This is my first attempt to translate a mystic poetry written in vernacular Hindi by a famous Indian Sufi poet Kabir.
For Kabir it’s said, he was illiterate yet a master of mystics of his time, simple living saint, his poetry expresses this, the profound imagery married with mystic meanings and earthly anecdotes is all rooted in simplicity.
My special thanks to Miss Maria Imran to point me towards his couplets while influencing me for translating and Miss Sidra Kamal for editing and reviewing. I truly believe mystic poetry in no way can be justified or bound to a single meaning, but following is just my humble try to relay its great essence and feeling.
– Beautiful and ecstatic rendition by one of the most internationally renowned artist of Sufi music Abida Parveen, presented by famous Indian lyricist and poet Gulzar saheb.
Saahib mera ek hai, duja kaha na jaaye,
Duja Saahib jo kahun, saahib khadda rachaaye.
My Master is one and only, comes close to him no sublime.
Should I speak of the other, master is one still to show sign.
Maali aavat dekh ke, kaliyaan kare pukar,
Phool phool chun liye, kaal hamari baar.
Looking at arriving gardener, such echoes of buds are.
Picked are ones that are blossomed, our day is too not far.
Chhah gayi chinta miti, manva beparvah
Jinko kuchhu na chaiye, woh hi Shahenshah.
Since worries dispersed as ashes, this heart is totally free!
For those who wish nothing, are indeed the ruler of destiny!
Het preet sun jo mile, ta ko miliye dhaaye
Antar raakhe jo mile, taase mile balaaye.
For those who talk of love, you will meet such countless…
For those who talk of an essence, are truly a breed rare….
Kabira te nar andh hai, guru ko kehte aur,
Har roothe Guru chhod hain, Guru roothe nahi chhod.
Kabir, truly blind are those, who have not yet got their master known…
For their discontent is forgiven by Him, but His displeasing has no cure.
Karta tha to kyun raha, ab kahe pachhtaye,
Bove peir babool ka, aam kahan se hoye.
Since time of deeds you paid no heed, why there now regrets high?
Sowed by you were seeds of a gum tree, how come mango would ripe?
Sab Dharti kaagad karun, lekhan sab ban raaye,
Saat samand ki muss karun, Guru gun likha na jaye.
Let earth serve as writing tablet, forests carve an instrument to write.
Let seven seas become an ink then, no way yet Master can be defined.
Ab guru dil mein dekheya, gaavan ko kachhu naahin,
Kabira jab tum gaavate, tab jana Guru nahi.
Since in your heart appeared the Master, what remains for you to sing…?
When you used to sing of mysteries, you didn’t know your Master a bit…
Main laaga uss ek se, ek bhaya sab maahin,
Sab mera main saban ka, tihan doosara naahin.
To one and only I give my heart whole, in one I find all there that is….
When all belongs to me, I breath in everything, who else can reign within?
Ja marne se jag dare, mere man anand,
Kab mar hun kab paahun, puran parmanand.
Where people are afraid of killing self, I am sound and relaxed.
For as soon as I kill my image from self, I will find truth ultimate.
Sab ban to chandan nahi, shoore ke dal nahi,
sab samundra moti nahi yun Sadhu jag mahi.
Not every tree smells like sandalwood, not all teams relay tales of bravery.
Nor each sea has hidden a gem beneath, that’s how not all monks are piously.
Jab hum jag mein pag dharyo, sab hanse hum roye,
Kabira ab aisi kar chalo, paache hansi na hoye.
When I stepped in this world transient, everyone laughed while I cried.
Now let’s do something as such Kabir, that we leave everyone with smile.
Agun kiye to bahu kiye, karat na mani haar,
Bhaven banda bhakshe, bhaaven gardan maar.
Once ridden on a path of miss conducts, not for once I broke a cold sweat.
Since I’ve known Master, in blessing I am assured, for disapproval – not upset.
Sadhu bhukha bhaav ka, dhan ka bhookha naahin,
Dhan ka bhookha jo phire, so to Saadhu nahi.
Saint has a hunger for love only, never did saint seek the wealth.
Those who crave wealth and assets, should never be called a Saint.
Saahib sun sab hott hai, bande te kachhu naahin,
Rai te parbat kare, parbat rai mahi.
Along Master each thing is living, chasing folks serves nothing.
Seed becomes mountain for him while mountain worths nothing.
Jyun til mahi tel hai, jyun chakmak mein aag,
Tera Sain tujh mein base, jaag sake to jaag.
Like in sesame exists oil, in crucible dwells wildness of fire…
Your Master too exists within you, should you seek in true desire.
-Dedicated to those of us who seek their Master.
1. Kabir song english translation by Alka P.