“And Let Shyama Dance There” by Swami Vivekananda




|| AND LET SHYAMA DANCE THERE ||


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THE DESTRUCTIVE FORM OF LIFE






AND LET SHYAMA DANCE THERE”(Rendered from Bengali)by Swami Vivekananda is an extraordinary poem. Here is the poem.

Beauteous blossoms ravishing with perfume,
Swarms of maddened bees buzzing all around ;
The silver moon—a shower of sweet smiles,
Which all the dwellers of heaven above
Shed lavishly upon the homes of the earth ;
The soft Malaya breeze, whose magic touch
Opens to view distant memory’s folds ;
Murmuring rivers and brooks, rippling lakes
With restless Bhramaras wheeling over
Gently waving lotuses unnumbered ;
Foaming flow cascades—streaming music—
To which echo mountain caves in return ;
Warblers, full of sweet-flowing melody,
Hidden in leaves, pour hearts out—love discourse ;
The rising orb of day, the painter divine,
With his golden brush but lightly touches
The canvas earth and a wealth of colours
Floods at once o’er the bosom of nature,
—Truly a museum of lovely hues—
Waking up a whole sea of sentiments.

The roll of thunder, the crashing of clouds,
War of elements spreading earth and sky;
Darkness vomiting forth blinding darkness,
The Pralaya wind angrily roaring;
In quick bursts of dazzling splendour flashes
Blood-red terrific lightning, dealing death;
Monster waves roaring like thunder, foaming,
Rush impetuous to leap mountain peaks;
The earth booms furious, reels and totters,
Sinks to its ruin, hurled from its place;
Piercing the ground, stream forth tremendous flames.
Mighty ranges blow up into atoms.

A lovely villa, on a lake of blue—
Festooned with dusters of water-lilies;
The heart-blood of ripe grapes capped with white foam
Whispering tells the tale of passion;
The melody of the harp floods the ears,
And by its air, time, and harmony-rich,
Enhances desire in the breast of man ;
What stirring of emotions! How many
Hot sighs of Love! And warm tears coursing down!
The Bimba – red lips of the youthful fair,
The two blue eyes—two oceans of feelings;
The two hands are eager to advance—love’s cage—
In which the heart, like a bird, lies captive.
The martial music bursts, the trumpets blow,
The ground shakes under the warriors’ tread;
The roar of cannon, the rattle of guns,
Volumes of smoke, the gruesome battlefield,
The thundering artillery vomits fire
In thousand directions; shells burst and strike
Vital parts of the body; elephants
And horses mounted are blown up in space;
The earth trembles under this infernal dance;
A million heroes mounted on steeds
Charge and capture the enemy’s ordnance,
Piercing through the smoke and shower of shells
And the rain of bullets; forward goes the flag,
The emblem of victory, of heroism
With the blood, yet hot, streaming down the staff,
Followed by the rifles, drunk with war-spirit;
Lo! the ensign falls, but the flag proceeds
Onwards on the shoulder of another;
Under his feet swell heaps of warriors
Perished in battle, but he falters not.
The flesh hankers for contacts of pleasure,
The senses for enchanting strains of song,
The mind hungers for peals of laughter sweet,
The heart pants to reach realms beyond sorrow;
Say, who cares to exchange the soothing moonlight
For the burning rays of the noontide sun?
The wretch whose heart is like the scorching sun,
—Even the fondly loves the balmy moon;
Indeed, all thirst for joy. Breathes there the wretch
Who hugs pain and sorrow to his bosom?
Misery in his cup of happiness,
Deadly venom in his drink of nectar,
Poison in his throat—yet he clings to hope!
Lo! how all are scared by the Terrific,
None seek Elokeshi whose form is Death.
The deadly frightful sword, reeking with blood,
They take from Her hand, and put a lute instead!
Thou dreaded Kâli, the All-destroyer,
Thou alone art true; Thy shadow’s shadow
Is indeed the pleasant Vanamâli.
O Terrible Mother, cut quick the core,
Illusion dispel—the dream of happiness,
Rend asunder the fondness for the flesh.

True, the garland Thee with skulls but shrink back
In fright and call Thee, “O All-merciful!”
At Thy thunder peal of awful laughter,
At Thy nudeness—for space is thy garment—
Their hearts sink with terror, but they say,
“It is the demons that the Mother kills!”
They only pretend they wish to see Thee,
But when the time comes, at Thy sight they flee.
Thou art Death! To each and all in the world
Thou distributest the plague and disease
—Vessels of venom-filled by Thine own hands.
O thou insane! Thou but cheatest thyself,
Thou cost not turn thy head lest thou behold.
Ay, the form terrible of the Mother.
Thou courtest hardship hoping happiness,
Thou wearest cloak of Bhakti and worship,
With a mind full of achieving selfish ends.
The blood from the severed head of a kid
Fills thee with fear—thy heartthrobs at the sight—for contacts of pleasure, the heart pants to reach realms beyond. /
Verily a coward! Compassionate?
Bless my soul! A strange state of things indeed!
To whom shall I tell the truth?—Who will see?
Free thyself from the mighty attraction—
The maddening wine of love, the charm of sex.
Break the harp! Forward, with the ocean’s cry!
Drink tears pledge even life—let the body fall.
Awake, O hero! Shake off thy vain dreams,
Death stands at thy head—does fear become thee?
A load of misery, true though it is—
This Becoming—know this to be thy God!
His temple— the Shmashân among corpses
And funeral pyres; unending battle —
That verily is His sacred worship;
Constant defeat — let that not unnerve thee;
Shattered be little self, hope, name, and fame;
Set up a pyre of them and make thy heart
A burning-ground.
And let Shyâmâ dance there.

Words Notes :

A fabulous sandalwood mountain in the South. Hence, Malaya breeze means a fragrant breeze from the South.
A beetle is somewhat like a humble bee, which lives solely on honey.
The time of cosmic destruction.
A kind of fruit of rich red colour.
She with untied hair, a name of Kâli, the Divine Mother of the Universe.
He who is garlanded with wildflowers. The Shepherd Krishna in His aspect of the youthful sport.


The idea is that the brave alone can be compassionate, and not the coward.
The wheel of constant birth and death, hence the world.
The cremation-ground.
The Dark One, Kali.



¶¶ The Central Idea of the Poem :

Like Bengali version , the English version of the poem “And Let Shyama Dance There , which is translated by Swami Vivekananda , have also four stanzas. First two stanzas are smaller than the 3 rd stanza . The length of the staza 1, 2, and 4 th stanza is almost same.

¶¶ The Saint poet portrays the beautiful pictures of the Nature in the first stanza .


‘Beauteous blossoms ravishing with perfume’, ”maddened bees Jazzing all around’, ‘ showering sweet smile of the silver moon ‘, ‘ the soft Malaya breeze ‘, ‘murmuring rivers and brookes’, ‘Bhramaras wheeling over gently waving lotuses’ , foaming flow cascades – a streeming music , ‘ sweet flowing melody, ‘ love discourse’, the painter divine’, ‘the canvas earth and a wealth of colour,’ – all these words made a nice picture of the nature.

The earth has been flooded with the spring. And naturally waking up the sentiments of the sea in the earth. This is the good side of life.

We enjoy life with the outer sparking, but it’s half true. We have to face sorrows and pains too. Life is not a bed of roses, we too have to face the thrones of life. Like nature, life is full of struggle.

¶¶ In the 2nd stanza, the poet compares the hardship of life with the horror of Nature. It is just the opposite of the first stanza

Here he painted a dark and horrible scenario to express the monster form of the life – struggle. ‘ Blood red terrific lightening’, ‘the roll of thunder,’ ‘the crashing clouds’ are the elements of war which prevails in the nature .

The Saint poet uses some beautiful images to show the dreadful forms of Nature. These images are taken from the natural world.

It beautifies the inner meaning of lines. We can refer here some of these images which are beautifully presented by the poet, like ‘ darkness vomiting forth blinding darkness’ , ‘ the Pralaya winds angrily roaring,’ ‘ blood-red terrific lightening ‘ , ‘ monster waves roaring like thunder’.

He used compound imagery in this poem. These are extraordinary remarkable.

¶¶ First three lines of the poem percepts sound, smell and sight respectively and forth and fifth line create the sense of mundane bliss and pleasure, showered on the earth by some divine power.

The poet is superb in applying wonderful imagery which proves his mastery over language.

By using these imageries he portrays prominently the apparent diversity with innate unity in Mother Kali or Shyama and Nature’s peaceful and fierce glance.

Swami Vivekananda unfolds in this poem the world of consciousness which makes a criss cross of nature and the mind of man with the play of passion and desire in spontaneity.

The apparent clamness is itself a bold suggestions for the human mind to welcome the events to follow as an outcome .

¶¶ 3rd stanza of the poem is very important in respect of the central idea or as the theme of the poem. In this stanza, the poet prepares us for the terrible atmosphere where Shyama or Kali would dance in full fury.

But before that he paints a comfort journey of life where he tells us the inherent desire of man like making a lovely villa on the lakeside where water lilies are heading towards sky.

He also used some pictorial elements as portrayed through symbols in the ” heart – blood ” of the ripe grapes with foams as caps has also the elements of consciousness with which the poet prepares us to face the challenges of life .

The Saint poet portrays the furious form of a Divine Mother and Her destructive activities.

Amid the supernatural atmosphere that symbolises the conscious vision of terror , the imagery like ” Bimba – red lips ” and the ocean like two blue eyes ” along with the ” bird – like captive heart bring forth a perfect image of Shyama or Kali.

It’s she who dominates the whole situation with a brilliance beyond the range of consciousness.

The Saint poet further details the atmosphere of the battlefield. We have read about the battle of Kurukshetra in Srimod Bhwagbat Gita. We are to face now and then this war in our lives.

Battle is nothing but the struggle with our inner world verses outer world. This battle is also the another form of Mother Kali.

Kali, actually the deity of destruction. The poet paints a horrible picture of the battlefield. This is portrayed in the poem ” Let Shyama Dance there “]

“The roar of cannons, the rattle of guns”, ” the thundering artilleries vomits fire”, “the earth trembles under this infernal dance “, “And the rain of bullets, forward goes the flag “, The emblem of victory, of heroism,/ With the blood, yet hot, /streaming down the staff ”- all these words are used for expressing the furious of the battlefield.

Obviously , this material world is full of struggle. It’s a battlefield . We fight for the worldly pleasure, for sensual love and we become wounds .

The mind hungers for peals of laughter sweet , The flesh hankers for contacts of pleasure, the heart pants to reach realms beyond sorrow – all these are the characteristics of material world.

Next Swami describes the figure of Kali.

After every happiness comes misery. They may be far apart or near. The more advanced the soul, the more quickly does one follow the other.

What we want is neither happiness nor misery. Both make us forget our true nature; both are chains — one iron, one gold; behind both is the Atman, who knows neither happiness nor misery.

These are states and states must ever change; but the nature of the Soul is bliss, peace, unchanging. We have not to get it, we have it; only wash away the dross and see it.

Stand upon the Self, then only can we truly love the world. Take a very, very high stand; knowing out universal nature, we must look with perfect calmness upon all the panorama of the world.

It is but baby’s play, and we know that, so cannot be disturbed by it. If the mind is pleased with praise, it will be displeased with blame.

Hence, all pleasures of the senses or even of the mind are evanescent but within ourselves is the one true unrelated pleasure, dependent upon nothing.

It is perfectly free, it is bliss. The more our bliss is within, the more spiritual we are. The pleasure of the Self is what the world calls religion.

The internal universe, the real, is infinitely greater than the external, which is only a shadowy projection of the true one.

This world is neither true nor untrue, it is the shadow of truth. “Imagination is the gilded shadow of truth”, says the poet.

The outer sparking of the world makes us forget our true nature; both are chains — one iron, one gold; behind both is the Atman, who knows neither happiness nor misery.

These are states and states must ever change; but the nature of the Soul is bliss, peace, unchanging. We have not to get it, we have it; only wash away the dross and see it.

Stand upon the Self, then only can we truly love the world. Take a very, very high stand; knowing our universal nature, we must look with perfect calmness upon all the panorama of the world.

It is but baby’s play, and we know that, so cannot be disturbed by it. If the mind is pleased with praise, it will be displeased with blame. All pleasures of the senses or even of the mind are evanescent but within ourselves is the one true unrelated pleasure, dependent upon nothing.

Therefore, it is perfectly free, it is bliss. The more our bliss is within, the more spiritual we are. The pleasure of the Self is what the world calls religion.

The internal universe, the real, is infinitely greater than the external, which is only a shadowy projection of the true one. This world is neither true nor untrue, it is the shadow.

So get rid, in the first place, of all these limited ideas and set God in every person. Let kick off all the veils of differentiation. The highest creed is Oneness.

The ecstatic finale breathes an air of Supreme consciousness, ” This becoming know this to be thy God” and that shows the avenue of sacred worship of all the serene.

Let read these lines from ” And Let Shyama Dance There” – “Bless my soul ! A strange state of things … This becoming know this to be thy God”.

Here we see Vivekananda’s heroic struggle to rise above the surging waves of the world. It is the projection of all our undigested subconscious urges.

He sees and follows the path through it all, but what gives him the light and the strength to do so is the dancing form of the black One, Mother Kali.

** Next post I will discuss the philosophy which was imparted from Master Sri Ramakrishna to his most favourite disciple, Naren ( Swami Vivekananda)

Read also:
Swami Vivekananda’s Inspired Talks # ‘ Mandir ‘ # ‘ Winds touch me’ # ‘Rabi Thakurer Gaan # ‘The Gospel of Swami Vivekananda and Inspired Talks ‘ # Swami Vivekananda and Narada Sutra # Dhanteras Rabindranath Tagore and depression
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