Kids Corner


The Peach & The Plum
Part IV

PURAN SINGH [1881 - 1931]




Continued from yesterday ...


Nothing dies.

The voice that I have heard, I shall hear again. The eyes that have looked alive once, shall gaze into my eyes again.

That intense imagination which can bring before the vision’s eyes the face of the Beloved, as the regions of hell and heaven rolled before Dante’s eyes, it is intense imagination which is the essential quality of art.

And such imagination is not speculative at all, it is the artistic carver of the myriad images of the Beloved.

To get rid of the nausea of visible physical putrefaction of human flesh that is the result of sensual pleasure as sought by the Romans and to get a cure for the sickness of the intellectual putrefaction in mental moralities, as sought for by the Aryan and non-Aryan priests, it is certainly soothing to look at an ideal woman shaped in marble, almost made a goddess by the Greek sculptors.

The woman in the street disgusted the intellect and the woman thus sculptured out of the imagination of the artist recreated the divine worship. It must needs be offered to the real woman.

The meanest flower gains unsurpassable beauty when touched by this feeling of worship. A green leaf, touched by Mary Magdalene for her offering to Christ, becomes invaluable. All great art must be similar revelation of feeling, deep and mute and alive, as lightning asleep in the cloud. Then, it may lift a leaf or a flower or cast just a glance; it is the incessant creator of the Beautiful that it has seen.

Just as metaphysics was an intellectual attempt to soothe the ruffled intellect, so were the arts of sculpture and painting, the intellectual attempts of human genius to soothe the disgusted feeling. And a well-carved image of even a prostitute in marble soothes us, while the vileness of a prostitute in life may irritate us. Seeing the painting of a lovely woman, we may fall in love with her for a whole lifetime though if she be found in life it may be difficult to live with her for a day.

Art, thus, is contemplation of the Beautiful by the artist as an unattached witness. This contemplation lifts us above ourselves, above body and mind, and elevate our consciousness; it beautifies our vision.

Through art, we see beauty everywhere. A rain of beauty seems to drizzle. Everything grows beautiful. In this bliss of Nirvana, the body is not remembered by the buddha; his peace overflows and engulfs it entire. Now, an artist, who has to give us an image in stone of that self-realization, has to ignore the physical.

It is wonderful that Dai Butsa of Kama Kura sends a thrill of a living awe of the great person of Lord Buddha, and one never knows that He had a body like us. I stood entranced before Dai Butsa at Kama Kura, and I only contemplated and contemplated with dosed eyes all open and with open eyes all closed and I saw nothing, and felt nothing physical but only inner peace.

Only holiness.

Only a strange life shining in the crest jewel that the Buddha’s great statue bore, on the glorious knot of his Nepal tresses. Surely both artistic contemplation as in art forms and metaphysical contemplation of man and nature as in mental abstractions are essentially intellectual appreciations only of the Divine that the Buddha realized.

The Guru says, if one has that artistic attitude continuously with one, looking at all living things and dealing with all living things in that spiritual sense, then the true art becomes manifest. And who is the greater artist, one who looks at many living things and vibrates in sympathy with them, or one who, to start with, renounces them and then writes poems comparing the quivering of the petals of a rose to the trembling of the petaline lips of a bride that is waiting for her bridegroom?

The Hindu Brahman seeker renounced his wife and children and sought their likeness in imagined gods, and in suns and stars and trees and rivers and birds, for, in spite of him, they all went with him wherever he went.

And the Greek artist renounced his gods in flesh only to find them in marble.

Renunciation in both cases was a meaningless vanity; neither got the peace of formlessness, for the one had a form and a frame himself and he could not jump out of his skin, and the other had not the peace of loneliness to contemplate perfection in marble, for, his creations still smiled even in death.

The Guru says, human flesh rots without ‘Naming Him.’

The state of spiritual immortality is of perpetual youth when man becomes a lyric of love. When one reaches the spiritual depths of the soul and lives attuned to that wondrous richness of the ecstatic life, no misery of whatsoever kind, no suffering how acute, no sorrows how gnawing, can dim the lustre of the smile of that great deep, musical life.

It indicates poverty of the spiritual inner life, when the ideals of art or religion seem to incline towards the purity of the marble or the spotlessness of light, except as an intellectual excitement to the realization of the spiritual beauty of the flesh.

The black stains of sin on the white apparel of the sinner have more of perfection, if the sinner be made more beautiful of soul thereby.

The one diamond shines amidst numerous particles of sand.

Saint Francis kisses the leper’s wounds, while a man, poor of soul, flies from the sickness to save his life from infection.

The other day, when the influenza, epidemic raged, men and women were dying like flies, and some of my dearest friends were lying down with it and no one to look after them. I was down with the physical infirmity. I only wept. My tears called to the unknown St. Francis of the Sikh Punjab. “Puran, I will go and look after your friends!”

Apparelled in a white silk gown, an old man beaming with the youthful joy of a new bridegroom of eighteen, goes. He goes and beats with his stick the influenza out of the bed of my dear ones. He sits with them, lies with them, the inner magnet of his attracts the disease out of them to himself and in himself burns a conflagration in which all bacilli die. Immaculate, he comes out and he saves a few lives. Unless this great flame burns within, a mere fatalist is stupid, for he idly courts death.

The real victor defeats death and foils the ‘foes of the life-spark.’ Jesus heals the leper, St. Francis kisses him. There is difference in the inner potential. When one is rich within, of soul, of spiritual life, when one is the veritable King of Glory, one does not despise frail mortal forms to which life clings so tenaciously. The Buddha accepts the invitation of a courtesan, while lovers of God and soul that imagine such realities in an impersonal light fly from such ‘moral filths.’ He was attracted by the perfection of life that trembled on the lips of the courtesan, the lips that invited him.

These distinctions of virtue and vice are unreal to the poet’s mind, who is looking at deeper levels of life where there is perennial beauty, music and love.

The surface veils part like clouds that are torn asunder with such splendour by the rising sun, and the eye, enamoured of life’s mystery is red with wonder that sees but can never voice it forth!



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 9, 2013



Conversation about this article

1: Baljit Singh Pelia (Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), February 11, 2013, 12:42 PM.

Awesome! Putting it all in perspective.

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Part IV"

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