Category Archives: Bade Ghulam Ali Khan

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

Aaye Na Baalam

Ajoy ChakrabortyIt must be evident to my readers that I take a rather intellectual pleasure in songs and music. My mind buzzes with questions like : What does it mean? What mood is the composer trying to invoke? Why? Which raga is this? Why do I like this raga? Is there another song of the same raga I like or is this an anomaly ? When was this written? By whom? What was their life like? If it is devotional, what religious or philosophical idea does it convey? Does this make meaning to me? If its in a film, does it match the setting? Do the actors emote appropriately? Ah, so many questions! And so few that I know the answers to! But yet, it enhances my listening pleasure when I know at least a few answers.

But the truth is, music is most pleasurable, even to an analytical person like me, when its impact is so visceral that I stop asking questions or listening to answers. When I stand in the middle of the room, eyes unfocused, action forgotten, listening..or when my eyes fill, shedding hot tears for nameless things …or when I laugh aloud in sheer joy, waves of sheer exuberance engulfing my soul. The last is what happened to me when I heard Ajoy Chakrabarty’s version of the well-know and well-loved Thumri ‘Aaye na baalam’ a few days back. I re-listened a few times, and of course wanted to blog about it immediately!

 Thumris belong to the semi-classical genre, within the broader Hindustani Classical music. They can be interpreted as romantic or devotional. Like songs often featured in this blog, the mood is viraha, of separation from one’s beloved and the Nayika-Nayak are often Radha and Krishna. My today’s selection is written and composed by the Maestro of Maestros, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902-1968) in the Raga Sindhu Bhairavi.  His rendition is so well-known that many of you must already have heard it. If not, here is a clip below.

The rendition I have chosen for your listening pleasure is by the Maestro with the oh so delicious a voice, Ajoy Chakrabarty. This is a Maestro at play!!  There are touches of Ghazal style singing, a  different flavour of the raga thrown in to to spice things up, and a happy wander through the full chromatic scale like a child who has just discovered a keyboard! It is evident that he is enjoying himself thoroughly. And when Maestros play, is it any wonder that we ordinary mortals are engulfed in joy? Listen below to 18 minutes of sheer, unmitigated pleasure.

It is very interesting academically to listen to both versions; Ajoy Chakrabarty was the disciple of Munawar Ali Khan, son of the legendary Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

I am sure many of you readers in my generation are immediately reminded of the song with a similar refrain but entirely different lyrics from the film Swami (1977) sung by Yesudas. Here is a link for those who would like to listen to it.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

का करूँ सजनी आये न बालम
तड़पत बीती मोरी  उन  बिन रतियाँ 
आये न बालम
रोवत रोवत कल नाँही आये
तड़प तड़प मोहे राम कल नाँही आये
निस दिन मोहे बिरहा सताए
याद आवत जब उनकी बतियाँ
आये न बालम

kaa karoon sajni, AyE na bAlam
tadpat bItI mOrI un bin ratiyA(n)
AyE na bAlam
rOvat rOvat kal nA(n)hi AyE
tadpat tadpat mOhE rAm kal nA(n)hi AyE
nis din mOhE birhA satAyE
yAd Avat jab unkI batiyA(n)
AyE na bAlam

What am I to do, my friend, my beloved has not come. My whole night has passed in suffering without him, but my beloved has not come.
I keep sobbing, I keep suffering, but tomorrow comes not. Everyday when I remember him, I suffer with the pangs of separation. My beloved has not come.

Ajoy Chakrabarty’s slightly different version, with a couplet thrown in for good measure :

का करूँ सजनी आये न बालम
तडपत बीती मोरी उन बिन रतियाँ
आये न बालम
किस मुसीबत से बसे हम शबे-ग़म करते हैं
रात भर हाय सनम हाय सनम करते हैं
रोअत गावत कल नाँही आवे
निस दिन मोहे बिरहाँ सताए
याद आवत जब उनकी बतियाँ
आये न बालम

kA karoon sajnI AyE na bAlam
tadpat bItI mOrI un bin ratiyA(n)
AyE na bAlam
kis musIbat sE basE ham shabE-gam kartE hai(n)
rAt bhar hAy sanam hAy sanam kartE hai(n)
rOvat gAvat kal nA(n)hI AvE
nis din Avat jab unkI batiyAn
Aye na bAlam

Footnote (Raga ):

The scale of the Hindustani Raga Sindhu (or Sindhi) Bhairavi (or Misra Bhairavi, not sure if this right) are as follows :

Arohan : S rR gG mM P dD nN S’
Avarohan : S’ nN dD P mM gG rR S

Scale Hindustani

Yes, you noticed right, all notes of the sargam are present! This raga belongs to the Bhairavi That. I have read that if any Shuddha note is used in Bhairavi in which all notes are Komal (all lowercase notes except m), it becomes Sindhu (Sindhi) Bhairavi. It is a morning raga and it can display a whole range of emotions.

Note : Please note that C is used as Sa for the sake of simplicity as the scale is relative in Indian Classical Music. Also note that the scales paint only a superficial picture of the raga as the ornamentations are a very important part of a raga.


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