Lalon Shah

Kurranhar, Lavpur, Birbhum

You have not known, you have not worshipped ( Chinlina re, Bhojlina re)

You have not known, you have not worshipped
You have not known, you have not worshipped
You have not meditated,
You have not known the human
Born into this world, why have you not known the human?

The one who suckled you, you call a ‘woman’ [1]
The one you have married, you call a ‘woman’
What is the knowledge in this knowing? Tell me if you can…
Born into this world, why have you not known the human?

The one you call the ‘world-mother’ [2]
Listen brothers and sisters, the mother and maid share the same door! [3]

On which throne have you managed a seat, tell me if you can…
You have not known the human,
Born into this world, why have you not known the human?

You need water, provisions for the path
With leaves of the tree, go on the path with the Guru.

Fakir Lalon says, without shelter, Siraj’s feet are his shelter. [4]

You have not known the human,
Born into this world, why have you not known the human?

You have not known, you have not worshipped
You have not meditated,
You have not known the human,
Born into this world, you have not known the human.

চিনলি না রে ভোঝলি না রে
চিনলি না রে ভোঝলি না রে
করলি না রে তার উপাসনা
মানুষ চিনলি না
এ ভবেতে জন্ম লয়ে মানুষ কেন চিনলি না

যারে বল মেয়ে মেয়ে
কুন মেয়ের খেয়েছ দুগ্ধ কাকে করেছ বিয়ে
যারে বল মেয়ে মেয়ে
কুন মেয়ের খেয়েছ দুধ কাকে করেছ বিয়ে

তুমি কুন চিনাতে চিনে নিলে
তুমি কুন চিনাতে চিনে নিলে
তাই আমারে বল না
মানুষ চিনলি না

এ ভবেতে জন্ম লয়ে মানুষ কেন চিনলি না
যারে বল জগত জননী
মায়ে ঝিয়ে একটা দরজা শোন ভাই ধনি/বনে

তুমি কোন আসনে আসন পেলে
তুমি কোন আসনে আসন পেলে
তাই আমারে বল না
মানুষ চিনলি না
এ ভবেতে জন্ম লয়ে মানুষ কেন চিনলি না
জলের গুড়া পথের গুড়া চাই
অটল বৃক্ষ পত্র লয়ে সঙ্গে যাওয়া চাই
গুরুর সঙ্গে যাওয়া চাই

ফকির লালন বলে সৈন্য হারা
সিরাজ সৈন্য চারণ বিনা
মানুষ চিনলি না
এ ভবেতে জন্ম লয়ে মানুষ কেন চিনলি না

চিনলি না রে ভোঝলি না রে
চিনলি না রে ভোঝলি না রে
করলি না রে তার উপাসনা
মানুষ চিনলি না
এ ভবেতে জন্ম লয়ে মানুষ কেন চিনলি না

Recorded 30th June, 2008 in Santiniketan, WB

This song by Lalon Fakir (c. 1774-1890) focuses on the incomprehensibility and intractability of the ‘human’, as well as the importance of realizing it in one’s life under the guidance of the Guru. Interestingly, contradictions in the social meanings of womanhood (encompassing the differential status of female divinity, motherhood, and wifehood under the same signifier) are evoked to demonstrate the limits of our understanding of the ‘human’. This is similar to Lalon’s famous song ‘Shob lokey ki koy Lalon ki jat shongshare’, where the ‘woman’ demonstrates the limits of caste (‘jat’), escaping its ritual markers (in that more famous song, Lalon asks that if Brahmins and Muslims are to be distinguished through the holy thread and circumcision respectively, what about the women of these communities, who bear neither of these markers?) Lalon does not address the fraught issue of the ‘woman’ beyond cryptic questions and aphoristic answers, and rather goes on to stress that the ‘human’ must be sought through a painstaking journey under guidance of the Guru. Notes:

[1] ‘Woman’ – In the Bengali, ‘meye’, which could also be translated as ‘girl’. ’Woman’ has been used to retain the more general sense.

[2] ‘World-mother’ – In the Bengali, ‘jagat-janani’ – a probable reference to Durga or Kali, consort of the lord Shiva and as important as deities in their own right.

[3] ‘The mother and maid share the same door’ – In the Bengali, ‘Maye jhiye ekta doroja’. The translator was unsure of the precise meaning of this strangely allusive phrase, which possibly puns at various levels of signification, from the sexual/bodily to the mundane (such as sharing a room in a house).

[4] Siraj – A reference to Lalon’s Guru, Siraj Shah.

Transcriber/Translator: Aniruddha Dutta - Camera: Shubhankar Bhar, Ashesh Mukherjee - Sound: Dhiman Karmakar, Sudipto Mukherjee - Editor: Rhonda Granger - Producer/Director: Aditi Sircar