Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Laayi hayaat aaye kazaa le chali chaley

Posted on: July 3, 2011

This article is written by Sudhir, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog.

Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim “Zauq” is considered as a leading light amongst the Urdu poets across all ages in the subcontinent. Born in 1789, he was the son of a lowly placed soldier in the Mughal Army. He was educated in the ‘maktab’ (elementary religious school) under the tutelage of Hafiz Ghulam Rasool. Hafiz saab was a poet himself, and used to write ghazals under the pen name of ‘shauk’. Under this influence, Muhammad Ibrahim got addicted to poetry, and himself started to write under the pen name of ‘Zauq’.

In those days Shah Naseer was the most famous master poet of Delhi. Zauq began showing his ghazals to Shah Naseer for improvement. Naseer recognized the natural talent and made him his pupil. Gradually, Zauq started to participate in mushairas. His natural talent and his singular obsession to excel brought him fame and fortune. Over time, he started getting better appreciated in the mushairas than his mentor. Shah Naseer, annoyed with the growing popularity of his star pupil, threw him out. Thereafter, Zauk made progress solely on his talent. Another good friend of Zauq, Meer Kazim Husain ‘Beqaraar’, got appointed as the mentor of the Crown Prince Zafar (later to be the Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar). Zauq got the opportunity to enter the royal court, and started participating in royal mushairas. Later when ‘Beqaraar’ took up a job with the British Resident in Delhi, Zafar appointed Zauq as his mentor. When Bahadur Shah Zafar ascended the throne, Zauk got appointed the poet laureate in the Mughal court, an honour that he held till his death in 1854.

Zauq was a prominent contemporary of Ghalib. The rivalry of the two poets is quite well known, and their spats are legendary, to the extent that even the emperor himself had to intervene. During his lifetime Zauq was more popular than Ghalib for the critical values in those days were mainly confined to judging a piece of poetry on the basis of grammar, phraseology and idioms. Content and style were barely taken into account while appreciating poetry. (Note: Ghalib’s poetry was considered lyrical, and yet more difficult as far as grammar and construction is concerned). Zauq composed his ghazals using simple words, phrases of everyday use and similes rooted in the common culture. His ghazals are notable for their spontaneity. Zauq was a deeply religious man. In his ghazals too he would deal with religious and ethical themes. Therefore, his ghazals lack lyricism and appear to be the verses of a preacher.

It has been argued back and forth over the decades, but many consider this ghazal by Zauk as the best piece of poetry ever sung. The legend goes that the emperor was in court with his scholars and poets. At this time he got a message that the queen desires to see him, and he had to go immediately. Zauq was struck by the fact that no one has any control over one’s actions and destiny. Even the emperor of the realm has someone who can summon him. That is when it is said that Zauq conjured up the key verse of this eternal classic – ‘apni khushi na aaye na apni khushi chaley’.

Another offering that is steeped in the philosophy of life, and made immortal by the rendition of Saigal Saab. This non film ghazal speaks of the helplessness and the vulnerability of the human existence. It is a direct strike against the arrogance and condescension of the human mind, laying bare in essence, the inability of the human being to do or accomplish anything. And what more to add, when rendered by the master himself – just this divine voice adds to the meaning and profundity of the concept. Another out of the world experience – the voice that is KL Saigal.

laayee hayaat aaye, kazaa le chali chaley
apni khushi na aaye, na apni khushi chaley

We are the creatures of another’s bidding – neither our birth, nor our departure is in our hands. The creation creates, and so we are born to this earth; and the death takes us, and we leave with it. Neither my being is my will, nor is my release.

Laayee = brought by
Hayaat = creation
Kazaa = calamity, misfortune, tragedy – in this context, it death that the poet refers to
Khushi = happiness; however the context here is volition or preference i.e. a person is neither born of his own preference, nor does he pass away of his own preference

behtar to hai yehi ke naa, duniyaa se dil lagey
par kyaa karen jo kaam na, be-dillagi chaley

It is prudent not to set one’s heart to this world, but then what of it, when this detachment itself serves no purpose to me.

Behtar = better, more prudent
Duniyaa = this world
Dil lagaana = be enamored, be engrossed
Be-dillagi = to keep away from setting one’s heart on something
Chaley = the context here is – help, serve a purpose

duniyaa ne kis ka raah e fanaa, mein diyaa hai saath
tum bhi chaley chalo yoon hi, jab tak chali chaley

In the final inference, this world (and its people) do never provide any comfort or succor on this journey to the final mortality. Till the time this life breath is, just proceed with this journey, without any expectations, as everyone is wont to do.

Duniyaa = this world
Raah e fanaa = a very interesting purport to life – the path to final demise, the journey towards death, and what a true assertion this is; life is nothing but a progression towards the end.
Chaley chalo = proceed, move on
Yoon hi = as it is
Jab tak = till then
Chali chaley = it goes on; the deeper context here is the incoming and outgoing breath, the action of being alive. Till the breath is stirring, so you must continue.

jaate hawaa e shauk mein hain, is chaman se zauk
apni balaa se baad e sabaa, ab kabhi chaley

(People generally go for a morning walk to a park or a garden, to get a breath of the cool and fresh morning air.) Now that I depart from this garden, where I had come to seek cool and fresh breeze; that breeze may flow whenever now, what of it to me?

Jaate = to go
Hawaa e shauk = the purpose of enjoying the breeze
Chaman = garden
Balaa = misfortune, ill omen; the context here of apni balaa is – it is of no matter to me; e.g. something happens that is of no consequence to me, then I don’t care what the outcome is; popular usage is – ‘meri balaa se’
Baad e sabaa = the cool breeze in the morning

Song-Laayee hayaat aaye Kazaa le chali chaley (Sehgal Non Film Song) (1937) Singer-K L Saigal, Lyrics-Zauq


laayee hayaat aaye
kazaa le chali chaley
laayee hayaat aaye
kazaa le chali chaley
apni khushi na aaye na
apni khushi na aaye
na apni khushi chaley
apni khushi na aaye
na apni khushi chaley
behtar to hai yehi ke naa
duniyaa se dil lagey
behtar to hai yehi ke naa
duniyaa se dil lagey
par kyaa karen jo kaam na
par kyaa karen jo kaam na
be-dillagi chaley
par kyaa karen jo kaam na
be-dillagi chaley

duniyaa ne kis ka raah e fanaa
duniyaa ne kis ka raah e fanaa
mein diyaa hai saath
duniyaa ne kis ka raah e fanaa
mein diyaa hai saath
tum bhi chaley chalo yoon hi
jab tak chali chaley
tum bhi chaley chalo yoon hi
jab tak chali chaley

jaate hawaa e shauk mein hain
jaate hawaa e shauk mein hain
is chaman se Zauk
jaate hawaa e shauk mein hain
is chaman se Zauk
apni balaa se baad e sabaa
apni balaa se baad e sabaa
ab kabhi chaley
apni balaa se baad e sabaa
ab kabhi chaley
laayee hayaat aaye
kazaa le chali chaley


8 Responses to "Laayi hayaat aaye kazaa le chali chaley"

Thanks a lot for this informative write up on “Zauq”. Very little is about this important figure in urdu peotry. The essay with the translation is enlightening.

“It has been argued back and forth over the decades, but many consider this ghazal by Zauk as the best piece of poetry ever sung. ” I presume, as argument has been going on for decades and not centuries that this pertains to the recital by Sehgal sahab. Having heard this once, in such an old recording , it is amazing how each and every word is so clear and perfect. In 15 years this recording will be a century old. Then the argument may continue for centuries on end. Who composed the tune for this ? or was it Sehgal himself.

Spell bound at this astonishing, simple and yet so deep a poetry from Zauk. Thank you for the translation and that very interesting story behind it.

Heard after decades, OMG, what a ghazal ! Lovely. Sir, this site is a gem. Thanks.

This splendid ghazal of Zauq rendered by K.L.Saigal takes me back to my boyhood days in the early forties, A very close friend of mine nd I used to listen to broadcasts by AIR between 12 and 1 p.m. which were aimed at presenting the rich repertoire of Saigal. This is one of my favourites.
It is a pity that the great singer did not live to see India become free from British rule.
N S Rao, Chennai

Thanks a lot for your memories associated with this song.

Translation of this ghazal has made it a superb piece of writing.

I am a fan of this great translation. I have been around but could never find such superb translation anywhere. many thanks for introducing Mirza Zauq

Commendable translation/ interpretation.
However, does take a few liberties in all but the first couplet.
1. Let me start with the last couplet.
hawa-e-shauq cannot possibly mean the desire for the breeze. The izafat (-e-) can be roughly translated as -of-, hence the appropriate meaning would be breeze-of-desire, or flight-of-desire … and hence the interpretation …

Now that I leave this garden (this world) in my desire for something else (the other world)
The morning breeze of this garden (what happens to the world tomorrow) is of little interest to me.

Note also here the contrast to the first couplet – ‘naa apanii khushi chale’.

2. duniyaa ne kis ka raah e fanaa, mein diyaa hai saath
tum bhi chaley chalo yoon hi, jab tak chali chaley

A straightforward interpretation here.
You will be but alone in your last journey, the world will not be with you
But do go along, while it (the world) goes with you (knowing it won’t be for long)

Or, while it may seem that the world is with you, it is but an illusion (or not long-lasting), be aware of that.

In HFM, would be Sahir’s
utanaa hii upakaar samjh ko_ii jitana saath nibhaa de …. ko_ii naa mare ..

3. behtar to hai yehi ke naa, duniyaa se dil lagey
par kyaa karen jo kaam na, be-dillagi chaley

Again, I find the ‘detachment serving no purpose’ interpretation a little off the mark.

Continuing with the thought of lack of control over our coming into or departing from this world, Zauq says that attachment to the world or wordly things be eschewed, however such is life that it is almost impossible to live with complete detachment.


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