Tumi Ki Keboli Chhobi (Are You Just A Mere Portrait)

Kadambari Devi (1858-1884)



Rabindra-Sangeet (Tagore Song): Tumi Ki Keboli Chhobi (Are you Just A mere Portrait)

Composed: 3rd Kartik, 1321 (21st Oct. 1914)

Category: Bichitro / Shapmochon (Miscellaneous / Dance-Drama: Shapmochon meaning The End Of A Curse)


Bengali Lyrics:


তুমি কি কেবলই ছবি, শুধু পটে লিখা।

              ওই-যে সুদূর নীহারিকা

          যারা করে আছে ভিড়   আকাশের নীড়,

              ওই যারা দিনরাত্রি

আলো হাতে চলিয়াছে আঁধারের যাত্রী   গ্রহ তারা রবি,

          তুমি কি তাদের মতো সত্য নও।

                        হায় ছবি, তুমি শুধু ছবি॥

              নয়নসমুখে তুমি নাই,

          নয়নের মাঝখানে নিয়েছ যে ঠাঁই– আজি তাই

              শ্যামলে শ্যামল তুমি, নীলিমায় নীল।

আমার নিখিল   তোমাতে পেয়েছে তার অন্তরের মিল।

                        নাহি জানি, কেহ নাহি জানে–

                   তব সুর বাজে মোর গানে,

                        কবির অন্তরে তুমি কবি–

                   নও ছবি, নও ছবি, নও শুধু ছবি॥


The Song in English Script:


Tumi Ki Keboli Chhobi,shudhu Pote Likha

Oi – je shudur niharika

Jara kore achhe bhir akasher nir,

Oi jara dinraatri

Alo haathe choliachhe andharer jatri     Groho tara robi,

Tumi ki tader moto satyo nao,

Hai Chhobi,tumi Shudhu Chhobi

Nayanshomukhe tumi nai,

Nayaner majh khane niyechho je thnai–Aji tai

                              Shyamale shyamal tumi, nilimay nil

Amar nikhil Tomate payechhe tar ontorer mil

Nahi jaani, keho nahi jaane.

Tobo shur baaje more gaane

Kobir ontore tumi kobi

Nao Chhobi, Nao Chhobi ,Nao shudhu Chobi


The Song in English Translation:


Are you just a portrait?

Simple brush strokes on a canvas, an art-writ?

There     in the galaxies    way beyond the Milky Way,

    In   heaven’s nest   where crowd    they

                To travel day and night

    Wayfarers of darkness     carrying light

                Planets, suns and stars

          Are you not   real    as they are?

       Alas!     Just an image,      you are!

             Before the eyes you are no more

    You’ve moved into the seat of my core—        

To be   the green of this verdant earth   the blue of the cerulean sky

My entire world            in you                finds its inner rhyme

                I know not    none knows

         Your tunes play in my songs

     In the poet’s heart you are his muse

   Never an image, a painted form,   a mere portrait   are you!*



Translated by Sumana Roy


*The song might be in rememberance of his sister in law, Kadambari Devi, wife of Jyotirindranath Tagore, the poet’s elder brother. Kadambari Devi, was nine when she entered the household and Rabindranath seven. The liberal man that Jyotirindranath was, he arranged for Kadambari’s education. Kadambari  was the poet’s  childhood princess and was to become his best friend, his mother, his strongest critique and his muse. He had been her playmate and companion ever since her marriage. Their relationship went through three stages – the first stage where he saw her as a lost princess that needed protection, the second where she mothered him specially after the poet’s mother’s demise when he was 14 and she 16 and the third when they were both teenagers and were developing a love for poetry. However owing to reasons unknown Kadambari committed suicide at 26 leaving specially Tagore devastated. Rabindranath dedicated many of his poems to her long after her demise.



 The Song is Here sung by Pankaj Kumar Mallick


4 comments on “Tumi Ki Keboli Chhobi (Are You Just A Mere Portrait)

  1. I love the action in this poem–the poet lets us see his hesitation and denial and then acceptance of a continued presence after death. It’s awesome that some phenomena are more real/alive than planets.and stars and paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. :In the poet’s heart, you are his muse.” How lovely. The commentary after I find interesting and saddening. To lose someone who has been that close to suicide must be especially devastating. You have translated this poem so beautifully, Sumana. It was good to enjoy the poem in the context of the background story. It lends extra depth and understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I lost my wife recently and in my dreams I sang this song for her and came here to see what people are saying.. I love you Debjani I love you my Buri!


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