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Amir Khusrou: The true essence of Sufi love

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.

photo credit: shadowsofthedivine.wordpress.com
photo credit: shadowsofthedivine.wordpress.com

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.

Birth

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.

photo credit: nizamuddinauliya.com
photo credit: nizamuddinauliya.com

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)

Contributions

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.

photo credit: www.ghumakkar.com
photo credit: www.ghumakkar.com

A couple of Couplets

सेज वो सूनी देख के रोवून में दिन रैन,

पिया पिया मैं करत हूँ पहरोंपल भर सुख  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,हारीपी 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.

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