The Royal Song of Saraha



translated by Herbert V. Guenther

I bow down to noble Manjushri I bow down to Him who has conquered the finite. 1 As calm water lashed by wind Turns into waves and rollers, So the king thinks of Saraha In many ways, although one man.

2 To a fool who squints One lamp is as two; Where seen and seer are not two, ah! the mind Works on the thingness of them both.

3 Though the house-lamps have been lit, The blind live on in the dark. Though spontaneity is all-encompassing and close, To the deluded it remains always far away.

4 Though there may be many rivers, they are one in the sea, Though there may be many lies, one truth will conquer all. When one sun appears, the dark However deep will vanish.

5 As a cloud that rises from the sea Absorbing rain the earth embraces, So, like the sky, the sea remains Without increasing or decreasing.

6 So from spontaneity that’s unique, Replete with the Buddha’s perfections, Are all sentient beings born and in it come To rest. But it is neither concrete nor abstract.

7 They walk other paths and so forsake true bliss, Seeking the delights that stimulants produce. The honey in their mouths and to them so near Will vanish if at once they do not drink it.

8 Beasts do not understand the world To be a sorry place. Not so the wise Who the heavenly nectar drink While beasts hunger for the sensual.

9. To a fly that likes the smell of putrid Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul. Beings who discard Nirvana Covet coarse Samsara’s realm.

10 An ox’s footprints filled with water Will soon dry up; so with a mind that’s firm But full of qualities that are not perfect; These imperfections will in time dry up.

11 Like salt sea water that turns Sweet when drunk up by the clouds, So a firm mind that works for others turns The poison of sense-objects into nectar.

12 If ineffable, never is one unsatisfied, If unimaginable, it must be bliss itself. Though from a cloud one fears the thunderclap, The crops ripen when from it pours the rain.

13 It is in the beginning, in the middle, and The end; yet end and beginning are nowhere else. All those with minds deluded by interpretative thoughts are in Two minds and so discuss nothingness and compassion as two things.

14 Bees know that in flowers Honey can be found. That Samsara and Nirvana are not two How will the deluded ever understand?

15 When the deluded in a mirror look They see a face, not a reflection. So the mind that has truth denied Relies on that which is not true.

16 Though the fragrance of a flower cannot be touched, ‘Tis all pervasive and at once perceptible. So by unpatterned being-in-itself Recognize the round of mystic circles.

17 When in winter still water by the wind is stirred, It takes as ice the shape and texture of a rock. When the deluded are disturbed by interpretative thoughts, That which is as yet unpatterned turns very hard and solid.

18 Mind immaculate in its very being can never be Polluted by Samsara’s or Nirvana’s impurities. A precious jewel deep in mud Will not shine, though it has luster.

19 Knowledge shines not in the dark, but when the darkness Is illumined, suffering disappears at once. Shoots grow from the seed And leaves from the shoots.

20 He who thinks of the mind in terms of one Or many casts away the light and enters the world. Into a raging fire he walks with open eyes– Who could be more deserving of compassion?

21 For the delights of kissing the deluded crave Declaring it to be the ultimately real– Like a man who leaves his house and standing at the door Asks a woman for reports of sensual delights.

22 The stirring of biotic forces in the house of nothingness Has given artificial rise to pleasures in so many ways. Such yogis from affliction faint for they have fallen From celestial space, inveigled into vice.

23 As a Brahman, who with rice and butter Makes a burnt offering in blazing fire Creating a vessel for nectar from celestial space, Takes this through wishful thinking as the ultimate.

24 Some people who have kindled the inner heat and raised it to the fontanelle Stroke the uvula with the tongue in a sort of coition and confuse That which fetters with what gives release, In pride will call themselves yogis.

25 As higher awareness they teach what they experience Within. What fetters them they will call liberation. A glass trinket colored green to them is a priceless emerald; Deluded, they know not a gem from what they think it should be.

26 They take copper to be gold. Bound by discursive thought They think these thoughts to be ultimate reality. They long for the pleasures experienced in dreams. They call The perishable body-mind eternal bliss supreme.

27 By the symbol EVAM they think self-clearness is achieved, By the different situations that demand four seals They call what they have fancied spontaneity, But this is looking at reflections in a mirror.

28 As under delusion’s power a herd of deer will rush For the water in a mirage which is not recognized, So also the deluded quench not their thirst, are bound by chains And find pleasure in them, saying that all is ultimately real.

29 Nonmemory is convention’s truth And mind which has become no-mind is ultimate truth. This is fulfillment, this the highest good. Friends, of this highest good become aware.

30 In nonmemory is mind absorbed; just this Is emotionality perfect and pure. It is unpolluted by the good or bad of worldliness Like a lotus unaffected by the mud from which it grows.

31 Yet with certainty must all things be viewed as if they were a magic spell. If without distinction you can accept or reject Samsara Or Nirvana, steadfast is your mind, free from the shroud of darkness. In you will be self-being, beyond thought and self-originated.

32 This world of appearance has from its radiant beginning Never come to be; unpatterned it has discarded patterning. As such it is continuous and unique meditation; It is nonmentation, stainless contemplation, and nonmind.

33 Mind, intellect, and the formed contents of that mind are It, So too are the world and all that seems from It to differ, All things that can be sensed and the perceiver, Also dullness, aversion, desire, and enlightenment.

34 Like a lamp that shines in the darkness of spiritual Unknowing, It removes obscurations of a mind As far as the fragmentations of intellect obtain. Who can imagine the self-being of desirelessness?

35 There’s nothing to be negated, nothing to be Affirmed or grasped; for It can never be conceived. By the fragmentations of the intellect are the deluded Fettered; undivided and pure remains spontaneity.

36 If you question ultimacy with the postulates of the many and the one, Oneness is not given, for by transcending knowledge are sentient beings freed.

37 The radiant is potency latent in the intellect, and this Is shown to be meditation; unswerving mind is our true essence.

38 The buds of joy and pleasure And the leaves of glory grow. If nothing flows out anywhere The bliss unspeakable will fruit.

39 What has been done and where and what in itself it will become Is nothing; yet thereby it has been useful for this and that. Whether passionate or not The pattern is nothingness.

40 If I am like a pig that covets worldly mire You must tell me what fault lies in a stainless mind. By what does not affect one How can one now be fettered


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