Dharampura Haveli – Heritage Mansions of Delhi

Offer of sumptuous Mughlai dinner at heritage haveli (Mansion) – ‘Lakhori Haveli – Dharampura’ by my wife in a serene, somber and quiet environ was irresistible proposition which turns out to be a life-time experience. The exquisite Mughlai gourmet, pristine environs, redezvous in regal and heritage structure was not only out of world experience but it surpassed all our expectations.

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(Picture : Lakhori Restaurant)

Dharampura Haveli (Mansion) is owned by BJP Member of Parliament (MP),  Mr Vijay Goel and operated by ITC Welcome group, since its painstaking restoration of six year (2011-16). It is nested in narrow bylanes of Puani Dilli (old Delhi) behind Jama Masjid, 200 metres away, accessed through Gali Guliyan (incidentally name of my village happen to be Jiwana Guliyan – coincidental similarity) which opens in famed haveli through Gali Anar. It can be approached from Dariba Kalan (Jewellers market) through Kucha Seth also. Originally, owned by Muslim family and then constructed by a trading Jain family after purchasing it in 1887.

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(Picture: Haveli before Restoration in 2010)

The Haveli is made of small shape and slim sized, Mughal era bricks called Lakhori– also known as Badshahi or Kakaiya bricks (contemporary to Nanak Shahi bricks of similar size used by Sikh Empire in Punjab) masoned in lime mortar. Lakhori bricks are almost 3/4th of the size of now prevalent British introduced bricks known as Ghumma bricks of size 9’ X 4.25’ X 2.75’. Area seems to have acquired name Dharampura (Dharam – religion) due to proximity of multifaith religious places in the vicinity namely – Jama Masjid, Fatehpuri Masjid, Sunheri Masjid, Gurudwara Shis Ganj, Gauri Shankar Temple, Jain Temple, Hanuman Temple and St. Stephen Church, Baptist Church etc. Fifty skilled workmen (earlier associated with Red Fort restoration) with intricate knowledge of Mughal architecture, after clearing 1000 truckload of rubble, restored the 14 room property to olden glory.

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(Pictures : After restoration of Dharampura Haveli)

Entrance gate of the Dharampura haveli, carved in wood, is situated at an elevated height from street. An alley bifurcating the two symmetrical red stone Chabutaras (platforms) ushers in the heritage building. Small entrance room – Nakkar-khana (Entrance/Gateway) with small reception table and opposite wall covered by mirror, directs to big Aangan (court yard). I guess, ground floor Baithak (drawing room) has been converted into a nice restaurant called – Lakhori. Plaster has been kept on lower half of the wall with elegant biege coloured paint, while the wooden structure are covered in traditional blue and green hue. Lakhori bricks have been exposed at upper half portion of the wall, to give it rugged, primitive and heritage looks. Columns made of pink stone (‘Mayawati stone’ – Favourite of erstwhile UP Chief Minister) seems to have been erected at gates and load points to strengthen the structures. In between, cast iron rods have been used to support the dilapidated and crumbling structures. Small but steep glossy wooden staircases leads to upper floors. Verandahs abutting courtyard, ushers to rooms restored with very basic but elegant linen, minimalistic wooden furniture interspersed with modern amenities like lights, Air Conditioner and of course modern hamam (bath) but everything concealed in traditional designs. Aala (hole in wall) and khuntis (peg, hook), diya (lamps covered in earthen lamp lookalike) completes the interiors of the rooms of the bygone era. Carving of washroom out of existing rooms have not reduced vastness of room much. Rooftop/Terrace restaurant gives 360 degree view of interconnected concrete zigzag lineage of Dilli-6 rooftops as well as surrounding monuments – Jama Masjid and Lal Qila. Helical cast iron staircase of European design, rises to top most vantage point. Live dance performance of Kathak (Indian classical dance) and songs with Sarangi, Tabla, Tumba and other musical instrimuments sets the mood of the evening; taking you to the periods of mujras (courtesan dance) and mushairas (recitation in congregation of poets). There seems to be amalgation of late Mughal period architecture at core, with sufficient mix of Hindu Vastu (Architecture) and sprinkling of Goethic art and design in the Haveli.

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(Picture : Dharam Pura Haveli)

Out of the nine cities of Delhi, Shahjahanabad – literal meaning city by Shahjahan (now called Purani Dilli or Delhi – 6) was one of the best planned new walled city at that time. It  covered an area of 1500 acres (6.1 sq Kms), constructed between 1639 and 1648 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan; who transfered his capital city to Delhi from Agra due to paucity of space. Semi-circular design of city was partly inspired by Hindu Vastu shastra’s ‘karmuka’ or arched bow-shape design. Of course, at the the centre of this walled city of 14 gates encircled by 12 feet wide and 26 feet high wall (initial mud wall converted into stone wall in 1657) are Lal Quila (Red Fort) and Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) – two iconic royal buildings; manifestation of power and prayer respectively. Red Fort was initially called Urdu-I-Mualla and subsequently known as Qila-e-Mubarak (Blessed Fort). Red Fort, initially made of mud walls was ultimately constructed in red sandstone in eight years covering approx 125 acres of citadel-fortress.

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(Picture : Lakhori Restaurant)

Centre of attraction of the capital city was mix-use residential (mohalla) cum commercial space (katras)Chandni Chowk (Moonlit Square), famous for hustle and bustle of nobleman, amirs,mansabdars and common man. The boulevard promenade laid by Jahan Ara (daughter of Shahjahan), ran from Lahori gate of Red fort to Fatehpuri masjid measuring 40 yards wide and 1520 yards long. It was bisected in middle by beautiful canal Nahar-e-Bahisht (stream of paradise) fed through a tank by Yamuna river replicating paradise described in holy books. Adjacent Faiz Bazaar (now Dariya Ganj) was the other market place after famed Chandi Chowk and garrison hub of Mughal army.

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(Picture : Arches, Columns of Mughal Architecture)

Shahjahanabad was home to a number of grand and royal havelis mostly owned by ‘Sahiban-i-saif-o-qalam’ (Men of sword and pen) i. e. Amirs and noblemen of the Mughal court. The front of these mansions were adorned by floral patterns, sculptures and fluted designs. Havelis normally featured a Naqqar-Khannah (entrance/gateway manned by musicians and soldiers), a library, shish mahal (glass house), diwan-khana (house of audience), hammam (bath), teh-khanna (underground summer house), garden, family mosque, and kar-khanas (workshops) employing artisans. Obviously, haveli housed multiple family rooms depending upon the rank and profile of owner. These havelis boasted of beautifully decorated jharokhas (small projected balconies or windows), chattris (umbrellas), Jalis (carved ventilators), fluted columns, well-designed chabutras (platforms), traditional baithaks (drawing rooms) and marble floor as distinctive features of the Mughal architectural styles. The havelis were generally set on a high platform above street level. The central portion of the buildings are the diwan-khana (drawing room). As imitations of imperial constructions, most of the havelis also had a profusion of gardens, fountains and fruit trees. The terraces were planned with a sense of purpose: apart from providing privacy. Khus (aromatic grass) screens, kept rooms constantly moist and helped in keeping the summer heat away while the fine stone screens (Jalis) with beautifully worked geometric patterns served as ventilators. Some of the large rooms had fireplaces; the smaller ones were heated with sigris (charcoal braziers) full of red-hot colas. Living in Shahjahanabad was a proviledge aptly described:

‘Kasra Zindgani shad bashad ki dar shab-e-jahan abad bashad.’                                             (the man who fortunately finds residence in the city of Shahjahanabad leads a happy life).

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(Picture: Rooftop Terrace Restaurant)

Chandni Chowk frequented by Amirs and nobles, displayed delicious kebabs (minced meat balls), aromatic flowers, silver and glass huqqas ( waterpipes), gemstones and precious jewellery. Amirs visited dancers and singers in the dead of night riding on their elephants and horses, crowding lanes of Chandni Chowk. Lot of Amirs patronized artists, poets, painters, musicians, singers, calligraphers, dancers, rug-makers, weavers etc. These Amirs (Man of sword and pen) were typically assorted mix of administrative Hindus (kayasth, Khatri, Brahmins), Hindu warriors (Rajput, Marathas), Muslim administrators (Irani) and Muslim warriors (Afghan, Turanis). Mirza namah (Mirza roughly translates as gentlemen) details expected etiquettes, skills, manners and cultures of Amirs. During 1658-78, there were 179 Amirs in the Mughal Court, out of which 73 were Indians, followed by 64 Iranians, and 33 Turanis. Their manners were dictated in Mughal court by a manual called “zawabit-I huzur”. Sitting arrangement in the Mughal courts was also hiearchal and as per rank – starting with highest point for king’s throne, then prices seating in semi circle (seperated by 5 feet high gold rallings), then seated the Amirs (separated by silver rally of 5 feet) followed by low ranking mansabdar. Courts represented universe – king at centre of it as sun, princes as planets and Amirs as stars etc.

Main mansions (havelis) in 1739 at the time of attack of Nadir Shah were Safdar Jung Haveli (best haveli owned by Dara Sikoh bul later occupied by Safdar Jung – nominee of Abdali in India), Dara Sikoh library, Ali Mardan haveli (architect of Shahjahanabad – later occupied by daughter of Shahjahan – Jahan Ara), Lutftulla haveli, Shaista Khan (wazir – Minister of Shahjahan), Habshi Khan, Ghazi Ram (Astrologer of Shahenshah) etc.

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(Picture : Huqqah – Tobbacco Clay-pipe)

Weakening of Mughal empire started after death of powerful Mughal badshah Aurangzeb (1707). But, the capital city started to decay and disintegrate due to plunder by Persian Nadir Shah (1739), and three attacks of Afghan lord Ahmed Shah Abdali (1752, 1756, 1961), multiple attacks of Marathas (1754, 1759, 1784, 1788) and Jats (1764) as well as due to fair share of natural calamities – rain, flood, earthquake and plague etc. Most of the havelis (mansions) were occupied initially by invaders as reward or gift of their triumph. Subsequently, these were occupied by traders and common citizen by dividing – each haveli in multiple residences called mohallas. The city called as Aalam-e-intikhab at its peak of glory by acclaimed Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir (who took refuse in Lucknow after invasion of Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1739), described the sorry state of affairs of Dilli in mid 18th century:

दिल्लीजोइकशहरथाआलमइंतेखाब

Dehli jo aik shehr tha alam-e-intekhab

रहतेथेमुंतखिबहीजहानेरोज़गारके

Rehte the muntakhib hi Jahan-e-Rozgar ke

जिसकोफलकनेलूटकरबरबादकरदिया

Jisko falak ne loot kar barbaad kar diya

हमरहनेवालेहैउसीउजड़ेदयारके

Hum rahnay walay hain us ujray diyar key

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Baldy Gang – Kabaka-Saka (A memoir – A Blog)

On the ladder of age, eighteen is not a simple number. It represents transition from childlike innocence and inquisitiveness to confident, effervescent and exuberant youthfulness. Obviously, it was no different for me too. Rather, it was more momentous and eventful for a rustic lad who was enamoured and charmed by serene urban lifestyle of Bhopal- famous for Nawabi eccentricities (नवाबी शौक़) and its lakes (ताल तलैयौ का शहर).

Wings of newfound freedom after rigorous ragging were sprouting in us in the midst of drizzles of monsoon in 1985. Now, we were proud seniors ready to rag the juniors ( ‘Murgas‘ – chicken cuckoo in colloquial lingo). Though freshers curse seniors while being ragged but by the end of next year, hat is on the other head. We were also readying ourselves to take revenge of so called humiliation, by perpetuating vicious cycle of ragging. And, Regional Engineering Colleges (REC) Bhopal known as MACT (now MANIT) was very (in)famous for its ragging in those days. Better not to go into details during such public discourse. But suffice to say – it hardened us to accept supportingly hundreds of slaps, sleeping with shoes on, third button manners, transforming from fully covered to new-born baby suit in split seconds, jumping from first floor to escape night raids of seniors. Thank God, things seems to have changed a lot for good, now.

Adulthood and (over)confidence are manifested in changing behaviour and habits like smoking cigarettes, ragging juniors, trolling beautiful babes, bullying etc. Here, bullying doesn’t convey the exact meaning of Hindi equivalent of ‘Dadagiri’ or ‘Nakshebaazi’. Being an upcoming engineer, these traits were infecting but in limited, controlled and nuisanced measures to all of us. I am reminded of an weird anecdote of these formative years of my youth. About our group consisting of few second year hostellers experienced an unique rather bizarre but surely, bit different (kuchh hatke) transformation.

I think, it started with common issue of hair fall of my good friends like Narinder Singh Sethi and Govind Mishra, if I remember correctly. I suppose, I am bang on. As a first defence – use of special oils, medication, ayurvedic soaps/shampoos and other alternative remedies were tried by our friends duo but got no respite. Smart top floor with dense locks, is one of the first visible measures of the smartness. But it was turning barren to horror of some of our friends. Biologically, head hair protect us from UV (ultra-violet) rays, insects and maintain thermal regulation; as 25% of evaporation of body fluid is through this tomb top. But here, the concern was more to do with aesthetics and outlook than physiology. As life threatening disease calls for drastic measures, Sethiji reconciled himself to the indigestible idea of clean shaving the head in expectation of better future crop – as suggested by few domain experts. But the major obstacle was his apprehension of expected missiles of ridicule and fun making. Obviously from friends only. Single bald person (Akela takla) can be target of not only butt of jokes but mild physical treatment of head slaps (tullu) too. ‘Majority sets the trends and minority faces the heat’ mantra came to rescue of our good friends as a strategy. Sethiji was anyway known as ‘Guruji’ by all of our friends due to his skills and domain expertise though I shall refrain from detailing the scope of domain. Hence, a group of baldies was the insurance against the problem of ridicule which start with Hasya ras (humour) and risk turning into Uphaasras (derision) within no time.

Baldness (गंजापन) has been a niggling problem for man since time immemorial. Great Julius Ceaser also tried different measures to avoid baldness but he was destined to meet Egyptian princess Cleopatra as a bald man. Lot of famous personalities like Socrates, Aristotle, Gandhi, Darwin, Shakespeare, Churchill could never groom trendy locks in their prime. Old Greece people used weird treatments like excreta of pigeon, mixture of rat skin and honey to get rid of baldness. Indian are not far behind in innovative traditional treatment of baldness through – dahi (curd), nimbu (lemon), Multani mitti (fullers earth), reetha (soap nut), shikakai (acacia concinna), aonla (Indian gooseberry) to maintain the healthy growth of hair. But the problem persists even now; though the hair treatments keep changing with time, location and class. On an average 25-30% man go bald by the age of thirty across the globe. Multinationals mint money like anything by projecting baldness aka ‘androgenic alopecia‘ as a serious disease. The seriousness or fear is magnified by associating it with androgen – male sexual hormone. Fear marketing is surest recipe of success. Further, hair loss in men or receding hairline is called as ‘Male Pattern Baldness (MPB)’ by experts which is differentiated from female hair loss – thinning of hair for better segmentation and targeting. I don’t think our friends had gone into such a scientific causal analysis of baldness before going bald (taklafication).

Coming back to the story. If I remember correctly, initial martyrs in the act of getting bald were – Sethi, Mishra and Gurpreet Singh Thind (not very sure though) on that fateful evening of ‘to be partner in baldness’. Three smart dark haired guys turned their heads into light reflecting glass-like smooth skulls by razor sharp precision in minutes. On a different note, Bhopal is infamous for razor skills (usturebaazi) – inflicting unsuturable slicing wound by razor in local gang fight, unlike other Indian cities mastering in the skilful art of knives or Rampuri (Chakoobazi – stabbing wound by knives). Our friend Sethi overnight turned into Ganja Shetty (father of film director Rohit Shetty, was a famous bald no-nonsense villain of yesteryear cinema era). Newly turned baldies planned to save themselves from butt of jokes with ‘attack is the best defence’ strategy. By increasing the numbers in their baldy gang by including me, Abhaya Gupta and Rajeev Jain too. I remember very vividly that their logic of great crop of hair after use of razor; was quite convincing at that time to all of us. Further, in the age and time of late teens, you are ready to take risk by experimenting in outlook and demeanour. You go extra miles against the set norms, traits and behaviours. Youth manifests rebel streak. Being away from parental control gives greater freedom to test unexlored and unchartered waters. Being different; being yourself are sign of showing that you have arrived. So it seems so weird in hindsight but it was new normal – ‘Bold to be bald’ or ‘Cool bald quotient’ at that moment. Words of youth dictionary like cool, hot, chill, ice-cool, ice-hot, though have diametrically opposite meaning but infer to samething in youth lingo – i.e. smart, sexy, hip, trendy, in-vogue blah blah. So baldism was cool then.

Within two days, ganja gang (baldy group) swelled to a respectable number of six. Don’t know why but, we were pretty excited and happy with new identity. May be because, we were being watched and discussed by one and all. But, surprisingly not being ridiculed. We were scheming to give new name to the group to bring more cohesion and bonding in new found fun. Born was KABAKA-SAKA, a name coined for the group. I do not remember what it means or what was genesis of this name. Or there was any meaning, whatsoever of this funny sounding name. Kabaka Saka was having eleven to twelve members in its fold within next few days.

It was spectacle in campus and market to see eleven to twelve egg headed baldies roaming, cajoling, having fun and frolic. They were targeting others to have fun than being the victims themselves. MP State road transport use to ply a bus – Route no 30 from college campus to T T Nagar – a nearby marketplace. The frequency of Route 30 was half an hour, nonetheless it was lifeline of hostelers. Hostel situated on hillock away from city did not any Our daily ritual use to be, to catch either 0600 PM or 0630 PM trip to go to T T Nagar enroute Mata Mandir – bus stop named after local temple. Have tea, at khoka (temporary shop structure) or coffee at ICH (Indian Coffee House), stand at chowk (city square near Madhu ice cream), identify and follow eve targets. Catch the 0830 or 0900 PM return flight (no less then flight of fancy) from ‘tin shade’ (name of originating bus stand) to hostel mess first, before heading to respective rooms. Bus use to be empty inside but jam packed at doors and rooftop. If you are last person clinging to the door of the bus, it means you are at the helms of affairs in college politics. Dadagiri (one upmanship of student politics) of college was defined by hanging at doorstep of the bus or sitting at the railings of the porch, trolling girls which were anyway rare in number except in our girl rich batch.

Kabaka Saka gang used to catch evening trip and all Taklas (baldies) were always on rooftop of the bus. I remember, one cyclist was so mesmerised by sight of 10 baldies on top of bus. He kept staring at us even after bus has passed by him and he fell down from cycle looking back at baldies. People use to see and talk about this group. Talk of town sort. There was nothing great in being bald. Bulk of rural India don’t even care for hair styling and village barbers invariably use razor (or scissors for trimming) to turn most of Indians into Laloo cut (maveric rural background Bihari leader). Sanjay Dutt cut was very famous hairstyle in those days with long piggy tail hair at back. Fingers always combing tail hair from both sides of most of youth of mid-eighties. But, baldies were content with stubble like crop on rooftop for long time. Waiting for locks to grow back to Sanjay Dutt style…

Though we were not aware at that time that large secretion of testosterone increases baldness, as claimed by a study but it simultaneously reduces chance of prostate cancer by 45%. Steve Job, Apple Chief, despite being bald died of prostrate cancer, could be a topic of discussion contrary to study claim. For sure, baldness can save time and money on hair care. Baldies can always quote bald but famous personalities like Bruce Willis, Ben Kingsley, Gandhi, Andre Agassi, Satya Nadella, Shetty, Mike Tyson, Sean Connery, Magic Johnson, Dalai Lama, Picasso etc as hot and sexy, as per ‘GQ Bald 100’ magazine. Of late, few female leads in Bollywood like Nandita Sen, Shabana Azmi, Priyanka Chopra, Shilpa Shetty, Anushka have also gone ‘bald and bold’ to look real in their reel roles. But all these positives were not cause of celebration for our Kabaka Saka… It was more of assertion of individuality, identity and eccentricity of a youth, of a rebel. And of rebel youth transforming into a man in control of their destiny….. assertion of individuals through a group – The Kabaka Shaka. As I remember all these things and events, it looks so childish but were pretty exciting in those days…

मिलन – दिन रात का (Hindu Urdu Poetry) (Meeting of Day and Night)

स्याह काली ‘रात’

घुप्प अंधेरे का साथ,

भायं भायं भर्राता सन्नाटा,

सायं सायं बहती पछवा के थपेड़े,

बेसुध नींद के आग़ोश मे कायनात।

चाँद रूठा है शायद,

या बादल की साज़िश का है शिकार;

बैचेन ‘रात’ ख़्यालों के उधेड़ बुन मे,

बदल रही है करवटें।

थके अनमने से उठते ‘रात’ के क़दम,

चार पहर का लंबा सफ़र;

इंतज़ार है ‘रात’ को

‘दिन’ से मिलन का;

हर रोज़ की तरह

प्रभात की दहलीज़ पर।

आख़िरी पहर के बाद

शर्मायी सी, आँखों मे लिये नींद,

आज फिर सजेगी ‘रात’

नई नवेली बाला के मानिंद।

भोर होगा साक्षी

इस मिलन का,

तारो की चुनर ओढ़े

सहमी सी दुल्हन का।

सूर्य किरणें करेगी स्वागत,

सौतन लालिमा मुँह चिढ़ायेगी;

ओंस स्पर्श से होगा स्नान,

नरम दूब का मखमली क़ालीन;

सौंधी मिट्टी बिखेरेगी,

भीनी भीनी सी ख़ुशबू।

वृक्ष करेंगे नृत्य,

पुरवाई की मधुरिम धुन पर;

चहचहाती चिड़िये करेगी कोलाहल,

कोयल की होगी मधुर कुहूक,

पत्तियों की निरीह खुसफुसाहट,

झर झर झरते झरनो का मंद संगीत।

बाबुल चाँद से लिपट के रोयेगी रात,

पर सूरज का आशीर्वाद है ढाँढस की बात;

दिन के आग़ोश मे सिमटकर,

‘रात’ को अपनी क़िस्मत पे होगा गुमान।

पल दो पल का है ये मिलन,

क्षणिक सा है सान्निध्य;

पर पूरी हो गई तमन्ना,

साकार हुआ है स्वप्न।

प्रात: की मधुर वेला मे

‘रात’ और ‘दिन’ का आलिंगन,

दर्दहीन प्रसव उपरांत

रात के गर्भ से,

नवजात सवेरे का जन्म,

और मद्धम धूप के साये मे,

ज़िंदगी फिर जाग उठी।

बाल सुबह के बचपन ने

रखा दोपहर की जवानी पे क़दम;

फिर शाम का बुढ़ापा आयेगा,

रात के आग़ोश मे

दिन फिर लंबी नींद सो जायेगा।

निरंतरता का ये चक्र,

रोचक है नीरस नहीं;

विशाल लक्ष्य है बौने,

छोटे छोटे ‘प्रेम’ पड़ाव के जोड़ से।

NadaniyaN (नादानियाँ) – Follies (Hindi Urdu Poetry)

जवानी की नादानियाँ, थे तमग़े वो दाग-ए-नस्तर

ग़लतियों मे हो तब्दील ‘प्रेम’, बने है वो ज़ख़्म-ए-नासूर

___________________

Jawani ki nadaniyaN, thhe tamge wo daag-e-nastar

Galtiyon meiN ho tabdeel ‘Prem’, bane hein woh Jakhm-e-nastar

______________________

Follies of yore,

As badges of scar, we wore;

Mistakes thee outpour,

As canker sore;

_____________________

नादानियाँ – Follies, ignorances

तमग़े – Badges

दाग-ए-नस्तर – scar of injections

ग़लतियों – mistakes

तब्दील – Transformed

ज़ख़्म-ए-नासूर – canker sore, wounds

Hazrat Nizāmuddīn Auliya – Revered Sufi Saint

I turned my car towards Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’‘s dargah (mausoleum) without any thought or prior plan to visit it. While parking the car, I was bit perplexed to think that I have never visited Dargah though I have been living in Delhi for almost three decades. I turned towards the dargah of great Hazrat Auliya and Amīr Khusro. A disclaimer will be apt here – I generally visit such places without any religious devotion or secular derision but with an eye of neutral explorer.

Nizamuddin area boasts of many important and iconic monuments like Humayun Tomb (which subsequently inspired Taj Mahal), Nizamuddin Dargah, Sunder Nursery as well as mazaars (mausoleums) of Amīr Khusro, Mirza Ghalib, Jahan Ara etc. This area seems to be preferred eternal resting place for great departed souls of medieval India. Entering Nizamuddin Basti’s meandering, unkempt narrow by-lanes, I was contemplating that, these dingy streets must have seen so any many legends in its hey days. And be witness to the evolving, ever in flux history of Delhi. This area was known as Ghyaspur, when Nizamuddin chose this serene, quit place as his Khanqah or Jamaat khana (hermitage or religious meeting and feeding place) in Delhi away from noise and hustle bustle of human settlement and royal razzmatazz.

Born as Muhammed Nizamuddin in Badayun in 1238, Hazrat Auliya lost his father at very tender age of five. His parents and in-laws were cousins who had migrated from Bukhara and had settled in Badayun in reign of Balban. His mother Bibi Zulekha moved to Delhi for higher studies (Talim) of his son after his graduation (Aalim) under Shadi Muqri and Moulana Usuli at the age of sixteen. Nizamuddin visited Pakpattan Sharif (known as Ajodhan then, now in Pakistan) at the age of twenty and became disciple of the great Sufi dervish Fariduddin Ganjeshakar or better known as Baba Farid. He used to stay during month of Ramadan with his Guru for next three years. He continued to have his permanent stay in Delhi to pursue his theology studies. He was designated as 19th successor of Chishti order or Sufi Silsila by his predecessor Baba Farid by granting him Khilafat-cum-Ijazat Namah to teach and preach the Sufi Chisti Silsila.

Sufism or Tassawuf in Arabic is mysticism or inward dimension of Islam. ‘Sufi’ is a Arabic word meaning – woollen rob worn by early Islamic mystics. Sufism is not a different sect in Islam. It is mostly practised by Sunnis though practised among Shias too. Sufism is inner dimension of islam (mystic and ascetic part) further supported by outward or exoteric part of Islam like Sharia (religious laws of Islam derived mostly from Quran). There are many Sufi orders mainly as Chishti, Qadiriyya, Suhrawardiyya, Naqshbandi etc and many more mostly named after their founders.

Chishti Tariqa (order) of Sufism is very popular in Indian subcontinent including Afghanistan and Pakistan founded by Abu Ishaq Shami. It originated in Chisht (a town near Herat) in Afghanistan in 930 with its thrust on openness, love and tolerance. Moinuddin Chishti (Gharib Nawaz) sixteenth successor, proliferated Chishti order in Lahore and Ajmer in 12th century. He was born in Sistan in Persia but settled in Ajmer. Chisti order differentiates itself from other Sufi orders for its distancing from royal patronage and work among masses. Moinuddin Chisti (1141-1230, shrine at Ajmer Sharif), Qutab-ud-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki (1173-1228, shrine at Mehrauli), Fariduddin Mas’ud or Baba Farid (1175-1266, shrine at Pakpattan) and Nizamuddin Auliya(1238-1325, shrine at Nizamuddin) are most popular dervishes of Sufism. Baba Farid took Punjabi language to its spiritual pinnacle and his poetry (123 hymns) is even included in Sikh’s revered book ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ also. Qutub Minar was made by Iltutmish and Qutubuddin Aibak in memory of Qutab-ud-Din Bakhtiyar Kaki. Faridkot is similarly named on great Sufi poet and preacher Baba Farid.

Nizāmuddīn was the one of the most famous dervish of Sufi Tariqa. He believed in renunciation, trust and devotion to God, feeding the poor, disassociation from royalty, connecting with masses, practitioner of Sama (listening) and Dhikr (remembrance). Sama or ritual of singing, dancing, playing instruments in a specific attire was forbidden in Islam before Hazrat Moinuddin and Hazrat Nizamuddin. Qawalli was invented as a devotional form of singing by Auliya’s disciple great poet and musician Amīr Khusro. Teacher-disciple tradition and attainment of God through teacher prevalent in Hindu religion are also the cornerstone of Sufi Silsila as well. Nizamuddin did not believe in deep theoretical aspect of Sufism only rather his thrust was more on practical aspects.

Auliya (means friend of God) known as Mehboob-e-Elahi (beloved of God) had more than 700 Khalifas (master disciple allowed to make further disciples and propagate Tariqa). He emphasised on toba (repentance), preservance in God, faith, namaz (prayer), recitation (of Quran), renunciation, obedience, mujaheds (devotion), contentment, forbearance, piety and charity. Gita also talks of Gyanyog (attainment of God/salvation by knowledge), Bhaktiyog (by devotion) and Karmayog (by action). Similarly, essence of Chisti order in Sufism is similar to Bhakti Yog in Sanatan Dharam or Hinduism. In both Sufism and Bhaktiyog – love (or devotion) with God is nothing but submitting to almighty to attain the ultimate joy or Parmatma or Allah Tala (God).

In the later years of his life journey, Hazrat suffered from pile, fever, cataract and was bedridden for almost a month. He died in 1325 during the reign of Mohammed Tughlak. His most beloved disciple Amīr Khusro rushed from Awadh (Lucknow) after learning of his demise. He also died within six months, out of shock and love for his teacher. People of all walk come to Urs (annual congregation) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Amīr Khusro at the interval of six month every year to pay homage and seek blessings. Hazrat Auliya saw the reigns of seven Delhi rulers but never accepted patronage of any of the Sultans. He did not take donations from rulers but his jamat khanna alway served thousands of poor and needy every day. He lives in the hearts of his followers of all classes and creeds. He is rightly called Mehboob-e-Elahi (beloved of God) and Sultan-Ul-Mashaikh (Leader of Sufi Saints) by his followers.

मै बावली हो गी … (I am gonna crazy)… Urdu Hindi Poetry

रोम रोम मे राम सा रमा वो

पोर पोर मे जोर सा जमा वो

नस नस मे लहू सा रवाँ वो

साँस साँस मे आस सा जवाँ वो

पल पल ख़्यालों मे ख़लल सा वो

कदम क़दम पे ज़रूरी दख़ल सा वो

मैं ना रही मैं, कहीं मैं वो ही तो नी हो गी

फेर लागी उसकी लगन, माई, न्यूँ लागे मैं बावली हो गी

————————-

कोयल के बिरह की कुकाई मे वो

आम के अमचूर की खटाई मे वो

अमावस पे रूठी चाँदनी की रूस्वाई मे वो

टूटे आइने के हर टुकड़े की परछाईं मे वो

इंतज़ार मे नम चश्म की निनाई मे वो

उधड़े रिश्तों के पैबंद की हर तुरपाई मे वो

याद बैरी की कलेजे मे शूल सी रडक री, रह रह के उभरे जुल्मी की हडक री

फेर लागी उसकी लगन, माई, न्यूँ लागे मैं बावली हो गी

————————

आले के दीये की काली कजराईं मे वो

दरिया के नीले पानी की रानाई मे वो

किताबों के सूखे फूलो की मुरझाई मे वो

बहार की पीली सरसों की आशनाई मे वो

दस्त की मस्त मेहंदी की रचाई मे वो

खड्डी के ताने बाने की हर बुनाई मे वो

कभी लगे वो मेरे पास नी, पर हर चीज़ मे लगे उसकी आस सी

फेर लागी उसकी लगन, माई, न्यूँ लागे मैं बावली हो गी

——X——-X———-X———-

Rom Rom meiN Ram sa rama woh

Por por meiN jor sa jama woh

Nas nas meiN lahu sa rawaN woh

Saans saans aas sa jawaN woh

Pal pal khyalon meiN khalal sa woh

Kadam kadam pe jaroori dakhal sa woh

MeiN na rahi meiN, kahi meiN wo to ni ho gi

Pher laagi uski lagan, Maiee, nyuN laage meiN bawali ho gi

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Koyal ke birah ki kukai meiN woh

Aam ke amchur ki khatai meiN woh

Amawas pe roothi chandni ki ruswai meiN

Tute aaine ke har tukde ki parchhaiN meiN woh

Intezar meiN nam chasm ki ninai meiN woh

Udhde rishtoN ke paiband ki har turpaiN meiN woh

Yaad bairiN ki kaalje meiN shool si tadak ri

Rah rah ke ubhre zulmi ki hadak ri

Pher laagi uski lagan, Maiee, nyuN laage meiN bawali ho gi

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Aale ke deeye ki kaali kajrai meiN woh

Dariya ke neele paani ki ranayiN meiN woh

KitaboN ke sukhe phooloN ki murjhai meiN woh

Bahaar ki peelisarsoN ki aasnai meiN woh

Dast ki mast mehandi ki rachai meiN woh

Khaddi ke taane-baane ki har bunaai meiN woh

Kabhi lage woh mere paas ni

Har cheez meiN lage uski aas si

Pher laagi uski lagan, Maiee, nyuN laage meiN bawali ho gi

——X——-X———-X———-

Social Media – A cause of revival of languages (Urdu) and dialects (of Hindi)

Urdu language has fascinated me since my school days. Though it has lost some ground after independence due to multiple reasons like its association with the religion, less employability and non-availability in mainstream curriculum and difficulty in learning Urdu script as new language. Khadi Boli (खड़ी बोली) or Hindustani was the language of common folk in medieval time (after 11-12 century). Prakrit and Pali had the status of language of common man around and before 2000-3000 years which evolved to Apbhramsa (अपभ्रंश) in (6-13th century). Sanskrit, one of the most scientific language, has mostly been the language of royals/courts, priests, poets and scholars with a brahminical status. It can be called mother of most of the Indian languages. With the advent of Muslim rulers, Persian started taking place of Sanskrit in courts, palaces and among classes as a language of nobles. Hindvi or Hindustani or Khadi Boli was the language of man in the street at that time. Mixture of Persian language with Hindvi created a new language of masses – Rekhta (means mixed or scattered) in 16-18th century. Precursor to Urdu. Even Ghalib has talked about Rekhta:

Reḳhte ke tum hī ustād nahīṅ ho ġhālib, रेखतें के तुम ही उस्ताद नहीं हो ग़ालिब

Kahte haiñ agle zamāne meñ koī ‘mīr’ bhī thā कहते है अगले ज़माने मे कोई मीर भी था

(Translation: You are not the sole grandmaster of Rekhta, Ghalib. They say, in the ages past, that there was one called Mir)

Hindvi or Hindustani branched out in two almost similar language Hindi (more Sanskritised) and Urdu (more Persian and Arabic to lesser extent). Urdu was made official language by British in 18th century along with English in northern and north-western provinces. Urdu has borrowed almost 75% from Sanskrit and 25% from Persian with sprinkling of few Arabic words. Hindi and Urdu are indistinguishable in spoken form with major difference in script – Hindi (Devnagri script) and Urdu (Nasta liq script). But both seems to have drifted away towards its root/origin languages both in India and Pakistan after independence – more as a nationalistic fervour. Following sher sums up similarity of these languages:

hindī meñ aur urdu meñ farq hai to itnā हिंदी मे और उर्दू मे फ़र्क़ है तो इतना

vo ḳhvāb dekhte haiñ ham dekhte haiñ sapna वो ख़्वाब देखें है हम देखते है सपना

I am born and brought up in Ganga-Yamuna doab/delta which is flag bearer of Ganga-Jamni Tehzeeb/culture or confluence of Urdu-Hindi languages. This area constitutes native speakers of Khari boli with Braj and Awadhi languages as two dominat dialects in UP region. But, there are many sub dialects even in this region also. Being born in a village in Western UP, I used to speak a different sub-dialect of Khadi Boli known as ‘Jattu’ (similar to Harayanvi) which is spoken from Saharanpur to Baghpat belt. I did not know that I speak in this sub-dialect named ‘Jattu’ of Khariboli till I came across a news article few years back. Four major sub-languages or dialect of Khari boli spoken in Western UP are – namely Jattu, Gurjari (spoken in Mathura to Ghaziabad region), Braj (privalent in Mathura, Agra and part of Noida and Ghaziabad) and Ahiri. Though these sub-dialects seems to be caste based nomenaclture at first glance – Jattu (spoken by Jats), Gurjari (of Gurjars) and Ahiri (by Yadavs/Ahirs). But these sub-dialects are spoken by all residents of villages across all castes. These sub-dialects are still prevalent but loosing some words with the advent of bollywood Hindi, standardised urban Hindi and association of local dialects as down market trait. We are loosing original thinking and humour of these sub-langauges along as well as flavour of the dialects, can be topic of discussion for some other day.

In day to day conversation, I found that a lot of Urdu word are spoken inadvertently by village folks and common men. But slowly, Urdu and flavour of regional languages and sub-dialects are loosing sheen in urban areas at faster pace due to standardisation of education as well as of Hindi. Further, association of language with religion seems to be another reason of loosing of importance of Urdu language. When Japanese language was standardised after second world war, they kept approx 2000 kanji characters (logographic Chinese characters) out of almost 85000 characters. Same is the case with official mandiron. In the similar way, standardisation of Hindi has bring more sanskritised words in place of colloquial words. Though, I will not get into debate or analysis of its good or bad impact.

Social media seems to be a great leveller which has again started giving due prominence to lost dialects and fast disappearing languages like Urdu. Lot many people can write about and revive the fast disappearing languages by targeting the content to the interested groups through this medium. Urdu and Hindi are being written in Roman script which is giving wider audience to Hindi/Urdu lovers in computer friendly Roman scripted content of these languages. People are again trying to understand the languages like Urdu as well as local dialect after proliferation of internet and easy avalibility of diverse content on net. I treat myself belonging to this category of nouveau Urdu lovers. Social media has rekindled the urge to know more about Urdu and its nuiances for my ilk. Further, Social media has given anonymity to people. Hence, people are more experimentative and have started expressing themselves though this medium, incognito or otherwise, in languages of their choice. Though content on social media may not be up to the mark or of literary quality but intent and freedom to express in your language are more important aspects. Internet has also provided a large audience for this content. I would like to call it democratisation of expression. Classical writing in pure Urdu or sanskritised Hindi is difficult to comprehend for common masses though classes may be connoisseur of such content. Content in native language/dialect is able to touch a chord among masses due to its reach and connectedness. I salute social media to give a great platform for such languages, sub-dialects and its native speakers.

Bael-juice (बेल जूस) Golden apple/Stone apple juice

Bael, बेल, Bili or Bhel fruit in India……. known as Golden apple, Bengal quince, Japanese bitter orange, stone apple or wood apple in English and Aegle marmelos as its botanical name ……is in Indian summer used as cooling juice …..an panacea against heat stroke (LooN or लूँ)….

Found in South (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) and Southeast Asia (Malaysia and Indonesia) in abundance. This tree can be grown in all kind of soil and terrain. Revered in Indian mythology as abode of Laxmi, favourite drink of Lord Shiva and preferred in temple courtyards as holy tree. Some old traditions (in Nepal, Bihar) talks of marriage of girls with Bael tree for long life of their husbands.

It’s juice is called Bael-pana or simply bael juice, made by mixing sweetener or citrus fruit along with pepper etc. It can be used as candy or toffy by drying the fruit. The fruit of Bael ripens in 11 months.

I can remember of a Bael tree in compound of one of my friend in my village. When fruit in ripen stage, we were scared by Pundit jee not to go under the tree as fall of a fruit can open your skull wide like watermelon. The hardness of the fruit can be gauged by its peeling with the help of hammer to extract the elixir juice.

In 2015, a law suit was filed in US Federal court against use of OxyElite pro a dietary supplement used for weight loss which is extracted from Bael leaves. Food & Drug Admin (FDA) in Hawaii state detected approx 100 patients afflicted by OxyElite resulting in few deaths also. It causes liver problem, high blood pressure, heart attack, seizure and heart attack etc. On the other side, the fruit is taken so frequently as a juice from time immemorial in India.

Anyway, I like it’s mix of marmalade, roses, citrus and tingly taste… you can also savour the taste…. God forbid, you are taking fruit juice not leaf extract (accused in US case)..

बाती (Wick) – Hindi Urdu Shayari

ना जलूँ, लौं सी खिलूँ, पी हो गर साथ मे

बिन तेल, बाती सी सुलगूँ, ‘प्रेम’ की बाट मे

Na JalooN, lauN si khiluN, peeY ho gar saath meiN

Bin tel, baati si sulgooN, ‘Prem’ ki baat meiN