The India Book

Essays and Translations

Andrew Schelling

1993 • 93 pp. • $10.00
ISBN: 9781882022168

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Essays about the poetry, music and culture of ancient and modern India creating a context which draws this tradition into relation with contemporary American poetics and social views (such as ecology). The essays are interposed with translations from Sanskrit of erotic, Buddhist, and Hindu poetry which are enriched by the essays and also illuminate them.

“… Sanskrit has generally been ignored, or left to the Indologists. Andrew Schelling is, incredibly, the first American poet to go deep into the territory, and his translations and essays are, at last, opening the gates between experimental writing and that paradise of texts. Who knows how this will alter our own work?”
—Eliot Weinberger

“Here is a sudden opening into a little-known world of poetics and an exquisite spiritual ferocity. Schelling works with Indic linguistic traditions, the art of translation, and the roots of art. The intersection of spiritual practice and our dancing universe is provisionally mapped here. This book is a tiny sip of some elder traditions that are nourished on essential fluids. Taste it.”
—Gary Snyder


Andrew Schelling lives in the Southern Rocky Mountains, dividing his time between Boulder, Colorado, and a former mining camp in the Indian Peaks. He has worked on land use in the American West, ecology, and wolf reintroduction. Recent books include A POSSIBLE BAG (poetry; Singing Horse Press, 2013), FROM THE ARAPAHO SONGBOOK (poetry; La Alameda Press, 2011), OLD TALE ROAD (poetry; Empty Bowl Press, 2008) and WILD FORM, SAVAGE GRAMMAR: POETRY, ECOLOGY, ASIA (essays; La Alameda Press, 2003). For thirty years he has studied Sanskrit and Indian raga, and published seven books of translation from India’s early poets, most recently a revised edition of DROPPING THE BOW: POEMS OF ANCIENT INDIA (White Pine Press, 2008). He teaches at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School and at Deer Park Institute in India’s bird-rich Himalayan foothills.


Mirabai Bhajans

paga bandha ghumgharyam nacyari

Binding my ankles with silver
I danced–
people in town called me crazy.
She’ll ruin the clan
said my mother-in-law,
and the prince
had a cup of venom delivered.
I laughed as I drank it.
Can’t they see–
body and mind aren’t something to lose,
the Dark One’s already seized them.
Mira’s lord can lift mountains,
he is her refuge.

thane kai kai bol

Dark Friend, what can I say?
This love I bring
from distant lifetimes is ancient–
don’t despise it.
Seeing your elegant body
I’m ravished.
Visit our courtyard, hear the women
singing old hymns.
On the square I’ve laid
out a welcome of teardrops,
body and mind I surrendered ages ago,
taking refuge
wherever your foot falls–
Mira flees from lifetime to lifetime,
your virgin.

jogi mata ja

Yogin, don’t go–
at your feet a slave girl has fallen.
She lost herself
on the devious path of romance and worship,
no one to guide her.
Now she’s built
an incense and sandalwood pyre
and begs you to light it.
Dark One, don’t go–
when only your cinder remains
rub my ash over your body.
Mira asks, Dark One,
can flame twist upon flame?

ankhyam tarasham darsan pyashi

Hungry eyes and I
crave him–
O friend, days shuttle past
while I rage out my lyric heart
on the highway.
A cuckoo up on a perch
torments my ear with its song–
ugly words come from the citizens, they make
me the butt of their jokes.
Thus Mira is sold on the market,
into the hands of her Dark One–
birth after birth.

aisi lagan lagai

You pressed Mira’s seal of love
then walked out.
Unable to see you
she’s hopeless,
tossing in bed–gasping her life out.
Dark One, it’s your fault–
I’ll join the yoginis,
I’ll take a blade to my throat in Banaras,
Mira gave herself to you–
you touched her intimate seal
and then left.

mero bedo lagajyo para

Guide this little boat
over the waters,
what can I give you for fare?
Our mutable world holds nothing but grief,
bear me away from it.
Eight bonds of karma
have gripped me–
the whole of creation
swirls eight million wombs,
through eight million birth forms we flicker.
Mira cries, Dark One–
take this little boat to the far shore,
put an end to coming
and going.