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Archive for the ‘Hindi Poetry’ Category

Mango tree, a symbol of love


“A beautiful, golden radiant princess, the daughter of Sun God landed on Earth. The King of the land instantly fell in love with her, and desired to marry her. However, a sorceress fell jealous of how King was enamoured by her, and turned her into ashes. From these ashes a huge tree with dark green leaves grew, which bore golden fruits taking to the radiance of the princess. As one of the fruits ripened and fell on Earth, it instantly turned back into the same Princess Surya Bai. The King recognised her, and they got married.”

This is how the legend of the origin of a mango tree, symbolizing  eternal love, is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit literature.

The tree is known to date back to 4000BC in India and the fruit it bore, has been known as the ‘fruit of Gods’.

There is another legend which says that :

Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati were gifted with a golden fruit by Narada, the son of Lord Brahma and with an instruction to be eaten by only one person. So they chose to give to one of their two sons, with a condition that whoever will take 3 rounds of the universe first will be rewarded with this fruit. Ganesh being a smart child took three rounds around his parents and reached back earlier than the other brother, Karthik, saying,  “My parents are my universe”.

Hence Ganesha got the fruit, owing to his unequivocal love for his parents.

Not just the fruit, the whole mango tree is revered in Hindu mythology.

Considered auspicious, its dark, big leaves are  used to adorn the house in festivals like Diwali and Pongal.

In the weddings too, as a symbol of love and fertility, the leaves are held in a row by a string and hung at the door to welcome the new bride into the house.


A
uspicious mango leaves adorning the door.

As an evergreen mango tree starts to blossom with buds, it heralds the onset of spring, and hence called madhu duta( the messenger of spring) that invites love.

A sanksrit couplet says:
aṅkurite pallavite korakite vikasite ca sahakāre |
aṅkuritaḥ pallavitaḥ korakito vikasitaś ca madano ‘sau ||

As the mango flowers begin to swell, to put forth sprouts, to bud and finally to blossom,
Love too swelled, sprouted, budded and blossomed.

The dark green leaves, with fragrant buds and blossoms attract the swarms of humming bees and singing cuckoo birds. The relationship of Mango tree laden with blossoms and Cuckoo bird is that of a lover and the beloved.

The secret of Cuckoo’s melodious voice is associated with the sweet fragrance of mango blossoms and honey laden mango fruits. Perhaps owing to this, mango buds were known to be eaten by singers in old days to make their voice melodious.


Cuckoo on a  mango tree.

Kalidas in his poetry Seasons( Ritusamharam) describes the Spring (Vasanta) as:

” Intoxicated by the nectar of mango blossoms ,
The cuckoo kisses his mate happily in love,….”
“The lovely mango shoot is his choicest arrow,
the swarm of bees is his bow string,
……….
May the world-conquering Manmatha,
Accompanied by vasanta,
Grant you more and more joy.”

Amir Khusrau relates them as:

sakal ban phool rahi sarson
ambva phootey, tesu phule,
koel boley dar dar,
gori karat shingar

The mustard blooms in every field,
Mango buds snap open, the flower blooms,
The cuckoo sings from every branch,
The damsel adorns make-up.

Apart from Gods, even the Rajas, Maharajas, Mughal Emperors and Nawabs could not contain their love for Mangoes, and it is no secret. They were known to keep mango orchards, and took pride in showing off their orchards to the royal guests and spending time with their queens in the orchards when they trees were laden with fragrant blossoms.

Sending a baskets of select mangoes to friends and kins was considered a coveted gesture. Along with the sweetness and aroma, it carried the affection from its sender.

There are folk songs, passed on from generations, relating to Cuckoo bird as the beloved of mango tree:

A Hindi song from India:

Amuva ki dali bole: “Kaali koyaliya, aajaa balmuva hamaar, aja balamuva hamaar.
~The mango branch calls out: “Oh the black cuckoo, come my beloved, come my beloved.” 

Yet another one a Punjabi folk song from Pakistan:

Ambewaan de booteyan pe lag gaya bore nee, rut we milaapan waalin, chann mera door nee.
~There are blossoms on  mango tree, and the season of being together is there, but my friend is away. 

 

A  dussehri mango shaped like a heart, a gift of nature, grown on the mango tree in  Reena Satin`s garden.

 

P.S. A few more blogs to follow on mango and a some  interesting recipes using mango :)

Nirala Sawera


Dedicated to the events :  

Pledge for Peace Launch in UTM, Mississauga, ON.  https://www.facebook.com/events/398846800175596/

Aug 14-15, 2012 Pakistanis, Indians, celebrate Independence Day for Peace
https://www.facebook.com/events/185174041611282/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/amankiasha1/#!/events/243690589069619/

Nafrat ki gathri ko mein ney
Phenk diya hai gireh laga ker
Hasrat se ab khol rahi hoon
Yaadon bharey iss thailey ko
Pyaar ki taaza hawa lagaane
Aman ki roshan dhoop dikhane.

Tum bhi aao, kholo apni
Saari gaanthein, saare bull
Tum bhi apne jholey mein se
Bujhe huwe woh deep nikalo
Un yaadon ke, un baaton ke
Un qisson ke, jo itne zyada
Dohratey the jab Nana Dada
Chehre unke damka jaate the
Ankhein unki chamka detey the.

Usee dhamak ki roshni mein tar
Usee chamak ki lau ko lekar
Mein bhi apna deep jalaaoon
Tum bhi apna diya jalaao
Roshan phir se rahon ko ker dein

Taaron se  khwabon ko bher dein.

Apna apna diya jalaa ker
Saare apne dard bhulaker

Mil ker jab sub saath chalenge
Haath me lekar haath chalenge
Dhal jayegi ghurbat ki sham
Ho paayegi khush haali aam.

Lekin saw nahin, hazaar nahin,
Saath her ek ko chalna hogaa.
Sirf mera ya tumhara nahin,
Diya her ek ka jalna hogaa.
Karoron diye jo saath jalenge,
Dil mein nai umang bharenge.
Pher door jab andhera hogaa,

To kya nirala yeh SAWERA hoga.

Ilmana Fasih
June 6, 2012

Basant, a festival beyond beliefs


On 27th January, 2012 India celebrates Basant panchami.
In Pakistan, it is celebrated towards the end of February.  

Towards the end of January till early March, the golden harvest of wheat stand tall ready to be harvested sometime in early April.  And wheat is our staple crop.

At the same time in Januray February the yellow blooms of mustard ( better known as sarson) sway in the fields, as far as eyes can see. And mustard is a cash crop whose seeds are pressed to extract mustard oil.

To celebrate these awesome blooms as a reward for the fields ploughed and the seeds sown  in October, the farmers rejoice, sing, dance and make merry.

Some of them wear yellow turbans, and their women folk adorning yellow ‘odhnis’ come out to join in the celebrations. It is not hard to imagine that they must be celebrating the blooms, ever since they learnt to farm these crops dating back to centuries.

This is the basic root and the spirit of the tradition of Basant in parts of Indian subcontinent where these crops are grown.

Are wheat, or mustard crops Hindu, Muslim or Sikh?

Vasant in Sanskrit or  Basant in Urdu mean ‘spring’, which heralds the departure of winter and arrival of spring. It symbolizes the time of rejuvenation and arrival of happiness as flowers start to smile through their blossoms.

Yellow, the color of Basant, inspired by mustard blossoms, which matches the shade of sun rays, signifies life and radiance.

Do rays of sun or radiance of happiness differentiate between Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs ?

Kite flying , another component of basant, has it’s own interesting tale to tell.

“Kite flying also reveals how the tradition evolved over centuries and in a Ganga Jamuni way.
Kite flying was introduced to the Indian subcontinent by the Chinese traveller Heun Tsang in the 4th Century. Evolving for centuries, it s modification into its current form and popularisation as a sport was made possible by the Nawabs of Avadh. The kite flying during basant celebrations is believed to have been introduced by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the 18th century.”

Yet another evidence of centuries old and secular celebration of Basant come from poets, Kalidas and Amir Khusro, who have written about the celebrations of Basant in their own unique styles.

Kalidas in a poem Spring writes:
द्रुमाः सपुष्पाः सलिलं सपद्मं
स्त्रियः सकामाः पवनः सुगन्धिः ।
सुखाः प्रदोषा दिवसाश्च रम्याः
सर्वं प्रिये ! चारुतरं वसन्ते
Oh, dear, in Vasanta, Spring, trees are with flowers and waters are with lotuses, hence the breezes are agreeably fragrant with the fragrance of those flowers, thereby the eventides are comfortable and even the daytimes are pleasant with those fragrant breezes, thereby the women are with concupiscence, thus everything is highly pleasing…

AmirKhusro pens down:

Aaj basant manaalay suhaagun,
Aaj basant manaalay;
Anjan manjan kar piya mori,
Lambay neher lagaaye;
Tu kya sovay neend ki maasi,
So jaagay teray bhaag, suhaagun,
Aaj basant manalay…..;
Rejoice, my love, rejoice,
Its spring here, rejoice.
Bring out your lotions and toiletries,
And decorate your long hair.
Oh, you’re still enjoying your sleep, wake-up.
Even your destiny has woken up,
Its spring here, rejoice.

There is an Indian classical  music tune  called Raag Basant Bahaar.

Not to forget, basant in the subcontinent is also associated with a special sweet prepared specially for the occaision –the kesar halwa,
It is a suji ( semolina) halwa with a soft aroma and yellow shade from saffron and garnished with cashew nuts.

Neither the dessert, nor the poetry above nor the music below suggest if Basant is Hindu or Muslim or Sikh.


The same spirit is also replicated by this beautiful ghazal by Malika Pukhraj and Tahira Syed

Lo phir basant aayee…

P.S. Special thanks to Sandeep@stwta a twitter pal for the devnagiri  text of Kalidas poetry.

Kabir, just be kind and tolerant !


Kabir leaves no examples to teach and stress to  human beings, in his own simple ways, the lessons of humility, tolerance and open mindedness.

In other verses, as in previous post, he gives examples from the living world, like animals,  or even from  trees, rivers and oceans.

In the verses mentioned below, he  picks  the most modest of examples, to highlight their good traits.  But realisng that they too have downsides, moves on to  gentler ones among them.  And ultimately makes us realise, it is only ‘the ONE’  truly devoid of flaws.

In a way, there is a subtle message here, that in one’s pursuit to be  better, there is always  room for further betterment, and despite all our efforts in the direction, it is only the ONE who is perfect.

Rorha hoi rahu baat ka, taji paakhand abhimaan.
Aisa je jana hoi rahe, taahi mile bhagwaan.

O dear, be as humble as the pebble on the path. Giving up all snobbery and ego. Only if you are humble can you realise Him.

Rorha bhaya to kya bhaya, panthi ko dukh deh.
Harijan aisa chahiye, jyoon  dharani ki kheh.

Kabir rethinks. What if you are a pebble,  as it too can get unkind  and hurt the feet of the fellow travellers on the path. So be like the soil on Earth, soft and gentle.

Kheh bhayi to kya bhaya, urhi-urhi laage ang.
Harijan aiasa chahiye, jyu paanee sabrang.

Again Kabir rethinks. What if you become soil? It flies with slight breeze and spoils others ( a little adversity may cause our evil nature to surface and cause harm to others). So just be like water – it is without color (without prejudice), but it can take whatever color easily ( be open minded).

Panee bhaya to kya bhaya, taataa-seeraa hoy.
Harijan aisa chahiye, Hari jaiasa hi hoy.

Once again Kabir rethinks. What if you are water? The water  gets furious with  heat and even becomes too cold with  indifference.
So just strive to be as Tolerant, Kind and and Merciful, always as your Lord.

Son comes before the mother~Kabir


Pahilaa poot pishairee maaee.
Gur laago chele kee paaee.

Ek achanbhou sunahu tumh bhaaee.
Dekhat singh charaavat gaaee

Jal kee mashulee taravar biaaee.
Dekhath kutaraa lai gee bilaaee
Talai re baisaa oopar soolaa.
Tis kai ped lage fal foolaa
Ghorai chari bhais charaavan jaaee.
Baahar bail gon ghar aaee

Kahaat Kabeer ju is pad boojhai.
Raam ramat tis sabh kish soojhai

Translation:

First, the son was born, and then, his mother.
The guru falls at the feet of the disciple

Listen to this strange thing,
O Siblings of Destiny!

I saw the lion herding the cows.
The fish of the water gives birth upon a tree.
I saw a cat carrying away a dog
The branches are below, and the roots are above.
The trunk of that tree bears fruits and flowers
Riding a horse, the buffalo takes him out to graze.
The bull is away, while his load (cart) has come home

Says Kabeer, one who understands this hymn,
and comprehends the Divine words comes to understand everything.

This is a beautiful satirical poem by Bhagat Kabir, taken from Guru Granth Saheb ( the Holy Book of Sikhs), that takes me back instantly to the Hindi class of grade 10, when we read this. I recall with nostalgia of all the discussion that was triggered by the poetry. While the boys at the back benches were busy cracking various mostly crude and a few decent jokes about it, the girls in the front benches, ( that’s where they usually sit) were amused yet trying to squeeze their giggles desperately.

While the very serious Hindi teacher with a twinkle in her eyes, and mind fully immersed in Kabir was engrossed in explaining the spirit of the verses, compleltely oblivious to what was happening in front of her.

Unlike many other Hindi lessons, this poem unknowingly left ‘an impact’ strong enough to keep reading Kabir once the compulsory Hindi subject was over.

I would suggest the readers to first read the verses, it’s translation and then again the verses to get some sense of it’s meaning, and to check whether their brain thinks the way Kabir’s brain did.

The Interpretation:
The whole poem through various interesting examples, cites an open secret of our lives, so aptly described in a quote by Rousseau : “Man is born free but found in chains everywhere.”

What chains him, according to Kabir are not only the society( like Rousseau claims), but ones own hoggish desires and the pursuit of which makes him timid and fearful. And hence instead being fearless, strong yet empathetic, that man by virtue of his higher intellect is destined to be, turns into a timid, selfish and apathetic being .

Pahilaa poot pishairee maaee.
To begin with, the man was as pure as a newborn (poot), devoid of any ego. But with time, by the lure of his senses, he became ‘mother’ of (“Maaee”) ‘worldy desires’ ( the superfluous values existent in the world). Here Maee is being used with a dual meaning, both as the worldly attractions i.e. maya, and as mother.

Gur laago chele kee paaee.
Man who has the capability to be the master (Guru) of infinite knowledge, strength and empathy ( by the virtue if his intellect) becomes the disciple (chela) and bows at petty values like greed, selfishness and apathy.

Ek achanbhou sunahu tumh bhaaee.
This is an amusing contradiction, have you even seen? ( A satire on human aspirations to seek and pursue superficial values).

Dekhat singh charaavat gaaee
A man who should be fearless and strong ( as a lion) , becomes a timid grazing animal (cow), owing to protect his self interests.

Jal kee mashulee taravar biaaee.
Water is the life support of the fish, and it cannot survive without it. What if it starts to dream of living ‘high up’ on the trees. Will it be able to survive ?
So is the humanity who’s life supports are compassion, contentment, empathy and knowledge. What if they too start to fantasize for what they consider as higher pleasures ( a kin to trees) like greed, wealth or other egocentric dreams, will they be able to sustain the purpose of their existence ?

Dekhath kutaraa lai gee bilaaee
The cunning human heart ( the cat– in ‘some’ societies is considered as a cunning animal) , in lure of superficial values, has captured and held hostage the contentment, faith and bravado ( the dog) within him. ( Incidentally, in the times of Egyptian Pharoahs, dog was considered as a symbol of contentment, reliability and bravery.

Talai re baisaa oopar soolaa.
Tis kai ped lage fal foolaa
When we see the image of the tree in a lake, it appears beautiful but upside down. So is the truth of our worldly gratifications, they may appear wonderful, but they are exactly opposite of what the purpose of our existence in the world is.

Ghorai chari bhais charaavan jaaee.
Man’s desires ( as bulky as a buffalo) ride and gallop rapidly on greed ( the horse) to make the mind wander and graze the grass of one’s ego.

Baahar bail gon ghar aaee
Owing to man’s enslavement to lust and instant gratification, his patience and perseverance (bull, which is an embodiment of perseverance) has left him, instead, a cart load full of material cravings have found home in him (“gon ghar aaee”).

Kahaat Kabeer ju is pad boojhai.
Raam ramat tis sabh kish soojhai
Kabir says that whosoever comprehends the verses of this hymn, and remembers the Divine purpose of his existence frees himself from bondage.

William Wordsworth’s famous verse: “Child is the father of man.” may hold the same literal meaning, but here Wordsworth tries to explain how the childhood experiences shape the person he is when he becomes a man. In yet another interpretation,,,some say that here child is referred to as Jesus since both Child and Father are capitalised.

Perhaps in the same way, there may be more than one interpretations of the above poem. I have narrated, what my small mind, which isn’t very spiritually bent, interpreted it as.

I leave it to the readers to let their imaginations soar, and generate their own wonderful interpretations of the Kabir’s verses above.

The above salok (verses) of Sant Kabir are taken from Guru Granth Saheb ( the Holy Book of Sikhs.


Picture of Golden Temple, Amritsar  by night From the album Gateway to Heaven, by Randeep Singh.

Thanks to Naren  @froZENwell for reminding this poem and inciting me to write this blog.

Zehaal-e-Miskeen -~Amir Khusrau


Khusrau was a master of  Persian ( which used to be the language of the court) as well as  Brij Bhasha ( the language of the common man) .

Zehaal -e Miskeen is a master piece written in both the languages in Persian (bold) and Brij Bhasha (italics). In the first verse, the first line is in Persian, the second in Brij Bhasha, the third in Persian again, and the fourth in Brij Bhasha. In the remaining verses, the first two lines are in Persian, the last two in Brij Bhasha. The poem expresses the agony of separation from the beloved,  in both the languages with a superb fusion…which to my understanding signifies how different yet similiar is the expression of the agony of separation amongst the elite ( representing Persian) and the common man ( through Braj Bhasha).

Zehal-e miskin makun taghaful, duraye naina banaye batiyan
Ki taab-e hijran nadaram ay jaan, na leho kaahe lagaye chhatiyan.

 Do not overlook my misery by blandishing your eyes,
and weaving tales; My patience has over-brimmed,
O sweetheart, why do you embrace me.

Shaban-e hijran daraz chun zulf wa roz-e waslat cho umr kotah;
Sakhi piya ko jo main na dekhun to kaise kaatun andheri ratiyan.

 Long like curls in the night of separation,
short like life on the day of our union;
My dear, how will I pass the dark dungeon night
without your face before.

Yakayak az dil do chashm-e jadoo basad farebam baburd taskin;
Kise pari hai jo jaa sunaave piyare pi ko hamaari batiyan.

 Suddenly, using a thousand tricks, the enchanting eyes robbed me
of my tranquil mind; Who would care to go
and report this matter to my beloved?

Cho sham’a sozan cho zarra hairan hamesha giryan be ishq aan meh;
Na neend naina na ang chaina na aap aaven na bhejen patiyan.

 Tossed and bewildered, like a flickering candle,
I roam about in the fire of love;
Sleepless eyes, restless body,
neither comes she, nor any message.

 Bahaqq-e roz-e wisal-e dilbar ki daad mara ghareeb Khusrau;
Sapet man ke waraaye raakhun jo jaaye paaon piya ke khatiyan.

 In honour of the day I meet my beloved
who has lured me so long, O Khusrau;
I shall keep my heart suppressed,
if ever I get a chance to get to her trick.


Another beautiful rendition of Zehaal-e-Miskin by Warsi brothers: 

Voices of Ganga Jamuni Tehzeeb


Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb ( गंगा जमुनी तहज़ीब, گنگا جمنی تهزیب,    Ganges-Yamuna Culture) is a  euphemism for the mutually participatory co-existence of  Hindu and Muslim  culture of through the fusion of Hindi and Urdu. (Wikepedia) .

 

 

First example  is a Bhajan sung by Farid Ayaz  & group  (I wonder if it’s MeeraBai’s) sung in a Qawwali form is an excellent example of that Ganga Jamni Tehzeeb.

It was the first time a Muslim Pakistani singer sang a Hindi Bhajan inside a temple in Montreal, during  Kabir Festival in 2008.

Farid Ayaz and  entourage never fail to amaze listeners. Farid Ayaz is  a magician  more than a musician and this passionate rendition is no less than a magic spell…

 

 

Not behind in this tradition of cross culture reverence, Shanker Shambhu brothers sang  in praise of Allah, Prophet Muhammed and Imam Ali.

They were known to be singing with their souls pouring out in their voices and was hard to miss their reverence to the kalaam, said those who saw them sing live.

One of their master piece is the Mun Kunto Maula, sung by many others but this one has it’s own charm, and best of all, I have been listening to this since I can remember….

 

 

These  are but two true examples of music beyond beliefs and borders.

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