I have always been proud of coming from a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country. In today’s migratory world, many countries can claim the same. But immigrants remain foreigners at least for a generation or two; sometimes for more. In India, we are all different but we are none of us foreigners! As strange as it may be to reach some corner of India where the language is indecipherable, the culture alien and the food unrecognisable, we still look at the people and accept the oneness of being Indian.
So it gives me great pleasure when famous musicians bravely launch into songs from elsewhere in India with passion and enjoyment. I was recently listening to the live telecast of T.M.Krishna’s concert at Spic Macay convention. I am a fan of TMK; I almost always enjoy his music. The last song he sang was the Bengali song Dhano Dhanno Pushpo Bhora. It was a fan request; evidently people have heard him sing this before. I listened with interest as I know this song well. His musicality was beautiful and his rendition full of emotion. But I have to say this much as I hate to do so – the pronunciation just didn’t work. I understand; it is so difficult for us Indians to learn and appreciate each other’s languages, isn’t it! It is all so different, especially Tamil and Bengali. I know; I am fluent in both. Still, I am very happy that he chose to present this lovely piece of nationalistic poetry by Dwijendralal Ray (1863-1913). Perhaps a new set of audience will come to appreciate these beautiful words. This song has been sung in the past by M.S.Subbulakshmi as well. Given that my audience is almost 99% non-Bengali, I am writing this post to bring this song to the attention of all you readers.
Before I transcribe it, I would like to bring some important points about pronunciation in Bengali. My readers would be well used to the modified version of the Harvard Kyoto transliteration scheme which I use in this blog. I have described it in this page. To be able to transliterate Bengali, I have the need for two more vowel symbols. ɒ is like o as in Hot. This is the ‘default’ vowel sound in Bengali; it often replaces अ in Sanskrit. अ can also be replaced by o like in old. The other vowel sound which occurs frequently is ɛ like ai in air. Other than that, Sanskrit words when used in Bengali have the following replacements of consonants (I list the ones in the song, this is not a universal list).
v as in vasundhara (earth in Sanskrit) is replaced with b
s as in sakal (from sakala, total / everything in Sanskrit) is replaced with sh
sw like in swapna (dream in Sanskrit) is replaced with sh
rya like in sUrya (sun in Sanskrit) is replaced with rjɒ
note also that rAnI in Sanskrit, Hindi and Bengali is with the soft न (n) unlike Tamil where the hard ण (ண – N) is used.
I’ve selected a beautifully sung rendition from the West Bengal Sangeet Academy for you to listen to while you follow along with the words below. The lyrics are in Bengali with English transliteration. My thanks to my husband who proof read and corrected the Bengali script for me. I hope you enjoy it!
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ধন ধান্য পুষ্প ভরা আমাদের এই বসুন্ধরা
তাহার মাঝে আছে দেশ এক সকল দেশের সেরা
ও সে স্বপ্ন দিয়ে তৈরি সে দেশ স্মৃতি দিয়ে ঘেরা |
এমন দেশটি কোথাও খুঁজে পাবে নাকো তুমি
ও সে সকল দেশের রাণী সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি
সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি, সে যে আমার জন্মভূমি।।
dhɒno dhanno pushpo bhɒrA AmAdEr Ey boshundhɒrA
tAhAr mAjhE ACHE dEsh ɛk shɒkol dEshEr shErA
O shE shɒpno diyE tOyrI shE dEsh smriti diyE ghɛrA
ɛmOn dEshti kOthA’O khu.njE pAbE nAkO tumi
O shE shɒkol dEshEr rAnI shE jE AmAr jɒnmo bhUmi
shE jE AmAr jɒnmo bhUmi, shE jE AmAr jɒnmo bhUmi
In this (Ey) earth (boshundhɒrA) which is ours (AmAdEr), filled with (bhɒrA ) with riches (dhɒno), grain (dhanno) and flowers (pushpo), in the midst (mAjhE) of which (tAhAr) is (ACHE) a (ɛk) country (dEsh) which is the best (shErA) amongst all (shɒkol) countries (dEshEr). That which is (O shE) created (tOyrI ) with dreams (shɒpno) , that (shE) country (dEsh) is surrounded (ghɛrA) by memories (shmriti ). You (tumi) will never (nAkO) find (khu.njE pAbE) a country (dEshti) such as this (ɛmon) anywhere (kOthA’O)! That which is (O shE) the queen (rAnI) of all countries (shɒkol dEshEr), that is (shE jE) my (AmAr) birthplace (jɒnmo bhUmi).
চন্দ্র সূর্য গ্রহ তারা, কোথায় উজান এমন ধারা,
কোথায় এমন খেলে তড়িৎ, এমন কালো মেঘে,
ও তার পাখির ডাকে ঘুমিয়ে পড়ে (alt: উঠে ) পাখির ডাকে জেগে।
chɒndro shUrjo grɒho tArA, kOthAy ujAn ɛmon dhArA
kOthAy ɛmon khɛlE tɒDit, ɛmon kAlO mEghE,
O tAr pAkhir DAkE ghumiyE pɒDE (alt: uTHE) pAkhir DAkE jEgE
The moon (chɒndro), the sun (shUrjo), the planets (grɒho), the stars (tArA) – where (kOthAy) is such a (ɛmon) stream (dhArA) with an upstream flow (ujAn)? Where (kOthAy) does lightning (tɒDit) play (khɛlE) like this (ɛmon), amongst black (kAlO) clouds (mEghE) like this (ɛmon)? Which falls asleep (ghumiyE pɒDE/uTHE) with the call (DAkE) of its (tAr) birds, having also (implied) woken (jEgE) with bird calls (pAkhir DAkE).
এত স্নিগ্ধ নদী কাহার কোথায় এমন ধুম্র পাহাড়
কোথায় এমন হরিৎ ক্ষেত্র আকাশ তলে মেশে
এমন ধানের উপর ঢেউ খেলে যায় বাতাস কাহার দেশে
ɛtO snigdhO nɒdI kAhAr, kOthAy ɛmon dhUmro pAhAD,
kOthAy ɛmon hɒrit khEtrO AkAsh tɒlE mEshE,
ɛmon dhAnEr Upɒr dhE’U khɛlE jAy, bAtAsh kAhAr dEshE
Whose (kAhAr) river (nɒdI) is as (ɛtO) gentle (snigdhO)? Where (kOthAy) are such (ɛmon) misty (dhUmro) mountains (pAhAD)? Where (kOthAy) are fields (khEtrO) green (hɒrit) like this (ɛmon) blending (mEshE) under (tɒlE) the skies (AkAsh)? In whose (kAhAr) country (dEshE) does the wind (bAtAsh) play (khɛlE) like waves (dhE’U) over (Upɒr) the rice fields (dhAnEr)?
পুষ্পে পুষ্পে ভরা শাখি কুঞ্জে কুঞ্জে গাহে পাখি
গুঞ্জরিয়া আসে অলি পুঞ্জে পুঞ্জে ধেয়ে
তারা ফুলের ওপর ঘুমিয়ে পড়ে ফুলের মধু খেয়ে।
pushpE pushpE bhɒrA shAkhi, kunjE kunjE gAhE pAkhi
gunjɒriyA AshE oli punjE punjE dhEyE
tArA phUlEr Upɒr ghumiyE pɒDE phUlEr mɒdhu khEyE
Branches (shAkhi) filled (bhɒrA ) with flowers (pushpE, repeated for emphasis), birds (pAkhi) singing (gAhE) in bowers (kunjE kunjE), bees (oli) rush (dhEyE) in buzzing (gunjɒriyA) swarms (punjE punjE). They (tArA) sleep (ghumiyE pɒDE) on (Upɒr) the flowers (phUlEr) after having sipped (khEyE, literally eaten) the nectar (mɒdhu) of the flowers (phUlEr).
ভাইয়ের মায়ের এতো স্নেহ, কোথায় গেলে পাবে কেহ,
ও মা তোমার চরণ দুটি বক্ষে আমার ধরি,
আমার এই দেশেতে জন্ম যেন এই দেশেতে মরি।
bhAiyEr mAyEr ɛtO snEhO kothAy gElE pAbE kEhO
O mA tOmAr chɒron duTi bɒkkhE AmAr dhɒri
AmAr Ey dEshEtE jɒnmo jɛno Ey dEshEtE məri
Where (kOthAy) can anyone (kEhO) go (gElE) to get (pAbE) so much (ɛtO) love (snEhO) from brothers (baAiyEr) and mothers (mAyEr)? O Mother (mA), I hold (dhɒri) your (tOmAr) two (duTi) feet (chɒron) on my (AmAr) chest (bɒkkhE ). My (AmAr) birth (jɒnmo) was in this (Ey) country (dEshEtE), take care that (jɛno) I die (məri) in this (Ey) country (dEshEtE).