Lesser known mystics of South Asia – II

Abu Majal Al Uski
Born in Cairo, Al Uski came to Jamshoro when he was relatively young, say twelve years old. The intonations of the local dialect quickly fired his imagination, and he was known to recite couplets at  will.

One afternoon, when the grasshoppers were busy counting how many wishes had seen dust, Abu Majal (around say fifteen-ish) decided to take a different route. Each day for the past three years, he would studiously follow the road from his house to the madrassa. The occasional passer-by would be greeted with a casual greeting, the odd change in landscape dismissed. This humdrum routine did not bother him the least bit, his youth untouched by the stirrings of curiosity that every now and then tried to bite him from the inside. No, the steady road, the casual greeting and the consistency of path soothed him to the point of lull-ness.

But curiosity has a mind of its own.

At first, it seemed innocuous. Just a bit of meandering off the beaten path. A careless whim taken seriously for a minute or more. But there was always more to it, and he knew it. The meanderings were prelude to an awful awesomeness that the road feigned innocence of.

The road, he thought, should know. It should lead, guide, instruct even. But in the end, it was his whim which held sway.

Fifteen years of prelude. Now had come the time for him to shed the well-trodden path in favour of the unknown. And he knew it well that one of these days, he will cross paths with a destiny he had playfully wrought in verse some years ago. What he saw on the first day was like a vision of a temptress leading him on. On each subsequent day, as he went further off his path, her apparition seemed to flesh out more. Within a month, it is as if he was in pursuit of someone as real as the conversation he has in the evenings with the talkative storekeeper near his home about the petty machinations of the jagirdars.

But nothing was spoken, and that made him think that it may possibly be unreal. And at the end of the ten to fifteen minute diversion, it all went poof and left him feeling as if he had woken from a dream. He eventually found his way back, a bit groggy and shaken, trying to make sense of it for the rest of the day, anticipating the next visit feverishly.

He had been transformed, that was for sure, but to what end he did not know. The days and nights had enough regularity to keep the ground under his feet otherwise. And then, she spoke. With a crisp clarity, her voice rang out, “You have followed me with the curious intensity of a seeker. But to seek is one thing, to choose what is sought is another.” Then she held out a chalice saying, “Drink from this cup if you so choose. I am the guarantor, I Shakuntala.”

The gates of heaven peeped out a squeal of delight.

Lesser known mystics of South Asia – I

Abu Dilbar Al Janiabi
It is narrated that once a boy approached Abu Dilbar while the sage was buying cloth from an expensive cloth merchant in Multan. The boy was curious as to why a sage, generally known for unworldly ways, would frequent such an exorbitant merchant. Maybe there was more to it than met his eye, which was generally the case with these sages. But before he could enunciate his query, Al Janiabi interjected, “This time there really is nothing more than meets your eye, little boy.”

The boy was gobsmackled by this show of sorcerous prophetization. He left quickly. Abu Dilbar continued buying. The merchant counted his money. A woman swooned. “Could this be ishq,” she wondered, “or is this just a second-hand emotion?” Al-Janiabi was least bothered, but he did say these words before parting, “The merchant can sell his wares without bothering the date palm across the road, but the date palm is a wily old coot, mind you.”

Abu Kabab Al Sharabi
This Kashmiri met Lalleshwari on one of her ecstatic wanderings. Although Lalla’s method to madness was her rapturous song and dance, Abu Kabab could only think of one thing. Later, when he came back to his flock and narrated this incident, there were some who wanted to convert, some questioned why they too were not taken along, but there was one among Al Sharabi’s devotees who was silent. Abu Kabab, versed well in ways of silence, read his devotee’s mind with the agility of the eagle that snatches the hapless sparrow, and he smiled.

Abu Kum Al Dastyabi
Taimur Lung once came up to Al-Dastyabi in search of something vague. Neither Lung nor Al-Dastyabi was sure what exactly that something was. But a happy compromise was reached when Al-Dastyabi brought the conversation to a halt in an unintelligible Zen-like fashion. Lung, thinking himself satisfied, gave Abu Kum a bag of silver as kings are wont to do. Al-Dastyabi uttered thus-like, “And to think that this your otherwise kingly act might not have in a tiny way insulted – you know – someone?”

Taimur was gobsmackled by this show of onerous dis-proportionization. He left. Al-Dastyabi felt a slight pang of guilt. “Nothing two dashes of ghee-drenched-parathas can’t quell,” he mused and headed for the hearth. The rain outside did not mind. Neither did the courtesan who lived upstairs, but she did wonder as free spirits are wont to do.

goddesses of south India

the goddesses are sauntering on some seashore in south India
Sita, Kali, difficult-to-pronouce-devi-this-one, difficult-to-pronounce-devi-that-one, and it is as if the eternal feminine is principally concentrated on that lonesome seashore in south India.

It is an imbalance of holy proportions for such deified acronyms to be concentrated in one point in space-time. You can argue, no, it’s just the spirit which resides, the spirit which otherwise is free as that colorful bird in South America, you know the one that is also so difficult to pronounce. You can argue and argue.

But this temple-i-zation, this hyperflux of difficult-to-pronounce-devi names, this localization of what ought to be simple unfettered joy thingies, it’s indigestion I tells ya.

samandar ka baazoo thaamay

Iss tarap ka koi ma’yaar to ho, ke jiss taraf bhi shokhi-e-khumar chhalkay
ussee mor ki aashnaai se pehlay, main khud hi apnay boseeda ansoo-on
ko poonch loon ga. Yehi tarap to hai baaqi veerangi main, usee viraangi
main ke jisse chaahaton ki giraft main sona paray ga. Unheen chaahaton
ki shanaakht karke tum bhi chalo aur hum bhi chalain ge. Kaheen door ki
aawaaz ke taa’ba go haun, kissee shakhs ke baaton ke muntazir hon, ke
shaayad yunhin talaash ki iss ghari se, shaayad koi lahu ka qatra tapak na
jaye. Aur yunhin samandar ka baazoo thaamay, main muntazir rahoon ga.

Groundswell of cause-effect

Titillating boundaries are met in the trash-sea of the mundane – and surrendered, not caring which grass root is to be held accountable and which tip-of-the-blade-of-the-bittiest-slice-of-green is to be pushed in the corner of cause and effect.

The reckoning of what-follows-which; it is to be conducted the same way the bards of old chose their words and threw them on bits of parchment to take seed; then vapours of physical law – bound to follow form – unshackled themselves from potency.

The purity of the parchment is not in question; but the bulbous fallout of pompous effect is.

Actuality is the premonition of this groundswell, the answer to the sky beckoning earth to show up for work, and it is the transient play of shadows that misses the mark and catches the trail-of-the-shadow-of-the-mark.

You cannot in all earnestness expect night to wilfully look the other way.

preet milan ka chhera saaz

preet milan ka chhera saaz, sayyaan kis paasay howay
koi bataaway, koi sunaaway, preet milan ke geet.

uss paar to saaray baadal chhat gayen, iss paar faqat judaai
kuch gham khaaway, sakhyaan samjhaway, kidhar hai re o meet?

harjaayi meet howay so kya, har ja sukhyian baantein
jis jis ghar wo jaana chaahay, howay ussi ki jeet.

khanjar taara, lahu hamara, nindiyaan huween haraam
kaahay ko itni dair lagaaway, kaahay tu itna dheet?

sub kuch chhor chuki hoon pyaaray, ab dair na aur lagaiyo
ay be parwah sohnay sangat waalay, wah re teri reet.

It’s not jok

This so many thought, so why you not laugh loud?
It’s not jok, this every every day, so why you
not give little room to the small ha-ha in
your tummy that give more room to the big aha?

It’s not jok the grimble and the gah, you know? The
so many thought pass out of throat or finger it’s
same grimble and gah, every every day. So why not
make little time, make funny your sad face, and go aha?

Tick tock will pass time like yesterday same as
today. Tick tock go like this long time, so long
you wake up thousand time and still not know if
it morning, that long. That long, yes, and no aha?

Pish posh

Pish posh ritual, the sage rages with a twist of the
curled lip and disdain to match the discoloring of
rain that those drops were sort of ordained to bring
about. Pish posh too this ordainment, the curled lip
spouts out a sprightly venom.

Nothing complains in the forest: the discoloring goes
unnoticed, un-pish-poshed by the sage of the forest,
the unrepentant cloud going about its meandering ways
dropping drops of discolorment wherever it deems fit
to add a dash of discolor.

Discord of discolor in an otherwise corporatised forest
with its sanitized signs telling you the spot where it
is o-so-grand to see the giraffe pee and where it is that
the bear will no longer grunt at you with the same level
of filial warmth reserved for its next of kin.

So watch out for the bear and watch out too for the paw
print, the graze, the punt, the loll and the woof. Pish
posh goes the cloud once again, and as it drifts away
the mask of its frivolous disdain wears thinner, the
menace in its belly sounds like it means business.


Rehbar ki tamanna ka to aik hi hai usool
Mumkin ho nishaana to mushkil hai husool

Maghrib ki tajalli ke liye kyun itnay huay bechain
Ishq ko jhutlaanay ki kub tak tum kartay raho gay bhool

Is paar hikayat hai to us parlay hay himayat
Phat jayein gi kitabain, reh jaye gi bus dhool

Dastak koi dega na koi pukaaray ga meri jaan
Har simt ghubaar hi ka nasha hai you fool

Lehza agar aamad ki tapish tumko bulaaye
Kehna mujhay parwa hi nahin, ye sub hay fuzool.


Tumult is the puff of smoke that visits the tavern
Mocking the stationary, gradually. Tumult is the
Air in which reflections visit each other in their
Mirror homes and mirror graves. Tumult is the ninth
Heaven sitting on top of the eighth sitting on top of
The Seventh, which is the tortoise. And tumult is the
Elephant that goes around the room speaking elephant
Volumes of untruth, of the gulbadan retiring in her
Antechamber, gleefully.

And now you want her to prance out, lilting. Need to wait baba.