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

Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa na saki

Posted on: October 25, 2018


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

Blog Day : 3751 Post No. : 14716

The Hindi film industry has seen many legends in its 100+ years of existence. Giants in their chosen field, revered by not just their generation but by generations that followed. They have a very fond place in the hearts of film lovers, who are eternally thankful for their immense contribution to cinema. They all recognise the the world of cinema would be much the poorer without this contribution.

One such legend, and one who probably elevates the worth of the term “legend”, is, without doubt, yesteryear poet and lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi.

Today (25 october 2018)happens to be his death anniversary – and, as we’ve done on previous occasions, we pay our humble tribute to him today.

Among various artistes that I’ve written about on this blog, Sahir has probably featured the most, alongside Rafisaab. I’ve written many times about him, on his birth and death anniversaries.

And yet, I’m never bored while discussing Sahir. Yes, readers of my posts might get bored 🙂 – but I’m not.

Whenever I write about him, I feel a rush of energy in my body. The content might be repetitive, but the huge regard I have for him overcomes everything else.

Sahir’s status as poet and lyricist extraordinaire is established beyond debate. He might not have been the most popular person around (and that’s the understatement of the millennium!) but even his most ardent critics would have to grudgingly acknowledge the sheer magic of his poetry.

Such is the richness of the treasure trove that he has left us that no post can do justice to it. In previous posts on him, I have often listed some of his songs – the sheer power of many of them transports you to a different world. Yes, there’s much more to a song than just its lyrics – but with Sahir, you could be assured that the lyrics never missed your attention.

Sahir’s lyrics were a direct reflection of his personality. He had strong views on various aspects of life and society, on relationships, on politics – and never hesitated to let the world know of them. It was as if he was waiting for an opportunity to use his poetry and lyrics to convey the message that Sahir, the person, wanted to get across to the world.

Thus, when you listened to “zindagi bheekh mein nahin milti, zindagi badh ke chheeni jaati hai”, you felt it was Sahir exhorting you to demand your rights in life.

Or even, later in life, when he was disillusioned with the way things were going in his life, “main pal do pal ka shaayar hoon”.

Sahir had a very strong sense of justice and injustice in society. Early in life, when called upon to choose between his mother and his far wealthier father, he chose his mother. Till her very end, he was totally devoted to her. Many of his songs reflect the loving relationship between a mother and child.

Throughout his life, Sahir spoke out against injustice and tyranny. He spoke for the underprivileged, the marginalized, the labour class. He tried to show society a mirror, however ugly it looked. He was trenchant in his criticism of the state of affairs – “Samaj ko badal daalo” was one of his lines.

Sahir’s lament about the pathetic state of living for the poor in India is well illustrated in the poignant songs of Pyaasa (1957). “Yahaan par to jeewan se hai maut sasti” he wrote, following it up with “ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai”. “Jinhe naaz hai Hind par wo kahaan hain”, he said.

Continuing in this refrain, he went satirical, writing “Cheen-o-Arab hamara, Hindustan hamara, rehne ko ghar nahin hai, saara jahaan hamaara” for Phir Subah Hogi (1958).

Each line, one could feel, coming straight from the heart.

There were other aspects also that Sahir was concerned about and discussed in his lyrics. Hindu-Muslim unity for example. Always a sensitive topic, and even more so in the years following independence. But Sahir was never one to shy away from a topic – his lines “tu Hindu banega na Musalmaan banega” are some of the greatest lines of Hindi cinema.

The other thing that bothered Sahir greatly was the treatment of women in Indian society. He was deeply disturbed by the lack of respect accorded to women, thanks to a patriarchal society that privileged men over women. Sahir minced no words while lamenting this – his “aurat ne janam diya mardon ko” is a classic in Hindi cinema, with its entire theme revolving around women and how they have been treated by men in India.

It is therefore only fitting that on his death anniversary, the song picked for the blog reflects his thoughts on this topic. The song is “Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa na saki” from Lakshmi (1982). The film was released after Sahir’s death – in fact, the film starts with a tribute to Sahir.

This song was one of several songs proposed to me for this write-up by Avinashji. As usual, he has been kind enough to prepare the lyrics for this song.

Though this song is not all that well-known, certainly not as well known as “aurat ne janam diya mardon ko”, its words are trademark Sahir. Typical of him, in this song too, he laments the way women have been treated in Indian society. But this time he uses Seeta as his example, saying even she could not find happiness on this earth. He says women have forever suffered, and in today’s world, there isn’t even a Valmiki to give a Seeta refuge in time of need. She has to fend for herself all alone, and constantly seek to avoid the predatory eye of men around her.

Talking of the predatory eye, I cannot help talking about one of the hottest topics right now in India – at least in urban India and on social media. And that is the #MeToo movement. I’m sure Sahir would have had something to say about it, had he been around. So I’m taking the liberty of sharing my thoughts on the subject.

The #MeToo movement, in my opinion, is primarily about those who have been sexually abused and harassed, coming out with their story. While these are mostly women, it is not necessarily limited to women alone. There have been a few cases of men too coming out with their horrific stories. At the moment, it is largely focussed on workplace harassment, but there’s no reason it couldn’t go way beyond that.

It is a fact that, mainly thanks to our patriarchal society, there is a huge power imbalance between men and women in India. This actually exists around the world, but the patriarchy makes it much worse in India.

Power, as we all know, is a hugely corrupting and intoxicating drug. So it is not at all surprising that those in power, mostly men, would tend to exploit those they have power over, mostly women. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody.

What makes it worse, as if to add insult to injury, Indian society is also unforgiving towards women in this respect. Instead of being supportive, it tends to blame the victim. Even the woman’s own family make her feel guilty for what is essentially a man’s wrongdoing. She is often gaslighted into thinking that it is somehow her fault, that she invited it. She is encouraged to just be quiet about it, since “the honour of the family” might be at stake.

If she is a working woman, she might even be encouraged to stop working. Many women have fallen out of the workforce in India for this reason alone.

Then again, thanks to the power imbalance, she is up against it if she even chooses to seek justice through the justice system. To even make a complaint to the police, to get an FIR registered is a huge challenge. When you’re complaining about a more powerful party, the system will bend towards that party. The police will either discourage you from giving your complaint, or will mock you, or will flatly refuse to write an FIR.

If you do get past the police hurdle, you still have the rest of the justice system to deal with. Courts which will insist on evidence – which in most cases of this sort is just not available.

Besides, the other party being much more powerful, he can ensure your life is made miserable.

So justice through the normal justice system (which is often referred to as “due process”) is almost always a pipedream.

To help matters, at least in the workplace, new legislation was brought in in 2013, replacing the earlier Vishakha guidelines which laid out steps to be taken at a workplace to deal with sexual harassment complaints. An employer is supposed to set up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) and so on.

I won’t go into all the details, but the reality is that many employers have not even set this up. And even where this is theoretically in place, women who have complained have failed to get justice. On the contrary, it has boomeranged on them – they’ve been marked as “trouble-makers” in the organisation. Remember, they are complaining about someone who is almost invariably in a higher power position in the company.

With this being the stark reality, whether we like it or not, is it surprising that many women have just kept their pain buried within themselves? They have tolerated harassment but not brought it out in the open. Maybe they didn’t want to jeopardize their careers – after all, it is the woman who tends to bear the brunt of any negative fallout in these matters.

But now we have #MeToo.

Some women at least have decided enough is enough. It is not their shame to bear, so why should they? So they have decided to come out with their story. It is cathartic for them – it must be so hard to keep this buried within you for years.

Some of them have disclosed their identity, some have not. Some have disclosed the identity of the predator, some have chosen not to specifically name him (although there are usually enough hints in their story). It’s upto each person to decide what level of comfort she has – no one can demand she behave in a particular way.

One complaint about #MeToo is that many of these stories are coming out after many years. Ten years, even twenty years. Why didn’t they come out earlier? How can we possibly believe something that might or might not have happened a decade ago?

I feel this is unreasonable. I’ve already explained how the odds are stacked against the woman – the situation was even worse a decade ago. Besides, when women have been constantly shamed, why would they invite further ridicule by complaining, especially when they have no hope of justice?

It is only now, that thanks to the #MeToo movement, they are coming out with their story – hoping to get closure if nothing else. If they get justice, great – if not, at least they’re hoping for closure.

Many have complained that outing men on social media is not the right way to go about this. That women should follow due process – that is, go through the justice sytem of police and courts, or through the workplace structures for this purpose.

And that has worked, right? After trying all that, and hitting their heads against a wall, women have finally chosen social media as their hope for getting their message across. And who can blame them? It’s not like they didn’t want due process – it is that “due process” failed them completely.

Another criticism of #MeToo is that it is often just accusation, without evidence. And no court can possibly accept that. There’s a chance that an innocent person is maligned out of malice or whatever other reason, and his reputation totally destroyed by a #MeToo accusation.

Yes, this is possible. In the spate of accusations, it is possible that some are fake too. Which is why every accusation needs to be attempted to be vetted to the extent possible. Having said that, it is also very unreasonable and unrealistic to expect evidence in cases of sexual harassment, because of its very nature. It tends to happen behind closed doors. So there will be many cases where such evidence is just not available.

Yet another criticism is that #MeToo is about the urban elite and about sometimes seemingly trivial harassment, while women in rural India suffer far worse.

I think this is unfair. Yes, rural women suffer harassment too – possibly much more. Does that mean urban women should be silent? What sort of logic is that? Rather, we should hope the movement spreads to rural India too. Most movements anyway start with those who have relatively more agency – and then spread.

All in all, I think #MeToo in India was long overdue. It started in the US almost exactly a year ago, and exposed many well-known Hollywood personalities like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. Around that time, an Indian in the US, Raya Sarkar, prepared a list of predators in academia – but she was unfortunately criticized and the movement did not pick up steam then in India.

Now it has.

No one knows how it will go from here. Will it evolve further? Or will it fizzle out?

I’m sincerely hoping it evolves further. I’d like to see it grow – go beyond urban India, go beyond the few sectors it has so far been largely restricted to (films, media, advertising). There must be many more cases in politics, in government and corporate India, where power is most prone to abuse. Maybe those stories are slow in coming because the women involved are less comfortable coming out with their stories.

And that’s only fair. Each person has to decide for herself – she has to weigh the consequences of her actions. We need to respect that.

One huge positive impact of #MeToo has been that men themselves seem to be re-assessing their behaviour. Not just in the past but also in the present. They seem to be becoming more sensitized and aware of boundaries and space. And about consent. At least I hope so.

Hopefully films too will become more sensitized to gender from now on. I think it is already happening. Films in the past have been hugely misogynistic, often presenting stalking as romantic! And considering how much of an influence films/TV have on society, they might have playe thei role too in moulding society into what it is today.

But then, they were a function of their times – I don’t want to dwell on the past. We can’t change that anyway.

What we can change is the present and the future. And hopefully from now on at least, we will see better-behaved men, whether triggered by #MeToo or not.

Of course, we need much more to happen. Until we dismantle patriarchy there is always going to be victim-blaming and shaming. We all know that men are the root cause of the problem, yet we will continue to blame the women and expect them to “behave themselves”.

So much more needs to happen. We can all do our bit – by calling out patriarchy when we see it, even if it happens without our close circles. By bringing up the next generation with a better understanding of gender equality so that boys don’t grow up with a sense of entitlement. This is what manifests itself in most undesirable behaviour when the boy becomes a man.

Clearly we haven’t done enough in the last 60 years, since Sahir wrote “aurat ne janam diya” in 1958. It’s a sad reflection of our society that it feels relevant even in 2018.

I’d like a future generation to listen to it and say “Oh, how horrible things were for women in those days! Thank God things are so much better today, and women don’t go through all that!”

I know I’m dreaming – but you know what they say. Ummeed pe duniya kaayam hai.

Let’s do our bit to make it happen?

Thanks for listening.


Song-Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa na saki (Lakshmi)(1982) Singer-Mahendra Kapoor, Lyrics-Sahir Ludhianvi, MD-Usha Khanna

Lyrics (Provided by Avinash Scrapwala)

Naa tera durbhaagya nayaa hai
Naa jag ka vyavhaar nayaa aa
Naa raahon ke shool naye ae
Naa patthar dil sansaar nayaa

Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa naa saki
Tu us dharti ki naari hai
Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa naa saki
Tu us dharti ki naari hai
Jo zulm teri taqdeer banaa
Jo zulm teri taqdeer banaa
Wo zulm yugon se zaari hai
Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa naa saki
Tu us dharti ki naari hai

Wo kanyaa ho ya garbhwati
Naari ko sadaa apmaan milaa
Wo kanyaa ho ya garbhwati
Naari ko sadaa apmaan milaa
Avtaaron ki nasl badhaa kar bhi
Patitaaon mein sthaan mila
Sadiyon se yahaan har ablaa ne
Sadiyon se yahaan har ablaa ne
Ro ro kar umar guzaari hai
Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa naa saki
Tu us dharti ki naari hai

Kehne ko to devi kehlaayee
Par naar yahaan daasi hi rahi
Kehne ko to devi kehlaayee
Par naar yahaan daasi hi rahi
Do pyaar ke meethhe bolon ki
Martey dam tak pyaasi hi rahi
Jo zehar miley wo peeti jaa
Jo zehar miley wo peeti jaa
Tu kaun si Janak dulaari hai
Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa naa saki
Tu us dharti ki naari hai

Maikaa chhoota sasuraal chhoota
Jaayegi magar jaayegi kahaan
Maikaa chhoota sasuraal chhoota
Jaayegi magar jaayegi kahaan
Ab Valmiki saa koyi rishi
Is dharti par paayegi kahaan
Ab tu ik bhatki hirni hain
Ab tu ik bhatki hirni hain
Aur mard ki aankh shikaari hai
Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa naa saki
Tu us dharti ki naari hai
Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa naa saki
Tu us dharti ki naari hai

——————————————
Devnagri Script lyrics (Provided by Avinash Scrapwala)
——————————————
ना तेरा दुर्भाग्य नया है
ना जग का व्यवहार नया आ
ना राहों के शूल नए ए
ना पत्थर दिल संसार नया

सीता भी जहां सुख पा ना सकी
तू उस धरती की नारी है
सीता भी जहां सुख पा ना सकी
तू उस धरती की नारी है
जो ज़ुल्म तेरी तकदीर बना
जो ज़ुल्म तेरी तकदीर बना
वो ज़ुल्म युगों से जारी है
सीता भी जहां सुख पा ना सकी
तू उस धरती की नारी है

वो कन्या हो या गर्भवती
नारी को सदा अपमान मिला
वो कन्या हो या गर्भवती
नारी को सदा अपमान मिला
अवतारों की नस्ल बढ़ाकर भी
पतिताओं में स्थान मिला
सदियों से यहाँ हर अबला ने
सदियों से यहाँ हर अबला ने
रो रो कर उम्र गुजारी है
सीता भी जहां सुख पा ना सकी
तू उस धरती की नारी है

कहने को तो देवी कहलाई
पर नार यहाँ दासी ही रही
कहने को तो देवी कहलायी
पर नार यहाँ दासी ही रही
दो प्यार के मीठे बोलों की
मरते दम तक प्यासी ही रही
जो ज़हर मिले वो पीती जा
जो ज़हर मिले वो पीती जा
तू कौनसी जनक दुलारी है
सीता भी जहां सुख पा ना सकी
तू उस धरती की नारी है

मैका छूटा ससुराल छूटा
जायेगी मगर जायेगी कहाँ
मैका छूटा ससुराल छूटा
जायेगी मगर जायेगी कहाँ
अब वाल्मीकी सा कोई ऋषि
इस धरती पर पाएगी कहाँ
अब तू इक भटकी हिरनी है
अब तू इक भटकी हिरनी है
और मर्द की आँख शिकारी है
सीता भी जहां सुख पा ना सकी
तू उस धरती की नारी है
सीता भी जहां सुख पा ना सकी
तू उस धरती की नारी है

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13 Responses to "Seeta bhi jahaan sukh paa na saki"

Atul ji,

Please correct the name of the singer to ‘Mahendra Kapoor.on the tag as well as below the video clip.

Thanks for pointing out the error.

Raja ji,

Thanks for a thought provoking article on the Remembrance Day of Sahir Ludhianvi.

Despite creating a name and fame in Hindi film industry, I always felt sorry for Sahir Saab that his poet paternity did not recognise him as one of the eminent Urdu Shaayars of his time. Even when Ali Sardar Jaferi was commissioning a serial on a galaxy of eminent Urdu poets, he did not consider Sahir Saab in that serial which was telecast sometime in the 90s. Sahir Saab has never cared about he being not considered a poet of eminence. He said:

Mujhko iska ranj nahin hai ke log mujhe fankaar maanen
Fiqr-o-sukhan ke taajir mere sheron ko ashaar na maane

[I do not regret that people do not consider me an artist (poet).
Traders of my thoughts and words do not consider my verses as couplets].

But Sahir seemed to be satisfied with what he did during his life. He said:

Ab ek raat agar kam jeeyen to kam hi sahi
Yahi bahut hai ke hum mashaalen jalaa kar jeeye

[Even if I lived a night less, let it be so.
At least, I lit a spark while I lived.]

Thanks a lot, Sadanandji.

I feel one of the tests of greatness of an artiste is the legacy he or she leaves behind for generations to come.
And Sahir has easily passed that test.
Baaki, whatever people thought of him during his lifetime, whether they gave him credit or not, these are subject to human frailties. A legacy outlives all this.

I love the Sahir lines you’ve quote – have heard them before but it is always wonderful to see them. For me, he will always be a special person – for his poetry AND for raising his voice against injustice. That, to me, makes him much more than just a poet writing poetry.

P…. A…. A…… S………………….
Atulji, ‘Error’ is not yours, but it is ‘Film Industry’s

very well written post. and on the mark about the #metoo. and very much my view that the situation was different even a decade ago when people didn’t know if their complaints would be heard let alone registered.
and even i feel all our sensitive song writers would have had something to say that would be supportive to the victims.
and i didn’t mind the length of your post. 😉

Thanks. That you didn’t mind the length of the post is a compliment. 🙂 I do think though that I went off on a track, and didn’t come back to Sahir at all. Not that he would have minded. 🙂

Raja ji,
I like the way you write about the pains of women. Having tasted your expression first on our WA group, I read here the full blast. In this connection, I reproduce here a very relevant( and one of my most favourites) poem of recent times…

छोडो मेहँदी खडक संभालो
खुद ही अपना चीर बचा लो
द्यूत बिछाये बैठे शकुनि,
मस्तक सब बिक जायेंगे
सुनो द्रोपदी शस्त्र उठालो, अब गोविंद ना आयेंगे|

कब तक आस लगाओगी तुम,
बिक़े हुए अखबारों से,
कैसी रक्षा मांग रही हो
दुशासन दरबारों से|

स्वयं जो लज्जा हीन पड़े हैं
वे क्या लाज बचायेंगे
सुनो द्रोपदी शस्त्र उठालो अब गोविंद ना आयंगे|

कल तक केवल अँधा राजा,
अब गूंगा बहरा भी है
होठ सी दिए हैं जनता के,
कानों पर पहरा भी है|

तुम ही कहो ये अश्रु तुम्हारे,
किसको क्या समझायेंगे?
सुनो द्रोपदी शस्त्र उठालो, अब गोविंद ना आयंगे|
-पुष्यमित्र उपाध्याय

-AD

wow! very relevant.
true ladies have always been trained to fend for themselves; there have been advisers advising learning of self defense etc. now the female of the population is trying to be heard too. i suppose this poem had self-defense in mind at the time it was written

Not just self defence, the poet wants that now the women will have to find out ways to defend themselves, may be by expression, organisation, unity, legal help, community help and what have you.

Wow! What a powerful poem!
Thanks a lot for this, Arunji.

To put out simply this is a great piece of writing.i an proud I am a member of this platform.Mr Raja I am a very impatient person to have read this long article but I enjoyed reading every word of it.Thanks a lot.

Thank you so much for your appreciation, Mehta ji. It is a rather long post – glad you liked it. Thank you for your patience.

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This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

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