Be a lamp upon yourself

I have read many poems of Rabindrannath Tagore translated from English version in Burmese. They are philosophical and insightful. His poems were originally composed in Bengali and Hindi. The translator from these two languages admitted that his translation of English couldn’t keep pace with the original works. Any how, I like this translation because it is deceptively simple and can give the intended message to readers. Rabindrannath Tagore was a mystic, teacher, reformer, author, poet, dramatist, thinker, philosopher of superb quality and a human being with a heart of gold and silken soft soul. He is a Bengali and was born in India. He won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was an Asia’s first Novel laureate. Please enjoy the poem first. Then, keep on reading following passages.


Religion plays an important role in the life of a man. If man is in trouble or danger, he takes refuge and solace in the religion that he embraces. Many scholars pointed out that religions came into existence because of fear in the mind of man. Man fears wild animals, huge mountains, thick forests, natural disasters and many things more. He doesn’t understand the nature of things in his environment. Every thing around him is beyond his knowledge and beyond his control. Natural occurrences of things around him are mysteries for him. He begins to feel insecurity and find out a place of safety in outside power. Therefore, he creates an object to worship as a form of different shape. Man creates god in his own imagination to suit his own needs in order to take shelter. One of the French philosophers said ‘man creates God and later God creates man.’ In such way, man is confined in the cell of his own imagination.

How about the Buddhists? Are they real idol-worshippers as other religionists accuse? I would answer ‘Yes’. Most Buddhists consider the Buddha as a savior. They think that if they worship the Buddha, their mishaps and misfortunes will be driven away. They believe that by just praying at the foot of the Buddha image, all the problems that they are coming across will run away. What an absurd notion! Early real Buddhists did not pay too much attention to worship Buddha images. They just practiced the teachings of the Buddha. There weren’t any Buddha images at all at early times. Only when Indian Buddhists came in touch with Greeks, the idea of sculpturing replica of the Gotama Buddha began to take shape. This historical fact should be gravely taken into account.

‘When I’m gone, my teaching shall be your Master and Guide.’ That is what the Buddha himself stated just before his Parinibbana. The Buddha always highlighted the importance of self-reliance. Man is responsible for his deeds, speeches and thoughts. The present life is the result of what he had done in the past and the future life will be the result of present actions. Man is the sculptor of his life. He can create either beautiful figures of his own or ugly ones. The Buddha can do nothing for you but just show you the way.

The Buddha often equated himself with a physician. The physician will diagnose your ailment and prescribe medicine. The medicine must be taken by yourself. Your sickness can not be cured by just praising the physician and his medicine. The only one way that you have to do is taking medicine. In the same way, just kneeling down and saying prayers in front of the Buddha is not the answer to solve your problems. Only when you follow the precepts and instructions given by the Buddha, your daily problems will be sorted out and will lead to the real happiness. I hope you have pondered upon this beautiful poem and can appreciate the message that the author wanted to give the readers.

Written on 29th April, 2009

1 comments:

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မိမိတုိ႔၏ ထင္ျမင္ခ်က္၊ အယူအဆတုိ႔ကုိ လြတ္လြတ္လပ္လပ္ ေရးသားႏုိင္ပါသည္။