Kabir's Gao Gao Ri Dulhani - Lyrics and meanings

One of my favorite Kabir's poem I call "Dulhani." In this beautiful poem, Kabir envisions himself as the bride and the universe (or God, which he personifies as "Raag") as her groom. It is a beautiful poem that shows the spiritual wedding of Kabir in three stages depicted in the three stanzas: (1) the bride dresses up, then the wedding ceremony, and the departure of the bride with her love. There are two recordings of this shabad: one from 2019 and one from 2011. I also have a translation of the poem in English, followed by my own English poem reflecting the sentiments of Kabir's poem. 

Kabir's Gao Gao Ri Dulhani - Raag Asa

This recording was made along with the "Saajan" album in 2019, a series of albums dedicated to the 550th birth centenary of Guru Nanak. I must have been in a jovial mood and added trumpets and brass (often used in wedding bands in India) instead of the Sarangi from the previous arrangement (see below for 2011 recording). 

 


Translation and Notes


Gaa-o gaa-o ree dulhanee mangalchaaraa.
Mayray garih aa-ay raajaa raam bhataaraa. 

Sing, sing, O soul bride, 
sing the song of my wedding
King Raam has come to my house 
to become my husband

Sing O Soul bride, Sing songs of bliss for King Raam has come home to wed me.  "Coming to my house" or "coming back to my house" are common themes in spiritual poetry. Guru Nanak sings in Suhi "Hum Ghar Saajan Aye." American poem Allen Ginsberg uses this theme in his famous poem "Song"

[...]
yes, yes,
       that’s what
I wanted,
       I always wanted,
I always wanted,
       to return
to the body
       where I was born.



Tan rainee man pun rap kar ha-o paacha-o tat baraatee.
Raam raa-ay si-o bhaavar laiha-o aatam tih rang raatee. ||1||

To beautify myself I have anointed my body with good deeds
and that color was so strong my mind has also been dyed. 
Five elements have come together as guests
and as I circumambulate with Raam*
my soul is too imbued with His Love. 

* Note: In the Hindu Marriage ceremony, the couple takes 7 circles around the sacred fire. The word used by Kabir is "Bhaavar" - likening the marriage to a bee circles a flower - the word used in current Hindi is "Phera" or "circle.

* Note 2: The word "Pun" is sometimes translated as "again," but that is wrong.  Pun is the plural of "Punu" which comes from Sanskrit and means good deads.  The words used for again in Gurbani is "Phun."  Professor Sahib Singh explains this in his punjabi teeka of the Guru Granth Sahib and I agree with this definition. In Sohela we also sing a shabad in raag Gauri Purbi where we say, "Kar Sadhu Anjuli Pun wadda hay, Kar Dandaut Pun Wadda Hay" - it is a virtuous deed to bow to the "Sadhus" or the ones who have achieved inner peace.

Naabh kamal meh baydee rach lay barahm gi-aan uchaaraa.
Raam raa-ay so doolahu paa-i-o as badbhaag hamaaraa. ||2||

Make the navel-lotus my bridal pavilion
And let Brahma* recite holy mantras
I have obtained the Raam as my Husband 
such is my great good fortune. ||2||

* Note: According to old scriptures, Brahma, the creator (also the God of knowledge) sits on the lotus that grows from the Navel of Vishnu. Lotus obviously also reminds the reader of purity despite maligned surroundings. Brahma is also credited to first having "recited" the "Vedas" -- some of the oldest scriptures written in human history. There is a temple in India (near Thanesar) called "Kamal Naabhi" or "Lotus Navel" where Brahma was born from the Navel of Vishnu.


Sur nar mun jan ka-utak aa-ay kot taytees ujaanaaN.
Kahi kabeer mohi bi-aahi chalay hai purakh ayk bhagvaanaa. ||3||

Angles, holy men, sages, and deities have come 
in thousands of heavenly chariots to see 
my husband take me with him 
because Raam is none other than the One Almighty ||3||

Original Poem/Song


Sing O Soul, O soul you sing!
sing freely sing, O fondly sing!
sing sated sweet savory song
sing I hear my wedding bells ring!

Start to sing a song so complete
that with my love, five elements sing
and rain my body and mind so replete,
that you too drenched delighted sing

Sing O soul, a song so pure
as sacred vows that I need sing
on a lotus altar white for sure
Brahma's mantra adorn my hearing!

Sing O soul, a song so magical
come angels, fairies, maidens sing
on heavenly chariots so fanciful
as my Love whisks me away to sing!

Sing of my fortuity sing!
sing the beauty of purity sing
sing this mystical magical song
sing I hear my wedding bells ring!

Version by Shubha Mudgal

Several years ago I heard this and I keep going back to this haunting melody by Shubha Mudgal. The lyrics are strikingly similar to Kabir's shabad in Gurbani, Gao Gao Ri Dulhani. 



Raag Asa or Gauri - depending on the listener


Raag In Gurbani this is sung in Asa, while in Kabir's Granthavali this is in Raag Gauri.  It is Shubha Mudgal doesn't sing it in either raags.  I believe the responsibility of the deciding the raag is sometimes upon the singer, and sometime on the editor.  But they are both acting as listeners. They can hear different colors of oneness in the same song and therefore the decision on different raags.  Bhai Gurdas or Guru Arjan may have found the hope of bliss in this Kabir shabad and added it to Guru Nanak's new raag Asa.  The editor of the Kabir Granthavali instead focused on coloring of the mind, body and soul to the color of oneness (tan rati kari ...), therefore the choice of Raag Gauri. 

Lyrics 


Dulhani gavahu mangalchaar
Hum ghar aaye raaja raam bhartaar

Tan rati kari mein man rati kari hoon, panch tatt baraati
ramdev morai paahun aaye, main joban main maati

Sareer sarvar bedi karihoon brahma ved uchaar
Ramdev sang bhaavari lehoon dhan dhan bhaag hamaar

Sur tainteesu kautig aaye munivar sahas athaasi
keh kabir hum byaahi chale hain purush ek avinashi

Translation - Wedding of Kabir


The bride sings songs of joy
Raja Raam has come to her house to be her husbad

I have colored my body and mind, five elements are the wedding guests
Raam has come to wed me, I am young and crazy

33 angels have come. 88,000 sages too
Kabir says the one indestructible man takes me away

2011 Recording - Raag Asa

The first one I recorded some of the music in India in 2009, and finished recording in California I think in 2011. 




Also see 

Hindi Version -
Old Composition - Dulhin Gawahu Mangala Char
Raag Maand Composition - Dulhin Gaavahu Mangalchaar

Hindi Bhaavarth - https://youtu.be/8oAazczoaGE

Similar Lyrics -

Piya More Aye by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Raag Khambavati)

Dhan Dhan Bhaag Hamaare - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Raag Gawati)

Similar Gurbani -

Dhan Dhan Hamare Bhaag - Sohan Singh Rasiya

Meri Ichh Puni - 

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