24 October 2014

Meeting the neighborhood girl / boy …

Main to piya se / Naina laga aayi ray,
Ghar naari kanwari / Kahay so kahay,
Main to piya se / Naina laga aayi ray.
Sohni suratiya / Mohni muratiya,
Main to hriday ke peechay / Samaa aayi ray;
Ghar naari kanwari / Kahay so kahay,
Main to piya say / Naina laga aayi ray.

This is a poem by Amir Khusrao – one of the most versatile poets from the Indian subcontinent dating back nearly eight centuries. Credited with bringing Qawwalis to the subcontinent, he is often also credited for creating the Ghazal style. He was certainly responsible for creating the percussion instrument “tabla” – that I have played for thirty five years or so. He is called the “Parrot of India”.

This poem was incorporated in Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s rendition of the very popular Qawwali “Chhap Tilak”.

The true meaning and impact of this poem is perhaps difficult to appreciate in this age and time when you meet your opposite sex on date.com. In those days society frowned heavily on young men and women getting to meet or know each other. All marriages were arranged by parents or social elders. It is in this context, that this girl (the poem is written from the point of view of the girl) who has softness for a neighborhood boy meets him (although it is translated as “had an affair”, the literal meaning is simply “my eyes engaged with his” ) and then writes about her feelings. She realizes that some neighborhood friend of her will tell on her and there will be dire consequences, but she simply does not care.

I am sure many of my friends growing up with me in India a few decades back can relate to that neighborhood girl or boy (as the case might be) and the trysts on the sly and the painful consequences later 🙂 Wonder what was the parallel situation in USA at around that time. I am sure there was that high school girl or boy that parents did not approve of but my guess is that the retribution was not as harsh, if it was there at all. Maybe I need to go back a century in this country to get a parallel.

In any case, here is the translation:

I have just had an affair with my darling,
I don’t care what the neighborhood girls say;
For I just had an affair with my darling.
Oh, his beautiful face, charming like an idol,
I have just earned a place in the very bottom of his heart.
I don’t care what the neighborhood girls say,
For I just had an affair with my darling.

Posted October 24, 2014 by Rajib Roy in category "Music/Poetry


  1. By Niladri Datta on

    Aei gulo tui abar hear korchis naki leaving aside BRYAN ADAMS, MARC ANTHONY, NEIL DIAMONDS or even CLIFF RICHARD chere. Great!!!!!!

  2. By Anand Iyer on

    I thought Amir Khusro was Persian maybe because many of the quotes and poetry attributed to him were written in Persian. It also keeps the peace in our house to concede that Persians were more cultured and composed poems railing at misfortunes and comparing wine to rubies while Indians excel at Ruby (on rails). I was surprised to learn he was born in current day UP

  3. By Rajib Roy on

    I need to look up but I believe his family was high up at the King’s court and because this was during the Mughal dynasty, many of his works might have been in Persian.

  4. By Rajib Roy on

    I think my dates are messed up. I was thinking the British ruled for 200 years and the Mughals had about 6 emperors – so that would be about another 200 years. 1500s??? Khusrao then would be three hundred years before?

  5. By Hemant Nadakuditi on

    Khusro lived in the 13th century. Persian was the official language hence most of his poetry was in Persian, but he also wrote in Urdu and purbi .. (or some variant of hindi) for mass appeal of his works. For example, one of his popular works was Zehal -E – Miskeen in which he had used all three languages.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBFECZ_huB0 . His tomb is in Allahabad.

  6. By Hiren Desai on

    Rajib -blast couple of hours listening to Tarana singing by Rashid khan by the pool here on Dubai weekend – delighted to read your quote from Khusro the originator of Tarana style singing. Born 1200 odd AD he was spiritual disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia – Amir a great Sufi poet is credited for creating qawwali style singing – introducing Persian Turkish and Arabic elements into Indian subcontinent language of those days !

  7. By Hiren Desai on

    Pls lusten to Ustad Rashid Khan raag Miya Ki Todi- the brandish mentions in reverent tone Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya ! —-“pasr karoge kub mori naiya”


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