Oriya Classics

(10th-14th Century)

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Sri Sisuveda


Bachhaa Daasa

Maarkanda Daasa

Saaralaa Daasa


Charyachaya or Charyageeti

Ascharya Charyachaya or the Charyageetis date back to the 10th - 12th century AD. They are a compilation of poems or writings by Buddhist monk who lived in the region that now constitutes Bihar-Bengal-Orissa. Interestingly, the manuscript was recovered from Nepal with a Sanskrit commentary, all in Tibetan script, by Haraprashad Shastri in the first decade of the 20th century. They can be considered seminal Tantric texts of this region.

Most scholars agree that the technique used is that of sandhabhasa (samdhabhasa, samdhibhasa) or the language of twilight. However there is no agreement as to what exactly this is. One of the popular interpretations of this term is in the sense of a coded or esoteric language. Some others interpret it as a language that connotes something distinctively different from what it says. But if one assumes that it is the language of "twilight" then the associations of twilight come in significantly - indistinct, ambiguous, indeterminate. In that case it cannot have one definite meaning. Alex Wayman, discussing these issues quotes from Saddharmapundarika, where Sariputra says:
And having heard this buddhadharma, I thought 'indeed, this is expressed in the manner of twilight; at the tree of enlightenment the Jina reveals the knowledge that is inaccessible to logic, subtle and immaculate." (130)

Chandrakirit defines sandhabhasa in the Pradipaddyotana as that which reveals the true nature for sentient beings having superior zeal and by the method of ambiguous discourse (129). Tson-kha-pa explains that sandhabhasa is intended for candidates who aim at the highest siddhi, but the words for that goal as ambiguous. (129)

Thus, two things become clear. One, this is a technique where what is said is not necessarily what is meant. Secondly, what is meant is not one definite thing. In fact, it is so subtle that one might experience its meaning, but cannot say it in words or commentaries. Thus, there is the possibility of layers of meaning, as well as meaning as something that is inexpressible, very akin to the Zen koan.

The other interesting thing about the poems is the claim that Bengalis, Biharis and Oriyas put to the language of the charya poems. Is it the Oriya, Bengali or Apabhrams? No clear claim emerges. However I feel that the language of the poems is one to which all of us can lay equal claim - it is perhaps from this that all the three languages developed in their own ways.


Kar, Karunakar Ed. Aascharya Charyaachaya, Orissa Sahitya Akademi, Bhubaneswar, 1989.

Wayman, Alex. The Buddhist Tantras: Light on Indo-Tibetan Esotericism, Motilal Banarassidass, Delhi, 1973 (1990).

Poems from the Charyaachaya

View some original poems



Poet Luipaa

The body is a tree with five branches.
The ever restless mind is the seat of kala.
Strengthen the mind, achieve great bliss.
Lui says, ask your guru and realize this.
Why follow the path of samadhi,
When in sorrow and happiness one must die!
Avoiding these traps and entanglements
Trap the bird of sunyata in a silken cord
And draw it to yourself.
Lui says, he knows this in meditation,
Sitting on the mounds, dhamana and chamana.

Meaning: The body, like a tree with five branches, has five primary elements - the five senses. Because of these senses the mind is restless. Hence kala (death) enters the body. If the mind is strong, one achieves transcendence. Lui suggest that one is initiated by one's guru into this path. The Yogic path of samadhi is not effective. When one goes beyond one's desires one is in a position to capture the ultimate state of sunyata (emptiness). Lui has realized this sitting on the two elements of the sun and the moon or Lui has realized this by controlling and stopping circulation through the ida and pingala veins (the left and the right nostrils).


Poet Kukuripaa

The milk of the tortoise
Can't be held in a vessel.
The crocodile eats
Tamarind from the tree.
Be attentive about your household
O Daughter-in-law.
The thief stole away the earrings
At the dead of the night.
The father-in-law is asleep,
The daughter-in-law is awake,
The ring stolen - where to go, whom to ask?
As the day breaks she busies herself cooking rice.
As night falls, she takes leave of her work.
This is the chargyaa Kukuripaa sings.
Twenty listen, at least one understands.

Meaning: Ordinary people cannot regulate and control their breath in the direction of sunya or nirvaana which is possible only through kumbhaka samadhi. Hence the milk cannot be contained and overflows. The tamarind (fruit) or the mind is eaten up by kumbhaka. Be ever wakeful Jogini (mendicant). The mind, like an earring is lost at night, when the senses are asleep. During the day the senses are awake and must be kept in control (cooking rice). At night, (in deep meditation) the senses take leave, one achieves freedom.

Translation: Priyadarshi Patnaik (Presented at Buddhist conference at BHU, Varanasi in 2001)

Sri Sisu Veda

Srisisu Veda, written approximately in the 14th century AD, is a work by an anonymous author, most probably a disciple of Gorokhnath, the founder of the Natha tradition in Orissa. Here we find an amalgam of Buddhism, Tantra and Vaishnavism.

Sri Sisuveda

View the original poem

(Some stanzas)


One, not two separate things
Nor any different from the endless one
But radiant within the sisumna nerve -
Tell the nathas this is the belief of the siddhas.


There were the seven seas, yet it didn't drink a drop
Within the mother's womb it didn't touch the milk
Wherever it came there it already was
Know what it is by asking your guru.


When the mind dies the spirit comes alive
When the mind dies one achieves wisdom
When the senses of the mind renounce their nature
That ecstasy is the delight of Brahman.


Ever moving that which doesn't move
Raining day and night that which doesn't get wet
Cut by sword that which doesn't show a line
Learn about it from your guru.

Translation: Priyadarshi Patnaik ((Presented at Buddhist conference at BHU, Varanasi in 2001)

Amara Kosa

View the original poem

Bachhaa Daasa

Kalasaa Chautisaa

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Maarkanda Daasa

Kesava Koili (some stanzas)

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O Cuckoo, Kesaba has gone to Mathura,
on whose bidding has he gone,
my son has not come back yet, O Cuckoo. (1)
O Cuckoo, who shall I give milk of the breast?
my son has gone to Mathurapuri, O Cuckoo. (2)
O Cuckoo, my son has not come back,
the dense Brundavana looks beautiful no longer, O Cuckoo. (3)
O Cuckoo, Nanda doesn't enter the house,
the lovely palace is desolate without Govinda, O Cuckoo. (4)
O Cuckoo, King Nanda made a stone of his heart,
putting collolium in his eyes placed him in the chariot, O Cuckoo. (5)
O Cuckoo, the jewels on the girldle at his waist rang,
bewitching the maidens of Gopapuri, O Cuckoo. (6)

Translation: Priyadarshi Patnaik (Presented at Buddhist conference at BHU, Varanasi in 2001)

Saaralaa Daasa

View selected poems and excerpts

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