Check out this video before reading further.
A Farsi (Persian) ghazal with five as’aar. Five couplets overflowing with the ecstasy of self-annihilation and realization of the Reality. Who else but the disciple of Nizamuddeen Auliya (r.a), Amir Khusro can compose such a brilliant piece of poetry.
Following is a short explanation. As much as my limited perception lets me interpret of this ghazal. The translations are poetic and not literal. I have tried to explain the ghazal in a spiritual context although there can be multiple interpretations.
خبرم رسیده امشب که نگار خواهی آمد
سر من فدا ی راه که سوار خواهی آمد
Khabaram raseedah imshab ke nigaar khwaahi aamad
Sar-e-man fidae raahe ke sawaar khwaahi aamad
News I received tonight that, O Beauty, you will come
May my head be crushed on the road on which you will come
Who is coming? Reality Personified? The Beloved? Alas! We who are lost in reality may never know.
The poet received a wonderful piece of news (possibly from his teacher) that She is going to come at last! After all this waiting! Metaphorically, this does seem to signify man’s longing to be liberated. The event of final annihilation or rather, the realization of the already annihilated false-self or nafs. The event which is celebrated as Nirvana (extinguish), Moksha (liberation) and Fanaa’ (destruction).
To make way for the Reality to fill you up, this garbage heap called ‘you’ should be thrown away. The head symbolizes the ego or nafs.
بلوم رسیده جانم تو بیا که زنده مانم
پس از ان که من نمانم بچه کار خواهی آمد
Ba-labam raseedah jaanam to biya ke zindah maanam
Pas az an ke man namaanam ba che kaar khwaahi aamad
The last of my breaths has reached my lips, please come, give me life
Afterwards, when I’m not here, for futility you will come
In Sufism and other esoteric mystical traditions, there are two deaths. One is when the person or the life-energy leaves body and another is when the the person drops away his identification with the mind-body complex. This death is called ‘death before death’. Also called Fanaa’.
So, as the Beloved approaches the poet, he is on the verge of the normal or physical death as the life is just about to go out through his lips. The poet pleads the Beloved to come fast and kill him before death does. So that he may taste Her and become free. So that the illusion of life and death may no longer exist. So that death itself may become ashamed and run away.
کشیش که عشق دارد ناگزاراتد بدینسان
بجنازه گر نائ بمازار خواهی آمد
Kashishe ke ishq daarad na guzaratad badinsaan
Ba-janaazah gar neaayi ba-mazaar khwaahi aamad
The enchantment of love won’t leave you unshaken this way
At my funeral, if you won’t come, at my grave, for sure, you will come
This one seems to lack any obvious spiritual undertones. On the contrary it seems to express a rather simple romantic idea. The lover urging his beloved to understand the nature of love and, in turn, making his seemingly uninterested beloved to pay him a visit before everything that his left of him would be beneath a grave.
On a more positive tone, the lover seems to accept happily the fact that he will not be able to meet his beloved before death. He is happily waiting for her to visit his grave.
Thinking further, In Sufism, there are two types of love: Ishq-e-majaazi (Material or worldly love) and Ishq-e-haqeeqi (Love for the Truth or Divine Love). The term Ishq-e-haqeeqi is much deeper than love for god and stuff. It is love for the Truth. The Reality; with-in and with-out the individual perceptions. In Sufi poetry, it is quite common to express this Ishq-e-haqeeqi metaphorically through Ishq-e-majaazi.
It is said that once a person tastes even a drop of this ocean of Ishq-e-haqeeqi, he cannot return back to mundane existence. This is mentioned in a straightforward manner in the first misra. The Reality, again, is personified in the next misra. The second misra seems more like a desperate cry of the seeker. Ready to wait even after death to meet the Reality.
همه آهوان صحرا سر خود نهاده بر کف
باید ان که روز بشکار خواهی آمد
Hamaah aahuwaan-e-sehra sar-e-khud nehaada bar kaf
Ba-umeede aan ke roze ba-shikaar khwaahi aamad
All desert-deers are standing, their heads bowing down
They stand wishing that one day, for hunting them, you will come
I’m going to present a wild, but nevertheless, logical interpretation of the use of ‘desert-deer’ in this sher. Let’s say the desert-deer which Amir Khusro is referring to here is the Arabian Oryx of the Sahara desert (makes sense because the Persian word for desert is Sehra, close to Sahara). This Arabian Oryx, in King James Bible, is referred mistakenly as unicorn.
“The myth of the one-horned unicorn may be based on oryxes that have lost one horn. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder held that the oryx was the unicorn’s “prototype”. From certain angles, the oryx may seem to have one horn rather than two, and given that its horns are made from hollow bone that cannot be regrown, if an oryx were to lose one of its horns, for the rest of its life, it would have only one”
So if we see Ahuwan-e-Sehra (Deer of desert) as Unicorns, then the sher expresses how even mythical creatures want to surrender themselves before the Beloved Reality.
In another interpretation, the poet is expressing his own plight with the help of deers.
In any way, this sher goes against all instincts of self-preservation. This sher, hence, comes as a shock for many.
بیک آمدن ربودی دل و دین و صبر خسرو
چه سود اگر نادإنسان دو سه بار خواهی آمد
Be-yek aamadn raboodi dil-o-deen-o-sabr-e-“Khurso”
Che shawad agar nadeensaan do-seh baar khwaahi aamad
You visited once and robbed away Khusro’s heart, faith and fortitude
What disaster will it be if for two-three visits you will come!
The Reality hit the poet (more deeper than the colloquial usage of this phrase). Realization of the blissfulness of the Reality, robbed away the poet of his heart (emotions), faith (dogmatic beliefs) and patience (to meet the Beloved). Thus cleansed and taken away from mundane existence, the poet now worries of going out of this comfort zone and diving into the arms of his Beloved Reality.
This reminds me of an opt-repeated advice by Yogic and Tantric teachers and books that one can reach until the Ajna Chakra (sorry, I cannot explain in detail about chakras now, if interested, click here) with proper guidance, training and resolve but diving beyond this second-last chakra to the Sahasrara Chakra, (the highermost chakra symbolizing or encompassing Moksha) needs either absolute madness or complete trust.
The poet seems to be at this stage of partial spiritual awakening, afraid to dive deep into a mystical abyss.
Well, this has been my interpretation at my current level of being and my current state of mind, hands and willpower to write this post.
Please feel free to comment your views. And do check out the video by Voice For Poetry.