A translation & an interpretation

A post on a friend’s Facebook page triggered a discussion on one of my favorite qawwalis. A suggestion from him resulted in an interpretation.

I love languages for the richness of emotion expressed when words are strung together. Having said that, a translation can never do justice to the beauty of the layers of meanings/emotions that the author presents in the original. Here is my humble attempt at both – an English translation and an interpretation of one of the most wonderful qawwalis I have heard.


Na to caaravaan ki talaash hai
Na to humsafar ki talaash hai
Mere shauq-e-khaana kharaab ko teri rehguzar ki talaash hai

I do not desire (to belong to) a caravan (family, friends)
Now do i desire a travel (life) companion
This wretched desire residing within me seeks a path that leads to you

Mere naamuraad junoon ka hai ilaaj koi to maut hai
Jo davaa ke naam pe zehar de
Usi chaaraagar ki talaash hai

Death is the only cure for my unfortunate obsession
I am in search of that wise healer
Who knows that poison will do more for me than medicine

Tera ishq hai meri aarzoo,
Tera ishq hai meri aabroo,

Becoming one with you is my desire;
And your love – my honor

Dil ishq, jism ishq hai, aur jaan ishq hai
Imaan ki jo poochho to imaan ishq hai

My heart, my body, my life – (I will give them up) for your love
If you ask me about my faith, that is love too.

Tera ishq mai.N kaise ChhoD doo.N?
Meri umr bhar ki talaash hai

How do I let go of this love?
This love is what I have sought all my life

Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
Jaan-soz ki haalat ko jaan-soz hi samjhegaa
Mai.N shamaa se kehta hoo.N mehfil se nahii.N kehta
Kyonki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

Yes, this is love, this is love
And only one who is as tormented will know how I feel
I speak to the flame (who knows how the moth feels), and not the rest of the world
(For only the flame understands the moth’s desire to burn) Yes, this is how my love is.

Sahar tak sab ka hai anjaam jal kar khaak ho jaana
Bhari mehfil mei.N koi shamaa yaa parvaana ho jaaye
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

A dawn will come when everything will burn to ashes
Some of us will be moths, while others will be flames
For that is our destiny – to love, yes dying (and becoming one with the creator) is love,

Vehshat-e-dil rasn-o-daar se roki na gayi
Kisi khanjar, kisi talvaar se roki na gayi

This mad love has never been deterred by the gallows’ ropes,
Nor by (the fear of) a dagger, or a sword

Ishq Majnu ki woh aavaz hai jiske aage koi Laila kisi deewaar se roki na gayi,
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

This love is like the love of Majnu and Laila, where Laila followed Majnu’s voice and no walls could stop her
For such is my love, yes this is love.

Woh hanske agar maa.Nge.N to hum jaan bhi dede.N,
Haa.N yeh jaan to kya cheez hai? Imaan bhi dede.N!
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

If the divine asks even half jokingly for my life, I would give it up
In fact, I would even give up my faith!
For such is my love, yes this is love.

Naaz-o-andaaz se kehte hai.N ki jeena hoga,
Zehar bhi dete hai.N to kehte hai.N Ki peena hoga
Jab mai.N peetaa hoo.N to kehte hai.N ki marta bhi nahii.N,
Jab mai.N martaa hoo.N to kehte hai.N ki jeenaa hogaa
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

(Interpretation – not translation)

The world dictates that I must live my life with grace to the almighty.
When I decide to live, they pity my miserable plight and provide the poison I have been seeking, forcing me to gulp it,
And when I drink it, they wait and wonder why death refuses to take me sooner.
When I finally lay dying, they feel guilt and want me to live.
Yes, I understand (what the world feels for me). This is also love.

Mazhab-e-ishq ki har rasm kaDi hoti hai,
Har qadam par koi deewaar khaDi hoti hai

I understand that this love has the strictest of tests
With obstacles at every step.

Ishq aazad hai, Hindu Na Musalmaan hai ishq,
Aap hii dharm hai aur aap hii imaan hai ishq
Jis se aage nahii.N shekh-o-Brahaman dono.N,
Us haqeeqat ka garajtaa hua ailaan hai ishq

This love (for the almighty) is free of religion
A faith in such a love is a kind of religion, in and of itself.
Neither the Sheikh nor the Brahmin are aware
Of the profound reality that is this love.

Ishq na puchhe deen dharm nu, ishq na puchhe jaataan
Ishq de haatho.N garam lahu vich doobiyaan laakh baraataan ke
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

Love does not ask one’s religion or caste,
The joy of wedding revelers is a testimony to the power of love
For such is love.

Raah ulfat ki kaThin hai ise aasaan na samajh
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

The path to such a love is treacherous, be warned
For this is truly love.

Bahut kaThin hai Dagar panghat ki
Ab kya bhar luau.N mai.N Jamuna se matki?

The path to the riverside is dangerous
(Literal translation) How will I fill water from the banks of the Jamuna River?
(Interpretation) How will I live a simple life and fulfill my worldly duties if I choose to follow this path?

Mai.N jo chali jal jamuna bharan ko dekho sakhi ji mai.N jo chali jal jamuna bharan ko
Nand kishor mohe roke jhaadon
To kya bhar luau.N mai.N Jamuna se matki?
Ab laaj raakho more ghoonghat pat ki

(Literal Translation)

As I was on my way to fill water from at the Jamuna River,
Nanda’s son (Krishna) stopped me
Now how do I go and fill water from the Jamuna River?
I hope my honor is protected.


As I was about to live my life in ignorance
I encountered a vision of the divine – this was a revelation.
Now how do I go back to living like I did before?
The almighty will protect me from being cast out (for being devoted to Him and forgetting my worldly duties)

Jab jab Krishn ki bansi baaji,
Nikali Raadhaa saj ke
Jaan ajaan ka maan bhulaa ke,
Lok laaj ko taj ke
Janak dulaari ban ban Doli,
Pehenke prem ki maalaa
Darshan jal ki pyaasi Meera
Pii gayii vishh ka pyaalaa aur phir araj kari
Ke laaj raakho raakho raakho, laaj raakho dekho dekho,
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

Whenever Krishna played his flute
Radha appeared looking beautiful
Forgetting the norms and mores of society,
Leaving no room for shame
King Janak’s loving daughter (Sita)
Stepped out wearing the garland of love
Meera, thirsty for a glimpse of her Lord
Gulped a glass of poison and then pleaded (to Him),
Protect my honor.
Such is love.

Allah rasool ka farmaan ishq hai
Yaanii Hadith ishq hai, Quraan ishq hai
Gautam kaa aur Maseehaa kaa armaan ishq hai
Yeh kaayanaat qism hai aur jaan ishq hai
Ishq sarmad, ishq hii mansoor hai
Ishq Moosa, ishq Koh-e-Toor hai
Khaaq ko but, aur but ko devtaa karta hai ishq
Intahaa yeh hai ke bande ko khuda karta hai ishq
Haan.N yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

Allah’s messenger Mohammed preaches love
His teachings are love, the Quraan is love
Buddha and Christ wish for  love
This material existence is part of love, and this life are love
Love is everlasting, love alone is victorious
Love is Moses, love is Mt. Sinai
Love turns ashes into idols, and idols into Gods
The pinnacle is that love has the power to turn man into God
Yes, such is love.



The blog Mr. and Mrs. 55 were used to help inform this translation.

There may be errors in the original lyrics. Please feel free to comment with corrections.


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