Article: Ānandghan

Contributed by Nalini Balbir

Legacy and presence

Women chanting hymns in the temple. Singing hymns of praise to the Jinas is one of the main elements of worship and is a crucial part of most religious ceremonies.

Women singing hymns
Image by Dey – Dey Alexander © CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The poetry of Ānandghan remains popular among contemporary Jains, both those in India and those outside India, and among non-Jains. There have been many versions of his poems since the 17th century, with translations increasing the audience. Recordings of the hymns also testify to the continuing popularity of Ānandghan's work. His songs can be heard in Jain temples around the world, especially among Digambara worshippers. The hymns' emphasis on internal spirituality is similar to the work of Digambara writers such as Banārasīdās and Dyānatrāya, who lived around the same time as Ānandghan. This quality and the poems' non-sectarian nature have long made them appealing to those concerned with non-sectarianism and spirituality in general, such as the Shri Ramchandra mission and Mahatma Gandhi.

The transmission of Ānandghan's songs – pads – has shown how collections of Jain verse were being formed in the centuries following his birth. Examples of printed collections include those edited by:

  • Bhimsingh Manek, 1877
  • Buddhi-sagar, who published the first edition in 1913
  • Sarabhai Nawab, 1954.

Popular editions of the Cauvīsī and the Bahattarī with modern Hindi or Gujarati translations and detailed explanations published in India show that the poet still has a large audience. One example is the 1985 Hindi translation by Muni Ratnasenavijaya.

The Cauvīsī and the Bahattarī are very much alive today among Jains. Jain communities in India sing them but they are also favourites among the diaspora. Like Rājacandra, whose Ātmasiddhi may speak to Jains who do not practise rituals, Ānandghan's strong appeal to transcendence, expressed through powerful images, encourage spiritual development in everyone.

Recordings of the songs are popular, with online versions and DVDs and tapes available to buy. This example on YouTube is a good example of singing the original text. It is preceded by a modern Hindi translation of the poem Kin guna bhayo re udāsī bhamarā by Piyush Nagar:

kina guna bhayo re udāsī, bhamarā?
paṃkha terī kārī, mukha terā pīrā, saba phūlana ko vāsī
saba kaliyana ko rasa tuma līno, so kyūṃ jāya nirāsī?
Ānandaghana prabhu tumāre milanavu, jāya karavata lyūṃ kāsī

Number 106 in Kapadia, volume 2: 473–478

Bee, why on earth are you sad? Why on earth are you sad?
Your wings are black, your mouth is yellow, you make your home in all flowers.
Bee, why on earth are you sad? Why on earth are you sad?
You have taken the juice of all flowers. So why are you desperate?
Bee, why on earth are you sad? Why on earth are you sad?
Cloud of Bliss, Lord, in order to meet you I am ready to go up to Benares.
Bee, why on earth are you sad? Why on earth are you sad?

Translation by Nalini Balbir

This is one of 11 of Ānandghan's songs in the record Mere Prāṇ Ānandghan. This is named after one of the songs, called 'My life is the Cloud of Bliss, my song the Cloud of Bliss' (number 52 in Kapadia; Bangha and Fynes's translation 2013: 52), as sung by Darshana Bhuto and Piyush Nagar.

A good selection of recorded songs with different musical styles is found on tattvagyan.com/jain-pad/, along with the transliteration of the text. Details are in the table.

Selected songs by Ānandghan

Refrain

Number in Kapadia's edition

Page in Bangha and Fynes's 2013 translation

mūlaḍo thoḍo bhāī vyājaḍo ghaṇo re

54

 

mere prāṇa āṇandaghan

52

52

terī huṃ terī huṃ kahuṃ rī

44

11

merī tuṃ merī tuṃ kānhī ḍarerī

43

 

sādho bhāī samatā raṅga ramīje

30

17

dekho eka apūrava khelā

57

avadhu! kyā māguṃ gunahīnā

26

14

kyāre mune milaśye

25

 

dulaha nārī tuṃ baḍī bāvarī

19

59

avadhū! āja suhāgana nārī

20

 

niśadina jovuṃ vāṭaḍī

16

 

mere ghaṭa gyāna bhānu bhayo bhora

15

 

anubhava: tuṃ hai hitu hamāro

14

19

anubhava! ham to rāvarī dāsī

13

15

kyā sove uṭha jāga baure

1

1

avadhū! kyā sove tana maṭha meṃ

7

12

anubhava nātha kuṃ kuṃ na jagāve

8

18

Ānandghan's songs may be sung at Jain temples in and outside India (Bangha and Fynes 2013: xxiii note 1). Despite their author's Śvetāmbara affiliation, the hymns are extremely popular among the sect of the Digambaras. This can be explained by the songs' stress on internal spirituality – adhyātma – which was a trend initiated by Banārasīdāsas and continued more by Digambara personalities like Dyānatrāya (1676–1727. Thus Ānandghan's verses are heavily used by Digambaras in their performance of devotion – bhakti – and find a place in Digambara hymn collections.

In 2006 a religious camp organised by the Shri Ramchandra mission in Dharampur, Gujarat, focused on the Cauvīsī. It took the collections as the basis for meditation and detailed expositions by the religious teacher.

Mahatma Gandhi included the poem 'One may say Rama, Rahman, Krishna or Shiva, then' in his prayer book, Āśram Bhajanāvalī (Bangha and Fynes 2013: xxiii).

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