Saturday, February 10


सखि हे हमर दुखक नहिं ओर
ई भर बादर माह भादर
सून्य मंदिर मोर।

Friend, I have no other sorrow
These torrential rains, this month of Bhadra
My empty temple.

Vidyapati Thakur -- the Maithili kokil (cuckoo) -- was born around 1350 in the village of Bispi in Madhubani, on the eastern side the Bengal - Bihar border. Claimed by both Bengali and Maithili speakers, Vidyapati wrote in Abahatta (a precursor to both languages), as well as Brajbuli, Prakrit and Desaj dialects.

In the tradition of medieval Indian poetry, Vidyapati's love-poems re-create and reveal the world of Radha and Krishna, the major erotic figures of Indian mythology and literature, conveying the ecstasy of Krishna's worshippers through the metaphor of human erotic love. While his precursor Jayadeva's poems celebrate Krishna's love and pays comparatively little attention to Radha the woman, Vidyapati is primarily concerned with the intensity of Radha's passion. At once sensuous and dramatic, Vidyapati's most popular songs find their place in the heart of a very human lover.

While Jayadeva wrote in Sanskrit, Vidyapati shunned the formal language and wrote in vernacular dialects; his position as a poet and creator of modern languages is akin to that of Dante and Chaucer. He did not disdain folk-speech, legends and thoughts for even the most complex of his work. Dante was blamed by the Latinate scholars of Italy, so was Vidyapati at odds with the Sanskrit pundits over the direct lasciviousness of his use of the vernacular.

जखन लेल हरि कंचुअ अचोरि
कत परि जुगुति कयलि अंग मोहि।।
तखनुक कहिनी कहल न जाय
लाजे सुमुखि धनि रसलि लजाय।।
कर न मिझाय दूर दीप
लाजे न मरय नारी कठजीव।।
अंकम कठिन सहय के पार
कोमल हृदय उखड़ि गेल हार।।
भनइ विद्यापति तखनुक झन
कओन कहय सखि होयत बिहन।।

When Hari stole my blouse away, what contortions did I not do to hide my body? What happened thereafter cannot be told -- in my shame I found what was to the front of me aroused me to even more shame. My palms couldn't extinguish the lamp, which was too far to reach. I just died of shame -- it was as though woman had petrified to wood. Beyond bearing was that harsh piercing embrace -- the necklace bruised my tender heart. Says Vidyapati what happened then -- Who could tell, sakhi, when dawn next came?

कि कहब हे सखि आजुक रंग।
सपनहिं सूतल कुपुरुष संग।।
बड़ सुपुक्ख बलि आयल धाइ।
सूति रहल मोर आँचर झँपाइ।।
काँचुलि खोलि आलिंगल देल।
मोहि जगाय आपु निंद गेल।
हे बिहि हे बिहि बड़ दुख देल।।
से दुख हे सखि अबहुँ न गेल।।
भनई विद्यापति एस रस इंद।
भेक कि जान कुसुम मकरंद।।

What can I report, O friend, for today's colourful gossip? An insensitive man dreamt away next to me all night. He came running to me all fine at the outset. But then he wrapped himself with the fringe of my sari and went to sleep. He had taken my blouse off and embraced me. So he roused me but then himself slumbered. O Fates, O Fates! what a tormented time I had -- that sorrow, Friend, hasn't gone away yet. Says Vidyapati this is just the hint of honey, what does a frog know of flower and pollen?

Chaitanya, it is said, would faint in ecstasy singing Vidyapati:

सखि, कि पुछसि अनुभब मोये ?
सोइ पिरिति अनुराग बखानिये
अनुखन नौतन होये
जनम जनम हम रूप नेहरलु
नयन न तिरपित भेला
लाख लाख युग हिये हिया राखलु
ह्र्दय जुड़न नँहि गेला।।

Friend, how can I answer how I feel? That Love defies description, is a new feeling every instant. Life after life I have seen His beauty, my eyes are still not sated. Millions of eons I have placed body on body, I could never cool my heart.

सैसव जीवन दुँहु सिलि गेल।
श्रवनक पथ दुँहु लोचन लेल।।
वचनक चातुरि नहुनहु हास।
धरनिये चान कयल परकास।।
मुकुर हाथ लय करम सिंगार।
सखइ पूछय कइसे सूरत-विहार।।
निरंजन अपन पयेचर हेरि।।
पहिले बदरि सम पुन नवरंग।
दिन-दिन अनंग अगोरल अंग।।
माधव पेखल अपरुप बाला।
सैसव जौवन दुँहु एक भेला।।
विद्यापति कह तुँहु अगेआनि।
दुँहु एक जोग इह के कह सयानि।।

Sri Aurobindo translated Vidyapati, published as 'Songs of Myrtilla':

Childhood and youth each other are nearing
Her two eyes their office yield to the hearing.
Her speech has learned sweet maiden craft
And low not as of old she laughed.
Her laughter murmurs. A moon on earth
Is dawning into perfect birth.
Mirror in hand she apparelsher now
And asks of her sweet girl-comrades to show
What love is and what love does
And all shamed delight that sweet love owes.
And often she sits by herself and sees
Smiling with bliss her breast's increase,
Her own milk-breasts that,plums at first,
Now into golden oranges burst.
Day by day Love's vernal dreams
Expand her lovely blossoming limbs.
Madhav I saw a marvellous flower
Of girls; childhood and youth one power,
One presence grown in one body fair.
Foolish maiden, not thus declare
The oneness of these contraries
Rather the two were yoked, say the wise.

जब गोधुलि-समय बेलि
तब मन्दिर-बाहिर भेलि
नबजलाधारे बिजुरी-रेहा
द्वन्द बधैय गेलि

से जे अल्प-बयसि बाला
जोनु गँथनि पुष्पमाला
थोड़ि दरशने आश न पुरलो
बढ़ल मदनज्वाला

When the time became dusk
I emerged from the temple
Zig-zag lightning in fresh puddle
Served only to increase doubt.

For she's only a young girl
That strings garlands of flowers;
A quick glimpse didn't satisfy
Burning desire grew.

Later in life, Vidyapati seems to have had a change of heart, away from all the wenching:

जनम अवधि नहि तुँय पद सेवल
जुबती रति रंग मेलि
अमिअ तेजि हालाएल पीउल
सम्पद आपदहि मेलि।

Never in my life did I serve at Your feet
I was too busy pleasuring girls

Forsook nectar, sipped poison
Got only troubles for my pains.


ताताल सैकते बारि बिन्दु सम
सुत मित रमणि समाजे
तोँहे विसँरि मन ताँहे समर्पल
अब मँझु हब कोन काजि?

Like offering a drop of water unto the burning hot sands of the beach, I have offered my mind unto the society of women, children, and friends, abandoning You; now what use am I?

माधव! हम परिणाम निरास
तुँहु जग तारण
दीन दया मय
अतय तोँहरि विसोआस ।

Madhav! In consequence I am despondent. You are the savior of the universe, and are merciful to the helpless. Therefore I place my belief only in You.

आध जनम हम निंदे गँवालुन
जरा सिसु कत दिन गेला
मधुबने रमणि रस रंगे मातल
तोँहे भजब कोन बेला?

Half my life I spent in sleep; so many days passed in childhood and now old age. I played and pleasured with women in honey forests -- when did I ever get a chance to worship You?

कत चतुरानन मरि मरि जावत
न तुँय आदि अवसान
तोँहे जनमि पुन तोँहे समावत
सागर लहरि समान ।

So many gods have died and died, You remain without beginning or end. All takes birth from You, and is again absorbed endlessly as in ocean waves.

भनये विद्यापति सेस समन भय
तुँय बिन गति नँहि आर
आदि अनादिक नाथ कहयसि
भव तारण भार तोँहर ।

Vidyapati confesses that at the end of his life he is fearful. There is no recourse other than You. You will always be called both the beginning and the beginningless. Now the responsibility for his deliverance from the material world is entirely Yours.


Blogger Hermis said...

I'm amazed!I am a big fan of Vidyapati's poem and while searching on net I found ur effort...u truly made me feel wonderful...thanx for the advice ....u can search for Gobindadas...another bengali poet who wrote vaisnav padavali.he's also good.

6:48 PM  

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