Guest poem sent in by Subroto Mukerji
(Poem #1438) Shaper Shaped
In days gone by I used to be A potter who would feel His fingers mould the yielding clay To patterns on his wheel; But now, through wisdom lately won, That pride has gone away, I have ceased to be the potter And have learned to be the clay. In other days I used to be A poet through whose pen Innumerable songs would come To win the hearts of men; But now, through new-got knowledge Which I hadn't had so long, I have ceased to be the poet And have learned to be the song. I was a fashioner of swords, In days that now are gone, Which on a hundred battle-fields Glittered and gleamed and shone; But now I am brimming with The silence of the Lord, I have ceased to be sword-maker And have learned to be the sword. In by-gone days I used to be A dreamer who would hurl On every side an insolence Of emerald and pearl. But now I am kneeling At the feet of the Supreme I have ceased to be the dreamer And have learned to be the dream.
Harindranath was the quintessential Bengali intellectual -- wealthy, high born, highly strung, temperamental, eccentric, coruscatingly brilliant but (pardonably) egoistic, proud of his abilities, but wasting them by his self-destructive tendencies (such as his compulsive philandering). He was marvellously gifted with an array of outstanding abilities, mostly underutilised. Artist, poet, dramatist, actor, philosopher and metaphysician, Chattopadhyaya is typical of the towering intellects that have emerged from urban Bengal over the last two centuries. His father, Aghoranath Chattopadhyaya, was a scholar of Sanskrit, Greek, Hebrew, Persian and English, and Harindranath 'caught the bug' from him. The senior Chattopadhyaya was principal of the famous Nizam's college at Hyderabad, now capital of Andhra Pradesh. His daughter (Harindranath's sister) happened to be Sarojini Naidu, the legendary 'Nightingale of Bengal', and herself a fine poet, freedom fighter and stunning orator. In later life--as worldly men are oft wont to do--Harindranath came face to face with his mortality and shed his egoism by an almost relieved surrender to the Supreme. This poem is a frank admission of his foolish obsession with himself, in sheer neglect of the Self. Humility followed Self-Realisation and brought with it a glimpse of the larger purpose of the Spirit. It is this surrender of the towering genius of Harindranth before his Maker that brings a lump to the throat...and forewarns all us mortals, so wrapped up in our own puny little egos, that to shed the obsession with self is to enter into the arena of a Greater Consciousness, where a transcendent experience awaits the awakening soul. Subroto Mukerji