Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dakhni- the Golconda Phase

Dakhni- the Golconda Phase
By Narendra Luther

We enter the Golden age of the Dakhni with the emergence of its Golconda phase (1518-1687). Now Mullah Vajahi (d. about 1660) heads the caravan. He saw the rule of three Sultans—possibly four. He was the court poet of the founder of Hyderabad – Mohd. Quli Qutb Shah. He wrote a long allegorical poem - ‘Qutb Mushtari’. It is supposed to be a dramatised fictitious version of the love story of Mohd. Quli and Bhagmati and was highly flattering to his young patron. Notice the original and lavish metaphors used by him when he describes the celebrations on the birth of Mohd. Quli:
‘Because in this gathering, angels had come to render service, the king gave them so much gold that they made a new sky of gold. The sky itself was given so much gold that it keeps on going round day and night to fine a place to keep it (according to the belief of the age, prevalent in Urdu poetry even till now, the sky gyrates). The earth itself was given so much wealth that it is begging heavens for space to keep it. After all these charities, the king himself celebrated the festival of spring (Basant) with diamonds. On Muhammad Quli’s birth gold was distributed so liberally that it has become cheaper than dirt. So many jewels and gems were scattered all over that swans have started coming on land to pick up their food. Because of the o the fall in its value, Gold has become pale.’


Vajahi’s poem on ‘Love’ in his prose work ‘Sabras’ is remarkable for its repetitive use of the word ‘Ishq’ (love) and its detailed exposition of the phenomenon of love:
‘Love is week; love is strong. Love is wise; love is mad. Love shines by itself; it looks good by itself. Who can control the wayward behaviour of love? Love is sun; love is moon. Love is faith; love is belief. Love is ruler. Love lights the skies; love illumines both the worlds...’

And so on it goes for a whole page.

In the original Dakhni it has overpowering rhythm and sway of a ‘qawwali’. I therefore included it as a qawwali in the film script that I wrote for the Zee TV on the love story of Mohd. Quli and Bhagmati.

Similarly, his discourse on ‘Aql’(wisdom) is a torrential flow of words, which is untranslatable. Vajahi was very proud of Deccan – and Telangana. He says:
‘There is no place like the Deccan; it abounds in the merited
Splendid Deccan crowns the head of other lands
Deccan is a special land; and Telangana is its heart’

If ever a Telangana state is formed, doubtless Vajahi will be its patron –poet. And his poem will perhaps provide a draft for the State anthem.

His work, ‘Sabras’ is the first secular prose work in what is today called Urdu. It is an allegory describing the eternal conflict between Head and Heart, and Beauty and Love. In this the characters are Beauty, Love, Sight, Tress, Patience, and Recantation etc. Vajahi uses Hindi chhand and not the Persian poetic measure. But for the script, it is classical Hindi. Vajahi says himself that that ‘of all the Hindi writers so far, none has written such good chhands in the Hindi language’.

It is interesting to note that one of the pioneers of the renaissance of the Dakhni in Hyderabad in early 20th Century, Dr. Zore started a literary magazine in 1938 and named it ‘Sabras’. Now edited by Mughani Tabassum, a former head of the Urdu department of the Osmania University, it is highly regarded in literary circles.
Interestingly, Khwaja Hamiduddin Shahid in Karachi also started a magazine with the same name when he migrated to Pakistan.


After Vajahi’s patron died, he was eclipsed by another poet, Ghawwasi (literally, a diver—for pearls). He became the port-laureate of Mohd. Quli’s grandson, Abdullah. Ghawwasi is renowned for his three long poems –‘Maina Satwanti’, ‘Saif-ul- Mulook’, and ‘Tuti Nama’.
‘Maina Satwanti’ is based on an old Indian folk-tale. There was a king, Bal Kanwar. who had a beautiful daughter called Chanda. One day she saw a shepherd named Lorik pass below her balcony and fell in love with her. He did not respond to her advances saying that he had a lovely wife. Also a poor man like him could not aspire so high. However, on being taunted by her, they elope.

Chanda’s father reconciled to that. He had seen Chanda’s beautiful wife and coveted her. He sent an old hag to seduce her. Maina rejected the offers disdainfully. One day the king went to her house and hid himself to hear the conversation between her and his emissary. He was so struck by her noble-mindedness and the purity of her heart that he fell at her feet and asked for forgiveness. Thereafter, he mounted a search for her daughter and the shepherd. After their apprehension, Chanda was killed and Lorik was restored to his wife. The characters of this story are all Hindus and so is the locale. But Ghawwasi makes them utter Islamic expressions like Satan, Rasul, Khizar Sikandar, and Qaroon etc. Inspite of that incongruity, Hindi elements predominate the composition. For example, a chase woman and a faithful wife has:

‘Mithai zaban mein,mubarak bachan; Kari baat jeon phool jhadte rattan’
(Pious in thoughts and sweet of tongue.
When she speaks pearls fall from her mouth)

‘Sai-ful-Mukluk’, is considered his best work. It is derived from the ‘Arabian Nights’. Ghawwasi has a great felicity in both Hindi and Persian vocabulary and he is rated one of the greatest Dakhni poets.

Ibn-e- Nishati was the next poet of note. He did not attach himself to any court. His fame rests on his long poem ‘Phoolban’ in which, he has employed thirty- nine figures of speech.
The story of ‘Phoolban’ is that the ruler of Kanchan Patan sees a dervish in his dream and becomes his follower. He locates him after a long search. The dervish narrates new stories to him every day. One story was about a nightingale that used to ‘tease’ a particular flower in the garden of the king of Kashmir. As a result of that, the flower would wilt. One day the nightingale, on being caught, revealed that it was the son of a merchant from Khatan, a country on the north of China. He had fallen in love with the daughter of a monk. The monk cursed them and so he became a flower and the girl, a nightingale. The king invoked the blessing of God on them whereupon they resumed their original form. The king appointed them tocourt. They used to narrate daily new stories to him. Thereafter it goes on like the ‘Arabian Nights’—a chain of stories.

Incidentally, Prof. Rafia Sultana, a former head of the Urdu department of Osmania, who was commissioned by the AP Sahitya Academy to compile an anthology of Dakhni prose master pieces has named her house ‘Phoolban’.


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