Ode To Tapasya (Austerity)

Paramahamsa Satyananda 1954

Aeons passed. The tapasvi was scorched by the fire of the sun. In winter he shivered to the bone. And when it rained he remained drenched in water. Decades flew by, yet he remained in tapasya. He lived on leaves, water and air, and one day Tapasya appeared before him in his small dilapidated hut. Her radiance fell on his worn-out body, and his life shone and glittered with a new light. At the sight of Tapasya, the tapasvi became overjoyed. Songs burst forth from his lips. His life was anointed.

O Tapasya !
Where have you come from today
to sing your song of celebration
in the torn and tattered hut of this ascetic?
For which bygones
have you come to offer solace
with auspicious symbols in your hand
a golden lamp
and nine crest jewels
on a platter of glittering gems?
This ascetic has endured heat
and on shivering winter nights, the cold too.
Many storms and hurricanes
have swept past his dhuni.
Its flames rose high and fell.
Many oblations have fallen into these flames.
And how many lives have been nurtured by it?
Many sorrows of the suffering
have been burnt here too
and their ill-fortune averted.
This tattered geru robe
has seen precious wealth.
Many have bowed and prostrated before it.
But this tapasvi remained
unmoved, unaffected, unclad
swallowed up by water
scorched by the heat of burning hot sands
consumed by the fire of his austerity.
This tapasvi remained enraptured in meditation.
He lived on leaves, water and wind
but now if the wind is silent
let there be no wind
for this tapasvi's meditation has deepened-
O Tapasya!
This ascetic has read the Vedas
Shastras, Vedanta and Nyaya too.
Logic dawned
and his intellect was formed.
Gyana was awakened
and meditation flourished.
The spirits were under his control
and he became endowed with the power of mantra.
He overcame the desire for pleasure
and emancipation.
For he had become liberated and pure.
Renouncing all pleasures and ceremonies.
Today he walks on the sacred path.
The mere flick of his eyebrow
can send all of creation
to total destruction.
For he is the emperor of all that he beholds-
these mountains and oceans and Shivalaya too.
Power and fame are now spreading
like blazing fire
consuming the earth
and lighting up the sky.
And today you have come carrying a lamp
awakening a new glow in this hut
compelling compassion to flow
in the hard life of this ascetic.
Gyan will now awaken
in the heart of this ascetic
and celebration will fill his life.
Standing at the threshold of many lives
today this tapasvi will tune his instrument.
For you have come to awaken him
and to make him laugh.
Today this ascetic is content.
Let us go and celebrate
in the torn and tattered hut of this ascetic.
Let us all celebrate!