The Six Cantos of Eternal Bliss

 by  Sankara

Translated by Usha Kishore

I am not the mind, nor the intellect, nor an entity,
                                                        nor any psyche;
I am not heard, nor tasted, nor smelt, nor seen;
I am not the sky, nor the earth, nor fire, nor air;
I am the joy ringing in eternity! I am Shiva!
                                                          I am Shiva !


I am not the essence of life, nor its five airs ;
I am not any of the seven elements , nor the
                           five strata of consciousness ;
I am not spoken word, nor physical deed,
                                                nor erotic need;
I am the joy ringing in eternity! I am Shiva!
                                                   I am Shiva!


I am not hatred, I am not love, nor envy,
                                                 nor greed;
I have no vanity, I have no dignity;
I have no duties, I have no riches, nor desires,
                                                 nor any salvation ;
I am the joy ringing in eternity! I am Shiva!
                                                       I am Shiva!


I am not good, I am not evil; I am not content,
                                                 I am not grief;
I am not mantra , nor any place of pilgrimage;
                          nor am I veda , nor sacrificial rite;
I am not sustenance, I am not sustainable, nor am I,
                                      the act of sustaining;
I am the joy ringing in eternity! I am Shiva!
                                                       I am Shiva!


I have no fear of death, I have no disparity
                                                    of faith;
I have no father, no mother; nor am I born;
I have no relative, I have no friend, no guru ,
                                                no shishya ;
I am the joy ringing in eternity! I am Shiva!
                                               I am Shiva!


I am timeless, I am formless;
I am the infinitude, stretching across
                                 your finitude ;
I am all-encompassing tranquillity,
beyond bondage, beyond liberation;
I am the joy ringing in eternity! I am Shiva!
                                                I am Shiva!

- One of the Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Although Shiva is considered the God of Destruction, he has many aspects, exemplified in his Panchavaktra or Five-fold form - TatPurusha, Varna Deva, Aghora, Ishana and Rudra are the five faces depicted in the five-fold form. Varna Deva, the eternal form of Shiva , is portrayed in this poem.
The five airs - Pancha Vayu - According to Hindu belief, the air or essence of life that runs through the body has five aspects - prana (inhalation and exhalation), apana (the force dealing with the digestion and excretion), udana (centred in the throat - that deals with the air during sleep), samana (circulation) and vyana (all pervasive)
The seven elements - Saptha Dhathu - This is based on the seven liquid essences in the body like blood, bile, mucous etc. This is one of the principles of the Indian medical system of Ayurveda. Parallels can be drawn to the medieval humoural medicine.
The five strata of consciousness - Pancha Kosha - literally translated as the five coverings - this is the ascending scale of values like -material, mental, social, cultural and spiritual. In a contemporary context, this can be paralleled with Maslow's hierarchy of values.
Duty, wealth, desire and salvation - are called the Purushartha or Objectives of Life - They are dharma (duty), artha (wealth), kama (desire) and moksha (salvation).
Mantra - chanting of prayer
Veda - literally translated as Knowledge, (Vid - to know). Vedas are Hindu scriptures.
Guru - teacher
Shishya - student/disciple
Infinitude and finitude - This is based on my interpretation of the text, alluding to the Prakriti-Purusha (Nature and Supernatural) dichotomy of Hindu philosophy. Another interpretation could be Atma-Paramatma (Soul and Supersoul) duality. The line literally translates as "I am all pervasive/ I am beyond all senses."


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