The Indus raga: From Bulleh Ki Jana Mein Kon to Tarrin Paunda

BY NADEEM F. PARACHA

The Indus is one of the oldest and longest rivers in Asia. Though it originated in the Tibetan Plateau in China, much of it flows across Pakistan.

Over the centuries, a wide variety of cultures, languages and religions have sprung up on both sides of the Indus.

Five thousand years from the moment the first major civilisation emerged along the Indus, till the creation of Pakistan in 1947, various religions and cultures have thrived here: Animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam. Each of these religions were indigenised.

Even though Islam has become the major faith along the Indus in the last 500 years, the dynamic history of the region has kept cultures largely heterogeneous and varied. A commonality was not attempted on the basis of a homogenous or monolithic idea of faith and culture here.

Rather those preaching Islam in the region — especially from the 12th century onward — absorbed existing cultural traditions that had evolved for thousands of years along the river, and, in turn, expressed them through the more esoteric strands of Islam (Sufism).

Historically, the strand of Sufism which emerged on the banks of Indus (especially in Punjab and all the way across Sindh), consciously eschewed religious orthodoxy and, at times, even rebelled against it.

The poetry and music that emerged from Sufi circles along the river is therefore largely a result of the theological, political and social tensions between Sufis and the orthodox ulema and clerics.

This is still the case, as we shall see while reviewing a series of songs related to the historical Sufi tradition along the Indus.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1253300/the-indus-raga-from-bulleh-ki-jana-mein-kon-to-tarrin-paunda

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