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Paigham-i-Goya: An Expression of Love

Ghazal One

Friday
,
29
January
2021

Paigham-i-Goya: An Expression of Love

Ghazal One

Friday
,
29
January
2021
Bhai Nand Lal
Persian
Ghazal
sikhism
Guru Gobind Singh
⟵ Back to articles

Paigham-i-Goya: An Expression of Love

Ghazal One

Friday
,
29
January
2021

A new translation and brief essay on the first ghazal from Bhai Nand Lal’s Divan-i-Goya.

A new translation and brief essay on the first ghazal from Bhai Nand Lal’s Divan-i-Goya.

Translation

I am brought into existence by the embrace of the winds of reverence-bondage.
I would not have desired to come into this world, otherwise.

Joyous is the life spent in Your remembrance, and if not:
What else do I gain from this blue vault?  

I die when I do not remember You.
Besides Your remembrance, what do I gain from living?  

I surrender my heart-mind to the dust of those pious beings
Who guide me towards You.

When there was no sign of the sky or earth,
It was desire for Your face that brought me into prostration.  

Goya: I cannot live without remembering You.
May I be freed quickly to meet the Beloved.

Transcription

Havā-yi bandigī āvarad dar vajūd marā
Vagarneh zauk-i chunīn āmadan nābūd marā

Khush ast umr keh dar yād bogzarad varneh
Cheh hāsil ast azīn gonbād-i kabūd marā

Dar ān zamān keh niyāī beh yād mī mīram
Baghair yād-i tō zīstan cheh sūd marā

Fidāst jān ō dil-i man beh khāk-i mardām-i pāk
Har ān kas keh beh sūyi to rah namūd marā

Nabūd hīch nishān hā zi āsmān o zamīn
Keh shauq-i rūyi tō āvarad dar sajūd marā

Baghair yād-i tō gōyā nemī tavānam zīst
Beh sūyi dūst rihāī dihand zūd marā

Gurmukhi

ਹਵਾਇ ਬੰਦਗੀ ਆਵੁਰਦ ਦਰ ਵਜੂਦਿ ਮਰਾ ।
ਵਗਰਨੇਹ ਜ਼ੌੌਕ-ਏ ਚੁਨੀਨ ਆਮਦਨ ਨਬੂਦ ਮਰਾ ॥

ਖੁਸ਼ ਅਸਤ ਉਮਰ ਕੇਹ ਦਰ ਯਾਦ ਬਗੁਜ਼ਰਦ ਵਰਨੇਹ ।
ਚੇਹ ਹਾਸਿਲ ਅਸਤ ਅਜ਼ੀਨ ਗੁੰਬਦਿ ਕਬੂਦ ਮਰਾ ॥

ਦਰ ਆਨ ਜ਼ਮਾਨ ਕੇਹ ਨਿਆਈ ਬੇਹ ਯਾਦ ਮੀ ਮੀਰਮ ।
ਬਗ਼ੈਰ ਯਾਦਿ ਤੋ ਜ਼ੀਸਤਨ ਚੇਹ ਸੂਦ ਮਰਾ ॥

ਫ਼ਿਦਾਸਤ ਜਾਨੋ ਦਿਲਿ ਮਨ ਬੇਹ ਖਾਕਿ ਮਰਦੁਮਿ ਪਾਕ ।
ਹਰ ਆਨ ਕਸ ਕੇਹ ਬੇਹ ਸੂਇ ਤੋ ਰਹ ਨਮੂਦ ਮਰਾ ॥

ਨਬੂਦ ਹੀਚ ਨਿਸ਼ਾਨ ਹਾ ਜ਼ਿ ਆਸਮਾਨ ਓ ਜ਼ਮੀਨ ।
ਕੇਹ ਸ਼ੌਕਿ ਰੂਇ ਤੂ ਆਵੁਰਦ ਦਰ ਸਜੂਦ ਮਰਾ ॥

ਬਗ਼ੈਰ ਯਾਦਿ ਤੋ ਗੋਯਾ ਨਮੀ ਤਵਾਨਮ ਜ਼ੀਸਤ ।
ਬੇਹ ਸੂਇ ਦੂਸਤ ਰਿਹਾਈ ਦਿਹਂਦ ਜ਼ੂਦ ਮਰਾ ॥

Persian

هوای بندگی آورد در وجود مرا
وگرنه زوقِ چنین آمدن نبود مرا

خوش است عمر که در یاد بگذرد ورنه
چه حاصل است ازین گنبدِ کبود مرا

در آن زمان که نیایی به یاد می میرم
بغیر یادِ تو زیستن چه سود مرا

فداست جان و دلِ من به خاکِ مردمِ  پاک
هر آن کس که به سوی تو ره نمود مرا

نبود هیچ نشان ها  ز آسمان و زمین
که شوقِ روی تو آورد در سجود مرا

بغیر یادِ تو گویا نمی توانم زیست
به سوی دوست رھایی دهند زود مرا

Commentary

The first ghazal in Bhai Nand Lal’s Divan-i-Goya is a soaring reflection of Bhai Nand Lal’s relationship with the Guru. This first ghazal introduces many of the themes that will recur throughout the ghazals Goya composed, most notably that of longing to remember the Divine. Specifically, in the opening ghazal, Goya introduces his relationship to the Guru as a relationship of surrender, or bandigī, or more precisely, as it has been translated above, “reverence-bondage.” Bandigī implies both a state of bondage, and in this sense is a state of unfreedom, and a state of reverent love whose embrace brings Goya into existence, or birth, for the first time.

This first couplet is reminiscent of Bhai Randhir Singh’s (1878-1961) reflection in “The Vision of God,” wherein he describes an overwhelming dream-like encounter with the Divine. Bhai Randhir Singh describes his experience of “divine Light” as both “sudden and unexpected.” As he recounts it, an “illumination of dazzling light” pervaded his “whole being.” His encounter with the Divine causes him to cry out; he becomes “light as a flower,” and an “unseen Power” lifts him up and throws him back down. He feels shaken but not hurt; on his way back down, he makes contact with the floor “as lightly as a balloon.”

Bhai Randhir Singh’s description of a state of simultaneous bondage and freedom mirrors the structure of this ghazal, in which the moment at which he first desired to come into the world was both a moment of surrender and a liberatory moment of birth. Of course, the two are inextricable from each other. Like Bhai Randhir Singh, Goya is not in control as he enters into existence. Instead, he is swept up in the stormy winds of reverence-bondage. This opening image is dramatic, fervent, and filled with movement. This pervasive sense of reverence-bondage moves him to experience for the first time the desire to live.

The dialectic of reverence-bondage and freedom constitutes the nature of the longing remembrance that Goya continues to elaborate in the subsequent couplets. Several notable images appear in the remainder of the ghazal. Goya describes the sky as a “blue vault,” suggesting both the unfreedom of life and the joyous potential of remembrance. In another couplet, he introduces another dimension of surrender--to those “pious beings” who help him towards his Beloved. And, further still, he offers the image of bandigī as prostration, prompted by a desire to witness his Beloved’s face. Over the course of the ghazal, the tone shifts from the torrential opening image of the winds of reverence-bondage to the softer introspection of the last line, in which he expresses the simple wish to be quickly freed so that he may be with the Beloved.

Commentary by Damanpreet Singh
Revised:

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Written By

Persian Literature Scholar

Fatima Fayyaz is a scholar of Persian literature who studies Central Asian hagiographical Persian literature, contemporary Afghan Persian poetry and prose, Persian epics, and South Asian mystic literature. 

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Associate Professor of Art History, Lahore University of Management Sciences

Nadhra Shahbaz Khan is Associate Professor of art history at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan. A specialist in the history of art and architecture of the Punjab from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century, her research covers the visual and material culture of this region during the Mughal, Sikh, and colonial periods.

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Creative Director

Inni Kaur is Creative Director at the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI). She has served SikhRI in several capacities since 2010, including Chair of the Board, and most recently as CEO. 

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Writer & Graduate Student

Damanpreet Singh is a writer and graduate student who studies race, religion, empire, and the history of capitalism in the nineteenth century.

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