Kids Corner


The Peach & The Plum
Part II

PURAN SINGH [1881 - 1931]




Continued from yesterday ...


The Gurus have altered our ideals of inner self-realization.

“Know Thyself”, is only partially right.

The true artistic consciousness or religious consciousness blossoms in its own inner beauty when the inner self of man and the outer self of nature unite. Both partake of Reality which is beyond both.

This union is rare and is not an individualistic but a cosmic phenomenon of life. Those who sat in caves, and meditated and found God in their soul, the so-called Yogin idealist, the Zens of Japan, were not truly spiritual; they were still intellectual, the abstractionists, poor moralists who set themselves, in pride of intellectual abstraction, as gods.

On the other hand, those who rejected the subjective realities and sought Truth only in the outer objects and their beauty as realized by the senses, the so-called Realists, also were intellectual Their art too, wholly intellectual, touches in its rare flights the spiritual.

There is thus no difference between the Greek ideals of old and the Art-ideals of the East which are based on metaphysics. The Greek sculptor rejects human flesh and endeavours to realize his ideal man in Apollo through the imagined pure medium of marble, it is as intellectual a representation of reality as of those who carved the images of the ecstasy of Lord Buddha in the large statues of stone.

In fact when artistic consciousness wishes to express itself that way, it assumes the intellectual expression only. It can get to no other, because, after all, it is the intellectual sympathy that the artistic expression wishes to create.

Hence it is that the Gurus do not consider artistic expression which needs must be intellectual. They insist first on artistic life and most on artistic inside, on the flame of inspiration burning within at the centre.

The rest must follow.

According to the Gurus, the spiritual expression of personality can only come through feeling born and bred in the human flesh. Human flesh is the imperfect medium through which the Gurus wish to express the Perfect.

Beauty is neither outside, within the reach of the realist, nor inside, within the reach of the idealist, as both are seeking an intellectual abstraction. It is beyond intellectual abstractions, in the actual subjective spiritual union of the spirit of man with that of the universe or Nature.

This union takes place rarely as a cosmic phenomenon. And the whole life waits for its happening. And as planets revolve without haste, without rest, so we men and women have to go on waiting for that great spiritual fulfilment through all our pursuits of pain and pleasure, of vice and virtue, of intellectual realization and of emotional expressions of extraordinary moods of ourselves, till we meet Him -- the Artist.

Our True Spiritual Religion and Art start after meeting Him, for He is so beautiful that however we may will otherwise we cannot thenceforward forget Him. Near Him or away from Him, we live in aching remembrance of Him.

This aching remembrance is our religion, we cannot but be religious after seeing Him. We are driven to be religious.

Aching remembrance is spontaneous in the inspired ones when they are away from him. The moments of union are rare and so love, according to the Gurus, is but aching remembrance. It is very unlucky that, according to the Gurus, there can be no religion and no art for you till you have met Him.

So, all the Gurus condemn ceremonial, theological routines. It is better to freshen the soil with a few furrows, than to go to a temple to pass through a routine which has no meaning for an unawakened soul. As the expression of the life of disciples can only be spiritual; so the art of the Guru is creation of the Divine Personality out of the Human Substance.

Human flesh that is radiant with life, vital, vitalising nectarian, immaculate, beautiful is the only medium for the artists of aching remembrance. And the chief aim is to make the human flesh worthy enough for enclaying God in it, all else is mere means.

I start all kinds of arts. From my eye, let Leonardo da Vinci remember the eyes of Christ. From my tresses let them remember the braids of Jesus. I not only ache with remembrance, but I produce the same aching pain in others. I am, as the Guru says, the legion. I refuse to be only one flower like the Brahman intellectual. I aspire to be the spring.

My own salvation is not what I desire.

Let all be saved.

“Save them through whichever door of mercy thou mayst choose, O Lord!”

“My disciple is he who aches with love and makes others ache with love.”

O Sikh youth of the Punjab! I hang my head in shame when I see you buying and selling ugly, obese, flesh-coloured smudges of ink blue and red and yellow, with no eyes, no head, no hands and feet, as the portraits of your Gurus who bestowed Buddhahood on many of their disciples.

You read this in your history. No one ever, in the first 500 years or more after the Buddha, painted or sculptured Him. They only had a ladder with steps of the Buddha painted or sculptured on the rungs. This was all the portrait they made of their god. For five hundred years or more of Dhyani worship, they lived in silence about it, till they saw the Buddha in Dhyanum and with that divine aching remembrance becoming ecstatic they met Him. And now, however intellectual a phenomenon, how soothing it is to the soul to look at the ecstatic bliss of Dhyani Buddha; the appreciation of the Dhyani creations is fugitive.

When I stand before the pictures you call those of the Gurus, I feel as much disgusted as when I look at the ugly idols of Krishna of the Hindus in the temples of Vrindavan.

You will be killed by this mean imitation of others’ passion.

Because Christians have been lucky to illustrate the Bible by the paintings of Italian masters, must you also imitate them to make your religion popular? Woe unto that religious preaching which needs the support of such soul-less imitations.

For goodness’ sake, burn all your canvases and throw your brushes away. You are not yet risen to the level of men and the craft of the artist is far above your reach. You are not yet able to grasp the essentials even of the intellectual appreciation of the Art of the Beautiful. You need yet learn how to wear a pearl necklace and how to adorn yourself. You must needs be decorated and beautiful to go and dare approach the Beautiful.

I have always thought that as there has risen no new Chaitanya in Bengal, the Bengal school of art is only a farce, an imitation. I feel spiritually happy when I look at the reproductions of the Ajanta cave frescoes, but I am disgusted with seeing the obliqueness of the paintings of the Bengal School, which is merely a mental concept. The imitation of such a specialised and delicate, almost spiritual, technique as of the Ajanta devotees, so apparent in the Bengal School, is sickening.

From the kind of pictures, however, you the Sikhs of the Punjab love, I feel that your soul of art is dead. You fail to show even the instincts of a spiritual aspirant. Pray, be silent, till life gathers in you and bursts out of itself. Till then it is better to cry than to go on rhyming ‘him’ with ‘dim’ and call it poetry of any kind. It is better to weep silent tears of prayer than to sing your hymns with the bass sound of the leathern harmonium.

It is far more artistic to have a clean house, with pure, snow-white, lime-washed walls or even mud-washed as of the Janglis of the Punjab bars, than to hang up the headless Baba Deep Singh Shahid, as you say, with so much unregenerate flesh lumps with that label.

Sickening! And you all stand and stare at your walls saying, “What a martyr!”

Let me tell you frankly, your outlook is much too dirty, dusty, weary, busy-bodied, to be anything near the sources of the creation of artistic forms or literature of any kind. All your monthlies are only fit for the dung-heap. Most of us calling ourselves literary lions are but dust-bins in which gathers the dirt of the worldly-wise.


The author was a poet, scientist and mystic who was inspired by Bhai Vir Singh. Author of a long list of books of both prose and poetry in English and Punjabi, his best known works include "The Spirit Born People," "The Sisters of The Spinning Wheel," "The Temple Tulips," "The Bride of The Sky," and "The Book of The Ten Masters."

[Courtesy: Harinder Singh. Edited for]
February 7, 2013


Conversation about this article

1: Y Singh (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), February 11, 2013, 1:38 AM.

"For goodness sake, burn all your canvases and throw your brushes away. You are not yet risen to the level of men and the craft of the artist is far above your reach. You are not yet able to grasp the essentials even of the intellectual appreciation of the Art of the Beautiful. You need yet learn how to wear a pearl necklace and how to adorn yourself. You must needs be decorated and beautiful to go and dare approach the Beautiful." Come on, my sisters & brothers, let's decorate and beautify ourselves with the Art to meet the Beautiful. Thanks, and Harinder Singh for sharing this!

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Part II"

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