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Sunday, 28 December 2008

SPINOZA – The Absolute Philosopher

Towards the end of 15th Century, around the time when Columbus was in pursuit of discovering India, Ferdinand the King of Spain, who financed Columbus Journey, started persecuting the Jews in his kingdom of central Europe, not for any religious acrimony but to grow his exchequer.

Jews who were wealthy merchants and traders then fled for their safety. From the many ports in Europe they boarded vessels in search of a peaceful refuge. In predominant Christian Europe and Islamic Africa they were not welcomed in most of the places. They were killed in Africa for the jewelries they were expected to have swallowed. Some settled in Venice but a majority of them took refuge in small but large hearted country of Holland. Espinoza, a Portuguese Jews family was one among them.

Jews prospered in Holland. They built there first Synagogue in 1598. Seventy five years later they built there second synagogue with the help of local Christians. The perennially persecuted Jews were indebted to the Christian inhabitants for giving them shelter when they were thrown out from Europe and not only that they got a peaceful and conducive environment in which they flourished in trade.

So when Jew Uriel A Costa wrote a treatise vigorously attacking the Concept of Afterlife, which was not very contrary to the Jews belief, the synagogue compelled him to retract publicly lest it hurts the religious sentiments of the Christians who till now have been very benevolent and tolerant towards the Jews. Uriel A Costa had to undergo the penance and the ritual required him to lay prostrate in front of threshold of synagogue and members of congregation would walk over him. After the ritual Uriel A Costa went home with a pride of a dead man. Agitated, he wrote denunciation of his persecutors and shot himself dead.

This was 1640. Brauch Espinoza (Spinoza), the brightest student of aforementioned Synagogue was then just 8 years old. This incident made a big impact in his life.The precocious boy, to whom the community was looking forward, then drowned himself in the study of Jewish philosophy and theology. Unsatiated he started learning Latin so that he could read Hellenic philosophy. But aside Latin he also got interested in the beautiful daughter of his master. He is not to be blamed because in youthfulness such dalliance are natural and more so when beauty was this ethereal. But the girl didn’t find our boy worthy enough in front of precious gifts bestowed on her by another suitor. She left Spinoza and the world should be indebted to her for her infidelity. This was the event which turned the Spinoza into a philosopher and arguably the most important philosopher of modern time.
Unrequited in love he found solace in Latin, which he mastered. He read Greek masters like Plato and Aristotle but consented more with Stoics, Democritus, Epicurus and the atomist. But he was influenced most by Descartes(of "'Cogito Ergo Sum' : I Think, therefore I am" fame) the father of subjective and idealist tradition in modern philosophy to whose concept of ‘Homogenous substance’ he concurred the most. Not only he concurred but he took it from where Desecrates left and propounded it further removing the duality of matter and mind saying that all being in this world arose from one homogenous, infinite, free 'Substance'.Reader must not take the word 'Substance' literally for we'll see later that it is much more profound, in fact the profoundest thing.
For his iconoclastic view, this once poster child of synagogue, was called by the Jews Clergy and asked to publicly agree with the normative Jews beliefs, at least externally for which he was offered an annuity of $500.
The difference between an ordinary man and an extraordinary man is that of an extra which he engenders. Ordinary man concurs to the views which are prevailing in the society but an extraordinary man creates his own which can be contrarian to popular views. Not only he creates but also he sticks to it despite all odds.Spinoza was an extraordinary man. He refused the offer.
Hence he was excommunicated not much because Clergy have started disliking him but more to appease the native Christians lest there religious sentiments are hurt. But Spinoza was no A Costa and he took excommunication with a great courage.
He shifted to Hague and subsisted for rest of his life by grinding lenses. On 20 Feb. 1677 he died leaving a great work unpublished the task of which he bestowed to his friend. His sublime work 'Ethics' was published after his death. ‘Ethics’ brought him his due greatness though posthumously. Lets us have a glimpse at what he taught.

Just as in Geometry where in conclusion follows from axiom which is taken as universal truth, in Spinoza’s system moral and physical facts which philosopher considers follows from their Definition. The three main elements of Spinoza’s system are Substance, Attribute and Mode.

Theory of Substance: Substance exists in itself and is conceived by itself. Substance is its own cause, otherwise it would have been produced by something else and in that cased it would not have been substance. Substance is infinite. If it was finite it would be limited by other substance and consequently depend on them and in that case it would not be a substance. There is only one substance. If there is more than one then they would limit each other and hence dependent on each other hence not a substance. Hence there is only one substance which depends on nothing and on which everything depends. Now substance should not be taken in literal term. Here we should avoid referring anything as substance which ceases to exist by itself. The term should signify the being which exist in itself and is conceived by itself and on which all other things are dependent and derived and if that makes it a God then lets accept that God alone is substance and substance is God. Since Substance is all by itself, infinite and alone its free. But its liberty is synonymous with necessity but not with constrain. To act necessarily means to determine one’s self, to act under constrain is to be determined, in spite of one’s self, by an external cause. It has neither intellect nor will. Had it had these it would have acted for an end in view but it doesn’t. It is the efficient cause of the things.

Theory of Attributes: Attribute means the essence of the substance. Substance (God) has infinite attributes each of which expresses distinctively the essence of it. Human intellect knows two attributes of substance: extension and the thought. Now attributes are not inherent to God. It is the way in which intellect can perceive god which can be in infinitely different ways (attributes) Spinoza holds that God has neither will nor intelligence yet he attributes thought to him and speaks of infinite intelligence. This is contradicting in nature. This opposition can be cleared if we understand that Spinoza’s God is not the creature of universe but universe it self. Now indeed there is reason and logic in universe but that has not come consciously by thinking of God but is inherent to universe and comes unconsciously. Just as a spider weaves it web without slightest notion of geometry and reason the Spinoza’s god is unconsciously intelligent.

Theory of Mode: Mode signifies the modification of the substance, i.e. that which exists in and is conceived by something other than itself. The modifications of extention are motion and rest and modification of thought are intellect and will. Thus movement, intellect and will are modes (modification) of substance or its attributes. Like substance and its infinite attributes modes are also infinite in nature. Each infinite mode consists of infinite series of finite mode e.g. motion is eternal but the corporeal form which it constitutes originates and decays. The human soul like all intellectual modes is modification of infinite thought. Similarly human body is modification of infinite extension. Since the intellectual or ideal order and the real or corporeal order are parallel, every soul corresponds to a body, and every body corresponds to an idea. The mind is therefore the conscious image of body. Sensation is a bodily phenomena; it is prerogative of human and animal bodies and result from the superior organization of their body. Similarly Perception is the mental phenomena. As a body is affected by sensation, mind creates and image or idea about this sensation.

Late 20th century Europe demonstrated a greater philosophical interest in Spinoza, often from a left-wing or Marxist perspective. Gilles Deleuze’s, the French philosopher, doctoral thesis, published in 1968, refers to him as "the prince of philosophers”. He called Spinoza the Absolute philosopher for his philosophical accomplishments. George Eliot translated, for the first time, ‘Ethics’ in English. W. Somerset Maugham alluded to one of Spinoza's central concepts with the title of his novel, “Of Human Bondage”. Albert Einstein named Spinoza as the philosopher who exerted the most influence on his world view Spinoza equated God (infinite substance) with Nature, consistent with Einstein's belief in an impersonal deity. In 1929, Einstein was asked in a telegram by Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein whether he believed in God. Einstein responded by telegram: "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ranjish hee sahi ...

This beautiful ghazal is wriiten by Ahmed Faraz
रंजिश ही सही दिल ही दुखाने के लिए आ,
आ फिर से मुझे छोड़ के जाने के लिए आ
[रंजिश = Anger, Annyoance]
पहले से मरासिमं ना सही फिर भी कभी तो,
रस्म-ओ-राहे दुनिया की निभाने के लिए आ
[मारासिम = Friendship]
किस किस को बताएँगे जुदाई का सबब हम,
तू मुझ से ख़फा है तो ज़माने के लिए आ
[सबब = reason]
कुछ तो मेरे पिंदार-ए-मुहब्बत का भरम रख,
तू भी तो कभी मुझ को मनाने के लिए आ
[पिंदार-ए-मुहब्बत = Love's Pride]
एक उम्र से हूँ लज़्ज़त-ए-गिरिया से भी महरूम,
ऐ राहत-ए-जान मुझ को रुलाने के लिए आ
[लज़्ज़त-ए-गिरिया = taste of tears, महरूम = devoid,राहत-ए-जान = Peace of life]
अब तक दिल-ए-खुश फहम को तुझ से हैं उम्मीदें,
ये आखरी शम्मे भी बुझाने के लिए आ

माना की मुहब्बत का छुपाना है मुहब्बत,
चुपके से किसी रोज़ जताने के लिए आ

जैसे तुझे आते हैं ना आने के बहाने,
ऐसे ही किसी रोज़ ना जाने के लिए आ

Friday, 17 October 2008

A vignette of French Revolution

As Thomas Jefferson was drafting ‘Declaration of American Independence’ in 1776, he couldn’t have avoid thanking France for the help extended to America. Thirteen American colonies gained independence on 4th of July 1776 when continental congress of America adopted the statement of ‘Declaration of American Independence’ and the French taxpayers had a huge monetary contribution in this. Philosophically, the Declaration stressed two Lockean themes: individual rights and the right of revolution. These ideas of the Declaration had an influence internationally, in particular the French Revolution.When Americans were fighting for their Independence, France funded them against their common enemy; the British, and funded to the extent of its own bankruptcy..

So when 20 year old prince Louis XVI, The Bourbon, who was married to an Austrian princess Marie Antoinette, ascended the thrown in 1774 he found an empty treasury with which he has to fund the wars, bear the extravagant court and a resplendent Versailles; after all the French regalia was a signature of pomp and royalty and the grandeur had to be maintained. So the apparent thing which most of the kings in such circumstance would do is to increase the revenue and the easiest way to do so is to increase the taxes.

But in eighteenth century France King did not have the veto right to impose the taxes. He had to take approval from the Estate General. Estate General was a body with representatives from all the three estates.

Before I move forward with the cause and course of revolution let me clear what the three estates are. For this we have to look at the societal system prevailing in France in early eighteenth century. Broadly there were three types of people categorized by three estates. The first estate comprised of clergy, the second nobility and the third which comprised almost everyone was the third estate. Peasants, traders, artisan etc made up the third estate. Most of the lands and wealth was owned by first two estates and no taxes were imposed on them. Only the third estate required to pay the taxes. There were two important taxes; one direct tax levied by government called Taille and other levied by Church called Tithe. Apart from these two taxes there were indirect taxes. We see here that entire burden of tax was on common man.

The population of France increased from 23 million in 1715 to 28 million in 1789, but there was not a proportionate increase in food grains production. There was scarcity of food grain. Prices of essential commodities were very high leading to subsistence crisis.

An important demographic change was taking place in the third estate. A new class was emerging: The middle class. Many people of third estate were making money from trading and manufacturing. The fiscal independence led to better education which in turn led to increased awareness. The educated middle class was becoming enlightened and were in no mood to consider themselves anyway inferior to the other two estates. Many philosophers of the likes of Voltaire, Locke and Rousseau etc were propagating the idea of liberty and equality. In his 'Two treaties of government' Locke sought to refute the doctrine of divine and absolute right of Monarch. Rousseau carried forward the idea proposing a form of government based on social contract between people and their representatives. In the 'Spirit of Laws', Montesquieu proposed a division of power within government between Legislative, the executive and the judiciary.

The oppression of the gentry by privileged, the chaos, the enlightened middle class was well recipe for a revolution in waiting.

So I was talking about empty exchequer, a new tax proposal, Estate Council, a young king and his wife Marie Antoinette. On 5 May 1789 Louis XVI convened a meeting of Estate General to get approval for his proposal of increase in the tax. The first and second estates had send 300 representatives each whereas third estate had 600 representatives. As per the tradition each estate had one vote. But this time third estate demanded that the each person should have one vote for which the king didn’t consent. Owing to king’s refusal to accept their demand the members of the third estate walked out of the assembly.

On June 20 of 1789 members of third estate assembled in the hall of an indoor tennis court in the ground of Versailles. They declared themselves National assembly and formed a new constitution which curtailed the power of Monarch. They were led by Mira beau and Abbe' Sieyes'.

Meanwhile the condition of common man in France was deteriorating. Because of the severe winter harvest was bad which led to scarcity of food. Inflation became very high. There was rioting happening everywhere. Taking the recce of situation King sent troops in Paris. This agitated the people more.

On 14th July 1789 the angry crowd stormed and destroyed the epitome of state tyranny, The Bastille (the State Prison), and freed the prisoners. Though there were only seven prisoners in Bastille at that time the storming became a symbol of rise of oppressed against the anarchy. The spark has been put in the heap of wool; the conflagration would follow subsequently.

In the country side rumors spread that the Lord of Manors have hired brigands to destroy the crops. Fearing this peasants attacked the Chateaux with axe, sickle, hoes, pitch fork or whatever they were getting their hands on. In this frenzy and fear the old societal structure was crumbling and a new era was taking shape, but not so soon, a lot of blood shed was still to happen.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, Louis XVI accorded recognition to the National Assembly and the new constitution that was drafted by members of Third Estate. On 4th Aug 1789 the assembly decreed the abolition of feudal system. Tithe was abolished and the land of church confiscated.
By 1791 the National assembly completed the draft of Constitution. France became a constitutional monarchy with very limited power to the Monarch. Right to vote was given to a people who paid taxes and were above 25 years of age and.

The lure of power is hard to resist and more so if one has enjoyed it in past. Peeved and stifled by the new constitution, Louis XVI entered into secret negotiation with King of Prussia and Austria. But before anything could materialize for the King, the National Assembly which came to know about monarch’s intention voted in April 1792 and declared a war against Prussia and Austria.

Thousand of citizens volunteered for the war. This was seen as the gentry’s war against monarchy and aristocracy. People from every nooks and corners of France marched, singing songs, toward Paris. Among patriotic song they sang was Marseilles first sung by people from Marseilles. This was composed by Roget deL'Isle and later became the national anthem of France.

When the war was gaining pace at front, people back home were actively discussing the situation. Political clubs became an important rallying point for people who wished to discuss government policies and plan their own action. They agreed that the revolution needs to be supported and taken forward to next level. One such club was that of Jacobins named after Saint Jacob. There leader was Maximillian Robespierre. The members of this club were mainly from the lower segment of society. It is to be noted that even though France became a constitutional monarchy, the right to vote was limited to wealthier segment of society. The women and poor were still devoid of this.

In summers of 1792 Jacobins planned an insurrection. On August 10 they stormed the palace of the Tuileries, massacred the king's guard and held the king hostage for long hours. Elections were held and all men above 21, irrespective of their wealth, got the right to vote. On 21 Sep 1792, the assembly declared France a republic and abolished monarchy.

Louis XVI was sentenced to death by court on charge of treason. On Jan 21 1793 he was executed publicly in palace de la Concorde. Marie Antoinette met the same fate shortly.

Shortly after this, in the newly born republic of France, followed the reign of terror. Between 1793 and 1794, Robespierre followed a policy of severe control and punishment. Whom he saw as enemy of Republic were executed. Because of this reign of terror even his supporters became his detractors. He was convicted by court in July 1794, arrested and on next day executed.

The fall of Jacobin government once again allowed the wealthier middle classes to seize power. A new constitution was introduced which denied the vote to non propertied section of society. It provided two elected legislative councils. These then selected a directory of five elected members. The idea of setting a directory was that power did not rest in the hand of single person. But the members of directory could not concur on many issues.

The instability of directory marked paved the way for the military dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself as the emperor of France.

The period from July 1789 to 1799 is considered as the French Revolution. French revolution left a huge impact on world. It gave the world an idea about liberty and equality. It empowered the women and poor. This was a precursor to Russian revolution and nationalist movements shaping up in many colonies of European power.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

पैसा बोलता है

अगर पैसा बोल सकता तो क्या बोलता ? शायर साइ आजाद नें इस कल्पना को एक ग़ज़ल में तामीर किया है और उतनी ही खूबसूरती के साथ साबरी बंधुओं ने इसे गया है ।

संसार में बाजे ढोल,
यह दुनिया मेरी तरह है गोल,
की पैसा बोलता है
हारून नें मुझको पूजा था,
फिरओँ भी मेरा शैदा था,
षड्दात की जन्नत मुझे मिली,
निम्रोड़ की ताक़त मुझसे बनी,
जब चढ़ गया मेरा खुमार,
खुदा के हो गये दावेदार,
की पैसा बोलता है

हर शख्स है मेरे चक्कर में,
है मेरी ज़रूरत घर घर में,
जिसे चाहूं वो खुशहाल बने,
जिसे ठुकरा दूं कंगाल बने
यह शीशमहल, यह शान,
मेरे दम से पाए धनवान,
की पैसा बोलता है

मैं आपस में लड़वाता हूँ ,
लालच में गला कटवता हूँ,
जहाँ मेरा साया लहराए,
कस्तूरी खून भी छुप जाए,
मैं कह देता हूँ साफ़ ,
मेरे हाथों में है इंसाफ़,
की पैसा बोलता है

कहीं हदिया हूँ,कहीं रिश्वत हूँ,
कहीं गुंडा टॅक्स की सूरत हूँ,
कहीं मस्जिद का मैं चंदा हूँ,
कहीं ज्ञान का गोरखधंधा हूँ,
है पक्के मेरे यार,
मौलवी पंडित थांनेदार,
की पैसा बोलता है

जब लीडर मैं बन जाता हूँ,
चक्कर में क़ौम को लता हूँ,
फिर ऐसा जाल बिछाता हूँ,
की मन के मुरादेँ पाता हूँ,
मैं जिस पे लगा दूं नोट,
ना जाए बाहर उसका वोट,
की पैसा बोलता है

की हर साज़ में है संगीत मेरा,
फनकार क लब पे गीत मेरा,
हर रख्स में है रफ़्तार मेरी,
हर घुँगरू में झंकार मेरी,
यह महफ़िल यह सुर ताल,
हो गानेवाली या क़व्वाल,
की पैसा बोलता है

कोई साइ था आबाद रहा,
मेरी जुल्फोँ से आज़ाद रहा,
हर दौर में ज़िंदाबाद रहा,
और दोनो जग में शाद रहा,
रब बख्से जिसे ईमान,
छुड़ाए मुझसे अपनी जान,
की पैसा बोलता है

Friday, 3 October 2008

Ishq da charkha

I am putting down verses by two great Sufi saints. I picked up these verses from song ‘Mera Yeh Charkha' by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Ustad Nusrat has used these verses in two different renditions of same qawwali. In one of these he starts the qawwali by reciting Baba Farid and in another by Baba Bulle Shah. The poesy of Baba Farid is given below:

Gaflat na kar yaar Farid tu,
Chadd jangli rain basera,
Pancchi mud gharra nu aa gaye,
Kyun chit nahin karda tera.

Wal wal ishq mareda halle,
aate main teri tu mera,
yaar Farid karan jind Qurbaani,
je yaar paave ik phera

O Farid, Dont be insensitive,
Jettison this life of forest dweller.
The birds have come back to their abode,
Why don’t you feel the same?

Love is slowly killing me,
as I am for you and you for me,
Farid is willing to forgo his life
For the one sight of beloved

Here I would like to make a point that in most of the Sufi Kalams the nature of beloved is not clear. It can be human, saint or god. The kalam by Baba Bulle Shah goes as:

Makke gayan gal mukde nahi,
pawein so so jume parh aaye,
Ganga gayain gal mukde nahi,
pawein so so gaute khaye,
Gaya gayain gal mukde nahi,
pawein so so panh paraye,
bulle shah, gal tan yo mukde
jadoon mein nu diloon gavaye.

Going to Makka will do no good
Even if you recite Koran hundreds of time,
Going to Ganges will do no good
Even if you take hundreds of dip,
Going to Gaya will do no good,
Even if you read hundreds of scared texts.
O Bulle Shah, good will be when
you give your heart)

ishq da charkha, dukhaan diyaan puniyaan,
joon joon kate javaan hoon payaan duriyan.

(In the Charkha of Love where suffering is wool
it keeps increasing as you spool)

Saturday, 27 September 2008


Maid to princess on seeing her distraught:

"मन्दिर माँ सुंदर खड़ी, खड़ी सुखावे केश,
जिनके आँगन केवडा , वो क्यूँ मैला भेष ?"

( Standing in the temple in scroching heat,O beautiful, just to dry your hairs,
for those having kewda in their backyard are not supposed to be slovenly.)

Princess replies nonchalantly:
"आग लगो इस केवडे को,अरे जलो बूझो यह केश
जिस माली का केवडा, वो माली परदेश "
" केसरिया बालम, आओ रे,पधारो म्हारे देश ।"

( Let the Kewda be on fire, and put the hairs to burn,
for the one to whom this Kewda (indicating herself) belongs is not here.
O beloved, come back, come back to me)

This verse is taken from Rajasthani folk song 'Kesariya Balam, Padharo mhaare desh'. The english translation is not word by word but just an attempt to capture the emotion.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

एक धुन्धल्की शाम

एक धुँधल्की शाम,
मद्धम मद्धम साँस,
बोझिल सर, धुआं धुआं,
और दो मुन्तजिर आँख

ऐ मजहर-ए-ग़ज़ल,

आज तुम आओगी ,
अपने साथ मशर्रत लाओगी ,
और इस तीरगी में अपना जमाल फैलाओगी

पर तुम नहीं आई,

तुम्हारा पैगाम आया,
आज भी नही आओगी यह कहलाया,

कल का वादा कर के मुझ को बहलाया

आज फिर वही धुँधल्की शाम,

मद्धम मद्धम साँस,
बोझिल सर, धुआं धुआं,
और दो बुझी सी आँख

ऐ मजहर-ए-ग़ज़ल,
पर कल तुम आना ,
अपने साथ मशर्रत लाना,

और इस तीरगी में अपना जमाल फैलाना

[मुन्तजिर = awaiting, मजहर-ए-ग़ज़ल = manifestation of Gazal, मशर्रत = happiness,
तीरगी = darkness, जमाल = Beauty]

Friday, 19 September 2008

Aye waada shikan..

ऐ वादा शिकन ख़्वाब दिखना ही नही था,
क्यूँ प्यार किया था जो निभाना ही नही था

इस तरह मेरे हाथ से दामन ना छुड़ाओ,
दिल तोड़ के जाना था तो,आना ही नही था

अल्लाह ना मिलने के बहाने थे हज़ारों,
मिलने के लिए कोई बहाना ही नही था

देखो मेरे सर फोड़ के मरने की अदा भी,
वरना मुझे दीवाना बनाना ही नही था

रोने के लिए सिर्फ़ मुहब्बत ही नही थी,
गम और भी थे दिल का फसाना ही नही था

या हम से ही कहते ना बनी दिल की कहानी,
या गोश बरावाज़ ज़माना ही नही था

क़ैसर कोई आया था मेरी बखयागरी को,
देखा तो गरेबां का ठिकाना ही नही था

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Carrier's formula for handling worries.

Willis H. Carrier's formula for tackling worries..
Step 1: Analyze the situation fearlessly and honestly and figure out what is the worst that can possibly happen as a result of this failure.
Step 2: Reconcile yourself to the worst and accept it.
Step 3: Calmly devote time and energy to try and to improve upon the worst.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Mursheed - Mureed

Listed down is master- follower relationship of famous Sufi saints of the subcontinent. The Master or the guide is called 'Mursheed' and the successor is called 'Mureed' or 'Khalifa'.

Live in a day tight compartment

"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hands" - Thomas Carlyle

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil there of" - Jesus

"Everyday is a new life to a wise man"

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Teri surat nigaahon mein firti rahe..

Qawwali is form of sufi devotional music. During a Qawwali , it is observed that, listeners and artists transcend the wordly existence and are united with the Supreme,considered to be the height of spiritual ecstasy in Sufism. Mostly Qawwalis are sung in the name of god or seers but often for beloved. The provenance of Qawwali in Indian subcontinent can be traced to Amir Khusrow. Qawwalis are generally sung at dargahs of Sunni sufi saints. Aziz Mian was one of the most popular qawwals of our time.This beautiful Qawaali is written and rendered by Aziz mian.

दिल के बाज़ार में दौलत नहीं देखी जाती,
मियां, प्यार हो जाए तो सूरत नहीं देखी जाती,
एक तबस्सुम पे दो आलम को नेछावर कर दूँ,
माल अच्छा हो तो कीमत नहीं देखी जाती।

[तबस्सुम = smile , Happiness, आलम= universe]

मैंने दिल दिया, मेरे प्यार की हद थी,
जान दी ऐतबार की हद थी,
मर गए हम खुली रही आँखें,
यह मेरे इंतज़ार की हद थी।

तेरी सूरत निगाहों में फिरती रहे
इश्क तेरा सताए तो मैं क्या करूँ ।

दिल एक मन्दिर है, आप मूरत हैं,
आप कितने खूबसूरत हैं ।
तुझ को तकते रहे सब तू जो आया मस्जिद में,
नमाज़ सब ने अदा की तेरी अदा के लिए ।

तुझ में जो बात है वो बात नहीं आई है,
क्या ये तस्वीर किसी गैर से खिचवाई है,
मेरे खामोश रहने से ऐ बंदानशीं
तुझ पे इल्जाम आए तो मैं क्या करूँ ।

हस्न और इश्क दोनों में तफरीक है,
क्या करूँ मेरा दोनों पे ईमान है,
गर खुदा रूठ जाए तो सजदे करूँ,
गर सनम रूठ जाए तो मैं क्या करूँ।
[ तफरीक = Difference]

मेरे मरने की तुम मांगते हो दुआ,
ले गला घोट के मैं भी बेज़ार हूँ,
मौत अब तक तो दामन बचाती रही,
तू भी दामन बचाए तो मैं क्या करूं।

ज़ोर लगता गया फसाने में,
राज़ खुलता गया छुपाने में,
तुने तिनके समझ के फूँक दिए
मेरी दुनिया थी आशियाने में।

मैंने ख़ाक-ए-नशेमन को बोसे दिए,
और कह कर यह दिल को समझा लिया की,
आशियाना बनाना मेरा काम था,
कोई बिजली गिराए तो मैं क्या करूँ ।
[ख़ाक-ए-नशेमन = ruins of my dreamhome, बोसे = Kiss]
तेरी सूरत निगाहों में फिरती रहे,
इश्क तेरा सताए तो मैं क्या करूँ ।

Friday, 29 August 2008

इतना तो ज़िंदगी में.....

किस्मत हमारी गेसू-ए-जाना से कम नहीं, जितना सँवारतें गये उतनी ही बल पड़े।

इतना तो ज़िंदगी में किसी की खलल पड़े हंसने से हो सुकून ना रोने से कल पड़े ।

एक के तुम को फ़िक्र-ए-नशेब-फ़राज़ है, एक हम के चल पड़े तो बहरहाल चल पड़े।

मुद्दत क बाद उस ने जो की लुत्फ़ की निगाह, जी खुश तो हो गया मगर आँसू निकल पड़े।

साकी सभी को है गम-ए-तश्नलाबी मगर, मय है उसी क नाम के जिसकी उबल पड़े।

--- कैफ़ी आजमी

[ गेसू-ए-जाना = Hair locks of beloved, खलल = disturbance, फ़िक्र-ए-नशेब-फ़राज़ = botheration of lows and highs, बहरहाल = without reason, गम-ए-तश्नलाबी = sorrow of thirst, मय = wine]

Thursday, 21 August 2008

O Lal Meri

In last couple of weeks, attribute it to my solitude in Mumbai, I have become addicted. The addiction is of Sufi music. But this addiction is parochial, limited to few songs. And one song which I like the most is in paean of a dervish. The more I listen the more addicted I become .It is intoxicating. More than the music, it’s the rendition and the context in which the song is sung that makes it transcending. Listening to the maestros like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sabri brother, Abida and Aziz mian, put you in trance. Each one of them exhilarating, singing the same song yet very differently. You can see the communion between the Singer and the master. This song is written to eulogies Lal Shahbaaz Qalander, the famous Sufi saint of 12th century AD. Lal Shahbaaz Qalandar is also known as Jhulelal .

Who was Pir Lal Shahbaaz Qalander?
Pir (Saint) Lal Shahbaaz Qalandar was born as Syed Muhammad Usman in 1177 Marwand, Iran. His Father Syed Ibrahim Kabiruudin was a dervish and his mother had a royal lineage. From a very young age boy Usman showed a deep religious inclination. He became a Hafiz (One who has memorized The Holy Koran) by age of seven. He got himself initiated into Qalandria sect of Sufism. ‘Qalandar’ are Sufi who live in indigence and are peripatetic. As a Qalandar he roamed throughout Middle East and came to Sindh.
He befriended three other Sufi saints and henceforth the quartet is known as ‘Chaar Yaar’ (four friends). They became the pioneers of 13th century Sufi movement. The other three friends were Baba Farid Shakar Ganj of Pakpattan [1174-1266] (popularly known as Baba Farid); Jalaluddin Bukhari of Uch- Bahawalpur [1196-1294] and Bahauddin Zakaria of Multan [1170-1267].
He reached Sehwan the seat of learning and culture in Sindh. Sehwan is one of the oldest cities in Sindh. During the reign of Guptas, Sehwan was the capital of a Buddhist ruler who was brother of Chandragupta II (also Known as Vikrmaditya), the third of the Gupta dynasty in the 4th century AD.

As per the folklore, the fakirs in Sehwan sent him a bowl of milk filled to the brim indicating that there was no room for anything more. But surprisingly, he returned the bowl with a beautiful flower floating on the top. This legend spread far and wide by the time of his death in 1274, after living a good span for 97 years. In Sehwan he lived at the outskirt of city inside a tree trunk for 6 years. He disseminated his teachings and preached religious tolerance between Hindus and Muslims.
He was called ‘Lal’ (red) because of his red attire, ‘Shahbaaz’ due to his noble and divine spirit that soared like a falcon higher and higher in the boundless heavens. Also it is said that he saved his friend Farid Shakar Ganj from the gallows by becoming a falcon. ‘Qalandar’ since he belonged to Qalandria order of Sufism and was saintly, exalted and intoxicated with love for eternal being of God.
The Hindus regarded him as the incarnation of Bhartihari, the saintly brother of King Vikramaditya (Whether this Vikrmaditya was same as Chandragupta II, I am not clear), who is believed to have worshipped Shiva at the venue where Lal Shahbaz's shrine is situated with.
Millions of devotees visit his ‘Urs’ (death anniversary) every year to pay their obeisance. It falls on the 18th day of
Sha’ban. During the three day feast Sehwan springs to life and becomes the center of pilgrims from all over Pakistan. A devotional dance known as ‘Dhamal’ is a special ritual that is performed at the rhythmic beat of the Drum, Bells, gongs, cymbals and horns make a thunderous din, and the dervishes, clad in long robes, beads, bracelets and colored head-bands whirl faster and faster in a hypnotic trance, until with a final deafening scream they run wildly through the doors of the shrine to the courtyard beyond.

(Shewan Sharif)
The song which I am enchanted with is a Dhamaal which is sung in praise of the saint. The language is Sindhi but the message is universal. It goes as:

O laal meri, pat rakhio bala jhoole laalan, Sindri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz kalandar, Dama dam mast kalandar, Ali dam dam de andar

(O red Robed,Jhulelal,The sire of Sehwan in Sindh,My friend Shahbaaz Qalandar,You are in my every breath,And every breath is as strong as Ali,Please have your benign protection on me.)

Chaar charaag tere baran hamesha, Panjwa mein baaran aayi bala jhoole laalan
Sindri da Sehvan da, sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast Qalandar, Ali dam dam de andar

(O sire of Sehwan in Sindh,Jhulelal,My friend Shahbaaz Qalandar,Your shrine is always lighted with four lamps, And here I come to light a fifth lampYou are in my every breath,And every breath is as strong as Ali,)

Sehwan sharif dian unchiya galiyan heth waghey daryao bala jhulelanSindri da sehvan da sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast QalandarAli dam dam de andar
(O sire of Sehwan in Sindh,Jhulelal,friend Shahbaaz QalandarYour abode Shewan sharif has lofty roads,And river flows beneath itYou are in my every breath,And every breath is as strong as Ali)

Ghanan ghanan peera teri naubat vaaje, Naal vaje ghadiyaal bala jhoole laalan,Sindri da Sehvan da sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast kalandar, ali dam dam de andar, Dama dam mast Qalandar
(O sire of Sehwan in Sindh,Jhulelal,My friend Shahbaaz Qalandar,Gongs & bells jingle your name, Let the gong ring loud for your glory day and nightYou are in my every breath,And every breath is as strong as Ali)

Har dam peera teri khair hove, Naam-e-ali beda paar laga jhoole laalan,Sindri da sehvan da sakhi Shabaaz Qalandar, Dama dam mast Qalandar, Ali dam dam de andar
(The sire of Sehwan in Sindh,Jhulelal,My friend Shahbaaz Qalandar, O Lord, may you prevail everytime, everywhere, In the name of Ali, I pray to you to help my boat cross (the river of life) in safetyYou are in my every breath,And every breath is as strong as Ali,)

In the song Lal Shahbaaz Qalandar is also referred as Jhulelal. When I did a Google search for Jhulelal I found that Jhulelal is the most prominent god of Sindhis. He too preached the religious tolerance between Hindu and Muslim and equally revered by both religion. He preceded Lal Shahbaaz Qalandar. Why Lal Shahbaaz Qalandar is called Jhulelal I could not find out but I know Why Jhulelal was called Jhulelal.

Story of Lord Jhulelal
Sai (Lord) Jhulelal is the Isht dev (Community God) of Sindhis and is considered as incarnation of Water God Varun. He is depicted as an old man with white beard riding on Pallo fish.

Lord Jhulelal took incarnation in 2nd half of 10th century in Nassarpur near Tatta, Sindh as Uderolal to protect the Hindus from tyrant Muslim ruler Mirkshah and to teach the religious tolerance between two communities.

Not only he saved Sindhis from the hand of Mirkshah but also made Mirkshah his believer.
According to Legend, cradle in which baby Uderolal lied swung automatically hence the name Jhulelal where jhulan means cradle and lal means baby. He was also called Daryashah as he was considered an incarnation of water god. Darya, in Sindhi, means river.
Uderolal started Daryahi panth (Sect). Uderolal wanted to bind the people of the land, both Hindus and Muslims, into a bond of unity and spiritual harmony. He wanted to impress upon his followers the truth that all paths ultimately lead to one destination i.e. oneness of the God and oneness of the devotees
At age of thirteen years Uderolal realized that the purpose for which he had come to the earth was over. He decided to go back to heaven and his soul left his body. His followers took over his body and quarrel started over his cremation. The Muslim followers under the instructions of Mirkhshah wanted to build a “Turbat" and Quba" (a tomb) according to the dictates of Islam. The Hindus resented this stand. They wanted to build a Samadhi according to the Hindu customs. While the debate was going on, heavy rain started pouring in. There came a voice from heavens;
" Behold, make my shrine acceptable to both, Hindus and Muslims; let its one part be like a temple and the other part be like a Dargah (shrine). I belong to all of you".
And so it was. Daryahi Panth worshipping and following of Uderolal predominated the way of life in Sindh for more than 100 years.

Sai Jhulelal and Pir Lal Shabaaz Qalandar
100 years after Jhulelal came another saint and settled in Sehwan in Sindh. He was Lal Shahbaaz Qalandar. He brought with him another philosophy- Sufism which was akin to Daryahi Panth in as much as it also emphasized on brotherhood of mankind. It differed from Daryahi Panth in that it believed in a formless God, who was omnipresent but seen by no one. Probably because of similarity in teachings of Uderolal and Lal Shahbaaz Qalandar he is referred as Jhulelal.
For complete story of Lord Jhule lal please follow the link


Thursday, 31 July 2008

wo jo hum mein tum mein karar tha

जिंदगी से कुछ लम्हों और पलों को तर्क दें तो जिंदगी बेमानी हो जाती है। खल्क कहेगी की यह एक लम्बी सफर है तो मैं कहूँगा की अगर लम्बी है तो जिंदगी नहीं बस वक्त का गुज़रना है। अगर आप शाद हैं तो बस एक पल के लिए हैं। तमाम उम्र गर शाद रही तो मैं कहूँगा उम्र एक पल में गुज़र गई। जिसे लोग जीस्त कहतें है वो नशा है कुछ पलों का। जब होश आता है तो सामने होता है नशे का गुबार एक अकेलापन, सुकुउत और उन लम्हों के निशान।

ऐसी ही एक निशान को हकीम मोमिन खान ने ग़ज़ल का रूप दिया है। कई सुखनवर इसे उर्दू मौसिकी की सबसे बेहतरीन ग़ज़ल मानते हैं , पर मैं इसे मज़हर कहूँगा एक मुज़्तरिब शायर की याद और बेबसी का । ग़ज़ल कुछ इस तरह है:

वो जो हम में तुम में करार था तुम्हें याद हो की न याद हो,
वहीं यानी वादा निबाह का तुम्हे याद हो की न याद हो ।

[करार = peace, calm]

वो नए गिले वो शिकायतें वो मजे मजे की हेकायतें ,
वो हर एक बात पे रूठना तुम्हें याद हो की न याद हो।
[हेकायतें = stories]

कोई बात अगर ऐसी हुई जो तुम्हारे जी को बुरी लगी,
तो बयां से पहले ही भूलना तुम्हें याद हो की न याद हो।

सुनो ज़िक् है किसी साल का, वो वादा मुझसे था आप का,
वो निबाहने का ज़िक्र क्या, तुम्हें याद हो की न याद हो।

कभी हम में तुम में भी चाह थी , कभी हम में तुम में भी राह थी,
कभी हम भी तुम भी थे आशना तुम्हें याद हो की न याद हो।

[ चाह = affection, राह = understanding, आशना= friends]

हुए इत्तेफाक से अगर बहम , वो वफ़ा जताने को दम-ब-दम,
गिला-ऐ-मलामत-ऐ -अर्क़बा , तुम्हे याद हो की न याद हो।
[ इत्तेफाक = coincedence, बहम = togeather, गिला-ऐ-मलामत-ऐ -अर्क़बा = catechism of complaints ]
वो जो लुत्फ़ मुझ पे था बेशतर , वो करम के हाथ मेरे हाथ पर,
मुझे सब है याद ज़रा ज़रा, तुम्हें याद हो के न याद हो।
[ लुत्फ़ = fun, बेशतर = continuous]

कभी बैठे सब रू-बा-रू तो इशारतों से हे गुफ्तगू,
वो बयां शौक़ का बरमला तुम्हे याद हो के न याद हो।
[ रू-बा-रू = face to face, इशारतों = signs, गुफ्तगू = conversation,बयां = rendition, बरमला = openly]
वो बिगड़ना वस्ल की रात का; वो न मानना किसी भी बात का,
वो नहीं नहीं की हर आन अदा, तुम्हें याद हो की न याद हो।

[ वस्ल = meeting]

जिसे आप गिनते थे आशना , जिसे आप कहते थे बावफा,
मैं वही हूँ मोमिन-ऐ-मुब्त्ल्ला तुम्हे याद हो की न याद हो।
[ आशना = friend बावफा = fiedel मोमिन-ऐ-मुब्त्ल्ला = Momin - the lover ]

मोमिन पेशे से हकीम थे इस लिए इन्हे हकीम मोमिन कहा जाता है. यह ग़ालिब, ज़ौंक़ और ज़फ़र के हम उम्र थे।
[तर्क (remove) , खल्क (world), शाद (happy), जीस्त (Life),गुबार (cloud of dust), सुकुउत (silence), सुखनवर (poets), मज़हर (manifestation), मुज़्तरिब (sad,restless) ]

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Baat Karni mujhe mushkil kabhi aisii tou na thee.

This timeless Ghazal, one of my favorite non Ghalib verse, was written by Bahadur Shah 'Zafar' , the last Mughal King। The mood truly captures the despondency and helplessness. It goes like this

Baat Karni Mujhe Mushkil Kabhi Aisi Tou Na Thee,
Jaisii Ab Hai Teri Mehfil Kabhi Aisii tou Na thee

Le gaya Chhiin Ke aaj kaun tera sabr-o-qarar,
Beqarai tujhe ai dil kabhi aisii tou na thee

Un kii aankhon ne khuda jaane kia kya jaadu,
Ke tabiyat meri maa_il Kabhi aisi tou na thee

chashm-e-qaatil merii dushman thii hameshaa lekin,
jaise ab ho ga_ii qaatil kabhii aisii to na thii

aks-e-rukh-e-yaar ne kis se hai tujh ko chamakayaa,
taab mein maah-e-kaamil kabhi aisis tou na thee

Kya sabab hai tu jo bigata hai zafar se har baar,
Khuu teri huur-e-shamaail kabhi aisi tou na thee

I Know that a lot of the feelings and emotions will be lost in translation but still I am making a vague attempt to translate it in the hope that people who don’t understand the above will at least come a bit closer to ‘Zafar’- the poet. For those who understood it can read the original again.

It was never so difficult for me to converse as it is now
Your party never was like this as it is now

Who has usurped you patience and peace
You never were as restless as you are now

Her eyes, my lord, cast what a spell on me
I never was as intoxicated as I am now

Those killer eyes were always my enemy,
but never were as fatal as it is now

What has made the face of beloved bright?
Shine in you, O Moon, never was as it is now

What is the reason that you are annoyed with ‘Zafar’,
Your habit, O blazing fairy, never was like as it is now