Sadhu Vaswani was a singer of immortal songs in English and in his mother-tongue, the Sindhi language. Of him, it was said:- "Sadhu T. L. Vaswani ...... is a saint of the first water. Poems and articles flowed out of his pen like gushing streams down a mountain-side. Although his writings embrace many subjects, they are all in praise of the Lord and Divine Love."
Sadhu Vaswani's collection of Sindhi songs, the Nuri Granth, is one of the largest books in the literature of the world, enshrining the songs of a single poet-saint.
The Nuri Granth is revered by many as a scripture: and every morning, before beginning the day's work, they read from it and carry its inspiration into their daily activities. The Nuri Granth is a world-scripture with a world-message. When this scripture is translated into the different languages of the world, I believe, its message will thrill aspiring hearts and bring peace to restless souls.
Edwin Hubble Chapin said:--"Poetry is the utterance of deep and heart-felt truth--the true poet is very near the oracle." And the mystic poet of Ireland, A E (George Russell) spoke of poetry as "oracle breathed from inner to outer being." Every one of the beautiful songs of the Nuri Granth is "breathed from inner to outer being."
Listen to this simple, soul-stirring song:--
The earthen lamps in my heart All extinguished lie! Do Thou, O Shyama, Kindle the flame That will never die! Nothing do I have Save a slumbering sitar! Neither austerity Nor wisdom do I claim: Nor yoga nor meditation: I do but beseech Thee, Again and Again:-- Do Thou, O Shyama, Kindle the flame That will never die! No scriptures do I recite, Nor to temples turn: Every single moment, Out of this yearning heart Cometh the constant cry:-- Do Thou, O Shyama, Kindle the flame That will never die! Without Thee Who else will forgive The multitude of sins I have committed, Birth after Birth ? If Thou wilt judge me, By my deeds, I will forever In bondage lie! Alas! I have erred, Unceasingly! Do Thou, O Shyama, Kindle the flame That will never die! On me is destined Thy grace to fall! I know not how to swim: Do Thou take me across! Nuri,meek and lowly, Feels disconsolate and lonely: In the surrounding gloom, Let her sip the holy water of Thy grace Do Thou, O Shyama, Kindle the flame That will never die!
Sadhu Vaswani rejoiced in being a servant of love. Many spoke of him as a poet, a mystic, a philosopher. In his characteristic, child-like simplicity, he said:--"I am none of the things they speak of me, I but aspire to be a bhakta, a lover of the Lord."
"What is the way of love?" he was asked.
To realise this "nothingness" is to have the consciousness and the cosmic emotion which mark out souls with a world-message. In a number of songs in the Nuri Granth, we are told of the joy of self loss. It is only when we lose ourselves that we find the Beloved. Here is one:--
At night did come A message from the Friend:-- Renounce self-conceit: Annihilate the ego! What are thou? A mere nothing! Casting aside vestures of vanity, Live as lowly one! In this speck of a universe, Thou art but a tiny speck: Why, then, art thou Puffed up with pride? Thou art but an insect: Yet is thy head Inflated with arrogance! Little dost thou realise Thou hast put Holy poverty to shame! Relinquish vanity of self: Haughtiness turneth a man Into a beast! The pure and lowly Dwell in the cave of poverty The confused mind, alas! gropes In the palace of pride Lose thyself in the Beloved: Rejoice in being trampled upon: So mayest thou be unto all A lamp that holds the light Divine!
Sadhu Vaswani's words are simple. In them is enshrined the simple magic of a soul in whom was the vision of beauty and holiness. Thinking of him, again and again, I have marvelled at the wonder of his life. This mighty one lived as a man amongst men, blessing and pouring the love of his heart on all - the saint and the sinner, the virtuous and the wicked, the thief, the drunkard, the profligate, the man and woman taken in sin, in them all dwells the Beloved. In silent wonder and reverence we looked at him and beheld the beauty of his face and received his benedictions and felt drawn to the love divine.
The songs of the Nuri Granth are at once simple and sublime and deep in true mystical insight. Poetical experience is essentially of a mystical order and, as Abbe Bermond says:-- "Poetry tends of its nature to join prayer." The psychological movement used by grace to raise us to prayer is the same as that put in movement by poetice experience. Many of the songs in the Nuri Granth are prayers. They penetrate beyond the surface of things to their awareness of the divine splendour. Here is one such song:--
At Thy door I stand With a heart that thirsts for Thee: O, turn me not away! Thou art my Master: And Thou my Sovereign art: Thy treasury runneth over: 'Tis never depleted: Thy beggar, Lord, Seeks the dust of Thy Lotus-Feet! Looks on me in mercy, And keep me In Thy service strong! How significant are the words of the Bhagavad Gita: Renounce for Me! Sacrifice thy heart and mind and will to Me: Live thou in faith of Me: And so gain by grace The Peace Eternal! And in the Nuri Granth we have the following words: Nuri, meek and lowly, Doth sacrifice In deep longing Each single breath, For Thee, Beloved, Alone for Thee!
True it is, that sacrifice is love's sacrament. And there is no awakening to the True Life without surrender to the Infinite ideal.
In a touching song, we have the following words:--
Filled with longing is the moth For the candle as it burns: The moth rushes to embrace the Flame, And dies in witness of love For the Flame Divine, The Beloved!
Can there be a nobler message than this for us, children of an excited, agitated age ? "When will humanity be free?" we asked him. And Sadhu Vaswani said:-- "I know not the day and hour. One thing I have felt, again and again, when men and women will walk with God in the strivings of this agitated age and be ready to bow to him in obedience to the call of Sacrifice - then in truth, will the nations be blessed again. And mother Humanity, dying a million deaths, in the voluntary sufferings of her sons and daughters, will re-arise in the glory of the New Life!"
"I hear the Lord of Life and Love calling," say Sadhu Vaswani, calling the simple, aspiring ones to his Lotus Feet:--
Perform thy dharma, But renounce all fruits, And come to Me alone For refuge true: Then go forth and announce My Name: In radiance glow, And let avidya go!
God is in search of souls who will willingly offer themselves as a sacrifice. What a beautiful picture is unfolded in one of the Sadhu Vaswani's songs:--
I met Him on the ancient hills, "My Master," thus I spoke to Him, "What seekest Thou, O Ever-Full?" He smiled and said:-- "A flaming soul!" When, O when, shall we offer to God the only gift He seeks - a flaming soul?