Jul 14 2017

Dariya Sahib of Bihar – The musk is within the deer

Published by at 8:41 am under Poetry

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

/ Image by Alice Popkorn /

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

Dariya Sahib of Bihar, Dariya Sahib of Bihar poetry, Sikh poetry Dariya Sahib of Bihar

India (1634 – 1780) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu

Sant Dariya Sahib of Bihar was born in India at a time when the power of the Muslim Mughals was declining and the British had not yet fully asserted their power over the region. It was an era of many petty rulers and warlords, along with general social turmoil and religious strife.

Sant Dariya emerged as a poet-saint who encouraged harmony between Hindus and Muslims. Today he is revered by Sikhs, as well as Hindus and Muslims.

He received enlightenment at the age of 20, and began to teach a path of non-violence and love for all.

As a poet, Sant Dariya composed more than 15,000 verses.

There is disagreement about the dates he lived, but some biographies assert that he lived nearly 150 years.

More poetry by Dariya Sahib of Bihar

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Dariya Sahib of Bihar – The musk is within the deer”

  1. BA Khanon 14 Jul 2017 at 9:54 am

    It is wonderful composition of verses, that only enlightened ones know abou.
    Isn’t is Dear Evan an answer to the fact of “oneness” that all the sages and saints have been saying the same thing over and over again though in different guises.
    They are after the same “unique universal one”..!!

    “I left my home to befriend my friend,
    Unaware the he was already in wait for me,
    Inside the humble abode of my existence,
    I finally embraced his magnificent essence”

  2. Karen Mon 14 Jul 2017 at 11:08 am

    Thank you for posting this poem, Ivan. My guru gave me a ‘spiritual name’ that means musk-deer and when I went on my first ‘pilgrimage’ to her ashram in India, my husband gave me this poem to contemplate while I was there. Gave me a lot to think about and this message was reinforced during my stay there. However, I never knew the source of the poem, so I thank you for that – google search would only turn up a poem by Rabindranath Tagore, obviously not the same poem.

    I also appreciate the phrase ‘churning the body’ – this may be a reference to the Indian notion that the devas and asuras ‘churned’ the ocean of milk until first the ‘poison’ of negativity came out, and then later, after more ‘churning’ the ‘nectar’ of immortality came out. This notion of ‘churning’ is similar to our western spiritual notion of ‘sifting’ – both indicate a refining process that is core to the spiritual work (an alchemical term) of transformation.

  3. Amardeep Singhon 14 Jul 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Thought for the Day:
    by Ivan M. Granger

    Every person: God.
    Every animal, every plant: God.
    Everything: God, God!
    The slightest contact is worship.

    “The self-luminous Lord, who is in fire, who is in water, who has entered into the whole world, who is in plants, who is in trees—to that Lord let there be adoration! Yea, let there be adoration!
    “His eyes are everywhere, His faces everywhere, his arms everywhere, everywhere his feet. He it is who endows men with arms, birds with feet and wings, and men likewise with feet.
    “All faces are His faces; all heads, His heads; all necks, His necks. He dwells in the heart of all beings. He is the all-pervading God. Therefore He is the omnipresent and benign Lord.”

    from Shvetashvatara Upanishad

  4. Annaon 15 Jul 2017 at 10:09 am

    By ‘churning this body’
    is opening a crystal lotus
    inside the chest.

  5. Carolon 16 Jul 2017 at 3:02 am

    Thank You Ivan for this beautiful poem and the responses so far. It seems this
    wisdom is something we have known from childhood, and forget in the rush of
    our world. And the Thought for the Day is very special to me. . .If only we could
    remember to ‘wipe the slate clean with wonder’. . . Carol

  6. Carolon 16 Jul 2017 at 3:10 am

    Thank You Ivan for this beautiful poem and the responses thus far. I believe this
    is something we may all have know from childhood and forgotten with the
    ‘busyness’ of our world – not sure. And your thought for the day – wiping the slate
    clean with wonder! Such a blessing. So glad you are more well. . .Carol

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