Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bhawaiya : Diney Diney

The territory of the Bhawaiya folk song is North Bengal, Coochbehar, and Assam -  also covering much of the Rangpuri-dialect-speaking areas of northern Bangladesh.  Some say Bhawaiya is derived from "bhava" - emotion.   Others think the term originated from the word "bhabaiya" -  that which inspires contemplation. Certainly the themes of this genre are contemplation, love, and loss. The lyrics below are traditional - dated sometime between the 17th and 19th centuries, now resurrected in a MTV sherwani. (Disregard the mishmash of overlaid new-age Punjabi lyrics, which bear no relation to the original.)

দিনে দিনে খসিয়া পড়িবে
রঙ্গিলা দালানের মাটি গোসাঁইজি ... কোন রঙে?

Diney diney khoshiya poribe
Rongila dalaner mati Gosain-ji ...  Kon rongey?

Day by day will crumble
Mud-walls of this pretty-colored house, O priest ... In what color?

বাঁধিছেন ঘর মিছা
মিছা দ্বন্দ্ব মাঝে গোসাঁইজি ... কোন রঙে?

Bandhichhen ghar michha
Michha dwandwa majhe Gosain-ji ...Kon rongey?

Your house-framing is futile
Futile in midst of doubt, O priest ... In what color?

বাল্য না কাল গেলো হাসিতে খেলিতে
যৈবন কাল গেলো রঙ্গে
আর বৃদ্ধ না কাল গেলো ভাবিতে চিন্তিতে
গুরু ভজিবো কোন কালে, গোঁসাইজী ... কোন রঙে?

Balyo na kaal gelo hashite khelite
Jaiban kaal gelo rangey
Aar briddho na kaal gelo bhabite chintite
Guru bhojibo kon kaale Gosain-ji ... Kon rongey?

Childhood went in laughter and play
Youth in dance and song
Old age in thinking and worry
When to chant of Guru, O priest ... In what color?

হাড়েরও ঘরখানি, চামেরও ছাউনি
বন্ধে বন্ধে তার জোড়া
আর তাহারই তলে ময়ুর আর ময়ুরী
শূন্যে উড়ায় তারা গোসাঁইজি ... কোন রঙে?

A room of bones, thatched by skin
Joint by joint tied
And beneath, peacock and peahen
They fly in space, O priest ... In what color?

(মতান্তরে )
হাড়েরও ঘরখানি, চামেরও ছাউনি
বন্ধে বন্ধে তার জোড়া
সেই ঝড়েরও প্রহরী ময়ুর আর ময়ুরী
কবে দেয় যে গো উড়া গোসাঁইজি ... কোন রঙে?

Harero gharkhani, chamero chhawni
Bandhe bandhe tar jora
Shei jharero prohori mayur ar mayuri
Kobe deay je go ura Gosain-ji ... Kon rongey?

A room of bones, thatched by skin
Joint by joint tied
That tempest's guards, peacock and peahen
Who knows when they fly away, O Priest ... In what color?

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Amjad Sabri: Yehi Mera Zauq-e-Sujood Hai

A few weeks ago, two motorcyclists opened fire on Amjad Sabri's car in Karachi. Sabri was shot twice in the head and once on the ear and died shortly after.  The killing was claimed by a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban who accused Sabri of blasphemy.

Here is a piece of traditional qawwali from Amjad Sabri. The circumspect poster of the video (apparently the music label who produced it) has bleeped some of the problematic lines, wherein Hindu deities and Western philosophy are said to be found within a saint's shrine along with Muhammad or Allah. At one point, a camouflaging grunt of "Allaaaaah" is added to the soundtrack.

Yehi mera zauq-e-sujood hai, yehi mere ishq ka raaz hai
Teri yaad mein mera jhoomna, mera Hajj hai meri Namaaz hai

This is my perception of the essence of prayer: acknowedgement of my love for Thee
My whirling dance ,with Thee in mind, this is my pilgrimage (Hajj) and my prayer (Namaaz.)

Tere dar pe sajda ada kiya, tujhe apna kaaba bana liya
Yeh gunah hai to hua kare, mujhe is gunah pe naaz hai

I lay my prayers at Thine door, I made Thee my most sacred enclosure (Kaaba)
If these be sins, so be it, I cherish such sins of mine.

Yehan pehle raaj hain Aulia, yehan paaon rakha rawaan naheen
Yahan sar ke bal chalo aashiqon, ye dayar ye banda nawaz hai

The First Lord here is the shrine's saint (Aulia), none stepping here are sent back
Prostrate here your heads, O Lovers, this be the realm of Friends of Worship.

Yahan Falsafi bhi hai Ram hai, yeh ajeeb kaisa maqam hai
Jahan khud se jhuk na sake zabeen wahan sajda karna haraam hai

Here be philosophy (natural philosphy, i.e. science), here be Ram (avatar of Vishnu) too, what a strange station this is
Where Beauty (Pride?) cannot bow down before itself, that place is forbidden for prayers.

Mujhe Anwar-ul ka hai aasra, ke wahi to mere rafeeq hain
Main ghareeb hoon to kya hua mera silsila to daraaz hai

I take shelter in the Luminous One (Ali, the first Shia Imam), for he is my ally himself
So what if I am poor, my link to him is still unbroken.

Another rendering of this qalaam, by Shafqat Hussain and Shujaat Hussain qawwals, is here.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Nizami: Mara Ba Ghamza Kusht

Nizami Ganjavi (Persian: نظامی گنجوی, Nezāmi Ganjavi‎‎), 1141-1209,  is considered the greatest romantic epic poet of Persian literature.  He forged a colloquial, realistic style of writing, and his heritage is shared today across Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kurdistan and Tajikistan. Nizami was born in Ganja (an outpost of the Seljuq empire, in present-day Azerbaijan, named from the Turkic 'Gan chai,' refering to the eponymous 'Wide river',)  and is believed to have spent his whole life in the South Caucasus.

By the end of the 10th century, Persian literature had become widespread from the Mediterranean to the Punjab. The Seljuqs took Ganja from the Shaddadids in 1075, and adopted Persian for their courts. By the middle of the 12th century, the Seljuqs' control of the region had weakened;  their provincial governors, usually local Persian nobles, further encouraged Persianization. Political power was diffused; Farsi remained the primary language of court and commerce. This was especially true in Ganja: Nizami was patronized by different rulers, and dedicated his epics to various rival dynasties including the Seljuqs, Eldiguzids, Shirvanshahs, the ruler of Ahar and Ahmadilis. Although he rubbed shoulders with rulers and princes, Nizami avoided the court life and is generally believed to have lived in seclusion with his 'most beloved wife', a Qipchaq slave girl of the Eurasian steppe named Afaq ('Horizon'.) It is after Afaq that Shirin ('Sugar') of Nizami's epic Khusrau and Shirin is modeled.

Often referred to by the honorifics Hakim ('Sage') or Rind ('Knowledgable'), Nizami is both a learned poet and master of a lyrical, sensuous, secular style. Poets of the time were expected to be well versed, Nizami was exceptionally so. His poems show not only that he was fully acquainted with Arabic and Persian literatures, as well as with popular traditions, but also that he was familiar with diverse fields such as mathematics, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, medicine, botany, Quranic exegesis, Islamic theory and law, Iranian myths and legends, history, ethics, philosophy, esoterica, painting, and music. His strong character, social sensibility, and knowledge of oral and written historical records, as well as his rich Persian cultural heritage  - all serve to unite pre-Islamic and Islamic Iran into the creation of a new standard of literary achievement; one that not only creates a bridge between pre-Islamic and Islamic Iran, but also straddles Iran and the whole ancient world.

I went to the Tavern last night, but I was not admitted
I was bellowing at the door, yet nobody was listening to me
Either none of the wine-sellers were awake
Or I was a nobody, and no one opens the door for a nobody
When more or less half of the night had passed
A knowing man  raised his head from a booth and showed his face
I asked of him: "Open the door"; he told me: "Go, talk not like a fool
At this hour, nobody opens the door for anybody
This is not a mosque where doors are open any moment
Where you can come late and push ahead to the first row
This is the Tavern of Magians and Rinds dwell here
There are Beauties, candles, wine, sugar, reed flutes and songs
Whatever wonders that exist, are present here
Muslims, Armenians, Zoroastrian, Nestorians, and Jews
If you are seeking company of all that is found here
You must become a dust upon the feet of everyone."
O Nizami! if you knock on this door day and night
You won't find but smoke from a burning fire.

Goethe described Nizami thus:

A gentle, highly gifted spirit, who, when Firdausi had completed the collected heroic traditions, chose for the material of his poems the sweetest encounters of the deepest love. Majnun and Layli, Khosrow and Shirin, lovers he presented; meant for one another by premonition, destiny, nature, habit, inclination, passion staunchly devoted to each other; but divided by mad ideas, stubbornness, chance, necessity, and force, then miraculously reunited, yet in the end again in one way or another torn apart and separated from each other.

Amir Khusrau's lament after reading Nizami:

Ruler of the kingdom of phrases; scholar and poet, his goblet raises
In it pure wine, intoxicatingly sweet; in goblet beside me settles only peat.

Below, K.L. Saigal renders a composition attributible to Nizami, though there is some debate on whether certain of the couplets were added later, such as by Mirza Hasan Qateel Dehlvi (Qateel "Lahori" to the Persians.)

Mara ba ghamza kusht, o qaza ra bahana sakht
Beloved killed me with slanted glance, "fate" was what she blamed.

Khud suye ma na deed, o haya ra bahana sakht
Deigned not Beloved meet mine gaze, "modesty" was what she claimed.

Daste ba dosh-e ghair, nihade bar-e karam
Put her arms around rival's shoulder, entwined him without pretense -

Mara chun deed laghzish-e pa ra bahana sakht
Seeing me she sprang apart, said "feet slipped", ashamed. 

Raftam ba masjidi ke bebinam jamaal-e-dost
Hurried I to mosque, hoping to see Beloved's beauty thence -

Dasti ba rukh kashid, o dua ra bahana sakht
Raised she hands to hide her face, and "prayer time", exclaimed.

Zahid na dasht taab-e-jamaal-e pari rukhan 
The pious there dared not meet, raging beauty of fairy-like face -

Kunji girift o yad-e khuda ra bahana sakht 
Retreated they to rosaries, "thinking of the Lord", they claimed.

There are other decent renderings of this qalam - Iqbal Bano's, and Farid Ayaz's.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Baluchi Traditional: Laila O Laila

Rostam Mirlashari grew up in the Sistan-Baluchistan  area of Iran. In 1991, the political situation and fear for his life in Baluchistan convinced him to leave Iran and move to Sweden. Here's a Baluchi traditional song performed by his fusion Baluchi-Swedish band.

Mijaazi ent Laila
Bya tar baraant sail a

O high-and-mighty Laila
The sights let me show ya

Tou shoto der kut
Zaheeran man a koor kut

You been long delayed
Tears my eyes decayed

Laila shan ko Laila
Laila u washe ent Laila

I'd die for you Laila
Laila, O sweet Laila

Gerwaartai saap ent
Dil mani aap ent

Your hair parting's so fine
It melted this heart of mine

Tai sar-e qaida
Kutag mana shaida

Saw your forehead bijou
Fell madly in love with you

Laila O Laila
Bya tar baraant sail a

Laila, O Laila
The sights let me show ya

Laila u washe ent Laila
Mijaazi ent Laila

Laila, O sweet Laila
O high-and-mighty Laila.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Mir: Dekh To Dil Ke Jaan Se Uthta Hai

Mir Muhammad Taqi Mir (Urdu: مِیر تقی مِیرؔ‎, 1723-1810), whose takhallus is, simply, Mir - was the leading Urdu poet of the 18th century, a pioneer who gave shape to the Urdu language. One of the principal poets of the Delhi School of the Urdu ghazal, Mir migrated to the court of Awadh in 1782 and lived there till his death. Mir-ji is one of the foremost names in Urdu poetry, oft remembered as Khudā-e sukhan (God of words.)

Here, the Shahenshah of Ghazals renders Mir:

Dekh to dil ke jaan se uthta hai
yeh dhuan sa kahaan se uthta hai

Look, if it comes from my heart, or life?
Say, from where does this smoke rise?

Gor kis dil-jale ki hai yeh falak
shola eik subh-o-yahan se uthta hai

Tomb for some cinder-heart must be the sky
A burning thing every morn thence, too, does rise.

Yun uthhe aah us gali se hum
jaisey koi jahaan se uthta hai

Thus I got up, alas, to leave behind that lane
Like to part this world some soul might rise.

Baithne kon de hai phir usko
jo tere aastaan se uthta hai

Who can make him again a proper place to sit
He who from a seat at thy house did last rise?

Ishq ek Mir bhaari patthar hai
kab ye tujh na-tawaan se uthta hai

Love, O Mir, is such a heavy stone
When could a fool like you even make it rise?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Faiz: Aaj Bazaar Mein

Faiz was being transferred between jails in a tonga (a horse carriage, the common man's transport of the time), and it so happened that the tonga passed a market-square where he'd been fêted not too long ago. Nayyara Noor sings the nazm that he penned upon reaching his cell at the end of the ride. It ought to be an anthem of women in the Islamic world. For that matter, why only women? And why only the Islamic world?

आज बाज़ार में पा-ब-जौलाँ चलो

Let's walk the market-square enshackled today

चश्म-ए-नम जान-ए-शोरीदा काफ़ी नहीं
तोहमत-ए-इश्क-ए-पोशीदा काफ़ी नहीं

Tears and heartbreak never enough
Blamed tending hidden love never enough

दस्त-अफ्शां चलो, मस्त-ओ-रक़्सां चलो
खाक-बर-सर चलो, खूं-ब-दामां चलो
राह तकता है सब शहर-ए-जानां चलो

Go innocence in hand, go dancing in trance
Go dust on head,  go blood on garb
All watch that road - Go, to the town of Beloved

हाकिम-ए-शहर भी, मजम-ए-आम भी
तीर-ए-इल्ज़ाम भी, संग-ए-दुश्नाम भी
सुबह-ए-नाशाद भी, रोज़-ए-नाकाम भी

Lord of town too, Crowd of commoner too
Arrow of accusation too, Stone of infamy too
Morning of grief too, Day of failure too

इनका दमसाज़ अपने सिवा कौन है
शहर-ए-जानां मे अब बा-सफा कौन है
दस्त-ए-क़ातिल के शायां रहा कौन है

But thee their friend who else?
Untainted in town of Beloved who else?
Named for assassin's hand who else?

रख्त-ए-दिल बांध लो दिलफिगारों चलो
फिर हमीं क़त्ल हो आयें यारों चलो
आज बाज़ार में पा-ब-जौला चलो

Bind up torn heart, come to the path of love
Join we those to next to die, come my friends
Let's walk the market-square enshackled today.

Here is Faiz himself, reciting the verses.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Bulleh Shah: Mahiya Tere Vekhan Nu

The Mughal emperor Akbar gave a name to the doab between the Beas and the Ravi - he combined the names of the two rivers to call it the Bari. The tehsil of Dipalpur, a stronghold of the Bhatti Rajput clan, lies in the Bari. It was here that the  first Mongol invasion of India was deflected  by Balban in 1285 (at the cost of the life of his son.)

The most noticeable feature inside old Dipalpur town is the monastery of Lal Jas Raj Dipal, venerated by locals. According to legend, Lal Jas Raj was the son of Raja Dipa Chand, the founder of Dipalpur. The boy had a lock of hair on the back of his head, while the rest of his head was shaved, a common practice for the Hindu devout. One day, while he was teasing his step-mother, she got annoyed and told him to go bury himself. The curse took hold, Dipal's body started entering the earth. When his step-mother saw what was happening, she quickly ran to his rescue but by then he had almost completely disappeared, with only his choti (lock of hair) above ground. Eventually the choti turned to stone, and the spot where Dipal had sunk became a shrine, testament to the destructive effect of cruel words on those we love.

This area at the Punjab-Rajasthan border has been the holy ground of many peoples' saints. Hazrat Bahawal Haq (Bahawal Sher Qalandar) came from Baghdad and settled outside Dipalpur. Guru Nanak lived here for a while. When Akbar visited along with his son Saleem (the future emperor Jahangir) in 1578,  it was to pay homage to Hazrat Farid Ganj Shakar.

Below, Amir Ali Khan, Saleem Ali Khan, Ejaz Ali Khan and party render traditional qawwali inside the old town of Dipalpur - an act of defiance by the Shia, for the Shahi Masjid of Dipalpur flies the banner of Maulana Fazul ur Rehman, the well-known Islamist politician from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. The Maulana and his men follow the Deobandi school of thought and look down upon song as un-Islamic.

The qalam is that of Bulleh Shah, the raga is Des.

There is no longer a canonical channel of these lyrics, which have spread across the doab like the braids of the Beas, here is an approximate translation of another version (performed by the Wadali brothers here.)

Charkha mera rang rangeela, ban gai teri yaad vaseela.

My charkha (spinning wheel) of many colors, has become a way of meeting Thy memories.

E mahiya tere vekhan nu, chuk charkha gali de vich panwa.

Beloved, to catch a glimpse of Thee, I place my charkha in the lane outside.

Ve loka paane main kat di, tang teriya yaad de panwa. 

People think I spin cotton,  but I truly weave the thread of Thy memory.

Charkhe di oo kar de ole, yaad teri da tumba bole. 

I tire,  set charka aside in shade, the music of Thy memory still rings in my heart.

Ve nimma nimma geet ched ke, tang kath di hullare panwa. 

Humming slowly, slowly, I spin gently and dwell on the joy of meeting Thee.

Vasan ni de rahe saure peke, mainu tere pain pulekhe.

Kin let not me rest in ease, but I feel Thou art come close.

Ve hoon mainu das mahiya, tere baaju kidhar main jayiyaan. 

Beloved, I ask this: If I don't go to Thee then where do I go?

Ho Eid aayi, mera yaar na aaya, tera ve khair hove ove tamd.

The festive day (Eid) has come, but my Beloved hasn't returned.

Haar singar change nai lagde, ho kisi cheez pe nazar na jamdi. 

Jewelry and colors seem dull, nothing around catches my eye.

Sukha waalian needra mangne, yaar mile to main eid manva. 

I only pray for sleep,  let my Love come then I'll celebrate Eid.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Maruvani: Kesaria Balam Padharo Mharo Des

Mix-and-match is becoming ludicrous.  Farid Ayaz just passed off "Padharo mharo des" as a Sufi spiritual. Erm, a little background, then you, gentle reader, be the judge.

The tribes of Rajasthan have long exported mercenaries. These foreign legions of the desert have buttressed the ranks of kings of alluvia, and their women have been stranded in the Thar waiting for men who may never return. In the eyes of these women, the saffron/ochre of desert-turban (kesar/kasumal respectively) mix metaphorically with the mane (kesar) of the Gir lion to label the lost lover "kesaria". May he return safe to my arms. Saffron/maned lover, return to my lands - kesaria balam, padharo mharo des.

Kabir also asks us to come to his land - chalo hamaro des. But where is Kabir’s country? It is a different, more elusive country, one that you inhabit when you understand how to live in the knowledge that you will too die:

Mati Kahe Kumhar se, Tu Kya Raunde Moye,
Ek Din Aisa Ayega, Main Raundungi Toye

Clay calls out to Potter, What of thee mauling me
The day'll come soon by, Mauling thee I will be.

Here are Farid Ayaz and Abu Mohammed:

Narwar is a historic town in Madhya Pradesh in central India, roughly between Gwalior and Jhansi, east of a steep scarp of the Vindhya range where the Sind River turns sharply to the south. Classically Nalapura, the town is said to have been the capital of Raja Nala, a character in Hindu mythology who princess Damayanti of Vidarbha Kingdom chooses for husband, who loses everything to gambling, and wins it all back - a popular story told in the Mahabharata.

Dhola, son of the king of Narwar and successor to the kingdom of Nala, is wed to Maruvani, daughter of Pingal, chief of Jhangal (Bikaner), as a child: the bride is 1 1/2, the groom 3. After the formalities, Dhola returns to Narwar with this family, and soon forgets what all those lights and flutes and sweetmeats had been all about.

As a young man, Dhola is married off again, to another princess, this one named Malvani. When they hear of the second marriage, the parents of his first bride, Maruvani, send messages to Narwar asking that the lawful first daughter-in-law be fetched to her husband, but thanks to Dhola's forgetfulness and Malvani's scheming, that is never allowed to happen. There is probably an element of an alliance having lost strategic value.

So Maruvani takes matters in her own hand. She composes music in Raag Maaru - the desert raga of the Thar, and sets couplets to the music. She trains a minstrel in the couplets and sends him off to Narwar.

The night when the bard reaches the outskirts of Narwar palace is a stormy one with lightning and thunder obscuring his approach. The singer creeps up to palace walls and starts in Raag Malhar; when the preamble reaches Dhola's ears at the palace window, over air laden with static, he stands electrified, listening. Raag Malhar gives way to drizzles, the downpour subsides, the thirsty earth soaks up water and in the pungent aftermath the singer shifts to the couplets in Raag Maaru:

ढोला नरवर सेरियाँ, धण पूंगल गळीयांह !
Dhola of Narwar heed, the Treasure in lanes of Pingal !

At the mention of Pingal Dhola starts, he remembers his first bride of long ago. The singer sings out the rest of the composition, Maruvani's musical letter to her husband, that she waits for him still.

आखडिया डंबर भई,नयण गमाया रोय |
क्यूँ साजण परदेस में, रह्या बिंडाणा होय ||

My eyes red like fruit, my sight gone from tears
Why did my love leave, and why does he forbear?

केसरिया बालम आओ नि पधारो म्हारे देस
Saffron/maned lover, come this way, arrive in my land

मारू थारे देस में निपूजे तीन रतन-
एक ढोलो, दूजी मारवन , तीजो कसूमल रंग

In the desert of Thar hide jewels three
First Dhola (chivalry), Second Maruvani (fidelity), Third the color Ochre (of blood and sacrifice)

Chagrined, Dhola sets off for Bikaner on his fastest black camel. Pingal's court bursts out in celebration when he eventually reaches. After a few days in Maruvani's palace, the couple set off to return to Narwar. Several adventures ensue. Maruvani is bitten by a snake but resuscitated by Hara-Parvati. Umra-Sumra the highwayman lays a trap for the couple in the form of a traveling musicians' mehfil, but Umra-Sumra's wife, who is from the court of Pingal, tips the would-be-victims off and Maruvani escapes with Dhola. And so on.

केसरिया बालम आओ नि पधारो म्हारे देस
नि केसरिया बालम आओ सा पधारो म्हारे देस

Saffron/maned lover, arrive to my land
Come back, come to my lands

पधारो म्हारे देस, आओ म्हारे देस नि
केसरिया बालम आओ सा पधारो म्हारे देस

Return to my land, come to my land, do
Saffron lover, arrive in my land.

मारू थारे देस में निपूजे तीन रतन
एक ढोलो, दूजी मारवन , तीजो कसूमल रंग

In the desert of Thar hide jewels three
First Dhola (chivalry), Second Maruvani (fidelity), Third the color Ochre (of blood and sacrifice)

पधारो म्हारे देस, पधारो म्हारे देस नि,
केसरिया बालम, आओ नि पधारो म्हारे देस ||

Return to my land, come to my land, do
Saffron lover, come back to my land.

Dhola-Maru is one of the most popular love stories of Rajasthan. Probably dating from the 8th century, it is still remembered by couples in love, and women of Thar will still address a beloved as Dhola.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Badar Ali Ansari: Nit Khair Mangi

Here's a Punabi qawwali composed by Badar Ali Saheb Ansari. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had recorded Badar Ali's qalam many years ago, here's a fresh take from Mukhtiyar Ali Mirasi - a folk singer from Bikaner.

Mukhtiyar Ali was born in a small village named Pugal near the Indo-Pak border (where the music-video below is shot), and belongs to the semi-nomadic community of Mirasis, who have been the traditional carriers of the oral tradition of the Sufiana qalam in India. The Mirasi are a Hindu, Muslim or Sikh caste found in Northern India; they are the genealogists for a number of communities in Northern India. Within the name Mirasi are a number of groups, each with its own history and its own myth. Some Mirasi groups are thought to be Muslim converts from the Hindu Dom caste, while others claim to have belonged to the Hindu Charan/bard community, said to have converted to Islam at the hands of Amir Khusrau. The word Mirasi is derived from the Arabic word miras, which means inheritance, or heritage.  As hereditary genealogists, the Mirasi maintain pedigrees of their patrons and are often involved in the negotiation of marriages; they sometime style themselves as Nassab khawan, or the keepers of family trees. They are also known Pakhawaji from the pakhawaj - pakshavadya or two-sided Indian drum - that they play.

Mukhtiar Ali blends the Rajasthani folk idiom with Hindustani classical tunes, to sing the qalam of Badar Ali:

Nit Khair Mangi Sohniya Main Teri, Dua Na Koi Aor Mangdi
Tere Pairanch Akhir Hove Meri, Dua Na Koi Aor Mangdi

Everyday, Beloved, I pray Thee be well, for naught else I ask.
May I be at Thy feet in my end, for naught else I ask.

Tere Pyar Ditta Jado Da Sahara Ve, Mainu Bhul Gai Mai Jag Sara Ve
Khushi Eho Mainu Sajna Batheri, Dua Na Koi Aor Mangdi

Ever since Thy love's support, the world around me I could forget.
This joy is all I need, my love, for naught else I ask.

Tu Mileya Te Mil Gayi Khudai Ve, Hath Jode Akha Payi Na Judai Ve
Mar Jawangi Je Ankh Metho Pheri, Dua Na Koi Aor Mangdi

With Thee, I experience Oneness; folded hands, I pray we never  part.
I will be no more if Thy eyes turn from me, for naught else I ask.

Eho Rab Tainu Mangiya Duawa Ve, Alla Kare Teri Aayi Mar Jawa Ve
Hathi Badar Banawi Saadi Dheri, Dua Na Koi Aor Mangdi

So I ask this of God;  Allah take me instead when Thy time comes
May Badar but be of service to Thee, for naught else I ask.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Baulanga: Hey Kaala

'Baulanga' means the Baul Corpus in Bengali; these traditional songs, lyrics braiding one to the other, do not admit to easy demarcation of authorship.

The singer Parvati Baul tells us that the composer is an unknown Muslim fakir from Bangladesh, who describes the last few moments of Radha’s life, just before she walks into the dark waters of Yamuna river, mistaking it to be the Dark One, her beloved Krishna.

The lyrics are translated in subtitles.