Khawaja Ghulam Farid (1845 – 1901) was a Punjabi Sufi saint and scholar, much revered in the subcontinent. His collection of mystical verses, sung as hymns in Punjabi and Saraiki are popularly sung and often enmesh with folk-speak. Filled with spiritual depth, while much of his most commonly known work might appear simplistic, it takes one on a quest to discover the divine. Like contemporary saints and scholars, he is said to have travelled around as a messenger of harmony and his journeys resulted in much of his scholarly work. In his time, he also asserted his anti-imperial identity and opposed the British rule both in action and in verse.

Khwaja Farid spoke of tolerance and oneness in spirituality. In these polarized times, his poetry gives temporary solace and hope for a better world. Much of his poetry, true to his spiritual lineage, is about understanding faith and making sense of the world. In this Punjabi poem, called a kafi, and titled ‘Husn-e Haqiqi’, (Beauty of the Divine) he does just that.

Addressing God throughout the poem, the poet repeatedly asks how one should conceive of the divine. He does this by posing questions one after another and while doing so, invokes a wide range of concepts, emotions, and beings. He also traverses spiritual traditions and mythologies. Such a piece of poetry would require the reader to read it with two different lenses: one for the sheer pleasure of the imagery and invocations and second for delving into a quest to understand divinity as we experience it. This evocative conversation with the creator could very well constitute a worship in itself.

Husn-e Haqiqi

Ae husn-I hakiki nur-I azal
Tenun vajib te imkan kahun
Tenun Khaliq zat-I kadim kahun
Tenun hadis khalq-I jahan kahun
Tenun mutlak mahz vujud kahun
Tenun ‘almiyah-I a’yan kahun
Tenun ‘ayn-I hakikat-i mahiyyat
Tenun arz-i sifat te shan kahun
Anva kahun awza kahun
Atwar kahun awzan kahun
Tenun arsh kahun aflak kahun
Tenun naz naim janan kahun
Tenun tat jamad nabat kahun
Hayvan kahun insan kahun
Tenun kufr kahun imaan kahun
Tenun badal barkha gaj kahun
Tenun Bijli te baran kahun
Tenun aab kahun te khak kahun
Tenun baad kahun niran kahun
Tenun Dasrat Bichhman Ram kahun
Tenun Sita-ji janan kahun
Maha Dev kahun Bahgwan kahun
Tenu Git Garanth te Bed kahun
Tenun Nuh kahun tufan kahun
Tenun Ibrahim Khalil kahunun
Tenun Musa bin Imran kahun
Tenun Ahmad-i, aali shaan kahun
Tenun har dil da dildar kahun
Tenun hur pari ghilman kahun
Tenu surkhi kajlah pan kahun
Tenun husn te bar singar kahun
Tenun tablah te tanbur kahun
Tenun dholakh sur te tan kahun
Tenun ishk kahun tenun ilm kahun
Tenun vahm yakin guman kahun
Tenun hiss quvay-y idrak kahun
Tenun zawk kahun vujdan kahun
Tenun sakr kahun sakran kahun
Tenun hayrat te hayran kahun
Taslim kahun talvin kahun
Tamkin kahun Irfan kahun
Tenun sunbul sawsan sarv kahun
Tenun nargis-i nafarman kahun
Tenun lalah dagh te bagh kahun
Gulzar kahun bustan kahun
Be-rang kahun be-misl kahun
Besurat har har aan kahun

//

Oh! Real-True Beauty, Beginning-less Light!
Shall I call you “Necessary,” or shall I call you “Contingent -Possible”?
Shall I call you “Creator,” “Pre-Eternal Self-Essence”?
Shall I call you a “New Event”? Shall I call you a “Creation in this
World”?
Shall I call you “Absolute Pure Existence”?
Shall I call you the “Becoming Known of the Originary
Archetypes”? . . .
Shall I call you the “Essence of the Reality of Quiddity”?
Shall I call you the “Display of Attributes and Acts”?
Shall I call you “Species”? Shall I call you “Positions”?
Shall I call you “Modes”? Shall I call you “Measures”? . . .
Shall I call you ‘“Highest Heaven”? Shall I call you the “Celestial
Spheres”?
Shall I call you “Grace” and “Blessing” and “Wisdom”?
Shall I call you “Spirit”? Shall I call you “Matter”?
Shall I call you “Vegetable,” “Animal,” or “Human”?
Shall I call you “Mosque” or “Temple” or “Convent”?
Shall I call you Pothi, or shall I call you Qur’an?
Shall I call you “Rosary”? Shall I call you “Caste-String”?
Shall I call you “Unbelief”? Shall I call you “Faith”?
Shall I call you “Rain-Cloud”? Shall I call you “Thunder”?
Shall I call you “Lightning”? Shall I call you “Downpour”?
Shall I call you “Water”? Shall I call you “Earth”?
Shall I call you “Wind”? Shall I call you “Fire”?
Shall I call you Dasrat, Bichhman. or Ram?
Shall I call you “Slta, my Darling One”? . . .
Shall I call you Maha Dev? Shall I call you Bhagwan?
Shall I call you Gita, Granth or Veda? . . .
Shall I call you Noah, or shall I call you “Flood”?
Shall I call you Abraham? Shall I call you “Friend”? 219
Shall I call you Moses, son of ‘Imran?
Shall I call you Ahmad of the Fligh Office?
Shall I call you the “Beloved of Every Fleart”?
Shall I call you “Flouri,” “Fairy-Lass,” or “Handsome Lad”? . . .
Shall I call you “Blush”? Shall I call you “Kohl”? Shall I call you pan?
Shall I call you “Beauty”? “Embellishment and Adornment”?
Shall I call you tablah or “Tambour”?
Shall I call you dhdlak ?
Shall I call you “Metre” or “Note-Beat”?
Shall I call you “Love”? Shall I call you “Science”? 
Shall I call you “Suspicion-Prehension”? “Conviction”? “Notion”?
Shall I call you “Sensing”? Shall I call you “Faculty of Discernment”?
Shall I call you “Tasting”? Shall I call you “Rapture”?
Shall I call you “Submission”? Shall I call you “Variegation”?
Shall I call you “Fixity”? Shall I call you “Knowing-By-Self”?
Shall I call you “Hyacinth”? “Iris”? “Cypress”?
Shall I call you the “Ungovernable Narcissus”?
Shall I call you the “Scarred Tulip”? Shall I call you “Garden”?
Shall I call you “Rose-Garden”? Shall I call you “Flower-Garden”?
Shall I call you “Drunkeness” or “Drunk”?
Shall I call you “Bewilderment” or “Bewildered”?
Shall I call you “Without Colour”? Shall I call you “Without
Any Likeness”?
Shall I call you “Without Form”? Shall I call you “Every-Every
Moment”?

You can listen to a rendition of this poem here

Source: Khwaiah Ghulam Farid, Divan-i Khwaiah Farid (ba-mutabik kalami  nuskhah-hay-’e kadim) (edited by Khwaiah Tahir Mahmud Korljah), Lahore: Faysal, 2006

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