Sanskrit, Bengali: tadā nāśaṁsē maraṇāya sañjaya


Senior Member
English, Hindustani

I was reading Tagore's Gora, in a Hindi translation by Devraj. Not too far in, there's a line where the eponymous Gora mentions the hands of Binoy's love interest, Binoy finds the conversation is headed in an uncomfortable direction and tries to redirect the conversation, and then Gora starts mocking Binoy's embarrassment: "if you can't handle even the mention of those hands, tadā nāśaṁsē maraṇāya sañjaya" is roughly what Gora says. The original Bengali bit (taken from seems to be this:

বিনয় অত্যন্ত সংকুচিত হইয়া উঠিল, কহিল, "গোরা, বস্‌, এইবার থামো।"
গোরা। কেন, এর মধ্যে তো আবরুর কোনো কথা নেই। শ্রীহস্ত তো অসূর্যম্পশ্য নয়। পুরুষমানুষের সঙ্গে যার শেক্‌হ্যাণ্ড চলে সেই পবিত্র করপল্লবের উল্লেখটি পর্যন্ত যখন তোমার সহ্য হল না, তদা নাশংসে মরণায় সঞ্জয়!​

The Hindi translation I was reading keeps the Sanskrit phrase intact, so I started trying to dig around to figure out what's going on with the Sanskrit. From what I gather, the phrase seems to be a play on the phrase tadā nāśaṁsē vijayāya sañjaya that functions as a refrain in a monologue by Dhr̥tarāṣṭra towards the beginning of the Mahābhārata. This refrain was translated on various places on the internet as "Then, O Sañjaya, I had no hope of success." My knowledge of Sanskrit is next to nil, but snooping around in Sanskrit dictionaries and Wikipedia's descriptions of Sanskrit grammar, this translation seemed at least plausible.

It seems that Tagore/Gora has swapped out vijayāya for maraṇāya, which suggested that tadā nāśaṁsē maraṇāya sañjaya should mean "Then, O Sañjaya, I had no hope of death." But this hardly seems to make sense in context...

So then I looked in an English translation of Gora, by Radha Chakravarty, which translates the Sanskrit as "that means you are as good as dead!" That makes a bit more sense in context, but I'm having trouble seeing how to go from tadā nāśaṁsē maraṇāya sañjaya to "that means you are as good as dead."

Could someone explain what's going on with this phrase?
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  • I think, you have researched the source and meaning of the phrase quite well, but indeed I share your confusion about its context here. To me also it looks a bit out of place here, unless Tagore is making an oblique reference to the Bengali saying - "আমার ম'রেও শান্তি/মুক্তি নেই" (I won't find peace/freedom even after dying). One use of this phrase is by a person (e.g. a mother), who cares a lot for another person (e.g. a grown-up child), while they are disappointed with the other's choices for future and implies that they will need to stick around (and cannot die peacefully) to correct those poor choices. Given Gora's affection for Binoy, this is at least a possible interpretation.
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    Interesting! Yes, that sounds plausible. It's also something I'd never have come up with without help. Thank you!