Saturday, May 17, 2014

'Women Making Their Own Genuine Offerings' by Tsewang Lhamo (Alternative version by Methok Dolma)

གཞས། བདེན་པའི་མཚོད་པ་རང་འགྲུབ་མ།

Song: Women Making Their Own Genuine Offerings

ལེན་མཁན། ཚེ་དབང་ལྷ་མོ།

Singer: Tsewang Lhamo

Pang thang yang po gö kyi den teng ney
Phö pay phu mö dri mo jo shin du

From on high among the silken platform of the vast plains,
Just like how Tibetan girls milk the yaks,

Ley kyi chö pa oh mey phen pa di
Si sum ge way mön lam thog ma yin

This physical offering given with milk
Is the most significant aspiration for the virtue of the three spheres.

Nang shing num po ser gyi ra wa ney
Phö pay phu mö nye ma nga shin du

Among golden enclosures of pleasant fields,
Just like how Tibetan girls gather the grain,

Ngag gi chö pa dru ngey phen pa di
Dro druk de way mön lam thog ma yin

This verbal offering given with the five grains
Is the most significant aspiration for the happiness of the six classes of beings.

Lob khang sel mo shel gyi gur khang ney
Phö pay phu mö yang sel log shin du

Among educational institutes of shimmering crystal
Just like how Tibetan girls read the vowels and consonants,
Yi kyi chö pa nyug gü phen pa di
Kang jong dar way mön lam thog ma yin

This mental offering given with their pens
Is the most significant aspiration for the development of the snow land.

Note: This was an especially interesting song to translate, with its powerful message of pride for Tibetan women and the work that they do. I can only hope I did the song justice with my rendering of it. There are many interesting phrases in this song, but for brevity's sake I will only mention the most significant. That being so, I love the title of this song, and it was challenging to decide how to render it in English. བདེན་པའི་མཚོད་པ་རང་འགྲུབ་མ་; The first term བདེན་པ་ (den pa) is usually translated as "truth" or "true", but here I feel like it means something more like "genuine" which is of course very similar. མཚོད་པ་ (chö pa) is straightforward, meaning "offering". རང་འགྲུབ་ (rang drub) is where it gets difficult, meaning that something is "naturally" or "spontaneously" produced (lit. "self-made"); but since the syllable "rang" literally refers to "self" or "own" I felt that the above translation was most appropriate and natural in English, otherwise it may have sounded too contrived. The syllable མ་ at  the end makes it feminine, thus I felt that "Women Making Their Own Genuine Offerings" was the best way to render it, but there are perhaps better ways that I have not thought of. I also thought about this term ཐོག་མ་ (thog ma) for a bit, it literally means "first", "original", or sometimes "uppermost"; I feel like "most significant" goes with the spirit of the term as it is being used here, in accord with its senses of being something like "primary/highest/uppermost" and also makes it sound more elegant in English.

If you are curious as to what the various enumerations in the song refer to, 1) the three spheres are: the realm of the nagas, the realm of the humans, and the realm of the gods. 2) the six classes of beings are: the hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demi-gods, and gods. 3) the five grains are: barley, rice, wheat, peas, and millet. 

- Sherab

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