Monday, December 15, 2014

Khusrau: Jan Zetan Burdi

Amir Khusrau's father, Amir Saifuddin Mahmud, had been, before coming to India, a chief of clan Lachin in Turkestan during the rule of Chinggis Khan. After immigrating to India, he became a high official at the court of Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish. Khusrau's mother came from an Indian Rajput family; she was the daughter of the war minister of Balban.

When he was eight years old, Saifuddin took Khusrau to meet Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. As they were entering through the doors of the khanqah in what is today Delhi's Nizamuddin area, the boy cheekily said that it was up to him, and not his father, to choose his own teacher.

Saifuddin squatted down to the boy's level, looked him in they eyes, and smiled. The father left the son outside the door and went in alone to talk to the saint. In the meantime, Khusrau composed a quatrain (in Persian) to test Nizamuddin Auliya.

Tora aan shahey ke bur aiwaan-e-qasrat, qabutar gar nashinad baaz gardad.
Gharib-e-mustamandey bur dar amad, beyayad androon yaa baaz gardad?

Thou art so great a king, if on roof of thy palace a pigeon were to sit, a falcon it would become.
A poor and humble soul has come to thy door, should he enter or should he be gone?

(The 8-year-old-level pun here is that baaz might refer to a hawk as well as to a part, or the act of parting.) He got back the following quatrain in reply:

Beyayad androon mard-e-haqiqat, ke baa maa yak nafas hamraz gardad.
Agar ablay buwad aan mard-e-naadaan, azaan raahey ke aamad baaz gardad.

Come in, truthful soul,  that we may become close and trusted friends.
Yet if thou art ignorant, or no wisdom have, go thou back the way thee came.

(The reply preserved the 8-year-old's  rhyme scheme, and at the same time was simple, not trying to upstage his cleverness.) At this Khusrau entered the khanqah and became a mureed of Nizamuddin Auliya — faithfully serving his master throughout his life.

Below,  Ghous Muhammad Nasir Qawwal and Party render the qalaam of Amir Khusrau:

Jan zetan burdi -- wa darjani hunooz;
Dard-ha daadi -- wa darmani hunooz.
Ashkara seen-e-am bashugafti;
Ham-chunan dar seen-e pinhani hunooz.
Maza girya chu namak bagudakhtyn;
Tubakhunda shukr afshani hunooz.

You stole my soul -- yet stayed in it
Caused me pain -- but are still the remedy
So openly split my breast
But are still hidden in my heart
Destroyed the kingdom of my mind
But still rule there.

Har do alam qeemate khud guftayi
Narkh bala kun ke arzani hunooz
Peeri-o-shahid parasti nakhush ast,
Khusrauwa' taki pareshani hunooz.

You said your price was equal to the Two Worlds
Ask for a higher rate, the bid is still low.
"Old age and infatuation go not together"
O Khusrau, may you trouble this reasoning.

Interestingly, the Khusrau's line on "ask for a higher rate" was quoted by Maulana Azad in his Al-Hilal exhortation to the Muslims of the subcontinent to look for more (beyond political power.)

Narkh bala. Kun ke arzani hunooz. Ask for more, what you set yourself for is still too low.

For heavens sake get rid of the fear of Hindu majority. This was a Satanic suspicion created in the minds of Muslims. Power is not only a numbers game, it depends on something else also. The important factor is the real strength of a nation which is the result of its moral values and character, its unity, and, to use the Islamic terminology, the will of God and good deeds. All these suspicions were created in our minds because no joint and lofty ideal was placed before the country. If from the very beginning all the people had set their sights on one goal,one ideal,there would have been no reason to look into different directions, and all those forces, which today are shedding each others' blood, would have been united in its quest. Gentlemen, lend me your ears, because I am raising an important point. Your aimless wandering, selfishness, self seeking, dissensions, indifference to self-sacrifice and self denial, all this is result of the fact that your eyes have nothing beautiful to look at. The breath-taking beauty that we have discovered is unknown to you.

About a year after Khusrau had met Nizamuddin, Saifuddin passed away, leaving the 9-year old boy in care of his maternal grandfather. Khusrau was to express his sadness with the following couplet:

My river flowed on, the door was left half open,
The sword passed over my head, grief overtook my heart.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sachal Sarmast: Ranjha Shah Hazare Da

Sachal Sarmast (1739 – 1829, Sindhi: سچلُ سرمستُ), born Abdul Wahab Farooqi, was a Sufi poet from Sindh.  Sachal Sarmast literally means 'truthful ecstatic', or, more ornately, "The Ecstatic Saint of Truth". Sachal Sarmast composed poetry in many local dialects, chiefly Saraiki and Sindhi.

Saraiki (Shahmukhi: سرائیکی) is the dialect of Southern Punjab and Northern Sindh. It is spoken by 20 million people across the Southern Punjab, southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, border regions of North Sindh, Eastern Balochistan, some 20,000 migrants and their descendants in India, Hindus in Afghanistan and so on. One view is that Saraiki originates from the word sarai (inn) - i.e. just as Urdu is the patois of the Mongol ordu camp, Saraiki is the language of the tavern. It is more likely that the word originates from Sauvira, a kingdom in ancient India - the language of this kingdom is Sauvīrakī. The historical bag of names for the various sub-dialects of Saraiki reflect overlapping or conflicting ethnic, local, regional designations. Hindki or Hindko – "of India" – refer to various dialects in the farther north, due to the fact they were applied by people arriving from Afghanistan or Persia. Jaṭki -"of the Jaṭs" - is the sub-dialect of Saraiki spoken where the Jats live in the Punjab; and so on.

Sachal Sarmast composed songs in Saraiki on contemporary themes, one of which was the folk epic Heer Ranjha.  The plot summary (adapted from Wikipedia) is:

Heer is an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy Jat family of the Sayyal clan in Jhang, Punjab. Ranjha (whose first name is Dheedo; Ranjha is the surname), also a Jat of the Ranjha clan, is the youngest of four brothers and lives in the village 'Takht Hazara' by the river Chandrabhaga (Moon-crescent, referring to its oxbows) or Chenab. Being his father's favorite son, unlike his brothers who have to toil in the lands, Ranjha leads a life of ease playing the flute (Wanjhli or Bansuri). After a quarrel with his brothers over land, his brothers' wives refuse to give him food, and Ranjha leaves home.

Eventually Ranjha arrives in Heer's village and falls in love with her. Heer offers Ranjha a job as a caretaker of her father's cattle. Visiting becomes mesmerized by Ranjha's flute and falls in love with him. They meet each other secretly for many years until they are caught by Heer's jealous uncle, Kaido, and her parents Chuchak and Malki. Subsequently Heer is forced by her family and the local priest to marry another man, Sadashiv Khera.

Ranjha is heartbroken. He wanders the countryside alone, until he eventually meets a jogi or hermit. After meeting Baba Gorakhnath, the founder of the Kanphata (pierced ear) sect of jogis at Tilla Jogian, the Hill of Hermits (50 miles north of the historic town of Bhera, Sargodha, Punjab), Ranjha becomes a jogi himself, piercing his ears and renouncing the material world.

Reciting the name of the Lord Alakh Niranjan, Ranjha wanders all over Punjab; eventually finding the village where Heer now lives.

The two return to Heer's village, where Heer's parents agree to their marriage. However, on the wedding day, Kaido poisons her food so that the wedding will not take place. Hearing this news, Ranjha rushes to aid Heer, but is too late, as she has already eaten the poison and died. Brokenhearted once again, Ranjha partakes the rest of  poisoned laddu that Heer has eaten, and dies by her side.

Heer and Ranjha are buried in Heer's hometown, Jhang. Lovers pay visits to their mausoleum. The year on the mausoleum inscription is 1471 AD.

Many Sufi poets have shaped the Heer Ranjha canon.  It is argued by Pir Waris Shah in the beginning of his version, that the story of Heer and Ranjha has a deeper connotation - the relentless quest of humans for God. The sociological significance is also that it is a Jat epic, and represents an obdurate Jat/Ahir narrative clinging to their rural/steppe values of cattle, flute, love - in the face of repeated conquest from urbanized Arab and Indo-Persian centers; and also the need of Sufi poets to co-opt that narrative for increased resonance.

Abida Parveen sings Sachal Sarmast:

भला हो
Be well

राँझा तख़्त हज़ारे कूँ
जहंदा इश्क़ दे आँख दे छुपियां

Ranjha of village Takht Hazara
Where Love hid from the eyes

कर मंजूर गज़ई तूने
जा ताज तख़्त कूँ रखियाँ

If you want your wishes fulfilled
Go place a crown on Takht village

कारण हीर दे बन के जोगी
अत बीण बजावण सिख्हियां

Because of Heer he became a hermit
Learnt to play the flute

मस्ताना इश्क़ दे शाही कूँ
मोय आशिक़ मंग दे बिकियाँ

Ecstatic in Love, that King
O sell me to that Lover

जहंदा इश्क़ लगानी में वारियाँ
सो राँझा - शाह हज़ारी दा
मालिक हज़ारी दा
तख़्त हज़ारी दा
साईं  भला राँझा - शाह हज़ारी दा

O you who join the queue of lovers
O to follow Ranjha - that King of Hazara
That Lord of Hazara
Of the village Takht Hazara
The good saint of Hazara - the King of Hazara

अनना अहमद बिल्ला मी मी
तुस्सा चाक दा हुसन में खोईआं
सो राँझा - शाह हज़ारी दा
मालिक हज़ारी दा
तख़्त हज़ारी दा
साईं  भला राँझा - शाह हज़ारी दा

You who see the One and Ahmad (Muhammad) as in you
Lose yourself in the beauty of the cattle herder
O to follow Ranjha - that King of Hazara
That Lord of Hazara
Of the village Takht Hazara
The good saint of Hazara - the King of Hazara

कर सिंगार सोहणी दे अंगियां
तुस्सा स्याहियां मुश्किल मलों
सो राँझा - शाह हज़ारी दा
मालिक हज़ारी दा
तख़्त हज़ारी दा
साईं  भला राँझा - शाह हज़ारी दा

I decorated and made beautiful my body
You only ever poured ink and trouble on me
O to follow Ranjha - that King of Hazara
That Lord of Hazara
Of the village Takht Hazara
The good saint of Hazara - the King of Hazara

मैं थी वार क़ुर्बान ताहीं तो
सर सचल दा सब होने तो
तख़्त हज़ारी दा (etc.)

I want to go sacrifice myself there
Make my head (Sar) truthful (Sachal) there
At the village of Takht Hazara (etc.)

Here is a geotagging tour diary to Takht Hazara and the graves of Heer Ranjha. It is also interesting to recount the traditional invocation that happens at the beginning of a rendering of the epic:

Awwal-akhir naam Allah da lena, duja dos Muhammad Miran
Tija naun mat pita da lena, unha da chunga dudh sariran
Chautha naun an pani da lena, jis khave man banhe dhiran
Panjman naun Dharti Mata da lena, jis par kadam takiman
Chhewan naun Khwaja Pir da lena, jhul pilave thande niran
Satwan naun Guru Gorakhnath de lena, patal puje bhojan
Athwan naun lalanwale da lena, bande bande de tabaq zanjiran

First and last, I take the name of Allah; second, of Muhammad, the prophet
Third, I take the name of mother and father, on whose milk my body thrived
Fourth, I take the name of bread and water, by eating which my mind is calmed
Fifth, I take the name of Mother Earth, on whom I place my feet.
Sixth, I take the name of Khwaja (my teacher or Lord in the Sufi tradition), who gives me cold water to drink
Seventh, I take the name of Guru Gorakh Nath (a reflection both on the seer who initiated Ranjha, and the Naga or Snake cults of Dravidian India) who is worshiped with a platter of milk and rice
Eighth, I take the name of Lalanwala  (i.e. Lord Jhulelal of the Sindhis, of Damadam Mast Qalandar fame) who breaks the bonds and the chains of captives.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ghalib: Bekhudi Besabab Naheen

Ghalib makes for an unlikely Sufi. Interrogated after the Mutiny, he informs his British interlocutor he is only half-Mussulman (Drink, yes; eat pig, no.) He is very much a man of this world, the here and now. On Paradise, he writes to a friend:

In Paradise it is true that I shall drink at dawn the pure wine mentioned in the Qu'ran, but where in Paradise are the long walks with intoxicated friends in the night, or the drunken crowds shouting merrily? Where shall I find there the intoxication of monsoon clouds? Where there is no autumn, how can spring exist? If the beautiful houris are always there, where will be the sadness of separation and the joy of union? Where shall we find there a girl who flees away when we would kiss her?"

Yet he believes "the search for God within liberates the seeker from the narrowly orthodox, encouraging the devotee to look beyond the letter of the law, to its essence."

The object of my worship lies beyond perception's reach;
For men who see, the Ka'aba is a compass, nothing more.

Below, Abida Parveen renders Ghalib.

बेखुदी बेसबब नहीं ग़ालिब।
कुछ तो है जिसकी पर्दागारी है।

This out-of-yourself-ness, not without its purpose is, O Ghalib
There's surely something here -- that lies behind veils.

दिल ओ मिज़्श्गाँ का जो मुकदमा था।
आज फ़िर उसकी रू बकारी है।

Heart and eyelash (tears) have long been litigants (against Beloved)
Today for both, another summons to appear.

फ़िर उसी बेवफा पे मरते हैं।
फ़िर वही जिंदगी हमारी है।

Dying for that Betrayer again,
It's my same old life, all over again.

फ़िर दिया पारा-ऐ-जिग़र ने सवाल।
एक फरियाद आहोजारी है।

Issues mercury (i.e. thermometer) of liver a question
The response - a sigh of the same complaint.

(Jigar - the liver - was thought to be seat of emotion and friendship in Islamic medicine.)

फ़िर हुए हैं गवाह इश्क तलब।
अश्क बारी का हूक्म जारी है।

Again in witness is summoned: Love
An order is passed to bring forth: tears.

फ़िर कुछ इस दिल तो बेक़रारी है |
सीना ज़ोया-ए-ज़ख्म-ए-कारी है |

There's restlessness in this heart again,
This bosom seeks wounds afresh.

The extended metaphor of litigation comes easily to Ghalib, who shuttled around the courts of authorities (even all the way to Kolkata) imploring them for a bigger pension.  Note how Abida starts in a ghazal and moves into qawwali around minute 6. Somewhere in there is a guitar playing a chord from Air Supply: Making Love, Out of nothing at all. Out of nothing at all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jigar: Aya Na Ras Nala-e-Dil

'Jigar' was the takhallus of the noted Urdu poet Ali Sikandar (1890–1960); technically, jigar means liver (the organ), though the implied meaning is 'something so unique that one cannot live without it'; hence a close friend is a 'jigri dost.'  'Jigar' was born Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh; he lost his father at an early age and did not have an easy childhood. At a madrassa he was taught Arabic and Persian. His poetry teacher was Rasa Rampuri, and in turn he taught the likes of Majrooh Sultanpuri. He never received any formal higher education, yet it was said of him no university could have taught him - he was only the second in the history of Aligarh Muslim University to be awarded an honorary D. Litt.  (the first one was Iqbal.) His fame has grown in the years since his death, and in the Urdu world he is already being mentioned in the same breath as Iqbal and Ghalib.

Below, Iqbal Bano renders Jigar:

हर सू दिखाई देते हैं वो जलवागर मुझे
क्या-क्या फरेब देती है मेरी नज़र मुझे

Har su dikhai dete hain wo jalwagar mujhe,
kya-kya fareb deti hai meri nazar mujhe.

Revealed in every street that charm-weaver
What deceptions my own eyes do make.

आया ना रास नाला-ए-दिल का असर मुझे
अब तुम मिले तो कुछ नहीं अपनी ख़बर मुझे

Aaya na ras nala-e-dil ka asar mujhe,
ab tum mile to kuch nahi apni khabar mujhe.

No solace get I from my heart's cries
Since we met,  know not I my own news.

डाला है बेखुदी ने अजब राह पर मुझे
आँखें हैं और कुछ नहीं आता नज़र मुझे

Dala hai bekhudi ne ajab rah par mujhe,
aankhen hain aur kuch nahi aata nazar mujhe.

Strange paths has bewilderment led me to,
I have my eyes, yet  fail to see a thing.

करना है आज हज़रत-ए-नासेह का सामना
मिल जाए दो घड़ी को तुम्हारी नज़र मुझे

Karna hai aj hazrat-e-naseh se samana,
mil jaye do ghadi ko tumhari nazar mujhe.

Have to face Exalted's chastisement today,
In that may Thy gaze meet mine for a while.

यकसाँ है हुस्न-ओ-इश्क़ की सरमस्तियों का रंग
उनकी ख़बर उन्हें है न मेरी खबर मुझे

Yaksan hai husn-o-ishq ke sarmastiyon ka rang,
un ke khabar unhen hai na apni khabar mujhe.

Unsteady are the colors of love's rapture,
Neither they aware of their selves, nor I of mine.

मैं दूर हूँ तो रू-ए-सुख़न मुझ से किसलिए
तुम पास हो तो क्यों नहीं आते नज़र मुझे

Main dur hun to ruh-e-sukhan mujh se kis liye,
tum pas ho to kyon nahi aate nazar mujhe.

If we be apart what use then the faces of words?
If we be close why then do not I see you?

दिल ले के मेरा देते हो दाग़-ए-जिगर मुझे
ये बात भूलने की नहीं उम्र भर मुझे

Dil leke mera dete ho daagh-e-jigar mujhe,
ye baat bhulane ke nahi umr bhar mujhe.

You take my heart, leave behind an ache in Jigar
This can't be forgotten tho' all my life be spent.

More of Jigar's ghazals can be found here.

मैं दूर हूँ तो रू-ए-सुख़न मुझ से किसलिए
तुम पास हो तो क्यों नहीं आते नज़र मुझे |

Friday, September 19, 2014

Jami: Naseema, Janib e Bat'ha Guzar Kun

Jami, the greatest of Persian/Tajik Sufi poets, was born in Jam (Ghor, Afghanistan) c. 1414. He describes how he came to take his pen-name:

My birthplace is Jam, my pen
Has drunk from Shaykh-ul-Islam Jam
Hence in the books of poetry
My name is Jami for reasons two.

Interestingly, Jami remained a staunch Sunni in his Sufism and the center of his passion became not the personage of Beloved but rather the spirituality of prophet Muhammad.

Manzoor  Niazi Qawwal performs Jami:

Naseema, Janib e Bat'ha Guzar Kun
Zey Ahwalam Muhammad Ra Khabar Kun

O Breeze! whenever you go to Bat'ha (i.e. Medina)
Give news of me to Muhammad there

Tu'ee Sultan e Alam Ya Muhammad
Ze Ru e Lutf Su e Mann Nazar Kun

You are the King of all world O Muhammad
Look at me with your sweet beautiful gaze

Bey Bareen Jan e Mushtaqan Dar'a Ja
Fida e Roza e Khair-ul-Bashar Kun

Approach me. I, your follower, helpless perish
At your mausoleum, O Best of Men

Musharraf Garchey Shud Jami Zey Lutfash
Khudara Ee Karam Bar-e-Jigar Kun.

Jami has been blessed by You
But for God's sake bless him again.

Another version by Molvi Haider Hassan Akhtar Qawwal,  with more of a contemprary naat-texture is below (notwithstanding exuberant mashing-in of Khusrau past minute 8):

Having worked and taught in Samarkand, Jami passed his last days in Herat. His epitaph reads:

When your face is turned from me
like the moon hidden on a dark night,
I shed stars of tears; yet my night stays dark
even with all those shining stars.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Iqbal: Kabhi Ai Haqeeqat-e-Muntazar

Muhammad Iqbal (Urdu: محمد اقبال‎) (1877 – 1938) was a poet and politician in British India. His voice is an important counterpoint to the syncretist Sufi; during his lifetime Iqbal underwent a transformation from Indian to Muslim.

Written in 1904, Iqbal's Saare Jahan Se Achchha Yeh Hindustan Hamara (Better Than the Whole World This Hindustan of Ours) quickly became an anthem of opposition to the British rule in India. The song, an ode to Hindustan—the land comprising present-day Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan—both celebrated and cherished the land even as it lamented its age-old anguish. It remains one of the most popular of Urdu songs to this day.

Later in life, Iqbal wrote another song for children, Tarana-e-Milli (Anthem of the Religious Community), which was composed in the same metre and rhyme scheme as Saare Jahan Se Achcha, but which renounced much of the sentiment of the earlier song. The sixth stanza of Saare Jahan Se Achchha is:

Maẕhab nahīṉ sikhātā āpas meṉ bair rakhnā, Hindī haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai Hindūstāṉ hamārā.

Religion does not teach us to bear mutual ill-will, We are of Hind, our homeland this Hindustan of ours.

contrasts with the first stanza of Tarana-e-Milli:

Cīn o-ʿArab hamārā, Hindūstāṉ hamārā, Muslim haiṉ ham, wat̤an hai sārā jahāṉ hamārā

China (i.e. Central Asia and Xinjiang) and Arabia are ours, Hindustan is ours, We are Muslims, the whole world is our homeland.

Here is Iqbal's antidote to the Sufis' Belovedism, performed by Raahat fateh Ali Khan.

कभी ऐ हक़ीक़त-ए-मुन्तज़र नज़र आ लिबास-ए-मजाज़ में
के हज़ारों सज्दे तड़प रहे हैं मेरी जबीन-ए-नियाज़ में

Kabhi aye haqeeqat-e-muntazar, nazar aa libas-e-majaz mein
ke hazar sajde tadap rahe hain meri jabeen-e-niaz mein

For once, O awaited Reality, reveal Thyself in dress (ie form) material
For a thousand prostrations quiver in agony on my pensive brow

तू बचा बचा के न रख इसे तेरा आईना है वो आईना
के शिकस्ता हो तो अज़ीज़तर है निगाह-ए-आईना-साज में

Tu bacha bacha ke na rakh isey, tera aeena hai woh aeena
ke shikasta ho to aziz-tar hai nigah-e-aaeena saaz mein

Do not try to protect it, thy mirror is the mirror that
Be dearer in mirror-Maker's eye if it broken be

न कहीं जहाँ में अमाँ  मिली जो अमाँ मिली तो कहाँ मिली
मेरे जुर्म-ए-ख़ानाख़राब को तेरे उफ़्वे-ए-बंदा-नवाज़ में

Na kaheen jahan mein amaan mili, jo amaan mili to kahan mili ?
mere jurm-e-khana-kharab ko, tere ufw-e-banda nawaz mein

Nowhere in all world I found refuge, where refuge found I where was it?
My house of sin and misdeed - their only refuge was in Thy grace

न वो इश्क़ में रहीं गर्मियाँ न वो हुस्न में रहीं शोख़ियाँ
न वो ग़ज़नवी में तड़प रही न वो ख़म है ज़ुल्फ़-ए-अयाज़ में

No more has Love that fire, no more beauty that cheer
Neither anguish in Ghaznavi nor hair-lock-curls of Ayaz are

Mahmud of Ghazni (971-1030), founder of the Ghaznavid Empire, fell in love with Malik Ayaz, a Turkish slave who was rewarded with generalship, and their relationship became the epitome of idealized love in Islamic literature. The story goes that Ayaz asked Mahmud who the most powerful man in the kingdom was. When the sultan replied that it was himself, Ayaz corrected him, claiming that in fact Ayaz was the most powerful, since Mahmud was his slave.  “Slave to a slave” became a favorite trope in Persian literature.  One day, Ayaz sported a lock of wanton curl in his hair, which so aroused the Sultan's lust that he had to remove himself lest the sin of carnality be committed and the general turned into a catamite. Upon his return, he observed that sensing Mahmud's discomfiture (or perhaps out of more prosaic precaution) Ayaz had cut off the incendiary lock.

जो मैं  सर-ब-सज्दा कभी हुआ तो ज़मीं से आने लगी सदा
तेरा दिल तो है सनम-आशनाअ तुझे क्या मिलेगा नमाज़ में |

Jo mein sar ba-sajda huwa kabhi, to zameen se aane lagi sada
tera dil to hai sanam ashna, tujhe kya milega namaz mein ?

Even as I lower'd my head in prostration a cry arose from the ground:
Thy heart's in Beloved-idolatry, what reward wilst thou for prayer get?

In a letter to Jinnah in 1937 Iqbal wrote:

"A separate federation of Muslim Provinces, reformed on the lines I have suggested above, is the only course by which we can secure a peaceful India and save Muslims from the domination of Non-Muslims. Why should not the Muslims of North-West India and Bengal be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India are."

This makes him an early proponent of the two-nation theory which resulted in the partition of India. In another ghazal he says:

The lion who had emerged from the desert and toppled the Roman Empire is
As I am told by the angels, about to get up again.
You the dwellers of the West, should know that the world of God is not a shop ...
Your civilization will commit suicide with its own daggers.

It has been noted that Iqbal’s politics routed through his poetry keeps him firmly in place as Pakistan’s supreme icon today. Like Samuel Huntington he frames the world exclusively in terms of us-versus-them and the superiority of one civilization over all others. More on Pervez Hoodbhoy's take on Iqbal is here.

जो मैं  सर-ब-सज्दा कभी हुआ तो ज़मीं से आने लगी सदा
तेरा दिल तो है सनम-आशनाअ तुझे क्या मिलेगा नमाज़ में |

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lal Ded: Shiv Chuy Thali Thali Rozan

Lal Ded, Lal Didi, or Lalleshwari (1320–1392) was a Kashmiri Saivite mystic, whose mystic poetry (called vatsun or vakhs, i.e. that which flows, or speech, the Aryan name for the Oxus, the original Saraswati) constitute some of the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language.

Born in Pandrethan (the ancient Puranadhisthana), now engulfed by Srinagar, in a Kashmiri Pandit family, Lal Ded was married off at the age of twelve; the marriage proved unhappy, she left home at twenty-four to take sanyas as a disciple of the Saivite mystic Siddha Srikantha (Sed Bayu.) The mystic tradition of Saivism in Kashmir (known as Trika) had a tremendous impact on Kashmiri Sufism. One of the greatest of popular Kashmiri Sufi figures, Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali, the patron Sufi of Kashmiriyat, also known as Nooruddin Rishi or Nunda Rishi, was influenced by Lal Ded; the folk tradition holds that as a baby Nunda Rishi refused to be breast-fed by his mother and it was Lal Ded who breast-fed him, metaphorically locating in the sustenance of Kashmiri Sufism in the earlier tradition of Saivite mysticism.

Some vakhs of Lal Ded below.

Shiv chuy thali thali rozan
Mo zan Hindu ta Musalman
Truk ay chuk pan panun prazanav,
Soy chay sahibas zaniy zan.

Shiv lives in every, every place;
do not divide Hindu from Musalman.
Use thy sense, recognize thyself;
That's the true way to find the Lord.

Ami pana so'dras naavi ches lamaan
Kati bozi Day myon meyti diyi taar
Ameyn taakeyn poniy zan shemaan
Zuv chum bramaan gara gatshaha.

With rope of loose-spun thread I tow my boat
Would that God heard me and brought me across
Like water in cup of unbaked clay I run to waste.
Would that God helped me reach my home!

Kyaah kara paantsan dahan ta kaahan,
Vakhshun yath leyji jivak-shun karith gay
Saoriy samahan yeythi razi lamahan
Atma raavhe kaahan gaav?

Ah me! the Five (bhutas)  and the Ten (indriyas)
And the Eleventh (their lord the mind) scraped this pot and went away
Had all together pulled on the rope,
Why should the Eleventh have lost the cow ?
(Why should the soul have gone astray?)

(The five bhutas or elements are Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Quintessence or Space. The ten indriyas or mental faculties consist of the five "importers" seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching; and the five "exporters" moving, speaking, grasping, reproducing, eliminating. The notion of pot here is the Saivite metaphor for the material body.)

After his travels in Kashmir where he was exposed to Lal Ded's folklore, Swami Vivekananda wrote that he envisioned a future India arising from the present strife with Vedanta for its mind and Islam for its body. (For those of you who propose a subcontinental Butter Chicken XI consisting of Pakistani bowlers and Indian batsmen, you have an illustrious pedigree.)

A bibliography and collection of Lal Ded's vakhs is here.

शिव चुय थलि थलि रोज़ान, मो ज़ान हिंदू ता मुसलमान |

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sauda: Wo Soorat-e-Ilahi

Mirza Muhammad Rafi 'Sauda' (Urdu: مرزا محمد رفیع سودا ) was one of the best known poets of Urdu, and is still considered the best qasida poet of the language. His satire and ghazals, too, were acclaimed in his lifetime, though more recently he has been eclipsed in the latter department by Ghalib and Daagh. Sauda lived at the time of the decline of the Mughals - 1713 to 1781 -  the time of Muhammad Shah Rangeela, the sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah, the reign, and deposition, of Ahmad Shah Bahadur; as well as the subsequent rise of Rohilkhand and Awadh.

Abida Parveen renders Sauda here:

वह सूरत-ए-इलाही किस देस बस्तियाँ हैं ?
अब जिनके देखनेको आँखे तरस्तियाँ हैं ।

That visage divine, what land does it inhabit?
My eyes are in thirst, to catch but a glimpse of it.

बरसात का तो मौसम कब का निकल गया पर
मिज़्श्गाँ की ये घटायें अब तक बरस्तियाँ हैं ।

The season of rains has been long gone, still
Mine eyelash-clouds haven't stopped raining yet.

क्यों करना हो यह ज़ख्मी शीशा सा दिल हमारा ?
उस शौक की निगाहें पत्थर में धस्तियाँ हैं ।

Why so much labor to wound this glass-heart of mine ?
Thy glances made e'en in sport, crack any stone they hit.

कीमत में उनकी गो हम दो जुग को दे चुके हैं
उस यार की निगाहें इस पर भी सस्तियाँ हैं ।

In recompense for what, I have paid with two ages
That Beloved's glances, at that price are cheap yet.

जब मैं कहा यह उसे सौदा को अपने मिलके
इस साल तू है साकी और मैं परस्तियाँ हैं ।

Thus I said,  upon meeting Thy friend Trade (Sauda)
This year wine-girl Thee, and in worship will I sit.

(The notion of the wine-girl who pours the drink is extensible here to that of  a Divine Muse.)

In 1754, Ahmad Shah Bahadur was deposed due to the fracture lines between Turani, Irani and Afghani. In 1757, Sauda, a shi'i,  left Delhi at the age of 66 for Farrukhabad with the Khagzai (Rohilla) Nawab Bangash, and lived there to 1770. In 1771–72 he moved to court of the Nawab of Awadh (then housed in Faizabad.) When Lucknow became the state capital of Awadh, he moved there and won the khitab (title) of Malk-us-Shu'ara (Lord of Poets.) Nawab Āṣif ud-Daulah awarded him an annual pension of Rs. 6000, as much a recognition of Sauda's eminence as it was emblematic of Awadh's generosity as patron.

कीमत में उनकी गो हम दो जुग को दे चुके हैं
उस यार की निगाहें इस पर भी सस्तियाँ हैं ।

Monday, August 4, 2014

Nashid: Madad Madad

A nashid (Arabic: نشيد , plural أناشيد Anāshīd ) meaning "chant" is Islamic vocal music that is either sung a cappella or accompanied by the daf, typically in praise of the prophet Muhammad. It is a precursor to the Urdu Naat.

Here is the nashid Madad Madad, performed by the Burdah Ensemble, a Naqshbandi Sufi music troupe.

Qullul qulub
Qullul qulubi
ilal habibi tamilu

Every heart
Every heart melts
in the rapture of the beloved

Wa ma'ibi zalika shaahidun,
shaahidun wa dalilu:

And for that love I have a witness,
a witness and a proof:

Ammad dalilu iza zakhartu

Regarding that proof, if I make mention
Of Muhammad

Sarath dumu'ul ashikin

The eyes of the lovers
will be overrun with tears

Haza Rasulullah,
Haza Rasulullah,
Haza li Rabbil-alamina khalilu

He is the Messenger of  God
He is the Messenger of  God
He is the Chosen One,
He is, to the Lord, a most trusted friend

al-Madad, al-Madad, al-Madad
al-Madad! Ya Rasul Allah!
al-Madad, al-Madad, al-Madad
al-Madad! Ya Habib Allah!

Aid us, Help us, Aid us
Support us oh God's Messenger!
Aid us, Help us, Aid us
Support us oh Most Beloved of God!

Rabbi wa j'al moujtama'na,
ghayatouh housnou al khitam
Wa akrimi alarwaha mina,
bilka khayri alanam.

Oh Lord, grant our gathering
a joyous purpose and conclusion
and bless all souls among us
to meet the Pearl of Your Creation.

... see here for a full translation.

In an age that needs 'positive images' of Islam, and hopes that mystical Islam will help stem extremism, the Naqshbandiyaa of North America are poster-children; in fact the recently-departed Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani, who last carried the Golden Chain (the spiritual lineage that runs from Jilani through Rumi to the present day)  of the Naqshbandi Sufis, praised George W Bush and Tony Blair as modern day Islamic saints for "fighting tyrants and evils and devils."

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Daagh: Mere Qaboo Mein Na

Daagh Dehlvi (Urdu: داغ دہلوی‎, Hindi: दाग़ देहलवी) born Nawab Mirza Khan (1831 – 1905) was the only ghazal writer of the old Delhi school who could hold a candle to his mentor, Ghalib. Daagh wrote sensuous ghazals in the simple Urdu of the mohalla, minimizing, unlike Ghalib, the usage of opaque Persianate words, and laying emphasis on everyday idiom, though his work was usually paid for by royal courts.

Daagh was considered swarthy and unattractive according to the court standards of the day, so he chose for himself the takahallus "Stain." Compared to the elitism of Ghalib (who gave him lessons), Daagh's  'khayal bandi' was often labeled pedestrian by his rivals, but the simple playfulness of his verse found resonance with people in all walks of life. 

To understand Daagh's darting tongue and pen we have to start with his mother, Wazir - a dusky painter's daughter of questionable morals, whose life and times have been exquisitely brought to life in Shamsur Rahman Faruqi's Mirror of Beauty.  'Suitor after suitor flings himself on the beauty of Wazir Khanum, but she tries to fend off the unworthy, reserving her charms for the love of the noble (or the noble of purse.) When William Fraser, the Political Resident of East India Company in Delhi, tries to force his entourage into Wazir Khanum's residence, he is blocked by cudgel bearers deployed by Nawab Shamsuddin Ahmed Khan, who Wazir professes to love. One of Fraser's horsemen rides up, and demands of a mace-man: "Hey You! You pecker-poker of your own mother! Have you lost your limbs? Do you dare not give way to the Sahib Bahadur's Elephant?" The cudgel-bearer, a true Mewati, tall, muscular and hardened ... spoke in cold, measured tones, "Telanga sahib, do put a bit of rein on your tongue, and also on your ancient pony a bit. If you hustle it further by a hand's length, the point of this staff will sink into its jaded liver." The word 'Telanga' was a deliberate insult, for it was used for the comparatively short-statured, dark soldiers from the south who were reputed to be uncouth, and somewhat cowardly."'

Alas, after the fall of Delhi and Oudh in 1857,  Wazir Khanum's son had to find refuge with the selfsame Telangas in Hyderabad, where he lived till the end of his days (1905) and where he is buried. 

Here is Iqbal Bano rendering Daagh.

मेरे क़ाबू में न पेहरों दिल-ए-नाशाद आया
वो मेरा भूलने वाला जो मुझे याद आया

I could not calm my unhappy heart for hours
When I remembered the one who forgot me.

दिल-ए-वीराँ से रक़ीबों ने मुरादें पाईं
काम किस किस के मेरा ख़िर्मन-ए-बर्बाद आया

From my desolate heart the rivals garnered their wishes
O the use they made of the spoils from that store.

लीजिये सुनिये अब अफ़साना-ए-फ़ुर्क़त मुझ से
आप ने याद दिलाया तो मुझे याद आया

Now listen to a fable of separation
I remember it now that you remind me:

दी मु'अज़्ज़िन ने अज़ाँ वस्ल की शब पिछले पहर
हाये कमबख़्त को किस वक़्त ख़ुदा याद आया

The muezzin called to prayer just when we were to meet
Ah, the hour the fool chose to remember the Lord.

बज़्म में उन के सभी कुछ है मगर "दाग़" नहीं
मुझ को वो ख़ाना-ख़राब आज बहुत याद आया

In her embrace where there's all but Daagh (the Stain)
O how I remember that bespoilt bosom today.

The playful quotidian aspect of Daagh's verse continues to keep him a peoples' poet, the last of the great Urdu poets before Jigar, Faiz and Insha-ji of whom that can be said.

दी मु'अज़्ज़िन ने अज़ाँ वस्ल की शब पिछले पहर
हाये कमबख़्त को किस वक़्त ख़ुदा याद आया |

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Manqabat: Khwaja Ki Jogania

A manqabat is a Sufi devotional poem, sometimes sung in praise of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (the son-in-law of Muhammad), at others in entreaties made of Sufi saints. The most well known of the qawwali manqabats is of course 'Man Kunto Maula', written by Amir Khusrau in the 14th century in praise of 'Ali.

In Khusrau's work, the Sufi often takes the female gender role as s/he contemplates union with a male Beloved. This female voice rises in supplication to Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer (here addressed as Khwaja or Lord/Master, asked, amongst other things, to make the supplicant fairer), though the musicians are almost always male (in the instance below, Abdul Rahim Fareedi and Abdul Ali Fareedi, at a 1983 diaspora performance in Birmingham.) The lyrics and melody are traditional.

ऐ महाराज मुईनुद्दीन हम आन पड़े तोर द्वार
ये गुल की पत राख निहारे जो तुम साँची सरकार

Ai Maharaj Moinuddin hum aan pare tor dwaar
Ye gul ki pat rakh nihare jo tum saanchi sarkar

O King Moinuddin, arrived am I at Thy door's view
This little flower keep in sight, if Thou be the Lord True.

मैं बे-गुण हूँ, जो तुम गुणवंत अब कैसे युतुन पार
मांगत मागंत समय गुज़रिओ आज न करिओ उदास

Main be-gun hoon, jo tum gunwant, ab kaise yutun paar
Maangat maangat samay guzario aaj na kario udaas

Worthless I, be Thou worthy, how to Thee cross-over I aught?
Beseeching, beseeching, time's passed, today Thou fail me not.

ख़्वाजा जी सुल्तान जी तुम बड़े ग़रीब-नवाज़
ख़्वाजा जी सुल्तान जी तुम बड़े ग़रीब-नवाज़

Khwaja ji, Sultan ji, tum bade ghareeb-nawaz
Khwaja ji, Sultan ji, tum bade ghareeb-nawaz

O Master, O Lord, Thou take'st the most pity on the poor
O Master, O Lord, Thou take'st the most pity on the poor

मैली मैली मैली सब कहे, उजली कहे न कोई
पर जो ख्वाजा तुम उजली कहो तो मैली कहे न कोई

Maili maili maili sab kahe, ujli kahe na koi
Par jo khwaja tum ujli kaho to maili kahe na koi

Dirty, dirty, dirty - say all, none will call me fair
If Master Thou call'st fair tho', then call Dirty none'll dare.

पहन के गले कफ़नी मैं दर पे जाऊँगी (ऐ सखी)
ख़्वाजा की जोगनिआ मैं बन जाऊँगी

Pehen ke gale kafani main dar pe jaoongi
Khwaja ki jogania main ban jaoongi

Draping shroud on neck to the door will I come (O friend)
The Master's Yogin will I become.

मोहे राम क़सम मोरे नैनन में ख़्वाजा की सुरतिआ पूर भइ
कैसो रतिअं गुजारूं चरणन मोर जाती नगरीआ दूर भइ

Mohe Ram qasam more nainan me khwaja ki suratiya pur bhayee
Kaiso ratiyan guzaroon charanan mor jaati nagariya door bhayee

I swear on Ram -  my eyes to Master's face did accede
How pass I night? Feet carried me, town far did recede

पहन के गले कफ़नी मैं दर पे जाऊँगी
ख़्वाजा की जोगनिआ मैं बन जाऊँगी |

Pehen ke gale kafani main dar pe jaoongi
Khwaja ki jogania main ban jaoongi.

Draping shroud on neck to the door will I come
The Master's Yogin will I become.

Fareedi Qawwal was a favorite pupil of the legendary Fateh Ali Khan (Nusrat's father). He preferred the more traditional style of his Ustad over the commercial approach taken by Nusrat; he said 'Main Nusrat nu aakhya si ke apne baap di raah te aaja, par us meri gal nahin mani.' (I had told Nusrat to follow the path of his father but he didn't listen to me.') Fareedi saheb was exclusively a 'darbari qawwal', that is he only performed at Sufi shrines and never thought of releasing music commercially - selling his performances was incomprehensible, he lived all his life on donations made by the audiences at the shrines. All his surviving recordings are bootlegs from his performances at various shrines -- chiefly Baba Fariduddin Ganj-i-Shakar's shrine at Pakpattan - or at public venues.

Fareedi Qawwal was accompanied by arguably one of the most talented group of 'humnava' (friends, i.e. chorus) any qawwal has possessed. Then there are the phenomenal 'baja' players - note their occasional baul dubki riffs. Fareedi was a meticulous performer, one not averse to physically hitting or loudly swearing at his humnava in the choicest Punjabi in the middle of performances if he felt they weren't being up to scratch.

मोहे राम क़सम मोरे नैनन में ख़्वाजा की सुरतिआ पूर भइ
कैसो रतिअं गुजारूं चरणन मोर जाती नगरीआ दूर भइ |

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Faiz: Dasht-e-Tanhai Mein

Faiz Ahmad Faiz (Urdu: فیض احمد فیض ‎, 1911-1984) was one of the most famous 20th-century poets of Urdu. Nominated several times for the Nobel, he received both the Lenin Prize from the Soviet establishment and an MBE from the British one. Repeatedly accused of atheism in his native Pakistan (he was exiled by General Zia), Faiz's poetry suggests a more nuanced relationship with Sufi Islam.

A nazm by Faiz (a popular one) below, performed by the redoubtable Iqbal Bano. Nazms have looser rhyme than ghazals, typically a/b/c/b, and a structure that explores just one theme.

दश्त-ए-तन्हाई में, ऐ जान-ए-जहां, लरजाँ हैं
तेरी आवाज़ के साए, तेरे होंठों के सराब
दश्त-ए-तन्हाई में, दूरी के ख़स-ओ-ख़ाक तले
खिल रहे हैं तेरे पहलू के समन और गुलाब

In the desert of solitude, love of my life, shimmering
Are the shadows of your voice, the mirage of your lips
In the desert of solitude, distant, past the burnt stems
Bloom on the jasmine and the rose of your aspect.

उठ रही है कहीं कुर्बत से तेरी सांस की आँच
अपनी खुश्बू में सुलगती हुई मद्धम मद्धम
दूर उफक पर चमकती हुई क़तरा क़तरा
गिर रही है तेरी दिलदार नज़र की शबनम

From desolation somewhere rises your breath's warmth
Smoldering in its own fragrance, softly softly
Far, from that brilliant sky, shining, one by one
Fall the dewdrops of your tender loving gaze.

इस क़दर प्यार से ऐ जान-ए-जहां रक्खा है
दिल के रुखसार पे इस वक़्त तेरी याद ने हाथ
यूँ गुमाँ होता है गरचे है अभी सुबह-ए-फ़िराक
ढल गया हिज्र का दिन, आ भी गयी वस्ल की रात |

Why does it feel now, love, that you traced
The contour of my heart with the finger of your memory
That the stretch of the morn of separation now passes
The day of parting wanes, comes the night of union.

A song of union with not only love, but also with the truth that lies beyond this tired life, the eternal night of union.

यूँ गुमाँ होता है गरचे है अभी सुबह-ए-फ़िराक
ढल गया हिज्र का दिन, आ भी गयी वस्ल की रात |

Monday, June 9, 2014

Khusrau: Teri Re Main To

Bahauddin Khan Qawwal (1934-2006), today remembered more narrowly than his talent deserved, had had, in his day, The National Centre for the Performing Arts in India record his classical style of qawwali on golden tape for safe-keeping 'up to 200 years', as reference and guide for scholars of tomorrow.

घट के अंदर बैठ के करें प्रेम से पियार
ऐसे पिया से ख़ुसरो अपने तन मन दीजै वार ।

तेरी रे मैँ तो चरणन लागि
पीर निज़ामुद्दीन ख़्वाजा निज़ामुद्दीन

हर क़ौम रास्त रहे, दिनो क़िबला गाहे
मन क़िबला रास्त करदम बार सिम्त कजकुलाहे |

The first Farsi line was composed by Nizamuddin Aulia himself, who, while observing one day from his chilla or akhara how Hindu worshippers bathed in river Yamuna, remarked contentedly:

Har qaum rast rahe, deen-o [wa] qibla gahe

Every people has its right path, its faith and its focus of worship (the qibla is the direction to Mecca, towards which Muslims turn to pray.)

Khusrau, who was with him, at once completed the couplet with a verse that has come to represent (according to Regula Qureshi in her book) the central poetic statement of the Sufi in the subcontinent:

Man qibla rast kardam, bar samt kajkulahe

I, however, focus my worship on the crooked cap [of my Beloved.]

Khusrau goes on to say (I think Bahauddin Qawwal is singing a Farsi version of this qalam, the lines are a bit indistinct in the recording above):

Sansar har ko poojay, kul ko jagat sarahe,
Makke mein koyi dhoondhay, Kaashi ko koi jaye,
Guyyian main apnay pi kay payyian padun na kahe?
Har qaum rast rahe, deen-e wa qibla gahe.....
Teri re main to, charanan laagi ... etc.

The whole world worships something or the other,
Some look for God in Mecca, while some go to Kashi,
So why can’t I, Oh the Wise, just fall to my Beloved’s feet?
Every sect has a faith, a qibla ... I will here-fore stick to Thy feet.

The family of Bahauddin Qawwal have been granted permanent rooms adjacent to the shrines of Moinuddin Chishti, Nizamuddin Aulia and Alauddin Sabir Kaliari, in Ajmer, Delhi and Kaliar, due to their 700 years of service to these Sufi saints.

हर क़ौम रास्त रहे , दिनो क़िबला गाहे
मन क़िबला रास्त करदम बार सिम्त कजकुलाहे |

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bulleh Shah: Sajna

Bulleh Shah (Punjabi: بلہے شاہ , ਬੁੱਲ੍ਹੇ ਸ਼ਾਹ, 1680–1757), born Syed Abdullah Shah Qadri, was a Punjabi Sufi poet. His writings reveal a thinker alive to contemporary sociological problems of the Punjab; his poems highlight his quest through the four stages of Sufism: Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union). Bulleh Shah’s work never overtly questioned the Islamic religious orthodoxy of his day, but his metaphors often express frustration towards clerical Islam.

Here is a rendering.

Ghunghat orhley na, luk sajna; main mushtaq deedar de haan.

Wrap not the veil, hidden Beloved, I long to have a glimpse of you.

Terey bajhon deewani hoye, tokaan kardey log sabhoye
Je ker yaar karey diljoi, taan faryaad pukaar de haan.

Without you I go insane, people around poke fun at me.
Friend come heal my heart, that alone remains my plea.

Muft bikaindi jandi bandi, mil mahi jind aweien jandi
Ek dam hijr nahi seh pandi, bulbul main gulzar de haan.

Your slave-girl is being sold free, come, Beloved, rescue me.
Not moment's parting can withstand, I Bulbul of your garden be.

[Bulleh woh kaun tera yaar, ows dey hath Quran owsey janaar?]

[Who's this Bulleh your friend, in one hand Quran, in t'other (Sacred)Thread?]

In contemporary performance, the crispest, most crowd-pleasing verses are often juxtaposed from poems composed at different times; keeping that in mind, note how the point of gender changes during the course of the song, from a man entreating a woman to part her veil, to a slave-girl asking her master deliverance from being sold.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Kabir: Banjara Re

Kabīr (in vernacular,  Kabīra) (Hindi: कबीर, Punjabi: ਕਬੀਰ, Urdu: کبير‎) (c. 1440–c. 1518) was the greatest of the medieval mystic poets and saints of India, whose writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement and syncretism in contemporary Hinduism. In Arabic al-Kabīr means "The Great" – the 37th name of Allah.

Kabir composed a pithy style, replete with an inventive rural imagery. His work talks of the true Guru who reveals the divine through direct experience, and denounces ways of attempting God-union such as pilgrimages, austerities, or worship.  Kabir, illiterate, expressed his poems orally in vernacular Hindi, borrowing from various dialects including Avadhi, Brajbhasa, Maghi and Bhojpuri.

चक्की चल रही, कबीरा बैठा रोयी
दोनो पुड़ के बीच में साझा ना निकले कोयी ।
चक्की चल रही, कबीरा बैठा जोयी
खूंटा पकड़ो निज नाम का, तो साझा निकले जो सोयी ॥

Chakki chal rahi, Kabira baitha royee
Dono pud ke beech me saajha na nikle koi
Chakki chal rahi Kabira baitha joye
Khoonta pakdo nij Naam ka, to sajha nikle jo soyee

The millstone [of Time] grinds on, Kabir sits weeping [watching the inevitability]
From between the two stones [of wheeling heaven and turning earth below] no one passes unscathed
The millstone grinds on, Kabir is still there
Grab hold of the hub of the Name that is your's [by right], that is the path to deliverance.

छोड़ के मत जाअो एकली रे, बंजारा रे बंजारा रे ।
दूर देस रहे मामला अब जागो प्यारा रे ॥

Chhod ke mat jao ekli re Banjara re Banjara re
Duur des rahe mamla, ab jago pyara re.

Don't leave on this journey by yourself, O my Nomad, O Nomad
'Tis the matter of That Faraway Land, now come to your senses my dear.

अपना साहेब ने महल बनायी, बंजारा रे, बंजारा रे ।
गहरी गहरी माहे बीन बजायी, बंजारा हो ॥

Apna Saaheb ne mahal banayee, Banjara re
Gehri gehri mahe been bajai, Banjara ho.

Our Master made a palace for you, O my Nomad, O Nomad
Deep deep thence comes the call of His flute, Ah my Nomad.

अपना साहेब ने बाग़ बनायी, बंजारा रे, बंजारा रे ।
फूल भरी लायी छाब रे, बंजारा हो ॥

Apna Saahebne baag banayee, Banjara re
Phool bhari layee chhab re, Banjara ho

Our Master made a grove for you, O my Nomad, O Nomad
Flower'd bowers bring shade there, Ah my Nomad.

कहत कबीरा, कहत कबीरा, धर्मीदास को ।
संत अमरापुर मालना, बंजारा रे ॥

Kahat Kabira, Kahat Kabira Dharmidas ko
Sant amrapur maalna, Banjara re.

Says Kabir to Dharamidas, the saintly ones will surely be
Gardeners of this estate of immortality, O my Nomad.

Prahlad Tippaniya, absurdly pigeonholed as a Dalit singer, sings a variant:

Kabir has been  translated to English by Rabindranath Tagore. His greatest work is the Bijak (The Seedling), discussing the ideas of the fundamental One and an universal view of spirituality. Though his vocabulary is replete with Hindu spiritual concepts - Brahman, karma and reincarnation -  Kabir mocked dogma both in Hinduism and in Islam. Ideological messages in Kabir appealed to the poor and oppressed as a "protest against social discrimination and economic exploitation". At his death, both Hindus and Muslims claimed the remains, one side argued for cremation in Varanasi, the other for burial in Maghahar.

छोड़ के मत जाअो एकली रे, बंजारा रे बंजारा रे ।
दूर देस रहे मामला अब जागो प्यारा रे ॥

Friday, June 6, 2014

Rāmprasād: Man Re Krishi Kaaj Jano Na

The Bhakti tradition of India provides an interesting foil to the Sufi canon of Khorasan.

Rāmprasād Sen (Bengali: রামপ্রসাদ সেন; 1718-1775) was a Shakta poet and saint of eighteenth century Bengal. His Bhakti poems, usually addressed to the Hindu goddess Kali and known as Ramprasadi, are still popular in Bengal.

Born to a Tantric family, Rāmprasād became a disciple of Krishnananda Agamavagisha, a scholar and yogi in what is now Nadia in West Bengal. This was a time when forays of English, Danish, French and Portuguese power were consolidating military European bases and 'factories' in agricultural Bengal, displacing farmer and herder from these enclaves. Ramprasad became well known for his devotional songs, eventually becoming court poet for the king Krishna Chandra of Nadia.

Ramprasad created a new musical form that combined baul music with kirtan. The new style took root in Bengali culture with many poet-composers combining folk- and raga-based melodies. It was the fusion music of its time.

Structurally, the composition below is a ghazal, but the sublimation is no longer directed to a divine male or female 'Beloved' of the Sufi, it is a child's yearning for his Mother. Durga the ten-armed evil-slaying Goddess at the obverse, at the reverse Kali whose flames lick at the cremation ghat as she spreads her lap to take her child at the end of this life - that is the currency of sublimation in Ramprasadi.

মন রে কৃষি কাজ জান না, মন রে কৃষি কাজ জান না ।
এমন মানব-জমিন রইলো পতিত, আবাদ করলে ফলতো সোনা ।।

Man re, krishi-kaaj jano na, Man re, krishi-kaaj jano na
Eman manab-jamin railo patit, abad karle phalto sona.

O Mind, you know not to till; Mind, you know not to till
Such human-land stays fallow, tended would gold yield.

কালীনামে দাওরে বেড়া, ফসলে তছরূপ হবে না ।
সে যে মুক্তকেশীর শক্ত বেড়া, তার কাছেতে যম ঘেঁসে না ।।

Kali-name daore bera, fasale tachhrup habena
Se je mukta-keshi'r shakto bera, tar kachhete Yama ghneshena.

Make fence of Kali's name, none the harvest embezzle would
Strong fence - of She of unpinned locks - who Death'd elude.

অদ্য অব্দশতান্তে বা, ফসল বাজাপ্ত হবে জান না ।
আছে একতারে মন এইবেলা, তুই চুটিয়ে ফসল কেটে নে না ।।

Adya abda-shatante ba, fasal bajapta habe jano na
Achhe ek-taare Man eibela, tui chutiye fasal kete ne na.

Today or century-end somewhen, confiscated the harvest will be
Keep Mind on one Tune while you can, bring in the harvest free.

গুরুদত্ত বীজ রোপন ক'রে, ভক্তিবারি তায় সেচ না ।
ওরে একা যদি না পারিস মন, রামপ্রসাদকে সঙ্গে নে না ।।

Guru-datta beej ropan kare, bhati-bari tai secho na
Ore eka jadi na paris Man, Ramprasad-ke sange ne na.

Plant the Guru-given seed, irrigate with devotion all day
If you can't by yourself, Mind, let Ramprasad with you stay.

Nivedita compared Ramprasad to William Blake. The rhapsodic aspect of the Ramprasadi, however, is close to that of the works of Persian Sufis, and at the same time it has an interiority that reminds of the stoicism of Kabir.

এমন মানব-জমিন রইলো পতিত, আবাদ করলে ফলতো সোনা |

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Shams-i-Tabrīzī: Arzoo Daram Ke Mehmanat Kunam

Shams-i-Tabrīzī (Persian: شمس تبریزی‎) or Shams al-Din Mohammad (1185–1248) is credited as the guru of Mewlānā (Maulana) Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhi, known the world over as Rumi.  Shams of Tabriz is accorded great reverence in Rumi’s poetic collection, in particular Diwan-i Shams-i-Tabrīzī (The Works of Shams of Tabriz). Tradition holds that Shams taught Rumi in seclusion in Konya for a period of forty days, before fleeing for Damascus.

It is said Rumi attributed a fair part of his own divan to Shams, so a school of scholars attribute the ghazal below to Jalauddin Rumi himself.

Arzoo daram ke mehmanat kunam
Jan o dil, aye dost, qurbanat kunam

Friend, I beseech you to be my guest
I would sacrifice my life and heart on you

Inqilab kam kunam khamosh ba ashq kunam
Ay me khoranat kunam ba arzoo kunam

I would still your rebellion into silent love
To me I would turn your prayers and seeking

Gar yaqeen danam ke bar man aasheqi
Az jamal e khwesh hairanat khonam

If I could be sure you loved me
I would try by my beauty to amaze you

Gar tu Aflatoon o Luqmani ba ilm
Man ba yek deedar e nadanat kunam

[Luqman - wise - sometimes refers to Salman the Wise, the first Persian convert to Muhammad.]

Though you are wiser than a Plato or a man of science
With one glance I would turn you into a fool.

Gar sar-e-ganj-e-tu maare khuftayi
Ham cho maare khufta, bejaanat kunam

[Refers to ancient custom of guarding buried treasure with a snake.]

If a sleeping snake lies atop your treasure
Like that sleeping snake, I would take your life.

Gar qamar bandi ba khidmat ham cho moh
Mulk ha ba Shams Sulemanat kunam

If you don the sash of service, like us
I would put you in the same spot as Shams Suleman.

Khosh begufti dilbarii mah-ro sokhan
Namayea asraar e diwanat kunam

You spoke sweetly, "Lovable, fair as the moon," nice words
I would take you into trance of mystical secrets.

Shams-i-Tabrīzī ba Maulana be go
Daftar e asrar diwanat kunam

Shams of Tabriz, tell Maulana
I would turn you into a book of entranced secrets.

Another version rendered by Ghous Mohd. Nasir is below.

If on a winter's night in 1244 a traveler dressed in black from head to toe had come to the famous inn of the Sugar Merchants of Konya, he would have passed into legend. This one claimed to be a traveling salesman, and said he had been instructed by someone important to look in Konya for something he was determined to find.

One day Rumi sat reading a large stack of books. Shams of Tabriz, passing by, asked him, "What are you doing?" Rumi sized up the 'caravans-and-dates' type of stranger and scoffingly replied, "Something you cannot understand." On hearing this, Shams threw the stack into a nearby pool. Rumi hastily rescued his books and to his surprise they were all dry. Rumi asked Shams, "What is this?", to which Shams replied, "Maulana, this is what you cannot understand."

Gar tu Aflatoon o Luqmani ba ilm
Man ba yek deedar e nadanat kunam.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Küçek Mustafà Dede: Shah Ze Karam

Tradition is divided on who composed Shah Ze Karam. Often used as a bandish for Hindustani classical music, some say it was authored by Amir Khusrau. Others place authorship of this persianate rubāʿī to several hundred years after Khusrau, around 1650, by the Mevlevi dervish Küçek Mustafà Dede, d. 1688/9.

Shah Ze Karam Bar Man-E-Darvesh Nigar
Bar Haal-E-Mann-E-Khast-O-Dil Resh Nigar

Har Chand Neeyam Laayaq-E-Bakhshayesh-E-Tu
Bar Mann Manegar Bar Karam-E-Khesh Nigar

Lord! In Thy Grace, Thine humble supplicant, regard
Then my state of weariness, my wounded heart, regard

Howsoever be I unworthy every moment of Thy given laws
Not my trespass, but Thine own gracious benevolence, regard.

Traditionally, there have been five Mevlevi ceremonies amongst the 'whirling' dervishes. The first three, Penchgah, Dugah and Huseyni were composed in antiquity and their authorship is lost to us. The fourth, Bayati, is above. The last, Segah, was composed by Mustafa Itri (d 1711.)

The term rubāʿī (Persian: رباعی‎ rubāʿī, "quatrain") is used to describe a Persian quatrain (a poem of four lines); rubāʿiyāt (رباعیات) stands for a collection of such quatrains. There are a number of possible rhyme-schemes to the rubaiyat form, e.g. AABA, AAAA, though through the translations of Omar Khayyam by Edward Fitzgerald the English-speaking world is most familiar with the AABA rhyme-scheme. Note the rubai above is in the 14:8 beat.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hāfez: Ba Har Su Jalwa-e-Dildaar Deedam

Hāfez of Shīrāz (1325-1389) was the greatest of 14th-century Persian poets, a contemporary of Timur the Turk. During the life of Hāfez, the control of Persia went from the Ilkhanids to the Timurids (i.e. from Mongol to Turk, though Timur's own Barlas tribe was more Mongol than Turk.) Hāfez is a takhallus or nom-de-plume; it means 'guardian', and as a title is awarded to someone who has memorized the Quran. His actual name was Shamsuddin Muhammad, and in his close Sufi circle he was simply called Khwaja.

Khwāja Shams-ud-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī's works are to be found in the homes of most people in Iran - children learn his poems by heart and when they grow up they use them as proverbs:

If that Shirazi Turk would take my heart in hand
I would remit Samarqand and Bukhārā for his/her black mole.

When he heard these lines Timur had Hāfez arrested. 

"By the beard of the prophet! With the blows of my lustrous sword," Timur complained, "I have subjugated most of the habitable globe... to embellish Samarqand and Bukhara, the seats of my empire; and you would sell them for the black mole of some dancing-boy (or girl) in Shiraz!" 

Hāfez bowed deeply and replied, "Alas, O Sultan, it is this prodigality which is the cause of the misery in which you find me."

He was spared.

Munshi Raziuddin's sons Farid Ayaz and Abu Muhammad perform Hāfez:

यार अग्यार में नज़र आया
गुल हमें खार में नज़र आया
जिसको वैज़ छुपाये फिरते थे
वो हमें बाज़ार में नज़र आया

I saw Beloved in the Stranger
I saw a Flower in the Ash
Who the Preacher so tried to hide
I saw that Beloved in the square.

Ba har soo jalwa-e-dildaar deedam
Ba har cheez jamal-e-yaar deedam

بہ ہر سو جلوہ دلدار دیدم
بہ ہر چیز جمال یار دیدم

In every way the splendor of Beloved do I see
In every thing the beauty of my Love do I see

कर गौर ज़रा दिल में जलवागरी होगी
ये शीशा नहीं खाली -  देख इसमें परी होगी
साक़ी तेरा मस्ती से क्या हाल हुआ होगा
जब तू ने ये मय शीशे में भरी होगी ...
ब हर सू जलवा-ए-दिलदार दीदम

Na deedam haich shaira khaali az ve
Par az ve kooncha-o-bazaar deedam

I don’t see anything without It
But I see Love in every corner and bazaar

Jo khud ra bingaram deedam hamuna ast
Jamal-e-khud jamal-e-yaar deedum

My own-ness does not belong to me
My beauty is Beloved's beauty do I see

मेरी सूरत से किसी कि नहीं मिलती सूरत
मैं जहाँ में तेरी तस्वीर बना फिरता हूँ

Namaz-e-zahidaan mehrab o minbar
Namaz-e-ashiqaan bar daar e deedum

Namaz of the pious is on mehraab and minbar
Namaz of the Lovers on the stake do I see

ज़ाहिद कि नमाज़ मिनबर ओ मेहराब में होती है
आशिकों कि नमाज़ सूली पर होते देखा हूँ

(Possibly a reference to Timur sparing the Muslim clergy but not the Sufi scholars. 28 towers of 1500 heads apiece were reported by eyewitnesses from the sack of Isphahan.)

Jo yak jura raseed az ghaib Hāfez
Hama aqal-o-khird bekaar deedam

So suddenly your righteousness is gone Hāfez
Now reason and intellect useless do I see.

From Engels' letter to Marx:

It is, by the way, rather pleasing to read dissolute old Hafiz in the original language, which sounds quite passable and, in his grammar, old Sir William Jones likes to cite as examples dubious Persian jokes.

مـن باکـمر تو در میان کردم دسـت
پنداشتمش که در میان چیزی هست
پیداسـت از آن میان چو بربست کمر
تا من ز کمر چه طرف خواهم بربسـت

I put my arms around your waist,
A lover’s embrace to taste.
From your resolve it’s obvious
All my efforts will go to waste.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Saʿdi, ‘Araqi, Khusrau: Guftam Ke Roshan Az Qamar

Bahauddin Khan Qawwal (1934-2006), whose party render the qawwali below, traced his lineage back to the days of Amir Khusrau. To remind centuries-yet-to-be that he had loved his murshid, Khusrau banded together twelve youngsters, personally trained them, funded them, and performed with them. He appointed Mian Saamat as the leader of the Bachche (Youngsters) Qawwal. Bahauddin's family claims descent from the Bachche.

The first couplet is by Saʿdī. Abū-Muhammad Muslih al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī, aka Saʿdī Shirazi (Persian: ابومحمد مصلح الدین بن عبدالله شیرازی‎; 1210-1292) was the major classical Persian poet of the middle ages, recognized for the quality of his composition and for the depth of his thought.

اگرم حیات بخشی و گرم هلاک خواهی
سر بندگی به حکمت بنهم که پادشاهی

Garam hayat bakhshi wa garam hayat khwahi
Sar-e-bandagi-ba-khidmat bane humke badshahi

Grant me a warm new life or grant me a hot death
I bow my head at Thy service and make Thee my king.

The second couplet is by ‘Araqi. Fakhr al-dīn Ibrahīm ‘Irāqī, or ‘Araqi (Persian: فخرالدین ابراهیم عراقی‎; 1213-1289), was a Persian Sufi master (a friend of Jalaluddin Rumi), poet and writer. Born in Hamedan, (i.e. 'Irani Iraq'), ‘Araqi spent many years in Multan in the Indian subcontinent, as well as in Konya in present day Turkey.

نہ شود نصب دشمن، کہ شود ہلاک تیغت
سر دوستاں سلامت، کہ تو خنجر آزمائی

Na shabad naseeb-e-dushman ke shabad halaq-e-taighat
Sar-e-doston-salamat ke tu khanjarat ma aaye

Why should our enemies be so fortunate to die by Thine hands?
The heads of comrades are standing alive, ready for dagger-wielder Thou.

The rest is by Amir Khusrau (1253-1305):

گفتم که روشن از قمر گفتا که رخسار منست
گفتم که شیرین از شکر گفتا که گفتار منست

Guftam ke roshan az qamar gufta ke rukhsar-e-man ast
Guftam ke shireen az shakar gufta ke guftar-e-man ast

I asked: 'What is brighter than the moon?' She said: 'It is my face.'
I asked: 'What is sweeter than sugar?' She said: 'It is my talk.'

گفتم کہ مرگِ ناگہاں، گفتا که درد هجر من
گفتم علاج زندگی ،گفتا که دیدار منست

Guftam ke marg-e-'ashiqan gufta ke dard-e-hijr-e-man
Guftam 'ilaaj-e-zindagi gufta ke deedar-e-man ast

I asked about the death of lovers; She said; 'The pain of being separated from me.'
I asked about the cure of life; She said: 'It is the sight of my face.'

گفتم طریق عاشقان گفتا وفاداری بود
گفتم مکن جور و جفا، گفتا کہ این کار منست

Guftam tareeq-e-'ashiqan gufta wafadari buwad
Guftam makun jaur o jafa gufta ke iin kar-e-man ast

I asked about the way of lovers; She said: 'Fidelity.'
I said: 'Then do not be cruel and wicked.' She said: 'That is my task.'

گفتم که حوری یا پری ، گفتا که من شاه ِ بتاں
گفتم که خسرو ناتوان گفتا پرستار منست

Guftam ke houri ya pari gufta ke man shah-e-butan
Guftam ke Khusrau na-tavaan gufta parastar-e-man ast

I said: 'Are you a houri or a fairy?' She said: 'Of idols I am King.'
I said: 'Khusrau is helpless.' She said: 'Worship me.'

In his Lectures on Aesthetics, Hegel wrote: 

Pantheistic poetry has had, it must be said, a higher and freer development in the Islamic world, especially among the Persians ... The full flowering of Persian poetry comes at the height of its complete transformation in speech and national character, through Mohammedanism ... In later times, poetry of this order [Ferdowsi's epic poetry] had a sequel in love epics of extraordinary tenderness and sweetness; but there followed also a turn toward the didactic, where, with a rich experience of life, the far-traveled Saadi was master before it submerged itself in the depths of the pantheistic mysticism taught and recommended in the extraordinary tales and legendary narrations of the great Jalal-ed-Din Rumi.

 اگرم حیات بخشی و گرم هلاک خواهی
سر بندگی به حکمت بنهم که پادشاهی

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Khusrau: Nami Danam Che

Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn Khusrau (Hindi: अमीर खुसरो; 1253–1325), better known as Amīr Khusrau Dehlvi, was a Sufi musician, poet and scholar. Khursau the mystic, disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi,  inventor of the musical instruments sitar and tabla, sponsor of the first qawwali, originator of the khayal and tarana styles of Indian classical music - is an iconic figure in the cultural history of India.

Below, Jafar Hussain Khan Badauni and party perform the famous qawwali Nami Danam Che Manzil Bood Shab Jaaye, traditionally attributed to Amir Khusrau.

नमी दानम चे मंज़िल बुद शब् जाए के मन बुदम,
ब हर सू रक़्स-ए-बिस्मिल बुद शब् जाए के मन बुदम।

Nami danam che manzil bood shab jaaye ke man boodam
Ba har su raqs-e-bismil bood shab jaaye ke man boodam.

I wonder what was that place - last night where I was,
In every way half-slaughtered victims of love, last night where I was.

परी पैकर निगार-ए-सर्व कदे लाला रुख़सारे,
सरापा आफ़त-ए-दिल बुद शब् जाए के मन बुदम।

Pari paikar nigaar-e-sarw-qade laala rukhsare;
Sarapa aafat-e-dil bood shab jaay ke man boodam.

There was a fairy-like beloved, cypress-figured, tulip-cheek'd,
Playing ruthless havoc with hearts of lovers, last night where I was.

रक़ीबन गोश-बर-आवाज़, ओ-दर नाज़-ओ-मन तरसा,
सुख़न गुफ़्तन के मुश्किल बुद शब् जाए के मन बुदम।

Raqeeban gosh-bar-awaaz, o-dar naaz-o-man tarsa
Sukhan guftan ke mushkil bood shab jaay ke man boodam.

The rivals for the smallest sound of her voice were thirsty
Stood struck I, unable to speak, last night where I was.

ख़ुदा ख़ुद मीर-ए-मजलिस बुद अंदर लामकां ख़ुसरो,
मोहम्मद शम्मा-ए-महफ़िल  बुद शब् जाए के मन बुदम।

Khuda khud meer-e majlis bood andar laamakan Khusrau -
Muhammad shamma-e-mehfil bood shab jaay ki man boodam.

God Himself was Master-of-Ceremonies in that Heavenly court, Khusrau -
Where Muhammad too was shining like a candle, last night where I was.

There is an eerie story behind the song.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia directed Khusrau to switch his attendance to a gathering presided over by a "rival" master - Hazrat Shah Qalandar.

Khusrau was puzzled but did as he was asked. The master ignored him. One day, Hazrat Qalandar asked Khusrau - How is it that I have never seen your old Master Nizamuddin at the Lord's gathering in Heaven? Khusrau had no reason to doubt this assertion, so he was crestfallen and sad.

Meeting Khusrau some time later, Nizamuddin perceived something was amiss, and, upon questioning, learnt what had happened. He laughed - Tell Qalandar that he himself should take you one day to the Lord's gathering in Heaven, and that you will yourself seek out your old Master there.

And so the next time Qalandar poked fun at Khusrau, he asked to be taken to the Lord's gathering. Qalandar held his palm on Khusrau's heart and lo, he was transported to the ground floor of an eerily lit palace where shining figure after shining figure was in attendance. But there was no Nizamuddin Aulia there.

Not seeing Nizamuddin, Khusrau asked the Master of Ceremonies if his old Master would be coming. The figure pointed upwards to the next floor, where the scene repeated itself - shining saints and prophets, but no Nizamuddin. So Khusrau was led in turns to levels 2, 3, etc till 7 - and in this highest of floors levels he saw a mysterious veiled lady at whose feet the lovers writhed in the agony of Love. Khusrau approached the strange figure in a trance.  He removed the veil of this person - only to come face-to-face with his old Master Nizamuddin.  Khusrau shrieked to fall at the feet of this figure, and as he fell Qalandar withdrew his hand from Khusrau's heart, the brilliant lights vanished, and he was back in Old Delhi. On his way back home through the alleys lit by earthen lamps, Amir Khusrau composed "Nami Danam Che."

Dr. Tahir ul Qadri, a scholar of Sufi Islam, recounts the story (in Urdu) here.

Khusrau was born in Etah, Uttar Pradesh, India. His father Saif-ud-Dīn Mahmūd was a Turkic officer and a member of the Kara-Khitai Lachin tribe of Transoxiana. At the invasion of Genghis Khan, Saif-ud-Din migrated from his hometown Kesh, near Samarkand, to Balkh, and thence to the court of the Delhi Sultanate of Iltutmish. Khusrau's mother was of a recently-converted-to-Islam Rajput tribe. The metaphor of this 'mixed' parentage - Trans-Oxian and Cis-Indus - is also found in Khusrau's synthesis of Persian imagery and Hindvi music.

परी पैकर निगार-ए-सर्व कदे लाला रुख़सारे,
सरापा आफ़त-ए-दिल बुद शब् जाए के मन बुदम।

Nava'i: Qaro ko'zim

Nizām-al-Din ʿAlī-Shīr Herawī Nava'i (Chagatai: نظام الدین على شير هروی‎; 1441-1501) was an Uzbek politician, mystic, linguist, painter, and poet. He was the greatest representative of literature in the now extinct Chagatai branch of Turkic. Born in Herat (present day Afghanistan), part of the Timurid ruling class administering Khorasan (Northeast Persia and Central Asia), Nava'i was the quintessential Persianized Turk, whose literary work was a prototype for Babur.  Nava'i revolutionized the literary use of street-Turkic, and through his work the vernacular Chagatai of the mohalla became well-respected as a literary language. Nava'i also wrote in Persian (under the pen name Fāni), and to a lesser degree in Arabic.

Nava'i's Ushshoq (below, rendered by the formidable Munojot Yo'Ichiyeva, the haunting, aching voice of Ferghana) comes from the root Ishq, Love.

Қаро кўзим¸ келу мардумлиғ эмди фан қилғил¸
Кўзум қаросида мардум киби ватан қилғил.

Qaro ko'zim, kelu mardumlug' emdi fan qilg'il,
Ko'zum qarosida mardum kibi vatan qilg'il. 

Dark eyed one, show your mercy,
Come make your nest in my eyes.

Юзинг гулига кўнгул равзасин яса гулшан¸
Қаддинг ниҳолиға жон гулшанин чаман қилғил.

Yuzung guliga ko'ngul ravzasin yasa gulshan,
Qading niholig'a jon gulshanin chaman qilg'il.

Turn my heart into a flowerbed,
for the blossoms that are your face.

Таковарингға бағир қонидан хино боғла¸
Итингга ғамзада жон риштасин расан қилғил.

Takovaringg'a bag'ir qonidin hino bog'la,
Itingg'a g'amzada jon rishtasin rasan qilg'il. 

And rest your sapling form 
In the garden that is my life.

Фироқ тоғида топилса туфроғим¸ эй чарх¸
Хамир этиб яна ул тоғда кўҳкан қилғил.

Firoq tog'ida topilsa tufrog'im, ey charx,
Xamir etib yana ul tog'da ko'hkan qilg'il. 

Splash the hooves of your steed in my blood
Weave a leash for your dog from my tendons.

Юзунг висолига етсин¸ десанг кўнгулларни¸
Сочингни боштин-аëғ чин ила шикан қилғил.

Yuzung visolig'a yetsun desang ko'ngullarni,
Sochingni boshdin-ayog' chin ila shikan qilg'il.

Curl your hair into ringlets
So I can be easily captured should we meet.

Хазон сипоҳиға¸ эй боғбон¸ эмас монеъ¸
Бу боғ томида гар игнадин тикан қилғил.

Xazon sipohiga, ey bog'bon, emas mone'
Bu bog' tomida gar ignadin tikan qilg'il. 

When at foot of Separation-Range my dust be found,
Knead it into brick-dough sculpt from it your house.

Юзида терни кўруб ўлсам¸ эй рафиқ мени¸
Гулоб ила юву¸ гул баргидан кафан қилғил.

Yuzida terni ko'rub o'lsam, ey rafiq, meni
Gulob ila yuvu gul bargidin kafan qilg'il. 

Little can the gardener can do, O Friend, to stop the Fall,
Should he even thatch his roses with a roof of pine.

Навоий анжумани шавқ жон аро тузсанг¸
Анинг бошоқлиғ ўқин шамъи анжуман қилғил.

Navoiy, anjumani shavq jon aro tuzsang,
Aning boshog'lig' o'qin sham'i anjuman qilg'il.

Navoiy, gather from your heart a bouquet of joy, spark flame into
A sheaf of wheat, let this candle reveal the nameless wayside flower.

In spite of his songs on love, Ali-Shir Nava'i (the pen-name is also rendered Navoiy) led an ascetic lifestyle, "never marrying or having concubines or children." More on the Chaucer Of The Turks here.

Юзунг висолига етсин¸ десанг кўнгулларни¸
Сочингни боштин-аëғ чин ила шикан қилғил.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Jami: Chooma Hai Dar

Nur ud-Dīn abd-ar-Rahmān Jāmī (Persian: نورالدین عبدالرحمن جامی‎) (1414 – 1492) was the greatest Persian poet of the 15th century.

Below, Mehmood ul Hassan Ashrafi performs Jami's naatiya qalam:

चूमा है दर अर्ज़-ओ-समाँ ताबाँ तुई ताबाँ तुई 
रश्क-ए-मलक नूर-ए-खुदा इंसाँ तुई इंसाँ तुई 

Kiss thine doorstep earth and sky; the glow thou, glow thou!
Covet of angels, light of God; (the perfect) man thou, man thou!

रोशन-ए-रूयत दो जहाँ अक्स-ए-रुखत ख़ुर्शीद-ओ-माँ 
ऐ नूर-ए-ज़ात-ए-गिबरिया रख़्शाँ तुई रख़्शाँ तुई

Two worlds illuminated by thine blessed face, sun-moon thine countenance
O Light of the Lord Almighty!  the luster thou, luster thou!

आयात-ए-क़ुरान अब्रुयत तफ़सीर-ए-क़ुरान गेसुयत 
ऐ रूह-ए-तू क़ुरान-ए-मां ईमाँ तुई ईमाँ तुई 

Thy eyebrows [the beauty of] verses of the Quran,  thy hair [the vigor of]  exegesis of the Quran
Thy soul is our Quran; [the foundation] of faith thou,  faith thou!

या मुस्तफ़ा या मुज्तबा ईरहम लना ईरहम लना
दश्त-ए-मां बेचारा-रा दामाँ तुई दामाँ तुई

O chosen one! O elected one! Have mercy on us
Our hands find nothing to cling; haven thou, haven thou!

मन आसियम मन आज़जम मन बेक़सम हाल-ए-मरा 
या शफ़ी-ए-रोज़-ए-जज़ा पुरसाँ तुई पुरसाँ तुई

I am a sinner, I am weak, I am helpless -- such is my fate
O Intercessor on the Day of Recompense! the savior thou, savior thou!

जामी रवत अज़ चश्म-ए-मां जलवा-नुमा बेहर-ए-खुदा 
जान-ओ-दिलम हर दो फ़िदा जानाँ तुई जानाँ तुई |

Jami with his own eyes saw, magic-like, the ocean of God
His life and soul are both for thee; the essence thou, essence thou!

Na`at (Arabic: نعت‎) is poetry that specifically praises the prophet Muhammad. The practice is popular in India, commonly in Urdu. People who recite Naat are known as Naat Khua'an. In addition to Jami's verse, traditional verses from Arab, Indian and Quranic tradition are woven in:

सरे-ला-मकां से तलब हुई, सू-ए-मुनतहा वह चले नबी 
कोई हद है उनके उरूज की, बलघल उला बी कमालिही

From that place of no houses come the Summons, On that path of excellence there goes the Exalted
Can there be a limit to his ascent? He who reached the highest place by his Perfection

मेरा दीन अम्बर वारसी, बखुदा के इश्क़-ए-मुहम्मदी 
मेरा ज़िक्र-ओ-फ़िक्र है बस यहीँ, सल्लू अलैहे व आलिही 

My religion is Ambar Warsi, I am Mohammedan by reason of Love of God
My practice and concern is only this. Send blessings to him and his family.

(Hazrat Ambar Shah Warsi of Ajmer, was the Sufi saint who initiated Ghulam Sabri.)

ऐ मज़हर-ए-नूर-ए-खुदा बलघल उला बी कमालिही 
मौला अली मुश्किल कुशा क़शाफद्दुजा बी जमालिही

O manifestation of the Light of God! He who reached the highest place by his perfection.
Maula Ali! slayer of problems! He removed darkness by his beauty.

हसनैन जाने फ़ातिमा हसुनत जमीओ ख़िसालिही 
यानि मुहम्मद मुस्तफ़ा … सल्लू अलैहे व आलिही |

Of the two goods, life of Fatima! Beautiful are all his attainments
Therefore Muhammad is the chosen one. Send blessings to him and his family.

(Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, was the wife of  'Ali, and mother of Hassan and Hussain. Hassan means good, Hasnain is plural of Hassan - the two Hassans or the two goods.)

Here is another version by Badar Miandad Qawwal & Party:

Finally, the traditional Sare La Makaan See Talab Hui can be heard below:

Jami was also an outstanding theologian of the school of ibn-Arabi, as well as a prominent historian and Khwājagānī Sũfī, who analyzed the metaphysics of Mercy. He was recognized for his repartee and the crispness of his verse.

चूमा है दर अर्ज़-ओ-समाँ ताबाँ तुई ताबाँ तुई
रश्क-ए-मलक नूर-ए-खुदा इंसाँ तुई इंसाँ तुई |

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Niyaz: Mamoor Ho Raha Hai

Hazrat Shah Niyaz Ahmed (1742-1834) is said to have been descended from 'Ali (via the royals of Bukhara) and lived around Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. HIs followers are the Niyazi Sufis.

Below, the Sabri brothers perform qalam-e-Niyaz in qawwali, from an old UNESCO collection of 1975.

मामूर हो रहा है आलम में नूर तेरा
अज़ माहताब माहि, सब है ज़हूर तेरा

Becoming abundant in all universe is the light of Thee
The Moon, this Life, all are but manifestations of Thee.

इसरार-ए-अहमदी से आगाह हो सो जाने
तू नूर हर शरार है, हर संग-ए-तूर तेरा

Secrets of the Praiser (Muhammad) are to none but Thee known
Thou light of every spark, every flint-stone of Thee.

हर आँख तक रही है, तेरे ही मुहँ को प्यारे
हर कान में हूँ पाता, शोर-ए-ज़हूर तेरा

To every eye has been, only Thy face beloved
In every ear is known, that abundance shout of Thee.

जब जी में ये समाया जो कुछ है, सो तू है
फिर दिल से कब दूर हो कुर्ब-ओ-हज़ूर तेरा

When soul's convinced that whatever is, is Thou
Then how can from heart far be presence of Thee.

भाता नहीं है वाइज़ जुज़ दीद-ए-हक़ मुझे कुछ
तुझको रहे मुबारक हूर-ओ-क़सूर तेरा

Like not I sermons on Only-Truth, O Preacher!
Welcome thou to keep virgin-and-sin for thee

वहदत के हैं ये जलवे नक्श-ओ-निगार कुसरत
गर सिर्र-ए-मरिफत को पावे शऊर तेरा

Magic of creation revealed to eye - that is Oneness
If only wisdom could decipher the Truth of Thee.

गर हर्फ़-ए-बेनियाज़ी सरज़द 'नियाज़' से हो
पुतले में ख़ाक के है, प्यारे गुरूर तेरा |

Were letters-of-unyearning to come from this Niyaz (Yearner)
Twould only be, 'cause proud is this clay-toy's Love for Thee.

Niyaz lived roughly at the time Muslim rule was being replaced by the British - say the Sirajuddaula-to-Bentinck span of Indian history. Note the repudiation of 'mine-is-the-only-Truth' ulema who, then as now, came bearing the promise of virgins-of-paradise as well as the threat of monotheistic original-sin:

भाता नहीं है वाइज़ जुज़ दीद-ए-हक़ मुझे कुछ
तुझको रहे मुबारक हूर-ओ-क़सूर तेरा |

Ghalib: Muddat Hui Hai

Mirza Asadullah Khan 'Ghālib' (Urdu غاؔلب‎; Hindi ग़ालिब; 1797-1869) was the last great poet of the Mughal era. His takhallus ġhālib means 'dominant.'

Iqbal Bano performs Ghālib in a 1974 made-for-PTV mehfil:

Part 1:

Part 2:

मुद्दत हुई है यार को मेहमाँ किये हुए
जोश-ए-क़दह से बज़्म चराग़ाँ किये हुए

It's been long since my love were my guest
The cup's warmth had our gathering candle-lit

करता हूँ जमा फिर जिगर-ए-लख़्त-लख़्त को
अर्सा हुआ है दावत-ए-मिज़्श्गाँ किये हुए

Gather up I, again, this body piece-by-piece
Age's passed since feasting on those eyelashes

फिर पुर्सिश-ए-जराहत-ए-दिल को चला है इश्क़
सामाँ-ए-सदहज़ार नमकदाँ किये हुए

Love comes again to inquire upon Heart's wounds
Carrying a hundred-thousand salt-boxes in supply

फिर वज़ा-ए-एहतियात से रुकने लगा है दम
बरसों हुए हैं चाक गिरेबाँ किये हुए

The decorum of restraint is suffocating, again
Been years since I had tore at my collar

माँगे है फिर किसी को लब-ए-बाम पर हवस
ज़ुल्फ़-ए-सियाह रुख़ पे परेशाँ किये हुए

Again asks desire for someone by roof-edge
On a face agitated, dark disheveled hair

चाहे है फिर किसी को मुक़ाबिल में आरज़ू
सुर्मे से तेज़ दश्ना-ए-मिज़्श्गाँ किये हुए

Ask again I for someone as combatant
Those eyelash daggers, sharpened by kohl

इक नौबहार-ए-नाज़ को ताके है फिर निगाह
चेहरा फ़ुरोग़-ए-मै से गुलिस्ताँ किये हुए

Eyes seek again beauty in first blossom
Her face flushed of wine, a garden of color

फिर जी में है कि दर पे किसी के पड़े रहें
सर ज़ेर बार-ए-मिन्नत-ए-दर्बाँ किये हुए

Again wish I to lie at someone's door
Head weary of pleading to the guard

फिर शौक़ कर रहा है ख़रीदार की तलब
अर्ज़-ए-मता-ए-अक़्ल-ओ-दिल-ओ-जाँ किये हुए

Desire summons a purchaser yet again
Bidding anew for my mind my spirit my heart my life

फिर चाहता हूँ नामा-ए-दिलदार खोलना
जाँ नज़र-ए-दिलफ़रेबी-ए-उन्वाँ किये हुए

Yearn I to open a letter from my Love, agree, to
Sacrifice my life for the seduction of what’s said

जी ढूँढता है फिर वही फ़ुर्सत के रात दिन
बैठे रहें तसव्वुर-ए-जानाँ किये हुए

My life seeks again those hours of languor
Sitting for long, thinking of Beloved

दिल फिर तवाफ़-ए-कू-ए-मलामत को जाये है
पिंदार का सनमकदा वीराँ किये हुए

Heart goes again to that alley-trap of ill-intention
Leaving vacant the noble temple of pride so built.

“ग़ालिब” हमें न छेड़ कि फिर जोश-ए-अश्क से
बैठे हैं हम तहय्या-ए-तूफ़ाँ किये हुए |

Ghālib: Leave me be, for eyes full of tears
I sit, mind made up to unleash a torrent at will.

Mirza Asadullah Khan's life was one of witnessing the eclipse of the Mughals before, during, and after the defeat of the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857.

दिल फिर तवाफ़-ए-कू-ए-मलामत को जाये है
पिंदार का सनमकदा वीराँ किये हुए |

Bedam: Na Karo Juda Khudara

Hazrat Bedam Shah Warsi was born Ghulam Hasnain in 1882 in Etawa. Taking early the life of a Sufi, he moved to Dewa in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. His murshid was Hazrat Syed Waris Ali Shah.

Below, Mehmood ul Hassan Ashrafi performs naat, with hints of Atulprasad, or perhaps an old English madrigal (with techno echo effects).

न करो जुदा खुदारा मुझे अपने आस्ताँ से
नहीं है फिर ठिकाना जो उठा दिया यहाँ से

Send not me away Lord, from Thy haven, thus I pray
No home be mine 'ere again, if from here I stray

मुझे ख़ाक में मिला कर मेरी ख़ाक भी उड़ा दे
तेरे नाम पर मिटा हूँ मुझे क्या गरज़ निशां से

Grind Thou me into ash, then that ash blow away
Erased I me on Thy name, need tomb nor display

यही मेरी सजदा रेज़ी, यही मेरी बंदगी है 
मैं ज़रा लिपट के रो लूँ तेरे संग-ए-आस्ताँ से

Such be my supplication, and such be how I pray
May I cling crying yet, to Thine stone-haven, yea 

कोई क़ाश जा के कह दे, उस अरब मेहरबाँ से 
तेरे ग़म में या मुहम्मद कोई जा रहा है जाँ से 

If only someone could, to that kind-soul Arab say
In thy sorrow, Muhammad, here's one that pines away

ज़रा ठहर जा मुअज़्ज़ाँ मेरा दिल लरज़ रहा है 
कहीं काबा झुक न जाए  तेरे मस्त-ए-अज़ाँ से 

Pause yet, O Muezzin, aquiver my heart is set 
Lest Kaaba 'self be sway'd, by thy sweet call to pray

तू हज़ार बार ठुकरा मेरा सर यहीं झुकेगा 
मेरे सर को है मुहब्बत तेरे संग-ए-आस्ताँ से 

Turn me away a thousand, bow here still will I
'Tis love of Thy stone-haven, that my head doth sway

मेरी बेक़सी का आलम कोई उनके दिल से पूछे 
मेरी तरह लूट गया हो जो बिछड़ के कारवाँ से 

Helpless my universe, of it ask the heart of one
Who alike was robbed, from caravan stepping away

न इधर कि पर्दा न केवल पर्दा दारयाँ हूँ
मेरी दुख भरी कहानी जो सुने मेरी ज़बां से

No curtain spread here, behind no purdah I hide
My tale of sorrow, hearken this tongue doth say

इसी ख़ाक आस्ताँ में किसी दिन फ़ना भी होगा
कि बना हुआ है बेदम इसी ख़ाक-ए-आस्ताँ से |

In this haven of ashes, some day erasure'll come
Breath-bereft (Bedam) was made, from ash-haven purvey.

Another version, a livelier romp, by the inimitable Amir Rafiq Murkiyanwale Qawwal & Party.

Bedam - literally, Breathless -  forbade his followers to keep biographical detail on himself; what is remembered is that he was consulted by most of the great poets of the turn of the century - Pir Mehr Ali Shah, Khwaja Ghulam Fareed, Hazrat Hasan Nizami  - this last Sufi said about Bedam Shah's work - Hast Irfan dar Zabaan-e-Purbi, i.e. Here is Irfan in the Purbi tongue. In Islam, ‘Irfān (literally ‘knowing, awareness’) is gnosis. Bedam Shah passed away in 1936. Note the slyness of the maqta - the last couplet - above. The word Fna in Arabic means end, erasure, passing-away; the Sufi reads it as the end of the duality with his God, who is also immanent in the dust and ash, beyond breath.

Bedam Shah's Purbi qalam is a mix of Rekhta/Urdu idiom and the village tradition that provided sibstrate to Indian Sufi poetry. The syncretic nature of the qalam led Bedam Shah Warsi to be given the title of 'Khusrau-e-Saani' - the Second Khusrau. His Naatiya work, such as the one above, departs from the Persianate classical Naat of Jami, and brings to the genre a certain simple directness - as he himself says - a 'bheeni bheeni khushboo', a redolent fragrance - of the Ganga-Jumna-Gomti.

इसी ख़ाक आस्ताँ में किसी दिन फ़ना भी होगा
कि बना हुआ है बेदम इसी ख़ाक-ए-आस्ताँ से |