Monday, December 10, 2012

Andal - The Vaishnava Poetess

Preoccupied from the earliest times with divine knowledge and religious aspiration the Indian mind has turned all forms of human life and emotion and all the phenomena of the universe into symbols and means by which the embodied soul may strive after and grasp the supreme. Indian devotion has especially seized upon the most intimate human relations and made them stepping stones to the supra-human relations and made them stepping stones to the supra – human. God the Guru, God the Master, God the Friend , God the Mother, God the Child, God the Self, each of these experiences-for to us there are more than merely ideas, - it has carried to its extreme possibilities. But none of them has it pursued, embraced, sung with a more exultant passion of intimate realization than the yearning for God the Lover, God the Beloved. It would seem as if this passionate human symbol were the natural culminating-point for the mounting flame of the soul’s devotion; for it is found wherever that devotion has entered into the most secret shrine of the inner temple. We meet it in Islamic poetry; certain experiences of the Christian mystics repeat the forms and images with which we are familiar in the East, but usually with a certain timorouess foreign to the Eastern temperament. For the devotee who has once had this intense experience it is that which admits to the most profound and hidden mystery of the universe; for him the heart has the key of the last secret.

The work of a great Bengali poet has recently re-introduced this idea to the European mind, which has so much lost the memory of its old religious-traditions as to welcome and wonder at it as a novel form of mystic self-expression. On the contrary it is ancient enough, like all things natural and eternal in the human soul. In Bengal a whole period of national poetry has been dominated by this single train and it has inspired a religion and a philosophy. And in the Vaishnavism of the far south, in the songs of the Tamil alwars, we find it again in another form, giving a powerful and original trun to the images of the our old classic poetry; for there it has been sung out by the rapt heart of a woman to the Heart of the Universe.

(மேலும் வாசிக்க...)

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