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Shaper Shaped -- Harindranath Chattopadhyaya

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 Chattopadhyaya
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

56 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Arti Jaiman said...

Do you have access or information about any more poems by Harindranath
Chattopadhyaya. I am searching for as many poems as I can find.

Thanks

Arti Jaiman

Larry said...

There is a book of his poems called The Divine Vagabond published by the Theosophical Publishing House in 1950. It includes the poem above.

parulvmehta said...

I do have the "The Devine Vagabond"... and the poems are most beautiful what i read there....which got me to search for his other poems here....please do look for it..it is not easy to locate in book stores though.One needs to search the theosophical society to get it.

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Jess Dhar said...

Lucky that I read this poem when I was very young and have tried to shape my life based on this poem. Strange that I would find it here. I am humbled.

Neha said...

It looks like a link is available here: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theosophical.org%2Ffiles%2Fresources%2Fbooks%2FDivineVagabond%2FDivineVagabond.pdf&ei=RRecTqmnCJCyrAelodi2Ag&usg=AFQjCNGxBRjsvobDQ_9ZpvCN_Bt-2NwV4A&sig2=e2VxuD8O92GaI4bXx7xIRw

Swati Sani said...

When I was in college, I found this gem written by Harindranath Chattopadhya somewhere and noted it down in my diary - been looking for complete poem/source since then but haven't been lucky. The poem is titled "Sleepless"

My nights are wakeful God! I hardly sleep now
I count the midnight hours until sunrise.
Do you believe I can not even weep now?
since the last tear has dried up in my eyes

-- Harindranath Chattopadya

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