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  • Victory
  • Translated by Andrew Schelling (bio)

jayanti te sukṛtino    rasasiddhāḥ kavīśvarāḥnāsti yeṣāṃ yaśaḥkāye    jarāmaraṇajanmabhiḥ

  • jayanti. triumph

  • te. they

  • sukṛtino. accomplished, cultivated

  • rasa. [see pages 43–44 for discussion of this term]

  • siddhāḥ. wizards, shamans, spiritual masters

  • kavi-iśvarāḥ. poet-masters

  • na-asti. is no

  • yeṣāṃ. for them

  • yaśaḥ. of splendor, glory, fame

  • kāye. in the body

  • jarā-maraṇa-janmabhiḥ. old age, death, rebirth [End Page 62]

Victory tothe accomplished master poetswizards of rasain their bodies of splendor they sufferno old age no deathno rebirth.

Rasas are what John Cage calls the “permanent emotions.” In Indian metaphysics they are alokita, not located anywhere. It is our mutable emotions that consume us and have a nameable location, attached to one object or another. They dissolve when our bodies die. Rasas underlie the passions, a vast substratum or territory that emotion arises from and that is accessed through art. In fact that would be the purpose of art: to reach into that unconscious realm.

Bhatṛhari speaks of poets as rasa-siddhas. A siddha is a spiritual adept. Different traditions of yoga or Buddhist practice inflect the term differently. The root verb, sidh, simply means to accomplish, and siddha means one-who-has-accomplished or reached mastery. You could call siddhas shamans, wizards, enlightened ones. In their bodies of yaśa (brilliance, glory, or fame), they escape the perilous wheel of birth and death.

Bhartṛhari did not consider poetry something separate from spiritual practice; through it, the person who achieves mastery attains liberation. Contrast this with Viśvanātha’s invocation in “Shining with the Luster.” On one path, the poet approaches Language as a power greater than himself, as a goddess, and prays for her to succeed. On another path, Bhartṛhari sees the poet achieving enlightenment through his or her own hard-earned accomplishment. [End Page 63]

Andrew Schelling

Andrew Schelling, born in 1953 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., has written, edited, or translated twenty books. Early opposition to American involvement in Vietnam, plus an encounter with India’s texts, set him on a lifelong engagement with Asian literature. He studied Sanskrit at the University of California at Berkeley, and began to translate from its classical poetry tradition around 1978. His first book, Dropping the Bow: Poems of Ancient India, received the Academy of American Poets translation award in 1992, the first time the Academy had honored work done from an Asian language. Schelling’s own poetry and essays emerge from the Southern Rocky Mountain bioregion in which he lives. Recent books of poetry wrangle with the Arapaho language as a way of reading landscape and the natural cycles; they include From the Arapaho Songbook and A Possible Bag. He has edited The Oxford Anthology of Bhakti Literature and Love and the Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual and Erotic Longing (forthcoming from Counterpoint Press). Living on the Front Range of Colorado, he is active on land-use issues and teaches at Naropa University. He also teaches regularly at Deer Park Institute, in India’s Himalayan foothills.



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pp. 62-63
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