The Yogi and the Daughter-in-Law

Here’s a poem by Bahinabai Chaudhari, who, in spite of being an illiterate housewife (from the Khandesh region of Maharashtra), was an accomplished poet. She verbally composed poems during her lifetime – her son wrote them down and published them after her death.

I’ve attempted a translation of it, and it loses much in translation, but the original is so powerful that some of it still shines through. Here’s I have used Mom’s house for the word maher (which is equivalent to Hindi’s maayka), and in-laws’ for sasar (which is equivalent to the Hindi sasural). These are very poor placeholders. You need to remember what life for a woman was like in the days before urban nuclear families – and all the hardships and humiliations in the big, nasty place that was the husband’s joint-family home. That’s sasar/sasural. And that is in contrast to the loving, caring, carefree place that was the mom’s house – the maher/maayka. Keep that in mind while reading the translation.

If you understand Marathi, skip directly to the Ahirani original below.

The Yogi and the Daughter-in-Law


What’s this disturbance, as I sit here meditating
Woman, stop your mouth from blabbering

‘My Mom’s-house Mom’s-house’ – this song is constantly on your lips
Then why did you come from your mom’s-house to your in-laws’?

Daughter in law:

I have cravings, says the soil of the fields,
Singing songs of Mom’s-house, means I’m pregnant with a girl,

Pay careful attention Yogi, listen to what I say,
For the daughter to have a Mom’s house, the mom toils at the in-laws’,

Where’s God, Where’s God, filled up everywhere and still left over,
And the left overs have all permeated into my Mom’s house.

योगी आणि सासुरवाशीन

I’ve reproduced the original here for you to appreciate if you
understand Marathi. (Technically, it is in Ahirani a language from the
Khandesh region of Maharashtra – but it’s close enough to Marathi that
you should not have trouble understanding it.)

बसलो मी देवध्यानी, काय मधी हे संकट
बाई बंद कर तुझ्या तोंडातली वटवट

“माझं माहेर माहेर” सदा गाणं तुझ्या ओठी
मंग माहेरून आली सासरले कशासाठी ?

आरे, लागले डोहाये सांगे शेतातली माटी
गाते माहेराचं गानं लेक येईल रे पोटी

देरे देरे योग्या ध्यान एक काय मी सांगते
लेकीच्या माहेरासाठी माय सासरी नांदते

देव कुठे देव कुठे, भरीसनी जो उरला
अरे, उरीसनी माझ्या माहेरात सामावला

लेकीच्या माहेरासाठी माय सासरी नांदते (For the daughter to have a Mom’s house, the mom toils at the in-laws’). What a line!