Poetry and insight into higher Truth often go together, and the Sanskrit word ‘kavi’ means both a sage and a poet. Many poems point the way to the supreme non-dual wisdom, and wisdom in its verbal expression is often transmitted through utterances that are poetic.
The Bhagavad Gita is a poem or song, several of the Upanishads are in verse, and as the centuries passed, spiritual teachers of different traditions, like Rumi, Kabir and Guru Nanak, left teachings in the form of their verses, not to mention the epic poems like the Sanskrit Ramayana of Valmiki, and its later Hindi rendering by Tulsidas as the Rama Charit Manasa, (The Lake of the Deeds of Rama). For many people, this form of expression is easier to assimilate and remember than a prose discourse.
Hari Prasad Shastri translated numerous poems from the Hindi and Urdu traditions, and about 200 of these may be found in the anthology, Indian Mystic Verse. Teachings conveyed through this medium sometimes find a path into the human heart, and a wisely guided interest in poetry can be an indirect aid to our higher development. It can expand and enrich the mind, release new and useful streams of thought, and lift our consciousness above the moods and self-centredness that claim so much of our imaginative power when our mind is left to its own devices.
But such poetry, to influence our inner life, has to have depth and purity. It must evince a selfless appreciation of the beauty of nature, a realisation of the higher potentialities of our nature, and a recognition of the deeper reality in which we live and have our being.
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