Retrograde. Bamboozlement! More Bamboozlement!

Revisiting Qutub Minar

Yeh raah-e-khaak saari main sar se qata ki hai,
Naqsh-e-jabeen hai mere, har naqsh-e-paa jahaan hai,
Mat maut ki tamanna, ai Dard, har ghari kar,
Duniya ko dekh tu bhi, tu tau abhi jawam hai.
~Khwaja Mir Dard
I was fifteen years old when I first visited Qutub Minar as a tourist on a visit to the capital of India. Followed the ritual of buying a ticket of tourist bus whose route included the “hot” tourist spots India gate, Red fort, Birla temple, Lotus Temple et al, all that could be covered in one day. It was summer of May and the spots were really hot. The package also included a tourist guide who kept telling the foreign tourist― the only foreign tourist present in the bus, Arc de Triomphe of Paris is a copy of India gate. My father and an elder cousin brother, who had recently started working in Delhi, accompanied me on this tourist trip.

I was excited about seeing the Iron Pillar and not the Qutub Minar. The reason for this being that I had recently read about Iron Pillar in an article that was published in Science Reporter, a one of its kind monthly science magazine published in India.
Among the information about the rust resistant Iron pillar, I read how the people who built the Minar, destroyed Hindu temples and tried to raise the pillar to ground by firing cannon balls at it, an act whose affect: a deep depression and a crack on the pillar’s surface, can still be seen on the pillar.

I did the strangest think when I found myself in front of the Iron pillar. I turned my back to the Minar and pointing to the pillar, I started talking loudly about the tormented “history of the pillar”. Soon I was screaming and my face turned red (as it still does when I start my crazy talks that only my close friends are privy to). I deliberately spooked a group of foreign tourist that I suspected to be from Iran. Alarmed my father moved in to shut me up. But, I was already done. I did pose in front of it in my sweaty synthetic shirt, but with a feeling of deep-set malice. Performance over, I moved out of the complex without raising my head to gauge the height of the Minar.

A few months ago, I boarded a Mehrauli bound 34 No. Blueline bus as I was supposed to go to Saket from Noida. I some how missed the red-light that marks the turn for Saket and I didn’t get off the bus. Three minutes after missing the spot, I could see the Qutub Minar looming on the horizon. I panicked, not known the dilli roads, worried, “where the hell have I reached!” as I remember my first long-winded trip to the Minar. I asked the bus driver to stop and got out of the bus. I looked at Qutub Minar and could not help laughing. I walked my way back tracing the path of the bus to the red- light and then walked on to Saket.

This month, at a friend’s insistence to “go some place”, we zeroed in on Qutub Minar. I really wanted to pay a small visit to place. My friend was more interested in putting his costly camera to some “good” use, finally. I looked for the familiar. I looked for the same rusty spots on the pillar that years ago had made me frothy. I looked for half a horse engraved in a corner of the roof of one of the structures near the pillar, a horse that I looked up and remembered by instinct once I entered the structure. I saw the Hindu Sculptures that look like they may or my not be ancient. However, this time I also looked at the magnificence of a structure that stood aside, alone and above it all, looking out of time, out of place ― Qutub Minar

qutub MinarInscription on Qutub Minar

Inscription on Iron PillarHindu sculptures near Qutub minar

Qutub MinarRusty Iron pillar, Qutub Minar

Images of Qutub Minar taken on 2nd Dec, 2007 using a friend's Fujifilm FinePix S9600

Images edited using free image editing software Google's Picasa

Momin Khan Momin “An Observant Poet”, his Life and his Times

Momin Khan Momin, Urdu poet
Mureez-e-ishq par rehmat khuda ki,
Marz badta gaya jun jun dawa ki.

~Momin Khan Momin
Hakim Momin Khan Momin [b.1800 (01)- d.1851] was born to a family of tabibs (traditional Islamic doctor) that originally belonged to Kashmir and that had moved to the Mughal capital Dilli. He not only learnt Persian, Urdu and Arabic at an early age but also attained mastery in Hikmat (medicine of the age), hence the title of ‘Hakim’ in the name. Momin’s father, Hakim Ghulam Nabi Khan, was a court doctor and could afford all the comforts for his son. His education had been thorough and systematic, as is proved by the embarrassing profusion of technical terms pertaining to music, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, etc. in his qasidas. Momin grew up in a luxurious household; later he was to refuse a professorship offer from a Delhi college because he found the salary “peanuts”. The other prominent feature of this household was: Religion. His father was a follower of Shah Abdul Aziz, son of the Shah Waliullah of Delhi.

Momin Khan Momin in his time became an ardent follower of Sayed Ahmad of Rai Bareilly even though he did not directly participate in the Wahhabi movement (although teachings of Syed Ahmed were a combination of the teachings of Shah Waliullah and Sheikh Muhammad Abdul Wahab). Syed Ahmed Shaheed, a warrior who under the influence of Shah Abdul Aziz, toured Afghanistan and the areas under the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh (at that time his kingdom included Kashmir), raising the banner of Jihad and rallying the Pashtun tribes to his banner, recaptured Peshawar, Mardan and surrounding towns and villages.

The influence of religion just doesn’t end there. Momin married a woman who was related to the family of Khwaja Mir Dard (b. 1721 – d. 1785), the sufi saint of Dilli who is regarded as the first truly mystical poet of Urdu language.
Dard had three children; the names of his three surviving children are given as Alam, Barati Beham, and Zinat un-Nisa Begam. Mir Alam, who lived for a long time in Begal, became leader of the convent after his uncle Athar. His son, Mir Muhammad Bakhsh died during his father’s lifetime; a daughter, Amani Begam, had a daughter Umda Begam, who, in turn had a daughter Shams un-Nisa Begam. Her son, Nasir Nadhir with the pen-name Firaq, is the author of the Maikhana-yi Dard, the only comprehensive description of Dard and his family. As to Barati Begam, she died without issue; Zinat un-Nisa was the mother of the poet Muhammad nasir Ranj(d.1845), one of whose daughters was married to the poet Momin Khan Momin(d.1851) who, besides writing charming love poetry has also praised and encouraged the followers of the tariqa Muhammadiyya under Ahmad of Bareilly and Ismail Shahid in their struggle against the Sikh.
~Annemarie Schimmel, Page 91, Pain and Grace A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteenth-Century Muslim

“Momim” literally means a practicing or an observant Muslim.He got that name at the instance of his father's spiritual guide, Shah `Abdul' Aziz. Momin would later exclaime:
Dushman-i-Momin hi rahe buth sada
Mujh say mere naam nai ye kyah kiya

Momin complains that the idol has always been his enemy; this is what his name had done to him.

Momin was primarily a poet of romantic disposition with a lifestyle that matched this very nature. Momin lived a life of a playboy, a role and a journey that started at the tender age of nine. His life was a journey of infatuation and lust. He soaked himself in sexual exploits and indulgences. Momin’s most celebrated romance was with a woman of disrepute, Saheb Ji (who was in herself was acclaimed to be a poet of substantial merit), it is believed that she came to Delhi from the city of Lucknow.
Umar to sari kati ishq butan mein Momin,
Akhiri waqt mein kya khak musalman hongey
[Momin, you spent your entire life loving idols(women)
How then would you become a Muslim at the end (of life).]
Momin composed six masnavi poems, of which three are better-known: Shikayat-e-sitam, Qissa-e-gam, Kause-sami. His poetry is always about —love, beauty, passion, and encompassing suffering. Masnavi-e-Jahadiyya is the one where one can see his religious influences at work. Ab-e-Hayat (Parnassus literally, but water of paradise figuratively) is claimed to be his best work. Momin was an influence on other poets of his time too, Nazir Ahmad an early 19th century urdu poet used to seek literary advice first from Momin and then later from Ghalib.
Momin does not seem to have the depth, the penetrating revelations and enormous range of Ghalib, and yet, Ghalib did famously pay Momin the definitive accolade when he offered to give up his entire kalam (works) in return for just one particular couplet of Momin:
Tum merey pas hote ho goya
Jab koi dusra nahein hota

(You, verily, are with me/when no one else is)
Momin was also a najoomi (astronomer-cum-astrologer) and it is said that he predicted his death in a verse, saying he would end up with broken arms and legs ("dast-o-bazu"). Years later the prediction came true, not in metaphoric sense but ironically in the literal sense, when he fell from a ladder and died nine days after the accident.

The mazar of Momin is located behind the Maulana Azad Medical College on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Delhi. Mir Dard Road leads to the grave of the great Urdu poet Momin and that of Khwaja Mir Dard. A small plot of a mazar surrounded by dodgy palatial buildings and the grave of. The grave of Momin is within a boundary wall, along with the graves of Shah Walliullah.
And so at his final resting place, Momin finds himself in the comforting or discomforting company of all the familiar names, an observant poet among the faithfuls.


Some of the lines penned by Momin:

Na sabar-o-sakun ka ghar mein yaaraa mujko,
Ne kucha-e-yaar mein guzaarzz mugjko,
Seemaab ki tarah ek dam chain nahi,
Betaabi-e-dil ne, aah, maaraa mujko.

Parwaane ko kis liye jalaayaa, ai shama,
Be jurm ko khaak mein milaaya, ai shama,
Sar katne se bhi zara shararat na gai,
Tu ne tau ghazab hi sar uthaaya, ai shama.

Ahsaan kiya agar sataaya tu ne,
Qissa se nibaah ke chhuraaya tu ne,
Karne lage phir wohi samajh ki baaten,
Baare hamen aadmi banaaya tu ne.

Momin, laazim hai wazaa marghub bane,
Jo rung ho aadmi khush-aslub bane,
Kya khirqa-o-ammaama hai Allah, Allah,
Jab shakal bigar gai tau tum khub bane.

Main kya kahun apne muh se kaise tum ho,
Tum aap hi jaante ho, jaise tum ho,
Harjaai aur naa qadar adu ko na kaho,
Kah bethe koi mubaadaa aise tum ho

Yeh hokum Khudaa ka ke qatra mai ka na peeun,
Aur marzi-e-jaanaana ke paimaana peeun,
Tu bhi hai aziz-ekhaatir, Saqi bhi,
Hairaan hun ke phir baada peeun yaa na peeun.

Ab hum pe jo harghari woh jhunjalaate hai,
Altaaf-e-qadim,ah, yaad aate hain,
Thaa yaa to who lutaf, yaa yeh nafrat, Allah,
Log aise bhi duniya mein badal jaate hain.

Momin,nahin zuhad-e-be-riya se umeed,
Kya sheikh hoti kisi duaa se umeed,
Jab raham muhabaat mein sanam ne na kiya,
Kya ishq-e-haqiqi mein Khuda se umeed!

Ro ro ke kaha us se mulaaqaat ki raat,
Ro ro ke katin hijar ki raaten,hehaat!
Ab zikar-e-shab-wasal hai ahbaab se, aur
Rona hi zaar zaar yeh hai kya baat.

-- -0-

Suggested reads and acknowledgements:

"Self and Sovereignty"
Individual and community in south asian islam since 1850
By Ayesha Jalal

Hakeem Momin Khan Momin: Personality and Poetry
By Ikram Barelvi
A review

A Dictionary of Indian Literature
By Sujit Mukherjee

Abject condition of mazars of Urdu poets in Delhi Mazars of Delhi poets... a grave story.

Masterpieces of Urdu Rabalyat
By K.C. Kanda.

All about Taro Ek Dragon Ka Beta

Taro Ek Dragon Ka Beta, Taro the Dragon BoyHawa mithee tu aa ja, purab se

Tufaan tu aa jaa re paschim se
Chali aa, jaldi aa jaldi aa tu aasmaan se
~Title song from Cartoon Series Taro Ek Dragon Ka Beta

Japanese cartoon series from the late 70’s Taro the Dragon Boy ( orginal story by Miyoko Matsutani ) was shown on Indian national television - Doordarshan, in mid nineties with the Hindi title: Taro Ek Dragon Ka Beta.
Due to this one serial, a generation of Indians was introduced to the wonders of Japanese animation. Although it may not seem to be a great series in itself( when compared to the new age sleek animation of these days) , showing of Taro the Dragon Boy was the true precursor to the coming of Pokemons, Inuyashas, Samurai Jacks and Dragon Ball Zs. In India, the series is mostly remembered for its title track Hawa mithee tu aa ja written by Gulzar and brilliantly composed music by Vishal Bhardwaj.

In 1966, Taro, the Son of Dragon with the original Japanese title of "Tatsu, no ko Taro", started as a puppet series on a Japanese television channel.

Read more about Japanese Taro Dragon Ka Beta at:
Midnight Eye Roundup’s Vintage Japanese Anime Series

Also, read about
Taro, the Dragon Boy (Movie) , ( Japanese title Tatsunoko Taro) recipient of the International Hans Christian Andersen Award and many other
film awards.
Check out the video about the movie

Also check out the clip from the movie:


Collage of Japanese Anime

Collage of Old Hindi Movie Posters based on a Song

Mere jeevan saathi, pyaar kiye jaa
waah! waah!

Haan haan ! Mere jivan saathi, pyaar kiye jaa
Jawani diwani,
O o!

Khoobsurat, ziddi padosan
satyam shivam sundaram
, satyam shivam sundaram
satyam shivam sundaram

Jhootha kahin ka!
Jhootha kahin ka? Haan, hare rama hare Krishna
Dhat! Chaar sau bees, awaara!

Dil hi to hai
Aashiq hoon baharon ka, tere mere sapne, tere ghar ke samane,
Aamane saamane, shaadi ke baad!

Shaadi ke baad? O baap re!
Haan haan haan, haan! Hamare tumhare!

Munna, guddi, tinku, mili, shin shinaki babla boo
Khel khel mein shor! ,Shor, shor ...

Bhuul gaye?
Johny Mera Naam
Chori mera kaam, Johny Mera Naam, o, chori mera kaam

Ram aur shyam
Dhat, bandalbaaz
Ladaki, milan, geet gata chal, pyaar ka mausam

Aahaa haahaahaaha! Pyar ka mausam
Besharam ...

Satyam shivam sundaram, satyam shivam sundaram
Satyam shivam sundaram
Mere jivan saathi, pyaar kiye jaa
Jaa jaa!
Javaani divani
Khuubasurat, ziddi padosan, satyam shivam sundaram
Ishq ishq ishq!

Naughty boy
Haa haa! Ishq ishq ishq
Bluff master

Yeh raaste hain pyaar ke, chalte chalte, mere hamsafar
Hamsafar, dil tera deewana, deewana mastana,
Chhaliya, anjaana
Pagala kahi ka!

Chhaliyaa, anjaanaa, aashiq begana, loafer, anari
Baadhati kaa naam daadi, chalti ka naam gaadi

Jab pyaar kisi se hota hai, ye sanam
O ho!
Jab yaad kisi ki aati hai, janeman
Bandhan, kangan, chandan, jhoola, chandan, kangan, bandan, jhulaa, bandan
Jhuulaa, kangan jhuulaa, chandan jhuulaa, jhuulaa jhuulaa jhuulaa jhuulaa
Dil diya dard liya, jhanak jhanak payal baaje,
Chham chhamaa chham
Geet gaya patharo ne, sargam, satyam shivam sundaram
Satyam shivam sundaram, satyam shivam sundaram

Mere jivan saathi, pyaar kiye jaa
Chal chal!
Javaani diwaani, khubasurat, ziddi, padosan
Satyam shivam sundaram, satyam shivam sundaram
Sing with me come on!

Llaa laa laa laa laa laa
Come on! Good!
laa laa laa laa laa laa


Movie Name: Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981)
Year: 1981
Director: K Balachander
Music Director: Laxmikant Pyarelal
Song: Mere jeevan saathi
Singer: Anuradha Sriram, SP Balasubrahmanyam
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi


The movie posters in this collage are based on the song mere jeevan saathi from the movie Ek Duje Ke Liye. The movie names in bold are the ones that are missing in this collage as I could not find their posters. All the posters are from various sources on the web. A big thanks to them all!

Majaz and Origin of the song Khoya Khoya Chand

Jee mein aata hai murda sitare noch loon
Idhar bhi nooch loon udhar bhi noch loon
Ek do ka zikar kya mein sare nooch loon

I had a feeling about these lines when I first heard the song, a feeling that made me go, “Ok! Something miraculous just happened to a good but not so great a song!”
My cabbie was listening keenly to the song and started laughing every time he heard the words nooch loo. Maybe he knew what just happened. This is what happened after that: he changed the radio station. But, I couldn’t get the lines out of my mind. Why the nooch loo exhortation?

Then I found the answer:

The Urge to Fly has done a brilliant job at finding the genesis of the song Khoya Khoya Chand from Sudhir Mishra’s recent film of the same name.

The writer at his blog informs us in his in his diligent write-up that the origin of the song lies in the poetry of Urdu poet Majaz Lucknawi (real name Asrar ul Haq). Among many other observations he provides the answer to my query also. Kyun nooch lo ?Photograph of Urdu poet Majaz Lucknawi
The lines that first made me ponder over the song find their origin in a nazam written by Majaz titled Aavaaraa.

The evocative nazam ends with the lines:

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

jii me.n aataa hai ye murdaa chaa.Nd-taare noch luu.N
is kinaare noch luu.N aur us kinaare noch luu.N
ek do kaa zikr kyaa saare ke saare noch luu.N

ai Gam-e-dil kyaa karuu.N ai vahashat-e-dil kyaa karuu.N

Partition of India left Majaz disillusioned like many other poets of his time. He fell ill and was not the same person after that. On a chilly winter night, a group of 'fans' left him all alone on a hotel roof after a late night drinking session. Majaz died alone in the bitter cold at the age of 44.


A big thanks to Urge to fly!

Find more Ghazals and Nazms of Majaz Lucknawi at Aligarians.

Origin of “the mind’s Tibet”

Bugs Bunny in Tibet 1946 comic: Bugs Bunny’s Dangerous Venture
Hugh Richardson (1905-2000), Britain’s last representative in Lhasa, was the first person to mention the phrase “the mind’s Tibet” to Patrick French. Richardson, who in a 1943 treaty gave up British extra-territorial rights in China, mentioned to Patrick French in a letter about “a quotation from Newbolt which I can’t find, ‘The mind’s Tibet where none has gone before.’”
Patrick French describes this Tibet as:
“A Tibet of the mind, a notion of pure, distant land, a place of personal escape, the heart of lightness. For some, it may be glimpsed through music, or fasting, or drugs, or prayer, or excessive exercise, or perfect love. It is the imaginary paradise, the cool correlative of the desert island with palms, coconuts and Gauguin’s women.”
Patrick French looks from the origin of the line in all the writings of Henry Newbolt, but without any success until he comes across it in the September 1904 edition of the Monthly Review. It was here that the poem( which Patrick French finds mediocre) titled “Epistle to Colonel Francis Edward Younghusband” appeared and the line “the mind’s Thibet” was first written.

Epistle to Colonel Francis Edward Younghusband

Across the Wester World, the Arabian Sea,
The Hundred Kingdoms and the Rivers Three,
Beyond the rampart of Himalayan snows,
And up the road that only Rumour knows,
Unchecked, old friend, from Devon to Thibet,
Friendship and Memory dog your footsteps yet…
Though wide apart the lines our fate has traces
Since those far shadows of our boyhood raced,
In the dim region all men must explore―
The mind’s Thibet, where none has gone before…
The victories of our youth we count for gain
Only because they steeled out hearts to pain.

The poem by Newbolt, a celebration of British invasion of Tibet lead by Francis Younghusband , links the invasion of Tibet in 1903-1904 to his own schooldays at Clifton College where he had been a contemporary of the young Francis Younghusband. The British force also had the support of King Ugyen Wangchuck of Bhutan; British Empire made him a Knight for this exemplary service.

Writes Patrick French in his book, Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land

“…Lord Curzon and Colonel Francis Younghusband, both believed (wrongly) that Czarist Russia had taked control of the Dalai Lama’s government.
Following a bloody military campaign in which the British and their Indian mercenaries killed nearly three thousand poorly armed Tibetans, the army reached Lahsa, only to find that the Dalai Lama, the embodiment of the Tibetan state, had fled.”

And so was the “mind’s Tibet” lost forever.


Found the poem in :
Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land by Patrick French


About the Image:
Bugs Bunny’s Dangerous Venture , 1946
Found the image at an article about Dream World Tibet - Western and Chinese fantasies.(University of Zurich website with the original article in German, the link is to it's translated page)
The write-up looks at Tibet through the kaleidoscope of Popular Culture.
It asks:
What did Dagobert Duck(we know him as Disney's Scrooge McDuck), the Theosophin Helena Blavatsky, the director Martin Scorsese, the painter Nicolas Roerich, Adolf Hitler, some neo-Nazis and Lobsang Rampa, author of the bestseller "The Third Eye", in common?

And answers:
They are all interested in Tibet - each in its own way.

It's a great article, visit the original German Site
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. If you choose to use this or any part of this post on your site please link back to this page.


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