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યુદ્ધનું મેદાન નથી / I’m Not a Battlefield

Outraged by the appalling violence against two women in Manipur, the Gujarati poet Mahashweta Jani has written a powerful poem.
Image courtesy Team Bizzippy

Image courtesy: Team Bizzippy

Outraged by the appalling violence against two women in Manipur, the Gujarati poet Mahashweta Jani has written a powerful poem in which she expresses her rage over the use of women’s bodies to indicate cultural pride, masculine hierarchy, misplaced sense of honour, while undermining women and disregarding women’s identity and agency. Horrified by the violence and objectification, she has written a stirring poem, which Salil Tripathi has translated from Gujarati to English with the poet’s permission.

યુદ્ધનું મેદાન નથી….
ધર્મની રખેવાળ નથી…
સંકૃતિની વાહક નથી…
પવિત્રતાનો મારગ નથી..
સમાજની જાગીર નથી..
ગુલામીનો દ્વાર નથી…..
રક્તનો સ્ત્રાવ નથી..
સ્ત્રીત્વનો સાર નથી…
પૃથ્વીનો ભાર નથી…..
“ઇચ્છે” તો
નવસર્જનની સારથિ……

– મહાશ્વેતા


युद्ध का मैदान नहीं
धर्म की रक्षक नहीं
संस्कृति की वाहक नहीं
पवित्रता का मार्ग नहीं
समाज की जागीर नहीं
गुलामी का द्वार नहीं
रक्त का स्त्राव नहीं
स्त्रीत्व का सार नहीं
पृथ्वी पर बोज नहीं।
स्त्री चाहे तो
मैं हूं नवसर्जन की सारथी।

-Hindi translation by Mahashweta Jani


I am not a battlefield
Nor the defender of any faith
Nor the palanquin for culture
Nor the path towards holiness
Nor the property of any society
Nor the threshold that leads to slavery
Nor the flow of blood
Nor the essence of femininity
And certainly not the earth’s burden
if she ‘wishes,’
The charioteer of naissance.

-English translation by Salil Tripathi

Mahashweta Jani writes poetry and short stories in Gujarati and Hindi, dealing mainly with women's issues. She also tells stories to children with the aim to create a more sensitive society. She has been an independent researcher associated with Lokniti-CSDS for two decades and has written for a few publications on elections.

Salil Tripathi is a writer and journalist. He is the author of several books including Offence: The Hindu Case (Seagull 2009), Detours: Songs of the Open Road (Tranquebar 2015) and The Colonel Who Would Not Repent (Aleph 2014). His next book is about Gujaratis.

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