Meherbaan from Ada: Lyrics and Translation

The following is the translation of the very first chapter of the Holy Quran (or Koran, as it is often spelled):

1. In the name of God (Allah), Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
2. Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds;
3. Most Gracious, most Merciful;
4. Master of the Day of Judgment.
5. You do we worship, and Your aid do we seek.
6. Show us the straight path.
7. The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath, and who do not go astray.

This chapter is prescribed in the religion of Islam as an essential part of every prayer. And this chapter is what I was reminded of instantly when I first listened to the song 'Meherbaan' from the film Ada, with music by A. R. Rahman. A few notes before getting to the lyrics and translation:

1. The song Meherbaan -- unless I have the inference hopelessly wrong, which I seriously doubt -- is a 'hamd' (pronounced 'hummed', but with the 'd' as in the Hindi/Urdu word 'dus' (ten), and not as in the English word 'dud'). A hamd, in Urdu, is a poem specifically on the greatness of or in praise of God. (Contrast this with a 'naat', which is a poem on in praise of the Prophets, most often Prophet Mohammad, e.g. the song Bekas pe karam kijiye sarkar-e-Madina in Mughal-e-Azam was a plea in the form of a naat. Naats also tend to be the subject of several qawwalis we find in films).

2. You might know this already, or might have read about it in my review of the film Khuda Ke Liye, but the story of most followers of Islam of South Asian origin is that we can often read Arabic (we are taught to, specifically to be able to recite verses from the Quran) but hardly understand it. So when we learn the meanings of the scriptures, the translations that accompany the verses are often in Hindi or Urdu. And when I first was taught the translation to the Arabic equivalent of (from above):

"In the name of God (Allah), Most Gracious, Most Merciful."

I learned it was translated in Urdu as:

"Shuru Allah ke naam se, jo bada Meherbaan aur nihaayat Rehem waala hai"

See a connection to the title of the song?

3. Khuda Ke Liye was very relevant because its two primary characters (who are brothers in the film) are on two sides of this argument: does music take one closer to or away from God? In the film, this question serves as the catalyst to explaining the two major points of view on this within the Muslim population at large.

You know which side I am on. How could an awe-inspiring song like Meherbaan not provoke constructive thought and only make one appreciate the bigger perspective a little more? And I think this applies to any person who believes in any deity. As Mahatma Gandhi said, religions are different pathways to a common destination.

4. After I translated the song, I went to the translation of the first chapter of the Quran (above). The words that matched exactly are highlighted. Per this link, the lyrics to Meherbaan are written by Raqeeb Alam. A salute to the lyricist for each word used in the song. The result is a fantastic hamd. Well done!

So here is my best attempt at transcribing and translating the lyrics to Meherbaan. What do you think? Have a blessed start to the week, everyone!


Anonymous said...

Adab Bhai Sahib! How Meherbaan of you to translate the beautiful lyrics for us.
Raqeeb (and I now know what raqeeb means having just seen a movie with that title last night. It means guardian, hain na?) did a lovely job on the lyrics. Combining those lyrics with A.R. Rahman = direct hotline to Allah, or God or whoever you want to call him/her. : ) Of course I’m on the side that music in a form like this takes one closer to God. How interesting that Khuda Ke Liye tackles this subject. I enjoyed learning more from your film review too. Sounds like a parallel Pakistani film. I bet there are no mujras in this Lollywood piece. Keep those translations (and footnotes!) coming, In'Shallah.
All the best,

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji! You've got it right; raqeeb does indeed mean guardian! (think it could also mean 'someone who waits' in intezaar.) Was the Raqeeb you saw from 2007?

Love your tie-in to the hotline to God!

The issue of the permissibility (not sure that's a word, but you get the point, lol) of music is so near and dear to everyones hearts, it was refreshing to see Khuda Ke Liye (yes, there are no mujras in it :) address it (and others).


Anonymous said...

Yes thebollywoodfan, the Raqeeb I saw was from 2007, starring Rahul Khanna, Sharman Joshi, and Tanushree Dutta. It's a romantic thriller and was pretty good. It's yet another of my random movies that came to me via the library. If nothing else, it taught me a new word: Raqeeb. I have enjoyed Rahul Khanna (Bollywood Hollywood), Sharman Joshi (Life in a Metro, Rang de Basanti), and even Dutta (Aashiq Banaya Aapne) before and thought they all did a fine job in this film. I kept trying to place the actor Jimmy Shergil while watching, then realized I’d seen him as the milk toast sensitive man from Dil Hai Tumhaara which is 180 degrees from the character he plays in Raqeeb. I’ve also seen Shegrill in Munna Bhai, Eklavya and Hum Tum. That goodness for the internet, so I can go an check out filmographies to scratch that itch of, “What have I seen him/her in before?” Over Raqeeb is what you'd expect, about a 5 out of 10 and of course no substantial music as discussed in your post here. But wait, maybe you’ve already seen it. If so, what did you think about it?


theBollywoodFan said...

I have seen Raqeeb, Sita-ji. It was a while ago, and my review notes little but a Sunidhi Chauhan song that I liked. Now that I think of it, that's about all I remember of the film. Agree with your assessment (5/10) too.

I guess I was wearing my auditor hat and not feeling too enthusiastic about the film when I wrote about it :)

My favorite Jimmy Shergill movie (after Munnabhai MBBS) was Yahaan (2005), in which he starred opposite Minisha Lamba. And he was in Mohabbatein too. And Sharman Joshi as Sukkhi in Rang De Basanti was fabulous!

How did you like Eklavya?

Anonymous said...

Ahh! Eklavya! I remember thinking, "I was robbed, this is too short!" not knowing at the time that it was more in the parallel cinema vein, thus shorter. WHt I remember liking was:
1. The timeless factor of the film, the setting, the palace, juxtaposed to the jeeps did something for me.

2. I LOVED Raima Sen as the special needs girl and as a special ed. teacher, I think I'm licensed to throw out the term retarded. :) I have special dispensation to use the term. When I see a role like that, I want to become an actress. I a CERTAIN I could do it!

3. I loved seeing Saif in the same movie as his mom, that was very cool for me to see.


5. Vidya, wonderful, made me want to yell at the screen to Saif's character, "She's perfect for you! Go to her NOW!"

6. Of course Amitabh. BUt it's funny that he (and Saif) have sort of faded into the background of what I remember and liked most aboutthe film. Maybe it's actually a tribute to their ensemble acting abilities, hain na?

What did you think of Eklavya?

All the Best,

memsaab said...

This is my favorite song from the Ada soundtrack...thanks for the translation! :-)

theBollywoodFan said...

Sita-ji: I loved Eklavya! Agree on all counts, including about Raima Sen. And a salute to you for your involvement in special ed!

Amitabh, Saif, Boman, all were excellent. And so was my favorite Vidya Balan! The song 'Chandaa Re' (here's the video) was the Vidya Balan song from 2007. A beautiful song for a beautiful moment.

Memsaab: 'Meherbaan' is worthy of being a favorite! I like the instrumental too. Was listening to the 'Ada' soundtrack while driving to work this morning, and it's really beginning to sound a lot better than it did when I first listened to it. Hope to discuss it soon.

Thank you both for your kind words! :)

salek said...

Salaam! Jenaab aap to Urdu zabaan ki ustad niklay. Itnay mushkil alfaaz! Kahaan se aapne itni acchi Urdu seekhi?

I’ll stop before I embarrass myself any further. For someone who was born and raised in America, my Urdu is alright. I can communicate in Urdu fluently with family, having spent many summers in Pakistan. But my grasp on the language cannot compare to the depth of understanding you have displayed. As Rehan from Fanaa would say, “Subhanallah!”

The Urdu translation of "In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful” for me brought back memories of Ramadan. Whenever I go to Taraweeh prayers with my dad, he plays a CD with the recitation of the Quran accompanied with an Urdu translation. Along with the beautiful Qira’at, I enjoy listening to the chaste Urdu of the translator, who always begins with "Shuru Allah ke naam se, jo bada Meherbaan aur nihaayat Rehem waala hai.”

While I agree that this song is a hamd, in the context of the film I can only imagine this song as a tribute to a love interest. Often in Bollywood films, whenever there is a such spiritual song, the indirect subject is the love interest. An example is one of my favorite filmi qawwalis, ‘Aaya Tere Dar Par’ from Veer-Zaara. Taken literally, the song refers to a devotee who has abandoned everything and arrived at the abode of his spiritual guide (perhaps a Sufi saint). In the context of the film, the song refers to Veer abandoning his homeland and career to reach Zaara in her country.

I am not surprised that A.R. Rahman has rendered this song for I know how important a role spirituality plays in his life.

It was quite insightful of you to include the background information on Surah Al-Fatiha. I am in awe of your efforts and have nothing but praise for this post. Well-done!

theBollywoodFan said...

Salaam Salek: Thank you for your kind words. Hardly an 'ustaad' of Urdu, always a 'shaagird' (student), seriously. It's great that you can speak the language fluently and were brought up away from South Asia!

That qawwali from Veer Zaara was beautiful. And you're probably correct about the context of this song too; the use of the word 'wafaa' could just be a clue to the plot!

I did not realize the role of spirituality in A. R. Rahman's life until recently. There was some piece out there discussing his visit to Mecca, and I found that very cool.

Meherbaan is a very well written song, and I am certain the theme aligning with the Surah is not a coincidence, which speaks to the lyricist's thought process. Mahaa-cool!

Bragadeesh said...

You are really a pro in translating!! You simply rock..
I have bcome ur fan dude!!!
Thank you very much for fulfilling my request to write lyrics for this song.. I am really grateful to you dude..
Keep rocking!!!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Bragadeesh: Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words. The song is beautiful, and I hope you enjoy it!

Translating some of the songs has been enjoyable. It's fun playing around with words, although there is probably a lot I am missing in my understanding :)

Deepa Dev said...

hello janaab, thanks for your comments on my post on Meherbaan... and gustaakhi maaf for such a late reply... this long weekend has finally given me the time I needed to write back...

its funny how the same words can describe love & religion... before I read your translation, I thought Meherbaan was a love song... now that I think about it, maybe it could have more of a religious connotation too.... thanks for taking the effort to translate...

I have another song for you to apply your translation magic on - Baakhuda tumhi ho from Kismat Konnection... wanna give that a shot and tell me what it means? Its wonderful to hear - but knowing exactly what it means would be wonderful...

hope to hear from you soon!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Deepa: Thank you for your comment, and you're very welcome! That's a great point about similar words used to describe love and religion. Arguably, what's one without the other?

That's a good song from Kismat Konnection. Hope to get around to it as we get closer to the film.

Hope you have a good weekend.

Afroz said...

I came across your blog while googling for the song...I never thought this song was a hamd but after reading your blog I can see the connection...did you listen to Noor-un-Ala-Noor from Meenaxi? I think its a direct hamd. I think it is one of the best spritual songs ever penned...But I think it only got wrong attention...

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Afroz: Yes, 'Noor un Ala Noor' from Meenaxi is one of the best. Agree that the soundtrack and movie got a lot less than they deserved.

Thank you for stopping by!

Ramesh V said...

Hey bollywoodfan,
Thanks for translating this beautiful song for people like us who do not understand hindi. Continue your good work.


theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Ramesh: Glad you enjoyed the song. And thank *you* for your kind words. The understanding of the languages will always be a work in progress... :)


Anonymous said...

Whatever ppl think, Allah is the most Meherbaan above anything else we could imagine about. The most gracious. that song is nice tho.

theBollywoodFan said...

Of course, Anonymous. Be-shak (without a doubt)! We the people can only utilize so much of our intellectual capacity...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for translating the song! but I'm a bit confused about the word "ana" I always thought it meant "ego", does it have a double meaning? can you please clear that up for me?


theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Anonymous: Thank you for stopping by! The word 'ana' does mean ego, you're right about that. My understanding is that it does have a double meaning. In this context, I think it does mean one who seeks another chance. I'm not a hundred percent sold on it though, as noted alongside the translation. How about we treat it as open for interpretation, and take it to mean either or even both?!


Anonymous said...

no i didn't mean question your translation...i agree with it! just was confused about the word "ana"...Thank you!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Anonymous: No, thank *you*! Isn't the poetry beautiful in that it could carry so much depth and ambiguity (of the good kind) with so few words? :) Cheers! And thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

hey...i have to write a short skit for a culture show on campus...i read your blog regularly...and must say ur quite sarcastic...i was wondering if you'd be kind enough to suggest a few ideas for the skit...we are thinking about doing a shayari skit between a few friends making fun of each other...i know this is totally random..but i thought i'd ask you since i really enjoy reading your posts

theBollywoodFan said...

Hey there Anonymous, and thank you for your comment! First of all, I appreciate the trust :) It would help to know where this campus is located (which country?) and what the composition of the audience will be (do they speak Hindi? Are they familiar with India and Indian film? etc.). Please feel free to e-mail me as well. Cheers.