Unlike any other nation, India is not a geo-political entity but a civilisation that has withstood time because of its rich culture and values. Muhammad Iqbal (the famous Urdu poet) points it out in his poem ‘Tarana-e-Hind’, when he writes:
Greece, Egypt and Byzantium have all been erased from the world.
But our fame and banner still remain.
It is something to be proud of that our existence is never erased,
Though the passing of time for centuries has always been our enemy.
People of differing ideologies and religious beliefs live here together. It might amaze a person born after the 1980s, that Muslim poets praised Bhagwan Ram and Shri Krishna with passion no less than that of their Hindu contemporaries, while Hindu poets praised Prophet Muhammad with love and devotion.
It is in these times, when politicians have divided us in the name of religion, caste, language and other identities that we must look back at our rich, secular heritage. And part of that heritage — one that few know about — was Chaudhary Dillu Ram Kausari.
Kausari was a practising Hindu from Hisar, Haryana (then Punjab in British India) who wrote a number of ‘naat’ (eulogies in praise of Prophet Muhammad). At a time when the British were sowing the seeds of communalism in Indian society, Kausari was the popular symbol of composite culture.
His Urdu poetry used to be published in magazines and newspapers during the early 20th century. Poems in praise of Muhammad and Islam were his specialisation. In July 1924, his eulogies on Muhammad and other poems with Islamic themes were compiled in a book titled ‘Hindu Ki Naat’ (Poems in praise of the prophet Muhammad by a Hindu).
In a foreword written by Khwaja Hasan Nizami, the purpose of publication had been stated as bringing out the pro-Islamic nature of common Hindus while a few fringe extremists might indulge in violence.
The book consists of around 40 eulogies; a few poems and couplets, however, are worth mentioning in order to understand the love and devotion that Dillu Ram Kausari had for the prophet. In a poem titled ‘Khuda Jab Hai Muhammad Ka’ (When the God belongs to Muhammad) he writes:
Kar ae Hindu bayaan is tarz se tu vasf Ahmad ka
Musalmaan maan jaye sab loha tegh-e-muhannad ka
(O Hindu praise the quality of Ahmad in such a fashion
That they start admiring your literary skills)
Juda kya laam-e-Dillu Ram hai meem-e-Muhammad se
Ta’alluq sau tarah ka hai mushaddad se mushaddad ka
(How is the L of Dillu Ram different from M of Muhammad
While both have that repetitive sound)
Dillu Ram makes it clear with the opening couplet that he is a Hindu but his love for Muhammad is no less than a Muslim's. He tries to find the similarities in his name and that of the Muhammad in the way they are spelt. In another poem, he has pointed out that while Muhammad ends his name with D, Dillu's begins with the same letter.
He justifies his being Hindu while loving Muhammad by writing;
Kuch ishq-e-payambar me nahi shart-e-Musalman
Hai kausari Hindu bhi talabgaar-e-Muhammad
(Being Muslim is no condition to love Muhammad
O Kausari, even Hindus are the seeker of Muhammad)
In another poem, ‘Hindu sahi magar hu sana-khvaan-e-Mustafa’ (I praise Mustafa, another name of Muhammad, even after being a Hindu) he writes"
Hindu samajh ke mujh ko jahannum ne di sada
Main paas jab gaya to na mujh ko jala saka
(Hell called me out for me being a Hindu
But it couldn’t burn me when I approached it)
Bola ke tujh pe kyu meri aatish hui haraam
Kya vajah tujh pe shoal jo qaabu na pa saka
(It asked, why my flames were forbidden
what is the reason fire couldn’t burn you)
Kya naam hai tu kaun hai mazhab hai tera kya
Hairaan hu main azaab jo tujh tak na ja saka
(What’s your name and religion
I am amazed that you couldn’t be punished)
Main ne kaha ke jae ta’ajjub zara nahi
Vaqif nahi to mere dil-e-haq shanas se
(I replied don’t be surprised
You do not know the state of my righteous heart)
Hindu sahi magar hu sana-khvaan-e-Mustafa
Is vaste na shola tera mujh taka a saka
(I praise the prophet instead of being Hindu
That’s the reason your fire was unable to touch me)
Hai naam Dillu Ram takhallus hai Kausari
Ab kya kahu bata diya jo kuch bata saka
(My name is Dillu Ram and Kausari is the pen name
I have told you everything that can be told)
In another of his couplets, his devotion comes out as:
Hai paa-e-Muhammad sar-e-Dillu Ram
Ye nisbat mere oaj par daal hai
(My head is at the feet of Muhammad
This is our relationship that I have D as the first letter)
In this particular couplet, he compares sharing the first letter of his name with Muhammad’s last to being at the feet of the prophet. Written in Urdu, his verses have a strong character of Bhakti poetry. He has tried to show his devotion towards the prophet through love. For him, this love for the prophet is an instrument of salvation. His treatment of Muhammad as the beloved of Allah is quite similar to Bhakti poetry where Radha is invoked to reach Krishna. While comparing the stature of Muhammad with other Abrahamic prophets like Christ, Abraham, Noah etc, he writes:
Gharaz sab se avval khuda ne bil-aakhir
Muhammad ko yaran-e-jani me rakha
(God appointed him first among the prophets
He kept Muhammad among his own friends)
This treatment is akin to the description we witness of Radha, making Radha inseparable from the God (Krishna). At another place Dillu Ram writes:
Likhu kya Kausri main kaunsa qissa hai ab baqi
Muhamad jab khuda ka hai khuda hai Muhammad ka
(Nothing more is left to write
When, Muhammad belongs to the God and God belongs to Muhammad)
This theme of getting salvation through loving the beloved is evident in most of the poems. As in this couplet:
Mehshar me Nabi bacha lenge mujh ko ye keh ke
Chedo na ise ye to hai diwana humara
(Prophet will save me on the judgement day by telling
Don’t touch him, he is my lover)
Since the 1980s, we have witnessed religious feelings being polarised to gather votes in India. Muhammad has become just a ‘Muslim Prophet’ rather than a philosopher figure who guided humanity, Karishna has become a Hindu god where others cannot celebrate him and Ram is now a warrior god of Hindus with others denying him the status of personification of morality... We need to look back in order to understand what went wrong. Our strength was our composite culture, the ability to assimilate — only when we get that back will we regain our strength.
The writer is an independent socio-political commentator and historian
Updated Date: Dec 01, 2017 18:53 PM