Awargi

AwargiA long drive. A quiet road. A peaceful landscape streaming by. A full moon rising.  Time slowing down. Body, mind, spirit all at peace. What music would I choose? A Ghazal, every time!

Ghazals are familiar to a wide audience in India; after all, there are so many wonderful Ghazals which the Hindi film industry has presented us with. I love the sound of Ghazals, the restful, slightly melancholic air, the smoothness of the melodies and especially the language. Surely anyone who likes poetry loves Urdu, for isn’t the language just perfect for poetry? The sound of the language itself is music; its syllables fall like ripples of a stream! Today I have chosen a wonderful old favourite to present to you.

In India we have a tradition which runs from Vedic times, that of the wandering monk, sanyasi or vairagi. Unfettered by the bonds of life, their minds are detached and dispassionate, seeking spirituality. It is not disillusionment with life; quite the contrary. When Maya drops her veils, it is surely a state of illumination? To my mind, this mental state is related to the word Awargi in Urdu. A complicated word, it has many shades of meaning from vagrancy, waywardness, carelessness to licentiousness and even wantonness. In this song, I interpret it to mean the state of mind of the vairagi, a mind which seeks a solitude,  which is neither happy nor unhappy.  Though vairagya is a Hindu word and this Ghazal is of Islamic origin, the sense is the same. To see the word related to Islamic thought, read Hazrat Inayat Khan’s discourse here.

In this lovely song, the poet Mohsin Naqvi describes his mental journey to the state of vairagya, which, for the purpose of brevity, I will call detachment.

ये दिल ये पागल दिल मेरा, क्यों बुझ गया? आवारगी ।
इस दश्त में इक शहर था, वो क्या हुआ ? आवारगी ॥

Why did it get subdued, this crazy heart of mine? Detachment! There used to be a city in this barrenness, what happened to it? Detachment!

The poet likens his heart to a ruined city which once may have bustled with life but now is no more than a barren wasteland. How did it come about, he wonders? I wonder, was detachment the cause or the result?

This has not been a planned journey into his new sense of detachment. In fact he is quite startled to find himself there.

कल शब मुझे बे-शक्ल की आवाज़ ने चौँका दिया ।
मैं ने कहा, तू कौन है ? उस ने कहा, आवारगी ॥

Last night, I was startled by a formless voice. I asked, ‘Who are you?’. It said ‘Detachment’!

But, of course, detachment doesn’t come suddenly.

इक तू कि सदियों से मेरे हमराह भी हमराज़ भी ।
इक मैं कि तेरे नाम से ना-आश्ना, आवारगी ॥

There was you, who, for centuries, has been both my fellow-traveller and confidant! And there was me, unaquainted with your name – Detachment!

He acknowledges that the detachment has always been a silent presence at the back of his mind.  Do we not all sense a part of us which often stays apart, remaining a witness to events?  What do we call that presence? And when something terrible happens of which you can speak to no-one, do you not silently look at that presence for an acknowledgement, for the sharing of the pain? This is a very cleverly written couplet, I like this personification of that silent witness as ‘हमराह’ and ‘हमराज़’.

यह दर्द की तनहाइयाँ, यह दश्त का वीराँ सफ़र ।
हम लोग तो उकता गये, अपनी सुना, आवारगी ॥

We all are tired of this loneliness of pain, this desolate journey in a barren land! Tell me of yourself, O Detachment ?

Is the poet asking the question of his alter-ego, his dispassionate self, or is he asking us ?

इक अजनबी झोंके ने जब पूछा मेरे ग़म का सबब ।
सहरा की भीगी रेत पर मैं ने लिखा, आवारगी ॥

When a strange gust of wind asked me the reason for my sorrow, I wrote ‘Detachment’ in the wet sands of the desert.

This couplet puzzled me for a bit; surely the cause of sorrow is not detachment? Would not the cause of detachment be sorrow? But thinking of the poet’s alter-ego, the detachment which has always accompanied him, I think perhaps it was also the cause of his failure with relationships in life?

ले अब तो दश्त-ए-शब की सारी वुस’अतें सोने लगीं ।
अब जागना होगा हमें कब तक बता, आवारगी ॥

Now that the expanse of the desert-night has started sleeping, tell me, O Detachment, how long have I to still keep awake?

The poet repeatedly refers to his heart as a barren land. In this couplet he seems to say that even the last of the bonds have died down. He seems to be tired of life, of living; he asks how long he still has to keep awake i.e.. keep alive.

कल रात तनहा चाँद को देखा था मैंने ख़्वाब में ।
‘मोहसिन’ मुझे रास आयेगी शायद सदा आवारगी ॥

Last night I saw a lonely moon in my dreams. It said to me ‘Mohsin, perhaps detachment will always agree with me’.

The poet finishes on a positive note by suggesting that he finds the state of detachment quite agreeable. The moon is detached from both the sun and the earth yet it is there, reflecting the light of the sun to enlighten the darkness of the earth. Likewise a vairagi, a sanyasi, is detached from the world but is still there, reflecting the light of God to enlighten the darkness of unawakened mind.

To present this song, I have a rendition by the wonderful Ghazal singer, Ghulam Ali. I have had the privilege of being in his audience a number of times. His voice quality, his enunciation, his impeccable pitching, the ease with which he traverses the scale, his musicality all added to a great stage presence make him one of the greatest performers I have seen.

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Urdu (transcribed in Devanagari script)

ये दिल ये पागल दिल मेरा, क्यों बुझ गया? आवारगी ।
इस दश्त में इक शहर था, वो क्या हुआ ? आवारगी ॥
कल शब मुझे बे-शक्ल की आवाज़ ने चौँका दिया ।
मैं ने कहा, तू कौन है ? उस ने कहा, आवारगी ॥
इक तू कि सदियों से मेरे हमराह भी हमराज़ भी ।
इक मैं कि तेरे नाम से ना-आश्ना, आवारगी ॥
यह दर्द की तनहाइयाँ, यह दश्त का वीराँ सफ़र ।
हम लोग तो उकता गये, अपनी सुना, आवारगी ॥
इक अजनबी झोंके ने जब पूछा मेरे ग़म का सबब ।
सहरा की भीगी रेत पर मैं ने लिखा, आवारगी ॥
ले अब तो दश्त-ए-शब की सारी वुस’अतें सोने लगीं ।
अब जागना होगा हमें कब तक बता, आवारगी ॥
कल रात तनहा चाँद को देखा था मैंने ख़्वाब में ।
‘मोहसिन’ मुझे रास आयेगी शायद सदा आवारगी ॥

Transliteration

yE dil yE pAgal dil mErA, kyO.n bujh gayA? AvArgI
is dasht mE.n ik sheher thA, wO kyA huA? AvArgI
kal shab mujhE bE-shakl kI avAz nE chau.nkA diyA
mainE kahA tU kaun hai? usnE kahA, AvArgI
ik tU ki sadiyO.n sE mErE hamrAh bhI hamrAz bhI
ik mai.n ki tErE nAm sE nA-AshnA, AvArgI
yE dard kI tanhA’iyA.n yE dasht kA vIrA.n safar
ham log tO uktA gayE, apnI sunA, AvArgI
ik ajnabI jhO.nkE nE jab pUCHA mErE .gam kA sabab
sehrA kI bhIgI rEt par mainE likhA, AvArgI
lE ab tO dasht-E-shab kI sArI vus-atE.n sOnE lagI.n
ab jAgnA hOgA hamE.n kab tak batA, AvArgI
kal rAt tanhA chA.nd kO dEkhA THA mainE khwAb mE.n
mohsin mujhE rAs AyEgI shAyad sadA AvArgI

Translation
Why (kyO.n) did it get subdued (bujh gayA), this (yE) crazy (pAgal) heart (dil) of mine (mErA)? Detachment! (AvArgI) There used to be (thA) a city (sheher) in this barrenness (dasht), what happened to it (kyA huA) ? Detachment (AvArgI)!

Last night (kal shab), I was startled (mujhE chau.nkA diyA) by a formless (bE-shakl) voice (AvAz). I asked (mainE kahA), ‘Who are you?’ (tU kaun hai). It said (usnE kahA) ‘Detachment’ (AvArgI)!

There is you, who (ik tU ki), for centuries (sadiyO.n sE), has been both my fellow-traveller (hamrAh) and confidant (hamrAz)! And there was me (ik mai.n), unaquainted (nA-AshnA) with your name (tErE nAm sE) – Detachment (AvArgI)!

We all (hum LOg) are tired (uktA gayE) of this loneliness (tanhA-iyA.n) of pain (dard), this desolate (vIrA.n) journey (safar) in a barren land (dasht)! Tell me of yourself (tErI sunA), O Detachment (AvArgI)?

When (jab) a strange (ajnabI) gust of wind (jhO.nkE) asked me (pUCHA) the reason (sabab) for my (mErE) sorrow (.gam), I wrote (mainE likhA)  ‘Detachment’ (AvArgI)  in the wet (bhIgI) sands (rEt) of the desert (sehrA).

Now that the (ab tO) expanse (vus-atE.n) of the desert-night (dasht-E-shab) has started sleeping (sOnE lagE), tell me (batA), O Detachment (AvArgI), how long have I (kab tak) to still keep awake (jAgnA mujhE) ?

Last night (kal rAt) I saw the moon (chA.nd) in its solitude (tanhA) in my dreams (khwAb mE.n). It said to me ‘Mohsin, perhaps (shAyad) detachment (AvArgI) will always (sadA) agree with me (rAs AyEgI)’.

About these ads

6 Comments

Filed under Ghazal, Ghulam Ali, Mohsin Naqvi

6 responses to “Awargi

  1. Beautiful poem, the execution by Ghulam Ali is so soulful and full of emotion.Thanks for sharing.
    A state of mind which is free from everything , nothing owning it is something that has to be experienced to understand it best. I relate to what the poet is conveying, for me it has been freedom sometimes, but sometimes scary :-)

    • Hello Padmaja, indeed its a lovely poem, one I have heard for the last 20+ years with great regularity! I’m afraid I am nowhere near the state of Vairagya; my mind is truly mired in this world so I cannot really appreciate how it feels. I can well imagine that there would be moments of fear..
      Cheers. Suja

  2. Ramesh

    Wah Ghazals ! Many forms of music owe a lot to Persian influence. With the intermingling with various other cultures and forms, it has produced outstanding branches of music. Pity that the musical tradition seems to be on the wane in modern day Iran.

    Aboslutely so that on a picutresque dirve, the food for the soul is indeed Ghazal.

    Very nice exposition. The concept of vairagya is intriguing. Many shades of meaning as you have outlined. Isn’t that the magic of poetry – make a picture through words that each of us fill in, which the poet may not even have fully contemplated !

    Wonderful music as always.

    • Hello Ramesh, The Ghazal tradition seems to be waning even in India. Once upon a time Indian films would regularly feature a Ghazal but nowadays there don’t seem to be any. I feel sad…to replace all this beauty for loud instrumentation, tacky words, synthesised sounds.Indian film music committing hara-kiri in front of our eyes..sigh!

      Indeed you are right; poetry allows us to explore the world through eyes of the poet – but we always have our own tinted glasses on! I found many translations on the web while I was researching, yet they did not ring true to me. I needed to have my own interpretation, look through my own vairagya-tinted glasses!
      Cheers. Suja

  3. AKM

    An excellent exposition of the soul of the ghazal. Awargii is indeed an abstract concept, and its popularity despite being off the beaten track in ghazal content is perhaps a testimony to the quality of the writing, as well as Ghulam Ali’s rendition.
    Am envious @ “being in his audience a number of times” : ) He does have a great engagement with his audience, ensuring no two performances are identical.

    • Thank you for your very kind comment :) Indeed it is a privilege if one can get to listen live to the great musicians of our times. My greatest regret in life is that when Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan sang in Womad in Adelaide, Australia, I missed the concert even though we lived so nearby. My family and I had recently moved to Melbourne, just 700 or so kms away. But my kids were young, money was tight and I told myself ‘My whole life is there, I will get another opportunity’. But that was my last opportunity. How I wept when I heard he had died!!! Sigh..it will remain a life-long regret.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s