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DIFFERENT EPOCHS OF DARI POETRY


The oldest extant specimens of Dari verse date back to the middle of the third/ninth century. But these fragments are not sufficient to afford us a true picture of the contemporary Dari poetry. What emerges beyond doubt, however, is the fact that the Tahirids (205/820-259/872) and later the Saffarids (254/867-296/908) played a worthy role in ushering in a new era of Dari literature.

Throughout the fourth/tenth century Dari literature continued to flourish with remarkable success at the Samanid Court and in the vast regions lying between the Chinese frontiers and Gurgan on the Caspian Sea. The Court of Nasr bin Abmad, the Samanid ruler, is especially famous for the large number of poets associated with it. Since then the current of Dari literature has flowed continuously.

Modern Dari poetry, in its earliest stages, was characterized by a note of realism. The realist school held its own for two hundred years till the end of the fifth/eleventh century. The greatest Aryan poets of this school who flourished during the fourth/tenth century were Rndaki (329/941), Shahid Balkhi (325/937), and Daqiqi (341/952). Early in the sixth/twelfth century it gave way to naturalism. In the meanwhile the Aryan Sufis had discovered in poetry a most suitable vehicle to disseminate their philosophical message to the people. Sufism or Islamic mysticism had become popular in Iraq in the middle of the second/eighth century. In its earliest stages it merely laid emphasis on piety and godliness and no elaborate system had yet evolved. Kufah and Basrah were the earliest centres of this movement. Later, however, Baghdad stole the limelight and became associated with great names in mysticism. From Baghdad it spread out in two directions, viz., North Africa and the "Maghrib" on the one side and north-east of Ariana, that is, Khurasan and Transoxiana on the other. In the West it came to be linked up with Greek thought, especially with Neo-Platonism and with certain Israelite doctrines. In the East, especially in Khurasan and Transoxiana, it developed kinship with the teachings of Manichaeism and Buddhism which had enjoyed wide popularity in these regions for centuries. From here it travelled to India and developed in what may be called the Indo-Aryan school of mysticism. This latter school gained immense popularity and through Ariana it spread to Western Asia and even to North Africa. It still continues to exist in the entire Islamic world from the borders of China to Morocco. The great mystics of Ariana chose Dari for imparting their noble thoughts to all classes of people. That is why most of the books of the Indo-Aryan school of mysticism were written in Dari prose or verse and the language of mysticism in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent has always been Dari. Symbolism inevitably enjoys profound importance in the mystic cult. For fear of opposition at the hands of the devout the mystic poets were constrained to express their views and beliefs in the language of symbols. They were, thus, destined to contribute to the special school of symbolism in Dari poetry. This tradition still lives in mystic verse, no matter Dari, Urdu, or Turkish. The earliest amongst the great Sufis to compose verse in this fashion is the celebrated poet abu Said abu al-Khair (357/967-440/1049). Sana'i (437/1046-525/1131), Farid al-Din `Attar (627/1229), and Maulana Jalal al­Din Rumi, (604/1208-672/1273) may be considered the greatest of the symbolists among the poets of Ariana. Hadigat al-Hagigah of Sanai, Mantiq al- Tair of `Attar and the Yfathnawi of RGmi may be regarded as the most

important books of mysticism ever written in Dari. On account of this great tradition Dari poetry produced during the whole of this period in Ariana and the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent is steeped in mysticism. The recital of this kind of verse in the assemblies of prayer and devotion among different sects of Snfis, at times to the tune of music and occasionally to the accompaniment of dance, has been regarded as one of the most important observances of the mystical creed. Even men who did not belong to any school of mysticism had to compose, whether they liked it or not, their poetical works, especially their "ghazals," in a mystical strain.

Mystic poetry of Ariana and the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent forms a subject that requires a very elaborate discussion. In fact, it is one of the most pro­found literary and philosophical themes of all times. The Aryan mystics, apart from expounding the fundamental doctrines and essential principles which have deep academic and philosophical significance and are the especial concern of those wholly steeped in mysticism, have also instructed the common folk on what is popularly termed as generosity and manliness (futuw­wat). This teaching mainly consisted of certain moral precepts and aimed at inculcating amongst the common mass of people the feeling of manliness, courage, forgiveness, and generosity, and might be compared with the institu­tion of knighthood or chivalry prevalent in Europe in the Middle Ages. Many books were produced on this subject in Arabic and Dari and these have been known as books of generosity and manliness (Fut2wwat Ndmeh). This particular institution travelled from Ariana to all the Islamic countries as far away as North Africa and the "Maghrib" and it still lives in many parts of these lands.

It may be pointed out that mystical verse in the Dari language has provided the civilized humanity with the most cosmopolitan type of poetry, and this branch of Dari literature excels all other kinds of poetry both in sweep and charm.

In pre-Islamic Ariana epic poetry and national sagas had always enjoyed wide popularity. In the Islamic period this tradition was not only maintained but it also received further impetus. Initiated by a few earlier poets it found its culmination in Firdausi's (411/1020) great classic Shah Ndmeh, which remains to be one of the most outstanding epic poems of all times. He com­pleted its first narrative in 384/994, and the second in 400/1010. In this field, as in many others, Dari literature is immensely rich. A number of epic poems were composed in successive ages in Ariana and in the Indo-Pakistan sub­continent, and this tradition was maintained till a century and a half ago. Amongst the most important of these are, chronologically speaking, Gars_h4ap Ndmeh of Asadi (465/1073) which was completed in 458/1066, lIis-o Ramin of Fakhr al-Din Asad of Gurgan (middle of the fifth century A. H.), and the quintet (khamseh) of Nizami of Ganjeh who remained devoted to its com­position from 572/1176 to 599/1202. Nizami's style in epic poetry won especial favour both at home and in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent and a number


of poets wrote under his unique influence, amongst the most notable of them being Amir Khusrau of Delhi (651/1253-725/1325), Khwaja-i Kirmani (689/1290-763/1362), and Jami (817/1414-898/1493). This typical epic style has left a deep impress on the Turkish language, and many Turkish poets have imitated it, some of them merely translating the same contents into their own language. Amongst these may be counted the epic poems of Mir 'Ali Skier Nawa'i (844/1440-960/1500) composed in the Chaghata'i, i.e., the eastern dialect of Turkish, and the epics of Fuzeli of Baghdad (970/1562) in the Azari, i.e., the western dialect of the Turkish language.

Amongst the other chief characteristics of Dari poetry are the composition of philosophical verse and the introduction of philosophical generalities in poetry composed in simple language. We have it on the authority of the oldest specimens of Dari poetry that poetry and philosophy had forged a close link together ever since Dari poetry originated in Khurasan and Trans­oxiana. The most important book on practical philosophy to have gained immense popularity amongst Muslims in general and the Aryans in particular in the early Islamic period was Kalileh n Dimneh which was at first translated from the original Sanskrit work Panchatanlra into Pahlawi and presumably brought to Ariana in the sixth century A. D. in the reign of Khusrau Anus_hirwan (Nus_hirwan the Just). It was translated from Pah­lawi into Syriac about the same time. In the early Islamic period the famous Aryan scholar ibn al-Muqaffa' rendered it from Pahlawi into Arabic. It was later versified by Radaki, the greatest poet of the Samanid period and one of the great names in Dari poetry in its whole history of the last twelve hundred years. Only a few couplets of this long poem have survived.

Another book which dealt with practical philosophy like Kalileh wa Dimneh was the famous work Sindbdd Ndmeh. This was also rendered into verse by Riidaki. That is why his name has been prefixed with Hakim or philo­sopher since old. This also suggests that there was a considerable element of philosophy in his poetical works. Another great contemporary of Radaki, namely, Shahid Balkhi, was known as one of the famous philosophers of his time. He had also entered upon a controversy with yet another famous physician-philosopher Mubammad bin Zakariya Razi and composed some treatises in refutation of his views. Afterwards many Aryan poets expounded valuable philosophical themes in their works and were known as philosophers. Kisa'i of Merv was one of them. Firdausi and `Unsuri also enjoyed the title of Hakim or philosopher for having introduced philosophical themes in their works. The great poet Nasir Khusrau (394/1004-481/1088) expounded philo­sophical thought in all his poetical works in addition to a few books of philo­sophy that he wrote in Dari prose from the Isma`ilite point of view. The Isma`ilites of Ariana always attached great importance to the Dari language in disseminating and inculcating amongst others the philosophy of their own sect. That is why they were even known as the "educationists" or "Ta' imites." The poets of this sect always introduced an element of philosophy in their

works. Amongst the eminent Aryan philosophers and thinkers, Dari verse has been ascribed to abu Nasr Farabi (d. 339/950), ibn Sina (d. 428/1037), Khwajah Nasir al-Din Tiisi (597/1201-672/1274), Imam Fakhr al-Din Razi (554/1159-606/1209), Afdal al-Din Kas_bani (d. 615/1218), Shihab al-Din Suhrawardi Magtiil (d. 587/1191), Jalal al-Din Dawwani (830/908-1426/1502­1503), Mir Sayyid Sharif Gurgani (740/816-1339/1413), Mir Muhammad Bagir Damad (d. 1041/1631), Sadr al-Din Shirazi, i. e., Mulla Sadra (d. 1050/1640-1641), and Haji Mulla Hadi Sabziwari (1212/1295-1797/1878). One can say that there was hardly any philosopher in Ariana who did not express his beliefs in poetry. Some of them like Afdal al-Din Kashani composed a considerable amount of verse. Philosophical thought also found expression in the quatrains of the famous scholar and philosopher `UmarKhayyam (d. 517/1123-1124). The collection of these quatrains forms today one of the most famous books in the world, and has been translated into almost all the civilized languages including many dialects of Pakistan and India. One of the most important features with which we are confronted in Dari literature, irrespective of prose or poetry, is the effort on the part of the Aryan philosophers to effect a close harmony between Greek thought, i.e., the philosophy of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, the Stoics, Zeno, and scepticism as well as a part of the philosophical teachings imparted in Alexandria and Edessa, and the fundamentals of Islam. Some of them harmonized mysticism with philosophy and divine Law, and in this field Dari is decidedly the richest language in the world.

In the eighth/fourteenth century Hafiz, the great immortal poet of Ariana, while following the naturalist school which had reached its highest point of glory in RSmi's poetry (606/1200-691/1292) laid the foundation of impressionism in Dari poetry. This school did not find its roots in Ariana for about a hun­dred years and it was only at the end of the ninth/fifteenth century that a few great Dari poets lent it a new charm and colour. This was the time when the Mughul dynasty had reached the height of its power and splendour in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent. Dari enjoyed the status of official language of the Mughul Court. All notable men of the sub-continent had fully imbibed Dari culture in all walks of life. Every year a large number of Aryan intellectuals and artists would travel to the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent either to settle down there permanently or to make it a temporary home. These scholars introduced this school of poetry in India where it won immense popularity. It found its highest expression at the Courts of Jalal al-Din Akbar (r. 963/1556-1014/1605) and his successors, namely, Jahangir (r. 1014/1605­1037/1628), Shahjahan (r. 1037/1628-1068/1658), and Aurangz1b (r. 1069/1658­1118/1707). Under the patronage of these Courts, rich and exquisite works of poetry were produced. There is a large number of poets who attained eminence in this style, popularly known in Ariana as the Indian School of poetry. Among them 'Urfi (963/1556-999/1591), Naziri (1023/1614), 7;uhSri (1024/ 1615), Talib Amuli (1036/1627), Qudsi (1056/1646), Kalim (1061/1651), and Sa'ib (1012/1603-1083/1672) had been attracted from Ariana and they provided both stimulus and schooling to numerous well-known poets of the local origin. The most brilliant amongst this galaxy of poets were Faidi (953/1546­1004/1596), abu al-Barakat Munir (1055/1645-1099/1688), Qhani (1072/1661), Nasir'Ali (1108/1696), Qhanimat (1107/1695), Ni'mat Khan 'Ali (1121/1709), Bidil (1134/1722), Nur al-'Ain Wagif (1190/1776), Siraj al-Din 'Ali Khan Arzd (1169/1756), Ghalib (1213/1798-1285/1868), 'Ubaidi Suhrawardi (1306/ 1889), Shibli Nu'mani (1274/1857-1332/1914), Girami (1345/1926), and many others. The literary tradition bequeathed by them still lives in the Indo­Pakistan sub-continent.

The last great poet of the Dari language in the Indo-Pakistan sub­continent was Muhammad Igbal (1289/1873-1357/1938) who infused a new life in Dari poetry, rejected the impressionist school that had preceded him, and revived the symbolist traditions with magnificent results.

In Ariana a new movement in poetry made itself manifest at the end of the twelfth/eighteenth century which promised pastures anew. As a consequence, most of the poets returned to naturalism. The tendency to revitalize and revivify Dari verse and to bring it closer to Western poetry, is distinctly visible in Ariana. There are even attempts at going to such extremes as sur­realism. The younger Aryan poet is, however, passing through a period of transition and has yet to determine his final attitude. Nevertheless, one comes across exquisite pieces of poetry produced by some of the poets and poetesses of the younger generation. This augurs well for a great future. It is not unlikely that a new school of poetry will emerge before long.

One who wishes to study the evolution of Dari poetry and its different schools and styles in minute detail will perforce have to make a deep study of the works of quite a few hundred poets of Ariana, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, India, and Turkey-men who selected this language as their medium of expression and stuck to the Aryan tradition of poetry.

It may be observed that all the important poets of Dari language, whether they were of the Aryan or Indo-Pakistani origin, or whether they hailed from certain Central Asian and Caucasian regions formerly treated as parts of Ariana, were Muslims. Only with regard to Daqiqi, the celebrated poet of the Samanid period, it has been contested by a few scholars that he belonged to the Zoroastrian faith. But even this cannot be taken for granted. In the eighth/fourteenth century, however, a Zoroastrian poet Bahram bin Puzhdu rendered two books of the Zoroastrian religion into verse, namely Zartusht Nameh and Arda Virdf Nameh.


Haji Mohammad Rahat

Library:

Haji Mohammad Rahat

Author:

i Hasanjan











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