You and me by Ravidas

2 min readAug 25, 2020

Ravidas, one of the most influential poet-saints of the bhakti-movement, is still venerated five centuries later. One of the most stunning poems of the beloved saint is You Me (Tohi Mohi):

तोही मोही मोही तोही अंतरु कैसा
कनक कटिक जल तरंग जैसा
जउ पै हम न पाप करंता अहे अनंता
पतित पावन नामु कैसे हुंता
तुम्ह जु नाइक आछहु अंतरजामी
प्रभ ते जनु जानीजै जन ते सुआमी
सरीरु आराधै मो कउ बीचारु देहू
रविदास सम दल समझावै कोऊ

Here is a new translation, an offering for the contemporary world:

You and me, me and you: where is the gap between us?
We are like gold and a bracelet, water and a wave.
If I did not sin, O Infinite Lord,
how could they call you ‘Redeemer of Sinners’?

You are my Master, you are my Inner-witness,
but gods are known by their followers, people by their lord.
May this poor manifestation get a clarification,
our interplay leaves me in confusion.

The following translation/interpretation of line 6 was not made, to stay faithful to the original, but it does sing to me:

but you and me are both known by external witnesses.

For those interested, here is the most common translation found on the net:

You are me, and I am You — what is the difference between us?
We are like gold and the bracelet, or water and the waves.
If I did not commit any sins, O Infinite Lord,
how would You have acquired the name, ‘Redeemer of sinners’?

You are my Master, the Inner-knower, Searcher of hearts.
The servant is known by his God, and the Lord and Master is known by His servant.
Grant me the wisdom to worship and adore You with my body.
O Ravidas, one who understands that the Lord is equally in all, is very rare.

The translation used in John Hawley’s A Storm of Songs is:

You and me, me and you: What difference does it make?
It’s like gold and a golden bracelet, water and a wave.
You who have no limits, if I didn’t sin
how could they call you Redeemer of Fallen Men?

You’re Leader, Controller, the one who rules within,
but lords are known by their people, people by their lord.
This body: I’m praying. Turn your thoughts to me.
Ravidas: Who else can explain what this mixing means?

For those interested in listening — a rendition of it by a Sikh group: