Jan 13 2014
Where there is no sense of the world
English version by Krishnaditya
Where there is no sense of the world,
What can one preach of true and false?
Whose birth, act, form, or name is there?
What boundary, where there is no town?
Akha, where there is no body to begin with,
The indivisible remains, as is.
— from Wings of the Soul: Poems of Akha: The Spiritual Poet of India, Translated by Krishnaditya
/ Photo by Leland Francisco /
A riddle-like poem to tease our minds on this Monday morning…
When the idea of separation falls away, when there is no “this” as opposed to “that,” when there is no “me” separate from “you,” when we are overcome with the grand vision of everything, everything flowing together in a single, living, unified whole — how can we then talk about body and boundary, or get caught up pride and self-righteousness.
When there is no separation, there is also no lack, and therefore nothing to accomplish or change. We can then take our first full breath and settle into reality as it is — indivisible.
The non-dualist poet-saint Akha lived sometime in the early seventeenth century in the Gujarat region of India. In his youth, Akha worked as a goldsmith.
Tradition says two early events profoundly changed his life: The first occurred when he was falsely accused of stealing from the mint of a local ruler and was jailed for a time, before he was later shown to be innocent. The second incident occurred when a family friend accepted a gold necklace in return for some money she had placed with him for safekeeping. This woman later questioned the purity of the gold Akha had used and took it to another goldsmith for testing, only to find out that it was more pure than she had thought. Akha was shaken when he discovered how easily his integrity could be questiond and he began to turn inward.
Akha left his occupation and travelled throughout India in search of spiritual knowledge, finally attaining self-realization. He then began to recite poetry to express his realization in a non-doctrinaire way.
It is surprising that so few translations of his work currently exist in English, for his poetry has the power and sometimes irreverent wisdom of other well-loved poets like Kabir.