Dead Poets
15 December 2008

December 15 2008

I am not much of a poetry aficionado. I rarely write it, and seldom read it. But poetry is a powerful medium of expression and can move one’s emotions and spark one’s imagination like few other mediums.

Srila Prabhupada read and wrote poetry and at school he was exposed to British literature and its exponents. One of the great poets he sometimes quoted was William Cowper (pronounced Cooper – 1731-1800):

William Cowper 1731-1800

Cowper was well known for his love of the Divine through nature:

Jnana das: Srila Prabhupada, in Kenya the great majority of people live in the country rather than the towns.
Prabhupada: That’s nice. “Country is made of God, and city is made by man.” That is the remark by poet Cowper.”

Of course, Srila Prabhupad’s realizations went deeper and broader:

Hyderabad farm

Paramahamsa: Life becomes so artificial. In the big city, people don’t see that they depend on God.
Prabhupada: No, no. City or country, that I don’t say that Mr. Cowper is perfect in his statement. City is also created by God. City is also created by God. God has given you the ingredients, He has given you the intelligence, and you create. Eh? Wherefrom you get the intelligence? Eh? Who will answer this? Wherefrom the man gets his intelligence?”

Nevertheless he appreciated Cowper and men like him for their insights into human life and the natural arrangements provided by Krsna for real human development:

“Actually, I have no desire to start the school in any city. City life, especially in this age of kali yuga, is very much polluted. Poet Cowper stated that the city is made by man and the village is made by God. So in the village there is a natural tendency for Krishna Consciousness, so we want to develop such atmosphere in New Vrindaban. “–Letter to: Satyabhama  —  Los Angeles 27 December, 1968 

Cowper, the son of the chaplain of King George II, expressed his god consciousness through verse, to great effect. As Cowper noted about his own ability to write verse and its effect on others:

… I, who scribble rhyme
To catch the triflers of the time,
And tell them truths divine and clear
Which, couched in prose, they would not hear.

Here’s one that has become a traditional hymn for the Christian community but which anyone can appreciate:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purpose will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
the bud may have bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain:
God is his own interpreter,
And He will make it plain

[The Olney Hymns 1779]

God moves in mysterious ways” has become a catch phrase for the common man, but I like the last verse: “God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain.”  Cowper stops at this point, acknowledging that God cannot be known by man’s speculations but only by His own sweet will.

Srila Prabhupada however takes this realization to the highest levels.

SB 1.3.37
  “No one can properly describe the transcendental nature of the Absolute Truth. Therefore it is said that He is beyond the expression of mind and speech. And yet there are some men, with a poor fund of knowledge, who desire to understand the Absolute Truth by imperfect mental speculation and faulty description of His activities. To the layman His activities, appearance and disappearance, His names, His forms, His paraphernalia, His personalities and all things in relation with Him are mysterious.”

SB 2.2.35
“The general argument of the common man is that since the Lord is not visible to our eyes, how can one either surrender unto Him or render transcendental loving service unto Him? To such a common man, here is a practical suggestion given by Srila Sukadeva Gosvami as to how one can perceive the Supreme Lord by reason and perception. Actually the Lord is not perceivable by our present materialized senses, but when one is convinced of the presence of the Lord by a practical service attitude, there is a revelation by the Lord’s mercy, and such a pure devotee of the Lord can perceive the Lord’s presence always and everywhere.”

SB 6.9.33
  “The Supreme Personality of Godhead has numerous transcendental names pertaining to different grades of revelation to various grades of devotees and transcendentalists. When He is realized in His impersonal form He is called the Supreme Brahman,

[sorry, no pictures available]

when realized as the Paramatma He is called Antaryami,

Antaryami Supersoul

and when He expands Himself in different forms for material creation He is called Ksirodakasayi Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu and Karanodakasayi Visnu.


When He is realized as Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha — the Caturvyuha, who are beyond the three forms of Visnu — He is the Vaikuntha Narayana.

Vaikuntha Narayana

Above realization of Narayana is realization of Baladeva,


and above that is realization of Krsna.

Radha Krsna

All these realizations are possible when one engages fully in devotional service. The covered core of one’s heart is then completely open to receiving an understanding of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His various forms.”

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