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 Mother of the Universe.
Lex Hixon.
Quest Books. $16.

Ramprasad is one of the great Indian mystics and poets, comparable to Rumi and Kabir, who are currently much better known in the West. Selections from his poems have been previously published, but are not easy to find. Now, at last we have a major version of about half his output of two hundred and fifty songs. These are versions rather than translations. Instead of explaining the background of Ramprasad’s spirituality through notes, Hixon has incorporated these into the texts. The result reads smoothly, and give the impression of conveying Ramprasad’s thoughts and feelings. However, I would have liked to have had at least one accurate translation so as to get some idea of what Hixon has added.

Ramprasad is a lover, a passionate devotee of Kali. He sees Her as Mother Reality, as the Black Goddess, as Mother Wisdom, who “as the radiant blackness of divine mystery … plays through the lotus wilderness of the sacred human body.” Hixon, who himself has been accepted into the tradition founded by Sri Ramakrishna, another mystic and devotee of Kali, says that “The way of Mother Wisdom, always marked by playfulness and surprise, is the gradual realisation of her indivisible wholeness, which is our own essential nature, timeless wholeness.”

The poems are sometimes difficult to assimilate if one is not already sympathetic to Hindu traditions. But for all of us who care for Wisdom, who love the Dark Goddess, the radiant blackness of Kali shown in these poems will provide an illuminating vision.

Wood and Water 49, Winter Solstice 1994
© Daniel Cohen

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