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.

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