O Kabir

O Kabir
You have spent an age walking
Who will show you the way?

O Kabir
Without insight, the mind wanders
Home is just a step away.

O Kabir
Kabir, the seeker, drank the ghee
The world is content with buttermilk

O Kabir
Why worry if you drank the Ghee
The cow is with the creator

O Kabir
Feed her the fodder of your love
You will get her milk forever

O Kabir
Who’s the pot, who the churning stick?
Who’s the one who churns

O Kabir
Mind the pot, body the churning stick
Awareness the one who churns

O Kabir
Keep steady the arrow of awareness
Hold it still if you can

O Kabir
The arrow of attention darts everywhere
Hold it still if you can

O Kabir
The warrior stays in the battlefield
The cowards runs away

O Kabir
I make my house on the tip of a thorn
That’s where I am most at ease

O Kabir
Sage Kabir is immersed in play
Alert each moment of day and night

Meticulously planned nightmares
is that what you feed,
obsolete, after the drowning
isn’t it? Faith has no
birth marks,
neither any twin.

Headhunting, was that the
magical potion, added in ratios
of four? Sacrilege!
The skin held inverted
pinpricks, anodes and cathodes;
the body is battery,
charged beyond circle of confusion
only then it wallows
to the heeds of broken bones,
foretold mutations,
confessional faiths and
handwritten crimes.

2nd

I couldn’t hold the sunshine in me,
only the warmth of afternoon
which didn’t shy away
even in the haze of winter,
which engulfed the city
like never before.

Or maybe I let my thoughts
paint the canvas of the city
with colors of white.
I left it to overexpose
and the bright sun
wasn’t brightest anymore
and the print turned into
a giant sheet of white-
void of any borders or textures
void of existence,
which couldn’t hold back time

The loss of time
etches memory intricately
much like a miniature painting
depicting sultans and sufis
and paradise.

Loss of time
is yours too,
when I take off
my plastic electronic watch
and let the sounds of Ghazal
decide when the dusk enters the house,
decide if the time for goodbyes is here yet.

Jabl

Hold on to it tight.
The rope disintegrates
sometimes without leaving a trace,
and is absorbed into the ground.
And sometimes it break with a jerk
swifter than motor response.

But don’t wrap it around
or it would rust and grow on
fear and psychosis
and decay with every dream.

Forget about it
and its existence,
but would Azrael look away then
and deny existence too?

The rope of life invariably
comes without any warranty
even for fair use,
without any manuals
listing instructions to
hard reset the internal clock.

Nimble Nemesis,
never say good bye
bequeathing an earning of grief
to solvent time.

The colors of joy
may grow fainter and
lose a set, rubbed off the canvas
by an insolvent eye.

But, let the march stay
and the rain too
even when words wobble in space
along the axis of time.

Look for metaphors
with a uniformed distribution
and extend them to infinite
along the axis of time.

Save yourself from graciousness
of a promising monsoon in the ghats
when petrichor is all
that you seek.

Notes on Qawwali

(This post follows and borrows from Of The Envoy of The Forlorn )

Qawwali is like sailing. The qawwals create the sea and the waves & the winds in it. The listener floats on water, rocking with waves and travelling ahead with the winds.

But in the times of torrents, the old art is being lost. The torrents work great to evoke a sense of awe, but they would drown you as easily. And sometimes the boat would just sit, waiting for the wind, which may never come. All that listener could do then is to abandon the boat and wade across the rather narrow seas now-a-days.

Finding the right balance is the real art. The winds, the waves, the depths have to match. It is then that the qawwali transforms into an exploration. Visions of past, references that trigger memory form a part of the vast sky that the qawwal transforms with every verse. Girahs then serve as a dive into the ocean. You could lose yourself there and decide not to swim back. Or the small dives would make you realize the changing form of the clouds or the color of the sky that you failed to appreciate before. Takraars would push the boat gently towards the shore. They set the pace of the journey. But the shore too is travelling with you. The qawwal has the power to make it seem farther and distant.

The listener is not totally passive. The boat could be abandoned any moment and that is enough of a power. In the age of media players and online streams, the next track button is more than a luxury. But more importantly the listener has to be attuned to what is being painted. Understanding it all is a gift that few of us possess. But whatever bits and pieces resonate, show the path forward. Even the perception of the depth of this sea is based on listener’s ability. The qawwal paints but the listener can transform it with the viewing.

“Dil darya Samundrun Doonge, Kon Dillan Diyan Jaane” ~ Hazrat Sultan Bahoo

Even though the qawwali happens in the space which is outside of the listener, the sea painted is within the heart of listener. It is a gentle prodding of the heart which can set it off on a direction and journey of its own. It is here that the internal and the external unify and the result of this can be ecstatic for many. It is in this space that the qawwali starts being more than a mere performance, more than a collection of verses and voices and beats put together. It then is collaboration between the listener and the qawwals. This to me is the main difference between a khanqahi recital and a qawwali performance. The khanqah allows for mixing of the spaces.

Coming back to the seas, Rasheed Ahmed Faridi and party best had the ability to shrink time. It is hard to tell the passing of hours with the kind of atmosphere that they created. The most striking thing about their performance was that it was without any break. It flowed flawlessly. Even though they play with the pace of waves, direction of them, even rock the boat gently, but they don’t overdo it. It would never startle you to the point that you lose interest. This party best found the match of all the variables. But it isn’t a static match. The equilibrium moves with every bol, every taan. It is in the grasp, moving a little ahead, continuing with the journey.

I would end this post with two Qawwalis that evoke the darya in dil.

Bakhshi Salamat Qawwal