Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

Madhubala

Shackled by chains, Madhubala pleas for mercy by singing a naat in Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

Today, we present the lyrics and English translation to a treasured gem from the regal soundtrack of K. Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam (1960): bekas pe karam kiijiye. Imprisoned by Emperor Akbar for falling in love with Prince Salim, Anarkali sings this song as a plea for mercy and delivery from her troubles. This composition is an example of a naat — a song in praise of the Prophet Mohammed — and it remains one of the most beautiful naats to grace Bollywood’s silver screen to this day.

For the soundtrack of Mughal-e-Azam, Naushad and Shakeel Badayuni teamed up to create a lyrical and musical masterpiece whose iconic splendor shines brightly in the annals of Hindi cinema. In particular, this composition has been tuned skillfuly by Naushad to the lilting notes of Raga Kedar, an ancient and revered raga named after Lord Shiva that is known for its complex melodic phrases and evocation of the shanta (tranquil) rasa. The tranquil piety of this song has been expressed most beautifully by melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, whose artistic genius is featured prominently throughout this film’s soundtrack. Not surprisingly, for a special record released in 1967 on the occasion of her silver jubilee in playback singing, Lata selected bekas pe karam kijiye as one of the top ten favorite songs of her career. Take a listen to a live version of this song from Lata’s famous Royal Albert Hall debut (London, UK) in 1974. Flawless as usual!

The poetry of this song employs a number of phrases and metaphors that are traditionally found in naats and other Muslim prayer songs. Specifically, Mohammed is referred to as mushkil-kushaa.n (remover of difficulties) and sarkaar-e-madiinaa (leader of the holy city Medina). The city of Medina occupies a revered position in Muslim history because it is believed that the migration of Mohammed and his followers from Mecca to Medina to escape perseuction in the year 622 A.D marks the beginning of the Islamic Era. In addition, this song employs two common metaphors used in religious songs to describe tragedy and misfortune: an ark stranded in a whirlpool (bha.nvar me.n safiina) and the sinking boat (Duubtii kashtii). Along with Madhubala’s devastating portrayal of Anarkali, such lyrics throughout the soundtrack of Mughal-E-Azam provide additional poignancy and artistry to the narration of this tragic epic. 

See our translation of Teri Mehfil Mein Qismat Aazmaakar for more discussion about Mughal-E-Azam, and stay tuned as we translate the rest of the songs from this monumental film. Until next time…

-Mr. 55
Madhubala

Even during imprisonment, Madhubala’s beauty shines in this classic scene from Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye: Lyrics and Translation

ai mere mushkil-kushaa.n fariyaad hai
Oh, my savior! Please heed this complaint.
aap ke hote hue duniyaa merii barbaad hai
Although I remain devoted to you, my world is being destroyed.

bekas
pe karam kiijiye, sarkaar-e-madiinaa

Please have mercy upon this wretched soul, oh leader of the holy city.
gardish me.n hai taqdiir, bha.nvar me.n safiinaa
My fate revolves in a vicious cycle, while my ark is stranded in a whirlpool.

hai vaqt-e-madad, aaiye bigaDii ko banaane
As the time for aid has arrived, please come and resolve my troubles.
poshiidaa nahii.n aap se kuchh dil ke fasaane
I keep no tales of my heart hidden from you.
zakhmo.n se bharaa hai kisii majbuur kaa siinaa
This helpless devotee’s chest is marked by many wounds.

chhaayii hai musiibat kii ghaTaa gesuuo.n vaale
The dark lock-like clouds of misfortune have cast upon me.
lilaah merii Duubtii kashtii ko bachaa le.n
May the Lord rescue my sinking boat.
tuufaan ke aasaar hai.n, dushvaar hai jiinaa
With signs of an impending storm, my life is in danger.

bekas pe karam kiijiye, sarkaar-e-madiinaa
Please have mercy upon this wretched soul, oh leader of the holy city.

 

Glossary

mushkil-kushaa.n: remover of difficulties, savior; fariyaad: complaint; barbaad: destroyed; bekas: wretched, destitute; karam karnaa: to have mercy; sarkaar-e-madiinaa: leader of Medina (holy city of Islam), God; gardish: cycle; taqdiir: fate; bha.nvar: whirlpool; safiinaa: ark; vaqt-e-madad: time for aid; bigaDii banaanaa: to resolve troubles; poshiidaa: hidden; fasaanaa: tale; zakhm: wound; majbuur: helpless; siinaa: chest; musiibat: misfortune; ghaTaa: cloud; gesuuo.n: locks, hair; lilaah: Allah, God; kashtii: boat; tuufaan: storm; aasaar: signs; dushvaar: difficult, arduous.

Madhubala

The heavy chains used during the shooting of this song took a physical toll on Madhubala, who was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition known as Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) or colloquially as a “hole in the heart”.

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