Janabai : You leave your greatness behind you

The Marathi mystic and poet Janabai – who calls herself Jani in this poem – worked all her life as a domestic servant or ‘dasi’, in a home in which Namdev, another very influential poet, grew up. ‘Samsara’ refers to the cycle of birth and death inherent in the physical world. For more about Janabai, see this earlier post.

Jani has had enough of samsara,
but how will I repay my debt?

You leave your greatness behind you
to grind and pound with me.

O Lord you become a woman
washing me and my soiled clothes,

proudly you carry the water
and gather dung with your own two hands.

O Lord, I want
a place at your feet,
says Jani, Namdev’s dasi

Translation Sarah Sellergren

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