About Us Contact Us Help




SAPNE: Tears

Amandeep Singh

“Tears” in Words – Poetic Joy in 28th Harvard India Poetry Reading

 Amandeep Singh


Third Sundays in May are special for the South Asian Poets of New England.  They are supported by The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and the Department of South Asian Studies Harvard University to continue a long tradition of hosting an annual India Poetry Reading.  The 28th Annual Harvard India Poetry meeting was hosted on Sunday, May 19th, 2024 virtually on Zoom.


The event was started in 1997 with the blessings of late Ms. Catherine Galbraith of Cambridge, MA and late Swami Sarvagatananda of Ramakrishna Vedanta Society.   Retired Professor Michael Witzel helped initiate the event as an Outreach activity of the Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies.  The program hosted poets in various South Asian languages to present poems on “Liberty” on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of India’s independence.   The theme-oriented multi-lingual assembly has continued to attract a wide spectrum of young and old scholars.  The video recordings of the events are archived in https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJbJIAi_4wixWfifBZc2nFQsHyl1_sbsQ   
This year’s theme was “Tears” (अश्रु). 


Tears are the companions of our happiness and sorrow, tears are the support of our hearts! We cry in tears when our loved ones leave. When a child takes its first baby step, the parents' eyes become wet with tears of joy.  Every moist eye fills up with tears with the sight of innocent people being killed in the storms of war. Tearful mothers hug their children and hide to protect them from the destruction. And then the police may use tear gas to disperse people when it would declare an unlawful assembly.  After a flood of tears flows through, our body and mind become calm, and we get ready to face life again. Eyes are our most precious and most sensitive limb, tears present our inner expression of love, sorrow and pain.


Swami Sri Atmanand Saraswati from Satya Chetna Asharma, Thiruvanamali, Tamilnadu, India, graced with his presence to start the program with a prayer of invocation for world peace, a mantra from Rig Veda, hoping that humanity can come close to each other. He recited his original poem, a prayer on the significance of tears, setting a reflective tone –


O Lord, why have you given us tears, if they don't flow for you?

Why have you given us a fire of isolation, if it is not burning for you?

We all have tears!

For little children, tears are their strength,

If they want something, they can cry and get it,

For grownups tears come out of fear of punishment,

We experience tears of separation and sorrow,

Tears come when we laugh,

Tears of ecstasy come to the spiritual beings!

When we get something from someone that we don't expect,

Oh lo, tears of gratitude!

Doctors say tears are healthy, keep our eyes moistened.

As our consciousness grows,

We understand ourselves (swaroop),

And tears of devotion inundate us!


A curated presentation of twenty poets followed the invocation.  Convener Dr. Bijoy Misra introduced the poets.


Sajed Kamal's English poem, "2024," delved into the paradoxical year marked by raging wars, worsening climate crises, and a simultaneous global awakening of conscience and compassion. It served as a poetic call to action imbued with tears and hope. Amandeep Singh presented the Punjabi poem "ਕੀ ਕਰੀਏ? (What Should We Do?)," a poignant ghazal contemplating the world's sorrow and questioning what can be done on a night filled with sorrow and a bouquet full of tears.


Manorama Choudhury's Hindi poem, "आँसू (Tears)," reflected on personal struggles with unfulfilled aspirations and repressed sorrows. We find solace in the darkness of night, hiding tears to protect loved ones from our emotional turmoil.  Maneesh Srivastava offered "अनमोल आंसू (Priceless Tears)" in Hindi, capturing the beauty and value found in sadness. Tears are a symbol of emotional depth, they remind us of the preciousness of life's moments like a stream. 


Rahul Ray's Bengali poem, "Teardrops," explored a journey to the anatomy of a tear drop.  There are varied meanings of tears, from love and joy to memories and violence.  Debilal Mishra's English poem, "Tears," underscored the inseparable nature of tears and life, portraying tears as essential to experiencing the full spectrum of human emotions.


R Balachandra's Kannada poem "ಕಣ್ಣೀರಿನ ವಿಭಿನ್ನ ರೂಪಗಳು (Different Forms of Tears)," examined the various forms and functions of tears.  Tears are for anguish and agony, tears are for hope and joy.   Manoj Panda's Odia poem, "ଅଶ୍ରୁର ଅନ୍ତଃସ୍ୱ (Inner Voice of Tears)," explored the contexts the behind tears to develop insight.  Tears of grief may morph into tears of humility.  There is serene tranquility beyond emotional turmoil.


Arundhati Sarkhel's "Tears of Joy" in English celebrated the fulfillment of lifelong dreams with tears of happiness.  She showed mementos of her recent recognitions. Amit Khare's Hindi poem, "अस्वीकृति (The Rejection)," portrayed the emotions of rejection of a love proposal,  Nature use symbols of tears to express sorrow.


Prem Nagar’s Hindi poem, "आँसू की कहानी (Tale of Tears)," presented tears as silent witnesses to our emotions. They convey stories of love and strength. We find relief in their tender embrace, reflecting life's dualities with every drop.  Geetha Patil's "Silent Tear" in English, narrated the profound grief, sadness, emptiness, despair, and longing experienced when we are bereaved of our loved one.


Gouri Datta's English poem, "Tear-Link," connected tears to a wider brotherhood.  There is an ocean of tears in the body, they appear as waves in our eyes.  Neena Wahi's Hindi poem, " भाव भरे मेरे आँसू (My Tears My Expressions)," emphasized that tears express true emotions when words fail.  Tears are treasured as jewels and become sources of strength.


Preetpal Singh's Hindi poem, "आँसू भरी जिंदगी (Life Full of Tears)," recited by Amandeep Singh, gave a good-humored look for different reasons for tears in life’s phases.   Jayant Dave's Gujarati poem, "આંસુની દુકાન અને મા (Shop of Tears and Mother)," narrated a conversation between a mother and son about the symbolic act of selling tears in a store.  Mother teaches that all tears make ocean, they have no differentiation!


Anand Ramanujam's Tamil poem, "கண்ணீரின் மேன்மை (The Greatness of Tears)," celebrated tears arising from devotion to God, a child's heart longing for mother's affection, love, and altruism.  Bijoy Misra's Odia poem, "ଆନନ୍ଦାଶ୍ରୁ (Tears of Joy)," inspired by an Indian legend, narrated a tale of an elephant in distress rescued by divine forces, bringing in tears of joy. Similarly, life can bring us desperation, but our sympathizers and wellwishers can rescue us giving us tears of joy!

Two poems were added
for their relevance though not on the theme. Shakuntala Gupta's English poem, "Rendezvoused at Banaras," highlighted the plight of the poor, where to win a political race, the regimes prioritize mega construction of statues, buildings, temples or ghats, etc., over the sufferings of the poor.  Harohali Vijaykumar's Kannada poem, "ಭೂಮದಲಿ ಭಯವಿಲ್ಲ (In the Infinite, There’s No Fear)," featured a dialogue between two rivers where one river advises the other to become one with the infinite reality without any fear.


The morning was salutary with several non-readers who attended the full session.  There was positive feedback from the poets and from the visitors.  

"It was great to hear the poetry in many native languages and English translations, and just to hear the cadence and rhythm, the sound and the heart coming through!" said an American visitor at the Satya Chetna Ashrama.




Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help