Tagore Songs

English translations of original Bengali compositions

Guha often sings Tagore’s Bengali songs for his friends. They have a very special place in the Bengali culture even today. These songs acquired a radically different meaning and depth for me after I met Guha. I started translating them seriously when the Covid lockdown began in India. Recently, Revathi Iyengar and I worked together on some of them. Julie Thayer graciously agreed to edit them.

26th February 2021
Pondicherry, India

Prabhu Amar

Oh my lord, my dear one, my treasure!
You are my eternal companion.

Gratification is my discontent, salvation my bondage,
The peak of joy and sorrow are like life and death to me.

You are the prime mover of all my actions,
In the abode of eternal love, you are the supreme lord.

You are for humanity, you are for me, 
From the world into my heart, you reside joyously,
Your play is endless and ever new.

Madhuro Roope

Reside in your enchanting form, Oh King of the universe!
I am utterly captivated as I behold your spectacular assembly. 
The silent night is exquisitely beautiful, the sky blemishless,
Your feet are adorned by the most delicate ornamental moon.

Aaji Mamo Mono

Today my mind seeks my friend forever,
Who is with me in life and death,
The eternal companion night and day,
In happiness and sorrow,
That ever-joyous, pure elixir,
For ages in many new dimensions,
In constant remembrance.

Profound peace, profound love, 
Profound emancipation, profound forgiveness,
That innermost, ever-graceful lord, my soulmate,
You grant the fulfilment of dharma, wealth and desires,
The King, who won my heart.

Mamo Chitte

I wonder who dances in my mind eternally,
Tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi^
How beautifully the Mridanga* plays along with it,
Tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi.

Laughter and tears like diamonds and emeralds adorn the forehead,
The good and the bad quiver with the beat,
Tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi.

Life and death follow each other dancing in a rhythm,
Tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi.

Oh what a joy! What a joy! What a joy!
Bondage and freedom sway like night and day,
I ride that wave playfully,
Tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi, tata thoi thoi.

^Tagore’s improvisation of the mnenomic syllables used in the classical Indian dance form of Kathak.
*A traditional Indian percussion instrument

Amar Bhanga Pother

I wonder who left his footsteps on my dusty-red, broken path, 
The petals from his garland lie scattered everywhere.

He came silently; after he was gone he let me know: 
No one but him could make me cry like this.

When the sun rays were young and the road was covered with blossoms,
Spring in its colorful attire descended on earth,
I was not aware of his presence then, and remained at home
I will be out on the road today carrying my weary body.

Daruno Ognoibaane

Blazing arrows of fire, 
Killing the thirsty heart.

Nights are sleepless, 
Days are long and scorched,
There is no relief.

On a branch in a dry garden,
A tired dove sings a sad and anguished tune.

I am not afraid,
I am staring at the sky.

Like a tempest,
I know you will come 
And appear in my long-suffering soul.

Daake Barobar Daake

It is calling again and again,
Going from door to door, day and night,
Just listen.

In joy, in sorrow and in mourning,
In death and in living.
It echoes in the frightening call of the thunder,
And in the sweet melody in all dimensions.

Oi Pohailo

Behold! The dark night is over!
The rays of a new morning appear in the eastern sky,
In life and its vigour, from deep within to all around,
A glowing expression of unprecedented beauty and sweetness.

I wonder who sent this sacred day through the depths of sleep,
You woke the entire universe in jubilant joy,
Showering the benediction of well-being,
Spreading this message of happiness,
You are my eternal companion.

Bahe Nirantar

An infinite stream of bliss flows continuously,
The timeless sound wafts in boundless space,
Innumerable suns, moons and stars emerge.

In the kingdom of the unfragmented universe,
The one supreme king of kings reigns.

Wonderstruck and transfixed, 
The world bows at his feet,
Minds of millions of bhaktas are silenced.

Tar Haate Chhilo

A colorful garland of joyous laughter was in his hands,
With me was a basket of fruits of sorrow soaked in tears.

He appeared suddenly and said “Hey beautiful, let’s exchange what we have”,
I looked at his face and thought, “He is bewitching yet ruthless!”

He took away my bouquet of dark clouds, while looking at me with glee,
I took his garland of vivid colors and held it close to my chest.

He went away laughing and exclaiming, “I won!”
I saw the flowers had withered at the end of the hot day.

Nilo Anjanoghano

Clusters of dark clouds cover the blue sky, 
Oh Majestic one!
The body of the goddess of the forest trembles,
Her heart restless,
Resonating with the loud cacophony of crickets
Oh Majestic one!

The sound of rain gets louder with the rhythm of thunder,
The assembly of Kadamba trees is deeply enamoured of the intensely joyous beat,
Your festive abode is full of delight,
Oh Majestic one!

The parched and thirsty earth lay on her fiery bed
You sent her the message of nectar-bearing rain from heaven.

The rigid earth softened, opening up in all directions,
New saplings spring up like victory flags covering the ground,
The shackles of the captive soul have been ripped apart
Oh Majestic one!

Shudhu Jawa Aasha

It is only going away and coming back to my love, 
And simply floating in the current,
Only crying and laughing in light and darkness.

Just to see and touch,
And weep for more when separating,
Moving ahead with new unfulfilled desires,
Leaving behind false hopes.

The broken will with unlimited desires
Works tirelessly with no result
Hanging on to a broken boat floating in the ocean

Feelings weep endlessly incapable of expression.
Intimacy between hearts is partial
Conversations remain unfinished
Due to shame, fear and dread there is little faith
Love remains incomplete. 

Bipulo Tarango Re

Oh what a colossal wave!
Churning the skies into a trance
Engulfing in light the past and all that is yet to come
What a current of joy is flowing in my life
Oh what a colossal wave! 

The sun, moon and stars are swaying
Startled, the flow of consciousness quivers
The impassioned and restless creation dances
And the soul’s bird calls out
Oh what a colossal wave!

Ke Boshile

O lord of the universe, you reside in the lotus of my heart
Arousing incomparable beauty and glory
O the ruler of my heart!

Suddenly, flowers burst into bloom upon dying trees,
And nectar oozes out of stones!

Mor Bhabonare

I wonder what thought made me so intensely happy
That my mind is swaying with acausal joy
In the expanse of my heart, thoughts gather like moisture-bearing newborn clouds
Raining nectar

I cannot see him but often hear his voice
And the sweet jingling of anklets around his unseen feet.

His formless blue robe spreads secretly through my dreams

His dark tresses fly in the sky
Swaying in the rain and wind
My heart pines for him
As the fragrance of dew-drenched Jasmine wafts in from afar

Moha Apono

Is He the one who resides secretly in my deepest core as the Supreme Self?
I caught a sudden glimpse of him in the dark

When a fierce storm shattered the chains
My gaze got fixed on him

When the auspicious moment arrived
The sound of his bugle rang in the skies

A flash of lightning coneveyed the message of agonizing pain
Etching the invitation of union in my heart

Tomaro Ashime

In your infinite realm, however far I travel with my heart and mind,
I find no sorrow, separation or death.

Death takes a fearful form and sorrow becomes a deep pit,
When I am full of self-concern and my attention turns away from you. 

Oh, perfect one! Whatever I need is right at your feet,
There is no need for fear, but my petty concerns make me weak.

All regrets and the burden of responsibility will vanish in a flash,
If I can hold onto your true form in my life.

Ei Labhinu

I am blessed to be in your company, 
Beautiful O beautiful!
My body is pure and I feel fulfilled within.
Beautiful O beautiful!

Captivated, my mind opened up to the effulgence 
In the space of my heart, the air stands still, heavy with your fragrance. 
Beautiful O beautiful!

My mind is colored 
By the sublime hues of your embrace 
The nectar of our union
Will be treasured in my heart forever!

You rejuvenate me
Then you take me in again and again
In this life itself you made possible 
What would have taken many lifetimes to attain!
Beautiful O beautiful!

Amare Tumi Ashesh

You have made me boundless, 
Such is your play
You empty me and infuse me with new life again and again.

You have carried this little flute over hills and dales 
Playing innumerable melodies;
How can I convey this to anyone?

At your immortal touch 
My entire being breaks its boundaries in immense joy 
And words of wisdom spill over!

Night and day you are pouring infinite gifts into my tiny fist;
Ages have passed, 
Yet you continue to give, and I take.

Barshano Mandrito

In the dark rain showers, I have come to your door,
Please invite this traveler in to your temple.

O beautiful, I have handpicked fresh jasmine flowers from the forest trail
Fervently hoping that you will adorn your hair with them.

Without uttering a word I will turn around and leave.

On a night filled with the sound of crickets, 
Through my flute I will send the last song as my final gift to you.

Ke Dilo Abar

Who is knocking at my door yet again,
In this hour of the night
Who are you looking for?

A while back, on a spring day,
A new guest arrived,
That immersed my tormented life
In unending ocean of bliss.

Today, the rains are dark and incessant
Falling on my broken hut
I have extinguished my lamp in the gusty winds
And I am awake and alone.

O unknown guest, the melody of your song
Sounds exquisitely sweet to my ears.
I wish to go with you into
The unknown, infinite darkness.

Kusume Kusume

You leave your footprints as you move from flower to flower
That you erase at the end.
O the playful one, why do you finish your game even before the day is over?

As my eyes well up with sorrowful tears you walk hand in hand with me 
Where does the path end and to which distant land does it lead to
Everybody asks of you.

The sound of your flute makes the buds appear on the branches 
When the flowers bloom you are nowhere to be seen.
The moment of your arrival passed without me knowing 
I’m left alone with the garland of flowers I made for you. 

‘Come, come, come’, my eyes cry out for you
My longing heart says, ‘How I wish to bind you’
If you do not wish to be bound, O dear,
Then leave something behind for me as you move on.

Shuni Oi

I hear the jingling feet
The sound of anklets,
Startled in a forest trail.

Far away, a waterfall tumbles down
The pebbles under water sing softly.

Resonating to the call of crickets,
The shadows of the bamboo forest
Tremble with the rustling leaves.

A nightingale calls,
From the rapturous branch of a Shirish tree,
Rocked by the southerly wind
Again and again.