Poetry and Spirituality, CD by Sri Chinmoy

Last modified February 11, 2020

In this new CD, we offer three significant recordings by Sri Chinmoy. The first is haunting esraj concert given in 1977. The second recording is from 1978, where Sri Chinmoy reads out his favourite poems, such as The Golden Flute. The third recording is a talk given on the same day on the subject of poetry and spirituality.

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Notes from the original album

In 1976, when spiritual Master Sri Chinmoy began performing on the Indian esraj, he declared it to be his favourite concert instrument. The following year he gave 74 esraj concerts, mostly in the New York metropolitan area. In 1989 he said: “If I am known as a musician, then I owe my musical aspiration, musical dedication and musical talents to my beloved esraj.” The esraj concert in this recording took place in the Cole Auditorium of Greenwich Library, on West Putnam Avenue in Greenwich, Connecticut on February 28, 1977.

On 15 January 1978, a ceremony of the Sri Chinmoy Poetry Awards, a contest of spiritual poetry, took place in Manhattan. This CD contains Sri Chinmoy’s poems and talk from this event. It was held in the Jharna-Kala Gallery in Grand Central Terminal, the busiest train station in the United States. The gallery was hosting an exhibit of Sri Chinmoy’s paintings. In the competition, Sri Chinmoy and his disciples judged the poems but did not submit their own poems. Sri Chinmoy began the evening by meditating and performing on the esraj and flute. Then the winning poets read out their poems. Contestants who could not attend sent tape recordings of themselves reading their works, which were played for the audience. Musical performances by several groups of disciples followed. Finally, Sri Chinmoy presented the awards, read out several of his own poems, and spoke about poetry and spirituality.


 

Poetry-Reading at the Jharna-Kala Gallery1

O lovers of poetry, you are not only lovers of poetry, you are also lovers of spirituality, for poetry and spirituality go hand in hand. They are inseparable. True poetry and true spirituality are always inseparable. It is said that poetry is next to spirituality. To me this is an understatement. I feel from deep within that poetry, if it is spiritual and divine, without fail houses spirituality, and true spirituality must needs house poetry.

A poet is he who envisions the ultimate absolute Truth. On the physical plane, vital plane, mental plane, even at times on the psychic plane, when we notice a particular poet offering to the world at large his contribution, we appreciate him, we admire him. But if we can see the seeker in the poet, the truth-lover in the poet, the real reality in that poet’s vision, then we shall go one step farther. We shall discover our inseparable oneness with the poet.

It is said that a poet has no character of his own. Now I wish to say, why should a poet have a character of his own? A poet identifies with truth. If he has to express anger through his poem, then naturally he will identify himself with the anger-consciousness. If he has to express love, then he will have to identify himself with love-consciousness. On the strength of his identification with the reality that he has envisioned, he reveals to he world his inspiration and aspiration.

A poet sees the truth from various angles. He is not obligated to see the truth always from one angle. A poet can speak of one particular subject in various ways. This moment he may praise and invoke death and the next moment he may criticise death. That does not mean that the poet is a man of no principles. Far from it! When he stays in a particular plane of consciousness, according to the capacity and receptivity that he has at that time, he sees death in one form. When he stays in another plane of consciousness, he may see death in a different way, with a different aspect. At one time he will see death as something very nice, very kind. When the world is torturing him, when the world is not giving him due attention, he prays to death to come and embrace him. But the same poet is a human being. When name and fame are being showered on him and all worldly achievements are at his feet, when the whole world listens to him and he sees beauty within and without, at that time if death knocks at his door, naturally he sees death as an enemy and begs death not to capture him. He does not need or want death.

There have been some poets who have offered to the world at large some soulful and prophetic utterances. Their poems have attained planes of consciousness that are high, very high, but their outer lives were not in keeping with their prophetic utterances. They lived undivine lives, unaspiring lives; therefore, many, many people do not pay attention to their soulful utterances. They say, “He wrote this, but who cares for him? He lived a worse than ordinary life, an undivine, animal life.” But I wish to defend the cause of the misunderstood poets. Here we are all seekers. We know that we are supposed to realise God as soon as possible, but during the twenty-four hours of each day, how many minutes do we remain in a divine consciousness and how many hours do we remain in an undivine or an ordinary consciousness? We remain for a few fleeting minutes in a divine consciousness, and the rest of the day we are in an absolutely ordinary or even an undivine consciousness. But in those few divine minutes what do we actually do? We establish a free access to some higher planes of consciousness. Similarly, when a particular poet enters into high, higher, highest planes of consciousness, he sees and becomes for a while the reality, the truth-essence of those planes of consciousness. And like the climber, he climbs down the reality-tree and offers the fruits to the world. Then he again enters into the world of pleasure, vital life and so forth, if he wants to. But his achievement on the highest plane was absolutely true. Just because he is now wallowing in the pleasures of ignorance, we cannot discard his achievements on the higher planes of consciousness. When we pray and meditate, we grow into divinity. When we don’t pray and meditate, we remain undivine. But just because we don’t pray and meditate all the time, we cannot say that we are unspiritual. We are spiritual, but we do not or cannot, at the present stage of our development, practice spirituality all the time.

There are many, many poets who have enjoyed, according to us, emotional life, vital life, but they have offered us something striking nevertheless. They have offered spiritual truths of the highest magnitude to us. I see their achievement. I value their achievement deeply, wholeheartedly. A day will come in the course of time when they will care more for their nature’s transformation. Eventually they will enter deeper into spiritual life, conscious one-pointed spiritual life. Each individual soul that has taken human incarnation will, without fail, manifest the absolute Truth here on earth, for that is the Vision of the Supreme. For the transformation of the body-consciousness and earth-life, each soul will descend onto earth again and again until perfection has dawned in that particular soul. So we should pay utmost attention to the poets’ achievements in the world of reality and divinity which they so soulfully offered to mankind for the elevation and transformation of human life.

A poet is he who envisions the inner reality, who brings to the fore the inner wealth. A poet is the harbinger of God the supreme Musician. A poet sees the cosmic Game before the rest of the world. He watches the cosmic Game and participates in it and he invites the rest of the world to participate in this cosmic Game, as well. If we can separate the soulful utterances of the poets from their outer lives, we will be able to gain considerable inner wealth from them. Who said the words is not the important question, but what the utterance means. There are many poetic lines and stanzas which, if we soulfully repeat them, will without fail carry us into a higher plane of consciousness. Each individual seeker can identify himself or herself with the poet’s soul-stirring utterances. On the strength of that identification, the seeker can easily achieve for himself something divine, illumining, fulfilling and immortalising.

This evening, with your kind permission, I shall read out some of my favourite poems. Today I shall not pass any comments. In the very near future it is my sincere wish to offer my spiritual comments on these soulful utterances of the poets who have contributed much to the spiritual world, the world that we are trying to live in. I have been a poet all my life, and I have been a spiritual seeker as well. Inside my heart I feel two eternal players, the poet and the seeker, who can easily exchange their names. I can call the poet the seeker and the seeker the poet. I can easily change and transfer their names, and still I will see the same reality. My poetry and my spirituality are inseparable. They are like the obverse and the reverse of the same coin. They cannot be separated. Each has contributed to or fulfilled the other most soulfully and most fruitfully.

I wish to start with Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore.

In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch this world at thy feet.

— Rabindranath Tagore

Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to their mountain nests, let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home in one salutation to thee.

— Rabindranath Tagore

I started with Tagore and I would like to end with Sri Aurobindo. I wish to quote the last stanza from his immortal poem “Invitation.”

I am the lord of tempest and mountain, I am the Spirit of freedom and pride. Stark must he be and a kinsman to danger Who shares my kingdom and walks at my side.

— Sri Aurobindo


  1. The last event of the ten-day celebration in honour of Sri Chinmoy’s forty fourth birthday this year was a poetry reading by the Master at the Jharna-Kala Gallery on August 28. Before reading his selections from the writings of some of the world’s great poets, Sri Chinmoy gave this short talk on the significance of spirituality in poetry.

We hope you enjoy the soulfulness and beauty of these offerings.

Artist: Sri Chinmoy
Name: Poetry and Spirituality, CD by Sri Chinmoy
Release Year: 2019
Duration: 57:30
Acknowledgements: Sri Chinmoy
Tracks uploaded and published: Kamalakanta Nieves and Tejvan Pettinger
Format: Advanced Audio Coding

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