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 ।

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