Ramprasad Sen: Shakta Poet

The Bengal poet Ramprasad wrote exquisite verses to Queen of the Universe, expressing the intense devotion and longing he felt for the Beautiful One. His words express the pure flow of bhakti. Reading them, once can feel the depth of emotion on a pure, visceral level of being.
kalima
A few samples from his work follow: 
O wavering mind,
awaken your upward-flowing awareness.
Become the sublime warrior Goddess Kali,
who moves with graceful power
through the vast landscape of the body.Her divine form, like a black storm cloud
illumined by the sun,
she stands unveiled,
her long hair falling free like monsoon rain.
Be lost in awe of her, O mind,
for you will never comprehend her.She dwells as the primal lotus of conscious energy
and also as the thousand-petal blossom,
complete enlightenment.
She is none other than primordial bliss,
this great swan ever swimming
through the lotus jungle of the subtle body.Gaze intently into the blazing heart of joy
and you will perceive my blissful Mother,
matrix of all phenomena.
The vision of Kali
kindles the fire of unitive wisdom,
burning down conventional barriers,
pervading minds and worlds with light,
revealing her exalted beauty
as universal flower garden
and universal cremation ground,
where lovers merge with Mother Reality,
experiencing the single taste of nonduality.This ardent poet of the Goddess cries:
“Every lover longs only
to gaze upon the unique Beloved.
Why close your eyes?
Why disappear into formless trance?”
 
Only you
O sublime Kali,

you dance in solitude as naked truth. Your black hair streams wildly
as pure freedom
You alone can fulfill with your very being
my soul’s most secret yearning.
No one else can offer any real response
to this transcendent desire for union
burning constantly in my heart.
O Mother, please tell me whether
your illumination will ever
sweet away this separate self.
You must! You must!
To you alone with every breath
I confess the ultimate realization
for which I thirst.Ma! Ma! Ma!
No being within countless heavenly realms
or across this vast earth
can truly understand my desperate longing
Only you.

The absolute longing Ramprasad felt towards the Goddess and expressed in words continue to reverberate down to us through the centuries. A few good books have collected his bhakti poetry in translation:

Mother of the Universe: Visions of the Goddess and Tantric Hymns of Enlightenment by Lex Hinton

Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal, by Rachel Fell McDermott

Reading these collections, I am swept away by the beauty and intensity of the emotions. This is love on a cosmic, grand scale and yet  so painfully human. The fragile nature of the bond between this temporal life and the eternity of being in love with the Infinite is captured, for a time, in these words.

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7 responses to “Ramprasad Sen: Shakta Poet

  1. Sangeeta 30 April 2013 at 21:35

    Thank You for visiting my blog. I completely believe in the Devi and it is her love and blessings that have seen through tough times. I love the interpretation above and being a Bengali have grown up on Ramprasadi songs through my grand mother ….Look forward to your other posts, meanwhile will keep reading others.

    • Gregory Peters 30 April 2013 at 22:10

      Thanks so much for your comments! Coming from someone with your family background that is a real compliment! I would love to hear more about your relationship with the Goddess and how your family would recite the songs

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