Shunya Gadh Shehar - Gorakhnath Bhajan Composed by Pt. Kumar Gandharva

Shunya Gadh Shehar - Gorakhnath

शून्य गढ शहर शहर घर बस्ती कौन सूता कौन जागे है In the empty fort, a city, In the city, a settlement; Who sleeps? Who wakes? लाल हमरे हम लालान के तन सोता ब्रह्म जागे है My Love/red is mine, I am my Love/red's; The body sleeps, the Spirit wakes. जल बिच कमल कमल बिच कलिया भँवर बास न लेता है Lotus in water, Buds among lotuses; A bee does not dwell. इस नगरी के दस दरवाजे जोगी फेरी नित देता है This city has ten gates; The yogi constantly makes the rounds. तन की कुण्डी मन का सोटा ज्ञानकी रगड लगाता है Body as mortar, mind as pestle; He grinds wisdom. पाञ्च पचीस बसे घट भीतर उनकू घोट पिलाता है Five & 25 dwell in the body; He gives them the drink. अगन कुण्डसे तपसी तापे तपसी तपसा करता है In the pit of fire, the tapasi burns; He does his tapas पाञ्चो चेला फिरे अकेला अलख अलख कर जपता है Five disciples roam alone; "Unseen, Unseen" it is chanted एक अप्सरा सामें उभी जी, दूजी सूरमा हो सारे है An apsara descends in front; A second appears with drowsy eyes तीसरी रम्भा सेज बिछावे परण्या नहीं कुँवारी है A third, Rambha, spreads the bed; Unmarried she is a virgin परण्या पहिले पुतुर जाया मात पिता मन भाया है Before marriage a son is born; Mother and father rejoice. शरण मच्छिन्दर गोरख बोले एक अखण्डी ध्याया है "Macchinder is Refuge!" says Gorakh "Meditate on the Indivisible One!" This song has many layers to it, and not obvious meaning is apparent even in Hindi, so to translate it is not very wise; much less to give it a visual interpretation. I would say Gorakh Nath here is describing the scene as he enters a town before the break of dawn about how empty it is. The emptiness could also apply to material life in general. A wake-up call to seek refuge in the Guru and meditate on Oneness (Kaivalya) or Alakh Niranjan (the untainted unseen attribute-less Godhead of the Nath yogis). 

He begins. 
1) Though the world is asleep (in māyā) the Spirit, the Brahman, the Guru, the Love that is so dear, is always awake. 

2) Though there are lovely lotuses in the pond, even lovelier buds, the bee does not dwell. Kumarji sings it in two different ways one of them means that the bee takes a sniff! Similarly even if there are temptations, the yogi does not dwell. A bee - मधुकर a honey collector - is likened to a mendicant as both of them go place to place seeking food and they do not dwell. The body fort has ten gates - passages for temptation - and the yogi should guard them all the time. 

3) With the body and mind as mortar and pestle, the yogi constantly grinds for wisdom. Once he gets the potion of true knowledge he gives a taste of it to the indwelling five elements (earth, water, fire, wind & sky) and to the 25 tattvas (mind etc.); so that they be reminded of their true identity, that is divinity. 

4) The tapasi - an austere spiritual practitioner - practices 'yoga by fire', the famous pañcāgni - five fire ritual. As the five disciples - the five elements - wait outside for the easy delivery of knowledge from the Guru! "Unseen, unseen" the chant goes on. "Alakh" is also the chant itself! 

 5) As the yogi mounts his dedication, Māyā mounts temptation too. So a celestial temptress is sent as a distraction. Then a second, even a third - the finest Rambhā - descends as a virgin. 

 6) Before her marriage a son is born to her - and hence the yogi's austerity is destroyed. A victory for Māyā as the father and mother rejoice the birth of a baby. But Gorakh is wiser, lest he should fall in to any of those traps, he reminds his Guru of the protection he sought and he reminds himself to meditate on nothing but the Ultimate. Also, there is a cute story of how Guru Matsyendra Nath (Macchinder) gets deluded by a beautiful queen and Gorakh goes to save him, only to realize that he was being tested by the Guru. (see any of the movies named Maya Macchindra) --- 

This and other songs of Kumar Gandharva are explained in the book "Singing Emptiness" by Prof. Linda Hess