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The path, the traveller, the journey and the destination


We are told that to succeed in life we have to have a goal, and we have to take the right path to reach there. But how do we get to the right path? You reach a fork in life, you choose a path and that makes all the difference. Had you chosen the other path your life would have panned out in an entirely different way. Our ancients said महाजनो ये न गता: स पन्था:।The right path is the one that has been trodden by the great men. But Javed Akhtar does not like to go where everyone goes; he does not like travelling on the worn-out path.

जहां जाते हैं सब जाना उधर अच्छा नहीं लगता
मुझे पामाल रस्तों का सफ़र अच्छा नहीं लगता

But is life about having a goal or destination? Nishkaam karma would mean you do your best, but you don’t control the outcome. Therefore, you don’t allow yourself to be affected by success or failure. Life is an eternal journey. If you enjoy the journey, every stop is a destination, and wherever you reach you are successful.

‘फ़ैज़’ थी राह सरबसर मंज़िल
जहां पहुंचे कामयाब आए

When we were children and we travelled by the train in the third class, the fun was in the journey – the vendors selling their wares in sing-song voices, the language of signages and songs changing as the train entered a new state, the noise, and the nosey co-travellers. Reaching the destination filled us with a sense of joy and, at the same time, some sadness that the journey was over. Even when we grow up a child remains within us. After a nice holiday, we know we have to come back home, but we wish the good times continued some more. Nida Fazli has said:

न जाने कौन सा मंज़र नज़र में रहता है
तमाम उम्र मुसाफ़िर सफ़र में रहता है

In Robert Service’s Spell of Yukon, the prospector leaves the warmth of his cotton fields down south, and straggles through the bone-chilling cold in big dizzy mountains and deep death-like valleys, yet it is not the gold he is wanting:

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ’way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

I mentioned co-travellers, among other things, that make the journey joyous. Since our films were mostly ‘musical romances’, the essence of journey was having a हमसफ़र – ‘हमसफ़र अब ये सफ़र कट जायेगा’. At times you start alone and people join as you go along. मैं अकेला चला था जानिब-ए-मंज़िल मगर/ लोग आते गए कारवां बनाता गया। That has been the journey of Songs of Yore. Even after eight years, we find new travellers joining SoY with excitement at discovering the blog, and that makes the journey worthwhile.

But at times there are journeys you have to undertake alone – Ekla chalo re. More fundamentally, we come alone in this world and we go alone. Zeest safar hai tanhaayi ka; Aana tanha jana tanha. We are all भीड़ के बीच अकेला.

देखिये तो है कारवां वरना
हर मुसाफ़िर सफ़र में तनहा है.
(Jamil Nazar)

As you see from the above, raah, musafir, safar and manzil are intertwined. Allama Iqbal has said:

ढूंढता फिरता हूं मैं इक़बाल अपने-आप को
आप ही गोया मुसाफिर आप ही मंज़िल हूं मैं.

But a modern poet Rajesh Reddy weaves all the four in a strange relationship:

मैं अजब मुसाफ़िर हूं मेरा सफ़र अजीब
मेरी मंज़िल और है और मेरा रस्ता और.

This disconnect seems to be that of a drifter. You might think that a traveller on a path has more agency. Is that really so? In the western countries, you would rarely find a person driving (or even walking) to a place without the help of GPS. GPS is catching up in India too. Have you given a thought whether you choose the path or the GPS dictates you? The middle-class parents today are the GPS to the teenagers. Do Class XII with science, take coaching, write medical or engineering entrance exams, go to a professional college, your life has become ‘secure’. This GPS sometimes goes horribly wrong, such as in Kota suicides. (Kota – Coaching capital of India)

When I wrote posts on kinara, naiya and river, there were a lot of comments on raah, musafir, safar and manzil. Both the journeys are a metaphor for the journey of life. But one apparent difference was that in the boat you are ferried by a boatman across the river. In the journey of the musafir on a raah, there is no apparent boatman, but there are unknown forces determining our destiny. Both the journeys have their own romance.

A post on the path, the traveller, the journey and the destination was long overdue. Hindi film songs capture all the romance and diverse emotions of this raah, musafir, safar and manzil, as they do of nadi, naiya, manjhi and kinara. With hundreds of songs on the theme, each deserved a separate post, but since they are so inextricable from each other I am presenting a sample of songs in a single post.

1. Raah bani khud manzil by Hemant Kumar from Kohra (1964), lyrics Kaifi Azmi, music Hemant Kumar

The hero has got his companion. Therefore, his raah has become his manzil.

2. Main to chala jidhar chale rasta by Kishore Kumar from Dhadkan , lyrics Prem Dhavan, music Ravi

Sanjay Khan is quite happy to go wherever the road goes. He does not care at all about his destination or who his companion would be – Mujhe kya khabar hai kahan mari manzil, hoga koi mera bhi saathi. Wherever, whoever, I am happy with my life.

3. Main jahan chala jaaun bahar chali aye, Mahak jaye rahon ki dhool by Kishore Kumar from Banphool (1971), lyrics Anand Bakshi, music Laxmikant-Pyarelal

The same carefree attitude, and now Jeetendra is in a euphoric mood. Wherever he would go, the spring and joy would follow behind.

4. Musafir hun yaaro na ghar hai thikana, Mujhe chalte jana hai by Kishore Kumar from Parichay (1972), lyrics Gulzar, music RD Burman

But a year later, the Jumping Jack Jeetu has become mature and serious. In a situation of uncertainty about his abode and destination, this endless journey is poignant, until he would find a proper stopover.

5. Panthi hum main us path ka ant nahin jiska from Door Ka Rahi (1971), lyrics A Irshad, music director Kishore Kumar

Here is another sombre song of a traveller on an endless path. There is an interesting conversation between Kishore Kumar and Ashok Kumar. Every old path gives way to a new one; and the manzils seem endless. Only the co-travellers change.

6. Zindagi ka safar hai ye kaisa safar by Kishore Kumar from Safar (1970), lyrics Indeevar, music Kalyanji-Anandji

The journey of life is a puzzle; no one has figured it out.

7. Zindagi ek safar hai suhana by Kishore Kumar/ Asha Bhosle from Andaaz (1971), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Shankar-Jaikishan (both versions)

But despite the uncertainty of what will happen tomorrow, the life is beautiful when two people are in love. In this twin song the male version has been sung by Kishore Kumar for Rajesh Khanna. For a young romantic lover the song is appropriately peppy. The female version sung by Asha Bhsole for Hema Malini comes after her life goes through a tragedy and she rediscovers love with a new person. Therefore, though joyous, this version is set in a more serious mood.

8. Jeevan ke safar mein raahi milte hain bichhad jaane ko by Kishore Kumar/ Lata Mangeshkar from Munimji (1955), lyrics Sahir Ludhiyanavi, music SD Burman (both versions)

Another twin song – one by Kishore Kumar, the other by Lata Mangeshkar. Kishore Kumar for Dev Anand is chirpy as the character is carefree despite knowing that some co-travellers meet only to part. The life is like a train train journey. At different stations, some passengers get down, some new ones enter only to leave later. Lata Mangeshkar version for Nalini Jaywant is sad as some roadblock has come in the way of the lovers.

9. Nayi manzil nayi raahein naya hai meharban apna by Hemant Kumar from Hill Station (1957), lyrics SH Bihari, music Hemant Kumar

This is a beautiful romantic song. With the new lover, the new path and the new destination, it is not known at which ethereal place this caravan will stop.

10. Kahan le chale ho bata do musafir by Lata Mangeshkar from Durgeshnandini (1956), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Hemant Kumar

Bina Rai has been transported to a dreamland and wonders where the traveller has brought her, and what lies beyond the stars.

11. Manzil ki dhun mein jhoomte gaate chale chalo by Mukesh from Anokhi Ada (1948), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

Prem Adib is obviously in love. Therefore, he wanders carefree thinking of his manzil. Manzil here seems to have been used as a metaphor for attaining the lady-love.

12. Ek manzil rahi do phir pyar na kaise ho by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Sanjog (1960), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Madan Mohan

When two co-travellers share the same destination love is inevitable. Madan Mohan has not composed too many songs for Mukesh. Here is a bubbly romantic duet.

I have accessed some of the couplets cited in this post from the site
The thumbnail picture has been taken from the internet and the copyright belongs to the original owner. The song links are from YouTube and have been used here only for the enjoyment of music lovers. The copyright of the songs vests in the respective owners.

This post first appeared on Songs Of Yore - Old Hindi Film Songs, please read the originial post: here

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The path, the traveller, the journey and the destination


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