Today, I present another post for National Poetry Month. This celebration is intended to focus on American poetry or how poetry has contributed to American culture, but we live in a global community and poetry is a universal language, so I choose to ignore that guideline from time to time.
One of the world’s great poets, and philosophers, Rabindranath Tagore, inspired the title of this blog, The Endless Further. I have written about Tagore in some detail previously (see below), so I won’t add much to that today. As I’ve noted, he had a great respect for Buddhism and once called Buddha “the greatest man ever born on this earth.”
Here is one of the few poem in which he mentions Buddha. It comes from Fruit-Gathering, a collection published by Macmillan in 1916, and was translated from Bengali to English by Tagore himself.
Only one lotus braved the blast of winter and bloomed in the garden of Sudas the gardener. He took it to sell to the King.
A traveler said to him on the way, “I will buy this untimely flower, and take it to my master Buddha. Ask your price.”
The gardener asked one golden masha*, and the traveler readily agreed. Just then the King came there.
“I must take that lotus to Lord Buddha,” he said to the gardener. “What is your price?”
The gardener claimed two golden mashas. The King was ready to buy it. The traveler doubled the price and the King’s offer ran still higher.
The gardener thought in his greed he could get much more from the man for whom they were eagerly bidding.
He hastened with his flower to the grove where Buddha sat silent. Love shone in his eyes, on his lips was wisdom beyond words.
Sudas gazed at him, and stood still. Suddenly he fell on his knees, placing the lotus at Buddha’s feet.
Buddha smiled and asked, “What is your prayer, my son?”
“Nothing, my lord,” Sudas answered, “only a speck of the dust off your feet.”
* A measurement of rice or wheat berry
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