(English) “I want to buy jasmine to decorate Bhim’s turban” - Love, Songs and B.R. Ambedkar - Agents of Ishq

(English) “I want to buy jasmine to decorate Bhim’s turban” – Love, Songs and B.R. Ambedkar

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From before Indian Independence, songs expressing love for Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar and propagating his ideas began to proliferate. Over the decades they have burgeoned into a beautiful, vital body of songs, also called Bhimgeet (Bhim songs) or Bhimvani. They express Ambedkar’s philosophy and give voice to Bahujan self-awareness, assertion and activism with a deeply felt mix of love and politics.

Agents of Ishq celebrates #AmbedkarJayanti, with three songs by women singers from Maharashtra and Punjab – accompanied by translations in English and Hindi. Once you enter this treasure trove of music and ideas, you will want to explore so much more – and we’ve given you links to get started on that journey of awareness too!

Happy Ambedkar Jayanti!


1. Mazya Bhimaana sonyan bharli oti

Poet: Kavi Sarang
Singer: Kadubai Kharat
Language: Marathi

Kadubai Karat started singing Bhimgeet at the age of 8 as part of family tradition. It went on to become her livelihood and her stirring rendition of this particular song, arguably one of the most beautiful and beloved Bhim Geets, recently went viral. 

Scroll down for Hindi and English translations


मेरे भीम ने, भीम ने माई सोने-चांदी से गोद ये भर दी |

टूटी झोपड़ी के, दरवाज़े भी थे टूटे
फटी साड़ी में, बांधी थी सतरा गांठे
बेटा बना साहेब और बहू बनी सायबिन
शिक्षा ने राह दिखा दी…
मेरे भीम ने, भीम ने माई  सोने-चांदी से गोद ये भर दी ||१||

कैसे बताऊ मैं, करी थी कितनी मेहनत
फिर भी हासिल न थी, झूठी रोटी की जन्नत
यश का निवाला, दिया भीम ने
कटोरी भर के खिला दी, भगा दी बरबादी.
मेरे भीम ने, भीम ने माई सोने-चांदी से गोद ये भर दी ||२||

मामला सही ही था, घुल मिल के सब होता
तब ‘सारंग’ का जरा भी पता नही था
पहले ज़माना यूँ था  चलता
बात  नही ये खोटी
मेरे भीम ने, भीम ने माई सोने-चांदी से गोद ये भर दी ||३||

बगल मे बच्चा, हात में झाडू, माथे पे गोबर की टोकरी
कपड़ों में ढंग था न खाने में रंग था, मज़ाक़ बन के रही थी
मेरे भीम ने, भीम ने माई सोने-चांदी से गोद ये भर दी ||३||

– Translated by भूषण कोरगांवकर 



O Mother! Bhim,  my Bhim, has filled my lap with treasure!
A broken door, held my broken home in a tumbledown plot
My sari, tattered, was held together with seventeen knots
But my son’s now a sahib, sir, my daughter a sahibin, madam
A light showed us a path – it was education!
It was Bhim, o mother! My Bhim who filled my lap with treasure!

How should I tell  the story of my endless labours?
Ending not even in a discarded roti’s pleasure
And then Bhim fed me a morsel of fame
Bowlfuls of possibility, dispelling ruination, now nothing’s the same
It was Bhim, mother! Bhim, filled my lap with treasure!

Life was precarious, just rolling in the dust
This poet’s name unknown in the world
But it’s no lie when I, Sarang say
My Bhim showed the way!
My Bhim filled my lap with treasures

A child on my hip, a broom in my hand, a basket of dung on my head
My clothes, faded; my hunger, unsated; my life, just a joke
My Bhim filled my lap with treasures, I awoke
Bhim, O Mother! My Bhim filled my lap with silver and gold

 – Translated by Paromita Vohra

Visit their website to read more about Kadubai Kharat and follow them for stories from a Bahujan context.

You can also follow them on You Tube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter 


2. The Grindmill Songs Project

Singer: Lilabai Shinde
Ovi: Lilabai Shinde
Language: Marathi

Ovi is one of the oldest forms of Marathi songs still performed. A genre that is similar to bhakti geets and bhajans, ovis are sung by women in Maharashtra on the grinding stone. They also contain a substantial repertoire of Bhim Geets.

In this ovi performed by Lilabai Shinde of Lawarde village , she praises Ambedkar with affection and love.  She calls Ambedkar by many names, Bhim, Bhimbaba, Bhimraya, or Babasaheb, gurubhao – teacher and brother  and even indrasabheche raje – king of Indra’s council. She celebrates his liberating influence, by expressing her intention to buy jasmines to decorate Bhim’s turban. These unique and beautiful comparisons of Ambedkar and the desires of ornamenting him like a god, move us. Different from the Bhim Geets which propagate  his teachings, these songs express a different love, seeing Babasaheb with affection, sometimes godlike and even as a friend. 

Read the English translation below.


Bhim, Bhim, I say, Bhim is my gurubhau [teacher-brother]
I pound the rice with a pestle of gold

Bhim, Bhim, I say, Bhim is like a chunk of sugar
I think of him and my teeth are sweetened

Bhim, Bhim, I say, Bhim is like a packet of sugar
By taking Bhim’s name my body is purified

The Buddha’s temple has a gold door
My son is very devoted to the Buddha

She wears the white saree hurriedly –
My mother takes diksha from Babasaheb

Who says to our people ‘Outsiders! Outsiders!’
My Bhim has made all Brahmins his brothers-in-law

O gardener woman, what [flowers] do you have in your basket?
I want to buy jasmines to decorate Bhim’s turban

Here comes the train, which has stalks of tur
In my Bhim’s kingdom, the Marathi people dispose the carcasses

Bhimbaba died – but who says he is dead?
He has gone to heaven and become the king of Lord Indra’s council

God of heaven, an offering of rice to you
Bhimbaba is dead, our gold is in the heaven

Bhimbaba is dead, his body is in the car
The car goes ahead, people follow behind

Thanks to PARI for giving the permission to carry their translation text and video.

To read more about Lilabai, click here. These songs have been recorded by The Grindmill Songs Project, which has a storehouse of over 100,000 ovi sung by women in rural Maharashtra. You can check the entire Grindmill song collection here .

Follow PARI on Instagram and Twitter


3. Fan Baba Sahib di

Singer: Ginni Mahi
Lyricist: Pamma Bakhlapuriya
Language: Punjabi

Ginni Mahi’s soaring voice and energetic style make this song where she calls herself a “fan” of Babasaheb, irresistibly rousing. Her songs mix Punjabi folk and pop, and  are rooted in the teachings of Dalit icons, Ambedkar and Ravidas. Hailing from Jalandhar, Punjab, she started her music career at the age of 12 and shot to fame with songs like Danger chamar and Fan babasaheb di. In this song, devotee, follower, student and fan become joined to mix the political, spiritual, cultural and intellectual impact of ideas and meanings of social change.

Read the Hindi and English translations below


लोग फेंके पत्थर बेर पे
चूँकि उसके फल हैं मीठे
मुश्किलें भी ऐसी कौम ढूंढें
जिसके लोग होते हैं शेर दिल

हमारे कौम के मसीहा, बड़े दर्द सहने वाले
बाबा साहेब की बताएं तो
पम्मा बखलौरिया  की कलम यूं बताती है
तो सुन लो !

मैं उस बाबा साहेब की बेटी हूँ
जिन्होंने लिखा है संविधान
उनका लिखा हमारी  रोटी की नींव है
तभी दुनिया में उनकी तारीफ़ है

मैं ऐसी सोच की फैन हूँ
ऐसे सोचने वाले की फैन
जिन्होंने हमारे लिए दीं बड़ी कुर्बानियां
गिन्नी माहि की सुनो, वो तुमको बाबा साहेब की सुनाती है

दुनिया जो बोली, छोड़ के
दुनिया भर में यश पाया
मैं उस ऊंची सोच की बेटी हूँ , जिसे
हर कोई सुन सुन के, सलाम करे

उनके जैसा कोई भी है नहीं
उनके जैसे कोई होगा नहीं
न उनके जैसाकोई विद्वान

ऐसे बब्बर शेर थे वो
अपनी कलम बनाई तीर
हक़ की सच्चाई की लड़ी लड़ाई
बदली हमारी तकदीर

हमारे लोगों का मसीहा बने वो
हमारे लोगों का मसीहा बने
ये सारी दुनिया जाने है

औरतों को इज़्ज़त न मिल रही थी
उन्होंने उनको बताया ताज
दिखाए समाज के दोष, अपने
लोगों के लिए उठायी आवाज़

बड़ी ख़ास माँ ही जन सकती है
ऐसा बेटा महान

हमारे रास्तों के नूर, उन्होंने
फिर रचा  नया जहां
रास्ते में आये तूफ़ान
न की उनकी परवाह

पम्मा बखलौरिया ने ये सच लिखा
ये सच लिखा है पम्मा बखलौरिया ने
सच, लिखे राजू बखलौरिया
जिन्नी माही उसे  गा देती है

-Translated by Hansa Thapliyal



People like to throw stones at the ber tree
Whose fruits are the sweetest
So it is that troubles are rained on the community
Whose people are the bravest

Our community’s messiah, who endured much pain
About Baba sahib Pamma Bakhlapuriya’s pen
Has this to say!
Listen up!

I’m a daughter of Baba Sahib
Who wrote the Constitution
The words of his pen are the reason, nourished and fed us
That is why the world praises him

I’m a fan of such thinking,
Yes, a fan of such a thinker
Who sacrificed so much for us

Listen to Ginni Mahi as she tells you about Baba Saheb!

Forsaking the unjust world
He earned fame across the world
I’m a daughter of that noble thinking
To which everyone bows in salute

There is no one like him
There won’t be anyone like him
None so wise or knowledgable as him

He was such a lion heart
Who made of his pen, an arrow
To fight  for the truth of rights
And rewrite our destiny

He became a messiah for our community
He became a messiah for our community
The whole world knows this

Women treated without dignity
He spoke of as a crowning glory
Revealing  society’s evils
He raised his voice for his people

Only a special mother can birth
A son as great as he

Our guiding light
He gave birth to a new world
Caring nothing for the storms
He met along the way

Pamma Bakhlapuriya has written this truth
The truth has been written by Pamma Bakhlapuriya
The truth, writes also Raju Bakhlapuriya
Ginni Mahi has sung it!

 – Translated by Dilgrace Kaur, Inderjeet Kaur and Paromita Vohra

Listen to Ginni Mahi’s songs here. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. You can also read an interview with Ginni Mahi on The Ladies Finger.



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