Arts, Science, Culture

Expressing Separation: A Mogul and a Nawab | Faizi Noor Ahmad


Attachment is a part of innate human nature. The adult theory of attachment categorizes it in relationships spanning over friendships, emotional affairs, and romantic relationships and in some cases inanimate objects known as transitional objects.

Since antiquity, religious and erudite discourses have dealt vastly with the human folly of attachment; as they term it. Buddhist canon calls it the root of suffering. The story of Arjuna cited in Bhagwad Gita shows him as a man attached to certain notions, beliefs, and values.

One can find numerous disquisitions with conclusions stating life is suffering, the world is a place of uncertainty; liberation lies in freeing oneself from attachment to worldly things and concerns or attaining a transcendent enlightenment. Such dialogues call upon humans to cultivate detachment and a sense of separation to view everything as less tantalizing and temporary.

To live without feelings of attachment is almost unattainable as they stimulate the ever changing nature of life. Endearment for others, the yearning of success, detest for failure, infatuations and obsessions, and love of  life are the gist of our humanity and the realms of engaged and content lives.

As Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist priest is believed to have said that the challenge is not to liberate oneself of attachments but, to become enlightened concerning them.

History cites two tales of separation as the backdrop of two famous pieces of arts and literature. One is Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mogul’s exile from his kingdom to far-off Rangoon in Burma at the hands of British. His sons and grandsons were murdered and he was put under house arrest without the provision of pen and paper, so much to ask for an aesthete of arts and poetry. ‘Zafar’ composed these verses:

Lagta nahin hai dil mera ujday diyar mein

Kis ki bani hai alam-e-na paedar mein

Kitna hai badnaseeb “Zafar” dafn key liye

Do gaz zamin bhi na mili kuu-e-yaar mein

[Tr. My heart, these dismal ruins, cannot now placate, Who can find sustenance in this unstable state! How unlucky is Zafar! For burial, Even two yards of land were not to be had, in the beloved land ]


Another is also a benefactor of arts, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah the last Nawab of Awadh, a poet, singer, composer and a dancer. After his kingdom was annexed by the British in 1856, the Nawab was exiled to Calcutta where he spent the rest of his life. At the time of exile he wrote and composed a Thumri in Raag Bhairavi which is sung even today:

Babul mora naihar chooto hi jaaye

Char kahaar mile mori doliya sajawen

Mora apna begana chooto jaye

[Tr. O My father! I’m leaving home, The four bearers lift my palanquin, I’m leaving those who were my own ]

The two compositions share a similarity in the state of their composers, not to be said of the feelings they might have shared, lamented by words they scribbled. These are an expression of love, longing and melancholia.

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Faizi Noor Ahmad

A graduate in Engineering from Uttar Pradesh Technical University, Faizi Noor Ahmad is now pursuing Masters in Mass Communication at Aligarh Muslim University.

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