Bharat Ek Khoj


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(Episode 27)

Nehru refers to the effect of the Turk-Afghan conquest as two fold. On the one hand, those who remained in the Afghan-occupied territory became more rigid and exclusive retiring in to their shells and trying to protect themselves from foreign influences. On the other hand, there was a gradual approach towards these foreign ways both in thought and life. A synthesis emerged especially in music, which, rooted in old Indian classical patron, developed in many directions. The popular language were also developed at the same time.

The wave of Bhakti movement was spreading fast to remove caste and creed barriers. In the south, there was Sant Namdev who moved to the north and preached Bhakti to the common man through his lilting songs. Muslim mysticism and Sufism grew, one of whose most venerable Peers was Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmar Sharif. One of his famous disciples was Amir Khusrau, a Turk who was contemporary of Namdev in the 14th century. He was a poet of the first rank in Persian, the court language of the Afghans, and also a musician who introduced many innovations in the Indian classical ragas and musical instruments. We hear some of his Sufi songs and those of Mullah Daud during the time of Feroze Shah Tughlaq.

In a romantic interlude, we listen to the langa singer playing on the Ravanhatta instrument describing to King Rupchand the ethereal beauty of one princess Chanda married to vaman, but ignored and unhappy, and now back in her father's fold. The musical narrative describes together with visuals how the handsome Lorik, shining like the sun, steals Chanda's heart. Taking grave risks, Lorik climbs up a rope to Chanda's chambers and after mutual passion, is reluctantly turned away. In the teeth of Vaman remonstration, Lorik and Chanda cross the flooded river and move to the other shore to set up an idyllic abode. With the passage of time, the helpless Maina spends day and night in sorrow and anger. The repentant Lorik eventually returns a gracious Maina agrees to accept Chanda in the royal household, but the forlorn lady dies mean while of snake bit. Lorik, besides himself in grief, give up his life in Chanda's funeral pyre. The legends, ascribed to Mullah Daud, are sung with great gusto even today.

Back to history, Nehru notes the Saint-poet Ramanand in the south in the 15th century and his still more famous disciple Kabir, a weaver of Banaras, who is professedly neither Hindu nor Muslim. Kabir's poems and songs became, and are still, very popular crossing all religious barriers. After Kabir, Guru Nanak appears in the north as the venerated founder of Sikhism. We listen to some beautiful shabads. The growing popular language, Hindi, was in courage, and an attempt was made to forge symbiotic links between the religious faiths of the Hindus and the Muslims to bring about this synthesis.