Rang de chunariya…

श्याम पिया मोरी रंग दे चुनरिया ।

ऐसी रंग दे, के रंग नहीं छुटे ।
धोभिया धोये चाहे सारी उमरिया ॥

लाल ना रंगाऊं मैं, हरी ना रंगाऊ ।
अपने ही रंग में रंग दे चुनरिया ॥

बिना रंगाये मैं तो घर नाही जाउंगी ।
बीत ही जाए चाहे सारी उमरिया ॥

मीरा के प्रभु गिरिधर नागर ।
प्रभु चरनन ने लागी नजरिया ॥

श्याम पिया मोरी रंग दे चुनरिया ।

Shyam Piya More Rang de Chunaria

Aisi rang de ke rang nahi choote…Dhobiya dooye chahe ye sari umariya

Lal na rangavu Mei…Hari na rangavu…Apne hi rang me rang de chunaria

Bina rangaye mai to ghar nahi javongi…beet hi jaaye chahe saari umariya

Meera ke prabhu, giridhar nagar…prabhu charanan ne laagi najariya

I wrote this post a few months back, and decided to revisit it, on the occasion of Holi today.

Yesterday’s post was on jnana yog – The yog of true knowledge. Sri Krishna spoke at length about the many types of yog, and jnana yog is one of the ways in which to obtain nirvikalpa samadhi, or absolute stillness, he said.

But what if I don’t have the inclination for the pursuit of true knowledge? What if I find it cumbersome, or difficult, or plain not doable? Does that mean that I have no hope? Will Sri Krishna not accept me, because, in contemporary terms, I failed to make the cut?

The odd thing about us is that we work in reverse. This whole process is in reverse.

When I was uneducated, when I didn’t know…a stone was a stone.

I gained education, and became learned…when I knew…then a stone was not a stone.

Then I reached the pinnacle of knowledge, and I again didn’t know…and a stone was a stone.

Jnana yog pretty much works the same way. We spend our whole lives trying to find a purpose, to find a meaning, to find God, and then, if you by chance reach the pinnacle of knowing, when you become knowledge…then a stone is a stone – you are the stone, and everything else around you. There are no more boundaries of identity, and you know that God is nowhere else, but within you, as much as you are within God.

Unfortunately, not many of us have the patience to get to this pinnacle of knowledge, and we instead stay content with our degrees instead.

And so Sri Krishna says – it is ok if you cannot seek the way of Hatha (physical) or the way of Karma (action), or the way of jnana (knowledge). There is still one more way, and oddly enough, it is the easiest and the best.

Just surrender to me.

Wow, that easy? And here we were trying to fix our karmic wheel and twist ourselves into pretzels and memories the Vedas…when all we had to do was surrender!

Well…surely sounds easy. But it isn’t.

Bhakti yoga is the easiest, and the most difficult of all the methods of discovering the truth.

Easy, because all you need to do is forsake your own identity – your ego – your self. Difficult because, you need to forsake your own identity – your ego – your self.

And so for those who think that knowledge is better than bhakti, here is an exercise for you.

Rang de Chunariya – just ten minutes. Try to keep your degrees, your knowledge, your ego and your intelligence aside, and melt into Krishna. For Holi is also the leela of Radha and Krishna. Radha melted into Krishna and Krishna into Radha, and that is why they are immortal. They represent bhakti at it’s pinnacle – a height that Meera wished to reach through her devotion. This bhajan is just a glimpse, but if we are able to have that glimpse today, it is truly a day to celebrate.

Wish you a happy Holi!

Rang de Chunariya – one of my most favourite bhajans of Sri Krishna, sung by Meera, the biggest devotee of them all. The meaning that is contained in these 8 lines cannot be conveyed by words, be it in any language, and surely not in English. Oh Krishna, my beloved…doesn’t have the same essence as Shyam Piya mori...I will not go home without being colored…is nowhere close to bina rangaaye main toh ghar nahi jaaungi…

And yet, here I am, attempting the un-attemptable…

Chunariya is a garment worn mostly by women. In this bhajan, it is a synonym for clothes, and a deeper meaning, a synonym for the body. Indian philosophy likens the body to clothes that we wear, and discard. The atman (and it does not translate into soul, unlike popular perception) is imperishable – it does not die – नैनं छिन्दन्ति शस्त्राणि नैनं दहति पावकः।न चैनं क्लेदयन्त्यापो न शोषयति मारुतः॥nainaṃ chindanti śastrāṇi nainaṃ dahati pāvakaḥ, na cainaṃ kledayantyāpo na śoṣayati mārutaḥNo weapon can cut the atman into pieces, nor can it be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind. We go through many bodies, representing janmas, or lifetimes, and the body is different every time, but the atman is the same.

Shyam piya mori…Rang de chunariya – paint me in your colors – let me blend into you, cries Meera to her beloved – her piya, Krishna. Let me be one with you in mind, heart and soul – she says. Notice that she calls him Shyam – not Krishna, not Kaanha, not Kanhaiya…but Shyam. Shyam means dark, and is one of Krishna’s names. Shyam piya mori….oh my beloved Shyam…also can be Shyam, piya mori range de – color me in the color of Shyam…the wordplay brings out the deep-rooted devotion that Meera has for him, and her yearning to be one with him.

Aisi rang de ke rang nahi choote…Dhobiya dooye chahe ye sari umariya – color my clothes in a way that even if a washerman washes it his whole life, the color doesn’t come off me…colour me in a way that it doesn’t come off me, whatever happens, however anyone tries. Like a drop of water blends into the ocean, let your colour blend into my body – inseparable, indistinguishable…liberate me with your wisdom, let me become you, says Meera.

Lal na rangavu Mei…Hari na rangavu…Apne hi rang me rang de chunariaNo, I don’t want any other color – no red, no green, no other color…paint me in your own colors, in the colors that you are – your wisdom, your essence…I don’t want to know other ways, of books and scriptures that you say can also lead me to you, I don’t want to be a karma yogi. All I want is to blend into you, in your bhakti…color me that way oh Shyaam…

Bina rangaye mai to ghar nahi javongi…beet hi jaaye chahe saari umariya – I am persistent, I will not go back home until you color me, so what if a whole lifetime passes by. The way of bhakti is the way of persistence, of love, of sometimes even fighting with your God – why aren’t you listening to me? I don’t want anyone but you, I don’t want anything but you..I don’t even want liberation since that may take me away from you. All I want is to be a part of you, like you, in the same color as you. And I will not give up, not in this lifetime, not even in the next…

Meera ke prabhu, giridhar nagar…prabhu charanan ne laagi najariya…My Lord Giridhar, I am at your feet, focused, eyes, mind, body, soul…transfixed on you….Rang de Chunaria – please, oh my Lord, please, I request you, I beg you, from the deepest corners of my heart – make me yours…let me become you. Rang de Chunaria…

Here is the finest rendition that you can find – by Anup Jalota. Rang de chunariya…Close your eyes, listen, feel and enjoy the bliss that this bhajan brings you…Jai Shri Krishna…Happy Janmashtami!