The Silence at Ellora

The Silence at Ellora long poem

So much we lose in a lifetime,

among the cities we go in and out.

So many loves lost to the wind.

So many homes left in the doorways.

So many friends, so many enemies,

who rolled into the night, like coins,

never to return.

So many memories that grew up

and walked away like brothers and sisters.

So much we lose in a lifetime

till all that is left is ourselves.

Till all that is left is a single poem

that bounces against the rocks

and exhausts itself.

Till all that is left is silence.

*

Here, in these regions,

where things have remained still

now, for centuries,

where even things that move do not move,

Here, in these regions,

where even the monkeys are gentle,

where even the trees without leaves dance in ecstasy,

where even the gods forget their fights

and live under one roof,

Here, once,

when the air was still restless,

when the mountains were still mountains,

someone dared, in his mind, someone dared.

Where one saw a river of stones,

he saw elephants, he saw buddhas.

Where one saw a valley of rocks,

he saw chariots, he saw horses,

he saw an angry shiva dance and dance

with his numerous hands.

Then came other men,

haunted by other visions.

And then came their sons.

Their son’s sons. Their son’s son’s sons.

And then, and then came

a chisel with a hammer.

And then, and then came

a paintbrush with a dream.

The mountains absorbed everything.

Their rage, their longing,

the wandering rivers of their hearts.

The noise in their heads

that drove them from land to land.

The mountains absorbed everything

and in the end, only silence reigned.

Here, in these regions,

there comes a moment,

when one finally begins to understand

the order of things. One no longer confuses

truths with lies or rocks with birds.

Here, in these regions,

there comes a moment,

when nothing is said

but everything is understood

between trees and gods,

between us and ourselves.

Here, whoever loses himself,

shall find himself.

Here, whoever surrenders,

shall be forever free.

Here, whoever remains still,

shall forever remain still as a sculpture

and take his place among the gods.

Or better still, become a stone

among the mountains and be forgotten

till a wandering sculptor digs the god out.

*

My love, later, among blaring horns and smoke,

we may contradict ourselves.

But, we have known this.

For one moment,

we too were transformed.

For one moment,

we too saw our face

that is buddha.

For one moment,

we too heard our voice

that is silence.

*

My love, is this true?

Do we travel endlessly through life,

through its regions of sand,

through days stretched out like years,

and through ashes and birds,

only to arrive at ourselves?

Do we move about like rats,

hither and thither, only to remain still?

Do we shout and scream

only to regain silence?

My love,

Do we go away from our ellora,

only to return, again and again?

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Balaji Gopalan

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I owe all of my poetry to the influence of Pablo Neruda. Reading him 10 years ago on the beaches of Goa, gave me the permission to be who I am and write what I feel. My poetry has never been the same after that. All that I write is an offering to Neruda.
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2 Comments on "The Silence at Ellora"

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Chandrama Deshmukh
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Wow! This is by far one of the best poems I have ever read. I have been to Ellora, and I know this feeling of being one with the sculptures there. Your words are meditative. I was zapped when I read this part –

“Here, whoever remains still,
shall forever remain still as a sculpture
and take his place among the gods.
Or better still, become a stone
among the mountains and be forgotten
till a wandering sculptor digs the god out.”

What a thought!
It’s a sheer pleasure to read this poem.
I call it ‘The Buddha Experience’

wpDiscuz

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