Guru BrahmaWho will quench this burning fire within me? I can stay no longer in this natal home of mine. He, my beloved, is far far away in the most beautiful of towns where nobody comes or goes. Who will take a message to Him for me? Who will tell Him of my unbearable pain of separation from Him? The path to my beloved’s town is not clear. Is it my past which clouds the way to Him? Oh how this separation burns me! Who else but my Guru can tell me the secret to reach Him? Listen, O Good people, He comes in my dreams to quench this fire in my soul.

So sings Kabir in this beautiful and mystical song. Was this burning need for God which showed him the way to salvation, I wonder? How many births do we need to take before the need burns as strong in us? How many lifetimes do we have to live until we can shake off the earthly needs and desires which make us dance to their tunes? Where will we find the Guru who can show us the way, the path to our Lord’s hometown?

Today is Guru Poornima, the day to honour our preceptors. We have so many teachers in our lives, do we not? Our parents are our first teachers, followed by those at school and at university. Our spouses and our children teach us as they show us how to be and how not to be. Our friends too are our teachers, for do we not learn from them? Our sins and our mistakes are our teachers too, for they point to us the error of our ways. Books are often excellent teachers, as are strangers on the web who share their knowledge. I look around me and all I see are teachers and teachers..and I see a glimpse of the ultimate preceptor in all of them. I thank and honour them all, for they have all been part of making the person who I am today. But like Kabir I ask, who will teach me the way forward? When will He come to quench my thirst? Today on Guru Poornima day I pray for a Guru to show me the way home. For this naiharwa, this natal home of mine, this earth, palls day by day.

To present this song, I have chosen a rendition by Kailash Kher. Though he doesn’t sing the middle verse, I love his rendition for his voice is the salt of the Indian earth. Ideally though, I would have liked the accompaniments to be simple and traditional instruments.  I am a great fan of Kabir’s poetry and in the voice of Kailash Kher it becomes something magical.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Poetry : Kabir
Language: Braj Bhasha

Note: The lyrics are unauthenticated. They are sufficient for the purpose of enjoying the song but should not be referred for any scholarly work.

नैहरवा हमका न भावै , न भावै रे ।

सॉई की नगरी परम अति सुन्दर,
जहाँ कोई जाए ना आवै ।
चाँद सुरज जहाँ, पवन न पानी,
कौ संदेस पहुँचावै, 
दरद यह सॉई को सुनावै ।

आगे चालौ (चलौ?) पंथ नहीं सूझै,
पीछे दोष लगावै ।
केहि बिधि ससुरे जाऊँ मोरी सजनी,
बिरहा जोर जरावै ,
विषैरस नाच नचावै ।

बिन सतगुरू अपनों नहीं कोई,
जो यह राह बतावै ।
कहत कबीर सुनो भाई साधो,
सपने में प्रीतम आवै,
तपन यह जिया की बुझावै ।


naiharwA hamkA na bhAvai

sAyI kI nagarI parama ati sundar
jahA.n kOI jAyE na Avai
chA.nd suraj jahA.n pavan na pAnI
kOU sandEs pahu.chAvai
darad yah sAyI kO sunAvai

AgE chAlau panTH nahi.n sUjhai
pICHE dOsh lagAvai
kEhi bidhi sasurE jAU.n mOrI sajanI
birahA jOr jarAvai
vishairas nAch nachAvai

bin satguru apnO.n nahI.n kOI
jO yah rAh batAvai
kahat kabIr sunO bhAI sAdhO
sapnE mE.n prItam Avai
tapan yah jiyA kI bujhAvai


My natal home (naiharwA) appeals no more (na bhAvai) to me (hamkA).

The town (nagarI) of (kI) God (sAyI) is so very (ati) beautiful (sundar),
but no one (kOI na) goes (jAyE) or comes (Avai) from there (jahA.n).
There is no (jahA.n na) sun (sUraj) or moon (chA.nd), nor wind (pavan) or water (pAnI).
Who (kOU) will take (pahu.chAvai) my message (sandEs) there?
Who will talk of (sunAvai) this (yah) pain (darad) to God (sAyI)?

I cannot comprehend (nahI.n sUjhAi) the path (panTH) to go (chAlau) forward (AgE),
One blames (dosh lagAvai) the past (pICHE) for it.
Which way (kEhI bidhi) shall I go to (jAU.n) my in-law’s home (sasurE), my (mOrI) love (sajanI) (? (Note: unsure as to who is addressed as mOrI sajanI=my love in a feminine form)
This separation (birahA) burns me (jarAvai) intensely (jOr),
this poisonous blood (vishairas) (unsure?) makes me dance (nAch nachAvai) to its tune (implied).

There is none else (nahI.n kOI) except (bin) my good (sat) Guru
who (jO) can tell me (batAvai) of this (yah) pathway (rAh).
Kabir says (kahat) ‘Listen (sunO) O my good (sAdhO) brothers (bhai) ,
The Lord (my beloved) (prItam) comes (Avai) in (mE.n) my dream (sapnE)
and quenches (bhujhAvai) this (yah) burning (tapan) of (kI) my soul (jiyA)’.


Filed under Bhajan, Kabir, Kailash Kher

21 responses to “Naiharwa

  1. Chandramouli Subramanian

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely Kabir composition. I would like you to add more Marathi abhangs to your archives. The abhang tradition is something unique in history of world music.

    • Thank you Chandramouli. Indeed I would like to post on more abhangs but I am much hampered by not understanding Marathi nor having access to books here. I shall be in India for a holiday soon and see if I can find translations of my favourite songs. Then I will venture more confidently into abhangs 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Ramesh

    Quite amazed how you track important dates in the Indian calendar while being so far away. Should logically be easier for us living her, but then we are both lazy and utterly ignorant !!

    Picked up some understanding and enjoyed the rendition of a genre which I know nothing about. Another reason for following your blog !

    Note to other readers – Please disregard completely her note at the beginning of the lyrics 🙂

    • Tracking dates is easy with my calendar reminding me promptly! 🙂 I don’t really follow any rituals, yet I do like marking the occasions mentally. Gives me a sense of connection in this world when we are all adrift..

      Glad you liked the song. Kabir’s poetry is wonderful- his short dohas pithy and his songs mystical. I’ll definitely feature more of his works sooner or later. And as to lyrics, I am a good researcher but this is Braj Bhasa and I could not find any reliable source for the spellings 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  3. Filmbuff

    Hey Suja – long time no hear! Hope the cruise was great. Guru poornima is indeed a significant day and mine was really good too. Hope to hear from u soon

  4. Narasimharaj

    Suja, Your remembering/featuring ‘Guru’ Kabir on Guru Poornima Day has been very ‘apt’. I liked Kailash Kher’s rendition.
    “Kabir’s poetry is wonderful – his short dohas ‘pithy’ and his songs mystical”.
    You are right, ‘pithy’ indeed are his ‘dohas’ – Brief/stingy in words but profusely eloquent in meaning/message!
    Every morning, I listen to Guru Kabir’s composition “Bhajore bhaiya Raama Govinda Hari . . . ” – rendered by ‘Amma’ MSS – .and it gives me great peace of mind.
    Best Wishes.

    • Hello again Raj, thank you for visiting again and for enjoying Kabir’s beautiful song. MSS’s song is also very peaceful as you correctly say. Did you read my previous post on dance? I remember you when I posted it, knowing you like dances!
      Cheers. Suja

  5. Rekha

    Hi Suja thank you for this kabir bhajan ,this is the first time I came across your blog and will be following it now ,I was looking for the meaning of naiharwa as I was born outside India and my Hindi is not very good.
    This bhajan is very apt for my present day guru sadhguru jaggi Vasudev

    • Thank you Rekha and welcome to my blog. Though I feature Hindi music from time to time, I tend to concentrate on Carnatic Music from the South of India. But keep a watch out, there will definitely be more from the North and Western Indian in a regular basis 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  6. Hi Suja – You may enjoy this minimalist version by Bindhumalini and Vedant.

    This is part of the Kabir Festival, that’s held at venues all over India in January every year. Lots of performances by traditional folk artists like Prahald Tippaniya and Muralal Muradabadi. Performances are typically in informal interactive spaces where the audience are a part of the performance.

    • Indeed I enjoyed this very much! The song sounds great with just the twang of the guitar.. I wish they had left it to only to Bindhumalini to sing it instead of making it a duet.. Thanks for the link, Cheers. Suja

      • 🙂 Its been said before. Vedant and Bindhu release an album of Kabir called “Suno Bhai” inspired largely by Kumar Ghandharva’s renditions. Every song is a gem. Vedant sounds a lot fuller in it.

  7. I’ll have a listen one of these days…I am a fan of Kumar Gandharva and his style of music..

  8. The solemnity in your posts is so calming.Thanks Suja.It is interesting that Rabindranath Tagore drew so much from the Sufis,the Bauls of Bengal and Kabir in particular.One sees in this allegorical imagery of the house of the father-of- bride,the longing of the beloved for the Almighty as in of the husband or the earthly lover.Together this devotion and love very often is also seen in the Bhajans of Meera.How does one transcend earthly love to find in God a complete sense ofunion and fulfilment ? I would imagine this kind of spirituality would be typically Asiatic and may not find similarity in the Western Gospel songs or mystics.

    • Thank you for your comment. Having only limited knowledge of other faiths, I cannot comment on your observation except to say that I think the quest for union with God is universal, not limited to one people or one faith. I feel certain that people all over the world have found their own way…
      Cheers. Suja

  9. Ekta

    Hi Suja,
    Yes, only a True Guru can show you the way to God Almighty. My Satguru, Mata Sudiksha Savinder Hardev Ji, has shown me God. My thirst has been quenched and I am in bliss. I see Him at every minute and every moment and He is never far from me. The Sant Nirankari Mission is not a religion, anyone from different background, ethnicity and faith is welcomed with open arms to receive this knowledge of God that has been repeated in the Vedas, Bible, Quran etc. Once you receive the knowledge, you will understand everything you read in any holy scripture. Here is our Mission’s website for more information:

    Happy to connect with you offline to share more 🙂


    • I am glad for you Ekta, that you have found your path. Each of us has to find our own way, searching out the truth which rings a bell in our own hearts.
      Cheers. Suja

  10. Lynda Wheelock

    By far the most beautiful version of this Naiharwa was done by one of the Isha singers at the Darshan a few months ago at Isha in Tennesee. It took me to tears, and does every time I hear it. His name is Sandeep Narayan

    • Thanks Lynda for sharing your experience of this music. Sandeep Nayaran is a very talented musician indeed. His genre is Carnatic Music, the genre that this blog concentrates on, and I have featured him quite a few times. I just listened to Sandeep Narayan’s version in this video ( I loved the quietness it instilled in me…
      Cheers. Suja

  11. Vinod Bhardwaj

    You have omitted to mention that the tune and rendition is a copy of the great Pandit Kumar Gandharwa. Please give credit where credit is due.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s