Monday, 21 March 2011

Recently I again read "Madhushala" by Harivansh Rai Bachchan after
many days. I was floored by the sheer romance of the verses and an
idea germinated in my mind . For those who may not be aware let me
introduce Madhushala. This is a path breaking creation in Hindi
literature and has captivated the hearts of everybody who have read it
or heard a version of the poems rendered by Manna Dey in his
mellifluous voice or Amitabh Bachhan, son of the poet , in his
baritone. First published in 1935 , it became a rage amongst modern
Hindi literary circle. It still continues to be one of the most
popular Hindi composition and its verses are often quoted for their
ephemeral quality.

The nearest meaning of Madhushala in english is "The Tavern" and it
literally means Nectar (madhu) abode (shala). The poet has described
human life cycle through the eyes of a drunken person and his relation
with the tavern which is the microcosmic world itself. I will not go
further into the explanations as many eminent persons have already
explained a lot on this . This poetry is in the educational courses of
many universities as a major resource of Hindi Literature.So it will
be a travesty for me to attempt any explanation of the poetry. But I
have to humbly say that the verses are multi dimensional and is not
only an ode to Bacchanalia or a debauched mind. Beneath the apparent
celebration of decadence lies a wonderful dissection of the social
norms, values and the relevance of the contemporary society . The
spiritual tone of the verses are understated and lies intricately
embedded in the irreverent treatment of organised religion . All in
all , you will love it again and again. Those who can read and
understand Hindi have definitely read and enjoyed them. I want to
share them with people who have not read it in Hindi. Also it has been
my experience that all Hindi speaking people do not necessarily know
proper Hindi or read Hindi poetry.

What I intend to do is to convey the message of the poet as I feel it
myself. Translation of the poetry in literal terms will spoil the
beauty of the verses as no foreign language has the exact literal
meaning of the words used in them. But poetry conveys some universal
meaning. It is a matter of perception. I want to explore that. So in
my spare time I will delve into these verses and try to understand
them in my own way. They will be primarily updated on my blog . These may not be in a chronological ,
literary or any order whatsoever as regimentation doesn't suit my
personality. Whatever I like and understand will be trans-generated.
Some of them will also be updated on facebook. I will try to be as
regular as I can be . But naturally they will tend to be be sporadic
as the essence of the poetry is vast and the scale is overwhelming. I
have consciously avoided to search for previous translation (s) as I
do not want to be influenced by any other translator .

Before anybody points out that this is just a form of copying, I beg
with folded hands that Yes, I am proud to copy the ideas and share
them with everybody. In our lives, we cannot always become a candle. I
would rather be the mirror which reflects light than remain a part of
the darkness. I also hope this endeavour will keep me creatively
occupied and fill in the vaccum once the Cricket World Cup ends.
Friends are requested to give their views and suggestions on my
postings on the blog ( or facebook and
keep me encouraged.

As a first step, with much trepidation, I submit:

Verse 6 : Madhushala

madiralay mein jaane ko ghar se chaltaa hai peenewaala
"kis path se jaaoon?" asmanjas mein hai wo bhola bhaala
alag alag path batalaate sab par main ye batlaata hoon
"raah pakad tu ek chalaa-chal, paa jaayega madhushaala"

The thirsty soul steps out of home to reach the cherished tavern.
Then faces the dillemma - "which way to go?" - wonders the poor chap.
Everyone helps him with separate ways to reach, but let me put it right -
" Chose a way and walk up straight, friend , you will find it in your sight"

Arunangshu Paul
visit me on facebook

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