Khudaa-E-Bartar Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Our blog probably seems like one huge Sahir Ludhianvi love-fest by now, but I couldn’t help myself from posting and translating this beauty from Taj Mahal (1963). This song is from the same movie as “jurm-e-ulfat pe,” which I translated here a little while ago. While “jurm-e-ulfat pe” tackles the theme of forbidden love, the lesser-known “khudaa-e-bartar” discusses something that doesn’t get much coverage in the world of Bollywood: war. By posing a series of questions, Ludhianvi uses universal and timeless words here to express the futility of war. While the song directly pertains to the Mughal battles depicted in the film, I’ll go out on a limb and say that the pacifism expressed in these lyrics is also Ludhianvi’s response to India’s losses in the Sino-Indian War, which had ended only a year before this film was released.

In addition to its unique thematic content, this song stands out for its nuanced use of language. Such elevated Urdu is truly a rare treat in Hindi cinema. Seriously, when was the last time you heard a song with the words like hidaayat, kibr-o-ghuruur, or fatah-o-zafar? Perhaps my favorite thing about this song is its use of izaafat, a grammatical construct borrowed from Persian where two nouns or a noun and adjective are linked together with the vowel -e- or -o-. When the -e- vowel is used between two nouns, it can generally be translated as “of.” When the -o- vowel is used, it is translated as “and.” This song makes extensive use of izaafat, as evident in compound phrases like rasm-e-jang-o-jadaal (rules of war and disputes) and jashn-e-tiir-o-tafang (celebration of arrows and rifles). Super fancy, no?

Since almost every other word here is a vocab word, you’ll have to take a close look at the glossary below while you follow along with the song. But I guarantee that you’ll learn some new Urdu if you do–enjoy and let us know your thoughts about this song in the comments!

–Mr. 55

P.S. For the classical music enthusiasts out there, this composition is also remarkable for being one of the finest examples of Raga Miyan ki Todi used in a film song.

khudaa-e-bartar terii zamii.n par zamii.n kii khaatir, yeh jang kyo.n hai?
har ek fatah-o-zafar ke daaman pe khuun-e-insaa.n kaa rang kyo.n hai?

zamii.n bhii terii, hai.n ham bhii tere. yeh milkiiyat kaa savaal kyaa hai?
yeh qatl-o-khuu.n ka rivaaj kyo.n hai? yeh rasm-e-jang-o-jadaal kyaa hai?
jinhe.n talab hai jahaan bhar kii, unhii.n kaa dil itnaa tang kyo.n hai?

ghariib maao.n shariif bahno.n ko aman-o-izzat kii zindagii de
jinhe.n ataa kii hai tuu ne taaqat, unhe.n hidaayat kii roshnii de
saro.n me.n kibr-o-ghuruur kyo.n hai? dilo.n ke shiishe pe zang kyo.n hai?

qazaa ke raste pe jaanevaalo.n ko bach ke aane ki raah denaa
dilo.n ke gulshan ujaD na jaaye.n, muhabbato.n ko panaah denaa
jahaa.n me.n jashn-e-vafaa ke badle, yeh jashn-e-tiir-o-tafang kyo.n hai?

khudaa-e-bartar terii zamii.n par zamii.n kii khaatir, yeh jang kyo.n hai?

: superior Lord; zamii.n: land, world; jang: war; fatah-o-zafar: victories and triumphs; daaman: foothills; khuun-e-insaa.n: human blood; milkiiyat: ownership; qatl-e-khuu.n: murders and blood; rivaaj: tradition; rasm-e-jang-o-jadaal: rules of war and disuptes; talab: need, desire; jahaan: world; tang: troubled; ghariib: poor; shariif: noble; aman-o-izzat: peace and respect; ataa karna: to bless; taaqat: strength, courage; hidaayat: guidance; roshnii: light; kibr-o-ghuruur: pride and arrogance; shiishaa: mirror; qazaa: death; bach ke aanaa: to escape; gulshan: garden; ujaD jaana: to be uprooted; panaah: shelter; jashn-e-vafaa: celebration of love; jashn-e-tiir-o-tafang: celebration of arrows and rifles

Rough Translation:
O superior Lord, why is there this war over land in your world? Why does human blood stain the foothills of every victory and triumph?

This land is yours, and we are yours. Then, what is this question of ownership and possession? What are these traditions of bloody murder? What are these rules of wars and disputes? Those who have a desire to rule the world, why are their hearts so troubled?

Give poor mothers and noble sisters a life of peace and respect. Give those whom you have blessed with strength and courage a light of guidance. Why are minds filled with pride and arrogance? Why are the mirrors of people’s hearts blemished by rust?

Give those who are headed on the road to death a way to escape. May the garden of hearts not be uprooted as you provide shelter to love. In this world, instead of a celebration of love, why is there a celebration of arrows and rifles?

O superior Lord, why is there war over land in your world?