Verbal form and Meaning

The word-rhythm of the mantra, which we hear with our physical ears, is only a part of what we hear. It carries with it the subtle musical sound-image. This most helps to fill in, stabilize and deepen the thought impression or the emotional or vital impression and carry the sense beyond itself into something beyond intellectual expression, something ineffable.

This truth was better understood on the whole by ancients than by the modern mind, perhaps because they were more in the habit of singing, chanting or intoning their poetry. In modern times, we are content to read a poem which may bring out the intellectual element, but unduly depresses the rhythmic value.

The rhythm carries the thought movement in the word. The total meaning is something more than that given by the individual words. After sometime, the meaning flashes (appropriately called spho°a) in our inner being. Like painting or sculpture, poetry appeals to the spirit of man through significant images. The essential power of the poetic word is to make us see, not to make us think or feel; thought and feeling must arise out of the sight or be included in it. Mantra conveys its essence through its form (mantra darshana). The Vedic poet was not merely a rhapsodist, not merely a thinker in stanzas, but a seer, who sees the world beyond the physical senses and the surface mind and finds the revealing word. The aim of poetry is not mere realistic imitation of nature, but to reveal the happenings in many planes which are closed to our ordinary waking consciousness.

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