Sansaar Se Bhaage Phirte Ho Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Meena Kumari stars as an enchanting courtesan in Chitralekha (1964)

Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrical genius as an Urdu poet is widely known, but his poetry in pure Hindi is considerably less prolific. While Sahir churned out gem after gem of Urdu shayari in films such as Taj Mahal and Gumraah, his output in pure Hindi is limited to a handful of films. Sahir’s first foray into the field of Hindi poetry occurred in the soundtrack for Chitralekha (1964), a film directed by Kidar Sharma based on a novel by the same name written by Bhagawati Charan Verma in 1934. The story revolves around the protagonist Chitralekha (played by Meena Kumari), a widowed courtesan who seduces men to their doom with her beauty in the court of King Chandragupta Maurya. Prince Bijgupt (played by Pradeep Kumar) is one of her many admirers, and his lust for Chitralekha prevents him from fulfilling his royal duties. Kumar Giri (played by Ashok Kumar) is a conflicted holy man whose spirituality wavers when faced with the temptation of Chitralekha’s physical charms. Overall, the film questions the philosophical significance of sin and virtue by tracing Chitralekha’s development from being a haughty courtesan to a humble ascetic. Despite this film’s compelling narrative and exploration of uncoventional themes, it failed to achieve success at the box office, especially when compared to its 1941 predecessor (the second highest grossing film of the year!). The mediocre box office performance has been attributed to miscasting of the main characters and a poorly written script.

Meena Kumari sings the line “apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge” amidst a setting of flowers, which symbolize the natural beauty of creation.

Given the lackluster audience reception at the time of its release, this film is generally remembered today for its soundtrack composed by Roshan and penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. The two songs that are the most well known from this film are the Rafi solo “man re tu kaahe na dhiir dhare” and “sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho,” the Lata solo that I’ve chosen to translate today. Based on Raga Yaman Kalyan, this song is a  beautifully crafted statement against spiritual hypocrisy. Through his words, Sahir rejects the conception of sin and virtue established by organized religions in favor of a philosophy of universal hedonism. In context of the film, Chitralekha uses this song to mock Kumar Giri’s ascetism after he patronizes her with a sermon about giving up her sinful lifestyle in order to attain spiritual enlightenment. My favorite part of this song is probably when Chitralekha sings the clever and incisive line: “apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge” (It will be an insult to the Creator himself, if you reject the act of creation). This song is full of feisty one-liners like this, so please take a listen to the song and follow along with translation/glossary below if you’d like to hear more. To conclude, I think we can all agree that Sahir does not disappoint here and proves his versatility poet who is equally comfortable writing lyrics in shuddh Hindi as he is in Urdu. Very impressive, indeed–enjoy!

-Mr. 55

Meena Kumari stumbles under the intoxication of wine in the company of her harem.

Sansar Se Bhage Phirte Ho Lyrics and Translation

sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho, bhagvaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?
As you flee from society, how will you find God?
is lok ko apnaa na sake, us lok me.n bhii pachataaoge.
You didn’t consider this world as your own, and you will repent it in that world. 

 ye paap hai.n kyaa, ye punya hai.n kyaa? riito.n par dharm kii mohare hai.n
What is sin and what is virtue? Religion uses such traditions as mere facades. 
har yug me.n badalte dharmo.n ko kaise aadarsh banaaoge?
How will you idealize the changing religions of every age?

yeh bhog bhii ek tapsaya hai, tum tyaag ke maare kyaa jaano?
This suffering is also a form of penance; what would you know, you renunciation-stricken fool?
apaman rachetaa kaa hogaa, rachnaa ko agar Thukraaoge.
It will be an insult to the Creator himself, if you reject the act of creation. 

ham kahte hai.n yah jag apnaa hai, tum kahte ho jhuuTha sapna hai.
I claim that this world is mine; however, you consider it a false dream.
ham janam bitaa kar jaaye.nge, tum janam gavaa kar jaaoge.
I will live life to the fullest, but you will waste yours in vain. 

sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho, bhagvaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?
As you flee from society, how will you find God?


sa.nsaar: society; bhagvaan: God; pachataanaa: to repent, regret; lok: world; paap: sin; punya: virtue; riit: tradition; dharm: religion; mohara: front, facade; aadarsh banaanaa: to idealize; bhog: suffering;  tapasya: penance; tyaag ke maare: struck with renunciation; apaman: insult; rachetaa: the Creator; rachnaa: to create; Thukraanaa: to reject, disapprove;  jag: world.

Ashok Kumar plays the role of the conflicted holy man Kumar Giri in Chitralekha (1964)

5 thoughts on “Sansaar Se Bhaage Phirte Ho Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

  1. What wonderful lyrics….very deep…it’s difficult to even begin grappling with some of the question posited. Some of Chitralekha’s questions reflect a sort of sophistry, almost Wildean in scope, but without the same flippancy and languidity (e.g. think of the views expounded by the protagonists of ‘A picture of Dorian Gray’.. ). That hedonistic sophist sort of position comes through in lines such ‘ham janam bitaa kar gayenge…tum janam gavva kar jaoge (I will live life to the fullest but you will waste yours in vain)..a perspective difficult to take that seriously..Similarly, I don’t think Wilde seriously meant half the stuff he said…but other questions posed in the song are genuine and meaningful and have so much contemporary significance:

    “ye paap hai.n kyaa, ye punya hai.n kyaa? riito.n par dharm kii mohare hai.n”
    What is sin and what is virtue? Religion uses such traditions as mere facades.
    “har yug me.n badalte dharmo.n ko kaise aadarsh banaaoge?”
    How will you idealize the changing religions of every age?

    Is everything relative, constantly in flux, evolving, changing with every age? Or do some things remains static? Are there fundamental human truths which remain or should remain applicable to every age? These are questions most people engage with. Chitralekha’s parting shot “sa.nsaar se bhaage phirte ho, bhagvaan ko tum kyaa paaoge?” (As you flee from society, how will you find God?) also appears to be a fair enough question. Selfless as your pursuit is, if you’re completely disengaged from society, have no role in rectifying its ills and injustices, how will u find God?…being aliennated from all your fellow creatures needn’t be the only route to salvation, or spiritual enlightenment.

    I had never heard of this movie prior to seeing this post, Meena still looks nice, this movie just precedes the period where she destroyed her looks through drink…Anyways, wonderful song choice!!

    • You’ve provided some great analysis here! I agree that the main premise of this song is totally reasonable, even though there are some underlying hedonistic implications. How can you find spiritual enlightenment if you are completely removed from society? And more specifically: if you do not reject society by becoming an ascetic, are you still worthy of salvation?

      Who would’ve guessed that a Bollywood film would spark such a deep philosophical discussion!

  2. I admired the lyrics of Sahir Ludhianvi a ture gem. Explaining the meaning of fundamental human truths.The truth of sin and virtue. Ideology of the changing religions in every age Sahir proves himself as versatility poet. I thank god for coming across these beautiful lyrics in my life really What a wonderful lyrics.
    Ravindra Kulkarni

  3. A rare song so meaningful that it deeps into the heart of anybody. Philosophy so easily conveyed in very simple language. Music is also very simple that touches the soul and is remembered for such a long period. Gone are those days when such beautiful/meaningful melodies were made. Jaane kahan gaye woh din?

  4. This is an anti-puritanical gem! Sahir Ludhianvi has penned a Hindi ghazal here — Urdu isn’t the only language in which ghazals have been written:

    Here’s a fascinating piece about the ghazal’s evolution in America:

    Another Bollywood ghazal that doesn’t immediately sound like one:
    Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chalaa gayaa (Hum Dono) —

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