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

Zihaal e miskin makun tagaaful

Posted on: March 16, 2013

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

For the past few days, I have been going through the poems of Amir Khusrau. Fortunately, most of his poems are available on the internet with English translation. His love poems, riddles, dohas (couplets in Hindwi), qawwalis etc are very absorbing. I feel, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the trigger for the first literary renaissance especially in northern India was witnessed during the time of Amir Khusrau. He was one among the first in elite class to propagate the use of an Indian vernacular language in his poems which he called Hindawi ( mix of Hindi and its subsidiary dialects). I am not sure but the development of Urdu language in later years may have come as a continuum from Hindwi language.

Hazrat Amir Khusrau (1253-1325), was the poet, the musician, the scholar of Persian, Arabic and Hindwi languages, a Sufi mystic, the originator of qawwalis, khayal and tarana style of music, the inventor of the split version of dholak called tabla and many more things to his credit. Born to a Turkish father and a rajput mother in Badaun (now in UP), he chose Persian as his main language for writing his poems. After his father’s death , Amir Khusrau and his mother shifted to Delhi. After a brief stint as a soldier, he served as a poet in the royal court of 7 kings including Allauddin Khilji and Mohammed Bin Tuglaq. During this period, he was greatly influenced by the teachings of Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya, a Sufi saint and became his disciple.

Since most of those who established their rules in northern India came from Central Asian region where Arabic and Persian were the main languages, these became the official languages of what was known as Delhi Sultanate. Amir Khusrau started writing poems mainly in Persian. Later he also started writing poems in Hindwi. Those days, writing literary works in an Indian vernacular language was considered to be a disgrace by the elite classes who wrote and conversed in Persian only. It is to the credit of Amir Khusrau that he could withstand the pressure from the powerful elite classes in his royal court to write some of his poems in Hindwi. He says in one place that he is a ‘Hindustani Turk’ and he composes Hindwi verses with a fluency of running water. In another place, he says that he is a ‘tuti-e-Hind’ (Hindustani parrot) who always speaks the truth.

During this period, Sufism was taking root in northern India and to reach the wider net work of population for propagating Sufism, it was felt necessary to express the feelings in a local dialect rather than in Persian or Arabic which were confined only to elite classes. Some scholars studying Amir Khusrau believe that his Hindwi poems may have received the strong support from his mentor and guide Nizamuddin Awliya who was a saint and interested in spreading his teachings to a vast majority of the population. So this was a beginning of Amir Khusrau writing poems in Hindwi. He also wrote some poems mixing Persian and Hindwi verses. One of his best couplets which he uttered when he saw his mentor and guide Nizamuddin Awliya was no more, gives an idea about his preference of Hindwi language :
Gori sove sej par mukh par dare kes
Chal Khusrau ghar apne rain bhai chahun des

O handsome, you are sleeping on a nice bed covering your face with hairs.
It is time for Khusrau to walk to his house (metaphorically ‘to walk to another world’) when everywhere is darkness.

Six months after the death of his mentor, Amir Khusrau also left this world in 1325. But even after nearly 700 years, he is one of the most revered Sufi poets in the Indian sub-continent.

I have chosen for discussion one of the most popular non-filmy Sufi love songs ‘zehaal-e-miskeen makun taghaaful’ (C.1960) written by Amir Khusrau in an innovative way mixing Persian verses with Hindwi ( Brij bhasha dialect). The first and third lines of the first verse are in Persian while the second and fourth lines are in Brij bhasha (dialect). In the subsequent verses, the first two lines are in Persian followed by two lines in Brij bhasha. This popular song has been sung by many prominent singers like, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ghulam Ali, Abeeda Parveen, Chhaya Ganguli, Sabri Brothers etc. While some of them have sung in a qawwali style, some have sung in ghazal style. I have chosen the Mukesh-Sudha Malhotra version. In the first verse both of them sing Persian and Brij bhasa lines separately. In the remaining verses, Mukesh sings the Persian part and Sudha Malhotra the Brij bhasha part. The composer of this song is Murli Manohar Swarup.

Incidentally, Gulzar seems to have been inspired (rather impressed) by the beauty of these Persian-Brij Bhasha poem. I will not call it a plagiarism of Amir Khusrau’s poem by Gulzar as he used only first 3 words from this poem in a song zihaal-e-miskeen maqun ba ranjish from ‘Ghulaami’ (1985) reviewed by dear Sudhir. Rest of Gulzar’s lyrics of this song is different with somewhat different interpretation of love keeping the genre of the song more or less the same with that of Amir Khusrau’s poem under discussion.

By the way, in the audio clips of this poem of almost all other singers, the second line in Persian of the third verse has been sung as “hamesha giriyan be ishq aan meh” whereas in this version, it is sung as “ba maihr-e-ahan babust-o-mathir”. I could not find any explanation for this change.

Song-Zihaal e miskin makun taghaful (Mukesh NFS)(1960) Singers-Mukesh, Sudha Malhotra, Lyrics-Amir Khusro, MD-Murli Manohar Swaroop


zehal-e-miskeen makun taghaaful
duraaye naina banaaye batiyaan
zehal-e-miskeen makun taghaaful
duraaye naina banaaye batiyaan
kitaab-e-hijran nadaram-e-jaan
na leho kaaye lagaaye chhatiyan

zehal-e-miskeen makun taghaaful

shabaan-e-hijraan daraaz chun zulf
wa rooz-e-waslat cho umr kotah
sakhi piyaa ko jo main na dekhoon
sakhi piyaa ko jo main na dekhoon
to kaise kaatoon andheri ratiyaan

zehal-e-miskeen makun taghaaful

choo shama sozaan choo zaraa hairaan
aan ann aan
aan aan
choo shama sozaan choo zaraa hairaan
ze maihr-e-ahan babust-o-mathir
na neend naina na ang chaina
na neend naina na ang chaina
na aap aaven na bhejen patiyaan
na aap aaven na bhejen patiyaan

bahaq-e roz-e-wisaal-e dilbar
ke daad maara fareb Khusrau
sapeet man ke duraaye raakhoon
sapeet man ke duraaye raakhoon
jo jaaye paaun piyaa ke khatiyaan

zehal-e-miskeen makun taghaaful
duraaye naina banaaye batiyaan
zehal-e-miskeen makun taghaaful

English Translation (Source here)
Do not overlook my misery
By blandishing your eyes and weaving tales, my patience has over-brimmed
O sweetheart, why do you not take me into your bosom?
(I feel ‘take me into your bosom’ meant ‘embrace me’)

Long like curls in the night of separation
Short like life on the day of our union
My dear, how I pass the dark dungeon (gloomy?) night
Without your face before.

Tossed and bewildered, like a flickering candle,
I roam about in the fire of love
Sleepless night, restless body
Neither comes she nor any message.

In honour of the day I meet my beloved
Who has lured me so long O’ Khushro
I shall keep my heart suppressed
If I ever get a chance to get to her trick (deception?)

5 Responses to "Zihaal e miskin makun tagaaful"

Simply put, bewitching!! Mukesh’s soulful voice and Sudha’s mellifluous voice blend to produce an intoxicating cocktail!!


5- nadar-me jaan

18- ze mehere-a-me hain ba-gushta-m aakhir.

19- na neend raina na ang chaina


I love the poetry of Amir Khusrau. At one I tried to read as much as I could about it. Could you guide me to some good sites and/or books I can read?

Thank you so much for this, Sadanandji.


A few of the sites I visited for his poems are :

There is a scholarly article on Amir Khurau written by Professor Ali S Asani of Harvard University which I liked :

Click to access ALI%20%20S.%20ASANI.pdf


Sir, thanks a lot for sharing this information ..


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