Hari

This is the last translation I’ll do in this series. So, while the other poems and songs were taken up on the spur of the moment, I chose this one somewhat deliberately.

This is another seven hundred plus-year old abhanga of Dnyaneshwar. Archaic and terse, it is a beautiful poem and song.

SCAN0215

Literal Translation

Today a golden day
Rains immortality’s cloud

Hari [captivator, seizer, victor, defeater] I saw, friend, Hari I saw, friend
With-outside-towards-inside whole spanning [pervading] Murari [flute-holder]

On firm brick mind grounded [On brick mind firmly grounded]
Splendid the Vanamali [forest-dweller]

Excellent saints arrive together [assemble]
Mainfested the Atmaram [soul-delighter]

Ocean of grace, hand [dispenser] of mercy
On father-mother-lady-Rakhu

-o-

This poem’s central experience is Dnyaneshwar’s realization of that which pervades everything. He calls this reality by many names — Hari, Murari, Vanamali, Atmaram, Kripasindhu, and Karunakar. Nature participates through the dawn of a golden day and the cloud-burst of immortality. There is a packed philosophical expression, as if a settled formula by that time, of the pervasive spiritual truth with a direct linkage to the Upanishads. He has the devotional iconography of the brick on which Vitthal stands in Pandhari, and the socio-religious aspect of the congregation of saints. Finally, there is the reference to his parents equated to the Lord Vitthal and his consort Rukhmini.

You can hear it here.

The Isha Upanishad has this description of the all-pervading “That”:

isha-5

You can read about the legend of the brick here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vithoba and http://www.pandharpurtemple.com/article/id/104/legend-of-vitthal-temple.

As with the other translations, I don’t know how this one will turn out. Perhaps a way to translate is with the same syllable count as in the original and then relaxing the constraint to let the expression become natural in English. The various names of god are likely to be a challenge to translate and fit into this constrained structure.

-o-

Strict Translation

[Using the same number of syllables in each line as in the original: (8+8), (12+15), (8+8), (9+8), (9+9)]

Today chime the golden hours
Immortality’s cloud showers

Friend, I saw my heart’s captor, the Lord absolute
Crammed in each corner and expanse of space, there he plays the flute

Rooted in mind, a brick for shoes
In splendor stands the wild recluse

Excellent saints, assemble here
See your soul’s delight appear

Grantor of mercy, ocean of grace
Above my parents, Vitthal I praise

[Alt for first couplet:]
Today a golden day has glowed
Today showered elixir’s cloud

-o-

The mind and brick are inverted. To the best of my reading of the grammar in the original, it says, the mind is firmly grounded on or rooted in the brick. Here the translation says the brick (and hence the splendid forest-dweller) is firmly fixed in the mind. The former is the method, the latter is the result. I suppose this variation is alright.

-o-

Relaxed Translation

Today have dawned the golden hours
The cloud of immortality showers

Friend, I saw my heart’s captivator, the Lord absolute
Pervading every corner and expanse of space, he plays the flute

Rooted in the mind, a brick under his shoes,
In splendor stands the wild recluse

Excellent saints, gather in your trysts
Your lover, the soul-entrancer manifests

Grantor of mercy, ocean of grace
Above my parents, Vitthal I praise

-o-

Please read the comments below for an organic discussion of this translation, or read the “finished” version of these translations here: (pdf).

49 thoughts on “Hari

  1. I’m afraid you may have to make another attempt. The rhymes are weak and give the impression of a forced construction. The easy elegance of inspiration seems to be wanting. You need not necessarily follow the metrical scheme of the original. Inspiration should find its own expression. Sorry if this is a bit critical comment.

  2. It’s a fair comment. Even I was not happy. It will take a try or two more. This one is not easy … The first couplet is troublesome. “Vitthal I praise” is extraneous. Let’s see …

  3. Today is a golden day
    The waters of immortality flow
    Hari I have seen, O brother, Hari I have seen
    He is within all this
      and He also is outside all this,
        the player of the flute
    My mind is rooted in ths Untamed Spirit
      resplendent on the threshold
    Assemble, O good folks
    He who delights the soul has appeared
    An ocean of grace, a grantor of mercy,
    He is the Lord above all

  4. The key line is adapted from Sri Aurobindo’s translation of the corresponding line from the Isha Upanishad. The rest of the lines flow in rhythm and style set by this adaptation. No rhymes, I am afraid. Also, changed the brick to a threshold for better flow and philosophically to cover not just the outside and the inside but also the in-between – and it accords with the legend.

  5. Today is a golden day,
    The waters of immortality flow;
    He is within and He is without,
    He is above, He also is below.

    Hari I have seen, O brother, Hari I have seen

    Mind confirmed in the Untamed Spirit
    Resplendent on the threshold,
    Gather to the call of his marvelous reed,
    Partake an hour of gold.

    Hari I have seen, O brother, Hari I have seen

    The merciful, benevolent, the everlasting goal,
    He stands in the aureate silence of the soul.

  6. Like I said earlier, this one is tough. The “O brother” is for the “re”, it could be “my friend” or some such. “Brother” and “confirmed” borrow from Christianity.

    I think both of these unrhymed and rhymed ones have good bones. I’ll touch them up one more time and then I’ll have to call them done.

  7. Unrhymed:

    Today is a golden day,
    The waters of immortality flow:
    Hari I have seen, friend, Hari I have seen,
    He is within all this, the player of the flute,
    And He also is outside all this.
    My mind is engrossed in this Untamed Spirit,
    The one who stands resplendent at the threshold.
    Assemble saints, all good folks,
    He who delights the soul has appeared.
    An ocean of grace, the grantor of mercy,
    He is the Lord above all

    -o-

    Rhymed:

    A golden day has dawned today,
    The waters of immortality flow,
    Hari I have seen, my friend, Hari I have seen,
    Wherever I look, in or out, above or below.

    With mind affirmed on his splendid form
    Waiting on the threshold,
    Gather to the call of his marvelous flute,
    Partake an hour of gold.

    He stands in the silence of the spellbound soul,
    Merciful, benevolent, the supernal goal.

  8. Well, I had to take one more crack at it.

    The core revelation is, “I saw Hari.” The entire translation rests on finding the right expression for this, ideally, one that can be repeated for emphasis.

    Hari by itself is an opaque term in English, and its significance needs to be brought out. Hari means one who defeats. What does he defeat? The ignorance, the sense of ego or separation.

    His description in the next line as the all-pervading guides us to the significance of one who defeats the illusion of being separate from him. So the revelation in the poem becomes, “I saw him who is the destroyer of the illusion that I am separate from him.”

    This is directly another great revelation of the Upanishads, “So’ham asmi”, “He am I.”

    Using this and abstracting the rest of the particulars, we get:

    -o-

    He am I. He am I.
    Pierced is the illusion of a gulf between us.
    A golden light, a cloud-burst of immortality,
    A music floods the wide-flung expanse of space.
    Resplendent he stands manifest in the midst of all.
    Untamed, enchanting, benevolent, merciful, supreme.

  9. The problem is the presence of heavy metaphysical idiom and tone. It is that which makes the rendering poetically less appealing. In the original there is the bhakti with the spiritual in a language which is lyrically natural and unencumbered. The composition should be rich with phrases like “cloud-burst of immortality”.

  10. I am not adept enough to comment on the translation or prosody, but one note, the beeja of Hari is har, as in harati – steals. Steals the ego, etc. has the same meaning as defeating in a sense.

  11. Yes, thanks, Lopa – in the literal translation I mention it (captivator, seizer, victor, defeater), and I tried “heart’s captor”, “heart’s captivator” in the first couple of attempts. Perhaps the sense is “wrests”. Isn’t the root “har” also used in defeat directly – like “harna” in Hindi or “haraNe” in Marathi?

    Any inspiration for this one? The original is pretty close to Sanskrit anyway – or about the midpoint between Sanskrit and today’s Marathi.

  12. His golden light has dawned on me,
    The call of his flute has haunted space,
    A cloud-burst of immortality
    Has flooded the universe with his grace.

    It’s him I see everywhere. He am I. He am I.
    Everywhere is him, it’s only him I hear.
    His hand of compassion has curved the sky,
    His form to the sinner and saint is dear.

    Resplendent he stands in the center of all,
    Patiently he waits at the door,
    Guest of the mind that’s held in his thrall;
    The pathless wilderness sings of his lore.

  13. Let us hurriedly scan the piece with two verbal changes:

    His gold|en light| has dawned| on me,|
    The call| of his flute| has haun|ted space,|
    A cloud|-burst of| immor|tality|
    Has flood|ed the un|iverse| with his grace.|

    It’s him| I see| everywhere.| He am I.| He am I.|
    Everywhere| him, it’s| only| him I hear.|
    His hand| of com|passion| has curved| the sky,|
    His form| to the sin|ner and| the saint| is dear.|

    Resplen|dent he stands| in the cen|ter of all,|
    Patien|tly he| waits at| the door,|
    Guest of| the mind| that’s held| in his thrall;|
    The path|less wil|derness sings| of his lore.|

  14. It’s him I see everywhere. He am I. He am I.
    Everywhere him, it’s only him I hear.
    His hand of compassion has curved the sky,
    His form to the sinner and saint is dear.

    -0-

    This is pure inspiration and if I hazard my perception is from the Illumined Mind if not a bit higher.

  15. Yes, it turned out alright. Since you mention it, can you give the planes of mind for inspiration with examples? Also, you mention two verbal changes but I see only one (elision of “is” in the sixth line – makes it better, btw). Did I miss the other change?

  16. Which is better: “sings of his lore” or “sings his lore”? The latter is more direct because you’d rather sing of him than his lore. But rhythm?

  17. “His form to the sinner and saint is dear” is “His form to the sinner and the saint is dear.” In the scanned version I’ve put “the”; but that is not necessary. It is better to keep the four-feet metre for the lines. So it will be:

    His form| to the sin|ner and saint| is dear.|

    iamb-anapaest-anapaest-iamb

  18. I think it’s better with the two “the”s like you have it: His form to the sinner and the saint is dear. Otherwise, it (the original) means the sinner-and-saint as a single entity, which is a different philosophical subtext.

  19. With two “the”s line becomes pentametric. If you accept it, I’ll prefer “the” in both places. sinner and saint come on a par in the expression which is desirable.

  20. Yes, two “the”s. From your scansion of the alt. last line, the rhythm should work after taking out the “of” in the original. So I’d prefer the last line as: “The pathless wilderness sings his lore”. The alt. version leaves open the question of what lore at the end of the poem, while the original closes off the poem.

  21. Reg “The pathless wilderness sings his lore”. The alt. version leaves open the question of what lore at the end of the poem, while the original closes off the poem.

    I’ve suggested “His pathless wilderness sings the lore” and think that suspense — open question — elevates the tone of the whole thing.

  22. “The pathless … his lore” has a sense of surprise or a layer of revelation – what might seem to be wild actually knows his story.

  23. You have a point; but “His pathless …” brings back the element of intimacy and gets closer also to the bhakti aspect on which the poem has its foundation. But I leave it to you.

  24. “His pathless” seems to indicate that there is some other wilderness that is not his. Plus, the lapsed syllable is bothersome. How about: The pathless wilderness sings only his lore.

  25. No “only”, etc; the line gets spoilt. You decide if it should be “his pathless…” or “the pathless…”, the latter though spiritual tending to make it a bit abstract.

  26. Taking inventory of all the concepts, barring the obvious ones, “brick” is covered by “waiting at the door” per the legend, on or above father-mother, implying above all, is covered by the sky. The “atmaram” part, specifically the “ram” or delighting aspect is missing, and the assembly aspect is missing. And sinner is extraneous. Needs some more work … perhaps change the “sinner” line to “His enchanting form to the saints is dear”, thus bridging both lacunae.

  27. His golden light has dawned on me,
    The call of his flute has haunted space,
    A cloud-burst of immortality
    Has flooded the universe with his grace.

    It’s him I see everywhere. He am I. He am I.
    Everywhere him, it’s only him I hear.
    His hand of compassion has curved the sky,
    His enchanting form to the sage is dear.*

    Resplendent he stands in the center of all,
    Patiently he waits at the door,
    Guest of the mind that’s held in his thrall;
    The pathless wilderness sings his lore.

    *Alt: His form to the sinner and the saint is dear.

  28. “enchanting form” is weak, too facile. “enchanting” and “dear” are practically the same. You need a revelatory phrase. How about “Blue-bright is his form to the sage dear”? But that departure from the original had enhanced the poetry. …

  29. This could stay. The line has an iamb + three anapaests.

    His form| of delight| is the soul| of the seer.|

  30. Sri Aurobindo:

    What you are writing now is “overhead” poetry—I mean poetry inspired from those planes; before you used to write poems very often from the intuitive mind—these had a beauty and perfec­tion of their own. What I mean by absoluteness here is a full intensely inevitable expression of what comes from above. These lines are original, convincing, have vision, they are not to be re­jected, but they are not the highest flight except in single lines. Such variations are to be expected and will be more prominent if you were writing longer poems, for then to keep always or even usually to that highest level would be an extraordinary feat—no poet has managed as yet to write always at his highest flight and here in that kind of poetry it would be still more difficult. Important point is not to fall below a certain level.

    The Future Poetry, SABCL, Vol. 9, p. 351

  31. It’s been a couple of days since I did my last translation. It feels like I’m coming out of a tunnel. Translation can be constraining. You have to think and feel and express like someone else.

    But in the last two days the constraints have started to lift and I have started to resume my native voice. What will it say?

    Since the Hari poem was still at hand, I wrote this one loosely using its images.

    -o-

    The mind ascends to a vast of golden light,
    Life is a throb in the pulse of original sound,
    The body is seized in a storm of immortality,
    The heart is one with the peace of the spirit all around.

    In a blank of self, plunged in a mystic holocaust,
    Revealed is the Form in a diamond vest of identity,
    It’s him I see everywhere. He am I. He am I.
    Everywhere him, it’s only him I see.

    -o-

    We can dedicate it to Dnyaneshwar’s samadhi. He led a difficult life, attained spiritual realization, gave an outpouring of original creativity, accomplished his life’s mission of social change, and finally willed a withdrawal from the world – all before the age of twenty one.

  32. This is a good attempt, and worth pursuing. You can re-live the original inspiration of the poet in your own way, in another manner which is perfectly legitimate. But unfortunately the present piece doesn’t scan well. It is advisable if the whole is pentametric but not necessarily iambic or decasyllabic. You can have variation of feet.

  33. This scans as:

    iamb iamb anapest iamb iamb (5)
    trochee iamb anapest anapest anapest (5)
    iamb anapest anapest iamb iamb pyrrhus (6)
    iamb iamb anapest anapest iamb iamb (6)

    anapest iamb dactyl trochee dactyl (5)
    iamb anapest anapest iamb pyrrhus dactyl (6)
    iamb iamb cretic dactyl dactyl (5)
    trochee iamb trochee iamb trochee (5)

    -o-

    The last two lines simply cannot be touched. So the 6-footed ones have to be made 5-footed. Adjusting a few connectives does the job, thus:

    The mind ascends to a vast of golden light,
    Life is a throb in the pulse of original sound,
    Body seized in a storm of immortality,
    Heart one with the peace of the spirit all around.

    In a blank of self, plunged in a mystic holocaust,
    A Form revealed in diamond vest of identity,
    It’s him I see everywhere. He am I. He am I.
    Everywhere him, it’s only him I see.

    -o-

    the new 5-footers are:

    trochee dactyl trochee trochee dactyl (Body …)
    spondee anapest anapest iamb iamb (Heart …)
    iamb amphibrach trochee dactyl dactyl (Form …)

    Alt. for the 6th line:
    Revealed is Form in a diamond vest of identity
    iamb amphibrach amphibrach dactyl dactyl

    -o-

    At first, I had them all as 6-footers – but the last two brooke no change. Hence it got a bit mixed up.

    Also, initially I had “mysterious sacrifice” instead of “mystic holocaust”. But I later realized that’s from “It is finished, the dread mysterious sacrifice / Offered by God’s martyred body to man” – description of Christ in Savitri.

    -o-

    The pace of recitation is intended to be exceedingly slow. That can help adjust the lengths if uneven. But with these modificatiosn, it reads pretty tight now.

  34. Alt. for the “Form” line:

    A Face revealed in diamond crown of identity

    Face is better than Form, but vest is better than crown. So, do you go with head or torso … I chose form/vest because it’s more intimate and integral.

  35. “The pace of recitation is intended to be exceedingly slow. That can help adjust the lengths if uneven.” No. I don’t think I will buy this argument.

    In the first line “vast” does not go well with “ascends”; instead of “a vast ” try “skies”. In the second line I’ll replace “original” by “primal”. …

  36. I thought of sky, stair, plain, field, etc. I wanted something different, less ordinary, almost jolting. We are talking of Dnyaneshwar walking into a conscious samadhi. Similarly primal sound is too close to primal scream which is a rock band; plus that and primeval is not as meaningful. I wanted to connote not only the initial sound of creation but also the original, creative sound of Dnyaneshwar’s compositions.

  37. The mind ascends to greatness of golden light,
    Life is a throb in the pulse of quickened sound,
    The body seized in storm of immortality,
    The heart one with the spirit’s peace around.

    In a blank of self, plunged in a mystic blaze,
    Revealed is Form in the vest of identity,
    It’s him everywhere. He am I. He am I.
    Everywhere him, it’s only him I see.

  38. I’m reproducing here a comment by email from Shreedhar Inamdar with his permission:

    Dear Akash,

    Great to hear from you.

    I had a look at your translations. They are very good. I really liked the idea of giving the original, then the literal translations and then giving the implied meaning. That way, reader has full freedom to find his own meaning.

    However, there are some points I will like to mention. All of them are regarding the literal translation (because you are free to interpret the meaning in any which way you like!!) Please think about them.

    Hari.

    1. it is traditionally it is understood that by बापरखुमादेविवरु Dnyaneshwar is referring to himself (His father’s name was Vithal and mother’s name was Rukmini) so it is usually translated as `says the one whose father is Rukmini’s husband’

    Reason: Traditionally every Abhang has the name of its creator (it is supposed to give the reader his/her blessings!). It is called the Naamamudra. That is why Dnyaneshwar must refer to himself by the above phrase.

    2. बरवा संत समागमु is understood as `great is the friendship with realised souls (saints)’, not the gathering of saints.

    3.. आत्मारामु is usually thought of as Lord of my soul (rather than delighter of soul) So the meaning of that couplet is understood to be,

    Great is the friendship of saints / (because of which) the lord of my soul became apparent (to me).

    I see that it has been some time since the last translation. Hope you start again soon to make these abhangs available to a wider audience.

    Cheers,
    Shreedhar

  39. Thank you, Shreedhar. In the literal translations, I have attempted to reduce any interpretation as far as possible (even so, sometimes it creeps in). Hence, the rather awkward “On father-mother-lady-Rakhu” and the rather-too-literal “soul-delighter” which I have placed in brackets after the untranslatable Atmaramu. With “assemblage” v. “friendship” you have a point. While assemblage is the literal translation, another literal translation could be “community” to indicate the collective v. an actual gathering.

    The treatment of “father-mother” through literal to interpretative translation is discussed in the notes on Mogara: https://akashdeshpande.wordpress.com/about/translations-from-marathi/mogara.

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