Karvan guzar gaya, gubar dekhte rahe…

   By Vijay Darda | 15-01-2024

Gopaldas Neeraj’s poems are a philosophy of life painted in the hues of love

Listening to that sleepy-eyed poet with profundity in his expression late at night was never enough. Had he just recited a little more… we would have listened a little more..! This was the wonder of that poet, ‘shayar’ and lyricist! Neither time could ignore as unique a personality as Gopaldas Saxena nor could anyone forget him after he departed. He is evergreen in our hearts as Gopaldas Neeraj. He wrote quite fittingly:

Itna badnaam huye hum toh is jamane mein,

Tumko lag jayengi sadiyan hamein bhulane mein.


As his birth centenary year began on the 4th of January, his memories have started shining again. Dr Harish Bhalla had introduced me to him. From Neeraj’s affection and countless rounds of meetings, his philosophical stories in his free time, to his humming in a scratchy voice, all such memories have come alive. When Neeraj wrote love songs, he wrote them in such a way that they left everyone intoxicated.

Shokhiyo mein ghola jaye phoolo kaa shabaab,

Usame phir milayi jaye thodi si sharaab,

Hoga yun nasha jo taiyyar woh pyaar hain.


The way he wove love and ornamentation into words is so amazing that it is rare to find anywhere else.

Dekhati hi raho aaj darpan na tum,

Pyaar kaa ye mahurat nikal jaayegaa.

Chudiyaan hi na tum khanakhanaati raho,

Ye sharamashaar mausam badal jaayegaa.

Muskuraao na aise churaakar nazar,

Aaina dekh surat machal jaayegaa.


The world remembers him as a poet, shayar and lyricist immersed in love, but I have spent many evenings talking to him. I listened to a lot of stories from him and read a lot about him too. In my view, his creations seem to define every essence of life. Neeraj’s journey of life indeed appears to be a rich tapestry of experiences, reflecting the myriad facets of life itself working from typist to professor. His ability to navigate through the highs and lows, from facing adversity and poverty to achieving success and becoming the pride of ‘mehfils’ is admirable. He never let life go away from him. He boldly exposed the ironies of society in all its nakedness. He wrote:

Hai bahut andhiyaar ab suraj nikalna chahiye,

Jis tarah se bhi ho ye mausam badalna chahiye,

Roj jo chehre badalte hai libason ki tarah,

Ab janaza jor se unka nikalna chahiye.


Neeraj knew very well that riding on the emotions of love, injustice can be exposed. He wrote:

Ab toh mazhab koi aisa bhi chalaya jaye,

Jisme insan ko insan banaya jaye.


Neeraj’s works are a blend of love and pain. His work was broadcast from Akashvani Lucknow in 1958.

Swapna jhare phool se, meet chubhe shool se,

Lut gaye singar sabhi, baag ke babool se,

Aur ham khade-khade bahaar dekhate rahe,

Karvan guzar gaya, gubar dekhte rahe.


The youth became crazy about him. Neeraj was in high demand for every ‘mehfil’. This creation gave a new style to his personality. One day Neeraj told me the story of his meeting with Dev Anand. I was also very close to Dev Anand. Dev Anand had gone to Kolkata as a guest in a ‘Mushaira’. He heard Neeraj reading the song. Dev Anand was a big personality at the time but he came to Neeraj and said, “let me know if you ever want to write for films.” After many years, Neeraj remembered Dev Anand. He wrote a letter and Dev Anand called him. When Neeraj reached Mumbai, Dev Anand made him stay in a five-star hotel. During a meeting with Sachin Dev Burman, a condition was laid that the lyrics of the song should start with ‘Rangeela re’. That very night, Neeraj penned a song for the film Prem Pujari…

Rangeela re… tere rang mein yun ranga hai mera mann,

Chhaliya re… na bhujhe hai kisi jal se ye jalan!


I am writing only a few lines of this song here but please listen to this song once again. You will find in it the complete philosophy of life. Whenever I met Neeraj, I felt as if I should keep listening to him. Not only songs, ghazals, shayaris, or poetry, but his words were also so spiritual that you could nothing but end up becoming his admirer. He looked at every aspect of life in a completely different manner. It appeared as if he is living in this world and keeping himself abreast of all the worlds! His soul appeared very spiritual and he too used to say that he is a poet of spirituality, not love. He was a great admirer of Harivansh Rai Bachchan. While travelling by bus one day, he told Harivansh Rai Bachchan that he wants to be as famous as him. Indeed, Neeraj became extremely popular. Today I recall some more of his philosophical lines…

Jab chale jaenge hum laut ke sawan ki tarah,

Yaad aaenge pratham pyaar ke chumban ki tarah.

Aaj ki raat tujhe akhiri khat aur likh dun,

Kaun jane yah diya subah tak jale na jale?

Bum baarood ke is daur mein maloom nahin,

Aisi rangeen hava fir kabhi chale na chale.


We will never be able to forget Neeraj!

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