Madhushala – The Tavern

One reason I love Hindi poetry is because they can package both meaning and rhythm together. I haven’t seen much of blank verse in modern Hindi poetry (I am not an expert on it).
 
Madhushala is the poem for which perhaps Harivansh Rai Bachhan is most famous. The way he captures the nuances of a Tavern (Madhushala) and the life story of a person who is a compulsive alcoholic is unparalleled. And if it is sung to you in the voice of Manna Dey, can you but not feel the intoxication in the words itself, the kicks of the rhythm, the rhapsody of rhyme, the delectation of the verse, the transport of liquer in letters weaved into strings of poetry.
 
The verses below are the ones sung by Manna Dey. I have taken the english translation from here. The full text (along with a full translation) is available here.
 
Raah pakad tu ek chala chal, paa jaayega madhushala. 
 


मदिरालय जाने को घर से चलता है पीनेवला,
‘किस पथ से जाऊँ?’ असमंजस में है वह भोलाभाला,
अलग-अलग पथ बतलाते सब पर मैं यह बतलाता हूँ –
‘राह पकड़ तू एक चला चल, पा जाएगा मधुशाला।’। ६।
 
With the intention of going to the pub, the drink-seeker starts from home
He is confused as to which path should he choose to reach there
Different people show different paths, but I suggest only one thing
Take one path (any one) and just keep going, you will get MADHUSHAALAA.
 
सुन, कलकल़ , छलछल़ मधुघट से गिरती प्यालों में हाला,
सुन, रूनझुन रूनझुन चल वितरण करती मधु साकीबाला,
बस आ पहुंचे, दुुर नहीं कुछ, चार कदम अब चलना है,
चहक रहे, सुन, पीनेवाले, महक रही, ले, मधुशाला।।१०।
 
Sounding like a spring, the liquor’s falling and filling the lives
There are sounds like those of pretty, intoxicating girls playing at the water
We have almost reached, just a few more steps to go
The very thought is making the drink-seekers sway and MADHUSHAALAA redolent.
 
लाल सुरा की धार लपट सी कह न इसे देना ज्वाला,
फेनिल मदिरा है, मत इसको कह देना उर का छाला,
दर्द नशा है इस मदिरा का विगत स्मृतियाँ साकी हैं,
पीड़ा में आनंद जिसे हो, आए मेरी मधुशाला।।१४।
 
It [madhu] flares like a red sword, but don’t call it fire
Don’t even call it the abscess of the heart
Pain is its intoxication and receding memories its bar-tender [provider]
That who endures or enjoys pain only must come to my Madhushaalaa
 
धर्मग्रन्थ सब जला चुकी है, जिसके अंतर की ज्वाला,
मंदिर, मसजिद, गिरिजे, सब को तोड़ चुका जो मतवाला,
पंिडत, मोमिन, पादिरयों के फंदांे को जो काट चुका,
कर सकती है आज उसी का स्वागत मेरी मधुशाला।।१७।
 
That, whose fire from within, has burnt all holy books of his religion
That, who has demolished all his personal religious structures- temple, mosque or church
That who has freed himself from the clutches of religious priests- Pandit, Imam or Bishop
That alone is today welcome in my Madhushaalaa.
 
लालायित अधरों से जिसने, हाय, नहीं चूमी हाला,
हर्ष-विकंपित कर से जिसने, हा, न छुआ मधु का प्याला,
हाथ पकड़ लज्जित साकी का पास नहीं जिसने खींचा,
व्यर्थ सुखा डाली जीवन की उसने मधुमय मधुशाला।।१८।
 
If one has not yet kissed a "drink" with his lips,
And has not yet felt the "pail" with delight and trembling hands.
If one has not yet held the hands of the bashful "bar-tender" and pulled her towards oneself,
Such a person has totally wasted his life’s wonderful Madhushaalaa.
 
बने पुजारी प्रेमी साकी, गंगाजल पावन हाला,
रहे फेरता अविरत गति से मधु के प्यालों की माला’
‘और लिये जा, और पीये जा’, इसी मंत्र का जाप करे’
मैं शिव की प्रतिमा बन बैठूं, मंदिर हो यह मधुशाला।।१९।
 
He [the drink-seeker] imagines the beloved bar-tender as the priest, and the drink as holy water of Ganges,
And counts rapidly [a mantra] on the rosary of his pails,
His only mantra is "Take more.  Drink more."
[In his imagination] he becomes the image of Shiva and his temple, Madhushaalaa.
 
एक बरस में, एक बार ही जगती होली की ज्वाला,
एक बार ही लगती बाज़ी, जलती दीपों की माला,
दुनियावालों, किन्तु, किसी दिन आ मदिरालय में देखो,
दिन को होली, रात दिवाली, रोज़ मनाती मधुशाला।।२६।
 
Once a year [you] celebrate holi by lighting a fire and
Only once a year [you] celebrate diwali with fire-crackers and illuminating houses
However, someday [you] should come and see in the "bar"
Every day holi and every night diwali, celebrates Madhushaalaa.
 
अधरों पर हो कोई भी रस जिहवा पर लगती हाला,
भाजन हो कोई हाथों में लगता रक्खा है प्याला,
हर सूरत साकी की सूरत में परिवर्तित हो जाती,
आँखों के आगे हो कुछ भी, आँखों में है मधुशाला।।३२।
 
Whatever may come to [my] lips, tastes only "liquor" at the tongue
Whatever may come in [my] hands, feels only like the "pail"
Every face [before me] turns into the face of the "bar-tender"
In front of [my] eyes there may be anything, but in [my] eyes, there’s only Madhushaalaa.
 
सुमुखी तुम्हारा, सुन्दर मुख ही, मुझको कन्चन का प्याला
छलक रही है जिसमंे माणिक रूप मधुर मादक हाला,
मैं ही साकी बनता, मैं ही पीने वाला बनता हूँ
जहाँ कहीं मिल बैठे हम तुम़ वहीं गयी हो मधुशाला।।६४।
 
Hey [my] charming lady, your beautiful face is like the golden "pail" [to me]
which is teeming with the wonderful, sweet, intoxicating wine.
I am the bar-tender and I alone is the one who drinks
Wherever we two get together, we have Madhushaalaa.
 
दो दिन ही मधु मुझे पिलाकर ऊब उठी साकीबाला,
भरकर अब खिसका देती है वह मेरे आगे प्याला,
नाज़, अदा, अंदाजों से अब, हाय पिलाना दूर हुआ,
अब तो कर देती है केवल फ़र्ज़ -अदाई मधुशाला।।६५।
 
Within two days of presenting me with the wine, the bar-tender [my love] got tired.
Now she just fills the pail and quite curtly places it before me.
That enticing and seducing charm in presenting the drink no more exists.
Now the only one who still fulfills its obligation is Madhushaalaa.
 
छोटे-से जीवन में कितना प्यार करुँ, पी लूँ हाला,
आने के ही साथ जगत में कहलाया ‘जानेवाला’,
स्वागत के ही साथ विदा की होती देखी तैयारी,
बंद लगी होने खुलते ही मेरी जीवन-मधुशाला।।६६।
 
In this brief life, how much can I love, how much can I drink
Right on arrival in this world, I became ‘destined-to-go’
Parting and farewell arrangements I have seen just following welcome
Barely upon opening, started to close my life’s wonderful madhushaalaa.
 
शांत सकी हो अब तक, साकी, पीकर किस उर की ज्वाला,
‘और, और’ की रटन लगाता जाता हर पीनेवाला,
कितनी इच्छाएँ हर जानेवाला छोड़ यहाँ जाता!
कितने अरमानों की बनकर कब्र खड़ी है मधुशाला।।८९।
 
No ones’ fire-of-the-heart ever got abated after drinking
Every one who drinks, only asks for more and more
The departer leaves behind himself so many desires and ambitions
All those aspirations get buried under the grave of Madhushaalaa.
 
यम आयेगा साकी बनकर साथ लिए काली हाला,
पी न होश में फिर आएगा सुरा-विसुध यह मतवाला,
यह अंितम बेहोशी, अंतिम साकी, अंतिम प्याला है,
पिथक, प्यार से पीना इसको फिर न मिलेगी मधुशाला।८०।
 
Yam will arrive as a wineserver and will bring with him dark wine
After drinking it, the cheerful drinker will never regain conscious again
This is the last intoxication, last wineserver and the last pail
Hey Traveller, drink it with love, for you will never again get Madhushaalaa.
 
गिरती जाती है दिन प्रतिदन प्रणयनी प्राणों की हाला
भग्न हुआ जाता दिन प्रतिदन सुभगे मेरा तन प्याला,
रूठ रहा है मुझसे रूपसी, दिन दिन यौवन का साकी
सूख रही है दिन दिन सुन्दरी, मेरी जीवन मधुशाला।।७९।
 
Day by day, the beloved wine of my existence is dropping down
Day by day, the pail of my body is disintegrating
Day by day, the beautiful wineserver of my youth is getting annoyed with me
And day by day, my lovely life’s Madhushaalaa is drying up.
 
मेरे अधरों पर हो अंतिम वस्तु न तुलसीदल प्याला
मेरी जीव्हा पर हो अंतिम वस्तु न गंगाजल हाला,
मेरे शव के पीछे चलने वालों याद इसे रखना
राम नाम है सत्य न कहना, कहना सच्ची मधुशाला।।८२।
 
The last thing on my lips shouldn’t be the basil but the "pail"
The last thing on my tongue shouldn’t be the holy water from ganges but the wine
Those who join my last procession, must remember one thing
They shouldn’t say "Ram is the truth", instead say the truth is Madhushaalaa.
 
मेरे शव पर वह रोये, हो जिसके आंसू में हाला
आह भरे वो, जो हो सुरिभत मदिरा पी कर मतवाला,
दे मुझको वो कान्धा जिनके पग मद डगमग होते हों
और जलूं उस ठौर जहां पर कभी रही हो मधुशाला।।८३।
 
Only that must weep on my corpse, whose tears are full of wine
Only that must sigh, who is intoxicated after drinking
Only those must lay shoulder to me whose legs jerk and quaver
And I must be cremated on the site where once stood Madhushaalaa.

About kpowerinfinity
I *♥* technology, business, conversations, experiences, books, music, theater, coffee and people. I am an entrepreneur in the city of Bangalore - my company, Capillary, provides customer engagement programs and marketing services to retailers around the world.

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