Thinking out loud

Saturday, June 24, 2006


Madhushala, Dr. Harivanshrai Bacchan's masterpiece and brought to life by Shri Manna De, is one of my favorite pieces of poetry. It's one of those writings which mean different things to different people. Now Dr. Bacchan is not here anymore, and what he had meant when he wrote it will forever be obscured from us.

The first question is what he meant by Madhushala. To some, madhushala would mean material pleasure. To others it would mean spiritual fulfillment and to still others, like me, it would mean the achievement of a cherished goal and the ensuing satisfaction. What one makes of the word madhushala defines what the poem itself means to the reader. To me, it says so many things about finding the way to ones goal, about the hardships one would face, about motivation, about the joy of finding it, about how it would soon lose its lusture... I've picked out a few verses and I'm putting forth my interpretations of the same. If I'm worthy of interpreting such a great work, I don't know, yet I'll do my best.

मदिरालय जाने को घर से चलता है पीने वाला
किस पथ से जाऊं असमंजस में है वो भोला-भाला
अलग अलग पथ बतलाते सब, पर मैं ये बतलाता हूँ
राह पकड़ तू एक चला चल, पा जाएगा मधुशाला

The seeker sets forth on his search for his goal yet he does not which way to go. What must he do to get to his goal? He asks advice from everyone and everyone offers different advice. Yet I (the poet) has only one advice. Pick one path, any path and follow it steadfastly. You will reach your goal.

अधरों पर हो कोइ भी रस जिव्हा पर लगती हाला
भाजन हो कोइ हाथों में लगता रक्खा है प्याला
हर सूरत साकी की सूरत में परिवर्तित हो जाती
आंखों के आगे हो कुछ भी आंखों में है मधुशाला

The poet recommends extreme passion towards one's goal. The goal must so consume the seeker that it becomes his reality. All that the seeker must think of at all times is his goal.

छोटे से जीवन में कितना प्यार करूं पीलूं हाला
आने के ही साथ जगत में कहलाया जाने वाला
स्वागत के ही साथ विदा ही होती देखी तैयारी
बंद लगी होने खुलते ही मेरी जीवन मधुशाला

This could mean two things. This is the seeker's lament. For him, this life is too short and there is so much to be achieved. So much to do and yet as soon as he has begun to move, it seems that its time to go. It could also mean that most people tend to play it safe in life. They refuse to take risks. They live their life as a preparation of death, not as life itself. The seeker laments that he wishes to take risks but that doesn't seem to be the norm in society.

एक बरस में एक बार ही जगती होली की ज्वाला
एक बार ही लगती बाजी जलती दीपों की माला
दुनिया वालो किन्तु किसी दिन, मदिरालय में देखो
दिन को होली, रात दिवाली, रोज़ मनाती मधुशाला

The poet motivates the seeker to move towards his goal. He tells of how for those who reach their goal, everyday is a celebration. Success is desirable and success is good seems to be the import of this verse.

चलने ही चलने में कितना जीवन हाय बिता डाला
'दूर अभी है', पर कहता है हर पथ बतलानेवाला
हिम्मत है ना बढूं आगे, साहस है ना फिरूं पीछे
किम्कर्त्व्यविमूढ़ मुझे कर दूर खडी है मधुशाला

मुख से तू अविरत कहता जा मधु, मदिरा, मादक हाला
हाथों में अनुभव करता जा एक ललित कल्पित प्याला
ध्यान किये जा मन में सुमधुर सुखकर, सुन्दर साकी का
और बढ़ा चल, पथिक, ना तुझको दूर लगेगी मधुशाला

The seeker is tired। He has worked for so long yet the goal seems far off. He's not sure whether to turn back or to go ahead. He's confused and yet the goal is off yonder... In such a situation, the advice is simple. Imagine what joy one'd get when one reaches the goal. Imagine the happiness of success. That will give you strength and the goal will not seem so far off afterall.

मदिरा पीने कि अभिलाषा ही बन जाये जब हाला
अधरों की आतुरता में ही जब आभासित हो प्याला
बने ध्यान ही करते करते जब साकी साकार सखे
रहे ना हाला, प्याला साकी, तुझे मिलेगी मधुशाला

When the desire to reach the goal becomes so overpowering that you begin experiencing the joy. When your every thought is so focussed that the goal seems to materialize in front of you, that's when all other things fade away and you'll find your goal.

हाथों में आने से पहले नाज़ दिखेगा प्याला
अधरों पर आने से पहले अदा दिखाएगी हाला
बहुतेरे इनकार करेगा सकी आने से पहले
पथिक ना घबरा जाना, पहले मान करेगी मधुशाला

Right before you reach your goal, you'll find hindrances. You'll run into problems even as the goal seems so near. Things will seem to go wrong. That is bound to happen. Success will not be yours so easily. But remember, its just a test. Don't be frightened, keep moving. Its the nature of success to be a bit elusive. Keep going, success will be yours.

शांत सकी हो अब तक साकी किस उर की ज्वाला
और और की रटन लगाता जाता हर पीने वाला
कितनी इच्छाएँ हर जाने वाला यहाँ छोड जाता
कितने अरमानों की बनकर कब्र खडी है मधुशाला

Having achieved one goal, the seeker is not satisfied. He craves more and more. His desires will never be fulfilled. They have never been fulfilled for anyone. When the time comes for the final departure, every seeker has left with unfulfilled desire.

As I said before, everyone has their own interpretations. The greatest things about such compositions is that they are open to interpretation. Its much like God himself, meaning different things to different people. Mostly its a source of support and inspiration in an otherwise difficult life...

(You can read the complete poem in devnagri script at Kaavyaalaya. You'll have to download the Shusha font available on that site too).


  • gr8 post. Esp. the last similie.

    Maybe Amitabh might be knowing the poet's interpretations.

    By Blogger Manas, at 5:56 AM  

  • Well, human beings wants and desires are boundless...they're never fulfilled.

    every man has a mind of his own. he interprets the world around him with his mind only. thus the world ends up being confused and bewildered about various stuff. every one thinks he thinks the right way...every one thinks in a different manner - that's the real thing.

    But on the whole, a real cool and very somber post. bit philosophical, analytical...

    XOXO...looking 4 more mails...somewhere....

    By Blogger .:Infektia:., at 1:20 PM  

  • Nice interpretation of the Madhushala. Had never seen it in this light o:)

    By Blogger Meghana Kshirsagar, at 10:59 PM  

  • Great post!! I liked your interpertations.. :)

    By Anonymous Kirtimaan, at 7:20 PM  

  • tooo relevant interpretation! Just landed on your blog...quite late... but its really a gr8 post :)

    By Blogger pragyag, at 5:43 AM  

  • Amazing work dude... i'm so impressed... keep it up :-)

    By Blogger The Hermit, at 2:15 AM  

  • realy inspiring interpretation, I guess this is the secrect behind Amithabh's success.

    By Blogger minku, at 11:32 AM  

  • madhushala is not only a poem jst for recrement but it is realy some special thoughts to receive deep analysation.

    By Anonymous ratnesh, at 5:30 AM  

  • Very nice interpretation, never seen Madhushala in this light. Always used to think that the poem is meant for drunkards, just realized it's for drunkards but of different type.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 PM  

  • मदिरालय जाने को घर से चलता है पीने वाला
    किस पथ से जाऊं असमंजस में है वो भोला-भाला
    अलग अलग पथ बतलाते सब, पर मैं ये बतलाता हूँ
    राह पकड़ तू एक चला चल, पा जाएगा मधुशाला
    here is my translation -
    everyone who wants enlightenment tries to follow different rituals dogmas of different religions to move out of the vicious circle of rebirth but poet says that if he follow just one path he will find GOD.

    By Blogger mayank, at 8:44 AM  

  • अधरों पर हो कोइ भी रस जिव्हा पर लगती हाला
    भाजन हो कोइ हाथों में लगता रक्खा है प्याला
    हर सूरत साकी की सूरत में परिवर्तित हो जाती
    आंखों के आगे हो कुछ भी आंखों में है मधुशाला
    any word on my tongue is like chanting of god name,everything in my hand is like rosary,every face transforms into god face.there is nothing different in this world every element is GOD

    By Blogger mayank, at 8:51 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Avinash, at 8:27 AM  

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