Duel of the Fates and Sanskrit in Star Wars

Discussion in 'Star Wars And Film Music' started by CieSharp, Apr 27, 2003.

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  1. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    Greetings,

    I've looked everywhere for a thread on the Music Forum discussing the Sanskrit lyrics of Star Wars. I couldn't find one, so if I overlooked it, please let me know.

    I was listening to the Attack of the Clones (AOTC) soundtrack for the upteenth time. For one reason or another I didn't keep track of the lyrics of the Duel of the Fates (DOTF) Refrain on the "Return to Tatooine" track, nor did I even ask myself why DOTF was used during Anakin's Tatooine excursion rather than the duels with Dooku.

    I think I'm on to something, but it's possible that somebody else pointed this out a long time ago (if so, please direct me to the thread because I can't find it).

    Please help me out here if I'm wrong, but the DOTF refrain in AOTC (in track 10 "Return to Tatooine) is:

    Korah Rahtahmah
    Korah Rahtahmah
    Niha ...


    I can distinctively hear "niha", which means "loss" in Sanskrit. This appears to be foreshadowing of Anakin's losses, but internally and externally (the loss of his mother and the loss of his self-control when slaughtering the Tuskans).

    Now the question is, why is DOTF only played during the duel with Darth Maul, and not with Dooku? Why is it only used in the desert with Anakin? I believe that John Williams and George Lucas only use DOTF when there's a significant external AND internal conflict, thus the original celtic lyrics of DOTF "Battle inside the head". But some may ask what was the battle inside the head in TPM?

    Perhaps both Qui Gon and Obi-Wan were tempted to use the Dark Side to defeat Maul. To me, it seemed that Obi-wan drew upon amazing vitality to fight Maul after Qui Gon died. Did the Dark Side have anything to do with this? Sure, Kenobi is one of the finest examples of a light side Jedi that we'll ever see, but we all get tempted, I suppose.

    Any thoughts?

    Below is a repasting of Sanskrit lyric translations which appear in my article "Star Wars and Hinduism.

    ---

    APPENDIX

    Sanskrit songs of Star Wars (both from Episode One: The Phantom Menace)

    "Qui-Gon's Funeral" ("Death's Long Sweet Sleep")
    Madhurah swehpna, go rahdomah swehpna.
    Madhurah swehpna, go rahdomah swehpna,
    morittioo, madhurah, swehpna.

    the lyrics mean:
    Madhura = sweet Svapnya = sleep, dream
    Go = go Ra = acquire
    Dama = self-control Mari = death
    Tu = overcome



    "The Duel of the Fates"

    Korah Matah Korah Rahtahmah
    Korah Rahtamah Yoodhah Korah
    Korah Syahdho Rahtahmah Daanyah
    Korah Keelah Daanyah
    Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah
    Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah
    Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah
    Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah
    Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah
    Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah
    Korah
    Korah Matah Korah Rahtahmah
    Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah
    Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah
    Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah



    Khara = dreadful Matha = head
    Rath = speak Amah = give
    Yuddha = battle Syada = raging
    Dai = purify Ya = going
    Ki = like La = taking
    Dan = separate Niha = loss

    "John Williams used one line ...from Robert Graves' translation of the Celtic Poem "Cad Goddeu" ("The Battle of the Trees"):
    'Under the tongue root a fight most dread, and another raging, behind, in the head.'


    This single line, chanted repeatedly, serves as an allegory. The wars are fought on 2 scales. The microcosmic and the macrocosmic. The macrocosmic is Naboo versus the Trade Federation. The microcosmic represents both "The Duel of the Fates" between Darth Maul and the two light jedi, and the internal battle within the light jedi, struggling to avoid the urge to succumb to the very darkness that plagues and consumes their enemies.

    ---

    Special thanks to Mace Windy for directing me to this forum.
  2. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    Wow. Thanks for visiting! :)

    Well, this topic comes up frequently in our forum. We have general information about the lyrics to DOTF in the FAQ.

    Here's another topic that discusses interpretations of DOTF.

    I'm still searching for old threads that discuss the Sanskrit part of your post in depth. I still have a bit of updating to do with the Index....
  3. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    Thank you for the kind words, Mace Windy. :)

    I read both threads that you posted links to, and I found them to be quite interesting; unfortunately, nobody has transcribed the Duel of the Fates refrain. It's only three lines, but the words and placement within the movie (Anakin riding to find his mother, rather than a lightsaber duel scene like TPM) are quite significant.

    On a sidenote, somebody should do some research into the Celtic origins of DOTF, as well; now THAT would be some interesting reading. I'll do it if nobody else has done it yet.

    The general consensus among the fans seems to be that "Duel of the Fates" is vastly overrated. I completely disagree. Duel of the Fates is the musical personification of all that is GOOD about the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. Like Star Wars itself, Duel of the Fates can be taken on so many levels.

    Maybe on a superficial level, it's quite overused (the NBA used it during a tie breaker???), but if you ever complete your index and find more threads where they discuss the Sanskrit aspects of Star Wars, please post a link, as I'd be very happy to read them. :)

    Thanks again for the reply!

    Cie
  4. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    Oops, meant to say "Thank you, General Kenobi". Sorry about that :D
  5. senseless_apprentice Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 18, 2002
    star 2
    Anyway we can get the lyrics translated in order?
  6. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    You want a line by line translation? Are you serious? I don't think you'll want it anymore once you see it.

    Basically, what John Williams was trying to purvey as a message as far as the public knows, is the following excerpt from the Celtic Poem "Cad Goddeu"

    ''Under the tongue root, a fight most dread, /And another rages behind in the head''

    Apparently, John Williams felt that it sounded best in Sanskrit, and a lot of chants and cadences really DO sound best in Sanskrit since it does have quite a knack for giving a positive quality to repetition.

    During the course of translating into Sanskrit, however, several words were lost, I suppose in the interest of it "sounding better", more concise. Even in Sanskrit this is permissable, as you will find texts where it seems as if words are missing, but in reality, the reader is expected to derive meanings based on the moment (I'm sure there's a better way of describing this concept, but I am a beginner when it comes to Sanskrit). This is why you're going to find so very many translations of popular Sanskrit texts such as the Bhagavad Gita. Everyone seems to have their own take on what each verse, each shloka, means.

    Also I should mention that unfortunately there is a tiny mistake in the above translation which I posted to begin this thread.

    In between the bottom two verses:

    Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah

    Korah Matah Korah Rahtahmah

    There should be a "Korah" all by itself.

    I'm going to do my very best to give you a literal line-by-line, but it will sound quite clumsy, which is why I never chose to do it this way in my PT Sanskrit chants appendix in the first place:

    Dreadful Head Dreadful Speak Give
    Dreadful Speak Give Battle Dreadful
    Dreadful Raging Speak Give Dai Going
    Dreadful Like Taking Seperate Going
    Loss Like Taking Dreadful Speak Give
    Raging Like Taking Dreadful Speak Give
    Dreadful Seperate Going Dreadful Speak Give
    Dreadful Seperate Going Dreadful Speak Give
    Loss Like Taking Dreadful Speak Give
    Raging Like Taking Dreadful Speak Give

    Dreadful ?

    Dreadful Head Dreadful Speak Give
    Dreadful Seperate Going Dreadful Speak Give
    Loss Like Taking Dreadful Speak Give
    Raging Like Taking Dreadful Speak Give

    Dreadful ?

    ---

    Please excuse me for the multiple transliterations of a single word. It varies greatly upon the translator and the dictionary that you have. Most people who study languages can bear with this easily, but next time I'll keep everything simple.

    Here's a more consistant transliteration. I should have done it this way a long time ago.

    Khara Matha Khara Rath Amah
    Khara Rath Amah Yuddha Khara
    Khara Syada Rath Amah Dai Ya
    Khara Ki La Dan Ya
    Niha Ki La Khara Rath Amah
    Syada Ki La Khara Rath Amah
    Khara Dan Ya Khara Rath Amah
    Khara Dan Ya Khara Rath Amah
    Niha Ki La Khara Rath Amah
    Syada Ki La Khara Rath Amah

    Khara

    Khara Matha Khara Rath Amah
    Khara Dan Ya Khara Rath Amah
    Niha Ki La Khara Rath Amah
    Syada Ki La Khara Rath Amah

    Khara
  7. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    Did I edit in the right place in the first post?

    Also:

    The macrocosmic is Naboo versus the Trade Federation. The microcosmic represents both "The Duel of the Fates" between Darth Maul and the two light jedi, and the internal battle within the light jedi, struggling to avoid the urge to succumb to the very darkness that plagues and consumes their enemies.

    I submit that the "larger" battle taking place is the one "behind, in the head". The Jedi are trying to figure out Maul and the mystery of the Sith. Of course, the ultimate winner of this larger battle is Palpatine. The physical Battle of Naboo is indeed on a larger scale than the lightsaber fight, but is also just part of Palpy's grand plan.


    late edit: typo
  8. DamonD Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 2002
    star 6
    Using your excellent notes, I guess the literal translation of the DOTF reprise in AOTC is :

    Dreadful Speak Give
    Dreadful Speak Give
    Loss

    Loss is the upcoming loss of his mother...Dreadful Speak Give could refer to his confession to Padme and the vengeance he gives to the Tuskens.
  9. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    General Kenobi,

    Your words make absolute sense to me. I think it was wrong of me to use the words macrocosmic versus microcosmic, I should have used internal versus external, instead. Ultimately, the internal battles were integral to Palpatine's plan, just as you said.

    DamonD,

    Thanks! Your interpretations make sense. The AOTC DOTF reprise is short, but it's still tough to figure out the Sanskrit in any case. I still think that the "loss" (niha) is twofold.

    1) His mother

    2) His control and grace with the light side

    What we saw Anakin do in Episode II with the Tuskans, was treading upon virgin ground. The anger that Anakin unleashed during the Tuskan slaughter was quite similar to the anger brought out by Luke Skywalker against his father near the end of Return of the Jedi, when he cut his mechanical hand off.

    I believe there is even a fanfic in the TFN archives that explores the thoughts of Luke, Vader, and Palpatine during that struggle, and it portrays Vader as thinking of the Tuskan slaughter during Luke's ragefest; drawing a direct parallel between the two darkside acts, and having a bit of remorse for for his actions in Episode II, now that he can "see the forest from the trees" via his son.

    Had Duel of the Fates been conceived during or prior to 1983, I could easily have heard it during the duel between Luke and Vader when Luke loses his cool. Come to think of it, there was a chorus during that duel, but I doubt there were even any words to it. Perhaps that was the prototype of Duel of the Fates, albeit a very early and rough prototype.

    I'm sure that we'll hear a rendition of DOTF once again, maybe during a fight between Anakin and Dooku. We'll see.

    Thanks for your posts General Kenobi and DamonD, I really enjoy discussing Duel of the Fates. :)

    --Cie
  10. DamonD Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 22, 2002
    star 6
    It's a fanastic piece, no doubt there.
    I'm sure I could do a nice blend of lightsabre fights from the OT set to DOTF, if I had the necessary equipment of course :p

    DOTF would be cool in the final Luke/Vader duel as well, if it wasn't for the fact that The Dark Side Beckons, the current music, is just such an amazingly moving work itself.

    DOTF was perfect for the driving TPM duel, and I was pleasently surprised to hear it used again in AOTC as Anakin plunges into hell, so to speak.
  11. OBIX1 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 7, 2002
    star 6
    that is a great translation ciesharp! :D and yeah,DOTF is just great! :D :cool:
  12. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    I'm sure I could do a nice blend of lightsabre fights from the OT set to DOTF, if I had the necessary equipment of course.

    No doubt. :) The only problem I could see in doing such a blend is that the Prequel Trilogy's lightsaber fights are more fast-paced than those in the Original Trilogy. One reason is probably that while the primary martial art influence in OT saber battles is Kendo, Wu Shu is the most prominent influence in the DOTF battle in The Phantom menace.

    I'm not so sure how DOTF would compliment the OT saber battles, but I would be very anxious to see a good attempt to do a "blend". Although "The Dark Side Beckons" is a grand ole track. :)

    I have no doubt that DOTF will make a return in Episode III, perhaps even full length, as in Episode I. We'll see ...

    Thanks, DamonD! THanks, ObIX1!

    By the way, anyone know if "Qui-Gon's Funeral" ("Death's Long Sweet Sleep") is based on any type of song or poem, just as Duel of the Fates was? Or did he write it from scratch? It's quite melancholic, but it's one of my most favorite Star Wars tracks.

    --Cie
  13. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    I don't think the those lyrics had a poem as an inspirational source, like DOTF did from the Celtic poem "Cad Goddeu" ("Battle of the Trees").
  14. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    I can't believe this fell down so far.
  15. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
  16. Darth_Fless Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 9, 2003
    star 1
    I just bought the soundtrack (I know, I know - 5 years late) because:
    1) I get sick of the radio to and from work
    2) After watching TPM the other day, couldn't get enough of the music.

    DOTF is wonderful piece to listen to - it's energetic, yet dark, mysterious, etc.

    This thread (and forum) is exactly what I needed.
  17. The_SkyWolves Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Feb 25, 2004
    star 1
    DOTF RULES!!!

    I can't help but sing (or at least mouth) the words whenever I listen to it! That's at least thrice a day!
  18. pahket Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 6, 2001
    star 4
    I wonder if Williams, in his wildest dreams, ever thought that someday a bunch of fanboys like us would try to translate lyrics he chose simply, and I quote: "Because of the quality of the vowels." :D
  19. Meriwyn Former RSA

    Member Since:
    Mar 22, 2002
    star 4
    This is a fantastic discussion!! Slightly off-topic but kinda in the same genre (??!?! LOL)...does anyone have the Shadows of the Empire soundtrack? They use a wonderful voice chorus on that sountrack as well, and the track that stands out the most is the Destruction of Xizor's Palace which is much the same with chanting and either Celtic or Sanskrit lyrics.

    If you don't have it, I highly recommend it, it's actually very good.
  20. TwiLekJedi Pretty Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2001
    star 10
    the SotE lyrics always reminded me of Dutch - it probably isn't, but it looks like it.
    my favorite word: Morbskurtz :p
  21. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    lyrics he chose simply, and I quote: "Because of the quality of the vowels."

    He chose Sanskrit becauses of the vowel sounds. The lyrics were derived from "The Battle Of The Trees."
  22. Jedi_Emulator Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 24, 2004
    star 1
    Wow that is really cool. I just got the soundtracks from the first two movies and I have been wondering what that song really says. THANK YOU.
  23. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    Can anyone confirm what language the chorus is using in the Xizor's palace track on the SOTE soundtrack?
  24. mojorising Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jan 9, 2005
    star 1
    "another rages behind, in the head"

    What if that didn't refer to either Palpatine or Anakin?

    Just a thought....
  25. CieSharp Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    Rages behind, in the head, to me seems to be an internal conflict, in a macrocosmic view this could be the entire universe, the dark storm building up. In a microcosmic view this could be a character struggling with their dark side. Or Palpatine brooding :p I think it's open to wide and appropriate interpretations.
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