Exploring the Mystical Depths of Sufi Poetry in Kashmir

Golden Semee Of Ahad Zargar , Translator: Mushtaque Barq                                       

Poetry, at its core, serves as a conduit for the expression of one’s deepest emotions, a realm where sentiments are adorned with words, metaphors, and similes. Within this realm, Sufi or mystic poetry holds a unique position – simultaneously challenging and enchanting. Mystic poetry is a profound exercise, requiring a profound journey into realms not readily understood, demanding a passionate quest to uncover the hidden meanings of the universe. From the luminaries like Lalla Ded and Sheikh Noor uDin to the contemporary mystic poets, Kashmir has birthed masters of Sufi poetry. In fact, Sufi poetry has lent distinction and recognition to Kashmiri poetry, captivating people’s imaginations and hearts. This journey showcases the evolution of Sufi poetry across the centuries, a testament to its enduring relevance.

Golden Semee Of Ahad ZargarRenowned Sufism authority and author of “Guldasta e Tariqat and Tasawuf par Islami aur Irani Asarat” Maqbool Ferozi articulates, “Sufism or Tassawuf is not attained through mere knowledge; it is an experiential voyage. It involves a personal, inward, and soulful endeavor. It cannot be merely spoken and heard; it must be lived and felt. It emerges not from the mind’s logic, but from the heart’s intuition. Its brilliance emanates not from the surface, but from within.” Ferozi further elaborates, “Tassawuf embodies the exquisite facet of Islam, at times revealing its most splendid essence. Its luminosity resonates with the core of Islam and Hadith. The Quran employs terms like ‘truthful,’ ‘sincere,’ ‘patient,’ and ‘saints’ to describe the virtuous and righteous. As Sufis have embodied these virtues—truth, sincerity, humility, prayer, detachment, trust, patience, and gratitude—they unquestionably belong to this revered category.”

Esteemed writer and translator Mushtaque Barq succinctly explains .To the ordinary eye, emptiness appears devoid of substance, but to the mystics, it serves as an endless wellspring from which they draw inspiration. Within this vast emptiness, they discover celestial mysteries, fulfilling their divine purpose as voyagers of the spiritual void.” He expounds, “Sufism aims to elevate human consciousness and maturity by traversing various stages of development. This necessitates transcending ego and worldly attachments, enabling profound comprehension of reality. Sufis emphasize opening the heart to divine knowledge and love. Spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, and remembrance of God (zikr) pave this path. Sufism underscores that divine favor and blessings are vital for spiritual advancement. To become vessels of this heavenly grace, Sufi practitioners cleanse their hearts and souls, fostering spiritual growth.

In Kashmir, there is a strong conviction that the Sufi poetry nurtured within its valleys deserves global recognition, surpassing other poetic genres. A glance through the annals of Sufi poets who graced the stage reveals their profound spiritual connection, casting a mesmerizing aura over the landscape. Beyond the luminaries of Lalla and Sheikh, the likes of Wahab Khar, Samad Mir, Nyama Saeb, Soch Kral, Ahmad Batwari, and Prakash Ram Bhat have bestowed the world with precious literary gems. Among them, Ahad Zargar stands prominently for various reasons. It’s widely acknowledged that Kashmir’s Sufi poetry should transcend linguistic barriers and resonate worldwide. Here, translation, especially into English, emerges as the need of the hour, enhancing global appreciation. Regrettably, only a handful of capable individuals have undertaken this endeavor. Notably, Mushtaque Barq stands out as an esteemed translator, embarking on this arduous journey. His translations encompass “Mystic Voices of Kashmir,” “Verses of Wahab Khar,” “Songs of Soch Kral,” and “Ahad Zargar: Golden Semee, Volume 2,” released in August 2023.

Ahad Zargar, a preeminent Sufi poet from Kashmir, born in 1882 and departing in 1983, ascended poetic pinnacles through his profound thought, subject matter, and form. Critics and devotees alike place him on a distinguished pedestal. When a Sufi poet of Zargar’s stature intersects with the translation finesse of Mushtaq Barq, the result is nothing short of splendid. Sitting on the periphery, I am ignited by their words and meanings, compelled to delve into the original text, embracing its emotions, metaphors, and intricate explanations.

Within my hands rests the book, and I tread carefully, delving deep to extract the pearls of wisdom concealed within meanings and metaphors. Mushtaq has chosen twenty-five Ghazals for translation, each urging the reader to decipher concealed interpretations. To unravel these, one must possess the skill to explore the nuanced connotations woven therein.

For instance, the lines “Mey alifas daal kor kami khal o khatan Woun lagith zala zagan chum su hitan” carry intriguing connotations. Alif and Daal, the Arabic letters, stand as metaphors representing distinct figures, subtly embodying deeper meanings. Another stanza resounds with emotion: “Yetchi yus khoobroyas dil milawun Gatchi tas looth tchonwani khasiyatan” Here, the poet delves into the essence of love, highlighting its consuming nature.

In a different stanza: “Bar sawari teg heth Turki jalad Mara weni yim aara rasi mijgana taie” The beloved’s eyes are juxtaposed with the Turkish executioner’s deadly arrows, offering a vivid imagery of the beloved’s irresistible allure.

The tapestry of Sufi poetry often merges fate and destiny, as seen in the lines: “Myon aalaw tas goshan gov na grone chum logmut myie Kron te qabeela trawith drayas lone peum zorawar” This intertwining of fate and clan reflects the poet’s introspection on life’s inevitable course.

Within the lines: “Gah bo sheerin gah bo farhad gah bo kohkan khoud bazat Gah bo aamoz gah bo ustad gah talab har haeliye” The poet navigates between identities, invoking the tales of lovers shirin and Farhad while embodying a seeker’s quest for knowledge.

“Ba silah sangeen dila dourmut walah kornus shaheed Dar bala peuos karbala gom manzilah dushwar cha” Here, the poet’s heart becomes a battleground, evoking the tragic tale of Karbala to express his own struggles.

“Nazar chaeni misl e jadoo asar chus qatal aahoo Guzar that wuch mey har soo karan sheekar ashqo” The transformative power of a gaze is depicted, equated with magic that leaves a lasting impact.

“Abdul Ahad Zargar jafa has badal wafa kar Chukh Ashiq e dilawar youd dard nak afssoos” The transformation from disloyalty to unwavering loyalty in Ahad Zargar’s verses is a poignant reflection of his journey.

Ahad Zargar’s poetic realm mirrors a dualistic blade, piercing literal boundaries while seamlessly embracing simplicity. This duality resonates in commonplace settings and triggers profound debates among scholars and Sufis, upholding the legacy of their mentors.

As I immerse myself in the original and translated Zargar poetry, I’m drawn into introspection, unraveling the myriad layers of emotion and thought concealed within. His verses guide readers through a vivid landscape that captivates the senses and leaves an indelible mark on the soul. For those willing to plunge into the depths of Sufi poetry, “Golden Semee of Ahad Zargar” is a treasure trove. Published by JaY Kay Books, this elegantly printed and attractively designed booklet is an invaluable addition to any collection.

 Er,Shafi Ahmad is General Secretary Fiction Writers’ Guild Srinagar and can be mailed at [email protected]

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