Word Song (A Haibun)

My heart breaks every time when I hear people say Sanskrit is a dead language, meaning it is not spoken any where any more. Then I wonder at the meaning of ‘Sanskrit’; ‘Refined’ it is. I came to learn that there is no word for expulsion in Sanskrit. What a joy to think of it in these dark days! No wonder we have lost all our refinement in our speech, behavior, taste and living, having traveled so far from the language that gave birth to thousand tongues in this land. Sorry, a mistake; it’s still now a ceremonial language meant for Hindu religious rituals.

I do regret that I have awakened to Sanskrit’s power so late in my life. The words now appear blurred and seen in a dream as it were; they chant to me in their ancient tune to look within and realize them. When I can’t pronounce the masculine words that needs much strength to utter them I am assured by their graceful feminine consorts. It is so shameful that I have even lost the physical strength to bear the grace and beauty of them. So unworthy descendant! Let me chant those mantras that the great ancient seers have left for us: Om Asato maa sad-gamaya (From Unreal [Ignorance] lead me to [Truth] Real), Tamaso  maa jyotir gamaya (From darkness lead me to light), Mrityormaa amrtim gamaya (From death lead me to Immortality). [Material world is regarded as unreal, dark and dead invoking a concept of the transcendental reality: Wikipedia]


 The forest* wakes up

Hymns burst forth in light and song

     My dream melts away





*Vanaprastha (Sanskrit: वनप्रस्थ) literally means “retiring into a forest”.[1] It is also a concept in Hindu traditions, representing the third of four ashrama (stages) of human life, the other three being Brahmacharya (bachelor student, 1st stage), Grihastha (married householder, 2nd stage) and Sannyasa (renunciation ascetic, 4th stage).[2]

Vanaprastha is part of the Vedic ashram system, which starts when a person hands over household responsibilities to the next generation, takes an advisory role, and gradually withdraws from the world.[3][4] This stage typically follows Grihastha (householder), but a man or woman may choose to skip householder stage, and enter Vanaprastha directly after Brahmacharya (student) stage, as a prelude to San yasa (ascetic) and spiritual pursuits.[5][6]

Vanaprastha stage is considered as a transition phase from a householder’s life with greater emphasis on Artha and Kama (wealth, security, pleasure and sexual pursuits) to one with greater emphasis on Moksha (spiritual liberation).[4][7]: Wikipedia

Posted for Susan’s Midweek Motif ~ The Song of A Single Word @ Poets United

(Though the Motif was for a single word I used a whole language as a word)


23 thoughts on “Word Song (A Haibun)

  1. Yes, a whole language! Haibun is a great form for this.
    “. . . When I can’t pronounce the masculine words that needs much strength to utter them I am assured by their graceful feminine consorts.” Oh, any language is a whole world of culture and precedents.

    I love the forest as a retreat and restoring journey, love the photo, love the reminder of what is unreal … Wow!

  2. Sumana, what a wonderful post. It taught me so much, and is so beautiful. I especially love the gorgeous haiku…..and the words chanting in their ancient tune to look within. This is very beautiful, Sumana. Thank you for this.

  3. I love what you’ve written here. The entire language flows as word containing wisdom. Lovely. Thank you Sumana.

    (Thank you for your help on Sunday with my blog. It seems today I repeated the same mistake. No worries. I’ll just let it be this time and let the imperfection live.)

  4. thank goodness for the light in the forest.

    no term for expulsion. it is a scary world in which we live, and in the isolationism that it is turning. perhaps there is a dead language we have forgotten, one of togetherness and seeing beyond our differences.

    perhaps it is wisdom we lack.

  5. Sumana this is so beautiful, and explains so much of my path as I am in that transition phase right now….in meditation I use many of the Sanskrit mantras my teacher has given me…they are beautiful, and powerful…transformative. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. I find this post entirely enlightening and intriguing….I’m grateful for the background information and love this portion:

    “seen in a dream as it were; they chant to me in their ancient tune to look within and realize them. ”

    Yes, I do think they come to you in dreams…very cool.

    Thank you, Sumana!

  7. Though I am terribly mono linguistic, I share your feelings on the idea of any language being thought of as dead. Sanskrit for what I know of it has a mystical aura that crosses all cultures I believe. So even if one person takes it in, nothing can truly die.

  8. Deep and intriguing piece….Only in philosophy of Advaita Vedanta has the concept of “truth” been so meticulously and successfully dissected. Beautiful haibun, Sumana!

  9. Book me in for the Moshka stage :).:)Very interesting explanation. I have spent a lot of my adult life with Hindus and find them endlessly mysterious and forever fascinating. My understanding has largely been gained through osmosis rather than formally and I think my exposure at an early age (17) made a difference. Of course when I was young I thought I knew and understood everything and as life progressed I realised I never would know anything about Hinduism or anything else much.All I know is that I have some sort of strange bond with your lot in spite of a yawning cultural and religious chasm. I seem to fit better there than with my own (i.e. if I were to fit anywhere at all:)

    • Oh Rall, if you are really interested about Hinduism you may try writings of Swami Vivekananda…it might help…Hinduism is such a mixture of everything, it’s like an eternal maze and mysterious indeed 🙂

  10. I agree, sanskrit is a beautiful, and in the main a lost language, There’s also wonderfully beautiful Hindu music with Sanskrit lyrics; i.e. Prayer of Harmony, especially for ending meditation practice
    I really enjoyed reading your words. Love peace and Light to you.

  11. I tried to learn Sanskrit many, many years ago, Sumana, however life got in the way and I had to stop as I could not devote the time, energy and respect the language demanded of me. Maybe I shall return to it in the future…
    Lovely post and haibun!

Thank You :)

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