Guha wrote many Bengali poems between 1998 and 2002 when he was experiencing tremendous physical upheavals in the proximity of UG Krishnamurti. His last poem was UG Krishnamurti, My Oblation To You. He never wrote anything after that. He says, his writing is the Litany of a Mad Man.
Guha encouraged me to translate his poems and I started working seriously on them during my Corona Confinement with him in 2020. Without his nurture and affection, I couldn’t possibly have written even a single line. I am thankful to Julie (Thayer) for her reviews and edits.
Translation of Maya
The thing you want to eradicate
Unbeknownst to you at every step,
Sucks your life-energy,
And burrows deep inside,
Leaving you clueless every time;
All effort to fight it is futile,
Your defeat is certain.
If ever this feeling arises in the core of your being,
Pulsating in your heart, resonating in every neuron –
“I am an ordinary creature of Nature,
I know of no existence other than the physical”
Then perhaps, what made you restless,
Kept you tied to the savage, cyclical maze of living,
Will dry up and dissolve into nothingness.
The outcome of this fearlessness is devastating;
Shattering the veil of tinted glass,
The “You” as you know yourself,
Will be stripped naked,
And brought face-to-face with you.
A Drop Of Water
Translation of Ek Bindu Neer
A drop of water
Where were you?
In my breath
In life’s unwritten history
In every cell of the amoeba
Was it at the dawn of creation or even before?
When time just began
Perhaps split into infinite parts
Restless and minute
In tremendous heat picked up great speed
Disintegrated and put back into myriad forms
Obstructed by powerful forces
Traversing countless paths for ages
You finally reached the earth
With your billion companions
The life-giving wizard
Eternal amidst birth and death
A drop of water.
Your rhythm knows no excesses
Neither good, bad nor pure
A despicable animal or the great Jesus
A fierce warrior or the Buddha
Your form is the same in all
In the white, black and yellow
Of the bone, blood and marrow
You have the lion’s share
The rest are in the fringes
In equilibrium with Nature’s infallible law
Touching the universal life in a primal union
Immortal amidst creation and destruction
Immersed in a timeless dance
To the beat of the damaru
Beyond the eternal and the transient
For the thirsty ones the ultimate truth
You are a drop of water.
Translation of Nirban
Where does hopelessness come from when there are no problems?
Why does an emptiness churn inside me, growing everyday?
All effort to continue its authority have failed
The final attempt – “I love you dearly” shot out like a Brahmastra
Before I could reflect.
This instrument is very clever
It sharpened itself by solving complex problems
And learned to stay afloat even during flood and stormy weather
Using emotions to squeeze the heart
Enjoying the delicate and sophisticated senses
By using the body’s vital energy
From the moment it became conscious
An insatiable drive for pleasure.
Who can ever understand it? It is an arduous task
Often it emerges like a sliver of light piercing through the clouds
Then vanishes time and again
The servant who was given responsibility of the house and freedom
Refuses to leave, absorbed in illusory enjoyment.
It is impossible to get rid of it now
It is clear its roots have spread
To every house in every community and deep into the foundation
If ever it is forced to leave
Maybe it will burn everything as it goes
Bigger the house, greater the burden, deadlier the arsenal
Enormous riches, incomparable arrogance.
That fire will burn ceaselessly
A glorious display of Nature’s beauty
A volcano erupting
With Buddha at its feet.
Life, Me and You
Translation of Jiban, Ami Ebong Tumi
In my delight rings the proclamation of your liberation,
In your delight is the rattling of the chains of bondage.
In my love there is the agonizing pain of your renunciation,
In your love is the sense of self’s thirst for pleasure.
In my company there is a deep perception of the unreal,
In your company is the bewitching snare of illusion.
The “I” in me is a slave of Mother Nature,
The “I” in you is the slave of fools.
In me the workings of “I” is a mysterious movement of life,
In you the workings of “I” is a fatal, cruel division.
My “I” desires for nothing anymore,
Your desires are boundless and meaningless,
Thus, forever shrouded in illusion.
Translation of Jwalan
Neither can I face him,
Nor can I keep him away,
The burning in his presence is unbearable,
His absence stalls everything.
When he spreads his wings, flies far away,
I burn wishing for death to end my agony,
I wonder, “Do I really love him so much?”
When he gives all,
My heart twists and turns,
Tears roll down the cheeks and flood my chest,
I wonder, “Why am I so fortunate?”
When he is busy with others,
I feel terribly abandoned,
Perhaps he has forgotten me;
Ugly, dark thoughts arise,
Rotten intentions cast a hideous net in the mind,
Vengeful ideas take control,
Fire in the belly spreads to the veins signalling destruction.
The torture is unbearable today,
I wish the interloper so strangled,
That neither beautiful, nor ugly,
Can enter the body’s domain.
In its desire to bring about a permanent solution,
The body burns relentlessly giving everything it has.
Yet I can’t kill myself!
Perhaps this agony could have ended,
In this pain, my mind lost all and became broke,
I don’t understand – am I obsessed with burning?
O Consciousness, why did you give birth to this?
It was better off being one with everything;
Stringing yourself with an unwritten tune,
Why did you hand it a sense of freedom?
Ensnared by temptation in the illusive net of Maya,
It hurtles towards a mirage in the great void.
Trapped in a vortex it declares arrogantly,
“I was born in the past, I reside in the past,
I am the indestructible King of Darkness”.
A deafening roar wafts in,
Breaking the deep slumber of time,
The Susumna trembles and shivers in delirium,
Stirring up the unstruck sound.
It does not know it’s a mummy in the coffin,
Reared by the false and meaningless mind,
How can it touch life which is ever new?
Frightened by life’s firepower it shudders,
Fearing its world will come crashing down,
Least pleasure and self-interest disappear;
Sweet melody sounds like the death knell.
Tremendous heat burns away bondage,
Radiation melts the net of illusory desires,
Fancies die in the vast, empty desert,
The lonely self is at the brink of extinction.
With a last ditch effort it tries to trap the new in the old frame,
Hoping to breathe a sigh of relief in its dark kingdom.
Like the hidden wealth of a miser,
It remains in darkness for generations.
Nature has come pleading at the doorstep,
How can she make you understand?
The play that gave birth to this entity,
Has become a dangerous sport,
Running relentlessly behind closed doors.
Nature realized waiting is futile,
Countless contestants involved in this fatal game.
Anxious at the cry of the soul,
It became the great Life Force,
Breaking barriers, rushing at the poison-tinted neck,
Snatching away both freedom and ignorance.
The struggle for emancipation flares up fiercely,
The intoxication of destruction all around,
A powerful resonance stirs up the cosmic consciousness,
Fire touches the core of existence,
Heated blood acquires an unknown vigour,
The head is severed,
Crazy energy dances to the rhythm of the Kaalbhairavi!
Black and white, bad and good, evil and holy,
Conflicts are coming to an end perhaps;
Bursting the bubble of imagination,
Transcending intellect and discrimination,
Destroying to the root the restless, illusive world.
After the rains the sky dresses up in the morning light,
The universe rejoices in rapturous dance,
Colour, smell, touch, sound and taste loose their grip,
The third eye opens, senses are free,
The deep slumber breaks for the sake of grace,
To bathe the world in light.
Note: This was the first poem Guha wrote in his collection “Litany of a mad man”.
Translation of Anidra
It’s late in the night,
All that is there is the sound of the clock,
Yet sometimes I sink into thoughts and wonder,
In this stillness broken by the hooting of an owl,
“Who is going to answer friends toiling all their lives for truth?”
The ones who still weep for others,
Spend sleepless nights paying a heavy price for honesty,
Who have exhausted all their resources looking for truth,
The only ray of hope is the life beating inside their feeble bodies;
Will anybody ever tell them anything?
Will they ever find themselves fulfilled?
At night’s end, the clouds in the sky turn to rain,
Washing down the dust from leaves and the wind back to the earth from whence it came,
The grass on the moist soil shines in the bright morning light,
My vision is far reaching;
Who will tell them they should perceive, like this blemishless morning,
The deep connection with Nature?
Let the tears of emotion not fog this ever-new reality,
May they see all the movements of the mind.
Years of creation of self-importance,
The fluid center of this thought structure,
May it be perceived as a flower in full bloom,
May they find themselves with two feet firmly on the ground.
How can I make you understand this ill-fated quest,
That takes you round and round, corners you and drives you to sleeplessness;
Why night after night the infinite beauty of creation,
Pales into my hungry, parched and agonizing existence.
After giving so much, why does Nature not tell me what to say to them?
Then I wonder, “Who am I to make others understand?”
Nature has bestowed the mantra of flowering,
The key to emancipation lies right in front amidst the bondage,
My Dear Friend told me, most don’t have the courage to touch it,
I don’t know why this thought comes up again,
If a lion makes a big kill, leaves it behind after fulfilling itself,
It becomes food for many hungry animals,
Compensating for their lack of hunting skills.
Translation of Astitwa
Sitting since morning alone,
It is noon now, yet I see no one.
Out of burning hunger, I ate whatever I found,
Neither nourishment, nor hunger appeased.
Suddenly, someone appeared, and then left,
I don’t know what happened,
All desire for food vanished.
Noon rolled into evening,
Still sitting alone,
No account of who came in or who has gone.
The hands of the clock are moving,
Tik tok tik tok tik tok,
They say time is marching ahead,
But nothing is monotonous.
Suddenly something happens,
And time stands still.
A darkness devoid of sound descends,
Then the blinding mid-day sun,
A sudden deluge of booming sound follows,
My whole body fills with ecstasy, an unknown vibration,
I see the vivid green of trees with my blood-shot eyes,
Even that is intoxicating.
In my fleeting consciousness at the boundary of the known and unknown,
The Stream of Life
Translation of Jiban Dhara
Millions of tiny specks
Move wagging their tiny tails,
After the peak of life’s upsurge,
With an intense desire,
Propelled by irresistible attraction,
Wade with all their might,
Through the hostile terrain,
Of the milky river.
The commentary of life:
Unbroken and absolute.
Each speck knows its destiny,
The moment it is born,
Which path it will take,
To reach home.
If by a stroke of luck,
One among the millions,
Crosses the river,
To behold its own abode,
Blooming flowers and leaves awash with joy,
With a passionate embrace,
Bestow to it the gift of life.
The word of such an event
Travels far and wide,
To every nook and cranny,
In the midst of duties and work,
The earth joyfully adorns itself,
And a divine intoxication fills its inhabitants.
What an endless excitement!
What a sublimely beautiful expression of creativity!
Life’s sweet melody plays,
As the mountains ooze nectar,
And all centers transform into Nature’s Paradise.
Translation of Praner Bondhu
O what a struggle, what bondage!
Why does he invoke such attraction,
From where does the call of freedom emerge,
Why does it beckon time and again,
From where does this great authority come,
Over the desperate seekers of emancipation,
The oppressed social slaves mock:
These are crazy devotees!
Floating effortlessly like free birds on the waves of life.
O what a burning conflict!
The drama of attachment and freedom.
Life is choking, yet the mind does not relent,
It is beyond knowledge, yet the effort does not end,
Misery, humiliation, seething conflict and pain,
Oh death, why do you stay away,
Take me to your placid lake,
Where thoughts will never murmur again.
Finally he came!
Now there’s nowhere to hide,
The last straw – my self consciousness,
In the fear of getting lost,
Struggles with all its might to stay afloat,
An unknown pain courses through each and every cell.
Trapped in the dark web of the night,
With limbs incapable of resistance,
Energy gushes with lighting speed from head to toe,
As if to impart something to the ductless glands.
Centering on the solar plexus,
It races, bordering the navel,
Going clockwise then counter clockwise,
Through the perfectly purified blood amidst a firestorm,
In the sweaty, cold and immobile body.
The throat lets out a faint, meaningless gurgle,
Like the sound from a dying man,
I am clueless what it means.
Upon the arrival of the playmate,
The energy surges towards the head indomitably,
My self feels abandoned;
Only you remain the spectator within, my dearest friend.
Translation of Rangeen Swapno
There is no one behind you, never was.
The deceit of hope makes you imagine idly,
As if someone is beckoning from yonder beyond the honeyed clouds,
Where the full-moon light floods the island in the sea,
Where songs of everlasting joy play all night long;
This mirage is the mind’s game of perpetuating itself.
The messed up intellect is the result of disorder,
In the new cortex of the docile two-legged animal,
Like a dangling carrot in front of a beast of burden,
For innumerable generations the promise of a problem-free future,
The hope for peace and happiness,
Kept the merry-go-round going, exhausting the body.
Sometimes a few crumbs of dry bread,
Sometimes a pat on the back,
Or ruthless lashes from a whip made of its own skin,
Compel it to run, hoping the misery will end tomorrow.
Dear friend, which well-wisher can make you understand this:
Tomorrow never comes.
The assurance plays on like a broken record lifelong.
You are utterly drunk,
Oh, how you have relished dreaming,
Ever since your childhood, colourful dreams.
Translation of Niyantran
Don’t know what happened suddenly
The one who was oppressed for ages,
An unknown touch has awakened its core,
Effortlessly, it has regained control.
It has decided not to obey you anymore,
The Chakra is in its hands,
It now commands this body crafted by Nature.
It has realised, every moment in the guise of thought,
Your authority was growing covertly, unseen.
The parasitic “I” kept gnawing at the vital resources of life,
Since childhood through the pursuit of cricket and football,
And absorption in the intricacies of physics,
Just to perpetuate itself,
So that this blemishless beauty of Nature never got to flower.
Just as the white blood cells since the inception of life,
Fight to defend this great fortress of Nature,
In the same way, it will light a bonfire and hurl the “Sudharshan Chakra”,
The very moment you emerge,
Wearing the mask of pleasurable thoughts,
Trying to reinstate the “I”.
It has decided not to allow you to enslave it anymore.
The Chakra is now in its own hands,
It commands this body crafted by Nature.
Translation of Manush
Why does this idea arise in the mind time and again,
The desire to know the way to emancipation;
It is the same filth, the same old trick of illusion,
That instigates the restless mind to create an enormous momentum,
To turn overnight this heaven on earth into a living hell;
It is the final ploy of the terrified thinker to perpetuate its stranglehold.
If someone thinks he has discovered the freeway to man’s eternal goal of liberation,
He not only deceives himself, but also lays the foundation
On which will materialize a dark kingdom disconnected from the rhythm of life.
Hordes of innocent, peace-loving people will gather,
Dazed by the dope of erroneous knowledge mingled in their blood,
Some fake and treacherously clever devotees will crown themselves,
Masses of living lumps of flesh and blood will get mercilessly exploited;
If someone dares to ask what is the point of this intoxication,
The facade of the kind, loving faces will turn ferocious,
And life will be destroyed by greed!
There is no way out, it is Nature’s condemnation,
As if bondage and the desire for freedom are two different forms of the same thought.
The crisis that is born out of thinking,
Alas, can thought ever uproot and annihilate?
The glare of knowledge conceals the beckoning of freedom until it disappears forever,
The body turns lifeless under the oppressive grind of society.
If there is someone gutsy enough to readily reject
The centuries old deceit, the archaic values,
The primitive barbarism and traditional reverence,
The good, bad, beautiful and ugly, without discrimination
And burn to ashes the museum of lifeless, decaying culture,
From that fertile ground will spring the song of new life,
And flourish with its rhythm, beat and tune!
Such a man will live amongst all
The rich, the poor, the learned and the unread,
Regardless of religion, race and color,
Effortlessly without self-image.
One undivided life!
An inexpressible feeling!
Where is the time for inquiry?!
Translated on the occasion of Guha’s 67th birthday on 1st May 2020
UG Krishnamurti, my oblation to you
Translation of UG Krishnamurti Laho Pranam
O man of my soul! O fiery man! O Nirgun!
Let the offering of your smokeless, transparent fire,
Burn to the root centuries of solidified oppression that deformed and incapacitated the mind,
Let that fire light a lamp in the core, let its luminance spread beyond the horizon,
Let the seekers of emancipation know this in their depths of being,
As I know the source of my own core movement.
Jivatman, Paramatman are mere words – no need for them;
Your pristine life is a rain-drenched ray of sun.
Your boundless, focussed, piercing gaze burns the core conditioning,
Spontaneously springs the timeless expression of life at the center of existence.
The depth of the soul trembles at your admonition,
The untainted, sacred space that thoughts, idea and hope have never seen,
Sprouts in a flash and flowers into the incomparable creation of life supreme!
Litany of a Mad Man!
Translation of Pagoler Prolap
It’s over! Nothing remains to search.
Enlightenment, self-realization are meaningless and false!
The mind is nothing but knowledge created by thought,
Commentaries of wise men, analyses of the pundits,
Or dreadfully clever definitions of philosophy and psychology.
Atman?! It is a pleasurable self-deceit!
And Paramatman?! Come on, don’t be shy, admit it:
It’s a tactic to fool others for self-aggrandisement.
If faith in God is a result of fear,
Reliance on science is also an outcome of thought.
What kind of gift of Nature is “thought” in homo sapiens?
A shield for self defence or a weapon of mass destruction?!
Nature’s creative properties of physical birth, evolution and the explosion of new life,
What place has thought in this?
Life is a living movement, thought is dead,
A sequence of stationary images,
An effort to bring them to life artificially through a mechanical process.
To capture life is to destroy it!
Like the oyster’s effort to escape pain,
When it adorns the neck of a beauty, gives birth to desire in the mind.
Similarly, the unbearable burden of thought bewitches innumerable lost souls
And inspires the destructive impulse to look even deeper.
Nature’s laughter booms, an unstoppable addiction!
A pathetic process of irreversible change!
The promise of security gradually reveals its real nature:
I saw it written in the ominous skies – the thinker has grabbed the permission to destroy it all!
Translation of Akaal Mrityu
When you say a lot
Then I must say you know nothing.
The day you suddenly stumble upon reality
Through some unknown power of nature
Then you will have nothing to say.
For the longest time you forced yourself to meditate
Didn’t you ever hear the cries of your body revolting?
If standing on your head could beget enlightenment
Then nature would have made you a bat for sure!
You have read so much, you know so much
But why don’t the demands which are beyond your need fall off?
You are just a big fat bundle of reckless desires!
If by chance, the nature of your desires is revealed to you
Then never will you have an illusion of division.
What you call love is a game of authority and power;
If only you could see the deceitful nature of emotions and tears.
Where does the drive for pleasure come from?
How can I make you understand this?
Your docile body is slaving away for nothing!
Like a crazy interloper you have suppressed its innate gifts for ages.
Now, at last, you cry out in anguish – “This is unbearable, I want emancipation!”
You are jolted into accepting that you are just a squatter, most insignificant!
The body was always your real friend, your guiding light
But under your relentless torture it gave up
Leaving you in your dark world of thoughts.
This exquisite body was crafted bit by bit,
But by failing to realise its glory,
You nipped in the bud this million-year-old dream of Nature!
Translation of Bisphoron
The day all your questions gather at the center of your being,
Stack them up like sacrificial firewood,
And light the fire with sacred mantras
In that explosion, the Unqualified will awaken from shattered dreams.
The body, devoured by centuries of exploitation, trembles
Blood races unshackled, laced with fire,
Grinding to dust the mouth of a volcano that lay dormant for ages,
And colouring the horizon in relentless flashes of crimson.
The furious life-force rips apart the stubborn current of thought,
And every cell beats powerfully with new life.
Forgotten for centuries, in this body
Life resonates with the singularly pure pulsation of the Universe.
The fomenting heart awakens to creation’s supreme energy,
And a doubtless, fearless essence reveals life’s mysterious message.
Like Orion and it’s hound on a cloudless, new moon night
Unparalleled is such a One, shrouded in mystery, akin to stars on an eternal journey.
Even Death bows down in praise to the lotus-feet
Of the One, the Alone, whose depth is oceanic.
In the scorching energy of the pastless, sinless Truth
Nature’s flawlessly orchestrated music plays,
And compassion blooms in the incomparably beautiful face.
The old can’t help but ridicule the new;
Ripples of fire burn to ashes all trash gathered by time,
Banishing in a flash, the authority of our thought-created society
The freed spirit severs the cyclic whirl of birth and death,
To light countless lamps dispelling all darkness.
Translation of Poth
If you are really fortunate
If the blazing sun sears through your chest
If everything within you is parched dry
If all the prayers, meditations and japa have gone unrequited
If you have extinguished all your grudges
If you have exhausted all your tears
If you have forgotten to produce complex thoughts
If there are no regrets in the weary mind
If the quest for knowledge has come to an end
Like a nightmare does upon waking up
Only then can a touch ignite the fire
That will rage forever deep in the chest
You will never seek another
And yearn for anything ever
The fire will lead the way
And you will just follow.
Translated with the help of Revathi Iyegar