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!


What is love?

Not an easy question to answer. But it does get asked often. I asked this question on my Facebook page and got a bunch of really interesting responses. Worth checking out.

In response I decided to list down a bunch of random quotes related to love.

I want to start with this:

Love is like
a pineapple,
sweet and

  • A grook by Piet Hein

Some people think that is silly, but I like it nevertheless.

But I did find one definition that is concise, but seems to capture a lot of the most important characteristics of love:

Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.

  • Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

This definition rather works for me. Not perfect, but covers a lot of cases, when you really think about it.

I’m not talking about the infatuation that people feel when the first fall in love. Here one of my Facebook status update from a few months ago:

People talk of “falling in love” as if it is a disease they catch. That’s not love, that’s infatuation. And that’s temporary – goes away in an year or two. If love could be described as a “falling in”, how can you promise to love someone forever, if the act did not involve any judgment or a decision on your part? Love is something you have to choose to do intentionally, and commit to doing against all adversities.

  • Adapted from Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving, and a forgettable 1990s movies called Boomerang.

While you’re on this topic, this brainpickings article on why friendship is a greater gift than romantic love is a must read.

and related:

Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche

Anyway, I’ll close out this random post with a bunch of random quotes/poems related to love:

I cannot bear to put away the bamboo sleeping mat.
The night I brought you home, I watched you roll it out.

  • Yuan Chen, 8th Century Chinese poet, talking about love

We accept the love we think we deserve.

― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I do not crave nirvana.
I feel the embrace of freedom in a thousand bonds of delight.
No, I will never shut the doors of my senses […]
Yes, all my illusions will burn into illumination of joy,
and all my desires ripen into fruits of love.

  • Rabindranath Tagore in the Gitanjali

Kisses are a better fate than wisdom.

-e.e. cummings

Ghalib points out that it’s not all happiness and roses in love:

Phir hue hain gawaah-e-ishq talab
Ashkbaari ka hukm jaari hai


Again the witnesses of love have been summoned
An order to shed tears has been passed

  • Ghalib

Love is the word used to label the sexual excitement of the young, the habituation of the middle-aged, and the mutual dependence of the old.

  • John Ciardi

“Love is blind” …. “Not true. Otherwise lingerie wouldn’t be so popular”

  • Not sure where I stole this from.

A dad talking about ‘Dad Jokes’: “I think at some level my kids know that each time they groan or say ‘oh dad!’ to my admittedly pathetic dad jokes, they’re really saying ‘I love you too'”

invisible joy
drenches my soul
I love you Absolut

Adapted from here

She who responds to “What do you want for your birthday” with “If you really loved me, you would know what I want” is going to get a Playstation 3.

Stolen from here

Introduction To Poetry by Billy Collins

Taken from here:

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.