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

Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye

Posted on: July 25, 2015

This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in If this article appears in sites like and etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

This is a very famous Bhajan, originally written by Gujarat’s Adikavi Narsinh Mehta. This Bhajan has been sung by most of the famous singers including M S Subbulaxmi and Lata Mangeshkar-both Bharat Ratna s. There are various versions sung by many other singers. Whatever the Language,this Bhajan is sung in its Traditional tune only.

The first Gujarati Talkie film was Narsi Mehta-1932, made by Sagar Movietone and directed by Nanubhai Vakil-B.A. LL.B. This film was the beginning of history of Gujarati Cinema.

Shri Biren Kothari ji, in his wonderfully written informative research reference book “SAGAR MOVIETONE ” has described in detail,the efforts which were taken in making this Historically important milestone film in Gujarati. Reading the details gives one a thrill and one wonders, how the old time pioneers took pains to present an authentic portrayal of the Saint Poet of Gujarat.

The first known talking Gujarati short film was ‘Mumbai ni shethani’, made surprisingly by Madan Theatres in Calcutta. It was released in Bombay on 9-1-1932. Later Krishna films also made a Gujarati short film ‘Chav chav ni Murabba’. It was also made in Hindi and Marathi. Sagar Movietone too made a 4 reeler Gujarati film ‘Shrikrishna Daanleela ‘. However Sagar decided to make a full length feature film in Gujarati and they selected the topic as the Saint-Poet, Adikavi of Gujarat…Narsinh Mehta.

The title role was done finally by a Marathi-Hindi actor Marutirao Pehelwan…Pehelwan being his surname and not profession.( This same Marutirao later married actress Tara-elder sister of dancer Sitara Devi and settled in Dhulia, Maharashtra, opening a big Dairy. Their son was dancer Gopi Krishna.) The others were Miss Khatun, Shareefa ( mother of actress Roshan Ara aka Husn Bano), Umakant Desai ( who became famous as Laxman in film Ram Rajya-1943). Well known literary figures were employed for doing the research work. The final film “NARSI MAHETO” was released on 9-4-1932 at West End Talkies in Bombay. The story was written by Chaturbhuj Doshi-later a famous Director. However, as I have seen, in the Poster of this first Gujarati Talkie, his name was mentioned as Chaturbhuj Anand ji.

Later on some more films were made in Gujarati on the same subject, I suppose. In Hindi too Narsi Bhagat was made three times. First in 1940, when the title role of Narsi Bhagat was done by Vishnupant Pagnis ( who was famous with his role as Tukaram in Prabhat’s bilingual film Sant Tukaram. The Marathi version came in 1936 and Hindi version came in 1948). The second film Narsi mehta was made in 1957, when the title role was done by Shahu Modak ( Famous as Havaldar in bilingual Aadmi-39). In the third version of 1985, the Narsi Bhagat role was done by Sudhir Dalvi ( who became famous as Saibaba ).

Film Narsi Bhagat -57 had 12 songs, including one song in 3 parts and one song in 2 parts. These 5 songs, i.e. 2 multi-version songs are already posted here. So today’s song is the 6th song from this movie as per HFGK. Today’s Bhajan,”Vaishnav jan to ” was a favourite bhajan ( Gujarati version) of Mahatma Gandhi, which was sung by Bharat Ratna M S Subbulaxmi.

In this film,however, it is in Hindi and is sung by Manna Dey. The lyrics are different slightly as compared to the original Gujarati bhajan, but the tune is the same universal traditional tune. The cast of the film was, Shahu Modak, Nirupa Roy, Niranjan Sharma, Lalita Pawar, Radhakishen, Mmadan Puri etc.

Narsinh Mehta was born in Vaishnava Nagar community at Talaja and later shifted to Junagadh (then Jirndurg) in Saurashtra, Gujarat. He lost his parents when he was 5 years old. He could not speak until the age of 8. He was raised by his grand mother Jaygauri.

He married Manekbai probably in the year 1429. Mehta and his wife stayed at his brother Bansidhar’s place in Junagadh. However, his cousin’s wife (Sister-in-law or bhabhi) did not welcome Narsinh very well. She was an ill-tempered woman, always taunting and insulting Narsinh Mehta for his worship (Bhakti). One day, when Narasinh mehta had enough of these taunts and insults, he left the house and went to a nearby forest in search of some peace, where he fasted and meditated for seven days by a secluded Shiva lingam until Shiva appeared before him in person. On the poet’s request, the Lord took him to Vrindavan and showed him the eternal raas leela of Krishna and the gopis. A legend has it that the poet transfixed by the spectacle burnt his hand with the torch he was holding but he was so engrossed in the ecstatic vision that he was oblivious of the pain. Mehta, as the popular account goes, at Krishna’s command decided to sing His praises and the nectarous experience of the rasa in this mortal world. He resolved to compose around 22,000 kirtans or compositions.

After this dream-like experience, transformed Mehta returned to his village, touched his bhabhi’s feet, and thanked her for insulting him. In Junagadh, Mehta lived in poverty with his wife and two children, a son named Shamaldas, and a daughter for whom he had special affection, Kunwarbai. He revelled in devotion to his hearts’ content along with sadhus, saints, and all those people who were Hari’s subjects – Harijans – irrespective of their caste, class or sex. It also seems that he must have fallen into a somewhat ill repute for his close relations with Lord’s sakhis and gopis, Narsinh Mehta’s women followers, with whom he danced and sang. The Nagars of Junagadh despised him and spared no opportunity to scorn and insult him.

By this time, Mehta had already sung about the raasleela of Radha and Krishna. The compositions are collected under the category of shringar compositions. They are full of intense lyricism, bold in their erotic conception and are not without allegorical dimensions, this saves the compositions from being something of erotic court poetry of medieval India.

Soon after his daughter, Kunwarbai’s marriage (around 1447) to Shrirang Mehta of Una’s son, Kunwarbai became pregnant and it was a custom for the girl’s parents to give gifts and presents to all the in-laws during the seventh month of pregnancy. This custom, known as Mameru, was simply out of the reach of poor Narsinh who had hardly anything except intransigent faith in his Lord. How Krishna helped his beloved devotee is a legend depicted in ‘Mameru Na Pada’. This episode is preserved vividly in the memory of Gujarati people by compositions by later poets and films.

Other famous legends include ‘Hundi (Bond)’ episode and ‘Har Mala (Garland)’ episode. The episode in which none other than Shamalsha Seth cleared a bond written by poverty stricken beloved, is famous not only in Gujarat but in other parts of India as well. The Har Mala episode deals with the challenge given to Mehta by Ra Mandlik (1451–1472) a Chudasama king, to prove his innocence in the charges of immoral behavior by making the Lord Himself garland Narsinh. Mehta depicts this episode. How Sri Krishna, in the guise of a wealthy merchant, helped Mehta in getting his son married is sung by the poet in ‘Putra Vivah Na Pada’. He went to Mangrol where, at the age of 79, he is believed to have died.

The crematorium at Mangrol is called ‘Narsinh Nu Samshan’ where perhaps one of the greatest sons of Gujarat was cremated.

He will ever remembered for his poetic works and devotion to Lord Krishna. He is known as the first poet of Gujarati.

The film NARSI BHAGAT-1957 was produced by Devendra Goyal under the banner of Goyal Cine Corporation,Bombay. Music Director was Ravi, who gave twelve excellent songs in the film. It not only contained the famous Bhajan,”Vaishnav jan to tene Kahiye” by Manna Dey, but also another popular bhajan-“Darshan do Ghanshyam Nath mohe “. This is already posted on this Blog, with yet one more very melodious Bhajan by Asha and Manna Dey-‘Sab ki naiyya paar lagaiyya”.

Narsinh Mehta was a poor mute boy, born in a Brahmin family of Junagadh district(Gujarat) in 1414 AD. From childhood, he had leanings towards sadhus and attending Keertans. When he was 8 years old,a Sadhu gave him blessings and he could speak. In order to curb his Bhakti activities, the family got him married to Manik Mehta. He even got a son and a daughter, but his love for God did not diminish. His Bhabhi one day insulted and taunted him so much that a sad Narsi left the house and went to Jungle. There he fasted and meditated for 7 days continuously. Finally Lord Vishnu appeared and took him to Vrindavan to see Krishna’s Rasleela. After this experience he returned to the home and thanked his Bhabhi for insulting and prompting him to go to Jungle.He became immersed in krishna Bhakti and recited poems and did keertans. Sarangdhar, his Bhabhi’s brother tried very hard to trouble him and also to get him arrested by Junagadh’s king. In all these ordeals, God came to his help and even the King submitted to him becoming his devotee.The film has shown several of his miracles and also has several bhajans. All in all this film was very interesting to those who like religious films with miracles and bhajans.

Here is the famous Bhajan of “Narshi Bhagat”(1957) sung by Manna Dey.


Song-Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye (Narsi Bhagat)(1957) Singer-Manna Dey, Lyrics-Narsinh Mehta, MD-Ravi


Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye
peer paraayi jaane re ae ae
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye
peer paraayi jaane re ae ae
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye
par upkaar kare phir bhi jo
man abhimaan na maane re ae ae
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye

chhod buraai kare bhalaai
taje paraai ninda
sakal charaachar samajh baraabar
rahe dharam par zinda re bhai
rahe dharam par zinda
bhool jaan kar kare na laalach
daya kare anjaane re ae
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye
peer paraai jaane re ae ae
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye

na koi chhota na koi khota
hari ke sabhi khilaune
jiske man mein bhed na janme
uske shyam solone re bhai
uske shyam salone
pinjra chhod ude jab panchhi
kya apne begaane re ae
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye

jhoothh na bole
satya ko tole
meethhi boli bole ae
jhoothh na bole
satya ko tole
meethhi boli bole
oonch neech ka bhaav na rakkhe
man ki aankhen khote re bhai
man ki aankhen khote
dhanya usi ki maata jag mein
jo hari ko pehchaane re ae
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye
peer paraai jaane re ae ae
Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye

3 Responses to "Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye"

Good film indeed. But nothing like the Gujarati make in which Narsi bhagat sings in raag Kedar and Megh malhar. Vaishnav janato is like an anthem for Gujarat and the vaishnavas the world over, and the original Vaishnav janato should not have been changed. Gopal bahadur Nepali was perhaps not properly guided


My friends where are all other commentators ?This is the best blog and this Bhajan we often used to sing in Bombay’s Famous Fellowship School .Absolutely Enjoyed Arun Saab as the Producer Devendra Goyal has chosen perfect Great Poet and devotee of Krishna , there were many myths and articles about Narsih Mehta .Still many parts of the world and India this Bhajan is still & will be popular .” Kunwarbai nu mameru film was famous too . I am not sure that Narsih Mehta and Sudama (Lord Krishna ) fulfils N. Mehta’s requirements . It is another episode in the story .Blog is written in precise manner with all the facts .Another Devotee of Krishna was Meera bai & Chaitanya mahaprabu and many more …… Shekhar




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