Kitni girhein baqi hain (Lyrics and Meaning)


Kitni girhein kholi hain maine, kitni girhein ab baaki hai 

paanv mein payal, baahon mein kangan, gale mein hansli, kamar band, challe aur bichue 

naak kaan chidwaayein gaye hain, aur zevar zevar kehte kehte

reet rivaaj ke rassiyon se main jakdi gayi ,uff kitni tarah main pakdi gayi 

How many knots have I untied, how many still remain? 

Anklets for the feet, bangles for the arms, necklace around the neck, waistband, rings and toe rings, 

My nose and ear were pierced, and with each ornament, 

I found myself  all the more restrained with ropes of customs and mannerisms, oh the ways in which I have been chained (literally caught)   

ab chilne lage hain haath paanv, aur kitni kharaashein ubhri hain, 

kitni girhein kholi hain maine, kitni rassiyaan utari hain 

Ang ang mera roop rang, mere naksh nain, mere bol bain 

meri aawaaz mein koyal ki tareef hui, mere zulf saanp, meri zulf raat, 

zulfon mein ghata mere lab gulaab, meri aankhein sharaab 

ghazal aur nazmein kehte kehte husn aur ishq ke afasano mein main jakdi gayi

uff kitni tarah main pakdi gayi 

Now my hands and feet have begun to develop scratches, and so many bruises have surfaced 

Since I started untying the knots, and  freed myself of so many ropes 

Every part of my body, my facial features, my talks and mannerisms, 

My voice was admired by comparing it to that of the cuckoo bird, to some my hair is like a serpent, 

to some its like the night, to others my hair is like the clouds, my lips like the rose, my eyes (as intoxicating) as alcohol, I

And in this way I have been caged in different songs and poetry of beauty and love, oh the ways in which I have been chained. 

main poochun zara, aankhon mein sharaab dikhe sabko, akaash nahi dekha koi 

saawan bhado to dikhe magar, kya dard nahi dekha koi 

phan ki jheeni si chaadar mein, buth cheele gaye uriyaani ke 

taaga taaga karke poshaaq utaari gayi 

mere jism pe phan ki mashq hui, aur art kala kehte kehte sange marmar mein jakdi gayi 

batlaaye koi batlaaye koi, kitni girhein kholi hain maine, kitni girhein ab baaki hain 

I would like to ask those who saw my eyes, they found them intoxicating like alcohol, but didn’t they see the sky in them (referring to her dreams) 

They see monsoon clouds in my eyes, didn’t they see the pain (the pain that comes from being tied down or restricted) 

In the name of this lightly woven cloth called art, bare (naked) statues were carved out

thread by thread I was unclothed, 

On my body art was practiced (referring to the numerous works of art based on females be it poetry, statues paintings songs etc.), and in the name of art, I was imprisoned in marble

Can someone please tell me, how many knots did I untie, how many still remain? 

There are a lot of versions of this poem, but I like the one narrated by rekha – Kitni girhein kholi hai maine. I am amazed at how this is written by a man (gulzar sahab) and still captures very delicately and precisely the feelings of women. Women have been the symbols of beauty, grace for as long as civilization’s existence. You will rarely find anyone tell the little girls to be bold or brave or to fight it out, they are always the delicate darlings who must dress pretty, maintain grace, speak softly, walk gently, look beautiful. Delicateness has so long been associated with women, that a girl who behaves otherwise is referred to as “a tomBOY” and a boy who cries has to listen to things like : “now, stop crying like a GIRL.”

In the country that I come from, married women have to wear golden and black beads around their neck as a symbol of marriage. Why only women, why shouldn’t the men wear something similar?  Women are often asked to dress properly with almost a no skin show rule even in the hot summers, and they have to attend parties where paintings and sculptures of scantily clad or naked women sell for huge amounts of money. Hypocrites!

There are so many prose and poems that describe the beauty of a woman, but most of them are only skin-deep. I would also have grown up with the same idea that I have to look beautiful, pretty, and behave in a so-called ladylike manner at all times as a rule, but I am glad the people in my life made me realize there is more to me than the jewelry I wear or the way I look, that its okay to go crazy at times, act wild, not care about who is watching, breathe in fresh air, smell freedom, freedom from unnecessarily rules that tie and restrain so many women around the world. Here’s hoping that you can find your freedom, find someone in your life who can see beyond the mascara in your eyes, see the dreams you have and help you achieve them, who can listen to your voice midst the clank of your bangles and who can let you be who you are.

I also realized that even though this poem talks about the agony of women, I am sure there are boys who have to put up a fake act of being rough and tough everyday of their life because that is what the society demands of them. Here’s hoping that you can find someone too who lets you be your gentle self, who lets you cry your heart out when you have to, who can let you be who you are. As humans we should all be allowed to cry, laugh, dream and live the way we want to, we only need the courage to defy the society and its norms! It’s not easy but it’s not impossible 🙂

PS : Yes the jewelry in the picture is all mine and I wear it when I feel like wearing it, not because I have to but because I want to 😀


33 thoughts on “Kitni girhein baqi hain (Lyrics and Meaning)

  1. Beautiful words Krithya. Was enriching reading it. I don’t wear much jewellery…And would want to give up that too. Experiencing that it’s challenging to present myself to the world as I really am…And its worth it!

  2. Loved your translation of Kitni girhein…and especially loved your commentary after that…
    I too am into Bollywood lyrics and as a teacher of meditation use the lyrics to bring home inspiration from unexpected places…just did a concert in Sunnyvale California last week called Bollywood Inspirational Top 10 which someone with your interests would have enjoyed…
    Nice meeting you in cyberspace

  3. Gulzaar Sahab is like a God who knows human emotions so well to touch the core and yet bring it out so beautifully in simple metaphorical compositions. This one a knot…but he can use anything in nature to convey the quintessential. The best part is that although it could be a deep and sometimes even spiritual , the essence of the great thought gets to you. This one for instance Kitni girhein kholi hain mainay kitni girhein baqi hain touches one to the extent of shaking him or her up.
    Yeah u r right about this i also wonder how he being a man could fathom the depths of a woman’s angst/ pain when i have known women who are not wanting to be free of these. In the garb of culture and tradition they want to let the knots remain…glory be to these knots is their outlook.
    Now being fortunate enough to have an education and having being born in a family where i am allowed to wear what i want, also to voice my opinions i have also woken up to this big question of, ” Can a woman be totally free ” girhein or no girhein.
    Do pls visit my blog…especially my latest posted last night which actually brought me here.
    This was the precise poetry that rang and i was wanting an English Translation of it and although i have Shri Pawan Verma’s book of translated in English of Gulzar’s poetry i found it easier to search on the compu and it brought me here.
    Thank You so much for sharing not only ur beautiful thoughts but also the English translation for i am sure just like me many would find ur post very satisfying. 🙂

    • Do you have a link to the song, I would love to listen to it too. If the song is on youtube, there are sites out there that allow you to convert a video to an mp3. Hope that helps!

  4. Plz help me… i want this background song and lyrics of kitni girhain baki hai… ” dil se dur karu kaise … tu hi meri chahat hai.. ” and ” mai punchu zara ” I really Luv these song.. 🙂

    • Hey Imran
      Do you have a link to the songs? or can you share the link to the episodes in which they were sung? I would love to listen to the songs too.
      Thanks for dropping by, I have never heard these songs, but lets just hope someone who has, can direct you to the links of the songs.

  5. being a man …gulzaar sahab had potrayed the plight of a women in our society so beautifully and with all d emotion.hatsoff

  6. I love this serial..n the poem is jst heart touching n very true..I need this song …main puchun zara….where can I get it

  7. I like this serial so mucha and I don’t know will it change me or not but after watching this serial I realy want to be in favour of femails and realy want to be a good person ……thanks zindagi

  8. I was searching for “girhein” meaning.and found this awesome poem and its beautiful illustration !! Simple words , heartfelt emotion, came right through. Keep writing .god bless .

  9. Pingback: Kitni Girhain Baqi Hain | urduwallahs

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