Bhakti Song 11 – Hail

I like Carnatic (South Indian classical) music, but my favourite form of music is Tamil Pan Isai (traditional Tamil music). The gentle form of it raises our spiritual awakening and helps us feel the presence of God. I started to write this song in September 1985 and completed in December 1985.

 

11. போற்றி போற்றி

 

ஒலியே வடிவெடுத்து

ஓரருள் வார்த்தையாகி

உலகினை உய்விக்கவே

உருவெடுத்து வந்தோய்–போற்றி

 

ஆதியில் தேவனாகி

அவரரும் புதல்வனாகி

அனைத்தையும் படைத்தெடுத்து

அவனியில் வந்தோய்–போற்றி

 

சிந்தைசொல் தான்கடந்து

ஜோதியே வடிவமாகி

ஜீவனின் ஊற்றுமாகி

திகழ்கின்ற அருளே–போற்றி

 

அருளுக்கு அருளாய் நின்றோய்

அவனிக்கு ஒளியாய் வந்தோய்

இருளிலே ஒளியும் தந்தோய்

முக்தேசனே போற்றி போற்றி

 

தெய்வத்தைக் கண்டோரில்லை

திருவடி அறிந்தோர் இல்லை

தேவனின் மைந்தன் நீயே

தெய்வமாய் உருவெடுத்தாய்

 

அவனியின் மாந்தர்கெல்லாம்

ஆன்மீக ஒளியளிக்க

அவதரித்து உலகில் வந்தாய்

ஐயனே நீ மனிதனாக

 

ஆரறிவார் ஐயா உன்

அன்பின் இம்மாட்சியையே

அளவிடவே முடியாது உன்

அரும் பெரும் தியாகமதை

 

அழிந்திடும் மானிடர்மேல்

ஐயா நீவைத்த அன்பதனால்

அளித்தாயே உன் மகனை

அடைந்திடவே விண் வாழ்வதனை

 

கன்னியின் கருவறையில்

சிசுவாய் உருவெடுத்தாய்

கால்நடைக்குடில்தனிலே

மனுவாய் அவதரித்தாய்

 

மந்தையின் மேய்ப்பருக்கோ

அருட்செய்தி முதலளித்தாய்

மனுகுல முழுதிற்க்கும்

மீட்பிற்கு வழிவகுத்தாய்

 

முறன்பட்ட முன்னோரின்

முறைமையினைச் சீர்படுத்த

நீரினில் அமிழ்ந்தெழுந்து

நியமத்தை அனுசரித்தாய்

 

தேவனின் இராஜியத்தை

திசையெங்கும் பறைசாற்றி

தந்தையவர் தம் சித்தம்

தாழ்மையுடன் கடைபிடித்தாய்

 

சீர்கெட்ட மாந்தவரவர்

சிந்தயினை நேர்படுத்த

சீடரைத் தெரிந்தெடுத்து

நற்செய்தி எடுத்துரைத்தாய்

 

அண்டிய மாந்தெர்க்கெல்லாம்

அன்புடன் சுகமளித்தாய்

ஆன்மீக இரட்சிப்பிற்கோ

ஐயா நீ வழியானாய்

 

மார்க்கத்தில் வெறிபிடித்த

மனிதரவர் மூர்க்கமதால்

மன்னவனே உன்னையவர்

மாய்த்திடவே இடமளித்தாய்

 

தெரிந்தெடுத்த சீடருமே

திகைத்துன்னை மறுதலிக்க

தேவனின் திருச்சித்தம்

நிறைவேற உனையளித்தாய்

 

பாவமே அறியாத

பரமனின் குமரனே நீ

பாதகரை மீட்டிடவே

பாவச்சுமை ஏற்றாயே

 

நேயமைந்தன் நிலைகண்டு

தேவனுமே கையளிக்க

பாவமைந்தர் எமைமீட்க

பரிதபித்து உயிரளித்தாய்

 

கல்லறையும் உன்னைத்தான்

கருவறையில் கொண்டிடுமோ

காவலர்தம் கண்விழிப்பும்

காத்திடுமோ உன்னழிவை

 

தேவனவன் வல்லமையால்

தேகமதில் உயிர்த்தெழுந்தாய்

தேற்றினாய் சீடரையும்

தோன்றியவர்முன் காட்சியாக

 

அண்ட சராசரத்தின்

ஆதிக்கம் அவன் கையில்

ஆகையால் நீங்கள் போய்

அனைவர்க்கும் இச்செய்தி கூறி

 

மூவரின் நாமத்தில்

முழுக்கியே நீரதனில்

ஆக்குவீர் நற்சீடராய்

அவனியின் மாந்தரையே

 

 

English Translation: Hail

 

The embodied Light
Became a Graceful Word,
Incarnate to save this world;
Hail to You!

Remaining primordial God,
Become His gracious Son;
Creator of everything,
You came to this world, Hail to You!

Crossing beyond mind and words,
Becoming the form of Light
and the source of Life,
You are the essence of Grace; Hail to you!

You remain as Grace upon Grace;
You become Light to this world
And showed light in darkness;
Lord Muktinath, Hail to you!

None has seen God
None knows the Holy feet
You Son of God
Incarnated as God

In order to give spiritual light
To the people in this world
You took incarnation
As a human being

Who will understand this
Greatness of your love
It cannot be measured
This great sacrifice

As I had love for
The perishing human beings
You gave your Son
In order to get eternal life

You were born as a baby
In the womb of a virgin
You incarnated in
The manger

You gave the Good news
To the shepherds
You paved the way
For the salvation of all of humanity

In order to set right the
Conflicting ancient path (contradicting ancestors ways)
You took deeksha in water
And observed the rules

You proclaimed the Kingdom of God
Every where
You humbly followed the
Path of your Father

In order to straighten
The crooked path of humanity
You proclaimed the Good news
By selecting your disciples

You gave healing to those
Who approached you with compassion
You become the Way/path
For the spiritual salvation

Because of the religious fanatic’s
Rudeness
You allowed them to kill you
By surrendering yourself

The chosen disciples too denied you
As they were taken by this
And you surrendered totally
To fulfil the will of God

Oh Son of God
Who does no know sin
You accepted the burden of sin
In order to redeem the sinners

Seeing your wretched condition of
God also give you up
You gave your life taking pity on us
To redeem us the children of sin

Can the grave could hold you
In its womb (for long)?
Can the vigilance of the solders
allow you to perish?

You resurrected in body
By the power of God
You appeared before your disciples
by giving them your vision

The authority of the entire cosmos
In His hand
Therefore you go and
Proclaim this news to everyone

Giving them deeksha
In the name of the Trinity
Make them good disciples
The people of this world

 

Comments

This my early attempt to present the gospel in a short poem. Although I never paid much attention to the theology when I wrote this song, I was careful not to push my own personal ideals in the general meaning. I tried to remain faithful to the tradition which I received from the evangelical circle. Since I was more concerned about the music (Tamil Pan Isai), I was careful in selecting words that will go along with the music. When I was reading the first chapter of the gospel of John, the first few verses inspired me very much and immediately I wrote the first few stanzas in this song. When I began to use it in my personal worship, I began to add few more stanzas and finally completed it.

For me bhakti is not a mere sentimental relationship with the Lord. It should be anchored on the foundation of the Word of God. Of course I struggled a lot to understand what actually the ‘WORD’ of God is. As I had done only an elementary study about the Canon, I was not sure whether it is the ‘letter’ or the ‘spirit’ that holds the final authority.

As I compared Hindi, English and Tamil Muktivedas, I was not sure which translation was correct? I read more and more books on inspiration, translation, and interpretation but I was not sure how to anchor my bhakti properly. Though I found a convincing answer to my question why I couldn’t lead a perfect life even for one day through the Muktiveda, the spirit of rational enquiry challenged my conviction without having a real struggle within me.

I know this struggle will not end with a convincing answer until the end of my life that will satisfy both my reason and spiritual need. But the Word of God helps me steer more clearly rather than drifting in the ocean of theology or emotional expression of bhakti, anchoring me safely in my relationship with the Lord. The Word of God for me is like the umbilical cable for astronauts when they go out for a space walk from their station. However my emotions or feelings inspire me to write songs according to the mood and need, the Muktiveda helps me check my theology to have its Muktivedic foundation.

I accept the orthodox view that ‘The Word of God holds the final authority’, but what actually the ‘Word’ of God says is often decided by the interpretation. Finally it is our own interpretation that holds the final authority and not the ‘literal’ Word of God. However even this interpretation is questioned claiming that it obstructs “God’s clear communication”, (p. 817) says Harriet A. Harris. To understand this point it is worth to read what she says about Foundationalism [FUNDAMENTALISM(S). Harriet A. Harris, in Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies, edited by J. W. Rogerson and Judith M. Lieu, New York, 2006. Pp. 810-840,]:

Fundamentalism is a form of strong foundationalism, to use a philosophical and specifically epistemological term. Foundationalism is a particular way of modeling how our various beliefs relate to one another. It has been dominant in Western thought, and so is by no means unique to fundamentalists. (P. 815) It portrays a system of beliefs as built upon foundations which are themselves self-justifying. Within a foundationalist theory of knowledge, reasoning is conceived as working predominantly in one direction: from the foundations upwards. Beliefs are inferred or deduced from the foundations, and more ramified beliefs are inferred or deduced from more foundational ones.

This is not an uncommon way of thinking, and has affected both liberal and fundamentalist Protestantism, as it has numerous strands of thought. Liberal Protestantism posits universal religious experience as foundational, and places Scripture further up the belief structure, as manifesting the religious experience of its authors. Fundamentalism treats Scripture as foundational. Hence a fundamentalist theology invariably begins with the doctrine of Scripture, because of the conviction that the Bible must be secured before we can go on to build a theology (from it)…–p. 816

The fundamentalist conviction that interpretation obstructs God’s clear communication …More recently, the British creation scientist David C. C. Watson has argued that Scripture ‘no more requires interpretation than the . . . cricket scores in your morning paper’ (1975, 1989: 37). If Scripture needs interpreting, the foundation of faith is shifting rather than fixed. (p. 817)

 

Added to this here I have to share one important difference one can find between the experiences in a poem and the theological explanation about it. I am not the only person facing this problem. It is a universal one, at least in India. Let me quote from the life of Vedanta Desika of Tamilnadu who lived in the 13th to 14th century (c.1268-1369) (Steven Paul Hopkins, Singing the Body of God: The Hymns of Vedantadesika in Their South Indian Tradition, Oxford, New Delhi, 2002, p.6). Hopkins says:

In my exegeses of the poems I will also address and further elaborate … the tensions between the theological vision in the poems and the theology expressed by the very same poet’s prose…. Desika’s hymns to Vishnu articulate a vision of surrender that seems to be more radical than that outlined in the poet’s own doctrinal works. The doctrine in prose cautiously affirms human self-effort in the action of grace, while the poem emphasizes helplessness, the absence of any human “means” to salvation. Doctrine in the poem…. is more “fluid,” less monolithic than doctrine outline in prose. Ultimately, we see in Desika how philosophical positions and doctrines, when put into poems, are transformed by a master of both genres. The medium of the poem offers Desika the philosopher a unique space of interpretation, distinct from his own prose commentaries and independent treatises. (p. 8)….Yet the space of the poem also provides what Desika himself will describe as an “overflowing of ecstatic experience” (anubhava parivaahamaaka), implying that in the poem one may find a certain overflow of “experience” beyond the structures of theology and even poetics. (pp.8-9)

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