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Gurdas Maan, live in concert.Roti Magar, meaning the quest for Roti, is a beautiful Punjabi poem written & sung by Gurdas Maan on the ethos of sustenance.


Rosh translates & explains lyrics

Previous Story: Roti, Griddle Baked Bread

"In our culture," Isha continued, "Roti doesn't always specifically mean unleavened bread. It can also mean food or meals in general."

"Gurdas Maan (Punjabi: ਗੁਰਦਾਸ ਮਾਨ) has written and sung a beautiful poem on the Hindu philosophy of Roti. This song is now available on his YouTube channel."

"Can we have a look Ma?" Hosh asked excitedly.

"Sure," she said and searched the Youtube file for him.

"But this song is in Punjabi Ma?" Hosh moaned after they had seen it. "I don't know that language."

"I also barely understand it," she answered, "although I grew up listening to Gurdās Mān. Let's go to your father. He'll be able to tell us what it really means."

"Is he quite famous then?" asked Hosh, as they walked towards Rosh's office together.

"He is a notable figure today," she answered, "in the world of Punjabi music. He's ten years older than your Pa."

"Born in the Indian state of Punjab, he captured national attention in 1980 with his song Dil Da Māmla Hai, meaning 'It is a matter of the heart'."

"I was a school student then. Soon after that, came Māmla Gadbad Hai and Chhalla. Since then, he has recorded over 34 albums and has written over 300 songs."

"He sings, writes songs, choreographs, and even acts in movies. In 2009, his album Boot Polishan won the Best International Album award at the UK Asian Music Awards."

"In 2010, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Music by the University of Wolverhampton. In 2011, he performed at the Royal Albert Hall, an opportunity that few artists get."

"Who are you talking about?" asked Rosh, as they entered his office.

"Gurdas Mān," said Isha. "Can you tell us what the lyrics of his song Roti Magar mean? It is from his album Roti."

"Roti Magar means 'Chasing Roti'," Rosh said. "But I haven't heard the song. My Punjabi is limited too, you know, but I can try. Is it available on the net?"

They nodded and showed him. He watched and listened.

"It is a beautiful Punjabi poem," he said finally, "on the ethos of sustenance. Very spiritual, moral, touching, inspiring."

"What does it say?" Hosh couldn't contain himself any longer.

"Well," said Rosh. "If I transliterate the lyrics verbatim for you, the poet's thought will lose the flair of its expression. So, let me try and translate its spirit, so you can enjoy it better."

He started the video again. Gurdas Mān began:

Hān... Rabb warga... koi sakhi sultān hai nai... jihne sarey sansār nu lāyi roti

Rosh paused the video and translated:

"Ummm ... There isn't a generous lord like God, who gave nourishment to the whole wide world."

He started the video again. Mān continued:

Sadā jag dey jyun diyan rehn Māwan ... o jinha bachyān dey munh pai roti ... Oooo

"Let mothers shine and be blessed always," Rosh translated again, "... cos they fed and nourished their babies ..."

Bhajji firdi ae roti dey magar duniya, subho shām dupehar nu, khayi roti?
Es roti da bhed na koi jāne ... kithon āyi te kihne banāyi roti ...
O roti dee kadar nu key jāne ... jihnu mildi ae pakki pakāyi roti ... [Bhajji firdi ...]

"The World is busy chasing sustenance; morning evening and noon, tis the same question.
No one knows the secrets of food; where it came from, and who made it.
Its worth is unrecognized, where one gets nutrition without any effort."

Ikk sabar santokh dey nāl kha gaye ... ikk mārde firn pakāi roti ...
Ikk sabar te shukr dey nāl kha gaye ... ikk mārde firn pakāi roti ...
Os bhukhey nu puch k vekh manā ... jinnu labhey na masān, khiai roti ...
Sarey granth os bandey nu nek mandey ... jinney haq halāl di khayi roti... [Bhajji firdi ...]

"One ate with patience and was content, another grumbled while preparing it
One showed forbearance, was grateful for it; another assumed it was his birthright
See by asking that destitute O Maan, who gets not enough despite his effort
All scriptures consider that person good, who is just and earns an honest living."

Roti gol hai kamm v gol isda ... jiye jant nu chakkar wich pāye roti ...
Seena aap tandur vich sārh laindi ... bhukhey paet dee agg bujhaye roti ...
Roti khān lagga banda karey nakhrey ... bay shukrey nu rās na āye roti ...
Pai burki v munh chon kadd lainda ... bina hukam dey andar na, jāye roti ... [Bhajji firdi ...]

"The round Roti makes us do circles, causing flora and fauna to chase their tails
Searing its own heart in the furnace, it quenches the fire in a hungry belly
If one bitches and moans when having a feed, it does not nourish the ungrateful
The bite in the mouth gets pulled out too, cos without His wish it doesn't go in."

Koi kissey da risk nayin kho sakda ... likhi āyi ae durhon likhayi roti ...
Onna kām vich barkatān rehndiyān ney ... jihna khair fakeer nu payi roti ...
Onni khayin Manā jinni hazm ho jaye ... roti kahdi j hazm na aayi roti ... [Bhajji firdi ...]

"No one can snatch what belongs to the other, each person's share is predestined
Those houses prosper and flourish, which look after their poor brethren
Only have as much as you can digest; it ain't food if you couldn't endure it."

Next Story: Tadka Chhaas - Tempered Buttermilk

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