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Noted Indian author and columnist Khushwant Singh had, in a column written for The Hindustan Times, published his English rendering of Bapu Gandhi's favourite hymn Vaishnov Jan to taynay kahyeeye and invited suggestions from readers on how to improve it.
Mr. Singh felt that we should have a generally acceptable version of this hymn which could go with the collections of his writings and speeches. Here is the Gujarati original by Bhagat Narsinh Mehta and Mr. Singh's translation in his own words:
Vaishnov Jan to taynay kahyeeye
Jay peerh paraaye janneyray
Par dukkhey upkar karey teeyey,
man abhiman na anney ray
Sakal lokma Sahuney bandhey,
Ninda Na karye kainee ray
Baach kaachh, Man nischal Raakhey,
dhan-dhan jananee tainee ray
Samdrishi nay trishna tyagee,
par-stree jaynay mat ray
Vivihva thaki asatya na bolay,
par-dhan nav jhaley haath ray
Moh maaya vyaayey nahin Jeynay,
dridth vairagya jana manma ray
Ram-nam-shoom taalee laagee,
Sakal teerth seyna tanma ray
Vanloohee nay kapat rahit chhay,
Kaam, Krodh nivarya ray
Bhane Narsinhyo tainoo darshan karta
kul ekotair taarya re.
A godlike man is one,
Who feels another’s pain
Who shares another’s sorrow,
And pride does disdain.
Who regards himself as the lowliest of the low,
Speaks not a word of evil against any one
One who keeps himself steadfast in words, body and mind,
Blessed is the mother who gives birth to such a son.
Who looks upon everyone as his equal and has renounced lust,
And who honours women like he honours his mother
Whose tongue knows not the taste of falsehood till his last breath,
Nor covets another’s worldly goods.
He does not desire worldly things,
For he treads the path of renunciation
Ever on his lips is Rama’s holy name,
All places of pilgrimage are within him.
One who is not greedy and deceitful,
And has conquered lust and anger
Through such a man Saint Narsaiyon has a godly vision,
Generations to come, of such a man, will attain salvation