“Upagupta” is a renowned poem written by the esteemed Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. This poem tells the story of a young monk named Upagupta, who was originally a prince. The poem beautifully captures his transformation from a life of luxury to one of spiritual enlightenment and selflessness.
Upagupta Poem Summary
This poem is about the strength of character of a great Buddhist monk named Upagupta. He was a true ascetic. He had wonderful self-control. Once a young and beautiful girl invited him to come to her house. Upagupta simply looked at her with pity.
He said that he would visit her when the ripe time came for it. And when the time did come, he proved how his heart was full of the milk of human kindness. He felt no hesitation in nursing the woman who was suffering from a horrible disease. This poem is, in fact, a great tribute to Upagupta.
Upagupta Summary in English:
Upagupta was a disciple of the Buddha. One dark night, he was lying asleep on the ground near the city wall of Mathura. All the lamps had gone out. All the doors were shut. All of a sudden, Upagupta was awakened by the tinkling sound of anklets. A dancing girl’s feet had touched his breast.
Upagupta woke up with a start. The woman had a lamp in her hand. Upagupta saw that she was a dancing girl. She was all decorated in shining jewels. She was drunk with the wine of her youth. The dancing girl bent down and lowered her lamp. She saw the handsome face of the monk. She begged him to forgive her. She invited him to her house.
At this, the ascetic replied, “O woman, go on your way. I shall visit your house when the time is ripe for it.’ Some time later, it was a spring night. All the people of the city had gone to the woods. They had gone there to celebrate the festival of flowers. The full moon was shining high up in the middle of the sky. Upagupta passed through the city gates, and stood near the outer wall.
Just then the monk saw a woman lying near his feet. She was struck with a horrible disease. There were sores all over her body. She had been driven away from the city because of her dangerous disease. The ascetic sat down by her side. He took her head on his knees. He wetted her lips and applied balm on her body.
The woman asked, “O merciful one ! Who are you ?” The young ascetic replied, “Perhaps you remember, once you invited me to your house. I told you then that I would visit you when the ripe time came for it. Now at last the time has come to visit you and I am here.”