Lalon



A mystic, minstrel and rebel of the 18th century, Lalon Fakir is a towering and living figure in the consciousness of the common folk of South Asia. Though he lived in poverty, he is known as Lalon Shah (King Lalan). Like Kabir, his background and religion were unknown, and his followers included both Hindus and Muslims. He sang of the sufferings of the peasant folk of Bengal, and of the heart's yearning for oneness with the Infinite.

"Khachar bhitor ochin pakhi kemne ashe jay" - the unknown bird in the cage, how does it fly in and out? - is a phrase from a song by Lalon. Journeying beyond all things material, towards a world of the immaterial ...

Hear this song here:

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The unknown Bird in the cage...
how does it fly in and out?
Catch it, I would, if I could...
and put my mind's chains on its feet.

There are eight rooms with nine doors,
with latice-work in between.
On top of that, there' s a central yard
and a hall of mirrors.

The unknown Bird in the cage...
how does it fly in and out?

The Bird wouldn't behave so,
had it not been for my ill-luck.
It has broken through its Cage
and flown away somewhere....

The unknown Bird in the cage...
how does it fly in and out?

O Mind, you have lived with high hopes,
but your Cage is made of raw bamboo.
One day this Cage (too) will fall and break.
Lalon says, "The door 's ajar, the Bird's flown!"

The unknown Bird in the cage...
how does it fly in and out?

The unknown Bird in the cage...
how does it fly in and out?
Catch it, I would, if I could...
and put my mind's chains on its feet.

There are eight rooms with nine doors,
with latice-work in between.
On top of that, there' s a central yard
and a hall of mirrors.

The unknown Bird in the cage...
how does it fly in and out?

The Bird wouldn't behave so,
had it not been for my ill-luck.
It has broken through its Cage
and flown away somewhere....

The unknown Bird in the cage...
how does it fly in and out?

O Mind, you have lived with high hopes,
but your Cage is made of raw bamboo.
One day this Cage (too) will fall and break.
Lalon says, "The door 's ajar, the Bird's flown!"

The unknown Bird in the cage...
how does it fly in and out?


The translation from Bengali is by Carol Salomon (courtesy the Bengali e-zine Parabaas). The lyrics in Bengali are accessible here.

Lalon is a key figure in the Baul tradition of Bengal.

In this song, Lalon asks: How long before I am united with my heart’s companion?

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milon hobey koto diney
amar mon-er manusher shoney
chatoko pray ohornishi
cheyey achi kalo shoshi
hobo boley chorono dashi
o to hoy na kopal guney
megh-er bidyut meghey jemon
lukale na pai anweshon
kalare haraye temon
o rup heriye dorponey.

The complete lyrics, in Bangla, are available here.

Here's a video clip of Bangladeshi singer Beauty singing the same song.



Lalan was an exponent of a faith that yearns to reach for the love of the Almighty by loving all men on earth irrespective of their caste, creed, race and religion. His credo and his humane vision and faith are expressed in this song, which is one of the most well known and popular among his compositions.

Here is Bangladeshi singer Ayub Bachchu singing Shob lokey koy.

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Shob lokey koy lalon ki jaat shongsharey
Lalon koy jater ki roop ami dekhlam na to nojorey

Keu mala keu tosbi golay
taito jay re bhinno bolay
jaowa kimba ashar belay
jater chinho roy kisherey

sunnot diley hoy mussolman
nari loker ki hoy bidhan
bamon chini poitey proman
bamani chini kisherey

jogot bedey jater kotha
lokey golpo korey jotha-totha
lalon boley jater barta
dubaichhi shadh-bajarey

The complete lyrics, in Bangla, are available here.



In translation:

Everyone asks what caste of this world does Lalon belong to
Lalon says I haven’t yet laid my eyes on the visage of caste.

Someone has a garland on their neck, and someone a talisman
Hence one can call them different
But while coming into or leaving this world
Where does the sign of caste exist?

If one's circumcised he’s Muslim
But then what;s teh rule for women-folk?
I know the sacred thread is the evidence of a brahmin
But how am I to recognise a brahmin-ess?

All over the world there’s talk of caste
People often chatter idly about it
Lalon says I’ve opted to discard all notion of caste.

2 comments:

MysticSaint said...

Thank you Rama for this great site and wonderful collection.

Arvind said...

can anyone tell me where can i get english translation of lalon's song Amar e Gharer Chabi Parer Hate