Mata Saraswati Sharda Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Saraswati
Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and music, is worshipped each year on Basant Panchami.

Basant Panchami is a Hindu festival that celebrates the arrival of Spring through the worship of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and music. On this day, Ma Saraswati is worshipped with great fervor and devotion, especially by students in educational institutions across India.  In addition, many young children are given their first lesson in writing on this holiday through a ritual called haathe-korii. Since this auspicious holiday is coming up in just a few days on Friday, we are presenting the lyrics and English translation to one of Bollywood’s  only homages to goddess Saraswati: maataa sarasvatii shardaa from Alaap (1977).

As many of you probably know, bhajans dedicated to Saraswati are a rare commodity in the arena of Bollywood cinema. The majority of the film industry’s references to Hinduism focus on Vishnu in the form of Krishna and his consort Radha. What is the reason behind Bollywood’s obsession with Radha and Krishna? The most obvious answer is that the love stories presented in Hindi films lend themselves easily to comparisons to the romance shared between these two figures of Hinduism. Bollywood heroes can identify with flirtatious Krishna who uses his charm to seduce Radha whose delicate coyness resembles that of Bollywood heroines.  An austere deity like Saraswati, symbolizing wisdom and education, finds little glamor in an industry that is driven primarily by themes based on love and romance. 

In what context does Saraswati receive prominence in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Alaap (1977)? Tuned by Jaidev in Raga Bhairavi, a version of this bhajan sung by Yesudas, Madhurani, and Dilraj Kaur opens the film as Amitabh Bachhan prays to Saraswati for her blessings at the music school where he studies classical vocal. This bhajan also concludes the film when a version sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Dilraj Kaur is reprised on Rekha singing along with her son for her husband Amitabh who has contracted a severe case of tuberculosis.  The homage to Saraswati is fitting in Alaap because the film’s plot is driven in part by music. In Alaap, Amitabh Bachhan desires to become a classically trained vocalist against the wishes of his conservative father Om Prakash who refuses to accept music as a legitimate profession. He pressures Amitabh to become a lawyer like himself and the ensuing resentment leads to a bitter conflict between father and son that culminates in a tragic conclusion.

As the holiday of Basant Panchami approaches with its celebration of learning and new beginnings, we hope that you enjoy this beautiful bhajan and our English translation provided below. May Ma Saraswati bless all of us in our academic and musical pursuits during the upcoming year. Until next time…

-Mr. 55

P.S. This non-filmi Saraswati Vandana recorded by Lata is also divinely enchanting: yaa kundendu tushaar haar dhavalaa

AB
Amitabh Bacchan looks pious in white during prayers to Ma Saraswati in a music school in Alaap (1977)

Mata Saraswati Sharda: Lyrics and Translation

maataa sarasvatii sharadaa,
Mother Saraswati,
he maataa sarasvatii sharadaa!
Oh mother Saraswati!
vidyaadaanii dayaanii dukh-harinii
You are the giver of knowledge, the goddess of compassion, and the remover of sorrow.
jagatajananii jvaalaamukhii
You are the fire-mouthed mother of this world.
maataa sarasvatii sharadaa!
Mother Saraswati!

kiije sudrishTi
Please cast an auspicous glance upon us,
sevak jaan apnaa
and know us as your humble servants.
itnaa vardaan diije
Please grant us these boons:
taan, taal, aur aalaap
musical mastery of passagework, rhythm, and preludes.
buddhii ala.nkaar, sharadaa
Knowledge is your jewel, Saraswati.

he maataa sarasvatii shardaa!
Oh mother Saraswati!

Glossary

maataa: mother; sarasvatii: Hindu goddess of learning and music; sharadaa: another name for Saraswati; vidyaadaanii: giver of knowledge; dayaanii: goddess of compassion; dukh-harinii: remover of sorrow; jagatjananii: mother of the world; jvaalaamukhii: fire-mouthed; sudrishTii: auspicious glance; sevak: servant; vardaan: boon; taan: musical passagework; taal: rhythm; aalaap: prelude to a raagbuddhii: knowledge; ala.nkaar: jewel, ornamentation.

Rekha
Rekha sings a reprise of this bhajan with her son for her ailing husband Amitabh in the conclusion of Alaap (1977)
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Dost Dost Na Raha Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Raj Kapoor sings about betrayal in love and friendship at the piano in Sangam (1965)

Our next translation comes from Sangam (1965), a film starring Raj Kapoor as Sundar, Vijayntimala as Radha, and Rajendra Kumar as Gopal in a classic love triangle story gone wrong. The plot of Sangam is somewhat complex, but it can be boiled down to a few key points:

  • From a young age, Sundar has been attracted to his childhood friend Radha. However, Radha only has eyes for another friend Gopal and persistently rejects Sundar’s advances.  In secret, Gopal reciprocates Radha’s feelings for him.
  • To prove his worthiness as a man and impress Radha, Sundar enlists in the Indian Air Force. Before his departure, Sundar asks Gopal to make sure no man comes in between him and Radha while he is gone.
  • One day, Gopal and Radha receive the terrible news that Sundar is presumed dead after a plane crash. Although they are deeply saddened, this news means that Gopal and Radha can pursue their feelings for each other with a clear conscience. During their courtship, Gopal writes an unsigned love letter to Radha that will become important later in the story.
  • Much to Gopal and Radha’s surprise, Sundar returns happy and healthy from the Air Force–the rumors of his death were inaccurate. The self-sacrificing Gopal keeps his word and steps out of the picture so that Sundar can woo Radha.
  • Eventually, Radha and Sundar get married. It is difficult for Radha to reject Sundar now because his heroic accomplishments in the Air Force have elevated his status to that of a worthy suitor. The newly wedded couple have an extravagant European honeymoon.
  • After their return, the couple enjoy marital bliss. Yet, their happiness is short-lived: Sundar finds the unsigned love letter and assumes that Radha has been an unfaithful wife (although she has stopped all relations with Gopal post-marriage).
  • In the days that follow, Sundar becomes insane with jealousy and makes Radha’s life miserable with constant threats and aggression. Radha flees to Gopal’s house for refuge without knowing that Sundar will end up doing the same thing.
  • The three characters now have a dramatic confrontation where Gopal admits that he is the author of  the unsigned love letter. Tensions flare, and to avoid giving too much away, I’ll just say that the movie ends with a tragic death….

Placed into the context of this film,  Sundar pours his heart out by singing “dost dost na rahaa” after discovering the unsigned love letter that Radha has hidden from him.  With heart-wrenching lyrics penned by Shailendra and a touching melody based on Raga Bhairavi composed by Shankar-Jaikishan, this song is Bollywood’s quintessential anthem for those who have been betrayed in love or friendship. Mukesh’s pathos-laden voice is perfectly suited to express the pain that Sundar must feel after he comes to believe that his two closest companions in life have been unfaithful to him. The intensity of emotion is heightened by this song’s picturization: the camera captures close-up shots of facial expressions when Sundar sings the antara addressed to Gopal followed by the one addressed to Radha.  From watching this scene, it seems like you can cut the tension in the air with a knife! Although no one should ever have to endure being spurned like this in real life, we hope that the lyrics and English translation provided below will allow you to acquire a greater appreciation for one of Hindi cinema’s finest expressions of angst and betrayal that is still a fan-favorite today.

-Mr. 55
Vijayantimala quietly endures Raj Kapoor’s misguided accusations of infidelity in Sangam (1965)

Dost Dost Na Raha: Lyrics and Translation

dost dost na rahaa, pyaar na pyaar rahaa
My friend no longer remains a friend; my love no longer remains love.
zindagii, hame.n teraa aitbaar na rahaa 
Life, I have lost my faith in you.

amaanate.n mai.n pyaar kii gayaa thaa jisko sau.np kar
The one to whom I entrusted my belongings of love,
vah, mere dost, tum hii the, tum hii to the 
My friend, you were him. Only you.
jo zindagii kii raah me.n bane the mere hamsafar 
The one who had become my fellow traveler in the journey of life,
vah mere dost tum hii the, tum hii to the 
My friend, you were him. Only you.
saare bhed khul gaye, raazdaar na rahaa 
All my secrets are now exposed, the secret-bearer no longer remains.
zindagii, hame.n teraa aitbaar na rahaa
Life, I have lost my faith in you.

gale lagii saham saham, bhare gale se boltii
The one who embraced me fearfully while speaking in a somber voice,
vah tum na thii.n to kaun thaa? tum hii to thii.n
If she wasn’t you, then who was she? It was only you. 
safar ke vaqt me.n palak pe motiyo.n ko toltii 
The one who shed tears of pearls at the parting hour,
vah tum na thii.n to kaun thaa? tum hii to thii.n 
If she wasn’t you, then who was she? It was only you. 
nashe kii raat Dhal gayii, ab khumaar na rahaa
The night of intoxication is over, the inebriation no longer remains.
zindagii, hame.n teraa aitbaar na rahaa
Life, I have lost my faith in you.

vafaa kaa leke naam jo dhaDak rahe the har ghaDii
The one who beat each moment in the name of faithfulness
vah, mere nek nek dil, tum hii to ho
My good heart, you are it.
jo muskuraake rah gaye zahar kii jab suii gaDii
The one who continued to smile when pierced with a needle of poison
vah, mere nek nek dil, tum hii to ho
My good heart, you are it.
ab kisii kaa, mere dil, intazaar na rahaa
Now, my heart, I am not waiting for anyone.
zindagii, hame.n teraa aitbaar na rahaa
Life, I have lost my faith in you.

dost dost na rahaa, pyaar na pyaar rahaa
My friend no longer remains a friend; my love no longer remains love.

Glossary

aitbaar: trust, faith; amaanat: property, belongings; sau.npnaa: to entrust, hand over; hamsafar: traveler, companion; bhed: secret; raazdaar: secret-bearer; gale lagnaa: to embrace; saham: fearfully; bharaa galaa: somber voice; palak: eyelid; motiyaa.n: pearls; tolnaa: to weigh; nashaa: intoxication; khumaar: inebriation; vafaa: faithfulness; dhaDaknaa: to beat; nek: good, worthy; zahar: poison, suii: needle; gaDnaa: to pierce, thrust in; intazaar: wait.

Rajendra Kumar, with a distressed and guilty expression, listens to Raj Kapoor’s allegations of disloyalty during this song from Sangam (1965).

Nigahein Milane Ko Jee Chahta Hai Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Who wouldn’t want to exchange glances with those eyes?

For today’s post, we showcase the lyrics and English translation of “Nigahen Milane To” from the film Dil Hi To Hai (1963). If I had to name my favorite actress from the Golden Era of Bollywood cinema, I think that I would pick Nutan.

As one of the beloved goddesses of India’s silver screen, Nutan starred in many evergreen films from the 1950s and 1960s, including Paying Guest (1957), Anari (1959), Bandini (1963), and Milan (1967), just to name a few. In my opinion, there’s something special about Nutan’s performances that sets her apart from her peers. She played her roles with a dignified beauty, a restrained grace, and an acute intelligence that was difficult to find in other actresses of the time. Here, I’ve chosen to translate a song from Dil Hi To Hai (1963), a charming Bollywood romance that is enjoyable to watch even though it is one of Nutan’s lesser-known films.

Nutan stars in Dil Hi To Hai as Jamila, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy London-based banker. Here, Raj Kapoor departs from the image established in his previous films by playing a comic double role as Jamila’s love interest Chand and Jamila’s aged music teacher Khan Sahab. While the film features some memorable performances by Nutan and Raj Kapoor, this film is probably even more memorable today for its soundtrack composed by music director Roshan. Two gems from this soundtrack have survived the test of time. The first is the Bhairavi-based classical number “laagaa chunarii me.n daag,” which is regarded as one of the best songs of Manna De’s career. The other gem is Asha Bhonsle’s exquisitely rendered Yaman qawwalinigaahe.n milaane ko jii chahtaa hai,” which I have translated here.

Penned by Sahir Ludhianvi, this qawwali centers around a woman’s desire to exchange glances with her beloved. The romanticization of eyes and sight is a common theme found in Bollywood films, and the poetry in this song is one of this era’s most cherished portrayals of this theme. The song’s charm is enhanced by the use of Urdu vocabulary (e.g. tahumat and tamhiid) and Asha Bhonsle’s immaculate rendition. Don’t you just love the way she owns those octave glides during the sargam passage?

Mrs. 55 and I actually performed this qawwali at Harvard during the annual South Asian cultural show Ghungroo two years ago. One thing that we noticed after listening carefully to these lyrics during rehearsal is that there is some ambiguity in gender. While most of the song appears to be from a female perspective, we thought that lyrics take on a masculine role for the line starting with “jab kabhii mai.ne teraa chaand-saa chahraa dekhaa…” (Whenever my eyes have fallen upon your moon-like face…). In addition to the fact that the moon is traditionally used by males to describe feminine beauty (e.g. Mohammed Rafi’s “yeh chaa.nd-saa roshan chahraa“), Nutan’s gestures and body language become more masculine in nature in this segment of the song. In fact, as she sings these two lines, Nutan begins to walk with a manly gait and and then flirts with a female friend as if she is her male lover. We may have totally made this up in our heads, but it was not uncommon for such gender-bending to occur in Bollywood songs–a full post on this trend will be coming up soon! In any case, please enjoy this timeless qawwali while following along with our translation/glossary provided below, and remember to send us your requests for any other songs that you would like translated.

-Mr. 55
Nutan takes on the masculine role for a few lines in this qawwali

Nigahein Milane Ko Jee Chahta Hai Lyrics and Translation

raaz kii baat hai, mahfil me.n kahe yaa na kahe?
It is a secret matter; shall I share it in this gathering?
bas gayaa hai koii is dil me.n, kahe yaa na kahe?
Someone has begun to reside in my heart; shall I reveal this here?

nigaahe.n milaane ko jii chahtaa hai
I yearn to exchange glances with my beloved. 
dil-o-jaa.n luTaane ko jii chahtaa hai
I yearn to give away my heart and soul to him.  

woh tahumat jise “ishq” kahtii hai duniyaa
The allegation that the world calls “love,”
woh tahumat uThaane ko jii chahtaa hai
I yearn to accept that allegation.  

kisii ke manaane me.n lazzat woh paayi
Although I have experienced the pleasure of being appeased,   
ki phir ruuTh jaane ko jii chahtaa hai
I yearn to once again engage in a lovers’ tiff. 
 
woh jalvaa jo ojhal bhii hai saamne bhii
The splendor that vanishes and reappears in love, 
woh jalvaa churaane ko jii chahta hai
I yearn to steal that splendor.  
 
jis ghaDii merii nigaaho.n ko terii diid huii
The moment when our eyes first met,  
woh ghaDii mere liye aish kii tamhiid huii
That moment served as a prelude to happiness for me.  
jab kabhii mai.ne teraa chaa.nd-saa chahraa dekhaa.
Whenever my eyes have fallen upon your moon-like face, 
Eid ho ya ki na ho mere liye Eid huii
it is as if I am celebrating the holiday of Eid.  

ni re ga, ga re ga ni re ma, ma ga ma ni re ga
ga re ga ni ga re, re ga, ga ma, ma dha ni
sa sa ni ni dha dha pa pa ga re
sa ni dha pa ma ga re,
ni dha pa ma ga re sa ni, re ga 

mulaaqaat
kaa koii paighaam diije
Please send me a message about our next rendez-vous, 
ki chhup-chhup ke aane ko jii chahtaa hai
Because I yearn to visit you secretly, 
aur aake na jaane ko jii chahtaa hai
And upon visiting you, I hope to never leave.  

nigaahe.n milaane ko jii chahtaa hai
I yearn to exchange glances with my beloved. 


Glossary

raaz: secret; mahfil: gathering; nigaahe.n: eyes; dil-o-jaan: heart and soul; tahumat: allegation; manaanaa: to appease; lazzat: pleasure; jalvaa: splendor,charm; ojhal: vanished; diid: sighting, gaze; aish: joy, happiness; tamhiid: prelude, preamble; Eid: Islamic festival celebrating the end of Ramadan; mulaaqaat: meeting, rendez-vous; chhup-chhup ke: secretly; paighaam: message.

Nutan leads the chorus with an enchanting smile in Dil Hi To Hai (1963)

Rabindranath Tagore’s Influence on S.D. Burman

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and S.D. Burman (1906-1975)

Due to my upbringing in a Bengali household, I am intimately familiar with Rabindra-sangeet: the genre of songs written and composed by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. As a composer, artist, novelist, playwright, poet, and philosopher, Tagore has left a lasting legacy on Indian culture through his vast collection of works in a variety of mediums. Although the purism and simplicity of Tagore’s style might suggest that Bollywood is an inappropriate forum to celebrate his art, several music directors from the Golden Age of Hindi cinema have been known to use Tagore songs as inspirations for their musical compositions. The music director who is most well-known for this practice is none other than the illustrious S.D Burman. S.D. Burman is one of the most succesful music directors in the history of the Bollywood industry, and his songs from films such as Bandini (1963), Guide (1965), Jewel Thief (1967), and Aradhana (1969) are still considered all-time classics today. His filmi compositions tend to draw upon inspiration from Bengali folk traditions (e.g. bhatiaalii, saari, etc. ), but here I’d like to draw your attention to a collection of S.D. Burman compositions that are derived from Rabindra-sangeet:

meraa sundar sapnaa biit gayaa (Do Bhai, 1949): From one of S.D. Burman’s first hit scores in the Bollywood industry, this song is considered to be Geeta Dutt’s breakthrough as a playback singer in Hindi films. The mukhDaa of this song is inspired by a Bilaaval-based Tagore composition called “radono bharaa e basonto.” Geeta does an excellent job of expressing the sorrow and pain of this song with her voice, and it is truly unfortunate that the lyrics here would become a reality for her during her tumultuous marriage to Guru Dutt in the next decade.

Playback singer Geeta Dutt (1930-1972) with her husband Guru Dutt (1925-1964)

nain diivaane (Afsar, 1950): This Pilu-based composition is skilfully rendered by Suraiyya, a leading singer/actress who became a huge sensation in Bollywood during the 1940s. Bollywood as we know it today relies on actors and actresses lip-syncing songs sung by playback singers; however, in its very early days, actresses like Suraiyya used to sing their own songs for films. In spite of their dual talents, singer-actresses were not able to survive the onslaught of the Mangeshkar monopoly in the 1950s, and the playback singing paradigm became the standard that is still maintained today in the industry. In any case, this song is based on an extremely popular Tagore composition called “sediin duujane duulechhiinuu bone.” S.D. Burman literally did a copy-paste job here, as the melody of the entire Hindi song is identical to the Bengali original. While loosely basing a mukhDaa on a previous composition is somewhat acceptable, recycling a whole song written by another composer begs the question: should S.D. Burman have given credit to Tagore for this composition?

Singer/actress Suraiyya (1929-2004)

 

 jaaye.n to jaaye.n kahaa.n? (Taxi Driver, 1954): S.D. Burman won his first Filmfare Award for Best Music Director for this song from Taxi Driver in 1954. As is often the case, the male version of the song (sung by Talat Mehmood) is more popular than the female version (sung by Lata Mangeshkar). Although S.D. Burman modified the raga of his composition to more closely resemble Jaunpuri, the first line of the mukhDaa is instantly recognizable as the main phrase from Tagore’s Bhairavi-based classic  “ he khoniiker otiithhii.” Note that the Tagore original that I have provided here is sung by Hemanta Mukherjee (a.k.a Hemant Kumar), who, in addition to achieving fame as a Hindi playback singer/music director, was known for his beautiful renditions of Rabindra-sangeet in Bengali.

jalte hai.n jiske liye: (Sujata, 1959): This probably qualifies as my favorite “telephone song” from a Hindi film. Here, Sunil Dutt woos Nutan over the phone with this gem as he croons to Talat Mehmood’s silky vocals on playback (notice the characteristic quiver that we know and love!). Although this composition is often considered an all-time classic song of romance, fans of this song may be surprised to know that the mukhDaa is taken directly from a Tagore composition named “ekodaa tumii priye.”

Sunil Dutt serenades Nutan over the telephone with “jalte hai.n jiske liye” in Sujata (1959)

meghaa chhaye aadhii raat (Sharmilee, 1971): Out of all the compositions listed here, the inspiration from Tagore is the most difficult to hear in this song because it does not involve the mukhDaa. Rather, S.D. Burman seems to have inserted a small segment of  laho laho tuule laho (0:26-0:40) into the antara of this raga Patdeep-based classic from Sharmilee. What a trickster, huh?

tere mere milan kii yeh rainaa (Abhimaan, 1973): By far, this is the most famous example where  S.D. Burman has been inspired by Rabindra-sangeet.  In his last hit film score (for which he won his second  Filmfare Award for Best Music Director), S.D. Burman recycles the mukhDaa from Tagore’s Mishra Khamaj-based “jodii taare nai chiinii go sekii?” in this evergreen duet of Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. Burman’s antaras are a beautiful addition to the original composition, so we won’t give him too much trouble for his rehashing of Tagore here. Note that the Bengali original that I have linked to here is sung by Kishore Kumar, another Hindi playback singer who was famous for his renditions of Rabindra-sangeet in Bengal.

Amitabh and Jaya Bacchan sing the duet “tere mere milan kii yeh raina” on stage during the climax of Abhimaan (1973).

Although S.D. Burman was often inspired by Tagore in his compositions, he never recorded or sang a single piece of Rabindra-sangeet throughout his career. The reason behind this is, of course, family feuding–an unavoidable staple of all things related to Indian culture. Here’s the story: S.D Burman’s father Nabadwip Chandra Dev Burman was set to be the direct heir to the throne of Tripura when the current king passed away in 1862. However, the crown went to Nabadwip’s paternal uncle Birchandra Dev Burman due to some dirty palace politics. Because Rabindranath Tagore had a very close relationship with Birchandra Dev Burman, S.D. Burman avoided meeting Tagore throughout his lifetime and refused to perform Rabindra-sangeet out of principle. Nevertheless, in spite of this tiff, it is undeniable that S.D. Burman had a great deal of respect for Tagore as a musician given the influence of Rabindra-sangeet on his compositions.

–Mr. 55