On Our Shelves Now
Swami Abhishiktananda was a French Benedictine monk who lived in India for more than two decades and strove to understand and live his Christian faith through the enlightening teachings of Hindu Advaita Vedanta. Even as he remained a faithful Catholic monk, he increasingly longed to live his life from the depths of both Christian and Hindu understandings of the ultimate Real. In contrast to his many powerful prose works for which he is known, Swami Abhishiktananda also employs free verse to explore, exhort, and expound, reporting in poetry on his long journey of interreligious spiritual discovery with little desire to justify himself systematically. In these poems, a fervent and devoted Christian mystic plunges into the riches of the Hindu religious genius and brings forth ecstatic, colorful, and profound wisdom charged with an acute awareness of the non-duality between the innermost self of the human being and the Absolute Reality. These poems, collected together for the first time, search and hope with the dire honesty characteristic of the greatest of the world's mystics. ""Henri Le Saux, OSB--Swami Abhishiktananda--was a renowned mystic, pilgrim, and theologian. A master of prose, he was also a passionate poet, by eloquent words probing the mystery of God, speech reaching from his heart to the heart of his readers. Jacob Riyeff has done us a great service in translating the poems into today's English: simple and spare, yet richly resonant of Sanskrit and Tamil poems sung through the ages. For those who know Swami's works, In the Bosom of the Father will be a welcome resource that fills out the great store of his teachings. For newcomers who browse these poems and then take them to prayer, it opens a sure path into the wisdom of an extraordinary man in a remarkable era of the Church in India."" --Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Harvard University ""These poems are of such depth, anguish, and intimacy that one must think of the Book of Job, of St. John of the Cross, of Meister Eckhart. Naked experience and hidden fermentation have forged a melding into words of what is most fundamental in Christianity and Hinduism--words powerful and raw enough to reduce you to silence."" --Paul Quenon o.c.s.o, Abbey of Gethsemani, ""Jacob Riyeff offers a highly inspirational work in this first collection of Swami Abhishiktananda's poems. This is an essential piece for all academics interested in the French Benedictine and precious to all Truth seekers. A reminder that great mystics often possess a poetic heart. Poetry is a crucial though rarely studied aspect of Swami's theological efforts to express what is ineffable and to grasp what is universal within the great variety of spiritual ways."" --Fabrice Blee, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada Jacob Riyeff teaches in the English department at Marquette University. In addition to his scholarship on medieval vernacular poetry and monastic culture, he is a translator of Latin, Old English, Middle English, and French poetry and prose. His first book is a translation of St. thelwold of Winchester's Old English Rule of St. Benedict (2017).