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Piya tora kaisa abhimaan

January 22, 2012

Link to song:

Meaning and context:

A song about virah… about longing…

The song, an original composition for Rituparno Ghosh’s Raincoat, is an example of the use of folk themes in a contemporary setting. The protagonists of the story belong to Bhagalpur, a historically significant city in Bihar, and thus, the words of the song take from the scenes and stories of that region.

The words also evoke images of braj- “Saghan saawan laayi, Kadam bahaar”. It was under the shade of the Kadam tree that the love of Krishna and Radha blossomed. The poet here draws upon that image and says that the Kadam tree blossomed in the monsoons (as lovers took its shade like Radha-Krishna). In the next line “Mathura se doli laaye, chaaro kahaar”, the poet refers to the kahaar men, who are principally water bearers and belong to a lower social class of the region. In India, earlier the bride was carried in a palanquin which was carried by these kahaar men, and the poet has spoken of that tradition here.

There is great beauty in the following lines:
“Apne nayan se neer bahaaye, Apni jamuna khud aap hi banaave
Laakh baar usme hi nahaye, Poora na hoyi asnan”

In India, the tradition is to bathe in holy waters of Ganga and Yamuna to absolve oneself of sins. The bath is called asnan in the North Indian dialect. The poet here says I cried (thinking what sins bereft me of my love) and I cried so much that it seemed like I bathed in them. It seemed like I was taking a bath of ablution in the holy Yamuna. But even after million such baths it seems that my sins have not yet washed off, my asnan is still not complete, and so I will have to wait much longer.

Finally, the poet says that now I shall only wear the sage like mark on my forehead of sandalwood that is worn by sanyasi (saintly) women. The sandalwood tree is the abode of snakes. In Indian poetry, “chandan garal samaan” is a common phrase that means sandalwood is equivalent to poison. The poet here says that the poison of the sandalwood mark, symbolic of renunciation,n should be the end of all this pain and suffering.

The Song:

Piya tora kaisa abhimaan…?

Saghan saawan laayi, Kadam bahaar
Mathura se doli laaye, chaaro kahaar
Nahi aaaye, Nahi aaaye
Kesariyaa balam hamaar
Angana badaa sun saan
Piya tora kaisa abhimaan…?

Apne nayan se neer bahaaye
Apni jamuna khud aap hi banaave
Laakh baar usme hi nahaye
Poora na hoyi asnan

Sookhe kes, rookhe bhes,
Manwaa bejaan
Piya tora kaisa abhimaan…?

Bol sakhi kahe kari saajo singar
Na pahni ab sana kaanchna haar
Khali chandan lagao amma hamaar
Chandan garal samaan

Line by line translation:

Why such pride my love?

Heavy monsoons brought blossoms to the Kadam tree
Four water bearers brought the bride’s palanquin from Mathura
But never came, never came,
My love, whose beauty is like saffron
The patio seems empty
Why such pride my love?

Teardrops flow from my eyes
With them, I make my own Yamuna
A million times I was bathed in them
But still my bath of ablution does not seem complete

Hair have dried, appearance has roughened,
Heart feels lifeless
Why such pride my love?

Why do you dress up so my sakhi
Don’t wear that diamond pendant
Only wear a sage like sandalwood mark (on your forehead)
That mark will be your poison


From → Brij

  1. Beautiful

  2. Anonymous permalink

    very good translation

  3. Sonu M. permalink

    An awesome song with peaceful lyrics.. thanks for sharing the meaning of this song…. “Chandan Garal Samaan” is so touching… 🙂

  4. Shruti permalink


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