About the Poetry Chaikhana

What is a Chakhana?

About the Poetry Chaikhana Website

Poetry and Sacred Experience

What is a Chaikhana?

A chaikhana is a teahouse along the legendary Silk Road pilgrimage and trading route linking China to the Middle East and Europe. It is a place of rest along the journey, a place to shake off the dust of the road, to sip tea, and to gather together to sing songs of the Divine...


About the Poetry Chaikhana Website

The Poetry Chaikhana joyfully shares the sacred poetry of cultures, religions, and spiritual traditions from around the world.

There is, however, a definite Middle Eastern theme to the Poetry Chaikhana. This is partly to honor of the centuries of vibrant, ecstatic, devotional, irreverant, and truly profound sacred poetry the region has given to the world. But another important reason for the Middle Eastern flavor of the site is in order to counter the miserably limited portrayal of Middle Eastern cultures and religion we are given in the West.

Although I am not a Muslim or Sufi, it is desperately important to remind the Western world of the rich spirituality the Middle East has given to the world. Perhaps even more important is that we in the West must remember how strongly European Christian traditions, particularly Christian mysticism, has been influenced by the sacred (and poetic!) traditions of the Middle East through centuries of cultural interaction.

As you explore the Poetry Chaikhana, notice the similarity of experience and unity of heart described by Christian saints, Sufi shaikhs, and Hindu mahatmas. While we must cherish the differences within each tradition, those who believe that there is something fundamentally irreconcilable between the spiritual traditions of the world are trapped in misunderstanding and have not yet touched the heart of their own tradition.

It is my sincere hope that the Poetry Chaikhana will open your heart, inspire your mind, and elevate your spirit. May we all fall into the embrace of the Eternal One with ecstatic songs upon our lips!

-- Ivan M. Granger

PS - The Poetry Chaikhana is a work in progress. Check back regularly to see new additions and expanded content.



Poetry and the Sacred Experience

The experience of spiritual ecstasy is not easily conveyed through words. The state is too all-encompasing, too immense for descriptive prose. The language of prose attempts to box in meaning, whereas poetry allows meaning to gather. The elastic nature of poetry is better suited to the sacred experience, relaying the truth of the experience without attempting to circumscribe it.

The metaphors of sacred poetry are often spontaneous. The sacred experience is beyond word and form, yet the limited mind, in trying to understand what it is witnessing, reflexively reinterprets the experience in terms of the world known to the senses. What emerges is a primal language of metaphor, a rich and spontaneous pidgin that develops between the limited mind and the unlimited awareness.

As a result, mystics the world over find themselves speaking of a golden ocean, the sweetness of honey, the giddiness of wine, the shining moon, ecstatic annihilation in fire.

And this is why mystics in every culture write poetry.

In addition to reading the poems and biographies, I encourage you to follow the links to related themes. There I explore not only the metaphorical meanings of common imagery in sacred poetry, but also why they emerge from the sacred experience.