Khowaja Fareed – the mystical voice of Southern Punjab

A friend, for the lack of a better term (why are we always hankering after labels and identities for some associations that lie beyond the act of defining), wrote this piece for Jahane Rumi. She is a follower of the Sufi creed and this is what created a bond between us that refuses to go away despite the different paths and lives we have led. The connection has stood the winds of time. There is an audio-link at the end as well.

Recently while going through some of my late grandfather’s books, I was struck by a feeble looking Deewan of Khowaja Fareed. Feeble because it bore the date of 1964 for its inclusion in his impressive book collection. Expressing the thrill of holding a book which had travelled 44 years in time to reach me is beyond words. Needless to say with what intensity the book’s contents kept me immersed in them for almost two hours with un -interrupted focus which is a rare event in an ever-reaching-out-to-meet-a-target kind of life style we are used to.

Khowaja Ghulam Fareed is one of a very few Sufi poets of Sub-continent who had an equal command over Arabic,Persian,Urdu,Hindi,Siraiki and Marawari languages.A rare and enthralling blend of these languages is found in his Kafis.Kafi as we know is a genre of poetry most frequently used by the mystic poets of South Asia to express their love for Murshid(spiritual mantor),man’s relationship with his creator and ever existing tension between Ishq(devotion) and Aql-o-ilm(reason and knowledge).

Although I had previously relished Khowaja’s poetry through various musical maestros e.g Pathane Khan(Menda Ishq Vi Tun….), Surrya Multanikar (Peeloo Pakian Ni…) and Zahida Parveen (Kia Haal Sunawan Dil Da..). However,this particular encounter with his Deewan introduced me to the depth and timelessness of his poetry like never before. I was also amazed at the range of subjects covered in his poetry. One particular Kafi which I am quoting below would give you an idea of what I am trying to say. These are beautifully coined and smoothly fluent Urdu lyrics.

KIS DHARTI SE AYE HO TUM
KIS NAGRI KE BASI RE
PARAM NAGAR HAI DES TUMHARA
PHIRTE KAHAN UDASI RE
KYUN HOTE HO JOGI BHOGI
ROGI TARAH BERAGI RE
APNA AAP SANBHAL KE DEKHO
KAR KE NAZAR HAQEEQAT KI
APNI ZAT SIFAT KO SAMJHO
APNI KARO SHANASI RE
BAAT FAREEDI SOCH KE SUNIO
LA KAR DIL KE KANON KO
DONON JAG KE MAALIK TUM HO
BHOLE ALLAH RASI RE

And here is an effort to translate the gist and not each and every word:

You are an inhabitant of the land of divine love, so do not wander in despair. Place a hand on the pulse of life and look into the eyes of reality. Perceive your inner self and take an account of what treasure it holds.Listen to what Fareed is saying with not your physical ears but with your heart and soul. Let me tell you that only you are the sole owner of this universe.”

Another unique feature of his poetry is the externalisation of deepest emotions through the use of vivid imagery of Rohi (Rohi is the name used for the Southern Punjab desert which was Khowaja’s abode). References to fruit picking (Peloo), to native women going about their daily chores (Jatian), the rain (megh) and the desert (Thal) transport the readers to his world and there he addresses them as if in person.

GARJAT BADRA TASKAT BIJLI
RIM JHIM BARISH ZOR GHATA KE
SAJAN BHAJ FAREED HAI JEENA
MUSHKIL AISE BAR UTHA KE

Its un imaginable to live without the beloved when showers of rain and whips of lightening are thrashing me

And in the end I want to share with a Kafi’s few couplets which he wrote with overtones of Wahdat-al Wajood (I dont know how to translate this term but it is commonly known as Oneness of Existence – Unity of All Beings!)

HAI ISHQ DA JALWA HAR HAR JA
SUBHAN ALLAH SUBHANALLAH
KHUD BULBUL TE PARWANA HAI
GUL SHAM OOTE PARWAN HAI
THI CHAND CHAKOR NUN MOH LYA
SUBHANALLAH SUBHANALLAH
TASDEEQ KITHAN TANZEEH KITHAN
TAQLEED ATE TASHBEEH KITHAN
HAI HAIRAT SUKH TASLEEM-0-RAZA
SUBHANALLAH SUBHANALLAH
HAI PEET FAREED DI REET AJAB
HAI DARD TE SOZ DI GEET AJAB
SUN SAMJHO SARE AHLE SAFA
SUBHANALLAH SUBHANALLAH

Interpretation: That Love pervades and manifests everywhere – in the form of the lover and in the form of Beloved- but they are actually the same

Here is a best rendition of this Kaafi. Please listen – even if you do not understand the lyrics, you will be moved.

All My Posts, Arts & Culture, Love, Personal, Poetry, Sufi poetry, Sufism

  • http://h--j.blogspot.com/ Hira

    That was such a wonderful read. Enlightening too for ignorant people like me. The first kafi is so beautifully lyrical.

  • http://sidhusaaheb.blogspot.com Sidhusaaheb

    I wonder if this is the same Baba Farid, a lot of whose work has been included in the Guru Granth Sahib.

  • http://www.manmahesh.blogspot.com MS

    I was also wondering if it is the same Baba Farid, but Raza mentions him as Khowaja Fareed while we know him as Sheikh Farid.. Raza pls enlighten.

  • Nadima

    This piece of writing is master piece itself, i am really impressed by the beauty of this text.Kalam is also beautifully translated.

  • http://deevaan.blogspot.com Naveed Siraj

    Sidhusaaheb – In short, Khawaja Ghulam Fareed (1841-1901) and Baba Farid (1173-1265). So they are separated by about 500years. I too did not know this before I became a fan of http://www.apnaorg.com and when I purchased “Masterpieces of Punjabi Poetry” by Muzaffar Ghaffar. This series, books so far released by Ferozsons publishers, includes one on Baba Guru Nanak.

    RR – Listening to Abida. Only one encapsulates the feeling. Subhan-Allah :)

  • Nadima

    This is such a nice narration ,the Khawaja Farid is different from Baba Frid who was a saint in central Punjab and he wrote in Punjabi, may be some of his work is there in Guru Garanth.

  • http://sidhusaaheb.blogspot.com Sidhusaaheb

    @Naveed Siraj and Nadima: Thank you so much! :)

    The Guru Granth Sahib contains several of Baba Farid’s compositions.

  • shahidain

    For Sidhusaaheb. A brief introduction of

    “Baba Farid’s Life”

    Sheikh Farid-ud-Din popularly known as Baba Fraid was born on the on the first day of the month of Ramzaan in 1173 in the city of Kothiwal, near Dipalpur in Punjab. The city is on the banks of the river Sutlej. People going across would usually wash [clean = pak] themselves at the ferry [pattan]. Hence the name is now called Pak Pattan.

    Baba Farid’s ancestors were from a town called Aush, south of Fergana [Babur’s hometown] south east of Andijan. Farid’s father Jamal-ud-din Suleiman married the daughter of Sheikh Wajih-ud-din Khojendi called Qarsum Bibi [some say her name was Mariam]. Qarsum was a lady of great piety. According to legend it was she who influenced Farid to pray by placing small cubes of Shakar [brown sugar] under Farid’s prayer mat. One day it is said that although she did not place the Shakar, nevertheless there was a piece of Shakar under Farid’s mat.

    Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki was Baba Farid’s “Guru”. He died on the 5th of Moharram 1266. Baba Farid’s poetry was later to influence the Sikh religion and especially their Holy Book “Sri Guru Granth Sahib” by the founder Guru Nanak. Such was the universality of Baba Farid, the Sufi poet laureate from Punjab.

    ” Koi Bole Ram Ram koi Khudaee,

    Koi sevay Gosainyan koi Allah ”

    Some call him Ram, some Khuda

    Some say Gosain, some Allah.

    (Guru Arjun Dev – Sri Guru Granth Sahib)

    Dohra – Baba Farid.

    ” Farid Kaaley maindey kaprey, kaala mainda wais,

    Gunahan Bharehan main pheraan, Lok kahain dervish ”

    ” Laden with my load of misdeeds, I move about in the garb of black garments.

    And the people see me and call me a dervish.”

    “Galian chikkar door ghar, naal payarey neouney,

    challaan tey bhijjay kambli, rahan ta jaaey neouney.”

    My promise with my love, a long way to go and a muddy lane ahead

    If I move I spoil my cloak; if I stay I break my word. ”

    “Bhijoy sujhoy kambli Allah wirsay meen

    Jai millaan tahaan sajnaa tate nahin neounay”

    Drenched and smirched be the cloak; let God’s cloud pour all the waters:

    Go I must; I go to keep my word of love.”

    ” Kook Farid Kook, Tu jivain Rakha Jawar

    Jab lag tanda na, Giray tab lag Kook pukar.”

    Shout, Farid, shout like the watchful man in the corn-field;

    For listening to Baba Farid kalam , a links is mentioned below

    http://www.seraikigeet.com/b-farid.html

    “Khawaja Ghulam Farid Life”

    Khawaja Ghulam Farid, the top most spiritual poet in Siraiki Language, was born in 1845 A.D. at Kot Mithan, in a family of Arab settlers who had come to this country along with the Arab forces.

    Khawaja Farid’s mother died when he was only four years of age. He was looked after by his elder brother. At the age of eight, he had committed to memory the whole of the holy Quran. When he crossed 28 years , he left for Ruhi where the remained for about eighteen years. It was a typical wilderness but suitable for a recluse saint. It was very beneficial for connection with Kot Mithan or Chachar. About this wilderness of Ruhi, we often read in his lyrics. He performed Haj Baitullah in 1876.

    Khawaja Farid was conversant with seven languages Viz, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Multani, Sindhi, Hindi and Sansakrat. He led a life of purity and was utterly devoted to the righteous path of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

    At times he felt a great separation and so he cried, groaned and sang in his ecstacy of the love which united him to his creator but with a veil in between them. Khawaja Farid expressed this love in his fine verses as mentioned above.

    For listening to Khawaja Ghulam Farid kalam , a links is mentioned below

    http://www.seraikigeet.com/sorayya.html
    http://www.seraikigeet.com/k-farid.html

  • http://sidhusaaheb.blogspot.com Sidhusaaheb

    Shahidain, I don’t have enough words to thank you! :)

  • Mariska

    Thank u so much 4 translating such beautiful work

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  • http://www.alislam.org Lutf

    In the book entitled “malfoozat e faridi”, and in the ahmadiyya community literature, you will find correspondance which took place between Khwaja Farid and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib of Qadian. It has been reported that Khwaja Farid endorsed and accepted the claims of Mirza sahib as being the Imam Mahdi and Promised Messiah.

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  • Khwaja Aftab Ali, Florida,USA USA

    Hearty Eid Greetings to the People’s Prime Minister of Pakistan and special appreciation for the recent development activities in Multan greater area. Would prime minister be kind enough to work on a mega project for this neglected area of Southern Punjab to create enough jobs which may stop poor people of this area to be exploited in big cities of the country. Last but not least, if the Prime minister could arrange to move/ transfer the Head Quarters of Pakistan Railways in Multan area-the real center of the country to boost under developed area and provide an opportunity to earn fortune by selling railways expansive land in Lahore, mostly used for railway officers’ residences. I hope PM will do his best as no one stays for ever on this authoritative important positions. Sincerely , Khwaja Aftab Ali, Advocate/ I.P. Attorney
    ——————————-

    FIVE REGIONAL CITIES OF PAKISTAN should be
    upgraded with in the provinces in the country. Regional cities of Dera Ismail Khan in NWFP, Gawadar/ Qalat in Balouchistan, Sukkar/ Larkana in Upper Sind, Jehlam/ Rawalpindi and Multan in Punjab province. These regional cities have been ignored by the federal and provincial governments although these cities have their own history, culture and languages.Dera Ismail Khan in south of Pakhtun khwa/MWFP is under seige, Multan/DG Khan in south of Punjab is next target of religious extremists,Sukkar/ Larkana is being rule by criminals, Gawadar/ Qalat is trouble some. The people of these regions have to travel to provincial capitals for every small issue and requirement of the daily life which should be provided in nearby cities. A good number of population travel to big cities for their survival to earn livelihood as the local feudal own majority land and keep the common man as their slaves. Creation of regional government and upgrading of the regional cities will save a lot of money and time of the poor people of these regions. Circuit benches of the High Courts are already working in these areas and only requirement is the additional staff of different departments involved in additional work at the provincial capitals. The concern authorities should immediately consider to upgrade the regional cities. And immediate attention should be given upgrade/build the airports,TV station, civic center, libraries,hospitals, educational institutes and investment opportunities for Pakistanis living abroad and foreign firms to create jobs in the area as majority population in rural Pakistan do not have enough resources to survive. It’s remind me the condition of pre Islamic revolution of Iran in Shah time when the rural Iran was ignored and the capital Tehran was developed in a way to call it Paris of Middle East with modern life style. Couple of other big cities like Isfahan and Caspian sea was taken care of because of foreign tourists but rural area was ruled by cruel police and intelligence. Then what happen rural population supported the Islamic revolution and moved to Tehran and other big cities later on. The new government after revolution developed, built and upgraded the rural areas of Iran accordingly. A fund to upgrade/build these regional cities in Pakistan should be intoduced by public and private sector and Pakistani government, our foreign friends and Pakistanis living abroad may be asked to participate in this development mission in the country..KHWAJA AFTAB ALI,( former secretary, Iranian embassy, Saudi Arabia,1979-88) Advocate High Court & I.P. Attorney-first & the only Pakistani lawyer who earned Intellectual Property laws scholarship in USA,presently residing in Florida, USA. all_languages@hotmail.com

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