Admirers of Maithili

Maharsi Sri Aurobindo on Vidyapati

Vidyapati wrote in Maithili language prevalent in north Bihar and Nepal, which is very akin to Bengali. His songs relating to divine love of Radha Krishna became very popular in Bengal .Sri chaitanya, who adored them; they gained a high status and wide circulation. Bengalis adopted Vidyapati as their own poet as Sri Chaitanya. Even Rabindranath Tagore composed poetry on the emotional style of Vidyapati under the pen name of Bhanu Singher padavali.
Sri Aurobindo translated about 41 poems of Vidyapati from a very old Bengali version into English. This is an early work of Sri Aurobindo, while staying in Baroda soon after his return from England.
Sri Aurobindo passed 13 years from 8 Feb.1893 to18 June 1906 in the Baroda state service, first in the settlement and revenue department and in the secretariat work for the Maharaja, afterwards as professor of English and, finally, as vice principal in the Baroda college. These were years of self culture, of literary activity-for much of the poetry afterwards published from Pondicherry was written at this time-and of preparation for his future work. At Baroda he made up the deficiency of not having any contact with the culture of India and the east while staying in England, now he learnt Sanskrit and modern Indian languages like Bengali, Marathi and Gujarati.The last two being the official languages of Baroda state.
An exceptional mastery of Sanskrit at once opened to him the immense treasure house of the Indian heritage. He read the Upanishads, the Gita, the Puranas, the epics Ramayan, Mahabharat and the dramas of Kalidas etc.
Ancient India, the ageless India of spiritual culture and unwearied creative vitality, revealed herself to her wondering vision and he discovered the greatness of his own soul and the work it had comedown to accomplish.
Sri Aurobindo wrote many English poems during his stay at Baroda, and also began some which he finished later.
His first book of poems was published there for private circulation. It contained many poems written in England. in his teens. It also contained those five poetry collections written and translated at Baroda which included Vidyapati's 45 poems, four poems included are alternate versions.Sri aurobindo included other poetry like,Madhusudan Dutta ,one on Bankim Chandra Chatterji,a sonnet on his maternal grand father Rajnarayan Bose and two English adaptations from Chandidas,the reputed Bengali mystic poet whom he read along with Vidyapati at Baroda. This collection was published in 1895 and was named Songs of Myrtilla.
These 45 poems of Vidyapati were translated into English from an old Bengali edition, five years before Aurobindo's marriage in 1901 with Mrinalini ,the daughter of Bhupal Chandra Bose, when she was of 14 years of age. Her date of birth was 6 Mar 1888.She passed away after a week's illness due to Influenza at Baidyanath -dham Deoghar at the age of 32 on17 Dec.1920.
Here are some specimen of Vidyaptis songs translated by Sri Aurobindo & Anand K. Coomaraswamy
1.
Shaisab youban duhu mili gel,ssravanak path duhu lochan lel
Vachanak chaturi lahu lahu haas,Dharaniye chand karat parkash
Mukur lei aab karat singar sakhi se puchhai kaise surat vihar
Nirjane uraj herai kata beri,hasat apan payodhar heri
Pahil badari sam puni navrang,dine dine anang agoral ang
Madhav pekhal aprup bala,shaisab youban duhu ek bhela
Sri Aurobindo's Translation
Childhood and youth each other are nearing
Her two eyes their office yield to the hearing.
Her speech has learned sweet maiden craft
And low not as of old she laughed.
Her laughter murmurs.A moon on earth
Is dawning into perfect birth.
Mirror in hand she apparelsher now
And asks of her sweet girl-comrades to show
What love is and what love does
And all shamed delight that sweet love owes.
And often she sits by herself and sees
Smiling with bliss her breast's increase,
Her own milk -breasts that,plums at first,
Now into golden oranges burst.
Day by dayLove's vernal dreams
Expand her lovely blossoming limbs.
Madhav I saw a marvellous flower
Of girls;childhood and youth one power,
One presence grown in one body fair.
Foolish maiden ,not thus declare
The oneness of these contraries
Rather the two were yoked,say the wise.

Anand K.Coomarswamy's translation:-
Childhood and youth are mingled both.
Her eyes have taken the road to her ears:
Wily are her words,and her low laugh
As if the moon appeared on earth.
She takes a mirror to array herself.
And asks:'what is thegame of love ,my dear?'
How many times she secretly regards her bosom,
Smiling to see her breasts!
First like a jujube,then like an orange,-
Love day by day enfolds her limbs:
O Madhava,I saw a girl surpassing fair,
Childhood and youth were one in her!
Saith Vidyapati:Oh foolish maid,
The wise would say,The twain have met.
**
2.
Nav brindaban nav nav tarugan nav nav vikasit phool
Naval vasant naval malayanil matal nav alikul
Viharai naval kishor
Kalindi pulin kunj nav shobhan, nav nav prem bibhor
Naval rasal mukul madhu matal,nav kokil kul gao
Nav jubatigan chit umatael,nav rase kanan dhab
Nav yubraj naval navnagari, milay nav nav bhanti
Nit nit aisan nav nav Khelan,Vidyapati mati maati
**
Sri Aurobindo's Translation
A new Brindaban I see
And renewed each barren trees;
New flowers are blooming,
And another spring is;new
Southern breezes chase the dew
With new bees roaming .
And the sweet boy of Gocul strays
In new and freshning blossoming ways.
The groves upon Kalindi,s shore
With his tender beauty bloom
While freshed disturbedheart brims o'er
By the new born love o'ercome.
And the new, sweet cary buds
Are wild with honey in the woods;
New birds are singing ;
And the young girls wild with love
Run delighted to the grove
New heats bringing.
For young the heir of Gocul is
And young his passionate mistresses.
Meeting new and fresh love -rites
And lights of ever -fresh desire,
Sports ever- new delights
Set bidyapati's heart on fire.
**
3.
Ritupati rati rasik vrajraj, rasmay ras rabhas ras maanjh
Rasvati ramani ratan dhani rai,raas rasik sah ras avagai
Ranginigan ras rangahi natai,ranrani kankan kinkini ratai
Rahi rahi raag rachay rasvant,rati rat raagini raman basant
Ratati rabab mahatik vilas,Radharaman karu murali vilas
Rasmay Vidyapati kabi bhan,Rupnarayan bhupati jan.
**
Sri Aurobindo's Translation
In the spring moonlight the lord of love
Thro' the amorous ravel's maze doth move;
The crown of love love's raptures proves;
For Radha his amorous darling moves ,
Radha the ruby of ravishing girls
With him bathed in love's moonlight whirls.
And all the merry maidens with rapture
Dancing together the light winds capture
And the bracelets speak with a ravishing cry.
And the murmur of waist -bells rises high--
Meanwhile rapture -waking string
Ripest of strains the sonata of spring
That lover and lord of love- languid notes
With tired delight in throbbing throats.
And rumours of violin and bow
And the mighty Queen's-harp mingle and flow ;
And Radha's ravisher makes sweet measure
With the flute,that musical voice of pleasure.
Bidyapati's genius richly wove
For King Roupnaraian this rhythm of love.
**
4.
Madhuritu madhukar panti madhur kusum madhumati
Madhur brindavan maanjh madhur madhur rasraj
Madhur yubati gan sang madhur madhur ras rang
Sumadhur yantra rasal madhur madhur kartal
Madhur natan gati bhang, madhur natini natrang
Madhur madhur ras gan, madhur Vidyapati bhan.
**
Sri Aurobindo's Translation
Season of honey when sweets combine,
Honey bees line upon line,
From sweet blossoms honeyed feet
Honied blossoms and honey sweet.
O sweet is Brindaban today
And sweeter than these our Lord of May;
His maiden -train the sweets of earth,
Honey -girls with laughter and mirth,
Sports of love and dear delight ,
When instruments honey sweet unite
Their sounds soul-moving,and sweet O sweet
The smitten hands and pacing feet,
Sweet the swaying dancer whirls,
Hinied the movement of dancing girls,
And sweet as honey the love -song rings.
Sweet bidyapati the honey sings.

 

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