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Sangeet Baiju Bawra - 7: Darbari Kanada

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

In episode 5 of Sangeet Baiju Bawra we had narrated the final part of the Baiju Bawra epic, ending in the jugalbandi in raga Desi between Baiju Bawra and Tansen in which Baiju defeats Tansen and returns to the village to meet Gauri. Finding the Yamuna flooded, he grabs a boat and tries to cross the river, but Gauri and Baiju both meet a tragic, watery end when Gauri jumps into the river and tries to save Baiju who is drowning. We had reserved separate blog posts for Man Tadpat Hari Darshan ko Aaj and O Duniya ke Rakhwale, since both songs are so special. We covered Man Tadpat Hari Darshan ko Aaj the ever popular song in raga Malkauns in episode 6. Let us now turn to O Duniya ke Rakhvaale, which is perhaps a little less known than Man Tadpat, but a masterpiece nevertheless:


O Duniya ke Rakhvale is an anguished cry from Baiju’s heart, where Naushad has used raga Darbari Kanada to bring out the pathos in the situation, and Shakeel Badayuni has done complete justice to the lyrics of the song describing Baiju’s condition. Mohammed Rafi on his part, as Baiju’s voice has poured his heart out. Baiju’s world has come crashing down around him when he finds that Gauri has been bitten by a deadly poisonous snake and is dying. His victory over Tansen in the musical duel has come to naught, and he becomes Bawra (insane) with grief, and starts singing  wandering aimlessly through the streets of Agra. His cry of grief is so heart wrenching that tears start streaming down the face of Lord Shiva’s stone statue.

(*Disclaimer: The video has not been embedded in order to comply with the video owner's copyright)


The Lyrics of the song are as follows:

bhagwan, bhagwan, bhagwan

o duniya ke rakhwale, sun dard bhare mere naale

sun dard bhare mere naale

(O Lord of the universe, please hear my anguished appeal.)

aash niraash ke do rango se duniya tune sajaayi

nayyaa sag tufaan banaya, milan ke saath judaayi

jaa dekh liya harjaayi

o lut gayi mere pyaar ki nagri, ab to nir baha le

ab to nir baha le, o ab to nir baha le

o duniya ke rakhwale, sun dard bhare mere naale

sun dard bhare mere naale

(You have created this universe with both good and evil in it – you created the storm as well as the boat to carry man to safety, and separation from loved ones as well as union. My life is destroyed. Please shed some tears for me and have mercy on me.)

aag bani saavan ki barsa, phul bane angaare

naagan ban gayi raat suhaani, patthar ban gaye taare

sab tut chuke hai sahaare, o jivan apna vaapas le le

jivan dene vaale, o duniya ke rakhwale

(For me spring showers have turned into burning fire and flowers have turned into burning cinders. The peaceful night has turned into a poisonous snake. Please shed some tears for me and take back my life)

chaand ko dhudhe pagal suraj, shaam ko dhundhe savera

mai bhi dhundhu us pritam ko, ho naa saka jo mera

bhagwan bhala ho tera, o qismat phuti aas na tuti

paav me pad gaye chhaale, o duniya ke rakhwale

(My feet are bruised from wandering around aimlessly in search of my loved one, just as the grieving sun searches desperately for the moon, and the early dawn searches for the dusk. My life is in ruins – glory be unto you, o Lord.)

mahal udaas aur galiya suni, chup-chup hai divaare

dil kya ujda duniya ujdi, ruth gayi hai bahaare

ham jivan kaise guzaare, o mandir girta phir ban jaata

dil ko kaun sambhaale

o duniya ke rakhwale, sun dard bhare mere naale

sun dard bhare mere naale

o duniya ke rakhwale, rakhwale, rakhwale, rakhwale

(The streets and mansions in the town are saddened by my condition. Not just my heart, but my world is in ruins, and even nature is full of gloom. How long can I live in this condition? Please have mercy on me, o Lord)


As mentioned above, the song is based on Darbari Kanada, an imposing, magnificent raga with a majestic “personality” which belongs to the Kanada family of ragas. In fact the Darbari variant is the “flagship” raga of the family, and in any Indian Classical Music discussion wherever raga Kanada is mentioned without a suffix, it refers to raga Darbari Kanada by default. As an interesting sidelight, Miya Tansen is credited with the creation of the Darbari variant of Kanada. I have referred to this earlier in Episode 2 of Sangeet Baiju Bawra, where the comical Ghaseet Khan makes fun of Tansen in front of the palace guards,  mockingly telling the guards in his brassy voice that Tansen just tweaks ragas here and there to turn a Todi into Miya ki Todi, Malhar into Miya Malhar, and Kanada into Darbari Kanada, and so on.  Finally when Baiju reaches the gates of Tansen’s mansion, Ustad Ghaseet Khan is shown patronisingly patting Baiju on his back, suggesting that Baiju is his Shagird, the Urdu word for student. Of course, the guards are not impressed and catch hold of them both and throw them into prison.


All the ragas in the Kanada family and not just Darbari (which means “of the emperor’s court”) are full of gravitas and solemnity. All of them share certain seed phrases: (ma)ga (Ma)ga M (Sa)Re.. Sa, ni Pa (ma)ga, (Pa)ni.. Pa. I would refer you to Blog no 3 (A bit of basic stuff) for the definition of the notation used in RagaBlog, and encourage you to try and sing it or play it on a musical instrument to get the feel of it. In Indian Classical Music every swara has an intonation and accent that has the stamp of the unique feel of that raga. It cannot be described in words, and it is said that it can only be learnt directly from the guru. One important feature of Darbari Kanada is that the gandhaar and dhaivat (ga and dha) are andolit, i.e, have a sort of a swing from ma to Re and from ni to Pa respectively whenever the swaras are sung especially in the vilambit tempo. This raga is an enduring theme in Baiju Bawra and is used as background music in many serious scenes. I have mentioned this in all the blogs on Baiju Bawra wherever I noticed this.


Raga Darbari has performed by all the great stalwarts on the Indian Classical Music scene, but to get a sense for the grandeur of the raga, I refer you to one vocal and one instrumental rendition of Darbari Kanada. First Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and then Pandit Ravi Shankar. Listen at least to the first ten minutes of both recordings.







Coming back to O Duniya ke Rakhavale, the song is composed in the eight-beat keherwa theka in a medium-slow tempo relative to the usual tempo used in keherwa in film music. I have highlighted the sam (सम) by underlining the precise syllable in the first few lines in the lyrics of the song above. The reader could listen to the song carefully and identify the sam in the whole song. Notice that the song has soft soulful strings (I am unable to make out exactly what instrument it is because it plays very softly in the background) closely following Rafi’s voice. This is in contrast to the Western concept of harmony, where counter-melodies, not the melody of te song plays in the background, a technique that is commonly used by music directors in later years. It is worth mentioning here that the song is entirely faithful to the notes of Darbari Kanada, although the andolan I mentioned earlier and other ornamentation devices like kan swaras (कण स्वर) may not be apparent in the song, clearly a limitation inherent to the film song format as opposed to a Dhrupad or Khayal performance of a raga.


Rafi has rendered the song with Safed 3 i.e. the “E” scale, a fairly high benchmark as male singers go. Do listen to the final lines of the song, where Rafi hits the ma in the upper octave with apparent ease. No wonder he is considered to be one of the greatest singers in Hindi film songs ever born.

That brings us to the final episode of the Sangeet Baiju Bawra series of blog posts in RagaBlog. I look forward to your feedback.


A final comment about Baiju Bawra: Naushad has said many times in interviews he gave, that his aim as a music director has always been to take Hindustani music to the Hindi film going audiences in the country, and take music meant for the classes, to the masses. He has certainly succeeded in doing this in Baiju Bawra.

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