Buddha eulogy in Hindi poetry
By D. Amarasiri Weeraratne
The Buddha preached in the Magadhi language. Magadhi was the language of Magadhi (modern Bihar). It was the Pali language. Modern Hindi is derived from the ancient Magadhi or Pali language. The vocabulary and mellifluity of Hindi is derived from Pali — the Buddha language.
Indian intellectuals honour the Buddha greatly because was a son of India. Hindi poets while believing in Rama Krishna, Siva etc do not hesitate to sing the praises of the Buddha.
After the Muslim conquest Buddhism vanished from India. Buddha finds no place in Hindi literature until the British conquest, and access to English literature. Educated Indians read Edwin Arnold’s "Light of Asia" and were inspired by the Buddha and his life-story. India had forgotten the Buddha and thanks to the British and their opening of the windows to Buddhism through the Light of Asia, the Indian leaders came to know and appreciate the Buddha.
The voluminous Buddhist literature produced at Nalanda, Vallabhi, Somapura, Vickramasila and Odantapuri in Sanskrit were lost. They are available in Tibetan and Chinese translations. All the above mentioned five Buddhist universities were run and maintained by Buddhist monks with royal-patronage. Only their names, ruins are the Sanskrit literature they produced are available in Chinese translations.
Hence in the British period we see Buddha, and Buddhism staging a come back to India and the Indian intelligentsia. During the British period, it was Ramachandra Sukha, who was the first Hindi poet to take up singing the praises of the Buddha.
In 1922, he wrote a poem of several sections dealing with the life and teachings of the Buddha. Ramachandra was a celebrated writer and critic as well.
In 1937, Anup Sharma wrote his lengthy poem named Siddharta. It won the national award called "Deva - Puraskar". In it are found descriptions of seasons, cities, and similar features of classical Sanskrit poetry. Human life in its various stages are portrayed and depicted there. In his foreword to the book he says he selected the Buddha-Charita because it gave scope to portray life in its various facets and stages.
Maitali Sarana Gupta chose the story of Yasodara as the theme of his poem. The theme of Prince Siddarta’s renunciation and the sorrows of Yasodara on the parting and separation from her husband. This reminds us of the popular Sinhala poem Yasodara Vata its theme and emotional appeal.
Jaya Sankar Prasad, and Surya Kanth Tripati, Maha Devi Varma were poets who chose Buddha - panegyrics as the theme of their poetical works.
Prasad depicts the peaceful banks of the river Varuna at Isipatana.
O peaceful banks of Varuna river
Haunt of holy saints and hermits
Prince Siddarta came to thy banks
Leaving comforts and worldly
And the solace of a devoted wife.
And the charms of a baby son
He sought the cause of suffering
To emancipate all beings
And to preach Dharma to hermits
The Buddha came to thy picturesque
The poet Nirala wrote his Bhagavan Buddha Ke-Prati Poem. He says the war torn strife ridden present world can find peace and harmony in the Dharma taught by the Buddha.
The light of truth spread all over,
All men became friends and brothers
Anagonisms were left behind
Men gradually took to kindly ways.
Mahatma Gandhi went to Noakali to settle Hindi-Muslim conflicts. Udaya Shankar Bhatta wrote on this theme, and therein said.
Two thousand five hundred years ago
One renounced home and worldly delusions
He renounced the corruption of power
On this very spot this sacred land
One who was a hero a noble Sage,
A man who was fearless and brave,
Shattered the veil of maya—illusions
Alone he came, peaceful in mind
He came to bring peace and calmness.
To a world torn with strife and delusion
Bringing peace and goodwill to men
Since then days and nights have gone
The ages and eras have rolled away.
The Buddha—praises sung by India’s foremost poet Ravindranath Tagore are too well—known and I need to venture to reproduce them here.
Ananda Kausalyayana produced a Hindi version of Ramachandra Bharati’s Bhakti Sataka - a Sanskrit classic of a century of Buddha hymns:- The author breaks into a rapture of devotion.
Worship thou my head the Buddha’s supreme form
Here thou my ear his ambrosial norm
Behold thou my eye the Buddha—image sweet
Kiss thou my nose the masters lotus feet.
Sing thou my tongue Buddha hymns in praise
In offerings to the Lord, thyself my hand do raise
Walk thou my feet to the Buddha’s holy shrine
Reflect thou my mind on the Buddha Urtues fine.
Lord neck deep submerged I lie,
In the sea of thy boundless love.
Thy perfect knowledge and passionlessness.
To divest my faith to another creed,
Will be an impossible feat.
Though a heretic king may impose his fine,
Though pagan scholars may laugh to scorn,
Though kinsmen discard and abandon me
My father Buddha, without thee I shall not live.
Rev. Dumortier and Rev. Lusena
By Ephrem Fernando
My daily morning paper is The Island. By chance I came across a stray Daily News dated December 19, 2002 where there was an appreciation of Rev Dumortier by Rev Lusena who now lives at the Bishop’s Palace Chilaw and turning into a scribe of sorts writing about the phantom deeds of the departed. Today with most people the word appreciation connotes bygone and forgotten things. Interest in them are dead because they deal in matters no one takes seriously.
It is understood some read them out of archaeological curiosity but occasionally fall into the public domain when they are used to indulge in rhetorical bombast or outright falsehood. What nettled the brethren was Rev Lusena’s foray into the macabre that Rev Dumortier was "hellbent in removing myths and mythical beliefs from Christianity". Why? Because there is no such thing called Christianity. It was in Antioch that the followers of Our Lord were for the first time called Christians by the pagans to distinguish them from the Jews but within their circles they called themselves Disciples of the Lord.
For example a heretic will cheerfully call himself a Christian though he denies the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Another heretic will brazenly call himself a Christian though he denies the Incarnation of Our Lord. Other heretics will shamelessly call themselves Christians whilst desecrating altars and statues in the House of Our Lord. No the dispute is between the Church of Our Lord and the Anti-Church. Heresies are bred not from a hunger for Our Lord but from an inability to understand the prime truth that faith in Him is the root of wisdom, the kind of wisdom one cannot obtain congregating around post-Vatican 11 seminaries but the kind Mozart was referring to when he observed that an entire symphony could first present itself in the form of a single musical idea conceived all at once in a flash of divine inspiration. Rev Dumortier hated the Dogmas of Faith. When he was the parish priest of St. Anne’s church Kattimahana he insulted Our Lord by desecrating His sacrificial altar. The venerated statue of St. Anne which had a history from Portuguese times he dumped in the well. St. Augustine invited everyone to his table excepting the gossiper, the whisperer and the backbiter. Since I prefer to dine with Aurelius Augustinus the Bishop of Hippo I will now put a stop to additional whispering.
Perhaps Rev Michael Lusena needs reminding at the fag end of his life that the Church of OurLord sometimes gains, sometimes loses. She loses in one place and gains in another. What is ecclesiastical history but a record of the ever doubtful future of the battle though its issue is not doubtful. Scarcely are we singing Te Deums when we have to turn to our Misereres. Scarcely have we gained a triumph when we are visited by scandal. We seem to make progress by means of reverses. We lose Bishop Edmund Pieris and gain a shadow. Lose devoted priests like Fr. Peter Suwaris, Fr. Victor Emanuel, Fr. Peter Pillai, Fr. Justin Perera for traitors like Judas. Yet there are dedicated priests and nuns like pebbles and detritus from a Deduru oya deluge moving silently doing Our Lords work and remembering the heroes and memorials of what had been.
They face different directions and have different destinies. Antiquity began by giving the name "Alogos" to those who belittled Our Lord. They were said to do so from lack of wit. Feelings for Rev Dumortier are no different to how Nobel laureates feel about hominem rusticanum because Michael Dumortier rejected Ecclesiae Magisterium the Teaching authority of the Church of Our lord and soiled his cassock. But our griefs are our consolations. When a polymath after reading about the lagoon side koloma documented in the article "Desecrations and abuse of Conjuctions" in The Island April 24,2002 asked a reform minded Asian theologian what the hell is going on the maverick curtly remarked that the Church is finished.
Fifteen hundred years ago St. Augustine said of the same Church "Her enemies look upon her and say ‘She is about to die; soon her name will disappear; there will be no more Disciples of Our Lord they have had their day’. Whilst they are thus speaking I see these very men die themselves day by day but the Church lives on and preaches the power of God to every succeeding generation". To all the enemies of the Church both inside and outside cassocks, her enemies of today and tomorrow I say with Gamaliel the teacher of St. Paul "If this Church be of men it will come to nought but if this Church be of God you cannot overthrow it". Today we are segregated by the liturgical heretics. They have the buildings we have the Faith and steadfast like the Rock of Peter. The heretics mistakenly equate our Faith with obscurantism meaning anti-reform. But the exegete warns that only in Faith does reason reach a plentitude of freedom, saecula saeculorum, meaning for ever and ever.
In an ancient inscription to be seen at Fatehpur Sikri, "Jesus says the world is a bridge pass over it but build no home there on". The world is not our permanent home. Its a bridge. There are perhaps those who would jump off and those who would build permanent homes. But Jesus says "pass over". By rejecting that advice Rev Dumortier committed a fundamental error. St. Paul says "Test all things, hold to what is good". Historically there is no support for the idea that priests have been separate from the world, in the sense complained of by innovators like Rev Dumortier.
The most triumphant demonstration is the fact that priests living inside churches and cloisters are the ones who shaped civilizations for centuries since they were the ones who produced structures of culture and of social life from agriculture to literature, from music to philosophy. Local examples that readily come to mind are the contributions made in this regard by cloistered priests like Fr. Le Goc, Bishop Edmund Pieris, Fr. Marceline Jayakody, Fr. Peter Pillai. That’s why there is a belief, that claims by clergy, squatting on the ground and careering around in mufti purporting to do Our Lord’s work, are so often bogus. The Catholic Church was great and respected before the Saxons set foot in Britain, before the French had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished in Antioch.
The Old Church will continue to exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller in Chilaw shall in the midst of a vast solitude takes his stand on a broken arch of the Deduru Oya bridge to sketch the ruins of the Chilaw diocese.