The musk is within the deer

by Dariya Sahib of Bihar

English version by K. N. Upadhyaya


The musk is within the deer,
But he searches for it outside in the grass
     instead of searching within himself.
He runs back and forth,
Wondering where the fragrance comes from.
The fragrance is nearby,
But he knows it not.

Caught by delusion, he roams about.
So do all people wander in pilgrimages
     and outer observances.
If you wish to obtain your own true Home,
Then find it by looking within yourself
     and dwell therein.


The true Lord resides within this body,
Recognize Him through the manifestation of true love.
By churning this body,
And by entering within yourself,
See the manifestation of true wisdom.

-- from Dariya Sahib: Saint of Bihar, Translated by K. N. Upadhyaya

| More Poems by Dariya Sahib of Bihar | Next Poem >>


/ Image by Alice Popkorn /


View All Poems by Dariya Sahib of Bihar

Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

The musk is within the deer

Sant Dariya Sahib is giving us a delightful spiritual metaphor that unfolds in several layers of meaning.

Musk is the aromatic oil produced by certain species of deer. It was traditionally said to be an aphrodisiac and was once used in perfumes.

We have a deer, and he smells this enticing, otherworldly scent, and so he searches everywhere in the grass around himself, but he cannot find its source.

The fragrance is nearby,
But he knows it not.


Because, of course, the musk is within himself. He just has not recognized this fundamental truth about his own nature.

The deer is obviously all of us, spiritual seekers endlessly looking outside of ourselves for God, the Eternal, the True Self.

There is a sort of turnabout in Dariya's use of the deer to represent the spiritual aspirant. Very often in spiritual writings, the deer, being an elusive creature of profound silence and gentleness and beauty, is used as a metaphor for the Divine Beloved. Representing the spiritual seeker as a deer who does not know his own divinity adds further irony to the metaphor.

But why speak of musk or perfume at all?

In addition to a nectar-like sweetness, many mystics experience a scent that can be rapturously overwhelming or tantalizingly subtle. This blissful scent can also be understood as the perfume worn by the Beloved that awakens sacred ardor upon the spiritual journey.

And, of course, perfume is scented oil, oil being the substance used to anoint and initiate.

If you wish to obtain your own true Home,
Then find it by looking within yourself
     and dwell therein.


But let's not get too far away from the poet's point: If we want to find our "true Home," then we need to cease our constant outward focus and and simply, deeply look within.

I just want to point out that the one line -- "By churning this body" -- is intriguing to me. That sounds almost like an alchemical phrase. He is saying something about "churning" the body, like forming butter by agitating the milk. He seems to be suggesting some practice of working with the body, overturning it, cycling the awareness through the body and its energetic pathways perhaps, as a way to draw out the concentrated spiritual essence. An interesting detail to contemplate.

And by entering within yourself,
See the manifestation of true wisdom.



Recommended Books: Dariya Sahib of Bihar

Dariya Sahib: Saint of Bihar





The musk is within