It was in the mid-1970s, I was but a young teenager. We were on a family holiday, driving to Agra and then stopping at Fatehpur Sikri before heading home to Delhi. Even at dusk the land was parched, the heat suffocating. The air was filled with the haze typical of a summer evening in the hot plains of India. The few tourists who had braved this summer day had already gone home and there was an eerie stillness in this huge and spectacular fort, one of my favourite monuments in India.
What a feeling to be almost alone there! A girl with her head full of dreams, I wandered around the almost empty fort hearing sounds of the days long past. I heard Tansen singing for Akbar in the middle of the lake. I heard the anklets of the dancing girls who were the chess pieces in the huge courtyard-chess board. I heard the Hindu queen singing her evening prayers and the chatter of the women of the harem. I heard the clanging of swords, the neighing of horses, the deep rumble of men talking war. I heard the sounds of a harmonium and singers whose voices bounced off the empty walls of the fort, taking them up up up towards heaven. But wait..that was not my imagination, that was real!
I followed the sound and found myself in a huge mosque. In the middle of the courtyard was the Dargah of Sufi Saint Salim Chisti (1478-1572). In front, there were four men sitting on the floor with a couple of harmoniums. There was no audience but the ancient walls of the fort, the Saint in his tomb, the heavens above and me. Time stood still. How long did I stand? I don’t know. My mind, my body, my spirit were all immersed into that wonderful music. Something happened inside me that day. Years later I still yearn for that moment when I was the music and the music was I.
They were Qawwals and though I do not know which song they were singing that day, I can still feel their voices inside me 35 years later. I fell in love with Qawwalis on that day. I will love this wonderful form of music till the day I die.
Of the hundreds of Qawwalis I have heard since then, the poetry of Amir Khusrau Dehlavi (1253-1325) is particularly dear to me. He is considered to be the ‘father of Qawwali’. One of the most influential men in the history of Indian Music, he was a poet, a composer, a Sufi saint, a scholar, a philosopher, a musician, and a linguist to name just a few of his accomplishments. Born in Uttar Pradesh, India, his was part Turkish, part Indian and wrote poetry in Persian and Brij Bhasha (a language close to Hindi). He was a disciple of Sufi Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya (1238-1325).
I present to you two of Amir Khusrau’s well known poems in one performance, Main To Piya Se Naina Laga Ayi Re and Chhap Tilak Sab Chini sung by the Wadali Brothers from Amritsar, India. See footnote for lyrics and translation. How I love this poetry! The poet says ‘I play the game of love with my darling, if I win, he is mine, if I lose I am with him’. Ah, how we long for a loss such as this! He says ‘My delicate wrists with green bangles, you have held them tight with just a glace.’ and ‘You have made me your bride with just a glace’. This intoxicating God that Amir Khusrau sings of, he is mine. Never mind that I am a true Hindu and the poet talks of his Allah, if this picture is right, they are one and the same.
This particular video is by Puran Chand Wadali and his son Lakhwinder Wadali. What a handsome team they make! I adore the voice of the elder gentleman. Here is an article about these Qawwals.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
Sourced from various internet sources, have tried to verify aurally but no guarantees of accuracy!
MAIN TO PIYA SE NAINA MILA AYI RE
खुसरो रैन सुहाग की मैं जगी पी के संग
तन मोरा मन पिया का जो दोनों एक ही रंग
खुसरो दरिया प्रेम का जो उल्टी वा की धार
जो उबरा सो डूब गया जो डूबा सो पार
खुसरो बाज़ी प्रेम का मैं खेलूँ पी के संग
जीत गयी तो पिया मोरे हारी पी के संग
मैं तो पिया से नैना लगा आयी रे
गर नारी गँवारी कहे सो कहे
अब जो होगा सो देखेंगे
सच कहती हूँ क्या डर मोहे
प्रीत करी कि मैं चोरी करी रे
सोहनी सुरतिया मोहनी मुरतिया
मैं तो हिरदय के बीच समा आयी रे
खुसरो निजाम के बल बल जैय्या
मैं तो बिनमोल / अनमोल चेली कहा आई रे
मैं तो अपनी छब बना के जो पी के पास गयी
छब देखी जो पीया के मोहे अपनी भूल गयी
Khusrau Raen Suhaag Ki, Mein Jaagi Pi Ke Sang
Tan Mora Man Piya Ka, Jo Dono Ek Hee Rang
Khusrau Darya Prem Ka, Jo Ulti Wa Ki Dhaar
Jo Ubhra So Doob Gaya, Jo Dooba So Paar
Khusrau Baazi Prem Ki Main Khelun Pi Ke Sung,
Jeet Gayi To Piya Moray, Haari, Pi Kay Sung
Main To Piya Say Naina Laga Aayi Re
Gar Naari Ganwari Kahe So Kahe
Ab Jo Hoga So Daikhen Ge
Sach Kehti Hoon Kya Dar Mohe
Preet Kari ki Mein Chori Kari Re
Sohni Suratiya, Mohni Muratiya,
Main To Hirday Ke Beech Samaa Aayi Re
Khusrau Nijaam Ke Bal Bal Jaiyya
Main To Binmol / Anmol Cheli Kaha Aayi Re
Main to Apni Chab Banaa Ke Jo Pi Ke Paas Gayi
Chab Dekhi Jab Piya Ki Mohe Apni Bhool Gayi
छाप तिलक सब छीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके
बात अगम कह दीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके
प्रेम भटी का मदवा पिलाइके
मतवारी कर दीन्ही रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके
गोरी गोरी बईयाँ, हरी हरी चूड़ियाँ
बईयाँ पकड़ हर लीन्ही रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके
बल बल जाऊं मैं तोरे रंग रजवा
अपनी सी रंग दीन्ही रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके
खुसरो निजाम के [बल बल जाए ]/ [बात जो लागी ]
मोहे सुहागन कीन्ही रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके
छाप तिलक सब छीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके
बात अजब कह दीनी रे मोसे नैना मिलाइके
Chhāp tilak sab chīnī re mose nainā milāike
Bāt agam keh dīnī re mose nainā milāike
Prem bhaṭī kā madvā pilāike
Matvālī kar dīnhī re mose nainā milāike
Gorī gorī baīyān, harī harī chuṛiyān
baīyān pakaṛ har līnhī re mose nainā milāike
Bal bal jāūn main tore rang rajvā
Apnī sī kar līnhī re mose nainā milāike
Khusro Nijām [ke bal bal jaiye] / [baat jo laagee]
Mohe suhāgan kīnhī re mose nainā milāike
Bāt adham keh dīnī re mose nainā milāike
You’ve taken away my looks, my identity, by just a glance.
By making me drink the wine from the distillery of love
You’ve intoxicated me by just a glance;
My fair, delicate wrists with green bangles in them,
Have been held tightly by you with just a glance.
I give my life to you, Oh my cloth-dyer,
You’ve dyed me in yourself, by just a glance.
I give my whole life to you Oh, Nijam,
You’ve made me your bride, by just a glance.
33 responses to “Main To Piya Se Naina”
What a wonderful memory and so well told! It brought back my own passage last year to the brick-red “ghost city”, and even if today’s visit probably has more hassles attached to it, especially for pale-skin Europeans, for us too the place left a haunting impression somewhat similar to the one you describe so well.
Thank you Yves for reading and commenting 🙂 It is a pity that the fort is overrun with tourists nowadays and you can’t really soak in the atmosphere, especially, as you say, you are pale-skinned. Its a city of times past and to enjoy it best, the present times should not intrude…. I want to go back one day in the heat of summer, when it is 45 degrees under the shade..that would keep most of tourists away!!
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Wonderfully written. The qawwalis at the dargah always make us move, no one care to which God they are referring. Chhap tilak is one of my all-time favourites; in each of it’s singer versions. The other one I suggest is Zihal e miskin by Khusro!
Thanks for this wonderfully written post! May I subscribe you?
Thank you Ganesh for your nice comment 🙂 True, the Qawwalis at Durgah’s move us tremendously, no matter which God they refert to. In fact, I love Zihal e miskeen, i do intend to write a post about it in the future! Please do subscribe, by email, RSS or on Facebook.
I remember that day so vividly – all of us mesmerised by that wonderful singing.
I wondered whether you and Amma stood and listened to the music as well or not..I don’t remember that. The music made too strong an impact for any other sensory inputs..
Suja, I can imagine how that moment must have been such magic for you. I love qawallis too, and have a faint memory of Fatehpur Sikri from childhood. I agree with you, would love to go back there in the middle of summer when no one is around.
@Banno: Thanks for writing 🙂 Indeed it was special and magical! Dont we all have such moments that we remember will pleasure and a kind of awe ? Sadly, its simply impossible to recreate such moments…
this reminded me of a Kailash Kher number http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ4onVnNPyU&list=PL881058676F338F52&index=6&feature=plpp_video which has been picturised as mortal love, but the song could very well be sung by one who has been possessed by the divine
I know and love this song from Kailash Kher’s album Kailasa but had never seen a video of it! Thank you Rumi! You are right, like much of Sufi music the song can be addressed to a mortal or – as is normally the intention of the lyricist – to God.
Any one has lyrics for mere khwaja ka karam hai….. please guys if any one find please post it quickly
Great post madam. Some of my favourites too are by amir khusrau – aaj rang hai, kirpa karo maharaj and this one. Thanks for the lyrics and translation, I had some of them wrong.
Thank you Jay, I am glad you enjoyed it. And as to Bhajans, I do plan to post them more regularly but I do mainly concentrate on Carnatic Music. Maybe you can try some of them, there are many in Sanskrit too and Carnatic Music is almost all devotional you know 🙂
Ok ma’am thank you.
Doing research on Amir Khusro since 12 years. If any one has any information on Amir Khusro please tell me on my mail ID- firstname.lastname@example.org
Pradeep Sharma Khusro
Wonderful post. I suggest a few corrections to the lyrics to make them better. It is not “ghar nari…” but
“gar naarii gaNwaarii kahe so kahe” – meaning ‘if people call me a lowly woman…’
Also, “hirday ke piichhe samaa…” should be “hirday ke bheetar samaa” or alternatively “hirday ke beech samaa aayii…” meaning ‘immersed in the heart’.
Hi Alok, Thank you for your comments.Actually your corrections sound very logical. Though I did get the words from a reputable source and tried to match them with the singers, there may be well many errors. I shall correct the text and give your versions as alternates. Cheers. Suja
I have updated my post, thank you again for your input.
I enjoyed listening to this a while back, Suja. Thanks. Came upon a variation of the song sung by Ustad Shujaat Hussain Khan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPvtpXtv0Lg) a little while ago and meant to post a comment here but didn’t get around to it till now. I hope you and your listeners enjoy Mr. Khan’s version as much as I did.
Hello Ravi, I just heard your recommended version and enjoyed it very much. Shujaat Khan has a unique thing with his sitar + voice performances, no? This is such a peaceful rendition, quite a contrast to the ecstatic way the song is presented in qawwalis! Quite a contrast!
You couldn’t have put it any better, Suja. There are quite a few of Mr. Khan’s videos on YouTube. There is one performance (two videos) of U Vilayat and Shujaat Khan (with Zakhir Hussain on Tabla) at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Quite good, IMHO.
As you probably know, Carnegie Hall is a prestigious venue and musicians consider it a great honor to perform there. There is an old joke about Carnegie Hall: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Answer: “Practice, practice, practice!”
Just to say how much I enjoyed your post. There is an excellent ( non-qawalli) version of ‘mein tau piya se naina…’ I recently found on YouTube
by Anita Singhvi. I just love Amir Khusrau. His music and compositions are timeless and can fit any genre.They transcend linguistic and religious barriers cutting through centuries. Zihaal e Miskeen is perhaps my all-time
Thank you Nazil, it is always a pleasure to welcome fellow music lovers to my blog. Indeed Khusrau’s works are extraordinary in their ability to touch the soul with an immediacy rarely found in other works. I too count Zihaal e Miskeen amongst my favourites – when I first heard it, I was quite addicted and would listen to it everyday, wanting to absorb the spirit of it into me!
Thank you also for the Anita Singhvi link, I enjoyed it. She has an interesting voice, doesnt she?
And here is the link to the Anita Singhvi version:
Check out this video on YouTube:
It is so great to have people like you amongst us. Blessings for you.
Thank you Harsh for your very kind words.
It feels good to be here including the comment section.One keeps feeling big and nice with each read while knowing nothing.
oh my god..thank you so much for this post! ❤
You are very welcome 🙂
i was surprised to see you reply as the post was an old one..:) thanks again.
just found you blog. i too was carried away in bols of that kawwali at sikri, while reading your description.
AS Smt Shanta Sarebjit Singh ji told me once that Art washes sins of soul and she also used to say Art touches pure souls!
well written blog
thnx for sharing
Thank you for your comment. Some musical moments are retained in our hearts forever, aren’t they!