paani – josh malihabadi

This is a relatively short musaddas (only 59 stanzas compared to the usual 100 or so in Josh’s marsias).  It also has a higher (than other josh marsia) proportion of emotional content but still extremely rich and enjoyable.  Those of you not inclined towards shia sensitivities would still enjoy the language and its flow.

paani 1-12:  This is a description of the beauty and the bounty of water in its varied forms.  josh describes the qualities of water in a most musical, metaphorically rich and very sensuous way.  The sensuous description leaves one wondering how this must have been accepted by a marsia audience more attuned to mourning.  At each turn you think that he might have run out of adjectives, but he keeps going.  Highly enjoyable and entirely secular.

paani 13-25:  josh’s sensuous pictorialization of the qualities of water continues, occasionally giving way to a description of what happens when water is benevolent and kind or when it withholds its benevolence.

pyaas 26-37:  josh takes a sharp turn towards karbala.  husain and his followers were denied access to water.  In these 12 stanzas josh gives an emotional (but still defiant, not pathetic) description of suffering and lament.  Some of the metaphors are simply marvelous.  This set is a bit unusual for josh because it has more than its normal (for josh) share of emotive lamentation.

dilaavari 38-47:  This is a very traditional description of the bravery of husain and his followers with poetic exaggeration.  But the principles of first trying to reason with the opponent, failing which fighting back and staying the course in the face of certain death are highlighted.  Also, josh casts this as a struggle between the early democratic principles of islam against the royal posture adopted by yazid and his forces from the Levant.

Khiraaj 48-59:  This is beautiful and unadulterated praise for husain and highly enjoyable particularly if you accept husain as a poetic symbolism of resistance to absolute power. He also calls upon husain to shake the audience out of its slumber, out of its posture of inaction and urge them resist injustice.