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  • Let the Old Doubts Go
  • Translated by Andrew Schelling (bio)

parihara kṛtātaṅke śaṅkāṃ tvayā satataṃ ghana-    stanajaghanayākrānte svānte parānavakāśiniviśati vitanor anyo dhanyo na ko'pi mamāntaraṃ    stanabharaparirambhārambhe vidhehi vidheyatām

  • parihara. (second-person imp.) give up

  • kṛtātaṅke. (voc.) (f.) O doubtful one

  • śaṅkāṃ. uncertainty

  • tvayā. by you

  • satataṃ. always

  • ghana. deep, full, firm

  • stana. breasts

  • jaghanaya. loins

  • ākrānte. when gone

  • svānte. (loc.) love, in one’s own heart

  • para-anavakāśini. (voc.) O one without a rival, against whom a rival has no chance

  • viśati. enters

  • vitanoḥ. bodiless, a spirit or ghost

  • anyaḥ. other

  • dhanyaḥ. fortunate

  • na ko'pi. who is not

  • mamāntaraṃ. inside me

  • stana-bhara. breast fullness

  • parirambha. embrace

  • ārambhe. when (we) begin

  • vidhehi. destiny, old custom

  • vidheyatām. may it be granted [End Page 116]

Let the old doubts go,anguished Radha.Your unfathomed breasts andcavernous loinsare all I desire.What other girl has the power?Love is a ghostthat has slipped into my entrails.When I reach to embrace yourdeep breastsmay we fulfill the ritewe were born for—

Some of the vocabulary here seems supernatural or spiritual. Radha’s body is ghana (dark, unfathomable, dense). By contrast the vitanoḥ (bodiless spirit or ghost), which is love, has entered Krishna’s antaraṃ (deep core). The rite, the vidhehi, is destiny, fate, old custom, ritual. It is a word that rhymes with the verb that follows, vidheyatām (let it be granted). I suspect some kind of coded language—twilight speech or Tantric imagery—in play here. Constantly switching the vocabulary of desire with that of religion or ritual, Jayadeva is also playing the sounds for spiritual-musical effect, beyond the limits of meaning.

In this way, the doubt that the opening words address to Radha is also a religious doubt, directed to the reader, and the power of the poem is to place the reader into Radha’s anguished spirit and eroticized organs. [End Page 117]

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. 116-117
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