Question: Guru, what is the significance of the Bengali in your songs, as opposed to the songs that are in English?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two reasons why most of my songs are written in Bengali. One reason is that I am a Bengali and I know Bengali infinitely better than I know English. But if I am in a divine mood, I will call this a silly reason. The real reason is that the English language, although we say it has tremendous majesty, at the same time has become the commercial language. If you want to be generous, you can say it has become the universal language. The English language undoubtedly has universal appeal on the practical plane, but it does not have that universal appeal on the inner plane, the spiritual plane, whereas Bengali has it. Italian also has the soul’s approach. We can say it has a very free access, like Bengali, to the soul. But the English language does not have this. Of course, if somebody has written an exceptionally soulful prayer or poem, these soulful words will have an approach to the soul’s reality. But on the whole the language does not have an immediate appeal to the soul. It will appeal to our mind, to our vital and to our aspiring physical.

The Bengali language outwardly is sweeter, much sweeter, than the English language. It has to its credit an inner reality, let us say a divine reality, a very subtle, haunting reality which the English language, unfortunately, lacks. The English language has many, many good qualities, but the immediate inner approach to the soul, to the inner reality, the sweetness and the heart quality of oneness you don’t get in English as immediately or as powerfully as you get it in Bengali. This is my yogic reason.

Right now, believe it or not, English comes to me more freely than Bengali. Sometimes it is difficult for me to speak to my sister fluently. There was a time when I used to speak Bengali unbelievably fast, our own Chittagong dialect and also the real Bengali. But now, because I do not have much practice, I can’t speak as fast. People say that thoughts always come in the mother tongue first, even when you know quite a few languages. I have heard this many times. In my case, this was true many years ago. But for the last six or seven years when I write, give talks or answer questions, I never, never think in Bengali. I don’t get the words or ideas in Bengali first and then immediately translate them. Everything comes to me directly in English. It may be incorrect, it may be imperfect English, but the ideas and words definitely come to me in English.

So to come back to your question, Bengali has soulful qualities and capacities much more than English. English has its own strengths in many ways, but if the songs are less soulful, then they will be of less assistance to your spiritual life. If they are spiritual and soulful in every way, they will become a permanent possession and treasure of the world. In a few years’ time India, and especially Bengal, will accept all my songs. I can prophesy that in a few years many, many songs of mine will be sung all over India, like Tagore’s songs. All Bengali villages will be inundated with these songs. And at that time the girls and boys who are the pioneer-singers of my songs will be appreciated, admired and adored by the Bengali-speaking people. It is a matter of a short time before India accepts my music. At that time a new consciousness will dawn not only in the Bengali people, but also in those who are singing my songs now, sometimes with reluctance, sometimes out of a sense of competitiveness, sometimes with tremendous lack of inspiration. At that time those singers will see much more, they will see something really meaningful and fruitful in my songs.

When it is a matter of soulful reality existence, Bengali far surpasses English. But when it is for universal appeal, or on the practical plane, the commercial plane, the physical plane, vital plane and mental plane, English undoubtedly has a wider scope. But in my songs we are dealing with the heart and the soul. As long as we can remain in the heart and the soul, our oneness with our Beloved Supreme will always remain perfect. That is why I feel my Bengali songs should be learned properly. They are not just songs, but a new, illumining and fulfilling way to communicate with our inmost reality and divinity.

This August I will offer 700 songs, and the sincere seekers and singers will take these songs as blessings. They will be able to meditate for quite a few hours while the songs are being sung. It won’t be in one day, but on three or four days. And those who are not blessed with a musical ear or with the capacity to appreciate Bengali songs, will undoubtedly feel miserable. It will be torture to them, so they can go and do something else. But the singers and the music lovers should be there without fail. They will derive considerable spiritual benefit from these songs. These 700 songs will be gratitude-flowers from the garden of my aspiration-heart to the divinely inspired singers and music lovers.

Sri Chinmoy, AUM — Vol.II-4, No. 7, July 27, 1977.First published by Vishma Press in 1977.

This is the 9122nd book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.

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by Sri Chinmoy
From the book AUM — Vol.II-4, No. 7, July 27, 1977, made available to share under a Creative Commons license

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