Shilpa Rao & Noori: Paar Chanaa De


This week's Maitri Tunes brings us the journey that a seeker undertakes: "That of losing oneself, to find Oneself." Here the love story of Sohni-Mahiwal is used as a metaphor to suggest that a seeker (Sohni) longs to cross the river of desires and reach the cave of the heart (Mahiwal).

Click below to listen :





खुसरौ दरिया प्रेम का, उलटी वा की धार
जो उतरा सो डूब गया, जो डूबा सो पार

"Wondrous are the ways of love’s river, running in directions strange. He who enters it, drowns, O Khusrau, and he who drowns goes across."

There’s a whirlpool inside. Questions swim up and sink back into the vortex. I must attempt to embrace them, and swim with them to the other shore where answers wait.

It is a deathly dark night. Sohni’s senses have taken leave of her. They have flocked to Mahiwal, the princely buffalo herder. He drives them now. Try as she may, Sohni can no longer ignore the call of the beloved across the Chenab, whose little hut she spies from this side of her marital home. A married woman going in the dark, night after night, to meet in secret rendezvous her love who awaits her by the riverside – reminds me of Laila, Heer and Mira…

But who is this songster and what is it he so intriguingly sings about? Is he a forlorn lover? Or a devotee “wanting a God outside and beyond himself to reach out to and worship, or the sage who wants to realise himself as the One Self reaching out to his idea?” Is he a dualist or a monist? Sometimes, he appears to be this, sometimes that, in this poem.

Who is he indeed? A shape-shifter, he takes on this role, then another, and yet another. A silver-tongued bard who speaks for so many actors? Is he the clay pot that the wise liken to the body – fragile and easily broken? One with form and name destined to perish in the waters of samsara? Is he a charlatan pretending to be a teacher? Or is he the Lover that sits in the garb of Mahiwal across the river waiting for Sohni, the Beautiful One, in the hut? Is the hut not, in fact, the cave of the heart that the Upanishads speak of? In the secret cave of the heart, two are seated by life’s fountain. If it is, who goes across the river, to seek whom?

Has the poet donned Sohni’s garment and must now swim across the deluge to the call of Love, knowing well she is not going to make it – not alive? Khusrau is right. He who enters this turbulent river must drown. Yet what is it that makes her willing and joyful in the face of the annihilation? How she follows Love as it beckons her!

Is this the Love which Kahlil Gibran speaks of as one, the ways of whom are hard and steep?  

Sohni is bound to meet with her Mahiwal tonight, come what may. For her heart knows that "like sheaves of corn Love will gather her unto himself. He will thresh her to make her naked. He will sift her to free her from her husks. He will grind her to whiteness. He will knead her until she is pliant; and then He will assign her to His sacred fire, that she may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast."

Yes, her heart, it knows. And so she has thrown herself into the deathly river. Let the vessel of the body break if it must. But is she only the body, I wonder? Can the evanescent body alone leave in its wake such eternal beauty, such elevating poetry, painting, stories? And yet, is the temporal of no consequence? If clay were enough, why would the potter put it on the wheel and toil to shape it into a pot?

Is this poet only another poet? His poem just another song of misfortune in the annals of the love? Isn’t he also the inner guide, the Master, murshid, the yogi who, as the fired clay pot, has been scorched in the fire of knowledge that makes possible union with Love? The sakhi (friend) who sweetly asks Radha to burn the bridges of envy, fame, pride and reputation in the fire of longing to unite with Krishna? Is he not the ‘sound guide’ that will help Sohni across the whirling pools of transience?

But listen here. What of the river? Are there two shores or they only appear to be so? Sohni on the one shore, Mahiwal, on the other. Does the Chenab divide them, or is the division illusory? When both find immersion and absolution in it, all that is left is the river. Did not Tagore say only in love are unity and duality not in conflict!

Yes, nods the heart and smiles, if a little sadly. The swirling waves of the Chenab remind it of Krishna, the master-charioteer who sang the Gita in the middle of a great battlefield. Must the most beautiful songs be sung and heard in moments of drowning despair and death? But, then, Khusrau, tells us of the wondrous ways of love:

"He who drowns in this river is taken across to the shore, to the beyond"

Paar Channa De

This week's poetic write up is contributed by Bhavana Pankaj, a gifted writer and fellow pilgrim across the vast sound-scapes of life.

 





Lyrics and Translation:

Paar channa de disse kulli yaar di
Ghadeya ghadeya, aa ve ghadeya


O clay-pot, dear clay pot
Across the Chenab I see
The Beloved's hut
Come, let’s keep going

Raat haneri nadi thathaan maardi
Adiye adiye, haan ni adiye


Listen girl…
The night is deathly dark
And waves of the river surge high around us
Listen girl, dear girl, be not stubborn

Paar chana de disse kulli yaar di…
Across the Chenab I see…
Kachhi meri mitti kachha mera naam ni
Haan main nakaam ni
Ho main naakaam ni, haan main nakaam ni


One of form unsound
Name unsound
A pot of unbaked clay am I
Worthless, bound to melt away in the river…

Kachhi meri mitti kachha mera naam ni
Haan main na-kaam ni
Kachhiyaan da hunda kachha anjaam ni
Eh gal aam ni


One of form unsound
Name unsound
A pot of unbaked clay am I
Worthless, bound to melt away in the river…
That is the destiny of one such as me
I cannot but fail to carry you across
The unsound reach always an unsound end
A truth well known to all…

Kachheyaan te rakhiye na umeed paar di
Adiye adiye, haan ni adiye
Raat haneri nadi thaathaan maardi
Adiye adiye, haan ni adiye


Do not rely on the unsound
To take you across to the shore
Listen girl, dear girl, be not stubborn

Vekh chhallan paindiyan nah chhaddeen dil ve
Ajj mahiwaal noon main jaana mil ve (x2)


Behold, dear clay-pot,
The waters whirl higher and higher
But lose not your heart
For I am bound to meet Mahiwal tonight, come what may

Vekh chhallaan paindiyan na chadden dil ve
Haan laike khil ve
Ajj mahiwaal nou main jana mil ve
Haan aiho dil ve


Behold, the waters whirl higher and higher
But lose not your heart
Rejoice as you take me to him
For I am bound to meet Mahiwal tonight, come what may
My heart insists…

Yaar noon milegi ajj laash yaar di
Ghadeya ghadeya, aa ve ghadeya
Paar channah de disse kulli yaar di
Ghadeya ghadeya, aa ve ghadeya
Paar channa de disse khull yaar de
Ghadeya ghadeya aa ve ghadeya


It is the night of union
The lover will meet
With the his beloved
If it is her corpse, so what?
Come dear clay-pot, let’s keep going
For dear clay-pot
Across the Chenab I see
The beloved's hut…

Raat haneri nadi thaathaan maardi…

The night is deathly dark
And waves of the river surge high around us…

Paar chaana de disse khulli haan kulli…

O clay-pot, dear clay pot
Across the Chenab I see
The beloved's hut, the beloved’s hut…

…Adiye adiye, haan ni adiye

Listen girl, dear girl, be not stubborn…

Phad pallara
Phad pallara pakke murshad da
Jehda tainu paar lagaave
Jehda tainu paar lagaave


O, hold firm I say
Hold steadfast to the guide that is sound
Who will carry you safely across to the shore
Who will take you safely across to the shore



 


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