Article: Ānandghan

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Internal experience

A typical Digambara representation of a siddha, shown as an empty space. This underlines the idea that a siddha has no body and is a soul that has recovered its original purity. It regains this purity when it is liberated from the cycle of rebirth. In thi

Image of a siddha
Image by Hindi Granth Karyala © Public domain

Ānandghan's religious poetry is a strong exhortation for everyone to undertake an inner journey in search of the Absolute. This opens up his work to a far wider audience than his own sect of Śvetāmbara Mūrti-pūjaka Jains.

For the Jains the Absolute is paramātman, the pure form of the soul. This can be reached only through personal experience, which is an idea conveyed by the word anubhavSanskrit spelling, anubhava – that recurs in the poems. Although learning, knowledge and following a spiritual master are also important, they are clearly secondary in this perspective.

Tone and vocabulary

Ānandghan's verse creates a marked impression in the reader or listener. With many alliterations and comparisons and a direct, often informal tone of voice and vocabulary, it is conversational yet poetic. The metre and musical mode – rāga – also help generate these effects.

His work is urgent in tone, directly addressing the listener or reader, as shown in this example.

Hey, you dullard, why are you asleep? Get up, awake!
Life is slipping away like water from folded hands;
look, the watchman is striking the hour.
Hey, you dullard, why are you asleep? Get up, awake!

Kapadia, poem no. 1, page 1

translation by Bangha and Fynes
page 5, 2013

A recording of this song, known as Kyā sove uṭha jāga bāure, and others are available to listen to online.

The choice of words often produces alliterations and lots of comparisons. Combined with the rhythm of the metre, the direct address to the reader or listener and the musical melody of the rāgas all contribute to the poetry's striking effects.

Simplicity and depth

Hymn writers illustrating the trend of bhaktidevotional songs, whether they are Jains, like Kundakunda or Yogīndu, or non-Jains, like Kabīr, created poems that are both uncomplicated and profound. Ānandghan's work clearly displays these qualities.

Rather than sophisticated philosophical argumentation incomprehensible to the masses, Ānandghan used powerful imagery with metaphors and similes familiar to ordinary people. The largest part of Ānandghan's imagery is shared with the imagery of devotional songs and the imagery of the Hindi court poetry of his times. This imagery can be reinvested with a Jain spiritual meaning

Bangha and Fynes
page xxxvi, 2013

Ānandghan's poems range from straightforward to cryptic at first sight, because of their abrupt style and the use of puns. They are regarded as having deep spiritual meaning and thus many Indian editions expand upon them with detailed explanations – vivecan. All this makes any concise translation rather difficult.

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