Nope, this title is not clickbait. I indeed have this weird topic to cover, and you may find it intriguing as well, just like I did. This is mainly to do with Bollywood lyrics related to the title – the crows eating human flesh! Be aware that I am not trying to connect Bollywood to scavenging birds, but I would understand if you wish to refer to them as so.
Okay, let’s start. You would have heard this song titled “nadaan parinde ghar aaja” by A R Rehman, which composed for the movie – Rockstar. If you did, have you happen to focus on the lyric behind it? I did not try to understand until recently. In fact, I was fully concentrating on what this overrated Nepokid Ranbir was trying to bray on the screen.
If you notice, there is a line that reads:
Kaaga re kaaga re mori itni araj tose Chun chun khaaiyo maans. Arajiya re khaaiyo na tu naina more Khaaiyon na tu naina mohe Piya ke milan ki aas
I could not believe my ears when I heard this!. For those who do not read Hindi thoroughly, let me translate it for you. It appeals to stray crows asking them to go ahead and eat his flesh by picking as per preference. That, except not to feast on eyes, which apparently, are required for him to hold a union with his love interest. I am not kidding. This is true.
I had no clue why so much gore in these lyrics. To be absolutely sure about what I heard, I asked Alexa to play it a couple of times more. Amazon’s AI engine picked up my request and queued up a few more songs with the same lyrics on my radio. The next was Sonu Nigam and All Yagnik singing the same in more contemporary dialect Hindi.
कागा सब तन खाइयो चुन चुन खाइयो मांस
दो नैना मत खाइयो मोहे पिया मिला की आस
Then there was another by Kailash Kher, then one by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and I know this now by heart!
Initially, I was so confused about why all these good people singing the recycled verse, appealing to scavenging birds to eat all the flesh but eyes? Is this some kind of sacrificial ritual practiced by a tribe? Or does it have any historical significance?
After a bit of research, I found this blog post that tells me that it was originally written in Punjabi about a millennium ago. It was written by a Sufi mystic in Northwestern India, which is present-day Pakistan. He was Baba Sheikh Farid (1173-1266 ). You can read more details here.
This is what he wrote :
Kaaga karang Dhadoliya saglaa Khaaiyo Mass Aey Do Nainaan Mat Chhuchho pir dekhan ki aas
( O crow! come and peck all this flesh over this skeletal frame of mine, Leave these two eyes untouched for they are in wait of that Grand beloved of mine )
I am not gonna judge the baba or his followers on why this was made famous over centuries because I don’t know how love worked during then. May be birds involved, and maybe not. But our current generations of Bollywood should have known better. This is not the song for the present century, and we should stop using it.
Let me know your thoughts.
10 thoughts on “Flesh eating crows and other songs”
The theme of self-sacrifice/self-torture is not alien to someone who is slightly also familiar with Sufi songs or Kabir Dohas. To my understanding these kind of verses suggest that love is difficult- be it divine, physical-ephemeral. Painfully poignant the said lines reminds me of a verse: “Kabir yeh ghar prem ka, khala ka ghar naahi; sees utaare bhui dhare, tab paithe ghar maahi” The beheading here, is a metaphor dissolving of ego and not real imagery that conjures upon the mind. I do believe there is another metaphysical dimension to eating of flesh.
The reference of eating of flesh also reminds me of torture of Prometheus for stealing of fire.
The difference between the torture of Prometheus and baba Fareed/Kabeer doha is self afflicted pain vs pain imposed by someone else on you.
Many religions practice self-flagellation (Christianity, Judaism, Jainism, some sects of Hinduism and most noticeably Shia Islam) as a form of penance and becoming closer to God. Pain and suffering is a major part of understanding the depth of spirituality, love and passion. It signifies the importance of being mortal and what it means to have a body in which resides the soul with capacity to be immortalized– essentially ones own value system.
When the lover invites the crow to eat his flesh but to leave his eyes to catch the last glimpse of his beloved, to me, it is an ultimate theological virtue and a metaphor. The flesh is anyways going to worn out eventually but not the experience that the soul has lived with. Believers hang on to their values, even if they seem at times tarnished and worn; even when when being tortured/ betrayed and turned inside out, there is only one constant desire of being one with the soul.
That is what makes a real hero.
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Apologize the typographical errors. You can edit the last paragraph as: When the lover invites the crow to eat his flesh but to leave his eyes to catch the last glimpse of his beloved, to me, it symbolizes as an ultimate theological virtue and a metaphor. The flesh is going to worn out eventually but not the experience that the soul has lived with. Believers hang on to their values, even when they seem at times tarnished and worn; even when they are being tortured/ betrayed and turned inside out, there is only one constant desire of being one with the soul. Pain in inevitable, suffering is optional. Facing conflict and adversity regardless of the triumph just in order to be transformed to be a better version of oneself is part of Hero’s journey. To me, this is what makes a real hero.
P.S. I do not support/endorse sadism or real life crazy behavior/torture. To me such extreme examples are given and stories are created to make one understand the fragility of being human.
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Zoe..Thanks for dropping by and your comments. But I don’t agree with you.
Love is something easily explainable with the vocabulary and languages we have, we do not need to go to an extent of gore to get involved in it.
Take another apology, when one are asked how is the food the more reasonable answer is good, brilliant , satisfying , fulfilling and so on. But No one will ever say lunch is so good that the maggots feeding in the graves also will be satisfied and sing about this food for generations .. would they ? That’s the weird way of appreciating the food isn’t it ?
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Wow… Thanks for the insight. Thanks for introducing few facts I was not aware of .
I get your point , I understand , although do not sympathise on why such extream words used to explain something very simple matters like loyalty, love , respect . It was different society then.
Point is why is that are we singing it now ?
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Thanks for understanding. I wish philosophizing abstract thoughts and verbalizing them was easier.
If only humanity could explain everything in simple words using the existing vocabulary in a given language! Why would anyone create art – paint, sing, dance or even express emotions if simple algorithmic command language was enough, without the layers beneath? Why even have emotions when we can be ruthless programmed robots with limited battery of age-span churning measurable productivity in and out on planet earth? Some of us prefer to be humans instead and enjoy being endlessly enslaved as emotional fools muddling in the cycle of desire and despair. Why would Von Gogh paint with a bleeding ear? Why would Monet paint lilies with diminishing vision? Why would Beethoven compose when he could not hear? … and why would Mary Curie continue working with perils of radium or Barry Marshall drink H. pylori culture? Why do ordinary people show extraordinary courage? Is it for glory, for passion? Is it beyond comprehension? Why do you write, my friend? Answers to some of the questions of life lies in the questions themselves.The point is there is no point.
You said only a part of the Story as to why this words were written by Hazrath sheikh Fareed a sufi saint. The real story is that Baba fareed hung himself upon a tree upside down he wanted to see God almighty, his love to see almighty was so pure, after sometime all the vultures crows started to eat his flesh still he was alive. When atlast a crow was sitting on his neck just waiting that baba fareed opens his eyes and the crow can eat his eye balls. Just then baba fareed uttered this Words. And it is said divinely Lord appeared before him after this utterance of words.
This is deep, much deeper than I can possibly try to do justice by an answer. I get your sentiments, but lets just leave it at “I see the world differently”
You have a fantastic blog, but less regular than you should be. Please write more, and you do have lot to share with this world.
I can’t recall the specific societies but for some cultures embalming and burial is horrific and for others sky burial is the thing. Perhaps the song writer belongs to one of these cultures.
Fair warning, it’s an internet rabbithole. I started on one journey in reddit..can’t remember the post so you can start here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_burial
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Dunelight, thanks for dropping by and the comment.
I know what you are saying , and have heard of cultures doing that. But this poet is Punjabi and never heard of such rituals were being practised in Punjab region.
Regarding subreddits and rabbit holes, been there. Have hours reading topic to topics, for those reasons I venture there only during weekends. 🙂
If that is how you feel, you are eons away from both love and sufi thought. Get well soon.