Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Bollywood Qawwali Barsaat Ki Raat Shyama Ratna

Ratna (left) and Shyama (right) lead the qawwali “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” from the hit Bollywood film Barsaat Ki Raat (196)

For our next post, we provide an English translation of “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” qawwali (and its prelude “Na to Caravan ki Talaash Hai“) from the all-time classic film Barsaat ki Raat (1960). For anyone familiar with the beautiful lyrics of this Sahir Ludhviani masterpiece, you know that “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” is the crowning jewel of the qawwali genre. The ultimate in lyrical poetry, allusions, wit, and transcendent symbolism, “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” was no easy task to translate and dissect. Sahir Ludhviani, who also later penned the gems from films like Taj Mahal (1963), wrote an album of love poetry for Barsaat Ki Raat--from “Zindagi Bhar Nahii.N Bhoolegi” to “Mai.N Ne Shaayad Tumhe” to la pièce de résistance, “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai.”

Bharat Bhushan Barsaat Ki Raat qawwali

Bharat Bhushan jumps in to save the girls’ qawwali team in “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” from Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

Through this culmination piece of the film’s ongoing qawwali competition, both hero (Bharat Bhushan) and the heroine (Madhubala) are reunited after a long and painful separation. Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhonsle, and Manna Dey vie to out-do each other in this clever, powerful discussion of the meaning of love, but at the song’s climax Rafi brings the qawwali to a heart-stopping triumphant finish that wins his team the competition. It is a real pleasure to appreciate the many levels on which the qawwali can be understood–from religious, to romantic, to quite literal–after singing “ilaaj koi to maut hai,” Shyama literally falls sick to her deathbed, or as Bharat Bhushan croons, “nikalii Radha saj ke,” Madhubala appears miraculously at the doorway from the prison of her house. Come follow along with our translation of this epic qawwali and it will be clear why “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai” made Bollywood film history!

Madhubala Barsaat Ki Raat

Madhubala hears Bharat Bhushan on the radio and decides to find him in Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Lyrics and Translation


Na to caaravaan ki talaash hai
I am not in search of a caravan
Na to humsafar ki talaash hai
I am not in search of a fellow traveler
Mere shauq-e-khaana kharaab ko teri rehguzar ki talaash hai
That ruined place of my desire searches for the path that leads to you


Mere naamuraad junoon ka hai ilaaj koi to maut hai
If there is any cure for my unfortunate obsession, then it is death
Jo davaa ke naam pe zehar de
Give me that medicine whose name is poison
Usi chaaraagar ki talaash hai
I am in search of such a healer

Tera ishq hai meri aarzoo,
Your love is my desire
Tera ishq hai meri aabroo,
Your love is my honor
Dil ishq, jism ishq hai, aur jaan ishq hai
My heart is love, my body is love, and my life is love
Imaan ki jo poochho to imaan ishq hai
If you ask for faith, then that is love too
Tera ishq mai.N kaise ChhoD doo.N?
How could I ever leave your love?
Meri umr bhar ki talaash hai
That love is what I have been searching for all my life


Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
This is love, this is love, this is love
Jaan-soz ki haalat ko jaan-soz hi samjhegaa
Only one in torment can understand the condition of a fellow sufferer
Mai.N shamaa se kehta hoo.N mehfil se nahii.N kehta
I am speaking to the flame, not to the company gathered here
Kyonki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

Sahar tak sab ka hai anjaam jal kar khaak ho jaana
By dawn, everything will burn and be reduced to ashes
Bhari mehfil mei.N koi shamaa yaa parvaana ho jaaye
Everyone in this gathering shall became either flame or moth
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love


Vehshat-e-dil rasn-o-daar se roki na gayi
Love is not stopped by the madness of the heart or ropes and the gallows
Kisi khanjar, kisi talvaar se roki na gayi
It is not stopped by any dagger, by any sword
Ishq Majnu ki woh aavaz hai jiske aage koi Laila kisi deewaar se roki na gayi,
Love is that voice of Majnu’s which Laila followed and which no barrier could stop
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

Woh hanske agar maa.Nge.N to hum jaan bhi dede.N,
If she laughs and asks, then I would even give my life
Haa.N yeh jaan to kya cheez hai? Imaan bhi dede.N!
Yes, after all what is this life? I would even give up my faith!
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

Naaz-o-andaaz se kehte hai.N ki jeena hoga,
I am told that I must live with my fate gracefully
Zehar bhi dete hai.N to kehte hai.N Ki peena hoga
They give me poison, and say I must drink
Jab mai.N peetaa hoo.N to kehte hai.N ki marta bhi nahii.N,
But when I drink it, then they say I won’t die
Jab mai.N martaa hoo.N to kehte hai.N ki jeenaa hogaa
When I am dying, they say I must live
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
For this is love, this is love, this is love

Mazhab-e-ishq ki har rasm kaDi hoti hai,
The laws and customs of love are very strict
Har qadam par koi deewaar khaDi hoti hai
At every step, there is a barrier standing
Ishq aazad hai, Hindu Na Musalmaan hai ishq,
Love is free, love is neither Hindu nor Muslim
Aap hii dharm hai aur aap hii imaan hai ishq
Your own duty and your own faith alone is love
Jis se aage nahii.N shekh-o-Brahaman dono.N,
Both Hindu and Muslim religious men cannot surpass this
Us haqeeqat ka garajtaa hua ailaan hai ishq
The reality of that thundering proclamation is love

(FEMALE in Panjabi):

Ishq na puchhe deen dharm nu, ishq na puchhe jaataan
Love does not ask your religion or creed, love does not ask your social class or caste,
Ishq de haatho.N garam lahu vich doobiyaan laakh baraataan ke
Love has drowned thousands of wedding revelers in its fiery blood
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
This is love, this is love, this is love

Raah ulfat ki kaThin hai ise aasaan na samajh
The path of love is dangerous, do not think it easy
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
This is love, this is love, this is love

Bahut kaThin hai Dagar panghat ki
The path to the riverside is very dangerous
Ab kya bhar luau.N mai.N Jamuna se matki?
Now how can I fill my jug with water from the banks of the Jamuna River?
Mai.N jo chali jal jamuna bharan ko dekho sakhi ji mai.N jo chali jal jamuna bharan ko
As I was on my way to fill my jug with water from the Jamuna,
Nand kishor mohe roke jhaadon
The young boy of Nanda [Krishna] stopped me
To kya bhar luau.N mai.N Jamuna se matki?
So how can I fill my jug with water from the banks of the Jamuna River?

Ab laaj raakho more ghoonghat pat ki
Now protect my honor, this veil of mine
Jab jab Krishn ki bansi baaji,
When Krishna played his flute
Nikali Raadhaa saj ke
Radha emerged, dressed up
Jaan ajaan ka dhyaan bhulaa ke,
Forgetting all she was taught
Lok laaj ko taj ke
She left the honor of society
Haaye ban ban Doli Janak dulaari,
The darling child of King Janak [Sita] swayed into the forest
Pehenke prem ki maalaa
And wore a garland of love
Darshan jal ki pyaasi Meera
Meera thirsty for her a glimpse of her Lord
Pii gayii vishh ka pyaalaa aur phir araj kari
Drank a glass of poison and then pleaded
Ke laaj raakho raakho raakho, laaj raakho dekho dekho,
Protect my honor, protect my honor, protect my honor
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
This is love, this is love, this is love

Allah rasool ka farmaan ishq hai
The commands of God and Mohammed are love
Yaanii Hadith ishq hai, Quraan ishq hai
The teachings of Mohammed are love, the Quraan is love
Gautam kaa aur Maseehaa kaa armaan ishq hai
The wishes of Bhudda and Christ are love
Yeh kaayanaat jism hai aur jaan ishq hai
This material existence and this life are love
Ishq sarmad, ishq hii mansoor hai
Love is everlasting, love alone is victorious
Ishq Moosa, ishq Koh-e-Toor hai
Love is Moses, love is Mt. Sinai
Khaaq ko but, aur but ko devtaa karta hai ishq
Love turns clay into idols, and idols into Gods
Intahaa yeh hai ke bande ko khuda karta hai ishq
The pinnacle is that love has the power to turn a man into a revered God
Haan.N yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
Yes, this is love, this is love, this is love


caravaan: caravan; talaash: search; humsafar: fellow traveler; shauq-e-khaana; desires, hobbies; barbaad: ruined; rehuguzar: pathway; naamuraad: unfortunate; junoon: obsession; ilaaj: cure; maut: death; davaa: medicine; zeher: poison; chaaragar: one who treats you, doctor, healer; aarzuu: desire; aabruu: honor; jism: body; imaan: faith; jaansoz: torment, soul-burning; sahar: the time before dawn; anjaam: conclusion; khaak: ashes; parvaanaa: moth (used allegorically as one blinded by love); vehshat: madness; rasn: rope; daar: gallows; khanjar: dagger; talwar: sword; LailaMajnu: legendary ill-fated lovers; awaaz: voice; deewaar: barrier, wall; cheez: thing; naazoandaaz: pride and style, grace; mazhab: law; kaDi: strict, harsh; qadam: step; azaad: free; dharm: Hindu religious duty; haqeeqat: reality; garajnaa: to thunder; ailaan: proclaimation; deen: Islamic obedience; jaataan: caste; lahu: blood; ulfat: love; kaThin: dangerous; aasaan: easy; Dagar: pathway; maTki: jug, pot; Nand kishor: young Krishna laaj: honor; ghuunghat: veil; bansi: type of flute; dhyaan: meditation; lok: people, society; ban: forest; Dolna: to sway; Janak Dulari: The darling daughter of the mythological King Janak [Sita]; prem: love; maalaa: garland; darshan: glimpse of a deity; pyaasi: thirsty; vish ka pyaalaa: glass of poison; araj: plea; rasool: messenger [of God, Mohammed]; farmaan: commands; hadith: a report of the deeds and the teachings of Muhammed, Gautam: Buddha; Maseehaa: Jesus Christ; kaayanaat: material creation; sarmad: everlasting; mansoor: victorious, Moosaa: Moses; Koh-e-Toor: Mt. Sinai; khaaq: clay; but: idol; devtaa: God; intahaa: pinnacle, culmination

Yes, that glossary was a mouthful. Even as it is, I must warn that many of these words have a far deeper religious meaning to them that cannot be summed up in the one or two words as I have defined them. But no one said the Hindustani language was easy, and this song is just loaded with Arabic-based and Sanskrit-based vocabulary as well as references from both Hindu and Islamic traditions. It’s part of why Urdu-Hindi is such a complex, beautiful and absolutely fascinating language. Let’s take a more in-depth look at some of these lines:

  • “Ishq Majnu ki woh awaaz hai…” according to the Arab legend, similar to Romeo and Juliet, Laila and Majnu (whose nickname means “madly in love”) were two star-crossed lovers from rival families. However, Laila fled from her house to be with the one she loved and it is said that as Majnu was caught and whipped, their love was so strong that Laila screamed and blood appeared to flow from Laila’s skin instead.
  • “Bahut kaThin hai Dagar panghat ki…” is actually a line from the great Amir Khusrau qawwali written during the 13th century. The qawwali refers in one sense to the risks of dishonor faced by Radha as she attempted to fetch water, another sense explores the risks of standing up for religious beliefs (in Khusrau’s case, an allegiance to Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya.) The line has now become a sort of idiomatic warning to not underestimate the burden of any difficult task.
  • “Jab jab Krishna ki bansi baaji…” refers to the tales of Hindu folklore of childhood lovers Krishna and Radha, the latter of whom risked familial honor and suffered teasing and torment from her girlfriends in her love for the young Lord.
  • “Janak dulari ban ban Doli…” is a reference to the Ramayan in which Sita, upon learning of her husband Ram’s banishment to the forest, renounced her title as well. Sita, it should be recalled, had a very lavish upbringing as she was the daughter of King Janak, so this was no simple sacrifice to live in the dangerous jungle. But Sita’s love was unparalleled, and although she was not otherwise compelled to accompany Ram to the jungle, did indeed join him out of pure devotion.
  • “Darshan jal ki pyaasi Meera…” refers to the legend of Krishna devotee and Rajput Princess, Meera Bai of the 16th century. Her zealous worship and love of Krishna inspired not only many famous bhajans we know and sing today, but the resentment of her brother-in-law who frowned upon her actions (eg. mingling with the poor, ignoring her husband, etc.) He made several notorious attempts to kill her, including forcing her to drink a glass of poison that Lord Krishna is said to have transformed into nectar and saved her when she pleaded for the Lord to protect her honor.

As you can probably tell, I LOVE this qawwali. I discover new things every time I enjoy it (for example, anyone else notice how the background clappers only start shrugging their shoulders cliched bhangra-style ONLY when Ratna starts singing in Panjabi? Coincidence? I think not!) The song indeed transcends all religious and material loyalties, bringing the audience a dazzling, other-wordly experience. For anyone who’s tired of all the allegories and vocabulary quizzes, here’s the long-awaited behind-the-scenes gossip:

Did you know Bharat Bhushan actually got married in real life to Ratna (who ironically played the only character in the film NOT in love with him!) Surprise, right!? She was his second wife, and some even say that later mild-mannered Bharat Bhushan had had an affair with none other than Meena Kumari. Did the scandals never end in this town?

For more Urdu bliss, check out our post on the beauty of Urdu poetry in Hindi films!

-Mrs. 55

Ratna Barsaat Ki Raat

Ratna, wife of Bharat Bhushan, plays a sassy side-kick in the film Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

61 thoughts on “Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

  1. Pingback: The Qawwali in Bollywood Films « Mr. & Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited!

  2. Wah wah- this is a great post and wonderful translation, perhaps the best. Truly a delight for the Urdu lover.
    Your blog is a like a ray of cultural sunshine and the topics are so interesting…
    This is really hard work but I can see that it is a passion of yours so keep it up and may God bless you!
    Also, qawaali as you know emanates from Sufi tradition, so it is not surprising that a good qawali satisfies both the heart and the soul.

    • Thank you! We absolutely agree–this qawwali is a uniquely satisfying work of transcendent art. The Urdu for this post was some of the most complicated we’ve seen! Glad you’re enjoying our blog and stay tuned for our translation of poetry in Mughal-e-Azam coming up soon!

  3. i am completely bowled over by your passion for writing , translating and brining to life the SPIRIT of this great quawwali. i l was truly in search of the menaing of the URDU words though the meaning came through the rendering of the song.quawwali, i sincerely thank you for this service that you have done for the listeners and readers..may god bless you and may god shower you with love and affection..

  4. mr and mrs 55….salute! I am a 30something londoner, bong, joining the dots….and your blog is just merking it to use some london slang. I was heavily involved in a lot of the asian underground stuff that was coming out of lndon in the 90s’ 00s, and trained for many years in tabla and vocal. But my hindi is poor-being a londoner. And a bong at that. So, this website is heaven and the mughal e azam quawaali and this detailed quawaali are just extraordinary. I spent some time at Harvard on exchange from oxford and i wish we had overlapped so i could have saluted you guys personally. Please don’t stop…

  5. This is probably my most favorite qawaali. And I am so glad that I found the translation here. And the last verse is just out of this world. Thank you so much for your work.

  6. Thanks! I just recently heard these songs and now I can’t stop listening. I was very curious about why I like them so much. Now I know the meaning and it is no wonder I love them. Thank you again.

  7. Excellent work ….. keep it up ….. these translations are rare things usually not found easily ….. firstly cause of lack of knowledge ….. secondly cause no one takes the pains …. thank you ….. Manoj Mehta

  8. Beautiful Qawwalli and truly mother of all qawwallis. Very well translated. Even though, sher or shayaris can be interpreted by each in their own way, I am pointing to the sher: Mere shauq-e-khaana-kharaab ko, teri reh-guzar ki talaash hai. I would interpret shauq-e-khaana-kharaab (as this should be read as 2 words in conjunction), as wretched love. Shauq also means love in urdu and khaana-kharaab is one word which means wretched.

    I would also interpret meri umrbhar ki talaash hai as “My never ending quest”, but then the meaning doesn’t change much here.

    Naaz-o-andaaz se kehte hain: Here, the poet is refering to his beloved and says, “How gracefully you are telling me to live and then you offer me poison to drink”

    Some of my own views on this qawwali.

    A great work and I am sure you have spent hours translating this best of the best shayari, which in itself is not an easy task.

    • Interesting points! I’m glad you were so engaged in the poem–it is as you say the mother of all qawwalis! And indeed, some of the lines may be interpreted in many ways. We have chosen to translate the line “naaz-o-andaaz” as a reference to society rather than a female lover for thematic continuity as well as grammatical accuracy–the verb “kehte hai.N” implies the plurality of society versus “kehti hai.N” for a single woman of adoration.

      Thanks again for your thoughts!

      • We have chosen to translate the line “naaz-o-andaaz” as a reference to society rather than a female lover for thematic continuity as well as grammatical accuracy–the verb “kehte hai.N” implies the plurality of society versus “kehti hai.N” for a single woman of adoration.

        i agree, but then, as u know, hindi aur urdu me kisi ek person ko bhi AAP keh sakte hai na ? 🙂

      • The pronoun “aap” is certainly a common address for a single person for whom the speaker holds respect. However, for a fastidious poet like Sahir, we thought it unlikely that he would use the technically incorrect “[aap] kehte hai.N” to refer to a woman instead of “[aap] kehtii hai.N” in which the subject and verb agree in gender. Hence, our interpretation of this refers instead to society at large, which aligns with his specific grammatical choices 🙂

  9. Fantastic site on yesteryear movies. Looks like there are more of our kind out there. Really appreciate your efforts to put up all the meanings et al. Love your description of the song and the situation too. You got a follower in me now. By the way, the meaning of “Sarmad” and “Mansoor” though correct in literal translation however Sahir Saab here alludes to two Sufi Saints by the name of Sufi Sarmad of Delhi and Mansoor Hallaj of Iraq, both of them were martyred by the so-called religious fundamentalists of that time. Both of them were intoxicated with love and in their extreme stage had proclaimed that “I am the truth.”
    Anyways, keep up the good work.

      • Thanks much for this great job again!
        Would it be possible to publish translations for “jee chahta hai choom loon” ?
        Much thanks

  10. Pingback: The Art of Urdu in Hindi Films: Losing A Poetic Legacy | Mr. & Mrs. 55 - Classic Bollywood Revisited!

  11. Loved your article and blog generally!

    I wanted to add a few points but it’s 6.30am and having spent the past few hours perusing your wonderful blog I really should hit the bed! Hopefully, I’ll find time over the weekend to continue my delightful adventure…

  12. OMG! Thank you so much for this Qawwali and the translation. It’s amazing how multiple points of view and translation can contribute to a more holistic understanding of such a multi-layered and profound composition. Too bad they dont make them like this anymore. I learned so MUCH especially from the Shama-Mehfil line. My reason for looking up this translation was to find the meaning for Shouq-e-Khaana Kharaab and Chaaragar. Google translate does a bad job of these (or rather no job at all). Oh and also Rasn-o-Daar. Thanks to the user Syed who gave the meaning for that too. I have a couple of suggestions to further perfect this translation. Hopefully, you’ll incorporate my meek request:
    Bhari mehfil mei.N koi shamaa yaa parvaana ho jaaye is essentially a line that says there is one of two fates of everyone in the gathering that is to either become the moth that is burned by the flame or the flame that burns until it dies out.
    Vehshat-e-Dil is “Savagery of the Heart” which is essentially the untamed yearning of the heart.
    Aap hii dharm hai aur aap hii imaan hai ishq is best translated as “Ishq is in itself both duty and in itself the faith” the word “aap” here is a very super formalized way of addressing a third person without saying “yeh” or “woh” but “aap” as in the English “His Esteem” or “His Greatness” or “His Excellency” or “Her Highness” etc.
    Jis se aage nahii.N shekh-o-Brahaman dono.N, is actually Jis Se “Aagaah” Nahin. The word “Aagaah” means to be aware. It means the “sheikh” as in the Muslim priest (Imaam) and Brahmin (the urdu style is Barahman) aren’t aware of that which is the thunderous proclamation… (p.s. I LOVED the choice of words “thunderous proclamation” that you used here. It was a pure delight to me).
    Also, I greatly applaud you for bringing together Radha, Sita and Meera in your translation. Beautifully done! What an unsurpassed feat by the lyricist too!
    Yaanii hafeez ishq hai, Quraan ishq hai should be Yaani Hadith Ishq Hai, Quraan Ishq Hai. Hadith are the collection of quotes attributed to Prophet Mohammed. Hafeez is just a common name and would be irrelevant in comparison to the Quraan.

    Once again, a MILLION thanks for this translation!

    • What great insights! Thank you Imran for sharing all these excellent thoughts! This was by far one of the most difficult translations we had ever done, both because of the complexity of the Urdu, but also because of its rich references to outside literature and folklore. Glad you liked the post!

      • I submitted this message several days ago, but it disappeared into hyperspace I suspect due to the weblinks I had attached. I’ve now omitted these so hopefully my message should appear…

        I had promised to return and post a supplementary comment but reneged on the deal due to my absentmindedness. In the meantime, Imran has comprehensively and eloquently covered most of the points I had hoped to raise, although I’m in divergence with the word “aagaah” and his translation of the word as aware. In my opinion the word is aagah and should be translated as sin (at Platts online Urdu/Hindi dictionary type in agah and check instances 6 and 7). This is both logical and lucid considering the prior statements in the sher and what follows thereafter.

        Previously, we’re told the “Dharam” (of a Hindu) and the “Imaan” (of a Muslim) is in essence a derivative of Ishq. To wit, Dharam and Imaan are the key article of faith of Hinduism and Islam respectively, forming the foundational base from which each act of worship derives. Furthermore, Salah and Pooja are devotional acts performed to please the Almighty and endear us to Him, but essentially emanate from our love and affection for Him. I posit this is further qualified by the next sentence which alludes to the devotion of the Sheikh and the Brahmin to their article of faith; a “thunderous proclamation” as you wonderfully state, that Ishq is not at all sinful. This underlying message is continuously reinforced via evidence and the juxtaposition of platonic dogma and carnal sensualism. The overarching philosophy is everybody is in love and is capable of loving and for mankind to repel all fears and reservations about love and commit to it wholeheartedly. Indeed, this borrows heavily from a core philosophical concept of Sufism, in which love of every permutation (e.g. beloved, parental and fraternal) is fundamentally love for the Creator. This idea also extends to poetry in which expressed love and desire for a beloved, is viewed in an abstract sense as a desire to be one again with the Creator.

        Additionally, I tepidly disagree with your translation of “Yeh Kaayanaat jism hai aur jaan ishq hai”. I submit this should be translated as follows:

        Our existence is merely material and its spirit is love, or

        This universe is merely material and its life-force is love

        My postulation is grounded in the concept of Creationism which proposes God created the universe and man, giving both a vivid, material form. Via His divine power He endowed everything with life, thereby bestowing it a purposeful function. For humankind this core function is essentially to love, obey and worship God in accordance with His commandments, as detailed by His Prophets.

        The last line of the qawwali “Intahaa yeh hai ke bande ko khuda karta hai ishq” is also mistranslated I feel and should read as:

        In conclusion the point is God Loves His devotees/the obedient/His slaves (take your pick)

        Throughout the final stanza we’re consistently told about God’s beneficence and what he has done for his creation. And previously, we’ve been told about mankind’s devotion to God. This final point now ties all these concepts together and proclaims that God too loves; indeed, He loves His creation. Moreover, it is natural for mankind to love considering God lovingly created us and has much love for us. Logically, as His creation we too are compelled to be in love – in whichever form – in a deterministic manner.

        Conversely, translation rarely if ever can give a precise definition of the original text but if we translate and read each line in isolation the problem is exponentially compounded and the original message becomes terribly confused. However, if we read the translated verses as an integrated statement it can and does make a lot more sense.

        Finally, I noticed some minor errors in the write-up which you may want to correct at your convenience.

        Jaan ajaan ka maan bhulaa ke – Jaan ajaan ka dhyaan bhulaa ke (slightly changes the meaning)

        Janak dulaari ban ban Doli – Haaye ban ban doli janak dulaari (incorrect order of words)

        Pii gayii vishh ka pyaalaa aur phir araj kari – Pii gayi bis ka pyaalaa aur phir araj kari ke (purely semantics here as vishh and bis both translate as poison – check Platts dictionary for “Bis”)

      • These are some great insights! Because of its complexity, there remain many interpretations to these wonderful lyrics and we appreciate your adding your thoughtful comments to the discussion. It is evident that you are a poetry lover like us–thank you for reading!

      • I too wanted to point out, its more like ‘…this material Universe (kaynaat) is the body and the life within it is love’. Also, do we have the words right for the last line….I always thought it was… Intahaa yeh hai ki bande ‘to kya’ khuda karta hai ishq. Which means, I need to re-listen the song because then the previous two lines saying ‘…Love transforms clay to idol and idol to god,…may not be right either 😦

  13. Stepped on this link accidentally and I have finished reading more than 12 posts in two days… You guys are superb…
    I loved all the posts and you can count me as the newest fan of urs… though all of them were stunning, I just could not stop myself from commenting on this posts… LOVED IT !!!

  14. You are right in saying that this is the mother of all qawwalis or so I feel as well. I am very happy to see such a great post on my favorite qawwali. However, I have two objections; actually one about the original post and the other is about some comments (one comment by altaf sahab in particular). Objection about the post: When talking about a qawwali of this magnitude, you are doing artists a bit injustice by not crediting what the source is. While Roshan sahab was a great composer, this qawwali, or another version of it has also been sung by Fateh Ali Khan (Nusrat sahab’s waalid) & Mubarak Ali Khan (given his age, I would not be surprised to find out that this particular qawwali came before Barsaat ki raat version). Nusrat sahab has sung this as well. That version is known as ‘Na to butkade ki talab’. Rahat sung this during a performance show in India where he also said that he has heard this like no one else can sing it (you may youtube all three versions). I also have doubts how much of it is written by Sahir sahab. This brings me to the next objection. Altaf sahab has made a claim about sarmad and mansoor. While that seems genuine, I would really like some citation to this. I have read on internet that the original version may have been written by Bulleh Shah but alas without any reference. I hope I don’t come across as an arrogant person. It is just that I would like to know about this as much as I can.

  15. Pingback: Yeh Duniya Yeh Mehfil Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi | Mr. & Mrs. 55 - Classic Bollywood Revisited!

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  17. Dear Mr&Mrs55

    Thank you for a wonderful translation of an amazing piece of art.

    Thanks to your blog, I got to understand so many words and phrases of which I had no clue whatsoever (shauq-e-khana kharaab, jaan-soz, rasn-o-daar, Koh-i-toor, to name a few). I am now able to appreciate and enjoy the piece even more. Thank you once again.

    Your passion for this qawwali comes through very clearly. Another admirable quality of your blog is your willingness to incorporate suggestions and make the translation more and more accurate.

    To that end, I would also like to offer a few comments for your consideration:

    1) Vehshat-e-dil rasn-o-daar se roki na gayi: I think here, vehshat-e-dil (madness of the heart) refers to the craziness of love itself. So this line should perhaps translate as: Love is crazy; it is not stopped by ropes nor by the gallows.

    2) I think the second line of the verse “Sahar tak sab ka hai anjaam…” starts with “Bhale mehfil…. ” rather than “Bhari mehfil….”. It is very difficult to be absolutely certain about this by listening to the audio because this line is not repeated, but the verse does become more meaningful by using “Bhale mehfil…”.

    3) I would tend to agree with Imran that the word is perhaps “aagah” and not “aage” in “Jis se aage nahii.N shekh-o-Brahaman dono.N”

    Warm regards

    • The word is Aagah (forewarned) and in spite of suggestions make in 2014 and now by you, it is still not updated.
      Jis se aagah nahii.N shekh-o-Brahaman dono.N,
      Both Hindu and Muslim religious men aren’t forewarned

  18. Pingback: Learn To Sing Qawwali Rahat | Learning To Sing

  19. All other comments here are more than a year old, and I am reading today!! but it is absolute delight to read it. I was listening to this qawwali in loop since yesterday and could get meaning of most of words and phrases used. And now after reading this blog going back to my loop. I am enjoying it even more now. It feels like the there is presence of God (love) itself in the qawwali the way it is written composed and sung !!

  20. can’t describe my happiness…I have been waiting for more than 30 years for someone to do justice to all the underpinnings of this song…it needs mastery of three cultures….no mean task…Add to it the perfect musical changes suiting the various moods of the song by maestro Roshan…and the singers….omg…Manna Dey and Asha Bhonsale have sung perfectly but you need to hear this song to realize why there will never be a Rafi again…I have become a big fan Mr&Mrs55…I am taking the liberty of posting this on my FB wall!

  21. Hi

    Great to see this qawwali translated. Been a great fan of this qawwali. I see you already have many feedbacks, but then that is to be expected.
    If I May make some suggestions

    jaa.n–soz literal meaning is someone whose heart (or soul) is on fire (figurative – tormented)

    Jaa.n-soz ki haalat ko jaa.n-soz hi samjhegaa
    Only one whose heart is on fire can understand the condition of another whose heart is on fire
    Mai.N shamaa se kehta hoo.N mehfil se nahii.N kehta

    (That is why) I speak to Shamaa (whose heart is also on fire), and not others

    Naaz-o-andaaz se kehte hai.N ki jeena hoga,
    This is to be read as follows
    Naaz-o-andaaz se kehte hai.N (They say with style and grace) ki jeena hoga, (That I have to live)

    The whole stanza is to be read as follows

    They say with style and grace that I have to live
    (but then) they give me poison and say you have to drink
    When I drink the poison they ask Why doesn’t he die
    When I am dying, they say I have to live

    Essence being : They are tormenting me with conflicting/contradicting statements/signals, (though the signals are being given in style)

    Vehshat-e-dil rasn-o-daar se roki na gayi

    This is to be read as follows

    Vehshat-e-dil (Mad frenzy of heart) rasn-o-daar (rope of gallows) se roki na gayi ( could not stop)

    Mad frenzy of heart cannot be stopped by rope of gallows

    rasn-o-daar – rope of gallows literal meaning is noose figurative meaning is death

    So the translation is
    Mad frenzy of heart cannot be stopped by rope of gallows
    Mad frenzy of heart cannot be stopped by death/fear of death/punishment of death

    Aap hii dharm hai aur aap hii imaan hai ishq

    This is to be read as
    Aap hii dharm hai (itself is duty) aur aap hii imaan hai (and itself is faith) ishq (love)

    Love by itself it duty and faith

    I hope you find these as interesting as I found your translation. Great job. Wish you both a very happy married life.



  22. Great explanation of this superb qawwali. However, I would like to point to a few places which didn’t seem to convey the correct meaning to me:

    Jo davaa ke naam pe zehar de should be “One who gives poison in the disguise of medicine” . Also, “Haaye ban ban Doli Janak dulaari, Pehenke prem ki maalaa” should be “the darling daughter of King Janak (Sita) wandered in the forests wearing a garland of love (due to her love)”. I believe “ban ban” meaning forests was missing from the translated line.

    Thanks for this lovely post!

  23. great post.. i have a request… could you please translate song “Ramchandra keh gaye siya se..” acted upon by Dilipkumar… the end portion in particular.. Thanks in advance.

  24. I am Punjabi, savor Urdu, courtesy my father from Aryan Mohalla, Rawalpindi, cannot read. This is a wonderful forum you have created. Please accept my gratitude. Regards.

  25. No, you are right…its, ‘..intehaa yeh hai ki bande ko khuda karta hai ishq’ 🙂 🙂 loved the whole experience. Thank you.

  26. This translation, in itself , is a rare piece of literature! My salute to the translator!! He /she has transferred the meaning, soul and spirit of lyrics as well as portrayal and performance of artists, Director, dance master , choreographer, camera, editor… whole team .Who is the translator?

  27. Pingback: The Best Qawwalis of Bollywood Films | Politico

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  29. Absolutely brilliant bit of work here! For long i have looked for a high quality piece of translation of the wonderful Urdu poetry available. Thanks to your efforts, you made my day with this translation. Do you have other works in Urdu as well?

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