Purna Bahadur Vaidya

Purna Bahadur Vaidya, the Newar poet, has written a remarkable collection of poems in Nepal Bhasa: LA LA KHA (WATER IS WATER), a collection of 84 poems refracted through water. These intently crafted poems, written over a twenty year period, reflect a mind intimately involved with its own reflection as it is refracted and clarified through a single element in its manifest and various forms.

– Biography of Purna Vaidya from The Drunken Boat

Soil and Water

Water

So close to the soil

no separate shade of its own

Its shadow

sticks the surface

In fact…

such closeness

a unity

of identity

Water never parts from the surface

dried up,

but loses itself

in the pleasure of wetness

Where it cannot stay on the surface

There, together with the soil, swept away.

Wherever it settles

it widens its embrace

with devotion

despite the wind’s sweep

and the suns absorption

After a while…

it travels on restlessly

traversing the sky

with lightning’s terrible gaze

and harsh roaring

Then…

leaping

it again

takes up the soil

Various and all, the flowers and fruit,
the green leaves and grass,

between water and soil, pages turned
in a lover’s tale,

the sacrifice written by nature
on the earth.

Note to reader:This translation of the poem, Soil and Water, has not appeared elsewhere. This translation was provided with kind regards by Wayne Amtzis (see below for his bio).

[The above photo is a microscopic representation of algae, glass diatoms, that grow on the soil in a marsh ecosystem. Photo courtesy NOAA.]

Yes, All My Rivers Are Lahureys

For the tiniest refuge,
these rivers stir. Hastily running night and day
despite jungle and hills

Finding a place of rest
where their whole self can stay,
there, to calmly abide,
their restless waves asleep

But, in my land, (harbored and held
by mountains and icy peaks)
there is no place
to remain

Cruel hills and steep
cliffs pushing down, allow no rest,
banishing all to the lowlands

Forced out of their native realm
for a foreign land

So, rubbing earthly dust onto their chests,
they leave their own place
weeping,
weeping,
exhausted in the ocean of sacrifice
for no end,
for nothing at all

[The above photo is an image of the Ganges River Delta in India taken by a NASA Landsat-7 satellite.]

 

Translations of the poems of Purna Vaidya on this page were graciously provided by Wayne Amtzis.

Wayne Amtzis was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1947 and grew up in Staten Island, New York. He studied at Syracuse University and UC Berkeley and received his masters in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. He has lived and worked in Asia since 1976 and his writing has appeared internationally and in Nepali translation. He is co-translator from the Nepali of Two Sisters: the poetry of Benju Sharma and Manju Kanchuli and of From The Lake, Love: the poetry of Banira Giri. His photos of Kathmandu appear in the collection flatLine witness and a book-length series of his poems and photos has been published in Studies in Nepali History and Society Vol. 6. 1, June 2001. He is currently working with the poet Purna Vaidya on translations from Nepal Bhasa. A long-time student of His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, he has been teaching meditation under the guidance of Tsoknyi Rinpoche in Kathmandu, Nepal since 1996.

Library of Congress – New Delhi Office
South Asian Literacy Recording Project

Recordings of Purna Vaidya reciting excerpts from his collection of poems, La La Kha (Water is Water), in his language of Nepal Bhasa are available on the Library of Congress Website.

“Lah va khah”

“Chagu bankii luyeta”

“Lakham rangayata nhyabbai”

“Bhaybyu lah nhayathay nam vayefu”

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