Tora manwa kyoon ghabraaye, by Vijay Kumar

Remembering Sahir the feminist on the International Women’s Day

A lyricist has to necessarily articulate himself within the constraints of a cinematic context. But the geniuses – and Sahir was one and quite at the top – do find space and scope to weave in their own respective takes on issues. This is truer in the case of Sahir. He could write verses which impacted and survived much beyond the immediate cinematic needs. Jinhe naaz hai hind par… jaane woh log they kaise …. chalo ek baar phir se… allah tero naam… main zindagi ka saath …..woh subah kabhi to aayegi, aana hai to aa.. – to mention a few out of many. Each celebrated, each accepted as a definitive statement on the point.

But I find the bhajan that he penned for Sadhana – tora manva kyon ghabraye re – unbelievably deep. Or is it Sahir the feminist exhorting the woman trading her charm and flesh for a sustenance to awake, to arise, to transgress the norms sacrosanct?. It urges a prostitute to do the unthinkable then, to step into the inner precincts of a temple! aurat ne janam diya mardon ko….a song from the same film, expresses the angst of the woman oppressed through the ages, is a direct indictment of the society that endures it.

In Tora manva kyon ghabraye…Sahir is making a statement for the womankind – rebel and crossover from sub-human to human existence! But what is amazing is that Sahir draws from the Hindu mythology as a build up to, and in support of, the act rebellious on the part of a prostitute.

In particular, I feel mesmerized by its following antara:

o mahananda hoki ahilya
sab ko paar utaare
jo kankar charno ko chhule
wohi rah ho jaye
Ram ji ke duaar se

Mahananda finds a reference in Shiva Purana – a prostitute whose heart throbbed only for Shiva even as she traded her flesh for a living! Very much the station of many a woman who is circumstantially in this oldest profession. And much so of Rajani (Vyjaynthimala) in the film. The interesting part of the lore though unfolds when Mahananda meets Shiva in person and finds, for once, her being – body, mind, and soul – seeking Him. But true to her profession, she must take a price for the cohabitation. She takes the jewellary that adorned Shiva’s hands. And true to her heart, she must not treat Shiva as any other customer. She therefore marries Him for three days and three nights taking the Sun and the Moon as its witnesses!

By alluding to Mahananda, Sahir seems to be lending a moral pedestal to the prostitute of Sadhana – a woman pure at heart even though in a ‘dirty’ business! And if Mahananda could be in a wedlock with the Divine, to secure for her a redemption of sorts, why can’t Rajni do the same with Mohan (Sunil Dutt), an ordinary mortal even if one enjoying respect in the society!?

By bringing in Ahalya, Sahir travels beyond Mahananda or the prostitute of Sadhana. He is referring to a woman most pious, most beautiful but succumbing to the carnal desire of the moment. He is referring to a woman who gave in to become adulterous. Ahalya knew that it was Indra pseudoing as sage Gautam, her husband. Yet she did not resist his advances. She surely knew, as she indulged in, that she would have to suffer the wrath and damning curse of her good, old, wise husband! She was duly turned into a stone – a classic case of  “lamho ne khata ki, sadiyon ne saza paayi!”

But even a cursed, insensate existence could attain to its redemption if touched by the divine! Sahir though goes a step further as he so meaningfully slips in: ..wohi raah ho jaaye… the redemption becoming a destination unto itself! (Some of my friends hold that it is wo heera ho jaaye. No issue as either way, the outcome is an elevated/redeemed woman ). Sahir is perhaps hinting at the high pedestal yet enjoyed by Ahalya in the Hindu religious beliefs. But Sahir also obliquely, on the flip side, is suggesting that it needs no less than a divine intervention to redeem a ‘fallen’ woman.

Tora manva kyon ghabaraye re, Ram ji ke dwar pe…. Why dither at the divine threshold ?!

The song text :

Tora manwaa kyun ghabraaye re
Laakh deen dukhiyaare saare
Jag mein mukti paayen
He raam ji ke dwaar se

Band huaa ye dwaar kabhi naa
Jug kitne hi
Jug kitne hi beete
Sab dwaaron par haarne waale
Is dwaare par
Is dwaare par jeete
Laakhon patit laakhon patitaaen
Laakhon patit laakhon patitaaen
Paawan hokar aaye re
Raam ji ke dwaar se

Tora manwaa
Tora manwaa kyun ghabraaye re
Laakh deen dukhiyaare praani
Jag mein mukti paaye
He raam ji ke dwaar se

Ham moorakh jo kaaj bigaade
Raam wo kaaj sanwaare
Raam wo kaaj sanwaare
Ho mahananda ho ke ahilya
Sab ko paar utaare
Sab ko paar utaare
Jo kankar charnon ko chhoo le
Jo kankar charnon ko chhoo le
Wo heera ho jaaye re

Na poochhe wo jaat kisi ki
Na gun awgun
Na gun awgun jaanche
Wahi bhagat bhagwan ko pyaara
Jo har baani
Jo har baani baanche
Jo koyi shradda le kar aaye
Jo koyi shradda le kar aaye
Jholi bharkar jaaye re
Raam ji ke dwaar se


Originally written on Sahir Ludhianvi’s birthday, 8 March 2018

Exceptional thinker and writer Vijay Kumar was with The Ministry of Tourism, New Delhi, where he resides. He enjoys his children, dotes on his grandchildren, and loves Hindi film songs with meaningful lyrics.

6 thoughts on “Tora manwa kyoon ghabraaye, by Vijay Kumar

  1. Doctor Saahab says it well. Vijay Kumar ji, your writing always inspires thought. Deep thought. And the revelations in your writing create a lot of excitement. So, thank you for both. For taking us deeper into the mysteries of life and for revealing many of its secrets as well. Please – keep writing. _()_

  2. Whenever Vijay ji writes it’s like “Upanishad” for me. There is a sense of fulfilment is there. Just listen at the feet of master. I have no words to add. Thanks for such a brilliant article ..,

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