Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…

Archive for the ‘Amir Kusro’ Category

Kaahe ko byaahi bides ~ Khusrau


Weddings are not complete without the wedding songs in any community.
“Kaahe ko byahi bides” in Braj dialect by Amir Khusrau  is an extremely popular wedding song in the northern Indian subcontinent. There is hardly any wedding where this song is not sung by the women. Since these verses are passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth, every singer picks and chooses different stanzas and sometimes with variance in vocabulary in the verses. I have tried to collect the different verses, and there may still be other lesser known verses too. Shall appreciate if you will share if you have any different ones in the comment box.

It is a plea from a daughter to her father explaining how she is one of the dispensable objects from their household. Through metaphors, though seemingly simple, she makes a gut wrenching comparisons with herself.  Every stanza of the song merits a deep appreciation of that comparison in a different way.

 

Khwaja ji,
Sun li hamre jiyara ki peerh,

Ankhiyaan se bahe hai neer.

Khwaja  listen to the pain in my heart,
While from my eyes flow out tears. 

Kāhe  ko  byāhe  bides?  
Arre  lakhiyā`  bābul  more?  
Kāhe ko byāhe bides?  

Why did you marry me off to a alien land? 
O’my wealthy  father,
why did you part me from you?  

Hum to bābul torey, bele kī kaliyā`.  
Arre  ghar-ghar  mānge  hai`  jāye.
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides. 

 
We are just flower-buds from your garden,
Every household  asks for us.
O’my wealthy father,
Why did you part me from you?

Hum to bābul tore angan kī chiṛaiyā.
Arre chuge, piye, urr jāye.
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides.

We are just birds from your courtyard
We peck on food, drink and then fly away
O’my wealthy father
Why did you part me from you?  

Hum to bābul tore, khūte kī gayīyā`. 
Arre jid haanko hakjaaye.  
Areh  lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahi bides.

We are just your tethered cows,
we have to go wherever you drive (send) us.
O’ my wealthy father
Why did you part me from you? .

Tākh bhārī me`ne guṛiye` jo chhoṛī.
Arre  to chhoṛā  saheliyo`  kā sāth.  
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides. 

I’ve left at home alcoves full of dolls,
and parted from my childhood friends too. 
O’ my wealthy father
Why did you part me from you? 

Mehala`  tale  se  dolā  jo  nikalā.
Are  bīran  ne khaayi  pachhād.  
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides  

When my palanquin passed beneath the mansion, 
My brother fainted and fell. 
O’my wealthy father,
why did you part me from you? 

Doley ka parda utha ker jo dekha
Na babul na babul ka des reyy
Lakhi babul morey
Kaahe ko byaahe bides?

When I lifted the veil of the palanquin
There was neither father, nor fatherland,
O’my wealthy father
Why do you part me from you?

Bhaiyā ko diyo bābul mehala do mehale.
Areh  ham  ko  diyo  pardesh  re.  
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides

You gave, two-storied houses to my brother
And to me, you gave a foreign land.  
O’my wealthy father,
why did you part me from you? 

Ghar se tou kayila hum ke vida,
Arre Jiyara se na kariyo judaa,
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides

You are sending me away from home,
Separate me not from your heart,
O’my wealthy father,
why did you part me from you? 

Khusrau kehat hai`, Aiy merī lāado.  
Arre  dhan  dhan  bhāg  suhāg  re.  
Lakhiyā`  bābul  more
Kaahe ko byahe bides. 

Khusrau says, O my darling daughter –
May your marriage be blessed with everything.  
O my wealthy father,
why did you part me from you?

 

There are multiple classical and folk versions sung by countless singers. Few of my favorites are here:

 

 

A different and very interesting version I found is this sung by Habib Painter >

Waise tou dastoor hai ye purana,
Pii ki nagariya hai dulhan ko jaana
Kehtey  hain Nabi aur Khusrau ka kehna
Doley ka parda utha ker jo dekha
Aya paraya des reyy, ache babul more
Kaahe ko byaahi bides, ache babul more…

 

Kafir-e-Ishqam: Khusrau by Janki Bai (1880-1934)


 

کافر عشقم، مسلمانی مرا در کار نیست
ہر رگ من تار گشتہ، حاجت زُنار نیست
از سر بالین من برخیز ای نادان طبیب
دردمند عشق را دارو بہ جز دیدار نیست
ناخدا بر کشتی ما گر نباشد، گو مباش
ما خدا داریم ما را ناخدا در کار نیست
خلق می‌گوید کہ خسرو بت‌پرستی می‌کند
آری! آری! می‌کنم! با خلق ما را کار نیست

Kafir-e-ishqam musalmani mara darkaar neest
Har rag-e mun taar gashta hajat-e zunnaar neest;
Az sar-e baaleen-e mun bar khez ay naadaan tabeeb
Dard mand-e ishq ra daroo bajuz deedaar neest;
Nakhuda dar kashti-e maagar nabashad go mubaash
Makhuda daareem mara nakhuda darkaar neest;
Khalq mi goyad ki Khusrau but parasti mi kunad
Aarey aarey mi kunam ba khalq mara kaar neest.

Translation:

I am an infidel of love: the creed of Muslims I do not need;
Every vein of mine has become taunt like a wire,
the (Christian/Magian) girdle I do not need.
Leave my bedside, you ignorant physician!
The only cure for the patient of love is the sight of his beloved –
other than this, no medicine does he need.
If there be no pilot in our boat, let there be none:
We have God in our midst: the sea we do not need.
The people of the world say that Khusrau worships idols.
So he does, so he does; the world he does not need.

The singer: Janki Bai(1880-1934) was a celebrity singer of her times in Allahabad. She has 150 song records to her credit in the early years of gramophone. More about her here > http://scroll.in/article/729320/why-singer-jankibai-of-allahabad-was-always-associated-with-the-number-56

Another of her recording here:

 

 

 

Kheloongi Holi ( I shall play Holi)


Published in Express Tribune Blogs here > http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/33221/you-can-play-holi-too-even-if-you-are-muslim/

 

Phagwa, more commonly known as Holi, celebrated on the full moon day of Phalgun, is a festival that heralds the arrival of spring. Played with dry and wet color, it is a symbolic expression for the changing temperatures and the blossoming fields.

Since very young, on the morning of Holi, I saw my Muslim parents being called at the gates of our house in Delhi, by a group of faces immersed in colors, who all looked almost identical. As my parents walked out, they were enthusiastically smeared with color by the crowd, and they too lost their identity with crowd.  It left no clue as to who was who, when they roared together with laughter and excitement.  As we siblings grew up, we joined in too, with our set of friends.

Holi, as I envision it,  is a perfect way to depict a spirit of universal brotherhood beyond color, creed, caste or social status.

If  taken in it’s true spirits, Holi never was and never is meant to be a religious festival to be celebrated by a select faith.

Though, like other religious festivals, it too claims a legend with a victory of the good over the evil ( The Story of Holika). However, from the context of its current celebration, it is said to have begun by the love duo Krishna and Radha.
Krishna as a young boy, being extremely dark complexioned, complained to his mother Yashoda, why was he dark, while his beloved Radha fair?

The conversation between a complaining son, and  his doting mother,  is  narrated beautifully, in a famous folk song:

Yashomati mayya sey bole Nand Lala,
Radha kyun gori, main kyun kala?
Boli muskaati Mayya, Sun merey pyaare,
Gori gori Radhika ke, nain kajrare,
Kaale nainon waali ney, aisa jadu dala,
Tuu isee liye  kaala.

(Krishna asks mother Yashoda: “Why am I dark, while Radha is so fair?”
Mother  smiles and replies: “Listen my dear, the fair Radha’s kohl eyes have swept you with their magic, and hence are you so dark.)

And one day teasingly to console Krishna she is said to have told him: “What’s in a color? Go and smear Radha’s face with any color you like.”
And Krishna out of love for Radha, smeared her with red color( gulaal).

Legend claims that  thus began  the playing of colors ( Holi khelna), between Krishna and Radha along with her friends referred to as Gopis.

Their romance with playing Holi has been immortalized in many miniature painting s:
HoliRadhaKrishna1

Another one, with in Mughal art:
HoliRadhaKrishna2

Mughal Emperors  too fancied Holi, for its association with color and romance. They brought the practice of playing Holi to their courts and palaces.

Akber is no surprise, knowing his secular conviction and a Hindu Queen, Joda Bai.

Jehangir, the romantic art connoisseur, is documented to have played Holi with his Queen Noor Jehan in his palace and called it Eid-e-Gulabi. It isnt hard to imagine the ecstatic aroma and aura that must have been created in the palace by red gulaal,  rose petals ( gulab paashi) and   rose water (aab paashi) being sprinkled during the royal play.

Auranzeb’s fancy for the colors of Holi came as a surprise to me. Writes Lane Poole in biography Auranzeb: “During his time there used to be several groups of Holi singers who besides reciting libertine lyrics also indulged in salaciousness, accompanied by various musical instruments.”

Bahadur Shah Zafar’s verses on Holi now are sung as part of the phaag ( folk songs of Holi). One of the most sung verses being:

Kyo Mo Pe Rang Ki Maari Pichkaari
Dekho Kunwar Ji Doongi Mein Gaari
(Why drench me with color spray,
now my prince, I will swear at you)

Bahut Dinan Mein Haath Lage Ho Kaise Jane Doon
Aaj Phagwa To Son Ka Tha Peeth Pakad Kar Loon.
(
After long have you come in my hands, how will I let you go?
Today is Holi, and perfect time to catch hold of you)

This is Mughal Emperor Jehangir playing Holi in his palace:
HoliJehangir

Sufi poets too eulogized the Radha Krishna romance and Holi, when expressing their love for their revered Sufi Saints or even God.

To begin with  Sufi poets, it is Shah Niaz’s ‘s Hori Ho Rahi hai, (immortalized by Abida Parveen):

Holi hoye rahi hai Ahmad Jiya ke dwaar
Hazrat Ali ka rang bano hai Hassan Hussain khilaar
Aiso holi ki dhoom machi hai chahoon or pari hai pukaar
Aiso anokho chatur khiladi rang deeyon sansaar
“Niaz” pyaara bhar bhar chidke ek hi raang sahas pichkaar.

(Holi is happening at beloved, Ahmed’s (saww) doorsteps.
Color has become of Hazrat Ali (as) and Hasan (as), Hussain (as) are playing.
It has become such a bustling scene of Holi that it has become talk of the town,
people are calling others from all over,
What unique and clever players (Hasan and Hussain) that they colored the entire world.
Niaz (the poet) sprinkles bowlfuls of color all around,
the same color that comes out of thousands of pichkaaris ( spray guns).)
{Thanks to Ali Rehman @Baahirezaman for the translation}.

Bulleh Shah also played Holi with his Master:

Hori khailoongi keh kar Bismillah
Naam nabi ki rattan charhi, bond pari Illalah
Rang rangeli ohi khilawe, jo sakhi howe fana fi Allah

(I shall play Holi, beginning with the name of Allah.
The name of Prophet is enveloped with light,
He only makes us play with colors, who annihilates with Allah)

Amir Khusro  relates to  Holi through multiple fascinating ways, in various places. Khusrau refers  not just to the color, or the play but of  the birth place of Krishna Mathura in the famous Aaj Rung hai rey:

Gokal dekha, Mathra dekha,
par tosa na koi rang dekha
Ey main dhoond phiri hoon
Des bides mein dhoond phiri hoon,

Purab dekha pacham dekha
uttar dekha dakkan dekha
Re main dhoond phiri hoon
Des bides mein dhoond phiri hoon,

Tora rang man bhaayo Moinuddin
Mohe apne hi rang mein rang le Khwaja ji
Mohe rang basanti rang de Khwaja Ji
Mohe apne hi rang mein rang de

{In summary: I saw Gokul, Mathura ( bith place of Krishna) and even East to West I roamed, but I did not find anyone with a color like yours. My heart is enamored by your color, hence color me in your shade, my master.}

Another lesser know verse I came across is:

Khelooongi Holi, Khaaja ghar aaye,
Dhan dhan bhaag hamarey sajni,
Khaaja aaye aangan merey..
( I shall play Holi as Khaaja has come to my home,
Blessed is my fortune, O’ friend,
as Khaaja has come to my courtyard.)

Needless to repeat, there are ample such examples.  No matter how much one may attempt, it is impossible to separate the two inter-meshed   cultures coexistent for centuries in the subcontinent. These celebrations of culture are all about love and inclusion, and absolutely nothing about hate and discrimination.

Let’s celebrate then, with an open heart !

Holi pic

Here is the link to Amir Khusrau’s Kheloongi Holi, Khaaja ghar aaye:

Amir Khusrau, the disciple


Listening to the stories and anectodes of Mehboob-e-Ilahi( Beloved of God) was a norm as kids. A Mamoo, an ardent follower of Sufism, who lived in Jaipur was the source. If he ever happened to pass by Delhi, visit to the ‘Dargah’ was a mandatory.  And when in Delhi, he had to visit his sister too i.e. my mother.

He brought meethi kheels (sugar coated puffballs) every time he came from Dargah, and was ever willing to  narrate to us the stories of love  between  Mehbub-e-Ilahi and his favourite disciple.

On the other hand I saw my not so religious father’s( who also hailed from a Maulvi family) love for Amir Khusrau’s Persian poetry, and a tall tower of audio cassettes he had piled up next to his music system.

Honestly for years until early teens I did not know who Mehboob-e-Ilahi  or that disciple were and where the Dargah was. We never visited. All I knew, Ammi went with Mamoojan a few times.

Once , when during a story time, Mamoojan was corrected by my father, about a Persian verse by Amir Khusro, did I realise that there was a correlation.

“Such a great poet had a Pir?” was my instant jerky reaction. Pirs in my mental dictionary had a negative meaning and image.

Equally instant was my father’s reaction: “ Hazrat Nizamuddin was a great scholar, it’s the people later who made him a Pir, and now have opened a whole business in his name.”

Mamoojan just gave a slight smile, and as always drowned again in his love for Mehboob-e-Ilahi, continued the story.

It was then to reinforce the great bond that existed between Hazrat Nizamuddin and Amir Khusrau, did he tell of these incidents, which now I can quote with the Persian verses he might have mentioned.

Just to make it clear, most of the stories have been passed on as word of mouth, and hence I call them anectodes.

Anectode 1:
When Hazrat Nizamuddin passed away Amir Khusrau was away, in some other city, attending to the orders of a King. As he learnt of the sad news he rushed back and went straight to the  fresh grave of his master.There  he rolled in the mud and tore off his clothes in agony. Then came these words:

Gori sove sej par
mukh per dale kes
Chal Khusro ghar aapne,
rain (not saanjh) bhaee chahu des.
The lovely maiden lies  finally on a wreath of flowers,
her tresses covering her face, 
O Khusro, turn back home now,
dusk has set in all over.”

Amir Khusrau was never the same after his Pir’s death. And it was only in six months that Amir Khusrau also passed away.

He was, as per the desire of the disciple and  Pir both, buried close by. This is now known as a “chabootra-e-yaar’ ( the pedestal of friend).

One can see this as a raised platform with red sandstone carved fence, around the grave.

The Pir also reciprocated his disciple’s love and affection, and is believed to have remarked: “If shariyat would allow me, I would want Khusrau and I to be buried in the same grave.”

His followers believe that Hz Nizamuddin instructed that “Those who visit my grave should  first pay respect at Khusrau’s .”

Anectode 2:
Amir Khusrau was away for a royal trip.  A disciple of Hz Nizamuddin came to him asking for some  souvenir from his Pir. Since the Pir had nothing to offer, he asked the disciple to take away his slippers.
Incidentally, on the way the disciple and Amir Khusrau’s paths crossed each other. And Khusrau remarked:

Shaikh mi aayad, Bu-e Shaikh mi aayad”.
(I smell my master, I smell my master).

On knowing that the man had in possession the slippers of his Pir, Khusrau gave away all his wealth that he had on him and bought back those slippers.

Anectode 3:
The two were sitting at the bank of river Yamuna in Delhi when Hz Nizamuddin (wearing a cap crooked way), saw some men taking a dip in the river with a reverence as a worship. He remarked:
Har qaum raast raahay, deenay wa qibla gaahay
(Every sect has a faith, a qibla which they turn to.)

Pat came the reply from Khusrau:
Men qibla raast kardam, ber terf-e kajkulaahay.
(I have straightened my qibla in the direction of this crooked cap)

Anectode 4:
It is the most interesting of all anectodes, and if true (I do not doubt, but these stories have been passed through word of mouth), then it is remarkable to have this quality of Persian and Brij Bhasha poetry from an eight year old.

It is said that Khusrau’s mother brought her eight year old son to the place where Hazrat Nizamuddin ( a renowned scholar and respectable man) resided.

Instead of entering the premises Khusrau sat outside and narrated:
Tu aan shahi ke ber aiwan-e qasrat
Kabutar gar nasheenad, baaz gardad
Ghareeb-e mustamand-e ber der aamed
Be-yaayad andaroon, ya baaz gardad
You are a king at the gate of whose palace,
even a pigeon becomes a hawk. 
A poor traveller has come to your gate, 
should he enter, or should he return?

And that Hazrat Nizamuddin who himself was 23 then, came out (some say he sent out  servants) and replied:
Be-yaayad andaroon mard-e haqeeqat
Ke ba ma yek nafas hamraaz gardad
Agar abla buvad aan mard-e naadan
Azaan raah-e ke aamad baaz gardad
Oh you the man of reality, come inside,
so you become for a while my confidant,
but if the one who enters is foolish ,
then he should return the way he came.

Hearing this Khusrau knew that he has come to the right place and hence entered into his guidance.

Having reread Khusrau, several times over since then, I have came across some of the records, which go further to say that- telling his mother of his excitement to have found the Pir, Khusrau composed these beautiful verses:
Aaj rung hai hey maa rung hai ri
Moray mehboob kay ghar rang hai ri
Sajan milaavra, sajan milaavra,
Sajan milaavra moray aangan ko
Aaj rung hai……..
Mohay pir paayo Nijamudin aulia
Nijamudin aulia mohay pir payoo
Des bades mein dhoondh phiree hoon
Toraa rung man bhayo ri……,
Jag ujiyaaro, jagat ujiyaaro,
Main to aiso rang aur nahin dekhi ray
Main to jab dekhun moray sung hai,
Aaj rung hai hey maan rung hai ri.
What a glow everywhere I see, Oh mother, what a glow;
I’ve found the beloved, yes I found him,
In my courtyard;
I have found my pir Nizamuddin Aulia.
I roamed around the entire world,
looking for an ideal beloved;
And finally this face has enchanted my heart.
The whole world has been opened for me,
Never seen a glow like this before.
Whenever I see now, he is with me,
Oh beloved, please dye me in yourself;
Dye me in the colour of the spring, beloved;
What a glow, Oh, what a glow.

In my ignorance, I bluntly asked Mamoojan,”What was so great in Hazrat Nizamuddin that even an accomplished man like Amir Khurau revered him so much?”

I remember Mamoojan reply, “He was a great pious man, a Wali. That is why he was called Mehboob-e-Ilahi ( the beloved of Allah)”.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t entirely convinced then, but then years later, while getting into the colors of Amir Khusrau’s poetry, I did my own research.

I found that Hazrat Nizamuddin was a great scholar of Quran. He was truly  a very pious man, who prayed a lot and fasted each day of the week.

There were free meals ( langar) at his residence, each day, in which  Amir Khusrau actively took part.

He led a very simple, austere life, wore at times  torn clothes, and ate extremely simple food.

But what really convinced me of why Amir Khusrau revered him so much was this incident of  Hazrat Nizamuddin , which so speaks volumes of the greatness of this Pir of Amir Khusrau:

Once some of the staunchest of enemies of Hazrat Nizamuddin, threw thorn on the way he was to pass. He walked over them, bare feet, without any complaint. And with his sole bleeding, he prayed that every thorn that had pierced him become a red rose( like the color of his oozing blood) in the grave of the thrower.

Mehboob-e-Ilahi that he was, he is said to have remarked: “If a man places a thorn in your way, and you place a thorn in his way, soon there will be thorns everywhere.”

With all this in the background, now this poetry by Amir Khusrau sounds even more melodious…

Continuation of a joint heritage


Published in Aman Ki Asha , in TheNews on December 14, 2011. http://amankiasha.com/detail_news.asp?id=584

Ilmana Fasih recounts some examples of the ‘Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb’ and centuries’ old, peaceful coexistence beyond religious divides

An otherwise sane looking person I met at a party recently started to spew venom laced with conspiracy theories about “Hindu Muslim animosity”. To top it all, he tried to use my own life to justify his views, insisting that my going

to live in Pakistan after marrying a Pakistani was proof of the natural divide. He refused to accept my views that a peaceful coexistence between people of different faiths is possible or that my going to Pakistan from India was not based on religious reasons.

His hate-filled thoughts kept me sleepless for hours that night. But talking over the phone to my mother in Delhi later, I was cheered up by her mention of Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb. Our conversation triggered off thoughts about this beautiful, fluid culture that refuses to be boxed up and compartmentalised.

The name Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb is as beautiful as its spirit. It refers to the centuries’ old, peaceful coexistence between Hindus and Muslims of the subcontinent. Not only did the two faiths borrow cultural practices from each other, but they also exchanged each other’s vocabularies. So much so that now one is hardly able to find any difference between spoken Urdu and spoken Hindi.

The Nawabs of Awadh in north India in the 1700s are considered the pioneers of Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb. At least, the term was coined in their times. But on ground it existed well before that era.

The starkest example of this syncretic culture is the Purana Hanuman Mandir in Lucknow, which is crowned by an Islamic symbol, a crescent. According to legend, the temple was built by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan to honour the wish of his mother, who had dreamt of building a temple. The tradition of honouring the Nawab’s gesture still continues when the Muslims in the area put up stalls of water during the Bada Mangal festival at the temple, and Hindus manage sabeels (stalls) of sherbet and water during Muharram in reverence for Imam Hussain.

Not far from Lucknow, the rulers of the Hindu holy city of Kashi (also known as Benaras or Varanasi) observed the Azadari (the mourning) during Muharram, wearing black on Ashura. Ustad Bismillah Khan, the renowned Shehnai maestro, began his career as a shehnai player in Vishwanath temple, Kashi. In fact, many of the musicians, Hindu and Muslim, who play in the temples, fast during Ramazan and also observe Vrat during the Hindu Navratras.

Even today, Muslim artisans in Kashi/Varanasi who make Taziyas for Muharram also make effigies of Ravan for Dussehra, a friend tells me. Hindus too participate in Muharram processions and make Taziyas in many cities, notably Lucknow.

Similarly a Sindhi friend talks of the centuries-old peace and harmony between the Hindus and Muslims of Sindh. Adherents of both faiths revere and pray together at the shrine of Jhuley Lal, she says. The shrine walls are inscribed

with Arabic verses as well as Hindu names of Gods. An age-old common greeting of Sindhi Hindus and Muslims is “Jhulelal Bera-Hee-Paar”.

Karachi’s 150-year old cremation ground for Hindus has a Muslim caretaker, although there are many Hindus in the city. This caretaker is responsible for cleaning the statues and lighting the lamps in the temple, and takes care of the urns that contain the ashes of the dead after cremation, until their loved ones immerse the ashes in water.

Cultural practices in Sindh are a fusion of the two cultures. If the Hindus, fervently use Allah as the reference to God, the Muslims touch the feet of their elderly as traditions borrowed from each other’s cultures.

The contribution of Sufi poetry towards this peaceful coexistence, from Kabirdas and Amir Khusro, to Bulleh Shah on the other side, is well known.

Beyond faith, at the cultural level, the Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb has seen some beautiful creations like the Ghazal style of singing and the classical dance form Kathak.

Kathak’s journey from ancient times to its present form merits a walk-through. The word “katha” comes from “katha” or story telling. It has its roots in ancient times, when storytellers narrated epics or mythological stories like Shakuntala, and the Mahabharata through dance forms in temples. However with the arrival of Mughals, the dance, enticed to come to the courts, developed into a more Persianised form. The Kathak dancers adopted the whirling

from the dervishes to the ‘chakkars’. The rhythm of the footsteps found harmony with the beat of the tabla recently discovered by Amir Khusro. The female Kathakaars (storytellers) abandoned the sari of ancient times for the angarkha and churidar pyjama. The language of narration also transformed from Sanskrit to Brij Bhasha and then Urdu.

There may be more examples of such coexistence and development in other regions of the subcontinent too.

Those who propagate conspiracy theories and narrate stories of hate and disharmony need to know that even with the physical separation between India and Pakistan, the spirit of Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb lives on. The lack of communication between the two countries, particularly after the 1965 and 1971 wars, has not managed to dampen the natural instincts of sharing these cultures.

Farid Ayaz and Abu Muhammed, the renowned Qawwals from Pakistan continue to sing Bhajans which their gharana has been singing for the last 300 years. On the other side are Wadali brothers who sing Bulleh Shah Kaafis and Naats with the same devotion. Despite all odds, Sheema Kermani and her students in Pakistan have continued to keep the dance forms, not only of Kathak, but also Bharatnatyam and Odissi, alive and known in Pakistan.

The recent collaboration between Zeb and Haniya from Pakistan and Shantanu and Siwanand Kirkire of India yielded the soft melody “Kaho kya khayal hai” in a beautiful blend of Dari and Hindi. I could not help relate it to the Zehaal-e-Miskeen composition by Amir Khusro which was a beautiful fusion of Persian and Brij Bhasha.

And now another peacenik in the form of Shahvar Ali Khan makes a music video titled ‘No Saazish No Jang’ (No Conspiracy, No War). It is heartening to see the visuals, and hear the voices of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Bapu Mahatama Gandhi together in the backdrop.

It is not possible to list all collaborations between the two countries and across religious divides, particularly in fields of films, music, health (the most significant being the Heart to Heart initiative by Rotary and Aman ki Asha). But all these initiatives testify to the desire for peace, not hate.

As for me, convinced that each of these efforts towards peaceful coexistence is based on foundations going back centuries, I slide into my bed, comforted by the faith that peace, not hate, will ultimately prevail.
It’s just a matter of time.

Dr Ilmana Fasih is an Indian gynaecologist and health activist married to a Pakistani. Her blog is Blind to Bounds https://thinkloud65.wordpress.com/

Zehaal-e-Miskeen -~Amir Khusrau


Khusrau was a master of  Persian ( which used to be the language of the court) as well as  Brij Bhasha ( the language of the common man) .

Zehaal -e Miskeen is a master piece written in both the languages in Persian (bold) and Brij Bhasha (italics). In the first verse, the first line is in Persian, the second in Brij Bhasha, the third in Persian again, and the fourth in Brij Bhasha. In the remaining verses, the first two lines are in Persian, the last two in Brij Bhasha. The poem expresses the agony of separation from the beloved,  in both the languages with a superb fusion…which to my understanding signifies how different yet similiar is the expression of the agony of separation amongst the elite ( representing Persian) and the common man ( through Braj Bhasha).

Zehal-e miskin makun taghaful, duraye naina banaye batiyan
Ki taab-e hijran nadaram ay jaan, na leho kaahe lagaye chhatiyan.

 Do not overlook my misery by blandishing your eyes,
and weaving tales; My patience has over-brimmed,
O sweetheart, why do you embrace me.

Shaban-e hijran daraz chun zulf wa roz-e waslat cho umr kotah;
Sakhi piya ko jo main na dekhun to kaise kaatun andheri ratiyan.

 Long like curls in the night of separation,
short like life on the day of our union;
My dear, how will I pass the dark dungeon night
without your face before.

Yakayak az dil do chashm-e jadoo basad farebam baburd taskin;
Kise pari hai jo jaa sunaave piyare pi ko hamaari batiyan.

 Suddenly, using a thousand tricks, the enchanting eyes robbed me
of my tranquil mind; Who would care to go
and report this matter to my beloved?

Cho sham’a sozan cho zarra hairan hamesha giryan be ishq aan meh;
Na neend naina na ang chaina na aap aaven na bhejen patiyan.

 Tossed and bewildered, like a flickering candle,
I roam about in the fire of love;
Sleepless eyes, restless body,
neither comes she, nor any message.

 Bahaqq-e roz-e wisal-e dilbar ki daad mara ghareeb Khusrau;
Sapet man ke waraaye raakhun jo jaaye paaon piya ke khatiyan.

 In honour of the day I meet my beloved
who has lured me so long, O Khusrau;
I shall keep my heart suppressed,
if ever I get a chance to get to her trick.


Another beautiful rendition of Zehaal-e-Miskin by Warsi brothers: 

Amir Khusrau, the maestro of Tarana.


This blog is just an attempt to familiarise the lovers of Amir Khurau to a form of singing, called Tarana, the fascinating  fast paced rendition often intended  to attain trance ( haal),   is attributed to be invented by him. Needless to say his other inventions being Qawwali, seventeen taals, tabla and sitar.

All I get is that Tarana  uses sargams and vocables like na, ta, re, da, ni, odani, tanom, yalali, yalalom shuffled in a fast pace coordinated  by rhythmic percussion from Dhol or Tabla.

A legend says that Amir Khusrau discovered this genre of music by default when   Khusrau at a performance of raga Kadambak by Gopal Naik,  allegedly,  remembered the music but not text. So he created the tarana through a merging of bols from the tabla, the sitar or the mridang.

Since I am absolutely bankrupt in classical music so I would just quote what Ustad Amir Khan Sahib,  a master of Tarana says:

“It is generally believed that Tarana is a composition of meaningless syllables followed sometimes by the bols (words coined to denote the various sounds of instruments) of the tabla and sometimes by Persian poetry. This view is not true. As a matter of fact at the time of the Amir, the texts of the songs used to be in the languages of South India, which were not easily understood by the people of the North. The court language was Persian, which was evidently the language of the contemporary intelligentsia. The Amir naturally thought of composing the texts of songs in the language understood by the intelligentsia. Thus the Tarana was born. The various words used are Dartanaa, Dar Tan Aa, Yala an abbreviation for Ya Allah. Yali for Ya Ali, Dar Aa etc., which when translated would mean:

Yala – Ya Allah

Yali – Ya Ali

O Dani : He knows

Tu Dani : You know.

Tom : I am yours, I belong to you
or   
Main Tum Hun (I am you).

Na Dir Dani : You are the complete wisdom.

Dar – Bheetar, Aandar (inside)

Dara – Andar Aa (get in or come inside)

Dartan – Tanke Aandar (inside the body)

Tanan Dar Aa : Enter my body.

Tanandara – Tanke Aandar Aa (Come inside the body)

Nadirdani – Tu Sabse Adhik Janata Hai (You know more than anyone else)

Tandardani – Tanke Aandarka Jannewala (One who knows what is inside the body)

Another feature of Tarana as sung by many in India is the repetition of certain words at a great speed. The justification for this type is also not to be sought., It is not merely an exhibition of speed or virtuosity at pronouncing words, but the idea is that while in prayer a person goes into a trance, and that in that state of mind he just continues to repeat one word or one set of words.”

( source: http://caferisko.ca/ak/tarana.html)
Yar-e-man bia bia Tarana sung by Konkana Bannerjee.

Main melody:
Yar-e-man bia bia.
Dar Tan tadim,
Ta-nan Ta na dim, Tom Ta Na Na Na
Antara:
Ba labam raseeda jaanum
Fu bia ke zinda maanum
Pas azari ki man na maanum,
Ba cheh kar khahi amud.

which means:

O love, come soon, come at once.
Come and enter my body,
for I am yours, come
Antara:
My life hangs on my lips,
Come thou that I may live again
for if thou shall come when I am no more,
to what avail shall it be.

Also see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarana
http://www.indiaheritage.org/perform/music/h-v-t.htm

ABC of Qawwali


A small irritant from a dear friend, a westernised desi, who kept calling Qawwali as ‘Qawwali song’ got me to make a polite request to her call it only Qawwali. She probably thought I was an expert in the field and with innocent curiosity started to fire questions at me about Qawwali.

I really felt cornered and actually regretted for having made the silly request to her. And I realised that beyond the ABC of Qawwali I had no idea of what qawwali really was made of.

Her basic questions made me wonder that I was equally ignorant of the indepth details. Probably except for calling it Qawwali instead of qawwali ‘song’ there wasnt much difference between me and her. So I began to dig deeper.
It was indeed a wonderful journey to flip through the e-searches learning about Qawwali details.

All I knew earlier was this bit:

The word Qawwali was derived from the arabic word Qaul which means the utterance ( of Prophet).

Qawwali, a Sufi devotional music is unique to north India. It arrived in the subcontinent in the 14th Century. Amir Khusau, known as the ‘Father of Qawwali’ developed this form by incorporating Farsi and Arabic in the Indian music centered on the classical structure of taal and raag.

The word Sama is used in Central Asia and Turkey to refer to forms very similar to Qawwali, and in the subcontinent, the formal name used for a session of Qawwali is Mehfil-e-Sama.
I had known that the singers are called: Qawwal and those group of singers who sing a qawwali chorus in unison are called Humnawan.
I had heard, long ago in Delhi that Qawwals are also called Qawwal bacche.

I began to hunt for what was the reason why they were called so. What I learned was this:

“There is a renowned tale frequently told by qawwals- that of the ‘Qawwal Bachche’. Hazrat Amir Khusro wished to do something extraordinary for his ‘sheikh’ (spiritual mentor) Nizamuddin. So he discovered twelve gifted young men and educated them to render the ragas he had created. The sheikh was thrilled with their performance and these twelve lads went on to be recognized as the ‘Qawwal Bachche’.This ancestry of qawwali singers, the sons of the initial qawwal or Qawwal Bacche, was begun by a man who, as fable goes, was hearing impaired and mute. Inexplicably healed by a Sufi saint, he converted to become one of the earliest disciples of Amir Khusro. Qawwali has been handed down from father to son over generations, with weight on the children memorizing the poetry and precise elocution of the words because several of the songs are in Persian.”
(Source: http://www.planetradiocity.com/musicopedia/music_decade.php?conid=2362).

During Googling I came across a list of qawwwali vocabulary, on ‘bohotkhoob’ blog, which I thought was a must share:

Alap = Introductory phrases of a raga sung without rhythm to create a background for the raga used in the composition.
Anga = Aspects of singing which bring out the main style followed by the singer.
Baja = Instrument, chiefly harmonium. Strangely though Harmonium was introduced into qawwali only in mid 19th Century. Earlier instruments used were: double-headed drum (dholak) and a bowed lute (sarangi, dilruba) and an earthenware pot(ghara).
Band = A verse of more than two lines — inserted from a longer poem.
Band sama = A closed or an exclusive performance in which a special song-repertoire is rendered without any instrumental accompaniment.
Badhana = To extend, or elaborate the melodic theme.
Bari ka gana = To sing by turns in an assembly of Qawwal-singers.
Bol = Utterance, the repeatable part of the song-text sung by the chorus.
Bol samjhana = To convey the meaning of the text through musical variations, etc.
Chachar = Metric pattern of 14 beats frequently employed in the genre.
Chal = Gait, the specific melodic contour of the song.
Chalat phirat = Melodic improvisation mostly in a faster tempo and intricate in design.
Cheez = A complete, original song without additions etc.
Chaoki = A performing group of qawwal named after the leader or his ancestor.
Dhun = A tune which is satisfyingly complete and yet may not be in a codified raga.
Doha = A couplet making a complete, rhyming poetic statement in common metre employed by the singers at the beginning or as insertions.
Dohrana = To repeat.
Girah = A knot, i.e. inserted verse in a qawwali.
Hamd = Poem in Urdu/Farsi in praise of God.
Hawa = Archaic Sufi song in Farsi said to be composed by Amir Khusro.
Khas tarz = Special tune.
Makhsus tarz = Special tune.
Manqabat = Poem in praise of a great religious personage, especially Sufi saints.
Munajat= means secret conversation, whispering, prayer, longing or yearning. Sung in Farsi and was invented by Rumi.
Masnavi = Extended Farsi poem with rhyming couplets
Matra = Durational unit in music making.
Misra = Verse line.
Misra kholna = ‘to open the verse line’.
Misra ula = First verse line, especially the opening line of a couplet.
Mukhra = The opening refrain line of the song.
Murki = Melodic ‘turn’ — a specific musical embellishment.
Mushtar ka gana = Mixed i.e. communal singing.
Naghma = Melody, tune, played as a prelude to the qawwali, usually based on a tune derived from the Zikr Allahu.
Panchayati gana = communal singing.
Padhna = Recite, read or chant without instrumental accompaniment.
Phailav = Melodic spreading, expansion.
Qata = Four line aphoristic poetic form in Urdu/Farsi used in introductory section of the qawwali.
Qaul = The basic ritual, obligatory song either as opening or closing hymn with the text based on sayings of the Prophet.
Rang = The second principal ritual, obligatory song after Qaul celebrating the saints (Nizamuddin) spiritual guidance (colouring) of his disciple Amir Khusro.
Rubai = Aphoristic four-line poetic form in Farsi/Urdu in qawwali. It refers to the recitative preceding the qawwali often based on a Rubai.
Sany bolan = Saying it as second, singing a verse line to the tune section of the second concluding line of a couplet.
Sargam = Sol-fa passage.
Sher = Couplet, literally the strophic unit of the ghazal poem.
Takrar = Multiple repetition.
Tali = clapping.Clapping by the performers in the second row complements the instruments.
Tarana = A genre of songs with meaningless auspicious words, often derived from Sufi invocations.
Tazmin = A poem incorporating famous verses around Sufi classics in Farsi.
Thap = An accented drum beat.
Tiyya = A triad of a rhythmic/melodic cadence.
wajd = Ecstacy, invoked by any particular shair or couplet of poetical composition, which is common scene in such mahfils,that particular couplet is repeated continuously by the Qawwal until the thirst of the ecstatic ‘subject’ is fully satisfied and he returns to his normal condition
Zatnin = Poetic metre of the song-text.
Zarb = Accent, rhythmic stress.

It has now somewhat made me understand the rendition beyond just the words sung. The ups and downs, the repeats, the style of singing, punctuated by narration, the claps etc in the middle of the rendition, now seem to make a lot more fascination.

I am sure many of the Qawwali lovers would be far above my baseline of knowledge, but anyhow Happy listening!

(Source: Music contexts: A Concise dictionary of Hindustani Music. By Ashok Damodar Ranade
http://meheralisherali.com/history.html).

Ghalib’s Mangoes


It is Summers and mango time. Mango is synonimous with Mirza Ghalib. And I am here after ages in the mango season in Delhi, the city of Ghalib. And then Amir Khusrau’s praise for mangoes is not secret either. His soul resides in Delhi too.

How could one enjoy Ratols, Chausa, Dussehris in Delhi, consumed in their aromas and flavours, and not pay tribute to Ghalib’s love for mangoes. Perhaps ‘his first love’ was neither poetry nor liqour. But mangoes. Why do I say that ?

Here is a fascinating piece on Ghalib and his love for mangoes, to prove my claim, by Firoze Bakht Ahmed:

Ghalib was a great mango connoisseur

Altalf Hussain Hali, an ardent admirer of Mirza Ghalib and himself a poet of no mean achievement once had a very hot debate with the latter’s friend Nawab Mustafa Khan Shefta on the topic that Ghalib was the sole Indian poet who had tasted the maximum varieties of mangoes.

Shefta maintained that it wasn’t so but with his stunning memory and deep study of Ghalib’s life, Hali was the winner in proving that Ghalib had in fact tasted most of the 4,000 varieties of mangoes
grown in India. This might be a funny incident but the truth is that Ghalib was the one who loved eating mangoes in sweltering summers more than composing his couplets.

The varieties of mangoes that Ghalib mentioned in 63 letters written to his friends are – Malda, Fasli,Chausa, Zard Aaloo, Jahangir, Dasehri, Rehmat-e-Khas, Sarauli, Malghoba, Aziz Pasand,
Mahmood Samar, Sultan-us-Samar, Ram Kela, Bombay Green, Ratol, Safeda Mallihabadi, Dil Pasand, Husan Aara, Nazuk Pasand, Kishan Bhog, Neelam, Khudadad, Hamlet, Tota Pari, Nishati, Zafrani, Sinduri, Khatta Meetha, Barah Masi, Langra, Alfonso, Fajri Samar Bahisht, Gulabakhsh, Bishop, Xavier, Rumani and Badami. Ghalib had tasted all these.

His love for mangoes was in fact more than that of wine or even poetry when the season of the heavenly, juicy fruit came in the months of June and July.

Quoting Ghalib regarding mangoes, Hali mentions in his Yadgar-e-Ghalib that the poet was also very well versed with the history of mangoes.

Ghalib wrote to a friend, Maulvi Sadruddin Azurda about the history of mangoes: ‘The mango has been cultivated in India for over 4,000 years and is so much a part of the Indian heritage and culture that it is almost an object of veneration in Hindu households. Down through the centuries, emperors have pledged their devotion to the mango!

‘The records of Hieun Tsang, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim who visited India during Harshavardhan’s reign in the 6th century B.C., contains references to the attentive cultivation of the mango in the country. The Mughal emperors also evinced keen interest in the mango’s systematic cultivation and emperor Akbar is credited with having planted genetically superior mangoes in an orchard known as
Lakh Bakhsh, north of Agra.

‘Small wonder that our best varieties of mangoes bear names such as Jahangir and Himayun-ud-Din. Even Bahadur Shah Zafar, had a mango garden known as Hayat Bakhsh in the gardens of the Red Fort in which some of the most delicious and juicy varieties were grown.’

Mango is such a fruit that the accounts of it qualities are there since Vedic times. In fact there is a very interesting incident quoted in Persian by Ghalib’s friend Yusuf Mirza that traces the history of mango to the Vedic times.

It says that god once witnessed a contest between the two celestial brothers – Ganesh and Subramaniya popularly known as Kartikeya. Their parents Shiva and Parvati announced that the
one to race round the world and emerge the first would receive a wonderful gift.

While Subramaniya set off on this arduous race, Ganesh, the shrewd and calculating one, did some clever thinking. He circled around his parents, suggesting that they were world to him, and won the fabulous prize – a luscious mango!

Even Sufi poet Amir Khusro had praised the mango in his Persian poetry and called it Fakhr-e-Gulshan.

According to Ghalib it is a remarkable fruit in the sense that it can be cut with a knife, sucked like ice cream or crushed for its juice. It gives more joy in comparison with other fruits if it is cut and eaten.
He called such a mango as Qalmi Aam.

Even great poets like Nazir Akbarabadi and Iqbal too have written gloriously about mangoes.

Ghalib wrote to his friends as far as Calcutta, Bombay and Madras for sending him the mangoes and he was really fortunate enough that they obliged him by sending the tokris (baskets) of the fruit.

To a friend living in Calcutta, Mir Sarfaraz Hussain, he wrote as many as 15 letters requesting him to send him Bengal’s famous Gulbakhsh mangoes. Finally Sarfaraz Hussain sent him two baskets.
During May, 1857, when the Sepoy Mutiny was at its peak, Ghalib went to a friend of his in Meerut, who was a Subedar by family tradition and owned many mango orchards in Meerut and Saharnpur.

Once during the afternoon, Ghalib felt the urge to eat mangoes. That was not the time for the fruit to get ripened as most of the varieties in northern India ripe in the sweltering heat of June. While
Ghalib was just gazing at the kachcha aam (unripe mangoes), a British soldier saw Ghalib and without ado arrested him.

In fact that area was densely populated by Muslims who revolted against the British. The poet was taken to the Meerut Kotwali after arrest. In those days Hindus and Muslims used to wear almost
similar clothes.

When he reached the police station, the military governor Colonel Burn asked Ghalib: ‘Are you a Muslim?’

Ghalib was witty and his friend confirmed his presence of mind was par excellence. He replied: ‘ I am only a half-Muslim.’

‘What exactly do you mean by that? Be clear,’ said Col. Burn.

‘By that I mean Sir, that I take liquor but I do not touch pork!’

Hearing this, Col. Burn burst out laughing and let him off advising him not to mix up with the rioters.

Shefta narrated that in one gathering there were Maulana Fazl-e-Haq, Ghalib and other friends and they discussed about mangoes.
When everyone had had one’s say, Haq asked for Ghalib’s comments.

And he said:
‘In my opinion, there are only two necessary requirements concerning mangoes. Firstly, they should be sweet and secondly, they should be plentiful!’

(Firoz Bakht Ahmed, chairman of Friends For Education which works among Urdu schools to improve their standards, filed a public interest suit for restoration of Ghalib’s house in old Delhi. He
can be reached at firozbakht@rediffmail.com)
( © IANS / India eNews)Copyright 2011 IndiaeNews.com. All Rights Reserved.

A Chhaap Tilak & other Collection of verses ~ by Farid Ayaz & Co.


This beautiful rendition of Chaap Tilak with magic spilled by Farid Ayaz, includes verses from Hazrat Sultan Bahu, Moalana Rumi and Kabir Das that were appropriate to the mood and common thought.

Amir Khusro:

Apni chhab banaye ke , main to pee ke paas gayee,
Jab chhhab dekhi peehu ki, main to apni bhool gayee.
I went to my beloved, with my own glow,
When I saw His ‘aura’, I forgot my own.

Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay
Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay
Prem bhatee ka madhva pilaikay
Matvali kar leeni ray mosay naina milaikay
Gori gori bayyan, hari hari churiyan
Bayyan pakar dhar leeni ray mosay naina milaikay
Bal bal jaaon mein toray rang rajwa
Apni see kar leeni ray mosay naina milaikay
Khusrau Nijaam kay bal bal jayyiye
Mohay Suhaagan keeni ray mosay naina milaikay
Chhap tilak sab cheeni ray mosay naina milaikay

You’ve taken away my looks, my identity, by just a glance.
By making me drink the wine of love-potion,
You’ve intoxicated me by just a glance;
My fair, delicate wrists with green bangles in them,
Have been held tightly by you with just a glance.
I give my life to you, Oh my cloth-dyer,
You’ve dyed me in yourself, by just a glance.
I give my whole life to you Oh, Nijam,
You’ve made me your bride, by just a glance.

Sultan Bahu:
Alif Allah chambe di booti, Murshid man wich laaee hoo
Nafee asbaat da pane milia, Har rage harjae hoo.

My Master Has Planted in My Heart the Jasmine of Allah’s Name.
Both My Denial That the Creation is Real and My Embracing of God,
the Only Reality, Have Nourished the Seedling Down to its Core.

Kabirdas:
Naina chupaye na chupe so pat ghoongat ki ote
Chatur naar aur soorma so karein laakh mein chor

The eyes could not be hidden behind the veil,
Tho’ the clever woman and the wise man tried their best (to hide ).

Bulleh Shah:
Ilmon bus kariye Oo yaar
Tainnu ikko alaf darkaar

Forget the pride in your knowledge O’ friend
One Alif is all you need

Mevlana Rumi:
beshno in ney chon hekaayat mikonad,
az jodaayee ha shekaayat mi-konad,

Listen to the (ney) reed flute, how it tells a tale of separation,
I want a bosom torn by severance, that I may unfold the pain of love desire.

Kabirdas:
Sun Kabira bansuri kahe nirali baat
Nagar dhandora peet ti hai choota pi ka saath.

Listen Kabir to the flute’s unique lament
Announcing everywhere that it is parted from it’s beloved

Tag Cloud