He Partha Sarathi

He Partha Sarathi is a favourite song of mine, and my teacher Sri Chinmoy liked it very much too.

Sri Chinmoy asked us to sing the lines marked with a star very powerfully!

Lyrics (Bengali transliteration - Sri Chinmoy's students use ā for a long a (ah) as in about or allow, and ă for short a as in call)

He partha sarathi bajao bajao panchajanya shanka
Chitero abasad dur karo karo dur bayovito jane kero ni shanka
He partha sarathi bajao bajao panchajanya shanka
Danute tankar hano hano gitaramantre jibana dano
Bholau bholau niya atanka
He partha sarathi bajao bajao panchajanya shanka
Mrittyu jibaner shesh nohe nohe
Ananda bal dhari ananda jibana prabaha kare
Durmada duranta jaubana chanchala chariya asuk marsneha ancha
Vir santana dal
Koriuk sudhobhita maitri anka

Translation by Sri Chinmoy:

O charioteer of Arjuna, blow, blow your conch 'Panchajanya',
Drive away this depression of the heart,
Make them fearless who are struck with fear
O charioteer of Arjuna, blow, blow your conch 'Panchajanya'.

String the bow and hit the target
Singing the mantra of the Gita, sacrifice your life
Make us forget the fear of death,
O charioteer of Arjuna, blow, blow your conch 'Panchajanya'.

Death is not the end of life;
Through Eternity flows the eternal tide of life.
Let the dauntless and indomitable young men
Leave the affection-attachment-lap of their human mothers
And take shelter in the Supernal Lap of the Universal Mother
And adorn it divinely and supremely.

O charioteer of Arjuna, blow, blow your conch 'Panchajanya'.

In one of Sri Chinmoy's very first performances in the West, he played this song accompanied by harmonium. This was a concert given in March 1966 in the Indian Cultural Centre in New York

About the song

It was written by Kazi Nazrul Islam, a famous Bengali composer. Partha Sarathi literally means charioteer of Arjuna, i.e Krishna, and the song reverberates with imagery taken from the Mahabarata, the famous Indian epic whose focal point is an all-consuming battle between light and ignorance. The opening lines invoke Krishna to blow his famous conch, Panchajanya. Conch shells were traditionally used at the start of Indian battles to summon men to arms, and the cacophony of conches would infuse the warriors with courage and strength for what would lie ahead.

However, the battle the poet refers to is the inner one - "Drive away this depression of the heart, make them fearless who are struck with fear", so the English translation goes, as the song exhorts each of us in the battlefield of life to leave behind human bondage and take shelter in the Divine.

The dynamic, inspiring tone of the song is typical of the songs that Nazrul used to write in the 1920's and 1930's. He saw himself as a rebel on many fronts against the imposing oppressions of the time. He fervently desired to end the British occupation of India, and for that he spent a year in jail and had many of his books banned.

He also was a firm opponent of religious narrowmindedness. He was brought up in a poor Muslim family, but at age 17 he joined the Indian Army and had his outlook widened by coming into contact with Persian and Hindu cultures. As He Partha Sarathi shows, many of his devotional songs use Hindu as well as Muslim means of religious expression. He recieved much criticism from Muslim and Hindu conservatives for falling in love with and marrying a Hindu girl, and return, he was vehement in his opposition to what he saw as unnecessary orthodoxy which hurt people more than anything.