Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jeevana Patra Mo

Link to the song: Jeevana Patra Mo

I heard Sunanda Patnaik for the first time sometime when I was a little kid on All India Radio. Can't say I liked her singing very much. Her singing style sounded too harsh to me. However, my mother and her classical music teacher always spoke very highly of her. They admired her incredibly wide voice range and the finesse with which she traversed the different octaves. As I grew older, I gradually began to appreciate the songs of Sunanda Patnaik, though I never dared attempt to sing those songs myself. They were just too difficult and complex for me. I was content belting the facile and plebeian film songs.

Once I graduated from high school and left home for college, I never heard Sunanda Patnaik again; primary reason was that I did not have access to the radio anymore. College was also the time about girls and romance, so very naturally, the romantic songs of Bollywood appealed to me more, and became my psalms. Then sometime before even I realized, I became an adult, and life was not as hunky-dory as I had imagined it to be, though Bollywood music continued to appeal me, this time the sad songs. Over the past few years, however, my interest in Bollywood music has waned substantially. Oh, I still love to sing the evergreen songs of Rafi, Kishore, Talat Mahmood, Manna Dey and the other greats, but what I love to listen now is mostly classical music. While I always admired the technical virtuosity of the classical musicians, I never could appreciate classical music at the deeper level that I do now.

Anyway, despite all the listening to classical music over the recent years, I never tried Sunanda  Patnaik again, until early this week, when I accidentally stumbled on one of her songs on YouTube. This time, it was an instant love affair with her angelic voice. I was so captivated by her singing that I just went on and on listening to the few songs that I found of her on YouTube. Ended up skipping my regular bed time that is around 10-10:30 p.m., and kept replaying those songs until 3:30 a.m. Then, I forced myself to bed, because I had to teach during the day, though not without letting the songs play in the background at a lower volume.  Habit woke me up at my usual 5:30 a.m. Despite the less than 2 hours of sleep, strangely there was no iota of tiredness. I guess, that is the power of pure classical music.

The song that I have attempted to sing today is one of Sunanda Patnaik's most famous bhajans: Jeevana Patra Mo (You can listen to her original recording here). The lyrics for this song were written by her father, the Late Baikunthanath Pattnaik (1904-79), a prominent Odia poet of the Sabuja Yuga (Age of Romanticism) known for his mystical poetry. A little known fact about Sunanda Patnaik is that she is one of the very few modern classical musicians who has composed new ragas, seven of them (with beautiful Odia names like Nilamadhaba and Vinayak Durga), according to Nilamadhaba, the National Film Award winning documentary on the life of the singer.

Song: Jeevana Patra Mo
Raga: Seems to be close to Raga Bhairavi
Taal: Rupak (7 beats)

My Translation of the Lyrics
My life’s vessel has been filled by You, in so many ways,
So, how can I say that You have not given me anything?
My dear life, You have cleared my delusions,
Now, let my life’s little boat float into Your sea.

You brought so many people to me.
Then with the blink of an eye, You intentionally hid them away from me.
Futile, my proud ego tried to hold on to these people.
The ignoramus that I’m, I created my own sorrow.
My life’s vessel...

My mind like a swan wishes to fly away from my ego.
It will surely get lost, because of my doubts and delusions.
But I’m ready to leave everything behind and float over the ocean of life.
I want to climb over the tall snowy peaks (obstacles) while there is still time left for me.
My life’s vessel...

While I’m trapped here, I will sing prayers at Your feet,
After all, You gave the pathos in my voice,
Alas, ignoring the bliss in You, I was too busy playing the games of life,
And the night of our sweet meeting is getting over right before my eyes.
My life’s vessel...


  1. It is really soul awakening by shaking deeply the covering of ignorance. It is Real illumination but alas we can't sustain this awakening for a long time as the multiple worldly coverings again hide illumination.

  2. Beautifulsong and it happens to be one of my favorite song. You have sung it pretty well looking at it's complexity. No matter how many times I hear this song, it gives a divine blissful feeling. Thanks for sharing your insight along with the lyrics of this great song.