Category Archives: Poetry

‘A Complaint’

Poetry by Hassan Dars

Translated from Sindhi by Mohammed Hanif and Gobind Menghwar.

You do not have the time
To feel with your own hands
The sharp edge of history’s sword
You curse love itself,
You mock it
You do not even know
The love they give you
You don’t know the assassins’ intent
You haven’t met their new generations
Their daggers’ thirst
Unquenchable
I swear by the martyrs of Makli
Time is the lost ring of an unknown soldier
That can fit around the finger of any thief
Now you are walking into the circus with them!
Our rope is broken midway
We have fallen into the open jaws of crocodiles.
While we lie here buried deep in our defeat
You are in the midst of their victory feast!
I wish you’d remember your land
I wish you’d remember your country
Your street

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Sindh: German philologist Ernest Trump gets Latif Award 150 years after compiling Shah jo Risalo

trumpp
Ernest Trump

HYDERABAD: For the first time since the inception of the country, the Sindh culture department has posthumously honoured with Latif Award, German philologist Ernest Trumpp who was the first to compile Shah jo Risalo in 1866 and write a book on Sindhi grammar.

Sindh Minister for Food Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, who gave away awards to writers, artists and others for best performance in their respective fields on the third day of the 273rd Urs celebrations of great [Secular] Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai at Cultural Centre in Bhitshah on Friday, said that Sindh Minister for Culture Syed Sardar Ali Shah would travel to Germany to present the award to the late scholar’s family.

Ernest Trumpp, a German philologist (March 13, 1828 –April 5, 1885), was sent to pre-partitioned India in 1854 as a missionary by the Ecclesiastical Mission Society to study languages of India and prepare their grammars for use by Christian missionaries. He authored during his stay in India the first book on Sindhi grammar and compiled Shah Jo Risalo in 1866 A.D. Trumpp named his compilation Diwan when he edited and had it published in Leipzig, Germany.

Sindh Minister for Culture Syed Sardar Ali Shah said that either he would travel to Germany or the late scholar’s family would be invited to Sindh after the German consulate traced them.

“Trumpp compiled the poetry and took it to Germany with him where he got it published. He then brought it back in book form to Sindh. The original Shah jo Risalo is preserved at the Cultural Centre in Bhitshah,” he said.

The minister said that he would meet German consul general to decide the modalities of the visit. In fact, he said, German consul general was to attend the 273rd Urs celebrations but he did not get security clearance on account of Shah Noorani terrorist incident. The naming of Excellence Centre in Bhitshah after H.T. Sorley was a tribute to the scholar’s service as Bhita’s was interpreter, he said.

Read more >> DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1297219/german-philologist-gets-latif-award-150-years-after-compiling-shah-jo-risalo

Sur Saamoondi

Translation and Transcription by Emily Hauze

لاهيان جي نه چِتان، الا! اُن مَ وِسران
مَڙهيو مَنجهارن، جيءُ منهنجو جن سين
شاهه عبدالطيف ڀٽائي

In romanized Sindhi:

Laahiyaan jay na chitaan, alla! un ma wisraan,
Marrhiyo manjharan, jeeu muhinjo jin seen.
~ Secular Sindhi Soofi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689 – 1752)
Sur Saamoondi

“O Heavens! His heart and mine from within are entwined;
Let me abide in his mind; if forgotten, I die.”

—-
Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai: from “Sur Samoondi”
in my translation.
—-

An explanation for those who do not know the context: “Sur Samundi” is the chapter in which Shah Latif writes from the perspective of young women whose husbands are sailors. They wait in anxiety, love, and hope, while their men are at sea, and they pray to be reunited. For Shah Latif, reunion with the husband equates to reunion with the Beloved (God), for which the Sufi soul is eternally longing.

Courtesy: Emily Hauze + Social media
https://www.facebook.com/emily.hauze/media_set?set=a.10206112358000488.1073741949.1608960197&type=3

SHAH ABDUL LATIF BHITAI – Poet of profound inspiration

By Sada Hayat Jalbani

Through out centuries and millennia, poets and prophets have preached love, as it is the strongest binding force in the universe. Shah Abdul Latif of Bhit Shah, Sindh, belongs to this galaxy of the great. His ancestors came to this beautiful part of the world from Herat, a city in the northern Afghanistan near the Iran border. His great grandfather Shah Abdul Karim of Bulri and his father Shah Habib, too, were poets of tremendous repute.
Shah Abdul Latif was born in 1689, about 73 years after the death of Shakespeare. The similarity between the two supreme poets of the world is that both had nothing behind them except their natural genius. It is rightly said that poets are born, not made.

Read more » TheDailyStar
See more » http://www.thedailystar.net/news/poet-of-profound-inspiration

A poem by Hafiz, the Sufi Poet:

 

Light will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage.

Little by little, You will turn into stars.
Little by little, You will turn into
The Whole sweet amorous universe.

Love will surely burst you wide open
Into an unfettered, booming new galaxy.

You will become so free
In a wonderful, secret
And pure love that flows
From a conscious, one-pointed, Infinite light.

Even then, my dear, the Beloved will have fulfilled
Just a fraction, Just a fraction!!!
Of a promise He wrote upon your heart.

For a Divine seed, the crown of Destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to!!!

O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.

When your soul begins
To ever bloom and laugh
And spin in Eternal Ecstasy –

O little by little, You will turn into God…

Courtesy: Social media

POET FATIMAH ASGHAR SPEAKS ABOUT SURVIVAL, LANGUAGE, AND DIASPORA

by Amy Lam

Fatimah Asghar’s poetry is brutally beautiful. Her stanzas are heavy with pain yet buoyant with light. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Pakistani and Kashmiri immigrants, Asghar now resides in Chicago and is a poet and performer whose work leaves you reeling and repeating lines to yourself the same way you memorize lyrics to a favorite song. Is it possible to read her poem “Pluto Shits on the Universe” and not utter to yourself, “I chaos like a motherfucker”? That singular line can also describe the energy of Asghar’s work, as she tries to make sense of the chaos in our own histories of diaspora, place, belonging, and language.

Asghar talked to us about her first chapbook released earlier this month. After, published by Yes Yes Books, is a collection of poetry that explores the aftermath of violence in a relationship. The book is unforgiving in its honesty in examining desire, anger, and power.

Read more » Bitch Media
See more » https://bitchmedia.org/article/fatimah-asghar-poetry-collection-after

Pakistani poet’s message to India – Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle

by :kamayani

As basks under the glory of unchecked hate-crimes, it is time to remember the lines of Pakistani female poet Fahmida Riaz, who warned about such scenario long ago. The video of Fahmida Riaz herself reciting this poem can be seen below:

तुम बिल्कुल हम जैसे निकले

तुम बिल्कुल हम जैसे निकले
अब तक कहां छुपे थे भाई?
वह मूरखता, वह घामड़पन
जिसमें हमने सदी गंवाई
आखिर पहुंची द्वार तुम्हारे
अरे बधाई, बहुत बधाई

भूत धरम का नाच रहा है
कायम हिन्दू राज करोगे?
सारे उल्टे काज करोगे?
अपना चमन नाराज करोगे?
तुम भी बैठे करोगे सोचा,
पूरी है वैसी तैयारी,

कौन है हिन्दू कौन नहीं है
तुम भी करोगे फतवे जारी
वहां भी मुश्किल होगा जीना
दांतो आ जाएगा पसीना
जैसे-तैसे कटा करेगी

वहां भी सबकी सांस घुटेगी
माथे पर सिंदूर की रेखा
कुछ भी नहीं पड़ोस से सीखा!
क्या हमने दुर्दशा बनायी
कुछ भी तुमको नज़र न आयी?

भाड़ में जाये शिक्षा-विक्षा,
अब जाहिलपन के गुन गाना,
आगे गड्ढा है यह मत देखो
वापस लाओ गया जमाना

हम जिन पर रोया करते थे
तुम ने भी वह बात अब की है
बहुत मलाल है हमको, लेकिन
हा हा हा हा हो हो ही ही
कल दुख से सोचा करती थी

सोच के बहुत हँसी आज आयी
तुम बिल्कुल हम जैसे निकले
हम दो कौम नहीं थे भाई
मश्क करो तुम, आ जाएगा
उल्टे पांवों चलते जाना,
दूजा ध्यान न मन में आए

बस पीछे ही नज़र जमाना
एक जाप-सा करते जाओ,
बारम्बार यह ही दोहराओ
कितना वीर महान था भारत!
कैसा आलीशान था भारत!

फिर तुम लोग पहुंच जाओगे
बस परलोक पहुंच जाओगे!
हम तो हैं पहले से वहां पर,
तुम भी समय निकालते रहना,
अब जिस नरक में जाओ, वहां से
चिट्ठी-विट्ठी डालते रहना!

English translation by Shabana Mir:

Continue reading Pakistani poet’s message to India – Tum bilkul hum jaise nikle

Celebrations of renowned mystic poet Baba Bulleh Shah’s Urs have started in Kasur.

Na maen momin vich maseet aan, Na maen vich kufar diyan reet aan, Na maen paakaan vich paleet aan
Na maen moosa na pharaun. Bulleh! ki jaana maen kaun

Not a believer inside the mosque, am I, Nor a pagan disciple of false rites, Not the pure amongst the impure, Neither Moses, nor the Pharoh. Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Na maen andar ved kitaab aan, Na vich bhangaan na sharaab aan, Na vich rindaan masat kharaab aan, Na vich jaagan na vich saun. Bulleh! ki jaana maen kaun.

Not in the holy Vedas, am I, Nor in opium, neither in wine, Not in the drunkard`s craze, Niether awake, nor in a sleeping daze. Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Na vich shaadi na ghamnaaki, Na maen vich paleeti paaki, Na maen aabi na maen khaki, Na maen aatish na maen paun. Bulleh!, ki jaana maen kaun

In happiness nor in sorrow, am I, Neither clean, nor a filthy mire, Not from water, nor from earth, Neither fire, nor from air, is my birth. Bulleh! to me, I am not known.

Na maen arabi na lahori, Na maen hindi shehar nagauri, Na hindu na turak peshawri, Na maen rehnda vich nadaun. Bulla, ki jaana maen kaun.

Not an Arab, nor Lahori, Neither Hindi, nor Nagauri, Hindu, Turk (Muslim), nor Peshawari, Nor do I live in Nadaun. Bulleh! to me, I am not known.

Na maen bheth mazhab da paaya, Ne maen aadam havva jaaya, Na maen apna naam dharaaya, Na vich baitthan na vich bhaun. Bulleh , ki jaana maen kaun

Secrets of religion, I have not known, From Adam and Eve, I am not born, I am not the name I assume, Not in stillness, nor on the move. Bulleh! to me, I am not known.

Avval aakhir aap nu jaana, Na koi dooja hor pehchaana, Maethon hor na koi siyaana, Bulla! ooh khadda hai kaun. Bulla, ki jaana maen kaun.

I am the first, I am the last, None other, have I ever known, I am the wisest of them all, Bulleh! do I stand alone? Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Courtesy: YouTube + Geo News

Pandit Ravi Shankar – “Today, World Came to Standstill! Today, Many Hearts Missed a Beat!”

By Dr. Ahmed H. Makhdoom

Today, the Sun did not rise! Today, the Moon too went mourning! Today, the stars ceased to twinkle! Today, Maestro who refurbished with longing and yearning the souls of the seekers of Truth has passed away! Pandit Ravi Shankar jee has reinvented and rejuvenated Raaggu Sindhi Bhairvee.

اَڄُ نَہ اوطاقُن ۾؍ سي طالِبَ تَنواريِن؍

(شاھُ ڀِٽاٸيؒ)

“Acju na otaaqun mein, sei taliba tanwaareen”

(Shah Bhittai)

“Alas! Worthy devotees found not in courtyards today”

(Shah Bhittai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)

Such GREATS are born once in a lifetime! All lovers of Raaggs and Kalaams and Classical music will forever miss the MAGIC of Maestro Ravi Shankar. May His Soul Rest in Eternal Peace!

Sitar is an instrument which really perplexes most Westerners. Using this musical instrumeny, Ravi Shankar helped connect the world through music. The sitar virtuoso hobnobbed with the Beatles, became a hippie musical icon and spearheaded the first rock benefit concert as he introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over nearly a century.

پريمَ اَکَرُ پاڙھي؍ سَتِ گُرَ مَنُ سِيتَل ڪَيو؍ (ساميِ)

“Preima akharu paarrhei, SatiGura manu seetal kayo” (Saamee)

“Taught me lessons of love assiduously,

True Master enlightened my soul graciously”

(Saamee Chanrai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)

Ravi Shankar was the legendary Indian instrument ‘sitar’ maestro and composer. He was most esteemed musical Ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West.

“Ravi Shankar has brought me a precious gift and through him I have added a new dimension to my experience of music. To me, his genius and his humanity can only be compared to that of Mozart’s.” (Yehudi Menuhin)

Listen and be enamoured, enriched and enlightened by the super rendition of Sindhi Bhairavee by the great Maestro here….

Pandit Ravi Shankar jee was always ahead of his time. He has written three concertos for sitar and orchestra, last one of which in 2008. He has also authored violin-sitar compositions for the world renowned Maestro, Yehudi Menuhin and himself, music for flute virtuoso Jean Pierre Rampal, music for Hosan Yamamoto, master of the Shakuhachi and Musumi Miyashita – Koto virtuoso, and has collaborated with Phillip Glass (Passages).

آديسي اُٿي ويا؍ مَڑھيۇن مۇن ماريِن؍

(شاھُ ڀِٽاٸيؒ)

“Aadeisee uthee wayaa, marrhiyuun muun mareen”

(Shah Bhittai)

“Noble disciples gone forever, their solemn absence does slay”

(Shah Bhittai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)

As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, he has done more for music than any other musician. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. This however, he did only after long years of dedicated study under his illustrious guru Baba Allaudin Khan and after making a name for himself in India.

Always ahead of his time, Ravi Shankar has written three concertos for sitar and orchestra, last one of which in 2008. He has also authored violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and himself, music for flute virtuoso Jean Pierre Rampal, music for Hosan Yamamoto, master of the Shakuhachi and Musumi Miyashita – Koto virtuoso, and has collaborated with Phillip Glass (Passages).

اَڄُ پڻ اُتَرَ پارَ ڏي، ڪارا ڪَڪَرَ ڪيسَ؛

(شاهه ڀٽائيؒ)

“Acju pinnu utara paara ddei, kaaraa kakara keisa”

(Shah Bhittai)

“Gloom ‘n darkness here ‘n there abound , today as well;

Black murky clouds on Northerly horizon, today as well.”

(Shah Bhittai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)

Ravi Shankar is an honourary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is a member of the United Nations International Rostrum of composers. He has received many awards and honours from his own country and from all over the world, including fourteen doctorates, the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan, Desikottam,Padma Bhushan of 1967, the Music Council UNESCO award 1975, the Magsaysay Award from Manila, two Grammy’s, the Fukuoka grand Prize from Japan, the Polar Music Prize of 1998, the Crystal award from Davos, with the title ‘Global Ambassador’ to name some.

In 1986 Ravi Shankar was nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of Parliament.

Deeply moved by the plight of more than eight million refugees who came to India during the Bangla Desh Freedom struggle from Pakistan, Ravi Shankar wanted to help in any way he could. He planned to arrange a concert to collect money for the refugees. He approached his dear friend George to help him raise money for this cause.

This humanitarian concern from Ravi Shankar sowed the seed of the concept for the Concert for Bangla Desh. With the help of George Harrison, this concert became the first magnus effort in fund raising, paving the way for many others to do charity concerts.

ھۇجي جيٸَ کي جياريِن؍ سي لاھۇتي لَڏي ويا؍

(شاھُ ڀِٽاٸيؒ)

“Huu jei jeeya khei jiyaareen, sei laahuutee laddei wayaa.”

(Shah Bhittai)

“Filial ones nourished our souls, no more in motherland stay.”

(Shah Bhittai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)

His recording “Tana Mana”, released on the private Music label in 1987, brought Mr. Shankar’s music into the “New age” with its unique method of combining traditional instruments with electronics.

He has been described as the ‘National Treasure of Sub-continent” by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. There is never going to be another Maestro Ravi Shankar! A supreme legend, he was far above each and every legend in the field of arts, music and entertainment. And, there is never going to be another 12.12.12 – that day in History when the Master Sitarist breathed his last at the age of 92 years.

جي ساہ سنڀارَ، سي اَڄ

جن جي ساہ سنڀارَ، سي اَڄ پَنھوارَ پَري ٿِيا،

(سَچَلُ سَرمَست، سُر مارئي، ۱داستان پهريون)

“Jani jee saaha sanbhaara, sei acju panwhaaraparei thiyaa”

(Sachalu Sarmastu, suru Maaruee, daastaanu Pahriyon)

“Those beloveds in my soul preserved, alas! Away today afar they parted!”

(Sachal Sarmast, Melody of Marui, 1 Ch.1: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)

This is my humble tribute to the Guru who blessed the souls of many all over the world with his remarkable music and compositions. In grief and mourning.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, December 12, 2012.

A prominent Sindh-Dost writer Professor Afaq Siddiqui passes away

KARACHI: Sindh’s prominent poet, writer and researcher, Professor Afaq Siddiqui passed away in Karachi, Sindh on Sunday, June 17, 2012. He was 86.

The immigrants who came from India to Sindh, unfortunately they didn’t accept or adopt Sindhi language and Sindh’s evergreen secular culture of love, peace, tolerance and communal harmony. However, there were many who accepted Sindhi language, culture, and values, And, Sindh loves them, accept them and embrace them as her own children! One such great immigrant was Professor Afaq Siddiqui. His work was highly appreciated all over Sindh. He received more than 60 International awards. Amongst the various awards that he received, one is the Pride of Performance and the other is Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai Excellence Award, which is the highest award of Sindh. He merged himself in the secular Sufi culture of Sindh. He was a prominent Sindh Dost researcher, poet and writer. Professor Siddiqui wrote 40 books, 18 of which are in Sindhi. He also translated “Shah Jo Rasalao”. Sindh & Sindhis are truly indebted to this proud son of Sindh and to other Urdu speaking Sindhis who made Sindh their home.

Professor Siddiqui was born in 1928 in a house of a police officer in India. He migrated to Sindh after partition of the sub-continent. “He will be laid to rest in Sakhi Hassan graveyard in Karachi Sindh.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, + facebook and internet.

Secular Sindhi Sufi (mystic) poet of peace, Shah Abdul Latif

When the world was still to be born
When Adam was still to receive his form
Then my relationship began
When I heard the Lord’s Voice
A voice sweet and clear
I said “Yes” with all my heart
And Formed a bond with the land (Sindh) I love
When all of us were one, My bond then began.
Secular Sufi (mystic) poet of peace, Shah Abdul Latif ( 1689 – 1752 )

Bulleh Shah, the great Seraiki poet

Comment by: Manzoor Chandio

Bulleh Shah, the great Seraiki poet, was a contemporary of Sindhi Sufi poet Shah Lateef … Bulleh Shah was born in Uch Sharif in Bahalwapur and is buried in Kasur where he had moved with his father … though he was a contemporary of Shah Latif, his thoughts could be compared with Sufi Secular poet Sachal Sarmast … both Bulleh Shah and Sachal Saieen openly opposed orthodoxy … Secular Sufi poet Sachal was a direct descendent of Caliph Umer Farooq, but he never took pride in his ancestry …. his forefathers had moved to Sindh with Mohammed bin Qasim…. Bulleh Shah’s family “claimed to be direct descent from Prophet Muhammad” (peace be upon him)…. in this video Sarangi Maestro and Sufi Fakir Lakho Manganhar of Rajasthan, India, is singing Bulleh Shah ….

Courtesy: adopted from facebook

Sarkash Sindhi Passes away

Ratodero, Sindh: Noted Sindhi poet Sarkash Sindhi passed away on Monday 5th March 2012. He was 70. Sarkash Sindhi wrote 11 books. He was controversial Sindhi poet due to his radical poetry. Sarkash Sindhi was hospitalized due to the complications of cancer but today he has passes away.

To read more about him » BBC urdu

Remembering Shaikh Ayaz – “They wanted to take me to “chita” but the rain fall occurred in “shamshan”

2nd March is a birthday and December 28 is a Anniversary of Sindh’s legendary poet Shaikh Ayaz (2 March 1923- 28 December 1997). He was one of the greatest Sindhi poets of 20th century. He was born in Shikarpur Sindh. Ayaz’s critics, friends and contemporaries have agreed that through his poetry, he introduced new trends in Sindhi language and he also revolutionized many aspects of Sindhi poetry. His 46 collections of poetry, short stories, essays, diaries and the translation of Shah Jo Risalo into Urdu, continue to inspire not only literary circles but also common people of the region. Due to his poetry and writings, he had put behind the bars from 1965 to 1968 by military dictator Ayoub Khan and again was behind the bars from May 1971 to January 1972 by military dictator Yahya Khan, in Sukkur Jail in the punishment of opposing the brutal military operation and genocide of Bengalis.

He was friend of Sindh nationalist leader G.M. Syed, who was actually one of the founders of Pakistan but unfortunately he had treated by the authoritarian authorities of Pakistan as traitor and he put under house arrest and his house was declared a sub-jail. He was declared “Prisoner of Conscience” by Amnesty International. He had been detained without trial until his death.

Shaikh Ayaz also fought against military dictator Ayoub with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then prime minister of Pakistan was hanged by another military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq and his two sons Shahnawaz Bhutto, Mir Murtaza Bhutto and daughter Benazir Bhutto, twice prime minister of Pakistan was assassinated on 27 December 2007 in garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Recently, Banladesh’s democratically elected government has decided to confer the highest Bangladesh National award to Shaikh Ayaz.

”Shaikh Ayaz’s work is spontaneous, objective, powerful and effective . He wrote verses on every such topic that was disliked intensely by  military establishment. He was incarcerated many times for his writings and even he was sentenced as traitor, but escaped gallows due to the sudden change of government.” Shaikh Ayaz proved that all miracles in history was done by common people; through his poetry he has strengthen our faith in human potentials to collaborate in reaching towards global community. A united world along prosper Sindh. Following is lyrical translation of  Sheikh Ayaz’s peom in Hindi;

Poornimaasi Poori Ganga, Thandi Thandi Hawa,
Ghoom Raha he Tagore Kinary pe, Mehki He Hawa

Kawi, Ham ne Parnaam Kiya, Choom ke tumhary Paer (feet),
Kawi dekh rahy ho, Kuljag laaya Ham pe kitnay Andher

Kawi Dekhay hain ham ne tumhary peechy kitnay Kaloor
Sach Sooli Pe Latkaya gaya, Khamosh Raha Mansoor!

–  Sheikh Ayaz’s

Go not – by Rabindranath Tagore

Go not to the temple to put flowers upon the feet of God,
First fill your own house with the Fragrance of love…

Go not to the temple to light candles before the altar of God,
First remove the darkness of sin from your own heart…

Go not to the temple to bow down your head in prayer,
First learn to bow in humility before your fellowmen…

Go not to the temple to pray on bended knees,
First bend down to lift someone who is down-trodden. ..

Go not to the temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins,
First forgive from your heart those who have sinned against you.

Ghalib’s unique strand of Sufism – Dr Mohammad Taqi

If anything, the wine of adoration may actually have enhanced Ghalib’s description of those mystic themes of Love Divine. February 15th marks the 142nd death anniversary of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

“Ghalib, you write so well upon these mystic themes of Love Divine,

We would have counted you a saint, but that we knew of your love of wine.”

Professors Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Islam narrate from Altaf Hussain Hali’s Yadgar-e-Ghalib (Memoir of Ghalib) that when King Bahadur Shah Zafar heard Ghalib recite the above ghazal, he commented, “No, my friend, even so we should never have counted you a saint.” Ghalib retorted, “Your Majesty counts me one even now, and only speaks like this lest my sainthood should go to my head.”

That 19th century connoisseur of wine — and mysticism — continues to fare quite well even today. Several biographies of Ghalib and translations and commentaries on his works have appeared in the past decade like the 2003 volume by Professors Russell and Islam titled The Oxford India Ghalib: Life, Letters and Ghazals preceded by Natalia Prigarina’s Mirza Ghalib: A Creative Biography in 2000.

A few weeks ago in India, Justice Markandey Katju suggested that Ghalib be awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously and the writer-activist Asghar Ali Engineer started a signature campaign towards that goal. The suggestion and the campaign became mired in a controversy, which is beyond our scope here. What really caught my attention was Mr Engineer’s apt comment that besides, and in, his literary contribution, Ghalib “was a follower of what is known as Wahdat al-Wujudi school of Sufism, which is most liberal school among sufis” and his entire poetry is representative of this liberal, humanistic and all-embracing ethos.

Work on Ghalib’s poetry, letters and life had started in his lifetime, with his close friends and disciples meticulously archiving the relevant materials. Ghalib’s biographers from Hali to Russell, and his aficionados — Ghalib Shanasan — have all acknowledged his mystic aptitude if not outright mysticism. In biographical sketches his doctrinal inclinations too have been recorded. But while the masters writing on and about Ghalib have elaborated on his ostensibly sectarian persuasion and journeys in Sufism, a particular strand of Sufism that is unique to Ghalib has gone unnoticed. And interestingly this is something that has been hiding not just in plain sight but announced with pride by Ghalib himself.

Commenting on Ghalib’s faith, Russell and Islam, again on Hali’s authority, report that his antecedents were Sunni Muslim but at some point in his life he became either a Shia or at least sympathetic to the Shias. Hali himself notes that Ghalib may have been a Tafzeeli — someone who exaggerates in praising Hazrat Ali Murtaza (RA). Other scholars like Sufi Tabassum have made similar observations. This perhaps does not even begin to define Ghalib’s creed, which he had himself expressed both in verse and prose.

For all practical purposes Ghalib was not a religious man and had nothing to do with religious orthodoxies. For example, while his letters provide a great montage of almost all his life, there is remarkably no mention of him having participated in any Twelver Shia ritual at all. The anecdotes about his wine consumption and not observing fast or prayer rituals have, of course, been part of literary lore. Within the 19th century orthodox Muslim society, Ghalib remained an arch unorthodox.

Sufism and its intricacies are not my forte nor do I wish to venture where the greats like Malik Ram and Maulana Ghulam Rasool Mehr had once held sway. I do want to draw the attention of the Ghalib scholars towards how within the realm of Sufism, Ghalib apportioned himself a niche that perhaps was neither explored before him nor expounded on after him. This may actually have to do with Ghalib’s well-known desire to remain above the crowd in all his temporal and, indeed, divine quests, thus remaining unorthodox even within the heterodox Sufism.

Hali’s memoir of Ghalib had carried, in its opening, a portrait of the poet captioned with a Persian verse of Ghalib. A similar sketch, along with the same verse, adorns Russell and Islam’s aforementioned work. The Urdu journal Nuqoosh had also opened its Ghalib edition with the same lines, which say:

“Ghalib-e-naam-awaram, naam-o-nishanam ma-purs,

hum Asadullahem-o-hum Asadullahi-em.”

(I am the renowned Ghalib; do not ask of my name and fame/I am both Asadullah and Asadullah’s man.)

Russell and Islam explain it as: “My name is Asadullah and my allegiance is to Asadullah, ‘the Lion of God’ — a title of Ali (RA), a cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and the object of Ghalib’s special reverence.” But translating Asadullahi as mere allegiance is quite exoteric and does not do justice to the verse and the nuanced thought therein. On many occasions in his letters Ghalib refers to being the servant of Ali (RA), saying, for example, “Ali ka bandah hoon, uss ki kasam jhoot naheeN khata” (I am the retainer of my lord Ali [RA] and do not swear by his name in vain).

The God-man relationship in the sufi realm, of course, has many dimensions. The fundamental one is that of Lord (rabb) and His servant (abd), and the more sublime and complex one is an inimitable and divine intimacy (wasl) with the Creator (dhat). Reading Ghalib’s above quoted Persian verse, and other Urdu and Persian verses, and parts of his prose together suggest that the intended esoteric meaning of Asadullahi is not as limited as Russell et al had noted — perhaps Ghalib was pushing the envelope.

Ghalib himself leads us into the second and related dimension of his sufi realm in another Persian verse, saying:

“Mansoor-e-firqah-e-Ali-allahiyan manem,

Awaza-e-anaa Asadullah der afganem.”

Translation: (If) there is a sect of those saying Ali [RA] is our lord, (then) I am their Mansoor, For I chant that I am the (lord) Asadullah.

Mansoor al-Hallaj’s claim and fame in mysticism are self-explanatory. But by drawing a parallel between Mansoor and God on the one hand and himself and Asadullah Ali on the other, via equating an-al-Haq and anaa Asadullah, Ghalib appears to have let us in on the crux of his Wahdat al-Wujudi philosophy, and more. In his declaration ‘I am Asadullah’ and thereby the annihilation into Ali, Ghalib distinguishes himself not just from the ordinary crowd but also his strand of Sufism from other sufis and sufi orders.

If anything, the wine of adoration may actually have enhanced Ghalib’s description of those mystic themes of Love Divine. February 15th marks the 142nd death anniversary of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib.

(Versified translations from Professors Ralph Russell and Khurshidul Islam.)

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com. He tweets at http://twitter.com/mazdaki

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20122\16\story_16-2-2012_pg3_2#.Tz0GpQOz204.twitter

Shaheed Rani; Remembering Benazir Bhutto

BibiBy Omar Ali

Hasan Mujtaba’s famous poem on the occasion is an absolute classic. I have translated it with his approval (I have taken some poetic license at places, and I am not a poet… so beware):

How many Bhuttos will you kill?

A Bhutto will emerge from every home!

This lament is heard in every house

These tears seen in every dwelling place

These eyes stare in the endless desert

This slogan echoes in every field of death

These stars scatter like a million stones

Flung by the moon that rises so bright tonight

How many Bhuttos will you kill?

A Bhutto will emerge from every home!

The one you killed is now fragrance in the air

How will you ever block its path?

The one you killed is now a spell

That is cast upon your evil head

Every prison and every lock

Will now be opened with this key

She has become the howling wind

That haunts the courtyards of this land

She has come to eternal life by dying

You are dead even while being alive

How many Bhuttos will you kill?

A Bhutto will emerge from every home!

You men in Khaki uniforms

You dark and long bearded souls

You may be blue or green or red

You may be white, you may be black

You are thieves and criminals, every one

You national bullies, you evil ones

Driven by self or owned by others

Nurtured by darkness in blackest night

While she has become the beauty that lives

In twilights last glimmers and the break of dawn

How many Bhuttos will you kill?

A Bhutto will emerge from every home!
She was the nightingale who sang for those who suffered

She was the scent of rain in the land of Thar

She was the laughter of happy children

She was the season of dancing with joy

She was a colorful peacock’s tail

While you, the dark night of robbers and thieves

How many Bhuttos will you kill?

A Bhutto will emerge from every home!

She was the sister of those who toil in the fields

The daughter of workers who work the mills

A prisoner of those with too much wealth

Of clever swindlers and hideous crooks

Of swaggering generals and vile betrayers

She was one solitary unarmed girl

Facing the court of evil kings

How many Bhuttos will you kill?

A Bhutto will emerge from every home!

She was the daughter of Punjab

Of Khyber and Bolan

She was the daughter of Sindh

Karbala of our time

She lay drenched in blood in Rawalpindi

Surrounded by guns and bullets and bombs

She was one solitary defenseless gazelle

Surrounded by packs of ruthless killers

O Time, tell the long lived trees of Chinar

This tyrant’s worse nightmare will come true one day

She shall return, she will be back

That dream will one day come alive

And rule again. And rule again.

How many Bhuttos will you kill?

A Bhutto will emerge from every home!

To read complete article, Shaheed Rani; Remembering Benazir Bhutto – By Omar Ali, Click HERE

Courtesy: Brown Pundits
http://www.brownpundits.com/2011/12/26/shaheed-rani-remembering-benazir-bhutto/

More details » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/urdu/2008/01/post_262.html