The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"


with 6 comments

  यूयं वयं वयं यूयम्
  इत्यासीन्मतिरावयोः ।
  किञ्जातमधुना येन 
  यूयं यूयं वयं वयम् ॥

yūyaṃ vayaṃ vayaṃ yūyam
ity āsīt matir āvayoḥ |
kiṃ jātam adhunā yena
yūyaṃ yūyaṃ vayaṃ vayam ||

Translated by John Brough (1977):

In former days we’d both agree
That you were me, and I was you.
What has now happened to us two,
That you are you, and I am me?

A simple poem, simply translated, and I was struck both by its simplicity and how popular it seems despite (because of?) it. Here’s the place to mention something trite, like “even the simplest poems can be beautiful”. It’s also an example where word order does matter in Sankrit; rearranging the words wouldn’t give the same meaning.

The poem is attributed to Bhartrhari, which, given the nature of such attributions, may mean we don’t know exactly who wrote it. (It doesn’t appear in all recensions.)

[Ryder, probably translating from the variant reading that has “kiṃ jātam adhunā mitra” (so it’s addressed to a friend specifically), does:


Yes, you were I, and I was you,
So fond the love that linked us two;
Alas, my friend, for friendship’s end!
Now I am I, and you are you.

Unrelated: Regina Spektor, Us


Written by S

Mon, 2010-09-20 at 07:59:21

Posted in literature, sanskrit

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6 Responses

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  1. Nice! Interesting comment on word order. Incidentally, it reminded me of one of my favorite verses:

    मनस्येकं वचस्येकं कर्मण्येकं दुरात्मनाम् |
    मनस्येकं वचस्येकं कर्मण्येकं सादात्मनां ||


    Sun, 2010-10-03 at 23:24:59

  2. Hey, I wonder if you remember me. I am Somashekaracharya. I have been following your blog for quite some time. Your posts are very interesting.

    You have been writing a lot about translation. Here’s one blog that I came across : , where you can find translations of the krithis of Thyagaraja, whose music generally overshadows his equally brilliant poetry. I haven’t come across such an attempt before. Just thought it might interest you…

    Awaiting another post.


    Sat, 2010-11-13 at 09:38:13

    • Hey,

      Of course I remember you! How are you?

      That’s a very nice blog, wonderful effort. Such detail for every composition… one really ought to know, at least for those being sung.

      BTW, (unrelated) there’s a wiki trying to be a comprehensive source for the lyrics of all kritis: It’s still pretty incomplete, but has about 1700 works.


      Sun, 2010-11-14 at 12:11:06

  3. Oh I am fine! I hope you are too.
    And yes, the site is a very useful one. With your interest in Sanskrit, you will probably find Dikshitar’s krithis most interesting.

    Another thing that complicates the translation of these krithis set to music are swaraksharas( are probably a few other subtleties like these, that I am not aware of.

    Of course, the translation is not meant to be sung. But it would be a great challenge to preserve these in a translation.


    Wed, 2010-11-17 at 02:39:33

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