Home » verse

Why fanatics of today would not have spared Kabir

The murders of rationalists and threats to writers, negate what was achieved through centuries of cross-cultural exchange and intellectually robust reformist movements.

  • “Friend
  • You had one life
  • And you blew it”

Encountering Kabir in Ithaca, a small town in upstate New York, was an unreal experience. The occasion was a reading of new translations of […]

‘My life-achievement’ – karnama e hayat

Mera karnama-e-zindagi Meri hasraton kay siwa nahi Yeh kiya nahi, woh hua nahi Yeh mila nahi, woh raha nahi. :D

February 17th, 2010|Personal, Poetry, Urdu, Urdu Literature|3 Comments

On the bank of the river

On the bank of the river,
water is grudged by that one alone
who is blind to the flowing stream.
Bar lab-e ju bokhl-e âb ân-râ bovad
ku ze ju-ye âb nâ-binâ bovad
— Mathnawi II:894
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
“Rumi: Daylight”
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

On […]

February 16th, 2010|Rumi, Sufi poetry, Sufism|1 Comment

Mazhub – a voice for peaceful South Asia

Brijinder SagarIn 2006, I read this brilliant poem by Brijinder”Sagar (found here on Adnan’s brilliant site). I had kept it with me for an adequate translation. I have been unable to do justice and therefore I will rework my draft to post here. In the meantime, this poem will be accessible to Urdu-Hindustani speakers. This poem is about bigotry and extremism in the name of religion that has overtaken India as well as other South Asian countries. Pakistan is no exception and Bangladesh is also witnessing the rise of Islamism, though not as alarming as India and Pakistan. Sri Lanka has also seen ethnic warfare, different in its manifestation but akin to the violence and death that comes in its wake. In such a charged environment, voices for peace are delightful.

Har haath main mazhub kay parcham
Har aaNkh main wehshat ka junooN
Lub pay haiN nafratoN kay sholay
KhyaaloN pay ik aawaaraa fusooN
Ik zehar ka baadal fazaa pay chaayaa hai
Khumaar-e-ghaphlat phir zehanoN pay aayaa hai
Har nighaah main bus ik swaal ki bu
Hindu ki aulaad hai ya muslim hai tu
Tarak subnay kiyay viraasat kay khazaanay
Woh Nanak ki wehdat Kabir kay taraanay
KahiN talwaaraiN to kahiN trishool aayaay
SadioN ki pehchaanaiN sub bhool aayaay
Bhai ko bhai kay qatl ki pyaas
NamooN har samt yahi ghurbat-e-ahsaas
Lahu phir apnay hi lahu say laraa hai
Waqt phir sehmaa saa ik aur ja kharaa hai
Abhi to bhray bhi na thay Zakhm tam_ddun kay
Abhi to bhoolay bhi na thay woh aleel ayaam
DariNda insaaN main uthaa tha yeh abhi kal ki baat hai
Aadam khud bika tha yeh abhi kal ki baat hai
Aur aaj phir utraa hai afreet-e-wehshat
Aur phir say lagaayay hai chehraa mazhub ka
Phir say hai hujoomoN pay ik shauq-e-bekaar
Phir say banaa mazhub bahaanaa nafrat ka
Kab talak paighaMbar yooN neelaam karogay?
Kab talak latkaingay masihay saleeb-e-yaas par?
Kab talak pinhaaN insaaN qattl hogaa?
Kab talak pashymaaN karogay apnaa wazood?
Kab talak? […]
February 14th, 2010|Religion, SouthAsia, Urdu Literature, World Literature|19 Comments

powerless is the prayer…

A friend sent me these verses; luckily he translated the first verse of the ghazal
Is na’ay daur ki na’i charagari tou deykhi-ye
Bay asari dua kay sath, dard dawa kay saath hai
(Behold the beneficience of this age modern
powerless is the prayer, painful its medication)
Jo miri riyazat-i-neem shab ko Saleem subh na mil saki
Tou is kay ma’nay tou […]

October 26th, 2008|Urdu|4 Comments

Sab Thath pada reh jaye ga…(When the gypsy-headman leaves)

These pithy Urdu verses by Nazeer Akbarabadi lament that all will be abandoned when the Banjara (gypsy), the headman or Naik in the folklore, [or at a general level the life-traveller] will leave his temporal abode. […]

August 18th, 2008|Personal, Urdu, Urdu Literature|5 Comments

A Few Words on the Soul

Thanks to my friend Fawad, I have been introduced to the fine poetry of , Wislawa Szymborska (b. 1923) also the 1996 Polish Nobel Laureate.

A Few Words on the Soul

We have a soul at times.

No one’s got it non-stop,

for keeps.

Day after day,

year after year

may pass without it.


it will settle for awhile

only […]

April 6th, 2008|Poetry, Translations, World Literature|3 Comments