I heard this ghazal for the first time two days ago. The rhythm (12 beats - ektal) reminds me of a palanquin in transit. The singer is Abida Parveen. Her voice struck a chord with me: fluent, effortless singing with each expression infused with life. She is a Sufi singer with many awesome performances: YouTube videos.
Dhoondo Ge Agar Mulkon Mulkon is a poem by Shaad Azeemabadi (1846 - 1927).
Stanza by stanza, the poem showcases the journey of a lover who is imploring his beloved to join him. Eventually, the poet develops a high level of acceptance. He is in bliss even without his beloved. Such a state of mind is the ultimate perfection.
Dhoondo Ge Agar Mulkon Mulkon
Milne Ke Nahin Nayaab Hain Hum
Tabeer Hai Jiski Hasrat-O-Gham
Aye Humnafaso Woh Khwaab Hain Hum
Even if you search from nation to nation,
You won’t find me, for I’m a rare jewel.
With a willingness to handle grief and sorrow,
O friends! I am an embodiment of that dream.
The poet starts off by exuding self belief and confidence. He compares himself to a rare jewel that is not to be found in any nation! Nayaab means rare, precious, unique, elusive, hard to find.
Next, the poet says that he willingly embraces grief and sorrow that inevitably accompanies love. At first, this may appear depressing, as if the poet has a propensity for melancholy. However, the truth is that the poet understands two concepts: (a) the goal of any life journey is unconditional love, and (b) all such journeys go through continual purification. What is meant by purification? It means rooting out impurities, expectations, attachments, any traces of conditional love. Such purifications entail emotional turmoil like grief and sorrow. One who understands this process willingly embraces the difficult journey of refining and purifying love.
The purification process is explained with evocative imagery in a poem by Kahlil Gibran: On Love. After reading Gibran's poem, you may shudder or you may embrace the process: the choice is yours. Oh well, even the choice is not yours, for the journey chooses you. And the truth is somewhere in between :) Kahlil Gibran also composed On Marriage and On Friendship, which showcase two concepts which are very different from love.
Aye Dard Bata Kuch Tu Hi Pata
Ab Tak Yeh Mu’ammya Hal Na Hua
Hum Mein Hain Dil-E-Betaab Nihan
Yah Aap Dil-E-Betaab Hain Hum
O grief! Please help me understand
For the situation hasn't resolved itself yet,
Whether a restless heart is embedded inside me
Or am I the restless heart itself?
The lines above showcase the struggle of the poet in letting go of his grief. What is his grief? Is it separation from his beloved? As he grapples with his grief, the poet wonders if he equals his restless heart or if his restless heart is merely a part of him. In other words, is he bigger than the grief?
Eastern philosophies and modern psychological techniques encourage us to see our emotions in third person instead of associating ourselves with the emotion itself. In other words, for handling emotional disturbances, we should become an observer (saakshi in Advaita philosophy) to one's emotions instead of believing that 'I am the emotion'. Mindfulness in Buddhism is also the same approach.
Main Hairat-O-Hasrat Ka Maara
Khamosh Khada Hoon Sahil Par
Dariya-E-Mohabbat Kehta Hai
“Aa Kuch Bhi Nahin Payaab Hain Hum”
(Translation in English)
I, driven by wonder and desire
Stand quietly at the bank of a river.
The river of love beckons,
"Don't be afraid, I am shallow and fordable”
From a spiritual standpoint, wonder is positive but desire is negative. Driven by a mixture of these two emotions, the poet stands confused at a river bank. Does he need to wait for his beloved? Or can he do it by himself? The river of love invites him to wade across, assuring him that she is shallow and fordable. The journey is delectable, doable. Just do it! :)
Lakhon Hi Musafir Chalte Hain
Manzil pohunchte Hain Do Ik
Aye Ahl-E-Zamana Qadr Karo
Nayaab Na Hon Kamyaab Hain Hum
Millions of travelers walk,
Only a handful reach their destinations,
O my contemporaries! Appreciate me for I am,
rare, if not elusive.
Millions of travelers walk but only a handful manage to reach the final goal. What is the final goal? Unconditional love. To be in a state of bliss by oneself, with or without one's beloved. The poet then senses that he has actually succeeded in arriving at this goal. He then implores his friends, his contemporaries, to appreciate him for being rare, if not elusive. The word 'kamyaab' (rare) is different from 'kaamyaab' (successful). In contrast, 'nayaab' means elusive.
Murghan-E-Qafas Ko Phoolon Ne
Aye Shaad Ye Kahla Bheja Hai
Aa Jao Jo Tum Ko Aana Ho
Aise Mein Abhi Shadaab Hain Hum
O Shaad! The flowers have dispatched
This message to birds in captivity
"Come if you wish to,
I am resplendent in the present moment."
Finally, the poet compares himself to flowers in full bloom. He compares his beloved to a caged bird who has not yet gathered courage to break the shackles and join him in their journey together. The poet's name is Shaad. Equating himself with flowers in bloom, he sends the following message to his beloved: "Join me if you wish to. I am resplendent in the present moment." The poet is blissful in his own being. He is at peace with himself. He is one with the universe. That is the ultimate perfection.