The eating bowl is not one bronzeby Basava
English version by A. K. Ramanujan
Original Language Kannada
The eating bowl is not one bronze
and the looking glass another.
Bowl and mirror are one metal
Giving back light
one becomes a mirror.
Aware, one is the Lord's;
unaware, a mere human.
Worship the lord without forgetting,
the lord of the meeting rivers.
|-- from Speaking of Siva, by A K Ramanujan|
/ Photo by Gaetan Lee /
Basava is playing with a traditional teaching metaphor in this poem: both the bowl and the mirror are made of bronze. Mentally we label them as being different, but fundamentally they are the same substance, "one metal." Bronze, here represents God. All beings, all things are made of the same substance, though we mentally distinguish them by outer appearance. The only real difference between the eating bowl and the mirror is that the mirror has recognized its nature as being made of bronze. The nature of bronze when polished is to give back light and the mirror embodies this.
We are all constructed of the same God-stuff. When we become aware of our nature and polish ourselves we give back light and become a mirror.