Who will quench this burning fire within me? I can stay no longer in this natal home of mine. He, my beloved, is far far away in the most beautiful of towns where nobody comes or goes. Who will take a message to Him for me? Who will tell Him of my unbearable pain of separation from Him? The path to my beloved’s town is not clear. Is it my past which clouds the way to Him? Oh how this separation burns me! Who else but my Guru can tell me the secret to reach Him? Listen, O Good people, He comes in my dreams to quench this fire in my soul.
So sings Kabir in this beautiful and mystical song. Was this burning need for God which showed him the way to salvation, I wonder? How many births do we need to take before the need burns as strong in us? How many lifetimes do we have to live until we can shake off the earthly needs and desires which make us dance to their tunes? Where will we find the Guru who can show us the way, the path to our Lord’s hometown?
Today is Guru Poornima, the day to honour our preceptors. We have so many teachers in our lives, do we not? Our parents are our first teachers, followed by those at school and at university. Our spouses and our children teach us as they show us how to be and how not to be. Our friends too are our teachers, for do we not learn from them? Our sins and our mistakes are our teachers too, for they point to us the error of our ways. Books are often excellent teachers, as are strangers on the web who share their knowledge. I look around me and all I see are teachers and teachers..and I see a glimpse of the ultimate preceptor in all of them. I thank and honour them all, for they have all been part of making the person who I am today. But like Kabir I ask, who will teach me the way forward? When will He come to quench my thirst? Today on Guru Poornima day I pray for a Guru to show me the way home. For this naiharwa, this natal home of mine, this earth, palls day by day.
To present this song, I have chosen a rendition by Kailash Kher. Though he doesn’t sing the middle verse, I love his rendition for his voice is the salt of the Indian earth. Ideally though, I would have liked the accompaniments to be simple and traditional instruments. I am a great fan of Kabir’s poetry and in the voice of Kailash Kher it becomes something magical.
Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :
Poetry : Kabir
Language: Braj Bhasha
Note: The lyrics are unauthenticated. They are sufficient for the purpose of enjoying the song but should not be referred for any scholarly work.
नैहरवा हमका न भावै , न भावै रे ।
सॉई की नगरी परम अति सुन्दर,
जहाँ कोई जाए ना आवै ।
चाँद सुरज जहाँ, पवन न पानी,
कौ संदेस पहुँचावै,
दरद यह सॉई को सुनावै ।
आगे चालौ (चलौ?) पंथ नहीं सूझै,
पीछे दोष लगावै ।
केहि बिधि ससुरे जाऊँ मोरी सजनी,
बिरहा जोर जरावै ,
विषैरस नाच नचावै ।
बिन सतगुरू अपनों नहीं कोई,
जो यह राह बतावै ।
कहत कबीर सुनो भाई साधो,
सपने में प्रीतम आवै,
तपन यह जिया की बुझावै ।
naiharwA hamkA na bhAvai
sAyI kI nagarI parama ati sundar
jahA.n kOI jAyE na Avai
chA.nd suraj jahA.n pavan na pAnI
kOU sandEs pahu.chAvai
darad yah sAyI kO sunAvai
AgE chAlau panTH nahi.n sUjhai
pICHE dOsh lagAvai
kEhi bidhi sasurE jAU.n mOrI sajanI
birahA jOr jarAvai
vishairas nAch nachAvai
bin satguru apnO.n nahI.n kOI
jO yah rAh batAvai
kahat kabIr sunO bhAI sAdhO
sapnE mE.n prItam Avai
tapan yah jiyA kI bujhAvai
My natal home (naiharwA) appeals no more (na bhAvai) to me (hamkA).
The town (nagarI) of (kI) God (sAyI) is so very (ati) beautiful (sundar),
but no one (kOI na) goes (jAyE) or comes (Avai) from there (jahA.n).
There is no (jahA.n na) sun (sUraj) or moon (chA.nd), nor wind (pavan) or water (pAnI).
Who (kOU) will take (pahu.chAvai) my message (sandEs) there?
Who will talk of (sunAvai) this (yah) pain (darad) to God (sAyI)?
I cannot comprehend (nahI.n sUjhAi) the path (panTH) to go (chAlau) forward (AgE),
One blames (dosh lagAvai) the past (pICHE) for it.
Which way (kEhI bidhi) shall I go to (jAU.n) my in-law’s home (sasurE), my (mOrI) love (sajanI) (? (Note: unsure as to who is addressed as mOrI sajanI=my love in a feminine form)
This separation (birahA) burns me (jarAvai) intensely (jOr),
this poisonous blood (vishairas) (unsure?) makes me dance (nAch nachAvai) to its tune (implied).
There is none else (nahI.n kOI) except (bin) my good (sat) Guru
who (jO) can tell me (batAvai) of this (yah) pathway (rAh).
Kabir says (kahat) ‘Listen (sunO) O my good (sAdhO) brothers (bhai) ,
The Lord (my beloved) (prItam) comes (Avai) in (mE.n) my dream (sapnE)
and quenches (bhujhAvai) this (yah) burning (tapan) of (kI) my soul (jiyA)’.