Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Where heart is...

I wonder if one's taste changes with time. I had this audio cassette of
Qawwalis from Films. A qawwali is a form of music that's very alive,
very dynamic and full of frenzy. Usually ghazals (Urdu poems) are sung
as qawwalis but I believe qawwalis are also written specifically to be
sung like that.
Anyhow, I had this audio cassette which had many qawwalis from different
Hindi movies and some of them I liked more than the others. There was
one that I didn't like at all and used to fast forward over it.
Strangely enough, it was written by the celebrated Urdu shayar Allama
Iqbal. It went like this:
Kabhi ae haqi_qat-e-munt_zir nazar aa libaas-e-majaaz meiN,
Ke hazaaroN sajde tadap rahe haiN meri zabeen-e-niyaaz meiN.
Now, this was too complex Urdu for my limited knowledge and even if you
could translate the words, it's really abstract and the meaning is out
there. Even today if you ask me I can't really, accurately, translate or
interpret that. Loosely the meaning is this:
O awaited-reality sometime display yourself in the attire of metaphor,
For a thousand bows are raring in my yearning forehead.
See? Not very clear, is it? But these days I still like it, because it
leads to this final sher which has become one of my favorites over time.
Jo maiN sar-ba-sajda kabhi hua to zameeN se aane lagi sada,
tera dil to hai sanam-aash_na tujhe kya milega namaz meiN?
Let me translate this or try:
Whenever I lowered my head for a bow, this sound started to come from
the ground,
Your heart it in your beloved, what will you get in worship?
It's the whole combination of words, their meaning and the composition
of the couplet that makes it so interesting and actually inspiring.
Reminds me of two different things:
There was a guy preaching, don't remember who it was, might have been
Osho, he said, "People, when they bow in the temple, their body is
bowing to the God, but their heart is not in God, their heart is in the
shoes that are outside the temple." Humorous, based on the fact that
theft of shoes is notoriously high from outside places of worship.
Another one. A joke from Great Indian Laughter Challenge.
A muslim man bowing in 'namaaz' with his shoes in front of him. Another
man tells him that you lose the credit for the namaaz if you bow with
shoes in front of you. To which he replies, "But if I bow with the shoes
behind me, I lose the shoes."
Anyway, the main meaning of Iqbal's sher for me is that you should not
go through the motions but decide where you want to devote yourself, to
the God, or to your beloved and then go for it.
End of Chapter. :)

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