Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye

Another favourite bhajan of Mahatma Gandhi was Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye, the immortal composition of the 15th century Gujarati poet Narsi Mehta, emphasising the virtues of the Vaishnav code of life. Vaishnav literally means one who worships Vishnu. But the word really stands for a person who has the qualities of an ideal human being.

I first heard this song in the late-70s, when the Indian Films Division's biographical documentary on Mahatma Gandhi was broadcast in several instalments on Calcutta Doordarshan (TV). The song was the theme music for the documentary. I love that version of the song. It can be heard online at the Gandhiserve website. Click here - and choose the 6th item, "Unknown, 00'59" on the list on the top-left of the wage page, under Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye.

Here's MS Subbulakshmi singing another version of Vaishna Jan To.

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vaishnav jan to tene kahiye jay peerh paraaye janneyray
par dukkhey upkar karey teeyey, man abhiman na anney ray

sakal lokma sahuney bandhey, ninda na karey kainee ray
baach kaachh, man nischal raakhey, dhan-dhan jananee tainee ray

samdrishi nay trishna tyagee, par-stree jaynay mat ray
vivihva thaki asatya na bolay, par-dhan nav jhaley haath ray

moh maaya vyaayey nahin jeynay, dridth vairagya jana manma ray
ram-nam-shoom taalee laagee, sakal teerth seyna tanma ray

vanloohee nay kapat rahit chhay, kaam, krodh nivarya ray
bhane narsinhyo tainoo darshan karta kul ekotair taarya re.

In translation:

One who is a Vaishnav, feels and understands the pain of others
Does good to others, especially to those who are in misery
Does not let pride enter his mind,

A Vaishnav, honours and praises the the entire world
Does not criticize or say bad things about anyone
Keeps his words, actions and thoughts pure
O Vaishnav, your mother is blessed

A Vaishnav sees everything and everyone equally,
rejects greed and avarice
Respects women especially some one else's wife as his mother
His toungue may get tired, but will never speak lies
He does not even touch someone else's property

A Vaishnav does not succumb to worldly attachments
Who has devoted himself to staunch detachment from worldly pleasures
Who has been addicted to the elixir of the name of God
For whom all the sacred places of pilgrimage are in the mind

Who has no greed and is not deceitful
Who has renounced lust and anger
The poet Narsi would like to see such a person
By whose virtue, his entire family gets salvation

Here's Lata Mangeshkar singing the song.

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And here's a different version of the same song.

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