiest way out of the muddle of inter¬national politics. * * * As the cloud distributes water better than the well, so the wealth of man must accumulate at the feet of one person living above men, who, keeping nothing for Himself, may distribute all the gathered wealth from His high seat as the cloud its rain. * * * The treasury of kings must flow to the treasury of the mother, for little children have no other cry than for bread; and what shall the mother do if the children pull at her garments and ask for bread when she has none to give? * * * The hunger of man can be conquered if men remain half hungry. * * * To have one poor king is much less costly to the farmer than to have all of you as kings over his head. * * * We depart, but true kings will always come to cure humanity; to her goes our best love in her everlasting distress that began in the days of Adam. XIV.—NATIONS SINGING silence, charmed with the radiance of His Face, puts man in touch with the secret fountains of life. * * * Nations rise only after a sound sleep at the feet of the Lord of Hosts. * * * The activity of the people cut off from the sources of inspiration is like that of paper kites whose strings are snapped in mid-flight. * * * People who breathlessly run about with the fever of somehow or somewhere doing good are like stray boats at sea without their boatmen. * * * Those who have not loved man, how can they love mere substance called country or fatherland ? * * * Patriotism is a good cloak for hiding one's crimes. * * * Man still does not know himself, for he takes innocent delight in plucking flowers. * * * The benevolence of the conqueror towards the conquered is always mean. * * * Rich man's charity is but two drops of the blood of a conscience that has been pierced by the arrow of gold. * * * The sword thinks faster than the man. * * * All the disorders are included in the great order of things. * * * There are times when the cry of one man rises like that of a million. * * * Men who make huts lampless1 will in turn have their palaces burnt by their own lamps. * * * How can there be peace amongst men when the inner intention of men still is to breed dogs of war and feed their own pups with the blood of others? * * * 11 got this word from the most prosaic of things, the Revenue Records, in which "lampless" village means the village whose entire population has died or gone away. * * * Man is injured, but the injury is always self-caused, and there is no cure for it but in his own self. * * * Whenever a man happens to come amongst lesser men, they take care to put him either in their sanctuaries or their prisons. * * * "One set of these fine gentlemen is as bad as the other; there is nothing to choose between the two," said the hungry man; "they are all after my loaf." * * * Old nations are like garrulous old men, still talking of means to prolong life. XV.—THE BEAUTY-BORN ONE I AM the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * People enamoured of me offer me jewels that I may wear them in my hair. I take them in my hands, the heavy ones I throw away and the light ones I wear. Next morning I tell them: "O friends, did you not see yesterday evening that the jewels you gave me God wore on His turban?" I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * I passed into another street. A beautiful woman brought me the luscious grapes of Afghanistan, a whole big bunch, fresh as if just plucked from the vine. As she offered me them great tears fell from my eyes. I could not say what invisible feelings were behind the offer. Just then I saw a figure bright and swift as lightning entering into me. I sat at the door of the beautiful woman and ate the bunch of grapes. All the while she stood by my side. I was astonished, for behold I was standing in a garden of grapes, plucking them one by one, and offering them one by one to the Beloved. I told her: "O great woman! You have feasted with God to-day, and through your goodness I too have been so fortunate as to have a glimpse of Him." And I saw the tears fall down from her eyes. I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * I passed on to another city. A good man saw that I wore no clothes, and it was the Punjab winter, and it was very cold. He brought a dress for me; it was of woollen homespun, and in every warp and woof there was a song of praise, in every stitch the sound of Sat Nam. There were tears in his eyes, and his hands quivered with some untold trouble. I took it as he gave it me, and put on the garment as we stood facing each other. The man was happy when he had clothed me! I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * On another day I passed on to some other place. And that day I emerged murmuring within my lips almost inaudibly: "Half a loaf of bread—only half a loaf of bread." That day I shone bright as the flame of the winter fire. A woman called to me suddenly as she stood at her door. I looked up; she was tall, majestic, her face was full of the glory of the heights, her eyes were swimming in tears of His love; tears of His love were swimming in her eyes. She glowed, shone like a star, as she called me: "O hungering wandering poet! To-day I know your song is 'half a loaf of bread, only half a loaf of bread,' and I have baked just half a loaf for you; it is for you and for no one else, and since daybreak I have waited for you." I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * There are days when you see me loving fine clothes, living near the heart of the flowers, in company of men and women of the Order of the Rose to which I belong, and demanding a throne for my footstool. Fear not, I have not become a spoilt saint. I am only spreading welcome for God in myself. It is that noble joy of which, as says Bharathari: " The flowers of Malti either wave above the crowns of kings or in the desert air waste their entire perfume, for there is no middle course for them." I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * I am becoming a strange man. I lose myself entirely in the love of a man or a woman whose names I have not known for years, whose faces fill my days with intense delight, as if I shall never recover from their love. And I forget them as a beautiful snow-scene is for¬gotten and left behind when one travels away from it. What can I do? I am a disciple still under my Master's loving care. I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * The nearer I am to Him, the more tremendous is my longing to be with Beauty, that pearl-like innocence of perfect faces and forms. Yet all the more do I withdraw within myself, for I am being taught that Beauty is all within me, and nothing outside me. And this is true, for I feel myself getting taller, mightier, prouder, graver, lighter, brighter, gayer, more and more loving and self-absorbed every day. I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * The gems of God are as rare in Heaven as they are on Earth. I shudder to impose the beauty of the mood of the highest ones on mere winged ants of a rainy night, or to utter the blasphemy of the earthen philosophers that it is all one and there exists no difference in God. I love to accentuate the differences and con¬trast which are all Divine, for I am sick of the one dark-grey colour of this mind-born ghost of Unity. I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. * * * How can I, a street beggar, think the same of a lady who never thinks of me as I stand every day at her door waiting for her to give me bread and water? I cannot play the false philosopher. I am for kindness, not for indifference; I am of life, not of death. * * * I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. I am Life, and in my breath burn gems of heavenly waters. I am happy in the light of my stars, needing nothing more; and I live with all doors shut like the dark night seated in the sky. I am the Beauty-born One, visiting many doors, singing the sacred Name. XVI.—THE VEILED DWELLER (1) A VOICE came: He loves me ! Hearing this, I suddenly fling wide open all the windows of my soul, And, half clad, rising hurriedly from my place, with one face I look out of a thousand windows, to overhear with a thousand ears what the voice says! (2) The voice says: "He loves me!" Hearing this my restless throbbing heart doth feel well for the time. And just after a moment I begin to cry again, And my heart quivers as before. (3) I wait for ever at the window, trying to hear and overhear news of Him. Give me no other news, pray, Only this news both morn and eve: "He loves me!" (4) O Saint of God! Teach me no other secret. Only tell me secretly: "He loves me." And again! A thousand times more: "He loves me." XVII.—ON THE HILL-SIDE O BROTHER Forest! Take up thy vina of the pines and thy bow of the wind and play the music that lives in the heart of that village maiden who comes there, gliding down the hill, with the earthen pot full of milk on her head, treading softly the grassy path, and trilling sweetly her hill-song of love. * * * O Brother Cloud! There is a darkness hides my path, which neither sun nor moon can destroy. Come, brother, come and cleave it with the lightning flash that lives in thy heart, for the darkness has now clung too long round my timid feet. * * * O Brother River! Who has touched thy lips with these sweet sounds that fill the valley with dreams no one has ever dreamt? * * * O Brother Sun! Who is that king who gives you so much gold every day that you waste it for the sake of your love residing on the snow-tops ? * * * O Sister Fountain! Where is the woman who has the pitcher of life On her back, whose silver song is in your throat? * * * O Traveller! Tell me whose palaces are the snow-peaks, as the cool breezes of life blow to me from there ? * * * Beauty has, out of self-joy, become naked on the heights of the Himalayas. * * * By the weight of its exuberance the blossom of the lilies has torn the apron-laps of the field, and is just dropping out of them. O Sister Breeze, haste, haste and catch the falling blossom in your outspread palms, and let it not fall on the ground! * * * O lonely cottage on the brow of the mountain! Lift off a corner of thy veil, pray, I desire a glimpse of thy Secret One behind the veil. * * * Why is this torch-procession every night in the sky? " Here, every night is a wedding, sir! And we bring home the Bride of the Lord," replied the Stars. * * * Why are the leafy twigs trembling? " We are quivering to receive in our hearts the foot¬prints of the sparrows." * * * The moon-bird spreads its wings to cover the moon, saying: "Ah.1 No one else shall see the face I love." XVIII.—RAKHI BANDNAM WHAT is in a thread, I wonder? My sister did wind one round my wrist and said: "Hail, hail, Brother! to-day is the Rakbi Bandnam." * * * Rakhi Bandnam! It is a simple cotton thread on which a sister strings silk flowers of many colours made by her own hands, their hearts pierced here and there with rays of gold; and this she binds once a year round the wrist of her brother! * * * When my sister was gone from our house to the new home of her husband, the little thread she used to bind round my wrist began dragging my heart for ever towards her in a constant aching because of our separation. * * * Drawn by the thread, I went to her new home in a village. She came out throbbing with old joy, shaking, quivering : “Hail, hail, Brother! It is Rakhi Bandnam to-day.” And there she stood with the thread to bind me. I stood speechless, bound for ever like a slave to her feet. * * * As we thus met, tears fell from our eyes drop by drop on the earth, and we caught each other In a trembling embrace. As I parted from her tears fell from her eyes, and tears fell from mine; and as I went away she remained stand¬ing outside the village on a high mound looking at my receding figure. That little thread was, I felt, pulling me gently still; and I would pause at every step, looking back with eyes full of tears, stop, and again look back; and still she stood there on the mound looking at my receding figure. I knew she was still quivering with love; and unknown to her the little thread she put round my wrist as a child and as a girl, and then as a woman,, kept dragging my heart towards her feet for ever!—making me ache for ever with sweet pain because of her life of love and renunciation. * * * When nothing at all succeeds to revive my tired heart I touch this sacred sister's memorial cord, and the very touch starts the glow of life for ever. * * * The Rakhi Bandnam is a sacrificial fire. Sister! Sister! Thou art far off, yet so near is this hearth-fire thou hast lighted in me! * * * Sister! Sister! What is this innocent Rakhi thread ? I see it is threading the countries and continents in sisterly love. The thread you gave me binds us everywhere, I, the brother, to the world of woman—You. * * * Sister! Sister! I gather your tears, I gather your smiles, I gather your thorns and your roses, and string them on the Rakhi thread, and wear them as both my cross and my crown. * * * Sister! Sister! When Death cornes and touches me, I only say " Sister "—and Death vanishes, ashamed that she came to touch your brother! How great is thy kingdom! Sister! Sister! When selfishness steals on me like a shadow I call on thee, and my soul suddenly at thy name springs forward into the fire of sac¬rifice, singing of thy love and thy renunciation. * * * The thread of my sister binds all hearts. All hearts beat and are bound in it, just as her heart beats with mine! The same old tears flow. Everywhere the same old tragic renuncia¬tion of the woman! And the same old call of my sister, " Hail, hail, Brother! It is the day of Rakbi Bandnam" is heard everywhere! XIX.-THE COMING OF RAIN: THE PLAYING GIRLS UNDER the skies overcast with peacock-coloured clouds of the rain-month a hundred groups of girls of the labouring folk go singing in Gwalior and Bikaner, in the Neem groves, on the open road;—freed for a moment from their daily labour, freed for a while from the worries of their poor homes, freed from the smoke of the, wet embers of their hearth fires, freed from the oppressing love of hungry men and children, mistresses for the moment of their own limbs and feet. They go singing, swimming in amethyst air, their gowns and veils, rich scarlet, deep green and blue, made of the home-spun coarse cloth, fluttering in the soft rain-laden breezes of the violet - coloured monsoon afternoon. No one else but these happy girls think of welcoming the rain-month. Crowds on crowds of them, touching the thirsty earth with their bare feet, fly as a hundred songs with the clouds, clasping them—maybe in memory of the great purple-coloured Krishna—these bunches of the girls of the Vindhyachal! * * * I am reminded of my home in the Punjab, where Pathohar girls sing in exactly the same voice and pitch and tune and lilt of spontaneous joy the wedding songs in the villages. These lofty voices of the lowly girls sink deep into my soul as the rain sinks into the soil, filling me, thrilling me with their freed melody. * * * Their hundred little naked feet moving in tune with their trembling silver throats, and crowds of them moving on to welcome the crowned clouds, half reveal a whole invisible choir of hundreds of songsters joining them in joy and following them along; and then the coming of clouds in the procession, then rain, and then the bells of the temples ringing; and in the singing trail a thousand children running and shouting under the rain! * * * On her heavy heaving bosom a tiny jewel, set in a gold pendant, shines and rises and sinks as she breathes in busy haste; and she is so proud of it.. Sometimes she takes it in her hand and looks at it, and drops it on her breast to shine. She is picking mangoes, gold-coloured ripe fruits that, shower-washed, fall on the wet soft ground, and as she stoops the peacocks gather round her. She startles a whole cluster of them by running after them, catching them by their tails, lifting them up in her arms, and playing and laughing and talking by herself with the birds. The young girl, enraptured by the light of her jewel, is free in the blossom of her youth, in the freedom of the rain-freed day, a single holiday after one year of dreary life! * * * Another girl was there, who would not listen to any but her own liquid voice: "Under the cool shades of clouds I come, O youth of my heart! And I knock at thy door, I knock at thy door, O Beloved! It is drizzling honey-drops outside, O youth of my dream! Under the cool shade of the clouds I come, And I knock at thy door, I knock at thy door, Beloved! Honey drops outside!" * * * Another voice floats in the wind: "Oh! do not hold me by the wrist, My wrist is too frail, Do not catch me by the wrist. Free me! Free me! from yourself, From this wild, wild thing, From this harsh, savage love; My delicate wrist will break. Oh! do not hold me by the wrist. Oh! do not hold me by the arm, My bangles of glass will break. Free me! Free me! from yourself, From this wild, wild thing, From this harsh, savage love, My bangles of glass will break! " * * * A few shepherd-girls in the distance sing and dance, and their voices ring like the sound of the approaching rain-shower: " Whose flocks of sheep are the clouds, black and white and purple and red ? And where is the shepherd of the herds, who grazes them on those vast blue meadows ? Oh! whither are the sheep running now? Look! the lambkins left behind are running faster, on their tiny, tiny feet! And at the back of each black lambkin shines the silver staff of the shepherd! Who is this shepherd, whose one staff is a myriad? Or is he himself a myriad standing by each little lambkin ? Look! how his staff shines behind a hundred sheep at the same time! O look! yonder is the bearded shepherd coming, driving the herds with his staff! Oh! his one staff is a myriad! The voice of the shepherd thunders and cries: Oh! whither are the herds fleeing ? Oh! why are the lambkins left behind bleating ? Oh! whither is the voice of the shepherd calling ? Whose flocks of sheep are the clouds, black and white and purple and red? And where is the shepherd of the herds who grazes them on those vast blue meadows ? Oh! whither are the sheep fleeing? Oh! whither is the voice of the shepherd calling ? " * * * Another shepherd - girl, seeing an orange-coloured cloud, cries: "O Miraculous Dyer! Pray dye me my veil in the colour of this doud, In this gay orange colour, pray! Dye my veil, and the' turban too of him who trails in my heart, And let my veil be of the same colour with him, For whom I have wasted, wasted all my youth! Dye me too, pray, in the same orange glow, That I and my veil be of the same colour with him, For whom I have wasted, wasted all my youth." XX.—THE HOMES OF BLESSEDNESS THERE are two kinds of homes in this world which are holy—nests and rests. Others, how¬ever well furnished, are as graves for the living dead, or as funeral pyres on which the dwellers burn slowly all their life. * * * The nests are beautiful; in them good men and women live together in peace, distributing their labour and joy like songs amongst their guests. These love-lit homes resound with joy at the sight of man, just as the birds rejoice at the sight of the dawn. * * * The little doors are shut, but life sheds its light within, where nestle, the seeds of perfection. * * * Rests are the homes with no doors and no locks. They are for the weary travellers, where they may come and have a moment's rest and go. They are the hearths of the saints. Here is the free distribution of God's grace with which half a loaf is enough to appease the hunger of a hundred guests. No one goes disappointed from here. All are filled with blessedness. Man is made here. Here at last is that peace which the human soul seeks! * * * Nothing is lacking here, for a single word of the saint is that abundant gift "which no man can exhaust in his whole life, even if he waste it to his heart's content. * * * Sinners whom no one honours are honoured here equally with the saints. * * * In the dust of the house floor here the splen¬dours of the sun greet the astonished human eye. * * * From here the gifts of love, of poetry, of religion, of art follow the blessings wrapped, maybe, in a piece of bread, or a piece of cloth, or a green leaf, or a vision. * * * The guests depart laden with a precious loot of the fragrance of His heart, leaving sickness, heartache, bodily ailment to Him. For in this home flows the current of Nam that gathers the Karma of thousands of men and flows for ever in its crystal freshness. Here is the true Ganges that washes clean the sins of man. * * * Here perfection is in its lavish blossom, with its divine madness of perpetual gift. * * * God, tired of the priests, has left the old temples to have a calm time here in the heart of the saint. For the saint builds for the beloved every day a new temple and every night a new sanctuary. * * * Service at this door is the true service of man —to fetch water, to grind corn, to bake bread, to clean the vessels, to nurse the sick, to wash the house floor, or to build a temple—because deep rest and joy of His consciousness is in service. Devoid of the restfulness of this home and its love, its rapture and its vision, the service of man is a sickness of soul and a weariness to the flesh. * * * Both the nests and the rests open their doors wide to men whom God so favours; the entrance there is through His mercy. "It is my good fortune that I have met HIM," says Guru Arjan Dev. FINISH kulindersingh@yahoo.com

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