Real Naanak/Can prove dangerous to us

My friend Jasdeep Singh has shared his translation of a Punjabi poem Naanak by Jaswant Singh Zafar. I like the way poet brings out the essential side of Guru-Saint Naanak and his contemporaries from the Bhakti movement and alludes to the fact that how iconoclastic this was. Alas, all such movements and thoughts become boxed in rituals supervised by power hungry clergies..

Excuse Us
Its quite hard for us
To idolize real image of Naanak
Legs messed up with dust of the tiring paths
Cramped feet
rouged up beard by ..
eyes popping from the facial bone structure
dazzling renegade eyes
which challenge
the family
the regime
and every ritual

Real Naanak
can prove dangerous to us
Naanak imitated in the paintings of Sobha Singh
is well suited for us
hand shown like Goddess Lakhsmi
and the generosity withering from the hand
eyes full of delicacy
clean sun silked beard
round fair cheeks
fair and lovely
rosy tipsy lips
soft gemini feet
delicate barbie hands
The walls of our home can only hold
Naanak imitated in the paintings of Sobha Singh
Naanak who challenged the paths traveled by others
That Dangerous Naanak’s real picture
is quite bulky for our walls..

Excuse us..
the homes we created with labour of blood,
we can’t afford ruining them,
kids we got with God’s grace,
we can’t afford losing them,

we can not idolize the real image of Naanak
Excuse us

Punjabi version in roman can be found below:

maaf karna
saade laee bahut mushkil hai
naanak dee asli tasveer da dhiaan dharna
painde di dhoor naal lath path pinjaniaan
tirhkiaan addiaan
nheri naal uljhi khushk daahree
te chihare deean ubhariaan haddiaan de doongh ch
dag deeaan maghdeeaan tez akhan
akhan jo –
parivaar noon
sarkaar noon
te har sanskaar noon
tich jaan deean
bahut khatarnaak sidh ho sakdai
saade laee asli naanak
saanoon taan sobha singhi moortaan vaala
naanak hee suit karda hai
lakshmee devi vaang uthaia aasheeri hath
hath chon futdi mihar
te akhkhan chon dull dull paindee komalta
sun silky shaphaaph daahri
gol matol goreeaan gulaabi gallhan
fair and lovely
surakh tipsi honth
mulaim gemini pair
koole baarbie hath
paiganbari vastaran daa aeriali nikhaar
saade inhan gharan deeaan kandhaan te
naanak de sobha singhi chittar hee tik sakde
raahan noon radd karan vaale
khatarnaak naanak dee asli tasveer daa bhaar
saadi koee kandh nahin jhall sakdi
maaf karnaan asin mar mar ke banaae
ghar nahin dhuaaune
masan masan rabb ton lae niaane
haththon nahin guaaune
asin asli naanak di tasveer da dhiaan nahin dhar sakde
maaf karnaa
Source : Excerpts from poem Naanak by poet/cartoonist Jaswant Singh Zafar  second poetry book Asin naanak de ki lagde haan. He is an Engineer by profession .
English Translation is by yours truly.

This entry was posted in India, Poetry, Punjab, South Asian Literature, Translations on by .

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Raza Rumi is a freelance writer from Lahore, Pakistan. He regularly writes for the Pakistani weekly The Friday Times, The News and Daily DAWN on myriad topics such as history, arts, literatue and society. Raza blogs at Jahane Rumi - a website devoted to Sufi thought, the arts, literature, and cultures of South Asia. Raza also edits a cyber-magazine Pak Tea House; and compiles the Development Industry blog . Specialties: Raza is also regular writer at All Things Pakistan, Desicritics, and Global Voices. Raza has worked in Pakistan and abroad in various organizations including multilateral institutions such as the United Nations.

  • Jasdeep

    Good to see my blog post here..

    Shukria Raza Ji..

  • Sidhusaaheb

    The most basic function of religion in the lives of most people today, to whichever faith they may claim to belong to by virtue of birth, is to serve as a means of wish-fulfilment.

    The clergy, alone, is not to blame, therefore.

    So, how do we deal with the founders of our faiths and their teachings that were meant to guide us towards a way of life based on certain principles? Quite simple, really. We put them on a pedestal and declare them super-human, so that it becomes easier for us to convince ourselves that we can not really emulate them or follow the way of life they outlined for us and, so, we can continue to lie and cheat our way through our daily routines.

  • RR

    Sidhu ji
    thanks for the profound thoughts..
    You are right about this trick – but this poem is just so powerful that it brings out the challenge of Bhakti – its challenge to the exploitative institutions..
    I am so happy that you visited and added to the discussion here
    Rab Rakha

  • Manpreet

    Raza thanks for sharing the poem.
    Incidentally Zafar is running for the General Secretaryship of Punjabi Academy.
    The election is next week.
    We need people like him to monitor the literary activities of Punjab.

  • Sidhusaaheb

    Er…I was making an attempt at understanding the poem. :)

    To me, it appears to allude to the fact that recognising the real image of Guru Nanak might cause pangs of conscience to those who are more comfortable with declaring him as super-human, with a halo around his head, as shown in the paintings that the poet refers to.

  • Jaswant Zafar

    It’s matter of great pleasure for me that Jagdeep has translated this poem into English. I’m thankful to you for puting it here at your site. I wish you all the best.

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