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Kamala Das


Recognized as one of India's foremost poets, Kamala Das was born on March 31, 1934 in
Malabar in Kerala (Dwivedi 297). Her love of poetry began at an early age through the influence of her great uncle, Nalapat Narayan Menon, a prominent writer. Das remembers watching him "work from morning till night" and thinking that he had "a blissful life" (Warrior interview). Das was also deeply affected by the poetry of her mother, Nalapat Balamani Amma, and the sacred writings kept by the matriarchal community of Nayars (IndiaWorld). She was privately educated until the age of 15 when she was married to K. Madhava Das (IndiaWorld). She was 16 when her first son was born and says that she "was mature enough to be a mother only when my third child was born" (Warrior interview). Her husband often played a fatherly role for both Das and her sons. Because of the great age difference between Kamala and her husband, he often encouraged her to associate with people of her own age. Das says that he was always "very understanding" (Warrior interview). When Das wished to begin writing, her husband supported her decision to augment the family's income. Because Das was a woman, however, she could not use the morning-till-night schedule enjoyed by her great uncle. She would wait until nightfall after her family had gone to sleep and would write until morning: "There was only the kitchen table where I would cut vegetables, and after all the plates and things were cleared, I would sit there and start typing" (Warrior interview). This rigorous schedule took its toll upon Das' health, but she views her illness optimistically. It gave her more time at home, and thus, more time to write. As her career progressed, her greatest supporter was always her husband. Even when controversy swirled around Das' sexually charged poetry and her unabashed autobiography, My Story, Das' husband was "very proud" of her (Warrior interview). Though he was sick for 3 years before he passed away, his presence brought her tremendous joy and comfort. She stated that there "shall not be another person so proud of me and my achievements" (Warrior interview). And Das' achievements extend well beyond her verses of poetry. Das says, "I wanted to fill my life with as many experiences as I can manage to garner because I do not believe that one can get born again" (Warrior interview). True to her word, Das has dabbled in painting, fiction (Warrior interview), and even politics (Raveendran 53). Though Das failed to win a place in Parliament in 1984, she has been much more successful of late as a syndicated columnist (Raveendran 53). She has moved away from poetry because she claims that "poetry does not sell in this country [India]," but fortunately her forthright columns do (Warrior interview). Das' columns sound off on everything from women's issues and child care to politics.

In December, 1999 Kamala Das converted to Islam, creating a furore in the press. Less than a year later, Kamala Surayya announced on plans to register her political party 'Lok Seva,' (see articles available through the section on "related links.")

Womanhood in Das' Poetry

Das' uncanny honesty extends to her exploration of womanhood and love. In her poem "An
Introduction" from Summer in Calcutta, the narrator says, "I am every/ Woman who seeks love" (de Souza 10). Though Amar Dwivedi criticizes Das for this "self imposed and not natural" universality, this feeling of oneness permeates her poetry (303). In Das' eyes, womanhood involves certain collective experiences. Indian women, however, do not discuss these experiences in deference to social mores. Das consistently refuses to accept their silence. Feelings of longing and loss are not confined to a private misery. They are invited into the public sphere and acknowledged. Das seems to insist they are normal and have been felt by women across time. In "The Maggots" from the collection, The Descendants, Das corroborates just how old the sufferings of women are. She frames the pain of lost love with ancient Hindu myths (de Souza 13). On their last night together, Krishna asks Radha if she is disturbed by his kisses. Radha says, "No, not at all, but thought, What is/ It to the corpse if the maggots nip?" (de Souza 6-7). Radha's pain is searing, and her silence is given voice by Das. Furthermore, by making a powerful goddess prey to such thoughts, it serves as a validation for ordinary women to have similar feelings.

Eroticism in Das' Poetry

Coupled with her exploration of women's needs is an attention to eroticism. The longing to lose
one's self in passionate love is discussed in "The Looking Glass" from The Descendants. The narrator of the poem urges women to give their man "what makes you women" (de Souza 15). The things which society suggests are dirty or taboo are the very things which the women are supposed to give. The "musk of sweat between breasts/ The warm shock of menstrual blood" should not be hidden from one's beloved (15). In the narrator's eyes, love should be defined by this type of unconditional honesty. A woman should "Stand nude before the glass with him," and allow her lover to see her exactly as she is (15). Likewise, the woman should appreciate even the "fond details" of her lover, such as "the jerky way he/ Urinates" (15). Even if the woman may have to live "Without him" someday, the narrator does not seem to favor bridling one's passions to protect one's self (15). A restrained love seems to be no love at all; only a total immersion in love can do justice to this experience. Much like the creators of ancient Tantric art, Das makes no attempt to hide the sensuality of the human form; her work seems to celebrate its joyous potential while acknowledging its concurrent dangers.


Das once said, "I always wanted love, and if you don't get it within your home, you stray a
little"(Warrior interview). Though some might label Das as "a feminist" for her candor in dealing with women's needs and desires, Das "has never tried to identify herself with any particular version of feminist activism" (Raveendran 52). Das' views can be characterized as "a gut response," a reaction that, like her poetry, is unfettered by other's notions of right and wrong (52). Nonetheless, poet Eunice de Souza claims that Das has "mapped out the terrain for postcolonial women in social and linguistic terms" (8). Das has ventured into areas unclaimed by society and provided a point of reference for her colleagues. She has transcended the role of a poet and simply embraced the role of a very honest woman.

Her Works

Das has published many novels and short stories in English, as well as in the Indian language of
Malayalam under the name "Madhavikutty" (de Souza 7). Some of her work in English includes the novel Alphabet of Lust (1977), a collection of short stories called Padmavati the Harlot and Other Stories (1992), in addition to five books of poetry, Summer in Calcutta (1965), The Descendants (1967), The Old Playhouse and Other Poems (1973), The Anamalai Poems (1985), and Only the Soul Knows How to Sing (1996), a collection of poetry with Pritish Nandy (1990), and her autobiography, My Story (1976). Some of her more recent novels in Malayalam include Palayan (1990), Neypayasam (1991), and Dayarikkurippukal (1992). She is currently the author of a syndicatcd column in India.

Three Poems from Nine Indian Women Poets The Dance of the Eunuchs (from Summer in Calcutta) It was hot, so hot, before the eunuchs came To dance, wide skirts going round and round, cymbals Richly clashing, and anklets jingling, jingling Jingling... Beneath the fiery gulmohur, with Long braids flying, dark eyes flashing, they danced and They dance, oh, they danced till they bled... There were green Tattoos on their cheeks, jasmines in their hair, some Were dark and some were almost fair. Their voices Were harsh, their songs melancholy; they sang of Lovers dying and or children left unborn.... Some beat their drums; others beat their sorry breasts And wailed, and writhed in vacant ecstasy. They Were thin in limbs and dry; like half-burnt logs from

Funeral pyres, a drought and a rottenness Were in each of them. Even the crows were so Silent on trees, and the children wide-eyed, still; All were watching these poor creatures' convulsions The sky crackled then, thunder came, and lightning And rain, a meagre rain that smelt of dust in Attics and the urine of lizards and mice....

The Maggots (from The Descendants) At sunset, on the river ban, Krishna Loved her for the last time and left... That night in her husband's arms, Radha felt So dead that he asked, What is wrong, Do you mind my kisses, love? And she said, No, not at all, but thought, What is It to the corpse if the maggots nip?

The Stone Age (from The Old Playhouse and Other Poems) Fond husband, ancient settler in the mind, Old fat spider, weaving webs of bewilderment, Be kind. You turn me into a bird of stone, a granite Dove, you build round me a shabby room, And stroke my pitted face absent-mindedly while You read. With loud talk you bruise my pre-morning sleep, You stick a finger into my dreaming eye. And Yet, on daydreams, strong men cast their shadows, they sink Like white suns in the swell of my Dravidian blood, Secretly flow the drains beneath sacred cities. When you leave, I drive my blue battered car Along the bluer sea. I run up the forty Noisy steps to knock at another's door. Though peep-holes, the neighbours watch, they watch me come And go like rain. Ask me, everybody, ask me What he sees in me, ask me why he is called a lion, A libertine, ask me why his hand sways like a hooded snake Before it clasps my pubis. Ask me why like A great tree, felled, he slumps against my breasts, And sleeps. Ask me why life is short and love is Shorter still, ask me what is bliss and what its price....

Works Cited Das, Kamala. "An Introduction." de Souza 10. __________. "The Maggots." de Souza 13. __________."The Looking Glass." de Souza 15. __________."The Stone Age." de Souza 16-17. __________. "The Dance of the Eunuchs." Ray, David, and Amritjit Singh. India: An Anthology of Contemporary Writing. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1983.156-157. Eunice de Souza, Ed. Nine Indian Women Poets. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997. ______________. "Introduction." de Souza 7-9. Rediff on the Net. Online. Internet. Dwivedi, A.N. Indo-Anglian Poetry. Allahabad: Kitab Mahal, 1979. Raveedran, P.P. "Text as History, History as Text: A Reading of Kamala Das' Anamalai Poems." Journal of Commonwealth Literature 29n2 (1994): 47-54. Ravi Database Consultants. India World Poetry. Online. Internet. Warrier, Shobha. Interview. Rediff on the Net. Online.

Throughout the poetic orchards of this book are inspirational poems of love's bounty; an offering from the soul of love's voice ever reaching within tenderness to embrace and comfort the soul. Also sown throughout this expressive book are black/white poetic photography blooms. Blossoms from the gardens of love sowing fragrant delicacies. There are pages of scattered petals. Words of tenderness expressing inspirational quotes and the authoress's personal thoughts about the bounties of love's presence. Love the life force of our journey, the soul of who we are. Love is such a beautiful garden that we each cultivate in our own fashion, and sharing with you from my soul I offer you love's tenderness inside "Orchards of Deliverance" I am certain you will sow some truly beautiful thoughts & perspectives. This poetic

confection is for everyone who loves to read poetry, or collect poetry books. Through the embracements of my soul to you.
My Concept of Poetry The beauty of word and phrase may attract the eye, But O my friend, it is the heart's blood that brings poetry to life. MY PHILOSOPHY OF POETRY is not the child of thought and reflection alone. It is born of life itself. It is, however, not limited to my own experiences. It arises from that limitless ocean of human life which surges around us. My poetry, which I regard as the cry of the soul, is a gift of the two great spiritual luminaries, my divine Master Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj and my revered father Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj. I have sought to acknowledge my debt to them in the following words: With every breath I must bow to my Friend, For I owe my life to his grace. If I were to sum up my philosophy as an artist in two words, they would be "fellowship" and "brotherhood." In employing these terms I do not have in mind any "ism" or creed. I am referring to that principle at the root of human nature, which is, in fact, the very foundation and crowning jewel of the universe - the principle of love. If the subject of love were grasped in its fullness, it would be seen to encompass all existence. Let me cite some of my verses on this theme. O Cupbearer, the intoxicating wine you served overflowed the goblet of my heart, And now I am in love with all humanity. Embrace every man as your very own, And shower your love freely wherever you go. I have learned to cherish all creation as my own, Your message of love is the very meaning of my life. What does it matter if I am called a man? In truth I am the very soul of love; The entire earth is my home And the universe my country. From dawn to dawn, let us speak of peace and listen to the message of love, The shower-laden clouds of Sawan have enveloped

the tavern of time, O Cupbearer, let the cup of love go 'round and 'round and 'round. I believe in the goodness of all creation and of those who inhabit this beautiful planet suspended in a limitless expanse of space. The Almighty did not work without a design. He had a definite purpose when He created the universe, to which the holy scriptures make reference. Khwaja Mir Dard has defined it thus: It was to share in the pain of his fellow beings that God created human beings; He had no dearth of cherubim to sing His glories. This thought is carried a step further by Dr. Mohammed Iqbal: The Lord has a thousand devotees who seek Him day and night in the wilderness; But I will be a devotee of one who is a lover of those whom God has created. Being part of God's creation, we are ultimately all one. This unity is fundamental to our nature. We may differ with regard to color, race, or nationality, but these differences are the result of living in varying geographical regions and environments. When we experience pain or sorrow, joy or happiness, when we perceive a moral order or a spiritual power that spontaneously invites devotion, we are indivisible from each other. I seek a world in which each individual is valued for his or her uniqueness and merit, and all people lead a life of dignity and respect. It is a world in which we live together in harmony, with sincerity, sympathy, and kindness toward each other, sustained by hope and spiritual aspiration. Let this world become a temple of love and peace, Let love and Truth illumine the world, And the adversaries of peace awaken to its Light. This sacred land of God has been trampled with the burden of oppression. Life is not a dagger stained with the blood of hatred; It is a branch filled with the flowers of love and compassion. Humanity has always dreamed of a time of amity and peace when we would live and let others live, when one would pursue his or her chosen ideal unhindered and attain self-knowledge and God-realization. This hope, at first sight, may seem impractical. But if we individually and collectively determine to realize our full potential, the impossible will become possible. Humanity will move towards its true destination and its highest point of development. There are some, no doubt, who will regard my faith in God with disapproval. But I am a believer and regard creation as a divine trust which no one has the right to exploit.

We are part of the common fabric of humanity, and we must stand together if we are to survive. We must do so, not merely to save Europe or America or Russia or Asia. Life itself is threatened, and we must unite to save humanity from destruction. Is it not strange that: We are communing with the moon and the stars, But alas, we have not reached the heart of our neighbor. All nations have a right to attain and preserve their independence and sovereignty. Goaded by a misplaced sense of patriotism, they must not build nuclear arsenals to perpetrate a balance of terror, which they refer to as peace. Such peace is, in fact, a preparation for war and generates fear and suspicion. No country has the right to destroy another in order to expand its territory and to gain power.

II. MYSTICISM I grew up in the lap of mysticism. I do not look upon the mystic life as inactive or sterile. Despite its emphasis on meditation, pure living, and persistent striving for God, it is a vibrant philosophy. It affords us an ever-renewing intoxication and fills us with the joy of life. It is a source of strength and wisdom that brings about our moral and spiritual evolution. Our ancient rishis, and the saints, fakirs, and swamis who came after them, trod the spiritual path without feeling that they were rejecting life. It is a gross error to assume that our spiritual guides encourage humankind to reject the world. Rightly understood, renunciation is a dynamic philosophy. This philosophy, as I see it, rejects an egocentric view of life based on "me" and "mine," which inevitably leads to the clash of wills. It invites us to lead a more expansive and universal life. It rejects our negative thoughts, emotions, and impulses. If we study it in this light, we will come to realize that continence and self-denial have helped humanity to progress. Why should we not rid our lives of the narrow possessiveness and selfish desires which are at the root of tension and conflict? Why should we not seek instead to create a world in which we see ourselves as part of an ever-expanding unified community in which each member helps and supports the other? I am a firm believer in what I term "positive mysticism." I have little use for a negative philosophy that encourages indifference and resignation towards life. True mysticism compels us to pursue life's supreme goal unwaveringly. It focuses its attention constantly on that divine Power which is indivisible, complete, and perfect in itself. You may refer to this Power as God, Allah, Khuda, Wah-e-Guru, or Parmatma. The Almighty created and sustains the cosmos and all living things. Those who pursue the mystic path and succeed in attaining the ultimate goal not only become one with God, but also become one with His creation. Those who have attained this exalted state cry out in ecstasy: "Aham Brahm Asmi," or "Anal Haq," which means "I am God." This experience of spiritual union is shared alike by mystics of all religious traditions.

Both my spiritual guides lived by the principle of universal love. They held that God is love, and the soul being of His essence is love, and the way back to God is also love. If God is the whole, then the soul is a part. If He is the ocean, then the soul is a wave upon that ocean. Love necessitates ahimsa or noninjury, a spirit of live and let live. Through their teachings and through the example of their own lives, both these saints spread this message throughout the world. They taught us to love God, to love all creation, and to work for human unity and brotherhood. I was indeed blessed in being brought up under their influence. It was from them that I learned of the oneness of all humankind and of the goal of divine union. When I pursued the study of comparative religion under their guidance, I came to the firm conclusion that all religions point to a single reality underlying existence. This universal Truth is the solution to the world's problems.

III. SOURCES Poetry, in whatever language, is the outcome of pure thought and intense feeling. It is born when the spirit is deeply moved. The Urdu and Persian term for literature, adab, signifies "respect for others." Its equivalent in Hindi and Sanskrit, sahitya, points to "that which is spoken or written for the benefit of others." The English word "literature" and its various equivalents in European languages perhaps have a similar intention. Literature, at its most sublime and uplifting, comes to us in the form of poetry or poetic prose. Thus, we have the compositions of the Vedas, the verses of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, the Psalms of the Bible, the Ayats (sayings) of the Holy Koran, and the devotional songs of the Adi Granth. Poetry and music are inseparable from each other. Excellence in any of the five arts - be it music, poetry, painting, sculpture, or dancing - is a divine gift. Indeed, the fine arts themselves seem to have been born of that instinct that inspires words and leads us to prayer. Of the five arts, music is often regarded as the purest, with poetry close behind. Indeed, poetry contains two essential elements of music - melody and rhythm. Poetry is a divine gift and is the song of the soul. I have tried to express this thought in the following lines: He is hidden in every instrument, in every song and melody. All creation reflects His glory. There exists not a sparkling wave nor a fiery star that does not owe its radiance to His Light. I do not mean to imply that great poetry has been produced by saints and mystics alone. During those moments of intense concentration when one is lost in ecstasy and communes with the inmost depths of the soul, one spontaneously breaks into verse. Poetry, as it were, descends upon one. The great Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib, has said, "Such thoughts come from the unknown; the scratchings of my pen are, in fact, divine music."

The suggestion that poetic inspiration descends from a hidden source is not mere fancy. When the poet's mind becomes truly transparent and still, the veil of duality is rent. He enters a world of poetic thought and expression, and he moves in complete unison with them. The poet's spirit is quickened by his environment and by his experiences. His heart is the repository of life's joys and sorrows, its successes and failures. When the creative moment arrives, external influences and personal experiences are woven together inextricably, and his verse comes forth as revelation. His poetry then conveys to us a crystallization of what is most intense and heartfelt in his life. My own poetry is an unfettered expression of such moments of inspiration. In fact, I compose only when I am in a state of poetic exaltation. I do not believe in sitting down to write poetry through an act of will. Others sometimes attempt to induce such inspiration. The result is often a composition that relies on literary artifice, injures the very soul of the verse, and shames the good name of poetry. There are writers who rely upon intoxicants to excite the poetic mood. For some, it becomes almost an indispensable aid. I have even heard a writer declare that it is impossible to compose poetry without resorting to drink. My own literary career spans more than fifty years, and I am proud to say that I have never touched an alcoholic drink. In fact, I have been unable to discover any special bond between eating, drinking, and the writing of verse. Not only am I a teetotaller, I am also a vegetarian. I lead a simple life. It is from the joys and sorrows of existence itself that I distill the wine of my poetry, and it grows more intoxicating with the passage of time. I regard poetry as the cry of the soul. As it is said, it is from the abundance of the heart that the tongue speaks. There surges in the heart and soul a boundless ocean of perceptions and felt experiences, and every word which rises from its depths is impregnated with its riches. This sea of consciousness which is the source and fountainhead of my poetry is illumined by the light of my two spiritual Masters and of all the prophets of Truth who came before them. I consider myself to be an instrument which, through their grace, has grown ever more subtle. But the music which issues from this instrument - a music which is theirs and not mine - is subtler still. As I have expressed this idea: The music coming from the depths of my heart affects the hearts of the listeners; My instrument may be subtle, but your music which passes through it is subtler still. I quaffed the wine of divine knowledge wherever I could find it, And I met the same Cupbearer in every tavern.

IV. THEMES I believe that the poet's insights and experiences should be presented in a form which fills the reader with such ecstasy and inspiration that one is liberated from one's ordinary consciousness

and steps forward on the path which leads to the abode of love and Light. This impulse to move forward is greatly reinforced when people belonging to all religions and cultural backgrounds come together in pursuit of unity. Such a living and dynamic forum brings us closer to one another and to that Supreme Power to which we all bow and to which we owe our existence. Our faith in the Almighty draws us together and can help the caravan of human life move forward towards its cherished goal. Indeed, the very purpose of our literature should be to illumine this spiritual horizon which beckons us so that all humanity is inspired and guided by its Light. We have in this age a golden opportunity for sharing in a living and active faith. The conflict between science and religion arises when belief in a living and enduring faith disappears. I am of the firm conviction that if we can practice the life-giving and eternal principles of the saints and prophets, we can achieve lasting peace on earth. I named my first collection of poems, Talash-e-Noor or Quest for Light (1965). It contains several ghazals in Urdu and Persian. It also contains poems employing traditional stanza forms such as the rubai (quatrain), and more modern forms such as free verse, blank verse, the sonnet, and poems using diverse lyric measures. I endeavored in this volume to celebrate the soulinspiring mystic message of the founders of various religions, viewing them in the context of their life and times. The more I studied their teachings, the more I realized that they all saw the Creator as our supreme goal. They came to remind us of this Truth and to teach us a practical way by which we can attain this end. Guru Nanak was one such Godman who came to help true seekers to achieve self-knowledge and God-realization. My second volume, Manzil-e-Noor or Abode of Light (1969) consists of a long poem of one hundred stanzas which celebrates the universal message of this great poet-saint. The teachings of spiritual Masters, while inevitably presented in the languages of their day, are timeless in character. They are not meant for any one people or age, but are a divine gift for all humanity. I believe that if we can only transcend our seeming differences of form and name, and live by the basic principles taught by various religions, we can achieve true happiness. In fact, our wellbeing and redemption depend on this. In one of the stanzas of Manzil-e-Noor I make the fervent appeal: He bears a thousand names, call on Him by any; Summon Him to the assembly of your thoughts and adore Him; Offer Him a seat in the innermost chamber of your heart, and burnish His image; Suffuse your life-blood with His name, and fix Him in your soul. You surely will meet Him, just let your soul soar, He is close to you, just call for Him. The Vedic dictum, Vasudhev Kutumbhkum, "All creation is God's family," expresses a truth central to my poetry. Sheikh Saadi points to the same principle when he says:

Humanity is like the limbs of the body: When one limb aches, the whole body is in agony. Wherever we may be, we share a common heritage and destiny. If a disaster occurs in one region, it affects humanity in other parts as well. My poetry offers equal reverence and adoration to all the world's religions and their founders. It serves to further human unity and peace, and to nurture a climate of faith. As I said in some of my verses: All places of worship are symbols of the One Beloved. Bow your head when you see a temple, and salute when you see a mosque. When the flowers of the church, mosque and temple gather together Spring will blossom forth in Your garden, O Lord. When presenting these universal truths of spirituality, I feel my poetry gives expression to the message of Buddha, Ashoka, Guru Nanak, Christ, Kabir, and the Sufi Masters. Spirituality had become a part of my being early in life; however, it was some time before I began to focus on spiritual themes in my poetry. In the early days I tended to write on conventional subjects and employed traditional meters. I was moved by a romantic impulse and wrote on patriotism, the beauty of nature, human love and friendship, the changing seasons, and the festivals, fairs, heroes, and sages of my country. My first two books, Talash-e-Noor and Manzil-e-Noor, have recently been followed by Matah-eNoor or Treasure House of Light (1988). This volume brings together ninety ghazals and five sonnets. As a great deal of my poetry remains uncollected, I propose to bring out two further volumes in the near future. These will include my poems on human unity, universal peace, national festivals and landscapes, literary figures and patriots, and verses written for special occasions. I still vividly recall how I came to write my first poem on a spiritual subject. On reading one of my ghazals in a college magazine, my father remarked, "You write poetry quite well. Would it not be wonderful if you could compose a ghazal to recite on Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj's birthday?" I replied, "How could I do justice to the great Master?" Being a novice, I perspired from head to foot, but I had no choice. To get me started on my poem, my father gave me a hemistich. It began thus: "The Light of God has manifested itself in the form of my resplendent, glorious Master." I went on to recite the poem at the birthday celebration, and Hazur generously applauded this maiden attempt. As time passed I gained increasing mastery in the art of poetry. It was Janab Shamim Karhani who recognized that mysticism was in my blood, and I went on to pursue it as the main theme of

my verses. Indeed, I have been given a heart so tender that it is unable to behold "man's inhumanity to man" without suffering deeply. Many of my poems have resulted directly from this state of anguish. As I have put it: In this world, each is consumed with his own afflictions, Only Darshan shares the sorrows of his fellow man. And again: Hidden in my verses are a million heartbeats, My soul gives voice to the sorrows of the world.

V. STYLE Having spoken of the subject matter of my poetry, let me now turn to its style. The content and form of a poem lend strength to one another, and this interplay has great importance in the composition of poetry. However profound the thought, its impact is determined by the manner in which it is expressed. I began writing poetry in 1938. A year earlier, after matriculating from school, I joined Government College in Lahore. When graduating from school I had obtained such high marks in my examination that I could have received admission to the best medical or engineering college and trained for any career of my choice. But before making a decision on the matter, my father took me to Beas to seek guidance from the great Master, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji. On learning of my outstanding performance, Hazur congratulated me and said, "My son, Persian is a very sweet language. It contains the writings of many mystics. It is well worth study." He went on to recommend history and English literature as well. It was a result of this directive that, instead of becoming an engineer or a doctor, I entered the literary field. I had been interested in literature all along, but having taken up its study in college, I began to try my hand at poetical composition. I was greatly encouraged in this by Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, who not only taught Urdu and Persian but who was himself a leading scholar and poet in these languages. My other literary mentor at this time was my English professor, Eric Dickenson. From the former, I learned Urdu prosody, and from the latter, I learned the niceties of English scansion. After completing my studies, I moved to Delhi where I was fortunate to receive guidance from the distinguished Urdu and Persian poet, Janab Shamim Karhani. It was he who instructed me in the finer points of poetry by correcting my work. I am also indebted to my revered brother, Ali Jawad Zaidi, and to my dear friend, Rifat Sarosh. They have helped me generously with their advice. As in the spiritual domain, so too in the literary: I have been most fortunate to have received my training from true adepts. I have always kept before me the advice of my mentors that a verse is justified if it expresses a new thought, or expresses an existing one in a new way.

It is over fifty years since I began writing poetry. In the early days, some of my ghazals were published in our highly regarded college magazine, The Ravi. In 1938, my poems began to be broadcast on All India Radio, and later on television. In addition to composing poems in Urdu and Persian, I also have written verses in English. Two collections of my English poems and translations have been published: The Cry of the Soul (1977) and A Tear and a Star (1986). I have also composed poetry in Hindi and Punjabi. Over the years I have taken up numerous subjects and have employed varied poetic forms. I regard the different poetic measures as fit ground for exercising a poet's imagination. I do not believe that one should be a prisoner of any single meter. In fact, a poet should be free to develop new poetic forms to give expression to his thoughts. This right, however, is reserved only for those who have already mastered the art of versification. In its style and form, poetry must avoid the stereotype and must not allow itself to become static. It should be dynamic and change with the times. But I do not believe in violent experimentation. I am, in fact, opposed to all violence, including violence in literary expression. Our literary heritage has behind it centuries of effort, and we must not allow it to be lost. I believe in poetry which for all its subtlety is direct and transparent, and can move the hearts and minds of the common person. To my mind, there is no need at all for sacrificing well-tried poetic forms on the altar of originality and modernism. We have only to look at the poetry of Dr. Mohammed Iqbal or Faiz Ahmed Faiz to see that a poet can express with perfect ease and directness the most complex and subtle insights without abandoning existing modes. I myself have not found it difficult to render my sentiments and thoughts in verse while accepting the bounds of poetic tradition.

VI. SPIRITUALITY To fulfill a behest of his Master, Hazur Baba Sawan Singh, my father established Ruhani Satsang, an interreligious and international organization. This was followed by his presiding over the conferences of the World Fellowship of Religions (1957, 1960, 1965, and 1970). Finally, in 1974, he hosted the first Unity of Man Conference. The deliberations of the World Fellowship of Religions were open to devotees from all faiths. But when the Unity of Man Conference was called, the unit was "Man" instead of "religion." This worldwide conference welcomed believers and nonbelievers alike. Its doors were open to atheists as well as theists. Sant Kirpal Singh firmly believed that the same Truth radiated from the hearts of all. As a Sufi poet has said: "The same Truth is manifest in the infidel as well as the believer." Shortly before my beloved father left us, he told me to continue his spiritual work and to take up the task of directing Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission - the Science of Spirituality. This organization carries on the spiritual mission of Baba Sawan Singh and Sant Kirpal Singh, and, in fact, all the saints, mystics, and Sufis who came before them. It is a common forum where men and women of all religions and of all nations gather in love and friendship in order to learn the practical side of spirituality. Like an open school or university of mysticism, all are welcome to pursue the common mystic goal while adhering to their own religious customs and practices. We actively pursue the highest goal of human life: self-knowledge and God-realization. While the

educational institutions of the world are busy turning out doctors, engineers, lawyers, and people with various specializations; here we endeavor to mold and shape human beings in the true sense. We become truly human when we are moved by the spirit of love and affection, and we show consideration for all our fellow beings and living creatures. We are taught here to live by the highest principles of noninjury, purity of heart humility, and selfless service. In short, we learn to live by the philosophy of positive mysticism and to honor our obligations to our family, our community, our society, our nation, our world, and, now that we have acquired an interplanetary perspective, to the entire cosmos. Within the last four decades, science has made spectacular progress. Escaping the pull of gravity, human beings have entered the realms of outer space and are reaching for the stars and the Milky Way. As human beings explore the shoreless ocean of space, we are shedding our old and restricted terrestrial consciousness and are acquiring an interplanetary character. If we look at the findings of modern science as presented in the New Physics, it strikes one that science is beginning to confirm those mystic truths which find expression in our ancient religions. During this revolutionary period in which we live, a great change is overtaking our thinking and writing, and our domain of exploration and inquiry. The expression of my philosophy is not restricted to poetry alone. It embraces all literature. My call for love which earlier found expression in highly lyric verse, used the traditional imagery of the tavern - the goblet, the wine, and the Cupbearer. Now, however, my thought articulates itself through poetic prose. I have been on numerous world tours, and have used the public forum, radio, and television to share the message of universal love, self-knowledge, and God-realization. I endeavor to present spirituality in the language of modern science and technology. It is my wish that the spiritual message should be available to seekers in every language, and I feel most fortunate that my writings have been translated or are under translation in more than fifty languages. Three of my collections of English talks have already been published: The Secret of Secrets (1977), Spiritual Awakening (1983), and The Wonders of Inner Space (1988). Another volume is underway. During my long literary career, I may not have always expressed myself with the same artistic felicity. Whether or not my literary efforts succeed is for readers to judge. What has been important for me has been to find expression for the creative impulse, of which I am but an instrument. That impulse springs from a source which is inexhaustible for it is a God-given gift. The Ocean of Light is without limit; it is life that is so short. As I have said: Where is the completion of the magnificent edifice of my desires? So far I have only drawn a few lines, and am preparing a blueprint.


Albert Mordel says Works of the imagination open up to the reader hidden vistas in mans inner life just as dreams do. In Kamala Das this opening of the hidden vistas forms the matrix of her entire poetry. She writes in the confessional mode which is walking on the razors edge. The poets in this cast may be lured towards callow hysterics or terrifying mysticism, Kamala Das is free from either. Her Poetry has often been considered as a gimmick in sex or striptease in words, an over-exposer of body or Snippets of trivia. But the truth is that her poetry is an autobiography, an articulate voice of her ethnic identity, her Dravidian culture. Her poetry has been compared to that of Sylvia Plath, Anne Saxton and Judith Wright. Her poetic corpus configured an inner voyage, an awareness beyond skins lazy hungers to the hidden soul. It enacts her quest, an exploration into her self and seeking of her identity. Musing of a lonely heart is a common theme in her poems. It seeks love with never ending passion. Lust, greed and hunger never satiate and finally the mind becomes an old playhouse with all its lights put out. For Kamala Das love is The April sun squeezed like an orange juice, the heart permeates into the readers mind. Kamala Dass uncanny honesty extends to her exploration of womanhood and love. In her poem An Introduction she says I am every woman who seeks love .Kamala Dass views on love can be seen on her famous poetry collection called Summer in Calcutta, her first book which was published in 1965. She wrote chiefly of love, its betrayal and the consequent anguish and Indian readers responded sympathetically to her guileless, guiltless frankness with regard to sexual matters. Summer in Calcutta has a fairly good number of poems on love and sex. Such poems are The Freaks , In Love , My Grand Mothers House , A Relationship , Loud Posters , Love , The Bangles , The Seashore , Summer in Calcutta , The Sunshine Cat , Forest Fire , Afterwards , and The Testing of Sirens. Of these poems some are about her pure love for a near and dear one, while many others are about her disillusionment in love and only a few about lust. The poems My Grandmothers House, Love, and Afterwards tells us about her pure love. While The Freaks, A Relationship, Loud Posters, The Bangles, and The Seashore reveal her disillusionment in love and In Love , Summer in Calcutta , and Forest Fire show her lust also. There are different shades of love in Kamala Dass poetry. In the poem Love she expresses her happiness and contentment in love: Until I found you, I wrote verse, drew pictures, And went out with friends For walks.Now that I love you, Curled like an old mongrel My life lies content In you. (Summer in Calcutta) This poem is clearly without any pricks, without any tensions. There is no craving for the lips meant for others, no instinct of challenge, no streak of complaint, as one usually finds in love poetry .But this kind of mood is only short-lived for Kamala Das, and she soon swings back to her usual grudge and grouse

against men .She might even accept the inevitable married life for a girl and its responsibilities, but not without lodging her forceful complaint against male kind as a whole and hollow marital relationships. This is how we discover her saying in A Relationship: Yes, It was my desire that made him male And beautiful, so that when at last we Met, to believe that once I knew not his Form, his quiet touch or the blind kindness Of his lips was hard indeed. Betray me? My bodys wisdom tells and tells again And even death nowhere else but here in My betrayers arms .. (Summer in Calcutta) Obviously Kamala Das does not like physical love that her strong husband showers on her; she rather craves for an emotional identity which he fails to afford for her. And here is the hot, though somewhat unwilling, chase of the inordinate desire of passion: Of what does the burning mouth Of sun, burning in todays Sky remind me.. Oh, yes, his Mouth and his limbs like pale and Carnivorous plants reaching Out for me, and the sad lie Of my unending lust (Summer in Calcutta) If burning marks this hot chase here, her hunger for sex appears clearly in the poem Forest fire. The first few opening lines are very good example of that: Of late I have begun to feel a hunger To take in with greed, like a forest-fire that Consumes, with each killing gains a wilder, Brighter charm, all that comes my way . (Summer in Calcutta) This hunger intemperate and terrible in nature as its smile with the wild forest-fire signifies. The discontent in love at the legitimate source is definitely responsible for this condition of hers, and through the poets persona the whole Hindu social set-up comes in for a sharp criticism. In this rotten set-up, marriages are made without taking into account the suitability of the partners from various angles- their family background, age, education, financial status, and social connections.Kamal Das raises her voice of resentment against this hollow set-up. The story of personal anguish and dilemma in love can be seen in her other poetry collections also. The Descendants which was published in 1967 and The Old Playhouse and other poems published in 1973. Several poems in these collections are written in a mood and tone of love.

In The Descendants we have such poetic pieces on the subject of love and lust. A Request , Substitute , The Descendants , Ferns , The Invitation , Captive , The proud one , The Looking Glass , and Convicts are very good examples for that. In this poetical collection the fury of the poetess at not receiving adequate love from the proper person deepens into the debunking irony and tragic vision of a pitiable nature. There is no laughter; no humour in it, kamalas pessimism touches a hellish depth. Poem after poem Kamala Das hammers hard at her husband and articulates her intense desire of escaping from his clutches and attaining freedom .This is what Kamala Das Says in the poem Substitute: Yet, I was thinking, lying beside him That I loved, and was much loved. It is physically thing, he said suddenly, End it, I cried, end it, and let us be free. This freedom was our last strange toy (The Descendants) But this Freedom does not give her pride or joy, or a sense of security, or a name, and in great dejection she tells us: After that love became a swivel-door, When one went out, another came in. The right kind of man or the right kind of love she wanted has never met her. This is at the core of her tragedy: For long Ive waited for the right one To come, the bright one, the right one to live In the blue. No. I am still young And I need that man for construction and Destruction. Leave me. (The Descendants) And again Kamala Das says: What have We had, after all. Between us but the Wombs blinded hunger, the muted whisper At the core.For years I have run from one Gossamer lane to another, I am Now my own captive .. (The Descendants) Kamala Dass husband knows only the physical kind of love, without trying to make any emotional or spiritual contact with her. This idea is perfectly expressed in the poem Convicts:

That was the only kind of love, This hacking at each others parts Like convicts hacking, breaking clods At noon. We were earth under hot Sun. there was a burning in our Veins and the cool mountain nights did Nothing to lessen heat . (The Descendants) This kind of love is bound to degenerate and drift lovers apart who feel the necessity of getting relieved by some other sources. The poem The Joss-Sticks at Cadell Road elaborates this inherent idea: My husband said, I think I shall Have a beer, its hot, Very hot today. And I thought, I must Drive fast to town and Lie near my friend for an hour. I Badly need some rest . (The Descendants) That the couple will go two different ways for the sake of removing boredom and dissatisfaction is quite evident in this pssage.The noted Indian English poet , R.Parthasarathy , has rightly observed in this connection The despair is infectious. Few of her poems have , infact escaped it Possibly one of the boiling love poems in the poetry collection The Descendants is The Looking Glass. The Looking Glass from the poetry collection The Descendants which discussed about the longing to lose ones self in passionate love. Kamala Das offers us details of the secret of a true love making. The poem goes on like this: Getting a man to love you is easy Only be honest about your wants as Woman. Stand nude before the glass with him So that he sees himself the stronger one And believes it so, and you so much more Softer, younger, lovelier.Admit your Admiration. Notice the perfection Of his limbs, his eyes reddening under Shower, the shy walk across the bathroom floor, Dropping towels and the jerky way he Urinates. All the fond details that make Him male and your only man. And further she says that : Gift him all,

Gift him what makes you woman, the scent of Long hair, the musk of sweat between the breasts, The warm shock of menstrual blood, and all your Endless female hungers. Oh yes, getting A man to love is easy but living Without him afterward may have to be Faced . (The Descendants) Kamala Das says that all the womanly matters should not be hid from ones beloved. In Kamala Dass point of view love should be defined by this type of unconditional honesty. This sort of Openness and frankness is hardly to be found in any other Indian English woman poet. The resultant emerging picture is a man or a woman of flesh and blood, a loving biological reality, with no distortions or twists. Naturally, Kamala Das is at her best here as a poet of love. The Old Playhouse and Other Poems, which was published in 1973 also has a few charming poems of love and lust in it. They are The Old Playhouse , Glass , The Prisoner , The Corridors , The Stone Age , and Sunset, Blue Bird. The title piece lodges a strong protest against the instinct of possessiveness incarnate in the poetesss husband: You planned to tame a swallow, to hold her In the long summer of your love so that she would forget Not the raw seasons alone, and the homes left behind, but Also her nature, the urge to fly, and the endless Pathways of the sky .. (The Old Playhouse) Here the husband stands all for suppression and cruelty, while she wishes to fly, to attain freedom or to attain the love she wants. As a proud husband conscious of his glittering gem called Wife, he has totally annihilated her identity and individuality. She is treated as no more than a domesticated woman who is required to look after his house and children and attend to his whims and freaks. She is aware of this fact, and says that: You called me wife, I was taught to break saccharine into your tea and To offer at the right moment the vitamins. Cowering Beneath your monstrous ego I ate the magic loaf and I lost my will and reason, to all your Questions I mumbled incoherent replies. The summer Begins to fall (The Old Playhouse ) She reverts to the complaint again and again, and in the poem The Stone Age she utters aloud thus: Fond husband, ancient settler in the mind

Old fat spider, weaving webs of bewilderment, Be kind. You turn me into a bird of stone, a granite Dove. (The Old Playhouse) Her helplessness is complete here, and she urges her unfeeling husband to be kind to her and not treat her as a mere object of pleasure and lifelessness. There is yet another aspect of love in Kamala Dass poetry, and it is the mythical framework given to her quest for true love. This mythical framework is identified with the Radha-Krishna syndrome, or occasionally with the Mira Bhai-Krishna relationship. It is this framework that saves her, in some degree, from the charges of obscenity and promiscuity, otherwise her poetry in replete with shocking unorthodox details about love, marriage and sex.Though no one can absolve her totally from the sexual mud clinging to her image . The Radha-Krishna syndrome is continually associated with the progress of the poet and is witnessed in all her poetical collections. Her first poetry collection Summer in Calcutta contains Radha-Krishna, second one the Descendants contains Radha and the third one The old playhouse and other poems mentions prayers to unfamiliar Gods. Apparently Kamala Das is pricked up by an inner urge to rise above the mere earthly and give vent to her mystical longing on purity and nobility. She has undoubtedly a soul within her body and she cant ignore its calls completely .Indirectly, she believes that the defiling of the body has nothing to do with the resplendent and wakeful soul. In the poem The Suicide, the poet is evidently concerned with this problem and says:

Bereft of soul My body shall be bare. Bereft of body My body shall be bare I throw the bodies out, I cannot stand their smell. Only the souls may enter The vortex of the sea. Only the souls know how to sing At the vortex of the sea (The Descendants) On getting fed up with the physical and the carnal, the poet takes resort to the Radha-Krishna type of love: This becomes from this hour Our river and this old Kadamba Tree, ours alone, for our homeless Soul to return someday To hang like bats from its pure Physicality .

(Summer in Calcutta) In another poem of identical character, Radha Kamala Das says like this: The long waiting Had made their bond so chaste And virgin crying Everything in me Is melting, even the hardness at the core O Krishna, I am melting, melting, melting Nothing remains but You . (The Descendants) Kamala Das raises her head from stupor and slumber, goes out in search of her true love, and discovers Krishna or Ghanashyam as her trusted lover. This is forcefully articulated in the poem Ghanashyam Ghanashyam, You have like a koel built your Nest in the arbour of my heart My life, until now a sleeping jungle Is at last astir with music .. (Tonight, This savage Rite) As a poet, Kamala Das makes ample use of images and symbols. Some of these images are so recurrent that they become symbols in her poetry, but it must be added here that they are not too many. A study of her imagery and symbolism is bound to reveal her artistic skill and craftsmanship, and hence it is both relevant and rewarding. Kamala Das makes a hectic search for true love in her poetry, and her personal predicament gets reflected in it. She is a poetess of Love .One of the dominant images in Kamala Dass poetry is that of the human body. She celebrates it like the American poet, Walt Whitman, and regards it as a gift of God to the human race. In the end, kamala Das is a delightful poet of love and sex, unraveling the mysteries of the finer sex in this matter. The Openness and the The Honesty that we find in Kamala Das is rarely witnessed in any other Indian English women poets, with the possible exception of Gauri Deshpande in a lesser degree All the critics agree that the main feature of her poetry is a constant attention to the urges of female sexual life, expressed in a language which is quite unusual, especially for Indian authors. The famous critic Farrukh Dhondy once said, She seems to be the first woman who has ever made sex in the world .Actually Kamala Das is, if not the first woman who makes sex, certainly one of the first to talk freely about it. In fact, many other contemporary Indian poets have sung songs in hounour of love Such poets as Shiv. K. Kumar , Pritish Nandy , Nissim Ezekiel , R.Parthasarathy , Jayanta Mahapatra and A.K.Ramanujan-but in her emotional sweep and lyrical rapture Kamala Das surpasses them all . Love is a citadel where her personal cares and anxieties, her own dilemmas and predicaments, are safely anchored

Conclusion Kamala Das is pre-eminently a poet of love, sex, lust, pain, nervousness, melancholy and frustration. Love, the hunger of the flesh, hurts and humiliates, and gives only dissatisfaction. She is a confessional and autobiographical poet who writes candidly about her own experiences of frustration in love and drudgery in married life. If we go very carefully through Kamala Dass creations we can find out that Kamala Das has missed love, the most beautiful feeling in this world. It seems that only her father and grandmother had given her the love that she had always hungered for. This means that she failed to receive love from her life. The theme of love and lust occupies Kamala Dass mind and flows out in the form of poems. In Kamala Das we find much that is conventional and feminine, and she speaks aloud the needs and finds fears of a common woman and pleads for authentic love and sense of security of her, out of her own knowledge. When Kamala Das speaks of love outside marriage, she does not necessarily propagate the institution of adultery or infidelity, but seems to be merely searching for a relationship which gives both genuine love and impenetrable security. Thats why she sometimes gives a mythical framework to her search for true love, and identifies it with the Radha-Krishna Syndrome or with that of Mira Bai relinquishing the ties of marriage in pursuit of Lord Krishna, the true divine lover. Kamala Das is primarily a poet of love. Evidently, she is not so much preoccupied with a metaphysical quest or with a formulation of poetic theory as with an intense search for love. In a letter to Devindra Kohli dated 10th December, 1968, she admits that she began to write poetry with the ignoble aim of wooing a man. There is therefore a lot of love in my poems and the poems were composed with the sole objective of making a man love me and of breaking down in resistance. As a poet of love, Kamala Das looks most native, honest, and frank. Kamala Das may fall short of intellectual vigour and witty titbits, but she does not lag behind in lyrical outburst of unpremeditated thoughts and feelings and in emotional intensity. In truth she is more aware of pathos in the life of a common woman playing a very passive role in our tradition-bound society .And how bold and courageous is this lady of our land may be clearly judged from the fact that she articulates the theme of sexual love in such a frank manner that we are left wonderstruck at it. Kamala Das with her three poetical collections has succeeded very well in the realm of Indo-Anglian poetry. Kamala Das may not have written much like Pritish Nandy or Nissim Ezekial; or like Monika Varma and Lila Ray among the Indian women writers. She may also not be as witty or intellectual as some other confessional poets of the world, or as some academic Indian poets like Shiv.K.Kumar and A.K.Ramanujan, but she excells them all in popularity and feminine sensitivity. She has her own range, her own cozy bower to relax in, and she moves therein with perfect ease and felicity.

Explicitly, nuns and spinsters might seek reasons to attack her, but she is a poet who has the power to hold her readers spell-bound right from the start.Devindra Kohli is right in pointing out that there is something in the tone and temper of Kamala Dass work which made one sit up from the very first poem . Linda Hess a ruthless critic of Kamala Das also concedes that a genuine poetic talent is at work here. There is a dualism in her writing .The dualism results from the fall from childhood innocence into the adult world of sexuality, marriage and life among strangers especially an uncaring husband. The interest of Kamala Dass poetry is not the story of sex outside marriage but the instability of her feelings, the way they rapidly shift and assume new postures, new attitude of defence, attack, explanation or celebrations. Her poems are situated neither in the act of sex nor in the feeling of love, they are instead

,involved with the self and it is varied often conflicting emotions ranging from the desire for security and intimacy to the assertion of ego, self-dramatization and feeling of shame and depression. And, finally, we fully agree with the noted Indo-Anglian Poet, R.Parthasarathy, when he remarks that Kamala Das impresses by being very much herself in her poems and that her tone is distinctively feminine.

over a year ago

Upal Indeed,Kamala Das was a voice of her own.A voice which sounded beyond silence,with a fiery impulse which gave both poetry and women an identity which eluded them before her.She is a heady mix of Sonia Sanchez,Joyce Mansour and Sylvia Plath.But it's significant that she was KAMALA DAS.With patriarchy fuming and dogmas marching on in style,she offered women an impression long before Taslimas took the stage.A poet who fetched the lost world of playhouses or poked at the patriarchal bastions..deserves all kudos.Each woman in the country should read her to discover herself,to feel that to read her is to really awaken Kamala Das residing in each woman. over a year ago

TRIBUTE Kamala: The ignited soul Shreekumar Varma The image that comes to mind is of the poet walking the sands as giant waves roll up to maul the beach. Its an image from the late seventies when, working in Bombay, I kept planning to attend at least one of her weekend soirees. Here she interacted with young writers and admirers, with laughter and poetry in the air. I never went, but later met her in Madras when my mother and she were on the Filmfare jury. When my niece married her eldest son, we were related. And the image? It probably springs from some long-remembered poem of hers. Kamala Das restless spirit made her move from Hinduism to Islam, from Kerala to Pune, from one claustrophobic, tradition-bound space to another, always searching. She experimented with verse and fiction, drama and painting, probing and mining an ideal world that always seemed to elude her. Madhavikutty in Malayalam and Kamala Das in English, she hacked away at the fetters of convention, wooing a freedom that let her speak her mind and bare her soul. She scandalised an entire readership with her candour, her explorations in the hitherto nether world of female sexuality. If love is a flower, lust is its fragrance, she said, harking back to Jayadevas depiction of Radha and Krishnas love. She wrote that a woman should stand naked before a mirror with her lover, letting him see her exactly as she is. Her awareness of an awed, disapproving world made her words even more striking. Through peep-holes, the neighbours watch/ they watch me come/ And go like rain. And a growing fellowship of young minds read and resonated, seeking and addressing their own sexuality and concerns of freedom through her words.

Late in life, however, she rebelled against that very freedom. She sought the protection of puritanism, getting those former fetters firmly back in place. She admitted to having been rebellious and living dangerously when she was younger, but now I have changed. It was, perhaps, to be expected. Her changeability, her constant ability to startle. Her freedom to evolve, to seek new modes of life and expression. Kamala Das was outspoken. She made sure she was always heard. Her readers, her admirers and detractors obliged by reacting to her moods, her whims, her sudden startling decisions. She was in the news, whether for being in line for a Nobel nomination or her change of religion or for the spirit with which she dismissed fundamentalists who swore theyd stop her receiving a State award. She was 75 when she died last Sunday and the world came to weep at her feet. Kamala Das was born in Punnayurkulam in Thrissur District, the daughter of V M Nair and Nalapat Balamani Amma, the renowned Malayalam poet. Her great uncle, writer Nalapat Narayana Menon, and her mother were inspirations within the family. But a woman poet must break out to reach her truth to her readers. Kamala Das was already married at 15 to a man 15 years her senior. He was a father figure. She acknowledged on many occasions that he was an understanding man, encouraging her to seek friends closer to her age. But a woman poet must break out. Kamala Das dedicated her day to the duties of wife and mother. When the household went to sleep, the kitchen table became her writing desk and the nights silence succumbed to the soft clatter of her typewriter. In the 60s, her book Summer In Calcutta emerged as a revelation. Stepping away from the dainty writing of the time and into the uncertainty of a virtual precipice, she impressed a fresh new readership.

At 42, faced with thoughts of impending death, she sought to empty herself of all her secrets and wrote her controversial autobiography, My Story. I remember many a discussion, also with some writers, who chuckled away those secrets, saying its all fiction! But it was a strong voice, a real voice, an utterance that broke through years of subjugation. That she voiced her sexuality was symbolic in a land where, ignoring its own history of openness, people had spread a cloak of austerity over the daily rituals of normal life. When the soul ignites, words are often a balm. And from those words rise others with other words. Kamala Das inspired a young nation of poets. Her fiction too threw up several stark, aching moments. I was struck by her short story, Doll for the Child Prostitute. She could articulate the deepest cry with the voice of honesty. I read and re-read her abject calls to Krishna, dark lover, mystic messiah, the only hope in a land of the suffocated. I read her short story about the writer who goes in search of a mercenary killer. When she finally meets him, we realise shes the intended victim she wants to pay a hired killer to take her life! W.T. Stace

Mysticism and Philosophy

Chapter 4: Pantheism, Dualism and Monism

[p 207]
Section 1: Pantheism

In the last chapter we concluded that, although the argument from unanimity fails to support the view that rnystical experience is evidence of any reality transcending the individual subjectivity of the mystic's consciousness, yet there are other considerations which do support that opinion. In this sphere we cannot expect anything like proof or certainty. We can never say that any of our conclusions on the philosophical implications

of mysticism are more than what seem to us, after careful and impartial sifting of the evidence, the most probable among possible rival views. In this sense, then, we have reached the condusion that mystical experience is not merely subjective, but is in very truth what the mystics themselves claim, namely a direct experience of the One, the Universal Self, God. We adopt this as our settled opinion throughout the rest of this book, taking it for granted in our treatment of other problems. Having adopted it, a number of fresh problems immediately present themselves. The first, which will be the subject of the present chapter, concerns the relation of God to the world in respect of identity or difference. Are God and the world identical, as some have asserted? Or are they wholly distinct? Or is there some other possibility? These being the problems, the question we have to discuss is whether mystical experience throws any light on them. This is the problem [p 208] comrnonly referred to under the label of pantheism. Pantheism in the widest sense is a theory about the relation of God to the world as a whole. There is a narrower usage of the word comrnon in the literature of Christian mysticism according to which it refers to the relation between God and a particular part of the worTd, namely the individual self of the mystic when in a state of "union." Does mystical union wiith God mean identity with God at least during the period of the union? Or do God and the soul remain distinct entities? The opinion that they become, or are, identical is what Christian writers call pantheism and is the "heresy" of which Christian mystics have been from time to time accused. Since the finite self is a part of the world, it follows that pantheism in the narrower sense is merely a part or instance of pantheism in the wider sense. In this chapter we shall examine both. I shall begin in this section by discussing only the question what the doctrine of pantheism actually is, i.e., what relation it asserts between God and the world, or between God and the finite self. What is the proper concept or definition of pantheism? And for the purpose of this discussion I shall take Spinoza and the Upanishads as the empirical examples of pantheism from which the definition of pantheism is tc be derived. Professor Abraham Wolf in an article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica writes as follows: In philosophy and theology pantheism is the theory that God is all and all is God. The universe is not a creation, distinct from God. . . . God is the

universe, and the universe is God. . . . The classical exponent of the philosophy of pantheism was Spinoza. It will be seen that according to Professor Wolf, pantheism is the theory that the relation between God and the world is the relation of simple identity. Although I cannot accept this definition, we can start from it as a basis of discussion, especially as it seems to be the popular view, and the one which agrees with the etymology of the word pantheism. We ask then: Is this what Spinoza meant? Is it what the Vedanta [p 209] meant? Is it an acceptable interpretation of the doctrine of pantheism? Spinoza certainly uses language which seems to imply this. He habitually speaks of "God" or "Nature" as if they were synonymous terms. His distinction between natura naturans and natura naturata does not seem to alter this. They are only two ways of thinking about the same identical thing, which is either called nature or God. Moreover he seems not to admit the existence of any Being outside of nature. The universe consists of substance with its attributes, which are also spoken of as being the attributes of God. Nothing else exists. The Upanishads which I am taking here as the most important basic writings of the Vedanta on which later philosophies, like those of Sankara and Ramanuja were largely built use language which, taken at its face value, also seems to attest the identity of God and the world. "All this is Brahman," says the Mandukya Upanishad. And in the Svetasvatara Upanishad we find this passage: Thou art the fire Thou art the sun Thou art the air Thou art the moon Thou art the starry firmament Thou art Brahman Supreme: Thou art the waters thou The creator of all. Thou Thou Thou Thou art woman, thou art man; art the youth, thou art the maiden. art the old man tottering with his staff. facest everywhere.

Thou art the dark butterfly. Thou art the green parrot wirh red eyes. Thou art the thunder-cloud, the seasons, the seas. Without beginning art thou, Beyond time, beyond space.(1) [p 210] The Upanishads speak the language of metaphor and poetry, avoiding philosophical abstractions. But it is obvious that this catalogue of things, the fire, the sun, the moon, the air, man, woman, the thunderclouds, and so on, simply stands for the whole universe. It is a shame to dissect this lovely and moving poetry with the knife of logic. But I have to point out that one of the phrases used of Brahman, namely, "thou the creator of all," seems on the face of it to be inconsistent with the theory of strict identity. For this would mean that the universe is the creator of the universe. And Spinoza's phrase "sui causa" really involves the same combination of inconsistent ideas, since cause and effect are by definition distinct. Furthermore returning to the passage from the Upanishad to say that Brahman is "beyond space, beyond time" is not consistent with saying that Brahman is identical with the clouds, air, sun, moon, and other objects which are in space and time. No doubt it may be thought that in making these comments, I am in danger of forgetting that we are not dealing with a systematic treatise on abstract philosophical conceptions. And it is true that the prevailing sense of the words in this passage and elsewhere in the Upanishads does undoubtedly emphasize the concept of identity. Another evidence of this same emphasis on identity is the farnous identification of atman and Brahman, the individual self and the Universal Self, expressed in the oft-quoted words "That art thou." Yet however dangerous it may be to treat poetry as if it were logic, the inconsistencies in the passage just quoted from the Svetasvatara Upanishad suggest to me that there is something amiss in the definition ot Vedantic pantheisrn as the assertion of the simple identity between God and the world. Making all allowance far the poetical character of these writings, for the liberty of poets to be ambiguous and inconsistent, and also for the naive though profound mentality of their authors, it yet seems to me that the inconsistencies which I have quoted are symptoms of something deeper than poetic license or poetic vagueness. I arn not suggesting that the Vedanta is not [p 211]

pantheistic. It certainly is. What I am suggesting is that pantheism is not rightly understood as the simple assertion of identity between God and the world. Let us suppose that the pantheism both of Spinoza and the Vedanta means nothing more than this identity. Has it occurred to the supporters of this interpretation that they are giving as the essence of those great philosophies a view so silly that it can only be described as an empty playing with words? For if pantheism is the view that God is the world, we have still to enquire how the word "is" is being used. According to the interpetation we are discussing, what we have here is the "is" of identity that same sense of "is" as appears in such locutions as "An automobile is a motorcar" or "Jack is John." But to say that an automobile is a motorcar is to say merely that "automobile" and "rnotorcar" are two different words for the same thing. Therefore, if pantheism means nothing but the identity af God and the world, this is the same as saying that the pantheist means that "God" is just another name which some people choose to use for some very odd reason for what most people call the world. Undoubtedly Spinoza can, if he so pleases, decide that in the future he will call the universe God. He can also, if he so pleases, call the universe Jack, or Henry, or Aunt Maria. He can, if he so chooses, call this table an egg. This is the kind of folly to which the philosophies of Spinoza and the Vedanta reduce if the identity interpretation of their views is correct. No doubt philosophers, like other people, talk nonsense. Perhaps they talk more nonsense than most other people. But it must be remembered that the basic ideas of the Upanishads have constituted the spiritual food on which some billions of human beings for the last three thousand years have lived. Can it be believed that conceptions of which this is true can be empty verbalisms no more significant than the sentence "A motorcar is an automobile"? It cannot be said that many human beings have lived by the philosophy of Spinoza. But Spinoza did. And however true it may be that even in the greatest philosophers we can find nonsensical passages, it seems beyond belief that the quintessence of Spinoza's philosophy is nothing [p 212] but this silly misuse of words. No doubt philosophers have often been misled by hidden ambiguities of language, or by the failure to pay attention to the ordinary usages of words. But I do not see how any consideration of this kind can explain the case of Spinoza. I will accordingly suggest what I believe to be a profounder understanding of pantheism. According to the definition which I propose, pantheism is the

philosophy which asserts together both of the two following propositions, namely:
1. The world is identical with God. 2. The world is distinct from, that is to say, not identical with, God.

I am of the opinion that paradoxicality is one of the universal characteristics of all mysticism. This basic paradoxicality will of course be reflected in all philosophies which are, so to speak, high-level interpretations of mysticism. And because pantheism, however much it may wear the outward garb of logic and rationalism, as in Spinoza, always has its roots in mysticism, we ahaIl expect it to be paradoxical. Only those critics who are deceived by Spinoza's superficial geometrical method; and are unable to penetrate below the surface to the subterranean springs of Spinoza's thought, will believe otherwise. The proposition that the world is both identical with, and different from, God, may be called the pantheistic paradox. We may, if we like, say that what is involved here in the pantheistic paradox, and indeed in all mystical paradoxes, is the idea of what has been called "the identity of opposites", or "identity in difference." These phrases are, of course, associated with the name of Hegel, and that name nowadays generally arouses strong antipathetic reactions among philosophers in the English-speaking world. So I had better say something about this before I go on. I suppose the common view now current in Anglo-American philosophical circles might be expressed by saying that the concept of the identity of opposites was a piece of chicanery invented by Hegel, which, being happily exposed as nonsense within a short time, quietly disappeared, along with its author, into the rubbish heap. But this is a travesty of the facts. In the first place "the identity of opposites" was not invented [p 213] by Hegel. It is at least three thousand years old, being a part of that mysticism which has influenced Parmenides, Plato, Plotinus, Spinoza, and many other philosophers before Hegel. What Hegel did was to recognize, and state in explicit terms, what had been latent and implicit in so rnuch of the greatest human thought before his time. And to have done this showed profound historical insight. But unfortunately Hegel, having received this idea from the past, proceeded to rnake a terrible mess of it. He supposed that what he had found was a logical principle, and tried to make it the basis of a new superlogic. This was absurd because the identity of opposites is not a logical but a definitely antilogical idea. It is the expression of a nonratianal element in the human mind. In trying to make a logic of it, Hegel did actually faIl into a species of chicanery. For every one af his supposed logical

deductions was performed by the systematic misuse of language, by palpable fallacies, and sometimes, as Russell has pointed out, by simply punning on words.. It was this chicanery which was quickly exposed and which was the chief, though not the only, cause of the downfall of the Hegelian philosophy. I will now let Hegel alone and go back to my proper subject. That this notion of identity in difference between God and the world is actually involved in the pantheistic philosophies of the Vedanta and Spinoza is not difficult to show. To discuss the Vedanta first, we have to exhibit both the identity of Brahrnan and the world, and their difference. Some of the evidence of identity has already been given by quotations from the Upanishads. But it is also clear in some of the later interpretations of the commentators and philosophers such as Sankara. Here Brahrnan is represented as the sole reality. That Brahman is "One without a second" means that there exists no other reality. The empirical world is an illusion which disappears in the reality of Brahman. We need not comment on the obvious difficulties of any such view. The point is that on this view, maya, the world illusion, cannot be outside Brahman, since nothing except Brahman exists. It may be objected that according to this version of Vedantism the world does not exist at all, and therefore cannot be identical with God. But this only means that any attempt [p 214] to press these conceptions to their logical condusions merely lands us in contradictions. But if Brahman and the world are identical, they are also different. The differences may be tabulated as follows:
Brahman Is Reality Pure Unity Relationless Infinite Outside Space and Time Motionless, Unchanging The World Is Illusion or Appearance Multiplicity The sphere of relations The sphere of finitude In Space and Time Perpetual flux

Thus the pantheistic paradox is plainly present in the Vedanta. The same paradox is also at the root of much Indian folklore, legend, and art. Heinrich Zimmer, in his book Myths and Symbols of Indian Art and Civilization (p. 46), interprets one of the legends too long to reproduce here as meaning that "the secret of Maya is the identity of opposites. Maya is a simultaneous-and-successive manifestation of . . . processes contradicting and annihilating each other: creation and destruction, evolution and dissolution... . . This 'and,' uniting incompatibles, expresses the fundamental character of the Highest Being. . . . The opposites are fundamentally of the one essence, two aspects of the one Vishnu." Zimmer applies a similar interpretation to the famous rock-hewn image of Siva in the Elephanta caves near Bombay. This has been described as among the greatest pieces of the world's sculpture. In this sculpture there is a central head, about 19 feet high from the chin to the crown of the head. From the twin sides of this head the profiles of two other heads emerge left and right. The emerging head to the right is male, that to the left, female. The male and female principles syrnbolize the "dualities," the "opposites," which characterize the phenomenal world. On this set of facts Zimmer makes the following comment (pp. 148-151): "the middle head is a representation of the Absolute. Majestic and sublime it is the divine essence out of which the other two proceed. . . . The middle head is self-enclosed in a dreamy aloofness. . . . [It] is the face of Eternity. [p 215] . . . Out of its solid silence, time and the life-processes are continually flowing or apparently are flowing. From the point of view of the middle there is nothing flowing. . . . The two profiles are happening; the universe is happening; the individual is happening. But . . . do they really happen? The central mask is meant to express the truth of the Eternal, in which nothing happens, nothing comes to pass, changes or dissolves again. The divine essence, the solely real, the Absolute in itself, . . . abides in itself, steeped in its own sublime Void . . . containing all and everything." From this we see that the conception of the identity of opposites, since it is expressed in very ancient folklore, legend, and primitive myth, arises out of the feelings of the race, not out of its intellect or head; thus making it clear that it is not the invention of a modern crackpot kind of logic. I turn now to Spinoza. That his pantheism also involves the identity in difference of God and the world is certain unless it be believed that the essence of his philosophy consisted in the inane joke of calling the universe Henry or Jack or God according to one's whim. But it is not so easy to show

where this principle is actually at work in Spinoza as it is in the Vedanta. Spinoza belonged to a later and far more sophisticated age. If he had caught hirnself falling into a logical paradox, he would have hastily covered up his tracks by using suitable evasions a proceeding which would not have occurred to the simple-minded hermits who composed the Upanishads. Spinoza, being a professional rationalist, could not admit contradiction into his system in the blatant way the Vedantists did. Nevertheless, one can find in him the pantheistic paradox if one looks below the surface. Spinoza has three categories for the explanation of reality substance, attribute, mode. Everything that exists has to be subsumed under one or more of these heads. Our question is, What, according to Spinoza, is the relation between God and the world? But one must first ask, Under which of the three categories does God come, and under which the world? The world, I think, can be identified with the attributes and modes. God seems sometirnes to mean only substance, [p 216] and sometimes the totality of substance, attribute, and mode. In the former case, God is in some sense distinct from the world, in the latter case identical with it. However, this needs further elucidation. Spinoza often tells us that the attributes constitute the substance (Definition of "substance," Ethics, Part I Def. IV), or that substance consists of the attributes. If so, then substance, or God, is identical with the totality of the attributes, and so with the world. But there are passages which are inconsistent with this. For instance, he says "substance thinking and substance extended are one and the same substance, which is now comprehended under this attribute and now under that." Spinoza denies that there is any real interaction between rnind and body, and explains the apparent interaction by saying that this same substance simultaneously expresses itself in two different ways, namely, thought and bodily event. But unless one supposes that substance is a distinct existence, a substratum underlying the attributes, the explanation has no point. For in that case the two attributes merely lie side by side, and the corresponding bodily and mental events correspond by chance, without anything to explain the correspondence. It is plain that at the back of Spinoza's mind, whatever he may have said, was the thought that substance was a third something which explains the behavior of the other two. Moreover, in spite of his explicit assertions that substance consists of the attributes, it is unlikely in view of the fact that he took the whole concept of substance and attribute uncriticized frorn tradition that he was

uninfluenced by the thought of the distinct underlying substratum. It is not till Hume that we get the clean break with tradition on the empiricist ground that we cannot experience anything but the qualities. It appears likely that the incompatible interpretations of substance, now as a substratum, and now as the sum of the attributes, both operated, unreconciled with each other, in Spinoza's thinking. In the former interpretation, we have the concept of God as distinct from the world, in the latter the identity of God and the world. If, as I believe, mystical feelings and ideas are always the psychological [p 217] sources of pantheism, however much it may be rationalistic on the surface; and if, as I suggest, mystical thinking is always a series of logical paradoxes; then the view that Spinoza, possibly against his will, is involved in the pantheistic paradox will be helped if there is independent reason to think that mystical ideas and feelings have actually entered into the formation of his philosophy. That his thinking has a mystical element has sometimes been denied, sometimes asserted. To those who denied it, he appeared as "an accursed atheist." To those who asserted it, he appeared as a "Godintoxicated man." If one interprets his phrase "God or Nature" to mean that God is just another name for nature, that in short God is just a piece of verbiage, one will naturally conclude that he is nothing but an atheist. But if one interprets him mystically, so that God, as well as being identical with the world, is also distinct from it, then his very moving religious language acquires meaning and may well justify the phrase "God-intoxicated man." My suggestion is that he exhibited in himself the living paradox of being a God-intoxicated atheist. Harold Hoffding writes in his History of Modern Philosophy (pp. 294-295) that "for Spinoza the clear understanding of our passions raises us above them and unites with all the rest of our knowledge of nature," and he adds that this understanding of our passions helps to make possible "the mystical union with God. . . . This oriental and mystical tendency forms the basis of all his thought." On the other hand, Mr. Stuart Hampshire in his book Spinoza in the Penguin series (pp. 43-44) writes as follows: Critics of Spinoza, have misunderstood what he meant by God as immanent cause; if isolated from its context within his philosophy, the notion seems mystical and unscientific . . . In fact, the implication is precisely the reverse. . . . The doctrine appears mystical or unscientific in its tendency only if one

forgets that in Spinoza the use of the word "God" is interchangeable with the word "Nature."' To say that God is the immanent cause of all things is another way of saying that everything must be explained as belonging to the single and all-inclusive system which is nature, and no cause (not even a First Cause) can be conceived as somehow outside or independent of the order of nature. [p 218] How do we come to have such opposite interpretations of Spinoza's basic ideas and motives? Because neither of these comrnentators has grasped together, in a single statement, and has understood, the two sides of the pantheistic paradox. Hoffding fastens on one side, Hampshire on the other. But Hoffding had at least the insight to sense and feel in Spinoza the two disparate elements, and to see that, in spite of his naturalism, mystical feeling runs strong in hirn, and makes an integral component cf his philosophy, which becomes distorted and unintelligible if one ignores or denies it. But that in Spinoza's philosophy "God" is just another word for "nature" in the same sense as "automobile" is just another word for "motorcar," and that therefore all tne highly religious language which Spinoza uses in the Ethics is so much meaningless verbiage this is the view which Mr. Hampshire asks us to accept. And I must say that it seems to me a very shallow view. I conclude that the philosophical theory of pantheism properly means the identity in difference of God and the world, and not their bare identity. Since what I called pantheism in the narrower sense is merely a particular case of pantheism in the wider sense, it should follow that pantheism would regard the relation between God and the finite self in a state of union as also one of identity in difference, and not mere identity. But these are only prelirninary anticipations, and we have to examine the relevant mystical phenomena to discover what light they throw on the subject.
Section 2: Dualism

Pantheism is not originally a mere logical speculation of the philosophical mind. It is not a view ultimately based upon argument and reason. It is in essence a mystical idea, although afterwards it comes to be supported by argument. Hence in the long historical development of rationalistic philosophy it may come to be thought that pantheism is based on reason, its mystical roots having been forgotten. This is what has happened with

Spinoza or at any rate with the expositors and commentators on Spinoza. Thus the [p 219] significant question about pantheism is not whether the arguments for it are good logic but whether it is the correct interpretation of mystical experience. This is the problem now before us. As a matter of terminology I shall assign to dualism, monism, and pantheism the following meanings. Dualism is the view that the relation between God and the world, including the relation between God and the individual self when in a state of union, is a relation of pure otherness or difference with no identity. Monism is the view that the relation is pure identity with no difference. Pantheism is the view that it is identity in difference. On the whole there has been a fundamental cleavage between East and West, or rather between India and the West, on the question whether mystical experience should be given a monistic or a dualistic explanation. India has, in the Samkhya, Yoga, and Jaina systems and in the Vedantism of Ramanuja, produced dualistic and pluralistic interpretations. But the predominant trend of the Vedanta philosophy namely, that of Sankara has been monistic. But Western mystics, in spite of their obvious tendency to drift towards monism or pantheism, have usually ended by repudiating those views in favor of dualism. Dualism is characteristic of the three chief theistic religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Although the Christian mystics themselves can generally be quoted in their most decisive passages on the side of dualism, it remains a question whether this would have been their view if they were not overborne and subjected to threats by the theologians and the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church. This is a question which we shall have to consider on a later page because it affects our main problem, namely, which is the true interpretation. Extrovertive mystical experience appears to be the main source from which the pantheistic and monistic identifications of God and the world as a whole are derived. Introvertive mystical experience is the main source of the identification of God and the individual self when in a state of union. The extrovertive mystics see the world around them, the grass, the trees, the animals, and sometimes "inanimate" objects such as rocks [p 220] and mountains, as God-impregnated, or as shining from within with the light of a life which is one and the same life flowing through all things. As R. M.

Bucke expressed it, "I saw that the universe is not composed of dead rnatter, but is on the contrary a living presence." (see p. 78) Boehme, Eckhart, N. M., and many others have, as already shown, expressed themseIves in similar language. The question for us is whether extrovertive mystical experience actually supports dualism, monism, or pantheism. The introvertive mystic, getting rid of sensations, images, and thought content, comes at last to find within himself the pure self which becomes, or is, unified with the Universal Self, or God. This is the source of our problem in so far as it especially concerns relations of identity or difference between God and the individual self. In particular, what is most relevant here is the experience of the "melting away'' or "fading away' "fana" as the Sufis call it of individuality into "boundless being" which Tennyson, Koestler, and others have described in rnore modern and nontheological language. In this section I shall discuss the dualistic view of the theistic religions and quote the evidence of the mystics thernselves in favor of it. The Christian mystics speak of their experience as "union with God." It wih facilitate our discussion if we use their own language in regard to this. The question then is, What happens at the moment of mystical union? Does the soul of the mystic become simply identical with God? Or does it remain a being wholly distinct and different from God? Or is there identity in difference? Unfortunately an appea! to the meaning of the word "union" will not help us because it is ambiguous, In ordinary language we may mean by the union of A with B that they cease in any sense to be distinct existences, as for example the union of two rivers say the Missouri and the Mississippi in one. It would be correct to say that below their junction there is only one river. On the other hand, the members of a trade union do not become identical with [indistinguishable from? DCW] one another but only closely associated in the same organization. Moreover, if we [p 221] say that two things A and B are "the same," this is also ambiguous. We say that the evening and the morning star are "the same," meaning that they are identical. But we say that two persons have "the same" idea when we mean only that their ideas, though numerically distinct as being psychic processes in two different minds, are nevertheless exactly similar. This particular ambiguity becomes relevant when Christian mystics say that in the state of union the will of the individual becomes the same as, or one with, the divine will.

Constantly the mystics use ambiguous language. Occasionally we shall find what seem to be clear, unambiguous, and explicit statements in their writings. We must seize on these as important, but even then we have to remember that a mystic's own interpretation, even when we are certain what it is, cannot be accepted as ipso facto correct. For mystics, with a few exceptions, are not analytic philosophers or even metaphysicians. And they may well have been often bedeviled by the pitfalls of language. On the other hand, it is obvious that we have to study the statements of the mystics about their experience, since these are in the last resort the only raw material which is presented to us for analysis. And it is on these that we have to base whatever interpretation we propose to accept as the best. I will begin with some Christian sources and then turn to the ewidences of Islamic and Jewish mystics. St. Teresa writes: It is plain enough what union is two distinct things becoming one. (2) One might suppose that this is a clear statement of monism, but St. Teresa's language was habitually so vague and un-self-critical that one cannot build any theory at all on the statement just quoted. But one does in general know that as an obedient Catholic she would have been horrified at being understood to favor the heresies of monism or pantheism. St. John of the Cross writes: [p 222] The state of divine union consists in the total transformation of the will into the will of God, in such a way that every movement of the will shall always be the movement of the will of God only (3) What is meant by "the total transformation of the will into the will of God"? Does it mean that the two wills, the human will and the will of God, become numerically identical? Or does it mean that they remain numerically two, but that the volitions of the one are exactly like the volitions of the other? St. John of the Cross, though his mind is more analytic and his language more precise than that of St. Teresa, is no first-class intellect. And unless we can find some clearer statement of his meaning than this, we cannot conclude anything for certain on the basis of these words. Fortunately, such clear passages are to be found, and I quote two of them. He speaks of the mystical union as:

That union and transformation of the suul in God which is only then accomplished when there subsists the likeness which love begets. For this reason shall this union be called the union of likeness . . . which takes effect when two wills, the will of God and the will of the soul are conformed together, neither desiring ought repugnant to the other.(4) [Italics mine. WTS] And he adds a little later: That soul which has reached perfect conformity and resemblance is perfectly united, and supernaturally transformed in, God. (5) [Italics mine. WTS] In other words God and the soul remain existentially distinct beings, their union meaning only qualitative resemblance in their wills. This may be called qualitative union as distinguished from existential or substantial union or identity. Ruysbroeck is equally explicit: As the air is penetrated by the brightness and heat of the sun, and iron is penetrated by fire; so that it works through fire the works of fire, since it burns and shines like fire; and so likewise it can be said of the air . . . yet each of these keeps its own nature. For the fire does not become iron, and [p 223] iron does not become fire. . . . There is here a great distinction, for the creature never becomes God, nor does God ever become the creature. (6) We notice that the concept of union taught by St. John of the Cross is not quite the same as Ruysbroeck's. The relation between God and the soul, according to St. John of the Cross, is that of the resemblance of two different things. The relation according to Ruysbroeck is compared to the relation between the sunlight and the air, or between heat and a hot iron. Perhaps this may be called a relation of interpenetration. It is not resemblance, for sunlight does not resemble air nor does heat resemble iron. But both St. John of the Cross and Ruysbroeck insist that God and the soul remain distinct existences, not existentially identical. They thus give us two different versions of dualism. This alone, though not in itself very important, is enough to show that the interpretations and analyses of meaning given by the mystics cannot be accepted by us at face value. For unless we take refuge in the unlikely explanation that these two men are describing two different kinds of mystical experience, they cannot both be right. But both agree in being dualists.

[My personal experience inclines towards that described by St John a generally "extravertive" mystical experience in the sense of a world suffused with "God", but also the overwhelming intuition that this suffusion is a (normally unrealised) feature of, and in fact the essence of, the "life" of, the "reality" of objects and living creatures. In partaking of this suffusion I share in the experience of God, I am a manifestation of God. DCW] Henry Suso also preaches dualism, and interprets union as qualitative similarity. According to him: In this merging of itself in God the spirit passes away and yet not wholly; for it receives indeed sorne attributes of Godhead, but it does not become God by nature. . . . It is still a sornething which has been created out of nothing, and continues to be this everlastingly.(7) In addition to its plain statement of dualism, this passage is also noteworthy for the use of the words "the spirit passes away." This shows that Suso's mystical experience included what the Sufis called "fana," also experienced by Tennyson, Koestler, and others already quoted. It adds its quota to the evidence of the basic similarity of mystical experiences in all ages, religions, and cultures. [p 224] If now we turn to Meister Eckhart, the most philosophical of all the medieval Christian mystics, we find a strange situation. He frequently framed sentences chiefly in his sermons which caused him to be accused by the Church authorities of claiming identity with God. For instance: One should so live that he is identified with God's Son and so that he is that Son. Between the Son and the soul there is no distinction. (8) [Note also the follwing Biblical passages referring to sons of God: John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. DCW] And again: St Paul says: We are always being transformed into God (2 Corinthians 3:18). . . . Whatever is changed into something else becomes identical with

it. If, therefore, I am changed into God and he makes me one with Himself, then, by the living God, there is no distinction between us. (9) And again: God and I: We are one.(10) And again: In bursting forth [by this phrase Eckhart means union] I discover that God and I are One. . . . I am the unmoved Mover that moves all things. . . . Here too God is identical with the spirit. (11) and as a last example: The eye by which I see God is the same as the eye by which God sees me. My eye and God's eye are one and the same one in seeing, one in knowing, and one in loving. (12) Many other instances could be quoted. They are scattered all over Eckhart's writings. But in the Defense which he wrote against the charges of heresy he refers to the first of the above passages and says: "If this should be taken to mean that I am God, this is false. But if [p 225] it should be taken to mean that I am God as being a member of him it is true." (13) But what does "being a member of him" mean? Such passages may make one wonder whether Eckhart was quite frank in his Defense. By far the most philosophically interesting statement of Eckhart's in this connection is the following: The divine One is a negation of negations. . . . What does One mean? Something to which nothing is to be added. The soul lays hold of the Godhead where it is pure, where there is nothing beside it, nothing else to consider. The One is a negation of negations. Every creature contains a negation: one denies that it is the other. An angel denies that it is any other creature, but God contains the denial of denials. He is that One who denies of every other that it is anything except himself. (14)

In this passage Eckhart anticipates both Spinoza and Hegel and preaches the same doctrine as is found in the Upanishads. He says, "Every creature contains a negation: one denies that it is the other." This is plainly a statement of Spinoza's principle that all determination is negation. This is the definition of the finite, or in Eckhart's phrase, of the creature as distinguished from the Creator who is infinite. That which negates negations is therefore the Infinite. Moreover, the Infinite is, in Eckhart's phrase, "something to which nothing is to be added," or that which has no other to negate it, or in the phrase of the Upanishads "the One without a second." God is thus infinite, not in the sense of being an endless series, but in the sense of having nothing outside himself to limit or negate him. This is a plain statement of either monisrn or pantheisrn since to say that there is nothing other than God is to say that God is everything which exists. (15) [p 226] It seems evident that Eckhart's thinking tended to interpret his own experience monistically or pantheistically no doubt without distinguishing between these two. In his defense he repudiated these "heresies," thus accepting dualism at the behest of the papal authorities. Summing up the position of the Christian mystics we have of course only given samples of their evidence, not the full evidence we may say the most decisive passages leave no doubt where they stand. They, in general, support dualism in accordance with the dogmas of the Church. But there is something in their own experience which causes them to gravitate towards identity theories of the relation between God and the individual soul when in a state of union. In Islamic mysticism rhe experience of mystical union with God is fully developed, and we therefore look to see what interpretation the mystics place on it. Their position is on the whole similar to that of the Christian mystics dualism with a tendency to occasional outbreaks of monism. Many of the Sufis prefer to express their experiences in extremely flowery pcetry, profuse in metaphors, rather than in prose. Now poetry, especially the kind of sultry and sensuous poetry which they wrote, does not lend itself well to abstract theorizing. Nevertheless, the predominance of dualism is evident. The Mohamrnedan religion, like the Jewish, insists on the great gulf which separates the Creator from the creature, and tnis of course reflects itself in the interpretations which the mystics give to their own experiences. But it does not prevent occasional outbursts claiming identity with God, sometimes in extravagant language such as that attributed. to Mansur al Hallaj. As a rnore moderate expres;ion of the same claim we nay ins:ance Mahmud Shabistari (A.D. 1320) who wrote :

[p 227] In God there is no duality. In that Presence"I" and "we" and "you" do not exist. "'I" and "you" and "we" and "He" become one. . . . Since in the unity there is no distinction, the Quest and the Way and the Seeker become one. (16) The words "become one" are of course as ambiguous as the word "union:' But "there is no distinction" is unambiguous. It means identity. Of great interest are the views of Al Ghazzali (A.D. 1059-1111) the great philosopher-mystic of Sufism. He was, it seems to me, more phillosopher than mystic. And it may even be doubted whether he actually achieved the mystical consciousness. He says of himself in his autobiography that "theory being more easy for me than practice I read until I understood all that can be learned from study and hearsay." Dissatisfied with this, he retired from the world and for some eleven or twelve y'ears lived in solitude seeking illumination according to the methods and techniques of the Sufis. The evidence as to whether he attained it seems to be indecisive. But of his philosophical ability and eminence no one who reads his clear, penetrating, analytic prose, even in translation, can be in doubt. He also possessed great literary skill, and his writing is rendered delightful by reason of his extraordinary gift for apt and illuminating illustrations and examples. Otcasionally he speaks of "absorption in God" as being the goal which the Sufis seek and reach. But absorption is an ambiguous metaphor compatible with either dualism or monism. Al Ghazzali certainly means it dualistically. Evelyn Underhill. quotes him as saying: "The end of Sufism is total absorption in God. . . . In this state some have imagined thernselves to be amalgamated with God, others to be identical with him, others again to be associated with hirn: but all this is sin." (17) And Mr. Claud Field quotes him as condemning such extravagant utterances as those of Mansur al Hallaj and other Sufis who used the same sort of wild language, and adding: [p 228] the matter went so far that certain persons boasted of a union with the Deity, and that they . . . beheld Him, and enjoyed familiar converse with him. and Ghazzali referred to such mystics as "foolish babblers." (18)

It would seem that he disapproved of any nondualistic interpretation of the mystic's experience. And the following passage about the meaning of "absorption" is very noteworthy: When the worshipper thinks no longer of his worship or himself, but is altogether absorbed in Him whom he worships, that state, by gnostics, is called the passing away of mortality (fana), when a person so passed away from himself feels nothing of his bodily members, nor of what is passing without, not what passes within his own mind. . . . He is journeying first to his Lord, and then at the end, in his Lord. Perfect absorption means that he is unconscious not only of himself, but of his absorption. For fana from fana is the goal of fana. . . . Thus the state of the mystics in relation co Him whom they love is like your state in relation to what you love of position or wealth, or like a human love when you become . . . so engrossed in your beloved that you perceive nothing else. You do not hear when someone speaks, nor see who passes, though your eyes are open and you are not deaf. (19) It should be noted that this is a psychological description of the mental state of the Sufi. Ghazzali says that it resembles the mental absorption of one who is engrossed in the contemplation of an earthly loved one. This psychological characterization does not of itself imply any logical or existential doctrine of either monism or dualism. It is consistent with either. It does not either imply or negate the view that the existence of the individual self is annihilated even momentarily by being absorbed into the divine substance, but only says that the separate existence of the self is psychologically forgotten. But that Ghazzali remained conslstently dualistic is to be gathered from the other passages quoted above and numerous other similar passages. The idea of union with God is not, according to G. G. Scholem's book Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, at all prominent in Judaism. [p229] The claim to have attained such union, and the interpretation of it as becoming identical with God, are found occasionaily among the later Hasidim as also in the case of Abulafia. But, in Scholem's words previously quoted, "It is only in extremely rare cases that ecstasy signifies actual union with God in which the human individuality abandons itself to the rapture of complete submersion in the divine stream. . . . The Jewish mystic almost invariably retains a sense of distance between the Creator and the creature. The latter is joined to the former, and the point where the two meet is of the

greatest interest to the mystic, but he does not regard it as constituting anything so extravagant as identity of the Creator and the creature." (20) We need not pursue the purport, nor the question of the justification, of these metaphors any further. The only point of interest at the moment is that, although there are in Judaism occasional examples of the monistic interpretation of mystical experience, yet the spirit of Jewish mysticism in general is dualistic, insisting, like Islam, on the gulf which separates the Creator from the creature. ln summary, the general picture which we get of the three theistic religions of the West is that the evidence of their mystics is decidedly in favor of dualism.. But very definite tendencies towards pantheism also appear in all three religions. The greatest of those who show this tendency is of course Eckhart.
Section 3. Critique of Dualism

Dualism is the typical interpretation put upon rnystical experience by the theistic religions of the West though we saw that there were many atypical exceptions, usually condemned as heresy by the ecclesiastical authorities. Monism, which asserts the identity of God and the world, and of God and the illuminated individual self, is the interpretation put upon mystical experience by the most influential religious philosophy of India, the later Vedantism of Sankara although there were in India many other systems of thought which interpreted it in various other ways. The fact that there have existed [p 230] these two diametrically opposite interpretations may suggest to the reader that the differences are in the experiences themselves and that we have two different kinds of experience and not two different interpretations of the same experience. But this suggestion, though superficiaily plausible, will not bear examination. While we have never maintained that mystical experiences everywhere are so exactly similar that there are no differences at all between them, what we did try to show in the second chapter was that there are common elements in them all which are much more fundamental and important than whatever differences there may be. None of the differences which we outlined there (21) could account for the difference between dualism and monism. Moreover, we saw that there is an inner nucleus within the wider set of common characteristics which consists in the unitary consciousness of the introvertive type of experience and the unifying vision of the extrovertive type. We concluded that in this experience of an

undifferentiated unity, which the mystics believe to be in some sense ultimate and basic to the world, we reach the very inner heart of all mystical experience in all the advanced cultures of both the East and the West. This also carries with it as a phase of itself that dissolution of individuality in the unity, that melting away, or fana as the Muslims call it, of which we quoted examples from all over the world. The monist and the dualist describe the undifferentiated unity in practically identical language, but the monist believes that he himself is included in it while the dualist, for cultural and theological reasons, regards himself as still outside it. Therefore the problem which presents itself to us is whether dualism or monism is the true interpretation or whether we must accept a synthesis of both in the pantheistic paradox. In the present section I shall argue that dualism, whether in its Christian, Islamic, or Judaic versions, is an untenable interpretation. I shall consider monism in the section which follows. There are several arguments which show that dualism is a mistaken interpretation. The first is that dualism is a flat contradiction [p 231] of the nuclear common characteristic of all mystical experience, viz., that it is an ultimate unity which is "beyond all multiplicity." The mystical consciousness, in its fully developed introvertive form, is the "unitary consciousness" from which, to use the words of the Mandukya Upanishad, "awareness of the world and of multiplicity have been completely obliterated." Wherever we look in the literature of mysticism, East or West, Christian or Hindu, we find the same thing. For the Christian as for the Hindu. it is an experience of the One, of the Unity. Aurobindo, the famous contemporary Hindu mystic speaking most certainly out of the riches of his own experiences writes: At the gates of the Transcendent stands that mere and perfect spirit described in the Upanishads, luminous, pure, sustaining the world, without flaw of duality, without scar of division, the transcendent Silence. (22) [Italics mine.WTS] But, it may be said, these sources quoted are Indian, and they may well support the view that the Hindu experience is different from the Christian experience. However it does not seem very likely that the Christian mystic will admit that the Indian has an experience of actual identity with God which is not vouchsafed to the Christian! It is true that these particular words of Aurobindo can be interpreted dualistically, since he does not here

say that the unity without flaw of duality may not be an object to his consciousness which as subject is distinct from its object. But no one who is familiar with the context of Indian thought in which Aurobindo is embedded will believe this. However, we have to consider the objection that quotations from Indian sources cannot be used to show that the dualistic interpretation put upon their experiences by the Christian mystics is wrong. In reply to this the first point to be made is that the basic experience of the Christian mystics is descriptively indistinguishable from that of the Vedantic mystics. The core ot the experience is that it is an undifferentiated unity, which we hold to be the same in the [p 232] East and in the West. I have done my best to show this in my second chapter, and now assume it to be true, and will not further discuss it at this stage. The question now at issue is this, Is the self of the experient included in the undifferentiated unity? Or does it remain outside the unity and distinct from it? The latter is the dualistic interpretation. Now it is not the case that only the Vedantic mystics interpret the experience monistically, and that the Western mystics invariably interpret it dualistically. On the contrary, all the evidence shows that Western mystics, Christian, Islamic, or (in a few cases) Jewish, show a strong tendency to drift towards the monistic position. They are only prevented from adopting it by the menaces and pressure of the theologians and ecclesiastical authorities. This is highly significant. Those who have the experience, in East or West, tend to interpret it nondualistically. Those who do not have the experience decry and repress this interpretation. We must not, of course, exaggerate this argument. It is true that not all Christian and Muslim mystics exhibit the drift to monism. For instance, neither St. Teresa nor St. John of the Cross does so. Hence, the premiss I use in the argument is only that there is a tendency towards monism, not that all mystics are, secretly or overtly, monists. The fact is that the dualistic interpretation is contrary to the whole spirit of mystical utterances wherever found. The mystical consciousness when projected down onto the logical plane of the intellect involves three things, viz.: (1) that there are no distinctions in the One, (2) that there is no distinction between object and object, e.g., between the blades of grass and the stone, and (3) that there is no distinction between subject and object. This is plainly the fully developed and completed rnystical attitude, and if any of these three propositions is denied, what we shall have is a

diminished, stunted, or underdeveloped mysticism. Dualism is such an undeveloped mysticism. There is af course another side to this story, which monism overlooks, Whoever sees the error of dualism tends to go to the other extreme and to express himself in the language of monism. But both [p 233] are one-sided, and each needs to be corrected by the other. Pure monism, as we shall see in the next section, is as unacceptable as pure dualism. To return, however, to our critique of dualism. We may again quote Plotinus's words: No doubt we should not speak of seeing, but instead of seen and seer, speak boldly of a simple unity. For in this seeing we neither distinguish nor are there two. The man . . . is merged with the Supreme . . . one with it.(23) [Italics mine.WTS] Plotinus is pointing out that such words as "see," "seer," and "vision," though we can hardly avoid using them, imply a duality between subject and object, and are accordingly inappropriate to an expperience in which there is no such duality. These words of Plotinus are decisive against dualism. The only escape from this conclusion would be to suppose that Plotinus had one kind of experience and the Christian mystics, or some of them, another. This sort of hypothesis, as we have seen, is not plausible. How then, we must ask, is it that so many of the Christian mystics interpret their experience dualistically? The following is the explanation which I offer. It is plain from all the evidence which we have collected throughout this book that the disappearance of the division between subject and object is an essential part cf the introvertive mystical experience. But the Christian mystics do not carry the conception of the unitary consciousness to its logical conclusion when they come to the intellectual interpretation of their experiences. Their own mystical experience impels them to claim the identity of subject and object, the identification of God and the individual self. It is evident that there is this very strong impulsion at work in the mystics everywhere and in all cultures and religions. Eckhart, because he is the greatest and most original and audacious intellect among the Christian mystics, [p234]

expresses this boldly and from the point of view of worldly caution rashly. So do several of the Sufis. But when it comes to the point, the majority of them draw back from taking the last step towards which the momentum of their combined experience and logic is carrying them. They balk at asserting what is obviously the dictate of their own consciousness. They fail to implement to the full the notion of unity. They take a step backwards into dualism. Why is this? Partly perhaps they are troubled by a genuine philosophical difficulty. They do not understand the pantheistic paradox with its notion of identity in difference. Instinctively (and rightly) feeling that the pure identity cannot be the truth, they turn from it and embrace pure difference. But it is doubtful whether this philosophical problem exerts much influence with them. After all, they are not as a rule philosophers and hence not inclined to worry about problems of logic. We may assume that what influences them most is the impact of a strong cultural and historical pressure. There is something in the theistic religions which causes their theologians who usually have no mystical experience and are only intellectuals to outlaw as a heresy any tendency to monism or pantheism. The mystics have for the most part been pious men, obedient to the constituted authorities in the religion in which they have been raised. They humbly submit all their conclusions to the judgment of the Church or whatever the institutional authority in their particular religian may be. They dutifully curb their pantheistic tendencies at the behest of their superiors. There need be nothing insincere or false in this obedience, in this unaffected humility. The mystic as such is not a theorist, nor interested in theory with a few great exceptions such as Eckhart, Plotinus, and the Buddha. The actual living of the spiritual life is his suprerne interest Why then should he not leave theory to those whose special business it is, the theologians? And why should he not believe, if their views on theory differ from those which he himself feels inclined to put forward, that they are the experts who 'know better than he does'. The threat of possible punishment for heresy need not have been his main motive, though, since he was human, the fear of punishment may very well [p 235] have reinforced his own wish to be a law-abiding person within the framework of the ecclesiastical institution. Nor, on the other side, is there any reason to accuse the theologians and Church authorities of mere prejudice, ignorance, or obscurantism. It is surely easily understandable that they should regard as sheer blasphemy the claim of a human being to be identical with God. For they too have not understood the pantheistic paradox. To them the only choice seems to be between holding that a man and his God are simply identical or that they are simply different. As the

former view seems preposterous, they embrace the latter and insist that all their flock must do the same. I now turn to another strong argument against dualism. Dualism arose among the theistic mystics because of their almost exclusive emphasis on the introvertive kind of experience. It is a possible, although in my opinion a mistaken, interpretation of that experience. But it is wholly impossible as an interpretation of extrovertive experience, to which it cannot even be applied meaningfully. It will be remembered that, according to Eckhart's report of that type of experience, "all is one. . . . Here all blades of grass, wood and stone are one." He who has that experience looks outward through his physical eyes and perceives the blades af grass, wood, and stone, as one. He must, we argued, also perceive the difference between them. But leaving that aside, the question now to be asked is, How can the dualistic theory explain their oneness as a relation af similarity between two cifferent existents? According to the dualistic theory the relation betwecn God and the individual self in the moment of union is that, although they remain two distinct beings, there is between them a more or less exact resemblance which may include all psychic elements, will, emotion, and cognition, although the theory usually singles out will for special emphasis. Now it is extrernely farfetched, even fantastic, to try to apply this theory to extrovertive mysticism. The experience in question finds grass, wood, and stone, to be one with each other. And it does not make sense to speak of a resemblance between the volitions, emotions, and cognitions of pieces of wood and stone. Even if we [p 236] attribute a panpsychic philosophy to the mystics, it will hardly go the length of speaking of the volitions and cognitions of stones and wood. In any case, it is quite obvious that when Eckhart and others who have had extrovertive mystical experiences speak of perceiving the plurality of external objects as being all one, what they are talking about is an existential unity, not a moral similarity. They mean that the wood and stone are not two different things or substances but one thing or substance. The mere relation of similarity, whether of wills or of anything else, clearly has not entered into their minds at all. We have argued, of course, that although they perceive different objects as identical, they must also perceive them as different. But in any case it is existential identity and difference that they are talking about. Hence the dualistic theory of the Christian mystics cannot explain this type of experience. We may now summarize the arguments against dualism:

1. The undifferentiated unity which is the mystical experience implies that there are no distinctions within the One, or the Universal Self, that there is no distinction between object and object, and finally that there is no distinction between subject and object. Dualism overlooks or denies the last of these three propositions. It is therefore a form of mystical theory which is stunted and undeveloped. It stops halfway and fails to carry through the concept of unity to its proper conclusion. Plotinus clearly asserts the identity of "the seer and the seen." His views are entitled to special respect, not only because of his greatness both as a philosopher and as a mystic, but because, being identified neither with the religions of the East nor the West, he is an impartial judge. 2. Even if dualism could be made plausible for introvertive mysticism it does not even make sense if we try to apply it to extrovertive mysticism. Even if we attribute panpsychism to the mystics, it would be fantastic to suppose that when Eckhart speaks of perceiving the blades of grass, wood, and stone, as being "all One," what he means is that there exists between them a relation of volitional similarity. It is obvious that the unity, or oneness, which he attributes to them [p 237] is of the existential kind. And this precludes dualism. What is here said of Eckhart is of course just as true of the extrovertive experiences of St. Teresa, Ramakrishna, Boehme, or any other.

It appears to me that the criticisms which have here been developed against dualism cannot be met, and that dualism must accordingly be rejected as an incorrect interpretation of mystical experience.
Section 4: Monism

One might suppose that the alternative to the dualistic theory of pure diference which we have rejected would be the monistic theory of pure identity. God and the world are simply identical. Also God and the individual self in union are simply identical. From time to time such theories have been maintained. The theory that God and the world are identical may take two forms, cne of which amounts to atheism, the other to acosmism. If it means that nothing exists apart from the sum-total of finite objects suns, stars, trees, rocks, animals, individual selves and that God is merely another name for this collection of finite objects, then it is atheism. This is the view attributed to Spiroza by Mr. Stuart Hampshire, whether he happens to use the word atheism or not. We saw good reasons to reject it in the first section of this chapter, and it need not be further discussed here.

The acosmic form of monism will have to say that the world of finite things as separate from God does not exist at all. God alone is real, and God is an undifferentiated unity wherein there is no multiplicity of finite objects. Has anybody ever seriously maintained such a view? We find statements that nothing exists except the Void, i.e., the undifferentiated unity, in some of the texts of Mahayana Buddhism. And, stated in different words, it is the substance of Sankara's advaita Vedantism. But it is not difficult to show that the theory, in whatever form it is held, must necessarily land its holder in nonsense. The crucial question to ask is, how does the theory explain the appearance of the multiplicity of finite objects? [p 238] It has to explain them as due to "ignorance" or to "false imaginings'' or to "illusion." (24) Some such term as ignorance or nescience is common in Hindu fcrms of the theory. "False imaginings" is a phrase freely used in the translation of the Mahayana Buddhist text "The Awakening of Faith." (25) The refutation of all such views must begin by applying Descartes's principle "I think, therefore I am." We need not follow Descartes in supposing that this proposition establishes the existence of a permanently existing mental substance. But at least it proved that "I" exist, even if "I" only means a momentary consciousness or a rnomentary empirical ego. If, then, anyone says that my belief that the finite world exists is due to my illusion, or ignorance, or false imagining, we must ask the Cartesian question, How can I have illusions or ignorant ideas if I do not exist? Therefore at least one finite being, namely myself, exists. Or we may put it in another way. The world is an illusion. Whose illusion? Mine? Then I must exist to have the illusion. But perhaps I am an illusion in the mind of some other individual. Then that other individual must exist, unless he is an illusion in the mind of a third individual. Thus we get a vicious regress. But there are two other alternatives, both to be found in Indian literature, which may avoid the particular absurdities just mentioned. It may be held that the finite world is an illusion or false imagination which has its seat, not in the rninds of finite individuals, but in the mind of God. But this view leads to a self-contradiction, though not to the infinite regress in which the previous version of monism ended. For it introduces the multiplicity of the world into God, into the pure One which is beyond all multiplicity. If the appearances of houses and trees and stars are somehow appearances or illusions in God, they constitute a multiplicity of illusions, if not of realities. To call them illusions is apparently only to apply a deroga:ory word to [p 239]

them. The illusions still exist as illusions. If you deny the reality of this piece of paper, and say that it is an illusion, you cannot deny that the illusion of paper really exists. It may be objected that I have no right to complain of contradictions in a theory, since according to the view which I am myself advocating the truth lies in contradictory sets of propositions such as the pantheistic paradox. We only raise an objection to contradiction, the critic may say, when it happens to suit our purpose as it does at this moment. But the monistic philosophy which we are criticizing professes to be self-consistent. It alleges pure undifferentiated unity as the whole of reality. We refute it by pointing out that it cannot maintain itself in this position. It breaks down of itself into the view that there is a multiplicity of illusions in God, and yet no multiplicity in God, or that God is the vacuum-plenum, which is the view which we shall maintain. It breaks down, in short, into pantheism as distinguished from monisrn. There is still another alternative which has been put forward by some Indian philosophers. This theory holds that the "ignorance" which is responsible for the world illusion is an impersonal cosmic principle, part of the world, and not a state of any mind, human or divine. But in the flrst place, this only appears meaningful as a result of a misuse of wards. The words "ignorance," "illusion," and "irnagination" necessarily refer to subjective states of some mind finite or infinite. To say that it is just ignorance, without being the ignorance of any conscious being, is to use words which have no meaning. Of course we might by a stretch of language say that a stone is ignorant! Certainly it knows nothing. But to call this "ignorance" is again the same misuse of words. It is no doubt because they are in some vague way aware of this fact that those philosophers who hold these views have invented the barbarous word "nescience." But even if we let this pass, we rnust point out that the "nescierce" of a stone or of any nonconscious existence is not a state of it which can produce illusions or false imaginations. But apart from this, suppose we are allowed to say that ignorance is a principle or characteristic of the cosmos and not of any mind, [p 240] human, or divine, or animal. This can only mean that ignorance exists in the world of rocks and rivers and trees and stars. We may put the same thing in Hindu terms. If the ignorance is not in Brahman, it must be in the finite manifestations of Brahman, i.e., the world. But in order to be ignorant, these things the rocks, rivers, stones, and trees must exist, which contradicts the theory which the supposition was introduced to support.

There is thus no possible version of monism which does not end in nonsense. Thus since neither dualism nor monism can be accepted, we are driven on to their synthesis in the pantheistic paradox. This so far is the negative justification of pantheism. Our further consideration of it in the next section will show that there is plenty of positive justification as well. Section 5: Justification of Pantheism We take as our starting point the experience of the pure ego, the Universal Self, pure consciousness, which we saw to be what is revealed in introvertive mystical experience. This Universal or Cosmic Self is that which the theistic religions interpret as God. It is also the Brahman-Atman of the Upanishads. And since it is empty of all empirical content, it is the Void of the Buddhists, the nothingness of Eckhart, the darkness and silence which according to all mystics lies at the centre of the world. These are some of the points which have been established and from which we now start. The next step will consist in making it clear that the Universal Self is also the absolute infinite. The Mandukya speaks of Brahman as being beyond relation, featureless, unthinkable, in which all is still. (26) This thought is not an isalated apercu but is constantly reiterated in different forms in the Upanishads. It must not be mistaken for the conclusion of some metaphysical chain of argument. It is a direct [p 241] report of immediate experience. For the Absolute of the Vedanta is quite different in this respect from the Absolutes of Hegel or Bradley. These latter spun their Absolutes out of dialectical cobwebs. They did not profess to have immediately encountered the Absolute and to be reporting on the encounter. But the authors of the Upanishads were seers, not rationalistic philosophers. And they reported that what they had seen was "beyond relation, featureless, unthinkable, in which all is still." That it is featureless means that it is empty of all particular items; that it is beyond relation means that there is no plurality of items among which any relations could hold. But that which is totally beyond all relations is necessarily infinite. For the infinite is that which is not limited by anything else. It is therefore that which has no other, since any other would be a boundary to it and so limit it. Hence the Upanishads invariably speak of the Universal Self as "the One without a second."

There are only two intelligible senses in which the word "infinite" is used. One is that of the mathematicians, for whom it means the endlessness of a series of items. Now the infinity of the Universal Self cannot be of this sort because, being empty and void, it contains no items to constitute a series. Even the conventional theologians say that God is not a temporal being so that his eternity does not mean endlessness in time. The other sense of the word "infinite" can be found most easily either in the Upanishads or in Spinoza. In the Chandogya Upanishad it is written: Where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else, understands nothing else, that is the Infinite. Where one sees something else, hears something else, understands something else, that is the finite. (27) In other wards the infinite is that outside which, and other than which, there is nothing. This is the same conception of the infinite as that which is given in Spinoza's definition of Substance. "By Substance," he says, "I understand that which is in itself and is conceived through itself; in other words, that, the conception of which does not need the conception of any other thing from which it must be formed." (28)It is true that Spinoza, so far as his explicit language is concerned, is here defining Substance, not infinity. But since Substance is for him the "absolutely infinite," which he carefully distinguishes from the kind of infinity attributed to space and time, this comes to the same thing as a definition of the infinite. Since the infinity of God cannot be of the mathematical kind, it must be the infinite in the Upanishadic and Spinozistic sense. And since the infinite in this sense is "that outside which, and other than which, there is nothing," it follows that there is nothing other than God. The world cannot be other than, or fall outside of, God. This is the source of the pantheism of the Upanishads as well as of Spinoza. It explains precisely the relation between mystical experience and pantheism which has been mentioned before only in vague terms. Of course it gives us only the monistic half of the pantheistic paradox, the identity of the world and God. This has to be supplemented in due course by the realization that this identity is not an empty tautological relation of words but is an identity in difference. But to see the identity of God and the world is the first step towards pantheism. It is what distinguishes pantheism from dualism and shows the latter to be an inadequate interpretation of the mystical consciousness. And the theologians were certainly right in perceiving that he who once takes this step must of necessity end in pantheism. We see therefore that pantheism is forced upon us by mysticism together with a proper understanding of the meaning of the notion of the infinite.

The theologians cannot avoid the force of this reasoning, unless they can suggest a meaning of the word "infinite" other than the two which we have given. But this they will find themselves unable to do. The only alternative left apart from capitulating to the witless talk about a finite God would be to admit that to call God infinite is either mere verbiage or an empty honorific. This indeed is what many writers, puzzled by the language of theologians who [p 243] speak of God as infinite without having ever considered what they mean by the word, have come to think. For instance, Professor C. D. Broad has written: "I do not know how far the statements of theologians about the omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection of God are to be taken literally. It may be that this pushing of God's attributes to extremes is only intended as a compliment." (29) I have been speaking so far in this section of pantheism as a theory of the relation between God and the world in general. It will be helpful at this point to turn our attention to the special aspect of pantheism which concerns the relation between God and the individual self during mystical union. We have seen that both the Christian and the Islamic mystics frequently speak of their inner experience as an experience of being identical with God. It is this which brings upon them accusations of monism or pantheism: I go on to ask whether one can find in their writings direct evidence, not merely of identity, but of identity in difference. Are there, that is to say, not merely pantheistic interpretations based upon their experiences, but actual pantheistic experiences? By a pantheistic experience I mean an experience of identity in difference between God and the world, or God and the soul. If there are such experiences, we should have powerful confirmation for our view that pantheism, not either dualism or monism, is the correct statement of mysticism. I think we can find a good deal of such evidence. But in reading it we must bear in mind that we cannot as a rule expect from mystics a dear statement of the two sides of the pantheistic paradox, nor a statement which will give equal emphasis to both. As a rule, their supposed "heretical" utterances lean to the side of identity and make no mention of difference. This is what gets them into trouble. But it is what we ought to expect, for the diflerence between God and the finite self is what everybody already takes for granted as a matter of common sense which it requires neither a mystic nor a philosopher to explain. It is the identity which is the special discovery of the mystic. Hence he is apt to speak only of this, or at least to put it into

[p 244] the forefront of his message. With this warning we can proceed with the evidence. I will quote again here a passage from Eckhart which I have already quoted in another context. He asks what happens to the soul which "has lost her proper self in the unity of the Divine Nature." The word "proper" here is used in the sense ot "peculiar to oneself," or "individual"; so that the "proper self" means the self as a separate individual. This is "lost" faded away in the fana experience in the Divine Unity. What then happens to it? Eckhart writes: Does she find herself or not? . . . God has left her one little point from which to get back to herself . . . and know herself creature. The thought is oddly expressed. And of course we do not find the explicit language of identity in difference. But it is evident that the "one little point" is the point in which the "I" still remains its individual self even when "lost" in the Divine Unity. The word "lost" refers to the identity of God and the soul, while the "little point" is the element of difference. Suso may also be quoted in the same sense. A passage which I have already quoted in another context may be quoted again: In this merging of itself in God the spirit passes away and yet not wholly. This bears surely the same meaning as Eckhart's sentences about the "little point," and may be taken therefore as evidence of identity in difference. But it is true that the very next sentence may seem to belie this. For Suso proceeds: For it [the spirit] receives indeed some attributes of Godhead, but it does not become God by nature. . . . It is still a something which has been created out of nothing, and continues to be this everlastingly. And certainly these latter sentences teach dualism. Yet it seems to me that a sensitive reading of the whole passage detects a difference of tone or of "feel" between the first sentence and the rest of the passage. The first sentence, it seems to me, is a direct report of Suso's [p 245]

experience. He has felt the passing away of his spirit into the infinite, its merging, but yet "not wholly." The little point is left. But the rest of the passage reads to me as if he has in writing it left direct experience behind and is now speaking as the dutiful son of the Church interpreting his experience dualistically. We are likely to get light on this rnatter, I believe, if we look at contemporary evidence of the experience of "melting away" and "merging" with the infinite, such as we find in cases like those of Tennyson and Koestler. As I have before observed they are psychology-conscious in a way in which the classical or medieval mystics were not. Their introspection is far rnore likely to be accurate and instructive to us even though they may lack in many respects the greatness of the old mystics. It will be remembered that according to Tennyson the loss of his individuality which was felt to "dissolve and fade away into boundless being" was for him "no extinction but the only true life." But what a paradox this is! I, Tennyson, find that when this individual Tennyson disappears, this is not the extinction of Tennyson, but is his only true life. The same thing is even clearer if we refer to the language which Koestler uses: The "I," he says, "ceases to exist because it has . . . been dissolved in the universal pool." But he goes on to say that when the "I" thus ceases to exist he experiences "the peace that passeth all understanding." Who experiences it? It can only be the "I," Arthur Koestler. I remain I, even when I have been absorbed and disappeared into the Infinite Being. Identity in difference is plainly expressed here. Inasmuch as I have been dissolved in the Infinite Being and have ceased to exist as myself, I have become identical with that being; but inasmuch as I still feel that I, Koestler or Tennvson, experience peace or blessedness, I still remain my individual self and am distinct from the Infinite Being. [I will ask a question here as an indication of a degree of caution. Is the I whose experience of itself fades away as we emerge into wakefulness from a dream, the same I that occupies the waking body? Is it possible that a similar order of difference exists between the original I and the I that experiences the peace and blessedness as the first fades away? DCW] Do not these passages clearly throw light back upon the more obscure utterances of Eckhart and Suso? I do not see how it can be doubted that both they and these modern authors had the very same experiences of this fading away. But the older mystics expressed it in obscure and ambiguous language; the moderns more clearly and precisely. What has just been said of the passages from [p 246]

Tennyson and Koestler may therefore be taken as applying to Eckhart and Suso. They too rnust have experienced this same identity in difference. If so, then pantheism is not a merely remote intellectual theory based upon experience, but a direct transcript of the experience itself. Of course even a direct description involves minimal or low level interpretation, but not the high-levei intellectual construction of a philosophical theory. It only remains to consider why the theologians and the official hierarchies of the Western religions are so frightened of pantheism and hasten to cry heresy at the slightest sign of it, and to ask ourselves whether we cannot offer a reconciliation between the East and the West in this matter. There seem to be three main causes for the theistic distrust of pantheism. First, theism stresses the notion of a personal God, whereas pantheism seems to Western thinkers to tend to an impersonal Absolute. It is of the essence of Christian worship and the same, of course, is true of Judaism and Islam that the worshiper addresses himself in prayer to God, and that he asks forgiveness, help, and grace. But can he pray to the world, or ask forgiveness and grace from the Absolute? Second, the objection is made that if, as pantheism alleges, the world with all that exists in it is divine, then the evil in it is divine too. Or, in an alternative version of the objection, if God is beyond all distinctions, then he must be beyond good and evil. In either case, moral distinctions seem to be blurred or regarded as illusory. Third, there is the feeling, strongly emphasized in all religions of Semitic origin, of the "awfulness" of God. This is brought out very clearly in Rudolf Otto's conception of the "Mysterium Tremendum." Man is as nothing before God, as dust and ashes. He is a sinful being, estranged from God, who in his natural and unredeerned state is fit only to "flee away before the face af the Lord." This being so, it is preposterous, indeed blasphemous that he should claim union, in the sense of identity, with God. Between God and rnan, between God and the world, there is a great gulf fixed. I will take up thesc three points one by one: [p 247] First, as to the alleged opposition between the theist's conception of a personal God and the more impersonal conceptions of pantheism, we have previously shown (30) that just as mysticism leads to the paradox that God is both identical with, and distinct from, the world, so also it leads to thc paradox that he is both personal and impersonal. The theistic religions tend to emphasize exclusively one side of the antinomy. Whether the pantheistic philosophy of the Vedanta includes an equally exclusive emphasis on the other side is not so clear. But even if it does, the reconciliation would lie in the acceptance of the paradox as a whole. God is both personai and

impersonal and the personality is both identical with, and different from, the impersonality. Next we must consider the objection that pantheism undermines moral distinctions. There is a sense in which it must be said that, if this is true of pantheism, it is just as true of dualism, or of any possible theory of the relation of God to the world; or at least that the problem which evil offers to all philosophies which include the conception of a good or righteous God is substantially the same. If you believe that a perfectly good and omnipotent being created the world, and if the world includes evil, then this perfect being must have created evil. That is the form in which the problem presents itself to the dualist. If you believe that the world is simply identical with God (monism) or identical and yet distinct (pantheism), then since there is evil in the world, there must be evil in God. These are merely two versions of the same problem. Perhaps the theist may think that he can solve the prablem, or that his theologians, Aquinas or some other, have done so; but that the pantheist cannot solve it. We must be pardoned if we suggest that this confidence is naive. It is more probable that the problem is either insoluble by the human mind, or else that it is equally soluble whether one is a theist or a pantheist. The problem may also take the form of pointing out that, apart from the question of God's relation to the world, if God, as he is in himself, is beyond all distinctions, as the mystics all aver, then he [p 248] must be beyond good and evil, i.e., morally neutral instead of righteous as the normal religious consciousness requires. The substance of the sermon of Eckhart which is numbered 23 in Blakney's translation is summed up in the title "Distinctions are lost in God." And Ruysbroeck's view is the same. Indeed all this follows from the very conception of the introvertive mystical state as being beyond all multiplicity. And this is inconsistent with the belief in a God who is on the side of righteousness and against evil. But it must be pointed out that, if this is considered objectionable, it is an objection against mysticism as such and has nothing in particular to do with pantheism. But it helps to point up the truth that the problem of evil is universal to the religious consciousness and is no worse for pantheism than for any other religious philosophy. There can, I think, be no doubt what Eckhart would have said, although I cannot recall any passage in which he actually said it. One has however only to apply his general principles. He would have made use of his distinction between the Godhead and God. It is in the Godhead that all distinctions are

lost, and there is no doubt that this would include the distinction between good and evil. It is in this sense that God, or rather the Godhead, is "beyond good and evil." But just as in Eckhart's thiriking there is no creative or other activity in the Godhead but there is in God, so also though the Godhead is neither righteous nor unrighteous, yet God is righteous, has no evil in him, and fights for righteousness. But as we have seen, Eckhart's complete separation between the Godhead and God cannot be accepted. Here again dualistic separation must give way to identity in difference, and in his deeper passages already quoted on page 175 Eckhart himself perceived this. Therefore, in the end we cannot get away fiom the paradox that God both contains evil and does not contain it. However it might be well to try to explain here how as it seems to the present writer the mystic does in fact tend to feel about this problem as a practical matter. The rnajority of mystics, not being theoretical philosophers, seem simply not to have been troubled by the problem, nor by the apparent inconsistency of holding, as they [p 249] generally do, both that God is beyond all distinctions, and yet that he is righteous. Or the mystic, like other men, may take refuge in any or all of the familiar theological evasions for instance, that evil is a privation of being and therefore does not really exist, or that the appearance of evil is due to our partial and finite vision and would disappear if we could see the universe as a whole, or that evil contributes to the good of the world in the same way that a part of a work of art which would be ugly if it were isolated contributes to the beauty of the whole picture. But we can still ask what the mystic's practical attitude tends to be. The only hopeful suggestions that I know of have come to me, not from the published utterances of the world's faxrmus mystics, but from a few hints dropped in conversation by one or two persons who have had mystical experiences. H. C. stated that the problem of evil finds in mystical experience no intellectual or logical solution, but the problem dissolves and ceases to exist. There is no intellectual solution. But a point of view is reached by the mystic in which he will achieve some sort of acceptance of evil while yet at the same time continuing to reject and fight against it. [Nowhere has he addressed the significance of Christ's 'Resist not evil' which is the cilmination of the Beatitudes. DCW] This is itself a paradox. P. D. said that his first mystical experience came to him when he was stunned with grief at the sudden death of a person whose

love was at the centre of his life. In his mystical experience he found himself completely reconciled to his sorrow, all unhappiness gone, although the sorrow did not cease to be sorrow. Again the same paradox. N. M. said that his experience had given meaning to a life which had been meaningless for him previously. But when asked whether by finding a meaning in life he meant finding that life, or the world, has a purpose in the usual teleological sense he repudiated this suggestion, saying that things just are and have no purpose beyond themselves. Life and the world are seen to be "satisfactory" just as they are. "A man,"he added, "who is not content with what is simply does not know what is. That is all that pantheism means when it is not tricked out as a philosophical theory." N. M. did not pretend that this was very intelligible, certainly not that it provided an intellecuual solution of the problem. [p 250] But a new attitude had evidently entered his life, an attitude of complete and even joyful acceptance of whatever happens, including the evil and the pain while at the same time not denying that evil is evil and pain is pain. Does not Job's farnous cry, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," breathe something of the same spirit? The problem has often bcen called a mystery. This is correct. But the word "mystery" must not be understood in its vulgar sense as something no doubt capable of rational explanation but not yet rationally explained. "Mystery" in the religious sense means that which totally transcends the possibility of intellectual understanding. In the case af evil, the only solution is the joyful acceptance of the mystery, which does not, however, include toleration of evil in the sense of failing to fight against it. The third objection commonly charged against pantheism is that it must tend to abolish the sense of the "awfulness" of God, and of the nothingness of man in the presence of God, which is stressed in the theistic religions. A feeling for this, it is said, should prevent a man from claiming identity with God. But on the theoretical side, it would seem t.hat a sufficient answer to this is that it cornes from that misunderstanding of pantheism which sees only one side of the paradox, viz., the identity of God and man. But pantheism also asserts the otherness of God to man and the world. If we wish to use the metaphor of a gulf betwecn the two, we can do so, and we can make the gulf as wide as we like in our imaginations and still remain pantheists. If the theologian understands this, will he not give up his antagonism to pantheism?

And if the pantheist can thus, just as well as the dualist, believe in the gulf which separates him from God, so can he also nourish in himself the appropriate attitudes of wonder and awe, of estrangement and nothingness. It would indeed be an odd thing to suppose that a man cannot feel the wonder and terror and sublimity of the universe and its rnaker without admitting his allegiance to some particular kind of metaphysics ar theological dogma. In the notes which follow, clicking on the number beside the note will return you to the point of origin in the text.

1. The Upunishads, trans. by Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester, New York, Mentor Book MD 194, New American Library of World Literature, Inc., 1957, pp. 123-124. (Originally published by the Vedanta Press, Hollywood, Calif. Copyrighted by the Vedanta Society of Southern California.) 2. St Teresa, Life of St Teresa, Chap. 18.5 3. St John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mt Carmel, trans. by David Lewis, 4th impression, 1922, Bk. I, Chap. 5. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid., sec. 4 6. The Book of the Supreme Truth, Chap. 8; in Jan van Ruysbroeck, The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage. the Book of the Supreme Truth. The Sparkling Stone, trans. by C.A. Wynschenk Dom, London, J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1916. Also quoted in a somewhat different rendering by Rufus Jones, The Flowering of Mysticism, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1937, p. 207. 7. Henry Suso, Life of Henry Suso, trans by T.F. Knox, Chap. 56. 8. Meister Eckhart, trans. by R.B. Blakney, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1941, Sermon 25, p. 213. 9. Ibid. p. 181. 10. Ibid. p. 182.

11. Ibid. p. 232. 12. Ibid. p. 206. 13. Ibid. p. 303. 14. Ibid. p. 247. 15. This raises the question of whether and how much Hegel was indebted to Eckhart. Rufus Jones in The Flowering of Mysticism states: "Hegel, as is well known, claimed Meister Eckhart as the source of his own system." I do not myself remember any such passage in Hegels writings although as I have not read them for thirty years, my memory may be at fault. Also, Jones' sentence seems too sweeping and careless. R.B. Blakney, in the introduction to his translation of Eckhart, quotes from Franz von Baader, "I was often with Hegel in Berlin. Once I read him a passage from Meister Eckhart who was only a name to him. He was so excited by it that the next day he read me a whole lecture on Eckhart which ended with, 'There indeed we have what we want.'" This leaves the iompressionthat Hegel's mind was so sympathetic to Eckhart's ideas that a few sentences from Eckhart quoted to him casually by a friend set his mind on fire to such an extent that he talked about it at length and excitedly next morning. This could happen without him having read a line of Eckhart. 16. Margaret Smith, Readings from the Mystics of Islam, p. 110. 17. Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism, paperback ed., New York, Meridian Books, Inc., 1955, p. 171. 18. Al Ghazzali, The Alchemy of Happiness, trans. by Claud Field, London, 1910, translator's preface. 19. Smith, op. cit., p. 70. 20. G.G. Scholem (ed.) Major Trends of Jewish Mysticism, pp. 122-123. 21. Pp. 51, 53, 54, 60, 77, 78, 79, and elsewhere. 22. Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, New York, the Greystone Press, 1949, p. 23. 23. Plotinus, Works, trans by Stephen MacKenna, New York, New York Medici Society, Enneads VI, IX, and XI.

24. The Monism we are discussing must not be confused with Western philosophies such as those of Bradley, which never maintained that the world does not exist, but only that it is not the "ultimate" reality. 25. Dwight Goddard (ed.), A Buddhist Bible, 2nd ed., Thetford, Vt., Dwight Goddard, 1938. 26. This is the wording given to verse 7 of the Upanishad by Aurobindo at the head of Chap. III of The Life Divine. 27. Chandogya Upanishad, 7:24. this wording is taken from the translation given in Hindu Scriptures, New York, Everyman's Library, E.P. Dutton and Co, Inc., p. 183. 28. Spinoza, Ethics, Pt. I, Def. IV. 29. C.D. Broad, Religion, Philosophy and Psychical Research, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1953, p. 164. 30. Chap. 3, sec. 5.

Introduction to Bulleh Shah's Poetry

By : K. S. Duggal

The Sufi cult is akin to mysticism. It is believed in some quarters that it was born out of interaction between Semitic Islam and Aryan Vedantism on the soil of India. This is not the whole truth. Sufism took birth in Arabia in the ninth century. However, the Aryan perceptions in Iran and then in India influenced it a great deal, more particularly in accentuating the emotional content as against the dry-as-dust self-denial of the Arabs. The Arabs laid stress on asceticism and disciplining of the body, while the later Sufis in Iran and India, under the influence of Greek philosophy, Platonic ideology, Christian faith, Vedantist thinking, Buddhist lore, etcetera believed in leading an emotionally ~rich life. They drank and danced and advocated that physical love could sublimate itself into spiritual love. They had faith in God: they loved the Prophet but they maintained that the Murshid or Guru could also lead to realization of the Divine Reality. Literally speaking, a Sufi is one who is pure or one who goes about with a woollen blanket. In Greek, he is a Sufi who is enlightened. The cardinal features of the Sufi cult are: (a) God exists in all and all exist in God. (b) Religion is only a way of life; it does. Not necessarily lead to Nirvana. (c) All happenings take place as per the will of God; nothing happens if He does not ordain it, (d) The soul is distinct from the physical body and will merge into Divine Reality according to a person's deeds,

(e) It is the Guru whose grace shows the way and leads to union with God, The Sufis believe that there are four stages in one's journey to realization: (a) Leading a disciplined life as prescribed in Islam (Shariat), (b) Following the path delineated by the Murshid or Guru (Tariqat), (c) Gaining enlightenment (Haqiqat), (d) On realization of truth, getting merged into Divine Reality (Marfat). The practitioners of the Sufi cult came 10 India following the Muslim conquerors, more with a view to propagating Islam, There came to be established several centers at Lahore, Pakpattan, Kasur, Multan and Uch in the Punjab, 'However, the most popular sects among them were those which combined in them the best of every faith and promoted it amongst the people, Bulleh Shah, the noted Sufi poet, belongs to this group. The Sufis loved God as one would love one's sweetheart. God for a Sufi is the husband and humankind his wife, Man must serve, love, undergo asceticism, gain enlightenment and then get merged in God, The Indian Sufis laid stress on repeating the Name (Japu), concentration (Dhyan) and meditation (Habs-1~dam), A Sufi must eschew sin, repent, live a simple and contented life and should look for the grace of the Murshid or Guru. The Sufis maintain that the soul has been separated from the Divine Reality and the supreme mission of human life is to achieve union with God. Like the Iranian Sufis who sang the praises of Yusaf Zulaikha, laila Majnun and Shirin Farhad, the Sufis in the Punjab idealised the romances of Heer Ranjha, Sohni Mahiwal and Sassi Punnun. Preoccupied with the metaphysical, they restored the use of symbols drawn from everyday life around them like the spinning-wheel, boat, dowry, etc. As poets, they employed kafi, baramah, athwara, siharfi, doha, baint and deodh as their favourite poetic forms. Their language is simple and conversational, light and lyrical. There is no denying that they made an indelible impression on the life and thought of the people of the Punjab. More important among the Sufi poets who wrote in Punjabi were Shah Husain (15381599), Sultan Bahu (1629-1691), and Shah Sharaf (1640-1724). They were preceded by Farid in the 12th century and followed by Bulleh Shah (1680-1757), Ali Hyder (1690-1785), Hashim Shah (1735-1843) and others in the 17th and 18th centuries. More important among the Sufi saints who influenced life in the Punjab were: Data Ganj Baksh, Sheikh Farid Shakarganj, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Moinuddin Chishti, Nizamuddin Auliya, Mian Meer and Sarmad. Though he is said to have been born in 1680 A.D., not much is known about Bulleh Shah's personal life. The little that has been culled from the works attributed to him and the contemporary records testify that he was born in a village called Uch Gilania in Bahawalpur. Later his father Sain Mohammad Oarvesh moved first to a village known as Malakwal and then to Pandoke near Kausur, not far from Lahore. Bulleh Shah was only six years old at that time. Here he was put under the tutelage of Ghulam Murtza who was the Imam of one of the mosques in Kasur. There being no regular schools, the practice obtaining in the town was that the mosque served as an elementary school and the Imam of the mosque was entrusted with the task of teaching children. Ghulam Murtza was a sort of poet who, it is said, had translated Gulistan from the Persian. When Bulleh came of age, he became a Murid of Inayat Shah Qadri of Lahore. This was greatly resented by his people who were Syeds, while Bulleh Shah's Murshid was a low-caste Araeen, Syeds draw their lineage from Prophet Mohammad. There is evidence of this unpleasantness in Bulleh's verse. The ardent devotee in him says: Those who call me Syed

Are destined to hell made for them. Those who call me Araeen Have the swings of heaven laid for them. Nevertheless, according to A.N. Walker, Bulleh Shah's sister had to pay the price for it; she remained unmarried. In 1729 when Shah Inayat died, Bulleh Shah succeeded him as' the master of ceremonies in the monastery at Lahore. According to the epitaph on his tomb, Bulleh Shah died in 1757. He never married. A semi-literate Punjabi peasant, Bulleh Shah's search for truth led him on to the spiritual path. And it is when he started enjoying the beauty of truth that his emotional exuberance drove him to Sufism : singing, dancing and finding expression in verse. However, neither did he care to prepare a Divan nor did he or anyone else ever record the story of his life. His poetry has traveled to us from mouth to mouth mainly through Qawwals. Similarly, his life has come to us in the form of anecdotes, some of which are reflected in his verse. Maybe it was due to the fact that the Punjab was greatly disturbed between 1710-1750. If there were any MSS, they must have been lost. It was only in 1882 that one Malik Hira collected his compositions and brought them out from Lahore for the first time. His first meeting with his Murshid Inayat Shah is said to have been meaningfully dramatic. It is said that when Bulleh approached his spiritual master, Inayat Shah was engaged in transplanting onion seedlings in his orchard. Finding that Bulleh Shah wished to be initiated into the fold of divine seekers, Inayat Shah remarked, 'It's not difficult; it is like uprooting here and planting it there. This clinched the issue. Bulleh Shah became a disciple of Inayat Shah. It is said that soon after Bulleh Shah annoyed his Master due to some indiscretion and he was thrown out of the Daira. Several months passed; Bulleh begged forgiveness, repented, had other devotees speak to Inayat Shah who would not relent. Suffering the pangs of separation, Bulleh sang soulful Kafis: Leaving my parents, I am tied to you Oh Shah Inayat! My beloved Guru Whatever happens is ordained by him. His mandate none dare alter. My pangs of agony cry aloud Someone should go and tell my Master For whom I pine. As time passed, he went sort of crazy and in a fit of frenzy he disguised himself as a dancing girl and barged into his Master's Daira singing and dancing: Your love has made me dance allover. Falling in love with you Was supping a cup of poison. Come, my healer, it's my final hour. Your love has made me dance all over. Discovering that it was none other than Bulleh, singing and dancing in abandon, Inayat Shah relented and took him back in his fold. During the period of his estrangement with his Master, Bulleh Shah used to roam about in the

streets of Lahore in a deranged state of mind. In the prime of his youth, with curly tresses flowing on his shoulders, he was the cynosure of many an eye. It is said, once passing through a street he saw a middle aged woman doing the hairdo of a newly-wedded bride. Bulleh Shah liked the hairdo and the next time he happened to pass that way, he asked the lady to do a similar hairdo for him. Who would not oblige a charming youth like Bulleh? It is said that when her husband came to know of it, he gave a severe beating to his wife. As the husband was giving vent to his jealous anger, there was a knock on the door. Opening the door they found it was no other than Bulleh Shah asking the lady to undo his hairdo! 'My husband wouldn't allow it, he beats me,' said Bulleh and put the woman's husband to shame. Similarly, when Aurangzeb banned singing and dancing as an un-Islamic practice, Bulleh Shah's Master, Inayat Shah, is said to have advised him to go from village to village in the Punjab singing and dancing and thus defy the imperial injunction which Bulleh did with impunity. Bulleh Shah's times were out-of-joint. The Punjab was particularly disturbed. Before he died in 1707, Aurangzeb was preoccupied in the South, leaving the North to be administered by Governors who had to contend with Marathas and the Khalsa emerging as a formidable force under Guru Gobind Singh. Then there were incursions from the northwest -whether by Nadir Shah or Ahmed Shah Abdali. There were also fundamentalists like Sheikh Ahmed Sarhandi who infused much communal hatred and disharmony inconsistent with the Sufi way of life and ideology which laid emphasis on the unity of God, amity and communal cohesiveness. They had little use for formal religion whether it was Islam or Hinduism. They sneered at meaningless rituals and ceremonials and propagated liberation of man from the stranglehold of blind faith. When Guru Gobind Singh, a great revolutionary of his time, created the Khalsa by baptising the Sikhs of Guru Nanak with Amrit at Anandpur Sahib in 1699, Bulleh Shah had just come of age. He was 19 years old. Guru Gobind Singh, a mystic in his own' right, launched a relentless fight against the time-worn rituals and ceremonials of the Hindu Rajas entrenched in the Himalayan belt on the one hand and the bigotedness and unjust rule of the Mughals on the other. With the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D. the Punjab was plunged into turmoil. The confusion was worst confounded with the attacks of Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali, more particularly between 1740 and 1750 A.D. Thus until his death in 1757 Bulleh Shah had to witness disintegration allover the Punjab. He bemoans it again and again: The Mughals quaff the cup of poison. Those with coarse blankets are up. The genteel watch it all in quiet, They have a humble pie to sup. The tide of the times is in spate. The Punjab is in a fearsome state. We have to share the hell of a fate. What seems to have irked Bulleh Shah, and for that matter his contemporary mystics the most, was the widening gulf between the Hindus and the Muslims of the day. The root cause of the misunderstanding was Sheikh Ahmed of Sarhand who believed: "The glory of Islam wlies in ridiculing the non-Muslims. Those who give quarter to Kafirs disgrace Islam... The non-Muslims should be kept at a distance like dogs. They must not be given any consideration or humane treatment. Violence and inhuman behaviour with them are like saying one's prayers. Inflicting Jazia on them is to humiliate them. This leads them not to wear respectable clothes, do themselves up or make any purchases of luxury goods." Maktoobat-i-

lmam Rabbani The reference to those 'with coarse blankets' in Bulleh Shah's verse is to the Sikhs. They being an upcoming community were a thorn in the flesh of the Muslim fundamentalists like Aurangzeb who would not tolerate even the Shia Muslims. He had his, own brother Dara Shikoh who was a Shia murdered mercilessly. The same fate was meted out to Sarmad who was a noted mystic of his time. In his single-minded pursuit of Islamization, Aurangzeb had Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, executed publicly in Delhi. Aurangzeb was followed by Bahadur Shah who tried to make friends with the Sikhs. cultivated Guru Gobind Singh as his ally, but essentially a weak ruler, the newly forged friendship was short-lived. He was followed on the Delhi throne by Jahandar Shah (1712-1713), Farrukh Sayyar (1713-1719), Mohammad Shah (1719-1748) and Ahmed Shah (1748-1754). They were all staunch Sunnis. The Governors appointed to take charge of the Punjab affairs by them were no Gless narrow-minded and communal Sunnis. They were: Munim Khan (1707 1713), Abdul Samad Khan (1713-1726), Zakria Khan (1726-1745), Yahiya Khan (1745-1747), Shah Niwaz (1747-1748), Mir Moinuddin (1748-1753) and Murad Begum (1753-1754). The Hindus who did not play their tune and the Sikhs in general were persecuted as never before in the annals of Indian history. In 1732 A.D. Haqiqat Rai, a young boy, was executed because it was believed that he had abused Bibi Fatima when provoked by his Muslim classfellow with a swearword for a Hindu goddess. Farrukh Sayyar's regime saw Banda Bahadur subjected to inhuman tortur before he was beheaded in Delhi. During this period every Sikh head, alive or dead, had a price fixed on it. Similarly, Zakariya Khan had Bhai Mani Singh done to death by slicing his limbs, one after the other. In 1745 Bhai Taru Singh's skull was dismantled and he was put to death. Then during the tenure of Abdul Samad and his son Yahiya Khan an attempt was made to wipe out the Sikhs as a community altogether. They were either put to the sword or driven to the bushes in the countryside. It is said that, in what has come to be known as Chhota Ghalughara, about 7,000 Sikhs were rounded up in Kahnuwan forest and killed,. while 3,000 were captured. Those captured were later slain in Lahore and their heads arranged to form a pyramid. Another genocide of the Sikhs took place on 5th February, 1762, when Ahmed Shah Durrani massacred 22,000 Sikhs in a village called Koop Heera. This came to be known as Wada Ghalooghara. Both the times Harimandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) at Amritsar was destroyed and the Holy Tank defiled. The most unfortunate ignominy suffered by the Punjab during this period was the repeated incursions of Nadir Shah, starting in 1739 and those of Ahmed Shah Abdali, whose first attack took place in 1747. These were both a challenge and an opportunity for the Sikhs. Hounded out of their hearths and homes, they lived virtually on horseback. Organizing themselves into guerrilla squads, they would attack the retreating Afghan forces w1th loot and relieved them of their booty and rescued thousands of Hindu girls accompanying them as slaves. In due course of time, they evolved themselves into Misals who wielded considerable influence in the Punjab. And from them emerged a hero known as Maharaja Ranjit Singh who was the first Punjabi to rule over the Punjab in the annals of Indian history. Such were the times when Bulleh Shah emerged as a protagonist of communal amity in the Punjab. Living in Kasur with his Murshid in Lahore, he could not but be embroiled in the political changes taking place around him despite the fact that the Sufis tried as far as possible to steer clear of the contemporary happenings. Bulleh Shah's was a major voice against injustice. He called Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth

Sikh Guru, who was beheaded by Aurangzeb, a Ghazi. He hailed Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, as a protector of Hinduism: I talk about neither yesterday nor tomorrow; I talk about today. Had Gobind Singh not been there, They would all be under Islamic sway. He gave no quarter to hypocrisy. He was particularly hard on Mulla~ Quazi amd Mufti in the Muslim social hierarchy. f1e accepted no discipline. Says he: I am emancipated, emancipated I am, I am no prisoner of being born a Syed, All the fourteen heavens are my territory, I am slave to none. Only they shout loud while calling others to prayer Whose hearts are not pure . Those who go to Mecca on pilgrimage Have little else to occupy them here. It needed a great deal of courage for a Muslim to say all this during the times Bulleh Shah lived in. The record of the persecution of the Sufis in India is fairly alarming despite the fact that their contribution to Islam and to Indian society for promoting amity amongst the various communities is no mean. Jalaluddin Khilji had Saidi Maula, an eminent Sufi of his time, crushed under the feet of an elephant. Similarly, Alauddin Khilji had almost got Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya beheaded but for a miraculous escape. It is said that Mohammad Bin Tughlaq had Sheikh Shahabuddin Bin Ahmad murdered with his mouth filled with dung. A similar fate was meted out to Nasiruddin Chiragh Oehlvi who was tortured with holes bored in his cheeks. Firoz Shah had Ahmed Bihari executed since Bihari's disciples addressed him as God. Jehangir had Guru Arjan, a friend of Mian Mir, tortured to death. Aurangzeb had Guru Tegh Bahadur beheaded. It was, therefore, highly bold of Bulleh Shah to have challenged the mindset of the bigoted Muslims of his time: The Mullas and Qazis show me the light Leading to the maze of superstition. Wicked are the ways of the world Like laying nets for innocent birds With religious and social taboos They have tied my feet tight. Be that as it may, Bulleh Shan maintained: Shariat is my midwife, Tariqat. is my mother This is how I have arrived at the truth of Haqiqat. Despite this, when he was denounced as a heretic, Bulleh Shah shouted back: A lover of God? They'll make much fuss; They'll call you a Kafir

You should say -yes, yes. He does not differentiate between the Hindu and the Muslim. He sees God in both of them. When he decides to ridicule them, he does not spare either: Lumpens live in the Hindu temples And sharks in the Sikh shrines. Musclemen live in the Muslim mosques And lovers live in their clime. Sick of the sophistications of the academicians, he would rather be happy in the company of the uneducated. He preferred simple folk with faith to the so called enlightened of his day: Enough of learning, my friend For it there is no end. An alphabet would do for me, No one knows when one's life would end. The Sufis of the Punjab were close to the saints of the Bhakti Movement. Both denounced fundamentalism. While the Sufis laid emphasis on love, the saints emphasized devotion. Some of the spiritual stages of the Sufis have parallels in the saints of the Bhakti Movement : 'Aboodiat' of the Sufis is the 'Seva Bhav' of the saints, meaning selfless service.' Similarly, 'Zuhd' is 'Tapassiya', meaning asceticism, 'Tassawar' is 'Dhyan', meaning meditation, 'Habs-idam' is 'Pranayam', meaning Yoga breathing exercise, 'Zikr' is 'Simran'. meaning repetition of Name, 'Wisal' is 'Milap', meaning union and 'Fanah' is 'Abhedata', meaning merger with the Divine. There were three main cults of Sufism prevalent in India: Qadri, Suhrawardi and Chishti. Bulleh Shah belonged to the Qadri denomination. The main features of the Qadri cult were: (a)Developing the spiritual potential by exercising discipline and self-denial. (b) Discarding rituals and ceremonials of any faith, of any type. (c) Disregard for Shariat as such. (d) Man can gain realization of the Divine Reality through the intervention of his Murshid or Guru. Bulleh Shah has delineated his spiritual journey of a Sufi through various stages as known to his times in his poetry, these being: Shariat, Tariqat, Haqiqat and Marfat. He started his spiritual journey as a conformist. Most of the seekers do so. Shariat is the preliminary stage when the Salik conforms to the Sharia or the code of conduct as dictated by Islam. It is saying prayers five times a day, observing fasts during the month of Ramzan. besides faith in the supremacy of God and Prophet Mohammad as His Messenger. It is said that Bulleh' Shah knew the text of the HOLY QURAN by heart. The way he quotes the Islamic scriptures in his verse speaks volumes for it. Says Bulleh Shah: Understand the One and forget the rest, Shake off your ways of a non-believer Leading to the grave and to hell, in quest. Tariqat: If Bulleh Shah's verse is any guide, he did not take long to leave Shariat as a spiritual

path behind, At best. he employed it as a stepping-stone. He moved on to Tariqat. which is an important landmark in a Salik's career. The cardinal feature of this stage is the assistance provided by the~ Murshid or Guru. In fact, what Sharia does in the life of a common devotee, Tarriqat does in the case of a Sufi. The literal meaning of Tariqat is manner or observance. Tariqat according to Bulleh Shah is the Purslat of Baba Farid, the bridge which helps the seeker pass the arduous path of hard spiritual exercises with the help of the Murshid. The Guru or Murshid is like the philosopher's stone which converts metal into gold. Good deeds are the dowry that the bride collects at this stage and then qualifies for union with the lord. In the first instance, Bulleh Shah discards the rituals and the ceremonials prescribed by the Shariat: Burn the prayer mat, break the water pot, Quit the rosary and care not for the staff. Having done that. he -"I surrenders to the Murshid who is going to hold h1s hand and cruise him to his destination. Bulleh's love for his Guru is like that of Heer for Ranjha or Sohni for Mahiwal. It is physical love sublimated into spiritual love: Why must I go to Kaaba When I long for Takht Hazara? People pay their homage to Kaaba I bow before my Ranjha. Haqiqat: The third stage of his spiritual journey to which Bulleh Shah refers time and again in his verse is Haqiqat or the realization of truth. The devotee understands and accepts the existence of God. God is truth. God exists in everything around us. This concept has been described in the Sufi idiom as Hamaost. When the Salik comes to realize it. he no longer discriminates between the Hindu and the Muslim. the temple and the mosque. He hears the call of the Muezzin in the flute-strains of an idol worshipper: Pour not on prayers, forget the fasts. Wipe off Kalma from the sight. Bulleh has found his lover within, Others grope in the pitch-dark night. What a spark of knowledge is kindled ~ I find that I am neither Hindu nor Turk. I am a lover by creed; A lover is victorious even when swindled. At this stage Bulleh Shah has little use for books and learning: The rest is all but idle talk, What counts is the name of Allah, it looks. Some confusion is created by the learned, And the remaining g1ess is entailed in books. Marfat: This is the last stage of the spiritual evolution of a Sufi. It is the merging into Divine Reality called Fana and thus attaining the life eternal known in the Sufi idiom as Baqa. The Murshid helps the seeker arrive at this stage but it is the grace which makes possible the ultimate union. The moment this happens, caste and creed cease to have any meaning. The Atma (Soul) and Paramatma (God) become one. When Bulleh attained this stage, the entire world appeared to him as a reflection of the Divine Reality, Bulleh has merged in God: Remembering Ranjha day and night, I've become Ranjha myself.

Call me Dhido Ranjha, No more I be addressed as Heer. I abuse Ranjha but adore him in my heart. Ranjha and Heer are a single soul, No one could ever set them apart. Be that as it may, Bulleh Shah's Sufism is Quranic Sufism. At least to start with. When he breaks this code, he hardly ever goes beyond the limits laid down by his tribe earlier. However later in due course, he is influenced by the Saint tradition prevalent in the Punjab during his times. Like a practicing Yogi, he advocates Habs-i-dam or Pranayam which leads to union with God: .

Heer and Ranjha have already met, In vain she looks for him in the orchard; Ranjha rests in the knots of her net. Similarly, he refers to the ten Dwars of the yogis: It is for you that I am imbued with greed. Closing the nine Dwars, I went to sleep. I come to the tenth and ask your leave. My love for you is ever so deep. The place Bulleh Shah gives to his Murshid in his spiritual evolution reminds one of the importance of the Guru in the Sikh faith as obtaining in the tradition of the Bhakti Movement : Leaving my parents I am tied to you, O Shah Inayat, my beloved Guru! Keep the promises made, Do come to me. The immortality of the soul is indicated thus: I was in the beginning, I'd be in the end, Who could be wiser than me? In the tradition of the saints of the Bhakti Movement, Bulleh Shah styles himself as the bride. God is the bridegroom : How many knots should I tie for my wedding? My learned friend, advise! The marriage party must come on the prescribed date, Will forty knots be wise? Unlike the general trend of the Sufi poets, Bulleh Shah is humble. He finds faults in himself. He has faith in his Master's mercy. It is the grace of God which will eventually cruise him across : I'm a poor scavenger of the court of the True Master. Bare-foot, unkempt hair, I have been summoned from beyond. In order to kill one's ego and cultivate control over all temptations, unlike his contemporaries, Bulleh Shah does not prescribe Zuhd and torturing the body to submission. on the other hand,

like the Saints of the Bhakti Movement, he believes in love and devotion. At the most, he is seen suffering the pangs of separation and no more: In my passion of union with him, I've lost all count of form; I laid my bed in the public park And went to sleep in my lover's arms. I am broken, I am bent, Tell him how I am pining for him; My disheveled hair, with the tying band in my hand, Feel not embarrassed, do go and tell him oh messenger! Bulleh Shah goes a step further. He seems even to have been influenced by what is known as the Bhagwat tradition. He is enamored of Krishna's flute. The flute notes seem to have a peculiar pull for him : Bulleh Shah was captivated The moment he heard the flute, Frenzied he ran towards the Master Whom and how should he salute? The tilt Bulleh Shah's Sufism has more particularly in the later period towards the Saint tradition belonging to> the Bhakti Movement could also be due to his having belonged to the Qadri cult of the Sufis. The Qadri cult is close to the Nirgun Bhakti Mat, akin to the Sikh faith. Its founder was Abdul Qadir Jeelani of Iran. Bulleh Shah's Master, Inayat Shah, was also a Qadari. Says Bulleh : Come Inayat Qadri! I long for you. Bulleh Shah was no less conscious of reforming his society. He was a severe critic of the clergy whether Islamic or Brahminic. He ridicules them for the way they exploit the people and mislead them with false promises. He calls them thugs : The thugs with their mouths full of froth Talk about life and death Without making any sense. With the fundamentalist, he is more severe : If you wish to be a ghazi, Take up your sword : Before killing the Kafir You must slaughter the swindler. Bulleh Shah is credited with the following works: Kafis 150, Athwara 1, Baramah 1, Siharfi 3, Oeodh49, and Gandhan 40. This is the whole lot that appears in his name in various collections published from time to time. A considerable part of it is unauthentic. The first time an academician in Or. Mohan Singh Diwana' researched on Bulleh Shah's work, he seems to have found only 50 Kafis

genuinely composed by the Sufi Saint. This was in the thirties of the twentieth century. Syed Nazir Ahmed of Lahore (Pakistan) compiled a fairly prestigious volume of Bulleh Shah's work in 1976 in which he has included 66 Kafis besides a few miscellaneous pieces. Interpolations have been galore. His Kafis at times seem to vary as they travel from Pakistan to India. Kafi has no specific mould called Chhand in Punjabi poetics. It has, however, a prescribed manner of presentation as light classical music. Rather than a Raga, some scholars have called it a Ragini. Long before Bulleh Shah, Guru Nanak wrote three Kafis. We have five more Kafis in the Holy Granth, one each of Guru Amardas and Guru Ram Das, two of Guru Arjan and one of Guru Tegh Bahadur. These Kafis are available in Ragas Asa, Suhi, Tilang and Maru. Besides light classical musicians, Kafi singing is popular with Qawwals who make their presentations in choruses and carry the audience with them as if in a trance. Kafis, as text, sing the praises of the Murshid and the Divine Reality, refer to the transitoriness of the world and also describe the pangs of separation of the devotee from the Guru and seeker from God. At times Kafis deal with social and political themes as well. Bulleh does it time and again. As regards the form, more often than not, Bulleh provides a refrain which provides relief as well as underlines the theme of the Kafi: Strange are the times! Crows swoop down on hawks. Sparrows do eagles stalk. Strange are the times! The Iraqis are despised While the donkeys are prized. Strange are the times! Those with coarse blankets are kings, The erstwhile kings watch from the ring. Strange are the times! It's not without rhyme or reason. Strange are the times! Athwara: Taking week days as the basis, Athwara is generally the expression of a love-torn beloved (Soul) separated from the lover (God) .The beloved expects the lover every day, waits for him but he is to be seen nowhere. As poetic form. the first couplet of the Athwara has a longer measure which is sung by the leader of the choral group. It is followed by short-measure couplets sung by the rest of the party. Bulleh Shah's Athwaras are, in fact, Satwaras, starting with Saturday and terminating with Friday. Though a rebel by conviction, Bulleh Shah follows the Islamic calendar in Athwaras and Baramah. A specimen : I better have a look at my love on Saturday Maybe I don't come home the next day. What a Saturday it is ! Suffering from the pangs of love, I pine. I look for you in dales and deserts, It's past midnight, I hear the chimes. I miss you. Longing for you every moment, Sleeping at night, I encounter tigers. I cry for help at the top of my voice Spears piercing my every fiber. I remain yours.

Baramah as a poetic form is a great deal popular in the Indian languages. Like Athwara, in Baramah the poet makes every month a basis for recounting his woes in separation from his lover. An attempt is also made to depict the peculiar climatic features of the month, more often than not with a view to associating them with the emotional intensity of the lover pining for his beloved. In a poetic form Baramah is also like Athwara with the first couplet in a larger measure to be sung by the leader, followed by short-measure couplets presented by the rest of the choral group. Baramah can be intensely passionate at times while describing the plight of the love-torn beloved in the rainy season or in the long winter nights. A specimen :

The Spring)
The month of Phagun reflects in fields The way someone dresses in flowers. Every branch is laden with blossoms, Every neck has the look of a bower. My friends celebrate Holi. My eyes are a brimming trough. Tears give me a miserable time, I am torn with slings of love . Whatever happens is ordained by Him. His mandate none dare alter. My pangs of agony cry out aloud Someone should go and tell my Master, For whom I pine. Doha is a typical Punjabi poetic form though it has no prescribed measure as such. It is in fact a couplet that rhymes and is complete in itself. It reveals a fact of life or makes a telling observation. It can be an emotional outburst or a reference to a political happening or ridiculing a social foible. A few specimens : Day before Bulleh Shah was an atheist, He worshipped idols yesterday. He had no occasion to commune with Him Though he sat at home today. Bulleh loves the Muslim And salutes the Hindu lord. He welcomes home all those Who remember the Almighty God. Bulleh treads the path of love, It is an endless road. A blind man meets the blind, Who should wield the goad? Siharfi or acrostic is another poetic form which was very popular with the medieval poets in the Indian languages. There was a time when every major poet tried his hand at writing a Siharfi. It is taking an alphabet from the script of the language and building the composition, followed by the next alphabet and so on. Guru Nanak has a highly sophisticated acrostic called Patti to his credit. It figures in the Holy Granth. Bulleh Shah's acrostic is devoted mainly to man's yearning for union with the Divine. A specimen:

Alif -He who meditates on Allah His face is pale, his eyes bloodshot. He who suffers pangs of separation, No longer he longs his life ~ last. Say -Soulful is my love for you, Whom shall I go and tell? In the swelling waters of a river at midnight A wailing swallow fell. Gandhan or knots as a poetic form owes its origin to a practice prevailing among the tribals of the Sunderbans and Ganjibar of the Punjab (Pakistan) who when they fix a marriage date, tie the number of knots and the bride's family would then untie a knot every morning so that the marriage ceremony is celebrated on the day decided upon earlier. Bulleh Shah uses this device to depict his wait for his union with his Murshid. Every day untying a knot brings him closer to the long-cherished union with the Master. A specimen : How many knots should I tie for my wedding? My learned friend, advise! The marriage party must come on the prescribed day, Will forty knots be wise? Untying the first knot I sat and cried. Since I must go one day, better get the dowry dyed. Bulleh Shah's language is Central Punjabi but when he is emotionally charged, he waxes eloquent into Lehndi, the South-eastern dialect. There are traces of other Punjabi dialects also in his poetry which could, perhaps, be attributed to interpolations and the fact that his work has travelled from mouth to mouth. While singing in chorus the Oawwals are known to deviate from the original text. Bulleh Shah employs classical terms and phrases whether from the Persian or the Sanskrit according to the philosophic content of his verse. His language is replete with eternal truths, which are in common use in the Punjab in everyday life. As a poet, some of his expressions remain unsurpassed :

The sun has set; its flush only is left. A peacock calls in the grove of passion. Mohammad Baksh, a great bard of his time, writing in 1864, was, perhaps, the first to recognize Bulleh Shah's talent. Says he: Listening to Bulleh's Kafis Rids one of blasphemy. He, indeed, has swum God's ocean of eternity. A question that nags a reader of Bulleh Shah's work is that if Sarmad and other Sufi saints who talked the way Bulleh talked could not escape the ire of the fundamentalists and were done to death, how is it that Bulleh could escape this fate? More, when he spoke so endearingly about the Sikhs who were at logger heads with the rulers of the day. There appear to be two reasons for it. Firstly, when Bulleh Shah was at the peak of his glory, Mughal rule was on the decline. The administration was much too preoccupied with law and order to take notice of such social aberrations. Secondly, unlike Hinduism, Sikhism is close to Islam conceptually, though it is nearer Hinduism socially. Guru Nanak who believed, there is no Hindu, there is no Muslim was still venerated in the Punjab as 'Baba Nanak Shah Faqir; Hindu ka Guru, Musalman ka Pir' (Guru Nanak the great man of God! He is the Guru of the Hindu

and Pir of the Muslim). Even Guru~ Gobind Singh, the reigning Sikh Guru, had a large number of followers among the Muslims like Pir Budhu Shah, Nihang Khan, Ghani Khan, Nabi Khan and others. Writing in his book, Sufis, Mystics and Yogis of India, Banke Bihari says, 'It was a period when Mughal supremacy was fading out and the Sikhs were gaining supremacy. He (Bulleh Shah) met Shri Guru Gobind Singhji and others and heard to his great pain of the atrocious deeds of the Muslims in decapitating the heads of Hindu saints. It was a time when a few decades earlier Sarmad had been beheaded by Alamgir for his pantheistic leanings. , Bulleh Shah is classed with Kabir and is said to belong to the Saint tradition of the Sufis. The Punjab witnessed the emergence of the two main cults of the Sufis: The Quranic Sufis and the Neo-Platonic Sufis. Amongst the Quranic Sufis in the Punjab are listed: Fard Faqir, and Ghulam Rasul. Those listed as NeoPlatonic Sufis are: Hafiz Barkhurdar, Ali Hyder, Ahmed Yar, Muqbal and Waris Shah. Unlike all these Baba Farid, Shah Husain and Bulleh Shah are closer to the saint tradition of the Bhakti Movement. They seek union with the Divine on the lines of the Nirguna Bhaktas. Says Bulleh Shah I have wiped off the Kalma And found my Lord within me. The whole world is deceived. Bulleh Shah's mysticism is the assertion of the soul against the formality of religion. He came to believe that it is possible to establish a direct link with God. His is the eternal yearning of the human soul to .have direct experience of Divine Reality. Bulleh Shah's Sufism was no doubt Quranic to start with. But the Shariat has relevance as long as duality persists; the moment duality disappears, one is liberated from all bonds. This is exactly what seems to have happened with Bulleh Shah. He qualified himself to Tariqat. He became liberated. He became a part of the Divinity. He sees himself in everything around him. Before the Sufi cult arrived in India, it had crossed many a bridge. The Saint tradition of the Bhakti Movement was yet another influence which it imbibed and gave birth to a distinct variety of Sufism which is rooted in the Punjabi soil. It was a happy mixture of Sabar and Takwa, Santokh and Riazat, Takkawal and Toba, Raza and Prem. Bulleh Shah played a prominent role in it. According to Lajwanti Raffia Krishna writing in Punjabi Sufi Poets: 'He is one of the greatest Sufis of the world and his thought equals that of Jalal-ud-din Rumi and Shams Tabrez of Persia. 1995 New Delhi KS. DUGGAL

In recent times Sufi music and poetry have moved from the shrine to the stage. Some consider this trend to be undesirable. They believe that in the attempt to make it more appealing it is being diluted and corrupted for public consumption. However the fact remains that the increasing popularity of Sufi music and poetry, in whatever form, has in no small measure contributed in revealing the compassionate, tolerant and creative aspect of Islam to the non-Muslim audience. Like its philosophy and beliefs, the Sufi poetry performances have, over the ages, adapted to the indigenous styles of the continent as well as added some of their own. Among the most popular are Sufiana Kalaams (sacred words or compositions), Kafis (folk music from the Punjab region), Kwaali (a form of devotional singing normally performed at Sufi dargahs), and Naat (poetry recitation in the praise of Prophet Mohammad).

Amir Khusraus Compositions in Bollywood Films

The Gifted Writer Gulzar. Courtsey: Wikipedia Hindi movies were among the first to introduce compostions by Sufis to the larger public. The most popular among movie makers were the lok geets and love songs of Amir Khusro. His compositions in Hindavi (a synthesis of Brijbhasha and Urdu) were among the first to find place in Hindi movies. Some of his mystical compositions in which Hindvi and Persian couplets were seamlessly woven appeared in the later period.The movie Suhag Raat, under the direction of Kedar Nath Sharma, produced in 1948, had a bidai geet (song sung when the bride is finally sent away with her in-laws) penned by Amir Khusro and sung by Mukesh. The music director was Snehal Bhatkar. This composition was also sung by Lata Mangeshkar in the film Heer Ranjha (1948) with some modifications, and again in the 1954 film Suhagan, under the music direction of C.Ramchandra and Vasant Desai. In this song, the young bride is appealing to her father not to marry her and send her away to foreign shores: KAHEKO BYAAHE BIDES kaahe ko byaahe bides, are lakhiyan baabul mohe kaahe ko byaahe bides

ham to baabul tore khunthe ki gayaa jahan kaho tyon bandhehi jaye are lakhiyan baabul mohe

kaahe ko byaahe bides

ham to baabul tore bele ki kaliyan are ghar-ghar maange hain jaaye are lakhiyan baabul mohe kaahe ko byaahe bides

Hum To Baabul Tore, Pinjarae Ki Chidiya Are Kuhuk-Kuhuk RaatI Jaaye mahalan tale se dola jo nikala are beeran mein chhaaye pachhaad are lakhiyan baabul mohe kaahe ko byaahe bides

bhaiya ko diyo baabul mahalan do mahalan are ham ko diyo pardesh are lakhiyan baabul mohe

kaahe ko byaahe bides are lakhiyan baabul mohe

However the best rendition of this song was by Jagjit Kaur, under the music direction of Khayyam in the 1981 film Umrao Jaan produced and directed by Muzaffar Ali. Amir Khusro qwaali style was introduced to the moive audience in the film Barsat ki raat (1960), directed by P.L.Soni. The qwaali, Ye Ishk Ishk Hai under the music direction of Roshan became an instant hit This movie was among the first bollywood movies to popularise the qwaali form of music, in which the legendary poet Sahir Ludhianvi took some liberties with the following composition of Amir Khusro: Bahut Kathin hai dagar panghat ki, Kaisay main bhar laaun madhva say matki? Paniya bharan ko main jo gayi thi, Daud jhapat mori matki patki. Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki. Khusrau Nijaam kay bal bal jayyiye Laaj rakho moray ghoonghat pat ki. Bahut kathin hai dagar panghat ki.

Later in 1962, Shevan Rizvi introduced Hindi film audience to another of Khusros compositions in the film Ek Musafir Ek Hasina under the music direction of O.P.Nayyar. The film was directed by Sashadhar Mukherjee. The following lines were beautifully sung by Asha Bhonsle: Zabaan-e yaar-e mun Turkie, wa mun Turkie nami daanum, Che khush boodi agar boodi zabaanash dar dahanay mun. My beloved speaks Turkish, but I do not know Turkish; How I wish that I could speak her/his language. The first scene of Hindi film Junoon (1978), produced by Shashi Kapoor and directed by Shayam Benegal, opens with a beautiful composition by Amir Khusro, Chchap teelak sab chcheeni re combined with Aaj rang hai set to music by Vanraj Bhatia and sung by Jamil Ahmed: , ,

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, . , Khusrau rain suhaag ki, jo main jaagi pi ke sang, Tan mora man piya ka, jo dono ek hi rang. Khusrau dariya prem ka, jo ulti waah ki dhaar, Jo ubhra, so doob gaya, jo dooba so paar. Apni chab banaai ke, jo main pi ke paas gayi, Chab dekhi jab piya ki, mohey apni bhool gayi. Chaap Tilak sab cheeni re, moh se naina milayke. Baat agham keh deeni re moh se naina milayke. Bal bal jaaun main, tore rang rejava, Aisi rang do ke rang naahin chhutey, Dhobiya dhoye chaahe saari umariya Bal bal jaaun main, tore rang rejava, Apni si rang deeni re, moh se naina milayke. Prem bhati ka madhva pilayke Matwari kar deeni re, moh se naina milayke. Gori gori gori baiyaan, hari hari chudiyaan, Bahiyaan pakad har leeni re, moh se naina milayke Khusro Nizam ke bal bal janiya

Mohe suhagan ki nee re moh se naina milayke. Aaj Rang Hai Aaj rung hai hey maan rung hai ri Moray mehboob kay ghar rang hai ri Sajan milaavra, sajan milaavra, Sajan milaavra moray aangan ko Aaj rung hai.. Mohay pir paayo Nijamudin aulia Nijamudin aulia mohay pir payoo Des bades mein dhoondh phiree hoon Toraa rung man bhayo Nizamuddin., Jag ujiyaaro, jagat ujiyaaro, Main to aiso rang aur nahin dekhi sakhi Main to jab dekhun moray sung hai ri, Mohay Apne He Rung Mein Rung Lay Khuwaja Ji Mohay Rung Basanti Rung Day Khuwaja Ji Jo Tu Maangay Rung Ki Rangai Mora Joban Girwi Rakhlay Khuwaja Ji Aaj rung hai hey maan rung hai ri. (There is radiance everywhere mother. The house of my Beloved is filled with radiance At last I have found my Beloved in my own courtyard I have found my pir Nizamuddin Aulia. I have roamed far and wide in the world, and I found You to my liking; And lo behold my entire world is filled with radiance. I have never seen such Devine radiance before He is forever with me now, Oh beloved, please colour me in your radiance; There is radiance everywhere, Divine Radiance) - English translation by Rupa Abdi Note: Khusro sang these lines in ecstasy when he came back to his mother after meeting Nizamuddin Aulia for the first time, after a long search for an ideal Sufi master. Hence the above lines are addressed to his mother

Gulzar Sahab has been instrumental in popularising sufiana kalaam in Hindi film music. In 1980, the film Ghulami directed by J.P.Dutta, had a song written by Gulzar under the music direction of Lakshmi Kant Pyarelal. This song was inspired by Amir Khusros composition Zeehal- e Mishkeen, which has alternate lines in Farsi and Hindavi: Zehal-e miskin makun taghaful, duraye naina banaye batiyan; ki taab-e hijran nadaram ay jaan, na leho kaahe lagaye chhatiyan. Shaban-e hijran daraz chun zulf wa roz-e waslat cho umr kotah; Sakhi piya ko jo main na dekhun to kaise kaatun andheri ratiyan. Yakayak az dil do chashm-e jadoo basad farebam baburd taskin; Kise pari hai jo jaa sunaave piyare pi ko hamaari batiyan. Cho shama sozan cho zarra hairan hamesha giryan be ishq aan meh; Na neend naina na ang chaina na aap aaven na bhejen patiyan. Bahaqq-e roz-e wisal-e dilbar ki daad mara ghareeb Khusrau; Sapet man ke waraaye raakhun jo jaaye paaon piya ke khatiyan. Following is myinterpretation which may not be a literal translation: Do not ignore my grief with your seductive eyes, and sweet talk ; Your separation is past endurance, why dont you embrace me.. Like long dark lustrous curls is the night of separation, and our union brief like the short -lived life ; How will I endure the dark night without my Beloved? With sudden charm your enchanting eyes have robbed my mind of peace No one bothers to convey my agony to my Beloved Tossed about in bewilderment, like a flickering candle, I writhe in the fire of love; I lie without the Beloved, sleepless and restless, but the Beloved neither comes nor sends any message. I shall wait for the day I meet my Beloved who has seduced me for so long, O Khusro; For I have saved my heart and my love for the Beloved.

The living legend A.R.Rahman. Courtsey: Wikipedia In more recent times, the song chhayya chhaya from Dil Se (1998) under the music direction of the living legend A.R.Rahman, became an instant hit and heralded an entirely new genre of quasi-religious sufi poetry and music in Bollywood films. This song is originally based on Tere ishq nachaya kar ke thaiyya thaiyya a Punjabi sufi Kalaam by Bulle Shah. It was rewritten by Gulzar. The film Maqbool (2004) by Vishal Bhardwaj, who directed the music, Gulzar composed the song Jhin mini jhini opening with the lines by Khusro Khusro rain suhag ki. Of late Gulzar sahab has been using the Sufi style of repeating two-syllable Farsi words to give it a mystical dimension. The song Tere Bina (Dum Dara Mast Mast), in the film Guru (2007), under the music direction of A.R.Rahman, is one such instance: dum dara dum dara mast mast dara 2 dum dara dum dar chashma chashma nam.. Here the word dum could mean many things: breath/ life/ prana; dara again could mean in/ inside/ door/ door to the soul or Being; mast means trance/ecstasy; chashma means eyes, could also mean vision; and nam means moist. The repetition of dam dar could imply to the breath control that Sufis indulge in to get vision or to enter into a higher state of mind or ecstasy. Filmi versions of Sufi songs are now a norm in Bollywood films and are a big hit with the audience. Bullhe Shah in Popular Imagination In 2004, Rabbi Shergill converted the abstract metaphysical compositon of Bullhe Shah, Bullah ki Jaana into a popular song, which became a huge sucess in India and Pakistan. Bullhe Shahs composition again appeared in the song Bandeya Ho in the 2007 Pakistani movie Khuda ke liye. The 2008 Indian movie A Wednesday, written and directed by Neeraj Pandey, had a song, Bulle Shah, O yaar mere in its soundtrack. Bullhe Shahs composition was rewritten in this film by Irshad Kamil The music director was Sanjoy Choudhury. In the movie Raavan

(2010) Gulzar used Bullhe Shahs Ranjha Ranjha in one of the songs. In 2009, Episode One of Pakistans Coke Studio Season 2 featured collaboration between Sain Zahoor and Noori, and as a result, Bullhe Shahs Aik Alif became immensely popular. (Note: All translations into English are by Rupa Abdi)


Abida Parveen While folk singers, qawwali singers, maniar singers and popular singers like Runa Laila have been singing Sufi compostions for the general public, Sufi music has only recently captured popular imagination. We now have solo singers as well as self-styled bands from the Indian subcontinent captivating audiences from all over the world with their various adaptations of age old Sufi compositions. A cursory scan of U-tube will display numerous forms of Sufi compositions including the rock and the pop versions. However the Pakistani band Junoon deserves credit forbeing instrumental in popularsing Sufi poetry with their hit song Sayyoni, then came the living legend Abida Parveen who took the Sufi music world by storm with a voice that was both ethereal and filled with divine passion. At present there is no dirth of popular singers on both sides of the border who are playing a significant role in popularising Sufi compostions. Kailash Kher and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan are among the most popular.

The Sufi Rock Band, Junoon. Courtsey: Wikipedia

Posted in Amir Khusrow, islam, multifaith, mysticism, religion, spiritual, spiritual philosophy, world wisdom | Tagged A.R.Rahman, Bullhe Shah, Gulzar, Junoon, popular sufi music, Sain Zahoor, sufi pop, sufi rock, Vasant Desai, Wadali brothers | Leave a comment

Amir Khusrau
Posted on September 23, 2011

Amir Khusrau: The Sufi with a difference

Amir Khusrau teaching his disciples; miniature from a manuscript of Majlis Al-Usshak by Husyn Bayqarah. Courtsey: Wikipedia Remembered more as a musician and a poet than a Sufi, this versatile genius, who is also considered to be among the first Muslim musicologist of India, was born in 1234, in Patiali near Etah district of north India. His original name was Yamin- ud-Din Muhammad Hasan but he is commonly known as Amir Khusrau (d.1325). He was of Turkish origin and a murid of the great Nizamuddin Awliya and his world vieiw, like his masters, was humane, tolerant and intrinsically simple. He was not just a Jack of all arts but master of all. A scholar, poet, musician, Sufi and and a skilled courtier who served the Slav, Khilji and Tuglaq kings of Delhi Sultanate. Music and poetry were his twin passions and he learnt Arabic, Persian and Indian music. According to him Indian music is the fire that burns the heart and the soul and is superior to the music of any country. He invented his own genre of music by adding Persian and Arabic elements to Indian music. He is also credited with the modification and improvement of the veena. He is also believed to have invented the tabla. Khusrau not only helped in developing the azal, until then little used in India, but also in the historical epic as a new genre of poetry. He created new ragas such as Sarfarda and Zilaph. He also invented the Qawwali form of devotional singing and is the originator of the Taraana sytle of vocal music. In this style of singing, apparently meaningless syllables are used to create mystical ecstasy. The syllables when pieced together form Persian words that possess mystical symbolism. After being initiated into Sufism by his master Nizammudin Awliya, Amir Khusrau is believed to have retired from worldly life. Hoevere he continued to write poetry and is known to have written over four lakh couplets. Of these over 300 consist of riddles, some using bilingual pun of Hindvi and Persian, word play and litrary tricks . He lived up to the age of ninety and during his long life attained legendary fame. The historians of his time appear to have credited him with much more than he had actually done. However, his literary genius is without doubt unmatched in its ability to seamlessly weave two diverse cultures and faiths together. His compositions have now become of part of folk culture of north India, especially Uttar Pradesh. His geets and ghazals have inspired and continue to inspire generations of Hindi movie songs. It is noteworthy that Khusraus compostions have proved to be a gold mine for Bollywood music directore and lyric writers . Khusrau darya prem ka, ulti wa ki dhaar, Jo utra so doob gaya, jo dooba so paar (The river of love flows upsteam Those who enter to swim will drown Only those who enter to drown will cross it)

Note: For more compositions by Amir Khusrau see the post on Sufi Poetry and Music in Popular Culture.
Posted in Amir Khusrow, islam, multifaith, mysticism, religion, spiritual, sufism | Tagged Amir Khusrau, sufism | 3 Comments


Posted on September 23, 2011

BULLHE SHAH: The Rumi of Punjab

Artist's impression of Bulleh Shah. Courtsey: Wikipedia An artists impression of Bullhe Shah. Courtsey Wikipedia

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, | , , | , | Beqaid Main beqaid main beqaid Na rogi na waid Na main momin na main kafir Na saidi na said Chothin tabqeen sair asada Kitte na hopnda qaid Kharabat hai jaat asadi Na soma na aib Bullah shah di zaat keh puchna ain Na paida na paid (I am not caged Not caged am I Neither the sick nor the healer Neither believer nor non-believer I wander in the seven skies and lands but none can grasp me in their hands I am an intoxicated wanderer beyond vice and virtue Do not ask Bulles identity, for he was never born, nor ever existed)

This Sufi from Punjab, whom the maulawis did not allow to be buried in the community graveyard because of his unorthodox beliefs, is today known globally as the greatest Sufi poet of Punjab; the rich and the influential, the very class which had rejected him once, today compete with each other to be buried near his grave at Qasur (near Lahore). He was born in a Sayed family which had a long association with Sufis. His father, a noble soul with spiritual leanings and well respected was given the title of Darvesh by the local people. But Bullhe Shah chose to follow the spiritual path shown by a humble low caste Arai. His original name was Abdullah Shah but the masses gave him the name Sain Bullhe Shah, Bullhe Shah or just Bulla out of affection. He is believed to have been born 1680 in the village of Uch Gilaniyan, in Bahawalpur region (in present day Pakistan). When Bulla was six months old, his father had to migrate to another village- Pando kee Bhattiyyan in Qasur district. He lived here for the rest of his life and died in 1758. His ancestors are believed to have come from Bukhara (in present day Uzbekistan) and were associated with the Sufi Hazarat Sheikh Ghaus Bahauddin Zakariyya of Multan. The tomb of Bullhe Shahs father still stands at Pando kee Bhattiyyan where every year an urs is performed where the Kafis of Bulle Shah are sung by the locals. Bullhe Shah was well versed in Islamic theology, Arabic and Persian, however his most popular kafis are in the local language of his region: Punjabi. The simplicity of his mystical compositions made them very popular among the common people in the form of folk songs which continue to ring today in the fields and river valleys of Punjab on either side of the border. The search for the mystical path drew Bullhe to Hazrat Inayat Shah of Lahore who belonged to the Qadiri-Shattari sisila. Hazrat Inayat Shah belonged to the Arai community who were traditionally farmers and gardeners. On being chided and persuaded by his sisters and sister- inlaws to leave the company of an Arai, Bullhe replied: , |

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Bullay Nu Samjhawan Aaian Bheynaan Tay Bharjaiyaan, Man Lay Bulleya Sada Kena, Chad Day Palla Raaiyan Aal Nabi Ullad Ali, Nu Tu Kyun Lee-kaan Laiyaan. Jeyra Saanoun Syed Saday Dozakh Milay Sazaiyaan. Jo Koi Saanu Raie Aakhe, Bhisti Peenghaan Paian. Jay To Lorain Baagh Baharaan ,Chaakar Ho Ja raiyaan. Bulley Shah Dee Zaat Kee Puchni, Shaakar Ho Razayaan. Interpretation: Bulles sisters and sister in-laws came to convince him of the folly of associating with a low caste Arai since Bulle belonged to a superior ancestoly of Ali and the Prophet. Bulle replies that those who associate him with high caste will go to hell and those who can perceive him humbelness will rejoice in heaven If you desire nearness to God become a servant of the Arai Dont ask about my identity for my only identity is that I am a servant of my murshid, and have surrendered to Gods will. Among the Sufis the divine bondage between the murshid and murid is legendary and can be equated to the Divine love between the devotee and God. Once when Bullhe Shah was separated from his murshid -Hazrat Inayat Shah, Bullhe spent days and nights in grief, his soul lost in darkness. When he was finally united with his master he said: Ranjha Ranjha Ranjha ranjha kardi hun main aape Ranjha hoyi Saddo mainoon Dheedo Ranjha, Heer naa akho koyi Ranjha main wich, main Ranjhe wich, ghair khayyal na koyi

Main naheen au aap hai, apni aap kare diljoyi Jo kuch saade andar wasse, zaat assadi soyi Jis de naal main neoonh lagaya oho jaisi hoyi Chitti chaadar laa sut kuriye, pehan faqeeran loyi Chitti chaadar daag lagesi, loyii daag na koyi Taqt hazaare lai chal Bulleah, siyaaleen mile na dhoyi Ranjha ranjha kardi hun main aape Ranjha hoyi

In my yearning for Ranjha (Beloved) I have become Him Do not call me Heer anymore, call me Ranjha, For, I have become the One that I seek I have merged with Ranjha and Heer no longer exists The individual soul has merged with the Universal and rejoices in this union We are identified with what dwells inside us Take off these clean clothes and don a Fakirs garb The clean dress can get soiled but a Fakirs humble garb can never become impure Take me to Takht Hajeera (Ranjhas village) For there is nothing left for me in Syali (Heers village) In seeking Ranjha I have become Him

In his Kafis Bullhe called his master by many names: Shah, Sajan, Yaar, Sain, Aarif, Ranjha etc. He would sometimes see God in the form of his master and sometimes his master in the form of God. The spinning wheel was his favourite metaphor and the grieving Heer for her beloved Ranjha were his favourite characters.He had little faith in bulky books and theology of the learned maulawis and pundits and he would say: |

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, , | | Ik Alif Padho Chhutkara Ai Ik alifon do tan char hoye Phir lakh karor hazar hoye Phir othon bajh shumaar hoye Hik alif da nukta niara he Ik alif parho chutkara he Kiun parhnain gadd kitabaan di Sir chana en pind azabaan di Kiun hoyian shakal jladaan di Agge pinda mushkal bhara he Ik alif parho chutkara he

Hun hafiz hifz quran karain Parh parh ke saaf zubaan karain Per nemat wich dhian karain Mann phirda jion halkara he Ik alif parho chutkara he Bullah bhi borh da hoya si Oh birach wada ja hoya si Jad birach oh fani hoya si Phir reh gaya beej akash e Read the first alphabet and be free From the One emerged two and four and then lakhs and crores And the world was filled with infinite forms this unique nukta(a single point) encompasses eternity within itself Read the first alphabet and be free

Why do you carry this burden of books on your head They spell nothing but despair All that knowledge makes you look like a tyrant The way ahead is long and difficult Read the first alphabet and be free You memorise the Quran And purifiy only your tongue with it Then you get lost in worldly matters Your mind runs amok in all dirctions Read the first alphabet and be free This world was sown like a Banyan seed

It has grown with time and will die in time All that is left will be the seed Alone and One in the cosmos Read the first alphabet and be free In this compostion Bulle Shah by cautioning the disciple not to get lost in the maze of Maya appears to be referring to mystical beliefs that are similar to the Advaita and Nirguna concepts of Hindu philosophy,

Bulle Shah believed in Universal religion and considered himself neither a Hindu nor a Muslim: , ? , ? , , , | , , , , | , - , | , ? , ,

Bulla Ki Jadan Main Kawn Bullhe! ki jaana maen kaun Na maen momin vich maseet aan Na maen vich kufar diyan reet aan Na maen paakaan vich paleet aan Na maen moosa na pharaun. Na vich shaadi na ghamnaaki Na maen vich paleeti paaki Na maen aabi na maen khaki Na maen aatish na maen paun Na maen arabi na lahori Na maen hindi shehar nagauri Na hindu na turak peshawri Na maen rehnda vich nadaun Na maen bheth mazhab da paaya Ne maen aadam havva jaaya Na maen apna naam dharaaya Na vich baitthan na vich bhaun Avval aakhir aap nu jaana Na koi dooja hor pehchaana Maethon hor na koi siyaana Bulla! ooh khadda hai kaun (I know not who I am I am neither a pious Muslim at the mosque Nor a performer of blashphemous rites Neither am I impure among the pure Neither Moses nor Pharoh Neither pure among the impure Neither sad nor gay I am neither water nor clay I am neither fiery nor watery

Neither an Arab, nor Lahori Neither Hindi, nor Nagauri I am neither a Hindu, Turk (Muslim), nor Peshawari Nor do I live in Nadaun I am not identified by any faith Nor am I from Adam and Eves lineage I am not known by any name I am neither changing nor same In short I know no-one but myself I know no one apart from myself In my selflessness I am unique Then who is this man who calls himself Bullhe?) (Note: All translations into English are by Rupa Abdi) Bullhe Shah was beyond all bondage and did not consider his compositions as his own. He did not write down any of his compositions but left them in the form of oral traditions to float in the common current of folk culture: to be modified, changed and adapted by the masses and to be claimed by them as their own. All is in the Beloved and the Beloved is in All The rest is irrelevant..unnecessary burden Says Bulla..

Posted in islam, multifaith, mysticism, religion, spiritual, sufism, world wisdom | Tagged Bulleh Shah, Punjab | Leave a comment


Posted on September 17, 2011

Sufis of the Punjab Doabs: Creaters of Folk Mysticism

The Punjab Doabs

The Doab regions of Punjab, Courtsey: Wikipedia The Punjab Doabs (tracts of land lying between the confluent rivers of the Punjab region of Indo-Pakistan) have produced one of the greatest Sufi saints of this subcontinent. Most of their mystical compositions are now a part of folk culture and folk songs of this region. Sometime in 905 the great mystic like Hallaj, probably sat on the very banks of one of these doabs to discuss theological problems with the sages of this land. The people of this region were travellers and traders, farmers and shepherds. Punjabi is a strong expressive language, ideal for expressing mystical feelings. Like Kabir, the Sufi poets of the doab regions used the symbol of weaving cotton, the threads are our thoughts, words and deeds with which we weave a net around ourselves.. The Punjabi Sufis wove motifs from everyday life of ordinary people to portray the various shades and subtleties of passion of a lover separated from her Beloved the individual soul, which is always depicted as a woman in Punjabi Sufi poetry, yearning for annihilation and unity with the Eternal: blending cultural traditions with Islamic mysticism, creating a completely a new genre of Folk mysticism. In a continent where people lived and died within the barriers of caste, community and religion, these Sufis rose above all barriers and opened their hearts and souls to all humanity, defying the orthodox pandits and narrow minded maulawis. Hazrat Bb Faridddin Masud Gunj-i Shakar: The Lone Ascetic (d. 1265) Not every heart is capable of finding the secret of Gods love.

There are not pearls in every sea; there is not gold in every mine.

Dargah of Baba Farid at Pakpattan, Pakistan

Shrine of Baba Farid at Pakpattan, Dera Pindi, Punjab (Pakistan) Courtsey: Wikimapia

On the far banks of the Sutlej, stands the lone figure of a Sufi who stands above and apart from those who were to follow his path but not till several hundred years had elapsed. His mystical penances were legendary and his verse excelled in simplicity and brevity. No other Sufi poet, before and after him, could convey so much in such simple a verse: Farid Kaaley maindey kaprey, kaala mainda wais, Gunahan Bharehan main pheraan, Lok kahain dervish (Laden with sins I go around covering them with a black garb People see me and mistake me for a Darvesh ) (Ashodara) Baba Farid, also known as Farduddn Masd Ganjshakar was the first Sufi saint to compose mystical poetry in Punjabi, more precisely a local dialect Multani Punjabi (Lehendi) and thereby laid the foundation for the development of vernacular Punjabi literature. Guru Nanak Sahib is believed to have been inspired by Faridss verses and the fifth Sikh Guru Shri Arjan Dev included some of Farids compositions in the Guru Granth Sahib. These came to be known as Farid bani and commentaries on Farid bani were later added by various Sikh Gurus. Baba Farid is revered by the Sikhs as one of the fifteen Sikh bhagats.

Bb Fard is believed to have been born in Kothewal village in Multan on the first day of Ramzan in 1173. The first spiritual influence on Farid was that of his mother who initiated him into a spiritual life. It is believed that in order to motivate him to perform the namaaz regularly; she would put some sugar crystals under his prayer mat. Once she forgot to do it, yet miraculously, after performing namaaz, Farid found some sugar under his prayer mat. That is one of the legends behind his title Ganj-i shakar (sugar treasure). Baba Farid, completed his education by the age of sixteen, and went to Sistan and Kandhahar and later to Mecca for Hajj. He received his early education at Multan, where he met his murshid (master) Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (d.1235), a Sufi saint from Farghana (in present day Uzbekistan) who came to India along with his murshid, Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (d.1236). Kaki was passing through Multan, from Baghdad on his way to Delhi. Baba Farid later shifted to Delhi, to join his master there and to learn his doctrine. When Kaki died, Farid assumed the role of his spiritual successor. However due to political unrest in Delhi he soon moved to Ajodhan (present day Pakistan). On his way to Ajodhan and passing through Faridkot, he met the 20-year-old Nizamuddin Auliya, who later became his disciple, and successor. The city of Faridkot is named after Baba Farid. It is believed that, Fard stopped by the city, then named Mokhalpr, and sat in seclusion for forty days near the fort of King Mokhal. The king was so impressed by his presence that he named the city after Bb Fard, which is today known as Tilla Bb Fard. The festival Bb Sheikh Farid gman Purb Mel (the coming of Baba Farid), is celebrated in September each year, marking his arrival in the city. Baba Farid spent the rest of his life at Ajodhan which had come to be known as Pk Pattan (the ferry of the pure); Here, at Dera Pindi, in the month of Mohorram his mortal remains were laid to rest. Farids poetical compositions are mainly composed of Dohras: a rhymed couplet, in which each of the lines generally has a caesura (a pause or break in a line of poetry), whose significance varies according to the meaning. A Dohra is a complete self-sufficient couplet, unless when it is followed by a complimentary couplet. On most occasions the last lines of the Dohra bears the name of Farid. Farids Dohras are distinguished by their austerity of tone and rhythm: Galian chikkar door ghar, naal payarey neouney, challaan tey bhijjay kambli, rahan ta jaaey neouney. (Literal translation: The lanes are filled with mud but I have to keep my promise of meeting with the Beloved If I walk on, I soil my clothes and if I stay back, I break my promise) Interpretation: The path to the Beloved is difficult, yet I must overcome the worldly hurdles to keep my word to unite with the Beloved. Bhijoy sujhoy kambli Allah wirsay meen

Jai millaan tahaan sajnaa tate nahin neounay (Let my clothes be soiled and the Almighty make the rain pour Go I will to meet the Beloved and keep my promise.) Interpretation: I have no care or regard for worldly shame or name, may God (circumstances) make the path as difficult as He wants but I will overcome and meet the Beloved, reach my ultimate destination.

Kook Farid Kook, Tu jivain Rakha Jawar Jab lag tanda na, Giray tab lag Kook pukar. (Shout, Farid, shout like the mindful watchman in the corn-field; shout till the crop is mature and falls with ripeness) Interpretation: Stay awake and watchful; let not heedlessness creep in until you have attained spiritual ripeness .
Posted in islam, multifaith, mysticism, religion, spiritual, sufism, world wisdom | Tagged Baba farid, mysticism, spiritual, sufism | Leave a comment Posted on September 16, 2011

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Posted on September 14, 2011


NAQSHBANDIYYAS: People of the Silent Dhikr

The lights of some people precede their dhikr, while the dhikr of some people precede their lights. There is the one who does (loud) dhikr so that his heart be illumined; and there is the one whose heart has been illumined and he does (silent) dhikr. -Ibn cAtaAllah.( (d. 1309), the third sheikh of the Shadhili Sufi order)

They brought their caravans to the sanctuary through the hidden path. The Naqshabandis believed that their spiritual journey began where others ended. The centre of their beliefs was the silent dhikr and breath control. They also emphasised saubat the intimate conversation between the master and the disciple. This spiritual bonding gave rise to various paranormal phenomenon such as telepathy and faith healing. They believed in spiritual education and the purification of the heart. It was a sober and rather orthodox silsila which disapproved music and sama . The founder of this silsila was Bahauddin Naqshband (d.1390) from Central Asia, who was a descendent of the great Imam Yusuf Hamadhani (d. 1140). Hamadhani was in turn spiritually affiliated to Abu-l-Hasan Ali al-Kharaqani (d. 1034) an illiterate but distinguished mystic and an uwaysi (a Sufi who has been initiated not by a living master but the powerful spirit of a departed Sufi). Kharaqani was initiated into tassawuf by the spirit of Bayezid Bistami (d.874) who himself was a legendary Sufi from north west Iran. One of Hamadhanis eminent khalifa, Abdul Khaliq Ghijduwani (d.1220) is best known for the eight founding principles that are still followed by all Naqshabandiyya schools. His set of teachings are known as tariqa-yi Khawajagan (the way of the teachers; singular Khoja) and are interpreted as follows (the literal translation of the Persian words are given in brackets): 1. hush dar dam (awareness in breath): One must safeguard his/her breath from mindlessness while breathing in and breathing out, thereby keeping her heart always in the Divine Presence. Every breath which is inhaled and exhaled with Presence is alive and connected with the Divine Presence. Every breath inhaled and exhaled with mindlessness is dead, disconnected from the Divine Presence. 2. nazar bar qadam(to watch every step): This implies watching over ones steps and actions. The gaze precedes the step and the step follows the gaze. The Ascension to the higher state is

first by the Vision, followed by the Step. One needs to understand the Sufi path in its myriad forms before one can actually comprehend and follow this principle. 3. safar dar watan (to journey towards ones homeland): This refers to the internal mystical journey wherein the seeker travels from the world of desire to the world of Divine. 4. khalwat dar anjuman (solitude in the crowd): To be untouched by the vagaries of this world. To be steady in ones contemplation of the divine, to live in this world but not to be moved by it. 5. yad kard(to recollect): To remember, to recollect all the time the Divine name and ones ultimate destination. 6. baz gard(to return,): To surrender, to return to God i.e. to submit to the will of God. 7. nigah dasht (to be aware of ones sight):To be aware of ones thoughts and emotions, to restrain the thoughts that take you away from God. To safeguard ones heart from unholy inclinations. 8. yad dasht (to remember, recall): To return again and again to that state of mind which dwells in God. To keep ones heart in Allahs Divine Presence continuously. This allows one to realize and manifest the Light of the Unique Essence

Although Adam had not got wings, Yet he has reached a place that was not destined even for angels - Mir Dard

This silsila gained influence over the business class and royalty of Central Asia and as a result grew highly politicized. Under the leadership of Khwaja Ahrar (d.1490), an influential Naqshabandi saint, this silsila dominated the entire Central Asian region and even the Mongols, Timurs and Uzbegss came under its sway. Like the early Suhrawardis, the Khwaja believed that in order to serve the world they needed to exercise political power.

Dargah of Mazhar Janjanan at Delhi The Naqshabandi silsila was founded in India by Khwaja Baqi billah(d.1785). His disciple Ahmad Faruqi Sirhindi (d. 1624) played an important role in Indian political and religious life. In India, most prominent Naqshabandi saints, such as Khwaja Mir Dard (d.1785), Shah Waliullah(d.1762), who was also initiated into the Qadiriyya silsila, and Mazhar Janjanan(d. 1782), were based in Delhi and besides politics made major contribution to Sufi poetry and theology in Urdu .

Dargah of Khawaja Baqi Billah at Delhi. Courtesy: Mayank Austen Soofi Looming large over other Naqshabandi saints of the Indian subcontinent is Khawaja Mir Dard who was one of the four pillars of Urdu poetic tradition and is acknowledged as the greatest mystical poet of Urdu language.

Alas O ignorant one:

at the day of death this will be proved: A dream was what we saw, what we heard, a tale - Mir Dard

QADIRIYYAS: The Miracle performers

Ucch Sharif at Multan. Courtesy:Gilbert (NFIE) The most popular Qadri saints in India are Bulle Shah (d.1768) and Sultan Bahu (d. 1691) in the north, and Hazrat Shahul Hameed Qadir Wali of Nagore in the south. Several karaamaat (miracles) are attributed to the founder as well as the early saints of this silsila. This silsila was established by Abdul Qadir Jilani (d. 1166) from Baghdad. He is known as the master of the Jinn. His influence extended from Turkey, to Baghdad and across West Africa to the Indian subcontinent. There are Sindhi songs describing his glory and ancient trees named after him. It is believed that one of his descendents Muhammad Ghaus (d. 1517) established this order in the Indian subcontinent. He along with the first missionaries of this silsila settled in Ucch, north east of Multan (Punjab-Pakistan) in the late fifteenth century. From here this silsila spread to the rest of the Indian subcontinent, and even as far as Indonesia and Malaysia. Eminent Sufis of this silsial were Mian Mir (d. 1635) whose ancestors came from Siwistan in Sindh, his sister Bibi Jamal (d.1647 ), Mirs disciple Molla Shah Badakshi (d. 1661), who was a scholar and writer of Sufi literature. Molla Shah initiated the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh(d.1659) and his elder sister Jahanara (d.1681) into this silsila.

Hazrat Shahul Hameed Qadir Walis dargah at Nagore in Tamil Nadu

Abdul-Haqq Dihlawi (d.1642) was among the influential Qadiriyya saints of Delhi. According to him the Qadiri principle of perfect life in the world was to follow the sharia laws and the jurists teachings and then the Sufi path. However the mystical aspect into this silsila was introduced by Mian Mir .

Posted in islam, mysticism, spiritual, spiritual philosophy, sufism, Uncategorized, world wisdom | Tagged Indian Sufi silsilas, Naqshbandi, Qadiri | 1 Comment


Posted on September 6, 2011

THE CHISHTIIYYAS AND THE SUHRAWARDIYYAS In India the four major silsilas to take root were Suhrawardiyya, Chishtiyya, Qadiriyya and Naqshabandiyya. From these major orders many suborders such as Shattariyya branched out.

Founders of the four great Sufi orders

THE CHISHTIYYAS: Founders of Indian Sufism

This was the silsila which with its spirit of equality and brotherhood won the hearts of the people of the subcontinent. The doors of the Chishtiyya khanqahs were open to all at all times. This silsila was instrumental in spreading Islam in central and southern Indian with its ocean like generosity, mildness of the evening sun and earth-like modesty. Sufism became a mass movement under the influence of Chishti saints who settled in the Indus region: Sind, Punjab and Multan. The contempt of the Chishti saints for the rulers was obvious from their refusal to accept any land or money from them. The early Chishti saints considered anything accepted from the rulers as unlawful. From the low caste Hindus to the mighty Mogul kings, all bowed in reverence at the feet of the great Chishti saints. The birth place of the Chishti order is believed to be in Chisht, a village, sixty miles east of Herat in present day Afghanistan. However in the Indian subcontinent Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (d.1236) was instrumental in laying the foundations of Sufism especially the Chishtiyya silsila. He was born in Sistan (a province bordering Iran and Afghanistan) and in his early years was inspired by Abu Najib Surhawardi. Muinuddin who was also known as Khwaja Garib Nawaaz (benefactor of the poor), reached Delhi in 1193 but later shifted to Ajmer when it was conquered by the Delhi Sultanate.

Dargah of Khwaja Garib Nawaaz at Ajmer Among the most important disciples of Muinuddin was Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki (d.1235) who carried out the Chishtiyya work in Delhi. His successor was Shaykh Fariduddin or Baba Farid (d.1265), the legendary sufi poet of Punjab, whose disciple was another great saint Nizamuddin Auliya (d.1325), whose disciple was the popular poet and muscian Amir Khosrau (d.1325). Other prominent Chishti saints and poets were Shaykh Hamiduddin Nagori (d.1274) who was based in Nagaur (Rajasthan) and was known for his vegetarianism and frugal life style; Hasan Sijzi Dihlawi (d.1328); Bu Ali Qalandar Panipati (d. 1323); Hazrat Nasiruddin Roshan Chiragh-i Dehli (d.1356); Muhammad Bandanawaz Gisudara (d.1422) who spread the Chishtiyya silsila in southern India with the patronage of Bahmani Sultans of Deccan. He was the first Indian Sufi to write in Dakhani (the southern branch of Urdu); Shaykh Salim Chishti (d. 1572) and Warith Shah (d.1798) .

Dargah of Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki at Mehrauli, Delhi THE SUHRAWARDIYYAS: Political Diplomats The sufis of this order were known for their close ties with the rulers and played a key role in making war and peace. They acted as political emissaries and ambassadors and held important

posts as advisers in the royal court and excepted jagirs and gifts as royal patronage. The early Suhrawardiyya saints believed that it was their duty to guide the rulers. It was from this silsila that Muinuddin Chishti drew his first inspiration. However the Chishtiyya silsila stood in stark contrast to the Surhawaddiyyas in their contempt for rulers and governments. This silsila was founded in north west Iran by Abdul Qahir Abu Najib as-Suhrawardi (d. 1168). He was a disciple of the well known Imam Ghazzalis youngr brother Ahmad Ghazzali. However, more influential than Abdul Qahir Abu Najib as-Suhrawardi was his nephew Shihabuddin Abu Hafs Umar as-Suhrawardi (d.1234), whose treatise Awarif al-Maarif became an essential part of the courses on Sufism taught in Indian madarsas. In the Indian subcontinent, this silsila was introduced by Bahauddin Zakariya Multani (d. 1262) who was a contemporary of Baba Farid.The two Sufis not only lived miles apart from each other but were also miles apart in their attitude towards material wealth and rulers. Bhahauddin was a prosperous landlord whereas Baba Farid was a fakir in the true sense of the word. Some of the eminent Suhraawardi saints were Sayyid Jalaluddin Surkhpush (the red dressed one, d.1292) who was a disciple of Zakariya. He came from Bukhara and settled in Ucch (north east of Multan in present day Punjab-Pakistan). Fakhruddin Iraqi (d. 1289), a was a well known Persian poet and a disciple of Bahauddin Zakariya whose tender and intoxicatiing love songs continue to be sung at his masters tomb in Multan. Ucch became a centre of Suhrawarddiyya silsila under the tireless efforts of Jalaluddin Makhdum-i Jahaniyan, (the one whom all the people of the world serve), (d.1383). Jalaluddin Tabrizi (d.1244) who was a disciple of Abu Hafs Umar Suhrawardi, played a key role in spreading the Suhraawardi message in Bengal.

Dargah of Gisudaraz at Gulbarga, Karnataka.

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Sufism and Indian Sufism

Posted on July 26, 2011

Artisits impression of Baba Farid

Kaagaa sab tan khaiyo, chun chun khaiyo maans, Do nenan mat khaiyo, mohe piyaa milan ki aas (O crow eat my body and every morsel of my flesh But pray eat not my eyes for they wait for the sight of the Beloved) Hazrat Baba Farid

The above composition by Hazrat Fariduddin Ganj-i Shakar fondly called Baba Farid, a sufi from Punjab and a disciple of Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, captures in one couplet the soul of Sufism. Once Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, asked Baba Farid, to go into 40 day seclusion while hanging upside down in a well. Baba Farid hung motionless in meditation, mistaking him for a corpse the crows began to gather around him, that was when he composed the above lines.

Sufism or tassawuf can be simply defined as the mystical dimension of Islam. It is one of the greatest schools of mysticism which has not only survived the test and tribulation of time but continues to flourish today in all its infinite shades. Sufism, like a flowing river, defies description. To know it, one must experience it: drink its waters, swim in it and drown in it to eventually merge with the Ocean. Sufism has emerged out of the esoteric significance attached by an important section of Muslims to the words of the Quran. The elevated feeling of Divine apprehension of which the Prophet

often spoke, the depth and passion of his ecstatic rapture which characterised his devotions constitute the foundations of Sufism. The Islamic doctrine of inward light inspired the early Muslim ascetics to lead a contemplative life, devoted to a higher yearning after the Infinite. Sufism is based on the idea among nobler Muslim minds that there is a deeper and more inward sense in the verses of the Quran. This belief did not arise from the wish to escape from the rigour of texts and dogmas but from a deep conviction that the words of the Quran mean more, not less, than the popular expounders supposed them to convey. The word Sufism originally called Tasawuff in Arabic and Urdu, is derived from the word suf which means wool in Arabic, alluding to the coarse woollen garment worn by the first generation of Muslim ascetics . Sufis believe that they live in this world but are not of it: they posses nothing and are possessed by nothing. However following the basic tenets of the Quran and the service of fellow humans are an integral part of Sufism .The Path to God, according to the Prophet, is threefold: the sharia (the words of the Prophet), the tariqa (his actions), and haqiqa (his interior states. According to the Sufis the seeker of Truth by intensive inwardness and communion with God can rise by successive stages of adoration to a state of consciousness when she can actually have a vision of the divine essence. The various steps or stages along the path are known as maqam (pl .maqamat). The first step along the Path is for the adept to form the niyat (the resolve or intention); followed by tauba (repentance and renunciation). She is now on the firmly on the Path, this stage is called mujahadah (striving and struggle with the carnal self). After a prolonged mujahadah the ecstatic soul appears in the Presence still veiled, this stage is called muhazara. The next maqam is the lifting of the veil of ignorance (mukashafa) and finally when God becomes revealed to the devotees heart and she begets divine Vision this stage is called mushahada . SUFI ORDERS (SILSILAS) In the later years, brotherly love began to be emphasised in the social discourse of the Sufis reflecting the Prophetic tradition of Al-mumin mirat al-mumin (the faithful is the mirror of the faithful). When a Sufi notices a weakness in his neighbour he is supposed to correct this very weakness in himself. Brotherly love was to be extended not just to other Sufis but to whole of humanity. Since service of humanity also included aiding in their spiritual upliftment Sufis started expanding their groups and spreading their spiritual message to all levels of population and by early 12th century Sufi fraternities or orders (silsilas) began to emerge each with a distinct tariqa (set of practices and beliefs) that each founder had evolved to attain the Infinite. By the 14th century fourteen Sufi orders had crystallised. The Suhrawardiyya, the Qadariyya, the Kubrawiyya, the Shadhiliyya and the Badawiyya were some of them. Sufi masters (called sheikh, pir, or murshid) began to send their disciples (murids) to distant lands to spread their teachings. Many prominent Sufis travelled to India.

INDIAN SUFISM Several hundred years before any Muslim invader set foot on the Indian subcontinent, Muslim traders had been coming to the western ports of India extending from Gujarat to Kerala. The first

Muslim army to reach India was led by an Arab conqueror Muhammad bin Qasim in 711 who occupied the regions from Sind to Multan. The first Sufi to come to India was Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (d.222). He travelled in the lands conquered by the Arabs and discussed theology with the saints of this region. The second wave of Muslim conquest was in the year 1000 and was led by the Gaznawids, and it was Mahmud Ghaznis conquest of Punjab that is believed to have led a number of prominent Sufis to settle in this region. Lahore became the first centre of Persian inspired Muslim culture and it was in this city that Abul-HasanAli bin Usman al-Hujwiri(, known as Data Ganj Bakhsh (~Distributor of Unlimited Treasure) composed his famous Kashful-mahjub, in Persian. This treatise gives the biographies, thought and practices of Sufis from the time of the Prophet to his own time. However Sufisms full impact began to be felt in the late 12th and early 13th century after the formation of main Sufi orders in the Muslim countries and the most outstanding contributor to this movement was Hazrat Muinuddin Chishti (d.1236). Islam in most parts of India spread not at the point of sword of the Muslim invaders but by the power of the Sufi saints like Muinuddin Chishti and his disciples whose simple preaching and practise of love of God and ones neighbour impressed many Hindus, especially those belonging to the so called lower castes.

Data Ganj Baksh's durgah at Lahore, courtsey Abdul Nishapuri

While the Sufis of Middle East and North African countries flourished in lands that had already been Islamised, the Sufis in the Indian subcontinent were faced with the challenge of spreading their message among people belonging to an alien faith. This was their biggest challenge and this was their biggest triumph and in this respect they stand above their brethren who served in other parts of the world. Indian Sufism owes it uniqueness to its great power of selective assimilation of local culture, folk tales and symbology. While it protected itself from any considerable or overwhelming external influence, it included whatever struck and impressed it and in the act of inclusion transformed it in harmony with its own Essence. In this process Sufism in the Indian subcontinent has developed its own flavours and shades. Apart from contributing to the spiritual upliftment of rulers and ruled alike, two of the greatest contributions of the Indian Sufism have been: the creation of syncretic traditions in the Indian subcontinent thereby creating communal harmony

among followers of diverse faith; and the creation of exquisite and divine music, prose and poetry that further enriched the astonishingly diverse culture of this subcontinent.
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Posted on April 24, 2011

He is Abu Hanifa and He is Hanuman, He is the Koran and H e is the Vedas, He is this and He is that, He is Moses, and He is Pharaoh - Sachal Sarmast

Tombs of sages at Makli Hill, Thatta, Sind(Pakistan) The regions of Sind and Punjab, nurtured by the waters of Indus, have produced one of the the greatest sufi saints of this subcontinent. Some time in 905 the great mystic like Halaj, probably sat on the very banks of this river to discuss theological problems witht the sages of Sind. The people of this region were travelers and traders, farmers and shepherds. Apart from Sindhi, many Sindhi sufi poets used Siraiki, a northern dialect of Sindhi which transits into Punjabi. Sindhi and Punjabi are both strong expressive languages, ideal for expressing mystical feelings. Like Kabir the sufi poets of the Indus regions used the symbol of weaving cotton, the threads are our thoughts, words and deeds with which we weave a net around ourselves.. The Sindhi and Punjabi sufis wove motifs from everyday life of these simple folk to portray the various shades and subtleties of passion of a lover separated from her beloved the individual soul yearning for annihilation and unity with the Eternal: blending cultural traditions with Islamic mysticism. In a continent where people lived and died within the barriers of caste, community and religion, these Sufis rose above all barriers and opened their hearts and souls to all humanity, defying the orthodox pandits and narrow minded maulawis.



Among the wilderness heights, where not a bird can perch burns the dhuni of yogis..

- Shah Latif

In the 18th century the mighty Indus river chartered a different course; it carried more water and its banks and valleys were a lot greener than they are today. In the region of Sindh or Mehwar, as it was called then, the river was, and still is, flanked by the hills of Gorakh, Ganjo, and Kinjher, and by Hinglaj in Baluchistan. Among the pristine slopes of these hills roamed one of the greatest sufis of Sindh: Shah Abdul Latif. Through, valleys, hills and along rivers he wandered seeking the company of Nath Yogis, following their dhunis (ritual fires) which they would set alight among the highest and remote peaks of these hills. Though born into a family of sufis, it was in the company of these yogis that Shah Latif grasped the mysteries of life and reality. He would also live among farmers and shepherds, weaving great mystical truths into their folklore and ballads. Shah Latif was an uwaisi mystic i.e. he had no predecessor or master and therefore did not belong to any of the formal sufi orders or tariquaas.

Hal qurban, mal qurban According to Shah Latif, on the Path, both bliss of the mystical states and worldly possessions have to be sacrificed. The Path is difficult and the mountains too steep to weigh down your mind with any burdens or attachments. Shah Abdul Latif was born in 1689 in Hala, near present day Hyderabad (Sind, Pakistan). He is believed to have roamed in the company of yogis for three years and travelled as far as Baluchistan, Rajasthan, Kutch and Kathiawar. The collection of his mystical poems titled, Shah jo Risalo (The book of Shah). It comprises of more than 1200 pages and contains 30 surs based on different ragas. Some of these ragas are from Indian classical music and some were originally composed by Shah Latif himself. The Risalo begins with Sur Kalyan: it describes the One God and its various manifestations and the suffering that the Seeker has to endure on the path of devotion. This is followed by Sur Yaman Kalyan and Sur Khanbhat.Sur Sarirag and Sur Samundi, the latter describes the trials and tribulations of a seafarer on his final Journey. In some of his surs, Shah Latif has dealt exclusively with the traits/signs of the true men of God: Sufis and Yogis. Above all, Shah Latif emphasises the importance of Ikhlas:sincerity and adab: right behaviour or conduct for the tavellers of the Path.The Risalo uses a combinations of metaphors, symbols and folk tales to reveal the secrets of the Path. Among the most popular of his poems, which were composed in the form of Kafis or Ways and Bayts, are those based on the folktales of legendary lovers like Sohni-Mehanwal, Sassai-Punhun and Nuri-Tamachi. Surrender all actions to the Glorious whom you seek Without grief or thought and His grace will bring to you what you need..

Shah advises the estranged lovers to forsake greed and become humble, tauba or repentance is essential on the path to the Beloved, taming of the nafs (the lower soul or the ego)symbolised by the camel and constant wakefulness, tawakkul:trust in God and complete surrender to the will of God, sabr: patience and rida: contentment advised for the lovers, travellers and seafarers. Nothing that comes from the beloved is bitter all is sweet if you taste it with faith Sassui, a washer mans daughter, separated from her lover Prince-Tamachi, wandering alone in the desert, lonely and hopeless symbolic of the various stages of the separated soul before it can be one with God: hope, longing, fear and annihilationShe finally realizes that Tamachi is no longer apart from her, but within her own heart and the outward journey is transformed into a journey within and finally the destination, the state fana: annihilation in God is realised. But this Path , according to Shah Latiff, is treacherous: the company of the Yogis is not for the weak.only those who are predestined to wear the cap of the Sufis can walk this Path.. In his later years, Shah Latif settled at Bhit, not far from Hala, and spent the rest of his life in the company of his disciples. His beautiful shrine at Bhit Shah is as exquisite as his poetry.

The land of Sind also harboured other sufi saints like Lal Shahbaz Kalandar who lived on the west bank of lower Indus besides a Shiva lingam, this lingam still stands besides his tomb today at Sehwan; Sachal Sarmast also known as the Attar of Sind, who was a companion of Shah Latif, and

a sufi poet who wrote in Sindhi, Sairaki, Urdu and Persian. At Makli Hill near Thatta are buried 125,000 saints of Sind. Even the Hindus of Sind came under the influence of these great sufis. Hindu writers used Muslim imagery in their mystical poems and in the Taziya during the Muharram mourning of the Shia community of Sind.

Kabir: the weaver of mystic

Posted on October 16, 2007

Where do you seek me O devout? I reside neither in the temple or in the mosque neither Kashi or in Kaba Neither in rites or in ceremonies Neither in Yoga or in renunciation the true seeker shall find me in a moments realisation for I reside in the very breath of your being. (translated from the Bijak collection of Kabir sayings) Sometime in the 15th century lived a julaha a low caste muslim weaver, who preached the oneness of all men and all beliefs, the futility of all religions and rituals and the eventual passing away of all that is of flesh or of material in this phenomenal world. His name was Kabir.He claimed no sainthood or a personal philosophy. He taught the religion of love, in a language that could be understood by all the twilight language of the mystic poets, bhakti saints and sufi poets. Kabir was the first, the first to imbibe a pluralistic tradition in his teachings and poetry, the first to transcend both Hinduism and Islam. Many were to follow in his foot steps.Akbar, Dara Shikoh, Amir Khusro., but Kabir was the first to win the hearts and souls of the people who mattered the common people of this land.An illiterate, he spoke of

the highest esoteric truths in a simple language. A simplicity that the learned pundits and maulvis are incapable of. One can see the synretistic reflections of Advaita theology and intense and personal passion of Islamic mysticism in his spontaneous compositions.Indian sufis in Delhi, Agra and Kashmir were reading his poetry during the rule of Jehangir and Shah Jahan. He was a predecessor of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion and the sacred Guru Granth Sahib contains a substantial number of Kabirs verses. Kabir is believed to have been born around 1398 and died around 1448. Most of his life was spent in the Banaras-Magahar region of present Uttar Pradesh . He was a family man and did not retire from the world to pursue a life of contemplation. He lived the simple life of a Julaha and died like one, earning his living at the loom and spurning the company of the learned and royality alike. He beleived that the simple and hardworking life of an ordinary man was the world in which the quest for Higher Reality could be fullfilled.According to Kabir, every individual has to find his own Path and seek liberation from this illusory world of Maya. This, he says, can be achieved through unwavering love for the Higher Reality or God and compassion for fellow humans. He compares the individual soul or atman to the Hansa or swan, who will leave the cage of this body and fly away into the vastness of the limitless sky: Ud Jayega Huns Akela, Jug Darshan Ka Mela Jaise Paat Gire Taruvar Se, Milna Bahut Duhela Naa Jane Kidhar Girega, Lageya Pawan Ka Rela Jub Howe Umur Puri, Jab Chute Ga Hukum Huzuri Jum Ke Doot Bade Mazboot, Jum Se Pada Jhamela Das Kabir Har Ke Gun Gawe, Wah Har Ko Paran Pawe Guru Ki Karni Guru Jayega, Chele Ki Karni Chela this can be loosely translated as : Alone you shall fly O Swan

This world is a brief fanfare Like a leaf that falls from a tree where to it will fall, where to the wind will carry it no one can tell once your life is over servitude and slavery is over the omens of Yam (Death) are strong it is Yam (Death) you will encounter Kabir had immersed himself in the praise of God and God he will attain the Guru will reap his karmas and the desciple his.

Kabirs another composition addresses the Swan thus :

O Swan let us talk of ancient tales where from have you come and what dark shores do you seek ?

wake ! arise! the morning is upon us follow me and I will take you to a land where there is no sorrow no fear of death where the wind blows with the fragrance of I am thou in Whose nectar the bee of the heart is deeply immersed and yearns for no other joy

Ironically, after his death, by building a Hindu samadhi and a Muslim shrine in his honour , his Hindu and Muslim followers re-created the very barriers that Kabir sought to destroy in his life time.

Namboothiris and the Malayalam Literature

INTRODUCTION The Namboothiri community, by virtue of their extra-ordinary intellectual prowess, inherent nobility of character, simple living and high thinking, refined sense of humour and scholarship in several disciplines, commanded respect in the society. They occupied the top position in the social hierarchy. The contribution of Namboothiris to Malayalam literature as well as other branches of knowledge is unmatched by any other community of Kerala. They were pathfinders in many fields like philosophy, astrology, architecture, mathematics, grammar, etc. The dominant sway of the Namboothiris lasted till the 19th century when modern English education was introduced throughout the state. It is proposed to deal with the contribution of Namboothiris, broadly classifying them into three periods, (A) Ancient - meaning from the earliest to about 18th century AD; (B) Medieval - from 18th and 19th centuries; and (C) Modern - meaning from the start of the 20th century to date.

(A) Ancient Period

1. THOLAN Tholan is admittedly the first Namboothiri poet of Malayalam. According to the legend he was the originator of what is called "Manipravaalam", an unique poetic style, an admixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam words. He was a court poet and jester of Kulasekhara (Click here to know more about Kulasekhara), and parodied the original Sanskrit "Slokams" in Malayalam. He is also reputed to have enacted the role of Sakunthala and lampooned the original play written by his master. Kunhikuttan Thampuran is of the opinion that his name was Neelakandhan. According to Ulloor, Tholan is a derivative of the word Athulan meaning peerless. He is believed to have been born in the 9th century AD at a place near Adoor. He lampooned the idiosyncrasies and idiocies of Malayalam poetic style of that age. His greatest contribution is the systematisation and codification of rules regarding the presentation of Koodiyattam and Koothu. He is considered the author of the manuals of acting ("Aattaprakaarams") of several plays in Koodiyaattam. 2. CHERUSSERY Cherussery Namboodiri is believed to have lived between 1375 and 1475 AD. Cherussery is the name of his ancestral Illam (home). He was born in Kaanathoor village in Kolathunadu in Kannur Dist. in north Malabar. Many scholars think he is none other than Punathil Sankaran Namboodiri. He was a court poet and dependent of Udayavarma Raja of Kolathunadu. His masterpiece is "Krishnagaathha" a long poem of epical dimensions written at the behest of the Raja. It is the first "Mahaakaavyam" in Malayalam. Udayavarma rewarded him with "Veerasrimkhala" and other honours. Some scholars think that he also wrote "Cherussery Bhaaratham". Cherussery is the originator of the "Gaathha" style of poetry in Malayalam. "Krishnagaathha" is the detailed description of the boyhood pranks of Lord Krishna based on the 10th canto of "Srimad Bhaagavatham". 3. POONTHAANAM Poonthaanam is undoubtedly the first Malayalam poet who made poetry an effective medium of selfexpression. Even though it may sound anachronistic, it can be safely and truly said that he is the first "romantic" poet of Malayalam. He is believed to be anterior to Ezhuthachhan, considered the father of Modern Malayalam poetic style. Poonthaanam's "Jnaanappaana" (song of wisdom) is the best example of emotion recollected in tranquility. It is the out-pourings of his mournful sentiments at the loss of his only son barely six months old, who was born in his old age. It is the most evocative, forceful, simple, natural, elegiac poem in Malayalam. Considered one of the pioneering devotional poets of Malayalam, Poonthaanam has got some unique distinctions. He is a poet of national vision and outlook. He sees "Bhaarath" (India) as an entity. He is also a strong critic of his contemporary society. In this respect he resembles another devotional poet Kabir. Jnaanappaana is the best example of the principle that everything great will be utterly simple. He is also the author of "Santhaana Gopaalam Paana" and several devotional poems like "Ghanasamgham", "Sreekrishna Karnaamritam", "Aanandaamritham", "Noottettu Hari", etc. He was an ardent devotee of Guvuvaayoorappan, and a contemporary of Melputhur Narayana Bhattathiri, author of "Naaraayaneeyam". 4. PUNAM NAMBOODIRI Punam Namboodiri, who lived between 1425 and 1505, was born in Kaanathur in Kannur Dist. Many believe that he is none other than Ponathil Kunhi Nambidi. He was an honoured member of the court of the Zamorin of Calicut. He was the only Malayalam poet well known as "Arakkavi" (half poet or royal poet) in the court of Maanavikraman who had a royal court of eighteen (and a half) scholars and poets [click here for "Pathinettara (18 ) Kavikal"]. He had according to legend, close relations with a prostitute called Maaralekha, as stated in "Chandrolsavam". He wrote both in Sanskrit and Malayalam.

His main work which can be described as his magnum opus is the "Raamaayana Champu" and doubtfully "Bhaaratha Champu" and also several Muktakams. 5. MAZHAMANGALAM NARAYANAN NAMBOODIRI There are more than one poet belonging to Mazhamangalam Illam. The most famous one, Narayanan Namboodiri (1525-1595) was a well-known scholar-poet and author of almost a dozen books. His Illam is In Peruvanam, Cherpu near Thrissur. He learned three Vedams and six Sasthrams from the Chola Kingdom, according to legend. He was a priest of the famous Paramekkavu Temple, Thrissur. But he was an ardent devotee of the goddess of Oorakam temple and a loyal servant of the Maharaja of Kochi. He was also well-known as an eminent astrologer. He died in 1595. His main works are "Naishadham", "Rajarathnaavaleeyam", "Kotiyaviraham", "Baanayudhham" and "Raasakreeda", all Champus and four Braahmani songs like "Thiruvritham", "Daarika vadham", etc. and also some works in Sanskrit. 6. MAZHAMANGALM SANKARAN NAMBOODIRI He is the father of Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri. He lived between 1494 and 1575. He spent most of his active life in Chengannoor as a disciple of Maveli Potti. He was the author of dozen books of technical nature like "Panchabodham", "Panchabodhaarthha Darpanam", "Bhaashaa Sangraham", "Muhoortha Padavi", etc. 7. EDAKRAMANCHERY NAMBOODIRI Believed to have been lived between 1625 - 1725. His native place was Perumanoor, Kozhikode district. His "Guru" (teacher) was Mangalassery Damodaran Namboodiri. His fame mainly rests as an outstanding astrologer. He is the author of "Bhadradeepam" a book on Astrology. 8. JAYANTHAN NAMBUDIRIPAD He belonged to the well known Nambudiri house of Kirangatt Mana near Cherpu, Thrissur and is believed to have lived between 1625 and 1725. His main works are "Shodasa Kriya Kaarika" and "Aasoucha Keli" (Manipravaalam). 9. KAADANCHERY NAMBOODIRI A scholarly poet believed to have born between 1625 and 1725 in the Kaadanchery Mana in South Malabar. He is the author of "Maamaamkodhhaaranam Kilippaattu". 10. CHELAPARAMBU NAMBOODIRI Chelaparambu Namboodiri (between 1690 and 1780) was a highly talented poet who can be described as the morning star of a new poetic movement in Malayalam called "Venmani movement". He introduced a refreshingly simple and natural poetic diction in place of Sanskritised "Manipravaalam" on the one hand and pure Malayalam songs on the other. His style symbolized the best in both the styles. His poetry took incidents and experiences of his own life instead of puranic episodes as their theme. In this respect also it was a harbinger of Venmani movement of the 19th century. Unfortunately we have got only some "Muktakams" or single "Slokams" in Malayalam and Sanskrit composed by him. A study of these verses prove him to be an important milestone in the development of Malayalam poetry towards romanticism. Just like

Poonthaanam, he also gave expression to this inner feelings through his poems. According to the legend he merged with the Guruvaayoorappan while prostrating before Him. 11. POONTHOTTAM PARAMESWARAN NAMBOODIRI There were two Namboodiri poets belonging to Poonthottam Illam - father and son. But normally we refer to the senior poet by this name. He was Parameswaran Namboodiri born in 1821 in Killikkurissimangalam, Palakkad district. He was a close friend and associate of Venmani Achhan Namboothiripad with whom he went to Kodungalloor and stayed there. He was a highly talented poet of refined sense of humour and simple forceful diction. His poetry is also characterised by amazing flights of fancy and imagination. He has written several books of which we have got only a few like "Ambareesha Charitham" (Ottan Thullal), "Kaalakeya Vadham" Seethankan Thullal), "Syamanthakam" (Aattakkathha) and a few "Muktakams".He had eight children of whom his son, Damodaran Namboodiri, was also a gifted poet. He died in 1865. 12. POONTHOTTAM DAMODARAN NAMBOODIRI He was born in 1857. Like his father Paramesawan Namboodiri, he was also an outstanding poet of Venmani movement. He was the author of several Malayalam poems like "Thaarakaasura Vadham", "Raajasooyam", "Kuchelavritham", "Guruvaayupura Maahaatmyam", etc. He died in 1946.

(B) Medieval Period

1. VISHNU NAMBUDIRIPAD, VENMANI As far as can be ascertained Vishnu Nambudiripad is the first known poet of the celebrated Venmani family which is in Vellarappilly, north of the Periyar river. The exact dates of his birth and death are not known. He was a highly talented poet but was involved in religious, philosophical and spiritual pursuits. He was the paternal uncle (fathers younger brother or Apphan) of Venmani Achhan Nambudiripad. His poems do not have the typical stamp of the Venmani School of poetry. His is the author of 1. Ganapath Praathal, 2. Raghuvamsam, 3. Samsariyute Paaraavasyam and some other minor works. The most well known among his poetic output is the Slokam starting "Choodaykil Thulaseedalam Yamabhata Thallinnu Chootayvarum". 2. PARAMESWARAN NAMBUDIRIPAD, PURAYANNUR (1775 - 1839) He was born in the well-known Purayannur Mana in Palakkad district, in 1775. He is the author of the legendary "Bhaagavatham Dasamam Kilippaattu". Very little is known about the life-history of Parameswaran Nambudiripad. He was a profound scholar who also wrote a masterly commentary called "Varadeepika" to the celebrated text of horoscope, "Muhoorthapadavi" of Mathur Nambudiripad. His Dasamam is noted by the simplicity of style, because it was written for the ladies for their daily recitation. He is also believed to have written another Kilippaattu called "Kusalavopaakhyaanam" which is also equally beautiful. He followed the footsteps of Ezhuthachhan, father of the Kilippaattu movement. 3. NARAYANAN NAMBOODIRI, ETAVATTIKKAAD ( . - 1815) There were two well-known poets belonging to Etavattikkaad Illam in Kunnathunad, Ernakulam district. Narayanan (Anujan) Namboodiri was the famous poet while his elder brother, Thuppan Namboodiri was a great astrologer and magician. Both were educated in Vedam. Even in those days, Narayanan alias Anujan used to write witty and humerous poems. After Vedic studies, he and his brother went to Akavoor Nambudiripad who advised them to go back and study Tharkam (logic) and other Saasthrams, and they obeyed it. Both of them earned the respect of everybody - one as a divine scholar and the other as a

highly-gifted poet. Thuppan Namboodiri married a Varier girl in Vellarappilly in Ernakulam district and was highly enamoured by her. Ridiculing him for this indulgence, the elder brother wrote a sarcastic two-liner of a Slokam on the wall of the village temple. Anujan on seeing this, wrote another couplet completing it, the next day, earning the appreciation of his elder brother. These brothers were called "Budhan" and "Sukran". Narayanan Namboodiri is believed to have died in 1815. We have got two Sanskrit "Champoos" by Narayanan Namboodiri : 1. "Rugmaangada Charitham", and 2. "Rugmineeswayamvaram". Both these are marked by high degree of literary finesse. It is said that Narayanan also wrote an Aattakkathha ( Kathhakali play ) called "Vaisaakhapuraanam" while Thuppan reportedly wrote "Baanayudhham" Aattakkathha. 4. ACHHAN NAMBUDIRIPAD, VENMANI (1817-1890) Achhan (Parameswaran) Nambudiripad of Venmani Illam was the most revered poet of the age. It was he who prepared the ground for the birth and growth of the poetic movement called Venmani movement (Prasthhaanam) which brought about a thorough, revolutionary transformation both in content and form mainly in diction and style - of Malayalam poetry. Rare indeed is the instance of an epoch -making literary movement named after a poet. His paternal uncle Vishnu Nambudiripad was also a well-known poet. Achhan Nambudiripad who was born in 1817 carefully studied the poetic trends and styles, which were in vogue till his time. He evolved an utterly simple poetic style, which the common people understood and appreciated. He married Sreedevi of Polpaya Mana and another girl from the Kodungalloor Royal Palace. He advised his sons, the celebrated poetic duo Venmani Mahan (son) and Kunhikuttan Thampuraan to write only in the Language we speak, whatever be the topic and theme. He was extremely fortunate to see the poetic movement of his dreams grow into a huge tree bearing sweet fruits. It is our misfortune that we have got only a small portion of his poetic output. None of his poems was printed and published in his lifetime. Still they were very popular and people knew them by-heart. Such was the intimate and direct appeal of those poems. He died in 1890. He was the initiator of two new poetic forms: (a) A long narrative or descriptive poem or travelogue addressing ones own beloved. (b) Letter-writing in verse. These two poetic forms became very popular among the poets and the reading public. In short, Venmani can, in every sense, be described as a trend-setter in Malayalam poetry. Venmani movement is next only to the "Kilippaattu" movement started by Ezhuthachhan in the matter of influence on the development of later poetry. 5. NARAYANAN NAMBUDIRIPAD, AKAVOOR (1837-1899) He was born in the legendary Akavoor Mana, near Aluva in 1837. His "Ammaathu" (mothers house) was Kizhekke Polpakkara Mana, Edapal. He married from Puliyannoor Mana in which wedlock he had four sons and one daughter. He was called "Valiya Thampuraan" and respected by one and all. He never touched money with his hands. He was a great scholar, poet, well-versed in the Puraanams, an expert connoisseur of Kathhakali, music and other fine arts. He was the author of about a dozen Kathhakali plays all of which were staged under the auspices of Akavoor Kali Yogam. He was a great patron of Arts and Artists. It was he who started the famous Akavoor Kali Yogam. He died in 1899. Two of his Aattakkathhaas, "Devayaani Charitham" and "Aswamedham" were published by the Kerala University in the volume called "Unpublished Aattakathhaas". Both were written about 1894. Another Aattakathha "Paathaalavijayam" was staged in Delhi by the International Centre for Kathhakali. His Aattakkathhaas are : (1) Devayaani Charitham, (2) Devayaani Parinayam, (3) Doothavaakyam, (4) Yayaathi Saapamoksham, (5) Pattaabhishekam, (6) Khaandavadaaham, (7) Paathaalavijayam, (8)

Raajasooyam, (9) Aswamedham, (10) Shatamukha Vadham, and (11) Nahusha Vijayam (apart from other devotional poems). 6. ARYAN NARAYANAN MOOSS, VAYASKARA (1841-1902) His real name was Sankaran but was called by his family title of Aryan Narayanan. He was born in 1841 in Vayaskara Illam near Kottayam. He earned sound knowledge of Sanskrit and Aayurvedam in his boyhood. He started Aayurvedic practice before he attended majority because he became thorough with the theory and practice. He married from Thaikkatt Mooss family near Thrissur in which he had three sons and three daughters. But he lost all the sons and one daughter in their infancy and lost his wife also in 1882. In his second marriage he had three sons. He died in 1902. He was a great friend and benefactor of scholars and poets. Venmani Mahan was his bosom friend. Many were the poets who were his admirers. His main works are: (a) Sanskrit - 1. Sayana Sandesam (a humourous poem); 2. Nakshathra Vrithaavali; 3. Saasthrasthuti; (b) Malayalam - 1. Vaishaakhamaahatmyam; 2. Duryodhana Vadham (both Aattakathaas, the later being the most popular on the stage); 3. Mohini Mohanam; 4. Raavanaarjunam and Manorama Vijayam (all plays). He has also translated the Niranunaasika Prabandham of Melpathur which is a masterpiece because the translated version also without moral characters. 7. ACHHAN NAMBOODIRI, NADUVAM (1841-1913) Like Venmani Achhan, Achhan (Diwakaran) Namboodiri of Naduvam Illam near Chalakkudi, Thrissur Dist., was also a very senior and respected poet of the times. His contemporaries considered him a preceptor and Guru. Born in 1841, his adviser and guide in matters of poetry was Poonthottam Achhan Namboodiri. He learned Sanskrit and Ayurvedam. But due to the utter poverty at home, he could not continue his education. He had two sons and a daughter. The eldest son Narayanan was none other than the highly gifted and well-known poet Naduvath Mahan (1868-1944). His wife became seriously ill in 1865 and was under treatment of Thaikatt Narayanan Mooss. This was a blessing in disguise for him since he got an opportunity to learn Ayuvedam from Mooss and later become a good Ayurvedic physician of repute. But real tragedy struck him in the form of the death of his near ones, one by one. In 1875 he lost his brother and brothers son. His Illam was completely burnt down. And in 1890 he lost his dear son, Sankaran at the young age of 23 and in 1904 his daughter drowned in the river. He wrote a few heartrending lines and sent them to Kerala Chandrika and Malayala Manorama. This is a very significant poem since it is the first elegy in Malayalam. He suffered a wound in his foot in 1910, which was healed after long and expert treatment. All the 31 well known poets of Malayalam wrote prayers in poetry for his cure. This is called "Arogyasthavam". But in 1913 he breathed his last at peace with himself and in practically good health. His main works are (a) Ambopadesam, (b) Bhagavalstuthi (in atonement), (c) Bhagavad Doothu (drama) which is undoubtedly his master-piece, (d) Sringeri Yaathra (a travelogue in verse) (e) AshtamiYaathra (another travelogue in verse), (f) Aarogyasthavam and many other incomplete works and minor works including letters in verse. His poetry is characterised by serenity and purity of thought, chastity of style, and undercurrent of pathos, natural simplicity and intimacy of expression and a high degree of refinement. 8. MURINGOOR SANKARAN POTTI (1843-1905) He is best known as the author of one of the most popular Aattakathaas, "Kuchelavritham, though he has written other works also.

He was born in 1843 in Muringoor Madham of Thiruvalla. He lost both his parents early in life. According to his own admission, he learnt Sanskrit from his Guru called Narayanan. Though he married, he had no issues. He died in 1905. His main works are 1. Valkalavadham, 2. Kuchelavritham (he called it Kuchelodayam), 3. Malayavathi Swayamvaram, all of them being Aattakathaas. He participated in several literary debates and arguments of the time. The most well known among them is the one with Vilvattath Raghavan Nambiar. He was a close friend of Venmani Mahan. He sent his Kuchelavritham to Venmani for opinion. Venmanis certificate reveals the amazing expertise and insight whichVenmani had in Kathakali as well as his divine power of prediction. Venmani had no doubt that Kuchelavritham will gain top position on the Kathakali stage - just like the Kottayam plays, Thampis plays and Unnayis play. How prophetic he proved himself to be! 9. MAHAN NAMBUDIRIPAD, VENMANI (1844-1893) Venmani Mahan (Kadamban) Nambudiripad can rightly be described as a great son of a great father. His mother was Sreedevi of Polpaya Mana. After the demise of his father, Mahan was the "Aachaaryan" and guiding spirit of the Kodungallor Kalari or training centre which was virtually a University. He was the greatest architect of the Venmani movement who established it on a sound footing. There was nobody who could approach him in the matter of Shakti or inborn poetic genius which was his mainstay. He was extremely intelligent with a wonderful memory power. Another asset was his unmatched sense of humour. It is these qualifications, combined with the absence of pedantry and scholastic profundity, which made whatever he wrote, endearing. We have to remember that in those days poetry was enjoyed not visually but through ears. His poems by their intrinsic qualities, immediately registered in the minds of the listeners, never to be erased. That is why they were recited throughout the length and breadth of Kerala though none of them was printed or published. Venmani Mahan was born in 1844 in the legendary Venmani Mana of meager means. He did not have any lessons in Sanskrit worth mentioning except the Vedams and he was a reputed scholar and practitioner of Rig Vedam. He started writing poetry from a very early age, but because of his natural laziness and lethargy he could not finish most of his poems. He never kept any of his poems in written form because he could recite whatever he wrote, at any required time. He was most careless and indifferent by nature. His main poems are (a) Pooraprabandham, a highly enjoyable poem serving the purposes of a travelogue, feature article and a long letter in verse. It is about the world famous Pooram of Thrissur. He wanted to write 1,000 verses and call it Poorasahasram but we have got only about 400 poems, though an obituary note by C P Achyutha Menon records that only about 700 verses were available. No body knows what happened to the rest; (b) Bhothibhooshacharitam another long poem left incomplete; (c) Three Aattakathhaas (not available); (d) Four Thullal works; (e) Four plays (incomplete); (f) Numerous songs, devotional verses and erotic verses; (g) Madhuraapuricharitam, a travelogue left incomplete; (h) Ambopadesam; (i) Kavipushpamaala, long poem comparing the eminent poetry of the time to a flower each; This is his most outstanding work; (j) Sangamesa Yaathra, another incomplete travelogue in work; (k) Sangamesaashtakam; (l) Ajaamilamoksham; and (m) Translations. His poetry reveals his mastery of poetic style, peerless and unmitigated sarcasm and sense of humour, and matchless transparency and intimacy of diction. He died in 1893 of small pox at the age of 49. 10. KARUTHA PAARA (1846 - 1898) Karutha Paara Damodaran Namboodiri was a contemporary and close friend of Venmani Mahan Nambudiripad. Though his original ancestral house was in Thriprangode in the erstwhile Malabar area, he belonged to the branch settled in Kudamaaloor, Kottayam. Endowed with natural talent enriched by reading and scholarship, his poetry had more seriousness than Venmanis, but lacks in that charming quality of natural flow and innate sense of humour. Even in his boyhood he acquired deep knowledge of

Kaavyam, Tharkam (logic), Vedaantham (philosophy), Vyaakarnam (grammer), etc. He widened the horizon of his knowledge and experience through constant reading of Puraanams (epics) and other poetical works. He started writing poetry from a very early age. He was a veritable traveller. He was a favourite friend of many royal families and Namboothiri landlords but his greatest patron was the Saamoothiri of Kozhikode. Though he married from the Vilaayikkot Illam of Kudaamalloor, he had only a daughter - just like his bosom friend Venmani Mahan. He is the author of several books both in Sanskrit and Malayalam, the chief of them being: (a) SANSKRIT - 1. Akshayapaathra Vyaayogam, 2. Kulashekhara Vijayam - drama 3. Mandaaramaalika Veethhi, 4. Vishnubhujamga Prayaatham. (b) MALAYALAM - 1. Rukmini Swayamvaram (poem), 2. Morajapa Prabandham, 3. Akshayapaathra Vyaayogam, 4. Abhimanyu Ulbhavam (drama), 5. Krishnaarjunam (drama), 6. Baala Dhruvacharitam, 7. Ajaamila Moksham (drama), 8. Rukmini Swayamvaram (drama), 9. Kamaakshi Sekharam (drama), 10. Doothaghatotkacham (Aattakatha), etc. He died in 1898. 11. VASUNNI MOOSS (1855 - 1913) Vasunni Mooss was a multifaceted genius. He was a well-known Kathakali actor also. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and teacher. He was also the founding editor of Vijaana Chinthaamani and the founder of Aarogya Chinthaamani Vaidyasaala. He was well-versed in Astrology and Aayurvedam. He is the author of several books among which mention may be made of (1) Saamoothiri Charitam, (2) Mayastavam, (3) Saaroopya Saamraajyam, (4) Janaranjini Vijayam, (5) Onavratham, all poems, and also two collections of short stories. He died in 1913. 12. NEELAKANDHAN NAMBOODIRI, ORAWANKARA (1857-1917) Oravankara can be described as the scholar-poet of the period. He was a serious poet while his contemporaries were generally speaking, poets who wrote in lighter vein. He was a highly gifted poet with a refined sense of humour and inspired by a clear vision and mission of life. He never wanted to write frivolous poems. Every poem he wrote bore the mark of his scholarship and seriousness. Moreover, his poems reflect the extra-ordinary care and attention he bestowed on style and presentation. This gives a kind of artificiality to his poetic style though it was very much with seriousness of thought, profundity of his knowledge of Thaantric rites and extra-seriousness of expression almost giving an impression of a lack of natural spontaneity. He was born in 1857 in Oravankara Illam in Annamanada in Thrissur district. After his initial training in Sanskrit from his father, he went to Kodungalloor at the age of 17 for higher studies in Sanskrit under the celebrated scholar Vidwan Kunhirama Verma. He was an expert in sorcery and witchcraft. He was involved in a very serious and long drawn-out court case resulting in loss of both wealth and health. He had married from outside his caste. He died in 1916. Since he was practically on the move most of the time in connection with court cases and sorcery, he could not get enough time and leisure for literary action. Moreover, many of his poems were lost. Only those written after 1882 are available with us. A majority of them are devotional which are rather high brow, pedantic and pregnant with high philosophy and heavy style. Important among the rest are: 1. Baalopadesam; 2. Kuchela Vritham (Ottanthullal); 3. Varadopaakhyaanam; 4. Several devotional songs; 5. Bhaimee Parinayam (drama); 6. Deveemaahaatmyam (only 13 Slokams out of 200 are available); 7.

Azhakapuri Varnanam, written on the model of Venmani M ahans descriptive poem; 8. Letters in verse; and 9. Ambika Vinisati. 13. NARAYANAN NAMBUDIRI, SEEVOLLI (1868-1905) Seevolli is number one among the Venmani poets in many aspects. He is gifted with multifarious faculties like inborn talent, brilliant sharp intellect, acquired knowledge of many subjects, mastery of various languages, mastery of different professions, wide experience grained from travels, uninhibited sense of humour, unsullied purity and nobility of character, humility and respect for others and above every thing else a clear and definite aim in life and literary activities. He is one of the few poets who never wrote a single word without a sense of purpose. Every poem he wrote is a bitter pungent medicine administered to a Malayalam poetry, very ill and afflicted with very serious complaints. He made vitriolic humour and sarcasm his main tool of criticism. Born in 1868 in Seevolli Illam near Aluva, he learned Sanskrit including technical subjects like grammer, logic, astrology, etc. He also studied English. He studied Aayurvedam under the well known Thaikkatt Mooss. Seeing the extraordinary brilliance of the disciple, Mooss taught him many unusual secret medical treatments. He also learned allopathy under a government doctor. He even performed caesarian operations that an Aayurvedic practitioner never does. He carefully studied the poetry of all his predecessors and evolved a new clean style combing all the good qualities and eschewing all the faults and flaws in them. He was very particular that his poetry should be devoid of any blemish. He knew Sanskrit, Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada and had working knowledge of Tulu, Marathi and English. He had acquired fairly good knowledge of music also. Another unique achievement is that in 1896 he travelled widely in India visiting Kashi, Mumbai, Kolkatta, etc., which was a real achievement at that time. And he cultivated close friendship with almost all the poets of the period. Around 1900, he suffered a severe colic pain which did not subside even after expert treatment. In 1905 he went to Chennai for surgery, fully aware that he was suffering from cancer, an incurable disease. He bade adieu to all his near and dear ones. Though expert doctors performed surgery, he could not be saved. In the last moments of his life he called his brother and dictated a Slokam, which is a standing monument to his nobility and greatness of personality. He was a rationalist who was at the same time a believer (an atheist) when an eminent scholar and physician suggested to him to make an offering of golden image to the God for the cure of his disease, his reaction was : "Is it so? Can a gift prevent death? In that case, the science of Aayurvedam must be wrong and useless". His main works are : 1. Madana Kethana Charitham, a long but incomplete work on the model of Bhoothibhoosha Charitham by Venmani; 2. Saaropadesa Dasakam, a work written when he was only 28 but evincing materials of thought and spirituality; 3. Oru Katha, another incomplete work of exquisite craftsmanship and refined sense of humour; 4. Dathyooha Sandesam, a sarcastic lampoon of Kerala Varmas Mayoorasandesam; and 5. Insparsa Naatakam, another burlesque like work lampooning the plethora of dramatic plays written in Malayalam after Kerala Varmas translation of Saakunthalam. His "Thullal" work, Ghoshayaathra, though incomplete, exemplies his mastery of the medium. His devotional Slokams (stanzas) exhibit a high sense of humour and wit. They are the best examples of the rare phenomenon of humour, in devotional poetry. He has also written two poems in Sanskrit - Paarvathi Viraham and Devimaahaatmyam. The latter work closely follows and resembles the celebrated Naaraayaneeyam by Melputhur. 14. MAHAN NAMBOODIRI, NADUVAM (1868 - 1944) Like Venmani Mahan, Naduvam Mahan (Narayanan) Namboodiri may be described as the celebrated son of the great father. He is the cream of Venmani style of poetry, gifted with an inborn poetic genius, refined sense of humour most pleasant and natural style and diction and biting sarcasm when occasion demands it. He is probably the last link in the long chain of poets trained in the Kodungalloor school.

Born in 1868, he had his initial training at home. After that he was taken to Kodungalloor which was practically a University or Academy of letters. There he got traditional and deep training in different branches like Kaavyam (poetry), Naatakam (drama), Alamkaaram (poetics) Vyaakaranam (grammer), etc. He got a job as Munshi in Kodumgalloor Govt. School. It was in Kodungalloor that he developed and improved his poetic talents. Venmani Mahan was his ideal Guru in poetic art. He was transferred to Pazhayannoor in 1895, where he stayed for five years. But on the death of his younger brother, he had to resign his job to look after his father and the family properties. He married Nanikkutty Amma from outside his caste. He was as adept in family management and business administration as in poetic art. He carried on his poetic pursuits with vigour in the midst of other busy pre-occupations. He had very cordial relationship with all the contemporary poets. Nobody has collected his poetic output. Apart from a few published poems like (1) Ambaashtavam (1898), (2) Saaropadesam, (3) Ghoshayaathra drama (1996), (4) Sthavamanjari (1925), (5) Mahatma Gandhi, (6) Mahatmajiyute Aasrama Pravesam, (7) Bhakthilahari, (8) Santhaana Gopalam, (9) Kaavyasakalangal (1926), (10) Guruvaayoorappanum Pishaarikkalammayum, (11) Uthararaamacharitham (drama in III act), (12) Mudraraakshasam (drama - 1893), (13) Kochi Theevanti (1902), (14) Shothrapaaraayanam (1944), his numberless poems lie scattered in several journals and publications. The last poem was written on the occasion of the birth. centenary celebrations of Venmani Mahan, scribbled a few weeks before he breathed his last. 15. NARAYANAN MOOSS, THAIKKAT (1870 - 1907) Narayanan Mooss of Thrissur Thaikkat Illam, which was once in Malabar, was one of the traditional Ashtavaidyans of Kerala and also a well-known poet of exceptional talent. He earned his name and fame both as an expert physician and a popular poet known for his refined sense of humour and faultless, easy-flowing diction. He was born in 1870. He lost his father and both his brothers at a very young age. All of the three died of small pox in the same month, leaving him almost an orphan with a younger sister about 18 months and his mother. The family was rescued from this pitiable condition by the venerable Pulamanthol Mooss who took them to his house and made all arrangements for the education of Narayanan. But his benefactor died in 1902. He acquired sound knowledge of Sanskrit and training in Aayurvedam from Kuttancherry Mooss and others. He married in 1886 the daughter of Aryan Narayanan Mooss of Vayaskara Illam and settled in his own ancestral house in Thrissur. He earned a high reputation as a Vaidyan. He married a second time - second daughter of Vayaskara Mooss. He died in 1907. His main works are : (1) Yaadava Daanaveeyam, a long poem in Sanskrit, (2) Sindoora Manjari, (3) Kapotha Sandesam, (4) Nalacharitham (all poems in Malayalam), (5) Sringaara Mandanam Bhaanam (play), and (6) Viraata Vadham (Aattakkathha). Sindoora Manjari is a book on Aayurvedam. 16. NARAYANAN MOOSS (1878-1936) He was born in Taliparamba in North Malabar. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and Malayalam poet. He was a Malayalam pandit in Moothedath High school and the editor of "Sankara Narayanan" monthly. He died in 1936. Apart from Hanumad Vijayam Attakatha and Sree Rama Krishnaashtakam, he wrote innumerable poems which are not published. 17. AKAVOOR VASUDEVAN NAMBUDIRIPAD (1878 - 1952)

Vasudevan Nambudiripad of Akavoor Mana, popularly known as "Valiya Thampuraan" was a poet and a scholar in "Jyothisham", "Darsanams" and the "Puranams". He had memorized the entire Mahaabhaaratham. Although he had written a large number of poems, he had only two collections of poems - "Sreekrishna Sthuthi" and "Bhakthi Lahari". "Krishnopahaaram" (1949) is mostly prose, and contains also his own translation of a part of "Naaraayanopanishad". 18. AKAVOOR IRAVI NAMBUDIRIPAD (1881 - 1943) He is Vasudevan Nambudiripads "Vaimaathreya" (son of ones father by another woman) brother. He had very deep knowledge in the Vedams, "Jata - Rattha", ans Sanskrit. He had acquired knowledge in English and Hindi., which was commendably considering the period. He was at the same time, quite conservative in observing rites and rituals. His only publication is a collection of poems - "Sreekrishna Sthuthi", published in 1940. 19. ANUJAN NAMBUDIRIPAD, ALATHUR (1882-1943) He was a poet gifted with all the three essential qualities of an ideal poet, that is, (i) inborn talent, (ii) knowledge and wisdom gained from intelligent study of literary theories, and (iii) constant dedicated practice. He realized the inner secrecies of literary craft and his poems are proof of his sophistication and refinement. He was born in 1882 in Alathur Mana near Wadakkancherry in Thrissur Dist. as the son of Alathur Janardanan Nambudiripad. His real name was Krishnan. He studied Vedams and Sanskrit in the traditional way. He also learned Ayurvedam. He acquired knowledge in many disciplines. He was engaged in literary pursuits, journalism, and paediatrics and achieved commendable success in every field. He was an active worker of Yogakeshma Sabha and also editor of its mouthpiece "Unni Namboodiri". He was a correspondent of many papers and an ideal conversationalist. He died in 1943. He was a "Savyasaachi" being proficient in prose and poetry. He started writing from a very young age. Rani Gangadhara Lakshmi, a historical novel is one of his earlier works. He has also translated Bharthruhari into Malayalam in indigenous metres. He started a Nambudiri novel called "Vishnu Nambudiri" the earlier chapters of which were serialised in Kerala Vyaasan. His poetry can be described by two adjectives - decent and elegant. His magnum opus is Sahitya Sourabham which contains some articles on literary theories and five poems which exemplify and illustrate those literary principles. 20. PULIYOOR PURUSHOTHAMAN NAMBUDIRI (1889 - ? ) He was a great scholar poet and expert exponent of astrology. He was born in Puliyoor Illam of Chegannoor. He studied Sanskrit and astrology in the traditional way. He is the author of the famous Puliyoor Panchaangam, a respected and reliable almanac. He accomplished the rare feat of translating Naishadham Mahaakaavyam by Shreeharsha, a very hard nut to crack. 21. KOCHUNNI NAMBOODIRI, PATTAMANA (1894 - 1952) He was a well-known poet of the period.He was also an expert parodist. He was born in Pattamana Illam near Ettumanoor, Kottayam. After spending his childhood in his native place, he shifted to Kodunthirappully, near Palakkad, where he was a temple priest. He wrote a number of books, all of them testifying his extra-ordinary sense of humour and capacity for parodying. His main books are: 1. Konthapuraanam, 2. Pattimaahaatmyam, 3. Thaa -takaabhyudayam, 4.

Kapyaashtakam, 5. Dhoortha Sahasranaamam, 6. Sambandhha Sabhiam, 7. Kazhukaasura Vadham Kathhakali, etc. He was an exceptionally gifted humourist. He died in 1952. 22. PARAMESWARAN NAMBOODIRI, MATTHAM (1896 - ? ) He was in Kurichithanam in Kottayam district . He was well versed in Sanskrit, English, Hindi, Tamil, etc. He was a scholar poet. His main works are Suka Sandesam, Meghasandesam, Aryaamritham and Ayyappa Charitham.

(C) Modern Age

1. AKAVOOR NARAYANAN (DR.) Akavoor Narayanan Nambudiripad the eminent scholar and critic was born in 1929 in Akavoor Mana of legendary fame and historical importance in Ernakulam Dist, After learning Sanskrit and the Rigvedam in the traditional way, he had his modern education. He had his graduation (B Sc with Chemistry and Physics) and post-graduation (Malayalam) from Tranvancore (now Kerala) University. He joined Sree Kerala Varma College Thrissur in 1954 as Malayalam lecturer. He left the job and shifted to Delhi in 1961. After a short stint at D A V P, he joined I C A R as Editor-in-Charge (Malayalam). In1968 he joined the University of Delhi as Lecturer in Malayalam. His one important charge was teaching Malayalam to nonMalayalees. Another was taking classes on Comparative Indian Literature for the M Phil students. It was here that he worked on the contribution of Venmani Movement to Malayalam poetry and got his Ph D degree. The greatest benefit he got was the exposure to the wide world of other Indian languages and literatures. His colleagues were eminent scholars who taught all the modern Indian languages. One of them is Dr Indira Goswami, who got the Jnanpith award this year (2001). He retired in 1994. He is now serving on the advisory panel of several organizations like UPSC, UGC, Lal Bahadur National Academy of Administration, Mussourie, etc. as the language expert. He is the Chief Editor of "Pranavam" a journal of "Gayathry". He is also the Chairman of the Project Committee of the International Centre for Kathakali. He started writing in 1948. He has written articles on literary topics and book reviews in Malayalam and English in the leading journals. He used to review Malayalam books for "The Hindu" in the 1950s. Among his literary output the most monumental is "Venmani Prasthhanam", the only in-depth study of the poetic movement of the nineteenth century. He has also to his credit a dozen of other books, most of them being collection of literary essays. He has also written two books on the eminent personalities of performing arts and cultural life. He is the author of three Kathakali plays also. He has presented Seminar papers at several conferences apart from the Department seminars There are about three dozens of scholarly papers on different aspects of Malayalam literature which will be an invaluable treasure if published. A man of multifarious interests he is considered to be an authority on topics of Classical Literature and Classical Performing Arts. [He can be contacted at or] 2. AKKITHAM ACHYUTHAN NAMBOODIRI Akkitham Achyuthan Namboodiri is probably the most senior and serious Malayalam poet today. He was born in 1926 at Akkithathu Mana in Palakkad Dist .He had learned Vedams and Vedic rites, Sanskrit and Astrology in his childhood but he could not complete his college education. Even at a very young age he jumped into the Namboothiri Reformation movement of the Nambudiri Yogakshema Sabha. He was closely connected with the editorial work of many journals like "Unni Nambudiri"; "Yogakshemam", "Mangalodayam", etc. He joined All India Radio, Calicut as a Script Writer in1956 and continued there till 1975 when he joined AIR, Trichur as Editor of the Farm and Home programme. He retired in 1985. He was fortunate to hold several high positions like Director, S P C S, Member, Kerala Sahitya Academy, Vice-President Samskar Bharati, Agra, President, Vallathol Educational Trust, President, Edassery

Smaaraka Samithi, President, Vedic Trust, Panjal, President, Vilvamangalam Memorial Trust, VicePresident, Changampuzha Smaaraka Samithi, etc. Akkitham has got to his credit about forty five books including 25 collections of poems, 5 collections of essays, and selected poems in 3 volumes. But his magnum opus is the translation of "Srimad Bhaagavatham". It is no surprise that he has received several awards and honours like Sahithya Nipuna, Sahithyaratna, Panditharatnam, Kerala Sahitya Academy Award, Sahitya Academi Award, New Delhi, Odakuzhal Award, Ulloor Award, Asan Award, Vallathol Award, Deviprasadam Award, etc. 3. ANUJAN O M (DR.) O M Anujan was born in 1928 in Olappamanna Mana (Palakkad district), a well-known aristocratic family of Kerala, famous for the promotion and patronage of literature, classical performing arts and Vedic studies. Anujan grew up in an atmosphere conducive to the development of his inborn talents. He took his B A from University of Madras and M A from University of Kerala. He served as Assistant Professor of Malayalam in Madras for a short period, which helped him to come in contact with other languages and literatures. In 1959 he migrated to Delhi to work as a lecturer in Malayalam in the Department of Modern Indian Languages of the University of Delhi. He served the department with distinction for more than three decades and retired as a professor. During this period he worked on the metres of Malayalam and obtained his Ph D. Anujans poetry can be described as a continuation of evolution of the romantic tradition of the ealier poets like Vallathol, Sankara Kurup and Changampuzha. He is not a blind follower of "Modernism" so far as the content and form of his poetry is concerned. He gives expression to his feelings and thoughts in a more cultured, refined and subtle manner than most of his contemporaries. His approach is more rational and objective than emotional. Anujan has more than a dozen collection of poems to his credit, apart from some other minor works,, the significant collections being : Poetry - Actaeon (1961), Nagarasilpikal (1961), Vaisaakham (1966), Srishti (1967), Jeevithakaavyam [autobiogrhy in verse] (2000). Travalogue -Poorva Europpil Oru Saamsakaarika Paryatanam. Aattakkathhaas - Nearly half a dozen in number. 4. ARYAN NAMBOODIRI P K Well-known personality in Malayalam literature as a journalist, author, short story writer, essayist and humorist. Aryan Namboodiri was born in 1915 in the Namboothiri family of Perunthadi near Amballur, Thrissur Dist. Though he had his early education in the Vedams and Sanskrit, he could not complete his school education beyond 7th standard. He learned Hindi by his own efforts and became a Hindi teacher for a very short period. From 1960 to 1973, he was Assistant Editor of the Malayalam daily, "Express" of Thrissur. He actively participated in the Nationalist movement and courted arrest. He has published short stories, poems, one-act plays and essays in several journals like "Unni Namboodiri", "Jayakeralam", "Chitrabhaanu", "Democrat", etc. He is also the author of a biography of Ottoor Kunhan Nambudiripad, "Naalukettilninnu Naattilekku", and also "Naduvam Kavikal" (biography and study of Naduvam poets). 5. BHATTATHIRI, KESAVAN Thamarassery Kesavan Bhattathiri, younger brother of Krishnan Bhattathiri was born in 1922. He was a scholar of Sanskrit and Hindi. Also he had expert knowledge of Astrology and Aayurvedam. From 1948 onwards, he was a Hindi teacher in a high school in his own village. He was also a gifted actor. His most celebrated work is the beautiful translation into Malayalam of the celebrated "Raama Charitha Maanas" of Thulasidas, apart from some other minor works like "Sree Sabarimala Dharmasaastha".

6. BHATTATHIRI, SANKARAN Thamarassery Sankaran Bhattathiri is the son of Krishnan Bhattathiri. He was born in 1929. He passed several examinations in Hindi like Vidwan, Visaarad, etc. He got the gold medal in the poetry competition conducted by the Samastha Kerala Sahithya Parishad at Thrissur in 1967. He was a high school teacher and has published poems both in Sanskrit and Hindi. Even now he is very active in the literary field. He writes poems of a religious nature in various journals of spiritual nature. 7. BHATTATHIRI T K Thamarassery Krishnan Bhattathiri, otherwise known as "Murali" was born in 1906 in the famous Thamarassery Mana of Kanjangad, Kannur district. He had his traditional education in the Vedams and Sanskrit. He developed his poetic talents from a very early age. He was also interested in music. He soon became an accomplished orator and commentator of our religious texts and epics. He wrote many devotional poems under the pen name "Murali". He very soon earned name and fame, respect and esteem for his mastery of religious discourses and for the high quality of his devotional poems. His brother Kesavan Bhattathiri was also a well-known personality as a scholar and author. Krishnan Bhattathiri died in 1988. His main books are "Muraleenaadam", "Muraleegaanam", "Premarasmi", Sreekrishna Kathhaamritham" (an epic poem) and numberless poems scattered in several journals, yet to be collected and printed in book form. 8. BHATTATHIRIPAD K A A little known writer who was a scholar and author of some technical books. He was born in 1929 in Karuvaad Mana of Punnayurkkulam. His major works are "Grihanirmaana Pravesika" and translation of Bhagavad Geetha, apart from several poems and articles. 9. BHATTATHIRIPAD M P Mullamangalath Parameswaran Bhattathiripad, popularly known by his pen name "Premji" was a towering personality both in the social reforms movement and the world of letters. He was also an accomplished actor both on the stage as well as on the screen, who won the best actor award for his sterling performance in the film "Piravi". Born in 1909, he studied Sanskrit and Vedams in the traditional way. He could not have the benefit of formal English education. He was a proof-reader in "Mangalodayam" magazine throughout his career and he distinguished himself in that capacity by winning the acclaim of veteran workers and critics. At a very young age he joined the social reforms movement by the Namboothiri Yogakshema Sabha (click here). He was the second Namboothiri to take the bold step by marrying a young widow, which was a highly revolutionary and revolting act at that time. He was also an active worker of the Communist Party of India. It was actually to writing political and revolutionary poems that he adopted the pen name of "Premji" to camouflage his identity. As a gifted poet of exquisite diction and dignified expression, he is perhaps one of the last poets belonging to the Venmani school. He was never a prolific writer. We have got only three collections of poems from him, namely, "Premji Paadunnu", "Sapathni", "Rakthasandesam", Naalkkaalikal", "Mattamma" and several political poems. His play "Rithumathy" is a classic, which was rightly praised as the "Saakunthalam of Malayalam". He died in 1998. (Click here for "Premji Award").

10. BHATTATHIRIPAD M R Mullamangalathu Raman Bhattathiripad, better known as MRB is the brother of Premji and was born in 1908. Like his brother, he also joined the social reforms movement of the Namboothiri Yogakshema Sabha along with V T Bhattathiripad and others. MRB was the first Namboothiri who took courage to marry a young widow and set a noble example for others to follow. But there were few to emulate him. He was equally active in the progressive literature movement. He served in the Kerala Sangeetha Naataka Academy for a long period. He stands unrivalled as the writer of beautiful literary essays which are sheer poetry in prose. A major portion of these essays is collected and published under the heading "Essays of MRB". Most of these essays record the authors experience of thrill and joy while rubbing shoulders with the eminent poets and writers of Malayalam. They are a veritable source of beautiful pen pictures of Malayalam writers. His outstanding contribution towards the emancipation of Namboothiri women is the legendary play "Marakkudakkullile Mahaanarakam" (1927) and "Ente Omana" (1928). There are also two collections of short stories, "Mazhavillu" and "Vaalkkannaadi". He died in 2001. 11. BHATTATHIRIPAD P N Pattath Narayanan Bhattathiripad is the younger brother of Parameswaran Bhattathiripad. He was also a poet of quality and also a teacher. But unfortunately his output was meagre. His life was cut short at a young age. His only book, printed and published is "Vidhava". 12. BHATTATHIRIPAD P P Pattath Parameswaran Bhattathiripad popularly known as "Achchan Bhattan" was a highly gifted poet and teacher. Though he studied only up to SSLC, he was a voracious reader of English books and an able translator. He has written several books like "Adhhyaapakan", "Purathu Povoo" which is a highly satirical work criticizing the system of "Sambandham", written during the Yogakshema movement and published by Namboothiri Yuvajana Sangham. He died in 13. BHATTATHIRIPAD V T V T Bhattathiripad is the greatest social reformer, the Namboothiri community has produced in the 20th century. He has been the beacon light for all the major movements. No wonder that he became a legend in his lifetime. Vellithiruthi Thaazhathu Raman Bhattathiripad was born in 1896. From the age of seven, he studied Vedams and Sanskrit. Though he studied till the school final class, he could not finish his studies because, kindled with patriotic fervour, he went to Ahmedabad to attend the Congress session. He had also to do menial jobs in the Mangalodayam Press, Thrissur. Apart from social activities and literary pursuits, he never had any worthwhile job in his life. He was a forceful speaker and writer. His drama " Adukkalayilninnu Arangathekku" (From Kitchen to the Stage) (1929) was a bomb. He has written three volumes of his autobiography in addition to several short stories and collections of essays. Fortunately we have got a volume of "Complete Works of V T" (2000). He died in 1982. 14. BHAVATHRATHAN NAMBUDIRIPAD Better known as "Moothiringod", he was born to that Illam in 1902. In his early years, he studied "Vedam", "Tharkam" and English. He was quite active in the Namboothiri Yogakshema Sabha, wrote a number of articles in "Unninamboothiri" magazine and was one of their main speakers. He was also an active worker in "Mangalodayam".

Moothiringods "Apphante Makal" was indeed a milestone in Malayalam social novels. "Poonkula", "Aathmaarpanam" and "Marupuram" are some of his other major works. He had a unique style in the use of the language. He was not only a great connoisseur of music and Kathakali, but highly knowledgeable too. M C Nambudiripad (vide 26), the famous science litterateur and the late Prof: M N Nambudiripad, a great all-runner in electronics to the arts, are his younger brothers. Bhavathrathan Nambudiripad died in 1944. 15. CHITHRABHANU, VAIKOM He is a poet and teacher. He was born in 1941. He worked in several schools as teacher. He also learned magic and is running a magic institute. His poems are published in a number of journals. His major work is "Mookkillaatha Maharshi". 16. DIVAKARAN NAMBUDIRIPAD K N M He was an outstanding scholar of Sanskrit and Indian studies and a renowned exponent of Indology and Vedic studies. He has participated in several scholarly discussions and seminars and won awards and other honours. He was born in 1916 in Moorkanaad Mana. Educated in Sanskrit and Vedams in his childhood, he passed Saasthra Rathna, Sanskrit Vidwan and Sasthra Divakara tests. He is the author of a large number of scholarly books like "Sounaka Siksha", "Varnochaarana Deepika", "Sreemad Sankaraachaarya Charitham", "Rigveda Jyothis", "Aadi Sankara and the Kalady Village", etc. He died in 17. DIVAKARAN POTTI E K Divakaran Potti is mainly known for his valuable contribution in the field of translation. He has translated into chaste Malayalam, all the major works of Munshi Premchand. The total number of books he translated into Malayalam will be about 30. Apart from translations from Hindi, he has also prepared a Hindi-Malayalam dictionary. No wonder he has won the Sahithya Academy award fro translation. Born in 1918 in Edamana Illam in Puthenchira, Thrissur district, he passed BA and BEd examinations and also Malayalam Vidwan and Rashtrabhasha Praveen. He was the younger brother of Prof: E K Narayanan Potti. He was an active worker in the Congress party and subsequently in the Communist Party of India. He was arrested in 1948. He was a school teacher by profession from 1950 to 1973 in the Kizhakkambalam High School. His major works include "Prathhamaanjali", "Naalathe Prabhaatham", "Vijaya Rangam", "Balipeetthathil", "Godaan", "Premapanchami", etc. 18. DURGADATHAN BHATTATHIRIPAD K N Durgadathan Bhattathiripad, who was blessed with inherent poetic talents and a sense of humour, was born in 1920 in Nediyaparambath Mana in Venkitangu. He did not possess much of formal education nor hold high posts, and spent most of his time writing poetry. Since he was quite shy and disliked fame, he did not even bother to publish his works. He was self educated and served for eight years as a Hindi teacher in Mullassery High School near home. According to "Premji", his works show the "Rachanaachaathuryam" of Vallathol, "Ullekha Kolaahalam" of Ulloor and "Artthagowravam" of Aasaan. It stands to the credit of N V Krishna Warrior for bringing to the light some of his works by publishing the

best ones in "Mathrubhoomi" Weekly. He then got published many of his poems in "Kavana Kouthukam" magazine. His first book "Nilaathirikal" was published during his "Shashtthipoorthy" (60th birthday). His fame as a poet will certainly be sustained through the publication of a collection of his works in 1998 - after his death in 1990 ! 19. GOVINDAN NAMBOODIRI K P K P G Namboodiri was a revolutionary communist poet who gained name and fame in 1940s. He was born in 1917 in the Kaaranathu Mana near Karukkutty. A graduate teacher, he was one of the leading poets of the progressive literature movement. He was given the Nehru Award of the Soviet Land in 1968. He is the author of several collections of poems. He died in 1973. 20. GOVINDAN NAMBOODIRI, KUTTAMPEROOR He is a talented poet of earlier generation who has written several books with a sense of dedication and seriousness. He never went after fame and publicity. He was born in 1913 in Kuttamperoor in Kottayam district. After passing SSLC, he learned engineering also without completing the course. He got a Government job in the Public Works department as junior engineer. He retired from the Electricity Department and afterwards he ran an Ayurvedic shop. The most important titles of his many collections of poems include "Onappulari", "Thonikkaari", "Saahithya Sumangal", "Ayyappan", "Swaami Darsanam", "Chilambolikal", "Vinoda Rasmikal", "Iruththirinja Pookkal", etc. 21. KAKKAAD N N Kakkaad Narayanan Namboodiri stands out among the modern Malayalam poets in changing the style and spirit of Malayalam poetry in a comprehensive manner. Each of his writings was a bold experiment. Many of his works cannot end up with just a reading, but need deeper study and analysis. They mostly touch upon the present day moral degradation. Many of his works reflect the deep imprint he received as a result of the extensive training and scholarship in Vedams, Ithihaasams, Thanthram and Yogam. His poems impact not only the casual readers but the serious ones too. Born in 1927 in Kakkaad Illam of Avitanalloor near Kozhikode, he obtained a BOL degree, and was an active social reformer, especially through Yogakshema Sabha. He worked in Aakaasavaani (AIR), Kozhikode Station for a long time and retired from there. Collections of his poems include "Salabha Geetham", "1963", "Paathaalathinte Muzhkkam", "Ithaa Aasrama Mrigam, Kolloo, Kolloo", "Kavitha", "Vajrakundalam", and "Sapphalamee Yathra". Two of his criticisms are : "Kavithayum Paaramparyavum" and "Avalokanangal". Long after his death in 1987, his complete works was published as a single volume titled "Kakkaadinte Kavithakal" (2002). He won the Vayalaar Award, Odakkuzhal Award, Aasaan Prize and Cherkaad Award for his works in general and "Sapphalamee Yaathra" in particular. He served also as a member of the Director Board of "Saahithya Pravartha Sahakaran Sangham". 22. KESAVAN NABOODIRI V A

Kesavan Namboodiris poetry was well known for sensitivity, nobility and sheer natural beauty. Many of his works overflowed with patriotic fervour. His own personal humility and nobility is found reflected in his poems too. Born in 1923 in Valiya Paalathara Aaattaattuvally Illam near Thalassery, he earned a BA, Hindi Praveen, Prachaarak and an MA. He taught Hindi at St Josephs College, Devagiri, Kozhikode, during his long professional career. Three times he stood first in the literary competitions of the "Saahithya Parishath". There are only a few books to his credit, and his works are scattered in several weeklies and magazines. Among his main works are "Kalithoni", "Panineerpookkal", "Kaazhcha Banglaavil", "Rajatharekha", Bheema Pravesam" and "Paadunna Thoonukal". He wrote several essays and poems in Hindi also. But his most popular work was the Malayalam translation of "Raamaayanam", telecast in Dooradarsan. Kesavan Namboodiri was careful about the subtlety and meaning of words, and was very particular about choosing the right words and forming their apt combinations. He died in 1999. 23. LALITHAMBIKA ANTHARJANAM She is counted among the top Malayalam poets and story writers, and perhaps the literary figure among Antharjanams. Born with poetic talents which reflected even in her stories, she had an excellent imagination and a sweet style of presentation. She has written touchingly about the oppression and sufferings faced by Namboothiri women. Her novel "Agnisaakshi" received much praise and a State award, and was even made into a movie. In her early years, her literary talents found expression in poems and later in stories. Lalithambika was born in 1909 in Kottavattathu Illam in Kottarakkara and obtained only non-formal education at home. Her husband Amanakara Narayanan Namboothiri encouraged her literary activities. She was an active worker in Yogakshema sabha, and had been a member of "Saahithya Pravartha Sahakaran Sangham" Director Board, Kerala Sahithya Academy, and the Text Book Committee. The well-known story writer N Mohanan (vide 58, below) is her son. Her works : Collections of Short Stories - "Theranjedutha Katthakal", "Aadyathe Katthakal", "Moodupadam", "Thakarunna Thalamura", etc. Collections of Poems - "Nissabda Samgeetham", "Lalithaanjali", etc. Studies of Women Characters in Ithihaasams - "Seetha Muthal Sathyavathy Vare" Novel : "Agnisaakshi" Childrens Literature - Four in number Lalithambika died in 1987. (Click : "Lalithambika Antharjanam Memorial Trust" under "Awards, Trusts and Scholarships") 24. LEELA NAMBUDRIPAD ("SUMANGALA") Famous for her childrens books under the pen-name "Sumangala", she was born in 1934 as the daughter of O M C Narayanan Nambudiripad of Olappamanna Mana. She had completed high school education and was married to Desamangalam Ashtamoorthy (DA) Nambudripad. For quite some time, she worked in Kalaamandalam, Cheruthuruthy.

Leela was into writing since childhood. Apart from short stories and novels, she wrote some 50 stories and short novels for children. Her own version of "Panchathanthram" and "Thaththa Paranja Kathhakal are quite popular. She has translated into English for the Smithsonian Institute, a "Krama Deepika" and "Aattaprakaaram" of "Aascharya Choodaamani" in Koodiyaattam (Sanskrit drama). Her childrens literature includes "Kurinjiyum Koottukaarum", "Neyppaayasam", "Chathurangam", "Katamakal", "Nunakkuzhikal", "Ee Kattha Kettittundo" and "Naadodi Cholkkatthakal". Another of her main contribution is the two-part "Pacha-Malayala Nighandu". 25. MAADAMBU KUNJIKKUTTAN Born in Maadambu Mana, he is famous as a novelist ("Aswatthaamaavu", "Bhrashtu", "Entharo Mahaanubhaavalu"), short story writer, dramatist, screen-paly composer, actor and a good speaker. 26. MOHANAN N Mohanan deserves a place among the top story tellers by making Malayalam short stories so thoroughly enjoyable as the Bhaagavatham condensed or as soul music. He is the son of the famous writer Lalithambika Antharjanam (vide 39, above) of Amanakara illam. After his MA in Malayalam and a two year teaching stint in Sree Sankara College, Kalady, he entered Kerala Government Service in the Cultural Department and climbed up to the top position there. He had led several cultural groups and traveled all over the country. Mohanans works radiate the light of genius and the brightness of sheer story-telling ability. "Ente Kattha, Ninteyum", "Dukkhathinte Raathrikal", "Poojakkedukkaatha Pookkal" are collections of his short stories and "Innalathe Mazha" is his novel about Vararuchi (click: Vararuchi and Mezhathol Agnihothri). 27. NAMBOODIRI A P P Avitanalloor Ambalaputhoor Parameswaran Namboodiri was born in 1927 and rose to become a wellknown critic and teacher. After he got his BOL from Thrissur Kerala Varma Varma College, he taught in Farook College near Kozhikode, for a long period. He was an active worker in "Grandhasaalaa Sangham", Private College Teachers Association and "Kerala Saahithya Samithy, and was a member of Kerala University enate and Calicut University Oriental Faculty Board of Studies. His wife A P Parvathy is a school teacher. His entry into the literary world was as a young poet of the "Yogakshema Sabha", along with Olappamanna, Dr O M Anujan and Akitham. Later he became a critic, which is how he is more popularly known. He has written plays too. His works are : Plays : "Kozhinjuveena Poomottu", "Maanjupoya Mazhavillu", "Mullum Poovum", "Rakthabandhangal", etc. (total six in number). Criticisms: "Bhaaratheeya Saahithyam", "Naatakathilekkoru Natappaatha", "Kavithayilekkoru Kaithiri", "Neeruravukal", "Thiramaala", "Avagaahanam", "Aasaan - Nizhalum Velichavum", "Unnathangalil", "Udaathangalil", "Daladarsanam", "Malayaalathile Niroopana Saahithyam", etc. Poems : "Sopaanam", "Koorambukal". APP died in 1991. (Click here for "APP Namboodiri Smaaraka Puraskaaram" in awards, Trusts and Scholarships.) 28. NAMBOODIRI I S Popularly known only by his initials I S, he was born in 1923 in Ittyaamparambath Mana, in Chalavara near Shoranur and rose to become a well-known journalist and translator. He was the younger brother of the famous socio-cultural activist I C P Namboodiri, who was also known only by his initials. Their sisters

were married to their contemporary activists M R B, V T and Kallaat Krishnan. For a very long time, I S was on the editorial staff of "Soviet Naadu" (Soviet Land). Earlier he had worked for "Mangalodayam", "Republic", "Navajeevan" and "Desabhimani". His wife is Arya. "Bahiraakaasathu Ninnulla Oru Sandarsakan" (collection of science fiction), "Viplava Vaayaaditham" (translation), "Dange-yude dogmatism" (translation) are some of his important works. In addition, he has translated several portions (chapters) of Das Capitals of Carl Marx. He lived in Madras (Chennai) for a long time. He was highly knowledgeable in music - not just Carnatic, but Hindustani too. He died in 1994, before his soul-mate and elder brother I C P. 29. NAMBOODIRI P N (KURUVA NARAYANAN NAMBOODIRI) Born in 1927 as the son of Pasupathi Namboodiri and Savithry Anthajanam in Chettupuzha Maanampilli Illam, he writes articles and poems under the pen name Kuruva Narayanan Namboodiri. He worked for five years as a clerk in the government service, and as manager of Arunodayam Press. After the partition of his family in 1952, he took up residence in Kuruva Illam in Malappuram. His wife Uma Antharjanam is from Kuzhikkaatt Illam. In addition to his works "Bhaavana", "Chalanangal" and "Swarahaatham", he has published a number of essays in various magazines. 30. NAMBOODIRIPAD E M S Better known as a Marxian thinker and interpreter and an exceptional political leader, EMS was a periodic writer too. Born in 1909 in Elamkulam Mana, Sankaran Namboodiripad participated in "Niyamalamghanam" (breaking of the law) of 1932 when he was a BA student. Later, in 1957, he became the Chief Minister of the new State of Kerala, in the first ever-elected communist ministry in the world. He was the Chief Minister again in 1967, and a Member of Parliament for several years. He died in 1998, followed later by his wife Arya Antharjanam and their eldest son Sreedharan and his wife, Yamuna. Their other children are Dr Malathy and Radha and son Sasi. He participated actively in the modernization of the Namboothiri community. He was the editor of the Namboothiri Yuvajana Sanghams paper and an important leader of the Yogakshema Sabha. His writings are numerous, the important ones being "Jawaharlal Nehru", "Socialism", "Kerala Charithram" (in three volumes), "Keralathile Deseeya Prasnam", "Keralam Malayaalikalute Maathrubhoomi" and "Onnekkaal Kodi Malayaalikal". He has written in English too. After his death, his complete works are being published in 100 volumes. 31. NAMBUDIRIPAD C G N Chettoor Narayanan Nambudiripad was born in 1917. He was the editor of the Yogakshemam paper in Kottayam, and also the organising president of Kottayam Working Journalists Association in its early years, while being a Magistrate too. "Kavana Maalika", "Randu Kannuneerthullikal", "Divyanugraham" (Eulogy for his mother on her death), and "Ente Utharendyan Theertthayaathra" are his major works. He died in 2003. 32. NAMBUDIRIPAD M C (click : "Namboothiris in the Mainstream of Science Popularisation") 33. NAMBUDIRIPAD O P (click : "Namboothiris in the Mainstream of Science Popularisation") 34. NAMBOOTHIRI K V (ASAMANNOOR)

Vishnu Namboothiri of Asamannoor Kaarakkaatt Illam, Perumbavur, born in 1931, taught in several high schools and the Devaswam Board college. He was at one time an Executive Committee member of Samastha Kerala Sahithya Parishath. He is married to Subhadra Antharjanam. Even at a young age he had started writing and articles. He has got published two collected works : "Ambalapraavu" (short stories) and "Navapallavam" (essays), and several other learned articles and short stories. 35. NARAYANAN, KAATTUMAADAM Born in 1932 in the well-known "Maanthrika" family of Kaattumaadam, his education was mostly in his native place and in Thrissur. He spoke and wrote authoritatively on drama as well as on "Thanthra Vidya" and "Manthravaadam" (click), his family traditions. "Sofroclesinnoru Mukavura", "Malayaala Naatakangaliloode" and "Suddhaatmaakkal" (drama) are his major works. His wife Padmini is Akavoor Iravi Nambudiripads daughter. Their son Anil is now following the family traditions. Kaattumaadam Narayanan died in 2005. 36. NARAYANAN NAMBOODIRI, VELUTHAAT This great poet was born in 1918 in Veluthaat Illam of Chennara in Valamaruthur Desam. He studied Sanskrit in the traditional manner, and some English. He completed his school education in fits and starts, with financial difficulties coming in its way. This naturally talented poet, with meticulous research into earlier commentaries, translated "Saakunthalam". In addition, he had translated the 14th Sargam of "Raghuvamsam", "Vikramorvaseeyam", and a number of single "Slokams". He is the father of the learned historian Dr Veluthaat Kesavan. 37. NARAYANAN POTTI, CHANGAARAPPILLY Though blessed with an uncommon and analytical mind and latent talents, he did not apply them singlemindedly for producing literary works. He concentrated his energies in the socio-political arena. He was born in Changaarappilly Illam of Haripad in 1918. He studied in S B College, Changanassery, took Malayalam Honours in Arts College, Thiruvananthapuram, durin 1938 - 41, and in Law College during 1949 - 50. With Malayalam as elctive, he stood first in the Universitys first Honours course. Though he was the Head Master of Haripad High School, and taught in Arts College and the University College in Thiruvananthapuram, he resigned to enter politics. In 1952 and in 1954, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly. In 1952 and in 1954, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly. Later he was the editor of "Desabandhu" and "Kerala Bhooshanam", and chief editor of "Malayaali". He was also the fulltime editor of the Malayalam encyclopaedia "Viswa-vijnaana Kosham" put out by "Saahithya Pravartha Sahakaran Sangham". He had translated certain parts of "The capital". Poems, articles with a touch of humour, essays and an Aattakkattha "Karuna" are his important works. He died in 1993. 38. NARAYANAN POTTI E K He is famous for his aesthetic essays on literature. Narayanan Potti born in 1911 in Edamana Illam of Puthenchira, had his education in his home town and in Thiruvananthapuram. After finishing his MA in

Malayalam in 1942, he taught in C M S School in Thrissur, C N N High School in Cherpu and for one year in Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Ernakulam. He taught in Kerala Varma College, Thrissur, from its inception in 1947, rising in 1951 to Professor and Head of the Department. He was a member of the Board of Studies for Malayalam and Faculty of Oriental Studies, both in Kerala University. Out of his writings only a limited number has been published, "Saahithya Darsanam", "Vinoda Sanchaaram" and "Prasanna Pooja" are collections of his essays. This pleasant, likeable and popular teacher died in 1998. 39. NARAYANAN POTTI V K Born in 1929 in Vezhaparambu Puthumana Illam near Cherthala, after serving in the Indian Defence Forces at Jabalpur, Delhi, Kashmir, etc., later served as Panchayat Executive officer in Kerala Government service. His works are : "Agnihimaalaya", "Daivaputhran Vannu" and "Parivarthanangal". 40. NARAYANAN, SEEVOLLY He was born in 1947 in Seevolly Illam of Alangad near Aluva, where Narayanan Namboodiri (vide No. 13, Medieval period), the famous poet lived in the 19th century. After MA Malayalam, he taught in St. Pauls College in Aluva, and had taken a Ph D degree too with his research work on the "Venmani Prastthaanam". He died in 1993 at the young age of 46. Seevollys poem "Oru Kattha" has been published along with studies and commentaries on it. He had prepared commentaries on the works of "Venmani" for DC Books. 41. OLAPPAMANNA Among the Namboothiri poets, Olappamanna Subrahmanian Nambudiripad ranks at the top. The nobility and feudal culture that he enjoyed is reflected in his works. While he did take pride in that heritage and culture, he could also expose and discard its vulgarity. Olappamannas works reflect his development into a global vision of human nature as well as into a mature composer. As for inborn talent, there are few to match him. His poetry is filled with optimism and clarity. Born in Olappamanna Mana of Vellinezhi in 1923, he started composing poetry at an early age. During the 1940s, a number of poems were published, authored jointly with his younger brother Dr O M Anujan (vide No. 3 above). He was active in Yogakshema Sabha and used to write and read many poems in its meetings. He had won both the State (1967) and Central (1989) Saahithya Academy Awards. He had served as the President of "Saahithya Pravartha Sahakaran Sangham", Chairman of Kerala Kalaamandalam and Executive Committee member of Sangeetha Naataka Academy. He was also active in Samastha Kerala Saahithya Parishad and Kerala Saahithya Samithy. "Rubber Wife-um Mattu Kavithakalum", "Paanchaali", "Nangemakkutty", "Katthaa-kavithakal", "Ehisoonari" and "Aanamuthu" are among the 20 or so collections of poems and "Khanda Kaavyams"; and "Jaalakappakshi" is a much more comprehensive collection. In addition he has also composed a Kathakali Aattakkattha "Amba" (click: Aattakkatthaakaaranmaar"). Olappamanna died in 2000. 42. PALOOR M N

Among the present day Malayalam poets Paloor Madhavan Namboodiri, popularly known as M N Paloor, combines seriousness of thought, simplicity of style and beauty of originality. Having had no formal education, he still was able to develop his natural poetic talents by himself. He had a stint of Kathakali training under no less a person than Pattikkanthodi Ravunny Menon, and that too in Kalaamandalam. But he did not have many stage performances. He learned Sanskrit under the great scholar K P Narayana Pisharody. After leaning car driving, he became a driver. He spent most of his life in Mumbai as driver in the Indian Airlines. After retirement, he settled in Kozhikode and spends the timereading and writing. "Namboothiritham" is reflected in his poems, which has also been benefited by his reading Mahaabhaaratham and re-reading it many-a-time. He is one of the first to bring in a sprinkling of urban culture in Malayalam poetry. He had realized quite early the sugar-coated bitter truth in lines like "Anacin aakunnu pradhaana bhakshanam" of the people of the day. His recent works, however, are more philosophical. His books are relatively few and include "Pedithondan", "Kalikaalam", "Theerttha Yaathra", "Sugama Sangeetham", "Kavitha", "Bhangiyum Abhangiyum", "Pacha Maanga", etc. 43. RAMAN NAMBOODIRI E V This great scholar was not lucky enough to get the fame nor recognition that he deserved. He was born in 1896 in Aayaamkudi Ettikkara Illam of Kaduthuruthy. He was known as "Pandithar" E V Raman Namboodiri as he had passed Pandit examination. After teaching a while, he worked most of his life in the Manuscript Library at Thiruvananthapuram, when he was a dear colleague of Mahaakavi Ulloor. He was a multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary scholar. He had received several titles such as "Vidyaarathnam", "Dharma-visaaradam", "Saahithyaalankaar", and "Vidyaa-vinod and Saahithya-nipuna" degree from the Maharaja of Kochi. His literary works are numerous, but they are all unfortunately scattered all over, and none including him have made the effort to make a collection of the works. He has around 60 publications including translations, commentaries and criticisms. "Vaikhareeya-hari", "Panditha-mandanam", "Vaidika Vichaara Veechi", "Mahaacharamam", Pradyumnaabhyudayam" and "Manusmruthi" are among the important works. He died in 1957. 44. RAMAN NAMBUDIRIPAD T R Born in 1931 in Kalady, he took a B A degree and a Diploma in Library science, worked as a librarian in Sree Sankara College, Kalady, and from 1960 as District Information Officer in the Public Relations Department and as Radio Graama-Rangam Chief organizer. He has also worked in "Aakaasavani" (All India Radio) on deputation. He became famous through his essays on biographical studies of national leaders, and on scientific aspects of libraries, but has also published poems and short stories. His works include "Upanyaasangaliloode", "Grandhaalaya Saasthram" and "Navabhaaratha Silpikal". 45. SANKARAN NAMBOODIRI, NADUVATH He is the grandson of the famous poet, Naduvath Achhan Namboodiri (vide : No.7, Medieval Period). Sankaran is naturally talented and got his training from Naduvath Mahan Namboodiri (vide : No. 14, Medieval Period). Born in 1920, he had passed the Intermediate and Vidwan examinations, and taught in government high schools. His major works include "Jaraasandhha-Vadha-Vyaayogam", and "Saanthi Vilaasam".

46. SANKARAN NAMBUDIRIPAD, KAANIPPAYYUR Kaanippayyur Sankaran Nambudiripad also was famous as a great "Thachusaasthrajnan" (architecturist), an expert in Jyothisham, a Sanskrit scholar and a social revolutionary, was an establishment by himself as well as a movement. Born in 1891 near Kunnamkulam, Thrissur district, he got trained in the abovementioned disciplines in the traditional "Gurukulam" style. He established and developed the Panchaangam Press. He was an active organizer in Yogakshema Sabha, working as its secretary and in other capacities. The Maharaja of Kochi awarded him with the "Panditharaajan" title. He has around 30 books to his credit. "Jaathakaadesam", "Panchabodham" (both Jyothisham), "Kettitangal", "Manushyaalaya Chandrika", "Kaikkanakkum Atangal Pattikayum", "Manushyaalaya Bhaasha", "Thanthra Samuchayam" (all Thachu Saasthram / Vaasthu Vidya), "Nammude Naatturaajyangal", "Kshethraachaarangal", "Samskritha Malayala Nighandu", "Oushadha Nighandu", "Aarynmaarute Kudiyettam (4 parts), "Ente Smaranakal" (autobiography - 4 parts), "Nithya Karmangal" are the major ones. He had a broad and progressive outlook, and favoured "temple-entry". He had served the public as Presidents of Arthattu Panchayat and Kunnamkulam Town Council. (click : Sanskrit Scholars of 20th Century). 47. SREEDEVI K B Through her trade mark of nobility, Sreedevi can claim a senior position among story tellers and novelists, especially among women and certainly Antharjanams. She was born in 1940 in Vellakkaat mana of Vaniyambalam in Malappuram district. Her formal education was initiallyin wandoor V M C High Sachool and then in Thripunithura Girls High School. Apart from learning Sanskrit and music at home, she got advanced training in Sanskrit from Panditharaajan P S Subbarama Pattar. She lives in Thrissur and is married to late Brahmadathan Nambudiripad of Kootalloor Mana. Her novels include "Moonnaam Thalamura", "Yajnam" and "Agnihothram", of which "Yajnam" the 1974 Kumkumam Award. In 1976 she got the State Film Award for the story of the movie "Niramaala", which also bagged the 1982 Rotary award. The other works are "Chaanakkallu", "Mukhathodu Mukham", "Thiriyuzhichil", "Kuttithirumeni", "Commonwealth" and "Krishnaanuraagam". In addition, "Daasarattham", "Devahoothi", "Vruthraasuran", "Kurooramma" are novels with an epic background. She has a couple of research publications : "Malayaala Vanithaa Katthaakrithukalute Katthakal" (The Stories of Malayalam Women Writers) sponsored by Kerala Sahithya Academy, and "Praacheena gurukulangal Kerala Samskaarathinnu Nalkiya Sambhaavana" (Contributions of ancient "Gurukulams" to Kerala Culture) under a senior fellowship from the Ministry of Human Resources of the Government of India. She is presently working on an investigative novel on "Karinkaali", the goddess of agriculture of the tribes of Eranad. 48. SREEDHARAN NAMBOODIRI, KURUMAAPPILLY Sreedharan Namboodiri of Kurumappilly Mana near Cherpulssery of Palakkad district (b.: 1921) was a prolific writer on various disciplines. After obtaining BA and BT degrees, he became a high school teacher. He wrote poems in his early years and later switched to essays, analyses and discussions on different issues and topics in various weeklies and magazines. 49. SREEDHARAN NAMBOOTHIRI, CHANDRAMANA

A native of Asamannur (b.: 1917), he deserves to be described as a "master of all arts". Studied Sanskrit, Jyothisham and Kaavyams during his early years. Then he was trained in Kathakali ("Vesham") by Guru Gopala Panikkar, and could play any character. On the Kathakali stage, he could sing and play on the drums - both Chenda and Maddalam. Popularisation of this art form was a major mission in his life. He was a talented poet too. "Viswaamithra Menaka", Achhanum Makalum", "Bhaashaa Soundaryalahari Stothram, "Kiraathaavasishtam", etc. were some of his works. He also got published his poems regularly in "Kavanakouthukam" magazine. 50. SREEMAN NAMBOOTHIRI D Born in 1921 in Kodungal mana of Perungazha of Muvattupuzha, he was a scholar and a mature poet. Though he only had a high school education, he learned Sanskrit, English and Hindi also. In 1949, he was the editor of "Desabandhu" weekly and later taught in a tutorial college. He studied Aayurvedam too. He has numerous works, both in prose and more in poem, contributing regularly in "Kavanakouthukam" magazine. He has also produced some translations and childrens literature. "Step", "Captain-te Puthri", "Debrovski", "Land Lady", "Chekov-inte Katthakal", "Alice Kanda Atbhutha Lokam", "Jay Somanath", "Anderson-te Yakshikkatthakal" are all translations from English. He has translated Bharthruharis poems ("Slokams") too. "Subhaashitha Saahasri" is a collection of a thousand gems skillfully extracted from Sanskrit literature. "Maathrubhoomiyute Paadangalil", "Valippameriya Kannukal", "Kuttikalude Naadodikkatthakal", "Poojaapushpangal", etc. - the list continues. 51. SUBRAHMANIAN POTTI C S He was born in 1875 in Vellimana Illam of Karunagappilly, worked for the uplift of his community and set a new path in Malayalam poetry. He was an M A graduate and was a teacher most of his life. He was a "Malayalam Pandithar" in the Maharaja's College, Ernakulam, an Assistant Translator in the Huzoor Court, Sub-registrar, Assistant School Inspector and a High School Head Master. He wrote an elegy - "Oru Vilaapam" - in 1997, the first elegy in Malayalam. "Oru Viraham" is another one. In addition, he has nine translations to his credit : "Durgesa Nandini", "Aardraavathaaram", "Neelolpalam", "Daasan", etc. It was Potti who first published Kumaran Aasaan's "Veena Poovu", with a foreword. He has translated some of Jules Verne's science fictions also. Potti died in 1994. 52. SUBRAHMANIAN THIRUMUMBU T "Bhakthakavi-thilakam" T S Thirumumbu is an unusually talented poet, scholar, orator, translator and a philosophical thinker. He was in the forefront of the national freedom struggle and later in building up the Communist party, described by EMS as the singing sword of his party. He got out of politics in 1948, went into hiding for some years and re-emerged with translations of the Mahaapuraanams. He was born in 1926 in the Thazhaykkatt Thimiri Mana of Cheruvathur in Kasaragod district, and had formal education only up to high school. He had been jailed for six months participating in "Salt Sathyaagraham", nine months for writing a poem, and two years for his Sathyaagraham. He was awarded the titles, "Bhaktakavi Tilakam", "Vidya-rathnam" and "Saahithya Nipunam". His main works are : "Vandemaatharam", "Vikaasam", "Navotthaanam", etc. (six collections of poems), and translations of "Sree Devee Bhaagavatham", "Sreemad Bhaagavatham", "Sree Sankara Digvijayam", "Durgaasaptha Sathi", "Yogavaasishttham" and "Vivekannda Saahithya Sarvaswathile Ethaanum Kavithaka".

53. "SUKUMAR" (SUBRAHMANIAN POTTI) Satire and humour are his forte. Behind that pen-name is S Subrahmanian Potti who was born in 1932 in Thiruvananthapuram. He worked in the Jail department, University office and the investigation wing of Police department. Sukumar has the inherent ability to recognize the idiosyncrasies in ordinary life and convert them into satirical pieces. He has interest also in painting, sculpture and music. In the 1970 Kerala State Police Drama Competition, Sukumar won a prize for his part as a playwright. In the visual media, he got fame for handling "Kashaayam", a comic serial. "Pothujanam Palavidam" (2 vol.), "Oru Non-gazetted Chiri", "Raja Kesavadadanum Major Kuttan Pillayum", etc. are some of his important works. He is a cartoonist too. 54. THRIVIKRAMAN NAMBUDIRIPAD, T M Born to Thrivikraman Nambudiripad (Sr) and Uma Antharjanam in AlathiyurMoothedath mana in 1922, Thrivikraman Nambudiripad (Jr) was a physician by profession, thinker and a scholar. After high school education, he studied Aayurvedam diligently, and later taught Aayurvedam, main teacher and physician in the panchakarma department of Bombay University Health Centre, and chief physician in Coimbatore Arya Vaidya Pharmacy's Head Office and their Delhi branch. He did not have much personal or social relationships and spent all his spare time to read and write. His main works are "Vyaasa-Prasaadam", "Vyaasa-Pranaamam" and others mainly from the "Mahaabhaaratham". He died in 2000. 55. UNNI NAMBUDIRIPAD, OTTOOR An outstanding devotional and mystic poet and commentator of Puraanams, Unni (real name, Subrahmanian) Nambudiripad was born in 1904 in the well-known Ottoor Mana. Upto the age of 15, his study was mainly concentrated on the Vedams and a few Kaavyams of Sanskrit. Ill health did not allow him to study beyond the 9th standard. He was a gifted poet and a blessed soul who could realize God. He wrote numberless devotional poems eulogizing Him from various angles. He was also a talented prose writer and short story writer. He is the author of books without number, the major ones being "Naamaambika", "Shyaamasundaran", "Mandaakini", "Aanandamurali", "Yamunaakunjam", "Neelachandrika" apart from "Satheerthhyante Kaazhcha (drama), "Pooppaalika", and "Thriveni" (short story collections). "Rasamaadhuri" and "Sreeramakrishna Karnaamrutham" (Sanskrit books) and many poems yet to be collected and published in book form. He almost became a recluse or "Samnyaasi" towards the end of his life. He breathed his last in 1989. The M. Phil. Thesis The Sanskrit Poet in Ottur of Dr. C. Sreekumaran of Guruvayoorappan college, Calicut reveals more of this great poet's work. 56. VASUDEVA BHATTATHIRI C V This Sanskrit scholar, poet, multi-linguist and commentator was born in 1923 in Chennamangalam, in Pandalam. Holding B A and B L degrees, he practiced as an advocate in Haripad Munsif court and Mavelikkara district court. He took a B Ed degree, Hindi Bhooshan, Raashtrabhaasha Visaarad and Hindi Vidwan, and later in 1966, he took an M A degree in Sanskrit. From the next year (1967) onwards he taught Sanskrit in Bishop Moore College at Mavelikkara. He was the editor of the encyclopaedia "Viswa Vijnaana Kosham". His major works are: "Naaraayaneeyam" translation ("Vrithaanuvrutham"), "Subhaashitha Thrinayi" (translation), "Keralapaanineeyathiloode", "Bhaasha-saasthram", "Abhinava Malayaala Vyaakaranam", "Gadya Silpam", "malayala Bhaasha-bodhinam" and "Bhagavad Geetha Nithya Jeevithathil", etc.

Proficient in Hindi, Sanskrit, English and Malayalam, he had written books on law, linguistics, Vyaakaranam, Darsanam, Jyothisham, Kaavya-saasthram and Chess. 57. VASUDEVAN V T This son of the well-known revolutionary V T Bhattathiripad from Mezhathur Vellithiruthy Thaazhath Mana, is a writer and a famous journalist. After teaching in Kalady Vidya Peettham, he became a correspondent for "Mathrubhoomi" at mezhathur. He took a major role in getting his father's works published - "Karma Vipaakam" and "Sampoorna Krithikal" (complete works). 58. VASUDEVAN NAMBOODIRI, AVITANALLOOR Born in 1925, he was the brother of the famous critic and teacher A P P Namboodiri. After taking B A degree from St Thomas College, Thrissur, and also B T, he taught in Ganapat High School, Kozhikode, and in naduvattam High School, becoming Head Master in 1958. He took the M A degree later. He has published a number of poems in magazines in the name Avitanalloor Vasudevan, and a collection of poems, "Nanavinte Pookkal". He died in 2001. 59 VASUDEVAN NAMBOODIRI, MOZHIKUNNAM A natural poet and story teller, he had acted in plays too. He showed his mettle in short stories, poems, criticisms and translations. Born in 1932 in Mozhikunnath Mana of Cherpalcherry, Palakkad district, he had taught for several years. 60. VASUDEVAN NAMBOODIRI, VAAZHAKUNNAM Born in 1891as the son of the immitable Vaazhakunnam Raman Atithiri of Thiruvegappura, he was a poet and a good speaker who made new waves in Bhaagavatham Vaayana (discourse). He learned the Vedam, Sanskrit, Kaavyams and various Saasthrams, and established a Sanskrit Vidyaalayam (school) at Harivilaasam, anf taught there. His sweet voice, clear diction , style of presentation and his handsome figure made him unparalleled in Bhaagavatham discourse. The Kaharaja of Kochi had given him "Veera Srimkhala" (bracelet) on both his hands, and ravi varma Koyi Thampuran awarded him with the title of "Bhakthasiromani", and monthly wages. This blessed poet has several woks to his credit. "Vaasudeva Karnaamrutham", "Bhaagavatha Samgraham", "Bhaagavatha Samgraham Gaattha", "Sreedharaachaaryar", "Bhagavatha Vyaakhyaanam", "Bhaagavatha Makarandam", "Raadha", etc. are among the dozen commentaries on Puraanams, one act plays, Sthothrams, etc. He had written in Sanskrit also. Before his death in 1947, he was able to attract the common man to Bhaagavatham. The Ph.D. Thesis Life and Works of Vazhakunnam Vasudevan Nambudiri of Dr. C. Sreekumaran of Guruvayoorappan college, Calicut reveals more of this great poet's work. 61. VASUDEVAN NAMBUDIRIPAD K Vasudevan Nambudiripad of Karumaarapatta Mana in Wandoor of Malappuram district (b.: 1890) was a great scholar with deep knowledge in Jyothisham. He had published "Panchaangam" (almanac) for 30 years, and later took up Samnyaasam. He will be remembered for a long time for his extensive commentaries on Ulloor's "Umaakeralam". Another of his works is "Jyothisha Saaram". 62. VISHNU NAMBOODIRI M V (DR.)

Dr Vishnu Namboodiri belongs to Payyannur (b.: 1939) holds a research degree on the theme of folk arts. He is a teacher and is also the chairman of the Kerala folklore academy. His main works are: "Mukhadarsanam", "Kaakkavilakkinte Velichathil", "Thottam- paattu" and Thiruvarkkaattu Bhagavathy Thottam". 63. VISHNUNARAYANAN NAMBOODIRI He undoubtedly ranks among the top poets of the modern era, owing to his poetic talent, individuality and serious style. The philosophic coating gives his poems an unusual beauty and nobility and vibrant quality. Devoid of the modernism, his poems have a wonderful blend of the Sanskrit and Malayalam styles, the Eastern and Western techniques and the ancient and modern outlooks. Born in 1939 in Cheeravally Illam in Thiruvalla, he took B A and B Ed degrees with Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Hindi, and M A in English. He served a teacher of English in Kozhikode, Kollam, Pattambi, Ernakulam, Tripunithura, Chittoor and Thiruvananthapuram; and also worked in State Institute of Languages. Though he loved poetry even in his early years, he started writing much later. His main collected poetic works are: "Swaathanthryathe-kurichu Oru Geetham", "Aparaajitha', "Aaranyakam", "India Enna Vikaram", "Ujjayiniyile Raappakalukal", "Bhoomigeethangal", "Mukhameite ?" and "Athirthiyilekkoru Yaathra". In addition, collection of essays, "Asaahitheeyam" and "Kavithayude DNA", and translations such as "Rithu Samhaaram", "Gandhi", "Sasyalokam" and "Kuttikalude Shakespeare". He had won the Kerala Academy Award, Odakkuzhal Award, and the Changampuzha Award.

(C) Modern Age (RECENT)

[ ABBREVIATIONS : f. - father; m. - mother; p.a. - permanent address; m.a. - mailing address; o. - occupation; w. - works; r. - recognitions.] 1. VAIRASSERY KRISHNAN NAMBOODIRI (1920 - 1974) Poet w. Manivedi (Poems) 2. NAMBOODIRI V N P (1927 - 1965) Novelist f. Cheriya Narayanan Namboodiri, m. Aryadevi Antharjanam Born in Vanjeri Mana, Tirur, Trikandiyur, Malappuram dist. o. Served as Captain, Air Force; Died in an accident. w. Priya (novel) published in Mathrubhumi Weekly 3. KADALAYIL PARAMESWARAN (b. 1930) Poet f. Sreedharan Nambudiripad, m. Devasena Antharjanam p.a. K Parameswaran Nambudiripad, Kadalayil Mana, Poopathi P.O. - 680 783, Poyya, Thrissur dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Retired Teacher, Airanikulam High School w. Kayam (poems)

4. PALAKEEZH NARAYANAN (b. 1940) Poet, Critic f. Narayanan Namboodiri, m. Nangeli Antharjanam p.a. Palakeezh Mana, Pattikad, Malapuram dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Retired Professor w. Aanandamadhom (translation); Karl Marx (biography); VT Oru Ithihaasam (anthology). 5. VAIRASSERY K M NAMBOODIRI (b. 1943) (K Madhavan Namboodiri) Poet f. M Krishnan Namboodiri, m. Savithry Antharjanam p.a. Vairassery Mana, Vettuveni, Haripad P.O., 690 514, Alapuzha dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Retired. Accounts Officer, KSE Board, Mavelikkara. w. Pushpakavimaanam, Sudarshanam, Dakshayaagam, Theerthhakanangal (poems) 6. NARAYANAN P M (b. 1945) Poet f. P M Jayanthan Namboodiri p.a. Panjavoor Mana, Mudur, Vattamkulam, Malappuram dist. m.a. State Bank Colony, Thondayad, Kozhikode - 673 016 o. Retired Deupty Manager, State Bank of India w. Enthinu, Foot Ball, Thadaakam (poems); Njaan Aaraanu (essays) 7. SREEPADAM EAWARAN NAMBOODIRI (b. 1945) Poet f. P E N Potti, m. Devaky Antharjanam p.a. (Periya Mana) Sreepadam, Thuruthi P.O., Changanassery, Kottayam dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Retired. Professor, Mar Evanios College, Thiruvananthapuram w. Ayyada Maname, Akkuthikkuthu, Aanamutta, Aana Vanne, Aarpoo Eeyyo, Irattimadhuram, Oonjaalppaalam, Edukkeda Kudukke, Ezharapponnaana, Kashtam Kashtam Konaare, Kilippaattukal, Kunnimanikalum Konnappookkalum, Koonante Aana, Thettum Thiruthum, Ponnum Thenum (children's literature); Agnisarmante Ananthayaathra (stories); Thevaaram, Sadrushavaakiam, Nakshathrathinte Maranam (plays); Samarppitha (poem). r. NCERT Award for Malayaala Baalasahityam, SBI Award for Poetry. 8. MUNNOORKOD PURUSHOTHAMAN (b. 1946) Poet f. Paramewaran Nambudiripad, m. Umadevi Antharjanam p.a. Prathibha, Vellinezhi P.O. - 679 504, Palakkad dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Retired Teacher, ALP School, Munnoorkod w. Nirvrithi (poems) 9. VIJAYAN P N (b. 1951)

Novelist, Short story writer, Poet f. P N Namboodiri, m. Savithry Antharjanam p.a. Pulikkathodi Mana, Karikad, Manjeri, Malapuram dist. m.a. Railway School,.Podannur, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu o. Teacher, Railway School, Podannur w. Bhaarathapuzha, Swaasakosathil Oru Salabham, Kathhaayaanam, P N Vijayante Kathakal (stories); Tharpanam, Panthu Urulukayaanu, Ini Madangaam (novels). r. Mathrubhumi Vishuppathippu Contest: Play 1st, Poetry 3rd Cherukaad Smaaraka Samithi Award: Poetry 2nd Chandrika Novel Award 1998: Panthu Urulukayaanu Yogakshema Kattha Award 1999: Katthaayaanam (short stories) 10. ARYAN KANNANOOR T (b. 1952) Novelist f. Parameswaran Adisseripad, m. Leela Pathinaadi p.a. Thrikkazhippurathu Mana, Njangattiri P.O., Palakkad dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Teacher Educator, Teachers' Training Institute, Cheruthuruthi w. Surapathham, Shyamaraadha, Idam Na Mama (novels); Sambhavichukondirikkunnathu (stories); Neerkkumilakalum Kaakkachiyude Kudumbavum, Kelukkurukkan, Malamuthiyude Makkal, Najngal Naattinpurathukaar, Jim Tharikida Dhom, Munshiyammaavante Chooral (children's literature) r. M P Paul Award 1981 for Surapathham 11. ASHTAMOORTHI (b. 1952) Novelist, Short story writer f. K K Vasudevan Nambudiripad, m. Sreedevi Antharjanam p.a. Kadalayil Mana, Arattupuzha P.O.- 680 562, Thrissur dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Accountant, SNA Oushadhasala Pvt. Ltd., Thrissur w. Rehearsal Camp (novel); Thirichuvaravu (novellettes); Veedu Vittu Pokunnu, Kathhaasaaram, La Pathaa, Pakalveedu, Maranashiksha (stories) r. Kunkumam Novel Award 1982: Rehearsal Camp Kerala Sahitya Akademi Short Story Award 1992: Veedu Vittu Pokunnu 12. INDUCHUDAN KIZHAKKEDAM (b. 1952) Short story writer f. Krishnan Namboodiri, m. Saradadevi p.a. Kizhakkedathu Mana, Kodanad P.O. - 683 544, Ernakulam dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Federal Bank w. Praavukalude Freddy (stories) 13. SAILAJA K P (b. 1952) Poet f. Krishnan Bhattathiripad, m. Uma Antharjanam p.a. Mathur Mana, Peringode - 679 535, Palakad dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Teacher, Peringode High School

w. Published poems in Mathrubhumi Weekly, Kalakaumudi, etc. r. 1st Prize in Grihalakshmi Short Story Competition held in 1983 14. USHA NAMBUDRIPAD (b. 1952) Linguist f. Ashtamoorthy Nambudripad, m. Leela Antharjanam ("Sumangala") p.a. (Kurur Mana) B-4, New Faculty Quarters, Chitra Campus, Kumarapuram, Thiruvananthapuram - 695 011 m.a. (same as above) w. Malayaalathile Sambodhanaa Padangalude Saamoohika Pashchaathalam, Saamoohika Bhaashaa Vijnaanam; Henry V, Richard II, Pride and Prejudice, Aeneid, William Tell, Remembrance of Things Past (translations); Three books in the series "Mahachcharithamaala" 15. GIRIJA CHEMMANGAD (b. 1954) Poet f. Thekkedathu Kadalayil Narayanan Nambudiripad, m. Devaky Antharjanam p.a. Chemmangat Mana, Adatt, Thrissur dist. m.a. (same as above) w. Kannaadi Kaanumbol (poems) 16. HIRANYAN K K (b. 1954) Poet, Critic f. Kunjunni Namboodiri, m. Savithry p.a. Kadavath Ullanur Mana, Ammadam, Thrissur dist. m. a. 28/537, Ullanur, West Palace Road, Vadakkechira, Thrissur City P.O. - 680 020 o. Professor, Govt. College, Thrissur. w. Published poems and criticisms in Mathrubhumi, India Today, Bhashaposhini, etc. r. Won Prizes in 1967, 1968, 1969 and 1974 for Poetry Competition held by Mathrubhumi Vishupathippu. 17. VADAKKUMPAD NARAYANAN (b. 1954) (V K Narayanan Namboodiri) Poet f. Krishnan Namboodiri, m. Nangeli Antharjanam p.a. Vadakkumpattu Mana, Aloor P.O. - 680 603, Mattam, Thrissur dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Teacher, Sree Ramakrishna Gurukulam, Puranattukara w. Vadakkumpaadinte Kavithakal 18. SAVITHRI RAJEEVAN (b. 1956) Poet, Painter f. Veettikkat Narayanan Namboodiri, m. Savithry Antharjanam p.a. Veettikkat Mana, Pattambi, Palakkad dist. m.a. (Presently at Thiruvananthapuram) o. Freelance Artist w. Cherivu, Dehaantharam (poems) r. Kunchuppilla Smaaraka Award for poetry, 1990 Udaya Bharati National Award for poetry, 1994

19. GEETHA HIRANYAN (1957 - 2002) Poet, Short story writer f. Sreedharan Potti, m. Vasumathidevi. Born in Kottavattam Illam, Kottarakkara w. Ottasnaappil Othukkaanaavilla Oru Janmasathyam, Asanghatitha (stories), Geetha Hiranyante Kavithakal. r. Kunchuppilla Award, 1993 for Ardhanaareeswaran, Won Prize for Story Competition held by Mathrubhumi Vishuppathippu in 1974. 20. RAJESH KUMAR N (b. 1959) Critic, Editor f. E P N Bhattathiry p.a. Edavoor Madom, Vazhar Mangalam P.O., Chengannur - 689 125 m.a. D C Books, Kottayam - 686 001 o. D C Books, Kottayam w. More than 500 articles for various encyclopaedias such as Akhila Vijnaana Kosham, Bhaaratha Vijnaana Kosham, Sarva Vijaana Kosham, etc. 21. AJAYAKUMAR N (b. 1960) Critic f. P D Neelakadhan Namboodiri, m. M D Umadevi Antharjanam p.a. Thevarathu Madhom, Puthuveli P.O. - 686 641, Kottayam dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Lecturer, Malayalam Dept., Sree Sankaracharya Sanskrit University w.Kavithrayathinte Saahithyavimarsanam, Aadhunikatha Malayaala Kavithayil (criticism) 22. HRISHEEKESAN P B (b. 1960) Poet f. P H Brahmadathan Nambudiripad, m. Gauri Antharjanam p.a. Paduthol Mana, Melur P.O., Chalkudi, Thrissur dist. m.a. 2-B, Kedarnath, Anushakti Nagar, Mumbai - 400 094 o. Scientific Officer, BARC, Mumbai w. Pathi Polliyoraksharam, Kannadippuzha (poems) r. Changampuzha Award, Moodadi Damodaran Award, Hariharan Poonjar Award. 23. SASTHRUSARMAN A (b. 1965) Poet, Artist f. Agnisarman Namboodiri, m. Umadevi Antharjanam p.a. Alampilly Mana, Keezhayoor P.O., Pattambi - 679 303, Palakkad dist.. m.a. (same as above) o. Govt. High School, Chathanur w. Published poems in Mathrubhumi, Bhashaposhini, Desabhimani, Kunkumam, Ureka, Thaliru, etc. 24. MANOJ JATHAVEDARU (b. 1967) Short story writer f. P Jathavedan Potti, m. Ambika Devi

p.a. Thombil Madhom, Azhoor, Pathanamthitta PO. - 689 645, Pathanamthitta dist. m.a. (same as above) o. Mechanical Engineer, Kerala Ceramics Limited, Kundara w. Nadiyum Madangivarum (stories) r. Malayala Manorama Annual 1988 Story Contest: 3rd Prize Selcted as one of the promising writers among five (Survey conducted by Malayala Manorama in 1994). [This list is incomplete. Readers are encouraged to send in information on others that they may know of. Editor]

The history of Malayalam literature may broadly be divided into three periods. The first is a period of receding Tamil dominance and advancing Sanskrit influence. Elitist poets of the age were interested in introducing Sanskrit literary forms like Champu and Sandesa Kavya and in Sanskrit oriented linguistic and stylistic innovations. On the one hand, a shrinking into erotic themes and, on the other, an enlargement of the resources of language and style, could be seen. The next period witnessed the birth of sage-poets for whom poetry was a highly serious endeavour with a lofty moral purpose. They consolidated formal achievements of the former age and turned to the Puranas for noble themes. Malayalam poetry reached its pinnacle of glory in this age, evidently influenced by bhakti renaissance, and joined mainstream of the national literature. The third period is marked by the impact of liberal-democratic spirit which came in the wake of the first encounter with the west and spread of modern education. It is also to be noted that new radical ideologies started exerting influence on writers Thunchattu Ezhuthachan is considered the greatest Malayalam poet of all time. He wrote his two great epics "Adhyatma Ramayanam" and "Srimahabharatam" and two shorter pieces, "Irupattinalu Vrittam" and "Harinama Kirtanam" and thereby revolutionized Malayalam language and literature at once. He is rightly regarded as the maker of modern Malayalam and the father of Malayalam poetry.