Lord Buddha, on thy Lotus-throne,
With praying eyes and hands elate,
With mystic rapture dost thou own,
Immutable and ultimate?
What peace, unravished of our ken,
Annihilate from the world of men?
The wind of change forever blows,
Across the tumult of our way,
To-morrow’s unborn griefs depose
The sorrows of our yesterday,
Dream yields to dream, strife follows strife,
And Death unweaves the web of life.
For us the travail and the heat,
The broken secrets of our pride,
The strenous lessons of defeat,
The flower deferred, the fruit denied;
But not the peace, supremely won,
Lord Buddha, of thy Lotus-throne,
With futile hands we seek to gain Our inacessible desire,
Diviner summits to attain,
With faith that sinks and feet that tire;
But nought shall conquer or control
The heavenward hunger of our soul.
The end, elusive and afar,
Still lures us with its beckoning flight,
And all our mortal moments are
A session of the Infinite.
How shall we reach the great, unknown
Nirvana of thy Lotus-throne?
To A Buddha Seated On A Lotus Poem Summary
“Poems” section of The Golden Threshold concludes with the poem. “To a Buddha Seated on a Lotus’, This poem has found a place in two anthologies of English poetry published in England; The Oxford Block of Mystic Verse and the Modern Muse. Here we do not have a prayer, no blessing is sought, no favour is asked. The poet simply contrasts the peace and perfection of the Buddha with the mutability and sorrow of human life.
In the first stanza is described the idol of Lord Buddha which the poetess had seen recently and a question is asked. Lord Buddha is shown in the idol seated crossed-legged on a lotus which forms his throne. His eyes are half uplifted as if blessing his devotees. There is a look of deep bliss, profound exultation on his face as if he has attained the mysterious oneness with the diving which has been the quest of sages. Rishis and Munis in all countries. Speak of the mystic experience in his Tintern Abhey and The Prelude. It is a feeling of bliss possible for him alone who goes to nature in a mood of “wise passivity” and then can become one with “the soul of all the world”, and then he can see into, “the heart of things.” All desire this mystic oneness but few can attain it. Lord Buddha was one of those few and the look of bliss on his face results from this mystic experience of oneness with the divine. The poetess call Lord Buddha unchangeable and perfect, for he has achieved eternal peace and freedom from the cycle of birth and death. He has attained Moksha or Nirvana which in the highest and ultimate aim of human life according to Buddist philosophy. The poetess asks Lord Buddha the secret of the mystic bliss which he has attained, for the soul of all hunger for that bliss. She wants to know the way in which he attained it. The spiritual peace which he has attained is beyond the perception of man, something separate and above the world of men. It is something much higher and nobler than anything that can ever exist in this world. “ How did he attain it?” asks the poetess, for her soul also, as also that of her fellow mortals’ hunger for it.
In the second stanza, Sarojini Naidu contrasts the fever and fret of the human condition with the peace and tranquillity expressed by the idol of Lord Buddha. Human life is full of toil, noise and bustle, and the lot of helpless men is everchanging. One grief gives way to another and thus human life becomes a chain of sorrows continuing from the past into the future. There is a constant succession of sorrows. They work hard to attain their goals but are constantly defeated despite their strenuous efforts. Their hopes do not come to flowering, and their efforts do never bear fruit. They are never able to attain that perfect peace and tranquillity, that perfect bliss which is expressed by the face of Lord Buddha as he sits on his Lotus throne. Human beings also desire that bliss, that spiritual peace, but all their efforts to attain it are futile and vain. It always remains beyond their reach. Human beings always try to attain spiritual peace, that union with the divine which Lord Buddha has attained, but the effort is too much for them. Soon their faith weakens, their feet get tired and so they fail. But nothing can control or overcome their desire for the attainment of the divine. Despite their failure, they continue to yearn for the mystic bliss which results from an experience of oneness or union with the divine. This heavenward hunger of the human soul always persists.
The end the union with the divine always remains beyond the reach of men, but they are always tempted to continue their efforts, They are like thirsty travellers in a desert who are beguiled by mirage and follow it with their ever thirsty souls. The divine always seems to call them from afar. Indeed, human life on this earth is nothing but a short period of separation from the infinite. That is why the urge for union is strong in the human soul. The poetess, in the end, again repeats her question. She again asks Lord Buddha to tell her the way which leads to salvation or Nirvana or Moksha, which he has attained, and for which all humanity hunger.
This fine reflective lyric has been highly praised by one critic after another. James cousin says that it, “discloses a fine power of the phrase, clear energy of thought, a luminosity and reserve that reach the level of mastery.” The remarks of P.E. Dustoor are also significant: “A realization of the helplessness of herself and her kind before the wind of change, which blows across the ways of men and blows away one sorrow only to bring another, enters into the profoundly moving poem. …..What mystic rapture, what peace, unknown to the world of men. She asks, is the secret of Lord Buddha, seat4ed on his Lotus throne? She recalls by way of contrast the sufferings and strife. “the strenuous lessons of defeat,” the hope deferred, the futile striving of the spirit, the unsatisfied hunger of the soul, which are our common human destiny.” Others have praised it for its unity of structure, and its spontaneity. It represents a perfect fusion of the East and the West, in it, the old is looked at with eyes and the result is something which approaches the highest in poetry.