Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The sacrosanct nature of texts (I)

A verse from Naishabdar Buke Mi Chetan Satta by Champalal Sinha
Translated and annotated by Ramlal Sinha

Late Surachandra Sinha, father of poet Champalal Sinha, did give his own explanations to around nine to 10 poems of his son. The explanations of some of the poems have been retrieved so far. Astitva (existence) is one of the five poems that had been explained by late Sinha. Poet Champalal Sinha and his father were complementary even when the son was just a child insofar as intellectual skill and quality are concerned. It was through his son, with a gifted power of conception, that late Sinha studied the religious scriptures meant for sadhaks that he had inherited from his preceptor, Guru (late) Vidyapati Sinha of Bangladesh. In the process, the poet acquired knowledge that was generally not expected of a teenager. Theirs was a cottage redolent of spiritualism with their round-the-clock conscious breathing (the ajapa japa). The poet has got accolades from various quarters for the depth of his poems and his way of presenting them, words chosen to convey the message he wants to give to his readers and his unique art of keeping the central idea concealed in a web of words by leaving only one or two keys for readers to grasp . His diction and technique make the task of the translator truly Herculean in the real sense of the term. When a poem or any other literary work is translated into another language, the translator has to see that the import of the original is not lost. He/she should challenge the cliché that a book or a literary work loses something in translation, no matter how successful he/she is. 

Existence (Astitva)
‘A word’ breathes out
Hits the eardrums,
Looking skyward
I see over there — ‘I’m’!
As if a pair of lotuses
The two cohesive words Do stay afloat there, still!

Explanation by late Surachandra Sinha:

When a devotee gets a glimpse of the visual form of the Supreme Spirit through meditation, pranayama (restraint of the prana or breath), imaging etc., he perceives directly that he is no different from the Supreme Spirit. He realises ‘sohham or soh oham’ that means ‘I’m He or the Supreme Being’. In other words, when a devotee attains grace, his highest realisation is ‘I’m He, the Supreme Being’. 

Hints:
(1) ‘A word’: The Absolute Spirit. Its presence is in all living beings as the life breath. A devotee has Him in a visible form through meditation and pranayamas, pays Him homage and achieves bliss.

(2) The Sky: Where the menacing shout of sahasrar (the seat of soul) or Nadabrahma (Divine Sound or the Sound of the Universe) is generated. The Power of Hongkar (the sound) is the precursor of all amorous sports (leela-khela) for the great Creation, leading to the multiplication of the Absolute Spirit into innumerable individual souls (beings). However, as an entity, He is always ‘Akhand Mandalakaram’ — Akhand — unfragmented; Mandalakaram — one infinite whole.

(3) ‘I’m’ (I — myself and am — existence): Soham or Soh Ham (Oham — I, that is jivatma or individual soul. Astitva (existence) — So or He, that is, Paramatma or the Supreme Spirit.

(4) Eardrums: Doorways to a conscious man (chetan purush). Elaboration by the translator: Through this poem, the poet wants to share with his readers (audience) the realisation he attains during his sadhana which literally means ‘a means of accomplishing something’ through the ajapa mantra or ajapa japa — sohham (soh ham). Going by the explanation given by the poet’s father, late Surachandra Sinha, the word that a devotee breathes in every inhalation is The Absolute Spirit ‘soh’ means ‘He’ or God and breathes out ‘Ham’ which means ‘I’ in every exhalation. Through his meditation and pranayama, a devotee can communicate with Him (The Absolute Spirit) and pay Him obeisance, thereby attaining bliss. This apart, he realises the ultimate truth that jivatma is no different from the Paramatma. As explained by late Surachandra Sinha, by the word ‘Sky’, the poet means Nadabrahma which means that the entire universe was created from the energy of sound — it is the only sound that exists in the beginning. The Sanskrit word ‘nada’ means sound and ‘Brahma’ means God. Thus, Nadabrahma means the Sound is God or the Sound of God, the main force behind the great Creation. The Sanskrit word leela’ is a concept within Hinduism meaning ‘pastime’, sports or ‘play’. Leela, according to sadhaks and scholars, is common to both the philosophical schools — monistic and dualistic — each of which has its own significance. Within monism, leela is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of the Creative play by the divine absolute (Brahma). In the dualistic schools of Vaishnavism, leela is more simply referred to as the activities of God and His devotees, as distinct from the common activities of karma. Scientific research now recognises that all creation is energy in movement and vibration — each vibration having its own sound, colour and visual pattern. When the vibration is slow enough, it is recognised as material world. It is also a fact that the philosophy of all Indian classical music originates from the very concept of Nadabrahma. As indicated by late Surachandra Sinha, soham or soh oham — the sadhana of ajapa japa — is the constant repeating of a mantra or constant awareness of the mantra or of what the mantra represents.

According to Hindu scriptures, the sadhana of ajapa japa is as old as the Upanishads. In this japa, a devotee breathes in with the sound (nada) Soh (He or God) and breathes out with the sound Ham (I or self). A devotee practises this japa round the clock. According to shastras, one should practise ‘anahata’ mantra that never ends, and that must extend to infinity. However, there is no such mantra that never ends. Therefore, one needs a method of repeating the mantra so that it does not end. This is achieved through the practice of ajapa japa when the mantra is adjusted with the breathing system. Thus, awareness of the mantra continues throughout the practice with no interruption. In ajapa japa there is an efficient process of locating awareness. Awareness, according to great sadhaks, can be located at any particular centre of the body through a meditative practice. In the practice of ajapa japa, the consciousness is located with the breath and the mantra. In this poem, the poet emphasises that jivatma and Paramatma are one, and it is the Nadabrahma that acts as the precursor of or activates the holy work of the great Creation through amorous sport leading to the multiplication of the Supreme Soul into innumerable individual souls. However, as entity, the Paramatma remains ‘akhanda mandalakaram’ — an unfragmented and infinite whole.

Courtesy: Seven Sisters Post.

 To be concluded
The translator is an Associate editor with Seven Sisters Post
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