Yaad Piya Ki Aaye

Oh memories of my beloved haunt me! Alas, I cannot bear this grief! I am yet young but my bed is forlorn; my youth is passing by – Alas! The cuckoo, my enemy, coos his song. Bereft of my beloved, my heart burns. Yes, I am kept awake all night without my beloved! Alas!

GriefDoes grief bring forth song? The answer is yes, it can and does! Laments and dirges are expressions of grief in many societies. These are old ways from time immemorial; the bible refers to laments, as do the Vedas and ancient Greek books like the Iliad and Odyssey. I have read some death poetry of the Japanese, almost surreal and other-worldly. I have heard haunting Irish laments. I have heard Scottish dirges played on mournful bagpipes; a sound which makes the hair at the back of my neck stand! In India too, death can lead to song. In some Tamil communities, they (used to?) sing Oppari lamenting the dead. Do you remember the Hindi film Rudaali? That too featured a story of the professional mourners of Rajasthan who cried and sang laments for the dead. So yes, indeed, grief can bring forth song.

Today I present just such a song. It is  a Thumri but in essence, it is a lament.  Written by the great Maestro Bade Ghulam Ali Khan on the death of his wife who passed in 1932, it has certainly stood the test of time!  This is in the Punjabi  Thumri style, which is faster paced and sounds generally ‘lighter’ than traditional Thumris. Translated with a bit of artistic license, he says  ‘Oh memories of my beloved haunt me! Alas, I cannot bear this grief!’. He was only 30 when his wife died. ‘I am yet young but my bed is forlorn! Alas, my youth is passing by!’. Was he crying for himself or his wife? A bit of both, I think. ‘Bereft of my wife, my heart burns’ he says. See footnote for lyrics and translation. The song is set to the Hindustani raag Bhinna Shadaj. For those interested in the intricacies of this raga, there is an excellent article here.

Let us first hear the great Maestro himself who was and will always remain an iconic presence in the world of Hindustani Classical music. As the uploaded does not allow embedding, listen from 3:32 in the following link.

I was reminded of this song today by a live performance by Ustad Rashid Khan that I happened to watch on youtube recently. He has such an amazing voice! For me, this is the perfect classical male voice – rich and resonant, full-bodied with the undertones of a certain kharash, a certain texture. I could listen to him all day!

And lastly a very ‘light’ sounding version by another Ustad whom I have featured before, an Ustad who enchants me with his magical control over his voice. Here is Ajoy Chakrabarty with almost a playful rendition of this lament (listen to him cooing!) Note how beautifully he weaves in Basant Bahar towards the end. [Edit – Sigh, this video has disappeared from YouTube, I am saving this paragraph in the hope of finding it again] 

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Composer : Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
Raga : Bhinna Shadaj
Language : Hindi

याद पिया की आये
यह दुःख सहा ना जाये- हाये राम

बाली उमरिया सूनी रे  (alt: री ) सजरिया
जोबन बीतो  (alt: बीता) जाये- हाये राम

बैरी कोयलिया कूक  सुनावे (alt: सुनाये  )
मुझ बिरहन का जियरा जलावे (alt: जलाये )
हाँ पी बिन रैन जगाये (alt : पी बिन रहा ना जाये) – हाये राम


yAd piyA kI AyE
yeh dukh sahA na jAyE – hAyE rAm

bAlI umariyA sUnI rI sajariyA
jOban bItO / bItA jAyE – hAyE rAm

bairI koyaliyA kUk sunAyE
mujh birhan kA jiyarA jalAyE
hA.n – pI bin rain jagAyE (alt: rahA nA jAyE ) – hAyE rAm


Oh memories (yAd) of my beloved (piyA kI) haunt me (AyE = come)! Alas (hAyE rAm), I cannot bear (sahA na jAyE) this grief (dukh)!

I am yet young (bAlI umariyA) but my bed (sajariyA) is forlorn (sUnI);
my youth (jOban) is passing by (bItO jAyE) – Alas (hAyE rAm)!

The cuckoo (koyaliyA), my enemy (bairI), coos (kUk sunAyE) his song (implied).
and burns (jalayE) the heart (jiyarA) of (kA) me (mujh), the bereft (birhan).
Yes (hA.n)  – I am kept awake (jagAyE) all night (rain) without (bin) my beloved (pI) ! Alas (hAyE rAm)!
(Alt: I cannot bear to be without my beloved!)


Filed under Ajoy Chakrabarty, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Hindustani Classical Music, Rashid Khan

23 responses to “Yaad Piya Ki Aaye

  1. Narasimharaj

    “Oh memories of my beloved haunt me”!
    Suja – you’ve brought to your followers ‘TRIPLE DELIGHT’ of renditions.
    Of Rashid Khan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi had termed him as the ‘hope’,for survival & future of Hindustani Classical Music. Fittingly he is singing up to that that! (I had watched a Jugalbandi of Pt.Bhimsen Joshi & Rashid Khan on TV some time back)
    “Oh memories of my beloved haunt me”! – the lament may not just be for ‘the one who is no more’ but equally so or even more so for the one who is separated for short or long stretches of time. Love-bond is a mix Pleasure & Pain!..
    Didn’t Kalidasa present the plight of the Yaksha when he wrote Meghadootam?
    “Oh memories of my beloved haunt me”!
    Ghaayal ko ghaayal hee jaane!
    Best Wishes.

    • Hello Raj,
      You are right, the bond of love gives both pleasure and pain. And our musicians evoke all those thoughts and memories with their beautiful music!
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Ramesh

    There is probably as much song in grief than in happiness. I suspect deep emotion pours out in song – be it sadness, or joy or devotion, whatever. By that logic, in the land of utopia, there is probably no music !

    Beautiful music you have featured today.

    • Hi Ramesh, so you think that in utopia, if such a thing exists, there is no deep emotion? Not even joy? I wonder…

      And yes, this is wonderful music, I concur 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  3. Narasimharaj

    “so you think that in utopia, if such a thing exists, there is no deep emotion? Not even joy?”
    Suja & Ramesh,,Seeking your permission, I’m cutting-in on the above – with a story I’d heard :
    Dead man’s goes ‘up’. – to the beyond. Gate Keeper stops him. Dead man asks ‘what’s behind the gate’? GK says ‘Heaven to right & Hell to left. Where do you want to go’? Dead man says, ‘let me have a look at both (just we look at hotel rooms) and then I’ll decide’. GK takes him to both and when they are back, GK asks him again “where do you want to go?” Dead Man says without hesitation “Of course to Hell. Heaven is so dull – calm, peaceful, full of smiling goody-goody people and there’s no fun or fight, no passions/emotions expressed, etc., etc”

    Wonder whether UTOPIA has changed in modern times!

  4. Jay

    Hello Suja,

    Lovely music. While Rashid Khan’s delivery was brisk with gambheeram, Ajoy Chakraborty presentation is sophisticated. I didn’t care much for the cuckoo – but towards the end, when he meandered into Basant Bahar, it was simply delightful. I’m not sure if it Is a flight of fancy, but the rendering around 5:55-6:15 had tinges of Mian Ki Malhar, judging purely by some famous songs delivered in that raga. You are far better judge of such matters.

    A studied observation of the cuckoo’s call has 2 interesting aspects: the sound is close to the ‘venu’, the bamboo flute and its call sequence in successive higher pitches has the yearning quality that ends in a sequence of broken calls.


    • Hello Jay, You have got just the right word for Rashid Khan – gambheeram – a majesty – just the word I would apply! And no, I didn’t much care for the cuckoo bit except it amused me a bit 🙂

      As to the ragas, what I know about Hindustani ragas can fit in a postage stamp 🙂 That said, the parrikar site clearly says that ‘Miyan Malhar bears kinship to Raga Bahar, a member of the Kanada group. But Bahar flaunts a powerful madhyam and Miyan Malhar does not. The komal gandhar is andolita in Miyan Malhar (à la avarohatmak komal gandhar of Darbari) whereas in Bahar it is not.’. so if you get hints of Miyan Malhar it is not surprising. I tested your feeling by singing Bol Re Papihara to myself in that section – and it didn’t quite fit… and by that pathetic device, I can say that no, I didn’t get the same sense of the raga. I personally love the transition to Basant Bahar at 4:55, very smooth and nice..

      Interesting observation about the cuckoo’s call!
      Cheers. Suja

  5. Amit

    These are of course great rendition by the legends. But the best of the lot is by Shobha Gurtu. Its featured in the film Prahar. Just have a look. The grief she has captured is so mesmerizing

    • Hello Amit, Welcome to my blog! I am indeed a fan of Shobha Gurtu – I have featured her before in this blog. This is a lovely rendition full of pathos. Thank you, I am sure my readers will also enjoy listening to her.
      Cheers. Suja

  6. eswar

    WOW! Am I glad I stumbled in here! Be sure I’ll be back to stay and savour. In the meanwhile, here is another version- with love from me to you and to your lovely readers 🙂 Happy New Year!

    • The singing is beautiful, but then I have always enjoyed the voices of Wadali brothers. But I must say that for me the most traditional instrumentation always seems so much more beautiful…
      Cheers. Suja

  7. VW

    Thank you for this post. I was reminded of this great Thumri by the viral ‘auto driver’ version. Knowing the background & context has increased my love for this composition. Much thanks.

  8. keshavkulkarni

    I heard this thumri for the first time in 1991 when I was watching ‘Prahaar’ (Directed by Nana Patekar). The thumbri is played in background (sung by Shobha Gurtu) when the main character roams in ‘veshyavaatika’ in search of his mother, who used to be singer in veshyavaatika. I had goosebumps then and does not stop till now. Since then I have heard (not live) the original, by Shobha Gurtu, Rashid Khan, Ajay Chakrobarthy, his daughter Kaushiki (what a rendition!), remix versions, modern versions etc…I was digging for the history of the song and stmubled upon your blog article. Very informative and very good blog.

    • Sometimes a song does it to you, doesn’t it..it seeps into your very soul! I too feel very strongly towards this song. Glad my blog was of interest, thank you for your appreciation.

  9. raihan uddin

    wonderful performance ,

  10. Praline Chocolat

    Hello Suja, I found your blog today and I really enjoyed it!
    but the videos are not available anymore. Can you update the link please?

    I like very much Yaad piya ki aaye song
    I found an amazing version of a young singer.
    They say that his father/guru was a direct student of Ustadji Bade Gulam Ali Khassab. What do you think about it?

    I hope you like it

    • Thanks for your compliment, very kind of you! Sorry for the delayed response, it somehow slipped my notice – my apologies. The trouble with youtube links is that they keep getting replaced ! I will try and find an alternate rendition, thanks for pointing it out. The young man has done a decent job of the song but I would say he needs to put more ‘dard’ into the song..it is a song of loss, a song of longing, painful, bereft. When you hear it, it should force you to remember all the losses in your life, to remember days of the past which would never come again. I did not get that emotion from him. Did you?
      Cheers. Suja

  11. Mandar Munagekar

    I think the base meaning and lyrics are wrong

  12. Jayjeekay

    Can I share this please.

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