Thursday, July 13, 2006

The subject of Rabbi's affection?

It first occured to me when listening to Tere Bin (lyrics) for the nth time while trying to code a custom-made HTTP Proxy at work. It's a love song all right, beautifully and melodiously composed with a hint of Tabla; the words are quite touching if you pay attention to them. I wasn't feeling too good; Delhi is my home and Bengaluru, for all its green glory; doesn't match up to the relief of killing the Delhi heat with Mom's chocolate shake.

Mom! That's it! It's Mom!

I felt like I had cracked the Matrix. Tere Bin was written for a mother. I was sure as hell. Then I heard this...

ve main sare ghumm ke vekhia / i have gone and seen it all
amrika , roos, malaysia / America, Russia, Malaysia
kittey vi koi fark si / there wasn't any difference
har kise di koi shart si / they all had some condition
koi mangda mera si sama / some asked for my time
koi hunda surat te fida / some were fascinated with my face
koi mangda meri si vafa / some demanded my fidelity
na koi mangda merian bala / none wanted my demons

Mom! That is so Mom! I mean, frankly, who'd want your demons?

milia si ajj mainu / i found today
tera ik patra / a note of yours
likhia si jis 'te / on which you had scribbeled
tun shayr varey shah da / a varis shah couplet
park ke si osnu / upon reading which
hanjnu ik duliya / a teardrop fell
akhan 'ch band si / what was locked in the eye
seh raaz ajj khulia / was revealed today
ki tere bin / that other than you
eh mere hanjnu / these tears of mine
kise hor / won't be kissed by
nahio chumna / none else

And that was it for me. Sealed. Nothing more touching than a mother's letter.

Amazingly, someone somewhere else had the same thought. I received an email yesterday from a reader, Sahil:

... I just wanted to know the history behind ' Tere bin'. I've heard its written for his mother. I've even heard its not written by Rabbi but by Varis shah himself(whose name features in the song...just like Kabir writes bout himself in his dohas and bulla too mentions his name in his composition).

The song is definitely not for some girlfriend. It may be for a guy as well. Maybe for a best friend. But somehow i have this inkling that it is for his mother.

Could you please enlighten me?

Well, I don't know if he wrote it for his mother. But I know that Rabbi composed it. Maybe he didn't compose it for anyone in person, maybe he did it for more than one person. But my inkling goes with Sahil; I think it's a subtle suggestion, the 'undercurrent' that is more common in the world of bigger literary compositions; the Arrow in the FedEx logo. Some see it, some don't.

Drop in your comments.

UPDATE (29 OCT 07): Well, I change my stance. After reading the scores of comments on the original post, I think its one of those things from which everyone takes what they want. It reminds people of their father, mother, close friend, sibling, and others. In short, it reminds them of the person they most want to be reminded of. 

Lets not try to restrict it to one person, because it probably was never meant to.


Sahil said...

Thanks Sameer!

writer said...

Some guy posted this lyrics on one of the other blogs. Placing it here for consolidation. Original post:

Ishtihaar means advertisement in Urdu. The poet has posted an 'ishtihaar' for his lost love.


ik kurhi
jihda naam mohabbat
saad muradi
sohni fabbat
gumm hai gumm hai
gumm hai
gumm hai
gumm hai

surat osdi
parian vargi
seerat di o
Mariam lagdi
hasdi hai tan
phul ne jhardhey
turdi hay tan
ghazal hai lagdi
lamm salami
saru kadd di

umar ajey hai mar ke agdi
par naina di
gal samajhdi

gummian janam janam
han hoye
lagda iyon jyon kal
di gal hai
iyon lagdai jion ajj di gal hai
iyon lagdai jion hun
di gal hai
hune taan mere kol kharhi si
hune tan mere kol nahi hai
ai keha chhal kehi bhatkan
soch meri hairaan barri hai
os kurhi nu tol rahi hai

oss kurhi nu meri saunh hai
os kurhi nu apni saunh hai
os kurhi nu sab di saunh hai
os kurhi nu rab di saunh hai

jey kittey parhdi sunhdi hove
jeyundi jan o mar rahi hovey
ik vari aa ke mil javey
vafa meri nu daag na laavey

nahi tan maithon
jia na janda
geet koi likhia na janda
nahi tan maithon jia
na janda
geet koi likhia na janda
nahi tan maithon
jia na janda

Here is the translation:

A girl
whose name is love
simple, dainty
a lovely sight
she is lost
she is lost

Her face
A fairy's likeness,
a picture of Mary
when she laughts
the petals fall
when she walks
a melody plays
her graceful height
like a wicker tree

her years are still of nascence
but the language of eyes
she comprehends

she is lost from many
births ago
though it seems as affair of
why, it seems an affair of today
why, it seems this
moments affair
just now she stood by my side
and now she has vanished
what trick what chase is this
my senses, they're mystified
searching for that girl

I call out to that girl in my name
I call out to that girl on her name
I call out to that girl in the name of all
I call out to her in the name of god

if she reads or hears this
if she be alive or dying
come and meet me once
do not sully my devotion

lest I can't live
nor write a word
lest I can't live
nor write a word
lest I can't live

KD said...

Thanks a Lot Writer..
Cheers Buddy

VarunMayan said...

Mera tau dil hi toot gaya. I used to think, the lyrics are 'tu sher baare sharda' , instead of 'tun sher varey shah da'. because I thought sharda must have been his girlgriend

milia si ajj mainu / i found today
tera ik patra / a note of yours
likhia si jis 'te / on which you had scribbeled
tun shayr varey shah da / a varis shah couplet

Purnima said...

fantabulous song. I love what you have written. Truly touching.
Would you care to send it across to me? Never been able to find it on the net.
would appreciate it. thnks

Sameer said...

Thanks Purnima,

Here are the lyrics, if that is what you were looking for:

Amit Arora said...

Bulleh Shah dedicated his poetry and love towards his Master Inayat Shah Qadiri

Anonymous said...

the idea of sufism is love for god, which can be potrayed as lover. Hence the song is for god the supreme being, which can be intrepreted as a love song for one's lover. I am not sure who added the words like russia and malaysia, defenitely not Bulle Shah

Smriti said...

fantastic... that gives a song i've always loved a whole new twist... never thought along that stream before, but it fits ion so well now..

Sameer said...

@pranjali: This song was not composed by Bulleh Shah, it's a complete Rabbi Shergill creation.

Anonymous said...

You are not far off. The song was written for a dad, and not mum. I had guessed he had written it for a very good friend. But later learned it was for his dad.

But like the way you had read it.

Asim said...

The song is for his father. Goes fine with a girl/boyfriend / wife / husband / partner and of course both Parents.

Makes you curious about Rabbi's father.

Although it can just be for both parents... Note how the person says to Rabbi "Rovenga sanu yaad kar"

sanu is plural. Mainu would have been singular. Of course can't look much into this... Since people DO use plurals to refer to themselves, more commonly in Punjabi than anywhere else.

jiven akhia si akhan chura / you said, looking away
"rovenga sanu yad kar" / "you shall weep in my memory"
hasia si main hasa ajeeb / i laughed a strange laugh
(par) tu nahi si hasia / but you didn't
dil vich tera jo raaz si / you had a secret in your heart
mainu tu kyon ni dasia / why didn't you tell me

A said...

Thank you all so much!I've looked everywhere for the lyrics...thank you!And yes,the interpretation-well,the first time I straightaway[and hastily] connected it to a girlfriend.Then I got it on my MP3 player and listened to it five times in a row,felt deliriously happy and decided it fit my best friend like a glove[she doesn't know Punjabi so I'm going to post her this link so that she can read all of this :)].Now that I've read your interpretation I have to admit it's compelling...I guess I'll have to conclude its for anyone who loved you deeply and is now not with you...and perhaps at that time you weren't able to recognise how much they meant to you...
And by the way,'merian bala'-I always thought that meant 'my problems'.I agree 'demons' is poetic[exquisitely poetic,infact],but isn't it a little too strong?But in the context of a parent I suppose it makes more sense.And also,if its a parent,"main saare ghumm ke vekhia"?Who goes looking for a substitute parent?Though it could mean he just looked for someone to love him the same way.
You've done a brilliant job,all of you.Once again,Thank you!

jassi said...

is about pure love Mom, lover or even God.

Yes Rabbi wrote this song. Waris shah wrote Sufi Kafis and as beautiful this song is, it isn't the same style (Listen to Heer, which indeed is a Epic written by Waris Shah and you would instanly know the diffrence)

A quick example: Anything written by a poet who mentions himself(eg. Waris Shah, Bulleh Shah or Guru Nanak) would have Poet's name in Third person.

Mentioning Waris Shah is Rabbi's simple yet very effective style of connecting to Sufi/Punjabi roots which are an evident inspiration for his music.

However this Blog is a great effort, Kudos to all you people.

Sidhu said...

As far as my understanding goes basically this song talks about two lovers...thats a boy and a girl...

but yes its un-conditional love...without any it says...that koi mangda mera c sama...koi soorat te fida c...kise nu wafa chahidi c...

And its written by Rabbi himself...not Waris Shah...he says "likhia c ik sher ware shah da"...because waris shah wrote the epic of Heer Ranjha and its a masterpiece in punjabi poetry...whenever one talks about narrative a love story...its Waris shah at the front ! so he used this line...

hope it makes things clear...

thanks !

Mudit said...

I am really confused i always thought this song was written by rabbi to express his love for India and not for any person.... otherwise the lyrics where he mentions other countries dont make any sense..... to me it seems like he is personifying india and talking about it as if it is his loved one. any comments?

Anonymous said...

hi lv this song. thanx for the translation. up till now I was just hung on the music and now I know the parts I did not understand I appreciate it even more. Its just awesome and magical.

I agree with the conclusions you came to that this song can be attributed to to any 1 person/relation or even an object or a place like the other guy said about it being referred to India.

Anyway listen to Rohanpreet Singh's version on youtube, He copies the style really well. He did the best one out of all those who sang in competition shows.

jayanth said...

Ahh .. i seem to be the last ...
but have been listening to Rabbi for so lng that i dint have the jeart to learn the lyrics case they fell short of the mysticism of his music. .now after going thru the lyrics all i have to say is


Will try and find the songs of his second album .. .any help thr??

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Anonymous said...

In my opinion Rabbi is not talking about love between a boy and girl but is infact talking about the Sufi concept of Love between a spiritual seeker and the Divine.
This concept of the Divine as the Beloved is also seen in Rumi's poetry and other Sufi qawwali's and ghazals

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