by Padma Bhushan Prof. Gopi chand Narang on March 25, 2014
Urdu Ghazal is not all about emotions and impressions. It also entails certain ontological and ideological leanings. Though Urdu Ghazal chronicles aesthetic expressions of eternal human fascination with love and beauty which overshadows all other aspects of human life, under the influence of Sufism, it all along displays the metaphoric as well as real aspects of spiritualism. Therefore, weaving philosophy into the warp and woof of poetry it has attempted to disentangle secrets of eternity and existence. These efforts, however, are not aimed at offering any logical solution to the ideological or intellectual enigma. They are mere impressionistic or ecstatic outpourings of poets' inner vision resulting from their discernment of inherited religious beliefs, contemporary culture and social milieu. Therefore, to comprehend the approach of Urdu Ghazal towards the fundamental issues/ problematic of the self and the universe and the creator and the creation, it is imperative to keep in mind the social milieu, the cross currents of Hindu and Muslims thought, and the growth of Sufism which nurtured Urdu Ghazal to its pinnacle.
The milieu, which gave currency to the genre of Urdu Ghazal, comprised the intellectual and cultural viewpoints of both Hindus and Muslims. During the Later Mughals of 18th and 19th century when Urdu poetry gained ground in Delhi, the intellectual ferment was marked with the glow of Islamic Sufism, especially its wujoodi antological learings which had drank deep at the Indian idea of the immanence of the absolute being. Islam and Hinduism, like most other religions of the world, seem to agree on the issue of oneness of God. But when it comes to translating that ultimate being into epistemological terms or relating it to the world around, one comes across two disparate concepts regarding the Absolute.
Upanishads explain the real existence in terms of absolute being and call it Brahman, one who is the essential self and beyond the human intellect or imagination. His knowledge can be attained through divine consciousness and not through the limited cognitive faculties. Brahman is beyond all attributes and obligations. He is the sum substance. The universe and Brahman are identical. Chandogya Upanishad (III.14) states : `All this is the Brahman'. According to non-dualistic' Advaita Vedanta there is only one universal consciousness, Brahman and Atman (soul) are identical. Just as quantum physics has discovered that matter consists of moving fields of energy, so the Vedanta identifies reality as energy in the form of consciousness. Atman does not consist of senses. It is the absolute consciousness that is there in every human being. In the same way, Brahman is neither material nor existent. Atman and Brahman both emanate from the same source i.e. the sum substance or Brahman. All that exists in this universe is the result of energy that flows from Brahman. According to Shankaracharya `as the air inside a jar is substantially the same as that on the outside, though separated articially by the form of jar, so the abdolute ground of being is one with the basic self of every individual, but seemingly separated because of the blinkers (or play of senses) brought about by Maya (Avidya). Once through the inner experience of `enlightenment' the blinkers are removed, the awareness of who or what one basically is, dawns. Upanishad has explained this with the help of two expressions, Aham Brahmasmi (I am the Truth) and Tat tvam asi (Thou art that). The Absolute Being, the universe and the human share the same fundamental relationship. The apparent differences amongst the three are a mere matter of false perception. Brahman is the primal sources of the cosmos. The Truth is only one, which is omnipresent. Rest all is mere illusion.
Islam perceives the Creator (Ma'bood) as an entity that is different from human beings (`Abd ), and above them. God is beyond embodiment or other obligations of the creation but not to the extent that the mind may not conceive of Him. Though certain attributes have been ascribed to God, it has been made clear that they are not same as the human attributes. The Holy Qur`an sees the relationship between the Absolute Being and the universe as that of The Creator and His creation. The God created the world according to His own special scheme. He is One but His creations are multitudinous. This is not without purpose. Every thing that is created is carrying out some duty. The entire visible universe is real because whatever the God creates is always Real—nothing is false or futile. The universe is the spectacle of God and even though He is the fountain of all attributes, attaching attributes to Him limits His Being. He therefore cannot be perceived except as One who is different from the universe.
Hence, though the unity or oneness principle (Tawheed) is central both in Islam and Indian philosophy, there are fundamental differences in relating it to universe and human being.
Indian thought as we have seen is pantheistic. It claims that the absolute being is immanent in the whole of creation and declares the multitudinous universe to be a deception, illusion, play or spell. Islam, on the contrary is monotheistic and is opposed to any imposition of corporeal forms over the ultimate being and conceives this world as a concrete creation of God. According to Hindu philosophy, the absolute being is transcendental and existence can only be founded upon absolute truth (Brahman). Rest all that is visible is unreal. The profusion of names and forms is perceptual. Only the absolute being has a real existence and it permeates all living beings and things. These ideas of spiritual transcendence concerning the absolute being began to flow into Islam through the later growth of Sufism in countries adjoining North-Western India. The Sufi idea of `oneness of being' (Wahdat-ul-wujood) bears a great similarity with the Vedantic views of the immanence of the absolute. Though Sufism started as an ascetic practice in Islam, but while it grew and came into contact with other cultures, it encountered transcendental thought. Imaginative mind is typically inclined to spiritual transcendence and with its spread among Non-Arab (or Aryan) communities, their nature might have influenced the emergence of transcendental and unitary principles. With the advent of Islam in India, the doctrine of `oneness of being' (Wahdat-ul-wujood) further gained ground and became particularly popular with the Chishtiya Sufis. Some scholars are of the opinion that unitarian principle leave an opening for pantheistic tendencies which were objected to by the Ulema. It is probable that the same dictates of time that turned the imaginative mind towards transcendental spiritualism were responsible for breeding these ideas into Sufism after Islam spread among the non-Arab communities. Whatever the reasons, it can definitely be asserted that Vedantic philosophy and the Sufi doctrine of `oneness of being' are deeply analogous, and it is this confluence of ideas that triggered the creativity of Ghazal poets.
The principle of Wahdat-ul-wujood or `oneness of being' holds that nothing exists except the absolute being. The universe per se is nothing but the manifestation of the divine attributes. These attributes (Sifaat) constitute the being and since God is the absolute unity, all existences, which we experience, are manifestation of this Wahdat (`oneness'). Myriad forms in the universe exhibit the splendor of His Unity which being incessant appears manifold like multiples of the same reality. The real existence belongs to the Absolute Unity (Wahdat-e- mutlaq) and nothing else. The Sufis refer to this principle of the Unity of Being as Hama -oost (All is He).
The mystic and Sufi followers of the principle of Wahdat-ul-wujood correlate this faith with the message of Holy Qura`n. Though there are such allusions in Qura'n regarding the Creator and His creation, Qura'n does not perceive this universe as a mere illusion or fantasy nor does it allow the Wujoodi interpretation of reality. Therefore, despite the attempts of Sufi mystics to connect the views of immanence with the Islamic doctrine of divine unity (Tawheed), at the level of common masses and in literature and art, these notions of reality are more in line with the Indian transcendental mind. Muslim theologians have often raised their voice against the principle of `oneness of being' on the ground that it distorts the Islamic notion of Tawheed (There is no God but one God). According to Sheikh Ahmad Sarhindi, Qura'n does not preach Wahdat-ul-wujood or oneness of being, it rather preaches the `oneness of witness' (Wahdat-us-shuhood). The ultimate being is absolute, attributes too are perfect. But since this creation is imperfect, it cannot be called the Essence of His Attributes. It is mere shadow and the shadow can never be taken as original or real, or the source and manifestation cannot be treated as the same. Hence, even our acceptance of the universe as the manifestation of His Attributes does not in any way prove it to be the Essence. Wahdat-ul-wujood holds that the absolute truth permeates the universe and does not have a separate existence. Wahdat-us-shuhood or oneness of witness maintains that the absolute truth, though ingrained in every particle of the universe, transcends it too. Just as light and heat emanate from the sun but do not affect its essence, similarly, the creator manifests himself in the creation but at the same time as creator differs from his creation. This principle of Wahdat-us-shuhood is called Hama-az-oost (All is from Him).
The fundamental difference between Hama-oost (All is He) and Hama-az-oost (All is from Him) is that one perceives the kaleidoscopic creation as the Essence or the Real Being—the other accepts it as a manifestation of the divine attributes but does not accept it as the real being. According to the former, the universe being a reflection of the divine unity, the multitudes are mere illusions, not real or true. The latter premises that since every single atom in the universe is a creation of God, therefore the visible universe is not a mirror or an illusion
but a concrete reality. This latter aspect of Sufism emerged much later and according to some aimed to end the non-Islamic notion of unity of being and align Sufism to the Islamic principle of Tawheed or unity. It was a natural outcome of a religion's basic instinct to protect its fundamentals. The philosophical groundwork for the principle of `oneness of witness' was prepared in India because it was here or in its neighbourhood that the concepts of `unity of being' akin to those prevalent in Indian thought had entered the Islamic fold. But since this corrective measure targeted a practice, which had some basic similarities with the indigenous psyche and was steeped in Indian culture, it did not have much success here. The doctrine of Unity of Being, on the contrary, continued to exercise wide spread influence on religious, social and literary practices, and all aspects of cultural walks of life.
These leanings of contemporary ethos left their deep impact on Urdu Ghazal, which was nurtured by Sufi thoughts. Ideas of spiritual transcendence related to the oneness of being flowed into Urdu Ghazal in various ways. Poetic in their own right, these ideas naturally found their way into poetry and literature, to the extent of becoming an established independent theme. The language of Ghazal is laced with metaphor and suggestiveness, and leaves little scope for explicit detail. Even meditative ideas are expressed in it in terms of impressions. The doctrine of unity, therefore, has taken such varied forms and shapes in Urdu Ghazal that it is difficult to pin point any one precise approach. However, the arguments put forth by various studies on this subject prove that Urdu Ghazal has assimilated those very notions of the Unity of Being which are in consonance with the Indian ideas of immanence of God. These ideas are present in Urdu Ghazal on such a large scale that any attempt to gather them in one place would need libraries. Here the citations are deliberately kept to the minimum though care has been taken not to leave out any significant link in the chain of Ghazal's evolution. A close understanding of these couplets makes it clear that fundamentally Urdu Ghazal bears a deep impress of the Indian transcedental thought and has always been inclined towards the principle of unity of being :
Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah
The world entire is brightened by Your light
Your glory is beyond spatial bound
Love has made me experience Your presence
In dream-like surroundings, reflected all around.
(Tuj amolak nur te raushan jagat, ishq jhalkaran dipata mere khwab.)
Wherever I look, I see You, Your beauty in my eyes,
You dwell in my heart like fragrance in the garden.
(Jidhar dekhoon tu dise husn tera mere nain,
Ki dil chaman mein tumhara hai baas jaise chaman.)
All casks overflow with the wine of your love
All wines are intoxicated by the impact of your eyes.
( Har ik labrez hai khum tujh mohabbat ke asar seti
Har ik saghar tere nainan sun hai sarshar har janib.)
His unabashed beauty beams all around in the world,
His veil cannot hide Him from awe struck glances.
The candlelight of His Oneness has lit on me so bright,
Every speck I find is glittered by His light.
Whoever my love glances with His lovely eyes,
In the world full of miseries, suffers a miserable plight.
( Ayan hai har taraf alam mein husn-e-behijaab us ka
Baghair az deeda-e-hairan nahin jag mein niqaab us ka
Hua hai mujh pe shama-e-bazm-e-yak rangi sun yo raushan
Ki har zarre upar taban hai dayam aftaab us ka
Sajan ne yak nazar dekha nigah-e-mast sun jis kun
Kharabaat-e-do alam mein sada hai who kharaab us ka.)
O Bahri! The glory of God is like a seed That manifests itself as fruits, flowers, stalks and leafs.
( Bahariya yak beej hai so noor akhan]d Allah ka
Garche surat mein hai phal kuch phool kuch hur paat kuch.)
Shah Alam Aftab
One and Only, you have no parallel
Visible or veiled, all around You dwell
Although you elude human eye,
When closely I saw, I found you far and neigh.
( Wahid hai lashareek tu saani tera kahaan
Aalim hai sab ke haal ka tu zaahir-o-nihaan
Zahir mein tu agarche nazar aata hai nahin
Dekha jo main ne ghaur se tu hai jahaan tahaan.)
He is not apart, you can search and find
He is part of all, and yet of His own kind.
(Juda nahin sab seti tahqeeq ker dekho
Mila hai sab se aur sab se nyara hai.)
Ever seen a Being so simple yet complex
Ever witnessed the concealed one so obvious!
(Is qadar saada-o-purkaar kahin dekha hai
Benumood itna namudaar kahin dekha hai.)
All magics diminish before your charm
Springing from Your Beauty I witnessed
What profusion of splendid colours
Founded upon such colourlessness.
(Khatm hain nayrangiyaan tujh par ki tere husn se
Itni berangi pe kis kis rang ka jalwa dekha.)
The light that prevailed sprung from His beauty
Sun was but a fragment of His splendour
That envy of heavenly beauties dwelt within us
If we failed to comprehend, the fault was ours.
(Tha must'ar husn se us ke jo noor tha
Khursheed mein bhi us hi ka zarra zahoor tha
Tha woh to rashke hoor-e-bahishti hamen mein Mir
Samjhe na hum to fahm ka apni qusoor tha.)
The sight of my Love's glory is all over
It is not a one-time miracle revealed to Moses on mount.
(Aam hai yaar ki tajalli Mir
Khaas Musa-o Koh-e-Toor nahin.)
Watch carefully, you will find His Truth all around
He veiled His face from lovers on ceremonious count.
(Jo khoob dekho to sari wahi haqeeqat hai
Chupana chehre ka ushshaaq se takalluf tha.)
Blossoms, colours, springs are but veils,
He is hidden behind all things apparent.
(Gulo rango bahar parde hain
Har ayan mein hai wo nihan ]tuk soch.) I know not reasons for this estrangement
We both emanate from the same fountain.
(Wajh-e-begangi nahin maloom
Tum jahaan ke ho wan ke hum bhi hain.)
If you have eyes to see, He is present all around
In all things of the world, it's He who is found.
( Aankhein jo hon to ain hai maqsood har jagah
Bizzaat hai jahaan mein wo maujood her jagah.)
His glory prevails all over the world's garden
He has turned shoots and blossoms into a kind of curtain.
( Jalwa hai usi ka sab gulshan mein zamane ke
Gul phool ko hai unne parda sa bana rakhkha.)
Bother not about the form or essence
Behold once that mighty fire.
The elements of the blazing flame
Are present in a tiny ember.
(Juz-o-kul ke farq per mat ja tuk us aatish ko dekh
Hai jo toode mein wahi zarra si chingari mein hai.)
When I came to the world, I looked all around,
Wherever I saw, It's You that I found.
( Jag mein aa kar idhar udhar dekha
Tu hi aaya nazar jidhar dekha.)
The Person and His image adorned this mirror
He looked at Himself and I was reflected there.
( Shakhs-o-aks is aaine mein jalwa farma ho gaye
Us ne dekha aap ko ham us mein paida ho gaye.)
The unity made Your splendour conspicuous all around
It lifted the veils that manifestations had contrived.
(Wahdat ne har taraf tere jalwe dikha diye
Parde taiyyunaat ke jo the u]tha diye.)
It is wrong if the mind wanders
Is there a thing in the world, besides You?
My heart also has learnt Your ways,
This way now, the next moment alters.
Strange is my state these days,
I see something and imagine something other.
(Hai ghalat gar gumaan mein kuch hai
Tujh siwa bhi jahaan mein kuch hai
Dil bhi tera hi dhang seekha hai
Aan mein kuch hai aan mein kuch hai
In dinon kuch ajab hai mera haal
Dekhta kuch hoon dhyan mein kuch hai.)
The entire world searches for You
Present in every speck, Where aren't You?
(Dhondhe hai tujhe tamaam alam
Har chand ki tu kahaan nahin hai.)
Manifold individuals of the world are one
Like many petals of the same flower.
When does multiplicity disrupt Unity
The body and the soul though distinct are one
The order of witnesses is all-unanimous
O Dard! the two eyes always see together.
Gul ke sab auraaq barham ek hain
Howe kab wahdat mein kasrat se khalal
Jismo jan go do hain baham ek hain
Muttafiq aapas mein hain ahle-shahood
Dard aankhein dekh baham ek hain.)
Don't get caught
By questions of the witnessed
See in every rank
Who is immanent
The glory of my Maula* permeates both.
O ignorant distinguish not
Between the master and the servant.
(Mat a]tkiyo tu is mein ke mashhood kaun hai
Har martabe mein dekhiyo maujood kaun hai
Donon jagah mein maniye maula hai jalwagar
Ghafil ayaz kaun hai mahmood kaun hai.)
I know not what tresses my heart has fallen for
Whose eyes have pierced this wounded heart
Even though every blossom carries Your fragrance
Each bloom is suffused with Your colour though
Your forms and features I know not.
(Kis zulf ka shaida hai mera dil nahin maloom
Kis chashm ka zakhmi hai ye bismil nahin maloom
Har ghunche mein bu hai teri har gul mein tera rang
Tis per bhi teri shakl-o-shamayal nahin maloom.)
Shah Niaz Bareillavi
Inspired by the wish to see Himself
He made Himself into every form
Laughed gleefully through blooming flowers
Crooned in nightingale's melodious songs.
He took the forms of the candle and the moth,
And annihilated Himself in flames of His own.
At times claiming "I am the Truth"
Witnessed his head raised on the Cross
O Niaz He was beyond the bounds of `You' and `Me'
And yet I see Him in every `You' and `Me'
At times he is the emperor in power
At times seen with a mendicant's begging bowl.
At times, a devout worshipper
Lord of rakes and drunkards at times.
At times in the beloved's attire
He was seen throwing up His charms
At times a lover like Niaz
He was seen beating his breast and heart aflame.
* Maula in Arabic means the master and the slave both.Mahmood was the ruler and Ayaz was his slave. Since in these lines it is used metaphorically, I have retained the metaphoric meaning in translation for clarity. (T.N.)
(Deed apne ki thi use khwahish
Aap ko har tarah bana dekha
Soorat-e-gul mein khilkhila ke hansa
Shakl-e_bulbul mein chahchaha dekha
Shama' ho kar ke aur parwana
Aap ko aap mein jala dekha
Kar ke daawa kahin anal haq ka
Bar sare daar wo khincha dekha
Tha woh bartar shuma-o-ma se Niyaz
Phir wohi ab shuma-o-ma dekha
Kahin hai badshah-e-takht nashin
Kahin kasa liye gada dekha
Kahin aabid bana kahin zahid
Kahin rindon ka peshwa dekha
Kahin woh dar libaas-e-mashooqaan
Bar sare naaz aur ada dekha
Kahin aashiq Niyaz ki soorat
Seena biryaan o dil jala dekha.)
Am I the creation or the Creator manifest,
who am I or what am I ?
such issues lie beyond my grasp
Whether I am the veil of my beloved's pristine face
Or the Beloved myself , hid behind the veil.
(Makhlooq hoon ya khaliq-e-makhlooq numa hoon
Maloom nahin mujh ko main kaun hoon kya hoon
Hoon shahid-e-tanzeeh ke rukhsaar ka parda
Ya khud hi mein shahid hoon ke parde mein chhupa hoon.)
His fairy beauty exudes with enthralling splendour
Aware is the one who is lost in His grandeur.
That enchanting Beauty is hidden like treasure
In this inhabited world which he treads like a desert.
(Husn-e-pari ik jalwa-e-mastaana hai uska
Hoshiyar wahi hai ki jo deewaana hai uska
Woh shokh nihaan ganj ke manind hai us mein
Maamora-e-alam jo hai viraana hai uska.)
The world entire is a naught,
but for the sole splendour of the beloved.
It was for Beauty's vanity,
That we in the world were brought.
(Dahr juz jalwa-e-yaktaai-e-mashooq nahin
Ham kahan hote agar husn na hota khud bin.)
Every speck of the world
Is a cask in Your magical tavern.
As Majnoon revolves around
Laila's loving glance.
( Zarra zarra saghar-e-maikhana-e-nayrang hai
gardishe Majnoon bachaskmak haae Laila aashna)
Your splendour has caused the existence
Not a speck is deprived of the beam of the sun.
(hai tajalli teri saamaane wajood
zarra bepartawe khursheed nahin.)
The cosmos is alive due to Your love
The rays of mighty sun lend life to a tiny speck.
(hai kaynaat ko harkat tere zauq se partav se aaftaab ke zarre mein jaan hai.)
Rose and eglantine, all vary in colour
They bear witness to the advent of spring.
One must turn to Kaaba for prayers to flow,
Oblivion is what the wine must bring.
(hai range laala-o-gule nasreen juda juda
har rang mein bahaar ka isbaat chahiye
sar paaye khum pe chahiye hangaame bekhudi
ru sue qibla waqte munaajaat chahiye.)
When naught exists besides You
Why all this sound and fury?
Who are these fairy faces,
For whom this coquettery these artful gestures,
These tangled curls of ambered locks,
These enticing glances of corrylium eyes ?
Whence this flora and fauna sprung,
Clouds and breeze, what things are these?
(jab ke tujh bin nahin koi maujood
phir ye hangaama ai khuda kya hai
ye pari chehra log kaise hain
ghamza-o-ishwa-o-ada kya hai
shikane zulf ambarin kyun hai
nigahe chashme surma'a sa kya hai
sabza-o-gul kahan se aae hain
abr kya cheez hai hawa kya hai.)
The witness, the witnessed and witnessing is one in essence
I know not this observation follows what sense?
(asl-e shahood-o-shahid-o-mashhood ek hai
hairaan hun phir mushaahida hai kis hisaab mein.)
Abdul Aleem Aasi
Blooms crimson bore imprints of His splendour,
The season of spring was nothing else.
(Khiraam jalwe ke naqshe qadam the lala-o-gul
Kuch aur iske siwa mausam-e-bahaar na tha.)
These couplets repeatedly underline the fact that the real existence can only be sited on the Absolute Being. The multitudinous universe of colour and senses is a make belief. Its truth lies in the very Absolute Unity that is manifest in each and every speck of the universe. The exterior and the interior, The Beginning and the end, the distant and the near—God is all around. The attributes and the being, the appearance and the essence all are one and the same. Though the orthodox concept of God is also present in the Urdu poetic tradition and Urdu poets have often placed faith in usual prayers and worship, yet their major inclination remains rooted in that vision of the Absolute, which constitutes the core of the doctrine of unity of being and is congruent with the Indian psyche. Indian cultural sensibilities founded on unitary principle leave no room for intolerance or bigotry. Civility and social harmony have always been present in India due to its unitarian transcendental philosophy. The Islamic Doctrine of Tawheed (oneness of God) also lays emphasis upon the inward spirit of religion in place of its outward dogmas. Since this interior spirit is similar in all religions, Sufism on its advent in India gave immense boost to those elements of mutual respect and amiability that were already present in the Indian tradition. This resulted in several religious movements including the rekindling of Bhakti which laid the foundation for the composite culture in medieval India. If we try to place Urdu Ghazal in this socio-cultural context, we would come across the same spiritual and cultural ethos
flowing through it. With the growing influence of the doctrine of unity of being, Ghazal also did not differentiate religions according to their apparent divergent practices. Since all the visible forms are mere facades and the same divine unity permeates them all, the apparent difference of sects and religions is also meaningless. The follower of the doctrine of unity of being perceives the dissimilarity among religions as a mere difference of rituals and external practices. Hence, in spite of faith in the superiority of its own laws (Shariiya), a unitarian does not hold other religions in contempt nor does he show any bias or intolerance against any other religious faith. He, on the contrary, is critical of those who indulge in sectarian practices or take religious rituals as the essence of religion. He takes it as his duty to raise voice against such intolerance and bigotry. Urdu Ghazal has displayed an extraordinary boldness in this regard to the extent that its ideas often clash with orthodox religion as was the case with Bhakti poets. Just like Bhakti poets the Urdu poets have always targeted those sectarian religious practices and principles that create discord among human beings and are responsible for engendering animosity. The poets of Ghazal, in consonance with Sants ans Sufis, have recurrently sung of the unity of that absolute truth which is the essence of all religions. The Allah of a Sufi or the Brahman of a Hindu is not distinct. Kaaba or Kaashi are places enlightened by one and only Being. The following quotations from Urdu Ghazal are not conventional or traditional, they are rather reflective of a fundamental characteristic of the Urdu Ghazal :
Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah
I know not the difference between Kaaba
The idol-house or the wine house.
All I see is that your face figures,
In every place I visit.
(Main na janun kaaba-o-butkhana _o-maikhana kun Dekhya hun har kahaan dista hai tujh much ka safa.)
Sheikh and Brahmin are alike,
In the labour of love.
Who can tell the bond that binds
The rosary and the sacred thread ?
(Mashraab-e-ishq mein hain sheikh-o-brahmin yaksaan
Rishta-e-subha-o-zunnar koi kya jane.)
None should meddle in the conflict
Between the chaplet and the sacred thread
They share an age-old relationship,
They in essence are one.
(Koi tasbeeh aur zunnar ke jhag]re mein mat bolo
Ye donon ek hain daireena in ke beech rishta hai.)
O Hindus and Muslims, which religion teaches
That you adore temple and mosque, but forget God ?
(Ye kis mazhab mein aur mashrab mein hai Hindu Musalmanon
Khuda ko cho]r dil mein ulfat-e-dair-o-haram rakhna.)
No Hindu or Muslim has ever witnessed,
God in Kaaba or in the idol house.
Hatim swears by his God and others'
He has never seen an infidel or a devout,
Ever in Kaaba or idol-house.
(Kisi Hindu Musalman ne khuda ko
Na kaabe mein na but-khaane mein dekha
Kaaba-o-dair mein Hatim bakhuda ghair-e-khuda
Koi kafir na koi ham ne Musalman dekha.)
Kaaba or idol house or this woeful world
Whichever way I went I found You.
(Kya kaaba-o-dair kya kharaabaat
Tu hi tha udhar jidhar gaye ham.)
Mosque and temple claim but stones
Why should I bow my head there ?
What is sijda, when I know your presence,
All around myself, everywhere.
(Juz sang kya hai dair-o-haram mein jo sar jhuke
Sijda kya hai tujh ko main pahchan har kahin.)
Was it in Kaaba or the idol house,
All I know my Love,
I have seen You somewhere.
(Khwah kaabe mein tujhe khwah ki but khaane mein
Itna samjhoon hoon mere yaar kahin dekha hai.)
The accounts of a Brahmin and a Sheikh
Can only mislead you.
One dwells in temple,
The other is confined to mosque.
(Bahke ga tu sun ke sukhan-e-Sheikh-o-Brahmin
Rahta hai koi dair mein aur koi haram mein.)
Faith and infidelity, both I have quit.
All that concerns me is my Love.
A rosary is not my business any more,
Nor am I concerned with the sacred thread.
(Chora main kufr-o-deen hai faqat yaar se gharaz
Tasbeeh se na kaam na zunnar se gharaz)
Mir Taqi Mir
Lend your ears once to the music of the world,
Behind all sound and fury there is only one singer.
Attributes may appear in any possible form,
The exhibitor is one behind the world's mirror.
(Gosh ko hosh se ]tuk khol ke sun shor-e-jahaan
Sab ki awaaz ke parde mein sukhan saaz hai ek
Chahe jis shakl se timsal sifat ismein dar aa
Aalam aine ke parde mein dar baaz hai ek.)
Don't ask about Mir's religion,
He painted his forehead
Meditated in Hindu temples
Long ago he forsook Islam.
Kaaba, Qibla, haram, ahraam*
Are not his concerns any more
The dwellers of his humble abode
Bade respect to all from distance.
(Mir ke din-o-mazhab ko kya poochte ho tum unne to
Qashqa kheencha dair mein bai]tha kab ka tark Islam kiya
Kis ka Kaaba kaisa qibla kaun haram hai kya ahraam
Kuuche ke uske bashindon ne sab ko yahein se salaam kiya.)
All paths lead to God
When you arrive, you'd learn.
The means may vary
The is only one.
(raah sab ko hai khuda se jaan agar pahuncha hai tu
hon tareeqe mukhtalif kitne hi manzil ek hai.)
The chaplet and the sacred thread
Join in Love's melody.
Strings of two different musical instruments
Sync with the same musical sound.
(naghma-o-ishq se hain subha-o-zunnar mile
ek awaaz pe do saaz ke hain taar mile.)
I know not the difference
Between Islam and Kufr
Be it Kaaba or a Hindu temple,
All that matters is your proximity.
(kis ko kahte hain nahin main janta Islam-o-Kufr
dair ho ya Kaaba matlab mujh ko tere dar se hai.)
The ecstatic soul of Mir
Cares not for intricacies.
He crushed Sheikh's head
Nailed to the mosque wall.
(Mujh mast ko kya nisbat ai Mir masayil se
Munh Sheikh ka masjid mein main rakh ke masal ]dala.)
* Kaaba is the Moslim shrine, qibla its direction, Haram is the surrounding area, ahraam the dress that a devout Moslem wears during the Haj. (T.N.)
My concern is neither Kaaba nor a Hindu temple
Whither I bow my head, I feel you everywhere.
(Kuch Kaabe se hai na kaam na kuch dair se gharaz Sijda kya hai tujh ko main pahchaan har kahin*
Sheikh arrived through Kaaba, I chose the way through heart.
The destination was the same O Dard, only the paths varied.
(Sheikh kaabe ho ke pahuncha hum kanishte dil mein ho
Dard manzil ek thi ]tuk raah hi ka pher tha.)
We have lost all faith O Taban
On seeing the feuds of fellows' faith.
(Hum to Taban hue hain la-mazhab
Majhala dekh sab ke mazhab ka.)
A Sheikh and a Hindu call out to Ram and Rahim
But this fond heart invokes only His name.
(Rahim-o-Ram ki sumiran hai Sheikh-o-Hindu ko Dil uske naam ki ra]tna ra]te hai kya kije.)
The devout, the infidel, the mystic and the drunkard
All beings follow Truth, all feuds frauds.
( Kaisa momin, kaisa kafir kaun hai sufi kaisa rind
Bashar hain sare bande haq ke sare jhag) re shar ke hain.)
How do I explain my ways to anyone
I subscribe to no religion, follow creed none.
(Hum kya kahein kisi se kya hai tariq apna
Mazhab nahin hai koi millat nahi hai koi.)
Faith and infidelity are not the conditions that Aatish reckons
Sheikh or Brahmin, one should be human first.
(Kufr-o-Islam ki kuch qaid nahin ai Atish Sheikh ho ya ki Birhaman ho par insaan howe.)
I am a unitarian, given to rejection of rituals
When creeds dissolve, they constitute faith.
(Ham mowwahid hain hamaara kesh hai tarke rusoom
Millatein jab mi]t gayin ajzaa-e-imaan ho gayin.) The cord of a rosary or a sacred thread has no wisdom
The true test for Sheikh and Brahmin lies in devotion
(Nahin kuch subha-o-zunnar ke phande mein geerai
Wafadari mein Sheikh-o-Birhaman ki aazmaish hai.)
A Hindu temple or a Muslim shrine mirrors a recurrent will
To satiate, longing for union carves its own resting place.
(Dair-o-haram aaina-e-takrare tamanna
Wamaandgi-e-shauq tarashe hai panahein.)
Devotion combined with determination is the sign of true faith
A Brahmin who dies in Mandir may be buried in Kaaba.
(Wafadari basharte ustuwari asl-e-imaan hai
Mare butkhaane mein to Kaabe mein gaa]ro Brahman ko.)
Sever the cord of hundred beads' chaplet
Tie up in place the sacred Hindu thread
. The passers-by always prefer
The paths that are smoother.
(Zunnar baandh subha-e-sad dana tordal
Rahrau chale hai raah ko hamwaar dekh kar.)
Pyare Lal Aashob
His picture is in the idol-house
Imprint in Muslim shrine.
It's therefore that my head
Bows in both directions.
(Apna to sar jhuke hai donon taraf ki uski
Tasweer butkade mein aur hai haram mein khaaka.)
Madho Ram Jauhar
O ignorant ones, temple or mosque does not matter
Submission is all that My Love cares.
( Dairo masjid pe nahin mauqoof kuch ai ghafilo
Yaar ko sijde se matlab hai kahin sijda kiya.)
Daya Shankar Nasim
The mosque and the temple are mirrors by turn
The Truth is only one with reflectors on both sides.
( Dil badil aina hai dair-o-haram
Haq jo puucho ek dar hai do taraf.)
Your voice reverberates all around, O devotees of God !
The same `hu Haq' in Muslim shrines, the same chants in Hindu temples.
( Tumhara bol bala har jagah hai Allah walon mein
Yahi hu haq haram mein hai yahi jap-tap shivaalon mein.)
If the same Truth prevails all through the universe, what is the reality of the creation which we perceive with our own eyes and experience with our senses?
According to Islam, the Ultimate Being is endowed with attributes. He is not an abstract immanence but the Creator. Hence all that God creates is also true. The truth of his being is omnipresent and never changing ( Ala`anan Kaman Ka`anan i.e. He still is, as He was). Another aspect of His truth is Kulle yaume howa fi sha`ane (He is present with fresh glory at every step). Each visible creation bears the sign of God and the visible universe emanates from His creative glory. It is therefore erroneous in Islam to consider the universe as an illusion or deception.
The Doctrine of oneness of existence (The Sufi wajoodi belief) on the contrary, declaresthe creation as unreal or untrue. It upholds that God is the witnessed and the manifest; exterior as well as interior. All revolving planets are hidden attributes and the existences are the apparent attributes. But to consider existences as autonomous i.e. existing independent of God is an illusion. The creation is unreal because it has no separate existence from God. This creation thus is a make-belief, a dream. So long as we remain trapped in the sensory illusions we take the phenomenon world as real. The association between the witness and the witnessed is also a construct. That means that in reality the witness, to witness and the witnessed all are one. The Absolute God is manifest everywhere and is his own spectator. He is also the source of the inter-dependence of the creation (alam), awareness (maloom) and knowledge (ilm).
Much before the advent of the Sufi doctrine of oneness of existence, these ideas of immanence of being were present in Vedantic philosophy. Vedantic philosophy teaches that the phenomenon world is the manifestation of Brahman the Real Being. Nothing else exists besides him. `masiwa'* `the other' is the universe which we mistake as present. Maya is an illusion of senses. The apparent world is nonexistent and the sensory existence mere illusion. According to Shankaracharya, just as a man would take a rope to be a snake in the darkness of night, or would create a garden in his imagination, the existence of the snake or the garden remains nothing but illusion in the real world. In the same vein, in the creation of the phenomenon world the same Anima or self (nafs) is at work. This world according to Hindu thought is like a mirage and so is the human existence. All that is displayed on the screen of this world is an illusion of the eyes; not the reiteration of Truth. Man in his ignorance and lack of knowledge has mistaken this illusive unreal world as real.
There is, therefore, a remarkable affinity between the Vedantic views and the doctrine of Sufi Wujoodiyat, i.e., oneness of existance. These views regarding the universe as an illusion, even though un-Islamic, have been prevalent in Urdu Ghazal. During the reign of the Later Mughals, when Urdu poetry was growing rapidly, the political uncertainties and economical adversities propelled these ideas to such an extent that that the entire society took to despondency and detachment. Among the following cited examples, there is a Ghazal by Ghalib, which deals with the real-illusion paradox regarding the universe. The first two couplets declare the creation * `masiwa' literally means `besides'. In Sufism it is used to imply everything other than God. (T.N.) as a spectacle. They convey the impression of the world to be real. The third couplet on the contrary calls the universe an illusion and raises question of authenticity. The last couplet speaks of the conflict between faith and skepticism inside the poet. The poet's sensibilities do not allow him to take the world as real as proclaimed in the religion. This conflict between faith and skepticism is found at every step in Urdu Ghazal. It is full of tension and longings. Abundance of enthusiasm and unfulfilled heart wrenching desires pull at the heart. The corpus of Urdu poetry is resonant with expressions of sacred as well as profane desires for love, wine and ecstacy. They are part of the basic metaphorical repotoire of the Ghazal. From time to time, while rooted in the world of desires, these poets scale metaphysical heights and deal with questions concerning existence and creation. Based on their intuitive ecstatic experience, combined with their cultural ethos, they see the world to be mere illusion. In this, they even seem to surpass a non-dualistic Vedantic, as is apparent from the following verses :
Listen attentively to what the knower says, O seekers
The life of this world is nothing but a play.
( Yo baat Aarifaan ki suno dil sun salikaan
Duniya ki zindagi hai yo wahm-o-khayal-e-mahz.)
The life is like a mirage, unreal
As the air is trapped in a bubble .
(Zindagi hai sarab ki si tarah
Bao-bandi habab ki si tarah.)
Your arrogance displays ignorance
The world otherwise is a naught.
This kaleidoscopic spectacle
Is such as though dream-wrought.
(Ghaflat se hai ghuroor tujhe warna hai bhi kuch
Yaan wo saman hai jaise ki dekhe hai koi khwaab.)
Renowned in the world, do we exist at all?
In short, pester us not for we exist naught.
(Mashhoor hain alam mein to kya hain bhi kahin ham
Alqissa na darpai ho hamaare ke nahin ham.)
What fancy takes to be All encompassing
See, that too is a mirage, a mere delusion.
(Wahm jis ko muheet samjha hai
Dekhiye to saraab hai woh bhi.)
This is a workplace of illusions
Think of things and they are there.
(Ye tawahhum ka kaarkhaana hai
Yaan wohi hai jo aitabaar kiya.)
It all is somewhat ornamental
a make-belief, almost a lie
This respite that we call life
See it is also a wait well nigh.
(Bood naqsh-o-nigaar sa hai kuch
Surat ik aitabar sa hai kuch
Ye jo mohlat jise kahe hain umr
Dekho to intizar sa hai kuch.)
What is it that we have come to face
Bewildered, we look around like a mirror
In evanescence we even surpass
The bubbles that figure on water.
(Hairan aainawaar hain hum
Kis se yaarab dochaar hain hum
Paani par naqsh kab hai aisa
Jaise napaedaar hain hum.)
Ever since Nazir heeded the book of heart
The meanings of all books are laid bare.
(Sab kitabon ke khul gaye maani
Jab se dekhi Nazir dil ki kitaab.)
Don't let existence beguile you ever
The universe entire is fancy's snare.
(Hasti ke mat fareb mein aa jaaiyo Asad
Aalam tamaam halqa-e-daame khayaal hai.)
Never be deceived by the illusion of the world
Assert as much as you may, it exists not.
(Haan khaiyo mat farebe hasti
Har chand kahein ki hai nahin hai.)
We who witness comprehend the Un-manifest
Dream of awakening is a dream nevertheless.
(Hai ghaib ghaib jis ko samajhte hain hum shuhood
Hain khwaab mein hunooz jo jaage hain khwaab mein.)
The world to me is a child's play,
A spectacle is caste every night and day.
The grandeur of Solomon is a trifle to me,
The miracle of Christ, an event stray.
The world without substance is not for me,
Existence of things, deception all the way
I am torn between faith and infidelity
Kaaba or Church, where should I pray.
(Bazeecha-e-atfaal hai duniya mere aage
Hota hai shabo-roz tamaasha mere aage
Ek khel hai aurange- Sulaimaan mere nazdeek
Ek baat hai aijaaze-Maseeha mere aage
Juz naam nahin surat-e-alam mujhe manzoor
Juz wahm nahin hasti-e-ashya mere aage
Iiman mujhe roke hai to kheenche hai mujhe Kufr
Kaaba mere peechche hai Kalisa mere aage.)
Therefore, soul or Anima (Nafs) is real. Matter in itself has no separate existence. The impressions and imaginations of the mind have taken the imaginary to be existent or real. This product of imagination is deceitful. The soul (Atman), which has an elemental association with the Brahman, is trapped in this illusion (Maya). This confinement to the manifest creation is caused by the fact that the spirit (Ruh) is ignorant of the divine essence, which is co-present in itself and the absolute being. This lack of knowledge (Avidya) gives birth to the consciousness of its worldly existence. In order to free oneself from this state of ignorance, man must understand his reality. Vedantic philosophy calls this self-knowledge (Atam-Jnana). Sufism seems to echo these ideas in its belief that this universe is the stage for the spectacle of His attributes. Its truth lies in the same infinite absolute spirit, which is also the truth of individual human soul. Man therefore must strive for the revelation of truth himself. This is proved by the Hadith: Min arfe-nafse, faqad arfe rabbi. (One who has found himself has found God too.) Sufism sees human heart as analogous to a mirror where the Truth is reflected. Man must not search for God outside himself because the Divine Beauty dwells in the mirror within. Khwaja Mir Dard opines that the followers of the manifest look for God in things outside themselves whereas if they use their inner eye they can easily find the epitome of Beauty (Joseph-Yusuf) hidden inside the cloak of their own corporeal frame. Even an ignorant one can find His all embracing presence in his inner self. If he rises above his sensory perceptions to search for the Truth, the doors of knowledge lay open before him. This is akin to the Vedantic concept of Atam-Jnana:
If the heart prides itself for being the mirror
The image of the Love is avail for free there.
( Dil ko gar martaba hai darpan ka
muft hai dekhna sirijan ka.)
I am through the gates of Kaaba and Hindu temple,
My heart is now my only abode.
My long perilous journey concludes,
On this very blistered stop.
(Dairo haram se guzre ab dil hai ghar hamaara
Hai khatm is aable par sair-o-safar hamaara.)
I was ignorant of the merits of my own miserable heart
That treasure lay hid in this worn out abode.
(Ghafil the hum ahwaale dil-e-khasta se apne
Woh ganj isi kunje kharaabe mein nihaan tha.)
The one in whose desire, I loafed for long.
Turned out to be myself on a close thought.
(Jo soche ]tuk to wo matloob hum hi nikle Mir
Kharaab phirte the jis ki talab mein muddat se.)
Mir, if you ever can trace yourself,
Think of Him as the One found.
(Mir us benishaan ko paaya jaan
Kuch hamaara agar suraagh mile.)
We are the admirers of His beauty,
Without us He means nothing.
Those who know are well aware,
It is we who are witnessing.
(Surat pazeer hum bin hargiz nahin woh maani
Ahle nazar hameen ko mashhoood jaante hain.)
I found myself, I found God
I learnt then how remote I was.
(Pahuncha jo aap ko to mein pahuncha khuda ke tain
Maloom ab hua ki bahut main bhi dur tha.)
Where do you wander, oh ignorant one?
Take a look at your heart once!
The fairy resides in the mirror,
That lies close to your bosom.
(Ghafil tu kidhar bahke hai ]tuk dil ki khabar le
Sheesha jo baghal mein hai usi mein to pari hai.)
I myself was the veil of my love's face
When wisdom dawned, the veil vanished.
(Hijaab-e-rukh-e-yaar the aap hi hum
Khuli aankh jab koi parda na dekha.)
O ignorant, unlock your heart like a mirror
See the one dwelling in the abode there.
(Aaine ki tarah ghafil khol chaati ke kiwar
Dekh to hai kaun baare tere kaashaane ke beech.)
For years, my gaze was fixed to the door of Kaaba
When the veil was lifted, my eyes eyed themselves.
(Barson lagi thin aankhein darwaaza-e-haram se
Parda u]tha to la]riyan aankhein hamari hum se.)
O Sheikh, what will I do in Kaaba
My own heart is the abode of God.
(Sheikh Kaabe ko kya karoon jaakar
Dil hi ko khaana-e-Khuda dekha)
Knowledge or gnosis (maarifat) is an ecstatic state. The direct experience of the Absolute Truth is different from all other feelings of elevation. Hinduism as well as Islam have accepted this. But when this experience of ecstasy, common to both, is translated into epistemological terms, two different viewpoints regarding the consciousness of Truth emerge. According to Upanishads, the human spirit though real from the finite human perspective, is false from the viewpoint of the infinite Absolute Truth. Whatever Truth is there in the finite comes from the Infinite. The ultimate goal of the finite individual soul is to merge in the non-finite. As it draws closer to the non-finite, its Truth scales and its individuality diminishes. This submission of self is the ultimate joy.
Islam on the contrary considers the finite individual soul as real as the non-finite Absolute Spirit. On the path to knowledge, the ultimate possible achievement for human being lies in that proximity with the Absolute where all distances cease to exist. But an individual cannot achieve union with God or the identity of Being. Proximity with the Absolute does not diminish the individuality of the finite individual soul but rather aggrandizes it. Thus gnosis or Maarifat in Islam lies in self-affirmation, not in self-submission. Accroding to orthodox thinkers, self-submission (taslim-i-khudi) is the intermediary stage on the path to knowledge (maarifat). Abdiyat or servitude is the final stage in which the God and the universe or the worshipper and the worshipped attain perfect affinity.
Thus, it is clear that the interpretation of the manifestation of Truth in these two religions vary. Those signs which are taken as real or truth by Hinduism are declared make-belief by Islam. What Islam considers complete and perfect is declared imperfect by Hindu philosophy. A poet like Iqbal sings not of the `submission of self' but of the `fortification of self'.
Urdu Ghazal has always shown an inclination towards self-submission rather than self-fortification. This concept of self-submission and annihilation of ego or Anima is also an integral part of Sufism. Sufis interpret Khudi (Self) as that aspect of nafs (soul or psyche) which is associated with the finite. This alignment with the finite causes obstructions in the path to Truth. Since the affirmation of the individual self is a fantasy, the self must surrender in such a way that everything else beside God may cease to exist. Man's own being is the biggest impediment which needs to be dissolved in order to attain Truth. Knowledge of Truth Maarifat-e-Haq is possible in this way only. The spiritual ethos of India also revolves around the notion of the submission of finite soul or its merging into the music of the universe by annihilating the individual ego. We can see that the Ghazal poets' leanings once again are no different than the Indian thought:
I am tired of being conscious my friend
Make me oblivious by calling out to my love.
(Ai dostaan batang hua huun main hosh soon
Peetam ka naaon le ke mujhe bekhabar karo.)
In Love, self-annihilation is the condition primary,
In annihilation, the individual self attains eternity.
(Ishq mein laazim hai awwal zaat ko faani kare
Ho fana fillah daayam zaat yazdaani kare.)
Isolated, it remains a drop
In flow, it is transformed into river.
(Jab talak hai juda to hai qatra
Bahr mein mil gaya to darya hai.)
Our own being is the veil betwixt
Remove us, the veil ceases to exist.
(Hasti apni hai beech mein parda
Ham na howein to phir hijaab kahaan)
I am through the school of reason,
To the wine-house of Love, I've come;
The potion of surrender and oblivion
Now I have drunk, come what may…
Flame of Love lit once,
Ignited me like cotton
My sole existence, body and being
Nothing remained, come what may…
The virtues and vices of the world
Do not worry Niaz any more,
He has moved beyond himself,
Nothing now matters, come what may…
(Aql ke madrase se ho ishq ke maikade mein aa
Jaame fanaa-e-bekhudi ab to piya jo ho so ho
Laag ki aag lag u]thi panba tarah sa jal gaya
Rakhte wujood-e-jaan-o-tan kuch na bacha jo ho so ho
Duniya ke nek-o-bad se kaam hum ko Niaz kuch nahin
Aap se jo guzar gaya phir use kya jo ho so ho.)
Forget the features and appearance
Seek the meaning instead,
A drop that merges in the river
Is a river in itself.
(Naqshe surat ko mi]ta aashna maani ka ho
Qatra bhi dariya hai jo dariya mein shamil ho gaya.)
Annihilate, if you long to attain your Truth
The worth of a reed is found in the furnace.
(Fana ko saunp gar mushtaaq hai apni haqeeqat ka
Farogh tala'e khashaak hai mauqoof gulkhan par.)
The joy of a drop is to diminish in the river,
Transcending the limits, pain becomes antidote.
(Ishrat-e-qatra hai dariya mein fana ho jaana
Dard ka had se guzarna hai dawa ho jaana.)
Ghalib is aware of the path of death every moment
This thread binds the varied elements of the world.
(Nazar mein hai hamaari jaada-e-raahe fana Ghalib
Ki ye sheeraza hai aalam ke ajzaae pareeshaan ka.)
The finite being is mostly represented through the metaphor of drop or a bubble and the absolute infinite as water or stream. The beauty of water drop lies in losing itself in the river, so also the glory of individual self lies in merging with the Absolute Being and annihilating.
When the annihilation of self or realisation is achieved one rises above the distinctions between oneself and the other and reaches the point where except the ultimate truth, everything else ceases to exist. The ultimate in Indian art, literature and even fine arts such as dance, music, sculpture, is that state of aesthetic pleasure or ecstasy where the individual ego dissolves into the absolute and loses itself. Indian scholars of aesthetics consider poetry as a kind of yoga, which aims at erasing the gap between the self and the other and evolving an aesthetic consciousness of absolute truth. The mark of excellence of any work of art lies in taking the emotive experience where one loses self-consciousness; where ego breaks its shackles and time stops or ecstasy reigns. Abhinavagupta holds that aesthetic pleasure implies that ecstatic state (the Sufi wujoodi kaifiyat) where rational faculties are subsumed in consciousness and the mind experiences an ecstatic pleasure which is unsayable.*
Principles of Islamic aesthetics on the contrary are founded upon the duality of ego and non-ego and uphold the perfection and affirmation of individual ego. God and human, the master and the servant cannot be one. These ideas in Urdu poetry did not exist before Iqbal. Urdu poets mostly considered that point in the state of ecstatic emotion as the crescendo of Ghazal (be it spiritual or emotive) in which the superficial sense of surroundings is lost and the vision rises above the physical bounds. This is the state in which the cognitive sense of multiplicity of creation is obliterated; in other words, drop merges in the river to claims analbahr (I am the Ocean) and the dust disappears in the vastness of desert. But this emotional experience does * Popular Hindu philosophy of `Sat-Chit-Ananda' i.e. Being- Consciousness-Bliss or Object-Subject-Union may be recalled here. (T.N.) not have any rational explanation. Just as the beauty of sunrise cannot be explained to a blind man, the ecstatic experience of Truth cannot be enumerated or explained. All speculations of human mind regarding the Absolute Being have been declared by Upanishads as neti neti (`not even this' `not even this'). It holds that the ultimate limits of cognitive faculties are insufficient to comprehend the Absolute Being. Brahman, which is usually perceived as pure joy (ananda), is also a narrow perception of our limited intellect.
An anecdote in Mandukya Upanishad describes that once King Vishkali asked Rishi Bhava the nature of the Absolute Truth (Brahman). The Rishi did not say anything. When the king repeated his question several times and still did not get his answer, the Rishi replied, "Silence is the answer to your question (Shantam Brahman)" Brahman is eternal silence, it cannot be described through attributes—it relates to an inner realisation not the appearance. In Urdu poetry, Mir and some other poets often compare total surrender and submission to an intense ecstasy, stillness and silence.
The Ultimate Being cannot be the topic of rational discourse. As Shankaracharya has pointed out, even the most lucid descriptions will only depend upon analogies. The ultimate truth by all means eludes epithets, attributes, and analogies. People who try to give proof of their basic experience of gnosis or the direct knowledge are only fictionalising a dream. Those who really experience this state lose all consciousness of hither and thither.
Let's see what the poets of Urdu Ghazal have to say regarding this:
Hearing about the wondrous love,
Frenzy and fairy all ceased to exist.
`I' or `You' annihilated forever,
A state of oblivion was all that could persist.
The Lord of surrender bestowed upon me,
Bareness as my new robe.
Neither the stitches of wisdom remain,
Nor the veil of madness anymore.
The wind that blew from the region of Un manifest,
Withered away the garden of the manifest;
But for the bough that I call heart,
Remained green nurtured by grief.
It was a strange moment when I took,
Lessons in prescriptions of love.
The book still remains unused,
Waiting on mind's inner shelf.
The flame of love reduced to ashes,
Siraj's lonesome lovelorn heart.
Caution and care vanished forever,
A supreme sense of freedom is what it was.
(Khabare tahyyure ishq sun na junoon raha na pari rahi
Na to tu raha na woh main raha jo rahi so bekhabari rahi
Shahe bekhudi ne ata kiya mujhe ab libaase barahnagi
Na khirad ki bakhiyagiri rahi na junoon ki pardadari rahi
Chali simte ghaib se kya hawa ki chaman zahoor ka jal gaya
Magar ek shaakh-e-nihaale gham jise dil kaho so hari rahi
Woh ajab gha]ri thi main jis gha]ri liya dars nuskha-e-ishq ka
Ki kitaab aql ki taaq mein jun dhari thi tyon hi dhari rahi
Kiya khaak aatishe ishq ne dil-e-benaawa-e-Siraaj koon
Na khatar raha na hazar raha magar ek bekhatari rahi.)
Once in His lane, Mir became unaware
All callings afterwards fell to deaf ears.
(Gali mein us ki gaya so gaya na bola Mir
Main Mir Mir kar usko bahot pukaar raha.)
See, unawares how I surrendered
For long, I wait for my own self.
(Bekhudi le gayi kahaan hum ko Der se intizaar hai apna.)
In His search Mir lost himself
See the queerness of this quest.
(Use dhoon]dhte Mir khoye gaye
Koi dekhe is justajoo ki taraf.)
My coming into being did wake me though
No sooner the eyes opened, I went into slumber.
(Hasti ne to tuk jaga diya tha
Phir khulte hi aankh so gaye hum.)
Of my union and separation
Ask me not.
What to say of the one sought
My own self got lost.
(Na poocho kuch hamaare hijr ki aur wasl ki baatein Chale the ]dhon]dhne jis ko so woh hai aap kho bai]the.)
The moment You unveiled Your face
To display Your splendour,
It was the very moment
You turned me into mirror.
How do I describe my Love,
The impact of her ravishing glance !
In a split moment, it freed
Me from the fetters of world's prison.
In the school of Love when he took
Lessons into surrender and annihilation
All that Niyaz had learnt so far
He erased it all from his heart.
(Tune apna jalwa dikhane ko jo niqab munh se utha diya
Wahin mahwe hairate bekhudi mujhe aaina sa bana diya
Karoon kya bayaan mein hamnasheen asar us ke lutfe nigaah ka
Ki ta`aiyyunat ki qaid se mujhe ek dum mein chu]ra diya
Jabhi ja ke maktabe ishq mein sabaqe maqame fana liya
Jo likha pa]rha tha Niyaz nein so woh saaf dil se bhula diya.)
Neither the song nor the musical note
I am a voice of my own doomed predicament.
(Na gule naghma hoon na parda-e saaz
Main hoon apni shikast ki awaaz.)
I dwell in those recesses remote
Where even the news of myself reaches not
(Ham wahaan hain jahaan se ham ko bhi Kuch hamaari khabar naheen aati.)
Thus Urdu Ghazal elucidates the fundamental experience of the consciousness of truth in terms of `oneness of being' (Wahdat-ul-wujood), ecstatic experience of essence or gnosis
(irfaane zaat) and self-submission (tasleeme-khudi). It does not take the physical world as real. It holds that the individual soul or psyche caught in the mires of this world, should turn its attention to the knowledge of essence and should attain consonance with the sounds and music of the universe by merging with the infinite soul of the universe. As pointed out earlier, these ideas reflected in Urdu Ghazal, though drawn from Sufism which gained maximum popularity in India, bear close proximity with the Vedantic thought. The principle of realizing `oneness of existence' (wujoodi) closely akin to Vedantic principles had found a place in Sufism despite being in conflict with the basic spirit of Islam. When these ideas traveled with Sufis, they readily caught the Indian imagination as they were in tune with the Indian psyche and thought. It was, therefore, impossible for Urdu Ghazal to resist this influence. The very fact that the Sufi wujoodi concepts of the immanence of God and surrender of individual ego became popular among Indian Muslims, so much so that they became a permanent feature in Urdu Ghazal, is an ample proof in itself that they were in consonance with the indigenous spiritual experience. This not only helped Ghazal establish itself in India, but also played a significant role in strengthening the social fabric promoting tolerance and cohesion.
Wujoodi view implies `finding' the oneness of being i.e., realising the transcedence of the Absolute, whereas Shuhoodi view insists on the primacy of `witnessing' the oneness of being. Here in the translation oneness of being/ existence is used for wujoodi and oneness of witness is used for shuhoodi. While Prof Narang has drawn the congruity of Sufi views as expressed in Urdu Ghazal with the the Vedantic notions of the immanence of Brahman, one can also connect them to the Buddhist notions of Samsara (the relative) and Nirvana (the Absolute). This reaffirms the fundamental thesis of Prof Narang regarding Urdu Ghazal's greater proximity with Indian cultural and spiritual ethos than Islamic ideas as practised in Arab. (T.N.)
Translated from Urdu by Dr Nishat Zaidi,
Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi-110025