Yeh Mera Prem Patra Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Yeh Mera Prem Patra Sangam Rajendra kumar vijayantimala
Vijayantimala reads a love letter from her childhood sweetheart Rajendra Kumar in “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” from Sangam (1964).

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our fans! In celebration of this romantic holiday, we present the lyrics and English translation to one of our favorite love songs, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” from the hit film Sangam (1964). Radha (played by Vijayantimala) and Gopal (played by Rajendra Kumar) play two childhood lovers who have kept their feelings hidden because of Kumar’s best friend, Sundar (played by Raj Kapoor), who has professed his unwavering devotion to Radha for years. Although Radha spurns Sundar’s love, Sundar begs his best friend Gopal to make sure no other man spoils his chances when Sundar is called to serve in the air force on the northern front.

But then! Sundar is killed while serving his country–and in their shared mourning, Radha and Gopal can finally express their undying love for one another. A shining moment in Mohammed Rafi’s career, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” is their outpouring of uninhibited romance. With a heavenly chorus in the air that highlights the dream-like world in which the two now find themselves, Radha runs across an open meadow to Gopal as he writes her a love letter. In fact, she is so eager to discover what he has written, that her sari falls from her shoulder in her haste, revealing the front of her blouse.

Let’s pause right here. For anyone uninitiated to classic Hindi films, believe me when I say, this NEVER happens. The heroine in classic Bollywood would never let her sari fall so revealingly, and surprisingly, Radha makes NO moves to adjust it. The scene is filmed brilliantly–because of the camera’s position, the sari show is purely for the viewer to ponder–Gopal is facing the audience and cannot see what we have all noticed. It’s as if the director, Raj Kapoor, is telling us that the romance we are witnessing is not purely chaste. And indeed, the like the Radha-Gopal of Hindu mythology, the film’s two lovers are not to be destined for eternal bliss.

Yeh Mera Prem Patra sari tussle
ABOVE: Vijayantimala quietly approaches Rajendra Kumar with her sari having fallen off her shoulder. BELOW: Rajendra Kumar and Vijayantimala tussle for the end of her sari playfully while the low camera height emphasizes the beautiful open skies.

The song references the famous Ganga and Jamuna rivers from whose geographical confluence with the river Saraswati (sangam), the film derives its name. The triangular symbolism and references to the sangam is evoked throughout the film, with each character embodying one of the three ancient rivers. Sangam made history as Raj Kapoor’s first technicolour film and one of the first Bollywood films to be shot in exotic locals such as Venice, Paris and Switzerland.

But beneath all the glitter, did you know there’s actually true love story behind this sweet poem? At the age of 20, the famed Urdu lyricist of “Yeh Mera Prem Patra,” Hasrat Jaipuri, fell in love his own Radha, a young Hindu woman from hometown in Jaipur. Though they never married, she would inspire many of his greatest poems. Jaipuri later recalled fondly in an interview:

“Meri haveli ke samne, ek badi khoobsurat ladki rehti jiska naam tha Radha. Aur ishq ka mahzab se, zaat paat se, koi taaluq nahii.N. Kisi se bhi ho sakta hai, kisi se bhi kiya jaa sakta hai. To mera unse pyaar hua. Taalim maine sher-o-shayari ki, mere naanaa madhoom/manhoom se haasil ki?, lekin ishq ka sabak jo hai, woh Radha ne padhaayaa ki ishq kya cheez hai.”

[“Near my home a very beautiful girl lived named Radha. And neither religion nor caste and creed have any power over love. It can happen with anyone and it can happen to anyone. And so I fell in love with her. I may have trained in poetry from my grandfather, but the lesson of love was taught by Radha.”]

“Yeh Mera Prem Patra” is the very love letter that Jaipuri wrote to his real life Radha–more than 20 years before Raj Kapoor would use the same sweet poem in Sangam! So this Valentine’s Day, we at Mr. and Mrs. 55 recommend you do something old-fashioned and write your special someone a romantic love letter! For inspiration, soak up Hasrat Jaipuri’s shy, tender lyrics and our English translation to the sentimental love letter, “Yeh Mera Prem Patra” below!

Yeh Mera Prem Patra Lyrics and Translation:

Meherbaa.Nlikhuu.N? “Haseenaa” likhuu.N? Yaa “dilruubaa” likhuu.N?
Should I write “compassionate one”? Should I write “beautiful one”? Or should I write “beloved”?
Hairaan huu.N ki aap ko is khat mei.N kyaa likhuu.N
I am puzzled by what to write in this letter to you

Yeh meraa prem patra paDh kar, ki tum naaraaz na honaa
When you read this love letter of mine, may you not be angry
ki tum merii zindagii ho, ki tum merii bandagii ho
For you are my life, for you are my prayer

Tujhe mai.N chaand kehtaa thaa, magar us mei.N bhi daagh hai
I used to call you the moon, but in the moon are blemishes
Tujhe suraj mai.n kehtaa thaa, magar us mei.N bhi aag hai
I used to call you the sun, but in the sun is ablaze
Tujhe itnaa hii kehta huu.N ki mujhko tumse pyaar hai, tumse pyaar hai, tumse pyaar hai
I tell you only this that I love you, I love you, I love you

Tujhe Gangaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa, tujhe Jamunaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa
I will think of you as the Ganges River, I will think of you as the Jamuna River
Tu dil ke paas hai itnii, tujhe apnaa mai.N samajhuu.Ngaa
You are so close to my heart, I will think of you as my own
Agar mar jaauu.N ruuh bhaTakegii tere intezaar mei.N, intezaar mei.N, intezaar mein
If I die, my soul will wander waiting for you, waiting for you, waiting for you

Yeh meraa prem patra paDh kar, ki tum naraaz na honaa
When you read this love letter of mine, may you not be angry
ki tum merii zindagii ho, ki tum merii bandagii ho
For you are my life, for you are my prayer

Glossary:

meherbaa.N: compassionate one; likhnaa: to write; haseenaa: beautiful lady; dilruuba: lover; hairaan: puzzled, stunned; khat: letter; prem: love; patra: letter; paDhnaa: to read; naaraaz: angry; zindagii: life; bandagii: prayer; chaand: moon; daagh: flaw, blemish; suraj: sun; aag: fire; pyaar: love; Gangaa: Ganges River; Jamunaa: Jamunaa River; dil: heart; [kisi ke] paas: to be nearby [something]; mar jaanaa: to die; ruuh: soul; bhaTaknaa: to wander; intezaar: wait

romance in the garden
Rajendra Kumar and Vijayantimala romance each other in a sunlit garden in Sangam (1964). For once in his life, Rajendra Kumar’s outfit of choice adds to the ambiance rather than destroys.

One of my favorite moments both musically and cinematically in this song comes at the very end when Lata Mangeshkar picks up the chorus over a beautiful wide tracking shot of the lovebirds walking hand-in-hand in the Elysian forest. This heavenly moment can only be seen and heard in the movie, it was tragically cut from the record version we know so well!

Mrs. 55 wedding
As promised, here is a photograph of Mrs. 55 finally marrying her college sweetheart last December!
Mrs. 55 adab arz
Adab arz hai! This love poem is dedicated to my very romantic new husband and personal Bollywood hero!

Soon after this song, Sundar surprises the couple by returning from war alive! Sundar then marries Radha because his devoutly loyal friend Gopal is unable to tell him his true feelings (like a typical Bollywood bromance, don’t you just love how the woman has basically ZERO say in all this?). Inevitably, of course, the famous love letter is later discovered and Raj Kapoor is heartbroken. See our English translation of the epic self-pitying “Dost Dost Na Raha” for more of the drama that unfolds!

But let us temporarily forget all that on this lovely Valentine’s Day. This beautiful ode was requested by dedicated fan Inderjit Wassi! Thank you for the poetic request!

– Mrs. 55

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Bharat Bhushan Barsaat Ki Raat qawwali

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

MALE:

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

FEMALE:

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

MALE:

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

FEMALE:
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

MALE:

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

MALE:
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

FEMALE:
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?

MALE:
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

Glossary:

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)