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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Women's Day, Sahir Ludhianvi and "Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko"

Today is the 8th of March.

Which happens to be International Women’s Day.

And, today the 8th of March 2011, also happens to be the 90th birth anniversary of one of India’s greatest poets of the 20th century, Sahir Ludhianvi.

I have therefore decided to borrow one of Sahir saab's poems/songs today and dedicate it to the occasion of Women's Day.

Everytime I hear this song, my eyes go moist. And it's not just because it has so much depth and pathos (which it does!).

It is because the lament here is, unfortunately, as much valid today as it was 53 years ago when Sahir saab penned these lines.

Even today, many women in India (and in many other parts of the world too) play second fiddle to menfolk.

Even today, there are many women, used and abused by men - and the saddest thing is that most of them just accept it as their fate.

Many of them have been so conditioned to this treatment from their childhood itself that they are not even aware that they are being abused. They are not even aware that there could be an alternative lifestyle for them.

Many women in India are so bound in tradition that they believe that breaking out of it, in fact even challenging it, is fundamentally wrong. Now, respecting the good aspects of tradition is just fine but when such tradition only imposes restrictions on women, instead of empowering them, surely it cannot be worth perpetuating for tradition’s sake?

The fact that TV, with its powerful reach now into even the remotest corners of the country, still churns out sickening woman-humiliating stereotypes in prime-time soaps is an indication of how powerful persons in the media (ironically, some of them actually women) perceive the role of women to be in society.

And hardly a day passes when there is no news of a rape or sex-trafficking or sexual harassment or exploitation or some such offence against women.

I’d like to think it is not all doom and gloom. And it does look like things are improving, what with improved education levels amongst women, more women being employed, increased awareness amongst womenfolk. Yes, there is progress.

But much of it is in urban India only. A large part of rural India is still caught up in a time warp, at least as far as women’s empowerment is concerned.

So there’s a long way to go still.

And I am ashamed to say that I cannot vouch for any significant progress in men’s attitude towards women. I should not generalize and paint all men with the same brush (there are a lot of good-hearted men out there who have tremendous respect for women) but there is an equally large (possibly larger) group of men out there who carry enormous baggage in their heads about their being the “superior” and “more powerful” gender.

It is to THIS group of men that I actually want to play this song.

I want them to listen to this song, every word of it. Let every line sink in.

I want them to remember where they have come from, who carried them in their wombs for nine months, who rocked their cradle when they were babies.

In my opinion, this song should be compulsory education in every boy’s high school. This version is in Hindi but there should be regional language versions of this too. And one in English too.

Or, if this version is not quite “modern” enough for today’s youth, maybe somebody can come up with a more modern version for today’s generation. Surely, this is worth a junoon (revolution)? Let’s make it viral.

I believe that every effort, in any which way, to reduce the incidence of offences against women, can only be a good thing. It will reduce the pressure on organizations like Prajwala which are working day and night to prevent sex-trafficking and to help the victims of sex-trafficking.

With this in mind, and with a little bit of hope, I am posting here “Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko” from Sadhna (1958).

(Aside: Sadhna is one of India’s less-known but most progressive movies made by BR Chopra, one of my favourite directors. BR Chopra challenged Indian society, he discussed uncomfortable subjects like widow remarriage (Ek Hi Raasta), prostitute aspiring for and marrying into “respectable” society (Sadhna), experiences of a wedlock-born child (Dhool Ka Phool), Hindu-Muslim tensions around partition of India (Dharam Putra), adultery (Gumraah) and many more. I wish we had more directors like BR Chopra today).

I also sometimes write a guest article for a very popular Hindi song blog belonging to one of my friends. I chose to write about Sahir and this particular song there too. Since his is a very popular blog (and that's something I certainly cannot say about mine ;-) ), hopefully the message will reach more eyes and ears. Here it is.

Finally, here is the song itself. What a gem from Sahir saab! Listen to every word of it.

My friend, Madhulika Liddle, who has a wonderful blog of her own here recently provided the transliteration and excellent translation of this song in English on her blog. I am taking the liberty of reproducing it here for the benefit of readers. Many many thanks to Madhu - it is an outstanding translation.

Transliteration

Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko
Mardon ne use bazaar diya
Jab dil chaaha masla-kuchla
Jab ji chaaha dhutkaar diya
Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko

Tulti hai kahin dinaaron mein
Bikti hai kahin bazaaron mein
Nangi nachvaayi jaati hai
Ayyashon ke darbaaron mein
Yeh woh beizzat cheez hai jo
Bant jaati hai izzatdaaron mein
Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko

Mardon ke liye har zulm ravaan
Aurat ke liye rona bhi khataa
Mardon ke liye laakhon sejein
Aurat ke liye bas ek chita
Mardon ke liye har aish ka haq
Aurat ke liye jeena bhi sazaa
Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko

Jin hothon ne unko pyaar kiya
Un hothon ka vyopaar kiya
Jis kokh mein inka jism dhala
Us kokh ka kaarobaar kiya
Jis tan se uge kopal bankar
Us tan ko zaleel-o-khaar kiya
Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko

Mardon ne banaayi jo rasme
Unko haq ka farmaan kaha
Aurat ke zinda jalne ko
Qurbaani aur balidaan kaha
Ismat ke badle roti di
Aur usko bhi ehsaan kaha
Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko

Sansar ki har ek besharmi
Gurbat ki god mein palti hai
Chaklon hi mein aakar rukti hai
Faaqon se jo raah nikalti hai
Mardon ki hawas hai jo aksar
Aurat ke paap mein dhalti hai
Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko

Aurat sansar ki kismet hai
Phir bhi taqdeer ki heti hai
Autaar-payambar janti hai
Phir bhi shaitan ki beti hai
Yeh woh badkismat maa hai jo
Beton ki sej pe leti hai
Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko

Translation
Woman gave birth to men
And men gave her the marketplace
To crush and trample at will
To reject and cast off at will
Woman gave birth to men…

She is weighed somewhere in dinars
And sold somewhere in bazaars
She is made to dance naked
In the courts of the debauched
She is that dishonoured creature
Who is shared out between the honourable
Woman gave birth to men…

For men, every torment is acceptable
For a woman, even weeping is a crime
For men, there are a million beds
For a woman, there is just one pyre
For men, there is a right to every depravity
For a woman, even to live is a punishment
Woman gave birth to men…

The lips which gave them love:
They traded those very lips
The womb in which their bodies were formed:
They reduced that womb to mere merchandise
The body from which they grew, like buds:
They shamed and abased that body
Woman gave birth to men…

The customs that men created
Were given the name of rights
The burning alive of a woman
Was decreed to be sacrifice
In return for purity she was given bread
And even that was called a favour
Woman gave birth to men…

Every disgrace in this world
Is nurtured in the lap of hardship
The path that begins in hunger
Leads inevitably to the brothel
It is often the lust of men
That takes shape in the sin of women
Woman gave birth to men…

Woman is the destiny of the world
But she is still the one abased by fate
She bears reincarnations and prophets
But she is still the Devil’s daughter
This is that ill-fated mother
Who lies on the bed of her sons
Woman gave birth to men…