Monday, August 17, 2015

Samad Mir's "Tarawatiy"

A Kashmiri Muslim poet's devotional hymn to Goddess Tara
On a lazy Sunday we were tuned into Radio Sharda(a community radio of Kashmiri Pandits).Moti Lal Kemmu’s (a renowned scholar and an expert on Folk Theatre of Kashmir) interview was being broadcast . The interview was interspersed with requests of songs by Mr.Kemmu. He requested for Samad Mir’s poem “Praran praran Tarawatiye”.It was sung by Ama Kandur in Chakri(Kashmiri folk music) style. Though I had read many of Samad Mir’s poems I hadn’t heard of this one till then.

The poem describes Goddess Tara, her iconography and her attributes. I have heard from some people that Samad Mir’s Tarawati is a Kashmiri Pandit woman (who he might have seen or known) which is erroneous as we will soon discover. While he has contextualized the deity in Kashmiri environs yet the description is essentially of the one who he describes as the “Goddess who emerged victorious in Bengal”.

Goddess Tara (one of the Dash-Mahavidhyas) is primarily a Hindu Goddess who later manifests in Buddhist iconography as well, but the Goddess described by our poet is the one as she is described and worshipped in the Hindu pantheon. To be more precise the description matches the idol of the Goddess at the shrine of Tarapitha (in Bengal).The worship of Goddess Tara is not unknown to Kashmiris. Even today there are atleast two villages in South Kashmir which owe its origin to this Goddess- The village of Tarigom near Kulgam(which now has no traces of any temple) and the village of Taragom near Qazigund(which has a living temple of  considerable antiquity considering the stone sculptures and a spring dedicated to the deity).

I attempt to translate the poem.

Praran praaran tarawatiyay,aitay nazaar traav

Kharran poozaye jhafer phateye*,aitay nazaar traav

For long have I sought thee, Reveal thy true self to me O! Tarawati,

Caskets of marigolds will I entreat you with, Reveal thy true self to me

*The sculpture of Goddess (at the Tarapitha Shrine) is adorned with garlands of marigold flowers


Durdaane lab lal yim chey vatheye,khande seet maey vaseraav

Tim chey chamkaan aadam raateye,aitay nazaar trav

Your parted pearl like lips, glowing red with human blood*

Deter me not with that mirage (of external manifestation), Reveal thy true self to me

(* In Mundmala Tantra,Goddess is described as consuming human as well as animal blood. She is said to be fonder of human blood, which is always on her lips. This has esoteric meaning and should not be fallaciously understood by its literal meaning.)


Kamane abrunis alifiy khateye,zamaney maey katraav*

Yim Chasme siya chey aafatey, aitay nazaar trav

Eyebrows like arrows on a bow, dark eyes symbolizing annihilation

With scissors of spiritual transcendence, Reveal thy true self to me  

(* The goddess carries scissors in one of her hands with which she cuts the weed of desire and propels her devotees on the path of transcendence)


Yim naeze acharvalav maey ditey,tim doptham vateraav

Bhi mare korthas che taem bharketey, aitay nazaar trav

Piercing, your eyelashes, that as boon you bestowed (on me)

Freed me from the bondage of death, Reveal thy true self to me 


Aath dare paeth chakh shubaan latiye,paanas kareth paeraav

Kripaye aes aaye aavbhagatay, aitay nazaar trav

Resplendent, in your beauty, Adorable, you sit by the window

We beseech your divine grace, Reveal thy true self to me


Mahtaab royas kareth chaaye gateye,aftaab mandechith draav*

Sadaye vodunay prazlaan sitare phateye,  aitay nazaar trav

Circumambulating your moonlike radiant face, dwarfed and disgraced felt the sun

A galaxy lies strewn on your tippet, Reveal thy true self to me

(*In Buddhist iconography the Goddess sits in the orb of the moon with sun forming the exterior orb. This verse could be a reference to that)


Daeke tike chyon di lach laal pateye,taakaene haej maey thaav

Zulfan Tal chay noorich bateye, aitay nazaar trav

Thy orb (ajna chakra) is a million rubies,O hide it not(under your headgear)

 Beneath the darkness (of your black hair) shines gnosis, Reveal thy true self to me


Kad chyon shamshad Tan sheeshe dateye,seemab tatey mandechaav

Seene aayenay naare pistaan rateye*, aitay nazaar traav

Intense you are, glowing brighter than mercury

Smeared with blood, breasts shining (like fire), Reveal thy true self to me

*Since her lips are open (as mentioned in the second verse-lab chey vatheye) blood keeps oozing out and after falling on her breasts it resembles fire.


Tot aaye aashiq naendere hateye*,Kate chak te kya chuy naav

Sandere tyake chane chanderaymateye, aitay nazaar traav

Bereft of sleep, your devotees seek (you), bewildered and mesmerized

In rapture, by the grace of vermillion (on your forehead), Reveal thy true self to me

*The opportune time to invoke the blessings of the Goddess is between midnight and breaking of dawn, which explains why devotees are bereft of sleep (naendere hateye)

Yim Chah Afsoone Saaz aaye paatiye,Bengaale zyunuth daav

Yim naeze kaem jodugaaran ditiye, aitay nazaar traav

You the embodiment of art, who reigns over Bengal

What hath gave thy absolute wisdom, Reveal thy true self to me

In the concluding two verses the poet teaches us about the means with which one can realize the Goddess

Saat paaev haer khas pateye pateye,lagecth che daentuv khraav

Zoone dabe baethek nich bhagwateye*, aitay nazaar traav

Rise through the seven chakras of Kundlani, purified like ivory

Awakened, you will realize the Goddess, Delve into thyself

*There are seven ladders in awakening (Jagriti) of self. It is called the rise of Kundalini.He/She who reaches the highest ladder(Sahasrar Chakra) is considered the realized one and the one who sits (metaphorically) near his/her deity.

Yehlok manz kar kar adityae,Parlok manz parkhaav

Nish Samad Miras haech zagratye, aitay nazaar traav

Perfect this art here, triumphant will you emerge there

From Samad Mir, learn the art of awakening (the kundalini), Delve into thyself 


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Dead End

Dead End
The road to what was once my home in Kashmir....zuv chum bramaan ghare gachehae..