Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Dulhani" by Kabir - Translation and Discussion

In the past few months I have have enjoying singing Kabir's poem "Dulhani." In this beautiful poem, Kabir envisions himself as the bride and the universe (or God, which he personifies as "Raag") as her groom. Its a beautiful poem that shows the marriages in three stages depicted in the three stanzas: (1) the bride dresses up, then the wedding ceremony, and the departure of the bride with her love.

Following are links to a recent recording of the song. I recorded some of the music in India in a recent trip, and finished recording in California. Below these links, I also have a translation of the poem in English, followed by my own English poem reflecting the sentiments of Kabir's poem. Hope you enjoy it.



Gaa-o gaa-o ree dulhanee mangalchaaraa.
Mayray garih aa-ay raajaa raam bhataaraa.

Sing, sing, O soul bride,
sing the song of my marriage
King Raam has come to my house
to become my husband

Tan rainee man pun rap kar
ha-o paacha-o tat baraatee.
Raam raa-ay si-o bhaavar laiha-o
aatam tih rang raatee. ||1||

To beautify myself I have annointed my body with good deeds
and that color was so strong my mind has also been dyed.
Five elements have come together as guests
and as I circumambulate with Raam*
my soul is too imbued with His Love.

* Note: In the Hindu Marriage ceremony, the couple takes 7 circles around the sacred fire. The word used by Kabir is "Bhaavar" - likening the marriage to a bee circles a flower - the word used in current Hindi is "Phera" or "circle.

* Note 2: The word "Pun" is sometimes translated as "again," but that is wrong.  Pun is the plural of "Punu" which comes from Sanskrit and means good deads.  The words used for again in Gurbani is "Phun."  Professor Sahib Singh explains this in his punjabi teeka of the Guru Granth Sahib and I agree with this definition. In Sohela we also sing a shabad in raag Gauri Purbi where we say, "Kar Sadhu Anjuli Pun wadda hay, Kar Dandaut Pun Wadda Hay" - it is a virtuous deed to bow to the "Sadhus" or the ones who have achieved inner peace.

Naabh kamal meh baydee rach lay
barahm gi-aan uchaaraa.
Raam raa-ay so doolahu paa-i-o
as badbhaag hamaaraa. ||2||

Make the navel-lotus my bridal pavilion
And let Brahma* recite holy mantras
I have obtained the Raam as my Husband
such is my great good fortune. ||2||

* Note: According to old scriptures, Brahma, the creator (also the God of knowledge) sits on the lotus that grows from the Navel of Vishnu. Lotus obviously also reminds the reader of purity despite maligned surroundings. Brahma is also credited to first having "recited" the "Vedas" -- some of the oldest scriptures written in human history. There is a temple in India (near Thanesar) called "Kamal Naabhi" or "Lotus Navel" where Brahma was born from the Navel of Vishnu.

Sur nar mun jan ka-utak aa-ay
kot taytees ujaanaaN.
Kahi kabeer mohi bi-aahi chalay hai
purakh ayk bhagvaanaa. ||3||

Angles, holy men, sages, and deities have come
in thousands of heavenly chariots to see
my husband take me with him
because Raam is none other than the One Almighty ||3||


Sing O Soul, O soul you sing!
sing freely sing, O fondly sing!
sing sated sweet savory song
sing I hear my wedding bells ring!

Start to sing a song so complete
that with my love, five elements sing
and rain my body and mind so replete,
that you too drenched delighted sing

Sing O soul, a song so pure
as sacred vows that I need sing
on a lotus altar white for sure
sitting I hear mantras Brahma sing!

Sing O soul, a song so magical
come angels, fairies, maidens sing
on heavenly chariots so fanciful
as my Love whisks me away and sings!

Sing of my fortuity sing!
sing the beauty of purity sing
sing this mystical magical song
sing I hear my wedding bells ring!

- Shiv

Other Music: