Web site for the book
Love's Last Madness
Poems on a Spiritual Path
Translation and Commentary by
Barry Lerner and Harbans Singh Bedi
Hohm Press, Prescott, Arizona, © 2001
ISBN 1-890772-14-3 (soft cover), 206 pages.
I do not walk alone – love's mad zeal is my companion:
Out of the vortex of night's gloom I shall distill the light of dawn.
Love's Last Madness, a translation of 86 poems in the Sufi tradition selected from Darshan Singh's magnum opus Mataa'-e Noor, sings of the torments and ecstasies the lover of God experiences on the journey to divine realization. Remarkable for masterfully fulfilling his worldly responsibilities while immersing himself in his mystic quest, Darshan Singh (1921-1989) was a renowned spiritual teacher with tens of thousands of students around the globe. Winner of four prestigious Urdu academy awards for poetry in India, he has been acclaimed by critics to be among the finest contemporary mystical poets in the Urdu language.
Sant Darshan Singh represents the best in the historic interaction of mysticism with Indo-Persian aesthetics. In the tradition of the greatest Sufi masters and poets, his passionate love takes him to the realm where the divine reality is no longer a distant transcendence. Those who love Rumi will love Darshan Singh, whose sublime spirit shines through these faithful yet poetic translations. – Dr. Mumtaz Ahmad, Editor, Studies in Contemporary Islam, and Professor of Political Science, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia.
Metaphors convey the vision of the spiritual life in flashes that can be immediately apprehended. This is just what poetry is, and Sant Darshan Singh is a master of that. Translators Lerner and Bedi, through lively, natural expressions and a simple, polished style, have achieved an admirable closeness to the original Urdu verses. – Dr. Shaligram Shukla, Professor of Linguistics, Georgetown University.
These poems are quite literally inspiriting. Precise and surprising metaphors refresh the reader on every page. Any reader who delights in poetry will be delighted by Darshan Singh. The translators' introduction, commentaries, and notes are an education in themselves. – Professor John Michael, Department of English, University of Rochester.
Darshan Singh conveys the nuances of divine romance with such variety, command and sensitivity that it is apparent his poetic muse springs from direct mystical experience, not mere literary imagination. His artistic genius enables him, like Rumi of old, to impart the timeless, haunting fragrance of the inner spiritual realms while retaining its heart-warming humanity and contemporary relevance. – Eliot Jay Rosen, author of the Los Angeles Times best-selling book Experiencing the Soul – Before Birth, During Life, After Death.
Having grown up in a Sufi household in Africa, I strongly urge readers to feed themselves from this spiritual meal cooked in the mystical kitchen of Darshan Singh. – Dr. Sulayman S. Nyang, Professor of African and Islamic Studies, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
|Darshan Singh (1921-1989)
Photo: David Edmonston
I was born into a family with a charged spiritual atmosphere. From the time I opened my eyes, I enjoyed a bliss and peace which many do not experience all their lives. My father, Sant Kirpal Singh Ji, was highly evolved, and four years before my birth he began seeing in his meditations Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji, who was to become his Master and mine. Thus, I grew up in a home which was charged with mystic ecstasy. I was three years old when my father met Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji and received initiation. I remember how my parents would be sitting in meditation in the morning. I would sit by their side and try to imitate them.As Darshan grew in this loving ambience, following his father's example, he began cultivating the art of meditation. All the while, he was guided lovingly by Baba Sawan Singh to develop a consuming passion for attaining mystical union with the Almighty.
Despite his routine of strict spiritual discipline, Darshan, unlike an ascetic or a monk, was engaged in the affairs of the world. Following a principle he later called "positive mysticism," he embraced the responsibilities of daily life, becoming a devoted husband, a loving father, and a conscientious employee. As he carried out his worldly duties, however, he kept his attention focused on God and continued meditating regularly. The divine revelations he received in meditation served as the lodestar that guided his every activity. The world thus became another sphere in which he could express his love for the Divine. Love, for him, meant serving others, beginning, as he would say, with one's family and expanding outward to include one's community, one's nation, and ultimately the world.
Darshan Singh reading his poetry at a Sufi gathering in India
Photo: John Wolf
When man himself is God's purpose, why ask wherein God's purpose lies?
God is hid in the human heart, yet man searches: Where is God?
Here is a clique of showy hypocrites – speak not of loyalty in love;
Everyone claims to be sincere, no one lacks devotion here.
All light is your reflection, all appearance your magic lantern.
Where to find your likeness, where is another like you?
Plumb the mysteries of self: complete the revelation of God.
Blind to your being, how can you realize Him?
This valley – my heart – desolate; alone, I'm engrossed in search:
Where the pilgrims of love, where the caravan?
Now ask our trusted captain to save our ship from the raging seas!
Deliverance lies with the Lord, not in expertise.
Let me kneel here forever, never to leave this place of rest;
Where else could battered Darshan find refuge save at your door?
How did I ever think silence the language of love?
What I thought would not come to light was in plain sight.
I hear my silence talked of in every lane;
The suppression of a cry is itself a cry of pain.
The beloved's regard was but a flash of light;
How innocent to think I'd found eternal bliss.
This, too, in the end proved the gardener's, the lightning's and the wind's:
That handful of pitiful straws I called my nest.
Darshan, the glances I'd fancied voiced my love –
Even they couldn't convey the unplumbed depths of my longing.
How should I tell of the feeling that reigns in the court of the friend?
Dancing light is my beloved's face, cup and carafe are ecstatic!
Every nook and cranny is effulgent with his light;
Every mote and grain celebrates the beloved's face.
On earth from end to end I see his beauty,
In heaven after heaven I gaze on my beloved.
Seeker banished from beatific vision, look through the eyes of your heart!
How can you see the beloved's light with eyes of flesh and blood?
Man's sorrows I bore, this world I loved –
My whole life I gave to the work of my friend.
Brushing past me, it stirred my heart and was gone:
God! The morning breeze has learned to tease from my friend.
Let them try to imprison Him in temple, mosque and church!
The seeing eye finds the Beloved's signs in every mote.
Very near your heart are seekers of your vision;
Those who look at the surface are exiled from the beloved's light.
What can I say of the grace he showers on me within?
Darshan, the moment I close my eyes, the beloved's light begins.
Barry Lerner received an M.A. in South Asian Languages and Civilizations in 1984 from the University of Chicago, where he studied Hindi, Urdu, and Persian Literature, with a concentration in Literary Criticism. Lerner was awarded a Hindi Language Fellowship by the American Institute of Indian Studies in New Delhi in 1980. Later he studied Arabic. His translation of some Persian verses of Sa'di were published in Ehsan Yarshater's book Persian Literature (1988). He now teaches English in the Washington, D.C. area. Lerner received spiritual initiation from Sant Kirpal Singh in 1973 and, in 1988, was personally asked by Sant Darshan Singh to translate his poetry.
Harbans Singh Bedi, the younger brother of Urdu short story laureate Rajinder Singh Bedi, received his M.A. in English Literature, with minors in Persian and Urdu literature, from India's Government College, Lahore, in 1945. He taught English at Government College, Rupar, until he entered government service, retiring in 1980 as Assistant Director General, Defense Lands and Cantonments. Bedi now works for the public library system in Fairfax County, Virginia. He received spiritual initiation from Hazur Baba Sawan Singh in 1942. From 1978–1989, he translated Baba Sawan Singh's and Sant Kirpal Singh's Panjabi and Urdu spiritual discourses into English for Sat Sandesh magazine in Delhi under the direction of Sant Darshan Singh, who also requested him to assist in editing the Urdu manuscript of Mataa'-e Noor.
Science of Spirituality The website of Science of Spirituality gives a brief description of the Sant Mat teachings, a list of publications, and news of Sant Rajinder Singh, spiritual successor to Darshan Singh. Or, phone the Science of Spirituality Center, near Chicago, 630-955-1200, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moth and the Flame, a dramatic autobiographical account by Arran Stephens of meetings with Sant Darshan Singh Ji Maharaj as well as his pedecessor and succesor.
A Spiritual Quest A disciple of Kirpal Singh and Darshan Singh tells stories of his encounters with the great mystic poet and a "tumultuous Master-disciple relationship."