Translator’s note: The literary tradition of the Indian mystic that originates in the Vedic Samhita, right at the fountainhead of our national culture, continues uninterrupted all through the inspired creative utterances of many Kavi-s right up to this day. The word Kavi itself embodies the vastness and unbroken continuity of this tradition; it is a word that can conjure any of the apparently various images of a Rishi, a Devata, a Poet, a Creator or all of these at once – signifying the scattering of the suggestive power of Speech from the source-light or the indistinguishability of these categories. Not least of those Kavi-s is Rabindranath Tagore, whose verse I have attempted to render here in English translation. The speciality of this particular lyrical poem, or song, is that it captures the Poet’s yearning to obtain a vision of the Vedic Goddess Vāk, or Sarasvati, as well as the ecstatic feeling he experiences due to his anticipation of the Goddess’s elusive and shrouded but eternal presence in his very being, in his own Heart.
Nectarine sounds chime
’Midst the lotus-forest of my Heart.
The Veena-wielding, reclusive Goddess,
The very form of Ambrosial Speech;
That brilliant golden-rayed Figure –
In what nook of my being dwells She?
’Midst the lotus-forest of my Heart!
There reigns, day and night, the eternal spring,
And the koel’s song fills all quarters;
The Mind-Bee swoons and falls at Thy Feet
By the perfume arising from the lotus!
Come, O Goddess, appear in this radiant light –
Let me see you, for once, with mine own sight!
Do not remain hidden in the mind-realms,
In raiment bedecked with shadows and spells!