to seal my heart / is to deprive myself of God | bhakti poem by téa nicolae

in the depths of betrayal,

do not, under any circumstance,

seal your heart.

for years, you intricately

pushed yourself to unglue it.

to forfeit that effort

is to lose the rawness of God

tasting herself in you

as both the flutter in your womb

and as the pain in your left lung.

to seal my heart
is to deprive myself of God.

in this life,
there is much i have allowed.

but this,
this, i will not allow.


~ note to myself. 🖤

lemon tree flare | bhakti poem by Téa Nicolae

i had thought
that i was just a girl
who wanted to plant lemon trees
but my hot blood scorched
the vine trailing on the windowsill.

you are pulling me to you by my teeth
and i follow happily.

exploring the warm tones of warwickshire beauty 💛

i followed you into the seven seas
and i followed you into the circle of mountains
i have been calling you with folded hands
and now i will dance to you
with my mouth open
and with flowers woven into my skin tissue.

monsoon one,
did you know
that the crevices of my heart
can hold you whole?
did you know
that the fire in my belly
can swallow the three worlds?

i know you did,
i know you did.

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,

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

i run to you,
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,

~ 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.

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.

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

i bank at your feet

“the world’s a boundless ocean

there’s no crossing it,

but i bank at your feet.

i see the waves,

the bottomless waters

and shiver in terror of dissolution.

be merciful,

save your beloved.

harbour me in your boat

to your feet.

the tempest storms without lull,

so too my shaking body.

i’m immersed in your name…Tārā!

the essence of the world.

fulfill this desire of You.”

my rendition of a few verses written by Bhakti poet Ramprasad Sen & picked from a poem dedicated to Tārā. the original translation belongs to Rachel Fell McDermott!

happy Navāratra! today is the last day of Śabda Institute’s immersion into the exquisite vidyā of Tārā, the luminous Mahāvidyā who embodies the very essence of pure expression – the north star that guides us to the self. we learned to chant the Tārā Dhyānam and explored highly esoteric concepts such as Vāk and Śabda Brahman from the standpoint of practical applications in our day-to-day lives. truly, what i love most about this approach is how highly practical and immediate the application is.

this Navāratra was wondrous, and i am grateful it is the second one i have spent in the company of our saṅgha. my heart swells for the glistening of the stars that shall guide me home…

śrī mātre namah!

prayer by Téa Nicolae

mother, my mother,

may your piercing hum shatter my chest

and imbibe my being with radiance.

mother, my mother,

may my eyelids burn at the sight of your lustrous sword,

and may my tears bathe the soles of your feet.

mother, my mother,

you are the darkness of the night sky

and the golden stars that gleam through.

one glimpse of you,

and i am humbled

before the blissful truth

that all that i am

and all that is

is dribble

gliding on your tongue.

🌺 i am so, so very honoured to have my poem included in the introduction to my beloved teacher’s upcoming course, accompanying the spellbinding art created by the incredibly talented Rashmi / Rashmi Thirtha Sacred Arts Studio💙🙏💙 the wisdom Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan imparts in her courses is exquisite and authentic. each time i listen to her, i feel my heart cracking open, bit by bit, to the vidyā flowing through. Kavithaji offers direct applications for one’s life: thus, the teaching does not remain an esoteric, abstract concept – the shift occurs instantly. i highly recommend her courses & her work to all sādhakas!

💙Kavithaji’s mesmerising words:

“It was the autumn Navarātra of 2015. I got out of the car and began walking. It was a clear night and I had been meditating on Tārā all day. It had been a day of alternating turmoil and bliss, both evoked by deep meditation. When I looked up at the star-studded sky, my legs suddenly stopped working. As if paralyzed, I stood on the sidewalk, staring at the sky. In the profound silence of that moment, the life purpose I had so ardently sought became clear. The path opened up before me… and also the obstacles that stood in my way – my self-deceptions and the demons of my own making. In retrospect, it was a defining moment, which would lead me to my guru. Like all the other Mahāvidyās, Tārā is fierce and her sādhanā is uncompromising. Her supreme vidyā is that of the Śabda Brahman. And of course, tārā also means star – how serendipitous…This Navarātra (February 17-21, 2021), we will throw ourselves at her feet, and implore her to show us the way. With her yantra as the focal point, we will explore her iconography, history, symbolism… and importantly, how she shows up in our lives. As always, this course is all about practical applications of the highest principles. We’ll see how this great goddess is constantly manifesting in our lives, our breath, our speech and our action. We will learn to invoke her in all of these areas.”

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