Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was:
Gita chanting birds become the ellipsis — Kala Ramesh, Triptych, Red Moon Press (2019)
Petru Viljoen follows the V formation:
Profound. The layout of the haiku resembles the V-formation of migrating birds. Gita refers to the Bhagavad Gita, a story within the story of the Mhabarata. The birds, specks in the sky form the ellipsis, that which is unquoted—that which went before and that which followed. I’d like to think the space created within the V is the real story.
The chanting, words have taken flight, lifting the psyche. The goal of the chanting will be to lift the spirit above the realm of the mundane, to rise above. Migration of birds is to get from one place to another, so the spirit of humankind.
Researching why migrating birds fly in a V-formation it apparently is to catch the updraft created by the bird flying in front and so energy is saved. The leader, when tired, falls back and another bird takes the lead. I was struck by the following, “…the feat requires careful flight and incredible awareness of one’s neighbors.” The realization of interdependence in that, not only one bird on another, but on the elements. (From https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/01/why-birds-fly-v-formation)
Gita chanting then to create an incredible—heightened—awareness of everything necessary for spiritual survival.
Radhamani Sarma hears a melody:
Profuse thanks to The Haiku Foundation for featuring a haiku by a writer of high repute and expertise skills, Kala Ramesh. Her insightful training program, tutoring hundreds of learners, avid pursuers in the field of haiku is noteworthy.
This week’s haiku highlights both the Gita chanting and the melody and chirping of birds aligned with poetic interpretation. In the first line, “Gita Chanting—leads us to think what is next? This also gives us a vital information about Gita. The Bhagavat Gita, mode of chanting, the methodology of the sound system, elongation of vowels etc., makes people spellbound.
The Epic purana of scriptural verses composed in Sanskrit in the battlefield—the theme of Bhagavat Gita. Here one has to remember more than the theme, the importance is for the chanting, the prolongation of verses and Vedic aura.
In the second line, “birds become” what? The birds’ chirping getting truncated, lessened in comparison with the “chantig.” In line three, “the ellipses” one gets the auditory image of chirping or twittering—become ellipses.
Dave Read explores the spiritual core:
Gita chanting is, according to the website chinmaya-rdu.org, “the recitation of the Bhagavad Gita.” The idea behind reciting it out loud is to give rise to “the desire to know its meaning.” With a goal towards “opening the vast treasure of God’s love,” the “Gita Chanting allows one to begin this journey here and now.” The process “starts with chanting, then study, and over time, assimilating (embracing) that same love wholeheartedly and completely.” Sometimes, Gita chanting can be done in the form of contests with marks being given based on memory, pronunciation, clarity and loudness.
Even with a small background on Gita chanting, one can quickly see the richness and layers in Kala Ramesh’s haiku. The poem’s depth hinges on the many ways one may read the phrase “birds become the ellipsis.” Visually, I imagine a small line of birds flying in the distance, their silhouettes resembling dots. Beyond the image, the haiku gets interesting when relating this ellipsis to the Gita chanting. Do the birds coincidentally rise at a point when there is a break in the chant? Or do they fly into the sky as one of the chanters stumbles? Either way, the birds as ellipsis arrive during a break in the recitation much like an ellipsis appears where a pause is required in writing. Yet remembering that the ultimate goal of Gita chanting is to open “the vast treasure of God’s love,” could the moment represent something more spiritual? Could the chanters be experiencing an aha moment where, even if briefly, they are embraced by God’s love through the Bhagavad Gita’s words? Might not the birds, flying up towards the heavens, represent a metaphorical lifting of one’s head towards God? Here, the ellipsis represents not only a break in the chanting but, more importantly, a break in paradigm. For a moment, the chanters experience God’s love in a manner they are not accustomed to in their day-to-day lives.
As this week’s winner, Dave gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.
Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!
a blue coffin one nail escapes the solar system Peter Yovu, Roadrunner 13.1