Khwaja Ghulam Farid: The Mystical Voice of Southern Punjab

Posted on January 12, 2009
Filed Under >Raza Rumi, Culture & Heritage, History, Music
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A cross post from Raza Rumi‘s jahan-e-Rumi

Recently while going through some of my late grandfather’s books, I was struck by a feeble looking deewan of Khowaja Fareed. Feeble because it bore the date of 1964 for its inclusion in his impressive book collection. Expressing the thrill of holding a book which had travelled 44 years in time to reach me is beyond words. Needless to say with what intensity the book’s contents kept me immersed in them for almost two hours with un -interrupted focus which is a rare event in an ever-reaching-out-to-meet-a-target kind of life style we are used to.

Khowaja Ghulam Fareed is one of a very few Sufi poets of Sub-continent who had an equal command over Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Siraiki and Marawari languages. A rare and enthralling blend of these languages is found in his Kafis.

Kafi as we know is a genre of poetry most frequently used by the mystic poets of South Asia to express their love for murshid (spiritual mantor), man’s relationship with his creator and ever existing tension between ishq (devotion) and aql-o-ilm (reason and knowledge).

Although I had previously relished Khowaja’s poetry through various musical maestros e.g Pathane Khan (menda ishq vi tun….), Surraya Multanikar (peeloo pakian ni…) and Zahida Parveen (kia haal sunawan dil da..). However,this particular encounter with his Deewan introduced me to the depth and timelessness of his poetry like never before. I was also amazed at the range of subjects covered in his poetry. One particular Kafi which I am quoting below would give you an idea of what I am trying to say. These are beautifully coined and smoothly fluent Urdu lyrics.

kis dharti se aaye ho tum
kis nagri ke baasi re
prem nagar hai des tumhara
phirte kahaaN udaasi re
kiyooN hote ho jogi bhogi
rogi tarah beraagi re
apna aap sambhaal ke dekho
kar ke nazar haqeeqat ki
apni zaat sifat ko samjho
apni karo shanasaai re
baat Fareedi soch ke sunio
la kar dil ke kaanoN ko
donoN jag ke maalik tum ho
bhole allah raasi se

And here is an effort to translate the gist and not each and every word:

“You are an inhabitant of the land of divine love, so do not wander in despair. Place a hand on the pulse of life and look into the eyes of reality. Perceive your inner self and take an account of what treasure it holds.Listen to what Fareed is saying with not your physical ears but with your heart and soul. Let me tell you that only you are the sole owner of this universe.”

Photo to the left is Khowaja Ghulam Farid’s tomb in Kot Mithan.
Another unique feature of his poetry is the externalisation of deepest emotions through the use of vivid imagery of Rohi (Rohi is the name used for the Southern Punjab desert which was Khowaja’s abode). References to fruit picking (Peloo), to native women going about their daily chores (Jatian), the rain (megh) and the desert (Thal) transport the readers to his world and there he addresses them as if in person.

GARJAT BADRA TASKAT BIJLI
RIM JHIM BARISH ZOR GHATA KE
SAJAN BHAJ FAREED HAI JEENA
MUSHKIL AISE BAR UTHA KE

Its un imaginable to live without the beloved when showers of rain and whips of lightening are thrashing me”

And in the end I want to share with a Kafi’s few couplets which he wrote with overtones of Wahdat-al Wajood (I dont know how to translate this term but it is commonly known as Oneness of Existence – Unity of All Beings!)

HAI ISHQ DA JALWA HAR HAR JA
SUBHAN ALLAH SUBHANALLAH
KHUD BULBUL TE PARWANA HAI
GUL SHAM OOTE PARWAN HAI
THI CHAND CHAKOR NUN MOH LYA
SUBHANALLAH SUBHANALLAH
TASDEEQ KITHAN TANZEEH KITHAN
TAQLEED ATE TASHBEEH KITHAN
HAI HAIRAT SUKH TASLEEM-0-RAZA
SUBHANALLAH SUBHANALLAH
HAI PEET FAREED DI REET AJAB
HAI DARD TE SOZ DI GEET AJAB
SUN SAMJHO SARE AHLE SAFA
SUBHANALLAH SUBHANALLAH

Interpretation: That Love pervades and manifests everywhere – in the form of the lover and in the form of Beloved- but they are actually the same.

Here is a best rendition of this Kaafi. Please listen – even if you do not understand the lyrics, you will be moved.

20 Comments on “Khwaja Ghulam Farid: The Mystical Voice of Southern Punjab”

  1. dilnawaz says:
    January 13th, 2009 6:54 am

    Quoting “The White Tiger”

    “world’s greatest poets are Muslims, Rumi,Iqbal,ghalib and fourth (bullah shah or khwaja ghulam farid) still disputed according to aravind adiga”
    who knows?? he may have a point here

  2. January 13th, 2009 8:07 am

    sant kabeer, meera bai, guru nanak are steeped in their own mystery and sufi traditions, they have inspired poets and mystics that followed.

    if you follow some of the kalam of bullay shah, if he lived today, the would certainly have been hanged for blasphemy, a charge he faced his entire lifetime and for which he was exiled as well

    therefore rather than claiming the best poets as Muslims, like music that has no boundaries or religion, it is best that we just let it be when it comes to poetry.

  3. wasiq says:
    January 13th, 2009 8:17 am

    As a Bahawalpuri who grew up on the Siraiki Kafi’s of Ghulam Farid, I am thrilled to learn of his renown among people outside the Siraiki belt. It might be noted, that Khawaja Ghulam Farid was an important Sufi guide to many historical personalities in the former princely state of Bahawalpur.

  4. January 13th, 2009 8:50 am

    Wonderful article and thanks for introducing us to the poetry of Khwaja Farid.

    Dilnawaz@ Aashiq bhi tamaam baRay musalmaan hii hue haiN: Laila-Majnu, Hir-Ranjha, Shirin-Farhand, Wamiq-Azra and many many others. Ghaliban, Ishq-o-mohabbat mein kamii ki vajah se intishaar hai.

  5. iFaqeer says:
    January 14th, 2009 3:19 am

    Allah.

    Mohammad.

    Chaar Yaar.

    Haji Khaja Qutb Fareed.

  6. Durrani says:
    January 14th, 2009 2:25 pm

    Tribute to a great man.

    Can anyone recommend a good english translation of Khawaja Fareed?

  7. Watan Aziz says:
    January 14th, 2009 8:48 pm

    Can someone shed some light on the title “Khawaja” and how did his family acquire it? Was there a Kashmiri link?

    My understanding is that Khawaja is a Kashmiri title. Just curious.

  8. rashid says:
    January 14th, 2009 10:07 pm

    IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT HAZRAT KHAWAJA GHULAM FAREED.

    Those who have not read books of Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Fareed may not now, but those who have read his books AND ARE HONEST AND COURAGEOUS know that this saint (pir) was in fact disciple (mureed) of another saint of his time. Does anyone know name of this other saint?
    Well his name was Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the MUJJADDID (reformer/ revivalist) of 14th Islamic Hijra Century. Not only that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib in his books published the correspondence of Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Fareed in which he revered the Mujjaddid of 14th hijra century; but also in his own books Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Fareed revered the Mujjaddid of 14th hijra century.

    Once ruler (Nawab) of Bahawalpur, asked his pir Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Fareed sahib, what ever you demand I will fulfill. Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Fareed replied: I will be impressed if you can, convince Hazrat Maulana Hakim Noor ud Din (a mureed of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad) to move to state of Bahawalpur from Qadian. This shows how much reverence Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Fareed even had for the companion of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad sahib.

  9. Haroon says:
    January 14th, 2009 10:49 pm

    Can someone please verify who wrote the famous couplet:

    Mandir dhaa dey, masjid dhaa dey….

    Was it Khawaja Fareed or Shah Hussain?

    Thank you.

  10. Zia Ahmed says:
    January 14th, 2009 11:25 pm

    Haroon, if the word “dhaa dey” means to destroy something then I dont think it would be from any Islamic Buzrug, Any music can’t say such words for mosque.

  11. MHQ says:
    January 15th, 2009 1:46 am

    It is Bulleh Shah’s kaafi

    Masjid dhaa de mandir dhaa de
    dhaa de jo kujh dhainda
    Ek bandian da dil na tureen
    sohna Rub dillan wich rehnda

    I wouldn

  12. Naveed says:
    January 15th, 2009 5:45 am

    Durrani sb

    I have enjoyed the translations done by Muzaffar Ghaffar.He has an entire series on Guru Nanak, Baba Farid, Bullay Shah, Shah Hussain, Khwaja Ghulam Farid & Sachal Sarmast

    http://www.apnaorg.com/test/new/article_details.php?art_id=177

    Zia Ahmed – I recommend that you buy the Bullay Shah series from the above mentioned books. You will find that

    (a) “dha day” is symbolic and must not be read literally. (b) Bullay Shah is not a Islamic Buzurg (i wonder if such a thing exists at all) and (c) having read the perspective, historical background and context in which verse is said, you would truly enjoy the essence of Bullay Shah

    On a personal note, I also enjoy Muzaffar Ghaffar’s English poetry that often refers to Bullay Shah and other sufi poets and has an earthy quality about it

  13. Farooq says:
    January 16th, 2009 12:45 am

    Excellent post and also very useful comments. Special thanks to Mr. Naveed for his information. This is the type of posts and comments that make this webste such a special place.

  14. Zia Ahmed says:
    January 16th, 2009 1:07 am

    Thanks Naveed & MHQ,

    Naveed’s given link and MHQ’s explanation help me to underestand the means of these sayings.

  15. Waheed says:
    January 17th, 2009 12:41 pm

    The Sufi poets are the true legacy of Pakistan’s culture. It is they and not the Taliban who define who we Pakistanis are and our Islam.

  16. PakAm Muslim says:
    February 10th, 2009 10:03 pm

    ‘Isharat-e-Faridi’
    Published by disciples of Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid.

    This book is compilation of written correspondence between Hazrat Khawaja Ghulam Farid and Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. It is in Urdu language.

    Hazrat Khwaja Ghulam Farid Chacharan Shareef ka Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani say Izhar-e-Aqeedat:
    by Ghulam Nabi Muslim

    http://aaiil.org/urdu/books/others/ghulamnabimuslim/khwajaghulamfarid/khwajaghulamfarid.shtml

  17. Lenny Deans says:
    April 7th, 2009 8:35 pm

    I have came across your website on my seach for, as explained below.
    I am reseaching the dairys of my grandfather, and he writes about the time he was in the army at Meerut in 1930. there is some words i can not find the meaning ,i.e. barish, and tongah.
    I hope these words are not offensive, and i apoligise for my ignorance if so.
    Your help would be very much apprecaited.
    Kind regards
    Lenny Deans

  18. April 7th, 2009 10:01 pm

    Lenny, “Barish” means “Rain.”

    “Tangah” is a horse drawn carraige found in South Asia… it looks something like this:
    http://pakistaniat.com/2006/06/16/picture-of-the-day-tangay-walla-khair-mangda/

    I hope this information is useful.

  19. gframesch says:
    August 1st, 2009 11:33 pm

    BEAUTIFUL SPIRITUAL MESSAGE ALLAH BLESS YOU-gframesch

  20. gframesch says:
    August 1st, 2009 11:38 pm

    RIGHT WORD IS TONGA-NOT TANGAH-AND IS ONE HORSE CARRIAGE-IF TWO OR MORE CARRIAGE HORSES-IT IS BUGHEE-ENGLISH COACH-gframesch

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