A Christian Hymn and a Hindustani Song: An introduction and some comparisons II

This is another post languishing since the beginning of this year, and despite resolving several times to get back to it and finish it, I have not been able to do so. There were various objective conditions, I do plead but also admit to my preoccupation with other ideas and posts, and so on, and of course, the sporadic spells of sloth.

However, as they say “Better late, than never” and though it is close to three quarters of a year after the first installment, at least it is being finished before the unforgiving year ends. So here goes. In the first post, I had given you the intoduction to both the Christian hymn and the Hindustani song. I do not propose to revisit it. You can read it here:   


Here I will straight away go to identify the comparisons that struck me.

Though both “Abide With Me” and “Ae Malik Tere Bande Ham” are couched in the form of appeals to the supreme deity, the latter is more prescriptive, seeking divine intercession in making the applicant a better person on this plane of existence till his/her eventual departure, while the hymn beseeches the deity to remain present throughout life, through trials, and through death.

But both use similar metaphors – such as darkness to convey the soul’s apprehensions about the tribulations on  this world.

The hymn begins “Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide….”     

and then says, in the next stanza

“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away….”

And then:

“Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

On the other hand, the song uses the same symbolism….

“Ye andhera ghana chhaa raha
Tera insaan ghabra raha
Ho rahaa bekhabar
Kuch na aataa nazar
Sukh ka suraj chhipaa ja raha
Hai teri roshni men vo dam
Jo amavas ko kar de poonam
Neki par chalen ..”

A free-wheeling translation would be (with no attempt to versify it)

“This darkness deep spreads
Worries beset your man
He is unaware of all
Cannot see anything
The sun of happiness is hidden
Your brilliance has the strength
From darkness to full moon night transform”.

Another common motif is man’s weakness before God and the transgressions he is liable to do – but with a difference. While our hymn acknowledges it, the song pleads for strength to overcome it. 

The hymn’s stanzas 4, 5, 6 deal with this aspect –

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea —
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

Meanwhile, the song also stresses this point – in its last stanza

 Bada kamzor hai aadmi
Abhi laakhon hain ismein kami
Par tu jo khada
Hai dayaaluu badaa
Teri kirpa se dharti thami
Diya toone jo hamko janam
Tu hi jhelega ham sabke gam
Neki par chalen …

(So weak is man
Having thousands of shortcomings
But You are there
And are so magnamious
Your grace steadies the world
Ever since you put on earth
You will take care of all sadness)

And before that, it says

Jab zulmon ka ho saamna
Tab tu hi hamen thaamna
Vo buraai karen
Ham bhalaai bharen
Nahi badle ki ho kaamna
Badh uthe pyaar ka har kadam
Aur mite bair ka ye bharam
Neki par chalen…

When (we) face oppression
Then You must give support
They do evil
We do good
And have no feeling of revenge
Onward walk we on the path of love
And wipe out the feeling of enmity)

And the opening stanza (and the refrain) put it perfectly

Ae maalik tere bande ham
Aise ho hamaare karam
Neki par chalen
Aur badi se talen
Taaki hanste huye nikle dam

(O Lord, we are your men
(We hope) Actions are so
(We) walk on righteous paths
And avoid evil
So that we leave life laughingly)

In the hymn, these sentiments are expressed in these words:

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: