Saturday, June 7, 2014

Kabir: Banjara Re

Kabīr (in vernacular,  Kabīra) (Hindi: कबीर, Punjabi: ਕਬੀਰ, Urdu: کبير‎) (c. 1440–c. 1518) was the greatest of the medieval mystic poets and saints of India, whose writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement and syncretism in contemporary Hinduism. In Arabic al-Kabīr means "The Great" – the 37th name of Allah.

Kabir composed a pithy style, replete with an inventive rural imagery. His work talks of the true Guru who reveals the divine through direct experience, and denounces ways of attempting God-union such as pilgrimages, austerities, or worship.  Kabir, illiterate, expressed his poems orally in vernacular Hindi, borrowing from various dialects including Avadhi, Brajbhasa, Maghi and Bhojpuri.

चक्की चल रही, कबीरा बैठा रोयी
दोनो पुड़ के बीच में साझा ना निकले कोयी ।
चक्की चल रही, कबीरा बैठा जोयी
खूंटा पकड़ो निज नाम का, तो साझा निकले जो सोयी ॥

Chakki chal rahi, Kabira baitha royee
Dono pud ke beech me saajha na nikle koi
Chakki chal rahi Kabira baitha joye
Khoonta pakdo nij Naam ka, to sajha nikle jo soyee

The millstone [of Time] grinds on, Kabir sits weeping [watching the inevitability]
From between the two stones [of wheeling heaven and turning earth below] no one passes unscathed
The millstone grinds on, Kabir is still there
Grab hold of the hub of the Name that is your's [by right], that is the path to deliverance.

छोड़ के मत जाअो एकली रे, बंजारा रे बंजारा रे ।
दूर देस रहे मामला अब जागो प्यारा रे ॥

Chhod ke mat jao ekli re Banjara re Banjara re
Duur des rahe mamla, ab jago pyara re.

Don't leave on this journey by yourself, O my Nomad, O Nomad
'Tis the matter of That Faraway Land, now come to your senses my dear.

अपना साहेब ने महल बनायी, बंजारा रे, बंजारा रे ।
गहरी गहरी माहे बीन बजायी, बंजारा हो ॥

Apna Saaheb ne mahal banayee, Banjara re
Gehri gehri mahe been bajai, Banjara ho.

Our Master made a palace for you, O my Nomad, O Nomad
Deep deep thence comes the call of His flute, Ah my Nomad.

अपना साहेब ने बाग़ बनायी, बंजारा रे, बंजारा रे ।
फूल भरी लायी छाब रे, बंजारा हो ॥

Apna Saahebne baag banayee, Banjara re
Phool bhari layee chhab re, Banjara ho

Our Master made a grove for you, O my Nomad, O Nomad
Flower'd bowers bring shade there, Ah my Nomad.

कहत कबीरा, कहत कबीरा, धर्मीदास को ।
संत अमरापुर मालना, बंजारा रे ॥

Kahat Kabira, Kahat Kabira Dharmidas ko
Sant amrapur maalna, Banjara re.

Says Kabir to Dharamidas, the saintly ones will surely be
Gardeners of this estate of immortality, O my Nomad.

Prahlad Tippaniya, absurdly pigeonholed as a Dalit singer, sings a variant:

Kabir has been  translated to English by Rabindranath Tagore. His greatest work is the Bijak (The Seedling), discussing the ideas of the fundamental One and an universal view of spirituality. Though his vocabulary is replete with Hindu spiritual concepts - Brahman, karma and reincarnation -  Kabir mocked dogma both in Hinduism and in Islam. Ideological messages in Kabir appealed to the poor and oppressed as a "protest against social discrimination and economic exploitation". At his death, both Hindus and Muslims claimed the remains, one side argued for cremation in Varanasi, the other for burial in Maghahar.

छोड़ के मत जाअो एकली रे, बंजारा रे बंजारा रे ।
दूर देस रहे मामला अब जागो प्यारा रे ॥

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