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

Posts Tagged ‘Narsi Bhagat


This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in other sites without the knowledge and consent of the web administrator of atulsongaday.me, then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Blog Day :

4834 Post No. : 16617

When I joined this Blog’s activities in 2010, by way of comments, I used to first read the post fully. In one post our ATUL ji had said something which has been carved deep in my mind. He had said that “In India, people are interested in 3 things- Cricket, Films and Politics”. How true it is !

However, based on my experience of so many years in different fields all over India, I could add one more activity to the above three. And the activity is ” Branding”, Not the kind of Brands in the markets, what I mean is ” Labelling “, in other words. We Indians are quick in branding or labelling everything. In fact it is our very faourite pastime.

Some examples will explain what I mean. Take the case of Cinema – we branded Dilip Kumar as the Tragedy King, Meena Kumari as the Tragedy Queen, Jeetendra as the Jumping Jack, Mithun as Poor Man’s AB, AB as the Angry Young man etc etc. The branding did not change even after DK changed the track and acted in films like Azaad, Ram aur Shyam or Naya Daur etc. AB remained the same even after films like Chupke Chupke, Anand, Abhimaan or Amar Akbar Anthony. Same thing about other actors. Branding/Labelling or the Chhappa is for ever !

Take another example. We feel a Sikh must be either a Taxi Driver or in Army or Police, A Gujarati should only do business, A Bihari must only do Kheti, A Bengali must only read a book or write a book, A Marathi must only do a service in some company or Government etc etc. What if Sikhs are big businessmen, actors, singers ? What if a Gujju is a fine actor, Musician or a singer or a Politician ? What if the Biharis are the single largest group in the successful IAS Cadres (25 % in the last 10 years) ? So on so forth. But No – Branding is almost permanent !

Today we are going to talk about a Gujarati Saint. GUJARAT- the name itself evokes thoughts of Trade and Business. Due to their Business talents, Gujarat was known to Romans, Greeks and Persians, since the pre Christ era. Gujarat Maritime merchant history dates back to the First century after Christ.
Gujarat had produced many worthy souls who made the country proud of them. The top being Gandhi ji. Then there were Sardar Patel, Vikram Sarabhai(Space Ace), Morarji Desai, the Ambanis, Azim Prem ji, Parsis of Navsari, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah etc etc. In the religious field, Gujarat had its share with Jalaram Bappa, Narsi Bhagat, Dadu Dayal, Dayanand Saraswati, Rang Avdhoot ji, Rameshbhai oza, Hemchandra Surishwar, Pramukh Swami etc etc. (these are only indicative examples,not exhaustive).

India had been under the Mughal and the British rules for hundreds of years. A Nation of Hindu majority was ruled by the Minority Mughals, who perpetrated a lot of injustice and tried to destroy the Indian Culture with barbaric brutalities. This gave rise to the Bhakti movement to awaken the Indians and make them self conscious about their own strengths.

The Bhakti Movement was India’s own way to combat foreign attackers, cruel rulers and the sleeping people of India. The movement from 1300 to 1600 AD produced many religious Saints and social reformers from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and from Assam to Gujarat. Indian culture is such that the advice given by a religious saint is more acceptable than that given by a social reformer. Thus, in this hour of need, India’s Saints tried to teach message of reforms such as removal of Untouchability, freedom from Varnashram lifestyles, importance of education, Women’s emancipation and other such matters,through their poems, dohas, Abhangs and writings as well as kirtans. They tried to make the masses wake up against the ill effects of social practices that were being observed those days.

Saints appeared in ALL areas of India,during this period. However,due to language problems, knowledge and information about Saints in other regions trickled down very slowly. States which shared the use of Devanagari script were aware about them in a better way. Thus,Maharashtra,Gujarat,Rajasthan and the Northern Hindi belt states exchanged their knowledge about their saints more frequently than other regions such as Bengal, the Eastern states or the southern states where the scripts were different. Andhra and Karnataka were closer as their scripts are similar, except perhaps the alphabet ‘K’. Tamil and Malayalam scripts have Dravidian origins and were not easily accessible for the rest of India.

India is a Multi racial, multilingual and Multi religions country. It is not only one of the largest Democracies in the world, but also the largest Secular state in the world, where people from different faiths have been living together since centuries.

Many saints and religious leaders have played a significant role in keeping the mixed population of India as One Unit, when it was needed the most. A majority of Hindus, ruled by Muslim Mughals was a natural cause for social divisions, but Saints like Kabir, Surdas, Tulsidas, Ramdas, Tukaram, Ramanand, Narsi Mehta, Purandar das,Namdev, Guru Nanak Dev, Eknath, Bhakta Pundarikar, Rohidas, Mrutyunjaya and many such noble souls, did an excellent job of maintaining harmony amongst peoples of different faiths.

Today we will talk about the ADI KAVI of Gujarati-Narsimh Mehta aka Narsi Bhagat (1414 to 1486). He is one of the most popular saints of Gujarat. No wonder then,that the First Talkie in Gujarati was a film called NARSI MEHTA-1932. In Hindi too,”Narsi Bhagat ” was made as early as 1940. Vishnupant Pagnis (Sant Tukaram fame) had done the role of Narsi Bhagat in this film.(In the first Talkie film of Gujarat “Narsi Mehta”-1932 also this role was done by a Marathi actor Maruti Rao Pehelwan.)

The best Bhajan written by Narsi Bhagat is “Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye”. All Indians know that this was the most favourite Bhajan of Gandhi ji. Actually many people thought that he himself wrote this Bhajan !

Here is a short Biography of saint Narsi Bhagat –

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 grandmother Jai Gauri.

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

The role of Narsi Bhagat was done by Vishnupant Pagnis, a Marathi actor who became famous due to his role in film ” Sant Tukaram”-1936 by Prabhat Film co. Vishnupant Pagnis was born in a small place Chikodi, near Kolhapur, on 1-11-1892, in a lower middle class family. After formal education, he was assisted by Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur state to join a Drama company at the age of 10 years. He sang naturally, without any training from an expert. He was a popular artiste doing female roles, till his entry in films. He shifted to work in various drama companies including “Lalit Kaladarsh” of Mama Varerkar- a name connected with many Marathi and Hindi films of that time. In 1913, he floated his own company ‘ Jagchitradarsh ‘, only to wind up after two years in 1915. He continued working in dramas and doing female roles, for which he was famous in those times.

After a few years, he left drama acting. In 1920, he worked in a silent film, Surekha Haran. In this film V Shantaram had also acted. After this he worked as a Music Teacher in Municipal school at Girgaum in Bombay. After his wife died, he lived with his friend Petkar. They started a Gold Jewellery shop “Pagnis Petkar and Mandali” in Girgaon.

When Prabhat Film company planned to make Sant Tukaram, a search was undertaken for the main role and the main female role. This was in early 1936 and he was selected for the role of Tukaram, while a worker in the Prabhat company-Gauri – was selected as his wife. The Director duo of the film- Damle and Fattelal- were not happy about his selection, because his name was associated with female roles. But this became his strong point for the film in which he portrayed a soft, kind and loving Tukaram. He did the role so well that the film Sant Tukaram became an International Hit, in addition to running to full houses in Non Marathi areas like Madras Presidency, covering Andhra, Tamilnadu, Kerala and Karnataka and also in Bengal and Punjab. He became an actor in great demand for Saint films. After the film Sant Tukaram, hundreds of people used to crowd in his shop at Girgaum to pay respects and touch his feet as Tukaram. He also always dressed like Tukaram thereafter !

Vishnupant Pagnis worked in 4 more such films, namely Sant Tulsidas-39, Narsi Bhagat-43, Bhakta Raj-43 and his last film Mahatma Vidur-43. He also gave music to 2 films, Sant Janabai- 38 and Sant Tulsidas-39 (Marathi). These two and Mahatma Vidur were also made in Marathi language. His most famous film Sant Tukaram was released in Hindi only in 1948, but without his songs, because he had died on 3-10-1943. The MD- Snehal Bhatkar sang his songs in the Hindi version.

Vishnupant Pagnis did the immortal role of Tukaram in his first film and then lived the role throughout his life, though he did 4 more films in the same Genre of Saint films.His name became famous not only in India but also in other countries, when this film was hailed as “one of the 3 Best films in the world”at the Venice Film Festival, where it won accolades.

Records of his Bhajans from this film created records ( we too had these records in our house in the 40s.) Even today this film is shown and discussed in the film Institutes of many countries.Many books, essays and articles are published on this film. His performance as Tukaram has become a major reference-point in debates about Indian performance idioms: e.g. Kumar Shahani’s essay The Saint Poets of Prabhat, 1981; Geeta Kapur’s Mythic Material in Indian Cinema, 1987 etc etc.

Today’s bhajan is a very good Bhajan. I like it very much. You may also like it.


Song- Mori Hundi sweekaaro maharaj re (Narsi Bhagat)(1940) Singer- Vishnupant Pagnis, Lyricist- Not known, MD- Shankar Rao Vyas

Lyrics

Mori Hundi sweekaaro maharaj re
saanvre giridhaari
Mori Hundi sweekaaro maharaj re
saanvre giridhaari
Mori Hundi sweekaaro maharaj re
saanvre giridhaari
mohe ek tihaaro aadhaar re
mohe ek tihaaro aadhaar re
saanwre giridhaari
Mori Hundi sweekaaro maharaj re
saanvre giridhaari

raakhi ?? Prahlad ki
liyo narsinh Avtaar
kamb phaari pargat bhaye
taaro bhoomi ko dhaar re
saanvre giridhaari
Mori Hundi sweekaaro maharaj re
saanvre giridhaari

pooji gopi chandan mori
tulasi kone ko haar
saancha gahna to mero saanwro
mori daulat hai jhaanjh khadtaal re
mori daulat hai jhaanjh khadtaal re
saanvre giridhaari
Mori Hundi sweekaaro maharaj re
saanvre giridhaari
bhajo Radhe Govind bhajo Radhe
bhajo Radhe Govind bhajo Radhe
bhajo Radhe Govind bhajo Radhe
bhajo Radhe Govind bhajo Radhe

bhajo Radhe Govind
bhajo Radhe Govind
bhajo Radhe Govind
bhajo Radhe Govind


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 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.

Today’s song is an evergreen Bhajan by Mohammad Rafi, from the film ‘Narsi Bhagat’-57. The Music Director was Ravi-one of the few composers in HFM, who could be equated with Melody with certainty.
Read more on this topic…


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 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.

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.
Read more on this topic…


This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular 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.

The 4th song in the series “The great souls of India” is from film “NARSI BHAGAT”-1957,sung by Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle and Chorus.
Read more on this topic…


This article is written by Vidur Sury, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a new contributor to this blog.

Here is the second song of the tribute series to great playback singer and singer – actress Amirbai Karnataki Ji. This is her second song from the major hit Narsi Bhagat (1940). One duet of Amirbai and Durga Khote from this film has already been discussed.
Read more on this topic…


This article is written by Vidur Sury, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a new contributor to this blog.

Thanks to Atul Sir, now I have the pleasure of writing a series on songs by immortal singer Amirbai Karnataki Ji.

My first song will be the earliest among those not yet on this blog, and this is from Narsi Bhagat (1940), one of her early famous films.
Read more on this topic…


In my school days, my Hindi textbooks used to contain poems by eminent Hindi poets. One such poet was called Gopal Singh Nepali.
Read more on this topic…


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