Words that singeth…

Reading Sri Ramacharitamanasa of Tulsidas is always a rewarding experience. Indeed the original verses are so sweet that are no less a symphony stilled into the scattered words. They are not merely poetic in the sense you enjoy the structure and meaning and say ‘wow’! The work is undoubtedly a grand epic poem but the poem that is pro-active in putting an end to your slumber, in awakening you from dreamy sleep, and in instructing you on your way up. Can we have that same magic in its translated version? Very many people affirm a big NO!

Sri Rama talking to Lakshmana, while in search of Sita

I have of course read prosaic translation in English that does not, in my humble opinion, do  justice to the original. And how difficult is to translate the original in English verses? Will that make an appeal to your heart? These were some random thoughts when I received a  response in the Comments section, the following from Skendha. Who is she? A young lady from New Delhi, she is a regular visitor to this blog. In her own words, somewhere else on the internet, “I’m more a mind demon, love reading, writing, eating!…Idealistic and spiritual and sensitive…” Her favourite  quote is always from Swami Vivekananda.

After reading her creation, I was, to say the least, stunned. I read it out to a few others who were equally stunned and said that the translation has taken newer heights in understanding the original’s beauty. I am happy to place her ‘offering’ in my blog thus sharing the joy that I felt. (Incidentally this is the 100th Post in this blog!)

Skendha wrote:

Revered Maharaj,

I hope it will not be an impudence but since you made that kind suggestion, I am bringing it up… I had translated the passage into verse some years ago. And I am reproducing it here, just as an offering . Please kindly accept it. With warmest regards,

Sincere pranam,

Skendha, New Delhi

===================================

Epic of Ram: The Season of Rains

Translated from Goswami Tulasidasji’ SriRamCharitMaanas.

Lakshman behold the peacocks !
Dancing for the darkened skies;
Rejoicing as the devotee who
Discovers a Vaishnava monk in sight.
 
The rolling thunder of stormy clouds strains against the shadowy skies,
And in the absence of My precious Sita, bereft of all peace am I;
The lightning bolt tearing the clouds wilfully whirls across the horizon,
Darting and flitting as do the sentiments of a rake, loyal to no one.
 
The raining clouds are strung over the earth, bowed with their burden,
Humble as him who, toiling for years attains to divine wisdom;
How these great mountains do face the onslaught of pitiless torrents,
With calm fortitude as the saints, who endure the fool’s comments.
 
The sated streams blossoming into rivers, frolic along their shores
Glorying in their noveau riches, just as the knave who must make a show.
The embrace of the earth stains the fair, bright showers from heaven,
Muddied, as if they were the soul of man tarnished by dark delusions.
 
The streams rush on, and filling the lustrous lake are lost in it’s bosom,
Drawn unerringly as the divine qualities are towards a holy one;
The wild course of the heedless rivers ends in the placid expanse of the seas;
Sojourning like the soul which, merging with Hari, attains eternal peace.
 
Four quarters of this forest are dripping with croaks, chirps, many songs,
Blissful as when the bramhacharins, chant the Vedas, to herald the dawn.
The wet branches of dark brown trees which bring forth leaves of glossy green,
Are beautified as the mind of a seeker which, blessed by intellect, becomes serene.
 
Oh look Brother! how the stars are challenged by this brave battalion of fireflies!
Ill-advised as the gathering of cheats who make a hollow show for all eyes.
And here and there lie weary travellers, broken down and pining for rest,
Ravaged as the senses of a man, in whom discrimination has made conquest.
 
Lo! it is day as Divakar smiles, 
But He is hidden again and lo! it is night.
As the cloud-bank, so is company, My Son,
It fires or smothers our Eternal Light. 

===========================================

 

24 comments

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Ashina
      Indeed true! Thats why our scriptures are called ‘maargadarshi’ – guideposts.
      May Gurudeva bless you!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  1. Respected Maharaj ji,
    My sincere thanks to Skendha who has translated so nicely the Ramcharit Manas.
    At the same time I am not finding my words how I am grateful to you. Your each and every post is not only interesting but very educative. Staying far in South Africa you are really helping devotees of the whole world and making a good relation with each other. I am remembering the words from Gita “sutre maniganaa iva“. This you are doing through your blog.
    Maharaj ji, 6th is Ratha Yatra I am expecting a good post from you.
    Again my sincere thanks to you and pronam,
    Madhumita Ghose (Typhoon)
    Kolkata

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Madhu
      Thanks for your appreciative words!
      This is just my humble way of expression of my seva to IT-enabled public.
      Nothing more need to be read.
      For your info, Ratha Yatra is NOT on 6th July but as per the Bangla panjika (almanac) it is scheduled on 3rd July which is 18th day of Ashaadh.
      May Sri Sri Thakur bless you!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

      1. Respected Maharaj ji,
        Extremely sorry, Yes you are right!
        It is my mistake.
        Ratha Yatra is on 3 July, 2011 Sunday.
        Pronam,
        Madhumita Ghose (TYPHOON)
        Kolkata, India

        Like

  2. Revered maharaj
    Beautifully translated!
    One can effortlessly picturize the magic of the rainy season from such verbal eloquence.
    Kudos to Skendha for a job so meticulously done and thanks to Maharaj ji for sharing it with us!
    Regards and pranam,
    Rupali Rakshit
    Sharjah, UAE

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Rupali
      Happy that you enjoyed reading the English version of the passage from Sri Ram charit manas! well done by Skendha.
      May the pure joy help in intensifying your devotion at His lotus feet!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  3. Respected Swamiji
    I read the first line an I am already enthralled.
    Unfortunately I cannot enjoy this at the moment as there is too much going on in the office to give this the respect that it deserves.
    I shall print it out and get back to you.
    Kailash Maharaj
    Durban, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Kailash
      Happy that you would like to study the translation out of office hours!
      I shall await of course your response in time.
      May the pure joy help in intensifying your devotion at His lotus feet!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  4. Rama personifies courage and fearlessness that Swamiji so often spoke of. That is how I look upon Rama.
    Ramakrishna whose personality combined both the manly and the feminine aspects of Godhood showed this former aspect through the life of Swamiji. That is why Thakur is the Purna Avatar.
    Maybe I am wrong. Maybe to call Thakur an Avataar would be to belittle him…….for how can a limited mind comprehend something that is larger than even the infinite.
    Dr Shubhashish Sircar
    Ranchi, Jharkhand, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Shubhashish
      Your idea indeed is thought provoking!
      There are various explanations for the concept of purna-avatar.
      But I strongly admire the expression of humility in your words, wondering “how can a limited mind comprehend something that is larger than even the infinite.”
      I remember reading the other day in the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna a passage that comes in Chapter 24. It was Wednesday, June 24, 1884. It reads thus:
      (To Shrish) What is your idea about the most essential thing in life?”
      SHRISH: “God exists and He alone does everything. But the attributes we ascribe to Him are not the right ones. How can a man canceive of Him? His nature is infinite.”
      MASTER: “What need is there of your counting the number of trees and branches in an orchard? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Do that and be happy. The aim of human birth is to love God. Realize that love and be at peace.
      “Suppose you have entered a tavern for a drink. Is it necessary for you to know how many gallons of wine there are in the tavern? One glass is enough for you. What need is there of your knowing the infinite qualities of God? You may discriminate for millions of years about God’s attributes and still you will not know them.”

      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  5. Revered Maharaj
    Sincere pranam!
    I am deeply humbled at this graciousness beyond compare.
    And I truly have no words except offering pranam.
    The original passage is so striking and poignant that it inspires even the dullest of hearts such as mine.
    It is the spiritual genius of Goswami Tulsidas at work.
    Congratulations on the 100th post on this wonderful blog Revered Maharaj!
    Prayers to Sri Ma that we may see the thousandth here!
    Also the layout of each post is beautiful as Revered Maharaj has a keen aesthetic sense, and it is fully displayed in this one.
    Warmest regards
    Sincere pranam
    Skendha
    New Delhi, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Skendha
      In this country as I said earlier, the India origin people seldom use their mother tongues. Thats why whatever in connection with our ancient culture, tradition etc comes up in English, they just love to go through. They are so much interested in Ramayan of Tulsidas that they love to read it in English. They have deep devotion. It is in this context, I was very much impressed when I saw your translation. Then I decided to place it in my blog.
      From the comments that are coming, you might have noticed how this translation has become a joyful reading for others. There are some that they savour their own creations and deny them for others. There are some others who share their creations with others. If only M had kept his diary for himself, the world would have been bereft of Kathamrita – The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. If only Swami Saradananda had kept his writing on the Life of Master with himself only, we would have lost the Great Master.
      Many a time creative writers start writing for one’s own pleasure but to make it available for others also is necessary. It comes under paropakaram. Shying from that sharing seem to be a selfish attitude.
      So, if you have been doing the translation of other selected passages from the Ramcharitmanas, do continue with all verve and vigour. Don’t worry now about the sharing with the world but just go on writing…And think of it if even one person is benefitted by reading what you wrote, it is so wonderful as the Bhagavata says bhuvi grnanti ye bhurida janah they are magnanimous who spread the word of God!
      May Lord Sri Ram help you in spreading His glory!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  6. ||Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
    My adorations at the feet of Master, Holy Mother, Swamiji and revered Maharaj
    Aum Namo Narayanaya
    Dearest Maharaj
    My sincere congratulations on your 100th post.
    This blog has played an important role of inspiring so many people towards god.
    May it continuously grow is my sincere prayer!
    I totally agree that translations do not really do justice to what the writer is trying to convey.
    In my opinion the “bhav” is lost in translation. One of my favourite Ram bhajan is:
    Shri Ramchandra Kripalu bhaj man, haran bhav bhay darunam, Shri Ram.
    Navkanj lochan, kanj mukh kar, kanj pad kanjjarunam,
    Haran bhav bhay darunam, Shri Ram.
    Kandarp agnit amit chavi, navneel neerad sundaram
    Pata peet manahu tadita ruchi shuchi noumi, janaka sutavaram.

    O my heart! Sing praises of Sri Ram,
    Who absolves the greatest fears due to the cycle of life and death, and
    Whose eyes, mouth, hands, and feet are like a newly blooming red lotus!
    I bow to Sri Ram,
    Whose beauty cannot be compared with that of the cupid Kamdev,
    Whose pleasing appearance is beyond any measures,
    Whose body is like a newly formed dense blue cloud,
    Whose yellow robes are shining like lightening (on His cloud like body),
    Whose beauty is gleaming, and
    Who is the consort of the daughter of Janak.

    Maharaj! although reading the translation we are awestruck by the description of Shri Rama. But listening to it in the original form really brings tears to my eyes.
    I wish sometimes we were all knowledgable in the languages that the scriptures were written in, so we can feel the love, bhav, and emotion with which it was presented.
    May we attain the grace of God!
    with love and prayers
    Yogan
    Tongaat, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Yogan
      Sincerity rings in your warm appreciative words! Many thanks for that!
      It is absolutely true that in absence of encouragement from the avid readers, it would not have been possible to attain the milestone of 100th Post!
      By quoting a mesmerising bhajan of Tulsidas on Sri Rama, you have nudged my nostalgic memories of the past – when in the years between 1971 and 1975, at our Kanpur ashrama, as a novice brahmacharin, I used to sit and listen to Revered Purananandaji Maharaj whose mellifluous voice would actually take me to a different world! The bhava would ooze out to make your eyes wet! This must be my eternally favourite song!
      Sometimes I do wonder at witnessing the devotees in this land, getting into bhava without knowing the word-by-word meaning. And there are some like me who understands the grammar and meaning but bereft of bhava!
      One such strange feature Swami Abhedanandaji, a direct disciple of the Master too wonders at:
      shritvaatra te naama bhavanti bhaktaah
      drishtvaa vayam twaam na tu bhakti yuktaah…

      Many become your devotees
      merely by hearing your name;
      we however have no devotion
      for you although we see you!

      May the grace of God flow unceasingly!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  7. O Skendha!
    You precious soul!
    surely you were there
    as you wrote each word;
    and definitley the music of
    your words drew me there.
    God bless.
    Kissoon
    Chatsworth, SA

    Like

    1. Dear Uncle Kissoonji,
      Namaste!
      What immeasurably valuable blessings!
      Revered Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj has told us about your considerable experience, dedication and genius.. and therefore your benediction is precious beyond words to a novice such as me.
      Thank you many times over
      Warm Regards,
      Skendha
      New Delhi, India

      Like

  8. Respected Maharaj,
    Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam!
    I am a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and the Holy Mother, and am extremely delighted to come across this site of yours. I am presently based out of Hyderabad. If you have any plan of visiting Hyderabad kindly let me know.
    Regards
    Shantanu Dey
    Hyderabad, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Shantanu
      A hearty Welcome to this site! I am so happy to know that you are a devotee of the Holy Trio.
      I hope you have been blessed with mantra-diksha already. Pay attention to your sadhana.
      Do you visit our Ashram in Hyderabad? Its a wonderful ashram. I had stayed there for a few days when I was involved in Relief & Rehabilitation Program for the tidal wave affected poor families in coastal Andhra sometime in 1978-79. As on now, no plans to visit India. Rest Master only knows! Inscrutable is His Maya!!
      May your devotion at His lotus feet grow leaps and bounds!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  9. Dearest Maharaj
    Om Namo Narayanaya!
    Hope Maharaj is well.
    Thanks Maharaj for these blog posts. Only a pure, flawless, and experienced (with the highest knowledge) Soul can speak such beautiful words of the Divine. It is through these blog posts we are able to acquaint ourselves with such Divinity as Tulsidasji.
    Skendha! May Sri Raam‘s Grace be ever upon you!
    Thanks once again
    Humble pranam
    Meera Maharaj
    Durban, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Meera
      You are absolutely right Meera, when you say that “Only a pure, flawless, and experienced (with the highest knowledge) Soul can speak such beautiful words of the Divine.” Tulsidas belongs to the saints of highest order who are pure in heart. Thats why he could have darshan of Sri Ram in his home as his guard!
      Pujya Swami Sivanandaji of Rishikesh in his popular book “Lives of Saints” says about Tulsidas :
      It is said that once some thieves came to Tulsidas’s Ashram to take away his goods. They saw a blue-complexioned guard, with bow and arrow in his hands, keeping watch at the gate. Wherever they moved, the guard followed them. They were frightened. In the morning they asked Tulsidas, “O venerable saint! We saw a young guard with bow and arrow in his hands at the gate of your residence. Who is this man?”
      Tulsidas remained silent and wept. He came to know that Lord Rama Himself had been taking the trouble to protect his goods. He at once distributed all his wealth among the poor thus reducing the burden (!) of Sri Ram!!
      May reading about such divine souls intensify your devotion at His lotus feet!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  10. Respected Maharaj,
    Thank you for putting such a beautiful translation here.
    I saw your blog only two days ago and I am already feeling that it’s a treasure trove.
    May God bless the translator!
    Regards
    Ananya Jana
    Guwahati, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Ananya
      Welcome to this blog!
      Thanks for the appreciative words from some one from the North-East! I have nostalgic memories of your place, not only for Kamakhya Devi but also for the wonderful monk of Guwahati ashrama late Swami Ijyanandaji. He was one of mentors (guru-tulyo) for me.
      The translator Skendha of New Delhi would be happy to read your comment.
      with love to and prayers for all the members in your family,
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

      1. Respected Maharaj,
        Actually I am not from Assam. I am from Bengal but I study here. I have visited Kamakhya Temple and also Guwahati Ramakrishna Mission. My mother’s cousin has become a monk, now in Jayrambati (Tushar Majaraj).
        I also want to join Sri Sarada Math when I have completed my studies.
        Please bless me that this dream becomes a reality for me.
        Thanking You
        Ananya
        Guwahati, Assam, India

        Like

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