“The Rhyme of Mystic Mariner: Selected Poems of Yayati Madan Gandhi” Edited by Ravi Dhar | Review by Perveiz Ali

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Poetry, according to Lord Bacon, “has something divine in it, because it raises the mind and hurries it into sublimity, by conforming the shows of things to the desires of the soul, instead of subjecting the soul to external things, as reason and history do.”

This “something divine” encompasses a kind of universe in itself and in description of that universe thousands of books have been compiled so far to reveal the varied and variegated aspects of goodness that otherwise remain behind the curtain for majority of living beings. The caravan of compilation will continue until the sun stops to rise from the east. The Rhyme of Mystic Mariner by Madan Gandhi represents a bead on that long illuminating rosary that never compromises to wear the drapes of pessimism but the untiring determination to create avenues that head to the tracks of godliness.

I feel I am on some other planet,
Transported by a light-beam.
From within the life-cloud
Someone appears on the screen.
….
I suffer brain haemorrhage,
go into a coma,
but they will not let me die;
in an instant they revive.
Again I am before the jury,
dumbfounded,
pleading guilty, unable to defend. (The Invisible Jury)

Mysticism as mode of life aims to bridge the gap of the conscious and the absolute in order to pave the way for the union of human soul and the ultimate reality for the realization of self. In The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi (1978), the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi beautifully employs the analogy of film projected onto a blank screen in order to explain the nature of enlightenment:

“When the realized man sees the world he sees the Self that is the substratum of all that is seen. Whether the unrealized man sees the world or not, he is ignorant of his true being-the Self. Take the example of a film on a cinema screen. What is there in front of you before the film begins? Only the screen. On that screen you see the entire show, and to all appearances the pictures are real. But go and try to take hold of them and what do you take hold of? The screen on which the pictures appear so real. After the play, when the pictures disappear, what remains? The screen again. So it is with the Self. That alone exists; the pictures come and go. If you hold onto the Self, you will not be deceived by the appearance of the pictures. Nor does it matter at all whether the pictures appear or disappear.”

One of the most difficult things associated with mysticism is that it cannot be described or conveyed adequately in human language. But that doesn’t mean in absence of an adequate verbal language to capture the mystical experience, there are no alternatives upfront in the language.To overcome this hurdle, it is very much important to rely on metaphors, analogies and symbolism.The Rhyme of Mystic Mariner, is full of such metaphors, analogies and symbolism that help the reader to come out with flying colours from the complexities and intricacies of different facets of life.

To know the fullness of life
the process of ripening to fall
and finally to fade off in dust
Death and life-apiece
Without one
the other is not complete (Love’s Embrace)

In between night and morn
I play heavenly horn
to unveil the shrunken moon (Coils Of Silence)

The nature of living has changed drastically over the years due to the advancement in technology, and the sad part of it is that most of us have lost the focus of living and it seems each individual is ambling about in waywardness aimlessly. What we are, what target we should have and what this life is for; such concerns are simply and beautifully addressed in the book.

I press on and on,
make my way through every sod
sear and burn like a red hot bar of iron
till I reach the centre of the earth
…….

There in the self-existing smithy
smoulder a million volcanic fires
giving shape to many a replica
of the sun many a
milky way within. (A Cauldron Boiling)

The moment I open my eyes
in wild woods of dark delight
I cry for light to break out (Nataraja)

Beyond all bounds,
you opened wide your arms
to embrace
the whole world. (A Mission to Redeem)

Self- realization or enlightenment is in the genes of every being but making the materialistic gains, the compass of happiness has changed it into the latent trait. Great mystic Meister Eckhart likens the process of enlightenment to a seed developing into a mature tree: “The seed of God is within us. Given an intelligent and hardworking farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God, whose seed it is, and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God seeds into God.”The Rhyme of Mystic Mariner of Madan Gandhi, a disciple of mysticism, is a sincere endeavor and utmost attempt of loyalty to his passion in displaying the sublime canvas of mysticism in such simplicity.

I am hope
surviving cataclysms,
a flaming cross
in the heart of
apocalypse. My Vision (Flaming Cross)

By loving diligence
you sow seeds of eternal life
in a world torn by strife
No eagle-soaring in skies
no smooth sailing in valleys
until love charts the way. (Inner Stillness)

Foraying into the verses of The Rhyme of Mystic Mariner reminds me of the opening couplet of my own poem ‘Mystic Journey’ which is:

Mysticism is about divine dimensional passage
As I age I begin to realize this message.

Dr Madan Gandhi has published this collection of mystic poems at such a stage of his life that suits it best. It is next to impossible to grasp the mystic experiences in early phases of life. It takes time to let the pathways of mysticism open for an individual. As the pre-requisites of mystic experiences, simplicity, non-attachment and egolessness are rarely attained in those phases. He seems to be a master in conveying the goal of a mystic while passing through the adoration of the pre-requisites.

Beyond pain,
beyond tears,
beyond death,
beyond time.
The creation’s mystical chime
all ether waves pervade,
beyond heavens and Hades
beyond the vision of golden offspring (Mystical Chime)

Do not resist nor persist
but let gothe
mantra of worry-less existence
all relaxation flowing from total calm


Creativity-the state of total acceptance
freedom from tension and fear
interaction with others
deepens soul to soul relationship (Resist Not, Let Go)

Arthur Osborne in Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge (1987) writes “When a man knows his true Self for the first time something else arises from the depths of his being and takes possession of him. That something is behind the mind; it is infinite, divine, eternal. Some people call it the Kingdom of Heaven, others call it the soul and others again Nirvana, and Hindus call it Liberation; you may give it what name you wish. When this happens a man has not really lost himself; rather he has found himself. Unless and until a man embarks on this quest of the true Self, doubt and uncertainty will follow his footsteps throughout life. The greatest kings and statesmen try to rule others when in their heart of hearts they know they cannot rule themselves. Yet the greatest power is at the command of the man who has penetrated to his inmost depth . . . What is the use of knowing about everything else when you do not yet know who you are? Men avoid this enquiry into the true Self, but what else is there so worthy to be undertaken?” Reading different texts about the basics of mysticism and The Rhyme of Mystic Mariner of Dr Madan Gandhi makes the reader realize how true a mystic he is. He not only knows the basics right but his poems display his mystic inner being. His each fiber of being seems to be a practicing mystic as his poems preach us effortlessly the mystic experiences-the jewels that are rarely present in general people. This poetic composition justifies its title The Rhyme of Mystic Mariner as it works as a stimulus to awaken the reader’s sense of the sacred.

Star of my nativity proclaims:
“Soon the sun of love will rise
and the night of terror flee.

Having wandered
far and wide
borne on a high tide.

I come to my own door
and in wonderment:
exclaim!

Oh this one:
I have been
searching for! (Oh This One)

Summing it all up, without exaggeration, it can be said that The Rhyme of Mystic Mariner is a discourse for every rational being to help him/her along the art of searching himself/herself.
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© Perveiz Ali
Email : Justperveiz007@gmail.com 

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