Sunday 26 June 2016


2015-26  Leigh Hunt: "Abou Ben Adhem" and "The Plate of Gold" 

Leigh Hunt [1784-1859]

He was the son of a clergyman from the West Indies. Like Lamb and Coleridge, he was educated at Christ’s Hospital in London. He began writing poetry while still a boy. 

At the age of 24, he joined his brother in founding a weekly newspaper, the “Examiner.” During the thirteen years for which he contributed to this paper he exerted a wholesome influence in journalism, raising the tone of the press, showing great independence and tolerance, and fighting vigorously for liberal principles.  

Hunt’s poetry is pretty, fanciful, and musical, but, with the exception of one or two pieces, is now little read. Among his familiar essays, there are many little masterpieces, suffused with his cheerful optimistic spirit, and expressed exquisitely. 

“No man,” says James Russell Lowell, “has ever understood the delicacies and luxuries of language better than he; and his thoughts often have all the rounded grace and shifting luster of a dove’s neck…. He was as pure-minded a man as ever lived, and a critic whose subtlety of discrimination and whose soundness of judgment, supported as it was on a broad basis of truly liberal scholarship, have hardly yet won fitting appreciation.”

“Abou Ben Adhem” and the "The Plate of Gold" are among the best known of his works:

YouTube Video: Abou Ben Adhem by Leigh Hunt [Click Here]

The Plate Of Gold

One day there fell in great Benares' temple-court
A wondrous plate of gold, whereon these words were writ;
'To him who loveth best, a gift from Heaven.'


The priests made proclamation: 'At the midday hour, Each day, let those assemble who for virtue deem their right to Heaven's gift the best; and we will hear the deeds of mercy done, and so adjudge.' The news ran swift as light, and soon from every quarter came nobles and munshis, hermits, scholars, holy men, and all renowned for gracious or for splendid deeds, meanwhile the priests in solemn council sat and heard what each had done to merit best the gift of Heaven. So for a year the claimants came and went.
At last, 
after a patient weighing of the worth of all, 
the priests bestowed the plate of gold on one who seemed, 
the largest lover of the race - whose whole estate, 
within the year had been parted among the poor. 
This man, all trembling with his joy, advanced to take 
the golden plate-when lo! at his finger's first touch 
it changed to basest lead! All stood aghast; but when 
the hapless claimant dropt it clanging on the floor, 
Heaven's guerdon was again transformed to shining gold. 
So for another twelve month sat he priests and judged. 
Thrice they awarded-thrice did Heaven refuse the gift. 
Meanwhile a host of poor, maimed beggars in the street 
lay all about the temple gate, in hope to move 
that love whereby each claimant hoped to win the gift 
and well for them it was (if gold be charity), 
for every pilgrim to the temple gate praised God. 
that love might thus approve itself before the test, 
and so coins rained freely in the outstretched hands; 
but none of those who gave, so much as turned to look 
into the poor sad eyes of them that begged. 
And now 
The second year had almost passed, but still the plate 
of gold, by whomsoever touched was turned to lead. 
At length there came a simple peasant-not aware
of that strange contest for the gift of God-to pay
a vow within the temple. As he passed along
the line of shrivelled beggars, all his soul was moved
within him to sweet pity, and the tears well up
and trembled in his eyes. 
Now by the temple gate
there lay a poor, sore creature, blind, and shunned by all;
but when the peasant came, and saw the sightless face
and trembling, maimed hands he could not pass, but knelt,
and took both palms in his, and softly said:
'O thou,
my brother! bear the trouble bravely. God is good.'

The he arose and walked straightway across the court, 
and entered where they wrangled of their deeds of love 
before the priests.
A while he listened sadly; then 
had turned away; but something moved the priest who held 
the plate of gold to beckon to the peasant. So 
he came, not understanding and obeyed, and stretched 
his hand and took the sacred vessel. Lo! it shone 
with thrice its former lustre, and amazed them all! 
'Son', cried the priest, 'rejoice, the gift of God is thine.
Thou lovest best!' And all made answer, 'It is well.' 

And, one by one, departed. But the peasant knelt
and prayed, bowing his head above the golden plate;
while o'er his soul like morning streamed the love of God.

Sunday 19 June 2016


2016-25  James Russell Lowell: "True Freedom" and "Yussouf", the Good

James Russell Lowell [1819-1891]
James Russell Lowell [1819-1891] 

He was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets who rivaled the popularity of British poets. These poets usually used conventional forms and meters in their poetry, making them suitable for families entertaining at their fireside. Lowell believed that the poet played an important role as a prophet and critic of society. He used poetry for reform, particularly in abolitionism. Here are two gems from his great collection: "Freedom" and "Yussouf".  Enjoy!


Men! whose boast it is that ye
Come of fathers brave and free;
If there breathe on earth a slave,
Are ye truly free and brave?
Are ye not base slaves indeed,
Men unworthy to be freed,
If ye do not feel the chain,
When it works a brother's pain?

Is true freedom but to break
Fetters for our own dear sake,
And, with leathern hearts forget
That we owe mankind a debt?

No! true freedom is to share
All the chains our brothers wear,
And with hand and heart to be
Earnest to make others free.

They are slaves who fear to speak
For the fallen and the weak;
They are slaves, who will not choose
Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,
Rather than, in silence, shrink
From the truth they needs must think;
They are slaves, who dare not be
In the right with two or three.


A STRANGER came one night to Yussouf’s tent,
Saying, “Behold one outcast and in dread,
Against whose life the bow of power is bent,
Who flies, and hath not where to lay his head;
I come to thee for shelter and for food,
To Yussouf, called through all our tribes ‘The Good.’”

“This tent is mine,” said Yussouf, “but no more
Than it is God’s; come in, and be at peace;
Freely shalt thou partake of all my store
As I of his who buildeth over these
Our tents his glorious roof of night and day,
And at whose door none ever yet heard Nay.”

So Yussouf entertained his guest that night,
And, waking him ere day, said: “Here is gold,
My swiftest horse is saddled for thy flight,
Depart before the prying day grow bold.”
As one lamp lights another, nor grows less,
So nobleness enkindleth nobleness.

That inward light the stranger’s face made grand,
Which shines from all self-conquest; kneeling low,
He bowed his forehead upon Yussouf’s hand,
Sobbing: “O Sheik, I cannot leave thee so;
I will repay thee; all this thou hast done
Unto that Ibrahim who slew thy son!”

“Take thrice the gold,” said Yussouf, “for with thee

Into the desert, never to return,
My one black thought shall ride away from me;
First-born, for whom by day and night I yearn,
Balanced and just are all of God’s decrees;
Thou art avenged, my first-born, sleep in peace!”

Sunday 12 June 2016


2016-24  Thiruvaimozhi - NammazhwarAdvice to the World

Sri Nammazhwar - SriRangam
      Most of the verses of Nammazhwar flow out of his love and divine consciousness where there is no awareness of the external world. Some of them are directly addressed to the Lord. In some [as seen below], the Azhwar addresses mankind and gives advice.

    திருவாய் மொழி - முதல் பத்து (இரண்டாம் திருமொழி)
    உலகிற்கு உபதேசம்   ADVICE TO THE WORLD [2802-2812]

    வீடுமின் முற்றவும்,  வீடு செய்து உம் உயிர்,
    வீடு உடையானிடை,  வீடு செய்ம்மினே

    2802. Give up all the desires 

    that you have for earthly things.
    Surrender your life to the god, the lord of moksha
    and that will take you to moksha.

    2803 மின்னின் நிலை இல,  மன் உயிர் ஆக்கைகள்,
    என்னும் இடத்து இறை,   
    உன்னுமின் நீரே

    2803. Our earthly bodies will go away 

    from the earth one day.
    They are like lightning 
    and they come and go in a second.
    If you know this 
    you will only think of the everlasting god. 

    2804 நீர் நுமது என்று இவை,  வேர்முதல் மாய்த்து இறை,
    சேர்மின் உயிர்க்கு அதன்,   
    நேர் நிறை இல்லே.

    2804. Give up utterly any desire 

    that is for yourself or the things you own. 
    Join the god and worship him.
    There is nothing equal or higher than the god in life. 

    2805 இல்லதும் உள்ளதும்,  அல்லது அவன் உரு,
    எல்லை இல் அந் நலம்,   
    புல்கு பற்று அற்றே.

    2805. The things that are in the world

    and the things that are not in the world are all his forms.. 
    Give up your desires, 
    grasp the wonderful, matchless form of the god
    and worship him. 

    2806 அற்றது பற்று எனில்,  உற்றது வீடு உயிர்,
    செற்ற அது மன் உறில்,  
    அற்று இறை பற்றே.

    2806. If one gives up desire for worldly things

    he will go to moksha.
    The only help to reach moksha 
    is the desire to join and be one with the god.

    2807 பற்று இலன் ஈசனும், முற்றவும் நின்றனன்,
    பற்று இலையாய் அவன்,   
    முற்றில் அடங்கே.

    2807. The god has no desire

    and he is in all things in the world.
    There is nothing without him.
    O my soul! give up all your desires,
    approach him and become one with him. 

    2808 அடங்கு எழில் சம்பத்து , அடங்கக் கண்டு ஈசன்,
    அடங்கு எழில் அஃது என்று,   
    அடங்குக உள்ளே.

    2808. You should understand 

    that all the things in the world are contained in the god.
    Realize that you yourself are of those things
    and join the god yourself also. 

    2809 உள்ளம் உரை செயல்,  உள்ள இம் மூன்றையும்,
    உள்ளிக் கெடுத்து இறை,   
    உள்ளில் ஒடுங்கே.

    2809. Remove any desire from your mind.

    Remove any desire that you want to say something. 
    Remove any desire that you want to do something. 
    Join the god and become one with him. 

    2810 ஒடுங்க அவன்கண்,  ஒடுங்கலும் எல்லாம்,
    விடும் பின்னும் ஆக்கை ,  
    விடும்பொழுது எண்ணே.

    2810. If you only think of god always in this world,

    all your desires will leave you.
    You should live in this world 
    thinking only of the time you will join him
    and the time your body will leave this world.

    2811 எண் பெருக்கு அந் நலத்து,  ஒண் பொருள் ஈறு இல,
    வண் புகழ் நாரணன், 
    திண் கழல் சேரே.

    2811. Souls are countless. 

    Their knowledge has no limit.
    They shine as part of the god.
    They will join the strong feet 
    of the famous god Naraṇan.

    2812 சேர்த்தடத் தென் குரு, கூர்ச் சடகோபன் சொல்,
    சீர்த் தொடை ஆயிரத்து,   
    ஓர்த்த இப் பத்தே.

    2812. Saḍagopan of southern Thirukuruhur 

    surrounded by beautiful ponds filled with water
    composed a thousand pasurams.
    These are ten wonderful pasurams among those thousand. 

YouTube Audio: Kovil Thiruvaimozhi 2 with meaning: [Click Here]

YouTube Video: Thiruvaimozhi Saaram: Velukkudi Krishnan [Click Here]

Sunday 5 June 2016


2016-23  Thiruvaimozhi - Nammazhwar: Advice to the Self 

MaduraKavi - Nammazhwar - Nadamuni
[The Vedas and the Upanishads are the ultimate source of all our spiritual and philosophical knowledge. The Nalayira Divya Prabandham  of the Azhwars  present the jnana of all  these hallowed works of our tradition in Tamil in a melodious, inspired and easy to assimilate form. They are the combined works of the twelve Azhwars.

Tradition has it that all these works were brought back to us through Nammazhwar who appeared before Nathamuni to recite all the Nalayiram for him to compile. Hence he is hailed as "he who presented the substance of the Vedas in Tamil" and he who sang the 4000 Divya Prabhandams in praise of the Lord".

Nammazhwar was born in Thirukurugur immediately after the birth of kaliyuga. Historically he is placed at 8th century A.D. Thirukurugur is called as "Azhwar Thiru Nagari" to mark his Avathara there.

The Azhwar was born by the divine grace of "Thirukurungudi Nambi" and was named "Maran" by his parents. The child was unusual in many ways. He refused to take milk, did not respond to the people around but continued to live without any sustenance under a tamarind tree in the temple. He continued to sit there in padmasana, in divine contemplation for sixteen years.

The Azhwar gives details about his life in various verses. He mentions that Lord Krishna was food and water and everything necessary to him. He meditated at His holy feet, he had no interest in pleasures of the senses and he could not tolerate mundane life and that is why he kept his eyes closed. His mind dwelt on the Lord all the time.

Once Nammazhwar woke up from his trance, he started singing his verses on the Lord. It is believed that the Azhwar lived on the earth in the same place for 32 years. The works of Nammazhwar, which form part of Nalayira Divya Prabhandham, are Thiruviruttam - 100 verses, Thiruvasiriyam - 7 verses, Periya Thiruvandhadhi - 87 verses and Thiruvaimozhi - 1102 verses. They are believed to be the substance of the four Vedas.

In Thiruvirutham, the Azhwar maintains that he finds mundane life in this world unbearable. In Thiruvasiriyam, he describes and enjoys the beauty of the Lord. In Periya Thiruvandhadhi, he cries out to the Lord to take him in his fold. In Thiruvaimozhi, he enjoys the Lord, tells us the way towards Him and concludes with his "Moksha Anubhavam".

Swami Desikan says that Thiruvaimozhi makes those parts of the Vedas which are intricate, easy to understand. The title Thiruvaimozhi was given by the Lord Himself when he came before Nammazhwar to take him to His abode. In fact the Lord addressed the Azhwar as Nammazhwar showing that he was very special to Him.

Most of the verses of Nammazhwar flow out of his love and divine consciousness where there is no awareness of the external world. Some of them are directly addressed to the Lord. In some, the Azhwar addresses mankind and gives advice.] 

 Kovil Thiruvaimozhi

    திருவாய் மொழி - முதல் பத்து (முதல் திருமொழி, 2791-2801)-
    ஆத்ம உபதேசம்
           ADVICE TO THE SELF [2791-2801]

    உயர்வு அற உயர் நலம் உடையவன் எவன்? அவன்
    மயர்வு அற மதி நலம் அருளினன் எவன்? அவன்
    அயர்வு அறும் அமரர்கள் அதிபதி எவன்? அவன்
    துயர் அறு சுடர் அடி தொழுது எழு என் மனனே

    2791. O my heart! 

    He is a matchless god.
    He has unlimited goodness. 
    He gave me abundant knowledge to remove my ignorance.
    He is the god of the gods in the sky
    and he never grows tired of protecting the world. 
    Worship his shining feet that take away all sorrows.

    2792 மனன் அகம் மலம் அற மலர்மிசை எழுதரும்
    மனன் உணர்வு அளவு இலன் பொறி உணர்வு அவை இலன்
      இனன் உணர் முழு நலம் எதிர் நிகழ் கழிவினும்
        இனன் இலன் எனன் உயிர் மிகுநரை இலனே (2)

    2792. He removes the faults in your mind. 

    He keeps Brahma on the lotus on his chest.
    There is no limit to what he can think.
    He is not attracted by any feelings of the senses.
    Whatever happens does not bother him. 
    He is in my soul and he is ageless. 

    2793 இலன் அது உடையன் இது என நினைவு அரியவன்
    நிலனிடை விசும்பிடை உருவினன் அருவினன்
    புலனொடு புலன் அலன் ஒழிவு இலன் பரந்த
    நலன் உடை ஒருவனை நணுகினம் நாமே

    2793. No one knows 

    what he has and what he does not have.
    The earth and sky are his forms.
    He is formless.
    He is the senses and he is not the senses.
    He is endless. 
    He is omnipresent.
    He is all goodness. He is unique.
    I approached and joined him.

    2794 நாம் அவன் இவன் உவன் அவள் இவள் உவள் எவள்
    தாம் அவர் இவர் உவர் அது இது உது எது
    வீம் அவை இவை உவை அவை நலம் தீங்கு
    ஆம் அவை ஆயவை ஆய்நின்ற அவரே

    2794. He is us. 

    He is this man, that man and the man over there.
    He is this woman, that woman and the woman over there.
    Who is he?
    He is our own. He is this one, He is that one. 
    He is this and he is that. 
    He is the thing over there, and he is what.
    He is these, those and those over there. 
    He is good and evil.
    He is omnipresent and he is those things and these things. 

    2795 அவரவர் தமதமது அறிவு அறி வகைவகை
    அவரவர் இறையவர் என அடி அடைவர்கள்
      அவரவர் இறையவர் குறைவு இலர் இறையவர்
        அவரவர் விதிவழி அடைய நின்றனரே (5)

    2795. People think as they wish,

    "This one is my god and that one is my god."
    They will reach the feet of the god they choose.
    The god they worship 
    will give them all things that they want.
    They will reach the gods according to their fate.

    2796 நின்றனர் இருந்தனர் கிடந்தனர் திரிந்தனர்
    நின்றிலர் இருந்திலர் கிடந்திலர் திரிந்திலர்
    என்றும் ஓர் இயல்வினர் என நினைவு அரியவர்  
    என்றும் ஓர் இயல்வொடு நின்ற எம் திடரே

    2796. He stands, sits, lies and wanders.

    He does not stand, does not sit, does not lie and does not wander.
    No one knows what his nature is
    but he has only one nature and he is the mighty god.

    2797 திட விசும்பு எரி வளி நீர் நிலம் இவைமிசைப்
    படர் பொருள் முழுவதும் ஆய் அவைஅவைதொறும்
      உடல்மிசை உயிர் எனக் கரந்து எங்கும் பரந்துளன்
        சுடர் மிகு சுருதியுள் இவை உண்ட சுரனே (7)

    2797. He is in the wide sky, the strong wind, water and earth

    and he is in all the things in the world. 
    He hides himself in the bodies and lives of all creatures
    and he is spread everywhere.
    He is the shining god of the world and he is the Vedas, 
    and he swallowed all the worlds. 

    2798 சுரர் அறிவு அரு நிலை விண் முதல் முழுவதும்
    வரன் முதலாய் அவை முழுது உண்ட பரபரன்
    புரம் ஒரு மூன்று எரித்து அமரர்க்கும் அறிவியந்து  
      அரன் அயன் என உலகு அழித்து அமைத்து உளனே (8)

    2798. He is the highest lord 

    and he swallowed all the worlds 
    and the sky where the gods are.
    He burned the three forts of his enemies.
    Gods wonder about his nature.
    He is Shiva and Brahma 
    and he creates and destroys the world.

    2799 உளன் எனில் உளன் அவன் உருவம் இவ் உருவுகள்
    உளன் அலன் எனில் அவன் அருவம் இவ் அருவுகள்
    உளன் என இலன் என இவை குணம் உடைமையில் 

      உளன் இரு தகைமையொடு ஒழிவு இலன் பரந்தே (9)

    2799. If one believes he exists, he exists.

    If one believes he has a form, he does. 
    If one believes he has no form, he has none.
    He has both natures, "he is and he is not," and he is omnipresent.

    2800 பரந்த தண் பரவையுள் நீர்தொறும் பரந்துளன்
    பரந்த அண்டம் இது என நிலம் விசும்பு ஒழிவு அறக்
    கரந்த சில் இடந்தொறும் இடம் திகழ் பொருள்தொறும்
       கரந்து எங்கும் பரந்துளன் இவை உண்ட கரனே (10)

    2800. He pervades the water of the cool wide ocean. 

    He pervades all the worlds.
    He pervades the vast sky.
    He is in places no one knows. 
    He is hidden in everything that shines,
    the sun, moon and stars.
    He swallowed all of them and spit them out.

    2801 கர விசும்பு எரி வளி நீர் நிலம் இவைமிசை
    வரன் நவில் திறல் வலி அளி பொறை ஆய்நின்ற
    பரன் அடிமேல் குருகூர்ச் சடகோபன் சொல்  

      நிரல் நிறை ஆயிரத்து இவை பத்தும் வீடே (11)

    2801. Saḍagopan of Thirukuruhur 

    composed a thousand pasurams worshiping the feet of the god 
    who is the sky, the strong wind, water, earth,
    the rainbow and the everlasting mountains.
    If devotees learn and recite these ten pasurams 
    they will reach moksha. 

Kovil Thiruvaimozhi Mudal Patthu Temple Rendering with English Meaning:[Click Here] 3:23 min