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promoting visual literacy through the language of photography


a photo-haiku portfolio by Debiprasad Mukherjee with a garland of Upanishadic texts arranged as haiku by Gabriel Rosenstock

A Cross-Cultural Communications publication, Merrick, New York, November 2021
Selected pages from the book The stars are his bones

The Dynamics of Upanishadic Photo-Haiku Collaboration

I greatly enjoy some of the early English-language translations of Oriental classics, such as those made by Robert Ernest Hume (whilst not always sharing his view of the material, which can border on the condescending).

For Schopenhauer, the Upanishads were life's deepest consolation, and he hoped their guidance would be there for him at his hour of death. ('Es ist die belohnendste und erhabenste Lektüre die auf der Welt möglich ist: sie ist der Trost meines Lebens gewesen und wird der meines Sterbens sein . . .)

Nothing, says the great German philosopher could be more rewarding, more sublime than spending time with the Upanishads and the wisdom of the forest sages! Where better to go, therefore, than to India, the home of this universal wisdom, and to Kolkata's master photographer, Debiprasad Mukherjee. We had created photo-haiku projects before and both of us longed to do a book together, one in which the photographs speak for themselves, the haiku speak for themselves and, together, they speak as a third voice, their energies lifting one to another plane. Rereading the Upanishads, passages came alive to me in a new way, as 'found haiku'.

Photo-haiku is a magical brew. Debi's photographs are magical, the Upanishads are magical, and there is also a magic associated with three lines. Bring them together and you have enough magic to illuminate the whole world. In ancient Ireland, the three-line utterance is known as a tré, or triad. The three most magical sounds?

géim bó
meilt bró
béic linbh

lowing of a cow
grinding of a quern-stone
crying of an infant

The same spirit that moved the Irish triadist must surely have informed this ancient Indian triad, a triad formed in the Indo-European mind, a spirit still very much alive to poets and visionaries: The three great mysteries:
air to a bird
water to a fish
man to himself

Ancient languages have inherent magic too, Sanskrit and Irish, for instance. May they never be forgotten and may their treasures be known. The new science of ecolinguistics reminds us that the ancients have keys to our future on Earth.

Gabriel Rosenstock



It is an Indo-Irish project as Kolkata-based photographer Mr. Debiprasad Mukherjee and Dublin-based poet littérateur Mr. Gabriel Rosenstock have combined their creative forces to produce an atmospheric photo-haiku monograph infused with the wisdom of Upanishadic extracts. The harmonious interplay of sublimated form of poetry as 'found haiku' with the synthetic narrative of the images created the magic with the help of two ancient languages Sanskrit & Gaelic (Irish) along with English.

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