Ashkon Ke Le Ke Dhaare: In a Torrent of Tears

AI-generated art depicting a man immersed in a pool of his tears

About the Poem

AuthorIshrat Godharvi
Time PeriodLate 20th century CE
Metersmuzaari’ musamman akhrab
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“Ashkon Ke Le Ke Dhaare” is an Urdu nazm written by the Pakistani poet Ishrat Godharvi and sung by the folk singer Shahid Ali Khan. Although he is not a household name, Godharvi is a prolific contemporary poet. Some of his other popular works include “Khabar Mere Marne Ki” and “Vafa Na Raas Aa’i”, as well as the na’at “Aane Vaalo Ye To Bataao”. 

The featured track appeared on Shahid Ali Khan’s 1996 album Wafa Na Raas Ayee. Among other songs by Shahid Ali Khan, “Askhon Ke Le Ke Dhaare” is often misattributed to Ataullah Khan Esakhelvi because the two have similar voices and cover the same themes in their songs. In his rendition of the nazm, Khan incorporates topically relevant poetry from other writers, including slightly modified couplets by Mohsin Bhopali (1932-2007). “Askhon Ke Le Ke Dhaare” has also been covered by Bollywood playback singers Anuradha Paudwal and Nitin Mukesh, but with modified lyrics.

Following the common poetic trope of unrequited love, “Ashkon Ke Le Ke Dhaare” deals with helplessness and dejection. The speaker of the poem has expended his life-force in pursuit of a cold and stonehearted beloved, whom he addresses directly. Not only has he gone into a self-imposed exile from his beloved’s city, but he is on the verge of death. The poem is essentially his last testament. With its intense imagery and emotional expression, “Ashkon Ke Le Ke Dhaare” demonstrates the romantic passion found in Urdu poetry.

Featured Rendition

Recording by Shahid Ali Khan, which was released in the 1996 album Wafa Na Raas Ayee

Text, Transliteration, and Translation


راستے خود ہی تباہی کے نکالے ہم نے

रास्ते ख़ुद ही तबाही के निकाले हमने
raaste khud hi tabaahi ke nikaale ham ne
I picked out a path of destruction for myself,

کر دیا دل کسی پتھر کے حوالے ہم نے

कर दिया दिल किसी पत्थर के हवाले हमने
kar diya dil kisi pattHar ke havaale ham ne
For I turned my heart over to a stone-cold person.

ہم کو معلوم ہے کیا شے ہے محبّت لوگو

हमको मालूम है क्या शै है मुहब्बत लोगो
ham ko ma’aloom hai kya shai hai muhabbat logo
I know what kind of a thing love is, people!

اپنا گھر پھونک کے دیکھے ہیں اُجالے ہم نے

अपना घर फूंक के देखे हैं उजाले हमने
apna gHar pHooNk ke dekHe haiN ujaale ham ne
By stoking the fire upon my house, I saw its lights.

Ishrat Godharvi

اشکوں کے لے کے دھارے بےآس بےسہارے

अश्कों के लेके धारे बेआस बेसहारे
ashkoN ke le ke dHaare be-aas be-sahaare
In a torrent of tears, hopeless and helpless,

لو کوچ کر رہے ہیں ہم شہر سے تمہارے

लो कूच कर रहे हैं हम शहर से तुम्हारे
lo kooch kar rahe haiN ham sheher se tumhaare
I am making my departure from your city!

یہ تیرا ظلم ہے یا تقدیر کے ستم ہیں

यह तेरा ज़ुल्म है या तक़दीर के सितम हैं
ye tera zulm hai ya taqdeer ke sitam haiN
Is this your cruelty or the injustice of fate?

کیسے تمہیں بتائیں کتنے اُداس ہم ہیں

कैसे तुम्हें बताएं कितने उदास हम हैं
kaise tumheN bataa’eN kitne udaas ham haiN
How can I tell you how sad I am?

طوفان میں گھِرے ہیں ملتے نہیں کنارے

तूफान में घिरे हैं मिलते नहीं किनारे
toofaan meN gHire haiN milte naheeN kinaare
I am surrounded by a storm and cannot find the shore!

تیرے مریضِ غم کی نبض بھی تھم رہی ہے

तेरे मरीज़-ए-ग़म की नब्ज़ भी थम रही है
tere mareez-e gham ki nabz bHi tHam rahi hai
The pulse of this patient of your love is stopping, too!

اب موت دھیرے دھیرے سرہانے جم رہی ہے

अब मौत धीरे धीरे सिरहाने जम रही है
ab maut dHeere dHeere sirhaane jam rahi hai
Now death is slowly and steadily taking over my headspace.

اِس حالِ بےکسی میں کوئی کیا تمہیں پکارے

इस हाल-ए-बेकसी में कोई क्या तुम्हें पुकारे
is haal-e be-kasi meN koi kya tumheN pukaare
In such a state of helplessness, why bother calling out to you?


کوئی کہدے یہ محبّت کے خریداروں سے

कोई कहदे यह मुहब्बत के ख़रीदारों से
koi kehde ye muhabbat ke khareedaaroN se
Someone go and tell those who trade in love:

پیار وہ شے ہے جو ملتی نہیں بازاروں سے

प्यार वह शै है जो मिलती नहीं बाज़ारों से
pyaar vo shai hai jo milti naheeN baazaaroN se
Love is an item that is not found in bazaars.

ہم تو پہلے ہی محبّت میں جلے بیٹھے ہیں

हम तो पहले ही मुहब्बत में जले बैठे हैं
ham to pehle hi muhabbat meN jale baiTHe haiN
I am sitting here, already burned by love.

کیوں ڈراتے ہو دہکتے ہوئے انگاروں سے

क्यों डराते हो दहकते हुए अंगारों से
kyooN Daraate ho dehekte hu’e aNgaaroN se
Why do you try to scare me with burning embers?

Ishrat Godharvi

نفرت کی بھیڑ میں ہم کچھ ایسے گھِر گئے ہیں

नफ़रत की भीड़ में हम कुछ ऐसे घिर गए हैं
nafrat ki bHeeR meN ham kuchH aise gHir ga’e haiN
I have become surrounded by a crowd full of hatred, such that

ہم موت سے ہی پہلے بےموت مر گئے ہیں

हम मौत से ही पहले बेमौत मर गए हैं
ham maut se hi pehle be-maut mar ga’e haiN
Even before my death, I have died without dying.

ہیں گردشوں کے صدمے تقدیر کے ستارے

हैं गर्दिशों के सदमे तक़दीर के सितारे
haiN gardishoN ke sadme taqdeer ke sitaare
The stars of my fate are on a collision course of misfortune!

Mohsin Bhopali [slight variation]

یوں ہی یہ شاخ سے پتّے گرا نہیں کرتے

यूंही ये शाख़ से पत्ते गिरा नहीं करते
yooN hi ye shaakh se patte gira naheeN karte
Leaves do not just fall down from their branches!

بچھڑ کے لوگ بھی زیادہ جیا نہیں کرتے 

बिछड़ के लोग भी ज़ियादा जिया नहीं करते
bichHaR ke log bHi zyaada jiya naheeN karte
People do not live for long after being separated!

جو آنے والے ہیں موسم اُنہیں شمار کرو 

जो आने वाले हैं मौसम उन्हें शुमार करो
jo aane vaale haiN mausam unheN shumaar karo
Take account of the seasons that are approaching;

جو دن گزر گئے اُن کو گنا نہیں کرتے

जो दिन गुज़र गए उनको गिना नहीं करते
jo din guzar ga’e un ko gina naheeN karte
One should not count days that have already passed.

Ishrat Godharvi

مفلس غریب ہم ہیں اوقات کیا ہماری

मुफ़लिस ग़रीब हम हैं औक़ात क्या हमारी
muflis ghareeb ham haiN auqaat kya hamaari
I am poor and destitute – what worth do I have?

دھرتی کا بوجھ ہے اِک نظروں میں ہم تمہاری

धरती का बोझ है इक नज़रों में हम तुम्हारी
dHarti ka bojH hai ik nazroN meN ham tumhaari
In your eyes, I am just a burden upon the earth.

کیسے بجھائیں عشرتؔ ہم دل کے یہ شرارے

कैसे बुझाएं इशरत हम दिल के ये शरारे
kaise bujHaa’eN ‘ishrat ham dil ke ye sharaare
Ishrat, how can I extinguish the sparks in my heart?

Further Reading and References

  • On Spotify, you can find basic information about the album Wafa Na Raas Ayee. [link]
  • On Rekhta, you can read the poem by Mohsin Bhopali that is excerpted and slightly modified by Shahid Ali Khan in this song. [link]

Further Listening

  • Live version by Shahid Ali Khan at a concert in the United Kingdom [link]
  • Version by Bollywood singers Anuradha Paudwal and Nitin Mukesh, with different lyrics [link]
  • An interview with Shahid Ali Khan from 2020, in which discusses his life and career [link]
  • The official YouTube channel of Shahid Ali Khan [link]
  • The official YouTube channel of Ishrat Godharvi [link]

Suggested Citation

Shad, Hamza. “Ashkon Ke Le Ke Dhaare: In a Torrent of Tears”. The Khusrau Circle. 3 August 2023.