She dances me to her call | bhakti poem by Téa Nicolae

in the depths of my being, She dances me to her call:

“come to me. I want all of you, my child. no part of you is too dark, too gritty, too cruel for me. I claim all of you.”

Māiyā! your waves carry your call and roll it against my chest. i seek you with my breath, eyes, hands, and knees. my lungs seek you like they seek air.

Ya Devī! soothing her tears,

Kṛṣṇa told Pāñcālī

that just as you, Śrī Gaṅgā, hold and wash all pollutions yet are ever-pristine,

so does the fallen empress remain untainted by her shame.

aches bathed in your luster,

i plead:

take all of me, Devī.

leave nothing of me behind.

establish me in knowing

that despite my wrongs, fears and corruptions, i, too,

your fragment in the microcosm,

remain unmarred.

may the holy flow of your untamed waters

sweeten the harshness i bear towards myself and the world

soften the rigid corners straining my being

loosen the knots hindering you from coursing within me.

Śrī Mātre Namaḥ. 🙏

photos: before & after bathing in the waters of Śrī Gaṅgā in the auspicious Gangotri. Śabda Yātra. 🙏 the blessing of blessings. 💙

for how many lifetimes have you been calling me to You? | bhakti poem

for how many lifetimes
have you been calling me to you, Devī?
for how many lifetimes
have i cowered?

for how many lifetimes
have i been lost, Devī?
for how many lifetimes
have you watched me stumble?

i have been through many wombs
to rest my head at your feet today.

yet here i am,
my Devī.

would it be
greedy of me
to plead with you
one more time?

will you
grace me?
will you
wash away
my good, my ugly?
my irreverences, my pride?
my agonies, my beauty?

will you
cleanse this heart
until i am nothing but flow
rushing forth to meet your shores
like the water running between your locks

🤍 what came to me upon seeing the magnificence of Gaṅgā Devī for the very first time. pictures: Gangotri. Gomukh, Her Source. they fail to encompass Her beauty.

you elude me: bhakti poem by Téa Nicolae

you elude me,

my Beloved.
your nectarous call
trickles in my ears
and i run to you,
maddened.

i run to you,
enamoured,
clothed by longing
and with tears as jewels.

i run to you,
bare,
silk dress in shreds,
ripped slippers.

i’ve been running to you
since before i was born.
i am tired, Hari.
my dignity and pride
are long forgotten.
my toenails are cracked,
the skin peels off my feet.
my hair is rumpled,
my breasts are bruised;
your wayward bride.

whenever i get close
to throwing myself at your feet
my mind entangles me.
my wrongs push against my bones
and i fall on my face.
my blood smears the ground
and i grovel. i cry. i howl.

when your nectarous call
trickles in my ears,
i jolt forwards.
and i run to you,
maddened.

~ poem to Madhav, published in Śabda Magazine, volume II. my offering of longing as we approach the auspicious day of Vijayadaśamī! may we be victorious in our quest to merge with the Divine Beloved. 🙏

aegina, greece, 2018.

Hymn to the Empress of Kings by Téa Nicolae

Praise be to The Empress of Kings
seated on the throne of five corpses in the palace of ruby.


Her blinking eyes birth and collapse the cosmos,
and her crown is the lunar half-moon.


She whose reddened eyes roll ecstatically,
She is Mahātripurasundarī,
The Great Beauty of the Triads.


Praise be to Parā Aṃbikā,
of allure so exquisite that, enchanted,
Śiva grew his third eye just to worship her beauty.


Her body is anointed with sandalwood,
and her fragrance bathes and deludes the three worlds.


She is Śrīmātā,
The Auspicious Mother.


Praise be to Lalitā Aṃbikā,
The One Who Plays,
whose girdle of tinkling bells stirs creation into being.


She who gifts the sun his effulgence,
Her toenail holds the universes,
and Her auspicious thighs are known only by the fortunate Kāmeśvara.


She is Kāmākṣī,
She whose eyes are desire.


Bhavānī,
you are the nectar of the ocean of compassion:
grace this songstress to only sing of your praises.


🌺 “Hymn to the Empress of Kings”, one of my poems offered to Devī at the magnificent Siri Jyoti Pūjā in Seattle. inspired by the verses of the Lalitāsahasranāma which extoll Lalitā’s rapturous beauty. Śrī Mātre Namaḥ. Happy Navarātra! 🙏
📸: SJP, Seattle, September 2022.

blissful Śabdopāya Retreat, Seattle.
continuously reborn in your presence. śrī gurubhyo namaḥ.

Guru Pūrṇimā

i’ve been quiet,
as shy as the fawn
you,
you are teaching me to roar


i’ve been compliant
i’ve stumbled through life
with two left feet
you,
you are teaching me to stand


i’ve been fearful, small
i’ve moved reluctantly
you,
you are teaching me to dance
rapturously


i’ve been ashamed,
my heart’s been shrunken
you,
you are teaching me
to burst into the light

📷: embracing my beloved teacher for the very first time! Barcelona, winter 2021. photo by Holly ♥️


clumsily,
i have shied before your love,
enchained by what i thought was darkness
etched in my reflection.
with wonder, i continuously discover
that my flaws do not faze you
and you,
you remain steady in your love.


i have allowed myself to be tamed,
but for you,
beloved teacher,
i can learn to be unbound.

~ a poem for Guru Pūrṇimā ♥️. celebrating today the love of the Guru, a love so unconditional that it rewires every inch of the being who opens to it. Śrī Gurubhyo Namah! 🙏

Yajñasenī by Téa Nicolae

she who was born of fire

she whose beauty enticed even the sun

i garland thee

she whose blood spilled on royal floors of marble

she whose woe scorched the Kurus

i weep with thee

she who was touched yet remained stainless

she whose dishevelled hair holds the griefs of woman

i pray with thee

Draupadī,

she who cried the tears of the women who walked this earth

i am thee.

*poem published in Śabda Magazine, vol. II.

collage i made of pooja sharma as the beloved empress. her performance is etched to my heart!

pūrṇam | wholeness

yesterday, we concluded three weeks of intense study at Śabda Institute. my beloved teacher, Amma (Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan), and her beloved teacher, Sumitji (Dr. Sumit Kesarkar), helped decode the esoteric meaning veiled within the magnificent Īśopaniṣad, and, with great expertise, made its heavy and charged verses applicable for us – as both householders and as practitioners. i was most touched by the chant’s invocation & by its teaching of wholeness, which inspired me to write a poem that i was greatly honoured to read at the beginning of our fifth class. 🧡


oṃ | pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidaṃ pūrṇātpūrṇamudacyate |

pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇamevāvaśiṣyate ||


Oṃ is the entirety from which everything we see as parts has emerged. The whole remains whole even when a part is taken from it. The whole was born out of the whole. What appears as a part is the whole, and the leftover is whole. The whole cannot be split even when it appears so.
(translation by Sumitji).


☀️ my poem (written as a ghazal):


pūrṇam | wholeness


you were always whole
the grief on your tongue was whole


when longing cut like a knife
the woe stuck to your eyelids was whole


when anger brimmed in your belly
the burn of your cruelty was whole


when the sun washed your cheeks
the glee warming your fingertips was whole


when your heart cracked open
the light trickling through was whole


my parents named me ‘Gift of God’
what gifts are there when all’s already whole?


☀️ praṇām to our two illustrious teachers & to the vidyā they graciously transmitted to us in these three weeks. 🧡 the wonders of Śabda Institute 😊

reading my poem

“defeat me” – poem, prayer for Naraka Caturdaśī

defeat me,
monsoon one.
pierce through the weaponry of the self
until my armour plate breaks in two,
and i crumble at your feet
the way Naraka fell before you and Satyā.

show me mercy,
monsoon one.
before your sudarśana delivers my final blow,
hold me as one’s beloved would.
cradle me
the way you embraced your gopis
when swaying with the woods of Vṛndā.

dance me,
monsoon one,
to your flute’s tune
show me the hills
where the milkmaids bathed your feet with their tears.

let our waltz come to end
when my hand slips from yours…
then claim your victory over me,
Hari.
unchain me from my bonds of delusion
burn the bitterness weighing my heart
so we meld as one.
free me into union with you,
lover of Rādhā,
the way you wedded Naraka’s imprisoned women.

purifier of the fallen,
defeat me
and
allow me
rest
within you.

“defeat me”, poem / prayer for Naraka Caturdaśī… 💛 wishing a blessed Dīpāvali to all! may our ignorance dissolve into the light of consciousness as the asuras were absorbed into the devatās.

credit for the second, beautiful image: Madhav, unsplash.

tiny personal note: this is the first Dīpāvali i am spending in a place of my own, and it has been so precious to decorate my apartment (and even my rabbit’s hutch!) for the festival of lights. 💫 

grateful!

the tapestry behind me: the feet of Hari & Rādhārāṇī, by Harsh Malik. 💛

thirst, bhakti poetry

happy Vijayadaśamī! 💙 from this month’s newsletter of Śabda Institute. honoured that my poem accompanies the announcement of such an exquisite offering 💙 in this highly auspicious time, may our longing fuel our sādhanā, and may our devotion sweeten its unfolding. 💙

Dear One, 

The Śabda Saṅgha is continuing its study of the Bhagavad Gītā with a new theme – that of Bhakti Yoga. In honour of this new cycle of study, we are pleased to share a beautiful poem of longing and devotion by one of Kavithaji’s students, Téa Nicolae.

thirst
infused with devotion
my days unfurl tenderly
chinks fissure the armour plate of the self
and life dances through the cracks
madly enamoured
i long for the Beloved’s caress
my throat, so swollen
my mouth, so parched
my Beloved quenches the thirst:
grace pours down in ripples
i drink hastily

luster

a poem for Kṛṣṇa Janmāṣṭamī…  💙

luster

burnt with longing,

i am a river scorched

by the summer sun

shimmering haze of light,

my swithered heart

i find you in the pause

i have not seen heaven

but i have seen moon’s luster

dripping onto your hips

he who dwells in my heart

is the white lord of pandharpur,

the one who plays

monsoon one,

your waist is my altar

there is no need

for pearls

when you are there

wishing beautiful celebrations to everyone! Jai Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the enchanter of the heart! 💙