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Tau kiya yeh tay haye… (Gulbahar Bano singing)

A piece of Urdu poetry that has remained with me through seasons, years and all the vicissitudes…
This is an extraordinary ghazal (rhymed poem in Urdu composed in classical style). The poet is perhaps Saleem Kausar whose expression is subtle yet brutal. There is a sense of finality in the lyrics – a denouement that is being challenged and hence a dynamic is created that allows the tragedy of two people parting their ways to turn into a moment of absolute beauty. The sadness of the verse is augmented by Gulbahar Bano’s unique voice that brings out the depth of meaning in the lines.

I can only translate the first couplet:
Tau kiya ye tay haye ke ab umr bhar nahee milna
Tau phir ye umr bhi kiyon, tum se gar nahee milna

Is it now agreed that we shall not meet for life
But what good would be living if I will not be with you

As I rendered this literal translation, I wanted to curse myself for being so inadequate with words.. Those who can understand Urdu or Hindi would know what exactly I am complaining about. I dedicate this to someone special who remains as close as time itself. In fact, I am grateful to this muse who sent it the other day bringing back the smell of summer heat, the shades of white and all the flowers that bloomed and were tucked into thick books.

Here is the ghazal

another version found on youtube: […]

February 18th, 2010|Culture, Music, Pakistan, Pakistani Art, Pakistani Literature, Personal, Poetry, video|Comments Off on Tau kiya yeh tay haye… (Gulbahar Bano singing)

Chal Way Bullehya Chal O’thay Chaliyay – Let’s go where everyone is blind

Chal Way Bullehya Chal O’thay Chaliyay
Jithay Saaray Annay
Na Koi Saadee Zaat PichHanay
Tay Na Koi Saanu Mannay
O’ Bulleh Shah let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognizes our caste (or race, or family name)
And where no one believes in us
Ab to jaag Musaffir pyare
Raeen gayi latke taare
Kar le aj karni da weera
Mod na ho si aawen tera
Awake, dear traveller, you’ve got to move on.
Trailing its stars, the night is gone.
Do what you have to do, do it today.
You will never be back this way.
Your companions are calling.
Let us go.
Awake, dear traveller, you’ve got to move on.
Trailing its stars, the night is gone.
A pearl, a ruby, the touchstone and dice
With all that you thirst by the waterside.
Awake, dear traveller, you’ve got to move on.
Trailing its stars, the night is gone.
Below a modern rendition of these verses by the inimitable Meekal Hasan Band. They have been instrumental in reintroducing Sufi poetry among the youth of our country. […]
February 7th, 2010|Poetry, Sufi poetry, Sufism, World Literature|7 Comments

Abida Parveen’s magic – Sufi music at its best

Someone once said Abida Parveen is not a singer or an artist… she is an experience….. her voice and expression takes you to a different universe… when she collaborated with India’s ace filmmaker, poet, artist, revivalist, musician and activist Muzaffar Ali the result had to be something divine … something out of ordinary, something that transcends all boundaries… it was purest of the pure Raqs-e-Bismil (dance of the injured)… totally unforgettable and soulful … In Abida’s own words Raqs-e-Bismil has the glow of Almighty in it…one can become wali by listening to it…. sufi poetry has a magic that is beyond any explanation, any comprehension … it fascinates me as each time it takes me into a new realm of discovery.

I am sharing my favorite ghazal from the album with translation… although each piece is a priceless gem yet this ghazal has the power to take you beyond yourself. Abida is at her best here.

ABIDA PARVEEN – Raqs-e-Bismil – Mujhe Bekhudi by sweetsongs58

The English translation is done by Muzaffar Ali himself.

Hairat mara ze har do jahan be niaz kard
Een khab kaare daulat e bedaar meekunad

Bewilderment has absolved me of both the worlds
This is the consequence of awakening from my dreams

April 6th, 2008|Music, Pakistani Art, Sufi poetry, Sufism, video|10 Comments

Songs of Lalon Fakir – the Bengali mystic

these two poems by Lalon Fakir – the singing mystic of Bengal who echoes Bulleh Shah, Kabir and the tradition of Bhakti.

A Strange Bird

Look, how a strange bird flits in and out of the cage!
O brother, I wish I could bind it with my mindís fetters.
Have you seen a house of eight rooms with nine doors
Closed and open, with windows in between, mirrored?
O mind, you are a bird encaged! And of green sticks
Is your cage made, but it will be broken one day.
Lalon says: Open the cage, look how the bird wings away!


People ask, what is Lalon’s caste?
Lalon says, my eyes fail to detect
The signs of caste. Don’t you see that
Some wear garlands, some rosaries
Around the neck? But does it make any
Difference brother? O, tell me,
What mark does one carry when
One is born, or when one dies?
A muslim is marked by the sign
Of circumcision; but how should
You mark a woman? If a Brahmin male
Is known by the thread he wears,
How is a woman known? People of the world,
O brother, talk of marks and signs,
But Lalon says: I have only dissolved
The raft of signs, the marks of caste
In the deluge of the One!

Translated by Azfar Hussain

More details on Lalon are below: […]

March 5th, 2008|Bangladesh, Poetry, Sufi poetry, Sufism, World Artists|15 Comments