January 28, 2013

English Translation of Bhupen Hazarika's 'O ganga behti ho kyun?'

In 1927, Oscar Hammerstein II Originally wrote the song Ol’ Man Missisippi for a musical ‘Show Boat’. The song is famously, but wrongly, credited to Paul Robeson who sang the song in the film based on the musical.
Dere’s an ol’ man called de Mississippi,
Dat’s de ol’ man dat I’d like to be,
What does he care if de world’s got troubles?
What does he care if de land ain’t free?

Ol’ Man River,
Dat Ol’ Man River,
He mus’ know sumpin’,
But don’ say nothin’;
He jes’ keeps rollin’,
He keeps on rollin’ along.

He don’t plant taters,
He don’t plant cotton,
An’ dem dat plants ‘em
Is soon forgotten,
But Ol’ Man River,
He jes’ keeps rollin’ along.

You an’ me, we sweat an’ strain,
Body all achin’ and racked with pain.
“Tote dat barge! Lift dat bale!”
Git a little drunk,
An’ you lands in jail!

Ah gits weary,
An’ sick o’ tryin’,
Ah’m tired o’ livin’,
And skeered o’ dyin’,
But Ol’ Man River,
He jes’ keeps rollin’ along!

Bhupen Hazarika wrote an Aahomia song inspired by Ol’ Man Missisippi in which Hazarika alludes to river Brahmputra.

Here is the Hindi version of the song written by Hazarika himself addressed to river Ganga, followed by translation in English. The version is set around the belief in river Ganga’s cleansing powers as well as Ganga as a character in the epic story of Mahabharata.
हिन्दी
विस्तार है अपार, प्रजा दोनों पार
करे हाहाकार निःशब्द सदा
ओ गंगा तुम
ओ गंगा बहती हो क्यूँ?

नैतिकता नष्ट हुई, मानवता भ्रष्ट हुई
निर्लज्ज भाव से बहती हो क्यूँ?
इतिहास की पुकार, करे हुंकार
ओ गंगा की धार
निर्बल जन को
सबल-संग्रामी, समग्रोगामी
बनाती नहीं हो क्यूँ?

अनपढ़ जन अक्षरहिन
अनगीन जन खाद्यविहीन
नेत्रविहीन दिक्षमौन हो क्यूँ?
इतिहास की पुकार...

व्यक्ति रहे व्यक्ति केंद्रित
सकल समाज व्यक्तित्व रहित
निष्प्राण समाज को छोड़ती ना क्यूँ?
इतिहास की पुकार...

रुदस्विनी क्यूँ न रहीं?
तुम निश्चय चितन नहीं
प्राणों में प्रेरणा देती ना क्यूँ?
उनमद अवमी कुरुक्षेत्रग्रमी
गंगे जननी, नव भारत में
भीष्मरूपी सुतसमरजयी जनती नहीं हो क्यूँ?
विस्तार है अपार...

English

Vistar hain apar, praja dono par
Kare hahakar nishapda sada
O ganga tum
O ganga behti ho kyun?

Naitikata nasht hui, manavta bhrasht hui
Nirlajya bhav se behti ho kyun?
Itihaans ki pukaar, kare hunkaar
O Ganga ki dhar,
nirbal jan ko
Sabal sangrami, samagragrami
Banati nahi ho kyun?

Anparh jan, aksharhin
Anginjan kaijyabihin
Nidrabihin dekh mouna kyun?
Itihaans ki pukaar, kare hunkaar
O Ganga ki dhar, nirbal jan ko
Sabal sangrami, samagragrami
Banati nahi ho kyun?

Vyakti rahe vyakti kendrik
Sakal samaj byaktitya rahit
Nishpran samaj ko tor ti naa kyun?
Itihaans ki pukaar...

Shrutasvini kyun na rahi?
Tum nischay chetan nahi
Prano mein prerana perti na kyun?
Unmat avani, Kurukshetra gramni
Gange janani, Nava bharat mein
Bhishma rupi sut samarajayi janati nahi ho kyun?
Vistar hain apar...

 English Translation

The people who live in the vast stretches on your both side are screaming in grief, yet meekly, as always, O Ganga, you! O Ganga, why do you flow [without a protest]?

Morality is destroyed and humanity is corrupted, yet shamelessly why do you flow [without a protest]?  With a loud voice of anger, the history  beacons, O stream of Ganga,   yet why do you not turn weak into strong warriors and complete doers?

There are uncountable numbers of uneducated, illiterate, and unfed  people, yet like a blind that cannot see, O Ganga, why do you keep silent  ? With a loud voice of anger,  the history is beaconing, O stream of Ganga,   yet why do you not turn weak into strong warriors and complete doers?

[Female Voice] The people who live in the vast stretches on your both side are screaming in grief, yet meekly, as always, O Ganga, you! O Ganga, why do you flow [without a protest]?

People are self-centered and society is bereft of a character. O Ganga, why do you not dissolve the lifeless society? With a loud voice of anger,  the history beacons, O stream of Ganga,   yet why do you not turn weak into strong warriors and complete doers?

[Female voice] The people who live in the vast stretches on your both side are screaming in grief, yet meekly, as always, O Ganga, you! O Ganga, why do you flow [without a protest]?

Why did you stop being a source of action and energy? Why did you become inanimate? Why you stopped giving inspirations to lives. Where are the battle cries of Avani or Kuruskshetra  ?  O mother Ganga, in the newIndia, why do you not beget a victorious son like Bhishma, the great warrior?

[Female Voice] The people who live in the vast stretches on your both side are screaming in grief, yet meekly, as always, O Ganga, you! O Ganga, why do you flow [without a protest]?

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