Author, Burning for Freedom

Author, Burning for Freedom
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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Savarkar: "Take the oath, O Youths!"

“Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it politic? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular- but one must take it simply because it is right.”

- Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Hi, Everyone! I had always loved Savakar’s poems sagaras and jayostute. In fact Jayostute was in my school (St. Columba High School, Mumbai) prayer book and though I didn’t know it was Savarkar’s poem, I had always crooned it to myself over the years. I didn’t quite understand the meaning, but I could feel the emotions in the poems. I was determined to quote them in my novel.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any poetic translation of the poems. As in everything, when no help is available I have to buckle down to do it myself. And that was certainly easier said than done!! My Marathi is feeble at best. But I had a great asset on my side—my mother, Dr. Indrayani Sawkar. She is a Sanskrit scholar and her command over Marathi and English is excellent, too. I roped her in to give me meanings of Savarkar’s words.

I studied Savarkar’s poems for hours and didn’t even attempt the poetic translation until I could feel my heart throb with the emotions, until I could feel the pain, the desperation, the love for his motherland that was spilling out of Savarkar’s words.

Here is one poem:

Pratidnya ghya
घ्या घ्या घ्या शपथा I तरुणांनो! मरूही देशाकरिता II घ्या
स्वस्थ कसे बसला I लागेना I तळमळ कारे चिंता II स्वस्थ तळमळत्या पडल्या I टिळकांच्या I पुरवा I हेतूला II तळमळ
हेतूला पुरवा I टिपरुनिया I हिंदुदुंदूभीला II हेतूला  
सांगसांगाता रे I कोरडही I येई कंठनाला II सांग
तरीही I आग कशी I लागेना II तुमच्या हृदयाला II तरीही
नातरी समजाहा I देश जगी I नामशेष झाला II नातरी
Take! Do take  the oath, O Youths,
An oath to die for your Country, do take!
Ah! How rest you with such ease?
Do not you feel pangs of torment?
Strive for Tilak’s Goal!
Writhing helpless in anguish it be!
The Hindu trumpet resounds! The word is spread!
Hear me! My throat is hoarse, very hoarse
Reiterating this refrain.
And yet! Yet your hearts are not ablaze.
Strive for the goal,
Lest Our Country  be destroyed!
Let not a mere name it be worldwide!

Savarkar’s words in this poem just make me cry. My translation can only be a poor imitation. I am not a poet, but I have done my best. I figured that would be better than no translation at all. I really, really do want Savarkar’s poems to be heard by all.


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