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A poem by Bhaktivinoda Thakura

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Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

1871, Jagannatha Puri

(taken from his biography "The 7th Goswami")




SARAGRAHI VAISNAVA (He Who Grasps the Essence)




Alas, for those that spend their days

In festive mirth and joy!

The dazzling deadly liquid forms

Their heart for e'er employ!!


The shining bottles charm their eyes

And draw their heart's embrace!

The slaves of wine can never rise

>From what we call disgrace!


Was man intended to be

A brute in work and heart?

Should man the Lord of all around

>From common sense depart?


Man's glory is in common sense

Dictating us the grace,

That man is made to live and love

The beauteous Heaven's embrace!


The flesh is not our own alas!

The mortal frame a chain;

The soul confined for former wrongs

Should try to rise again!!


Why then this childish play in that

Which cannot be our own,

Which falls within a hundred years,

As if a rose ablown!


Our life is but a rosy hue

To go ere long to nought!

The soul alone would last for e'er

With good or evil frought!!


How deep the thought of times to be?

How grave the aspect looks?

And wrapt in awe become, Oh! I

When reading Nature's books!


Man's life to him a problem dark!

A screen both left and right!

No soul hath come to tell us what

Exist beyond our sight!


But then a voice, how deep and soft,

Within ourselves is left;-

Man! Man! Thou art immortal Soul!

Thee Death can never melt!!


For thee thy Sire on High has kept

A store of bliss above,

To end of time, thou art Oh! His

Who wants but purest Love.


Oh Love! Thy power and spell benign

Now melt my soul to God!

How can my earthly words describe

That feeling soft and broad!!


Enjoyment -- sorrow, -- what but lots

To which the flesh is heir?

The soul that sleeps alone concludes

In them it hath a share!!


And then! my friends no more enjoy

Nor weep! for all below;-

The women, wine and flesh of beasts

No love on thee bestow!


But thine to love thy brother man

And give thyself to God,

And God doth know your wages fair;-

This fact is true and broad!!


Forget the past that sleeps, and ne'er

The future dream at all,

But act in times that are with thee

And progress thee shall call!!


But tell me not in reasoning cold

The soul is made alone

By earth's mechanic, lifeless rules

And to destruction prone!


My God who gave us life and all

Alone the Soul can kill,

Or give it all the joys above

His promise to fulfil!


So push on thy onward march O Soul!

Against an evil deed

That stands with soldiers -- hate and lust!

A hero be indeed!!


Maintain thy post in spirit world

As firmly as you can,

Let never matter push thee down,

O stand heroic man!


O Sharagrahi Vaishnab soul!

Thou art an angel fair:

Lead, lead me on to Vrindaban

And spirit's power declare!!


There rests my Soul from matter free

Upon my Lover's arms,

Eternal peace and Spirit's love

Are all my chanting charms!!

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