Long, long time ago in a different continent, I bought an audio cassette titled "Qawwalis from Films". I do love Urdu Shayri and Qawwalis are a really fun, enjoyable medium of singing the ghazals. There have been many, many qawwali's in Hindi films, some of them based on real Urdu Shayri while others were written just for the film.
This cassette had several of them like "Chaandi ka badan, sone ki nazar", "Yeh mana meri jaan mohabbat saza hai" and of course the famous "Yeh ishq ishq hai" from Barsaat ki Raat.
Sandwiched between two great qawwali's was one that was so slow and boring that I would press fast forward every time it started. Not only was it slow and boring, the music was very uninteresting and the words were in tough Urdu, it just didn't mean anything to me.
But I used to listen to that cassette very often and sometimes I would be late in pressing the FF button on the player. This way I heard the first few words of it. Then a litte more. And then I got curious some time and let it play a little longer. I still didn't like the music but the words piqued my curiosity even more.
Gradually over the years, I pieced together what the words meant and also learn a bit more about the ghazal. It's Allama Iqbal's ghazal and it is indeed in very tough Urdu, but I really one of the shers from it and that made me like it.
With that much ado, here are the two sher's, the first one and my favourite one.
Kabhi ae haqiqat-e-muntzir nazar aa libaas-e-majaaz meiN
Ke hazaaroN sajde tadap rahe haiN meri zabeen-e-niyaaz meiN
कभी ऐ हक़ीक़त-ए-मुंतज़िर नज़र आ लिबास-ए-मजाज़ में,
कि हज़ारों सजदे तड़प रहे हैं मेरी ज़बीन-ए-नियाज़ में,
I'll explain the literal meaning but I am not yet smart enough to explain the real meaning. Might take me another 10 years or so.
The poet says - O much awaited reality, show yourself in the fabric of practical some time, for a thousand prostrations are eagerly waiting in my worshipful forehead.
Yes, of course it sounds a thousand times better in Urdu and I like it even without understanding it fully. But my favourite sher is this:
मैं जो सर-बसजदा कभी हुआ तो ज़मीन से आने लगी सदा,
तेरा दिल तो है सनम-आशना तुझे क्या मिलेगा नमाज़ में.
This one is easier to understand. The shayar says, whenever I prostrated in prayer, the earth started to say, "Your heart is filled with your beloved, what do you hope to get from prayer?"
This of course, has as many meanings as you can get from it. One is that prayer is not real if your mind is not in it along with your body. Another meaning is (as I see it) that when you have found love, you don't need prayer, only love.
In any case I love this sher and I am reminded of it any time someone mentions namaaz or roza or things like that.
And that's enough for a literary discussion. :)