Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ghalib, what does it take for a man to become human?

We continue our collaborative blogsphere project with The South Asian Idea Weblog with yet another she'r by Ghalib. The first two she'r in this series raised questions regarding what it means to believe in a certain Faith. For this week's post, we depart from the theme of "vafaadaarii" or faithfulness and instead come to a different type of morality. The morality of humanity. Ghalib has reflected extensively on the human condition. He was personally witness to the horror and terror of 1857. This verse, the opening verse (matlaa) of the ghazal, though, is from a ghazal composed around 1821. At this time Ghalib was around 24 years of age.

The verse:

بسکہ دشوار ہے ہر کام کا آساں ہونا

آدمی کو بھی میسر نہیں انساں ہونا

baskih dushvaar hai har kaam kaa aasaa;N honaa
aadmii ko bhii muyassar nahii;N insaa;N honaa

1a) it's difficult to such an extent for every task to be easy
1b) although it's difficult for every task to be easy

2) even/also for a man, it's not attainable/attained/easy to become human/humane

Click here for complete commentary accompanying the translation by FWP.

We will first discuss two possible interpretations of this verse, made possible by the word baskih which can mean either "although" or "to such an extent."

Thus the first line can be read as saying, "although it is difficult for every task to be easy," i.e. we cannot really expect that every task would be an easy one, but look, Ghalib says (second line), isn't it incredible that even man cannot attain humanity (humanness) in this world.

Another reading can be: "To such an extent is it difficult for every task to be easy, that even man cannot become a human in this world." For a man to become human should be very easy, says Ghalib, almost by definition (as Hali points out). And yet, this is not the case. The inhumanity and cruelty of men is all around us. These are men all right, but are they human? Ghalib wonders.

As we have mentioned before, Ghalib was a lover of words and in this verse, as Frances Pritchett points out, Ghalib plays on the dichotomy between aadmii (man) and insaaN (human) words that are often considered synonyms but have distinctly different connotations (as evidenced by the noun insaaniyat or humanity derived from insaaN, not from aadmii). To become an aadmii, a descendant of Adam, a man, one need do nothing at all except be born. In other words we don't become men, we simply are (the distinction between "to be" and "to become"). But, a human (insaaN) someone who has morals and social and cultural values. This we need to become. It takes work to become human. Sometimes so much work, that we fail to attain humanity. Ghalib uses the verb muyassar honaa very cleverly here. It can be read as saying that such is the wicked world that men are not allowed to be human (by impersonal forces, or "the system" as we might say). Or it can also be read as saying that men simply are failing to attain humanity (either through their own weaknesses or otherwise, we don't know).

In the present day context of South Asia this verse raises many questions for us to ponder. One question that comes to my mind is, is Ghalib's use of aadmii (man) purely an example of 19th century gender norms where "man" was used to refer to men and women (people in general) or does he perhaps wish to suggest that it is men (gender intended) in particular who find it difficult to become human. Women, by this reading, have no such problem, or they tend to show humanity far more often. I know this could be reading too much into the verse and I am prepared to accept that aadmii is simply gendered usage. But I couldn't help but wonder...

Please visit The South Asian Idea Weblog for further ruminations and questions on the verse.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Ghalib: Reflections on Faith, Humanity and Beyond": Announcing a new collaborative project with The South Asian Idea Weblog

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack of what is found there.
- William Carlos Williams

Somewhere, sometime poetry speaks to all of us. Poetry makes us think, sometimes precisely because it does not ask us to think, does not seek to convince us. Humanity, peace, coexistence, faith, are on test today in South Asia. And we turn to one of its greatest poets to learn some simple and hence first-to-be-forgotten Truths. We turn to Ghalib to learn to think. In leaning upon Ghalib, we also self-consciously reach for a source indigenous to South Asia, to its own civilizational genius, to search for a way forward.

To millions across the world, the name "Ghalib" needs no introduction. Perhaps the most accomplished and certainly the most famous poet of Urdu and Persian that South Asia has produced, Asadallah Khan 'Ghalib' (1797-1869) has been recited, read, interpreted and quoted countless times in the past 150 years.

Through Ghalib we want to raise questions that are relevant to us today in South Asia and to South Asians elsewhere in the world. What does it mean to practice a certain Religion in a plural society? How should we treat those who are different from Us? What is the nature of Belief? Or Unbelief? What is the nature of the Divine? Can (wo)man presume to know the workings of Nature (the Beloved)? As humans must we accept our fate? Or do we have Free Will? In many ways these are the eternal questions that face us as humans. But as we will see, Ghalib raises them (and occasionally provides answers) in a manner all his own. "Kehte haiN ke Ghalib kaa hai andaaz-e-bayaN aur."

In this new project, on which we have embarked just last week, we depart from the conventional model of presenting an entire ghazal followed by its translation. Instead we present only one she'r at a time along with its literal (not poetic) translation followed by a commentary and the questions it raises. Each week we will choose one verse. A commentary will be offered here on mehr-e-niimroz and questions surrounding the she'r will be posted on The South Asian Idea Weblog

Adept at expressing highly subtle and complex thoughts and emotions within the space of two lines (the she'r), Ghalib's poetry has the rare virtue of appealing directly to the heart as well as providing much food for thought. However, unlike Iqbal, unlike the Sufis (like Khusrau), unlike the Bhakti poets (like Kabir), Ghalib was not a poet with a message. His first love was words and he loved to explore their sounds and meanings. And since he was not committed to convincing people of a message, reading him is a journey whose destination is not already known.

In the popular imagination Ghalib is a romantic poet, a poet of love, longing, and desire. More scholarly attention focuses on Ghalib's technical prowess, his socio-historical and literary context, his skills in creating multiple meanings out of single words and phrases and his ability to create fresh, new metaphors.

We, however set out to do something different. In his Urdu divaan, Ghalib talks not only about love and longing, but also about faith and religion, about the nature of Divinity, about Being and Nothingness, about what it means to Believe. Ghalib's questioning nature comes through very clearly in his verses. Not content to accept any received truths either from the Shaikh or the Brahmin, Ghalib constantly puts everything to the test of his own reason and experience. It is this aspect of Ghalib's critical thinking that we wish to explore in our project.

Join us in this journey by leaving your thoughts and by suggesting she'r for discussion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ghalib on the coils of religious symbolism

With last time's post on the "Faith of Faithlessness" we have embarked upon a new project in collaboration with The South Asian Idea blog. Via selected couplets of Ghalib we wish to raise certain questions on religion, faith, humanity, divinity, pluralism and beyond. Questions that are at once eternal and of contemporary relevance.

This is what we have planned. Every week, or roughly every week we will choose one Urdu verse by Ghalib which speaks about the themes mentioned above. A literal translation along with commentary will be posted here. In concert with that, some questions will be posed around the verse and its meaning(s) here on The South Asian Idea. Our readers are encouraged to visit there to get the full experience of this endeavor. And if you know of good Ghalib verses that it would be relevant to discuss here, please send them our way.

Verse for this week:

نہیں کچھ سبحہ و زنار کے پھندے میں گیرائ
وفاداری میں شیخ و برہمن کی آزمائش ہے

nahii;N kuchh sub;hah-o-zunnaar ke phande me;N giiraa))ii
vafaadaarii me;N shai;x-o-barhaman kii aazmaa))ish hai

Literal translation:
there is no {'grip' / holding-power} in the noose/coil/snare of prayer-beads and sacred-thread
in faithfulness is the test of the Shaikh and the Brahmin

[Translation by FWP, click here for this verses entry in A Desertful of Roses.]

First let us here some commentary by Moazzam Siddiqi sahab (courtesy Anjum Altaf of The South Asian Idea):
[subbah and zunnaar are exoteric/external/zaahirii symbols and are incapable of penetrating and taking hold of the soul; wafaadaarii, which lies in the niyya(t) of the believer, and thus, cannot be externally seen/exhibited is an internal state of the believer]. The word "phanda" noose in Hindi, for which the Persian words are "kamand, daam" brings to mind the whole imagery of "shikaar," the game of hunting where the beloved is the shikaarii (the hunter) and uses the phanda/kamand to capture/seize the heart of the lover (the "shikaar," the prey or victim)].

Ghalib uses the pejorative or negative word, "phanda" or noose to refer to the rosary and the thread. Thus he seems to want to evoke images of being trapped, being unable to escape and realize the true nature of Divinity. But there is a tension here in the verse. The coils are weak, the noose is ineffective. It has no holding power. Thus it cannot really bind the Shaikh or the Brahmin to their vows, to their beliefs. Frances Pritchett expresses the dilemma very well:

"Does this mean that the Shaikh and Brahmin might be 'trapped' or 'ensnared' by their own religious symbols? And if so, would this entrapment occur against their will, so that they'd struggle to escape, the way trapped creatures normally do? If so, they would perhaps succeed, since these nooses have no real 'gripping power'. But what form would their struggle take?

Or would this 'entrapment' and 'snaring' occur without their awareness, such that they'd complacently think themselves well-grounded, or firmly anchored, or otherwise safely bound into their own religious systems? If so, they'd be deluded, since these symbolic coils have no 'gripping power' and thus can't provide any ultimate security."

What then can test the mettle of our religious figures, if not their adherence to religious symbols? The second line provides the answer. The strength of their faith, of course. Thus there is a very clear affinity, as several commentators note, with the verse from last week. What matters to Ghalib is the strength of inner faith rather than outer symbols such as the sacred thread or the rosary. The zunnar or the sacred thread is a commonly used poetic image for the religiosity of the Brahmin and its need is questioned very often by those who want to emphasize the inner purity or love and devotion over the outward expression of belief. For example the following verse by Amir Khusro:

کافر عشقم مسلمانی مرا درکار نیست
ہر رگ من تار گشتہ حاجت زنار نیست

kaafir-e-ishqam musalmaani maraa dakaar nist
har rag-e-man taar gasht haajat-e-zunnar nist

I am a kaafir of love, I have no need for musalmaai (the practice of Islam)
My every vein is a thread/wire, I have no need for the zunnar

On the issue of the rosary, Kabir says,

माला तो कर में फिरे जीभ फिरे मुख माही
मनवा तो चहुँ दिश फिरे ये तो सुमिरन नाही

maalaa to kar meiN phire jeebh phire mukh maahii
manvaa to chahuN dish phire yeh to sumiran naahii

The rosary turns in the hand, the tongue wags inside the mouth
But the mind roams the four directions, surely this is not prayer!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ghalib on the Faith of Faithlessness

Ghalib has much to say on the meaning of faith (deen) and infidelity/faithlessness (kufr). A recurring theme is his insistence on constancy and purity of belief, as opposed to outward manifestations of piety or faith. The conclusion is that, if one is pure of heart or steadfast in faith, then the actual object of belied matters less. I had blogged earlier on a Farsi verse to that effect. Subsequently I was reminded of a very powerful, direct Urdu verse which echoes a similar statement. In this newer entry I am putting both next to each other.

The Farsi verse exhibits Ghalib's seemingly insatiable penchant for paradoxes or for juxtaposing opposing thoughts/concepts and showing them to be somehow connected/the same at some deeper level. Like the other Farsi verses I have previously commented on, this one too does not show too many intricate or ornate metaphors or improbably flights of fancy (as Ghalib is known to do from time to time). Such proclivity (fancy metaphors) is usually recognized to be a feature of the "Indian School" of Persian poetry (sabk-e-hind or sabk-e-hindi) of which Bedil and Ghalib are two excellent examples. Click here for a nice blog entry on some of Bedil's verses. A very informative article on the poetics of the Indian style of Persian poetry by Shamsur Rahman Faruqi is available here (pdf format).

Anyway, I digress. The point is, this verse is marked not by fancy metaphors so much as densely packed philosophical observations where the philosophical point is made by presenting something that at first glance present a paradox, or that does not seem to belong together. But the opposing things are shown to be connected somehow. Now on to the Farsi verse itself:

کفر و دین چیست جز آلایش پندار وجود

پاک شو پاک کہ ہم کفر تو دین تو شود

kufr-o-deen chest juz aalaaish-e-pindaar-e-vujood
paak sho paak ke ham kufr-e-to din-e-to shavad

What are faithlessness and faith
but corruptions of the conceit of being/existence
Purify yourself so that even
Your infidelity becomes your religion/faith

Both religion and infidelity or faithlessness are imperatives born of the Ego (the conceit of being). They both corrupt the Truth in their own way because neither conquers the Ego. But if the Ego is quelled through purification or if purification consists of quelling the ego, then faithlessness itself can be as good as faith. As is often the case, the first line is beautiful and expresses an important thought, but doesn't surprise us too much. Surprise is usually reserved for the second line, because in a mushaairah, the first line would be repeated several times building up the suspense for what was to come. The second line does not disappoint. First we are told to purify ourselves (presumably of duplicity, deceit and dishonesty), and then the punch is delivered at the last moment. If yuo purify yourself, then even your faithlessness (ham kufr-e-to) will become your faith (deen-e-to).

In an famous Urdu verse, Ghalib plays with this theme of a steadfastly followed infidelity being as good as faith. Here is the verse:

وفاداری بہ شرط استواری اصل ایماں ےہ

مرے بت خانے میں تو کعبے میں گاڑھو برہمن کو

vafaadaarii ba shart-e-ustuvaarii asl-e-iimaaN hai
mare but;xaane meN to ka((be meN gaa;Rho barahmin ko

Faithfulness, as long as it is firm, is the essence/root of religion/faith
If he dies in the temple (idol-house) bury the Brahmin in the Ka'ba

Fran Pritchett's entry for this verse is found here. The Urdu verse makes a point quite similar to the Farsi verse, though I think much more firmly, startlingly. Pritchett comments on the effect of the imperative tense of the second line. There is fantastic use of strong verbs, marnaa (to die) and gaaRhna (to bury) and of course the sheer contradictory pleasure of seeing the Brahmin, the scion of Hindu faith, buried (no less!!) in the Ka'ba (no less!!). Ghalib uses the power of this immediately felt contradiction (the Brahmin who dies in the temple, is to be buried in the Ka'ba), to point to the philosophical contradiction. That even faithlessness (of the Brahman) can be equal to faith, if only it is pure, it is firm, it is steadfast. The firmess in this instance of the Brahmin's faith is illustrated by his death in the temple. It is as if the Brahmin has followed the advice given by Ghalib in the second line of the Farsi verse: Purify yourself and your kufr (Hindu belief, idol worship) will be as good as deen/religion/Islam.

Finally, the image of dying in the house of worship, as a sign of faith, reminds me of Hazrat Ali's death in the Ka'ba, which is also invoked as a powerful symbol of his faith.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Meaning of Mugabe

"We are not a British colony. You must know that." Robert Mugabe

The recent political crisis in Zimbabwe centering around veteran freedom fighter and President Robert Mugabe has drawn much attention from media in the Global North. Mr. Mugabe has been accused of using political and military power to suppress dissent, rig elections, dispense land and other favors to his friends and of doing everything he can to hang on to office long after his time to leave has come. These accusations have come from outside and from within Zimbabwe, although other African leaders have at times been reluctant to join the Mugabe-bashing bandwagon.

There can be no question of defending Mr. Mugabe's apparent lust for power or his use of strong-arm tactics, intimidation and harassment of his opposition. However, this post is not about that. There is no dearth of material on that count. But the matter does not stop here. The crisis of Robert Mugabe is in part a crisis of the legitimacy of the Global North in general and of the US-UK in particular. Listen to what Mugabe says in the video embedded above. He may be 84 and therefore somewhat impaired in judgment but there is no mistaking the basic idea upon which he perceives his moral authority to rest. Namely: "We (the Global South) have not forgotten colonialism. For some of us (Zimbabwe, for e.g.) it is not a distant historical memory, but rather a living memory, a phenomenon that came to an end not quarter of a century ago. On what basis can the Global North, the UK in particular presume to sit in judgment on the very people whom they have subjugated and enslaved in living memory?" This irony of an ex colonial power becoming holier-than-thou, preaching the virtues of democracy to its erstwhile colony, seems lost on the BBC. It is up to Mr. Mugabe to point out the obvious.

Note though, that I am not saying what Mr. Mugabe has done domestically is noble or even defensible. But neither do I think he is simply a thug out to get as much as he can out of the presidency. Further, he is able to retain moral authority, if not in everyone's eyes, at least in some people's, precisely by pointing out that his critics in the West/Global North have no moral legitimacy. The Northern media, so eager to dive into the gory details of the rivalry between Mr. Mugabe and the opposition leader Mr. Morgan Tsvangarai, so eager to give a blow-by-blow account of the rigged elections, the messed up land reform process and so on, has unsurprisingly not found the time to engage in a little bit of self-reflection, has not found the time to think about why Mugabe can so easily point to its lack of legitimacy in criticizing him. Is he just a senile fool, living in the colonial past, when the world has long moved on?

The meaning of Mugabe is something we should all understand. I don't deny that in some ways it is the age old story: dragging out the bogey of "western imperialism" to suppress dissent and cling on to power at home. Perhaps some of you think this has long gone out of fashion and by drawing upon this trick, Mr. Mugabe is only showing how out of touch he is with the world. No doubt for some talking about colonialism in the days of globalization seems very passe indeed.

But I beg to differ. I understand that "western imperialism" has conveniently come to rescue of many a tyrant in the Global South before, and nor will Mugabe be the last one to deploy it. But let us not lose sight of the other half of the puzzle. In our eagerness to be democratic and ruthlessly self-critical (self = the community of developing nations), let us not let the Global North and its self-declared "free press" off the hook. In fact we should use phenomena like Mugabe to bring to attention this fact: leaders like Mugabe are able to sustain a modicum of moral authority because the US, the UK and the rest of the Northern leadership, for some of us, has no moral legitimacy whatsoever. Just as we thought the bad old days of colonialism are behind us, just as the Global North was gaining some respectability, there come Afghanistan and Iraq, reminding us once again what we should never have forgotten: Let us by all means be critical of our leaders, let us strive constantly for establishing just, inclusive, peaceful societies, but let us not pretend that the Global North and its media are great defenders of human rights and democracy, watchdogs of tyranny wherever it may arise. They are not and never have been.

There is no dearth of critical articles on Mugabe and the Zimbabwean crisis. A rarer perspective on Mugabe, at least in the Global North, can be found here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The metaphor of morning as death in Ghalib

Morning (or more precisely, dawn) is often a metaphor in poetry for birth or the start of a new life or a new social order. As typified by Saahir Ludhianvi's famous refrain वह सुबह कभी तो आएगी (woh subah kabhi to aayegi; that morning will come someday) in which morning is a metaphor for the new world free of injustice, exploitation and oppression. So keep that image squared away in your mind.

Now in parallel, almost contrariwise, at least in South Asia, a burning lamp or a flame is a metaphor for the soul or life-force. Thus the familiar trope in Bollywood movies to show death or the passing away of the soul from the body is to show the extinguishing of a flame.

So here is the rub. A lamp usually burns in the night. With the coming of dawn the lamp's inevitable fate is to be extinguished. Thus here morning takes away rather than gives life. Couple this now with the usual importance given, in the Ghazal universe to the night as the realm of all poetry, of colorful assemblies, of wine drinking and romance, or life itself. In the world of the classical Ghazal, the poet comes alive during the night, whether because he exults in shab-e-visaal (the night of union with the beloved, usually singular!) or pines in shabaan-e-hijraN (nights of separation from the beloved, usually plural!).

Thus perhaps it is not surprising that we find in Ghalib a beautiful inversion of the dawn = birth metaphor to a dawn = death metaphor. Metaphor (mazmuN) in general is a vital part of the Ghazal, and mazmuN afiirnii (metaphor creation) is considered even one notch superior to ma;anii afiirnii (meaning creation). But I don't know enough to say whether this particular metaphor originates with Ghalib or not.

Here I take a look at two verses, one Urdu and one Farsi, that both offer examples of this mazmuN of morning being death. First the famous Urdu verse (Ghazal 78, verse 7):

غم ہستی کا اسد کس سے ہو جز مرگ علاج
شمع ہر رنگ میں جلتی ہے سحر ہوتے تک

gham-e-hasti kaa 'asad' kis se ho juz marg ilaaj
sham;a har rang meiN jalti hai seher hote tak

The sorrow of existence 'Asad', what is its cure but death
The lamp burns in every color, until the morning comes

Click here to read Frances Pritchett's commentary on the verse as well as of other commentators she has collected.

First note that the verse follows a well-established pattern wherein the first line offers a general proposition and the second line offers a poetic "proof" for the "theorem." The first line is a more-or-less straightforward proposition: life is suffering, and there is no cure for it except death. To live is to suffer. So far so good. Poetically said, but not quite sublime. ـIt is the second line that takes the verse to Ghalibian levels. Here the lamp is a metaphor for the human body, while its flame is the spark of life. But Ghalib emphasizes not only the light given by the flame (the light of life) but also the heat (burning, jalnaa). Not only is the flame life of the lamp, as the soul is the life of the body, the flame also burns (jalnaa), its essence is burning as the soul also suffers, its essence is suffering (what is a flame if we take away the burning, what is life if we take away suffering?). Here Ghalib deploys the double meaning of the verb "jalnaa", to burn or to suffer. Further, not only does the lamp burn, but as all the commentators note, it is powerless to extinguish itself. Only the coming of morning will extinguish the lamp and relieve it of its burning/suffering. But that relief is the relief of death, for then the flame is extinguished and life is no more. So death extinguishes all the types of burning/suffering that life brings as morning extinguishes every colored flame of the lamp.

Of course as Pritchett notes in passing, from the point of view of Sufism or Vedanta death is only another beginning, the start of another journey. For one who is aware of divinity, of the oneness of being (wahdat al-vujood), of the True nature of Reality, death is a continuation of life by other means, as it were. This is where Ghalib takes us in his Farsi verse:

نشاط ھستی حق دارد از مرگ ایمنم غالب
چراغم چوں گل آشامد نسیم صبح گاھان را

nishaat-e-hasti-e-haq daarad az marg aimaanam Ghalib
chiragham chuN gul aashaamad naseem-(e)-subaH gaahaan raa

A literal translation based on Steingass might be:
I exult in the existence of God/Ultimate Reality, from death I am safe/secure Ghalib
My lamp, like a flower/rose drinks off the morning breeze

Before we compare it with the Urdu verse, a couple of small semantic points:
I haven't been able to find out if gaahaan (گاھان ) has an independent meaning, mostly Steingass uses it in combination with some other word to mean at such and such time (andar-gāhān, Intermediate times) or na-gahaan meaning unexpectedly or untimely. So perhaps naseem-e-subaH gaahaan should be read as one phrase (morning time breeze).

Secondly I am not sure why Ghalib uses the verb aashaamidan (unless aashaamad is not the third person singular of this verb) here. A lamp drinking or sipping the breeze seems funny (unless the breeze is like oil that the lamp drinks to burn).

In any case back to the main theme. We know that the morning breeze is the death of the lamp, but it enlivens the flower. Ghalib's lamp (the lamp of life of a Sufi or of one immersed in the existence of God/Brahman) unlike the regular lamp (the lamp of life of an ordinary person who considers death to be the end of life) described in the Urdu verse, is not extinguished by the morning breeze, rather it is enlivened by it. And why is that? Of course, the first line offers the clue. Because he is immersed in the existence of God or the Ultimate Reality.

This verse follows a logical structure quite similar to the Urdu verse. Once again, the first line offers a proposition. Now instead of being told that suffering in life ends only with death, Ghalib tells us he is secure from death because he knows the secret of existence. Once again, the first line itself though poetic is not particularly thought provoking. As Pritchett might note, like a good Ghazal verse, we have to wait not only till the second line of the verse but till the last part of the second line (the part about the morning breeze) to get the full impact of the metaphor. And once again, as with the Urdu verse, the second line takes the verse to a new level. It offers "proof" or example of the proposition stated in the first line.

Of course in both verses, as always we need to distinguish Ghalib, the historical personality, from "Asad" or "Ghalib" of the poem. The question of whether, in real life Ghalib would have been as sanguine about death, or as immersed in the Oneness of Being, is in some ways a moot point. We cannot expect the classical Ghazal to be personal in the same way as say the Romantic poets off the 19th century. "The poet in the poem" in the case of the Ghazal is a vexed issue. See S.R. Faruqi's essay on this theme.

Finally, in one sense the Farsi verse is also a response to the Urdu verse. It is true that life's suffering ends only in death, but one need not be afraid of death, if only one knows the secret of the Brahman, the Ultimate Reality.

As Kabir would say:

भला हुआ मोरी मटकी फूटी रे
मैं तो पनिया भरन से छूटी रे !

bhalaa hua mori matkii phootii re
main to paniyaa bharan se chhootii re

Its just as well that my pot lies shattered
I have been released from the duty of filling water!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Faiz Ahmad Faiz: Aaj bazaar mein

A rare treat on You Tube. A video of Faiz himself reciting one of his most famous poems of protest. The second half of the video is the nazm put to music and sung by Nayyara Noor to a nicely edited video. I know you can just listen to the poem, but its so beautiful I can't help write it out here:

chashm-e-nam, jaan-e-shoridah kaafii nahiiN
tohmat-e-ishq poshidah kaafii nahiiN
aaj baazaar meiN paa bajaulaa chalo

dast afshaaN chalo, mast-o-raqsaaN chalo
;xaak bar sar chalo, ;xooN ba daamaaN chalo
raah taktaa hai sab, shahar-e-jaanaaN chalo

haakim-e-shahar bhi, majmaa-e-aam bhii
subah-e-naashaad bhi, roz-e-naakaam bhii
tiir-e-ilzaam bhi, san;G-e-dushnaam bhii,

inka dam saaz apne siva kaun hai?
shahar-e-jaanaaN meiN ab baa safaa kaun hai?
dast-e-qaatil ke shaayaaN rahaa kaun hai?

ra;xt-e-dil baandh lo, dil figaaroN chalo
phir hamii qatl hoo aaeN yaaroN...chalo!