Known as the "Tuti" (songbird) of India, Amir Nasir al-Din Abu al-Hassan Khusrau ibn Amir Saif al-Din Mahmud Dihlavi is India's foremost Sufi poet using the Persian language as the medium of his poetry. His father, Saif al-Din Mahmud was one of the chiefs of the Lachin tribe of the Karakhitais of Kush, Transoxania. During the Mongol invasion, Saif al-Din moved his family away from Kush and settled in India. There, he had married the daughter of Imad al-Mulk, an Indian nobleman. Amir Khusrau is the fruit of that marriage. He was born in Patiali, in the district of Etah, Uttar Pardesh, in 1253. Although he became an orphan at the age of seven, he managed, due to the high status of his family, to elevate himself and become a major figures at the courts of Indian sultans. Amir Khusrau died in 1325.
Originally a Turk, Amir Khusrau spoke Persian fluently and was familiar with Arabic, Hindi, and Sanskrit. From his early days, he was attracted to Persian literature, especially the poetry of the poet of Ganja, Nizami. Emulating the poetry of Nizami, he himself, over the years became one of the most celebrated Sufi poets of his day. Additionally, Amir Khusrau was a born musician. He mastered the art of Indian music at a very early age and went on to perfect it. His invention of the sitar, an instrument with three-strings, testifies to his dedication to the art.
Like musician poets Rudaki and Farrukhi before him, Amir Khusrau adapted to the life at court and distinguished himself in the circle of the dignitaries as a grand poet. His prestige became even more noticeable when Shaykh Muslih al-Din Sa'di recommended him as a worthy candidate for a position originally offered to himself at Prince Muhammad's court.
It is related that one day, Saif al-Din Mahmud took his three sons to the presence of the chief of Sufi poets Shaykh Nizam al-Din Muhammad ibn Ahmad Dihlavi popularly known as Nizam al-Din Auliya of the Chishtiyya order. Nizam al-Din took a particular interest in Amir Khusrau who himself, following the advice of the Shaykh became one of the major figures of the order. Nevertheless, Amir Khusrau never publicized his writings unless they had been read and sanctioned by the Shaykh. In fact, their lives mirror each others, both in mundane success and in spiritual ascension. Living in a milieu suffused with turmoil and intolerance, they shared the same tendency towards tolerance and struggle to rise above petty conflicts. And both rebelled against the confines of narrow orthodoxy to redefine the limits of philosophical profundity and devotional spirituality. Altogether Amir Khusrau has written several multi-volume works, a collection of lyrics, and three prose works. His multi-volume collection the Panj Ganj (five treasures), with the following specification:
His other multi-collection, referred to as Samaniyyah Khusraviyyah (eight khusravi mathnavis), includes:
1) Duvalroni Khizirkhan: deals with the love of Khizir Khan for the daughter of the Raj of Gujarat. The love story composed on request of Khizir Khan is prefaced with a brief history of the spread of the Islamic faith in India under the Ghurid dynasty.
2) Taj al-Futuh is composed in honor of the ascension to the throne of Sultan Jalal al-Din Firuz.
3) Noh Sepehr: a mathnavi in nine chapters composed in honor of Qutb al-Din Mubarak Shah Khalaji.
4) Tuqluq Namah composed on the occasion of the establishment of the Tuqluq dynasty of Delhi by Ghiyas al-Din Tuqluq Shah.
5) Matla' al-Anwar: A treatise on Sufi thought along the line of Nazami's Makhzan al-Asrar.
6) Shirin wa Khusrau: An imitation of Nizami's mathnavi of the same name. A scene in which the king invites the learned of the realm to his palace and discusses philosophical points with them is original to Amir Khusrau.
7) Majnun-i Layli: Also a poor imitation of Nizami's mathnavi of the same name.
8) A'ina-i Sikandari: A continuation of Nizami's mathnavi of the same name. Amir Khusrau, however, deals mostly with Alexander's post-conquest train of thought and his death.
9) Hasht Bihisht: A response to Nizami's Haft Paikar.
|O Thou whose face,
With envied grace,
the magi's Gods inflames!
Howe'er my verse
Thy praise rehearse,
Still more thy beauty claims.
What station was I at, pray tell me,
Who was that Beauty,
Rivals attentive, she a coquette
You crossed the NO PLACE,
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