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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Miles to go before I sleep..

Let me start this post by saying – It has taken in-numerous attempts to get to a point in life where I can finally say that I’m actively focusing on getting fit.

For someone who isn’t very disciplined about food (cos I’m a foodie!) or health (cos I’m still young!) it took the company of friends (to kickstart an exercise routine), family (I’m married into a family that is very positively health focused) and a lot of enthusiasm and motivation (from within).

Today I ran 2.25 miles at a more or less steady speed of 4mph in 33 mins.
While it’s really not an achievement to write home about.. It is a milestone for me, and I’m mighty proud of it.

Will celebrate tomorrow with another run – hopefully a 2.5 mile run at 4.5mph in under 30 mins 😉

Oh and.. Here’s the view where I run!


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On a ride

Going up and down the streets of manhattan, ignoring the subway doors open and close.. All while we steal a few winks on each other’s shoulders through weekends spent juggling household chores and catching up with friends over brunches and dinners.

Fighting a cold in the snowy weather, bundled in layers of clothes to brace the winter, perhaps it’s you who makes it all worthwhile, who makes even the mundane more beautiful.

I feel smug as I smile when you rest your head in the crook of my neck, when you lean in as my fingers play with your hair, when you hold onto me in your sleep as I caress your cheek, I feel like the cat that got the cream!

I hope these fleeting moments stay with us when I find myself annoyed at seeing you mumble with your mouth full, or when you see my shoes take over the living room floor.

I realize during these moments that this is what they call happiness. It exists not in the highs of declaring one’s love for another in grand ceremonies, not in big romantic gestures; but in the simple and quiet moments of everyday life.. They come and go before we even begin to hold onto them.


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Surviving the test of time

A close friend of mine found her diary last evening. She flipped through pages that she had filled almost a decade ago and decided to share some of them with me and another one of our close friends!

She had mentioned both of us in various places but most of the incidents she had written about sounded new, like we were reading them for the first time.
She also admitted to having no memory of many of these things. Obviously they seemed important enough then for her to have penned them down.

It struck me then that there’s so little that really stands the test of time! Yes, eventually you and I will both be dead and the world will end and the sun will be a cold black hole and there’ll be no life left on earth. I get that! But even as we live today, there is so little that survives even a decade, let alone a lifetime.
The joys and sorrows of today, become a faded memory; a remnant of a time we cannot even recollect. The present then is all we have really. And yet; such is the nature of life that it renders every moment ephemeral.
What then, will stand the test of time?

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Is love enough?

Sometimes when I look at couples, I tend to ask the question – what keeps these two together?

Of course the typical answer one gets is that they ‘love’ each other. 
But the question(s) I’m really asking could be one or more of these:
Is that all?
Is it enough?
Doesn’t one need more?
What if they realize it’s not enough?
What if they want more?

Snippets from conversations that I’ve had with friends tell me that a lot of people are ok with wanting different things from life, and still being together.

For example – one friend mentioned “last Sunday he watched a movie at home, while I read this really interesting book abt..”

Another friend went skiing with his friends while his wife enjoyed a relaxing weekend at home.

A third friend said that him and his wife can never agree on a restaurant – he likes Indian, while she loves Ethiopian.
You get the drift..

Now I’m fully aware that in a healthy relationship, both partners ought to have their own ‘me time’ and do things that they each like; that tagging your partner along for everything you want to do isn’t necessarily a good thing.
However, at what point do you cross over and become two very different people with very different personalities and very strong preferences who just happen to have fallen in love sometime in the past?

When the serotonin responsible for infatuation, and the dopamine that induced attraction wears off, what do you do then? 
How do you continue to be together? Do you count on endorphins that make you feel a sense of attachment and comfort when you are around the person?

I’ve always felt that for people to be together long term, they should have very similar preferences, or at least a fair amount of similarity in their preferences. Music, movies, food, hobbies, philosophies… You get the point!
One may argue that I’m being too idealistic; and that it’s quite rare to find someone whose likes and dislikes would strongly mirror ones own.
But here’s why being ‘idealistic’ may not be such a bad thing!

Scientists define the ‘honeymoon period’ as being anywhere between 18 months – 4 years. The ‘love’ will wear off eventually. And the endorphins will only do so much!

So go find someone who swoons over jazz like you do!
Or who feels like he was a dog in Italy in his last birth because he absolutely loves Italian food same as you! 
Or who sports his (and your) favorite rocker’s haircut!
Because just ‘love’ may not be enough!

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The right to self-expression

Recently, someone I happen to know posted the news story of a 5 yr old girl’s rape in Delhi, India. His post conveyed the anger he felt with expletives; words that made me wince and detracted me from the news story itself. I, in my good faith and naivety messaged him saying that shouting obscenities on a Facebook status message is about as helpful as doing nothing. Why bother? Besides, if u really want to create awareness, make ur words mean something! Else just, leave it at that – spread the word. That’s enough.

I understand his helplessness, his anger, his frustration. We ambitious young people want corporate jobs with big salaries. But we often find ourselves at odds with our own expectations. Our helplessness comes from prioritizing our own needs. At the end of the day, we feel like there’s nothing we can do “because I’m too young and I need to concentrate on my own career” or “because I have so much else on my mind”
But we’re quick to anger. Cos that’s easy! Just update ur Facebook/twitter feed shouting obscenities at perpetrators, curse them and we feel better! Like my friend said, “I need to vent for my own sanity”

During my interaction with him, he also said something that made me furrow my brows and think hard before I opened my mouth again, or in this case.. typed another admonishing message to him!

He said that while he was fully aware that his anger and facebook status achieved nothing, it helped him vent and finally, it was HIS page and that he had the right to self-expression.

I took a pause and realized that while what I was trying to say was now besides the point, his right to self-expression had encroached my privacy.
That’s when I thought to myself, is that what social media allows us? The right to be obnoxious without reprimand to anyone and everyone present on a social media platform like twitter/Facebook?

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108 sun salutations = exhaustion

The verdict is out. It is every bit as exhausting as it sounds. My muscles are sore and my legs felt like jelly at the end of it. I managed to complete 75 I think. Had to take 4/5 breaks in the 2+ hrs it took. I’m just glad I could stick it out.

The best part about practicing yoga is the teachers you learn from.
In this class, my instructor started with an ‘intention setting’ – what do you want to achieve from this practice and what will you feel when you achieve it?

I’m so glad I went. Hoping to continue my practice this year with the same resolve and determination.

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