Foreword to the First Edition
Indian history is replete with names of great men and women who have given new dimensions to the life and thought of the people and an impetus to the process of welding into one unified whole a multi-racial and multi-lingual society. Amir Khusrau's is one such illustrious name. There is hardly an Indian who has not heard of him. For the man with sophistication as well as for the common man, Khusrau's sayings and lyrics are a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.
To assess this great Indian's multi-faceted personality is indeed a difficult task. Khusrau is so many persons rolled into one-poet, musician, historian, linguist, and above all, a messenger of secularism and national unity.
This book makes a modest attempt to bring to the reader some aspects of Khusrau's personality from the pen of scholars who have specialized in the subject. Some overlapping has been unavoidable in this work with scripts from different authors. However, whichever way one turns, the charming many-splendoured personality of Amir Khusrau always comes to the fore.
IN compiling this volume, the Publications Division has received, from time to time, help from Shri Hasanuddin Ahmad, General Secretary of Amir Khusrau Seventh Centenary National Celebration Committee which is gratefully acknowledged.
Back of the Book
Amir Khusrau was a prolific classical poet associated with the royal courts of more than seven rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. He was a multifaceted personality a poet of good taste and sweet diction, a mystic, a scholar, a reporter and a musician. Besides these attributes he was also a household name, particularly in north India, through hundreds of playful riddles, songs and legends attributed to him. This book unfolds various aspects of this personality who represents one of the first recorded Indian personages with a true pluralistic identity.
Importance of Amir Khusrau
Abul Hasan Yaminduddin or Amir Khusrau was born in Patiali in the district of Etah, Uttar Pradesh, in Shavval 651 A H. (1253 A.D.)
His father Amir Saifuddin Mahmood migrated to India from the city of Kush, presently Shehr-e-Sabz, in Central Asia, on the borders of the Tajik and Uzbek Republics of USSR, and married the daughter of an Indian nobleman, Imad-ul-Mulk. Amir Khusrau was proud of his lineage as a "Turk-e-Hindustani", and tradition credits him with knowledge of Turkish, Arabic, Persian and the vernaculars of northern India, the Khari Boli, (Urdu and Hindi both being developed forms of it), Brij Bhasha and Avadhi. It was during his stay in Awadh, Delhi and Punjab that he learned these northern languages. He also learned Sanskrit which he placed before all other languages, except Arabic, the language of his religion.
He was a born poet and started his poetic activity when only nine. He also knew and practiced the music of Central Asia, and mastered the art of Indian music as well. He inherited from his father not only an honourable place in the society of the day and a high status at the royal court but also the tradition of respect for Sufis and men of piety. This explains his unbounded love and devotion for Hazrat Nizamuddin of Delhi. Both lived in a period of turmoil and intolerance; both represented and taught a humanism, which rose above the conflicts of the age; both sought and found a spirituality above the confines of narrow orthodoxy. While Hazrat Nizamuddin brought to bear on his thought and expression a philosophical profundity, Amir Khusrau brought to bear on his the graces of devotional poetry and music. Both were mystics of a high order, the one rising to saintliness, the other following him.
Amir Khusrau symbolizes a link between the peoples of Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, Pakistan and India. In India, he represented a confluence of the two predominant cultures, enriching their music, in song and instrument, with innovations such as the qavvali, qaul, tarana and the sitar. His Persian ghazals are still sung and memorized in Russian Turkistan, Iran and our sub-continent, while his verses in Hindavi-Hindustani, combining the rhythm and rhyme of the classics with the charm and cadence of folksongs, have become a part of the Indian heritage, recited and sung by men, women and children all over the north as part of the lore of the people.
His devotional verse and song also inspired the thoughts and words of some of the great spiritual leaders of India who followed, like Guru Nanak, Kabir, Sant Nam Dev, Waris Shah and Abdul Latif, who in turn have inspired generations of Indians and brought people of different faiths closer to each other in the embrace of a spiritual unity.
The writings of Amir Khusrau are of immense value to us historically as well. Living in the capital of the Sultanate, Delhi, and associated since his youth with the reigning kings and princes, Khusrau witnessed historic events and was himself present in some of the military campaigns. They're are many works in which he has described these and the contemporary political events and social life of the times. These writings from a valuable source of authentic history of the period in which he lived.
He died in Delhi in Zeeqad 725 AH (1325 A.D.). The precise dates are not known for certain.
Dr. S.B.P Nigam, Reader in History, Kurukshetra University.
Dr. M. Rahman, Head of the Department of Persian, Maulana Azad College, Calcutta.
Dr. Shujaat Ali Sandilvi, Head of the Department of Urdu, Lucknow University.
Shahab Sarmadee, Professor, Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University.
Dr. S.A.H. Abidi, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Delhi University.
A.A. Ansari, Professor, Department of English, Aligarh Muslim University.
Dr. Prabhakar Machwe, Former Secretary, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
Nazir Ahmed, Professor and Head of the Department of Persian, Aligarh Muslim University.
Syed Sabahuddin Abdur Rahan, Joint Secretary, Darul Musanaffin Shibli Academy, Azamgarh.
S.H. Askari, Retd. Professor and Head of the Department of History, Patna University.
Abdul Aziz "Ameeq" Hanfee, Programme Executive, Urdu Service of External Services Division, A.I.R., New Delhi.
Dr. Ziauddin Sajjadi, Professor, Tehran University, Iran.
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