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Shri Ram and Shri Krishna in Urdu Literature and Sufism


By Aftab Ahmad, New Age Islam

02 May, 2015

Shri Ram and Shri Krishna are the two most important personalities of Hindu religion.  Urdu literature, particularly Sufi poetry of Urdu shows reverence and respect for these two Hindu religious figures. Shri Krishna is a favourite personality of the Sufis of India because of his colourful personality and for his image as an embodiment of love.  In Sufi poetry, he is a symbol of love. In his book, Sufia Ki Sheri Basirat Me Shri Krishna (Shri Krishna in the poetic consciousness of Sufis), Mr Shamim Tariq writes:

“Shri Krishna is one of the religious personalities of the Indian religion called Hinduism and is one of the most loved one among them. He is known to be the eighth incarnation of Vishnu. He is first mentioned in Rig Veda. But the Krishna around whom the halo of poetry and philosophy of Bhakti has been woven has been mentioned in Chaandyog of Upanishad. Here he is shown to be the son of Devki. Bhagvad Geeta is his treatise on spiritualism and wisdom that enlightens the heart and mind.”

Because of his colourful personality and a life full of adventure, Shri Krishna offers Urdu Sufi poets many shades of spirituality. The Sufi Urdu poet of the 16th century Shah Burhanuddin Janam wrote a collection of Dohas on Shri Krishan named “Sukh Sahela.” Qazi Mahmud Daryai was another Sufi poet of Gujarat in the 16th century. He called himself a Krishna Bhakt.

Three Sufi poets of 18th century, Shah Turab Chishti, Wali Deccani and Uzlat have mentioned Shri Krishna in their poetry.

Allama Iqbal was a great admirer of Shri Ram. Shamim Tarique writes:

“Allama Iqbal is among those who have included Shri Krishna among the path breaking spiritual and intellectual personalities who criticized the philosophical traditions of his own nation and country in beautiful words and brought out the truth that abandoning deeds does not mean abandoning the whole because deeds are the requirements of nature and strengthen life. But whatever Iqbal has said about Shri Krishna is not in verse but in prose.”

However, he has written a poem on Ram in which he has sung praise of this Hindu deity and called him Imam-e-Hind.

Hai Ram Ke Wajud Pe Hindustan Ko Naaz

Ahl-E-Nazar Samajhte Hai Usko Imam-e-Hind

Aijaz Us Charag-E-Hidayat Ka Hai Yahi

Roshan Tar Az Sahar Hai Zamane Me Sham-e-Hind

Here the word “Ahl-e-Nazar” points to his personal view about Ram being considered Imam-e-Hind. Imam-e-Hind means religious head of India. If he did not think he was a religious head of India, he would not have used the word “Ahl-e-Nazar” (people with knowledge and insight) and instead he would have used the word “Ahl-e-Watan (countrymen suggesting Hindus) or Ahl-e-Hanud. So Ahl-e-Nazar is indicative of Iqbal’s own idea or view about Ram.

In the second couplet Iqbal calls Shri Ram ‘Charag-e-Hidayat’ “divine guiding light”. It subtly may mean a prophet or a spiritual figure.

During the partition years, there was another Sufi called Abdur Rashid Huma who also believed that Shri Ram belonged to the genealogy of Hadhrat Sheth a.s., son of Adam.  

Mr Shamim Tarique also quotes two paragraphs of eminent Indian religious scholar Qari Muhammad Tayyib in which he expresses his reverence for Shri Ram and Shri Krishna and his reverence for India as the seat of prophets.

1)    “Therefore, if Hijaz is sacred because it is the birth place of the final prophet and the seat of divine revelations; if Syria is sacred because it is the birth place of the prophet of Banu Israel; if Egypt is sacred because it is associated with Mose; if Iraq is sacred because it is related to Abraham, then of course India is also sacred because it is associated with Adam and is the seat of the first divine revelation and the first home of prophethood and caliphate. It is also sacred because according to some tradtions in Tabarani, it is the homeland of Hadhrat Sheth a.s., the son of Adam a.s. and his successor. He led the funeral prayer of Hadhrat Adam a.s. It is also sacred because according to some traditions narrated by Ibn-e-Abbas (quoted by Sabhatul Marjan), it is the homeland of Hadhrat Nuh a.s. There are hundreds of accounts of intuitive revelations that say that confirm the presence of graves of prophets in India.

Hadhrat Maulana Yaqub (the first head master of Darul Uloom Deoband) once said that he perceived the lights of prophethood on the banks of the Ganges. Probably, any prophet or his relics are buried there. Hadhrat Maulan Rafiuddin khalifa of Hadhrat Abdul Ghani Muhaddith Dehlavi had the divine vision that the grave of the founder of Darul Uloom Deoband Hadhrat Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi is situated exactly in the grave of some prophet.

However, India’s sanctity is proved by the Islamic signs here. And if it sacred to Hindus, Muslims also do not revere it any less. The only difference is that they revere it merely on the basis of myths and tales while the Muslims revere it on the basis of solid evidence and historical facts.”

2)     in some of his writings, the founder of Darul Uloom Deoband, Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi has written that we should not speak of ill of some elders of the Hindu religious community and should not make any blasphemous or sacrilegious remark against them because it is possible that they were the flag-bearers of the truth (Islam) in their own age and were sent down to warn people with the straight path or true Shariah and to reform people. Their teachings might have been distorted by people as the times passed as people did with the Bible and Torah. Obviously, if they were true, they might have been mentioned in the Quran as those whose mention has not been made in the Quran and so deserve our recognition  or it is also possible that they are among those whom God has mentioned in the Quran with their names and we cannot understand their names because of a change in linguistic variations or difference in pronunciations of their names.

The last part of the paragraph subtly points out to the name of Prophet Nuh or Noah. Hindus call him Manu which seems an Indian variation of the word Nuh or Noah because all the three major divine religions recognize the great Deluge during the time of the Prophet Nuh, Noah and Manu. In English it is called Deluge and in Indian language it is called Jalparlayawan.  Therefore, Qari Muhammad Tayyib admits that Prophet Nuh and Manu may be the same prophets and persons mentioned in the Quran.  In Ayodhya, the grave of his forefather, Hadhrat Sheth a.s. is present till today.  

Another Sufi of the 18th century, Shah Md Kazim Qalandar had deep reverence for Shri Krishna. His collection of Sufi poetry is titled “Sant Ras”. He was spiritually attached to Shri Krishn  so much that he once had a vision in which Shri Krishna appeared to him. Giving an account of this incident, Shah Turab Ali Qalandar writes:

 “Once during meditation, he (Shah Md Kazim Qalandar) went through severe restlessness and anxiety. After that, he saw Shri Krishna in dream. He told Shri Krishna, “ I want death.” Shri Krishna consoled him and said, “No, you are immortal. One whose heart becomes illuminated from the love of the eternal beauty becomes free from the confines of Time and Space and the tussle between life and death.”

Shah Turab Ali Qalandar, son of Shah Muhammad Kazim Ali Qalandar was himself a Sufi poet and a Krishna Bhakt. He had deep reverence for Shri Krishna. He uses the words Kanhaiya, Gopis, Brindavan as similes and metaphors to express his spiritual feelings and subjects.

Apart from these Sufis, there are Urdu poets who have written couplets in praise of Shri Krishna. For example, great poet of Urdu Inshallah Khan Insha wrote:

Sanwale Pan Par Ghazab Hai Dhaj Basanti Shawl Ki

Jee Me Hai Kah Baithiye  Ab Jai Kanhaiya Lal Ki             

Thus, Urdu which is a language originated from the composite culture of India has embraced the Indian cultural and religious elements along with the Arab and Iranian cultural and philosophical trends.

Aftab Ahmad is a columnist for New Age Islam.  He has been studying the Holy Quran for some time.

Source:  Sufiya ki sheri basirat me Shri Krishna by Shamim Tarique



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