Ochintu Koi Mane

Like waves in the ocean, I’m at play!

In January 2016, while on a ‘Sadbhavana Yatra’ in north Gujarat organised by Sanjay-Tula of Vishwagram, I met Dhruv dada (well-known Sahitya Akademi awarded Gujarati writer, Dhruv Bhatt). As we travelled with him in his car, with great love, he shared with us those poems of his which come to him as songs (with tunes). We have so much enjoyed learning these songs of a modern/contemporary mystic poet, so to speak. 

In this song, he speaks of the great bounty and benevolence of nature (kudrat ni rehem) and the joy of being alive. While walking along the banks of the river Narmada, he once came across an old farmer working in his field under a blazing sun. When he asked him how he was doing, the farmer turned to him with a thousand watt smile, and replied with no hint of self-pity, that he was full of joy! That moved something internally for Dhruv dada in his attitude to the farmer, as he realised that even he, who was pitying the farmer, didn’t have that joy which the farmer did. Soon after, this poem/song ‘came to him’.

This yatra, mooted and part-sponsored by him, was his gesture of commitment to a larger culture of tolerance and reverence in India, done very quietly, away from the noise and controversy surrounding the debate around ‘intolerance’.

Ochintu koi mane raste made ne kadi
dheere thi poochhe ke kem chhe
To aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan
ne upar thi kudrat ni rehem chhe
 
Phaatela khissa ni aad maan muki chhe ame
chhalkaati malkaati mauj
Eklo ubhun ne toye mela maan houn
evun laagya kare chhe mane roj
Taalu vasaaye nahin evadi pataari maan
aapno khajaano hem-khem chhe
Aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan…
 
Aankhon maan paani to aave ne jaaye
nathi bheetar bheenaash thathi ochhi
Vadh ghat no kaanthaao raakhe hisaab nathi
parvaah samandar ne hoti
Sooraj to uge ane aathmiye jaaye
maari upar aakaash em-nem chhe
Aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan…

I’m at play 
If, suddenly, I were to come across
Someone on the way
And if they were to ask me
Softly,
“How are you doing today?”
Then I would say, 
Nature is so bountiful
And like waves in the ocean 

I’m at play!

In my torn trouser-pocket hide 
Many joyful, dancing waves

Even when alone 
I’m in a carnival each day 
In a tiny bundle
Which can never be locked
My treasure is as safe as day 
Like waves in the ocean
I’m at play! 

Water in the eyes comes and goes
But the moistness within never dries
The shore may keep accounts
Of less and more
The ocean doesn’t bother about such scores 
The sun may rise and set everyday 
The sky over me is always the same 
Like waves in the ocean
I’m at play! 

Translation: Vipul Rikhi

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Lena Hue So

In this song, the Sufi-Bhakti poet Rohal Fakir urges us to receive – and the moment to receive is always now. This moment, this birth, is extremely precious, like a jewel or a diamond that may not come our way so easily again.

We learnt this song from a recording of Om Prakash Naik ji made by Gopal Singh Chouhan of Lokayan, who has worked with several folk singers and artists in Bikaner, Rajasthan. Watch his beautifully sung version here.

Lena hue so leeje mhaara bhaaida re
Ab aayi levan ke bela, re saadho
Maanako janam heero haath nahin aave re
Phir bhatkat chauraasi ra phera, re saadho
Edo ratan heero haath nahin aave re

Shyaam jata sir shvet bhayi hai re
Tane aje yun na aave re laaja
Tirya jake nar karni su tir gaya re
Ab sariya jaka ra kaaja
Maanako janam…

Gyaan kathe nar rehni nahin rehta re
Ab bin toh rehni kaisa gyaana
Mann parmod sake nahin apno re
Phir auraan su poochhe re myaana
Maanako janam…

Hansa hue so hans gati haale re
Phir chheelar paanv na mele
Saadh hue mhaara ghat ujiyaara re
Ve toh akel kala maahin khele
Maanako janam…

Kirpa bhayi jad sauda rachiya re
Ab bhaavbhagat kaisi aasi
Rohal ratan amolak paayo re
Ve toh sir saate avinaashi
Maanako janam…

If You Wish To Receive

If you wish to receive, do so now
Now is the hour for receiving, seeker!
This human birth is hard to come by
Stumbling through endless cycles of being
You may not find this priceless gem again

The dark hair of your youth has turned grey
But has that made you mend your ways?
Kind acts, not grand words, bring grace
One who turns around does not again stray
This human birth…

You blabber fine words – do you live them?
What good is such wisdom, unlived?
Will it quench a thirsty heart’s seeking?
Won’t you wander again, lost, unhinged?
This human birth…

Swan, walk with the gait of a swan
No stepping in shallow puddles anymore!
Radiance floods the seeker’s whole being
Alone, with art, she plays, she sports
This human birth…

When grace was felt, the deal was struck
And Royal secured the priceless jewel
Now what thirst for respect or fame?
He cuts off his head, and becomes immortal
This human birth…

Translation: Vipul Rikhi

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Guru Vinya Ghor Andhaaro

Guru shatters the pitch darkness, the lamp destroys the utter blackness, says Kabir, urging us to light the lamp in our own self-temple. As he says, light the lamp and there’s radiance!

I learnt this song from Asariya Bhai Jagariya of Kutch, Gujarat. ‘Jagariya’ means one who awakens.Watch his beautiful rendition with his mandali on ‘Ajab Shahar’ here.

Jal vinya jyot, pavan vinya paani
Al pal vaar leher laagi re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Guru vinya ghor andhaaro mandariye maan
Divle vinya ghor andhaaro mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Etleek chhe potli padi jaase hethi
Padi jaase maati maaylo gaaro re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Seelari nu saanto ras bharyo meetho
Guriye guriye ras nyaaro re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Haath maan chhe vaatko ne saaro sheher bhatkyo
Moorakhda ne tel nahin aale koi udhaaro re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Kaho ho Kabir suno bhai saadho
Naam liyo nirakaaro re
Naam liyo niradhaaro re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado 

Guru Shatters the Pitch Darkness

Water douses fire, wind dries up water
Each moment a new wave rises
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

The guru shatters the pitch darkness
In the temple
The lamp dispels the utter darkness
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

Such a small bundle
It will bite the dust one day
It will mingle with the mud
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

The sugarcane stem
Is juicy and sweet
Each knot has a special taste
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

Begging bowl in hand
You went round the whole town
No one lends oil to a fool
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

Says Kabir, listen seekers
Dwell upon the formless
Take the name of the nameless
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

Translation: Vipul Rikhi & Shabnam Virmani

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Baahar Kyon Bhatke

When your truth is within you, why look outside? Why keep wandering? This is the question Kabir asks us in this song, which we first heard in the voice of Mahesha Ram ji from near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

Aisa aisa heerla ghat maan kahiye
Johri bina heera kaun paarkhe?

Thaaro Raam hirday mein
Baahar kyon bhatke?

Aisa aisa ghrit toh doodh maan kahiye
Jhugiye bina maakhan kaise nikle?
Thaaro Raam hirday mein…

Aisi aisi aag toh lakdi maan kahiye
Ghasiye bina aag kaise nikle?
Thaaro Raam hirday mein…

Aisa aisa kivaad toh hivde pe jadiya
Guruji bina taala kaun khole?
Thaaro Raam hirday mein…

Kahe ho Kabir sa, suno bhai saadho
Raam mile thaane kaun hatke?
Thaaro Raam hirday mein…

Why Look Outside?

Your Raam is in your heart
Why search outside?

Such rare gems hidden in the body
Who but a jeweller can know their worth?
Why wander outside?

Such pure ghee hidden in the milk
Will butter rise without churning?
Why look outside?

Such warm fire hidden in the wood
Will flames ignite without friction?
Why search outside?

Such stiff locks studded over the heart
Who but the guru can open these bolts?
Why wander outside?

Kabir says, listen seekers
Find Raam, then who can disturb you?
Why look outside?

Translation by Vipul Rikhi
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Milo Re Milo

Oh, to meet someone from my own land, says Gorakh, and be able to exchange a few words with him. As the saint-poets often say, no one here understands our language. They speak a different tongue.

This is a song from Malwa, which we learnt from Kaluram Bamaniya ji.

Milo re milo koi mhaara des ra
Do do baataan karaanga ji

Lakkad lakkad sab ek hai
Ek hi maalik ne gadhiya ji
Ek lakkad toh dhooni mein jale
Dooji mahalaan mein jadiya ji
Milo re milo…

Patthar patthar sab ek hai
Ek hi maalik ne gadhiya ji
Ek patthar ki moorat bani
Dooji seedhi mein jadiya ji
Milo re milo…

Dharti maata ra choolha kariya
Aasmaan kiya hai kadhela ji
Chaar jugaan ke phoonkan diya
Dhuan gagan samaana ji
Milo re milo…

Dui kar jod Gorakh boliya
Paaya hai vaikunth vaasa ji
Jin ne ratiya nij naam ko
Voi nar sant sujaana ji
Pahunchooga sat dhaama ji
Milo re milo… 

Someone from my Land

Oh, to meet someone from my land
And have a few words with him

This wood, that wood, they’re all one
The same master made them all
This wood burns in a sacred fire
That one’s studded in a palace wall
Oh, to meet…

This stone, that stone, they’re all one
That master fabricated them both
This stone becomes part of the idol
That one’s on the temple floor
Oh, to meet…

Mother earth, the firewood stove
The sky transforms to a cauldron
All four ages tossed in the fire
The smoke rises up to the heavens
Oh, to meet…

Gorakh folds his hands in prayer
He’s found his place in heaven
One who remembers the true name
Arrives at the true destination

Oh, to meet…

Translation: Vipul Rikhi

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Aisi Mhaari Preet


This song from the Kabir oral traditions of Malwa speaks of an intensely intimate love: like the vine for the tree, like the fish for the sea. This beloved is closer than one’s own heartbeat. I learnt this song from Prahlad Tipanya, a beloved folk singer from Malwa, Madhya Pradesh. See more at www.ishqfakiri.com

Aisi mhaari preet nibhaavajo
Ho nirdhan ka ho Raam
Aisi mhaari preet nibhaavajo
Ho durbal ka ho Raam
Bhavsaagar mein bhoolo mati

Tam toh jharkat ham beladi
Raanga tam se liptaaye
Tam toh dhaldo ne ham sookhi jaavaan
Mhaara kai ho havaal?
Aisi mhaari preet nibhaavajo…

Tam toh samdar ham maachhali
Raanga tamaara ho maay
Tam toh sookho ne ham mari jaavaan
Mhaara kai ho havaal?
Aisi mhaari preet nibhaavajo…

Tam toh baadal ham moriya
Raanga tam se judaaye
Raanga tam se harkaaye
Tam toh garjo ne ham boliya
Tam toh barso ne ham boliya
Mhaara kai ho havaal?
Aisi mhaari preet nibhaavajo…

Kahe ho Kabir Dharmidas se
Piyu thaara ghat maay
Piyu hirday dhadkaaye
Aisi mhaari preet nibhaavajo…

Be True to My Love

Be true to my love
Like the poor have no one but their Raam
Be true to my love
Like the weak have nothing but their faith
Don’t leave me alone in this life-ocean

You are the tree, and I the creeper
I’ll stay in your embrace
If you wither, I’ll dry up too
What will happen to me without you?
Be true to my love…

You are the sea, and I the fish
I’ll stay immersed in you
If you dry up, I’ll die too
What would I be without you?
Be true to me love…

You are the cloud, I the peacock
I’m connected to you
I get great joy from you
When you rain, I sing and dance
What would I be without you?
Be true to my love…

Kabir says, O Dharamdas
The beloved is within your body
The beloved is your own heartbeat
Don’t leave me alone in this life-ocean
Be true to my love…

Translation: Vipul Rikhi
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Hiye Kaaya Mein

In yet another song on the body, Kabir meditates on the fragility of our lives – like a necklace of pearls that will scatter, like a garden of flowers that will be grazed away, or a clay pot that will shatter one day. This body is also described as a marketplace, where one must strike a good bargain.

We learnt this beautiful song from Mooralala ji. This is a live recording (hence the low levels) made in Rome by the renowned oral historian, Alessandro Portelli, who had warmly invited and hosted us. Singing here at the Apollo Film Club as part of our Europe trip in 2014.

Hiye kaaya mein bartan maati ro
Hiye dehi mein bartan maati ro
Phooti jaase nahin kare ranako
Sahib hamko darr laage ek din ro

Ek hi din ro, ghadi palak ro
Nahin re bharoso ek hi pal ro
Sahib hamko darr laage ek din ro

Hiye kaaya mein maala motiyan ki
Tooti jaase doro roodho tan ko
Sahib hamko darr laage ek din ro

Hiye kaaya mein haat bajaara
Sauda kari le ho roodho pal ro
Sahib hamko darr laage ek din ro

Hiye kaaya mein vaadi phuliyan ki
Mriga chari jaaye ho roodho van ro
Sahib hamko darr laage ek din ro

Ek din aavse, sab ne bulaavse
Lekha lese raai til ro
Sahib hamko darr laage ek din ro

Kahat Kabira suno bhai saadho
Pehla hai naam alakh ro
Sahib hamko darr laage ek din ro

In This Body

In this body, a vessel of clay
It will shatter
Then never resound

I fear that day, lord
Just one day, one moment
The blink of an eyelid
Can you trust
A single instant?

In this body, a string of pearls
The thread of this body
Will snap one day
I fear that day, lord…

In this body, a market bustles
Strike a good bargain
Of each instant
I fear that day, lord…

In this body, a field of flowers
A deer grazes away
The beautiful garden
I fear that day, lord…

A day will come
Each one will be called
An account taken
Of every moment
I fear that day, lord…

Says Kabir, listen seekers
First and foremost
Remember the invisible
I fear that day, lord…

Translation by Vipul Rikhi and Shabnam Virmani

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