Go Talk to the River


Author : Bahinabai Choudhari
Translator: Anjali Purohit

9789382579588 | PB | pp. 310 | 2019 | Yoda Press

Anjali Purohit’s lovingly crafted translations of Bahinabai Choudhari’s poetry bring into English both the cadence and the ethos of this remarkable woman’s oeuvre.

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Anjali Purohit’s lovingly crafted translations of Bahinabai Choudhari’s poetry bring into English both the cadence and the ethos of this remarkable woman’s oeuvre. Bahinabai (1880–1951) was named after a 17th-century saint who composed devotional abhanga poetry. Born into one farming family in northwestern Maharashtra, she was married, at an early age as was customary in her generation, into another. Her everyday life revolved around the activities of running a household in a demanding rural economy and attending to the fields. Along the way, Bahinabai began to compose ovis—a form of poetry that has been sung by women in Maharashtra for centuries and is closely related to the rhythm of grindstone and well windlass—in a regional variant of Marathi known as Ahirani. Unlettered, she wrote nothing down. Her ovis might have been passed down orally after her death; but equally, they might have vanished from memory. Fortunately, they were transcribed and committed to print by her son, Sopandev Choudhari, in 1952. Through print, recordings, the radio and academic syllabi, they have since passed into the Maharashtrian culture at large. In Bahinabai’s poetry, women’s labour receives long overdue acknowledgement, as do seemingly quotidian subjects that vanish below the radar of literary modernism: family relationships, financial difficulties, the vegetation and landscapes of the countryside, the Divine, and the challenge of leading a life of wisdom and prayer in the face of the world’s capacity for mischief. Anjali Purohit engages closely and deftly with the texture and resonances of Bahinabai’s poetry, her English shot through with Marathi as she attempts to convey as much of the oral tonality and lifeworld of the original as possible. Through this, she seems to argue that English in India cannot remain aloof from the subcontinent’s other languages, but must expand itself to include and be enriched by them.


Bahinabai Choudhari
Translator: Anjali Purohit







Year of Publication:



Yoda Press





Country of Origin:


About the Author

Bahinabai Chaudhari was a Marathi language poet from Jalgaon district of Maharashtra, India. She became a noted poet posthumously.

ANJALI PUROHIT is a writer, painter, translator and curator who paints pictures often with words on paper and at other times with oils on canvas. She writes poetry and fiction. Her work, quiet and ruminative, is about life, human character, circumstance and relationships that often pass beyond the well defined into intangible realms. Much of her work (both in her writing and her art) is obsessed with a longstanding but fatal love affair she has had with her city that often breaks her heart.


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