Tag Archives: Indian Literature

A second Bhakti poem

And here’s the second poem I wrote as part of our Indian Literature assignment.

I wait

I wait amongst dried leaves and sticks
waiting to hear them crackle
under your own feet.

I wait for anything that would tell me it’s you
coming towards me, thinking of me.

Then I hear it. It has to be!
My heart races, my eyes quicken.

I turn in every direction. My ears strain to hear.
Then. Nothing.

No, it wasn’t real. It’s just me.
And the leaves and sticks crackling
under my own feet.

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Writing Bhakti poetry- A first attempt

In our Indian Literature classes in College this semester, we’re reading a lot about the Bhakti Movement in India, reading the poems, talking about the poets, and diverging into various angles from here. My earlier post was about a Bhakti poem ‘The Paradigm’ that I really love, written by the Tamil poet, Nammalvar.

Our next exercise was to actually write a Bhakti poem. At the beginning it seemed impossible. We began by thinking what would be the craziest thing we would do if we were in love. No rules, no expectations, no holding back. It could be anything! What would you do?
There are a great many stories of what Bhakti poets did. They didn’t care about what the rest of the world thought of them, broke society’s expectations of gender, rules, and norms, creating their own relationship with god with no middle-man.

There is so much more to Bhakti poetry, and this post does no justice to the scope and beauty of Bhakti poetry, and the movement. Only reading about the poets, their lives, and actually going through the poems will give one a sense of what it has to offer, is my opinion.

I began writing, and within fifteen minutes, I wrote my first poem.
I wrote another one a few days after which I will post soon.
Here is the first:

Now

At this moment. here and now.
Nothing can stop me.

Not the racing bikes.
Not the barking dogs at my feet.
No, not even the staring passers by.

I won’t stop running towards you,
for nothing can stop me.

Not my parents, not my friends.
Not the rules, the codes and expectations.
No, not even myself.

I won’t stop running towards you,
for I know nothing else.


The Paradigm

This semester in college, as part of our Indian Literature course we’re reading many Bhakti poems among many other things. It has been extremely interesting as I do know a few songs by Kabir and Mira, and I’ve always sung or heard them without really knowing what they mean. Also, I had never really stopped and wondered about what kind of people Kabir or Mira might have been, and reading their poems in class, we discussed these questions and more.

Here is a poem by a famous Tamil Bhakti poet, Nammalvar, addressed to Lord Vishnu.
What I really love about this poem is the fact that possibly everything one can think of as existing or non-existing, living or dead in this world or in our heads, is enclosed within these lines. Each time I read it, I try to think of something that wouldn’t fit under these categories, but it seems impossible.

The Paradigm

We here and that man, this man,
and that other in-between,
and that woman, this woman,
and that other, whoever,

those people, and these,
and these others in-between,
this things, that thing,
and this other in-between, whichever,

all things dying, these things,
those things, those others in-between,
good things, bad things,
things that were, that will be,

being all of them,
he stands there.

by Nammalvar
Translated by AK Ramanujan


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