Question: Some of your Bengali songs have extremely beautiful melodies, but when I learn the meaning, I am not inspired to sing them. Sometimes they embody a degree of helplessness — for example, Bedanai bhara jibana khanire. For me, songs that have a more positive meaning are easier to sing.Sri Chinmoy: I do not blame you. Most of the time I say to take the positive aspect. I say, "Go forward, go forward!" But there comes a time when we do feel helpless; we feel that we are like a babe in the woods. I wish to say that this helplessness is not a negative aspect. In fact, on rare occasions this helplessness is of great help to us.
The mind very often does not want to accept our helplessness. Knowing perfectly well that it is doing everything wrong, the mind runs to this side and that side like a mad elephant. The mind does not want to admit that it can make any mistake. So the mind has to come to a point where it is totally tired, completely exhausted. Then it says, "I have tried in every other way. I am helpless. Now let me try to invoke God." At that time helplessness helps us.
The heart can never be helpless because it always identifies itself with divinity. It has the capacity to identify itself with the Source, with the Supreme. That is why the heart is always positive. But the vital and mind sometimes become helpless. When the vital and mind become sincerely helpless, we can make progress. So from time to time if you can sing Bedanai bhara and other songs that express the idea that life is full of suffering, songs which are very painful, even pathetic, then it will help you. On rare occasions, if the mind can recognise its helplessness, then you will go forward.
The mind never wants to surrender. Even if you bring light in front of the mind, the mind does not want to surrender to the light. The mind has to be dealt with in various ways. If it does not want to accept light the way the heart accepts it, then there should be another way to make the mind feel that you are useless, you are hopeless. That is where some songs in which helplessness is being expressed — not only my songs, but songs by Ramprasad and others — can help us tremendously.
Even when we are helpless and useless, the mind does not want to acknowledge it. The heart, on the other hand, does acknowledge it. The heart surrenders very quickly, but the mind does not surrender. These songs about helplessness help the mind to surrender. True, if you know the meaning, there is no positive aspect in them, but I would not say they are negative. In a special way there is tremendous sweetness in them.
There are so many Indian devotional songs where you will be disheartened if you know the literal meaning. But their sweetness gives them a different meaning for the seekers. For example, there is one song that I play on my cello,
Ami phire ogo pather sandhane
patha nahi dekha jaibo
The meaning is, "I am looking for a road. Still I have not found it. I am all in darkness." For years and years I have been playing this song. It is not my tune, but I get tremendous joy while I am playing it. You may ask what I am doing. Have I not found the road, not only for myself but also for my spiritual children? But this song has so much sweetness that it gives me boundless joy. In my childhood I learned some songs like this one, and still I play them. In that particular song the meaning gets worse at the end! It says, "All the light is engulfed by infinite darkness." This is the song that I start with on my cello.