Ek Radha Ek Meera Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Mandakini
Mandakini made her controversial debut as the heroine in Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi (1985).

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to ek radhaa ek miiraa from Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi (1985), the last film directed by the legendary actor-director Raj Kapoor.

Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi served as the debut for actress Mandakini, who was featured in two controversial scenes that raised eyebrows at the time of the film’s release. In true Raj Kapoor fashion, one of these scenes depicts a scantily clad Mandakini under a waterfall in a transparent white sari. Given all of the recent controversy over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavat (2018), it makes you wonder what Raj Kapoor had to do to get such a scene approved by the Censor Board?

In this film, the River Ganges serves as a metaphor for the corruption of Indian society, as it flows from the pure heights of the Gangotri Glacier down to the devastatingly polluted banks of Calcutta. When the film’s heroine (naturally named Ganga) makes her journey from Gangotri to Calcutta, her honor is symbolically tainted at every step – by a woman who leads her to a brothel, a priest who attempts to ritually rape her, and a blind man who coerces her into life as a courtesan. In parallel to the pollution of the River Ganges, Ganga’s innocence is sullied by behavior that reflects the darkest facets of human nature.

The film’s soundtrack composed by Ravindra Jain features several hits by Lata Mangeshkar and Suresh Wadkar, but the Raga Kirwani-based ek radhaa ek miiraa is arguably the most memorable song of the group.  This song highlights a common trope employed in the realm of Hindi films: the mythological juxtaposition of Lord Krishna’s consort Radha against 16th-century mystic poet Meera Bai. Although both women are known for their utmost devotion to Lord Krishna, the lyrics of this song beautifully capture the nuances that set their feelings apart.

One more song that depicts the Radha versus Meera juxtaposition is another Ravindra Jain favorite shyam terii bansii pukare radhaa naam sung by Arati Mukherjee in Geet Gata Chal (1975).

At the end of the day, we’re dying to know one thing: are you #TeamMeera or #TeamRadha? Tell us in the comments!

-Mr. ’55
Mandakini
Born Yasmeen Joseph, she was given the stage name Mandakini by Raj Kapoor for her  film debut.

Ek Radha Ek Meera: Lyrics and English Translation

ik raadhaa ik miiraa, dono.n ne shyaam ko chaahaa
Radha and Meera both loved Krishna.
antar kyaa dono.n kii chaaha me.n bolo?
What was the difference in their love?
ik prem divaanii, ik daras diivaanii
One desired his love, the other desired his glance.

raadhaa ne madhuban me.n DhuunDaa
Radha searched for Krishna in the honey gardens,
miiraa ne man me.n paayaa
while Meera found him in her heart.
raadhaa jise kho baiThii voh govind
When Radha lost Krishna, 
miira haath bik aaya
he fell into Meera’s hands. 
ik murlii ik paayal, ik paglii ik ghaayal
One flute and an anklet, one madwoman and a wounded lover.
antar kyaa dono.n kii priit me.n bolo?
What was the difference in their love?
ik suurat lubhaanii, ik muurat lubhaanii
One desired his beautiful face, the other admired his idol.

miira ke prabhuu girdhar naagar, raadhaa ke manmohan
Krishna was Meera’s Lord and Radha’s beloved consort

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

miira ke prabhuu girdhar naagar, raadhaa ke manmohan
Krishna was Meera’s Lord and Radha’s beloved consort
raadhaa nit shringaar kare aur miiraa ban gayii jogan
While Radha adorned herself with ornaments, Meera became an ascetic.  
ik raanii ik daasii, dono harii prem kii pyaasii
One queen and one maid, both longed for Krishna’s love.
antar kyaa dono.n kii triptii me.n bolo?
What was the difference in their fulfillment?
ik jiit na maane, ik haar na maane
One could not accept victory, the other could not accept defeat.

ik raadhaa ik miiraa dono.n ne shyaam ko chaahaa
Radha and Meera both loved Krishna.

Glossary:

raadhaa: Lord Krishna’s mythological consort; miiraa: 16th-century Hindu mystic poet and devotee of Lord Krishna; shyaam: dark-skinned one, a name for Lord Krishna; antar: difference; daras: glimpse, glance; madhuban: honey garden; khonaa: to lose; govind: a name for Lord Krishna; murlii: flute; paayal: anklet; paglii: madwoman, ghaayal: wounded; suurat: face; lubhaanaa: to desire, admire; muurat: idol; prabhuu: lord; girdhar: one who lifts the mountain, a name for Krishna; manmohan: one who pleases the mind, a name for Lord Krishna; nit: always; shringaar karnaa: to adorn, often with ornaments; jogan: female ascetic; raanii: queen; daasii: maid, slave; harii: a name of Lord Krishna; triptii: fulfillment, satisfaction; jiit: victory; haar: defeat, loss.

Rajiv Kapoor
Rajiv Kapoor, Raj Kapoor’s youngest son, stars as the hero who falls in love with Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili Ho Gayi (1985).
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Jaane Kaise Sapnon Mein Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Two Bharat Ratnas come together: Pt. Ravi Shankar and Lata Mangeshkar

Today, we present a guest blog entry by one of our favorite readers Pothik Chatterjee:

“The classical sun of India has set and a darkness has come over. There is no artist who spread Indian music this rapidly across the world.”

–Lata Mangeshkar, on the passing of Ravi Shankar

Legendary Indian classical musician and composer Pandit Ravi Shankar, passed away recently on December 11, 2012 at the age of 92 near his home in Encinitas, California. Shankar, a winner of the prestigious Bharat Ratna award, was a proponent of  “world music” before the term became fashionable in the field. He is most famous in the West for his collaborations with violin virtuouso Yehudi Menuhin, minimalist composer Phillip Glass, and Beatles singer George Harrison. Shankar’s legacy is a testament to the fact that truly great music can overcome cultural barriers and achieve appreciation on a universal scale.

In 2006, I received the opportunity to hear Pandit-ji and his daughter Anoushka Shankar perform live in Washington D.C.  It was a sublime musical experience that I cherish fondly to this day. Even as a child, I have memories of watching Satyajit Ray’s film, Pather Panchali (1955)  and being moved to tears by the touching story of a Bengali family in rural India. The soundtrack that Shankar composed for Ray’s film and the entire Apu Trilogy was so powerful and emotionally stirring that it could be regarded as one of the film’s major characters in itself. Shankar also composed the soundtrack for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi, earning him a coveted Oscar nomination.

Pt. Ravi Shankar teaches George Harrison on the sitar.

It is less well-known that that Pandit-ji also composed a handful of soundtracks in the arena of Bollywood cinema, including Anuradha (1960), Godaan (1963) and Meera (1979). As a tribute to Ravi Shankar’s contributions to Hindi film music, we provide the lyrics and English translation for jaane kaise sapno.n me.n from Anuradha (1960). Directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, this film is based on a short story by Sachin Bhowmick that was originally inspired by Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary. The film tells the story of  Anuradha (played by Leela Naidu), who goes against her father’s wishes by marrying an idealistic doctor (Balraj Sahni). Anuradha sacrifices her singing career to move to the village with her husband, and the film depicts her ensuing feelings of marginalization and entrapment.

The soundtrack to this film is especially memorable for Ravi Shankar’s collaboration with Lata Mangeshkar. Lata navigates effortlessly through the difficult classical compositions of this soundtrack, matching Shankar’s musical genius every step of the way. In this particular song, Shankar crafts a pleasant melody based on raga Tilak Shyam, a hybrid creation of Pandit-ji himself that fuses the evening ragas Tilak Kamod and Shyam Kalyan. Appropriately enough, the picturization here depicts the beautiful and expressive Leela Naidu walking with Balraj Sahni through a grove of coconut trees in the evening with the sun setting behind them.  As a joyous and exuberant raga, Tilak Shyam is often performed at a fast tempo, evoking a sense of romantic delirium that is also reflected in this song’s lyrics penned by Shailendra.

Leela Naidu makes her debut as a Bollywood heroine in Anuradha (1960)

Even diehard fans of vintage Hindi cinema may not recognize the name Leela Naidu. Born to an Indian father and Irish-French mother, Naidu received an elite education in Switzerland and began her training as an actress under the renowned French director Jean Renoir. In 1954, she was named Miss India and made Vogue magazine’s top ten list of most beautiful women in the world. In 1960, Naidu made her Bollywood debut in Anuradha. However, despite her beauty and competence as an actress, she failed to achieve success in the Bollywood industry. There are some interesting parallels between Shankar and Naidu’s experiences in Hindi cinema: the Western exposure and upbringing of both artists alienated them as outsiders in some ways, and this may have prevented them from reaching their full potential in the industry. Perhaps they could only be fully appreciated by the classes, and not the masses of Bollywood fans.

On the other hand, Ravi Shankar did command immense respect from the music directors and singers in the Hindi film world. Such was his aura that when music director Ravi (of Chaudhvin ka Chand fame) entered the film industry, he happily gave up the last part of his name out of reverence. Initially, he was called Ravi Shankar but he did not want to be confused with Pandit-ji.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with an interesting tidbit of controversy about Ravi Shankar and Lata Mangeshkar that originated from their work together during the recordings for Anuradha. Because Lata had failed to show up to one of her recording sessions for the this film without prior notice, tensions flared between these two legendary artists. Years later, Ravi Shankar returned to mainstream Hindi cinema in 1979 to compose the music of Gulzar’s directorial venture Meera. In place of Bollywood’s reigning playback queen, Vani Jairam sang all the compositions on this soundtrack, and she even received a Filmfare Award for her work! Clearly, it doesn’t always pay to be a diva…

-Pothik Chatterjee (@pothik on Twitter)

Jaane Kaise Sapnon Mein: Lyrics and Translation

jaane kaise sapno.n me.n kho gayii.n a.nkhiiyaa.n?
Who knows in which dreams my eyes have become lost?
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have fallen asleep.

ajab diivaanii bhayii, mose a.njaanii bhayii
My eyes have become wondrously mad and unfamiliar to me.
pal me.n parayii dekho ho gayii.n a.nkhiiyaa.n
in a moment, my own eyes have turned into strangers.
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have gone to sleep.

barsii yah kaisii dhaaraa, kaa.npe tan-man saaraa
Such a torrent has rained upon me that my entire body and soul is quivering.
ra.ng se a.ng bhigo gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
Along with my body, my eyes have become soaked in color.
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have gone to sleep.

man ujiyaaraa chhaayaa, jag ujiyaaraa chhayaa
When my mind was illuminated, the world lit up.
jag-mag diip sanjo gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
The glimmering candles in my eyes have become enshrined.
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have gone to sleep.

koii man bhaa gayaa, jaaduu vah chalaa gayaa
Someone has pleased my mind; he has cast his magic upon me.
man ke do motiyaa.n piro gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
The two pearls of my mind have been joined together as my eyes.
mai.n to huu.n jaagii, morii so gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n
I am awake, yet my eyes have gone to sleep.

jaane kaise sapno.n me.n kho gayii.n a.nkhiyaa.n?
Who knows in which dreams my eyes have become lost?

Glossary:

sapnaa: dream; kho jaanaa: to become lost; a.nkhiiyaa.n: eyes; morii: my, an archaic form of merii; jaagii: awake; so jaanaa: to go to sleep; ajab: strange, wondrous; diivaanaa: mad, crazy; mose: from/to me, an archaic form of mujhse; anjaanii: unknown, unfamiliar; paraayaa: stranger, foreign; barasnaa: to rain; dhaaraa: torrent, tide; kaa.npnaa: to quiver; tan-man: body and soul; a.ng: body; bhigo jaanaa: to become soaked; ujiyaaraa chhanaa: to be illuminated, to light up; jag-mag: glimmering; diip: candle; sanjo jaanaa: to become enshrined; man bhaanaa: to please the mind; jaaduu chalaanaa: to cast magic; motii: pearl; piro jaanaa: to be joined together.

Leela Naidu experiences her first love with Balraj Sahni in Anuradha (1960)
Leela Naidu experiences her first love with Balraj Sahni in Anuradha (1960)

Meera Bhajans as Film Songs: The Saintlier Side of Bollywood

Meera-bai (c. 1498-1547 A.D) was a mystical poet and devotee of Lord Krishna

When most people think of Bollywood cinema, they usually think of extravagant costumes, seductive dance moves, and lots of melodramatic overacting. While all this extravagance is certainly an integral aspect of the industry, you may be surprised to learn about a saintlier side of Bollywood that I will discuss here today: the use of Meera-bai’s texts in Hindi film music.

Meera-bai was a 16th-century mystic whose devotion to Lord Krishna has been immortalized in Indian culture through her poetry and bhajans (religious songs). Meera, a Rajput princess, was married off to a prince at young age, but this marriage did not satisfy her as she already  considered herself the spouse of Lord Krishna. Her husband died in battle soon after their marriage and Meera became a widow at an early age. Meera transformed her grief into spiritual devotion and wrote many poems in praise of Lord Krishna.  In her texts, she worships Krishna from the perspective of a lover longing for union: romantic on one level and spiritual on another. Although her undying devotion to Krishna was initially a private matter, public moments of spiritual ecstasy soon outed her to society. Eventually, her brother-in-law became displeased with her excessive devotion for Krishna and made several attempts on Meera’s life. The most well-known story describes how he poisoned Meera’s prasad and made her drink it, but the Lord transformed the poison into amrit (spiritual nectar) to save her life.

Meera-bai’s texts express themes that are highly pertinent to  heroines in Hindi cinema from the Golden Era. Interpreting and contextualizing Meera’s love for Lord Krishna can be a challenging task, however, because of its apparently paradoxical relationship to acceptable gender norms for women at the time. On one hand, Meera could be considered the ideal Indian woman for the eternal devotion she displays toward her lover–in this case, Lord Krishna–in spite of all the obstacles placed in her way. The type of selfless devotion and sacrifice Meera-bai displays toward Krishna is the same type of devotion that Indian women in the chauvinistic climate of the ’50s and ’60s were expected to provide their husbands.  On the other hand, Meera-bai actually subverts the typical pativrata norms established by Indian society because her devotion is misplaced. Instead of serving her human husband, Meera devotes all of her love to Krishna, which is inconsistent with society’s expectations for the dutiful and virtuous Indian wife. This is further complicated by the fact that Meera, in her mind, actually considered herself to be the wife of Krishna (and supposedly conducted a marriage ceremony with a Krishna idol at a temple).

In any case, it is undeniable that Meera’s texts contain universal themes about love, pain, and devotion that have permeated several mediums of the South Asian cultural sphere. Here, let’s analyze a couple of examples in order to see how Meera’s words have been used in the context of Hindi film songs:

pag ghungruu bandh miiraa nachii re (Meera, 1947): Meera (1947) is a rare treat for lovers of Bollywood films because it is the only Hindi film ever made that features M.S. Subbulakshmi as both an actress and playback singer. M.S. Subbulakshmi, who was the first musician to be awarded the prestigious Bharat Ratna, is one of the most renowned vocalists in the history of the Carnatic musical tradition. Her singing is ethereal and sublime, and many people have praised her by saying she is modern-day personification of Meera-bai herself! Although she retired from films early in her career to pursue classical concert music, her portrayal of Meera in this film is remembered to this day for its natural and pure expression of spiritual divinity.  Words don’t do this woman justice, so just click the link and take a listen for yourself. I’ve selected one of about 20 Meera bhajans that are found in the film; in this particular poem, Meera uses the metaphor of dance to describe her love for the Lord. You may have noticed that the first line of this bhajan was used in another (much less saintly) Bollywood classic rendered by Kishore Kumar and composed by Bappi Lahiri from Namak Halaal (1982) decades later.

M.S. Subbulakshmi embodies the spiritual divinity of Meera-bai in the 1947 Hindi remake of the Tamil film Meera. 

ghunghaT ke paT khol re, tohe piiyaa mile.nge (Jogan, 1950): I have always thought that one of Geeta Dutt’s strengths as a singer was her rendition of bhajans. She shines here in this Raga Jaunpuri-based devotional composed by Bulo C Rani that has some beautiful words penned by Meera-bai. Literally, the first line translates roughly as  “remove your veil so that you can get a glimpse of your beloved.” However, on a deeper level, Meera-bai is using the veil as a metaphor for ignorance–she is asking us to remove our veils of ignorance so that we can be closer to the Lord.

erii mai.n to prem divaanii, meraa dard na jaane koii (Nau Bahar, 1952): Lata Mangeshkar is brilliant in her rendition of this Raga Bhimpalasi-based bhajan composed by Roshan and picturized on Nalini Jaywant  in Nau Bahar. Inspired by a Meera-bai poem, the words here describe how Meera’s devotion to the Lord can is best expressed through love, as she is unfamiliar with the traditional rites and rituals of worship.

 jo tum toDo piiyaa, mai.n naahii.n toDuu.n  (Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, 1955):  V. Shantaram’s Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje was one of India’s first technicolor films when it was released in 1955.  In this Filmfare award-winning film, when the character played by Sandhya fears that she has destroyed her beloved’s (played by Gopi Krishna) dancing career, she becomes so depressed that she decides to reject all wordly pleasures and become an ascetic like Meera-bai. This Bhairavi-based bhajan composed by Vasant Desai is rendered beautifully once again by Lata, who succeeds in expressing the sentiment of Meera’s words about unconditional devotion to her Lord even if he is not faithful to her.

piyaa ko milan kaise hoye rii, mai.n jaanuu.n naahii.n (Andolan, 1977)Asha Bhonsle tends to employ a lot of over-the-top histrionics in her songs, but music director Jaidev manages to get Asha at her pure, unadulterated best with this soulful composition from Andolan picturized on Neetu Singh.

mere to giriidhhar gopaal, duusro na koii  (Meera, 1979): Directed by lyricist Gulzar, this film is yet another Bollywood biopic about Meera-bai, and Hema Malini takes the starring role here. Despite high hopes, this film achieved only moderate success at the box office. However, the film’s soundtrack of  compositions by sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar has certainly left a memorable legacy. In this particular poem, Meera-bai’s words express her singular devotion to the Lord; there is no one else in the world for her except for her Lord Krishna. While Hema falls a little flat in her portrayal of Meera, Vani Jairam actually does a great job expressing the appropriate emotions needed in this rendition and in the rest of the songs on the soundtrack. However, as you may have suspected, Vani was not Ravi Shankar’s first choice of singer for this film–his first choice was none other than Lata Mangeshkar. Lata, however, turned him down, by using the following reasoning:

“How could I? I had already done Meera bhajans for my brother Hridaynath.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the non-filmi album of Meera bhajans released by Lata and Hridaynath. In fact, Lata’s rendition of a similar text  “mhara re giridhhar gopaal, duusra na koii” tuned by Hridaynath for this album is absolutely exquisite. However, her reasoning here doesn’t really make sense to me. Even before her album for Hridaynath, Lata had sung plenty of Meera bhajans for films (see above!) under the baton of other music directors, so I don’t see how this excuse constitutes a legitimate reason to refuse singing in this film. I suspect that her refusal had more to do with some lingering bad blood between her and Ravi Shankar from their prior collaboration on Anuradha (1960): apparently, tensions had flared between the two of them because Lata had failed to show up to a recording session of “saa.nvare saa.nvare” without prior notice. 

Hema Malini is way too attractive to pull off being an ascetic in Meera (1979)
 jo tum toDo piiyaa, mai.n naahii.n toDuu.n  (Silsila, 1981): Although this text is similar to the Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje song listed above, the melody is quite different because music directors Shiv-Hari have tuned this song to the Raga Chandrakauns, an underused raga that is quite rare in the filmi musical sphere. Lata, unfortunately, sounds a bit past her prime here, but this song is still memorable for Meera-bai’s words and their relevance to the contemporary situation at hand in the film. Similar to the real-life rumors that were rampant at this time, Jaya Bacchan’s character suspects that her husband (played by Amitabh Bacchan) is having an extramarital affair with another woman (played by Rekha). Meera-bai’s lyrics express the anguish and torment that Jaya feels in response to her husband’s infidelity, but she resolves to remain faithful to him even though he is not faithful to her. Interestingly, things also turned out this way in real life–Jaya stayed with Amitabh even though it was widely known within the film community that he had cheated on her with Rekha.
Jaya Bacchan laments her husband’s infidelity in Silsila (1981). Look at those eyes!
What are some of your favorite bhajans featured in Bollywood films? Let us know in the comments!
–Mr. 55