Saraswati Mela

Faiz on Dreams and Longing

"The Moon went ,from the streets of Lahore
...One night it went up to Faiz
Or so we heard
To ask Faiz to compose a verse..
To implore Faiz to compose a verse..
The pulse of Time has stopped..
Say a verse so that the pulse may beat again...
- Gulzar ( Yaar Julahe)

It is often the case that the pulse of time has stopped. We just live and forget what it means to be alive It is exactly then that we need aan experienced physician. Sometimes to help us with our physicality, sometimes with our souls. We need the competence of a doctor who can not only check our pulse but also sometimes place his hands on the pulse of time for various ailments that plague both of us. It might prescribe medicines that we pass onto the generations to come. Moreover the medicines coming from literature and poetry don’t really have an expiry date.

Read this ghazal by Faiz Ahmad Faiz which talks about the anguish of striving for dreams and also about the sorrows which can’t be washed frpm tears, however hard we may try. The path is equally precious, if not more even without the destination and every grief is valid, even ( especially) the one without pretensions. Hope, the loneliness that haunts when we  are among people but when we don’t have anyone to speak the language of our dreams, the need to be in abundance and conversation with our dreams and ideals alone – this ghazal sings of all these and more..

Read Faiz so that the pulse of time may beat again..

nahīñ nigāh meñ manzil to justujū hī sahī

If the destination is not in sight, the perseverance suffices

nahīñ visāl mayassar to aarzū hī sahī

When the union with the beloved isn’t possible. the longing suffices

na tan meñ ḳhuun farāham na ashk āñkhoñ meñ

There’s no blood in my body to shed, nor tears in my eyes

namāz-e-shauq to vājib hai be-vazū hī sahī

Yet the devotion and offering of my longing is vaild , even without the ritualistic ablutions

kisī tarah to jame bazm mai-kade vaalo

My fellow taverners ! Let the revelry begin any which way

nahīñ jo bāda-o-sāġhar to hāv-hū hī sahī

What if there’s no wine and wine-goblets, let the hullabaloo suffice  

gar intizār kaThin hai to jab talak ai dil

If the wait is long and painful , Oh my heart!

kisī ke vāda-e-fardā kī guftugū hī sahī

Let console ourselves as we talk about the empty promises of meeting..

dayār-e-ġhair meñ mahram agar nahīñ koī

If in foreign lands, there is no compatriot of soul

to ‘faiz’ zikr-e-vatan apne rū-ba-rū hī sahī

Faiz, then discuss your homeland with yourself..

If there is something that can increase the depth of Faiz’s poetry it’s Abida’s ( Abida Parveen) singing. Come! And give away your hearts as two greats of our time share a scared communion .. 






Amrit Pritam’s Oath to Peace

We don’t know that one someone picks up a stone,
The first wound is not inflicted on a human, but on humanity...

In her autobiography ‘Revenue Stamp’ Amrita Pritam talks about a friend of hers , from across the borders – Sajjad Haider. While talking about Amrita Sajjad says – My love towards Amrita also has devotion in it, a sense of worship..
Today, I would like to repeat the words of Sajjad Haider. My love towards Amrita has devotion in it and a sense of worship..
Amrita Pritam is one of my absolute favourites. She has taught me about love in countless ways, in its most expansive forms. She gave me the courage to live life on my own terms . The amount of respect she had for the pen ,whether it was hers or someone else’s ,was unparalleled. Perhaps this is the reason she translated poems and works of many foreign poets and writers in her own language.

Amrita Pritam was born on 31st August, 1919 in Gujranwala ( Undivided India, now Pakistan ) . Holding freedom as the highest dictum of a wo/man’s life , Amrita lived her whole life like poetry. Idealized in its expansiveness, very near to truth and beauty. Her pen always fought for the rights of humanity irrespective of where the war was raging. It didn’t matter whether it was in Vietnam, Germany or in India with its open wounds of Partition, for Amrita they were all equal. Talking about the sheer strength of the Self, she revered, glorified and celebrated the human spirit. It was only her who could say that the Sun is honoured by the (good) conduct of humanity, dishonoured by its vileness.
She wanted to see the Sun of her country honoured. On her centenary , it would be prescient to read her message to her country which is also true for all of humankind, irrespective of time and place.

Hum nhi jante ki jab koi apne haath mein patthar uthata hai,
We don’t know that one someone picks up a stone,
Toh pahla zakhm insan ko nhin, insaniyat ko lagta hai
The first wound is not inflicted on a human, but on humanity
Dharti par jo pahla khoon bahta hai,
The first blood that gushes out on the earth ,
Wo kisi insan ka nhin insaniyat ka hota hai
Is not of a human , but of humanity
Aur sadak par jo pahli laash girti hai
And when the first body falls on the ground ,
Wo kisi insan ki nhin, insaniyat ki hoti hai..
It is not a human who is dead, but humanity
Firkaparasti, firkaparasti hai.
Communalism , is communalism.
Uskke saath Hindu, Muslim ya Sikkh lafz jod dene se kuchh nhin hoga
Joining it with the words like Hindu , Sikkh and Muslim
won’t change anything
Apne aap mein, inn sab lafzon ki aabroo hai
In themselves, all these words have honour
Inka ek arth hai. Inki ek paakizagi hai
They have a meaning, a sacredness
Lekin firkaparasti ke saath inka judna
But the joining of the word communalism with them
Inka be-aabroo ho jana hai
Is when they lose their honour
Inka arth-heen ho jana hai,
When they lose their meaning,
Aur inki paakizagi ka kho jana hai ,
And is the loss of their sacredness
Jo kuchh galat hai, wo sirf ek lafz mein galat hai
Whaever is wrong , is wrong in a single word
Firkaparasti lafz mein..
In the word communalism
Uss galat ko uthakar hum kabhi
We pick this wrong and sometimes
Use Hindu lafz ke kandhon par rakh dete hain
Place it on the shoulders of the word Hindu ,
Kabhi Sikkh lafz ke kandhon par
Or sometime on Sikkh
Aur kabhi Musalmaan lafz ke kandhon par
and sometimes on the shoulders of the word Muslim .
Iss tarah kandhe badalne se kuchh nhin hoga
Changing shoulders don’t mean anything.
Jahan jo kuchh galat hai , use samjhna hoga
We have to understand where we go wrong.
Jamhuriyat ka arth, lokshahi ka arth
The meaning of democracy , of the people’s rule
Chintansheel logon ka milkar rahna hai, milkar basna hai,
Is thinkers living together, enlightened people living together
Aur chintansheel logon ke haath ,mein tark hote hain, patthar nhin hote hain
And these people have logic in their hands and not stones….

We don’t have Amrita with us today in the physical form. What we do have is this prayer that she wrote for all of us..

Ye khoon – Jo insan ke haathon se bahte ja rahe
This blood- which flows from the hands of humans
Ye zakhm- Jo insan ke haathon par lagte ja rahe
These wounds – which are scarring the hands of humans,
Ye wahi pyare haath hain – Jo phoolon ko bo sakte hain,
These are those lovely hands – which can sow flowers ..
Ye wahi aashiq haath hain – Jo kisi ke ho sakte hain
These are the hands of a lover- who can be someone’s in love
Ye hunarmand haath hain – Jo saajon ko chhed sakte hain
These are the skilled hands – which can make music flow from instruments
Ye kaamgaron ke haath hain- Jo sapne jod sakte hain
These are the hands of craftsmen and women – which can weave dreams together
Ye haath pani, pawan , agni ko bandh sakte hain
These hands can tame water, air and fire
Suraj ka chulha jalakar – uspe haandi raandh sakte hain
Light up the stove of Sun, and cook on it
Ye haath jo dharti ki zulfein sanwar sakte hain
These hands can caress the locks of the beloved Earth
Ye wahi pyare haath hain- Jo duniya usaar sakte hain.
These are those beautiful hands- which can beautify the world
Phoolon aur zulfon ki kasam- Haathon pe zakhm na lagao!
For the sake of flowers and locks of the beloved,
Don’t hurt these hands..
Ye bahut khoobsurat haath hain- inhe kaatil na banao!
These are very beautiful hands – don’t turn them in killers !
Haathon ki hifazat ke liye
Aao haath de do saathiyon!
To protect these hands, My friends! Give your hands!
Saath de do saathiyon..
Come! Join me, my friends!
Kagaz hai taqdeer ka-
This paper is of our fate,
Aur kalam hai tadbeer ki
And the pen is made up of our efforts..
Iss Kalam mein – Aman ki syaahi bharo!
Fill up the pen with the ink of peace !
Dast-khat Karo!
And sign!
Yeh aman ka hai Ahadnama-
This is the Oath of Peace !
Aao duniyawalon! Dast-khat karo!
Come! The people of the world! Sign!

All the letters of Amrita have now turned from black to gold. They are glorious with the light of love and truth, fragrant with Amrita’s generousity of spirit..
Today, on Amrita’s birthday, our Sun stands honoured…


Chandrayan , human tenacity and Gulzar

We conquered the moon too. The success of Chandrayaan- II is not only the victory of science but of every human endeavour which has tried to know the world better and to make the world a better place, since the beginning of time. The Chandrayan is like the corked bottle , floating with a message inside, chasing down the horizon. It has flown with the insignia of the hard-work and tenacity of millions of people, taking it to the Moon.

It is an accomplishment of human inquisitiveness and persistence, and also a celebration of both. Humanity, somewhere also stands for the spirit of not giving up which lends the human life its meaning. Taking this further, we turn to the alchemist of words, Gulzar who is also a relentless celebrator of the human spirit. His human doesn’t shy away from difficulties or the good fight but instead gives it all she has, to honour the meaning of being human . She challenges the cosmos and beyond it, she can challenge God.

In front of the most majestic of supernatural powers, miracles and adversities, a small act of human hope and resistance is all that is needed.
Just like the smallest of plants has it in itself to crack the strongest of walls once it firmly grows its roots. You can feel the pen of the shayar Gulzar pulsate with life as it pens down the history of the battles humankind has fought- where his human and our humanity emerge victorious.

Along with the success of Chandrayaan this poem from the book ‘Yaar Julahe is also a celebration of every human achievement and triumph throughout the ages. Please read and enjoy..



Poore ka poora aaksh ghuma kar baazi dekhi maine

kale ghar mein suraj rakh ke ,

tumne shayad socha tha, mere sab mohre pit jayenge,

maine ek chirag jala kar

apna rasta khol liya

tumne ek samandar haath mein le kar, mujh par thel diya 

maine nooh ki kashti uske upar rakh di 

kaal chala tumne aur meri janib dekha 

maine kaal ko tod ke lamha-lamha jeena seekh liya 

meri khudi ko tumne chand chamatkaron se maarna chaha,

mere ek pyade ne tera chaand ka mohra maar liya-

maut ki shah de kar tumne samjha ab to maat hui,

maine jism ka khol utaar ke saunp diya

aur rooh bacha li

poore -ka- poore aaksh ghuma kar ab tum dekho baazi

Khuda ( God)

I turned the whole sky to see the game laid out
You kept the Sun in a black square
and thought had all my pieces beat
I lit a lamp
and found my way.

You took a raging ocean in Your hand and pushed it onto me
I kept Noah’s Ark on top of it
You put forward Time and looked at me
I learned to break it down and live moment by moment , in the moment

You tried to vanquish my Self with a few miracles
A single pawn of mine had your Moon beat

You checked with Death and thought it was checkmate
I shed my body
and saved my soul

Turn the whole sky around
and now You see
how the game is laid out.


Rumi on finding oneself with all sacredness and beyond every dogma

Who gets up early 
to discover the moment light begins? 
But don't be satisfied with stories, how things 
have gone with others. Unfold 
your own myth,
Your legs will get heavy 
and tired. Then comes a moment 
of feeling the wings you've grown, 


Paradise is there, behind that door, in the next room; but I have lost the key. 

Perhaps I have only mislaid it. 

                       –Kahlil Gibran

The eternal quest of humanity has been to unlock the lock to paradise, but perhaps we have not been able to find the key because we have  it too close to ourselves. Creating paradise is essentially being in sync with our true selves and , finding ourselves is actually, creating ourselves. It is a difficult journey to undertake  but one of paramount importance. Throughout the history of civilization we have had poets and philosophers who have stood steadfast, burnt and lighted our paths. The lanterns of ideas and words and thoughts was always kept alight…

Jalauddin Balkhi born on September 30, 1207 in Balkh of Afghanistan was one of these carriers of the tradition of light. Known as Rumi, Jalauddin immersed himself in the dervish Sufism of his time and penned beautiful verses. His poems are the lovesick cry of a lover, the giddying ecstasy of a dervish and the profound wisdom of a saint. Much like the Sufis, Rumi emphasised the need to break the shackles of dogma, convictions and  traditions and experience the truth for oneself . Kahlil Gibran says a beautifully pragmatic thing when he says that – Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see the truth through it, but it divides us from the truth. Rumi implores the reader and the listener to break this window pane, this glass ceiling ( If i may) and touch and hold the truth in their palms.

Rumi returns age old tales and fables to their rightful place and interpretations . He treats them as symbols, albeit powerful ones at that . He urges us to dive in them and return with a newfound understanding of their meaning, the potent truths they hold and ourselves, unfurling and shaping our destinies on the way.

Swadharma ( One’s own nature and duty ) by S.H Raza

Who gets up early 
to discover the moment light begins? 
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms? 
Who comes to a spring thirsty 
and sees the moon reflected in it? 
Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age, 
smells the shirt of his lost son 
and can see again? 
Who lets a bucket down and brings up 
a flowing prophet? 
Or like Moses goes for fire 
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?

Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies, 
and opens a door to the other world. 
Soloman cuts open a fish, and there’s a gold ring. 
Omar storms in to kill the prophet 
and leaves with blessings. 
Chase a deer and end up everywhere! 
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow on drop. 
Now there’s a pearl. 
A vagrant wanders empty ruins. 
Suddenly he’s wealthy.

But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things 
have gone with others. Unfold 
your own myth, without complicated explanation, 
so everyone will understand the passage, 
We have opened you.

Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy 
and tired. Then comes a moment 
of feeling the wings you’ve grown, 

Only a poet like Rumi could write a poem of such transcendence where water is not enough to quench one’s thirst but just a step to know, desire and achieve something greater; the moon.Among the tapestry of Biblical, Jewish and Islamic allegories, the last one is a personal narrative of Rumi. Rumi had pursued the life of an orthodox religious scholar when in 1244, he met the mystic and wanderer Shams of Tabriz. In his Sohbet , simply translating to company but meaning a state of blissful spiritual exchange and conversation , Rumi was transformed . The stream in him flew open , gushing forward with all its power and glory. Rumi dedicates his poems to this mighty torrent which swept him off his feet and hurled him into bliss and ecstasy. Thus Shams of Tabriz came to be known as his muse and friend. A beautiful ode to the great journey inwards, this poem, just like its mythical symbolism is elevated by Rumi’s love and wisdom to mythical proportions.