In honor of the great beauty of India we present the patriotic lyrics and English translation of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” from Upkar (1967). There are few songs that have attained the kind of beloved immortality found in the lyrics of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti.” A rousing declaration of love for the motherland, this song evokes nostalgia, nationalism, and an unwavering pride in traditional values that director Manoj Kumar advocated throughout his career. The film Upkar (1967) from which the song comes is one of many socially responsible movies pioneered by Manoj Kumar in that era–earning him the nickname Mr. Bharat! Like his other works Shaheed (1965), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), and Roti, Kapada, Aur Makaan (1974), Manoj Kumar sought to remind his audience of the beauty of the Indian way of life, of India’s rich history, and of the dangers Westernized modernity could pose to society.
As an interesting contrast to Dev Anand’s somewhat similarly themed-film Prem Pujari (1970), Upkar explores and glorifies the concept of the farmer-soldier, a loyal citizen who selflessly serves the motherland in any way she needs. The hero captures the spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism in a way that has remained popular even today.
So sure, it’s obviously a propaganda film (the idea of Upkar was after all modeled on Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri’s slogan, “Jai Jawaan, Jai Kissan!“), but hearing the lyrics to this song rendered stirringly by Mahendra Kapoor, you can feel a true admiration and love for India. Fully understanding a translation of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” can be quite difficult without some contextual knowledge of Indian history as it is filled with rich allusions and metaphors. I have attempted to explain some of them below each lyric (props to my father for filling in the gaps!) So please enjoy our full English translation to the lyrics of “Mere Desh Ki Dharti” below!
Mere Desh Ki Dharti Lyrics and Translation:
Mere desh ki dharti, sonaa ugale, ugale hiire, moti
The soil of my country is made of gold, diamonds, and pearls
Mere desh ki dharti…
Bailo.N ke gale mei.N jab ghungaruu, jeevan kaa raag sunaate hai
The bells around the necks of the bullocks chime to the melody of life
Gham kos duur ho jaataa hai, khushiio.N ke kamal musakaate hai.N
Sadness and regret go away, and joyous lotuses smile
Sun ke rahaT ki aawaaze, yuu.N lage kahii.N shahanaaii baje
Listening to the sounds of the waterwheels, it seems as if auspicous flutes are playing somewhere
Aate hii mast bahaaro.N ke dulhan ki tarah har khet saje
Every field adorns itself like a bride when the thrill of spring arrives
Mere desh ki dharti…
Jab chalte hai.N is dharti pe hal, mamtaa angadaaiiyaa.N leti hai.N
When ploughs till this land, the love of its mother is activated
Kyu.N na puje is maaTii ko, jo jeevan ka sukh deti hai?
Why would we not worship this soil that gives us the joy of life?
Is dharti pe jis ne janam liyaa, usne hii paayaa pyaar teraa
Whoever was born on this land, obtained your love
Yahaa.N apnaa paraayaa koii nahii.N, hai.N sab pe, Maa.N, upkaar teraa
Here there is no difference between a stranger and one of our own, for Mother, you are benevolent to all
Mere desh ki dharti…
Ye baagh hai.N Gautam Naanak ka, khilte hai.N aman ke phool yahaa.N
This is the garden of Bhudda and Guru Naanak, here bloom the flowers of peace
Gandhi, Subhaash, Tagore, Tilak, aise hai.N chaman ke phool yahaa.N
Gandhi, Subhash, Tagore, Tilak–these are the kinds of flowers of this garden
Rang haraa Hari Singh Nalwe se, rang laal hai Lal Bahadur se
Its green color is from Hari Singh Nalwa , and its red color is from Lal Bahadur
Rang banaa basanti Bhagat Singh, rang aman ka viir Jawaahar se
The color became saffron with Bhagat Singh and the color of peace (white) is from the brave Jawaahar
Mere desh ki dharti…
dharti: soil; hiire: diamonds; moti: pearl [in this case, a metaphor for agricultural treasures]; bail: bullock, ghungruu: bells; kamal: lotus; rahat: waterwheels; dulhan: bride; khet: field; hal: plough; maaTi: soil; paraayaa: stranger; upkaar: benevolence; baagh: garden; guatam: Buddha; Naanak: Guru Nanaak; aman: peace; Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi; Subhaash: Subhash Chandra Bose; Tagore: Rajindernath Tagore; Tilak: Bal Gangadhar Tilak; rang: color [here is he describing the colors of the Indian Flag]; haraa: green; Hari Singh Nalwa: the commander in chief of the Sikh Emperor, Ranjit Singh; Lal Bahadur: Lal Badur Shastri, one of India’s late Prime Ministers; viir: brave; Jawaahar: Jawaaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister
As a brief aside to anyone learning Urdu-Hindi, defining the word “angaDaaii” can be complicated when taken out of context (besides also being hard to pronounce if you’re a non-native speaker!). AngaDaaii can be the stretch you take when you wake up in the morning, it can be the way a traditional wrestler slaps his thighs before hopping into a match. In essence, an angaDaaii is any kind of preparatory movement or action you would take before some event. It’s used quite loosely in Hindi songs and must be read in context to understand the full meaning of the line, so watch out for this trickster.
For more patriotic songs from classic Bollywood films, check out our English translation of “Aye Mere Pyare Watan” from Kabuliwala (1961) and “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna” from Shaheed (1963)!
– Mrs. 55
This song has achieved a cult like status and is perhaps only second to the national anthem in popularity and pride for Indians. As soon as the familiar beat begins we all hold our breathe for what is to come. It is true, most of us don’t know the subtle meanings behind all of the lyrics and perhaps mispronounce a word or two in our eagerness as we sing along. However it hasn’t stopped anyone yet in joining in happily!
I agree with Annonymous. This is the quintessential patriotic song for Indians…I cannot tell you how many times I sang this to my kids, much to their anguish, before they grew up and finally understood its significance in the socio-cultural context for the Indian diaspora. Congratulations on your translation, BTW, it is at once emotionally engagin and historically accurate of all the so-called lyric translations floating on the web…
You guys are on top of the game!
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I recommend this excellent blog to whomsoever wants to improve his/her Hindi or Urdu languages. It is very well written and particular words are plainly and clearly explained.
Thanks for the support! Glad you enjoyed our translations!
Choom Lu main us Zubaan Ko
Jis pe aaya Tera Naam
Tujhpe dil qurbaan…
Thanks for doing this translation, Hai humpe ye upkaar tera…
Emotional Patriotic song every Indian should listen -mohan