Sunday, 30 May 2010

Hail to the Trinity

Today is the feast of the Blessed and Most Holy Trinity.

Appropriately enough, yesterday Swami Shilananda sang (atrociously, but still) Vande Saccidanandam, a very beautiful and rather well-known hymn to the Holy Trinity composed by the Bengali convert, Brahmobandhab Upadhyaya. Sat = Being, Cit = Consciousness-Knowledge, Ananda = Bliss; a very good approximation for the Father, the Source of All, the Son, the Word, and the Spirit who is Joy and gives Joy. (Note that the Father is called Paramesvara, highest Lord, but not Brahman. The Son is called Sabda, Word.) Despite subaltern sensitivities, it is impossible not to appreciate the beauty of this hymn!

I reproduce here the text and translation of this wonderful hymn which draws on all the riches of the Vedas and Upanisads that Brahmobandhab knew so well. (The English translation here is mine, quite literal; a freer and in that sense better translation is given further below.)

Vande saccidānandam vande vande saccidānandam vande!
Bhogī-lāncita-yogī-vāncita carama-padam
Vande vande
Vande saccidānandam vande vande saccidānandam vande

Hail, Being-Consciousness-Bliss!
Our highest refuge, shunned by the satiated, sought by the renouncers

Parama-purāṇa-parāt param
Trisaṅga-śuddham asaṅga-buddham dūrvedam, vande!  // (1)

Greater than the Great of the purāṇas [sacred stories]
Fullness, wholeness, transcendence, immanence
Threefold purity, simple knowledge, infinite wisdom, hail!

Pitṛ-savitṛ paramesam ajam/
Bhava-vṛkṣa-bījam abījam/
akhila-kāraṇam īkṣaṇa-srijana govindam vande!  // (2)

Father, Sun, God all-highest, unbegotten
Seedless seed of the tree of life
Cause of all, all-seeing creator, shepherd, hail!

Anāhata-śabdam anantam
pitṛ-svarūpa-cinmaya-rūpa sumukundam vande!  // (3)

Eternal unutterable word
Person begotten, great and good
Of the substance of the Father, of the form of consciousness, good Saviour, hail!

Saccidor melana-saraṇam
Subhāsvaśitānanda-ghanam /
Pāvana-javana vaṇi-vadana jīvanadām vande!  // (4)

From Being and Consciousness proceeding
Full blessing, fullness of joy,
Sanctifier, Revealer of the Word, Giver of Life, hail!

Another English translation, from John A.T. Robinson, Truth is Two-Eyed, p. 139:

I bow to Him who is Being, Consciousness and Bliss.
I bow to Him whom worldly minds loathe,
Whom pure minds yearn for,
The Supreme Abode.

He is the Supreme, the Ancient of days, the Transcendent,
Invisible Plenitude, Immanent yet above all things,
Three-fold relation, pure, unrelated,
Knowledge beyond knowledge.

The Father, Sun, Supreme Lord, unborn,
The seedless Seed of the tree of becoming,
The Cause of all, Creator, Providence,
Lord of the universe.

The infinite and perfect Word,
The Supreme Person begotten,
Sharing in the Father’s nature, Conscious by essence,
Giver of true Salvation.
He who proceeds from Being and Consciousness,
Replete with the breath of perfect bliss,
The Purifier, the Swift, the Revealer of the Word,
The Life-giver.

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