Sirf Qawwali


For a lifetime spent scavenging the corners of world wide web for qawwali ,there’s no better reward than a live performance. I do realize there are thousands of wandering souls which could kill if not die reading about the extravaganza.

Delhi is an amazing city, especially in spring. It is musically alive and breathes for couple of months. All you need to enjoy all that is free and awesome is a friend with right kind of connections, a friend who is equally enthusiastic if not more about music. Well, a friend indeed is a friend in need.

Yesterday was another fine Saturday morning in Delhi with clear skies, the perfect weather for an outdoor musical concert in evening. Jashn-e-Khusrau, the ten day long musical festival ended a week ago. Artists from across sub continent performed in events that were spread across venues. It was probably the largest classical music event with great performances by Ustad Naseer-ud-Din Saami, Ustad Shujat Khan, Ustad Shahid Pervez Khan, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan and Tahira Sayeed.

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Poets and Peers

Shair bahut punjab zameen de,  hoye danish waale

awal seikh Fareed Shakarganj
arif alh-e-waliyat
ek ek sukhan zuban o di da
rehabar rah hidayat.

te phir Sultan Bahu ek hoya
khaasa mard haqqani
tode paak zabaan oh di de
raushan doinn jahaani.

Bulleh Shah di kaafi sun ke
turta kuffar andar da
ibadat de darya ve andar
o vi vadya taar da

sewak khaas shukhan da hoya
duni chadar zaa da
baazi jit sukhan di us vi
keh kabit zyaada.

Waris Shah sukhan da waris
neende kaun unha nu
harf o de te ungal tarni
nahi koi kadar assa nu.

jug jug jive devan aala
jis eh karam kamaye
andar mere bagh sukhan de
dhan maali jis laaye.

~Mian Muhammad Bakhsh

Poets of Punjab are immersed in wisdom.
Farid Shakarganj – guide to the path of righteousness.
Sultan Bahu – man of truism.
Bulleh Shah – servant of poetry, always short and precise.
Waris Shah – infallible with his writings.


“Awwal Hamd sanaa elaahi, jo maalik har harr da
Us da naam chataaran aala, kise vi maidan na harda”
First, all praise is for almighty who is lord of all
Who so ever recites his name, never loses in any life

I don’t remember reading this Kalam, but it has been ingrained within my subconscious. I even don’t remember the first time I heard it. And I am not alone, a community has been bonded together with this age old Kalam.  The mountains of Pir Panjal, the Dhoks and the Margs right from across the Jhelum to Badharwa and even beyond resonate with words of wisdom.Awal Hamd is the first couplet of Saif-Malook( also called Saif ul Malook, Safar ul Ishq) and is an introduction, a prayer and praise of almighty. Saif Malook is the magnum opus of Mian Muhammad Baksh. It uses a lovestory as an allegory to describe Sufi’s journey. The magic of Saif Malook lies in its simplicity. It has been intricately woven into the local parlance and yet it is able captures magnanimity of Sufi thoughts and ideas. Text is concise and mostly deals with trails and tribulations of day today lives. Themes of friendship, ego, kinship and adoration are dotted throughout. The text opens up as the tale of Price Saif-ul-Mulk who falls in love with fairy princess Badi-ul-Jamal. It describes prince’s journey towards his goal faced with existential questions and the white Giant- Deuo Safaid. The genius of Muhammad Mian Bakhsh is in creating couplets which are complete in themselves and yet when projected together, they form small parts of a much bigger plan. Text contains over nine thousand such couplets which share a metrical form.

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Alif Allah Wariso

Alif Allah
Ratta Dil Mera
Bay di samaj na kaai
Be-Padhyan Kuj samaj na aave
Lazaat alif di aayi
Ain and Gain da farq na jaana
Gal Alif samajhayi
Alif Allah
Bullah Kaul Alif de pooray
Dil di karan safai

My heart is filled with oneness

Of a second, I comprehend nothing
I fail to read beyond beyond Alif.
For I can only savor  Alif
I know nothing of difference between ain and gain(seen and unseen),
Alif explains so

Alif reveals the complete truth
to the hearts filled with purity

(For many who asked what does the picture signify.
More insights here)

Postive – Skteches

Sketches released”Nind Nashe Vich” yesterday.
Video production is superb with  stunning backgrounds. One of the best videos from a Pakistani Production house. I think they copied my idea of a perfect breakout with truck rides and the desert. The music is pristine like the village chai. The Poetry, well when there’s Bulleh Shah, I should dare not comment.

It turns out Sketches have actually combined two songs, which fit in pretty well for them.
Positive The Band (A weird name for sufi band) did actually release the two as independent. They kind of took a more intense route with the guitars, missed the bass though, and have done a pretty incredible job. I loved “Awaz Aya Hik”. There vocals aren’t soft as Sketches and the song has highs and lows unlike Sketches.

Postive’s version of “Alif Allah Meem Muhammad” is more or less flat. They have kept the song real slow more like recitation of hymns, sounded very much like Sami Yusuf’s  “Allahumma.” This tempo has brought in a different style to the song which turns out to be rather monotonous, i must admit.

All this whining about “Alif Allah” is all because I love Allan Faqir’s version. Tradition, Simple and Alluring.

The only Allan One.

Courtyard of the beloved

The chaos is contained. The demarcations are envious. Oberoi swears of its presence. Babur with all his might can’t dwarf lure of Hazrat Nizzamudin.

The path is deviant, intertwined with a series of tunnels, questioning the purpose of existence and may be reminding of the ultimate demise. The dust moistened by the sweat of the believers sticks to the naked feet, clinging on as a mark of attendance. Banality ends with visibility just as darkness with light. The grave is tangled up in green with scores of sheets, some plain, others with calligraphy of all sorts proclaiming the greatness of divine. All this is enveloped with a structure of what seems like gold, glittering and glimmering with hope, faith and belief with little threads of despair and desire tied neatly on all sides.
Across the qawwals, very near to Hazrat lies buried the mureed. Khusro sings in praise of his murshid through the voice of qawwals whose symphony resonates in entire courtyard. These verses of joy, separation and longing mesmerize many but are truly understood by a few. The dressed dervishes are the only ones working, fanning the audience and their spirits. The energy flows out to possession section as well guiding the disturbed to normalcy that prevails in society otherwise.

Strikingly the crowd is largely composed of lower middle class and the poorer sections. The sense of strictness and adherence that is associated with Islam is absent. The people may seem Islamic in their attire but are estranged from its practices if not completely ignorant of them. Muizeen’s call for prayer breaks the congregation. The faithful head to taps for cleansing, the believers start the journey all over again, heading back to their homes.Not far from the dargah, situated in a similar street is the national office of Tableeghi Jamat. Its presence is marked by the beards and hijabs. It is a centre for gathering for the many volunteers heading out on expeditions ranging from a couple of days to months into alien villages preaching Islam, the one that they themselves know of. It reaffirms their own faith going through the pains of separation.
Both seek answers through different means. Discipline binds one to ground, while other seeks belief.

In discipline peace persists, in belief the world

Couldn’t stop myself from sharing this

In the Courtyard of the Beloved from Andreas Burgess on Vimeo.

(Report for Field trip. “Sociology of Religion”)