The Charyapadas: Where Bangla Began | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 13, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 13, 2019

The Charyapadas: Where Bangla Began

(Seven charyas on the themes of life and death, being and non-being)

 Charya 22: Sarahapada

(Raga: Gunjari)

Creating the world and nirvana on their own,

People construct their limitations.

I do not know what cannot be known.

Our births and deaths—how do they happen?

Life is what death also is.

Between the living and the dead, no difference exists.

Whoever is afraid of birth and death, he

Should seek solace in alchemy.

One who wanders through the three phases,

Can neither avoid old age nor be deathless.

Does karma cause birth, or does birth cause karma?

Saraha says all perceptions are surpassed by Dharma.


Charya 29: Luipada

(Raga: Patamanjari)

Being doesn’t exist; non-being exists not.

How does one grasp such a puzzling thought?

Lui says true wisdom is hard to attain.

It’s revealed in three metals, yet it remains unknown.

When its color, nature, and form are beyond knowledge,

How can it be found in the Veda and the treatises?

What shall I say when I’m asked this question?

The moon in the water—is it true, or is it illusion?

Lui asks, how can I meditate, when

What I’m seeking cannot be known?


Charya 37: Tarakapada

(Raga: Kamod)

What is to fear when in myself I am not?

My desire for the Great Seal is also destroyed.

Don’t err while experiencing the Sahaja, O Yogi!

Like the four states of mind, keep yourself free.

The way you were is the way you are.

The Sahaja is different; O Yogi, don’t err!

Phallus and testes are known because they float;

How does one explain the inexplicable in words?

There’s no way to know it, Taraka concurs;

He who knows it has his neck in the noose.


Charya 40: Kanhupada

(Raga: Malasi Gabura)

Whatever the mind perceives is imaginary,

So are the religious scriptures and the rosary.

Say, how can you speak of the Sahaja, when

The body, speech, and the mind are not one?

The Guru’s advice may appear useless.

How can one speak of what defies speech?

The more you explain, the more it gets confusing

The Guru is mute; the disciple is hard of hearing.

How do I explain the Jewel of the Jina? Kanho says,

It’s like the deaf being instructed by the voiceless.

Charya 41: Bhusukupada

(Raga: Kanhugunjari)

From the beginning, the world is uncreated and revealed through illusion.

Does a viper bite the frightened man who takes a rope for a serpent?

The world is a strange place; Yogi, don’t let your hands get soiled.

If you understand its nature, your temptations will be foiled.

It’s a mirage in a desert, a city of the Gandharbas, or an image in the mirror,

It’s like a hardened form of water that’s transformed into a rock. Or

It’s like a barren mother’s son, busy playing his various games.

It’s like the oil from the sand, a hare with horns, or the sky in full bloom.

‘Strange,’ says Rautu. ‘Strange,’ says Bhusuku. Everyone’s nature is similar.

 If you’re still deluded, O Fool, go seek help from your preceptor!’


Charya 42:  Kanhupada

(Raga: Kamod)

The mind is spontaneously filled with the Void.

Don’t be depressed when your components are lost.

How can you say that Kanhu is no more

When he’s merged in three worlds and exists there?

Fools are afraid to see the destruction of their senses.

Can the broken waves ever swallow the oceans?

Fools don’t see the world that always exists. 

Like the cream of the milk is hidden in the milk.

No one comes to this world, and no one goes away.

This thought entertains Kanhil the Yogi.


Charya 43: Bhusukupada

(Raga: Bangal)

Over the three worlds is spread the Sahaja tree;

When void is one’s nature, can anyone be free?

No difference can be seen, when water is mixed with water

The Mind-Jewel ascends the Sky—absorbed in each other.

When there is no self, how can the other remain?

Unborn since the beginning, how can birth and death happen?

‘Strange,’ says Rautu. ‘Strange,’ says Bhusuku; it’s the nature of everyone.

No one comes in, and no one goes; being or non-being, there’s none.


Fayeza Hasanat teaches English at the University of Central Florida, USA. She is the author of The Bird Catcher and Other Stories (2018). Her published works of translation include Nawab Faizunnesa’s Rupjalal (2009) and Neelima Ibrahim’s Aami Birangana Bolchi (A War heroine, I Speak, 2017).


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