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Navraatri, the Nava Rasas and Rafi Saab’s great compositions

This article is written by Mr. Achal Rangaswamy.


Mohd Rafi

With Navratri round the corner my mind went to the Nava Rasas, though I wonder if there is any connection at all…except that there was a Tamil film by the name Navaratri which had the famous actor Sivaji Ganesan doing nine roles. Each of the roles displayed one Rasa each as embodied in the Nava Rasas described in the Natya Sastra. The same film idea found its way into Bollywood with the great Sanjeev Kumar in Naya Din Nayi Raat, an easily forgettable film, but with a lovely song by Rafi Saab.

Rafi Saab sang “mere liye to har din naya din, har raat nayi raat”. While remembering this song the other day I thought to myself- why not look at Rafi Saab’s songs that clearly underlined each of the Rasas.

Here is an attempt. I call it an attempt only because I am sure we shall discover many many songs that may easily fit into each of the Rasas. Perhaps our friends here can make it even better by mentioning other songs.

the first rasa- shringara (love/attractiveness)- the first song that comes to my mind is “tu mere saamne hai” from suhagan…” teri zulfein hai khuli, tera aanchal hai dhala”… utterly romantic and highly imaginative song. Rafi Saab conveys the mood so beautifully. Of an utterly possessed lover who cannot help marveling at his lady love’s beauty. Of course, we can think of “Aise toh na dekho” from Teen Deviyaan or “Chaudvin Ka Chaand” and the title song. Rafi Saab always soundedly utterly romantic. I myself had a tough time selecting the perfect song for this mood as one more came into mind. “Masti mein chedke taraana koi dil ka”, from Haqeeqat where Vijay Anand drives away from his military camp on leave, imagining the date that he has with his lady.

The second Rasa –Hasya-(laughter/mirth)- shammi kapoor and the kids having a great day out in Brahmachari singing “Chakke pe Chakka”. The song sounds simple enough, but the great enjoyment and fun that they are all having together always has us tapping our feet, clapping our hands and singing our heart and voices out!! The song sounds easy as I said earlier, but is really not. The pace, the play of words all bring out the Rafi who enjoyed the company of kids.

Mohd Rafi

Mohd Rafi

The third Rasa- Raudra– (fury/anger)- though the song I am writing about is all about love, Rafi Saab has given us this absolutely passionate “Zindabad zindabad ae mohabbat zindabad” from the magnum opus Mughal E Azam. The song actually has an angry old man, perhaps a mad sufi type of man, who screams at Emperor Akbar asking him to bow down before the power of love. “Pyaar ke dushman hosh mein aa ho jaayega barbaad”. The song transcends various pitches but Rafi Saab in his inimicable style displays wonderful control.  The contrast between the line mentioned above and the line that goes“murli ki taanon mein tu aur tu hi hai aazaanon mein”. Simply awesome variation and great emotions that typifies Rafi Saab’s style.

The fourth Rasa- Karuna– (compassion)- I guess I am a big Brahmachari fan! “Main gaaoon tum so jaao”, the sad version. The kids are disconsolate since one of their friends has been given away to foster parents. The “uncle” Shammi Kapoor too is inconsolable. But he realizes that he needs to prop up the kids and make them sleep. Rafi Saab is so full of Karuna each time he says “sukh sapnon mein kho jaao”. He too admits the burden on the young man’s mind when he says “Maana aaj ki raat hai lambi maana din tha bhaari”….

Absolutely mind- blowing song that always brings tears to my eyes.

The Fifth Rasa- Bhibhatsa ( disgust/aversion)- which song can encompass this feeling more than “Yeh mehlon yeh takhton ye taajon ki duniya”. When Rafi Saab asks ” yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai” , he is taking a cynical shot at what life is all about and what the world has come to. “Jalaa do jalaa do isey phoonk daalo yeh duniya” brings out the utter disgust and total contempt for the modern day society that shuns all the good the protagonist is talking about. Guru Dutt couldn’t have chosen a better song or a better artiste to bring this song to all of us.

The sixth Rasa- Bhayanaka ( Horror)- kindly forgive me for putting this song in this category. I do not technically put this song in the horror category. But I wish to draw the comparison between horror and the feelings of the hero when he realizes to his horror that his whole world has collapsed around him and all his dreams have been smashed to pieces by forces beyond his control. Neeraj has penned the most beautiful song of his life, this is my personal opinion, and Roshan has poured pathos and a feeling of total loss in “Kaarvan Gujar Gaaya Ghubar Dekhte Rahe” from the film Nayi Umar Ki Nayi Fasal.  Every antara ends with a heart-rending and frightening narration of the disaster happening to the protagonist. “Odh kar kafan pade mazaar dekhte rahe/ paalki liye hue kahaar dekhte rahe/ umr ke chadhaav ka utaar dekhte rahe”. Terrific lyrics, touching music and Rafi Saab at his best in conveying a defeated and daunted hero whose life touches an unprecedented nadir as he loses the election, close on the heels of his losing his lady love.

Another song that I can think of here is “Wo hum na the wo tum na the” from the underrated and forgotten film Cha Cha Cha. The film may not have raised many bars but the two great songs definitely did. “Luti jahan pe bewajah paalki bahaar ki” is a painful rendering that only Rafi Saab could accomplish with ease. Equally beautiful was “Subah na aayee Shaam na aayee” from the same. The pain and horror comes through when the great singer says “Saanson ne hathkadi lagaayi / hui maut ke sang sagaai”. Another Neeraj gem. Another song that established the benchmark of the great music of the ‘60s.

The seventh Rasa- Vira (Bravery)- Haqeeqat again, and the highly touching yet inspiring “Ab Tumhare Havaale Watan Saathiyon”. No Indian listening to this song can feel prouder to be part of this great country. I have a confession to make. As a schoolboy listening to this song, close on the heels of a war, I too decided that I would be a soldier when I grew up! “Zinda rehne ke mausam bahut hain magar, jaan dene ki rut roz aati nahin” is enough to inspire a lot of people to fight for the safety of their motherland. “Tod do haath agar haath uthney lage, choone paaye na sita ka daaman koi” should make any Indian stand up and fight for the country. At the same time I couldn’t help thinking of the young Bhagat Singh in Shaheed taking a pledge with the eternal “Ae watan Ae watan humko teri kasam…”

The eighth Rasa- Adhbuta (awe/wonder)- I am talking about a song that always held me in awe from a very young age. The song “Yeh duniya patang nit badley yeh rang koi jaane na udaane waala kaun hai” has the singer enjoying flying the kite (Rafi Saab, it is learnt, loved kite- flying and was often found doing it), but even more so, the singer wonders and keeps wondering through his song about the creator of this world and how he makes things happen. A lovely song that marvels at Creation itself. There are two versions of this song. The happy version has a very enthusiastic chorus with Rafi Saab too joining in the gaiety and asking… “sab apni udaye aur jaan na paaye kab kiski chadhey kiski kat jaaye/ aur dor idhar se udhar hat jaaye/ koi jaaney na banana wala kaun hai”. Rafi Saab very nicely pays tribute to the Creator through this song. What a symbolic representation of life and the world itself, using a kite! The sadder version ends with a pathos filled “yahan milta hai nek koi laakhon mein ek par usey apnaane wala kaun hai.”

The ninth Rasa- Shanta( tranquility)- the protagonist tells his lady that she can count on him and that his love for her is eternal. One of my all time favourite songs is “Tere Mere Sapne” from Guide. When Rafi Saab says “Tere dukh ab mere, mere sukh ab tere, tere yeh do naina chand aur suraj mere”, he sounds so utterly reassuring and comforting. This song, I am very sure, must be a favourite of so many. What a lovely compostion by the quartet- Dev Anand, Shailendra, SDB and the oh- so -very romantic and so much at peace voice of Rafi Saab. “Aake mere haathon mein, haath na yeh chootega”. It is no surprise that even as I am typing these lines this very song is playing on my computer. I must listen to it everyday.

There is mention of two additional Rasas in Natya Sastra and they are as follows:

Vatsalya (parental love)- I had already mentioned in an earlier post about the heart-rending composition “Babul ki Duvaayen leti ja” from Neelkamal. The father cannot help pour out his love his daughter in the song which ends with Rafi Saab sobbing.  There is another song where Rafi Saab portrays the daughter’s feelings as she is getting married and is about to leave her father’s house. It is “Babul kaun ghadi yeh aayi kal ki main teri laadli beti ho gayi aaj paraayee”, from the film Umang. And who can ever forget the highly emotional “So ja baba mere so jaa” from Koshish where a blind Om Shivpuri puts the baby to sleep in the presence of his deaf and dumb parents. Though not the child’s own parent, the old man shows great paternal love when he says “tu sahaaron ki ungli pakadna teri ungli pakad lengi raahein, aasman jhukke choo lega maatha aur zameen tujhko degi duvaayen. Loriyon ki baahein bulaye tujhe, nindiya ki god mein sulaaye tujhe”…which song shows more paternal love than this one?!

Bhakti (spiritual devotion)- I am sure many of you will now add your own suggestions, but the first song that comes to mind is “Man Tarpat Hari Darshan ko aaj” from Baiju Bawra. This song has gone down in history as a great tribute from three Muslims, the composer, the lyricist and the singer. Even the great Naushad Ali has talked about how the entire team of musicians came prepared for the recording after their necessary ablutions. The total devotion to God and surrender to Him flows in the song. Even today, it comes across as a soothing and utterly humble offering of a great singer who was truly God-fearing.

At the same time I have always been a great fan of the song “Tere Dar pe aaya hoon kuchh kar ke jaaonga” from Laila Majnu. When Rafi Saab says “Tu sab kucch jaaney hai har gham pehchaaney hai”, he clearly illustrates the protagonist’s total belief in the Ultimate Power that guides this world.

I now leave this subject to my senior and better-informed friends on this site to add their list of Rafi Saab’s compositions.

Mohd Rafi Saab- aapsa “Nahin Dekha, yun toh humne laakh fankar suney hain, par aapsa nahi dekha, Na suna”.

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27 Blog Comments to “Navraatri, the Nava Rasas and Rafi Saab’s great compositions”

  1. achal rangaswamy says:

    oops..pls pardon the slip
    i meant “tere mere sapne” and not “tere mere sapna” 🙂
    this error may only please my wife of 25 years !!! 🙂
    i just couldnt help typing the song’s words wrongly- inadvertently writing her name !!!

  2. achal rangaswamy says:

    vinod ji thank you very much for your kind comments.

    nasreen ji, i fully agree with you about the two songs you have added to the list of rafi saab’s shringar rasa bouquet. he excelled at this rasa. and “tere mere sapna” shall go down in history as an all -time romantic hit. i sang it for my class on the last day of my fourth standard exams in school 🙂
    and i still listen to it with total attention. raju guide telling rosy that he has nothing more to give her apart from his undying love.

    thanks for adding these songs to the list, nasreen ji


  3. nasreen says:

    Ref Post 13

    Hey Priya

    Rasa-Rafi. I love that. Absolutely spot on. You’re so right, Rafi Saab’s voice was god’s gift to us all.

  4. Nasreen says:

    Dear Achal ji

    Very nice article.

    You have chosen so accurately and appropriately for every Rasa. The only ones where I thought of another song were for Rasa Shringar: aap ke haseen rukh pe aaj naya noor hai” or ” Haaye tabassum tera” and Rasa Hasya : Yeh duniya gol hai

    And tere mere sapne: if I had to have a favourite Rafi song (which seems impossible), it would probably be this one. The best love song ever

  5. siva says:

    for the last one week, this site seems to be having some problem….the latest two posts are missing and no fresh comments are appearing…

  6. vinod mehru says:

    dear achal ji ,

    har rang aur har ras ka maahir tha mera badshah, jaisa ki maine pahle bhi mention kiya hai “gaane ki pahli line to koi bhi aasani se gaa sakta hai lekin second line par copy karne walo ko naani yaad aa jati hai. Now after going through article i was compelled to change my statement that pehla shabad to koi bhi gayega lekin second word par phas jata hai koi bhi banda. Achal ji aapne sabhi raso ki study ki aur nair saheb ne bhi jo comment kiya hai woh aur uski tarif karne ko words nahin hai mere pass. God bless all.

  7. Bhargav VAsavada says:

    I wrote an article on once. You may recall “The Voice of Shammi Kapoor”. You may visit my blog for more entertaining discussions. Thanks.

  8. achal rangaswamy says:

    dear siva ji
    thank you very much for your kind comments. yes, i too feel that shringar rasa was rafi saab’s forte because he had this great ability to make anybody fall in love with his voice as he delivered one after another hit song based on love.

    i do hope to continue with articles that ensure you don’t leave the site out of sheer disgust !!!
    frankly speaking, life is too short for us to squabble over insignificant issues. let us all enjoy music and be thankful for the gems given to us by greats like rafi saab. why waste our energy in finger pointing and fault finding…..!!!???

  9. Siva says:

    Dear Mr Achal Rangswamy,
    I had taken a break from this site temporarily, after seeing some disgusting comments and comparisons of Rafi sahab & other great legends of yesteryears with some “howling” singers of today. Then I saw your gem of an article and then thought why should I bother about such “outsiders” to this site who are hell bent on polluting this site and decided that if I do not appreciate your article, it would be a great injustice to you and of course to Rafi sahab himself.
    Thanks a million for your beautiful article and also for bringing me back to this site. Of all the rasas , Rafi sahab really excels in shringar rasa. I think the list in this category would be endless…Please do continue to write such gems….Siva

  10. zorawar says:

    Dear Achal Sahab,
    Thanks very much for a fantastic article. I thought i am not good at writing an article but now i feel that i don’t have thoughts to write as your thoughts, your vision, your feelings in writing and your presentation and description makes this article extraordinary and that too with reference to our Rafi Sahab, this article has gone exceptional.
    Now that i have come to know about the various ragas, i would like to put in my choice of songs in various categories :
    Raga Shringar : Kamal ke phool jaisa badan tera chikna
    Raga Raudra : Mere Dushman tu meri dosti ko tarse
    Raga karuna : Rona Tera Ghadi Ghadi mujhe rula na de
    Raga Adhbhuta : Tumne Mujhe Dekha (My hello tune for years and will continue)
    Raga Vatsalya : Oh Nanhe Se Farishtay
    Raga Bhakti : Hari Ka Dhyan laga man mere (non-filmy)
    Sir, with regard to song Tere Mere Sapne, i would like to tell you that i wanted this song to be a part of my daily life. I had no other option to put it as my wife’s mobile hello tune. But now she gets more compliments for the song chosen than his hubby.
    Sir, once again my regards for doing this great job of making us know about the music so minutely.
    Long Live Rafi Sahab !
    Zorawar Chhugani
    Gen. Secy.
    Rafi Foundation Memorial Society, Delhi
    # 9810224991

  11. thank you, one and all for your compliments and also for suggesting more songs of rafi saab to suit various rasas. i do hope we shall have a very good collection based on the feedback of various readers here.

    shrirang nawathe saab i thank you for your very kind words.

    utthara ji, thank you very much, and we all look forward to more suggestions of songs depicting the rasas.

    saroj ji, tere mere sapne is indeed an immortal song.

    anwar ul haq saab thank you for your generous comments.

    anil nakra saab i am honoured and thrilled to read your comments. i do hope i shall continue to meet your expectations.

    rj (r j as in radio jockey??, wow) snigdha it would be a pleasure to receive a cd of the programme you did. one small correction if you dont mind- i am achal and not achala 🙂

    narayan ji yes..i missed out on the waqt song to which balraj sahni also added great value.

    jayaram ji i shall try my best to keep the flow of songs with something new each time, thank you.

    a.s. murty saab, thank you so much for your kind words.

    premji rafi and romandas ji it is very true that rafi saab could breathe a new life into any performer. he must have contributed to the added success of so many stars that appeared on the silver screen.

    pooja, thank you for your compliments. for someone who was probably born after rafi saab passed away, you have a special place for the great man in your heart. i do hope you listen to more and more songs of his to know the range, depth and total control that he displayed when he sang.

    priya ji yes you are very right. rafi saab’s songs knew no boundaries in terms of language or form. he was comfortable will the entire range, in fact totally in command.

    binu ji, thanks once again for your very kind words.

    i do hope that i have been able to bring all of us together to draw up a huge list of songs that fit beautifully into various rasas……looking forward to more songs being mentioned here.

  12. prakash shah says:

    my fav.bhajan-radhi ke tune bansari,naache man mora,madhuban me radhika

    romantic-maana mere haseen,ye mera prem patra,meri zindgi me aate to kooch bat hoti-kanyadan,aise to na dekho,

    nature-dil kahe rookja re rookja,aaj mausam bada beimaan he,main zindagi ka saath nibhata chal gaya,

    horror-main apne aap se gabhra gaya hoo,dar lage to gana ga

    comedy-duniya paagal he,aji kibla,akela hu me humsafar dhoondhta hoonm,kabhi khud pe kabhi halat pe rona aya,aaj purani raho se koi muje awwaz na de,apni to har aah ek toofan he.

    karroon-aapke pehloon me aakar ro diye.kya se kya hogaya,kahin be-khayaal ho kar,toote hue khwabo se,kya milye ais elogo se. time

  13. binu nair says:



    man tadpat rafi ko sun ne ko………as said by times of india on their independence issue.


  14. binu nair says:

    hi achal ji….

    ” aap mujhe ache lagne lage, sapne ……”

    binu nair
    rafi foundation
    9833 250 701

  15. Priya sanyal says:

    Mr. Achal Rangaswamy,,,what an article,,thank you,very much…,, There is one more Rasa,,thatsRasa-Rafi…..that a Rafi lover find in every raaga of rafi sahab,,no matter whatever the lyrics is,,no matter whats the composition is,,,but Rasa rafi can make any song immortal,,,for example,,,ye duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai,,,what a song,,but imagine that without Rasa Rafi,,,,,it would sound dry,,,not just one song,,every song,,Its rafi magic…,,,there so many Gazals,,romantic ,sad qwalli,duets,,,that is blessed with Rasa-Rafi,,,now songs dedicated to God,,no matter if its Bengali,punjabi hindi,,,or naat sarif,,,,everywhere,,Rasa Rafi merged Rasagara of Sat chit anand,,,or simply the divinity itself,,such a divotion with one`s voice is really admirable,,,,or rather worshippable,,,Rafi sahab,,,was with gifted voice,,but He did so much Riyaaz,,,,,never sold his voice for money as main aim,,yes for this reason most of his colleauge went against him and tried to remove Rafi saab`s name from music Industry,,,,but rasa rafi is Allah`s gift to we all,,,,those who understand rafi saab`s voice r very thankful to God………..

  16. Pooja Mishra says:

    Hello Sir,

    It is time to Salute you now…. beautiful Post, I dunno how this topic struck to ur mind, but i must say, it is a tribute to Rafi saab… u remind me my childhood days wen my mom n dad who r die hard fans of Rafi saab use to tune to vividbahrti for sainik bahiyon ka karyakram, geetanjali, geetmala and rautak kendra to listen to the songs of their favorite singer… today wen i read just the lines of the songs, i could sing it then n there itself, inspite of the fact that i ve not listened to these songs from past almost 6 to 7 years… it is so perfectly imbibed and ingrained in me, that it cannot be seperated from me… Hats off to you, reading ur posts have alws been a treat for me….

    Keep on writing for us.

  17. kprem says:

    i m also the fan of Rafi Sahab, his singing still alive in the heart of true lovers, may GOD give him all happiness and wishes him best ever.

  18. A S MURTY says:

    Achalji thanks for the detailed write up on the navarasas and the rafi connection to them. you have done a neat job by presenting the various moods of rafi sahab’s immortal songs.

  19. romandas says:

    Mr. Achal,
    Rafi Saab can infuse emotion even if a doll is made to act. This is not to denigrate any one but just to prove the genius of the extraordinary singer. We will never get another singer of Mohammed Rafi’s calibre. At best, we can have clones, but imitators can never surpass the original.

  20. jayaram d says:

    Oh!What a wonderful article.Topic chosen very apt as more songs rendered by rafi sahib will surely figure in coming days! congrats,please be writing more articles.

  21. Narayan says:

    Adaab Rafi sahab ! Anchal sir,
    One more innovative variety from you.. Thoroughly enjoyed.. congrats…
    In the horror- Bhayank category I can think of 2 songs one ” dar lage tho gaana gaa” which was with suman Kalyanpur…
    And the other song is from title theme n song of WAQT where in the Balraj sahani lost everthing to fate…The entire film was revolved on this song…

  22. RJ Snigdha says:

    Hi Achala,

    Wonderful writeup!!
    Taking the liberty to mention that it was an instant hit when I too had done a Radio show based on Nav Rasas from Hindi retro music( but on various artists) some time back!
    I guess topics like these can strike a chord with the readers/ listeners/Audience in no time as it reflects the moods and emotions of each one of us, a common man at different stages and phases of life;-) through immortal music!!

    Love and regards
    RJ Snigdha

  23. anil nakra says:

    dear mr achal
    your visoin is so high even hard to think like you as you think in this article , this is very unique artilce , i receive the article regularly but respond only 2-3 times , after reading this varity ,navras i have no option but to greet you
    keep thinking high

  24. Anwar-ul-Haque says:

    Dear Achal ji,

    Wow! What a unique topic! And what a beautiful selection of songs! All the songs you have mentioned are real gems.

    Many many congratulations for writing such a splendid article.

    Thanks and best regards.


  25. Saroj k says:

    Achalji nav raso ke sandarva gano ko dekhkar majaa aa gaya .mai khud tere mere sapne -guide aur ae muhabbat tu zindabad ka fan hun .good compile n swt gift aft navratri

  26. Utthara says:

    Achalji, you seem to be choosing hatke topics. First, your moving write-up on Rafi saab’s passing away, and now the nav rasas. Wah! Kya topics!

    You write in such a simple and straight manner that goes straight to the heart. Superb.
    For Bhakti, my choice will be Duniya na bhaye mohe
    For shringar, Bahosh-o-hawas mein deewana/Aise toh na dekho
    For Hasya: Tarif karoon kya uski __ Rafi-Shammi Kapoor combination is super.

    Thank you for choosing an excellent topic.

    Will come out with more of my choices.



  27. shrirang nawathe says:

    dear Achal sahab,

    I think your article is just masterpiece. I fully appreciate your views on Brahmachari song MAI GAAOON TUM SI JAAO….The emotions put by Rafi sahab for helpless Shammi kapoor were just awesome and Rafi sb only could sing such songs. I liked your write up too much. your selection of the songs is just mathed with the type of RAS.Excellent presentation.


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