Maati by Shubha Mudgal (Lyrics and Translation)

A beautiful song this one. I love the pause, the calmness and the stability in Shubha ji’s voice which makes all her songs all the more powerful, all the more soulful. This song I don’t think belongs to an album as such, and I am not sure who the lyricist is. The video of the song is kind of an AIDS awareness story which is all good, but somehow I feel the song is a mismatch to the video, that the video somehow does not capture the essence of the song. Well that’s just my opinion.  This song in my opinion celebrates the common woman. It’s about how an ordinary woman works hard to earn a living, how she feeds and cares for her family,  how she is like a source of joy and comfort for those around her and how she lives an ordinary yet beautiful life.


Sani haath maati ki khushboo liye ,Rachi dhoop maathe pe boonde liye 

Your hands have the scent of the earth, your forehead glows as the sunlight shines on the  sweat droplets (due to the hard work that you do) 

Jaane kitne baaju tu baahon mein liye, Kitni raahatein apni chaanv mein liye 

You carry so many hands on your arms, You provide shelter to so many who depend on you (to your kids, to your family, to every life you touch) 

teri baansuri se chulhe jale, tu ye saaz chede to jeevan chale 

Literally, it is your flute that lights up the stove, It is when you play it that life moves on,

the flute here referring to the hollow stick used to flare up the fire when cooking in the hearth. It is only when  the woman lights up the fire, that food can be cooked and the family be fed, in other words it is only then that life can move on.   

fasalon mein baaliyaan hain tere kaan ki 

The produce in the farms are like your earrings (could mean your earrings sway like the crops and produce a similar happy sound)  

tapi dopahar mein dhali, tu to hai saanjh saanwli 

jali raaton ki aanch mein , bheeni si bhor se bhari 

rat jagon mein jyot si 

You are the dusk that sets in, in the midst of a hot afternoon

You burn like a flame at night, you are also the gentle light of the dawn 

You are like a lamp during an all nighter (referring to the continuous efforts that a woman puts in to keep her family happy and comfortable)

teeka kare tujhe hawa , mausam salaami de raha 

dhool se kare tu sringar, behti chali jaa tu hai dhaar 

is zameen ko sanwaar 

The wind honors you, the weather salutes you, 

The dust adorns you, keep flowing you are the river current 

you are the one who can take care of the land 

thaki hui saason mein kayi shankh hain, neeli neeli aasha ke kayi pankh hain 

aasmaani kaajal naino mein hai 

Even in your tired breath one can hear the sounds of the conch shell, there are wings of hope, your eyes have the sky blue kohl

(referring probably to how, even when she is tired she does not lose hope, she still desires for the sky, and even her sigh  (a tired breath) is as sacred and pious as the sound from a conch shell)  

sane haath maati ke ……


That is my take on the song! If I had the chance I would definitely make another video for the song, a happier one, dedicated to the common woman, celebrating her ordinary life and her extraordinary spirit!


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