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By Atul Mishra
Sufism is a mystical belief and spiritual practice in which ‘divine love and knowledge’ of God is solicited. Sufi saints, scholars, poets and musicians, all believe in what is called muridin (singular murid), meaning “desiring the knowledge of knowing and loving God”. This eternal endearment for God and the craving to attain Him, has been perpetually present in all Sufi art forms, be it music or poetry.
Amir Khusrou is believed to be above every Sufi poet when it comes to Sufi poetry. The magnificent couplets that he wrote in his lifetime are filled with the cries to ‘become’ God and to attain the beloved God. The word ‘beloved’ in his oeuvre does not refer to any human being, but rather to the divine love. Let us look at Amir Khusrou’s life, his contributions and a few of his couplets in brief.
Born to Amir Saif-ud-Din Mahmud and Bibi Daulatnaz in 1252-53 CE, Amir Khusrou was a Sufi musician, poet and scholar. Saifuddin had to migrate from Samarkand (Uzbekistan) to Balkh (Afghanistan) and then to Delhi due to the invasion of Genghis Khan. And then he was granted a fief in the district of Patiyali. Here he married Bibi Daulatnaz and they had four children. Amir Khusrou was one of them.
Khusrou began learning and writing poetry at the age of eight. He was an influential prodigy in the cultural history of Indian Subcontinent. He became spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi. After the death of his father, he came to Delhi. (Source:Wiki)
Khusrou was a genius in true sense. Apart from such dense oeuvre of his poetry which stands out eternally, he has made many contributions to the Indian Subcontinent arts of music and poetry. Here are his contributions:
- Invented musical instruments sitar and tabla.
- Considered as father of Qawwali.
- Introduced the ghazal style of song into India.
- Introduced Persian, Arabic and Turkish elements into Indian classical music.
- Originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music.
A couple of Couplets
सेज वो सूनी देख के रोवून में दिन रैन,
पिया पिया मैं करत हूँ पहरों, पल भर सुख न चेन।
(Farsi couplet I: angelfire.com)
Translation: Day and night, I see an empty bed, and cry
Calling for my beloved, I remain restless forever.
As discussed earlier, Sufi love is the love for God. In this couplet ‘beloved’ is God to the poet. The poet is crying his heart out to attain the spiritual divine love of God. He waits and waits, cries and cries, looking desperately at his bed for his ‘beloved’. And in the desperation he is left restless.
Because Sufi concept of love also asserts that love in its true sense means “becoming” each other, then it can be propounded in this context that the poet is waiting for the Unison with the God so that he comes his ‘beloved’.
ख़ुसरौ बाज़ी प्रेम की में खेलूँ पी के संग,
जीत गई तो पिया मोरे,हारी, पी के संग।
(Farsi couplet II: angelfire.com)
Translation- I, Khusrou, play the game of love with my beloved,
If I win, the beloved’s mine, defeated, I’m beloved’s.
The desperation to attain that spiritual love is so intense that the poet, in a game of love with the God, says that if he wins it the ‘beloved’ i.e. God has to become his, and if he loses he becomes his beloved’s. Thus, in any case winning the game himself, no matter who becomes whose, because his ultimate desire is to unite with God.
With Diwali comes the yearly ritual of disinfectingand deep-cleaning our homes. However, your basic cleaning ritual might not be sufficient to the changing needs of the environment we live in. If the deadly viruses around us have taught anything, disinfection should be as much a goal in our regular cleaning, rather than just the basic visible cleanliness. Therefore, it becomes necessary to know the right way of cleaning and disinfectinghomes that lends itself to a responsible celebration. While we plan to welcome Goddess Lakshmi by cleaning and decorating our living spaces inside out, we should be aware of those corners that are prone to infections, diseases and require our special attention.
The R&D team at ITC Savlon, shares some tips to maximize hygiene and ensure germ-free cleaning this Diwali:
Clean your Kitchen
As the excitement builds for us to be able to open our houses to guests and have the kitchen work overtime to put out scrumptious meals, do spend a moment on considering thorough kitchen disinfection. Bear in mind that the multiple ways in which we use our home kitchen carry with it the burden of microbes that can cause infections.
A disinfection ritual will ensure that any chances of microbial contamination to your person or to the food being cooked gets eliminated. Be it organizing shelves and arranging jars, wiping the crockery cabinet, or cleaning the refrigerator, all you need is a multipurpose disinfectant and cleaner by your side. A Spray & Wipe Multipurpose disinfectant cleaner that is readily available makes the task of cleaning convenient with its dual action of cleaning and disinfection together. The added feature of a citrus fragrance also helps keep the space smelling fresh.
Spray & Wipe Multipurpose disinfectant cleaner that is readily available makes the task of cleaning convenient with its dual action of cleaning and disinfection together. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Refresh your Bathroom
When we spruce up our homes around Diwali, we often forget to place our bathroom hygiene on the priority list. Bathrooms are breeding corners for germs and harmful microorganisms. As we accommodate our guests for a get-together or a game of cards, let's also keep in mind that bathrooms are the second most used space by guests. It becomes crucial, therefore, to effectively clean our restrooms and keep them dry. Make sure you buy a multipurpose disinfectant to clean the floor, wipe the washbasin, and faucets, or other frequently touched areas. Add a scented candle of a fragrance diffuser with some essential oil poured in to uplift the space and leave it smelling fragrant.
When we spruce up our homes around Diwali, we often forget to place our bathroom hygiene on the priority list. | Photo by Nino Maghradze on Unsplash
Style your Living room
We often indulge in renovating your living areas just before Diwali, but there are other comparatively smaller purchases that might help you bypass an overhaul. One can brighten up living spaces with new drapes and bright-coloured cushions giving a cozy look to your favourite couch. At times, buying new furniture, sofas, etc. gets beyond budget, so indulge in fabric covers instead. They give your existing furniture a great face-lift. You could also look at rearranging the furniture placement and adding new wall art. Simple additions like this often give the entire space a new look. While you move around the furniture or add new drapes, make sure you spray them down with a surface disinfectant spray regularly since they are not washed as frequently. Spray Surface Disinfectant Spray post dusting to kill 99.9 per cent of germs. This helps you, welcome guests, to a safe environment and a quick spray after the party winds down, ensures you and your family also stay protected.
Spray Surface Disinfectant Spray post dusting to kill 99.9 per cent of germs. | Photo by Katie Pearse on Unsplash
According to WHO -- if hand hygiene is done properly this can be over 90 per cent effective in preventing the spread of harmful germs and HCAIs. So, let's ensure to keep our hand hygiene at par by washing hands regularly and wiping down doorknobs, spraying playing cards, or serviette holders with a disinfectant from time to time.
As we get excited to meet our friends, families this festive season we must be cautious while doing handshakes, exchanging high-fives etc. to control the germ transmission. | Photo by Kaffeebart on Unsplash
As we get excited to meet our friends, families this festive season we must be cautious while doing handshakes, exchanging high-fives etc. to control the germ transmission. This can be done by replacing towels with tissue papers in the guest bathroom so that no two people use the same towel. Another way is by placing hand sanitizer bottles that could be accessible for guests enabling them to use it as and when required.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Diwali, cleaning, checklist, living room, bathroom, kitchen, covid
Birbal, an intelligent and witty man, was a beloved courtier to Emperor Akbar. He was one of the youngest men of the court, who had the greatest influence on the ruler. Despite his Hindu background, he supported the Mughal ruler and even adopted Din-i-ilahi towards the end of his life. He died in a battle that he led against a rebel army. He belonged to the precious nine courtiers of Akbar's court known as the Navratnas (nine gems).
Born as Mahesh Das, Birbal was renamed in Akbar's court. He solved many petty issues with his wit and is known as a man of practical wisdom. He lives on today in the literature that shapes children's formative years, in application comedy for adults, and in folktales for everyone else. His wisdom is so unique and so practical that it does not take too much to understand it. At the same time, it is not something that can be easily emulated.
There are certain instances where Birbal's wit is not entirely useful, nonetheless, it provides for a good laugh. As a man who set out to make a change in the world, particularly in a king's court, he is a man who has left a rather impressive legacy for humility, loyalty, and unbounded talent. Although his position in the court was perhaps far more important than that of a jester, he is portrayed as one, and this remains for centuries.
He lives on in the tales of grandparents, in moral science textbooks for young children, and sometimes unconsciously in the decisions that we take daily. Many of the stories we have heard ourselves through various sources remain with us and reflect in the way we look at situations and understand their outcomes.
Birbal, as a character in a story, will not die away anytime soon. As a stalwart for common sense, and a symbol of exercising the innate ability to reason everyday phenomena, he will remain immortal in literature. Children of today and those of tomorrow will surely never tire of reading about him and his marvellous witticisms.
Keywords: Birbal Literature, Witticism, Navratna, Mughal rule in India, Akbar's nine gems, Indian literature
Just as much as man has evolved from the time of the nomads, his practices and rituals have grown more and more sophisticated. With time, things that once were just formalities have acquired ritual significance and are observed in solemnity. Death was once something that marked the end, but now is an important life change event that is memorialized. Some people come alive only after death.
In nomadic times, men buried their dead companions or family along the route they traveled. They would place a stone or any heavy object over it, to prevent the soil from becoming loose around the body, or to keep it safe from scavengers. This practice is no longer followed as the animal kingdom and man's world have become distinct from each other.
Europe is dotted with Stonehenge clusters, which are historical pieces of evidence of human progress. It is a keen and detailed system that human ancestors devised for burying their dead. Carbon dating suggests the presence of decomposed remains, but its actual significance is speculated.
The Egyptians devised building pyramids in which they laid their dead. They are one of the earliest civilizations to propagate the idea of an afterlife. They filled the pyramids with earthly treasures, all of which they believed were required in the next life.
Traditional orthodox graves with elaborate gravestones Image credit: Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash
When devastating plagues hit countries, the dead were buried in masses. Walls were built around these sites to contain the dead bodies and to prevent them from spilling out. Later superstitions and folklore about the 'undead' forced people to place crosses and crucifixes on graves to keep their loved ones from turning into blood-sucking vampires. Sometimes, coffins were pierced in the centre with a large stake to prevent the deceased from waking up again. Gravestones were laid to make sure that the person did not escape. Sometimes, an intact gravestone was an indicator of a pure soul.
The Renaissance instilled a scientific spirit of inquiry, which caused brilliant advancements in every field, but this came at rather bizarre costs. Students of human anatomy needed a basis for their theories and were often found vandalizing property, digging up the dead to use for dissection. Laws were passed against this, but it was a practice that prevailed. Some of the most famous principles of medicine come from this era.
Burying the dead has changed so much with the times. Today's practice of laying gravestones has no preventive measures like those in the past. Instead, they serve to immortalize the dead. It is to fulfill the life of the person by laying them to rest in their final earthly abode and leaving behind a marker of their life either by a symbol, a quote, or a verse that best describes them. As the population of the world continues to grow, land space for burial is growing scarce, and gravestones are now becoming a rare privilege.
Keywords: Ritual Practice, Graves, Memorial tombs, plague disease, white plague