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Ali S. Asani

with a foreword by
Annemarie Schimmel

Publication of
Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Copyright 1991 Ali Sultaan Ali Asani

ISBN 0-93288508x
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 91-076914

Printed by the Office of the University Publisher

Harvard University

Cover design by:

Nita Padamsee

To my patron and my family

and in memoriam

Lichtenstadter (1901-1991)

Author's Note
Note on Transliteration Scheme
The Ismaili Origin of the Bujb Niraiijan
Internal Evidence of Authorship
The Multan Manuscript and
Bijapur Fragments
The Alleged Rivalry between the
QadirI Order and the Ismailis
The Sufi Origin of the Bujb Niraiijan
The Perso-Arabic Script
The Khojki Script
Origin and Background
Khojki in Modern Times: Uniformity
and Demise
Inadequacies of the Khojki Script
The Vowel System
The Consonant System

Table 2.1 Showing Correspondence of

Initial Vowels
Table 2.2 Showing Correspondence of
Noninitial Vowels





Table 2.3 Showing Correspondence of

Description of Texts
The Sufi Version
Siglum: P
The Ismaili Version
The Khojki Manuscripts
Siglum: K= 1
Siglum: K=3




Siglum: K = 5
Printed Editions
The Multan Manuscript
The Major Types of Corruption in
the Ismaili Texts
Misreading of the Perso-Arabic Script
Misreading of Sufi Technical Terms
of Arabic or Persian Origin
Influence of the Gujarati Language
Substitution of Words by Synonyms
Influence of the Khojki Script
Substitution between Pairs of Letters
Inversion of Order of Words
Changes in the Internal V owelling
of Words
Changes Resulting from Attempts to
Give Lines a New Interpretation
Syllable Length
Meter and Verse Forms in the B-ajb Nirafijan
Dohrah (doba)
Tek (refrain)
The Text of the Bujb Nirafijan








Appendix A Verses, Occurring only in

the Ismaili Version
, Appendix B. Verses Occurring Only in
the Sufi Version
i Glossary




Despite the voluminous learned bibliographical work on
Ismaili literature by Ismail Poonawala, precious little is known
among Islamologists about the development of Ismaili poetry
in the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent. The texts of the so-called
ginans, the sacred songs of the Ismailis of the subcontinent,
have been used in the community for a long time, and depending upon the language of the participants in the devotional
services, they are preserved in Sindhi, Panjabi, Gujarati, and
mixed linguistic forms. As they were mostly written down in
the so-called Khojki script, these texts were not accessible to
non-Ismailis. Nowadays, after thousands of Ismailis have
settled in East Africa and the western hemisphere, the largely
obsolete script makes it difficult for the younger generations of
the community to read or understand the original or at least
the traditional texts. Furthermore, the printing process, by
which most of the texts are now published (mainly in Gujarati
script and Latin transliteration), has led to attempts at standardizing the language and, sometimes, the symbolism to make
the sacred songs easier to understand.
The ginans are generally accepted as works of the great
Ismaili daCfs, the preachers who, in the later Middle Ages,
spread the Ismaili teachings in western India, the Indus Valley
and Gujarat. After the fall of the Ismaili state of Alamut
(Iran) in 1256, Ismailism continued often as part of the Sufi
tradition and was thus able to perpetuate the esoteric teaching
of the community without being attacked by the Sunni majority
of the eastern Islamic lands. It is therefore natural that
exchanges between Sufi and Ismaili ideas, concepts, and symbols should have taken place, both groups learning, as it were,
from each other. Some central concepts of both Ismaili and
Sufi teaching, such as the deep veneration of the imam on the
one hand, and of the mystical leader, plr or shaykb, on the
other hand, facilitated such "spiritual osmosis," which much of
the Indo-Muslim literature in regional languages reveals on
closer inspection.


A particularly important document in the girian tradition is

the Bajb Niraiij~ a lengthy poem about the mystical path,
whose oldest form is found in a manuscript in the Perso-Arabic
script. Dr. Ali S. Asani has devoted intense research to reconstituting the text by tracing its language, images, and religious
teachings through different variants in order to come as close
to the original form. Dr. Asani's familiarity with the mystical
tradition in both its IsmaiIi and Sufi form as well as with the
different linguistic strata that appear in this work make his
study indispensable for students of history of religion as well as
specialists in pre-modern Indian languages.
This work will help to familiarize readers - Ismailis and
non-Ismailis alike - with the deep religious feelings expressed
in the ginans, and with the fascinating interaction of the Sufi
and the Ismaili tradition. It will introduce them toa spiritual
world that deserves to be studied in detail. The reader will
gain new insights into a hitherto barely known aspect of Islamic
religious life.
Cambridge MA
Harvard University

Dr. Drs. h.c. Annemarie Schimmel

Professor of Indo-Muslim Culture


This study, a revised version of my Ph.D. dissertation
submitted to Harvard University, pertains to a little-explored
area of Indo-Muslim literature. While there are some critical
editions of works in Arabic andPersian originating from the
"high" Sufi tradition of the subcontinent, studies of vernacular
literature originating from the "low" Sufi tradition have been
relatively scarce. And yet vernacular Sufi literature, by blending Sufi terminology and concepts with. indigenous literary
forms and imagery, was the most important agency through
which Islamic precepts were diffused into the subcontinent's
Muslim and non-Muslim population. This study focuses on a
hitherto unexamined poem from the vernacular Sufi tradition:
the Bujh Niraiijan. The poem, an anonymous, seventeenthcentury Hindustani composition from the QadirI Sufi order, is
of the history of Indo-Muslim literature on two
counts. First, while longer Sufi poems in Hindi:Hindustani:
Urdu from this period are romantic, mystical poems of an allegorical nature, the Bujh Niranjan is a theoretical and didactic
composition, a form rarely seen. Second, the Bujb Niranjan is
the first known example oian Indian Sufi text from thevernacular tradition adopted into the ginan literature of the Ismaili
community of Indo-Pakistan. The work is in two parts. Part 1
discusses the origin and background of the poem- the peculiarities and problems of the scripts in which the various texts of
the poem are preserved (especially the Perso-Arabic and
Khojki scripts)" the extant versions and texts of the poem, and
the poem's prosodial aspects. Part 2 presents a critical edition
of the poem based on texts in the Perso-Arabic"Kbojki, and
Gujaratiscripts. The edited text, which is in transliteration, is
accompanied by a prose translation. In sum, this study,
through this important example in the vernacular, not only
enhances our understanding of Sufi poetry but also offers
methodology that may be employed to approach other similar
works in the tradition.


First and foremost I would like to express my gratitude to
His Highness the Aga Khan for the most generous grants from
his personal scholarship fund, which have supported my program of studies at Harvard and funded the necessary research
for the dissertation on which this book is based. Without His
Highness's strong commitment and interest, the dissertation
would not have been possible. My parents, brothers, and sister
have also been constant and unfailing sources of encouragement and support. In particular, I have been profoundly
touched by the self-sacrifice my parents have shown.
Among the faculty at Harvard, I am most indebted to
Professor Annemarie Schimmel. She is not only an outstanding scholar but also an exemplary teacher, and were it not for
her constant guidance, inspiration, and counsel at every stage,
this work would have been infinitely difficult to complete.
Professor William Graham, a wonderfully supportive teacher,
colleague, and friend, has been instrumental in facilitating the
publication of this study. I am also grateful to Professors
Wheeler Thackston, Diana Eck, and Brian Silver (now with the
Voice of America, Urdu service), each of whom gave freely of
their time and offered suggestions and valuable assistance.
Professors Peter Gaeffke of the University of Pennsylvania
and Christopher Shackle of the University of London went
through the initial draft of the text and the translation of the
Bujh Niraiijan and gave much-appreciated advice on several
problems related to the text and to methodology.
lowe a substantial debt to many people in the subcontinent for the hospitality and cooperation extended to me during
my dissertation research trip in 1981. In Pakistan, I would like
to thank the president, members, and staff of the then Ismailia
Association for Pakistan, in particular Mr. Hoosein Khanmohamed, Mr. Hashim Moledina, Mr. Mohamed Bacchal, and
Mr. Nurdin Bakhsh. I acknowledge the valuable assistance
given by Mr. Mumtaz Ali Tajddin Sadik Ali, who also supplied
me with. copies of some of the manuscripts used in this study.
My relatives in Karachi, especially the late Mrs. Shahanshah


Jindani, her husband Abdulmalik, arid Mr. Sadrudin G. Bandeali, were most kind during my stay in that country. In India, I
thank the president and members of the staff of the then
Ismailia Association for India for their warm welcome and
kindness. Mr. Chottu Lakhani of Bombay, in particular,
assisted me beyond the call of duty and "adopted" me into his
charming family.,
I am conscious of my debt to many friends and colleagues
for their support, but I can mention only a few names. Pro"'
fessor SadruP. Kabani and Dr. Susan Plourde, Professor Janet
Levine of Baruch, Professor Wayne Eastman of Rutgers, Dr.
Ludwig Weber, Dr. Brian Fallon, Mr. Mahmud Sayani, and the
Damji family of Boston have all helped in one form or another.
I am also indebted to several of my friends on the staff of
Harvard College Library, in particular Ms. Carol Alexander,
Ms. Thelma Suarez, Ms. Barbara Dames, Ms. Stase Cibas, and
Ms. Pam Rowe for'their sympathy, warmth, and friendship,
which sustained me during the various ups and downs of this
work. Special thanks to Mr.Michael Currier for helping in
ways he knows best.
I acknowledge with much appreciation the efforts and
support of Ms. Carol Cross of Harvard's Department of Near
Eastern Languages and Civilizations in the preparation of the
camera-ready copy of a difficult and demanding text.
Last but riot least, I wish to express many, many thanks to
my dear friend Dr. Joel Brenner, who carefully read the first
draft of the original dissertation, helped me with eccentricities
of the English language, and suggested several improvements.


Author's Note
In 1984 when the Ph.D. dissertation on which this book is
based was submitted to Harvard University, several members
of the Ismaili community expressed concern about the implications of my scholarship. For the first time, a text from the community's religious literature, the ginans, had been critically
edited using manuscript sources. By suggesting that the Bujh
Niraftjan may not have been composed by an Ismaili pIr
(preacher-saint), specifically PIr Sadr ad-DIn, as is commonly
believed in the community, I had challenged not only the
Ismaili origin of the work but also, it seemed to some, its
legitimacy as a part of the ginan literature~ The corpus of
devotional poems (ginans) that constitute this literature dominates and permeates every aspect of the community's religious
life. Indeed, as I have discussed elsewhere,1 in many respects
the ginans playa "scriptural" role for the Ismailis of the Indian
subcontinent. They are the focus of intense veneration within
the community. For those who revere them, they are the
embodiment of the faith: the substantiation of the truth of the
faith as preached by the pIrs, the preacher-saints who are
believed to have composed them .. From the point of view of
the faithful, the legitimacy of the ginans as hymns appropriate
for the religious edification of the Ismailis is based on one
single factor, namely, their authorship by the Ismaili pIrs. Not
surprisingly, everyone of these poems end's with a verse or
verses identifying the composer. These authorship verses
impress on the individual ginans the seal of authority and credence. 2 Clearly, my investigations into the authorship of a
l"The Ismaili Ginans as Devotional Literature," Devotional Literature
in South Asia: Current Research 1985-8, ed. R. S. McGregor (CambrIdge:
Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 1992),101-112.
2Interestingly enough, several compositions attributed to individuals
who technically did not have the "official" status of pIr, namely the so-called
"unauthorized" pm, are commonly accepted as part of the ginan literature.
Examples of "unauthorized" pirs include Imam Shah (d. 1513) and Nar
Mul.tammad Shah (d. c. 1534), the pivotal figures of a sixteenth-century
schismatic group, the Imam-ShaMs, and the sayyids who disseminated
religious teaching within Ismaili communities in the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries.


ginan as important as the Bujb Nirafijan and my conclusions

concerning its Sufi origin seemed irreverent.
The attribution of the ginans to the Ismaili pITS raises
vexed questions concerning authenticity that may never be satisfactorily answered. Historians of religion are only too
familiar with similar concerns that surround "sacred" literatures in other religious traditions, especially those literatures
that are "popular" in nature and predominantly oral in their
mode of transmission. Thus, for example, questions of authenticity and authorship are significant concerns for students of
two major Indian devotional literatures with strong literary and
thematic parallels to the ginans - the songs of the poet-saints
(the sants and bhaktas) of medieval India and the hymn-like
poems attributed to the Sikh gurus. In both cases, as with the
ginans, authorship and authority are closely intertwined.3 And
in both cases, we will probably never be able to determine
authorship with certainty for we simply do not have sufficiently
convincing corroborative evidence. In fact linguistic and
philological analysis of these texts sometimes suggests the
From a scholarly point of view perhaps the more fruitful
qu~stions we need to ask regarding these literatures should
focus on their contextual or functional relationship with their
respective communities. 4 Ultimately, texts are "sacred" only
when a religious community is able to discover religious meaning and truth within them. Authorship by an important religious personality becomes, then, an important means of legitimatizing or validating the use of such texts. Viewed from this
perspective, the Bujh Niraftjan belongs to the ginan literature,
its Sufi origin notwithstanding, because Ismaili audiences were
able to interpret its mysticism and esotericism within a meaningful Ismaili context and chose to adopt i l as their own. A text
becomes what its audience wants it to become.

3Por an illuminating and detailed discussion of the issue see J ahn

Stratton Hawley, "Author and Authority in Bhakti Poetry," Journal of Asian
Studies 47 no. 2 (May 1988), 269-290.
4William A. Graham's Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of
Scripture in the History of Religion (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge
University Press, 1987) contains much discussion on the "relational,
contextual, or functional" qualities of sacred texts.


Note on the Transliteration Scheme

1. For the complete transliteration scheme employed in
this study the reader is referred to the tables at the end of
Chapter 2.
2. The short a vowel implicit at the end of words is not
indicated in the transliteration unless it is articulated.
3. The Arabic harnza, especially when it is word-final, is
4. The Perso-Arabic letter ':''' b transliterated either as w
5. The Perso-Arabic letter "t," is transliterated as kh to
distinguish it from kh, the aspirated form in lndic languages for
the letter k.

6. No distinction is made between the letters "~" and ''lSf''

from the DevanagarI alphabet: both are transcribed as sh.
7. The nasalized lndic sounds anusvara and anunasik are
both transliterated by ii.
8. Diacritics have been omitted from foreign words that
have common usage in EI).glish such as Ismaili, Shii, shaikh,
and so on.


The Bujh Nirailjan

When that powerful love surges from the heart,
Mother, father, all [other] love is forgotten.
[Even] t4e woma.n of that house is forgotten;
What [place then] remains for both mother-in-law
and sister-in-law?
This simple but eloquent quatrain, describing the transforming effects of divine love on the personality of the mysticlover, belongs to the Bujh Niraftjan, an important poem from
the ginan literature of the Ismaili community of Indo-Pakistan.
According to community tradition, the approximately 800
ginans, or religious poems, which constitute this literature,
were composed by IsmailidaCfs (missionaries) between the
thirteenth and early twentieth centuries. The principal purpose of these poems was to provide religious instruction to new
conVerts from the Hindu: tradItion to Islam in its specifically
Ismaili form. 1
The strong mystical and spiritual temperament of the work
has made the Bujb Niraftjan a very popular ginan within the
community. Selections from it are recited almost daily before
the early morning zikr or meditation service held in the
jama'1it kbanah (house of congregation). Since the zikr among
the Ismailis is a silent one (Zikr-i khafr), the recitation of verses
from a mystical oriented ginan like the Bujh Niraftjan assists
considerably in establishing the appropriate mood before further meditation commences. The impact that many of the
verses of the Bujb Niraftjan have had on members of the
Ismaili community has been so great that the poem has been
termed one of the "great classical ginans.,,2 In the Gujarati
preface to a recent edition, the work is called an "incomparable treasure" (ajoQ kbazano) , and the au thor of the same
preface expresses the hope that in the not too distant future
"the world will be able to see the splendour (prakash) of this
treasure which has remained hidden for eight hundred years
Composed in medieval Hindustani,4 the Bujb Niraftjan is
only one among a myriad of works of Indo-Muslim literature

that utilize the vernacular languages of the subcontinent. Studies of the Islamic tradition indicate that this literature in the
vernacular, rather than the literature in the c1assial Islamic
languages, Arabic and Persian, was responsible for the spread
of Islamic precepts in the area; Discussing the significant role
of the Indian vernacular languages, Annemarie Schimmel
writes that the masses "understood. neither Arabic, the language of the QurJan and of the lawyers divine, nor Persian, the
language of poetry and historiography."S Consequently, literature in the vernaculars was instrumental in carrying the message of Islam, especially mystical Islam, to the masses. 6 The
role of the Sufis; or Islamic mystics, in the development of
these vernacular literatures in the subcontinent has been universally acknowledged} For example, Richard Eaton, in his
study of the ChishtiSufi order in Bijapur, points out thatfolk
literature composed in Dakhniby members of this order, by
blending the simplest tenets of Islam and the terminology of
the Sufi tradition with the imagery of existing indigenous
literary forms, played a profound role in the gradual acculturation of-the region's lower classes to the Islamic tradition. 8
On the other hand, Asim Roy. talks of the masses of Muslim
believers in Bengal who would have been debarred from the
Islamic tradition "by a linguistic and culturalbarrier,,9 had it
not been for the "cultural mediators" of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries who began the great task of making religious traditions available to Muslim folk in familiar and intelligible terms in the Bengali language. IO
Indeed, the Ismaili ginan literature to which the Bujh
Niraiijan belongsforms an interesting example of a genre of
Indo-Muslim vernacular literature used to propagate the
Ismaili form of Islam in the Punjab, Sind, and Gujarat.1 1
Composed in several Indian dialects, such as Sindhi, Punjabi,
Gujarati, Milltani, and Kacchi, and employing folk meters and
indigenous musical modes, the ginans may be categorized into
the five major thematic types: (1) conversion,portraying Islam,
specifically the Ismailiinterpretation of it, as the completion of
the Vaishnavite Hindu tradition; (2) didactic, imparting ethical
and moral instruction for the conduct of worldly and religious
life; (3) mystical, including guides for spiritual progress and literary expressions inspired by mystical experiences; (4) liturgical, recited at the performance of certain religious rituals or on

specific religIous festivals; (5) cosmological and eschatological,

concerning theories of the origin and end of creation.
in spite of its seminal role in the history of the Islamic
tradition in the subcontinent, literature in the vernaculars has
been the target of much disdain. The ,orthodox and elite establishments of the Muslim community were opposed "to reducing
the sublime religious truth, enshrined in Arabic and Persian, to
a 'profane' and 'vulgar' local language." 12 So strong was this
disdain that up to A.D. 1600 the few Muslim writers who dared
to write in an Indic language found it necessary to apologize to
their readers and urge them to look beyond the medium to the
meaning, beyond the external to .the internal.13 In Bengal, a
fatva (legal decision) was issued by Muslim .divines castigating
Bengali as "the language of the Hiridus," supporting the prevailing prejudice against Bengali translations of the Qur:>an
and badI~ and forbidding the discussion of any Islamic matter
in this language.1 4 Scholars of the Islamic tradition in the area
may explain the existence of this contemptuous hostility toward
the vernacular literature by pointing to the dichotomy and
tension within Indian Islam either between the ashraf (the
ruling classes of foreign origin) and the ajlaf (the native
indigenous converts), 15 or between two antagonistic facets, the
"prophetic-separatistic" and the "mystico-syncretistic," 16 or
between two distinct elements in the tradition: "one ultimate
and formal, derived from Islamic texts; the other proximate
and local, validated by' custom." 17 What,ever viewpoint we
may choose to adopt, this prejudice against literature in the
vernacular is a salient feature of Indian Islam. It was only with
the decline and break-up of the Mughal empire in the late
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries that the "literary
tyranny" 18 of the classical Islamic languages was overthrown
and vernacular literature began to receive an apprehensive and
hesitant acceptance from the Muslim establishment.
The surprising result of this prejudice is the sad neglect of
this important literature by most Islamicists.The neglect, however, extends beyond vernacular literature for Imtiaz Ahmad
points out that it encompasses also the diversity of beliefs,
rituals, and practices that are the special characteristic of Islam
in a particular region.1 9 By focusing their studies only on the
universal and hence "normative" aspects of Ishimic civilization,
many Islamicists have failed to consider and analyze "the

response of the Islamic religious tradition to different cultural

situations and contexts and the adaptations and adjustments
that it had to make in the course of its journey from its West
Asian heartland to distant parts of the world.,,20 It is this
"normative" approach to the study of Islam in the subcontinent
which led Aziz Ahmad to remark that the Ismaili ginan literature "lacks the Islamic personality.,,21
Thus while there is some scholarship on Arabic and Persian works originating from the "high" Islamic tradition in the
subcontinent, studies of the vernacular literature have been
relatively scarce. Only in the last four or five decades have
attempts been made to study this literature. 22 However, much
work still needs to b.e undertaken before we are in a position
not only to appreciate fully the wealth and diversity of this
literature, but also to develop interpretations of these works,
both individually and collectively. The first essential step in
this direction is the preparation of critical editions of as many
works within this literary tradition as possible. Thi~ is by no
means an easy task for there are several obstacles that have to
be overcome.
First, there is the problem of manuscripts. Due to the
harsh climatic conditions in the subcontinent, few surviving
manuscripts preserve the texts of these works in their original
form. Whatever survives by way of later corrupted. texts is in a
dismal state. The low level of scholarly interest in this field has
meant that many manuscripts preserving this literature have
yet to be identified and collected, let alone be cataloged. This
negligence has had obvious consequences for our knowledge of
the history of such literature in several Indian vernaculars. A
typical case that may be cited here concerns the work of one of
the pioneers of Islamic mystical poetry in the Sindhi language,
Qa?I Qadan (1463-1551). Until a few years ago, only seven
baits (verses) of his poetry were known to scholars of Sindhi
literature. Then in 1975, Raja Ram ShashtrI, a scholar from
Haryana, discovered a late seventeenth- or early eighteenthcentury manuscript containing, among other medieval compositions, 112 baits by this poet. The discovery of this manuscript
in a tiny village in Haryana was of great significance for it
contributed an entirely new perspective on the history of
Sindhi literature. 23
Another problem concerns the form of the language used

in much of this literature. Many of the vernaculars occur in

their archaic, medieval forms, and very often a poet may
choose to use a dialectical form of a word that either is not
documented in modern lexica or is no longer in common use.
At times scholars have to resort to guessing at the meaning and
derivation of words. Not surprisingly, this may result in conflicting translations. As an example of this difference in
opinion, we may cite the meaning of the word salara in the
recently discovered manuscript of Qa?I Qadan's poetry. While
Hiro Thakur interprets the word to mean "a frog,"24 Motilal
Jotwani, another Sindhi scholar, expressed the view that the
word may mean ''weeds!''25
The problem of language is compounded by problems
associated with the scripts in which this literature is recorded.
Since this literature was composed by Muslims, manuscripts
often use the Perso-Arabic script. Unfortunately this script is
used in a form not adequately developed to express all the
peculiarities of the Indian languages. Reconstructing a medieval Indian text from manuscripts in Perso-Arabic characters is
a difficult task for not only are dots and diacritics omitted but
no distinction is made between related letters (e.g., band p, d
and Q, t and t) or aspirated and unaspirated sounds. Legibility
of the script may also become an issue if a particularly ambiguous style of the Perso-Arabic script has been used such as
shikasta. S. M. Pandey has discussed the problems encountered in the editing of Perso-Arabic manuscripts of Maulana
Daad's Candayan, one of the earliest texts of Sufi literature ;in
Hindi,26 and the problems raised by the Perso-Arabic manuscript of the Bujb Niraftjan will be discussed later in this
study.27 A problem of a different nature arises if the texts are
written in local and regional scripts such as the LaI).Qa scripts of
Sind. Many of these scripts are not well suited for literary
purposes and are so riddled with ambiguities that they are "seldom legible to anyone except the original writer and not always
to him.,,28
A fourth category of problems concerns the role of the
scribe in the transmission process. The several different kinds
of errors may creep into a text during its transcription are well
known. 29 In addition, texts of the vernacular literature dealing
with Isla.mic themes and concepts will often contain related
Perso-Arabic vocabulary. The scribe's ignorance of this vocab-

ulary and the subject matter in'generalmay often have serious

consequences on the readings of the text. 30 If the scribe was
not familiar with, the vernacular language of the text then we
can expect many errors regarding :grammar, orthography; prosody, and'so on.3 1 AsimRoy points out that a scribe may also
interpolate a few verses into the text under "an indomitable
impulse to seek poetic glory."32 If few other manuscripts are
available, such 'interpolations may be difficult to detect.
Finally, since the authorship of many works in the vernacular
tradition is uncertain, scribes may also claim authorship either
for themselves or attribute it to their favorite poet.
Furthermore, as has been shown in the case of Sind, the
Punjab, and Bijapur,33 the Vernacular literature was intimately
connected with the local oral and folk music traditions. This
relationship has been influential in determining the nature of
much vernacular literature, especially poetry, and is a factor
that the student must always bear in mind. Unfortunately not
much'research has been conducted' on the various aspects of
this relationship; and as Bryant, in his study of the Hindi poetry
of Surdas, suggests, "It is a realm where the, student of literature and the musicologists must eventually join forces~"34
In spite of all the problems associated with its study,35 the
vernacular literature has played too important a role in the
subcontinent's cultural and religious history to be neglected. 36
This study examines a few significant aspects of a poem from
the vast tradition of Islamic vernacular literature, the Blljb
Niraftjan; Part 1 discusses the origin and background of the
Bojb Nirafljan, scripts used in available texts of the work and
the problems associated with them, a description of the versions and texts, and an analysis of the poem's prosodial system.
Admittedly, there are other aspects to the Blljb Nirafljan, such
as the role of music, that also require our attention, but these
not only are beyond the,competence of this writer but also
would uIlduly lengthen this study. Part 2 presents a critically
edited text and translation of the poem.
The discussion in Part 1 reveals that, thoughBlljhNirafljan
presently is part ofthe grnan literature of the Ismailicommunity of the subcontinent, it originally belonged to themedieval
vernacular Sufi literature of the region. The poem illustrates
well several of the structural and thematic features of this
genre of mystical literature. , These characteristics may be

summarized as follows:
1. The use of indigenous literary forms: The move away from
the use of the classical languages, Arabic and Persian, also
meant the abandonment of Arabic and Persian verse forms
and meters. The Bl1jh Niraiijan; for example, utilizes the
Indian verse forms of the caupaJ and the dohrah. Other
indigenous forms used in Sufi vernacular poetry include
the sIlJarfr or Cautisa, the barahmasa, the kafr, the wai, the
carkha-nama or kapaitI, the cakkr-nama, and the lorinama. 37
2. The use of indigenous names to refer to God: The Bl1jh
Niraftjan, as the title itself indicates, uses an indigenous
Indian name, Niraiijan, to refer to God instead of the traditional Allah. Other indigenous names used in the work
include hari, syam, bidaha, ram, and gusaIii. This practice
of using such indigenous names is widespread in Sufi vernacular literature, and dates backseveral centuries. As
early as the fourteenth century, the orthodox Suhrawardr
saint of Ucch, Makhdllm-i Jahaniyan Jahangasht (d. 1385),
prohibited the use of Indian names of God in popular worship.38
Strong emphasis on the importance of love on the mystical
. path: Most of this literature sees love as the essence of
divine nature and hence advocates love, rather than barren
intellectualism and scholarship, as an effective means for
approaching God. This anti-intellectual bias often takes
the form of attacks on the mulla (theological scholar) who
symbolizes dry, fossilized learning. The Bujh Niraiijan's
stance on this issue is well illustrated in the following
Alas for those who have not attained his [the lover's]
And call themselves mullas and scholars!
The learning through which [true] knowledge [of God]
is not acquired,
Such learning should be tossed to the dust!39
4. The use of the woman as symbol for the human soul:
While the woman is usually a negative symbol in Arabic
and Persian poetry, in the v~rnacular literature the Indian
symbol of the virahinI or woman longing for her husband is


adopted into an Islamic setting and appears as the womansoul who longs to be reunited with the Divine Beloved. 40
The Bujh Nirafijan adds a new dimension to the symbol of
the virahinI (or birahI) by introducing the symbol of the
v~lI. The term v~lI is an adaptation of the Arabic noun
v~l (union) used in Sufi terminology to refer to the final
state of union between the soul and God. The addition of
an I suffix to the word produces the term v~lI, which in
contrast to virahinI or birahI, represents the woman-soul
already united with the Divine Beloved. 41
5. Highly exalted status of the spiritual preceptor: The
spiritual guide or preceptor plays an important role in
classical Sufi theory, for without his guidance the novice
would stray from the mystic path. Vernacular Sufi literature, while acknowledging this role of the shaikh, pIr, or
guru, often also accords an almost divine nature of the
mystic guide. The Bujh Niraiijan describes the guide as
the m~ar ilahI, that is, the locus of the divine manifestation. 42 This tendency in the literature is a consequence of
the important role that the veneration of saints plays in
folk Islam in the subcontinent.
6. The strong influence of the wabdat al-wujud theories:
Wa1;tdat al-wujud, "Unity of Being," theories propounded
by the Sufi Ibn cArabI (d. 1240) were popular in many
parts of the Islamic world, but they were especially influential in the subcontinent.. Almost all Sufi poetry in the
vernaculars is saturated with the idea of Unity of Being. 43
Under the influence of these theories, vernacular poetry
often contains paradoxical statements about the unity and
multiplicity of the Divine Essence. The following quatrain
from the Bujh Nirafijan is a good illustration:
He Himself is the mulla and He Himself is the q~I;
He Himself is God (bidaha) and the person
performing the ritual prayer (namazI);
See the entire world as the play of the Beloved;
The beloved Himself is at play.44
The Bojh Niraiijan is of significance in the history of the
vernacular Sufi literature on two counts. First, most of the
other longer poetic compositions in Hiridi-Hindustani-Urdu
from the medieval period are mystical and allegorical inter-


pretations of Indian romantic epics. This genre of vernacular

literature, developed under the influence of the Persian
ma~navI tradition, included works such as Maulana Daud's
Candayan (composed 1379), Kutuban's Mrigavau (composed
1503), Malik Mul)ammad J aisI's Padmavat (composed in
1540), Manjhan's MadhumaltI (composed in 1545), Usman's
CitravalI (composed in 1613), Shaikh N abI's Jnanadlp
(composed in 1617), I:Iusain cAlI's PuhupawatI (composed in
1725), Qasim Shah's Hafts Jawahar (composed in 1736), and
Nur Mul)ammad's IndrawatI and Anurag BansurI (composed
between 1744 and 1774). The Bujh Niraftjan, on the other
hand, provides us with a rare example of a theoretical and
didactic composition from the North Indian vernacular Sufi
tradition. 45 Second, as has already been alluded to above, the
poem is the first known example of an Indian Sufi text from the
vernacular tradition adopted into the Ismaili ginan literature.
Specifically, there is substantial evidence indicating that the
work originated from the QadirI Sufi order. It is to a consideration of this evidence that we now turn.


IFor sources on the ginan literature see Ali S. Asani, "The Ismaili
Ginans as Devotional Literature," Devotional Literature in South Asia: Current Research, 1985-88, ed. S. McGregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, forthcoming); Ali S. Asani, "The Ginan Literature of the Ismailis of
Indo-Pakistan: Its origins, characteristics, and themes," Devotion Divine, ed.
D. Eck and F. Mallison (Groningen and Paris: Egbert Forsten and Ecole
Fran<;aise d'Extreme Orient, 1991), 1-18; Ali S. Asani, "The IsmaCUi Ginan
Literature: Its Structure and Love Symbolism" (A.B. honors thesis, Harvard
College, 1977); V. N. Hooda, "Some Specimens of Satpanth Literature,"
Collectanea, vol. 1 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1948), 55-137; Wladimir Ivanow,
"Satpanth," Collectanea, vol. 1, 1-54; Wladimir Ivanow, The Isma"ilI
Literature, A Bibliographic Survey, 2d ed. (Tehran: Ismaili Society, 1963),
174~181; Azim Nanji, The Nizari Isma,lT Tradition in the Indo-Pakistan
Subcontinent (Delmar, 'NY: Caravan Books, 1978), 7-24, 120-130; Ismail
Poonawala, Bibliography of Isma"ili Literature (Malibu, CA: Undena, 1977),
2R. D. Shariff, "Buj Niranjan," Roshni (Ismailia Association for the
United States of America) 3 (December 1980): 25.
3Kasamali M. Jafar, "Preface," Buj Niraiijan (Karachi: Ismailia Association for Pakistan, 1976), n.p. (my translation from the Gujarati). '
4The term Hindustani is used in this study to refer to the medieval
lingua franca of North India, written by Muslims in the Perso-Arabic characters. In the modern period, the language of the Bujh Niranjan would be
classified as Hindi. The terms Hindustani and Hindi are therefore used
interchangeably in this study.
5Annemarie Schimmel, "The Influence of Sufism on Indo-Muslim
Poetry," in Anagogic Qualities of Literature, ed. Joseph P. Strelka, 196
(University Park PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971), 196.
6Annemarie Schimmel, As through a Veil: Mystical Poetry in Islam
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 136.
7For a discussion of the role of the Sufis in the development of Islamic
vernacular literatures see Ali S. Asani, "Sufi Poetry in the Folk Tradition of
Indo-Pakistan," Religion and Literature 20.1 (1988): 81-94.
8Richard Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur 1300-1700 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 174.
9Asim Roy, The Islamic Syncretistic Tradition in Bengal (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1983), 7.
10Ibid., 72.
llCommenting on the mode of conversion employed by the Ismaili P-rrs,
to whom the tradition attributes the authorship of the ginans, Wladimir
Ivanow says that one of their bold tactics was "in separating the meaning and
spirit of Islam from its hard Ai-abic shell .... They [the PIrs] explained the
high ideals of Islam in the familiar terms of the ancestral religion and culture
of the new converts, Hinduism, striving to make them good mumins, sincere
adepts of the spirit of Islam rather than muslims, i.e., those who formally
profess Islam, often without paying attention to its spirit and implications."
"Satpanth.' Collectanea, 1, 21.
12R,)y, The Islamic Syncretistic Tradition, 58.


13ryp ica1 of such apologies is the one found at the beginning of Shams
aVUshshaq ~lfanjrs Shahadat al-J:laqlqat, a Hindi poetic treatise on Sufism
composed in the late fifteenth century. In his apology, the author states that
the work has been written in Hindi because many people do not understand
either Arabic or Persian. According to him, a person ought not to go by the
external (~ahir) but should ponder the internal (ba!in). Whatever the
medium communication or language employed, a person ought to ponder the
meaning. As quoted in MaulawI cAbd al-l:faqq, UrdU ki Ibtidacr Nashwo
Numa men Siifiya'-i !Gram ka Kam (Aligarh: Anjuman-i Taraqqi-i Urdu
Hind, 1968), 41-42.
14Ibid.,67. Asim Roy also notes a similar attitude among the medieval
Hindu elite toward the use of Bengali for religious purposes. See ibid., 79-80.
Professor Schimmel points out that, as late as 1963, a child listening to his
father's Bengali poetry in praise of the Prophet, made the remark, "Daddy,
does God understand Bengali?" (Personal communication.)
15Cf. Imtiaz Ahmad, "The ashraf-ajlaf Dichotomy in Muslim Social
Structure in India," Indian Economic and Social History Review 3 (1966): 6878. Eaton discusses the animosity between the Foreigner and Deccani
classes in South India in Sufis of Bijapur, 42-43; 90-91.
16Annemarie Schimmel, "Reflections on Popular Muslim Poetry," Contributions to Asian Studies, 17 (1982): 18.
17Imtiaz Ahmad, "The Islamic Tradition in India," Islam and the
Modem Age, 12(1) (1981): 53.
. 18Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur, 139.
19Ahmad, "The Islamic Tradition in India," 44.
2OIbid. For a brief discussion on the subject, see Dale F. Eickelman,
"The Study of Islam in Local Contexts," Contributions to Asian Studies, 17
(19821 1-6.
1Aziz Ahmad, An Intellectual History of Islam in India (Edinburgh:
Edinburgh University Press, 1969), 126.
22Some of the more important studies include Lakshmi Dhar,
Padumavati (London: Luzac & Co., 1949) (this is a critical edition and
linguistic study of the important epic by Mul;tammad JaisI); Eaton, Sufis of
Bijapur, esp. chap. 6, "Sufis as Literati," 135-174; Enamul Haque, Muslim
Bengali Literature (Karachi: Pakistan Publications, 1957); Lajwanti Ramakrishna, Panjabi Sufi Poets (London: Oxford University Press, 1938); Roy,
The Islamic Syncretistic Tradition in Bengal, esp. pt. 1; Schimmel, As
through a Veil: Mystical Poetry in Islam, esp. chap. 4, "The Voice of Love:
Mystical Poetry in the Vernaculars"; Annemarie Schimmel, Pain and Grace:
A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteenth Century Muslim India
(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976); Annemarie Schimmel, Sindhi Literature, 'vol. 8, pt.
2, of History of Indian Literature, ed. Jan Gonda (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz,
23Hiro J. Thakur, ed., Q3.?i' Qadan jo kalam (Delhi: Puja Publications,
1978) is a critical edition, with commentary in Sindhi, of the poet's work
based on the Haryana manuscript. A transliteration and English translation
of the newly-discovered verses appear in Motilal Jotwani, "Sindhi Sufi Poet
Qm Qadan: His Poetry in Transliteration and Translation," Punjab University Journal of Medieval Indian Literature 5 (1981): 41-70.
24See commentary for verses 17 and 18 in Thakur, ed., Q3.?i Qadan jo
kalam, 9.


25Dr. J otwani expessed this view at a seminoron the poetry of Qli+i

Qadan held at Harvard University in spring 1980. However, in a later article,
Dr. Jotwani translates the word as "frog." See Jotwani, "Sindhi Sufi Poet
Qm Qadan," 52.
26S. M. Pandey, "Some Problems in Studying Candayan," Orientalia
Lovaniensia Analecta 8 (1980): 127-140.
27See 48-5l.
28George Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, vol. 8, pt. 1, p. 247
(Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, 1903-28).
Since some of the texts of the Biijh N"rr3iijan used in this study are in Khojki,
a LaI;u;la script employed by the Ismailis of the subcontinent, the problems
associated with this script will be discussed in Chapter 2.
29See S. M. Katre, Introducton to Indian Textual Criticism, 2d ed.,
chap. 5, "Causes of Corruption in a Transmitted Text" (Poona: Deccan College of Postgraduate Studies and Research Institute, 1954), 54-62.
30Por the fate of Arabic and Persian terminology of the Biijh N"rraiijan
in Khoti and Gujarati texts, see 94-95. .
3 Dr. Jotwani states that, because the scribe who prepared the Haryana
manuscript of Q~ Oadan's poetry was a non-Sindhi, '~many mistakes showing themselves in bad grammar and prosody crept in." "Sindhi Sufi Poet Om
Oadan" 42.
32Roy, Islamic Syncretistic Tradition, 9.
33Por Sind, see Schimmel, Sindhi Literature, 5-10, and Motilal Jotwani,
Shah Abdul LatIf: His Life and Work (Delhi: Delhi University Press, 1975),
75-92. Por Punjab, Ramakrishna, Panjabi Sufi Poets, xxii-xxx. Por Bijapur,
see Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur, 157-164.
34Kenneth Bryant, Poems to .the Child-God (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1978), 133.
.35Kenneth Bryant makes the following comment on the study of Hindi
literature: "exasperation remains an inseparable companion on a scholarly
foray into the chaos of medieval Hindi literature." Ibid, vii. The comment is
equally applicable to study of medieval Indian vernacular literatures in general.
36We have already indicated the importance of this literature in the
spread of Islam in the subcontinent. The importance of vernacular literature
in the Hindu bhakti movement is too well known to warrant documentation
37In the si1;tarfi each verse begins with a letter of the Perso-Arabic
alphabet; in the eautisa each verse begins with a letter from the Indian alphabet; the barahmasa are twelve-month poems in which the poet expresses his
feelings toward a beloved in each month; the kafi and wai are Sindhi verse
forms in which one basic verse announces the rhyme and tune and is then
repeated after each verse; earkha-nama or kapaiti is a form of folk poetry
sung by women to accompany their work at the spinning wheel; the Cakkinama is a form of folk poetry sung by women to accompany their work at the
grindstone; the lori-nama is a lullaby.
38S chimmel, "Reflections on Popular Muslim Poetry," 18.
39Poem 29, quatrain 3.
40Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1975),434.
41Por use of the woman-soul symbol in the ginan literature see Ali S.
Asani, "Bridal Symbolism in the Ismaili Ginan Liteniture," Typologies of


Mysticism: Historical and Cultural Background, ed. R. Herrera and R. LinkSalin~er (Catholic University Press of America, forthcoming).
2Poem 9, quatrain 4.
43Schimmel, AS through a Veil: Mystical Poetry in Islam, 151.
44Poem 30, quatrain 3.
45Some of the Dakhni compositions of Burhan ad-DIn Janam (d. 1597)
and Mul).ammad Ma1;unud Bal).rf (d. 1717-18) are examples of didactic Sufi
poetry from the South Indian tradition. Cf. Muhammad Hafiz Syed, "Qadr
Mal).mud Bal).rI: A Mystic Poet of the 12th Century (A.H.) and His Poetical
Works," Allahabad University Studies 6 (1929): 445-478; Muhammad Hafiz
Syed, "Suk Sahela of Shah Burhanuddin J anam," Allahabad University Studies 6, pt. 1 (1930): 487-509; Muhammad Hafiz Syed, "ManfaCatu"l Iman of
Shah Burhanuddin Janam," Allahabad University Studies 8, pt. 1 (1931): 47198.



Sometime in the early 1970s, Zawahir Noorally, then a
research assoCiate with the Ismailia Association for Pakistan,
unearthed at the India Office Library in London a hitherto
unexamined manuscript of the Bujh Nirafljan. 1 Consisting of
some 600 verses arranged in 34 parts, the Bujh Nirafljan (the
title means "knowledge of the Attributeless One") is a didactic
religious poem in medieval Hindustani that seeks to guide
Muslim novices through the stages and states of spiritual development. It is an important poem, particularly within the corpus of the Ismaili gin an literature, and its discovery in an
. eighteenth-century manuscript written in the Perso-Arabic
script is of great significance~ The version of the poem used
among the Ismailis has for a long time been rife with textual
obscurities, particularly when it comes to Sufi technical terms.
These obscurities have been major obstacles to a complete
understanding of the text. With the discovery of the India
Office manuscript, which is far older than any other version of
the poem, these problems in the traditional Ismaili texts can be
solved. 2
The chief significance of the manuscript - which is disturbing to many - is greater than this, however. The ginan literature had been traditionally considered, without exception, to
be the exclusive tradition of the Ismaili community of IndoPakistan. Now, for the first time a ginan manuscript had been
discovered which, as we shall see below, seems to have originated in non-Ismaili circles. The India Office manuscript
immediately appears strange to anyone acquainted with ginan
texts because it begins with the invocation ya gau~ al-a~
the epithet associated with the Sufi master cAbd aI-Qadir alOIl anI (1077/8-1166), thus implying that the scribe, if not the
author himself, was affiliated to the QadirI Sufi order. This, in
itself, might not appear wholly extraordinary if the manuscript
did not also possess three other unusual characteristics. First,
it is the Only known ginan manuscript from the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries that is not written in the Khojki script.3


Instead, it was written in the Perso-Arabic script by an anonymous scribe and dated 4 Jumada al-awwal [sic] 1136 A.H. (30
January 1724). Second, Ismaili tradition ascribed the authorship of the work to the fifteenth-century Ismaili dacr (preachersaint) PIr Sadrad-Dln largely on the basis of a verse in the
poem in which his name appears.4 But this verse reads differently in the India Office manuscript. Instead of the name of
the Ismaili dace, the verse in the manuscript refers to "nabI," an
epithet that in this context could refer only to the Prophet
Mul;mmmad. Third, not only do the India Office manuscript
and the traditional Ismaili version differ in the sequence in
which some of the poems were arranged, but the manuscript
includes an entire poem that does not occur in the Ismaili version. This poem is the twelfth in the manuscript and is entitled
in Persian, "On the law [sharrcat] of Muhammad the chosen
one [al-m~lafa], may the peace and blessings of God be upon
him." It a strict observance of the ritualistic or
exoteric aspects of Islam. The absence of this poem from the
Ismaili version is not difficult to explain, for its precepts run
counter to the esoteric interpretation of Islam favored in
Ismaili circles.
Clearly, the manuscript raises questions about the traditionally accepted view that the Bujb Niraiijan has an Ismaili
origin. The issue is a sensitive one, and it is therefore not
surprising that when the Ismailia Association of Pakistan published a revised edition of the Bujh Niraiijan in February 1976,
based in part on the India Office manuscript, it avoided the
question of origin altogether. Emphasis was placed rather on
clarifying obscurities and eliminating distortions within the
traditional Ismaili version of the poem. Since the text of the
Bujb Niraiijan itself contains many abstruse concepts and terms
that need elucidation, the 1976 edition was also supplied with a
Gujarati commentary so that the community could better
understand the work and know "how to live a spirituallife."S
The issue of origin was apparently thought unnecessary, or
inappropriate, to raise.
Normally the appearance of a new edition of a ginan is not
an unusual event in the Ismaili community. Few community
members take notice of such things. It is rare, however, for
editors of ginan texts to consult manuscript sources, especially
newly discovered ones. The publication of the 1976 edition,


based in part on the India Office manuscript, did not, therefore, go unremarked. The following year, 1977, an international workshop of Ismailia Associations was held in Karachi.
At that workshop a consensus was reached that the 1976 edition, because of numerous errors, was inadequate. A hew. edition was planned that eventually emerged in 1981. Ironically,
however, the preface to this edition not only avoids addressing
the question of authorship, but it makes no mention at all
about the existence of the India Office manuscript. According
to this preface, the 1981 edition seeks to undo the damage
done to the text by transmission "through individuals who were
not fully literate" and by scribes ''who did not have a command
of the different languages used in this work~"6 Similarly, a
1980 article on the Bujh Niraftjan in the Ismaili community
magazine, Roshni, also failed to tackle the issue of origin, for
the aim of the author was to discuss the philosophy and the
essence of the work. 7
Though the official publications of the community did not
confront the problem of authorship, a few preachers (wacitIn)
in the community began to express doubts, in private, that the
Bujh Niraiijan was composed by FIr Sadr ad-DIn. Some felt
that, if the PIr were indeed not the author, then the Blljh
Niraftjan was no longer a valid part of the ginan literature, and
they consequently felt it necessary to stop quoting from the
work dudng their sermons. 8 Finally, in 1982, the issue of the
origin of the Bujh Niraftjan was raised by Mumtaz Ali Tajddin
Sadik Ali in the privately-published monograph entitled
Authenticity of the Buj Nirinjan or "Cognition of the
Omniscient." The work discusses the poem's "authenticity,
evolution and real authorship by Pir Sadaruddin"9 and
attempts to explain the existence of a version of the text among
the QadirI Sufis.
Sadik Ali represents the perspective of a pious and enthusiastic Sindhi Ismaili on the sensitive issue of authorship.
Although this thesis argues that his work is erroneous in each
of its major arguments,10 that work is interesting not only
because it reflects the views of a large segment of the Ismaili
community, but also because it clearly lays out each of the
significant arguments that can be marshalled in support of that
view. It is therefore a convenient point of departure for the
discussion that follows.


According to Sadik Ali, after the Bl1jb Niraftjan was written by Prr Sadr ad-DIn, he introduced it to the Ismaili community in Punjab. From there it spread only to the region of
Sind. 11 Then, as a result of proselytizing by the QadirI Sufi
order in Punjab and Sind, some of the Ismailis in that region
broke with Ismailism and joined the Sunni fold, taking with
them those Ismaili ginans that were compatible with their new
religious affiliation. Among these works was the Biijb Niraftjan. 12 In Sadik Ali's view, among some QadirI circles the
name of PIr Sadr ad-DIn was eventually dropped from the
relevant verse of the Biijb Nirafljan, and the poem "began to
be counted as the work of the Qadiri order."13 This accounts,
he argues, for the existence of a manuscript of the Bl1jb Niraftjan in the Perso-Arabic script, a script traditionally foreign to
the Nizari Ismaili community of the subcontinent. It also
accounts for the mysterious absence of the name of Prr Sadr
ad-DIn in the India Office manuscript.
To support his argument, Sadik Ali refers to two fragments
of a Bujb Nirafljan manuscript said to be in the possession of
one Shaikh NaimuddIn of the QadirI order in Bijapur. 14 Sadik
Ali himself has not seen the manuscript; he was sent only a
photocopy of the two pages that survive. By coincidence, the
first fragment contains the controversial verse on the basis of
which Ismaili circles determine the authorship of the work. In
this manuscript, the verse contains the name of "Shaikh Sadr
Shah." According to Sadik Ali, this name, is another form of
"Prr Sadr ad-DIn." (This is plausible, if not necessarily the
case.) The name, he says, was retained in the Bijapur fragment
because the scribe of the fragment belonged to a QadirI circle
that considered PIr Sadr ad-DIn to be an orthodox Sufi
shaikh. IS
By further coincidence the second Bijapur fragment happens to be a colophon. Whether it is a colophon of the same
manuscript from which the first fragment survives is another
question, however - and one on which no critic can yet pass
judgment since the original is not available for inspection. 16
Sadik Ali assumes that the two .fragments are part of the same
manuscript. While this opinion may be premature, let us
assume for the present that it is correct in order to follow his
argument: the colophon states that the manuscript form which
the Bijapur scribe worked dates from 1707-8, or about sixteen


years before -the date of the India Office manuscript. .To further support his view, Sadik Ali then refers to an old Khojki
manuscript of the Bujh Nirafijan in Multan. The lineal ascendant of this manuscript, which also mentions Prr Sadr ad-DIn,
apparently dates from 1688. In both cases Sadik Ali implicitly
assumes that no alterations were made between the older
manuscripts that we do not possess and the recent ones that we
do have. He argues that, since both the Bijapur fragments and
the Multan manuscript boast an ancestry that is older than the
India Office manuscript, and, since they both contain the name
of Prr Sadr ad-DIn, then we can "undoubtedly hold thatthe Buj
Nirinjan was definitely composed and authored by Pir Sadaruddin." 17
The next portion of this chapter reexamines in detail each
of the three bases set up by Sadik Ali to support his thesis:
evidence internal to the poem bearing on the question of
authorship; the weight and reliability that should be accorded
to the Bijapur fragments and the Multan manuscripts; and
finally the historical contention that as early as the twelfth
century there was a rivalry between the QadirI order and the
Ismailis of the. subcontinent, and that the QadirIs were actively
engaged in a campaign of proselytizing Ismailis. (Unless the
last be true, Sadik Ali cannot account for the existence of the
ginan in two manuscripts written in the Perso-Arabic script the India Office manuscript and the Bija-pur fragments.) In
each case we shall see that Sadik Ali's arguments are faulty:
first, because there is much textual evidence against authorship
either by Prr Sadr ad-DIn himself or by any other Ismaili dacr
of the subcontinent; second, because there are serious difficulties with relying on either Bijapur fragments or the Multan
manuscript - difficulties that have only been hinted at above;
and third, because the contention of the QadirI-Ismaili rivalry
in the twelfth century is at best a conjecture supported by little
historical evidence.
After traditional explanations have been cleared away, the
third and final portion of the chapter offers a new and more
likely account of the origin of this marvelous contribution to
the devotional literature: namely, we have strong reason to
believe that the Bujh Niraiijan was indeed originally composed
in QadirI Sufi circles.


The Ismaili Origin of the Bujh Nirafijan Reconsidered

Internal Evidence of Authorship
The issue of authorship may be considered on two levels:
within the textual context of the Bujh Niraftjan and within the
context of the ginan literature as a whole. Claims to an authorship by PIr Sadr ad-DIn are based on the verse in poem 33 in
the Ismaili versions, which translates,
Know the path of Pir SadardIn which is eternally accepted,
Of all the Prophets, the crown is the bridegroom Prophet
However in the India Office manuscript, in which this poem 33
occurs as poem 13, the same verse reads,
Know the path of the Prophet (nabI) which is eternally
On the head of the Prophets, the crown is the bridegroom
Prophet [Mubammad]
Metrically, this verse is composed on the dohrah (doha)18
meter, which requires the first line to have a total of twentyfour matras (metrical instants). A caesura divides the line into
two parts of thirteen and eleven matras. As all the other
dohrahs in the Bujh Nirafijan adhere to this prosodial rule,
there is no reason to expect that this dohrah would be an
exception. But when this line is scanned in a reading that
includes the name PIT Sadr ad-DIn or a variant of the name
such as Shaikh Sadr Shah, then the number of matras in the
line totals thirty or thirty-one. Furthermore, the first division
of the line (earan), which contains the name of the PIr, has a
total of twenty or twenty-one matras instead of t~e usual
thirteen. On the other hand, with the term nabI, as occurs in
the text of the India Office manuscript, the count of twentyfour matras is maintained. From the point of view of prosody,
the term nabI is a far more likely reading than Prr SadardIn.
The contents of the other verses in poem 13 also confirm
that the term nabl is more appropriate in this verse. The line
that immediately follows and structurally completes the dohrah
makes it clear that the person mentioned can have only been
the Prophet Mubammad. He alone, considered the last of the
Prophets (khatim ul.,arilbiya Qur~an Sura 33:40), is the "crown"
of all the, Prophets. Similarly, the term dulah nabl (bridegroom
Prophet) is a distinctive epithet of the Prophet Mu4ammad in


popular Islaniic literature. 19 If further evidence were needed,

verses preceding the dohrah also mention the merits of following the path of the Prophet - rah nabl and mag ~ad kera.
And the first line of the third quatrain of the same poem goes
on to mention sunnat, a term associated with the custom or
habit of the Prophet. It should therefore be evident that, in the
context of this poem, the ,name Prr Sadr ad-DIn is simply out of
Considering the work as a whole, it is again clear that the
term PIr Sadr ad-DIn is incongruous. One of the central concepts of the Biijh Niraiijan is the importance of following the
"path" under the guidance of an appropriate religious and spiritual guide. This theme is stressed throughout. If, in the above
verse~ the path preached by PIr Sadr ad-DIn were intended, it
is strange that even in the Ismaili version the name of this PIr is
not mentioned in any other part of the work in connection with
some aspect of the spiritual path. By contrast, references to
the Prophet Mul)ammad and his importance on the spiritual
path are abundant. He intercedes for and guides the community (ummat) (poem 6, quatrain 3). He appea~s as part of the
spiritual progression so important in Sufi thought: knowledge
(macrua) of God is possible only through the mediation first of
the shaikh or guru and then of the Prophet. 20 According to
the famous l)adl~ qudsl in which God is reported as saying,
"ana abmad bila mIm" (I am Al)mad [Mul)ammad] without the
letter m, that is a1}.ad "one")" to which there is an allusion in
the Biijb Nirafijan, true unity (taw1;1Id) cannot be realized without the mediation of the Prophet (poem 6, quatrain 4 and,
dohrah). The light of the Prophet (nur-i mu1.tammadI) is also
mentioned in its relation to the shaikh or guru, for the guru as
the representative of the Prophet is also the essence of
Muhammadan light (poem 10, quatrain 1; poem 9, quatrain 1).
Acceptance of the teachings and commands of the Prophet and
adherence to the path laid out by him are, according to the
Biijh Niraftjan, essential prerequisites for progress on the
spiritual path (poem 12; poem 13, quatrain 4 and dohrah;
poem 14). Thus the general tenor of the work as a whole leads
to the conclusion that in the controversial verse only a term
referring to the Prophet could have been employed.
It has been indicated above that one of the differences
between the India Office manuscript and the traditional Ismaili


version lies in the sequence and placement of individual

poems. Not surprisingly, one of the significant features of this
disparity is in regard to the placement of the poem to which
the "authorship" verse belongs. In the India Office manuscript, this verse occurs in poem 13, in the middle of a
sequence of three poems concerned with the theme of the
shanca (divine law) and the necessity for strict adherence to it.
In the Ismaili version, however, this entire poem 13 occurs at
the end of the Bojh Niraiijan (i.e., as poem 33), so that its
dohrah becomes the final verse of the work.
Such a placement is plainly suspicious. An examination of
the arrangement of poems in the Bojh Niraiijan as a whole
reveals that the "authorship" verse and its associated poem do
not belong to the end of the work. Poem 13 (as it occurs in the
India Office manuscript) concerns itself with the basic duties of
a seeker who, at the beginning of a spiritual journey, must fulfill the obligations of the first stage on the path, the shan<at.
The poem thus belongs in sequence with poems 12 and 14,
which deal with the same theme. It should also be noticed that
the first quatrain of poem 14, beginning with' the line ''whoever
has accepted this path," takes up the exhortation to accept the
path of the Prophet as found in the last verses of poem 13.
This continuity is lost in the Ismaili version, where poem 13
occurs at the end of the work.
Poem 13 is not the only poem in the Ismaili version that
seems obviously "misplaced." Four others (numbers 17, 18, 19,
and 20 in the India Office manuscript) are concerned with the
second stage of tarIqat and the agonies of divine love, yet in
the Ismaili version they are grouped at the end of the work in a
fashion that defies understanding. It is peculiar, to say the
least, that a didactic work on the stages of the mystical path
should be so haphazard as to first deal with the preliminary
stage of the sharJCat, then to move on to the third stage of
lJaqrqat, and then focus attention again to the lower stages of
sharJCat and larIqat. 21 To anyone with even a rudimentary
acquaintance with Sufi theories of spiritual progress, such an
ordering of the poems is clearly wrong. On the other hand, the
sequence of poems in the India Office manuscript conforms
closely to hierarchy.of stages traditionally outlined in Sufism,
leading us to the conclusion that this manuscript preserves the
sequence in which the work was originally composed. 22


No reasonable explanation can account for the misplacement of these four poems. But one has only to examine the
structure of most ginans to discover the likely reason for the
misplacement of poem 13 in the Ismaili version. Traditionally,
in a ginan the name of the composer occurs in the last verse.
This convention is similar to the takhallus in Arabic and
Persian poetry or the bhaQita or signature line in Hindi poetry.
By replacing the name of the Prophet with the name of the PIr
in poem 13 and moving the poem to the end of the work, the
inference is created that the PIr was .the author.
In spite of this alteration and rearrangement, however, the
verse in its Ismaili version still does not conform to standard
ginanic usage. For in such usage, authorship is nearly always
indica ted in the final verse by means of one of several fixed
expressions explicitly stating that a certain PIr was responsible
for the work's composition. These expressions commonly
include kahave (said), boliya (recited), farmave or bhat;lave
(instructed), or other similar verbs. Not surprisingly, the last
verse of the Ismaili version of the Bujh Niraftjan, though it
includes PIr Sadr ad-DIn's name, uses none of these standard
expressions. In fact, the verse is not even an explicit statement
of authorship by PIr Sadr ad-DIn. This anomaly is yet another
indication of the non-Ismaili origin of the Bujh Niranjan.
What other internal evidence bears on the question of
authorship? Sadik Ali argues that the dialect used in the Bujh
Niraiijan is quite identical to the dialects llsed in other ginans
and that the terminology used in the work is "seen in other
ginans of Pir Sadardin." Readers are therefore asked to conclude that in the light of the language and terminology
allegedly "belonging to Ismailism," the Bujh Niraftjan was
written by PIr Sadr ad-DIn. 23
The argument based on dialect is faulty. While it is true
that the ginan literature favors the use of Indian vernaculars
such as Kachchi, Gujarati, Sindhi, Hindi, and Punjabi over
classical Islamic languages such as Arabic and Persian, the
Ismaili daCJs were not the only members of the Muslim community of medieval India to employ these vernaculars in their
compositions. At least from the early fourteenth century, Sufis
belonging to many different orders also turned to the Indian
vernaculars in order to be more effective in spreading their


message. 24 In the process, respectable Sufi literary traditions

developed in several Indian languages such as Bengali, Hindi,
Dakhni, Sindhi, and Punjabi. Hence the use of a Hindi dialect
in the Bfijb Niraftjan does not help us decide whether the work
is Sufi or Ismaili in origin.
SadikAli's argument based on terminology is equally
unconvincing. Certain terms, he says, are peculiar to the
ginans, especially those ginans composed by PIr Sadr ad-DIn.
The specific terms he refers to are pritam, piyu, niraftjan,
jagpati, lalan, sajan, shah, guru, darsan, and naklaftk.25 There
is, however, nothing specifically Ismaili about these terms:
they are all commonly used in several North Indian vernaculars. The only term in Sadik Ali's list that could belong
exclusively to the terminology of the Indian Ismaili tradition is
naklaiik, or more correctly, nakalaftki. In the ginan literature
this term refers to the tenth avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu,
who according to ginanic precepts is identical to the Imam.26
But comparing the various manuscripts, one finds that
nakalaftld occurs in the Ismaili version of the Bfijh Niraiijan
only because of a fortuitous corruption of the phrase nib
kalaftk kar (making [you] without blemish).
Indeed, on the basis of its terminology, especially the
technical Sufi terms of Arabic and Persian origin, a strong case
can be made against an Ismaili origin for the BujhNiraiijan. 27
No other composition attributed to PIr Sadr ad-DIn or to any
other author of an Ismaili ginan employs the type of Arabic
and Persian terms found in this work. Use of such terms is
uncharacteristic for the very reason that the ginan literature is
in the vernacular: it is a literature that avoids a vocabulary
that would be foreign to a rural, uneducated, Indian population. The Bfijh Niraftjan is in this respect, as in others, the
exception. Not surprisingly in Ismailimanuscripts of the work,
these Arabic and Persian terms have been particularly vulnerable to distortion and corruption, in some cases beyond recognition. 28 Indeed, such terms were so alien to the Ismaili
community of the subcontinent that the original terms became
apparent, and the Ismaili version could be corrected, only in
1976, after the discovery of the India Office manuscript.
Sadik Ali implicitly acknowledges that the high level of
Arabic and Persian is unusual for a ginan. He suggests, how-


ever, that PIr Sadr ad-DIn employed this terminology because

Sufism was prevalent in the Punjab, the region in which he
believes the Bujh Niraftjan was first composed. Moreover,
according to him, the Sufi environment also inspired the PIr
"to bring forth a work ... to justify Ismailism among Sufi
circles."Z9 He also suggests that the Ismaili version contains
Shiite Ismaili teachings.3 0 But there is little in the Bujh
Niraftjan that would characterize it as a specifically Ismaili
work, let alone justify Ismailism against Sufi "attacks." The
concept of the Imam, which is so central to Ismaili thought, is
not mentioned even once in the work. In addition, none of the
theological concepts and terms that characterize the Nizari
Ismaili tradition as it developed in the Indian subcontinent are
found in the Bujh Nirafljan For example, the equation of the
Shii Imam to the tenth avatar of Vishnu, a theme which permeates and influences, in one way or another, significant portions
of the ginan literature (and indeed many works attributed to
PIr Sadr ad-DIn), is conspicuously absent from the Bujh
To recapitulate, the internal evidence from the Bujh
Niraiijan - alone and when placed in the broader context of the
ginan literature - indicate that the authorship of the work by
PIr Sadr ad-DIn is most improbable.
The Multan Manuscript and Bijapur Fragments
The second major foundation for Sadik Ali's thesis that the
Bujh Niraiijan has an Ismaili origin is built on two manuscripts:
a manuscript of an Ismaili version written in'the Khojki script
and found in Multan and two fragments in the Perso-Arabic
script, originating from the QadirI Sufi order in Bijapur. Sadik
Ali contends that both manuscripts contain texts of the Bujb
Nirafljan transmitted from a period earlier than the transcription date of the India Office manuscript, and that both manuscripts also contain the name of PIr Sadr ad-DIn or a variant of
it, Shaikh Sadr Shah. He consequently asserts that this is conclusive proof that PIr Sadr ad-DIn composed the original work.
If only textual analysis were such a simple process! In fact
it is not, and neither of these manuscripts can support the
weight of Sadik Ali's arguments.
To begin with, there are serious doubts about the textual
authenticity of the Multan manuscript. According to its colo-


phon, the original version of the manuscript was copied sometime before 1688. In itself, of course, this does not prove that
the text of the Bojh Nirafijan found in the Multan manuscript
also dates from the period before 1688; it could have been
incorporated into the manuscript at a much later stage in the
transmission. Alterations (as well as mistakes) by scribes from
one manuscript to another were quite common. Mter all, that
is how texts change over time. In this case, if we compare the
text of the Multan manuscript with other Ismaili texts, we find
that the Multan text probably does not date earlier than the
twentieth century. From the three other Khojki manuscripts of
the Bujh Niraiijan that are presently known, it is evident that
the Ismaili version had a lacuna in the text for poem 15 (number 21 in the India Office manuscript). When in the early
twentieth century printed editions of the text were produced,
this lacuna was filled in with metrically defective verses written
in a heavily "Gujaratized" Hindustani. These verses were later
dropped from the 1976 and 1981 editions of the Bujh Nirafijan
printed by the Ismailia Associatons for Pakistan and India,
respectively. But the Multan text, as transcribed by Sadik Ali,
contains these very twentieth-century verses. Hence the likelihood that this text could date to 1688 or even earlier is in
serious doubt. It is much more likely that the Multan text is a
product of our own century.
As for the Bijapur fragments, for the sake of argument let
us assume, as does Sadik Ali, that they are part of a single
manuscript. One of the fragments contains PIr Sadr ad-DIn's
name in the "authorship" verse. But contrary to what Sadik
Ali asserts, this verse does not settle the matter. One would
like to know, for example, whether the "authorship" verse and
its associated poem were placed according to the sequence in
the India Office manuscript (i.e., poem 13) or accordng to the
Ismaili sequence (Le., at the end) or possibly in yet another
sequence. Also, if we compare the Bijapur text of the poem
associated with the "authorship" verse with other versions, we
find that, although the text of the Bijapur manuscript is on the
whole similar to that of the India Office manuscript,32 there
are differences which may be significant. Sadik Ali uses one of
these differences - the name of Shaikh Sadr Shah appears in
the Bijapur manuscript instead of nahl as found in the India
Office manuscript - to support his argument.


But where does this text come from and how old is it?
Sadik Ali points to the colophon, which references an earlier
version from 1707-8, and insists that the Bijapur manuscript
therefore has better authority than the India Office manuscript, which itself dates from 1724. But once again, he is
merely assuming that the text underwent no alterations since
the early eighteenth century. And once again, internal evidence indicates that this assumption is probably false. For
example, the second line of the second quatrain in the Bijapur
text contains the word sab.l, which is metrically superfluous and
which does not occur in the India Office manuscript. Indeed,
this word occurs only in the texts of the Ismaili version that
were printed at the turn of the twentieth century. Also the
word sabh occurs in the second line of the dohrah only in the
Bijapur manuscript and the Ismaili texts.
This similarity between the Bijapur and Ismaili versions
raises the possibility of a relationship between the two versions.
Whether a relationship does, in fact, exist might perhaps be
clarified only if other portions of the Bijapur text (if it is a
single text) were available for analysis. Obviously, until the
question of the relationship is resolved, it is unwarranted to
regard the Bijapur manuscript as an independent QadirI version of the Bujh Nirafijan that corroborates the authorship by
PIr Sadr ad-DIn. The possibility that the Bijapur text or its
ancestor may have been influenced by the Ismaili version or its
ancestor cannot be ruled out.
The solution of the problems surrounding both the Multan
manuscript and the Bijapur fragments is made all the more difficult by the fact that both manuscripts appear to be inac~
cessible for further study and research.
The Alleged Rivalry between the QadirI Order and the
The most obvious explanation for the existence of the Bujh
Niraiijan in the Perso-Arabic script among the QadirIs is that it
originated there. This explanation is also consistent with the
great weight of the evidence. In order to avoid it, however,
Sadik Ali postulates that, though it was written by PIr Sadr adDIn, the Bujh Nirafijan was introduced into QadirI circles by
Ismailis who, through the proselytizing activities of the Qadirrs,
had been converted to Sunni Islam. 33 Relying exclusively on


Ansar Zahid Khan's account of the QadirI Sufi order in the

book History and Culture of Sind, Sadik Ali reaches the conclusion that the QadirIS had "a hostile operation" against the
Ismailis in Sind.
But, as we shall see in a moment, Khan's account on the
activities of the early QadirIs and their alleged mission "to
stem the tide of Ismailism rampant in Sind during the 12th and
13th centuries,,34 is based on historical conjecture. All the
major studies on the history of Sufism are in agreement that
the major Sufi orders in the subcontinent in the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries were the ChishtIs and the SuhrawardIs.
No source mentions any concerted effort by the QadirI order
during this period to counteract Ismaili activities.3 5 All studies
indicate that the Qadirls, as Khan himself admits,36 did not
begin to playa prominent role in the subcontinent until the
fifteenth century. Admittedly there has been remarkedly little
scholarship on the history of the early QadirIs in the subcontinent, but none of the historical chronicles covering the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries makes any mention of an
organized QadirI mission against the Ismailis of Sind and
Punjab. Indeed, Khan himself does not cite any source or evidence to support his bold assertion that for the Sumrah period
(Le., 1058-1348) there are accounts of QadirI Sufis who "generally concentrated around the Thatta region, to counteraCt the
For the fifteenth century Khan conjectures that, since the
mission of some of the important QadirIs, such as Shaikh
Yasuf ad-DIn and Shaikh Mul)ammad Gau~, coincides with the
activities of the Ismaili daCJs, they were responsible for weakening the hold that the Ismailis apparently held over Sind. 38
An examination of Khan's sources on the activities of these
Sufis, however, reveals that they contain no references whatsoever to their alleged anti-Ismaili mission. Nor are there any
references to confrontations with Ismaili daCfs. For the
account on Shaikh Yasuf ad-DIn, for example, he relies on the
Bombay Gazetteer.39 In its turn, the account of the Shaikh in
the Bombay Gazetteer is based on a Meman treatise Nuzhat
al-Akhbar, which focuses on the legendary role the shaikh
played in the establishment of the Meman community of the
subcontinent. According to this treatise, Shaikh Yasuf ad-DIn
came to Sind in the early fifteenth century40 as a result of a


miraculous dream in which he was ordered to set sail for that

region. There he proceeded to convert the Hindus in the area
of Thatta, but because of strong opposition from Hindu priests
he returned to Iraq "after receiving his followers' assurance
that they would continue to support his descendants as their
religious heads."41 There is nothing in this account to support
the conclusion that the shaikh was on an anti-Ismaili mission.
The case with the other source is also identical: the account of
Shaikh Mul)ammad Gau~ (arrived in Sind in 1482) in the
KhazInat ul-~fiya, to which Khan refers, also makes no reference to any conversions the shaikh may have made of Ismailis
to SunnI Islam. 42
While the legendary and hagiographic literature of the
Ismaili community does reflect some tension in the thirteenth
and fourteenth centuries between the Ismaili dacrs and the
most powerful Sufi order of the region, the SuhrawardIs, there
is no mention of any problems with the QadirIs.43 Indeed, it
would be surprising to find any evidence of tension and rivalry
between the QadirIs and the Ismailis because in the medieval
period the QadirIs of this area appeared to have been tolerant.
Writing about QadirI attitudes in the late fifteenth century, a
period soon after the order's establishment in the area, Khan
himself points out that "the QadirIs did not appear to be
inclined to any confrontation with either any rival silsilah or
ever with any political authority.,,44 In the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, as well, the order was in a very liberal
phase especially in the Punjab, and it extended tolerance even
to the Hindus and their culture. The QadirI order has in fact
been called "the most tolerant Sufi order" in India in the midseventeenth century.45 If this had not been the case, then
certainly the liberal Prince Dara Shikoh would not have been
attracted to the circle of the famous QadirI Sufi of Lahore,
Mian MIr (d. 1635).
Admittedly, the paucity of historical evidence does not
necessarily indicate that tensions between the Ismaili and local
QadirIs were nonexistent. But that is a far cry from saying, as
Khan does, that
the few Qadiris whose accounts are available generally
concentrated around Thatta region to counteract Ismailis.
The Qadiris are generally credited to have continued their
efforts against the Ismailis even after the termination of



the Sumtah rule to ensure against the revival of Ismaili

bujjats . . . . The Qadiris also worked steadfastly to
counteract their [Ismailis'] efforts in the region of Sind. 46
We simply have no historical evidence to support such statements. Consequently, Sadik Ali's hypothesis - that the Bujb
Niraiijan came to be known as a QadirI work because of a conversion of Ismailis by the QadirIs - is also without support. In
fact, both textual and literary evidence point overwhelmingly to
a non-Ismaili origin for the work.
The Sufi Origin of the Bujb Niraiijan
If the Bujb Niraiijan was written neither by Prr Sadr adDIn nor by any other Ismaili daCJ, who did write it? Unfortunately, we cannot answer this question with certainty on the
basis of existing evidence. We can, however, say with conviction that the work has a North Indian origin, and we can also
pointto a considerable textual evidence indicating that it was
written either by the QadirI ShauarI saint I:Ia~rat Shaikh clsa
lundallah (962-1031 A.H./AD. 1555-1621), or by someone in
his circle. As to geography, the use of the aupar and dohrab
verse forms in the Btljb Niraiijan firmly place the work within
the Sufi tradition of North India, for during this period these
were the verse forms most commonly used in the region for
long poetic compositions in Hindustani and dialects. The Sufis
of the Deccan, on the other hand, appear to have preferred the
Persian m~nawI form for their longer compositions. 47 The
frequent occurrence of postpositions from Braj, the Hindi
dialect most commonly used in medieval poetry, also points to
a North Indian origin..
The textual evidence is more complex. Shaikh clsa
lundallah belonged to a family of Sindhi saints and scholars
who fled from their homeland in the wake of the turmoil
caused by the Mughal Humayun's army around 1540.48 Eventually he settled in Burhanpur, a town of great strategic
importance in the medieval period, and which, under the
Emperor Aurangzeb, became the Mughal headquarters for the
Deccan. The Shaikh was popularly known by the title MasIb
al-Auliya (the Messiah of the Saints), a title undoubtedly
connected with his proper name elsa. Significantly, the India
Office manuscript introduces poem 9, which deals with the
spiritual'importance of the shaikh or guru, with the Persian


caption, dar mad1)-i masIb az-zatnan nur-i subbanI, b~t shah

(In praise of the Messiah of the Age, the light of the Divine,
l:I3+rat Shah). In the same poem, quatrain 1, line 3, masIba is
used again as an epithet for the shaikh or the guru. Clearly
there is a possibility that this could be a reference to Shaikh
elsa Jundallah, MasIl) al-Auliya.
The MasIb al-Auliya was a prolific writer of prose and
poetry on mystical subjects, particularly dn the divine names
(asma:> al-busna).He also wrote mystical commentaries oli
badI such as man carafa nafsahu faqad carafa rabbahu (he
who knows himself, knows God). Significantly, the wabdat alwujud (unity of Being) type of mysticism that permeates the
Bujh Niraftjan was prevalent in the works produced by him and
his disciples. For example, Baba Fatl) Mul)ammad Mul)addis
(d. 1080 A.H./ A.D. 1669-70), the shaikh's son and foremost
disciple, wrote a m~nawI in Persian on the theme of wabdat
al-wujud and the various stages by which the Divine Emanation
descends into the world and becomes manifest in all creation. 49
What is more significant is the shaikh himself is said to be
the author ol a short Persian treatise, Risala-i daqIqa,50
describing the different stages in the descent of the Divine
Essence. 51 This is the same subject treated in the first five
poems of the Blljh Niraftjan. Remarkably, both works, though
in different languages, introduce the relevant terminology and
concepts in an almost similar sequence and stylistic presentation. Several lines of the Bujh Niraiijan appear in fact to have
been influenced by this Persian treatise. For example, in the
discussion on the world of spirits (caIam-i arwa.b.), the Persian
text says, "The angel who is in the first rank in the caIam-i
arwal1 is calledrubu:>l qudus and finally he is Gabriel [jibI1l-i
amIn]."52 The second quatrain of poem 4 of the Blljh Niraiijan, which discusses the affairs of the caIam-i arwab., begins:
First there is the vision of the rohu:>l qudus,
Which finally becomes the epithet of Gabriel.
Discussing the stage of divinity (uluhIyat), the Persian text
reads, "This consists of the manifestation of the whole pleroma
of divine attributes (jaIJllC-i ~ifat-i ilahI ijmahin) ... [The term]
"rabb" (Lord) is used when these divine attributes find specification (taf~Il)/'53 The corresponding ~industani lines in th~


Bujb Niraiijan (poem 2, quatrain 4) read:

When there is the pleroma [jamC] of all the [divine] names
It is said ulnhIyat [divinity] is from that,
And [attributerrabb [Lord] [arises] when there is specification [taf$I1]
Only the perceptive one will understand.
The last line of the quatrain - bujhe bujbanharjo kOI - strongly
echoes the Arabic expression used several times in the treatise,
fahima man fahima ("He who understands, understands").
Another striking parallel occurs in other verses. The
Persian treatise describes the world of symbols (caIam-i ~)
as consisting of subtle form compounds (~uwar..:i murakkabat-i
lapfa) that are beyond analysis and differentiation (qabil-i tajzI
o tabcq; nIstand). Consequently, this world of symbols is itself
beyond analysis. 54 The third quatrain of poem 4 of the Bujb
Niraiijan, after describing the caIam-i ~ as one whose forms
are pure and perfect, says in Hindustani: van juz aur ba~
mu1;tal. The author intends by this line that division and
analysis of them (i.e., the forms) is impossible.55 The use of
the word juz (part, portion; component part) in conjunCtion
with ba~ (some, some few; diverse; miscellaneous) is significant. When we turn to the Persian treatise we find the word
tajzI, the verbal noun from the same root as juz, being used in
conjunction with tab~ t~e verbal "noun from the same root as
ba~ in an identical context. The combination of the words juz
and ba~ in this context in the Bojh Nirafijan may be a coincidence, but a more likely explanation is that the composer of
the Bojb Nirafijan had this Persian treatise in mind.
After a description of the calam-i mi$,al, the author of the
Persian treatise proceeds to summarize the different states of
descent that he has discussed till that point:
First the emanation [fai+] of the Absolute Bountiful One
[faiya~-i mullaq] reaches the world of spirits [Calam-i
arwatt]; from there to the world of symbols [caIam-i~]
and from these to the sensible or perceptible world [caIam l.;", ] 56
Significantly, at exactly a similar point in the Bojh Nirafijan we
have an almost identical summary. The quatrains of poem 4
discussing the world of symbols (calam-i ~) are followed by
this summary in the first quatrain of poem 5: "


First from the Bountiful One


comes the emanation


Then it appears in the [world of] spirits [arwab];

From there it comes to [the world of] symbols [~al];
After passing which it reaches [the world of] perception
[shahadat] .
This quatrain is obviously a rendering of the Persian original
into Hindustani verse. Such remarkable affinities and similarities between the first poems of the Bojh Niranjan and the corresponding sections of the Risala-i daqIqa confirm our contention that the composer of the Bojh Niranjan probably belonged
to the circle of Sufis who were influenced by the thought and
writings of the MasIb. al-Auliya.
Persian and Arabic were of course the most common literary languages in the circle of the MasrQ al-Auliya, but
<Hindustani was also used. Quoting from an account written by
Shaikh Burhan ad-DIn Raz-iIlahI, another disciple of the
Shaikh, Rashid BurhanpOrI writes that the MasIl}. al-Auliya was
once asked the question, "What is the world?" In reply, the
shaikh recited a doha in Hindustani:
je harr kuii bisarawe sahr; duniya naiivan usI ka kahI. 57
The fact that the shaikh chose to answer in Hindustani indicates that the language was in common use in that Sufi circle.
It is not improbable that the MasIl}. al-Auliya or his followers
may have written poems of a popular nature in HindustaniHindi, especially if we keep in mind that the Qadirr Sufi poets
of Sind and Punjab were instrumental in developing the use of
the vernaculars Sindhi and Punjabi for mystical poetry. Any
Hindustani-Hindi poems that may have been composed by the
shaikh or his followers were not recorded in the standard
biographies because, composed as they were in an Indian language, they were not important enough in the eyes of the
biographer. Indeed Rashid Burhanpl1rI, whose book is the
leading study on the Sufis of Burhanpl1r, believes that the
MasIb al-Auliya was responsible for many more works than the
thirteen titles mentiqned in Mubammad GauI's biographical
account of medieval Indian sufis, the Gulzar-i abrar.5SThe process by which the Ismailis first came into contact
with the Bojh Niraiijan would form a fascinating study of sectarian interaction in Indo-Muslim society. That is a study that


is unfortunately not possible without much more textual and

historical information than we now have, but there are a few
things we can say on this point. There is some evidence to suggest that the work first entered the Ismaili milieu in the Punjab. In the course of an interview with Mukhi Mehar Hussain,
a seventy-eight-year-old Ismaili elder from Karachi, Sadik Ali
was informed that the B:ujh Niraiijan was introduced "among
the Arora tribe' of Punjab either by Pir Sadaruddin or his
descendant. Since these gupti [concealed] Ismailis used to
keep their books secret, the Bujh Niraftjan could not become
popular in other parts of India till the 19th century.,,59 The
elder also mentions that for some inexQlicable reason some
Sufi orders were familiar with the poem. 6O
Sadik Ali presents other evidence to indicate that, though
the Bujh Nirafljan had been accepted into the corpus of the
ginan literature in the Punjab, this was not the case in areas
outside this region,.p'articularly Gujarat, Kutch, and Kathiawar.
He mentions, for example, that an early nineteenth-century
man.uscript originating from Surat in Gujarat and claiming to
contain all the compositions of the ginan literature, does not
include the Bujh Niranjan among its contents. 61 On the other
hand, the Bujh Niraftjan is included in a contemporaneous
ginan manuscript from Lahore in the Punjab. 62 Furthermore,
elderly Ismailis of Junagadh in Kathiawar maintain that they
had never heard of the work until the early decades of the
twentieth century, when they saw a printed text that came from
Bombay.63 The Punjab is, in fact, a likely point of contact
between the Ismailis and Sufis, for the region, especially in the
area around Ucch and Multan, in addition to having been a
center of Ismaili missionary activity (as evidenced by the
shrines of important Ismaili daCJs in the area),64 was also the
headquarters of the SuhrawardI and QadirI orders and hence a
major center of Sufi activity.
Considered within the context of Islamic intellectual and
religious history, it is not at all surprising that a Sufi poem
should be accepted by and be of relevance to an Ismaili audience. As Marshall Hodgson points out, Sufism and Ismailism,
because of their emphasis on the esoteric and inward aspects
of the faith, represent similar tendencies within the Islamic
tradition. 65 The influence of Ismailism on the development 'of
Sufi orders has also been suggested,66 and there seem to be


strong intelleCtual and social links between the two movements

that only recently have begun to be elaborated. 67 Ivanow
points out the similarity between Sufi and Ismaili schemes of
stages in spiritual and ethical development, and he also
suggests that Ismaili theories may have influenced Mabmod
ShabistarI's Gulshan-i raz, a popular Sufi treatise of the early
fourteenth century in which the concept of the Imam takes the
form of the qulb, the person around whom the universe
revolves. 68 Furthermore, Marshall Hodgson remarks that the
position of the Imam in the cosmology of Nizari Ismailism is
similar to that of the Sufi insan-i kamil or Perfect Man. 69
In the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, after
the collapse of the Ismaili state in Alamut, the relationship
between the two movements in 'the Iranian context becomes
more difficult to define, because in order to protect itself from
persecution, Nizari Ismailism took on the guise of Sufi tarIqah
whose pIr was the Imam.70 Ismaili writers in the post-Alamut
period resorted to expressing Ismaili ideas by concealing them
within the framework of symbolic Sufi expessions. The resulting "Sufico-Ismaili" style, as Ivanow terms it, makes it difficult
to determine the nature of a substantial portion of literature
from the period: "Is it sufic with a strong Ismaili colouring, or
an Ismaili work, too enthusiastically camouflaged as sufic?"71
We are dealing here with obscurities that are definitional as
well as historical.
It is important to emphasize this close yet ambiguous relationship between Sufism and Ismailism in the Iranian context,
for in the subcontinent some of the same ambiguity was also
retained.7 2 The Nizari Ismaili daCJs of the subcontinent'
appear to have continued the tradition of using a "Sufic" guise
in order not to draw attention to their activities and thus forestall persecution.73 It is well known that, to this day, the
famous Ismaili daCfs PIr Shams (Shams Tabrez), Prr Sadr adDIn (I:IajI Sadr Shah), and Prr I:IasanKabIr ad-DIn (I:Iasan
Darya) are still revered as Sufic pIrs of a Sunni persuasion.74
The use of Sufi terminology within the Ismaili community jamacat khanah, mund, murshId, ism-i a~am, Zikr - as well as
the strong similarities between the poetic forms and symbolism
, of the mystical compositions in the Ismaili ginan literature and
Sufi poetry written in Punjabi and Sindhi,75 also assisted the
community in the subcontinent to represent itself as one


among many mystically inclined groups, both Sufi and Hindu.

The stress on esotericism within the Ismaili tradition in the
Indian Subcontinent not only gave the movement a Sufic flavor
but also engendered within the community a proclivity toward
all kinds of mystical literature, particularly mystical poetry.
Not surprisingly, for several centuries, mystical'poetry in the
North Indian vernacular from the bhakti and sant has enjoyed
great popularity within the community. The occurrence of
mystical poetry from diverse sources in numerous Khojki
manuscripts 76 bears eloquent testimony to the strength of this
inclination. Even today in their sermons, Ismaili Waci?;In
(preachers) are not averse to quoting extensively from Sufi
works such as the M3$,nawI of Maulana Jalal ad-DIn RomI,
though such quotations usually have to be translated into the
language of their audience. 77
The close relationship between the Ismaili and the Sufi
movements and the Ismaili inclination toward mystical poetry
may thus be two factors that would explain the adoption of the
Bojh Niranjan, a Sufi work, by the Ismaili community. Esoteric
poetry, by its very nature, lends itself to multiple meanings and
levels of interpretation that are not necessarily consistent.
Thus, even though there are no specifically Ismaili elements in
the Bfijh NirafJ.jan, it would not be difficult to advance in
Ismaili interpretation for many of its verses. For example,
since the Imam in Ismailism performs some of the same functions as a Sufi pIr or shaikh, verses in the Blljh NirafJ.jan
describing the importance of the shaikh (or guru, as he is
called in this text) can be easily interpreted as referring to the
importance of the Imam as a spiritual guide.
In addition, there is much in the Bojh Niranjan that would
be familiar to a person raised within the medieval Nizari
Ismaili tradition of the subcontinent. Both the Bujh Niranjan
and the Ismaili ginan literature share the tendency to utilize
words of Indian origin, alongside those of Arabic origin, for
important religious concepts. For example, God is referred to
as niranjan, hari, or ram, the spiritual guide as guru, and the
experience of spiritual vision as darshan. Also, the ecstatic
poems of the Bojh Niraiijan that deal with the agonies of the
lover separated from the Divine Beloved would be particularly
'attractive to Ismailis 78 of the subcontinent, since "love-inseparation" (viraha) is a central theme of many ginans.79


Moreover, when one sees that the verse forms of the Bujh
Niraftjan - the dohrah and the Caupar . . are also common in the
ginan literature, it becomes clear that the thematic and structural compatibility of the Bojh Nirafijan with this literature was
also a critical factor allowing its incorporation into the Ismaili
Given the lack of documents and textual evidence, one can
only conjecture at the process by which the Bujh Niraiijan was
adopted. Whether the initial copy already contained the corruptions of this Sufi text and whether it was in the PersoArabic script or an Indian script (most likely DevanagarJ) are
questions impossible to answer. As already noted, Khojki
manuscripts often included portions of mystical literature from
diverse non-Ismaili sources. We may postulate that the transcribed text of the Bujh Nirafijan was thus included in a Khojki
manuscript, and at a later point in time, its compatibility with
the other ginans inspired the necessary "adjustments" to give it
a ginanic identity. The major "adjustment" consisted of the
insertion of the name of PIr Sadr ad~Dln, the most popular of
the Nizari Ismaili daCfs, into an appropriate point in the text.
In the process, as we have noted, the sequence of poems had
also to be adjusted so that the "authorship" verse would occur
at the end of the work. A refrain, which is found in ginans with
verse forms similar to those of the Bujh Niranjan, was also
inserted in each poem between the caupaI sequence and the
dohrah. 80 The last of these "adjustments," the closing of the
lacuna in poem 15, took place in the early twentieth century
when the text of the Ismaili version was being prepared for
printing. It probably was in this fashion that the Bojh Niraiijan,
a Sufi poem, entered the corpus of the ginan literature and
became a "great classic."


1The text of the Bujh NiraJijan is part of a manuscript that contains
other works in Persian. The entire manuscript has been catalogued as no.
2799 in Herman Ethe, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the LIbrary of the
India Office, vol. 1 (Oxford: India Office, 1903) 1511. In the Catalogue of
Hindustani Manuscripts in the Library of India Office (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1926), Blumhardt catalogues the Bujh NiraJijan as no. P. 908 (p.
2). Currently the India Office Library designates the Bujh Niraiijan as Urdu
Ms. B4.
2Zawahir Noorally writes, "Whenever in our traditional editions the
meaning of a word was not clear, we have adopted [the reading] from the
London manuscript so that our community can clearly understand the meaning." "Introduction," Buj Niranjan (Karachi: Ismailia Association for
Pakistan, 1976) (no pagination; my translation from Gujarati).
3For a discussion of the KhojkI script, see Chapter 2.
4For P-ll Sadr ad-DIn, see Nanji, The Nizan IsmaCUi Tradition, 72-76,
and Ivanow, "Satpanth," Collectanea, vol. 1,16-17.
5Noorally, "Introduction," n.p.
6Abdulmahamad Juma Maskatwaia, "Preface," Buj Niranjan (Bombay:
Ismailia Association for India, 1981) (no pagination; my translation from
7R. D. Shariff, "Buj Niranjan," Roshni 3 (1980): 24.
8This interesting development was mentioned to me during a research
trip to the subcontinent in 1981 to 1982. The preacher who was my
informant desires to remain anonymous.
9Mumtaz Ali Tajddin Sadik Ali, Authenticity of the '<J3uj N'llanjan" or
"~on of the Omniscient" (Karachi, 1982), 2.
lOrhe scholarly quality of Sadik Ali's work is perhaps sufficiently indicated by the following passage, ibid., 4:
However, the Sufic environment of Punjab in particular had suggested
Pir to bring forth a work on Sufic strain to justify Ismailism among Sufi
circles. It was therefore, Buj Nirinjan first introduced in Punjab and
thence it influenced Sindi Khojas in due course. However the other
parts of India remained unknown about this work till long..
llSadik Ali presents some interesting evidence, discussed below, indicating that, until possibly the early twentieth century, the Ismailis of Kutch,
Kathiawar, and Gujarat were unaware of the existence of the Bujh Nirafijan.
See Authenticity of the "Buj N"Irinjan," 5-7.
14Ibid., 17.
15Ibid., 13.
16Sadik Ali reproduces both fragments of the Bijapur manuscript in
Appendix IV of this work.
17S a dik Ali, Authenticity of the "Buj Nirinjan," 16.
18The dohrah, more commonly called the doha, is one of the verse
forms employed in the Bujh N"rraiijan, the other being the Caupai. Since the
India Office manuscript uses the term dohrah instead of dolla, we shall follow
'the same u:;age here. For the prosodial rules governing this verse form,see
Chapter 4.


19Cf. NabI Bakhsh Baloch, MaulUd (Hyderabad, Sind: Sindhi AdabI

Board, 1961),6 (no. 3),334; A. Schimmel, "Reflections on Popular Muslim
Poet1" Contributions to Asian Studies 17 (1982); 21.
bAccording to most later schools of Sufism, a Sufi cannot proceed
directly on the Path of God. "First he has to experience annihilation in the
spiritual guide, who functions as the representative of the prophet, then the
fana frr rasU1, 'annihilation in the Prophet,' before he can hope to reach, if he
ever does, fana it Allah." A. Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam
(Cha~el Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975),216.
1The correct sequence is shari"~at, !ariqat, and I;taqlqat Sometimes a
fourth stage, ma"rifat, is also added. See Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of

2It is evident from poem 11, quatrain 2, that the composer of the Bujh
Niraiijan also had the traditional sequence in mind. This sequence is also
accepted in other Ismaili works on mysticism.
23S a dik Ali, Authenticity of the "Buj Nirinjan," 16.
24Cf. Asani, "Sufi Poetry in the Folk Tradition of Indo-Pakistan," 81-94,
and Schimmel, As through a Veil: Mystical Poetry in Islam, 135-169. The
role of SufIs in the literary history of Hindustani, the lingua franca of the subcontinent's northern provinces, and Urdu, the national language of Pakistan,
is described in MaulvLcAbd al-Haqq, UrdU lei Ibtida"i Nashwo Numa men
Siifiya-i Kirim ka Kam (Aligarh: Anjuman-i Taraqqi-i Urdu Hind, 1968).
25S adik Ali, Authenticity of the "Buj Nirinjan," 16.
26V. N. Hooda, "Some Specimens of Satpanth Literature," Collectanea,
vol. 1, p. 58, n.4; Nanji, Nizari Isma9li Tradition, 112; Gazetteer of the
Bombay Presidency, vol. 9, pt. 2 (Bombay: Govt. Central Press, 1899), 40.
For the whole development see G. Khakee, "The Dasa Avatira of the Satpanthi Ismailis and Imam Shahis of Indo-Pakistan," Ph.D. dissertation,
Harvard University, 1972.
271 refer especially to those technical terms employed in the SufI tradition, under the influence of Ibn cArabi"'s mystical philosophy of w~dat alwujud ("Unity of Being"), to denote various metaphysical and spiritual
realms stages and states.
28For a list of the corrupted forms of SufI terminology found in Ismaili
texts of the Biijh N"uaiijan, see 94-95 below.
29Sa dik Ali, Authenticity of the "Buj Nirinjan," 4.
3OIbid., 17.
31This concept is elaborated in the ginan Das Avatar, the central work
in the Nizarl Ismaili tradition in the subcontinent. This work laid down "the
defInitive formulation of the doctrine" of the tradition. See Nanji, Nizari
IsmaCW Tradition, 111, and Khakee, "The Dasa Avatara of the Satpanthi
Is'1lailis and Imam Shahis of Indo-Pakistan." The Das Avatar was so central
to the tradition that around the turn of the century it was considered necessary to read it to an Ismaili as he lay on his death bed. Gazetteer of the
Bomb~ Presidency, vol. 9, pt. 2, 46.
3 Faulty orthography and the vagaries of transmission have led to the
following disparities between the texts of the India OffIce manuscript and the
Bijapur fragment: the word rakhe in quatrain Il line 2, has been misspelled
in the Bijapur fragment as lakhe; in quatrain 3, line 4, the word sew has been
misspelled as sera/sira; in quatrain 4, line 3, in place of the word mag the
Bijapur text uses marag, a word that is metrically inappropriate in this line.


33Sa dik Ali, Authenticity of the "Buj Nirinjan," 14;

34Ansar Zahid Khan, History and Culture of Sind (Karachi: Royal
Book Co., 1980), 284.
35See Shaikh Muhammad Ikram, Riid-i Ka~ar (Lahore: Perozsons,
1955); Bruce Lawrence, Notes from a Distant Flue: Sufi Literature in PreMughal India (Teheran: Imperial Academy of Philosophy, 1978); Khaliq A.
Nizami, Some Aspects of Religion and Politics in India during the ThirteeIith
Century (New York: Asia Publishing House, 1961); S. A. A. Rizvi, A History
of Sufism in India, vol. 1 (New Delhi,. Munshiram Manoharlal, 1978); A.
Schimmel, Islam in the Indian Subcontinent, 2 Abt. 4 Bd., 3 Abschnitt of
Handbuch der Orientalistik, ed. J. Gonda (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1980); and
Encyclopedia of Islam, new ed., s.v. "}S:adiriyya," by D. S. Margoliouth.
36Khan, History and Culture of Sind, 284.
39Khan refers the reader to Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, vol. 1,
p. 93, for an account of this saint. Ibid., 284, nn.53-54. This is an incorrect
citation. The correct reference is to vol. 9, pt. 2, pp. 50-51.
4O-rhe compiler of the Gazetteer notes that this account is unreliable as
to its dates.
41Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, vol. 9, pt. 2, p. 51.
42Gulam Sarwar Lahort, Khazinat ul-A$fiya, vol. 1 (Kanpur: Naval
Kishor 1914) 115-117.
43Ismaili hagiographic accounts of the activities of the thirteenth century (?) da'i PIr Shams describe two confrontations between him and the
famous Suhrawardi saint, Baba ud-DIn Zakariyya (D. ca. 1267). On looking
out the window, Baba ud-DIn was so astonished to see ~11' Shams sailing in a
paper boat that he caused the boat to sink. The PIr kept the boat afloat
through his meditation but cursed Baba ud-Din so that horns grew out of his
head and trapped him in the window. Though the ~11' subsequently withdrew
his curse, he decreed that the marks of the horns would never disappear even
from Baba ud-OIn's progeny. Similarly in an account, which has many Indian
parallels, Baba ud-DIn sent the ~11' a bowl full of milk, which was to signify
that there was no room for him. By putting flowers in the milk, the PIr
hinted that his presence in the city would be as unburdensome as the flowers
were to the milk. See Nanji, NizarI Isma9li Tradition, 53-54. During a
research trip to Punjab in January 1982, I found that the Ismailis of the area
still consider the SuhrawardI saint Rukn-i cAIam (1249(-7)-1334) to have been
"an enemy of the faith."
44Khan, History and Culture of Sind, 285.
45Aziz Ahmad, Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment (London:
Oxford University Press, 1964), 138.
46Khan, History and Culture of Sind, 284.
471 am indebted to Prof. Peter Gaeffke of the University of Pennsylvania for this observaton. The lnaD.awI is a form of verse in rhyming couplets that could be extended indeftnitely. It is governed by only one important
formal requirement - persistent uniformity of rhythmical pattern - thus making it eminently suited for epic narrative poetry.
48Por an account of the life and activities of the Shaikh, see MU1;tammad
Rashid BurhanpiirI, Burhanpiir ke SindhI Auliya (Hyderabad, Sind: Sin4hi
Adabi Board, 1957),31-103; and ICjaiul I-:Iaqq QuddusI, TaZkira-i ~iifiya-i
Sind (Karachi: Urdu Academy, Sind, 1959) 156-163.

49ne ma~awi, entitled Bayan-i tana7zul-i1;taqq ja1la wa cali be caqIda-i

~~ is reproduced in Burhanpiiri, Blirhinpiir ke Sindhi Auliya, 143-150.

0The work, called Risila-i daqIqa, is reproduced in BurhanpiirI,

Burhinpiir ke Sindhi Auliya, 74-80.
51The treatise attempts to explain some of the metaphysical terminology associated with the wa.b.dat al-wujud school of SufIsm. According
to BurhanpiirI, "it is a description of [divine] specificatio~ [tacaiyunat] and
Muhammadan Reality."
52Ibid., 77.
53Ibid., 76.
54Ibid., 77.
55Alternatively, the composer could mean that division and analysis of it
(i.e., the world of symbols) is impossible.
56 Ibid.
57Ibid., 46-47. The dOM translates as "That which makes one forget
God is what should be called the world." This is a frequent expression in
Persian, e.g., in Riimi's M~~ "Cst duniya az khuda gail budan."
58Ibid., 72. In support of this claim, BurhanpiirI states that he himself
has in his collection manuscripts of two works attributed to MasiJ;l al-Auliya
that are not mentioned in the GuIzar-i abrar.
59Sa dik Ali, Authenticity of the "Buj Nirinjan," 6.
63Ibid., 6. Presumably the printed text was one edited by LaljI Devraj.
64The mausoleum of PIr Shams is in Multan, that of P-lf Sadr ad-Din
about fifteen miles south of Ucch and that of PIr l:iasan Kablr ad-DIn a
mile's distance from Ucch.
65Marshall Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, vol. 2 (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1974), 393-394.
66Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, 231.
67The early Sht, Imams, cAlI ibn Abi Talib (d. 661) and JaCfar ~-Sadiq
(d. 765) are considered to have played an important tole in the development
of the Sufi tradition. See Paul Nwyia, Extg~se Coranique et langage
mystique (Beirut: Dar el-Mashreq, 1970), esp.chap. 2, sect. 3, "GaCfar Sadiq
et les debuts du vocabulaire de l'experience," 156-188. Nwyia discusses the
role of J aCfar a~-Sadiq, who as one of the greatest teachers of early Sufism
was responsible for laying the foundation for the ecstatic love mysticism that
characterizes later SufIsm. L. Massignon, in Essai sur les origines des lexique
technique de la mystique musulmane (Paris:P. Geuthner, 1928), 201-206,
discusses the importance for the history of Sufism of a tafsIr attributed to
Jacrar a~-Sadiq.
68W. Ivanow, Ismaili Literature: A Bibliographic Survey (Teheran:
Ismaili Society, 1963), 130; W. Iva now, "Sufism and Ismailism: ChiraghNama "Rewe Iranienne d'Anthropologie 3 (1959): 13-17;
69Marshall Hodgson, "The Isma,1I State," Cambridge History of Iran,
vol. 5.-fuCambridge: Cambridge Vniversity Press, 1968), 463-466.
Ibid., 482.
71Ivanow, Ismaili Literature, 11. Henry Corbin, in Histoire de la
philosophie IsIamique (Paris: Gallimard, 1964), 149,states "la coalescence de
l'Ismaelisme et du soufisme, posterieurmerit a Alamut, nous refere au
probleme encore obscures des origines."


72Aziin N~nji writes, "The NizarI daCWa, when it entered the Subcontinent, already carried within its repertoire a strain of mysticism rooted in
Ismailism but tinged with the sufic terminology of the time." Nizarl Isma9li
Tradition, 126. According to Ivanow, "The early Ismaili missionaries and
saints appeared to the world at large, to the uninitiated, as Sufic pirs." "The
Sect of Imam Shah in Gujrat," Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal
Asiatic Society 12 (1936): 35.
73Ivanow, "Satpanth," Collectanea, vol. 1, p. 10.
74Ibid. According to local tradition, P-rr l:Iasan KabIr ad-DIn is said to
have belonged to the SuhrawardI order. See Nanji, NlZiri Isma9li Tradition,
78. See also John Subhan, Sufism, Its Saints and Shrines (Lucknow: Lucknow Publishing House, 1960), app. A, 359, where the Pir is listed among the
Suhrawarw saints.
75For a brief discussion on the similarities between the love symbolism
of the ginan literature and the Sufi poetry in Sindhi, see Asani, "The Ismacm
Ginan Literature," 48-53.
76Among the contents of the approximately 100 Khojki manuscripts in
the collection of the Ismailia Association for Pakistan, we fmd the following
(the number in parentheses refers to the manuscript): selections from the
Ma;inawrof RUmI, Persian verse with Sindhi translation (K.M.S. 1); 115
verses of the Bhakti poetess Mira BaI (K.M.S. 5); verses of the sixteenthcentury Gujarati poet Narsi Mehta (K.M.S. 9); verses of the famous poet
Kablr (K.M.S. 18, 34); Micaraj Nama of the Prophet in Hindi (K.M.S. 27);
verses of the Sindhi mystic Shah cAbd al-LatIf (K.M.S. 28); gazals of Amir
Khusrau and SacadI (K.M.S. 34); verses of the Kanphata Yogi, Gorakhnath
(K.M.S. 51); verses from various Sindhi poets including SacCal, Shah cAbd alLa~If, SahibdIno (K.M.S. 51, 99); collection of kirtans (K.M.S. 79). See also
Zawahir Noorally, Catalogue of Khojki Manuscripts in the Collection of the
Ismailia Association for Pakistan (drart copy, Karachi, 1971).
77Because of the popUlarity of the Ma~nawi within the Ismaili
community (Aga Khan III frequently urged his Ismaili followers to read the
work), an Ismaili wa~ Nurmuhammad Rahemtullah, translated the work
into Gujarati. See Nurmuhammad Rahemtullah, M~nawi Maulana Riimi
(Mombasa: n.p., 1978). The Husaini Gita, a training manual for Ismaili
wa'lpn, compiled by Chief Missionary Husaini Pirmub.ammad Asani in the
early decades of this century, quotes liberally from the poetry of the great
Sufi poets. A manuscript of this work is located at the Institute of Ismaili
Studies in London. For the role of RiimfS poetry among the Ismailis of Iran,
see Rafique Keshavjee, "The Quest for Gnosis and the Call of History: Modernization among the Ismailis of Iran," Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1981, 2:32, 3:40.
78The frequent recitation of these portions of the Biijh Niraiijan attests
to their immense popularity.
79See Asani, "The Isma9li Ginan Literature," 26-37.
BOFor the refrain in the Ismaili version of the Biijh Nrraiijan, see 111113 below.


The texts of the Bujh Niraftjan employ three scripts: the
Perso-Arabic, the Khojki, and the Gujarati. Of the three, the
Perso-Arabic and the Khojki present a complex set of problems during the perusal of texts. For a variety of reasons that
will be discussed below, these two scripts fail to record fully
and precisely the complete range of vowels and consonants of
an Indian language. Consequently, readers often have to rely
on personal judgment in determining the correct reading of a
particular word. For instance, the Perso-Arabic script, though
it possesses the technical means to record short vowels, normally requires readers to supply these vowels as they read the
text. Thus, the word "":':""':" may be read as pata, pita, puta,
pati, patu, piti, pitu, puti, or putu. This hypothetical example
illustrates well the nature of the problems that may arise while
ascertaining the reading of texts written in the two scripts.
However, as Tables 2.1, 2.2, and 2;3 illustrate, the modern
configurations of the Perso-Arabic script (its Urdu and Sindhi
versions) as well as Khojki have been so refined and standardized that, on the whole, they are better able to record a text
such as the Bujb Niraftjan, perhaps not so adequately as the
traditional Devanagari-based scripts. But this was not the case
with the medieval prototypes of the two scripts which were
characterized by imperfection of form and inconsistency of
usage. Consequently, script-related problems can become particularly serious during the reconstruction of a medieval text
such as the Bujh Niraftjan, which often makes use of littleknown and archaic grammatical forms and vocabulary.
Only the Devanagari-based Gujarati script records all the
vowels and consonants that are essential for ensuring an accurate and objective reading of a text. Unfortunately,'the texts of
the Bujh Nirafijan in the Gujarati script are unreliable editions
printed in this century) On the other hand, the manuscript
sources of the Bujh Niraftjan, which are particularly significant
in the preparation of a critical edition, utilize the Perso-Arabic
and Kho}ki scripts. Therefore, it becomes necessary for us to


examine in detail the major issues, and problems associated

with both these scripts.
The Perso-Arabic Script
The India Office manuscript was written at a time when
the Perso-Arabic script had yet to develop standardized ways
to depict sounds characteristic of Indian languages. It was also
a time when Muslim literati had begun to compose actively in
the Indian vernaculars. As early as at least the fifteenth
century, Muslim poets were composing lengthy mystical verse
romances in AvadhI or Eastern Hindi~ apparently influenced
and inspired by the well-established romantic m~nawI tradition in Persian. 2 Slightly later, a tradition of patronizing poets
of Hindi was initiated at the Mughal court by the Emperor
Akbar (1556-1605) with the practice of having a Hindi poet
laureate along with a Persian one.3 In the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuri~s, Sufi poets began to produce the first
significant works iIi other North Indian regional languages such
as Sindhi and PunjabL4 In southern India, too, we find from
the 'sixteenth century onward'that the courts of the Deccan
kingdoms and the Sufis began to propagate and confer respectability on the South Indian vernacular, Dakhni.5 By the
eighteenth century, Mughal patronage of Hindi poets had
grown so strong that even some of the weaker Mughal
emperors who succeeded Aurangzeb (1658-1707) were significant patrons of Hindi literature. 6 At the same time, a
respectable literary tradition in Urdu was just beginning. In
fact, with the decline of Mughal rule the tendency to use the
vernaculars received such momentum that "there was a great
outburst of literary activity in Bengali, Deccani, Hindi, Sindhi,
Pushto, Kashmiri and other regionallanguages."7
As a result of this increasingly important trend, the development of standardized forms for adapting the Perso-Arabic
script to Indian languages must have been a pressing issue.
Khan Mrr HadI, secretary of the Dar al-Insha, had a long conversation with the Emperor Aurangzeb on the orthography of
Hindi letters in the Perso-Arabic script, especially the suita(h) for a final a vowel. 8 Mirza
bility of using the letter"
Khan Ibn Fakhr ad-DIn Mul)ammad, the author of a Persian
grammar on the Hindi dialect Braj, regarded the accurate
representation of Indian sounds to be so important that he
deemed it necessary to include in his work a version of the



Perso-Arabic script system that incorporated additional characters for sounds peculiar to Braj. Moreover, every time he
uses a Braj word, he supplies a complete spelling by designating each letter with the special name he invented for it. 9
The scribe of the India Office manuscript, too, shows some
awareness of the need to represent Hindustani sounds accurately. The scheme he chooses is insufficiently systematic and
comprehensive, however, to encompass all such sounds, making it difficult for the modern reader to determine the correct
reading. Only in the case of the retroflexive sounds does he
attempt to use 'special characters. For the postalveolar retroflexives t and Q he uses the characters "~,, and " ~," respectively, while for the retroflexive flap f he uses ")." Unfortunately, the scribe is not careful in employing these characters
when they are required. Frequenqy a t will simply be transcribed as t and a Q as a d. As for ") ," the character for the r
sound, he rarely uses it. 10 .He frequently represents the r
sound by either ") ," the character for the regular r sound (e.g.,
sughar, poem 10, quatrain 3; parhe, poem 13, quatrain 4) or by
" ,) ," the character for the d sound (e.g., chore, poem 12,
quatrain 4). The inconsistency in the use of these characters
resul ts in a word like praghat being spelled in two different
ways: sometimes with the character " ~" (0 and sometimes
with "~" (t).
In addition to the retroflexive consonants, Hindustani has
two other types of sounds for which special provision must be
made for the Perso-Atabic script. First, there are the aspirated
sounds that the modem script system indicates by using a special form of the letter " ~" (h) - the so-called do eashme he.
Our manuscript uses only one form of the letter" a" (h) for
both the consonantal h as well as the aspiration h. Again for
nasalized sounds, our manuscript uses the character "0' for
both the regular and nasalized Ii sound. Consequently, in both
cases only a prior familiarity with the relevant words ensures a
correct reading of the aspirated and nasalized sounds.
Another ambiguity arising from the script system results
from a peculiarity that this manuscript shares with many Persian manuscripts. Although the script possesses special characters for each pair of certain letters, the scribe will often not
distinguish in writing a b (be,y) from a p (pe,~), a k (kaf,J)
from a g (gaf, J'), or a C (c, ~ ) from a j' GIm, t::). S. M.


Pandey, in his study of the Perso-Arabic manuscript" of

Maulana Dalld's seminal Hindi epic, Candayan (composed in
1379), has discussed the chaotic reading caused by this peculiarity in the various critical editions of that work. 1 I In the case
of Blljh Niraiijan, this lack of differentiation is also of some
consequence for, during the conversion of the text from the
Perso-Arabic script, the scribe has on several occasions misread the original. Thus in poem 9, quatrain 4, and poem 11,
quatrain 3, of the Khojki and Gujarati texts, we find that the
word gur (guru) has been misread as kar (do). In poem 33,
quatrain 3, and poem 12, quatrain 3, of the Ismaili version, the
word mag (path) has been distorted to mukh (face). Similarly,
Khojki and Gujarati texts often read blljhe (know) for pfiChe
(ask) and vice versa.
Not only consonants are confusingly rendered. Many
vowels fare no better. For example, the scribe uses the letter
"9," to indicate both the long i vowel (ya-i macrtlf) as well as
the e vowel (ya-i majhiil). However, unlike the modern Urdu
script, he does not assign distinctive values to the two final
forms of this letter, "90" and '~." That is to say, whereas the
modern script system uses the form "c$' for the I vowel and the
form '~" for the e vowel, the manuscript employs "~" for both
the I and the e vowels. Similarly, the form '~" could represent
either one of these vowel sounds.
The sound value for the letter" a" when it ocCUrs at the
end of words is also uncertain. As mentioned above, this letter
has traditionally been used to indicate the short a vowel at .the
end of words, especially when this vowel needs to be articulated, as in the word "~~" (piya). On the other hand, when
meter requires a word like "r( to be scanned as a long syllable, then the final "e," can take on two alternate values. It
may retain its consonantal value h, which would result in the
word being transcribed as yah, or, as is sometimes the case in
modern Urdu, the letter may stand for the long a vowel sound
associated with the letter alif. In the latter case, the word
would then be transcribed as ya. There is another eccentricity
in this manuscript regarding the value of this letter: the letter
" l)" is occasionally used fo represent a shot e vowel at the end
of a word, e;g., jine, poem 2, dohrah; tine, poem 3, dohrah; hoe,
poem 4, dohrah; deve, poem 8, dohrah.
A final peculiarity of the vowel system concerns the long I


vowel when it occurs in the middle of a word. In standard

usage, this vowel is indicated by the medial form of the letter
"6", i.e., a "tooth" with two dots underneath ("";'tJ). Our scribe,
ho'wever, by often omitting this "tooth" in the middle of a
word, indicates that there is no letter in that position; yet he
still places the two dots under the word. While it appears that
he may use this device to represent a short i vowel, he is not
consistent in this usage. At any rate, the failure to include this
"tooth" may have been a common practice among scribes of
the period, for this omission had ha9 significant consequences
during the transmission and conversion of the text from the
Perso-Arabic script. Particularly affected by this unusual practice is the word " (r.rl." (bhIii). In the case of this word, the
other quirks of the script system - the lack of distinction
between a b and a p as well as between nasalized and nonnasalized sounds - have interacted with the above orthographic
peculiarity, resulting in Khojki and Gujarati texts consistently
misreading this word as pban or pbun.
The Khojki Script 12
Origin and Background
Khojki (Khojakr) is the name of the script used by the
Nizari Ismailis of the Indian subcontinent to record their
religious literature. Originating in Sind and most commonly
used to transcribe the Sindhi language, the script was in active
use in the community from at least the sixteenth century, if not
earlier, until about the 1960s. The name Khojki is most likely
derived from the word Khoja., a popularization of the Persian
title Khwaja, meaning "lord or master.,,13 According to
Ismaili traditon, the fifteenth-century dacr (preacher-saint) PIr
Sadr ad-DIn, who bestowed the title on new Indian converts to
Ismailism, was also responsible for inventing the Khojki
script. 14
Excavations at Bhambore, the eighth-century Muslim settlement in lower Sind, however, have uncovered a "protoN agarr" script with characters remarkably similar to those
found in the modern Khojki script. 15 This script is the
prototype of the Khojki. It has been identified as LohaI,lakI or
LarI, the script of the Hindu Lohana community, one of the
communities among whom PIr Sadr ad-DIn was not active.16
Thus, while the Ismaili tradition that he invented Khojki is



clearly inaccurate - in any case, scripts evolve slowly because

they are necessarily cultural and not individual products - the
PIr may indeed have played a role in its elaboration, as we
shall see below. That is speCUlative, however. What is not
speculative is that Khojki is a refined and polished form of
LohaIJ.akI. 17
Khojki was one of the many scripts prevalent in Sind over
a period of several centuries. 18 As early as the ninth and tenth
centuries, various Arab geographers and travelers referred to
the fact that the inhabitants of Sind had many scripts for writing their language. 19 This use of several different scripts for
writing Sindhi prevailed well into the nineteenth century. In a
paper on Sindhi alphabets presented at the July 1857 meeting
of the Royal Asiatic Society (Bombay branch), Trumpp, the
German orientalist and author of a distinguished Sindhi grammar, noted the use of various alphabets, Muslims preferring
Arabic characters loaded "with a confusing heap of dots" while
Hindus employed a medley of alphabets known by the name of
Banyaii. 20 The intrepid traveler Richard Burton remarks that
"the characters in which the Sindhi tongue is written are very
numerous," and among the various alphabets in use he also
enumerates "that used by the Khwajah tribe.,,21 George
Stack, in his Grammar of the Sindhi Language, published in
1849, tabulates thirteen script systems, including Khojki, which
were used for writing Sindhi, different localities and different
groups or people favoring distinct styles. 22
Khojki and most of the scripts used for writing Sindhi
belong to the group of Indian scripts that have been classified
by Grierson under the heading "LaIJ.Oa" or "clipped" alphabets. 23 These were employed especially by the Hindus or Sind
and Punjab for purposes of commerce. In fact, in Sind, LaIJ.Oa
was called Baniyaii or Wru;tiko, indicating its use primarily as a
mercantile and commercial script. 24 Their mercantile origin
may explain why the entire group of LaIJ.Oa scripts was not well
suited for literary purposes. Mercantile scripts had limited
purposes and tended to be crude by literary standards.
According to Grierson, the vowel system of the LaIJ.Oa alphabets is poorly developed; the consonants are far from clear,
and the script often varies from place to place. 25 Indeed, these
commercial scripts lack signs for medial vowels, and in most of
them a single letter could often represent a number of differ- '


ent sounds. Burton comments that these alphabets are so useless that "a trader is scarcely able to read his own accounts,
unless assisted by a tenacious memory.,,26 Grierson similarly
remarks that "It [LalJ.Qa] is seldom legible to anyone except the
original writer, and not always to him."27 In this regard, he
also quotes a Sindhi proverb: "Wa~ka akhar a 1;>uta, suka
parhana-khan Chuta"; which means that "the Wal).iko letters
are vowelless; [as soon as the ink is] dry, they are released from
reading [i.e., are illegible ].,,28
Among this hodgepodge of commercial scripts - scribbling,
we could truly say in many cases - Khojki was one of the few
that developed into a vehicle of literary expression. Although
for some scripts such as KhudawadI in Sind, DogrI in Jammu
and ChamIalI in Chamba, this evolution took place as a result
of official governmental initiative and encouragement in the
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, for Khojki the
advance came about much earlier owing to (as we shall presently see) the script's affiliation with a minority religious
Expression in written literature, as in music, requires an
instrument, and instruments require technical development. In
Khojki, the technical development that made a new range of
expression possible was the system of medial vowel marks
called lakana. In the region of Sind, Khojki was the only
La.o.<;la script to have sustained and perhaps even developed the
use of this medial vowel system. 29 It was this distinguishing
characteristic of Khojki that made the script suitable for its
extensive use in recording a considerable corpus of Ismaili religious literature. 30 Incidentally, it is possible that PIr Sadr adDIn, whom the tradition credits with the invention of the script,
may have been responsible rather for introducing the lakana
and possibly other refinements to Khojki.3 1
Nonetheless, as will be seen below, the Khojki scrip~
evolved into an entirely satisfactory script system in splte of
these refinements. The queston therefore immediately arises:
why was it adopted for recording religious literature when
more developed scripts such as Devanagari and the PersoArabic alphabets were available? The answer lies perhaps in
the strong tendency among religious groups in medieval India,
both Hindu and Muslim, to make religious literature more
accessible to the masses. Their move away from the use of


classical languages such as Sanskrit, Arabic, and Persian; the

corresponding blooming of the regional languages as vehicles
of religious literature; the use of symbols and imagery taken
from daily village life - all these are only some examples. of this
trend. Certainly in its form, style, and imagery, the Ismaili
religious literature (the ~an literature) of the subcontinent
exhibits the same concern. 32 Consequently, in the Ismaili case,
the adoption of the Khojki script, a "local" script, was probably
part of the attempt to make religious literature more accessible
by recording it in a script with which the local population had
the greatest familiarity. That the adoption of a "local" script
for preserving religious literature may have been customary
with various groups in medieval India is further evident from
the Sikh adoption of GurmukhI as an "official" script for its
religious literature. Like Khojki, GurmukhI is a La1,lc,la script
of the Punjab that was improved and polished by the borrowing
of vowel signs and refining of existing LaI).c,la characters.33 As
a vehicle of Sikh religious literature, GurmukhI contributed to
the consolidation of the Sikh religion, becoming particularly
important in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when the
Sikhs exercised political hegemony over Punjab and Kashmir.
S. S. Gandhi points out that the adoption of the GurmukhI
script was of great significance, for only by adopting a script
that was their own and that was suited to their language could
the Sikhs develop their culture.3 4 The popularization of the
GurmukhI script was also "well calculated to make its readers
part with the Hindu composition written in Sanskrit."35 Similarly, the Khojki script may have contributed to developing a
sense of self-identity among new converts to Ismailism from
the Hindu tradition.
One final parallel between Khojki and GurmukhI deserves
notice. J u:.:. as the Ismaili tradition associates a charismatic
religious personality - PIr Sadr ad-DIn - with the Khojki script,
so also the Sikh tradition associates the second Guru, Guru
Aiigad (1538-52), with the GurmukhI script. According to the
Sikh tradition, Guru Aiigad was responsible for improving the
GurmukhI script when he found that the Sikh hymns written in
the original La1,lc,la form were liable to be misread. This is the
reason why the alphabet is called GurmukhI, for it carne forth
from "the mouth of the Guru."36


Khojki in Modem Times: Uniformity and Demise

We possess remarkably little textual and historical evidence regarding the process by whiCh the Khojki script developed and evolved from a rudimentary commercial script of the
eighth century to a more complex and plastic medium of
expression. Not only is the study of the script still in its infancy,
but many Khojki manuscripts, our most important source of
information about the script, have yet to be collected and
catalogued. Although at present there are three institutional
collections of manuscripts - two major ones, in Karachi at the
Ismailia Association for Pakistan and in London at the
Institute of Ismaili Studies, and a third much smaller one in the
Harvard College Library - these collections are far from being
comprehensive. There are many unexamined manuscripts,
probably in very poor condition, in the possession of individual
families. The absence of a comprehensive, centralized collection of Khojki manuscripts is a formidable hurdle for any
attempt to trace the evolution of the script. An equally
formidable obstacle is presented by the apparent lack of any
pre-ei~hteenth-century manuscripts in the existing collections.37 Finally, piety itself has been no less of a problem:
Ivanow remarks that in the early twentieth century, after the
printing of certain ginanic texts, ''the manuscripts from which
the edition was prepared were buried in the ground!"38
Nevertheless, a cursory examination of existing Khojki manuscripts reveals that even as late as the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the script was still undergoing various stages
of refinement. This refinement was connected with the development and use of characters for sounds that were not satisfactorily represented in the script system. The identification of
the precise stages of this refinement- would make a fascinating
study but one that is beyond the scope of this work.
It is only when we come to the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries that we are on more solid ground. The
advent of the printing press in the subcontinent during this
period had a major impact on the script. Toward the end of
the nineteenth century various lithographs were published in
the Khojki script under the auspices of individual members of
the Ismaili community.3 9 With the. development of the printing type, the lithographs were gradually replaced by the printed
form. Initially Khojki material was printed by private printing



presses such the Gulam-i I:Iusain Chapakhanu in Bombay.40

At this early stage the printed material appears to have consisted of almost verbatim copies of ginans from the Khojki
manuscripts, with very little editing.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, however, most
likely as a result of the recent schisms within the Indian Ismaili
community,41 the publication of religious literature was centralized by being brought under the control of the community.
Private attempts at publishing religious literature became less
common. Under the auspices of the official community press,
the Khojki Sindhi Printing Press in Bombay, LaljI Devraj,
began producing a large number of texts, mostly ginan texts, in
the Khojki script. As is discussed in the next chapter, LaljI
Devraj also played an important role in editing Khojki material
before it was put into print. 42 The establishment of the Khojki
Sindhi Printing Press, by making religious literature in Khojki
available in greater quantities, was a big boost in promoting
the use of Khojki. Books in the Khojki script made their way
even to East and South Africa, where substantial numbers of
Ismaili communities had migrated for economic reasons. In
the 1920s and 1930s, although the printing was still done by the
Khoja Sindhi Printing Press (later known as the Ismaili Printing Press), the publication of Khojki material was taken over
by the Recreation Club Institute, which later evolved into the
community institution responsible for research and publication
of religious materia1. 43
Ironically, the introduction of printing may have also
sounded the deathknell for the script. It soon became apparent that there were considerable expenses involved in manufacturing printing types especially for Khojki. Moreover, the
script itself, as will be seen below, still had some fundamental
imperfections. A more significant factor was the lack of uniformity in the script in different geographical areas. For
example, the character "-v," represented the letter dy in Sind
and z or j in Gujarat. Or in one region the vowel 0 would be
represented by the character"..,. " while in another area the
character " ~"; " served the same purpose. In short, regional
variations were a serious problem in an era when literature was
widely dissernJ.nated and. priIiting was becoming standardized.
Hence, as early as 1910 to 1911, the Gujarati script began to
appear as an alternative, and by the 1930s it was quite com-


monly used "in printing Ismaili religious books. In fact it

appears that most of the material theretofore available only in
the Khojki script was transcribed and printed in Gujarati. 44
In th~ following decades the printing of books in Khojki
and instruction in the Khojki script gradually ceased in all
areas where the Ismaili communi!)' lived except in the region
of Sind, the home of the script. 45 There the script survived
probably for two reasons. First, the partition of India in 1947
and later events increased the Gujarati- and Urdu-speaking
population of Ismailis in this region. Since these languages do
not share common scripts, there was still a need to have a
single script in which different languages could be written.
Second, the Sindhi Ismailis appear to have been reluctant to
abandon a script so closely associated with their language.
Even in Sind, however, the Khojki script did not survive
beyond the early years of the 1970s, when it gave way to the
Perso-Arabic script system in which both Urdu and Sindhi are
written. For all practical purposes, Khojki no longer survives
today as a "living" script among the Ismailis of the subcontinent.
Much more was involved in the use of the Khojki script
than access to religious literature. During its lifetime the
script, by providing an exclusive means of written expression
commonly shared by Ismailis living in three regions (Sind,
Punjab, and Gujarat), was influential in the development of
cohesion and self-identity within a widely scattered and linguistically diverse religious community. No doubt the script
facilitated the flow and the transmission of religious literature
from one area to another. 46 Use of the script may also have
served to confine religious literature within the COmnlunity this precaution being necessary to avoid persecution from outsiders not in agreement with the community'S doctrines and
practices. 47 In this respect, Khojki may have served the same
purpose as the secret languages, such as the balabailan language, utilized by Muslim mystics to hide their more esoteric
thoughts from the common people. 48
Even though it was adopted and used by Ismailis outside
the region of Sind, the Khojki script never lost its early
association with Sind and its language. Even today, Ismailis
from areas outside of Sind tend to call the script SindhI, confusing it with that language. This confusion is prevalent even


in the area of religious education: to this day, in the regions of

Gujarat and Kathiawar, classes providing instruction to children are called SindhI, presumably a reminder of the time
when a child attending religious classes learned the Khojki
Inadequacies of the Khojki Script
As a system- of literary expression, the Khojki script had
serious limitations in three different areas. First, its vowel
system, in spite of a slight refinement, was crude. Second, as to
consonants, there were certain sounds, mostly of Arabic origin,
for which the script had no characters at all (deficiency); the
same sound could be represented by different characters
(redundancy); and several sounds could be represented by the
same character (ambiguity). And third, there was inconsistency in orthography and the use of orthographic signs. For the
most part, these inadequacies can be explained by the script's
mercantile origin -and regional usage. Merchants originally
developed the script for a narrow range of precise but technical
purposes, and when the script was adapted for recording
Ismaili religious literature, its limitations created difficulties of
expession and comprehension, only some of which were gradually remedied in subsequent centuries.
What follows is an investigation of these limited but serious difficulties as presented by the five Khojki texts of the BUJb
Niraftjan whiCh forms the subject of this study. Wherever
appropriate, reference will also be made to G. Khakee, "The
Dasa Avatara of the Satpanthis and Imamshahls of IndoPakistan," the only major study so far that has involved textual
criticism of a Khojki manuscript. 49
The Vowel System
1. The script does distinguish between a long ii vowel and
a short ii vowel, whether these occur independently or with a
consonant.50 "6.i' - the character for an independent u vowel could be read either as an indepenc;lent long U vowel or an
independent short ii vowel. Thus the word "<f, '"'1" can be transcribed either as US or us. The letter "~ used in Allana's table
of the Khojki script for an independent long U vowel appears to
be a theoretical form as it is not used in any of the texts of the
Bajh Nirafijan. 51 Furthermore, it occurs neither in the manuscript Kx used by Khakee nor in the Khojki primers of 1932


and 1947. Siffiilarly, the subscript sign" ..," - which is combined

with a consonant to indicate that the consonant is to be read
with a u vowel;. does not indicate the length of the vowel.
Thus " ~" could be read as kt1 or ku. Consequently, the script
relies on the reader's familiarity with a word in order to ensure
that the vowel is read according to its correct length. The
length of the vowel becomes especially crucial in poetry texts
(such as the Bujh Nirafljan) since it determines the length of
the syllable and affects the meter. Given the ambiguity about
the length of the u vowel in the Khojki script, the vowel has
been transcribed here as u, indicating that it may be read as
long or short.
2. The script also exhibits confusion about the character
used to represent an independent 0 vowel, which is normally
represented in modern Khojki by the character" 6." In the
manuscript Kx of the Dasa Avatara, the character" 6" represents both the 0 and the u vowels, and only a knowledge of the
language helps to determine the appropriate reading. 52 The
same confusion is apparent in manuscript K-4 of the Bujh
Nirafljan. In this study, for the sake of consistency, the character " 6," when it occurs in manuscript K-4, has always been
transcribed as o. Manuscripts K-3 aijd K-5 prefer to employ
another me~hod to represent an independent 0 vowel by using
"-;"," or " ~I ." This is obviously an adaptation from the
Devanagari-based scripts'. Occasionally K-5 even uses" (,,"
the letter for the independent u vowel in words where one
would expect an 0 vowel. George Stack uses yet another character - "6.1" - for the independent .0 vowel, but this character
does not appear to in any of our texts. 53 In view of this confusion it is safe to conjecture thSit, at an earlier stage in its
history, Khojki may have lacked a distinctive sign for the independent 0 vowel.
3. The script has a single character, " o.Jl," to indicate
both the independent short r and long I vowel (as in islam,
laiye, kOI).54 Hence the transcription i is used in this work for
an independent i vowel. Allana uses the character "..(" for an
independent short i vowel, but that character is not to be found
in the Khojki texts consulted.55 Similarly, Stack uses the character ""<"" for an independent short i vowe1. 56 Though this
character does indeed occur occasionally where one would
expect a short i vowel, it is more commonly used to represent


the e vowel and has been so transcribed in this study. Again, as

will be seen in the section on orthography, there is an ambiguity in the transcription of the symbol" /" which is combined
with a consonant to give a short i vowel.
4. The script does not have any special symbols to represent the diphthongs. 57 The diphthong ai is usually changed to
e, while the diphthong au is changed to o. Stack uses the letters "..,-.('" and "~J" for the diphthong. 58 Allana remarks that
the letters ".-M" and "-.1" were introduced later for the diphthongs ai and au respectively.59 All of the characters mentioned by Allana and Stack are not employed consistently to
represent the diphthongs, however. For example, the letter
"-.5" used by Stack to indicate au does not occur in any of the
Khojki texts or primers. Among the texts of the Bujh Nirafijan,
only K-4 (c. 1901) uses the letters "--,--(" and "--..1'." The rest
of the texts, including the later K-2 (1914), usually change the
diphthongs to the e or 0 vowel. Manuscript K-3 uses" -4\ " for
the diphthong au, but this use is borrowed from the Devanagari script system.
The Consonant System
1. Deficiency. In an attempt to represent the sounds of
the different languages and dialects for which it came to be
employed, the Khojki script eventually developed over forty
letters. 60 Some of these letters were especially incorporated
into the script to represent sounds that were not found in
Indian languages and that were peculiar to Arabic, the language from which most Islamic religious terminology is
derived. 61 To this end, a Khojki letter representing the sound
closest to the Arabic sound in question was appropriately modified. Thus, to indicate the Arabic shIn (sh), which in the
Arabic script is represented by three dots over the letter for sIn
(s), three dots were placed over" .....~ ," the Khodki letter for s,
to produce the letter " ,~ " for the sound sh.6 Similarly, to
represent the Arabic cain in the Khojki script, three dots were
placed over the Khojki letter for 'a (--,) or over the letter for
the vowel e (...f), giving Khojki two letters for this sound ,,~ " and " ~ ."63 The Arabic gain was formed by placing
three dots over the letter for the sound g - " :;)\..." The four
Arabic letters ial, ze, ~o:Je, and .~adwere all pronounced as z
and represented by the letter" i' ." This letter was formed by
the familiar pattern of placing three dots over another conso-


nant, in this case the letter "31" or j. Indeed, in many Indian

languages it is very common to pron~unce j or jb as z and vice
versa. tl4 Occasionally the letter " ~ " was used to represent
the Arabic qaf, but this letter appears to have been a fairly .
recent development. 65
A study of the Khojki manuscripts reveals another kind of
deficiency in the script's consonant system. In its primitive
form, the script probably did not have a separate character for
the consonant y. Manuscript Kx of the Dasa Avatara, dating
from 1737, Joes not have a special letter for this sound. 66 In
Khojki texts the consonant y is quite consistently dropped or
replaced by the vowels a or e or both. 67 A word such as bbaya
would be written as bhaea, maya as maea, and piya as pia.
Later Khojki texts use the letter" 6t1' " for the consonant y.
This letter is an adaptation from the letter " ~'Ot" for the vowel

2. Redundancy. While Khojki originally did not have letters for certain Arabic sounds, it had developed special letters
for the implosive sounds that are found only in the Sindhi language. This development was not unusual since Sindhi was the
language for which Khojki was originally used. But with the
spread of the script to non-Sindhi-speaking areas, the letters
for this implosive sounds were given al ternate sound values.
The peculiar result was that a few sounds were represented by
two letters. Thus"~ ," the Khojki letter for the Sindhi
implosive Q ( y), became commonly used to represent the
sound b (,--:-,,). Consequently, the Khojki letter" """ " which
originally represented the b sound was then used along with
" .:>{ " to represent the sound bh ( ~).Likewise, " t.... ," the
letter for the Sindhi implosive g ( ~ ), is used for the sound d
so that the aspirated db is represented by two Khojki letters "~' (used earlier to represent d) and "~." Again," Vr ," the
Khojki letter for the Sindhi implosive dy ( cr: ), was sometimes
used in Gujarati-speaking areas for the sound z or J68 ":;).t ,"
the Khojki letter for Sindhi ng (~ ), was used to represent g
or even the conjunct gr.69 The factors influencing the direction of this particular shift in the value of the letters in nonSindhi areas certainly warrant further research. In light of the
dual sound values (Sindhi and non-Sindhi) for the above letters, it is quite clear that the area of origin of a Khojki text may
be of considerable significance in determiIling its correct read-


ing and transcription.

3. Ambiguity. There is some confusion in the script about
the letter used to represent the sounds d, r, and Q.. Khakee
notes that in manuscript Kx the same letter, """'e" " is used for
all three sounds'?O Manuscript K-3 of the Bujb Niraiijan also
uses "~~' for all three sounds. Stack remarks that, while most
Indian languages have the same letter to represent d and r,
Sindhi has a different one for each.71 However, though his
table does show a separate character for d and r, the character
for r and ~ is the same,?2 Allana uses the letter "~ " to
indicate the sound r, but in modern Khojki this letter is used
exclusively for the sound Q. Attempts seem to have been made
at a much later stage in the history of the script to clear the
confusion by creating separate and distinctive letters for these
sounds. The Khojki primers of 1932 and 1947 use "~" for Q,
"c:>O" to represent r, and "~" to represent Q.. Nonetheless, in
most Khojki texts the transcription of the letter" ""C""'I " is
Since the Khojki script is chiefly phonetic and since it was
used over a wide area of diverse dialectical pronunciation without being standardized, it is common to find in Khojki texts
inconsistencies in the orthography of many words. One example of such an inconsistency is found in words in which the
sounds band d occur. In the spoken language these two
sounds are often aspirated and pronounced as bb and db. It
was, then, the aspirated sound that was often represented when
the word was written. Thus the Arabic word duca (prayer) was
sometimes written as dna and sometimes as dhna, the latter
spelling representing the pronunciation of the word. Similarly
bat was sometimes written correctly and sometimes as bbat.73
Another inconsistency in the orthography lies in the length
of the vowel. It is true that, in the case of a few vowels, Khojki
did not have a method for distinguishing between long and
short vowels. But there were vowels for which this distinction
could be made, and yet one finds in Khojki texts that very little
attention has been paid to ensuring the correct length of the
vowel. At one point in the text a word would be spelled with a
long vowel, while at another a short vowel would be found
instead. 'The word milana, for example, would be written as


mIlana or as i:nilina...74

One final problem is ambiguity in the use of orthographic

symbols. The script uses the symbol" /,,, with a consonant that
is to be read with a short i vowel. The same symbol could also
indicate a vowel-less consonant. Thus~' ~ 't1 " could be transcribed either as pirem or prem. In her study of manuscript Kx
of the Dasa Avatara, Khakee remarks that in that manuscript
the symbol" r " is used also to give a short a or short e
sound. 75
Another orthographic sign whose value, especially in
manuscripts, is uncertain is the superscript dot. In most Khojki
texts it is usually placed above a long vowel and is used to
indicate nasalization. In this respect it is identical to the
Devanagari anusvaJ". In some manuscripts, however, the same
mark is sometimes placed above consonants apparently to indicate a consonant without the usual implicit short a vowel. This
practice is not consistently followed.


1For factors contributing to the unreliability of these texts, see 87-90
2The first in the series of these romances was Candayan composed in
the late fourteenth century by Maulana DaUd. Cf. S. M. Pandey, "Maulana
DaUd and His Contributions to Hindi SUfi Literature," Annali Instituto
Orientale Napoli 38 (1978): 75-90.
3Cf. S. A. Halim, "Development of Hindi Literature during Akbar's
Reign" Medieval India Quarterly 1-2 (1957): 88-99.
4Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam, 384, 389.
5Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur, 135-174.
6S. M. Ila:am, Muslim Civilization in India (New York: Columbia Universi~ Press, 1964), 243.
Ibid., 245.
8M. Ziauddin, Mirza Khan's Gram,mar of the Braj Bhakha (Calcutta:
Visva Bharati, 1935), 3 n.l.
9Ibid., 9-11.
1D-rhe scribe uses the character ':'; " for the sound f. only two or three
times in the entire manuscript. See poem 18, quatrain 3.
11S. M. Pandey, "Some Problems in Studying Candayan," Orientalia
Lovaniensia Analecta 8 (1980): 127-140. M. Hafiz Syed, "Divan of QazI
Mal,unud Bal}.rI of Gogi," Allahabad University Studies 8 (1937): 209, also
discusses similar peculiarities in the manuscript he used. .
12Much of the material in this section appears in my article, "The
Khojki Script: A Legacy of Ismaili Islam in the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent,"
Journal of the American Oriental Society, 107, no. 1 (1987): 439-449.
13Though the term Khoja now most commonly refers to the Nizari
Ismaili followers of the Aga Khan, there are also SunnI and Ithna cAsharI
Khojas who, for various reasons, have seceded from the larger group and no
longer follow Ismaili doctrine .. The title Khwaja appears to have been
introduced to replace the original term thakur or thillar (also meaning
"lord, master") used by the Lohana Hindu caste, some members of which
were converted to Ismailism. The Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, vol.
9, pt. 2, p. 39) remarks that in northeastern Kathiawar, Khojas were still
addressed by the Lohana title thillar and wore their waistcloths in the
Lohana fashion.. It must also be noted that, among the Ismailis of IndoPakistan, there are Ismailis who do not differ from the Ismaili Khojas either
culturally or in terms of religious doctrine, but nonetheless are not Khojas,
i.e., Momnas, Kunbis, or ShamsIs. See Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam, s.v.
VlA. Nanj~ The Niziri Isma9tI Tradition in the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent (Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1978),9, 74.
15F. A. Khan, Banbhore (Karachi: Department of Archaeology and
Museums, 1976), 16, esp. figs. 2 and 3.
16G. Allana, Sindhi Siiratkhati (Hyderabad, Pakistan: SindhI Zaban
Publications, 1969), 20.
17Ibid., 24.
18Though the earliest extant Khojki manuscript dates to A.D. 1736,
there is considerable evidence that the tradition of writing in the Khojki
script goes back earlier. See Nanji, The NizarI Isma"iti Tradition, 9-11,


Zawahir Nooraliy, Catalogue of Khojki Manuscripts in the Collection of the

Ismailia Association for Pakistan (in manuscript form, Karachi, 1971), and
the introduction of my study, The Harvard Collection of Ismaili Literature in
Indic Languages (Boston: G. K. Hall, forthcoming 1992).
19Allana, Sindhi Siiratkhati, 16-19.
20"Abstract of the Society's Proceedings," Journal of the Bombay
Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 5 (1857): 685.
21Richard Burton, Sindh and the Races That Inhabit the Valley of the
Indus, reprint ed. (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1973), 152-153.
22George Stack, A Grammar of the Sindhi Language (Bombay, 1849) 38.
23George Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, vol. 8, pt. 1 (Calcutta:
Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, 1903-28), 247.
24Ibid., 14. For the relationship of the La~c,ta group of scripts to other
mercantile scripts prevalent in the subcontinent see Asani, "The Khojki
Script" 440.
25George Grierson, On the Modem Indo-Aryan Vernaculars (London:
Quaritch, 1931-33), 11.
26Burton, Sindh, 153.
27Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, vol. 8, pt. 1, p. 247.
28Ibid., 14. In the same note he relates a story according to which a
merchant wrote to his son to send "the small account book with the cover"
(nanc,thi wahi put.he siidhi"). The son read this as nanc,thi wahii purt siidhi:
"send the youngest daughter-in-law with [her] son"!
29Stack, A Grammar of the Sindhi Language, 2 n. Stack remarks that,
while he had been informed that the medial vowel marks were also used with
other Sindhi scripts, he had not been able to locate any corroborative
3t:rrh~ literature recorded in Khojki manuscripts consists not only of the
Ismaili ginan literature and far mans (commands, guidances given by the
Imam) but also religious stories, popular Hindu bhajans or devotional songs,
as well as gazals and kafis. Some manuscripts may also contain remedies for
various illnesses, amulets and the like. For detaHed description of the
contents of Khojki manuscripts, see Ali S. Asani, The Harvard Collection of
Ismaili Literature in Indic Languages, esp. indices; and Noorally, Catalogue
of Khojki Manuscripts.
3IAllana, Sindhi Siiratkhati, 24. see also Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch,
SindhIJ;>olijimukhta$ar tarikh (Hyderabad: Sind University, 1962), 114-115.
32See Asani, "The Ginan Literature of the Ismailis of Indo-Pakistan."
33Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, vol. 8, pt. 1, p. 247.
34S. S. Gandhi, History of the Sikh Gurus (New Delhi: Gur Das Kapur,
1978) 174-175.
35Ibid., quoting Gokal Chand Narang.
36Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India, vol. 9, pt. 1, p. 624. Cf. W. Owen
Cole and Piara Singh Sambh~ The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978), 19.
37The earliest extant Khojki manuscript dates to 1736. See Nanji, The
Nizari Isma;tr Tradition, 10; and Noorally, Catalogue of Khojki ManusaiptS.
38Ivanow "Satpanth," Collectanea, vol. I, p. 40.
3~wo examples of Khojki lithographs from this. period are (1) Vasile
molajo S3J;l rasalo emam jaafar sadhik ane sat! maheje rozeje waft pac,t~jo


molajo moejejo published in 1895 by Kasam bhar KarlIn Bhagat through the
Datt Prasadh Press, Bombay, and (2) Sindh Hedharabad Tatha Jimnagar ja
faramin, published in 1900 by M.[Muhammad?] Sale Kasam through the J.
D. Press, Bombay.
40The Gulam-i l:lusain Press was operated by AlaclIn 6ulam~usain and
his ~on Busain. Some of the Khojki publications of the press include GinanJi
copdi eogadie viri (1891), Rasalo imam jafar sadhakjo (1902), and Ginan
Granth (1907).
41The schisms were caused by attempts by some Khojas to remove the
Aga Khan from his position as Imam of the community, and they resulted in
court cases such as the Aga Khan Case of 1866 and the Hap Bibi Case of
1905. The Ag~ Khan Case was heard before Justice Arnold of the High
Court of Bombay 12 November 1866. A study of the case is presented in A.
A. Fyzee, Cases in Muhammadan Law of India and Pakistan (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1965),504-549.
42See pp. 87-89 below.
43It was under the auspices of the Recreation Club and its successor,
the Ismaili Society, that W. Ivanow, the celebrated scholar of Ismailism,
published some of his research.
440 n the basis of scanty information it appears that Lalji Devraj may
have played an important role in facilitating the switch from Khojki to
Gujarati. This, however, has to be adequately researched before strong
conclusions can be reached.
45Interview with Hashim Moledina, an experienced teacher of Khojki,
Karachi, January 1982.
46A resent research trip to the subcontinent revealed a tradition among
the Nizari Ismailis that holds that a group of professional scribes, Akhunds,
used to travel from one village to another for the purpose of transcribing
"fresh" copies of deteriorating manuscripts (cop4as) or making available
texts of ginans not available previously in the area. Some tenuous evidence of
this practice is provided by manuscripts in the same hand and found in
diverse places, but further research needs to be carried out to determine the
authenticity of this traditon. Interview with Abdul Hussain Alibhai Nanj~
Hyderabad,Pakistan, January 1982.
47Nanji, Nizari Isma'lli Tradition, 9.
48See Ignaz Goldz~er, "Linguistisches aus der Literatur der muhammadanischen Mystik," Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 26 (1872): 765, and Alessandro Bausani, "About a Curious Mystical
Langt!age," East and west 4 (1958).
49Gulshan Khakee, "The Dasa Avatira of the Satpanthi Ismailis and
Imam Shahis of Indo-Pakistan."
50Ibid., 479, 603 n.2;
51AlIana, Sindhi Siiratkhati, 26.
52Khakee, "The Dasa Avatira," 479, 603 n.2.
53Stack, A Grammar of the Sindhi Language, 4.
54Khakee, "The Dasa Avatara," 479, 603 n.1.
55AlIana, SindhI Siiratkhati, 26.
56Stack, A Grammar of the Sindhi Language, 3.
57Khakee, "The Dasa Avatara," 479.
58Stac k, A Grammar of the Sindhi Language, 4.
59AlIana, Sindhi Siiratkhati, 26 n.


6OIbid., 24: points out that this was the reason that Khojki was sometimes called caliha akhari (forty letters). Nanji, Nizari Isma'lli Tradition, 8,
documents, forty-two letters in the script.

61 Khojki was used for writing not only theological terms and phrases
from the Arabic language but also for writing Persian. In fact, an entire
Persian text, the Pandiyat-i JawanmardI, was written in the script. Cf.
PaIidhiat Jawamardhi (Bombay: Khoja Printing Press, 1904). Ivanow
remarks that since this work expressed the ideas of the Imam it was considered to be "sacred." Hence it was ,accorded an honor otherwise known only
in the case of the Qur~an: its translation was accompanied by a parallel
transcription of the original Persian text in the Khojki script. Pandiyat-i
Javanmardi, Persian text ed. and trans. W. Ivanow (Bombay: Ismaili Society,
1953) 3.
62The Arabic ~ad (~) was usually pronounced as s.
63It is unlikely, however, that these modified characters were ever pronounced as the Arabic cain.
64Cf. story in Baloch, Sindhi I?oli, 33, frpm al-Jahi~, about a SindhI
woman who pronounced the Arabic jamal as zarilal.
65This letter is not found frequently in Khojki manuscripts. It is quite
common, however, in manuscript KH 131 in the collection of the Ismailia
Association for Pakistan.
66Khakee, "The Dasa Avatara," 604 n.13.
67Ibid., 482.
68In works published by LaJji Devraj, the letter "oM" is always used to
represent z or j but never dy.
69Ibid., 604 n.5. The Khojki manuscripts of the Biijh Niraiijan very
rarely use conjunct consonants. The introduction of conjunct consonants
probably took place at a late stage in the history of the script. The few conjunct consonants used in later, Khojki are derived from the DevanagarI script
(i.e., ")(" for tr, " ... " for ksh, and "1" for dhr.
71Stack, A Grammar of the Sindhi Language, 7,n.
72According to Stack's table (ibid., 6), the letter"~" represents both r
73Khakee, "The Dasa Avatara," 483, also remarks on the frequent tendency in manuscript Kx to change b to bh and d to db. The change does not
take ~lace in all cases but no logical pattern is dis'cernible.
4It should be noted that, even in the later versions of the Bujh N"rrafijan
written in the Gujarati script, vowel lengths are not accurately represented.
75Khakee, "The Dasa Avatara," 604 n.3.


Table 2.1
Correspondence of Initial Vowels in the Roman, Urdu,
Sindhi, GUjarati, and Khojki Characters





-...., ---,














~a, (0",0) (-<,"'1?)


~q co:) c-<",<"?'')





(4"") (r.,.J,)






"'<' C.~1 ("<"r)








~S',. ~~ ..;;~]

[] Documented variant (occurs in the Khojki texts used

in this study or in Manuscript Kx of the Dasa Avatara
used by Gulshan Khakee).
(?) Undocumented variant listed by Allana or Stack.
() Alternate sound employed.


Table 2.2
Correspondence of Noninitial Vowefs in the Rom~ Urdu,
Sindhi, Gujarati, and Khojki Characters

Sind hi




~ [W.-1






















































[] Documented variant (occurs ip the Khojki texts used

in this study or in Manuscript Kx of the Dasa Avatara
used by Gulshan Khakee).
(?) ,Undocumented variant listed by Allana or. Stack.
() Alternate sound employed.


Table 2.3
Correspondence of Consonants in the Roman, Urdu,
Sindhi, Gujarati, and Khojki Characters





~ ("'1.,4t J




::>{, ~C~J


















"'i. ('f?)











31 r :n (?J?)







~..o (~?l

.:rl. (7 1)




2t ("('n

[ ] Documented variant (occurs in the Khojki texts used

in this study or in Manuscript Kx of the Dasa Avatara
used by Gulshan,Khakee).
(?) Undocumented variant listed by Allana or Stack,
( ) Alternate sound employed.


















I Guiarati



Kh oj ki




~ \-t

. Jb"::>






















Ca" ~,2-r?)
















(:/;1 ~ 1h)




(V\, -z:.)




<:ffi , Vr'





~.\.. C?L)





'i ('<t~










""'1 ~~~)


~\ (:>,l ~1]








Kh oj ki

















~ (~:!)


ct (,.otl










">l 6c ~"t: n





(:-r, t)



The existing manuscripts and pfinted texts of the Biijh
Niraiijan suggest that we have two m~jor versions of the work:
a Sufi version and an Ismaili versibn. The Sufi version is
represented by the single manuscrip,t, dated 1724 and designated as P 908 in Blumhardt's Catalogue of Hindustani Manuscript in the Library of the India O~ce) It is written in the
Perso-Arabic script. As already discussed, there is a fair
amount of evidence to indicate that !the version of the poem
represented by this manuscript pr9bably originated in the
circle of the sixteenth- or seventeent~-century QadirI-Shagarr
saint of Burhanpiir, l:Ia?rat Shaikh elsa Jundallah, MasIb alauliya (A.H. 962-1031/ A.D. 15$5-162]}
Compared to the other existing texts of the Biijh Niraiijan,
the text of this version is relatively ftee from corruption. Its
readings are generally reliable; already in 1976 this version was
used to clear up some of the distortidns that are characteristic
of the more corrupt Ismaili version. 2 ! Since the manuscript is
also the oldest source of the Biijh N;iraftjan, it has been the
main text on which our critical edition lis based.
Its overall reliability not withstanding, the text of this
version does contain several corruptidns. Some of the Caupars
(quatrains), which constitute the majdr verse form within each
poem, are incomplete; only two lines l,Out of the standard four
have been preserved in the following quatrains: quatrain 1,
poem 1; quatrains 3 and 4, poem 8; quatrain 4, poem 21; and
quatrain 2, poem 24. In addition, som~ quatrains, even though
complete, contain lines that have ben so garbled in the process of transmission that their meaqing is obscure. Again,
while each of the thirty-four poems of the Biijh Niraiijan normally ends with one couplet or dohrap (doha), in this version
two of the poems have an additional :dohrah. As these extra
dohrahs do not occur in the Ismaili tex~s, it is possible that they
did not form part of the original text. i Similarly, at the end of
this version there are four lines in the caupar meter and two


dohrahs, none of which occur in the Ismaili version.3 These,

too, are unlikely to have been contained in the original, for not
only are they unconnected to each other thematically, but a few
of them are also metrically defective. Their occurrence at the
end of the text makes it very likely they were appended to the
poem by the scribe.
The Ismaili version is represented by a small group of
manuscripts (in Khojki script) as well as printed editions (in
Khojki and Gujarati scripts), originating within the Ismaili
community of the subcontinent. Though by virtue of their
common origin these manuscripts and printed editions may be
said to form an Ismaili version of the Bujh Niraiijan, the texts
in this collection are far from b~ing completely identical. The
process of transmission and several attempts at editing have
resulted in varying degrees of differences between these texts.
For the most part the disparities among them consist of variations in individual words; occasionally entire lines may differ.
Nevertheless, these texts share certain significant characteristics that make it appropriate to designate them collectively as the "Ismaili version." First, all these texts include a
reference to the Ismaili dacr PIr Sadr ad-DIn, thus implying an
Ismaili origin for the work. Second, they also contain a refrain
that is found in ginans with a similar stI1lcture. This refrain has
been added between the. caupaI and dohrah sequence of each
poem so that the work structurally resembles other ginans. 4
Third, since within the Ismaili community the Bujb Nirafljan is
sung, the second and fourth wans (divisions) of each dohrah
in the Ismaili version end with the re syllable, the function of
which will be elucidated in the section on prosody.5 Fourth, in
contrast to the thirty-four poems found in the Sufi version, the
Ismaili texts of the Bujb Niraiijan contain only thirty-three.
The Ismaili texts omit poem 12 of the Sufi version, evidently
because its exoteric message was incompatible with Ismaili
views. The sequence of PQems in all the Ismaili texts is also
identical. As already noted, this sequence sometimes varies
significantly from that of the Sufi version. Textual evidence
suggests that it is the Sufi version, as represented in the India
Office manuscript, which preserves the original sequence.
Even the corruptions in the various Ismaili texts have common characteristics. Significantly, one category of these corruptions, as we shall see shortly, could have been caused only


by the misreading of the Perso-Arabi~ script. This would indicate that either the exemplar of the ilsmaili version was itself
transcribed from a text in the Perso-~abic script or that it was
copied from a text that had already been transcribed from such
a source. Some of the other types bf textual corruption are
attributable to a variety of factors, in'cluding the nature of the
Khojki script, unfamiliarity with Sufi technical terms of Arabic
and Persian origin, and the influence 'of Gujarati, the language
commonly spoken by a large segment of the community.
All Ismaili texts contain several vetses that are not found in
the Sufi version. 6 Many of these ve~ses are metrically defective, and their language bears a stro~g Gujarati flavor. They
are clearly later additions to the original text. On the other
hand, a few verses found in the Sufi version do not occur in the
traditional Ismaili texts. 7 Finally, it s~ould also be noted that
the sequence of individual lines in a ~aupaI may vary between
the Ismaili and Sufi versions. Of cout:se, after the discovery of
the Sufi version, many but not all of t~e corruptions indicated
above were removed from the recen:t Ismaili editions of the
work (Le., the 1976 and 1981 editions).1
There is one additional manuscript of the Bujh Nirafijan
whose relationship to the two major v~rsions delineated above
is as yet unclear. This manuscript, wri!tten in the Perso-Arabic
script, apparently survives only in two: fragments said to be in
the possession of Shaikh Naimuddin ofIBijapur. Sadik Ali, who
was the first to point out this manuscript?s existence, reproduces both surviving fragments in his trtonograph, The Authenticity of the Buj Nirinjan.8 As we have ialready seen, the first of
these fragments preserves poem 13 (npmber 33 in the Ismaili
version). It contains the name Shaikh ISadr Shah, which Sadik
Ali assumes is a variant of PIT Sadr aq-DIn. The second fragment preserves a colophon that presumably belongs to the
same manuscript as the first fragmJnt. According to this
colophon, the lineal ascendant of thi$ manuscript was transcribed in 1707 or 1708 into the Pers6-Arabic script from an
original that was in the "Hindi" script. I
While Sadik Ali consi~ers these two Ifragments to be part of
an independent version of the Bojh NuafIjan that corroborates
Prr Sadr ad-Dln's authorship, we belive, for reasons already
discussed, that there is a possibility of la relationship between
this manuscript and the Ismaili version. Whether a relation-


ship does'in fact exist or whether this manuscript does indeed

represent a third version can perhaps be determined only if
other portions of the original manuscript were available for
inspection and analysis. Until that time, it would be prudent to
postpone a classification of this version.
Description of Texts
The Sufi Version
Siglum: P
Location of the manuscript: India Office Library, London.
The text of the Bujh Nirafljan is part of a manuscript containing several other works in Persian. The entire manuscript
has been catalogued as Number 2799 in Herman Ethe, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office
(Oxford: India Office, 1903). Blumhardt, in the Catalogue of
Hindustani Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1926), catalogues the Bujh
Nirafijan as P 908. Currently, the India Office Library designates the poem as Urdu manuscript B 4. The manuscript
belongs to a collection of 716 manuscripts and 64 albums of
paintings purchased by the India Office from Richard Johnson,
who was in India between 1770 and 1790 as an administrator in
the employ of the East India Company.9
Folios: Total number of folios in manuscript: 265; folio
size: 8 1/2 inches by 45/8 inches.
Date and place of origin: The colophon at the end of the
text of the Bujb Nirafijan on folio 14 reads,
This HindawI [Hindi] manuscript was written on the 4th
Jumad al-awwal in the fifth year of the reign of the
Emperor Mul)ammad Shah [Le., 30 January 1724].
Overlook [lit., cover] with the eye of generosity every place
where an error has been made. Written on Tuesday at
The scribe omits any mention of the place where the copying
was undertaken.
In the introduction to the 1976 edition of the Bujb
Nirafijan, Zawahir Noorally states that the scribe mentions in
this colophon that he has copied the text from a manuscript in
Hindi (presumably, she means the Devanagarl script) for
Richard Johnson, the then resident of Hyderabad, Deccan. 10
Actually, as is evident from the translation above, the scribe


does not indIcate the source from ~hich he copied this text.
He states only that he copied this hindawI manuscript, intending by this adjective either "Indian" dr "belonging to the Indian
vernacular, Hindi." Moreover, the s6ribe makes no mention of
Richard Johnson; nor could he havb done so, for civil service
records indicate that Richard J ohnsbn arrived in India only in
1770.1 1 Though on the first folio, IRichard Johnson is mentioned as being the owner of the manuscript, the date in the
colophon indicates that the text of Bojh Niraftjan was already
transcribed before Richard Johnson could have acquired it.
Since no other date is mentioned el~ewhere in the manuscript,
it is not certain whether the other contents were also written in
1724 or at a much later date, perhJps under Johnson's guidI
Condition of the manuscript: Fragile but well preserved.
Script: The manuscript is written
in the Perso-Arabic
script by many hands in many stYjles. The scribe uses the
nastaClIq style to write the Bujb Niraiijan, occasionally changing to the shikastah style, especiallyi at the end of words. The
peculiarities of the script have already been discussed. 12
Contents of the manuscript: Contains scattered pieces and
fragments in prose and verse, in both Hindustani and Persian.
In addition to the Bujb Niraftjan, a few of the more important
portions area short treatise, in p'ersian, on measures and
weights; riddles in Persian; a Persi~n
translation of the Koka
Shastra, the standard Indian book on sexual intercourse; and a
large tract on magic, art, exorcism, ahd other mysterious craft.
Text of the "Bujh Niraftjan": ~he Bujb Niraftjan is found
on folios 1 through 14 with 13 to 14 lines on each folio.
Though it employs Indian metrical f6rms, the text has been laid
out in the manner of a Persian masnawI. The four lines of
each of the four caupars have been written as if they were the
four misraCs (hemistiches) of two IPersian baits (distiches).
And the dobrab which concludes each poem is indented
slightly from each margin. This arrJngement may explain why
Ethe erroneously described the Bujb Niraftjan to be "a theosop hical masnavI." 13
While the text itself is written! in black ink, the various
headings are highlighted in red. 'The headings indicate the
verse forms. Each set of four cahp~Is is marked with the



designation "+~ (eaupai), a variant of the more common

eaupaI. Similarly, each dohrah is indicated as "~,,~"(dohrah),
an alternate form of doha. In poems with two dohrahs, the
plural form "U~..I4'.)" (doharbay) is used. Headings are also
. used to introduce some of the poems. These headings, which
are in Persian, 'appear to have been an afterthought because
they have been squeezed into available space at the head of
the poems.
Peculiar red marks occur at the end of some of the lines of
the caupars. These marks, resembling three commas in a triangular pattern ('I.' t!,), may be termed as "line-fillers."
They have been used at the end of some of the shorter lines in
order to produce an even margin. Such marks occur in the
caupals on the following folios (the number in parentheses
indicates the number of the poem): 1 (3, 4), 5 (12), 6 (16), 12
(31), and 13 (34). The dohrah for poem 18 on folio 7 also contains these marks ..
There are indications that the text was reviewed for errors
and omissions. On folio 10, the scribe had initially failed to
observe the normal practice of indicating, at the bottom of the
page, the first two words of the next page. It was during the
review process that this omission was noticed and the words in
question - in this case, nor tajallI - were inserted. Since these
words are written in red ink, one may surmise that during this
process the scribe was also involved in inserting the headings in
the text. Again, on folio 8, the scribe continued the second line
of the dohrab for poem 21 in the margin of the same folio
instead of the next folio. Traditionally, he is required to use
some kind of a sign to alert the reader to the fact that-the line
completing the dohrah is an adscript or marginal gloss on the
same folio. Having neglected to insert such a sign at the time
of the original writing, the scribe inserted it in red ink during
the review process.
The text begins with the basmalah, the phrase traditionally
used to begin Islamic texts. Above the basmalah is the invocation ya gau~ al-a~am, the epithet associated with the Sufi
master cAbd aI-Qadir al-Gllan! (1077/8 - 1166). The invocation is written in a rather peculiarmanIier: on the line
immediately above the basmalah only the words ya ga~ al are
found; above this phrase is the word ~am, with a madda over
the Cain instead of a preceding alif. This peculiar orthography


defies any logical explanation. Tqe layout is also peculiar.

Probably the scribe was attemptipg to create a symmetry
between the phrases written arounq the basmalah - on either
side of the basmalah are also foun9 two halves of the prayer
rabb yassir wa tarnrnirn bPI-khair (~rd, facilitate [this work]
and make it end well). At the end of this prayer, as well as the
end of the basmalah, is found a mysterious abbreviation. This
abbreviation, which consists of the Iletter m.Im combined with
an alif with the letter to~e above the stem of the alif, is
probably a sign marking the comp~etion of a phrase or sentence. A final feature of interest regarding the beginning of
the text is that the composer does dot apologize for the use of
an Indian vernacular. This is a stro:ng indication that the text
was composed after 1600, since most pre-1600 Indian Sufis felt
it necessary to include an apology atl the begi~ng of their text
if they had abandoned the use of 'the refined classical languages, Arabic and Persian, in f~vor of the more "crude"
Indian vernaculars. 14
The text of the Blljh Niraiijdn ends with a colophon
already described. We only note h;ere that~ while the rest of
the colophon is written in black, th~last phrase ("Written on
Tuesday at noon") is in red. This would indicate that the
phrase was written after the entin~ text had been reviewed.
Below the colophon is t~e followi~gbadI~ iIi Arabic with its
Persian translation;
When you are ,perplexed by matters,
Seek help from the people of Ithe graves.
The Ismaili Version
This version is represented by ~ collection of four manuscripts and several printed editions. The general characteristics of these texts have been ddscribed above. The intent
here is to focus on their physical and bibliographic descrip
The Ismaili texts of the Bojh Niraiijan used in this study
may be divided into two groups: thd manuscripts in the Khojki
script and the printed editions in bo~h the Khojki and Oujarati
scripts. In this work, each text is id~ntified by the siglum K or
G, indicating the script in which theltext is written, and also by
a numeral (1, 2, 3, etc.). The traditional rule in critical editions
regarding the use of an ascendirtg or~er of numerals to indicate


increasing degrees of impurity has not been observed in this

study because some of these texts became available long after
the process of preparing the critical edition was well under
way. Here, these numerals simply indicate the order in which
the texts were acquired.
One Ismaili text does not fall into the above categories the text of the Multan manuscript, included by Sadik Ali in his
book. Since the original text in the Khojki script could not be
reproduced, Sadik Ali transcribed the text into the Gujarati
script, probably with the intention of making the text easier to
print. In spite of his good intentions, Sadik Ali's Gujarati text
cannot, for reasons discussed below, be considered to be a
faithful copy of the Khojki original. In any case, in view of its
history, this text, designated as KG, is considered under a
separate head.
The Khojki Manuscripts
The four Khojki manuscripts are designated K-l, K-3, K-4,
and K-5, none of which is older than the mid-nineteenth century. Although at the present there are a small collections of
Khojki manuscripts in Karachi at the Ismailia Association for
Pakistan, in London at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, and at
Harvard, there has been no such ~hing as a complete and centralized collection of Khojki manuscripts. Since the collection
of manuscripts at the Ismailia Association for Pakistan did not
include a single text of the BUJb Niranjan and the collection at
the Institute is still in rudimentary state' of cataloging, the
se~rch for Khojki manuscripts of this work had to be directed
to individuals in the subcontinent who may have had such
manuscripts in their private collections. The search revealed
only one manuscript, K-l, in the possession of Mohammed
Bacchal of Karachi. Later, two more manuscripts, K-3 and K4, were discovered in a batch of uncatalo&ed Khojki manuscripts at the Institute of Ismaili Studies.
The copy of K-5
was provided even later by Sadik Ali of Karachi, who had
found the original in a godown at the Ismailia Association for
Pakistan's Karachi premises.
Within this group of manus'cripts, three - K-l, K-3, and K-4
- are copies of earlier manuscripts that were recopied either
because they were in poor physical condition and their texts
needed to be preserved, or for the purpose of making available


a ginan text that was previously inaccessible. K-5, on the other

hand, is very likely a badly transcrib~d copy of the 1914 printed
Khojki edition edited by LaijI DeJraj and designated K-2 in
this study.
K-l, K-3, and K-4 have anotherlfeature in common. In all
three manuscripts, poem 15 conta,ins a lacuna, indicating a
common origin for these texts. T~ough there may be other
Khojki manuscripts of the Bujh Niraftjan that have not yet
come to light, it would not be too bojld to postulate on the basis
of the available manuscripts that this lacuna was present in the
text of the Bujh Niraftjan when it i~itially entered the Ismaili
milieu. In the printed editions published at the turn of this
century, this lacuna was filled witq eight verses written in a
heavily "Gujaratized" Hindustani. Two of these spurious
verses found their way into the teh of K-l, but the style of
script in which these two verses ar6 written makes it evident
that they were inserted by a different hand after the com:
pletion of the text. 16
There is also textual evidence tb suggest that K-3 and K-4
share a common line of transmissioh that is distinct from that
of K-l. This is indicated not only b~ the two manuscripts frequently sharing common readings tiu t also by the omission of
the same verses from both the text1s. Both manuscripts omit
line 3, quatrain 1, in poem 14, as wFll as line 4, quatrain 3, in
poem 32. 17 On the other hand bothI manuscripts retain a line
of poem 32 - line 3, quatrain 3 - fr9m the original text which
other Ismaili texts (K-l, K-5, and ed~tions printed before 1976)
have omitted. Even though the two Planuscripts thus appear to
be related, the readings, idiosyncrflcies, and peculiarities of
each are distinctive enough to provide incontrovertible grounds
that one is not a mere copy of the! other. For example, K-3
" ~" to represent the
favors the use of the Khojki character
Arabic cain. This character is not fpund in K-4. Again, while
K-3 represents the diphthong au witp the character." ~ ," K-4
uses the character " ~."
Siglum: K-l
Location of the manuscript: In the possession of
Mohammed Bacchal of Karachi.
Folios: Total number of folios: !85; folio size: 9 1/2 inches
by 5 7/8 inches; number of lines perlfolio: 16 to 17. The paper


is of European, probably British, origin. One of the blank

folios at the end of the manuscript reveals a watermark with
the date 1890. The manuscript originally contained 110 folios,
but folios 1 through 25 are missing. Probably they were
removed from the manuscript because according to the tafsIlo
(index) they contained the_ text of a ginan allegedly banned by
the Aga Khan III - Manhar by PIr Gulam cAlI (ca. late eighteenth century?). 18
Date and place of origin: On the last folio is a phrase in
Sindhi according to which this manuscript - the term used is
buk (book) - was written in the year 1925. Though the hand in
which this phrase is written differs from that of the principal
copyist, the presence of the 1890 watermark and the fair condition of the manuscript strongly suggest that the manuscript
dates from the early twentieth century. The use of Sindhi and
the occurrence of the Khojki characters " =>\ ," " ~ ," and
"Y1" 19 indicate that the manliscript originated in Sind.
Condition of the manuscript: Generally good, with the
exception of folios 73 through 99.
Script: Most of the manuscript is written by a single scribe
in a neat and clear hand. Peculiarities of script include "-..," for
the sound th instead of the standard "til"; " -a.r" and" A" for
the Arabic cain; ".;\ " for the Arabic gain; "-.t " for the Arabic
qa.f; ".>( "for the sound bh; "'V1" for the sound db; and ''-).l-,''
for the sound dy.
Contents of the manuscript: A tafsIlo (index) is found on
folio 106, but it is incomplete, for it covers material only
through folio 99. According to the tafsIlo, the missing folios 1
through 25 contained the ginan Manhar by PIr Gulam CAlI.
The other contents include various ginans (both the shorter
variety and the longer variety called ~anths) and several compositions in the kafI:, gazal, and rekhtQ20 verse forms. On folio
106 is also found a prayer that is rather unusual for a Khojki
manuscript. The prayer, either for the Prophet Mul)ammad or
the Imam, is in Arabic, but written in the Khojki script and
Peace be on you, 0 Lord of the Age;
Peace be on you, 0 Companion of the Qur:>an;
Peace be on you, 0 KaCba of faith;
Peace be on you, 0 leader of men and jinn


[Text not clear]

[Text not clear]
And the mercy and blessings of God.
Text of the ''Bnjh Nirafijan": lllis is found between the
folios 36 and 57 and is entitled grafith bnjnirIfijan pIr sadhar
dhIn jo. Each line in the Caupar met~r begins at the left margin
and is numbered. on the .right. EachI of the four wans (divisions) of the dohrah is also written on a separate line, thus
giving the couplet an appearance of ~ Caupar. However, unlike
the lines of the caupar, the carans !begin a few spaces away
from the left margin and are markeq by the sign" " in both
left and right margins. Also, while the first three carans of
every dohrah are unnumbered, thb fourth one, .which completes the entire poem, has a numb~r in the right margin corresponding to the place of the poem lin the entire sequence. A
space of one line separates the CaupaIs and dohrah verses of
each poem. The words re tOhI, anl abbreviated form of the
refrain found in the Ismaili version, he found in the middle of
this .otherwise empty line..
The numerous emendations fou;nd in the text suggest that
not only did the copyist check his work for errors but also that
some later date a pious reader exa$ned the text, underlining
words he considered to be inauthentic. The text contains two
lacunae. The major one occurs in th:e text of poem 15 on folio
45 and has been partially filled by a later scribe with two of the
eight spurious verses found in the ea~ly printed texts. A minor
one is found on folio 56, where two ~ines are missing from the
text of poem 32. A curious rectan~lar design with numerals
and letters in the Arabic script markS the end of the text of the
Bujh Nirafijan. The words allah and! CalI can be discerned, but
the significance of the numbers is uhclear. The entire design
probably represents a taCW'q or a religio-magical formula.
Si~lum: K-3
Location of the manuscript: Institute of Ismaili Studies,
London. The manuscript has not yet ibeen catalogued. It bears
the temporary identification number :117.
Folios: Total number of folios! in the manuscript: 487;
folio size:' 8 3/8 inches by 5 1/2 in~hes; number of lines per
folio: 14 to 16. The paper is of the local Indian (desI) variety.
The folios are bound in leather arid have an intriguing but


obscure design on the cover. In order to prevent the ink from

spreading, the folios have been sanded. Their numbering is
Date and place of origin: Both details are missing, but
Zawahir Moir, who was cataloguing Khojki manuscripts at the
Institute of Ismaili Studies, believes that the manuscript could
not be older than the early nineteenth century. Most likely it
originated in Gujarat. 21
Condition of the manuscript: Fair.
Script: Compared to the writing style of K-l and K-4, the
style used in this manuscript, though clear, is not neat. Peculiarities of the script include ." 4 " for the diphthong au, "-:::, "
for the Arabic Cain, " ::it " for the' Arabic gain, " ~...," and " ~, "
for the vowel o.
Contents of the manuscript: On folio 2, there is a brief but
incomplete tafsIlo (index). The manuscript contains ginans,
most of them of the grantb variety.
Text of the "Bnjh Nirafijan": Occurring between folios 173
and 196, the text begins with a heading that identifies the work
and the composer. The text is laid out in a manner identical to
that of K-l, with the exception that the ends of the first and
third earans are marked in the right margin with the sign'" ,"
while the second and fourth earans are marked with the sign
"it .,,22 The text containS a number of orthographic errors that
may be attributed to negligence on the part of the scribe. The
absence of any emendations or corrections suggest that the
copyist did not review his work onc.e he had completed it. The
manuscript contains a lacuna in the text of poem 15 on folio
Siglum: K-4
Location of the manuscript: Though the manuscript was
initially examined at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London,
it is now in the possession of Parveen Peerwani, also of
Folios: Total number of folios: 225; folio size: 8 1/4
inches by 5 7/8 inches; number of lines per folio: 15 to 16.
The paper is of local Indian origin (desI variety) but is of
superior quality. The numbering of the folios has been influenced by the system found in modern printed books, as each
half of the folio has been given a separate number.


Date and place of origin: On !page i79 (folio 140), the

date samvat 1957 (A.D. 1901) is tnentioned. On page 106
(folio 53), the end of the text of the \Bajh Niraiijan, the copyist
includes a brief note, in Sindhi, which translates,
I have transcribed this Buj NiJljan from the manuscript
[hath akbare] of RemtTII [Ratlemtullah?],of "Garden"
[bhagIcevaro]. May the Lord AIl forgive errors [bhulCuk].
The term GardGn probably refers t6 the suburb of Karachi by
that name which is a major center bf Ismaili population. We
may assume that the manuscript originates from that city.
Condition of the manuscript: Griod.
Script: Most of the manuscript written by a single scribe
in a clear hand. Peculiarities of s~ript include: "~" and
"---,G" for au, "-r(' for ai, and " ~..l 'j for g as well as gr.
Contents of the manuscript:. Th~)Ugh there is no tafsIlo, the
manuscript contains a mixture of lopg ginans (grafiths) as well
as the more popular shorter ones. It also includes a significant
amount of non-ginanic literature su~h as gazals, kafrs, and the
dohas by the medieval mystic poet iKablr. Between pages 30
and 57 (folios 15 through 29) are pr~served the gazals of a poet
named All Mulla.
- Text of the "Bnjh Niraiijan":' The text is found between
pages 58 and 106 (folios 29 through ~3) .. It begins with the title
of the work, which, however, is writt~n in three separate words:
Boj nirI jan.23 The text is laid out tin the same format as K-3
with two exceptions. For poems 1,2, and 3, as in K-l and K-3,
the number of each poem is noted Iin the right margin in the
same line as the last caran of thel dohrah. For subsequent
poems the copyist adopts a differ~nt system: the number is
enclosed in a small rectangle underj the last earan, fairly close
to the right margin. Again, in thel first poem, the refrain is
produced in its entirety. As in K-lI and K-3, the manuscript
contains a lacuna in the text of poem 15 on folio 40.
For some incomprehensible rJasons, several words and
lines of the text have been deleted.i For example, on page 97
(folio 49), the words of the refrain re tii.iihIii have been crossed
out even though they occUr at an appropriate place in the text.
These erasures are random and may represent the mischief of
a child.
: .
As noted above, at the end of the text there is a brief note



in Sindhi indicating the origin of the text. The text also ends
with the Arabic phrase, written in Khojki script, that is
commonly employed at the end of Arabic and Persian texts .. tamm3m (complete). This is most unusual for a Khojki
manuscript, and its presence raises the possibility that it was
included in the original transcription of the text from a PersoArabic manuscript. rSince the phrase is unusual in the Khojki
manuscript tradition, it was omitted from some manuscripts
and retained in others.
Siglum: K-5
Location of the manuscript: The text comes from a manuscript discovered by Sadik Ali at the godown of the Ismailia
Association premises in Karachi. The present whereabouts of
the manuscript are unclear. It is an uncatalogued manuscript
and has. not been kept with the regular collection of catalogued
Khojki manuscripts. The photocopy of the text used in this
study was provided by Sadik Ali.
Folios: According to a note accompanying the photocopy,
many folios of the original manuscript are missing. Only 44
folios survive at present. Folio size:. 20 inches by 7 inches.
Date and place of origin: The accompanying note does
not indicate the date on any of the surviving folios. However,
since the text contains the eight spurious verses found in the
early printed texts, we may presume that the text was written in
the early decades of this century. Sadik Ali mentions that
there is a note in English on the first folio stating that the
manuscript was presented to the Ismailia Association in
Karachi by the Ismaili jamacat of Sialkot (Punjab) in August

Condition of the manuscript: According to Sadik Ali, the

manuscript is in very poor condition.
Script: The copyist does notwrite in a legible hand. Often
the ink is smudged, making it difficult to deciphe.r words. A
distinctive peculiarity of the script is the placement of the mark
for the e vowel at the wrong angle (i.e., "," instead of """"), an
indication that the scribe may have been left-handed. In other
respects, the Khojki characters conform to thos~ established in
printed Khojki works of the early twentieth century.
Contents: In addition to the Bl1jh Niraiijan, the surviving
folios contain the graiiths SI barf! by Sayyid Mmad Shah and


the Brahma Prakash by PIr Shams. I

Text of the ''Bujh Nirafijan": Nb folio numbers have been
preserved in the photocopy used in ~his study. The text is laid
out in the same pattern as that of 1).-3. At a few points there
are indications that the copyist has !corrected individual lines
and words. There is strong evidence. suggesting that this text is
a copy of the Khojki edition printed lin 1914 and designated K2 in this study. The reading of K-5 and K-2 are remarkably
similar, the only deviations occurring when the scribe of K-5 is
negligent and either omits a nasali~aton or lengthens a short
vowel, especially the a vowel. Occasionally, ~here K-2 uses the
character" ..!:(- " for the Arabic Cain land" ::iL" for the Arabic
gain, K-5 apparently omits the dots. But since the photocopy is
unclear, the original would have to b~ examined to confirm this
observation. The text ends with ~ Gujarati phrase, in the
Khojki script, sampuraJ;l pat (all parts; complete).
Printed Editions
. I
Concurrent with the beginnings lof increased organization
and centralization of the community's bureaucratic structure in
the late nineteenth and early twentie!th centuries were also the
first attempts toward collecting maBuscripts at a communitywide leve1. 24 Around the same time,! the advent of the printing
press in the subcontinent made pdssible the publication of
material from these manuscript in typeset form especially
developed for the Khojki script. E~en though more research
needs to be done on the various aspects of both the collecting
and publishing processes, from the ftequent association of his
name with both processes, one fig'ure can be identified as
having played an instrumental role LaijI Devraj. According
to community tradition, not only wa~ LaljI Devraj responsible
for collecting a huge number of Khqjki manuscripts from different areas of Sind, Kathiawar, andl Gujatat, but he was also
connected with the establishment of the Khoja Sindhi Press. 25
This press, as the community's first ihstitution responsible for
the publication of "official" religious material, was the
forerunner of the Recreation Club Institute and the presentday Ismailia Associations. As a restilt of his involvement in
both the collection of Khojki manus~ripts and the publication
of printed ginan texts, LaijI Devraj became a central figure in
the history of ginan literature. Editidns published by him have
come to be regarded as authoritative1ginan texts: his So ginan


Bhag 1-5 has been called the "mother of all printed Ginanic
literature.,,26 Among some Ismaili circles his work "is the one
and only publication which may be safely taken as an authoritative and bonafide source of ginanic literature, and only that
source, in a real sense, can be the absolute basis of the comparison of all Ginanic literature.,,27 Notwithstanding LaijI
Devraj's crucial role in the shaping of the modern ginan literature, there are disconcerting aspects of his work. Both
Ivanow and Nanji mention that, for some strange reason, most
of the manuscripts used to prepare the printed editions were
destroyed. 28 . The magnitude of this destruction is compounded by the fact that, at least in the case of the Bujh
Niraiijan, there are serious questions regarding the methodology he employed to edit ginan texts.
An examination of the Bujb Niraiijan texts edited by LaljI
Devraj reveals that he introduced verses into the printed texts
that are not found in the Khojki manuscripts of the poem. In
this study, two editions of the Bujh Niraiijan edited by LaijI
Devraj have been employed: a Khojki edition printed in 1914
and a Gujarati edition printed in 1921.29 These editions are
designated here as K-2 and G-l, respectively. As we have seen,
the texts of the manuscripts K-l, K-3, and K-4 suggest that the
version of the Bujh Nirafijan that entered the Ismaili milieu
had several verses missing from poem 15. When we examine
the editions printed by LaijI Devraj, we find that this lacuna
has been filled in with spurious verses that are thematically,
linguistically, and metrically inappropriate. Even the 1976 and
1981 editions of the Bojh Nirafijan published by the Ismailia
Associations for Pakistan and India, respectively, recognized
the inappropriateness of these verses, and both editions
dropped them in favor of the reading of the India Office manuscript. Though it may be argued that perhaps LaljI Devraj was
not directly responsible for these verses and that he may have
found these verses in one of the many manuscripts he collected, the unreliability of his editing is beyond doubt when we
consider the fate of a single line in his editions. In the India
Office manuscript, line 1 of quatrain 3 of poem 11 reads: sun!
gal yuii guru ten bat, which means "such a discourse has been
heard from the guru." Since this line belongs to a series of
poems devoted to explaining the importance of the guru or
shaikh on the spiritual path, we can be reasonably certain that


the line in the London manuscript faithfullly represents the

original text. Turning to the Khoj~i manuscripts, we find the
same line due to textual corruptiort., now reads sunI gaeo lfifi
kartefl bat. Because of faulty reading
of the Perso-Arabic
script, the noun gur and ten,' the postposition following it, have
been transformed into karten, a na~alized form of the present
participle plural of the verb kama. (tb make, to do). The line is
thus made to mean, "they have been! heard talking in this manner." It is important to note that K~2, the LaljI Devraj Khojki
edition published in 1914, agrees with this corrupted reading.
But in the case of G-l, the Gujara~i edition published seven
years later by LaijI Devraj in 1921;, we find significant additiorial changes. In this text, this line reads sun! grehya yuii
karteft bat Two new changes have ~een incorporated into the
text to change the meaning of the lin'~ to, "the sUn! [i.e., sunnI]
group talks like this." Sun!, the past participle of the Hindustani verb sunna (to hear), has conve;niendy been mistaken for
the term SUnnI, a popular way of re~erring to the majority of
Muslims who uphold orthopraxy (i.e., ahl al-sunna wa:>ljamaCa). Gal, the past participle of \the verb jana, which was
used in the original to put the verb lin the passive tense, has
been transformed into the Gujarati npun grehya (group). The
of this line into the LaljI
Devraj Gujarati edition
was probably the result of the interaction of two factors: ambiguity of the corrupted version of th~ line as it occurs in the
Khojki manuscripts and the exhortation in the hext line of the
quatrain to grasp "the lamp of the 'share [the divine lawf"
Whatever the reasons may have beeq, the fate of this line in
this edition of the Bujb Niraftjan provides us with indisputable
evidence of the nature of LaijI DevraJ's editing techniques. 30
Since similar examples, though of a le~s flagrant nature, are to
be found throughout the text of G-\I, we have to exercise
caution while evaluating readings fro~ works edited by LaljI
Devraj. Clearly, in addition to the cQrruptions found in the
Khojki manuscripts, such edited t~xts are also likely to
incorporate readings conjectured on t,he basis of the editor's
religious outlook.
Mter the discovery of the India Oftice Library manuscript,
it became possible to remove some of the distortions and corruptions that characterized the Ismaili: version. This "purification" was done on a limited basis in \1976 when the Ismailia


Association for Pakistan published an edition of the text in the

Gujarati script. The same edition was published in the Urdu
script in 1978. As a result of the deliberations of an International Ismailia Associations workshop held in 1977, additional editing was undertaken and, subsequently, in 1981, the
Ismailia Association for India published another text in the
Gujarati script. For the most part, it is this edition, designated
as G-2 in this study, that the Ismaili community now considers
to be the final form of the Ismaili version. While attempt has
been made to clear the text of this edition of corruptions,
including the spurious verses found in the earlier LaljI Devraj
editions, there are quite a few disparities between the text of
this edition and the more reliable one found in the India Office
manuscript. For example, the word bhifi, which is written in
the India Office manuscript in the peculiar orthographic manner described above,31 is still transcribed in this edition as
phan or phun. Instead of reverting to the medieval Braj forms,
this edition retains postpositions in their Gujarati form or
occasionally adopts the more modern forms. Similarly, for
several nouns, this edition prefers the more familiar forms to
the medieval and Braj forms found in the India Office manuscript. Thus, na.m is preferred over naiiv, and tham over thaiiv.
In its arrangement of the sequence of poems this edition follows a sequence that characterizes the traditional Ismaili
version and places poem 13 at the end of the work. Finally,
this edition also retains the refrain that occurs only in the
Ismaili version.
Having outlined the major characteristics of the printed
editions used in this study, it must be pointed out that there are
several other printed editions of the Bojh Nirafijan within the
Ismaili community that have not been included. They were
excluded on the grounds that their texts are largely based on
one of the printed editions already incorporated into this study
and their inclusion would be redundant. The details of publication of all printed editions of the Bojh Niranjan are as
Printed editions included in this study
1. K-2: Published by MukhI LaljlbhaI Devraj (Bombay:
Ismaili Printing Press, 1914). Edition includes the text of the
ginan Brahma Prakash, attributed to the Ismaili dacr PIr


2. G-l: Published by MukhI LaljIbhaI Devtaj (Bombay:
Khoja SindhI Chapakhanu, 1921). Most likely the first edition
in the Gujarati script; includes the text of the ginan Brahma
Prakash (copies 500).
3. G-2: Published by His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia
Imami Ismaili Association for India (Bombay: Ismaili Printing
Press, March 1981). Text accompanied by a commentary in
Gujarati (copies 5,000).
Other printed editions
1. Published by the Recreation Club Institute (Bombay:
Ismaili Printing Press, 1942). Text in the Khojki script;
includes the ginan Brahma Prakash. A reprinted edition of


2. Published by the Ismailia Association for India (Bombay:

Ismaili Religious Book Depot, 1952). Text in the Gujarati
script; includes the ginan Brabma Prakash; text accompanied
by a commentary in Gujarati. Based on G-1.
3. Published by the Central Board of Religious Education
(Saurashtra), Ismailia Association for India (Rajkot: Rashtra
PrintarI, 1966). Text in Gujarati script; this volume, entitled
Pavitr Ginanno safigrah, contains the text of other selected
wQrks from the ginan literature; the text of the Bojh Nirafijan
accompanied by an interlinear commentary in Gujarati. Based
on G-l but tends t.o replace words like piya and piyo with
maula or alI (copies 2,000).
4. Published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan
(Karachi: Mustajab Press, 1976). Text in Gujarati script;
accompanied by a commentary in Gujarati. Represents the
first attempt at using the India Office manuscript to improve
the Ismaili version (copies 2,000).
5. Published by the Ismailia Association for Pakistan
(Karachi: AbbasI Litho Art Press, 1978). Text in the Urdu
script. Based on the Gujarati edition listed in item 4 at' this list
(copies 1,000).
6. .Published by the Ismaili Association for Pakistan (Karachi:
AbbasI Litho Art p'ress, 1980). Text in the Gujarati script;
accompanied by a commentary in Gujarati. A product of a collaborative attempt at editing between the Ismailia Associations
for Pakistan and India, this edition contains the same text as G2 (copies 2,000).


The Multan Manuscript

Transcribed into the Gujarati script from a Khojki manuscript, this text forms Appendix I of Authenticity of the Bujh
Nirinjan by Sadik Ali, who discovered the manuscript in the
possession of one Mubarak Husain of Multan. According to
Sadik Ali,Husain was initially reluctant to allow him access to
the manuscript but eventually gave permission to have it
photocopied. Since it had been stored in a salt godown, however, the manuscript was in too poor a condition to permit
legible photocopies. 32 Consequently Sadik Ali proceeded to
"carefully transcribe the original into the Gujarati script." The
original, he says, has 250 pages [folios?] and is bound in
leather.33 He does not mention folio size, number of lines per
folio,' styles of handwriting, or any other pertinent information.
He does, however, reproduce a copy of the manuscript's colophon, which is writtep. in Sindhi and translates thus:
This book has' been written for my family. May Shah PIr
forgive my errors. Originally in 1744 samvat [A.D. 1688]
. MukhI Bhalil copied it from the book of Karam Husain.
When MukhI Bhalil's book was damaged then in 1860
samvat [AD. 1804] I wrote it down word by word. I buried
that book [MukhI Bhalu's book] in the holy land of Ucch
Jan Mamadh [Mul).ammad] Varlftdh. 34
While the colophon gives some idea of the manuscript's
provenance, it is unlikely that the text of the Biljb Niraiijan
found in the manuscript dates from such an early period.
While the other Khojki manuscripts have a lacuna in the text of
poem 15, the text of this manuscript, as reproduced by Sadik
Ali, contains the spurious verses that have their origin in the
early twentieth century. Since we are not in a position to
examine the original, we cannot determine whether these
verses were added into the text at a later date. Nevertheless
the occurrence of the verses clearly raises the possibility that
the text may be a recent one. This likelihood is reinforced by
the fact that the transcribed text has many other readings in
common with the LaljI Devraj editions.
Though Sadik Ali, in all good intention, may have been
careful in transcribing from the original, there are two major
reasons that the text produced by him cannot be considered


reliable. First, according to the canons of textual criticism,

every copyist is subject to visual and psychologically induced
errors and 'can never be relied on to reproduce exactly the
exemplar of his text, regardless of the care he exercises. It is
well known that a large percentage of the errors in the trans~
mission of many texts "arise from the tendency of the mind to
read some meaning into its own mistakes or the mistakes in the
exemplar from which the copy is made.".35 Given both the
controversy surrounding the Bujh Nirafijan and Sadik Ali's
familiarity with and preference for the text of the Ismaili
version of the' Bujh Niraftjan, the likelihood of this kind of
error is extremely high.
Second, as we have already seen, the Khojki script 'lacks
distinctive signs to distinguish between a variety of long and
short vowels and is riddled with ambiguities ,about the phonic
value of many of its characters. Unfortunately, Sadik Ali
seems unaware of these and other problems of transcription.
Not only does he make no mention of them; he does not even
explain the assumptions on which his transcription is based.
For example, since Khojki has only one symbol for both the
long and short u vowels" one would like to know on what basis
Sadik Ali determined whether the u vowel in a word such as
guru is to be transcribed as long or short. This is only one of
the many problems that confront a person transcribing a
Khojki text. Clearly, since we have no indication of the criteria
Sadik Ali used to determine his reading, his. Gujarati transcription of the Khojki manuscript cannot pe accepted as a
faithful reproduction of the origi1)al. Consequently, we are
unable to determine whether the text of this manuscript is
related to any of the other texts considered above.
The Major Types of Corruption in the Ismaili Texts
In addition to the major differences from the Sufi version the omission or addition of verses, variations in the sequence
of poems and vesrses, the occurrence of the name of the' PIr
Sadr ad-DIn, the refrain - the Ismaili texts are also characterized by a high level of corruption. Much of this corruption
Cannot be attributed solely to the hazardous process of
repeated transcription. Textual evidence strongly indicates
that the following factors have also made their dubious contributions.



Misreadings the Perso-Arabic Script

These occurred when the exemplar for the Khojki manuscripts was first transcribed from a text in the Perso-Arabic
script. We have already noted the ambiguities created in the
Perso-Arabic script both by scribal neglect to distinguish
between characters and by the peculiarities -of the PersoArabic writing system. Thus, for example, the word gur is
liable to be misread as kar, mag as mukh, bl1jhe as pl1Che, and
bhifl as phan or phun
Misreadings of Sufi Technical Terms of Arabic or Persian
The Bl1jh Nirafljan employs many technical Sufi terms that
have been distorted in the traditional Ismaili texts, sometimes
beyond recognition. These distortions appear to have been
caused by an inability to comprehend the terms and to a lesser
extent by a misreading of the script itself. Given the lack of
evidence, it is difficult to determine whether these distortions
were already present in the text when it made its first appearance in Ismaili circles or whether they arose at a later period.
From the following list of technical Sufi terms and their distorted forms, it is clear that every important term has been
subject to this process.
Distortion in Ismaili Texts
la n yfrn, Ian Un, la thIn un
la tacaiyun
safaet, safayat
ve hedhIt, vedhIt, vedIt
esam, isam
ahlvat, ahlp vat
tapasT raj, tapasi raja
taf~Il (jo)
utam, funat, uttam
en an, aen an, pInahan
cain <:iyan
esam, isam, jism
are vaiihako, are vaiiko, vaiiko
arvab (ko)
rfthuku Ius, nlhukun Ius, rl1haku
fej, faez, faej
feyaj, feaz
arva, a apna, avra
or jan, fujane, orj, aruj



joo or, jou dr, juu ur

aenal arfan, anel arfan, ayen va
nafsaii niyat
mal hal mole, mal hath maule, mal
hal mele
to fil hal kill, to fal hal k:Ul
baftdh, bhadh, or bad


talapi, talapI


mashaedh, mashayadh,mashayakh
nasIat es bhat, nasIyat es bhat,
nasihat lsI bat
karatav vejo, karatave vejo, karatavayejo
amu~ aju ~ ajuf alI
mill Iabhko, matalabh ko, matalab
karo binva faI, karu bhan vafal,
karm bin van fal,karoii banav fal
karU bhafarae, karU bha firae, karU
bhaf rae, karm fuaye, kaI1l firIaj,
karoii fIrmdh

man lahu:)I-maula


(kare) tavajjuh
cuJb riya

qurb-i navafil
qurb-i farac~
faCU J.taqq mutIaq



fel hakam Wak, hakim malayak

dhanat samadh, dhanr samadh

tamakhI, tamikh, tamakhu, tamghaii

mata1ab~ matalabha
carif bi!)llah
hafaj, hafiz
vabdat ~rat
virehe dhilkI surat, vehedhat kI
surat, vahedhkI surat, vahedhka
jill arjft, jalaraj
nuziil Curilj
qab~ bast
kabhaj vast
Influence of the Gujarati Language
Since a large number of Ismailis of the subcontinent live in
Gujarati-speaking areas, it was inevitable that Gujarati words,
especially conjunctions and pronouns, should creep into the


Ismaili version of the Blljb Nirafljan. Examples include ane

and ne (and) instead of aur; sarve (aU) instead of sabh; aman
(ours) instead of haman; hUii (I) instead of hauii; je (correla~
tive ''which'') instead of jo; jem (correlative "like") instead of
jyilii; thI (postposition "from") instead of ten. Moreover, the
sounds j and z are constantly confused under the Gujarati
Substitution of Words by Synonyms
The text of the India Office manuscript preserves many
words in their medieval forms. In the Ismaili version, however,
many of these words have been replaced by their modern
forms or with other forms that were more familiar t6 an Ismaili
audience. Examples include prem (love) instead of pem; nain
(eye) instead of loyan; pritam (beloved) instead of pitam; Dam
(name) instead of nanv; tham (place) instead of thanv;
manorath (desire) instead of manore; 101 (blood) instead of
lohu. In addition, the occasional use of alternate forms of verb
stems should also be noted (e.g., gamana instead of gaiivana,
and jivana. instead of jilana).
Influence of the KhojIci Script
As a script system, Khojki has many imperfections and
peculiarities. The Ismaili texts contain a category of corruptions that are the direct consequence of these peculiarities.
Some of these corruptions are as follows: consonants band d
almost always occur in Khojki texts in their aspirated forms, bh
and db; the consonant y is often replaced by the vowels a or e;
the initial i vowel is changed to e; and the diphthongs ai and au
become the vowels e and o.
Substitution between Pairs of Letters
Under this category we note the substitution between letters of similar sounds: b and v; g and gh; sand sb; rand d; n
and n; j and z; final j and final t
Inversion of the Order of Words
This occurs in Ismaili texts in the case of a few words that
are normally employed as pairs: bura bhala (bad and good);
sughar sujan (graceful and intelligent); dozakb bihisht (hell
and heaven); narak sarag (hell and heaven); mItha karva
(sweet and bitter); jalal jamal (Divine Glory and Divine
Beauty);.dbyan gyan (meditation and knowledge).


Changes in t1ie Internal yoweling of Words

Partially a result of the inability of the Khojki script to
distinguish in some cases between short and long vowels, these
changes are also caused by a negligent attitude in Ismaili texts
toward correct orthography. Consequently, short vowels often
become long ones and vice versa. Vowels may also be changed
under the influence of the local pronunciation. The omission
or addition of nasalization to vowel sounds also occurs in a
random manner.
Changes Resulting from Attempts to Give Lines aNew Interpretation
One of the means used to give the Blljh Niraftjan an
Ismaili identity was the inclusion of the name of the Ismaili
daCJ PIr Sadr ad-DIn in the text. Another was the introduction
of a refrain typical of other ginans using a similar poetic
structure. In addition to these major changes, we often find
that, during the process of editing, certain words and lines were
changed in order to increase the "Ismaili flavor" of the work.
In poem 11, quatrain 1, line 3, the words shah masIba have
been changed in Ismaili texts to samI [SWamI] shah, a term that
occurs in many ginans and that an Ismaili audience will immediately identify as a reference to the Imam. In some of the
later Ismaili editions, the term harT becomes ~ a reference to
the first Imam cAlI ibn Abr ralib. Similarly the term piya may
be changed to maula, an epithet used by the Ismailis to refer to
the Imam. Another interesting example of this process can be
seen in poem 7, quatrain 3. This quatrain describes the effect
that a glance from the shaikh can have on the disciple: it purifies his body and soul. Line 3 of this quatrain then goes on to
say, nih kalaftk kar bat dIkhave (making [you] without blemish,
he [the shaikh or guru] shows the path). In the Ismaili version,
this line has been changed to read, nakalaftk hoi bat dikhave
(being nakalaiik, he shows, the path). Nakalaiik is the term
used in the ginan tradition to refer to the Imam as the tenth
avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu.3 6 Its meaning (spotless,
innocent) is identical to the epithet ma~1lm used to describe
the Imam in ShiCism.37 With this fortuitous alteration in the
original text, an Ismaili audience immediately identifies the
message of this line with that found in many ginans: adopting
the form of the nakalaiiki avatar, the Imam has come into the
world to guide the believers.


Ijames P. Blumhardt, Catalogue of Hindustani Manuscripts in the
Libra.!}' of the India Office (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1926), 2.
21'he fIrst Ismaili edition to be revised on the basis of the India Office
manuscript is Buj N'uanjan (Karachi: Ismailia Association for Pakistan,
Yrhese additional CaupaIs and dohrahs are transcribed in Appendix II.
4rrhe refrain consists of the phrase re tJ1iibiii mara saCha sanhiyiii piyijji
tJ1fihifi (You are my true Lord, You are the Beloved). The wording of the
refrain as well as the voweling of the individual words may vary slight from
ginan to ginan and from one text to another. Por more about this refrain, see
pp. 111-113 below.
5See pp. 110-111 below. It should be noted here that at the present
there are several different melodies in which the BujhN'lI'afijan is recited.
The most common melody is one that is also used for another structurally
similar ginan dealing with mystical themes, Satvet;li moti
6Por a list of verses found only in the Ismaili version, see Appendix A.
7Por a list of verses found only in the Sufi version, see Appendix B.
8Both fragments are reproduced in Appendix 1 of the monograph.
91n addition to being an able administrator, Richard Johnson belonged
to the small circle of British intellectuals of the eighteenth century who were
interested in exploring and appreciating various aspects of the culture of
India. Within this circle, as his collection reveals, Richard Johnson ranked as
an outstanding collector and connoisseur. Though interested in a broad
range of subjects, including Indian music and ragamala paintings, he was
especially fond of Indian literature. At his request Nawab Mahabbat Allah
Khan Shahbaz Jang composed an Urdu m~awi on the Punjabi-Sindhi epic
romance, Sassui-Punhun. It may well have been for his deep interest in
literature that in 1780 the Mughal Emperor Shah cAlani (ruled 1759-1806)
granted him a mansab of 6,000 with the title Mumtaz ad-daulah mufakbkbar
aI-mulk bahadur b.usam jang(the eminent of the state, exalted of the kingdom, the sharp sword in war). See Richard Johnson (1753-1807): Nabob,
Collector and Scholar (London: India Office Library, India Office Records,
1973). This is a catalogue published for an exhibition of oriental miniatures
and manuscript~ from the collection of Richard Johnson mounted for the
sesquicentenary of the Royal Asiatic Society.
lONoorally, "Introduction," Buj N"lI'anjan, n.p.
11According to an entry covering the career of Richard Johnson found
on p. 987 of Bengal Civilians (lOR: 0/6/25), a nineteenth-century India
OffIce compilation, Richard Johnson arrived in India on 4 June 1770. I am
grateful to Mr. Martin Moir formerly of the India OffIce Library for providing me with this information.
1.2See Chapter 2, pp. 49-51 above.
13Ethe, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts, 1511.
141 am indebted to Professor Schimmel for this interesting observation.
151 am grateful to Zawahir Moir formerly of the Institute of Ismaili
Studies for bringing these manuscripts to my attention.
16It is significant that even the "reviser" who inserted these two
spurious verses into K-1 was doubtful about the authenticity of the other
verses and hence thOUght it best to omit them.
17Poem 14 in the Ismaili version corres'ponds to poem 16 in the SufI
, version and poem 32 corresponds to poem 20 in the Sufi version.
18Interview with Nurdin Bakhsh, Karachi, Pakistan, January 1982.


190n the relationship of these KhojkI characters to the Sindhi language

see p~61-62 above.
Normally rekhta is the name given to verses employing two languages
(Le., Persian and Hindi). However, in this manuscript, the term has been
applied to a composition that is exclusively in Hindi. The composition
appears to be part of a bhajan (devotional song) in praise of the Hindu deity
21Zawahir Moir, personal communication.
220n the significance of the signs " , " and "11" in poetry texts written in
Devanagarr script, see p. 109 below. See also S. H. Kellogg, A Grammar of
the Hindi Language, 3d ed. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co.,
1928) 551.
23Since the Khojki script uses a colon-like sign" : " to separate
individual words, it is clear that the scribe did write the title in three words.
24A. Nanji mentions that he was given information to the effect that
Aga. Khan II (d. 1886) had assigned the task of collecting manuscripts to
some of his followers in order that the ginans should be preserved properly.
Nanji The N'tzari Isma;tt Tradition, 10.
25His Highness the Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismailia Association for
Canada, "Observations and Comments on Our Modern Ginanic Literature,"
paper presented at the Ismailia Associations International Review meeting
held in Nairobi, Kenya, 1980, pp. 19-21.
27Ibid., 22. In the same paper, Laljr Devraj's ginan publications are
called "the real successor of our primordial ginanic literature which was
handed down to us through the generations directly froin our Pirs .... it is
impossible to determine the authenticity or originality of anyginanic literature without having consulted this publication" (16-17).
28Ivanow, "Satpanth," Collectanea, vol. 1, p. 20; Nanji, The Nizari
Ismi;tt Tradition, 10, 154 n.36.
29Both these editions were later reprinted with slight modifications.
3O-ro be fair, it must be acknowledged that the goals that Lalji Devraj
pursued in the preparation of his editions are very different from those of
modern textual criticism.'
31S ee pp. 50-51 above.
32Sadik Ali, Authenticity of the Buj Nirinjan, 14.
33Ibid., 13.
34Ibid., App. 1.
35S. M. Katre, Introduction to Indian Textual Criticism, 2d ed. (Poona:
Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, 1954),22.
36V. N. Hooda, "Some Specimens of Satpanth Literature," Collectanea,
vol. I, p. 58 n.4; Nanji, The NizirI IsmaCUi Tradition, 112; Gazetteer of the
Bomb~ Presidency, vol. 9, pt. 2, p. 40.
3 Nanj~ The N'tzari Isma;tt Tradition, 178 n.55.


The verses of the Bujh Niraiijan are composed on the rules
governing prosody in medieval Hindi. The prosody of Hindi
and its dialects has been the subject of extensive study and
commentary for several centuries because, until the late nineteenth century, poetry had been the predominant form of literature in that language.! As Kellogg aptly remarks, "In no
modern language probabq has prosody been so elaborately
developed as in Hindi." Indeed, prosody played such a
central role in medieval Hindustani and its dialects that even
the author of a seventeenth-century Persian grammar of the
Hindi dialect, Braj Bhasha, considered it necessary to introduce his readers to the intricacies of the prosody system)
However, when the modern student of Hindi poetry is
faced with the task of analyzing the functional aspects of
prosody in a work of poetry, the traditional methodology available to him is quite unsatisfactory. To quote Kenneth Bryant,
who has worked extensively on the poetry of Surdas,
The problem is that we simply have no ready vocabulary,
no descriptive short-cuts, for analysis of this sort; with the
tools currently available, a prosodic analysiS of any sophistication must be a slow, blow-by-blow affair .... In short,
what is needed is nothing less than a major reappraisal of
medieval North Indian metrics. 4
In the case of the Bnjh Nirafljan, the problem is compounded by the fact that here, as in most Indian poetry, meter
and music are closely allied. The cyclic succession (cakravartan) of musical beats (tals) is a prominent and natural feature
of medieval Hindi poetry.S Yet we have almost no studies
available that examine "the relationship between chanda and
tala, between meter as dictated by the syllable of the poem and
rhythm interpreted by the individual style of performance.,,6
In light of this situation, the following discussion of prosody
necessarily confines itself for the most part to the technical
aspects of prosody, reflecting the concerns of traditional
prosodists and taxonomists.
Before we proceed with the technical component of this
discussion, it would be expedient to remark on the importance


and relevance of prosody for this particular study. Since the

Bujb Niraiijan is a work of poetry in a language with a highly
developed prosodial system, it is reasonable to assume that, in
spite of its being a work of "popular" nature, its author must
have paid some attention to the rules of prosody. That this was
indeed the case is amply demonstrated by the fact that the
majority of verses in the text of the India Office manuscript the least corrupt version of the work that has come down to us
- observe faithfully the prosodial requirements for their
respective meters. 7
On the other hand, we also have to acknowledge that the
central purpose for the composition of the Bujh Niraiijan was a
religious one. The poem is meant for the spiritual edification
of its readers and not as an exposition of poetic genius. It is
unlikely that the composer could have been fastidious in his
application of all the necessary rules. This 'alternate factor
explains why the text of the, India Office manuscript occasionally neglects the rules concerning meter and rhyme.
Nevertheless, in this study, which deals with texts from diverse
backgrounds with varying degrees of corruption, conformity
with the requirements of prosody forms the single most important criterion for determining the authenticity of a particular
reading. (Occurrence in another independent text and compatibility with the textual context are other significant criteria.)
Consequently a thorough acquaintance with the basic rules of
prosody governing a poetic composition such as the Bujh
Niraiijan is an essential prerequisite in the preparation of a
critical edition.
Syllable Length
Hindi prosody is quantitative, the unit of metrical quantity
being the matra (instant).8 Much of Hindi verse belongs to the
class called jati chand, which is scanned by the number of
matras (instants) in a line. 9 A short syllable is reckoned as one
matra, while a long syllable counts two. The basic rules determining the length of a syllable are simple enough: a short
syllable, laghu (indicated here by the superscript sign') consists
of one of the short vowels a, i,or u with or without a preceding
consonant. A long syllable, guru (indicated here by the superscript sign -) consists of one of the long vowels a, I, or u with or
without a preceding consonant. The vowels e and 0 are normally long but may be read as short. The diphthongs au and ai


are traditionally considered long. In addition, a short vowel

followed by strong nasalization (anusvar), by certain conjunct
consonants or by an aspiration (visarg) may be counted, if
necessary, as a long syllable. The rules of Hindi prosody
permit a great many exceptions to the basic rules, however.
For example, great liberty is allowed with respect to orthography, so that long vowels may be shortened and vice versa.
The extent of prosodial license allowed in Hindi may best be
summed up in the following words: "and if poets read even a
long syllable as a short one [then] understand that also to be a
short one."lO
In addition to these general remarks on vowel and syllable
length, the following observations are especially relevant in the
case of the Bojh Niraftjan. Theoretically, every word is
assumed to end with a short vowel. This vowel, if it is a u or i
vowel, is usually pronounced. A short a vowel, on the other
hand, mayor may not be articulated. Hence the word mat contains two short syllable - the consonant m with a short a vowel
and the consonant t with an implicit, unpronounced short a
vowel. In the Bojh Niraftjan, the vowels 0 and e as well as the
diphthongs au and ai may be reckoned as long or short according to the exigencies of meter.
Words of Arabic and Persianorigin, which occur liberally
in the Bojh Niraftjan, occasionally have to succumb to the rules
of prosodial license. Sometimes a vowel may have to be shortened, as in the case with the i vowel in gairiyat 11 and with the
second i vowel in vabidiyat. 12 Or a vowel may have to be lengthened, as frequently occurs with the final short a vowel of a
word at the end of a verse. This is similar to the alif-i ishbac in
Sindhi poetry. For example, in the fourth quatrain of poem 5,
the words tamaroa, kama, and cama, at the end of the lines of
this quatrain, require the last vowel to be lengthened in order
to maintain the required metrical count. A few nouns may also
have a nasalized long a vowel suffixed to them, usually when
meter requires a long syllable at the end of a.word. Thus, kitab
become kitabaft 13 kalma becomes kalmaft,14 and damama
becomes damaman. 15 A short a vowel following the letter cain
may also be lengthened if the cain and the immediately preceding short vowel are dropped. Thus word mucallim is read
simply as ma.1im. 16 For purposes of rhyme, one kind of vowel
may be substituted by another (e.g;, the long ovowel in


macaliim is replaced by a short a vowel). 17

Sometimes both the consonants hand Qmay be ignored
for purposes of scansion. This may be the case with either a
word final h, as in ilah 18 and allah 19 or when the consonant Q
occurs in the middle of a word, as in ab.ka.m.20 As in Persian
prosody, a word final n may be dropped from scansion byvirtue of nasalization (e.g., CUfafi).21
A double consonant in a word normally has the effect of
lengthening a preceding short vowel. In a verse where this rule
is not compatible with the metrical count, the doubled consonant is reduced to a single consonant. Thus, in poem 21,
quatrain 1, the word takabbur, which should be scanned as .., - ..,
.., (three shorts, one long), is scanned instead as .., .., ..,.., (four
shorts).22 Similarly, in poem 28, quatrain 4, laiZat is read as
laiat, and in poem 15, quatrain 4, kull is read as kul
In the prosodic analysis of the Bujh Niraiijan the following
rule has also been observed: a short vowel preceding a vowelless consonant may be scanned as long. 23 For example, if the
word apane were read as apne with the consonant p losing the
short a vowel, as often occurs in pronunciation, the preceding
short a vowel would be scanned as a long syllable. Under the
same rule, while darasan is scanned as ..,..,..,.., (four shorts), the
alternative pronunciation darsan is scanned as - ..,.., (one long
and two shorts). Words whose scansion has been affected by
this rule are marked in the critical edition by an asterisk.
Meter and Verse Forms in the Bujh Niraiijan
As mentioned above, most Hindi verse falls into the category of jati Chand - i.e., the meter of the line is measured by the
number of matras (metrical instants) in the line. The Bujh
Niraiijan uses three meters from this category - the caupaI,
dohrah (doha), and soratha.24
Most of the thirty-four poems of the Bujh Niraiijan consist
of four quatrains written in the CaupaI meter. The term CaupaI
is used to refer not only to the meter but also to the individual
quatrains. (Originally the term caupaI was used for a quatrain,
but in the course of time it was also used to refer to an ardha1I
or "half-caupaI," which developed when the first two and the
last two lines of a caupaI were separated. 25 In' each poem of
,the Bujh Nirafijan, the sequence of four quatrains is brought to
a close by a two-line stanza which, with the exception of poem


11, is a doha or dohrah and follows the meter of the same

name. In poem 11, the two-line stanza is a soratha, which technically is an "inverted doha." Occasionally, as in poems 3 and
10, the sequence of quatrains is clossed by two dohrahs.
The combination of the caupaI, dohrah, and soratha in a
single composition is a well-established tradition in Hindi
poetry. The combination of these particular meters in a single
poetic composition was probably first popularized by the medieval mystic poet KabIr, in whose work this combination is
called a RamainI.26 Sequences of two to eight or more
caupars were normally followed by a single, dohrah or
soratha. 27 Following Kabrr, this combination became a standard form that was imitated by both Hindi and non-Hindi poets,
particularly in long epic poems where some device is needed to
relieve monotony. All the Hindi poets of Avadh, who specialized in long romantic Sufi epics, employed this or a similar
combination. Thus Mul)ammad J aisi, the most famous poet
from this tradition, uses in the Padmavat a dohrah after seven
ardhalrs (half-caupaIs).28 Later poets such as Tuls! and SUr
also favored this combination. A large portion of TulsI'S
Ramayan is similarly written with eight ardhalrs alternating
with a dohrah, though sometimes in his work two or three
dohrahs occur t'ogether, and occasionally the dohrah is
replaced by a soratha.29 TuisI is usually considered to have
brought this combination of poetic form to its perfection. 30
In the oral tradition, variation of melody follows variation
of meter. Accordingly, the alternating dohrah and soratha not
only assist in joining the various sequences of caupaIs, but
during recitation they also mark a change in the melody. For
example, during the recitation of the Bujh Niraftjan among the
Ismailis, there is a dramatic difference between the melody of
the Caupars and that of the dohrahs. This difference in melody
serves to accentuate sharply the differences in meter as well as
to invigorate the recitation. Frequently, the dohrah or soratha
may also be employed by the poet to summarize the message
of the preceding Caupars.
The caupar meter consists of four lines of sixteen matras
each. The sixteen matras of each line are arranged into four
"feet," each containing a fixed number of matras. Scholars of


Hindi prosody disagree as to the number of matras in each of

the four feet. Kellogg and Greeves hold that the four feet
should contain six, four, four, and two matras, respectively)1
Mahesh holds that, since the caupar meter, like' most meters
used in medieval Hindi, had to be amenable to musical beats
(tIDS), a line of verse in this meter cannot possibly contain the
irregular divison suggested by Kellogg and Greaves. The number of matras in' each foot must fall into regular division in
order to comply with the rhythmical cycle of beats (tal
cakra).32 Consequently, he holds that each of the four feet
should contain four matras each to make a pattern of four,
four, four, four. 33 It has also been suggested that the line
should be divisible into eight feet instead of four by using twomatra units or a combination of two- and three-matra units,
but this scheme is not supported by any tradition in Hindi
prosody and may be dismissed. 34 Whatever the number of
m~[tras per foot ,m~y'be, the combination of long syllables and
short syllables in each foot is left to the discretion of the
composer. The last foot, howeyer, is commonly a spondee (i.e.,
two long syllables).
In the case of the Bujb Niraftjan, the majority of the lines
written in the CaupaI meter can be divided into feet according
to both the six, four, four, two or the four, four, four, four
patterns. It appears, however, for the Bujh Niranjan the six,
four, four, two pattern is predominant for, while there are ten
to fifteen lines that cannot be divided this way and that must
use the four, four, four, four pattern, there are approximatly
seventy-five lines, which can be divided into feet only on the
six, four, four, two pattern.
Metrical parallelism is another significant feature that
characterizes the CaupaIS of the Bujb Niraiijan. Within the feet
of the four lines of the Caupar, it is common to find that patterns in the arrangments of matras repeat themselves. For
example, in the first two lines of the first CaupaI, the second,
third, and fourth feet of both these lines have the same
arrangement of IDatrRs:

atf aca ra f ka hon ~ ~'" pa he Iii

hoi ejo su Ine sii he Iii

ji sten

,Such parallelism is not part of the structural description of the

caupaI. It does not occur in all quatrains and, when it does


occur, it is usually confined within one or two feet and may not
run through all the four lines. Thus in quatrain 4 of poem 4,
metrical parallelism is found in. the first foot of line 1, 3, 4;
second foot of lines 2, 3, and 4 and third foot of lines 1, 2, and 3
as follows:
- -1"' ........... 1-1jo to kilft is jag meft sajhe
svarag. . bak\sabh. . vake bUj~e
jo dekhe \ sibh'" va \ teft sO}he
to tUft bU~h"" ti'irarijan'"bU}he
It is rare in the Bujb Nirafljan to find a caupM or quatrain in
which there is a complete parallel in the metrical pattern of all
four lines, though one such quatrain does occur in poem 8,
where each line of quatrain 4 follows the metrical pattern

-'"' . . - I . . '"' . . '"' I . . -'"' I -

In spite of the irregularity of the parallelism, however, it is

plainly a significant feature of this form of poetry, creating, as
it does, metrical echoes and a subtle richness that are part of
its beauty to the ear.
Nevertheless, while metrical parallelism is the rule in the
Arabo-Persian prosody system, it has been largely ignored by
traditional scholars of Hindi prosody (especially jati Chand).
Indeed, the first to comment on the phenomenon at all was
probably Kenneth Bryant in 1978. He observed it while studying the poetry of the famous poet Sl1rdas. In Bryant's view,
metrical parallelism has received little or no critical attention
because feet "are not standard units of analysis in Hindi
poetics."35 The neglect of this feature, which by acting as a
"link" between lines written in a specific meter, is of considerable struct~ral significance, is all the more surprising when it
is very likely that "metrical parallelism played a major role in
all North Indian bbakti verse."36 Bryant is surely correct in
denying the foot a place in traditional Hindi poetic analysis.
And it may also be observed that a scholarly tradition that
approaches poetry more with the eye than the ear is likely to
give short shrift to this kind of metrical subtlety. It is obvious
that metrical parallelism and its functions in Hindi poetry is an
area that needs much further research. At the present, however, it suffices to be aware that the phenomenon is fairly widespread among the verses written in the caupaI meter in the
Bajh Niraftjan.


Poetry inoHindi is invariably rhymed with the rhyme occurring in the last two syllables of each line. In the caupaI meter,
the same rhyme occurs at the end of each line of the quatrain
so that the rhyme scheme a, a, ~ a is followed. Among the
caupro: verses of the Bujh Niraftjan the rhyme is formed by the
repetition of the same long vowel, consonant, and long vowel
at the end of each of the lines of a quatrain. Hence the usual
pattern followed is vcv. Alternative patterns such as cVcVcv,
wcV, or cVdJcV may also be found occasionally.37 But, since it
is preferable that a line in the caupro: meter end in two long
syllables, these alternative patterns may be considered to be
As to the rhyme oscheme, very rarely is the scheme ~ ~ ~ a
not observed. The scheme ~ a, b, b may occur in some quatrains in which, though the usual pattern VCV is followed at the
end of each the lines, the first two lines may have the identical
vowels and consonant in this pattern while the third and fourth
lines may conclude with a different set of vowels and consonant
in the same pattern.
To maintain the rhyme scheme, the pronunciation of
words may often be modified to fit the required pattern.
Hence in poem 7, quatrain 4, line 1, the pronunciation of the
word gusaIfi has been changed to gusaiyefi in order that it end
in the same vowel and consonant combination as the words
laiyefi, urajhaiyefi, and paiyefi. It should be onoted that, in
addition to the vowel changes, nasalization, (anusvar) has also
been inserted into the word for the sake of rhyme. It is also
very common to find - not only in the Bujh Nirafijan but in
Hindi poetry in general - that rules of grammar and syntax may
also be disregarded in order to preserve rhyme.3 8
Dohrah (doha)
A much admired meter in Hindi poetry, the dohrah consists of two lines, each containing twenty-four rnatras. Each of
the two lines is subdivided into two carans (divisions) of
thirteen and eleven matras. This results in a total of four
carans in a dohrah: the first and third carans consist of
thirteen matras while the second and fourth have eleven
matras. The thirteen m~itras of the first and third earans are
further divided into feet on the pattern six, four, three. In
addition, the last foot of these carans must lliu be a trochee


(Le., a long syllable followed by a short syllable). It must be

either a tribach (three short syllables) or an iambus (short syllable followed by a long syllable).39 The eleven matras of the
second and fourth earans are usually divided into feet on the
pattern six, four, one, although the arrangement according to
the patternfour, four, three may also be found. 40 The last
syllable of the second and fourth carans and consequently of
each of the two lines of the dohrah has to be short. In a
dohr~ as in a Caupar, -the rhyme occurs at the end of a line, the
usual pattern for the rhyme being a long vowel, consonant, and
short vowel (vcV). Sometimes the long vowel in the rhyme pattern may be followed by a nasalization so that the basic pattern
is modified to ViicV.
An important feature in the dohrah is the pause (viram),
which may be of two types. The first type, the harmonic pause
or caesura, occurs at the end of the first and third wans which
consist of thirteen matras. This pause, which is unmarked in
the text, must not occur in the middle of a word. The second
kind of pause is a sentential one and occurs at the end of a line.
At the end of the first line of a dohrah, the sentential pause is
considered to be only a half-pause while at the end of the
second line a full-pause marks the termination of the dohrah.
When writing poetry in the Devanagari script, it is common to'
indicate the half-pause with the sign" I" at the end of the first
line and the full pause with the sign" 11.,,41 Among the different texts. of the Blljh Nirafijan, these signs are used only in
the texts written in the Khojki script. There, however, their use
is quite different from the traditionally accepted usage. The
sign "I" is used in Khojki texts to mark the harmonic pause or
caesura.' Traditionally, the harmonic pause remains unmarked
in Indian poetic texts. The sign "II" is employed in the Khojki
script to mark both the half and the full sentential pauses,
which occur at the end of the first and second lines, respectively. The peculiar use of these signs in the Khojki script may
be explained by the format in which a dohrah verse is written
in a KhojIci text. Instead of being written as a two-line stanza
with four carans, the dohrah is laid out as a four-line stanza,
similar to a CaupaI. Each of the carans occupies a separate
line. As a result of this arrangement, in Khojki texts the IDatra
pattern for a dohrah - i.e., thirteen eleven (line 1); thirteen,
eleven (line 2) - occurs vertically instead of horizontally -


thirteen (line 1), eleven (line 2), thirteen (line 3), eleven (line
A distinctive feature of the dohrahs in the Ismaili texts of
the Bujh Niraiijan is the syllable re found at the end of the
second and fourth wans, both of which contain eleven matras.
The presence of this syllable 1J1ay best be explained by a brief
consid~ration o~ the cyclic. suc~es~i.on ?f musical beats (t:lls)
accordmg to WhICh the BUJh NrranJan IS meant to be sung. 42
In prosody a cycle of syllables may be said to commence and
terminate at the beginning and the end of a unit, either a line
or a subdivision of a line (caran). For a caupaI this would be
after sixteen m:ltras at the end of the line, whereas for a
dohrah the cycle would "break" at the end of the first caran
after thirteen m:ltras. When a line is red ted according to
musical rhythm determined by means of tals, the cycle covers a
shorter period and is evenly divided. Thus if a line of Caupar is
recited on a tal cycle of four matras, then four tal cycles will be
needed to complete the recitation of the entire line of sixteen
matr:ls. If the same tal cycle of four m:ltras is applied to a
dohrah, then it is apparent that the first and third wans, which
contain thirteen m:ltr:ls each, lack three m:ltras to complete
the tal cycle, while the second and the fourth WaDS of eleven
nllltras each lack five matras.
The gap in the number of matras can be filled up in several ways. The voice may be silent for the required number of
beats or the last syllable lengthened, or the gap may be filled in
with meaningless syllables such as hejI, jI, re, re bhar. In the
case of the Bujh Niraiijan, as illustrated in the figure below, the
last syllables of the first and third carans of the dohrah are
usually lengthened, while in the second and fourth wans the
syllable re has been added to the line so that the tal cycle may
be completed. The re syllable is thus an indication that the
dohrahs of the Bujh Niraiijan had to be satisfactorily adapted
to fit a certain tal cycle as they were being recited.

123456789 10 1112 13 14 15 16
na tin naflv na thafiv hai ....... .
na bin nafiv na thafiv re ....... .
jo so nafiv bakhaniyeii ........ .
sabh va ke hai nafiv re ....... .


The soratha is simply an inverted dohrah. The first and
third carans of the dohrah are transposed to become the
second and fourth carans, while the second and fourth carans
of the dohrah become the first and third waDs of the soratha.
Consequently, in the soratha the first caran consists of eleven
matras, while the, second, wan has thirteen matras. The same
rules regarding feet in the dohrah are applicable to the
soratha. The rhyme, however, by maintaining its place at the
end of the shorter eleven matra-carans, occurs in the middle of
the verse instead of the end. In the BUJb Niraiijan, the soratha
occurs only once at the end of poem 11. As pointed out above,
it is common in a poetic composition utilizing both:the CaupaI
and dohrah forms to sometimes substitute the latter form with
a soratha. In regard to the recitation of a soratha in a cycle of
musical beats, it would be expected that, due to the inversion
of carans, the Ismaili'versions would place the Ie syllable at the
end of the first and third wans since in a soratha these carans
are ,shorter ones. Instead, the Ismaili texts show that the re
syllable maintains its usual position at the end of the second
and fourth carans. Recordings of recitations of the Bujh
Niraiijan show clearly that the singers try to compensate for the
lack of syllables in the first and third carans. by sometimes
elongating the syllables at the end of the wans and sometimes
by adding the expression re bhaI to the line. 43
Tek (refrain)
In most forms of Hindi poetry, the first line or sometimes
the entire first verse of a poem is repeated after every stanza as
a refrain. In order to facilitate this arrangement, the first line
of many forms of verse is comparatively short. It is often not
even a full line, and there are few specifications about its
prosody.44 In a composition in which the poetic forms of the
CaupaI and dohrah are used together, such a refrain is probably
superfluous since the dohrah at the end of the sequence of
caupaIs does act in the manner of a refrain - if not a thematic
one then at least a structural one. Consequently, in the India
Office manuscript of the Bujh Niraiijan, one finds no indication
of a refrain.
The case is quite different in the Ismaili versions where a
refrain is clearly marked in the transition between the


sequence of Caupars and the dohrah .. The refrain is in the form

of the phrase, Re tilfihI mara saCha saiihry~ .PIyiljI tiliihIii ("0
You are my true Lord, You alone are the Beloved"). In most
texts of the Bujb Nirafljan, the refrain is not written out in its
entirety; only the words re tuiihI are indicated. It is clear .that
the scribe assumes that the reader is familiar with the words of
this refrain. An examination of the ginan literature shows that
this assumption is not unwarranted for, in addition to the Bujb
Niraftjan, this refrain or some variation of it is found in several
of the longer ginan compositiQns such as Satve~ vel, SatveQl
matI, SatveQInanI, Vel surbh~ Candrabbat;l, Manahar, Vel
candrabhaJ;111I, and MansamjaI;1I.45 A characteristic that all
these ginans share is that, like the Bujb Niiafljan, they are
structurally composed of several parts or poems, in some cases
over two hundred. Each part or poem consists of a certain
number of verses written in one meter, which "are then followed
by a dohrah that closes the part or the poem. The refrain Re
t11fihI is always placed at the point of transition from one
metrical form to the dohrah.
While the addition of the refrain heightens the charm in
the recitation of the more ecstatic poems of the Bujb Nirafijan,
the refrain seems out of place when recited during the more
didactic poems in the work. Moreover, the use of the genitive
possessive mara in this refrain is quite peculiar because this is
not the form in which this adjective appears elsewhere in the
Bujh Nirafijan. The usual form of this adjective in the Bujb
Nirafijan is either meta or mero. The form mara is a Gujarati
form and also confirms that the r:efrain was not part of the
original text. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that
no other Sufi poem written in Hindi and using the caupaIdohrah form includes a refrain in its text. Thus when the BUJb
Niraftjan was adopted into the ginan literature, the refrain Re
t11iihI was placed between the caupals and dobrah of each
poem for this was the position where it occurred in other
ginans, with an identical or similar poetic structure. Indeed,
one may consider the addition of this refrain to the text of the
Bujb Niraftjan to be a crucial step in the "Ismailization" of the
text. With the incorporation of the refrain, the Bujb Niraftjan
shared an element with other structurally similarginans and
was no longer the "odd man out."


1M. S. Mahesh, The Historical Development of Mediaeval Hindi
Prosody (Bhagalpur: Bhagalpur University Publication, 1964), 16-18. Also G.
Grierson, Modem Vernacular Literature of Hindustan (Calcutta: Asiatic
Society, 1889), xxi, 58-66.
. IS. H. Kellogg, A Grammar of the Hindi Language, 3d ed. (London:
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1938),546.
3Mirza Khan Ibn Fakhrud-DIn Mul,tammad, Tu1;tfat ul-Hind, partially
ed. and trans. M. Ziauddin, A Grammar of the Braj Bhakha by Mirza Khan
(1676 AD.) (Calcutta: Visva-Gharati Bookshop, 1935), 16-20.
4K. Bryant, Poems to the Child-God (Berkeley: University of California
Press 1978), 132-133.
5Mahesh, The Historical Development, 23.
6Bryant, Poems to the Child-God
7The Ismaili version of the Biijh Niraiijan exhibits very little regard for
the rules of prosody. It shares this characteristic with the ginan literature in
general because in ginan texts meter "suffers from great inexactitude owing
to negligence in transmission and linguistic acculturation" (Nanji, NizarI
Ismll'lli Tradition, 20). In the majority of verses in the Ismaili version of the
Bujh Niraiijan, deviation from the prosodial requirements is caused by
imprecise vowel lengths. Occasionally, lapses are caused by the insertion of
superfluous words into a verse. Some of the spurious verses incorporated
into this version in the early twentieth century are also metrically defective.
8The ensuing discussion on Hindi prosody is based on the following
works: E. Greaves, A Grammar of Modem Hindi (Benares: Lazarus, 1896),
chap. 15; S. H. Kellogg, A Grammar of the Hindi Language, 3d ed. (London:
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1938), chap. 13; M. S. Mahesh, The Historical
Development of Mediaeval Hindi Prosody; H. C. Scholberg, Concise Grammar of the Hindi Language, 3d ed. (Oxford University Press, 1955), chap. 18.
9Kellogg, A Grammar of the Hindi Language, 553..
10 Greaves, A Grammar of Modem Hindi, 216.
llSee poem 26, quatrain 4.
12See poem 2, quatrain 2..
13See poem 13, quatrain 4.
14see poem 12, quatrain 3.
15See poem 21, quatrain 4.
16See poem 4, quatrain 1.
17See ibid.
18See poem 1, dohrah.
19See poem 5, quatrain 2.
20See poem 8, quatrain 3.
21See poem 9, quatrain 3.
22In poem 25, quatrain 3, the same word occui's, but there the short
vowel before the doubled consonant is scanned as a long syllable.
qhough often utilized in the Arabo-Persian prosody system, this rule
is not mentioned in any of the works consulted on Hindi prosody. It is appropriate to utilize it for the Biijh N'traiijan since in pronunciation syllables are
contracted and many words lose short vowels. The application of this rule in
no way affects the count of the total number of matras in 'a line; it only determines whether a word or part of a word is to be resolved as two short syl-


lables or one long syllable.

241n the India Office manuscript the meter of each set of verses is indicated above the first line of the verse. The word used to indicate the Caupii
meter is written as" -1ft..." Since no hamza is indicated, this should be
transcribed as Caupai (ai being a diphthong). In this study the words Caupai,
Caupai, and Caupai are used interchangeably. To indicate a dohi the India
Office manuscript uses the term dobrah ( ~., . However, if, as is the case
with a few words in modern Urdu, the fmal h is pronounced as an i1if, then
the word may be transcribed as dobra.
25Mahesh, The Historical Development, 130.
26Ibid., 112-114.
27Ibid., 131.
28Ibid., 133.
29Greaves, A Grammar of Modern Hindi, 220.
3OMahesh, The Historical Development, 117.
31Kellogg, A Grammar of the Hindi Language, 578; Greaves, A
Grammar of Modern Hindi, 223.
32Mahesh, The Historical Development, 129.
33Ibid., 127.
34scholberg, Concise Grammar of the Hindi Language, 149.
35Bryant, Poems of the Child-God, 127.
37Por pattern cvcvcV see poem, 6, quatrain 3; for wcV, poem 7, quatrain
4; and for cVcVcV, see poem 17, quatrain 1.
38Kel1ogg, A Grammar of the Hindi Language, 551.
39Ibid., 575.
4OGreaves, A Grammar of Modern Hindi, 222.
41Kel1ogg, A Grammar of the Hindi Language, 551.
42The discussion on the relationship between meter and til which follows is based on an analysis presented by Mahesh, The Historical Developmen~ 18-23.
. .
43Even though the expression re bhaI is not written in the Ismaili text of
the Biijh N"traiijan, it is very common during the recitation of the work for
singers to insert this expression also at the end of every line of the Caupai.
The addition of this expression appears to make it easier for the singer to
repeat the recitation of the line.
44Bryant, Poems to the Child-God, 39.
45The variations in this refrain usually include either the omission of the
possessive adjective mira and/or the substitution of the word piyii by mauli
or mauli ali.



1) The rendition of the Bujh Nirafijan that follows is based
-on a critical edition originally prepared for the author's doctoral dissertation at Harvard. Due to constraints of space,
simply the "text" portion of that edition has been reproduced
here. It is in Roman transliteration with an English prose
translation. With the exception of the first poem the full
critical apparatus noting the variant readings within the manuscript and printed corpus has been omitted. Also excluded
from the present text is the metrical scansion of each line, i.e.,
its division into shor.t (laghu) and long (guru) metrical instants
(matra). Readers interested in a detailed textual criticism of
the Bujh Nirafijan 'along these lines should refer to the original
dissertation where the entire text with the complete paraphernalia of textual criticism is available.
2) The numeral at the head of each page indicates the
position of the poem in the sequence of thirty-four poems
found in the India Office manuscript. The text found in this
manuscript appears to be the most reliable. The numeral
within brackets ref~rs to the poem's position in the Ismaili
version when it differs from that of the India Office manuscript. Each of the four quatrains or caupars of each poem is
numbered. Thus "21(15):2" designates poem 21 of the India
Office manuscript (poem 15 in the Ismaili version), second
3) Changes introduced into the text as a result of critical
editing and therefore absent from any of the recensions are set
off within brackets - [ ].
4) The implicit word-final short a vowel, which is unarticulated in most words, has been omitted in the transcription.
The vowel, however, has been supplied for words where it is
pronounced (for example, piya).
5) An asterisk marks words whose scansion may be
affected by the omission of an interconsonantal short vowel
(for example, darsan instead of darasan).
6) In the Ismaili versions of the Bujh Nirafljan, the transi-


tion in each" poem from the caupaJ meter and verse to the
dohrah meter and verse is marked by the refrain Re tuiibr
mara saCha saiihiyaft pIytijI tiifLhIii (0 You are my true Lord,
You alone are the Beloved). In these texts, the refrain is not
written out in its entirety; the words re tunhI are used as an
abbreviation for the phrase.
7) The second and fourth carans of the dohrahs in the
Ismaili texts end with a re syllable. Apparently, during recitation, this syllable helps the singer to maintain the tal or musical
beat. Only exceptionally is this re omitted in Ismaili texts.


The Text

The Text of the Bujh Niraftjan

ati acaraj kahuft ek pahelI
jis teft hoe jo sune suhelI
piy[ti] chanaft kyuft paraghat aya
kon kon piya bhekh phiraya
la taCaiyun* zat kaha[ya]
jakI bat kahI nahift ja[ya]
maha agam samuftdar kahave
ja ko par na kabahuft pave
QubakI lele janam gaiivave
va kI thah na kabahuii pave

QubakI lele got.ah * khave

pIr paigarhbar to nahift pave
jo so budI QubakI khave
mar mar jiye to manak pave
naft ilah niraftjan kahiye; naft kahiye kachu bat
guftge supana paiya; samar samar pachatat

1There appears to be some confusion in the sequence of verses of this

poem as it is found in the various texts. Consequently, the sequence followed
here is one that has been rearranged to suit best the rhyme scheme as well as



A most amazing wonder I relate, a riddle,

By means of which what has been heard becomes easy
[ rrussmg ]
[ missing]
Why did the hidden Beloved become manifest?2
What different forms did the Beloved assume?
[He] is said to be an essence [pure] without specification,
Of which nothing may be said.
An unfathomable ocean, so vast;
Whose shores can never be found;
You may waste a lifetime diving,
Even so, its bottom can never be reached.
[So deep] that plunging and diving time after time,
Even pIrS and prophets cannot reach [the bottom].
Whatever being [?] takes a dive,
It acquires the jewel only if it lives after dying.3
Do not even refer to the Divine as niraftjan; do not say
anything [about it]
Like a mute dreamer who, remembering his dream constantly, regrets [he cannot tell].

2An allusion to the b.a~ qudsi (divine saying), attributing to God the
words, "1 was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known, so I created the
3An allusion to the 1;la~ (prophetic saying) "Die before you die."



ati acaraj kahun ek pahelI

jis ten hoe jo sune suhelI
line 1

ati: K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 atI.

acaraj: Ismaili texts read acarat. (Cf. D. Varma, La Langue Braj,
p. 58, on tendency of the word-final "t" or "th" to be
changed to "j".)
kahun: K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 kahun, KG, G-1, G-2 kahun.
pahelI: K-2, K-4, K-5, KG paell.

line 2


line 3

Missing in both P and Ismaili texts.

line 4

Missing in both P and Ismaili texts.

P jiu, KG, G-l, G-2 jls.

ten: Ismaili texts read thI.
hoe: Ismaili texts, except for G-2, hove. G-2 hov.
jo sune: Ismaili texts vat.
suhelI: Ismaili texts, except for G-1, read sohell. G-1 shell.

4This first poem is the only one included herewith the complete critical
apparatus noting variant readings. Readers interested in the critical
apparatus for subsequent poems should refer to the original dissertation,
"The Bujh Niraiijan: A Critical Edition of a Mystical Poem in Medieval
Hindustani with its Khojki and Gujarati Recensions" (Harvard University,
1984). The manuscripts and texts represented in this critical edition are
described in detail in Chapter 3.


piy[u] chanafi kyilii paraghat aya
kon kon piya bhekh phiraya
la ta'aiyun* iat kaha[ya]
jill bat kahi nahifi ja[ya]
line 1

This line alludes to the I.ta~ qudsI attributing to God, the words,
"I was a hidden treasure and I wanted to be known, so I
created the world."
n.iYY: P piyfi, K-l, K-3, K-4 piil, K-2 plyfifi, K-5 plyU, KG plyufi,
G-l plyu.
chanafi: Ismaili tests read chana.
kyiifi: K-l, K-3 kiil, K-2 kiyufi, K-4 kiilfi, K-4 kiyfi, KG, G-l, G-2
paraghat: K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5, KG paragat, G-l, G-2 pragat.
K-l aeya, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 aea.


line 2

line 3

line 4

kon kon: K-2, K-5, K-G G-l kahone ..

~: P uses" b" to represent a short "a" vowel. K-l, K-3, K-4
pm, K-2, K-5, KG, G-l pIya, G-2 piya.
bhekh: K-l uses ":>4" to represent "bh." P phakh/bhakh.
phiraya: K-l pheraya, K-2, K-5, G-2 phiraya, K-3, K-4 phiraea,
KG, G-l phIraya.
Ia taCaiyun: K-lla U yfin, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 laU fin, KG, G-lla thI
un, G-21a thffi un.
zat: Ismaili texts, except for G-2, read jat. G-2 zat.
kaha[ya]: Last syllable changed from "ve" to "ya" for rhyme. P,
KG, G-l, G-2 kahave, K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 kahave
ja kI: K-l, K-2, KG, G-2 jafikI.
bat: K-l, K-2, K-4, K-5 bhat (K-l uses ">\" to represent "bh").
kahI: K-3 kahffi.
nahiii: P uses two dots under the word without the corresponding
"tooth" to indicate a short "i" vowel. Ismaili texts, except
for G-2, read na. G- 2 nahIii.
ja[ya]: Last syllable changed from "ve" to "ya" for rhyme. P, KG,
G-2 jave, K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5, G-l ave.


Qubaki Ielego!ah* khave
pIT paigathbar to nahiii pave
maha agam samuIidar kahave
ja ko par na kabahfui pave
line 1

dubakI: P uses " ~ " to represent "Q." K-2 dfibalI, K-2, K-3, K-4
dfibaki, K-5 dfibhaki.
Iele: K-2, K-5, G-Ile Ie ke.
go.~ah: K-I, K-2, K-5, KG, G-I, G-2 gotha, K-3, K-4 gota.

line 2

paigambar: K-I pekambhar (uses ">," to represent "bh"), K-2,

K-4 paekambhar, K-3 pekabar, K-5 paekabhar, KG, G-I,
G-2 payagambar.
ill: K-I, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5, KG toe, G-I toy.
nahiii: P uses two dots under the word without the corresponding
"tooth" to indicate the short "i" vowel. Ismaili texts, except
G-2, read na.

line 3

maha: K-I, K-3, K-4 maha.

samuiidar: K-I, samfidhar, K-2, K-3, K-5 samfidhr, K-4 samiiIidhr,
G-I samudhr, G-2 samufidhr (K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 use" 1."
for the conjunct consona~t "dhr").
kahave: P kahaya, K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 kahave.

line 4

ja ko: K-I, K-2, K~4, K-5, KG jafiko.

na kabahiiii: K-I, K-2, K-3, K-5 koe na, K-4 kine na, KG, G-I,
koi na.
pave: P paya, K-4 paea.




jo so bud! JubakI khave

mar mar jiye to manak pave
c;iubakI lele janam gaiivave
va kI thah na kabahUti pave
line 1

jo so: K-l, K-3, K-4 jo e, K-2, K-5 jo es, KG, G-l, G-2 jo is.
budI: Derivation not clear; possibly from Persian "bud." K-l
samudhar me, K-2, K-5 samudhr mati, K-3, K-4 samudhr
mae, KG samutidar me, G-l samudhr man, G-2 samutidhr
man (K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 use ".l." to represent "dhr").
QubakI: P uses" 1" to represent "c;i," K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4 dubakI,
K-5 dubhakI.

line 2

.This line alludes to alleged ba~ "die before ye die."

mar mar jiye: K-l marjeya, K-2, K-5 mar jIvea, K-3, K-4 Iliar jill,
KG, G-l mar jIvya, G-2 mar jIva (note: in the Gujaniti
language, "marjIvo" is the term used for a diver).
K-l, K-2, K-5, G-2 hoe so, K-4, K-5 hoe to, KG hove so, G-l
hoy so.
manak: Ismaili texts read m~ak.
pave: Ismaili texts read lave.


line 3

c;iubakI: P uses ".1 " to represent "c;i," K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4 dubakI,
K-5 dubhakI.
gaiivave: K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5, G-2 gamave, KG, G-l gumave.

line 4

va ke: K-l, K-5 to ya ko, K-2 to yati ko, K:3, K-4, to yake, KG,
G-l, G-2 villo.
thah: K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5, G-l thak, KG, G-2 thag.
na kabahUii: K-l, K-2, K-4, K-5 kabhuek, KG, G-l kabuek, G-2


nan ilah niraiijan kahiye; nan kahiye kachu bat
giiiige supana paiya; samar samar pachatat
line 1

naii: K-1, K-3 na, K-2, K-4, K-5, G-1, G-2 nirala, KG nIrala.
ilah: Fin~ "h" not reckoned in meter. Pit ilah, K-1 ala, K-3, K-4
ala. Does not occur in K-2, K-5, KG, G-1, G-2.
niraiijan: K-1, K-3 narijan, K-2, K-4, K-5 nirijan, KG niraiijan, G-1
kahiye: K-1, K-3, K-4, K-5, KG kahie, K-2, G-2 kahieii, G-1 kahie.
nan: K-3na, K-2, K-4, K-5, G-1, G-2 nirali, KG nIrali.
kahiye: K-1, K-3, K-5, KG, G-1, G-2 kahie, K-2, K-4 kahien.
kach[u]: Vowel of second syllable shortened for meter. P kachu,
K-1; K-2, K-4, K-5 kuch, KG, G-1, G-2 kuch.
bat: K-1, K-2, K-4, K-5 bhat (K-1 uses ">i' to represent "bh").

line 2

guiige: 1<.-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5 gilnge, KG, G-1, G-2 guiige.
supan a: "Ismaili texts, except G-1, read sapana. G-1 svapna.
paiya: K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5, G-1 paea, KG, G-1 paya.
samar samar: Ismaili texts read samajsamaj. (Cf. D. Varma, La
langue Braj, pp. 55, 59 on the tendency of word final "r" to
be changed to "j," e.g., maj jaungI instead of mar jaungI.)
pachatat: K-1, K-2, K-5 pachatae, K-3 pasatae, K-4 pashatae, KG
pasatay, G-1 pastay.


abadlyat ko kaha bakhanofi

sabh ~ifatofi teii nyara janofi
nyare tefi nyara kar rnanofi
ya gat sufi kachu va pahachanoii
sabh ~ifatoii sufi jakufi pave
so phun vabid[i]yat kahalave
rup anup anek d[I]khave
bhafit bhafit ko bhekh phirave

in dOM rnahiii vabdat* kahiye
jakufi dOM ~ifatofi sufi lahiye
kya nyare sabh tefi sufi sahiye
kya sabh sufi so paraghat lahiye
jarnaC jahaii as rna * kr hOI
kahat uluh[i]yat so teii SoI
rabb jahafi taf~Il jo hOI
bujhe bujhan har jo kOT
jine nahi rafig na rup kachu; na kOT nanv na thanv
soi gupta * paraghat bhaya; lakh dhare tab nafiv


How can you describe [the stage of] al).adlyat?5
Know it to be different from all [divine] attributes;
Consider it to be more different than the different;
In this manner, you may comprehend it a little.
That which is acquired from [the coming together] of all
the attributes,
That again is called vaLUdlyat6
Many and incomparable are the forms He shows Himself;
Myriad are the forms He assumes.
In [between] these two [stages] is that of val).dat,7
Which can be attained through both attributes.
Listen to how different He is from everything,
And yet how evident He becomes from everything.
When there is the pleroma of all the [divine] names,
It is said divinity [ula1lIyat] is from that,
And the attribute rabb [Lord] arises when there is specification.
Only the perceptive one will understand.
The One who has neither color nor form, nor name nor
That Hidden One became manifest, assuming a hundred
thousand names.

5a1}.adIyat - used in SufIsm to refer to the absolute, transcendent divine

essence, free from any qualification.
6yaJ.Udiyat - used in SufIs~ to refer to the third stage of the descent of
the Divine Essence in which it appears as an aspect unifying the difference of
the attributes; the Many identical in essence with each other and with the
One; the second limitation.
7va1;tdat - SufI term for the intermediate stage between abadIyat and
va1;tidiyat; the fIrst limitation of the Divine Essence.


nanv niranjan ke do bhatI
ek ian ek bhae $ifan
ummahat sabh kahiyen ian
aur bhae sabh nanv $ifan
jit piyu cain Ciyan kahayo
tit n[ a ]nv ~ahir cilm * dharayo
jo ut tha so it ho ayo


man guman karo mat kOT
jo ut hai so it bhin SOl
hOI raha hove bhin SoT
yah * likhiya mIte nahin kOT
yah* sabh calam-i gaib kahave
pakI jak[i] kahI nahin jave
khalqat* kun it nanv na pave
sabh yah * ?;ahl1r kahave
na tine nanv na thanv hai; na bin nanv na thanv
jo so nafly bakhaniyen; sabh va ke hai nanv
ek alakh lakh bhekh dhar; tribJ:mvan raho samay
sabh men paraghat hoi raho; ya ten lakho na jay


The names of God [niraftjan] are of two kinds:
One is that of the essence [zat], and one derives from the
attributes [sifat].
Know the names of the essence to be the basic ones,
The remaining being names of the attributes.
Where the Beloved was called cain qyan, 8
. There He assumed the name [attribute] ~ahir cilm.9
Whatever was there has come here;
In this manner, the whole universe was created.
Entertain not selfish doubts and suspicions, .
That which is there is also here.
That which happens will happen as it should;
No one can erase that which has been written.
All this is said to be the calam-i gaib, 10
Whose purity cannot be described.
Of the created world not a trace is found here;
Here everything is said to be pure manifestation.
(1) Neither does He have any name nor place, nor is He
without name and place;
With whatever name He is described, all names are His.
(2) The one invisible One assumed a hundred thousand forms
and was contained in the three worlds.
He became evident in everything, [yet] He is not to be

Scain ,yan - manifest in the essence.

9~ 'ilm - external or manifest knowledge, a term used to refer to the
first three 'stages or two limitations, i.e., a1;tadiyat, vaJ;uiat, vaJ,Udiyat
lOcalam-i gaib - the hidden or unseen wo~ld; the world of spirits.


sabh khilqat* arva1)* ko calam
jak[i] bat allah run milam
yahr malim Cain balam
jake sikh hoe sabh calam
pahalen I111)u'l * qudus ki roy a
akhir ~ifat jabr[i]l jo hoya
jo un Citvan* run nahin roya
so sundar jagat hin soya
tIjo calam kahiyen mi~al[a]
jakI mOrat pak kamal[a]
vakI juz aur ba~* niu1)al[a]
is calam kon aiso hal[a]
jo to run is jag men sujhe
svarag bak sabh vake bujhe
jo dekhe sabh va ten sujhe
to tun bujh niranjan bujhe
piya surang bahu rang hai; aur rang rang dikhay
jo lauen dib disht* hoe; to rang rang men samay


All the created spirits belong to a world,
Whose affairs are known [only] to God.
Here the teacher is none other than the Beloved,
Whose disciples include entire creation.
First there is the vision of the n1 Qu:JI qudus,l1
Which finally became the epithet of Gabriel.
Whoever has not seen that vision,
That soul,12 though awake, is [in reality] ~sleep.
The third world is that of symbols [~al], 13
Whose form is pure and perfect.
Division and analysis of it is impossible;
Such is the condition of this world.
.If in this world you attain knowledge,
Then you will understand all its [Le., that world's] heavenly
If you perceive whatever you see to come from there,
Then you have understood the Bujh Niraiijan
The Beloved is of beautiful and variegated color and He
manifests Himself in color after color.
When the divine vision takes place, then [all] colors are
contained in [one] color.

llr~u~ qudus - the holy spirit; an epithet of the angel Gabriel.

12Literally, suiidari (the beautiful, handsome one; good, pure, virtuous),
used here as an epithet for the wife-soul expectantly waiting to be reunited to
her Lord.
13-fhe world of imagination, or symbols, of spiritual values or ideas that
are to be realized in this world.


pahale fai:? faiy~ ten ave
pache mukh arvab dikhave
va ten hoe mi~al men ave
ta ten jave shahadat pave
cotha mulk* shahadat kahiye
bure bhale sabh ja men sahiye
to men guru ke [yamen?] kahiye
allah * rasul ut hin bhin lahiye
panevan * calam tab kahalave
jab manas kr murat pave
jo apas men ulat samave
jamaCjam[i]C ~ifat kahave

hOI nuzul k[i] bat tamam[a]

bin curoj nahinhove kam[a]
jamit hai sabh kh~-~o Cam[a]
bin lalan dhani kiSI na kam[a]
motI jal ten hoiya; bhin jal kaho na jay
mugta * pisiyen ched piyen; samundar na piyo jay


First from the Bountiful One [faiyaz] comes f~;14
Then it appears in the [world of] spirits [arval)];
From there it comes to the [world of] symbols [mia1];
After which it reaches the [world of] perception
The fourth realm is that of perception [shahadat]; 15
Good and bad are endured everywhere [?]
[meaning uncertain]
There [knowledge of] God and Prophet is also acquired.

One may speak of the fifth world,
When it reaches the human form.
If it returns into itself [through the medium of human
Then he is called "the comprehensive container of
attributes." 16

The talk of nUZi1l17 is complete;
Without the Curoj18 all is in vain.
All, elite and masses, are aware:
Without the Beloved, the woman [soul] is of no use.
The pearl comes from water even so it is not called water.
You may drink the pearl by crushing and piercing it, but it
is impossible to drink the ocean.
14faq: - .overflowing, abundance; beneficence, favor, grace; used in
Sufism to refer to divine emanation.
15The visible world or the world of senses.
16An epithet in Sufism for the Perfect Man as microcosm.
17n uziil- descent; used in Sufism to refer to the descent of the Divine
Essence, through various limitations, into the world of creation.
18curuj - ascent, ascension; used in Sufism to refer to the ascent of the
soul through various spiritual stages and states until it finally reaches its
home in God.


jis ko calam sun mere mna
dhartI* bI ta carsh * jo kna
l)aif jo blljhe ka vah mna
ke pach ta men kya kar Ina
gun apane kOI Cit na ave
sabh avagun apas men pave
sIs tale kachll batna ave
is c;lar ten kahu kya man bhave
nabI mul)ammad kare shafaCat[a]
jakun hai ummat kr riCayat[a]
jo guru mo pe kare Cinayat[a]
gunah mere sabh hove ~aCat[a]
dehaI pare mat dekhe pIll
jo hai dIn dllnI ko jIll
is jab men hai yun kar pIli
jyun kar dlldh dahl mon ghIll
birahI rain jo niramalI; hit cit piya sun lay
piya avan kI bel hai; mat bhor bhae pachatay


Him whom my Beloved has created along"with the universe,
From earth to the highest heaven;
Alas if he only knew the whereabouts of that Beloved.
What does he gain by that [?].

N one of his own virtues comes to mind,
He finds in himself only all the vices.
By hesitating 19 he achieves nothing.
On account of this fear, say, what can he enjoy?
[When] the Prophet Mu.bammad intercedes,
For it is he who looks after the community [ummat];
And when the Guru graces me with favor,
[Then] all my transgressions become [acts of] obedience
(i.e., devotion).
Look not far from this body for the Beloved,
Who is the life of religion and the world.
The Beloved is present in this world,
As ghee is present in milk and curds.
If the night of separation is to be chaste, fix [your] attention and mind on the Beloved;
For it is time for the coming of the Beloved: let there be
no regrets with the coming of dawn.

19Literally, withdrawing the head.


piya darsan * kahu kaisen paven
taj maya aur guru pe javen
vahI karen jo guru faramaven
ta ten darsan * piya ka paven
kaha soya uth sundar jag[a]
man! manore ten uth bhag[a]
jo mathe rujh hoe yaha bhag[a]
apne* guru ke paeft lag[a]
ek Citavan jo vak! pave
to tan man nirmal * ho jave
nih * kalaiik kar bat dikhave
dukh khove sabh sukh upajave
ek nabI aur ek gusaiyen
ek guru bin cit na laiyen
auran son jo man urajhaiyen
jlbit ko phal mol na paiyen
ek abmad * ek jagat pati; ek guru sOft man lay
guru sevit abmad* mile; abmad mIm gaftvay .


Tell [us] how one may attain the vision of the Beloved?
Abandoning the illusionary world, he should turn to the
He should do what the Guru commands,
Thus may he attain darsan20 of the Beloved.
.Why have you been asleep? Rise, 0 soul, awaken!
Rise and flee from selfish desires!
If you have this good fortune [written] on your forehead,
Then prostrate before your Guru.

If [you] obtain only one of his glances,
Then body and soul will become pure.
Making [you] without blemish [Le., pure], he shows the
All afflictions disappear and happiness arises.
Except for the one Prophet, one God,
And one Guru, the mind should not be attached to any
If you entangle your mind with others,
Then you will not acquire the [real] rewards and worth of
Concentrate on the one Abmad, the one Master of the
universe and the one Guru.
Serving the Guru, one acquires A1).mad and then A1).mad
loses the letter m. 21

20darsan/darshan - sight, vision, perception; used here to refer to the

experience of spiritual vision or insight.
21Re(crence to the well-known I;ta~ qud,si (divine saying), in which God
says, "I am Mtmad [M~ammad] without the letter m - i.e., a1;tad (one).


jo pan<;lit* aur siddh* kahave
catur sujan sughar hoe ave
jap tap kar sabh janam gaiivave
bin guru marag pem na pave
jo cerI guru maya na paveii
dhyan gyan kach[ u] kam na aveii
<;lhuii<;lhat dau~at janam gaiivaveii
bin guru maya na marag pavefi
jo tuii lakh tablb bulave
bin guru Plf bedan na jave
bedan jay jo guru cit ave
dukh khove sabh sukh upajave
jo guru teii jo bedan jave
so guru saiica gafij kahave
bara guru mile bed kilii; aur daru deve car
bin guru bedan jave nahlii; ya bedan ke sar


Those who are known as scholars [pancjits] and ascetics
They come forth as sagacious, intelligent, and accomplished.
However, in muttering prayers they squander their entire
For without the Guru, the path of love cannot be attained.
If this slave girl does not acquire the grace of the Guru,
[Then] meditation and knowledge are entfrely in vain.
She may squander a lifetime in searching and running
But without the Guru, she" will not find the path.
Even if you were to call a "hundred thousand doctors,
Without the Guru the pain and affliction will not disappear.
The pain disappears only when the Guru comes to mind,
[Then] all suffering vanishes and only happiness arises.
If through [the mediation] of the Guru, the pain disappears,
[Then] that. Guru is called a true treasure.
This pain [is curable] if one meets a great Guru who gives
medicine and remedy.
Without the Guru this pain will not disappear; such is the
nature of this pain.


jo bhift is jag mahift aya
bhag sobhag apane jo Ie aya
tin guru shah masr1)a paya
mar pot vahr p[u]n jaya
shah cain jo darsan * paiye
vake cara1.J. par bal jaiye
jo man meft iccha Ie aiye
so bhift yah maya s[ ti]ft paiye

kar ~ahor latkaftda aya
cainu:>l * cirfaft* nam dharaya
jag par hai bhift vaka saya
jin jag koft e bat lagaya

cain nabr ka nOr pachan.oft
ma~har kh~S ilahr janoft
jo [guru kahana?] mera manbft
jag man ko tab yah pachanoft
cain cain jis ko kahoft; so cain hai ghat mafth
jo ghat teft paraghat hove; to rom rom sukh pafth


Whoever has come into this world, .
Has come with his fortune, bad and good
He who has found the Guru, Shah, Messiah;
That mother's son22 is born fortunate.
If you [want to] acquire d arsan23 of the Lord's essence,
[Then] you should sacrifice [yourself] at his feet.
Whatever desires you may have in your heart,
These, too, will be fulfilled through his compassion.
When he became manifest and came forth coquettishly,
He assumed the name cainu:>l cirfan.24
In this world he is the shadow of He
Who set the world on this path [of existence].

Recognize him to be the ~ssence of the Prophet's light,
And the special locus of the Divine manifestation.
If you believe [the message] the Guru has made me utter
Then in this world you will recognize Him.
The one whom I call the essence of the essence; He is the
very essence in the heart.
When He becomes manifest in the heart, then in every
pore [you will] find happiness.

22This expression is employed here in the sense of human being.

23darsan/darshan - see note 18.
24cainu' "irian - Essence of Gnosis.


nabI ko naib ho kar aya
sabh kahu ke man meft bhaya
ja par nahift vako saya
bhag abhag so bhift Ie aya
vak! seva karo savere
mat pachatao akhar vere
sabh jag hai guru vake cere
so seve bhed niraftjan mere


suftdar sughar sujan piyara

birahI kahi gulam tumahara
beg karo vako nisatara
vake ghat meft karo ujayara
jo gur teft hauft lalan pauft
is jag moft kahaft kahu samauft
piya jal meft mi~arI hoI jal1ft
birahI teft va~alI kahalal1ft
jaise bhaftjan hot nIr sUft; bhariyo na buftd samay
pItam ham mi~arI [ho] mile; chalak na bahar jay
sat dIp nay khaft<;lh moft; paraghatiyo Cain shah
jahaft dekhuft tahan vah[i] hai; vahI vahI hai ah

2SThis poem has two dohrahs, the ftrst of which does not occur in the
Ismaili version.



He has come as the deputy of the Prophet,

And endeared himself to all.
On whomever his [ptotective] shadow does not fall,
As his lot, he has truly brought with him bad fortune.
Worship early [while you have the opportunity],
So that you do not regret at the last moments.
The entire creation is a slave to that Guru;
Whoever serves him discovers the secret of God [nirafijan].
o Beloved, beau.tiful, graceful, and intelligent!
This love-sick woman26 says, "I am your slave."
Liberate her soon
,By bestowing enlightenment in her heart.

If through the Guru I. find the Beloved,

Tell [me] how can I be contained in the world?
[When] I have been dissolved like sugar in the water-like
[Then] instead of birahI27 [lover-in-separation], I am called
a v~alI28 [lover-in-union]
(1) Just as an additional drop of water cannot be contained in,
a pot filled to the brim;
[So also when like] sugar I am dissolved in the Beloved,
not a splash spills out.
(2) In the seven islands and the nine divisions, the essence of
the Lord is manifest.
Wherever I look, there he is; He Himself, He Himself ...
26birahi - a woman suffering from the pangs of separation (birah) from
a beloved one.
27See note 23.
28From Arabic V3$1 (meeting, union), used here to refer to the womansoul who has been united with her Beloved.


aisa guru jo kabahon pave
aUf taufrq ilahT ave
Cit apana it ut na Qolave
tab ja marag pem ko pave
pahale to kiln shara batave
pache rah ~arTqat lave
tab tujh ijal ijaqTqat ave
rnacrifat * kerT sudh tab pave
sunI gaT yon guru ten bat[a]
dTpak sharaCJ leve hath[a]
tai karahe tab yah* ~lmat[a]
pave ape ab-i ijayat[a]

yah * ~lmat * tarrqat kahiye

bin aguva jahan rah na lahiye
aguva hoe to sabh dukh 'sahiye
nahift to sukh son sharac mon rahiye
maha bikat yah* bat; bin aguva kyonjaiye
aguva hoe sanghat; amar nIr tab paiye


If ever one finds such a Guru,
And there also comes divine grace,
And one's mind does not wander hither and thither,
Then at that point he attains the path of love.
First he shows the sharC;29
After which he brings you to the road of tarIqat,30
Then the state of 1;taqlqat31 comes to you,
Only then will you acquire macnat 32
Such a discourse has been heard from the Guru:
"Take the lamp of the divine law [sharC] in hand,
Then crossing through this darkness,
Acquire for yourself ab-i 1;tayat."33

This darkness is called tarIqat .
In which, without a guide, the road cannot be found.
Only with a guide can all afflictions be endured;
Otherwise one should stay blissfully within the sh3.rc.
Of great danger is this path; how can it be traversed without a guide [aguva]
Only with a guide may the water of life be found.

29shar/shaffa (t) - the whole corpus of rules, given by Allah, to guide

every aspect of the life of a Muslim, in law, ethics and etiquette; sometimes
called Divine Law (or Canon Law); ftrst stage on the mystical path.
3O!ariqat - road, path or way, procedure; mystical order or fraternity;
second stage on the mystical path.
31\laqiqat - reality; the last stage ~n the mystical path lariqa(t), which is
founded on the sharrat, the Divine Law.
32ma'Tifat - gnosis; according to some Sufis the last stage on the mystical
path in which the seeker attains spiritual knowledge.
33 ab-i \layat - the water of life, immortality; associated in Islamic folklore with the prophet-saint Khi{:r, who is said to have discovered the fountain
of life in darkness and become immortal by drinking of it.


rah sharfCat ka suri pyare
jo tun khodr takabur mare
man! manore apane jare
to tun jIte kabahun na hare

pahalen zat ilahI manon

bura bhala sabh va ten janon
paChe nabI mu1}.ammad * manon
car yar ta1}.qIq pachanon

kalamaf11aiyib kaho ghanera
ek bar kar makke phera
de zakat aur khair ghan~ra
duniya dIn hove sabh tera
alkas * chore sustr'*. mare
uth kar vu~ tava+?il dhare
panco vaqt* namaz guZare
tab ton dIn damaman mare
tIson rakho pane guz[ a ]ro; kalaman kaho rasol
dIyo zakat aur 1}.ajj karo; dargah* par ho qabol

34This poem does not occur in the traditional Ismaili texts.


Listen, dear one, about the path of shaf1Cat:
If you kill khadI [selfhood]3S and pride,
And burn your selfish desires,
Then you will win and never lose.
First believe in the divine essence,
.And know that everything, good and bad, comes from
Then believe in the Prophet Mul)ammad,
And recognize the four friends. 36
Recite the felicitous kalma37 many times,
And perform once the circumambulation at Mecca,
Give much zakat38 and alms,
[Then] everything, material and spiritual, will be yours.
- When you have abandoned sloth and conquered laziness,
And have risen and performed the ablution with steadfastness, .
And have performed the ritual prayer at the five times,
Then you may beat upon the kettledrum of religion.
Keep the thirty [fasts], perform the five [prayers]; recite
the kalma of the Prophet;
Give zakat and perform the bajj; then you will be accepted
at the [divine?] court.
35khiidi - selfhood; in traditional Sufism a negative concept; used later
by Muhammad Iqbal in a positive sense in reference to the development of
the individual's essence to its utmost limits.
36"The four friends" refers to the four successors of the Prophet
Mu1.Iammad - "the rightly guided ones" (i.e., AbiiBakr, cUmar, Oman, and

37kalrpa(h) - word, speech, saying; the profession of faith in Islam.
38Alms tax that a Muslim is required to pay; one of the pillars of the


13 [33]39
jo nafsanIyat* Iron nakhe
sabh roze rama+an ke rakhe
man ten hoe shahadat bakhe
tab laiat islam * kI cakhe
c[a]r maihab* bar baq kar jane
car kitabon kiln pahachane
aur nabl sabh baq kar jane
tabh tujh hove durust Iman[e]
vajib far?:* jo sunnat jane
sabh abkam* arkan* pachane
raz-i qiyamat ke gawan mane
seva sabh kaho ke thane
parhe quflan * kitaban bojhe
tab tujh rah nabl ka sojhe
jo mag abmad* kera bojhe
rab niranjan ape sojhe
bojhe marag nabl kera; jo hai sada qabol
sar nabiyon sar taj hai; dolah * nabl rasol

39Numerals in brackets.indicate the sequence of the poem in traditional

Ismaili texts.


13 [33]
If you give up the pleasures of the lower self,
And observe all the fasts during [the month of] Rama+an,
And recite the shahada40 with sincerity,
Then you will taste the delight of Islam.
When you comprehend the four IDrihabs 41 as based on
And recognize the four books,42
And know all the prophets to be true,
Then you will have true faith.
When you recognize the obligatory duties- to be sunnat;43
And acknowledge all the pillars and commands [of the
And believe in the (procedures?) of the Day of Resurrection;
And perform service to all;
,And [when] you have read and understood the Qur:>an and
the books,
Then the path of the Prophet will be known to you.
When you know the path of Abmad,
Then the path of God [niraiijan] will be spontaneously
Know the path of the Prophet which is eternally accepted,
On the head of the Prophets, .the bridegroom Prophet
[Mul)arnrnad] is the crown.
40shahada(h) .;. the profession of faith, declaring thatthere is no god but
God, and M~ammad is His prophet; identifies the declarer as a Muslim.
41The four religions that possess the four divinely revealed scriptures; or
the four legal schools of Sunni Islam (i.e., Hanafi, Shari'i, MalikI, and
42The four books or scriptures revealed by God (i.e., the Taurah to
Moses, the Zabiir to David, the Injil to Jesus, and the Qur-an to Mub.ammad).
43sunna(h/t) - received custom, particularly that associated with the
Prophet MuI}.ammad.


14 [12]
jin yah* marag kiya qabol[a]
pache kabahon na hoe malol[a]
kahu tan kalaman nabl rasol[a]
do jag men bhin hoe maqabol[a]
sharrcat ko jo rah na mane
andhala * hai vah * kya pahachane
.jo On bojh na bojh mane
so kya sar nabl ke jane
ya mag ten jo munkir* hove
ut kya pave aithahin khove
pet bhare jyon morakh sove
l)aif jo kam apane ke khove
amr* nabl ka jo nahifi mane
bahra * hai vah * kya sun jane
age kilfi jo Cit n[a] ane
kya hove pache pachatane
jin yah* sabd* na maniyo; On piche mat daur
it un kiln sobha nahiii; ut nahiii paveii thaur


14 [12]
He who has accepted this path,
Will never again be grieved.
Recite the kalma44 of the Prophet,
Then you will be accepted in both worlds.

He who does not believe sharJCat45 to be the path,

He is blind; what can he recognize?
He who does not comprehend that to be [real] knowledge,
How can he know the value of the Prophet?
He who denies this path,
What will he attain there?; he is [already] lost here.
Filling the stomach, he sleeps like a fool.
Alas! for him who loses [sight of] his [true] purpose.
He who does not obey the command of the Prophet,
He is deaf; what can he learn through hearing?
If one does not pay heed from the outset,
What use is it to regret later?
He who has not believed this word - do not run after him.
Here [in this world] he has no beauty, and there [in the
other world] he will get no place.

44kalma(b) - see note 33.

45shaffat - see note 26.


15 [13]
jab e parde* uth ke javeii
jhuth saiich sabh (murakh?) paven
ut ten (cahan) phir it aven
mat Gay?) rah nabI ka paveii

ut ke gae na it na phir aven

na yah * rah sharJCat paven
. nisadin jhuren bahut pachataven
phir yah [I] saman na phiran paven
jo sangat aise ke jave
sabh savad apna * khoe ave
kate hath bahut pachatave
vaisa l;lal n[a] phiraii pave
"man lahuOl maula" kr gat pave
jo sangat ~ufr kr [pave]
yah mayan sun ap ganvave
"falahuol kul" ka rutb[a] * pave 46
lakafI shakal sarIr kar; guru mi~rI* sang lay
saiigat ke gun karane; mi~rI* to1 bikay

46The Ismaili text have the following ~s lines 3 and 4 of the fourth
Caupru: jo bhajan karat hi ap gamave; to piya sii.ii mi$ri diidh jyii.ii mil jave.


15 [13]
When this veil is lifted,
Then, 0 ignorant one, all falsehood and truth can be discerned [?]
[meaning unclear]
Do not go by yourself; follow the path of the Prophet [?]
Having gone there, one should not return here [?],
For he will not find the path of the sh3.fICat [?].
Pining away, day and night, he regrets a lot,
But this opportunity will not come again.
If one loses association with such [a state?]
Then all of his pleasures are lost.
Cutting his hands, he regrets a lot,
But such a state he will not regain.
- The state of man lahu:ll maula47 is attained, .
When he acquires association with the Silfr.
Through his compassion he loses himself,
And then the station of lahu:ll kull48 is attained.
Making the body like a stick, associate with the sugar-like
Then as a result of this association, be weighed and sold as

47man lahu:IJ. mauli - He who has his Lord; fust part of an al1egedJ,l.a~
or saying of the Prophet: "He who has his Lord, has everything."
481ahu:llIrull - he has everything; second part of the Prophetic saying
quoted in the note above.


16 [14]
mel;mat kar kar jo kacho lave
10k kutumb sOfi adh batave
adh thath allah kahalave
khadim hoe makhdomI* pave
lekhe ka dar jakofi ave
sabh tefi pahle* bihisht* mefi jave
ya tefi maya mollutave
tab yah * nam faqrr kahave

jo kor gair sharc ten bhage
adhr rat Ie pichalr jage
sava pahar jap tap sOfi lage
paChe kam maya ke lage
bhokh mare cabid kahalave
maya kilfi din rat na dhave
din sagra * taCat sOfi jave
cabid ka tab rutba * pave
hari samarat hari paiye; ~ari paiyefi sukh hoy
nipat nikat harr jo basefi; hari samarat nahifi koy


16 [14]
. Whatever he brings [earns] through hard work,
He distrjbutes half among kith and kin,
[And the remaining] half is said to be God's.
[Thus] being [only] a servant, he attains mastership.
When he comes to the door of reckoning,
He will be the first to enter paradise.
When [desire for] the material world is uprooted from
Then he is called a faqIr.49
He who flees from what is other than the divine law
Stays awake tbe last half of the night;
Worships for 11/4 pahars;50
Then turns to the affairs of the material world;
Having conquered hunger, he is called "a [true] servant"
He no longer spends day and night adoring the material
The whole day is spent in obedience [1acat],51
Then he has attained the rank of cabid.
Remembering God (bari),52 one' finds God [bari]; if [you]
find God [bari] there is much happiness;
Yet no one remembers God [bari] who is so very close.

49faqIr - poor; general name for the Sufi; in later times often used in a
pejorative sense.
50pahar - a division of time consisting of eight gharis or three hours; an
eighth part of a day; a watch.
51tacat - obedience; submission to God; devotion.
52hari - an Indian epithet of God; used specifically iIi the Hindu tradition to refer to Vishnu and his incarnations.


17 [29]53
hit maya kI cit thin jave
lakh karoran jo mil ave
vake Cit men thor na pave
so sundar zahid kahalave

ya sabh ~alib bihisht* ke hoven
sabh dozakh ke cjar ten roven
yah * sabh sundar marakh hoven
lahe karan mal jo khoven
khadim aur faqIr dIvane
zahid cabid khare sIyane
nisadin dozakh bihisht* bakhane
shah* apne* kiln Cit n[a] ane
jin shah* dozakh bihisht* upal
sat dIp nay khancjh banal
yah * sabh rap anOp dikhaI
a1).mad* ke sabh sang lagaI
kya lave man aur san; k[a]ha cjolave Cit
ek pal Cit us piyu knn; jo Citvan * to yah * nit

5Jrhe verses of this poem do not appear in an identical order in all the


17 [29]
[Once] desire for the material world disappears from the
[Then] even if a hundred thousand crores were acquired,
[Still] it would have no place in his heart.
Such a person is called a zahid. 54

All these are seekers of heaven;

They all cry from fear of hell.
All these souls are fools:
For the sake of the reward, they lose the capital.
The servant and mad faqIr
The ascetic, worshiper, and the truly wise one
Day and night they talk about heaven and hell
Not thinking about their Lord.
The Lord who created heaven and hell,
And made the seven islands55 and nine divisions;56
He has manifested Himself in all these diverse forms, .
And put them all in the company of AOmad.
Why do you attach your heart to others? why do you
agitate your mind?
If for an instant, the heart is with that Beloved, then wherever [falls] your glance, there He is always [present].

54zahid - one who shuns the world and exercises himself in the acts of
devotion; a monk, recluse, hermit.
55According to some schools of Indian philosophy the world is divided
into seven island-continents: J ambu, Plaksha, Shalmali, Kusha, Kraunca,
Shaka, and Pushkara.
56The nine divisions of the earth that according to Indian thought
constitute the Jambii-dvip, the central portion of the world, or the known


18 [30]
jo guru rah tarrqat lave
maya puftjr mOllutave
ghar dvare koft ag lagave
hoe majnuft * lail1 koft dhave
pem piyare ka jab hove
aur hosh sabh dil teft khove
nisadin jage kabah[ u]ft na sove
zar zar do naina rove

hirday* "maflhift ag sIlage
age hoe so age age
pache paftv nakabahuftlage
in lokan teft mrig jyoft bhage
cahe jyafi pafikhI ur jaufi
lalan kera darsan * pauft
sajan par hauft bal bal jauft
Ie sajan koft kaftth lagauft
pafikh1 ho[i] jo ur sakoft; dhauft piya ke or
yah * j1V kO ne kaj hai; varoftiakh karor


18 [30]

When the Guru brings one to the path of tarIqat,57

Then value for the material world is uprooted.
He sets fire to house and home,
And becoming to Majnlln, he worships Laili. 58
When the love for the Beloved is kindled,
Then all awareness disappears from the heart.
Day and night he is awake, never sleeping;
Bitterly do the two eyes weep.
In the heart, there is a fire-like [emotion];
As it increases, so also he proceeds further [along the
Never does he step back.
Like a deer he flees from people.
He wishes: if only like a bird I could fly,
And attain darsan59 of the Beloved!
I would sacrifice myself, again and again, for the Beloved;
Taking hold of Him, I would embrace Him.
Oh that I could be a bird and fly! I would rush to the
This life has only one purpose; may I sacrifice it a hundred
thousand times.

57tanqat - see note 27.

58Majniin Laili - the pair of celebrated lovers in Islamic folklore.
59 darsan/darshan - see note 18.


c.lholan moknn lal kanI
birah k[i] mar[i] phiIiin dlvanI
10k kuturhb ten bhaI beganI
sajan merI sar na janI

bin shah dhani ka bal na koI

piya karan sagra * din rol
mal bap na bojhe koI
jin laI bojhe bhin sol
jaknn karak kaleje have
so kyon nInd karl sukh save
sabh hit Cit apne * thin dhove
nisadin loho naino rove
rat dinan mujh nInd naave
nisadin nainon panI jave
mOl ab sajan tere have
tujh ten merI mihr* na ave
dekho sakhI suheliyo; dhani ko bal behal
piyu patiyan jab Cit paren; marIn sarhbhal sarhbhal


19 [31]
The Beloved has struck me with an arrow;
Mflicted by birah,6O I roam about intoxicated.
I have become estranged from family a"nd people,
[But] the Beloved knows not my worth.
Without the Lord, desolate is the state of [this] woman
For the Beloved, she cries the entire day.
Father, mother, no one understands;
Only one who has been struck [similarly] can understand.

He who has an affliction in the heart,
How can he sleep in peace?
All desires are washed away from the mind,
And day and night the eyes shed [tears of] blood.

Night and day I get no sleep,
And night and day tears flow from the eyes.
I am dying now, 0 Beloved, because of your coquetry,
[And yet] you show no kindness to me.
Look, 0 sisters and friends; look at the wretched state of
this woman!
When my mind is occupied with the Beloved Lord, then
look after this stricken one!

6O},irah - separation, parting, absence (particularly of lovers).


20 [32]
sajan par hauil hail baliharT
jin lalan moil nipat bisarT
nisadin loyan lage tarT
kabah[u]il to ave hamarT barT
jab darasan hauil dekhoil tera
sabh dukh bisare Cit teil mera
sokh opaje mujh ghan ghanera
lalan karo hamare hail phera
abke* jo hauil lalan pauil
hairde aildar sej bichaoil
apane rothe lal manailil
Ie sajan kilil kailth lagaoil

nisadin haire 1alab tumaharr

kas[ u]il kahuil yah * dukh hai bharl
darasan dikhao syam piyarl .
birah[l] bhog tiharl mary61
darasan dlyo syam jiu; sudh budh gal haray
pItam pas bulaiho; kai sudh leho ay

61The'Ismaili version have the following additional verses: dil ke aiidar

daiiii utari; sajan tum par jaiiii balahari.


20 [32]

I sacrifice myself for the Beloved;

The Beloved'who haS completely forgotten me.
Day and night my eyes are fixed expectantly:
o that sometimes it should be my turn!62
When I see [experience] your vision [darsan] ,
[Then] all afflictions are erased from my mind,
And [within] me much happiness arises.
o Beloved come around to my place!
If now I were to find the Beloved,
I would lay the bedding [for Him] in my heart.
I would appease my annoyed Beloved,
And taking the Beloved I would embrace Him.
Day and night my heart desires you;
To whom should I describe this intense pain?
o Beloved Syam63 grant [your] vision [darsan]
For the suffering in separation [birah] [from you] overwhelms me.
o Beloved Syam grant me a glance of you [darasan]; for all
my awareness and understanding are at a loss.
Beloved call me to you; or return me [my lost] awareness.

62This line is strongly reminiscent of the yearning that the gopis, the
of Hindu mythology, have for Krishna, each one of them hoping
expectantly that she is her beloved's chosen one.
63Syam - black, dark blue; an epithet of the Hindu deity Krishna.



21 [15]64
nafi mujh rap na gun kach[u] salfi
kaisefi kahofi piya mujh ghar alfi
to kofi tohi maya SOfi paofi
karafi badhal mafigal gaofi

~alab kamal ilahr ave
mItha karva * sam ho jave
bura bhala to cit na ave
astut* nifida ekIfi pave
aisa dard * piya ka hove
Qal qal apana sabh khove
nisadin jhur jhur piiijar hove
aise pare to ~alib hove
nisadin birahi jyl1fi vah[a]efi kote
mali] pot rfiha sabh chute

chut pare jafijal tefi; jinhofi lutaya ap
harr kara.t:J. maya tajr; karaI). p[o]n na pap

64KhojkI manuscripts have a lacuna in this poem that later prmted texts
fill in with the following lines: niiidi kharab hai so mat kanl~i; niiidi
kara.r;tese munivar Qarani; nhidi kiesiifi jise dharam; upajase sarVe sir par
karam; niiidi thie tyiii besavuii. nahi; niiidi kin siifi s~vi nahi.


21 [15]
Lord, neither do I have any beauty nor virtue;
How can I say, "Beloved, come to my house."
If I were to attain You through Your kindness,
Then I would celebrate by singing wedding songs.
When desire for divine perfection arises,
[Then for the seeker] the sweet and bitter are identical;
The mind does not distinguish between bad and good;
Praise and censure are alike.
The pain for the Beloved is such that,
He [the lover] loses all speech and composure.
Pining, day and night, he becomes a [mere] skeleton.
If such becomes [his state] then he is lalib. 65

Day and night he spends like a birahI,66
In this way all mothers' sons are liberated [?].
He who has been robbed of his self, he is liberated from
the anxieties [of worldly concerns].
For the sake of God [hari], he abandons the material
world; not for virtue or vice.

65~alib - one who seeks, pursues, or inquires; a Sufi.

66birahi - see note 23.


22 [16]

pache bal mujahada ave
vahI kare jo nafs * na bhave
bura bhala yaks an * ho jave
tab tun bal mushahada pave
vaqt * malamat ka tab ave
apane nek aCmal* chupave
bure aCmal * paraghat dikhalave
to piya klln yah sundar pave
nisadin dard * piya ke jagen
sabh (larake?) (uth?) pIche lageii
tukare mange jis ke ageii
yar bhai sabh sun bhageii

piya kara1). sabh ap gaiivave

sar darhI aur muno muiioave
kar kala mukh jag dikhalave
to lalan kI laiI pave
kala mukh jag phire; darhI mufio mufiOay
jag nindya* sabh sar dhare; to piya kllfi man Hly


22 [16]
Then comes the state of mujahada67
[In which] he does what the nafs68 does not like.
[When] good and bad are the same,
Then you have attained the state of mushahada.69

The time for reproach [malatnat] comes,
When he conceals his virtuous actions,
And he openly displays his evil deeds;
Such a soul, then, finds the Beloved.

Day and night the pangs for the Beloved are aroused,
All the boys chase [after you] [?],
From whomever you beg a morsel,
Be they friends or brothers - they all flee from you.

On account of the Beloved he loses himself completely,
And he shaves off his head and beard.
Assuming a black face 70 he shows himself to the world.
Then he acquires the redness of the Beloved.71
Having shaved off his head and beard, he assumes a disgraceful state and roams the world;
All the abuse of the world he bears on his head; then he
has placed the Beloved in his heart.

67mujahada(h) - the state of striving, fighting against the desires of the

lower self or nafs.
68 nafs - the lower soul. The Qur~an discerns three types: nafs alammara (Sura 12/59), the soul that incites to evil; nafs al-Iawwama (Sura
75/2), the blaming soul or conscience; and nafs al-mu~ama:)inna (Sura
. 89/27d' the soul at peace which is called to return to its Lord.
9mushahada(h) - the state of direct vision of the Divine Reality.
7<Yrhaf is, a disgraceful state.
71That is, he becomes honored, surkh ru (red faced).


23 [17]

log kuturhb sabh mil kar aveft

pand'* nasr1)at de samajhaveft
vako 1)301 aur kach[ u] nahifl paveft
kareft malamat phir phir javefl
mat pita aur ghar kI narr
(bahan?) bha[i] aur sasu sarI
sabh mil aveft barr barr
un kilft sabahift deveft garI
pemIft ptem piyala pIta
mat pita kaheft biga~iyo put a
log kuturhb kahe lagiyo bhuta
nari kahe kahuft aur bagiita
ghat teft pem jo upajo bharr
mat pita sabh prem nisarI
bhul gae yah ghar kI narI
kahaft rahefl duhuii sasa sarI
baora log na jane hrft; motan hai birah bhog
piya patiyaft jab cit pareft; bhal gae sabh log


23 [17]
All the family and folk come together;
Giving him advice and guidance, they reason with him.
But his state does not change in any way;
[So after] reproaching him, they turn away.
Mother, father, and woman of the house;
Sister, brother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law;
All meet and come to him many times,
[But finally] they all insult him [in frustration].
The lover has drunk froni the goblet of love:
Mother and father say, "[Our] son is astray!"
The family and folk say, "He has been possessed!"
The wife says, "There is [certainly] a slut Some place." .
When that powerful love surges from the heart,
Mother, father, all [other] love is forgotten.
[Even] the woman of that house is forgotten;
What [place then] remains for both mother-in-law and
sister-in-law? .
Ignorant people really do not know that my body suffers
from love-in-separation [birah],
When the Beloved Husband comes to mind, then forgotten
are all folk.


24 [18]72

sabh jag jin sundar hin chora

so kahn ka saga na sora
naflh rahevah hatka * hora
kah karat ho (aura?) tora
vah bhinlalan apane kera
mat kOll bhakho mera tera
bh[u]kh aur dukh sabh va par ave
jit jave tit thor na pave
un pe maherun mihir na ave
sukh thora dukh adhika bhave

jo piya kiln dukh dena b.have

sukh tere kach[ u] kam na ave
jo sukh karat). janam ganvave
bin dukh sukh kabahnn nahin pave
ghat ghat tera Cihn * hai; aur ghat mon tera dukh
d[ n lkh tihara ram raha; karo maya hoe sukh

72The sequence of verses in this poem varies among th~ texts; in

addition some lines appear to be misSing.


The person who has completely abandoned the world;
He is not kith or kin to anyone.
That [world] no longer remains an obstacle [for him].
[meaning not clear]

He, too, is his Beloved's [?]
May nobody say mine and thine [?].
Hunger and affliction all come upon him;
Wherever he goes, he finds no place [i.e., peace]
And no kindness comes to him from his wife.
He prefers suffering to happiness.
If it pleases the Beloved to give affliction,
[Then all] your [material] happiness is of no use The [material] happiness for which you squander [your]
Without affliction, [you] will never find [spiritual] happiness.
In every heart is your sign, and in the heart is also [yearning] pain for you;
Pain for you rages; be merciful so that it changes into happiness.


25 [19]
guru jo bat l)aqIqI lave
pahalen nafr i~bat* batave
kare tavajjuh tohi othave
ape ap niranjan pave
jab taufrq ilahI ave
murashid kera dhyan lagave
"la ilah" kar ap lutave
"illaJllah"* kar sajan pave
kibr* takabbur manI ganvave
kIn[a] l)asad aur bug?:* na lyave
eujab riya ko mollutave
so shah beg niranjan pave
la yaCnJ* [kha1ir] sabh khove
manI manore run sabh dhove
iikar shugal kI khetI bove
nOr tajallI ko phal hove
khetI bOJo pem kI; aur panI diyo gyan
nOr tajallI phal paren; jo lao piya dhyan


25 [19]
When the Guru brings [you] to the path of .b.aqlqat,73
First he shows you miff i$.bat; 74
Then turning his attention to you, he' raises you;
Spontaneously you will find God [niraiijan].
When the divirie grace descends,
And [your] concentration is on the guide [murshid],
Then by saying la ilaha75 you lose your self,
And through illa:>llah76 you find the Beloved.
He who loses pride, arrogance, and selfishness,
And does not bear rancor, jealousy, and spite;
,And uproots self-conceit arid hypocrisy;
Such a person finds the Lord and Master, God [niraiijan].
All insignificant [?] thoughts are dispelled,
And all material desires are washed away,
He sows the field of iikr77 and shugal,78
Then [only] is the fruit of nor taja1lI79 produced.
Sow the field of love and give it the water of knowledge;
The fruit of manifestation [nur tajallI] ripens when you
bring your attention on the Beloved.

73b.aqiqat - see note 28.

74nafi ~at - negation and affirmation; used in relation to the part of the
Islamic profession of faith, Ii iliha illa~llih, which denies the existence of
anything other than God and then affirms the existence of the one God.
751i ilaha - there is no god.
76illa~ah - except God.
77iilcr :..recollection; a Sufi ritual consisting of the repetition of the
names of God and/or other religious formulas.
78 shugal - spiritual occupation.
79n iir tajallI - manifestation, illumination, mystical revelation of the
Divine Light.


26 [20]
jakofi nor tajallI hOI
ta gat kr kya bojhe koT
laj sakuc sabh vatefi dhoI
jo nahifi vatefi so bhifi hOI
kabahofi pave kabahofi khove
qab~* bast* Inha bhifi hove .
kabahofi haiise aur kabahofi rove
kabahufi lag piya gal sove

bal mushahada ko jab ave
sabh kahu mefi piya kofi pave
jis dekhe tis (piyufi?) phal jave
jyufikar ali phulan lipatave
gair gair[i]yat sabh uth jave
bura bhala sabh vakilfi bhave
rabat ave sabhdukh jave
yah phan Cishq* allah kahave
kasufi resUfi (kasu?) milUfi; kasofi laUfi Citt*
nain tiharI cah kiln; vahI bairI vahI mit


26 [20]
He who has [experienced] nUr tajallI,80
How does anyone understand his state?
All shame and modesty are washed away from him,
And those [qualities] that were not [in him], they, too are
now present.
Sometimes he finds [the Beloved] and sometimes he loses
The [states of] qab~~n and bast82 occur in this way.
Sometimes he laughs, and sometimes he cries,
And sometimes he sleeps in the embrace of the Beloved.
When he reaches the state of mushahad~ 83
Then he finds the Beloved in everything.
Whatever he looks at, from there appears the Beloved;
Just as the bumblebee and the flowers are entangled.
All other and otherness is removed,
And he likes everything, bad and good;
Tranquility descends and all affliction disappears.
This, then, is called love of God.
With whom should I get annoyed, whom should I meet [?]
and whom should I remember?
To the eyes [intoxicated] with desire for you, he who is the
enemy is also the friend.

8O n iiI'

tajalli - see note 69. .

81qab~ - compression; refers to the spiritual state of intense despair

commonly known as "the dark night of the soul."

82bast - expansion; refers to the spiritual state of joy and widening of the
heart which may often inspire the mystic to write ecstatic poetry.
83 mus hahada - see note 60.


27 [21]
mutakhalliq ko bal jab ave
Cajab Cajaib balat pave
kabahon apas men hari pave
kabahon hari mon <;Iole <;Iolave
jako bal na bujho jave
takI bat kahln ban ave
qurb-i * navafil chin kahalave
chin men qurb-i* farai?: pave

jo ton ulat baqq ho jave
apas kiin gafil bhin pave
"bl yasmacu"* jab Cit men ave
qurb-i * navafil tab kahalave
jo apas kiin alat jane
facil baq mutlaq* pahacane
"rna ra:laito" kogyan bakhane
qurb-i * faral?: to it thane

piy[ u] kon <;Ihon<;Ihan haun call; piy[ u] hai sabahin
mafth .
khan paraghat khan gupat hai;. yah piya kaisen pafth


27 [21]
When he comes to the state of rnutakhalliq84
He attains a strange and wondrous condition.
. Sometimes he finds God [bari] in himself.
Sometimes in God [bari] he swings to and fro.
He whose state cannot be understood,
How is it possible totalk about him?
One moment he is said to be in the qurb-i navafil, 85
And the [next] moment he acquires the qurb-i far~.86

When you have returned [once again] to Reality,
Then you are heedless even of yourself,
When the words bI yasrnaCu87 come to mind,
Then [that state] is called qurb-i navafil.

He who knows himself to be an instrument [of God],

And recognizes "the doer" to be Absolute God, Reality,
And speaks the knowledge of rna raJ aitu88
Then that stage is called qurb-i far~
I went searching for the Beloved [but] He is in everything.
How does one find the Beloved, who is sometimes evident
and sometimes concealed?
84 mutakhalliq - state of being changed and molded by divine qualities;
an allusion to the alleged \tad1, "Qualify yourself with the qualities of God." .
85 qurb-i navifil - proximity to God brought about by supererogative
works, connected with sainthood.
86qurb-i far~ - proximity to God reached by the punctual fulfillment of
religious duties, connected with prophethood.
87bi yasma'U - he hears through Me; a phrase from one of the variants
of the ~~ an-navaftl according to which a worshiper, through works of
devotion, draws closer to God until He becomes the eye by which he sees and
the ear by which he hears.
88 ma ra'ai!u - 1 did not see; the first part of an old Sufi saying describing
the state of the advanced mystic: "I did not see anything except that God was
before, after, in, and with it."


bal baqIqat ko jab ave
apas kon tab mnl uthave
ape ap niranjan pave
cain muvabbid[i]yat kahalave

jab taubid ilahI ave

cain gain tab uth kar jave
apas kiln jab jalva * pave
mulbid * kafir nam [kahave]

suiidar kera bal na jane
bUrT bhalI sabh jagat bakhane
kahn kilii vah Cit n[a] ane
sabh jalva* us [kera] jane

"ana:>l baq" vah it hIn bhakhe
jab laiat ma~or* kr cakhe
jo kar b~* maratib rakhe
laj sukac sabh kul kr rakhe
jab dekhe sabh ap kon; anr na pave koy
kah na bhakhe "ana:>l baq" cain niraiijan hoy


When he comes to the state of baqrqat
Then from within himself he removes the root [of
Spontaneously he finds God [nirafijan].
[This state] is called the essence of being a true monotheist.
When [the state of] attestation of divine unity comes,
Then cain and gain disappear [Le., differentiation].89
When he acquires [divine] manifestation within hiinself,
Then he is called a heretic and unbeliever [by the people].
[N 0 one] understands the state. of [such a] person,
He describes the world as [neither] good [nor] bad [?] ..
He does not think of anything,
[Without] knowing everything to be His manifestation.

He utters the words ana!>l baqq90 here [at this stage],

When he has tasted the delights of Ma~ur.
If he keeps the [proper] etiquette of [spiritual] ranks,
Then he preserves the honor and dignity of all the family.
When he sees everything in hiinself and does not find anything else,
[Then] why should he not utter ana!>} baqq, [for] he has
become [one with] the essence of God [niraiijan].

89cain gain - as the Arabic letters cain (e.) and gain (i), similar but
slightly different.
1 . I;taqq - I am the Absolute Reality (Truth); usually interpreted as
"I am God"; claim made by the famous Sufi l:Iusain ibn MaIl$Ur al-l:Iallaj
(executed in Baghdad, A.D. 922); allusion to his death on the gallows, poem
29, quatrain 1.


29 [23]91
mil mullan dur kaje aven
likh fatva * muftI* pe javen
istifsar* kar shahr milaven
sundar ko pe dar ca.rhaven

sabh durijan mulla mil aven

kaiikar patthar jo kaChl1 paven
barachI jamadhar tIr calaven
bairI hoe sabh maran aven
l)aif jo vako l}al na paven
mullan danishmand * kahaven
jis danish ten bojh na paven
aise danish dhol milaven
jo is marag ke sax na jape
so kyon l)al tera pahacane
l)al tera tohin pon (?) jane
kya jane mullan mullane
pemIn jane pem kil:ii; aur na jane koy
mllrakh log na janahin; pem sai kya hoy

91The sequence of lines in the fIrst and second Caupais varies among the


29 [23]
The mullas92 come together for a wicked purpose,
[In order to have] afatva93 written, they go the muftI.94
They assemble the town for the inquisition,
And they make the beautiful one climb the gallows.
All the wicked people and mull as come together,
With pebbles, stones or whatever they can find,
They fling spears, daggers and arrows;
Becoming enemies, they all come to kill him.

Alas for those who have not attained this state,
And call themselves mullas and scholars!
The learning through whiCh [true] knowledge [of God] is
not acquired,
Such learning should be tossed out in the dust!
He who does not understand the essence of this path,
How can he understand your state?
Only you understand your state fully.
What does the mulla and his wife know?
Only the lover knows [about] love; no one else understand
Ignorant people are absolutely unaware of the essence of
love. -

92mulli - master, lord; title of theological scholars, often used in a

pejorative sense to denote fossilized jurisconsultants who cling to the letter of
the religious law without knowing its spirit.
93fatvi- formal legal opinion, pronounced by a lawyer (mufti) trained in
shaifa law in answering a problem posed before him by either a q~ or a
private person and usually dealing with personal status law.
94 m ufti - an- expert in shaffa law who gives public decisions (fatvi) in
cases of law and conscience.


30 [24]

morakh jIV ke jane nahifi

vako pahacane nahifi
d[I]b disht* leofi aye n[a]hifi
aur kahefi to mane n[a]hifi
Iftha na p[u]Che mal bap[a]
shah(?) blljhe apas leofi ap[a]
{ ]

ape mullafi ape qa?I
ape bidaha ap namazI
sabh jag dekhofi piya kI bar Z]I
khele ape ap piya[ Z]I
ape saln bah[u] ghan yara
ap nirafijan aparam para
sabh SOfi ap sabahin ten nyara
do jag mon piya [kIyu] pasara
kahifi sundar kahifi nainaha; kahifi raja kahifi jog
kahifi mahrI* kahifi piirakh hai; ape karata bhog


30 [24]
The ignorant ones are those who do not know,
They do not understand his state.
They have not come to [the state of] divine vision,
And if [one] explains they do not believe.
Here he does notask mother or father [?]
He knows the Lord [shah] from within himself [?]
He Himself is the mulla and He Himself is the q~I;95
He Himself is bidaha96 and the person performing the
prayer [namazI];
See the entire world as the play of the Beloved;
The Beloved Himself is at play.
He Himself is the Lord, unfathomable and mysterious,
He is God [nirafijan] infinite.
Everything is from Him and [yet] He is so different from
How the Beloved pervades the two worlds!
Sometimes He is the beautiful one and sometimes the
eyes; sometimes He is the King and sometimes the
Sometimes He is woman and sometimes man; He Himself
causes the illusions.'

95 q azI - a judge administering sharra law; see also note 82.

96bidahii - arranger, disposer, maker, creator; an epithet of God.


31 [25]
ape mare ap jilave
ape dukh ati sukh dikhalave
pon pap sabh ap karave
ape narak sarag Ie jave
ape hai jo koT jane
bura bhala do:>o nam bakhane
maya kare tab yah budh ane
ap khoe sabh piya kunjane

maya karo birahT ke saen
to dar cha:rh kaho kit jaen
mon ghat menlatakanda aefi
ghat ten hoe paraghat dikhalaen

ek alakh lakh bhan~ kahaya
sabh asma tab jalva paya
kahifi jalal jamal ho aya
kahin badal hadT kahalaya
piya latakat lat chat re; bikhar gae sabh bal
kahifi ?;ahir ba~in kahin; kahin jalal jamal


31 [25]
He Himself kills and resurrects;
He Himself shows affliction and much happiness;
He causes [one] to do all good and bad actions;
He Himself leads to hell and heaven.
He Himself is the one whom only a few know;
He is described by both good and bad attributes;
This understanding comes only if He is benificent;
After losing one's self, one knows everything to be [of] the

Be kind, 0 Lord of this birahI!97
Tell [us] where else do we go if we abandon your door?
Come full of coquetry into my heart,
And from the heart show Yourself manifest.
He was called the imperceptible one with a hundred thousand forms;
Then all the asma98 became manifest,
Sometimes He appeared as jalal99 and sometimes as
Sometimes He changed and was called the Guide [hadr].
Beloved stop this [unreliable] coquetry for I am in great
Sometimes You are Apparent [~ahir], sometimes Hidden
[batin], sometimes Majesty [jalal] and sometimes
Beauty [jamal].

97birahi - see note 23.

98 asma - plural of ism, names; used to refer to the ninety-nine names or
epithets of pod (i.e., the asma al-I;tusna as mentioned in the Qur:)an).
99~alaJ. - Divine Majesty, the mysterium tremendum.
1 jamaJ. - Divine Beauty, the mysterium fascinans.


32 [26]
carif kr jab sudh budh pave
phiruii phir kar sharac mefl ave
dhyan gyan lokan batalave
guru saflca ho bat dikhave

maratib kofl jab rakhe

carif kr tab lattat cakhe
aise vaise bat na bhakhe
~abit qadam sharac mefl rakhe
jab tamkIn* ilahT hove
shan mashaikh kr sabh khove
baith nirafljanapana seve
sabh kufl fai~ baqIqI deve
apas tefljab mu~laq* jave
bin apas kOI aur na pave
ap nirafljan hoke jave
sabbjag m~har* apna* pave
ap gaflvae jo piya mile; carif kahiye tab
thakur apas bojh ke; das dikhave ah


32 [26]
When he has acquired the knowledge and understanding
of an cariflOl
Then he turns and returns to the divine law [sharC].
He instructs the people regarding meditation and knowledge,
And becorriing a true Guru he shows [others] the path.
When he maintains the [proper] etiquette of ranks,
Then he tastes the delights of an carif.
He does not talk in a frivolous manner,
And maintains a firm foo~ing within the divine law [sharC].
When he is firmly grounded in God.
Then he loses all the glory of the shaikhs ..
Sitting, he worships his Lord [niraftjan],
Bestowing divine grace on all.
When from himself he proceeds to God [mutlaq], 102
Then except for"himself, he does not find anyone.
Having become God [nirafijan],
He finds all creation to be his own manifestation.
When he has lost himself, he finds the Beloved; then he is
called a gnostic [carif].
Inwardly knowing himself to be the Lord, he appears [outwardly] as the slave.

101 c lirif - gnostic, one endowed with gnosis (macrifah); used in later
Sufism to refer to the advanced mystic.
102muf)aq - absolute, entire, universal; unconditional; unrestricted; an
epithet of God.


33 [27]

carif bPllah * tab kahalave
jap tap kar jab ap ganvave
fanI thIfi baqI ho jave
bojh niranjan das kahave

maratib ko tab rakhe

jab laZat cirafan kI cakhe
(panI?) jane (ola?) bhakhe
matI ko nanv jo (basan?) rakhe
daulat "subabanI" jab pave
apas ko tab mol ganvave
ape apas kun phir pave
bayazId ho bat dikhave
carif bPllah * tab ton hove
apas kun jab mutlaq * khove
vabdat* ka~rat* Cit ten dhove
fanI ten baqI bhin hove
vabdat* k~rat* sabh gae; ghat ghat raho samay
acaraj dekho e sakhI; thakur das kahay


33 [27]

He is called an carif bPllah,103

When after meditation and austerity he has lost himself.
From [the state of] being mortal, he becomes baqI,104
And he is known as one who has followed the path of the
Bl1jh Niraiijan.
He observes the [proper] etiquette of ranks,
When he has tasted the delights of gnosis [cirfan]
[meaning not clear]
[meaning not clear]
When he acquires the good fortune of subl).anI105
Then he has lost from within the roots [of selfhood]
Spontaneously, within himself, he finds [his real self] again,
And becoming a Bayazrd106 he shows [others] the path.
You become an carif bPllah,
When within yourself you are lost in the Absolute [mutlaq].
Unity and plurality are washed away from the mind,
And from [the state of] being mortal, you become immortal.
Unity and plurality have all disappeared; He is contained
in every heart.
a friend, consider this marvel: the Lord is called a slave!

103c-arifbi~ - one endowed with knowledge (macrifa) of God.

l04baqI/baqa - remaining in God after annihilation of the human

personality; the eternal life.
lOssubbani - an abbreviated form of the phrase subbani ma a~a shanI
(Praise be to me, how great is my majesty!); the ecstatic ut.terance of the Sufi
BayazId BistamI (d. 874) when he felt completely annihilated in God.
l06S ee note 94.


34 [28]

jab tuft cain shIn meft jave

l).al tajallI barqI* ave
apas kilft it mul na pave
cain niraftjan ho kar jave

gair kahe par gair na jane

das kahae allahpahacane
aisa hai taisa kar jane
jyun. kar hai tyUft hI kar mane
dIn d[u]nI aur ~lamat nur[a]
dozakh bihisht* l).ur qu~ur[a]
sabh asma* ko bhayo ~hur[a]
ta meft ape ap gafur[a]
h[u]a nuzol curuj tamam[a]
jako bujh niraftjan nam[a]
shaharag teft nere hai ram[a]
bujh niraftjan karo kach[u] kam[a]
pemIfl ghat hari base; harI mOrat pahacan
jahaft jaisa paraghat bhaya; tahaft taisa kar jan


34 [28]
When you come to [the state] of cain shIn,107
Then the state of manifestation [tajallI] flashes.
You do not find within yourself the root [of your former
[For] you have become the essenceof God [niraiijan].
You call Him "other" but no longer know him as "other,"
You are called a slave but you "know" God,
You know Him as He is, .
You believe in Him as He exists.
Religion and the world; darkness and light;
Hell and heaven; bfirIS108 and palaces.
All the [divine] names have become manifest;
In them is the Forgiver Himself.

[This work of] nuzi1l109 and curojll0 is complete,
Whose name is the Bujb Niraiijan.
God [ram] is closer than the jugular vein,ll1
[So] act upon [the teachings of] the Bujh Niranjan.
God [bari] dwells in the heart of every lover; recognize
God's form.
In whatever manner He has become manifest, know Him
in that manner.

l07cain shin - probably an abbreviation of the Arabic Cishq (love),

composed of the letters cain, shin, and qat
l08l;tUri.- virgin or virgins of Paradise mentioned in the Qur'lan.
l09 nuziU - see note 15.
110curuj - see note 16.
11 IAn allusion to the Qur'lanic Sura 50/16, according to which God is
nearer to a human being than the jugl,llar vein in the neck.


Since the Ismaili texts of the Bujb Niraiijan used in this study
differ among themselves with regard to the degree of corruption and editing, some of these verses may not occur in all the
texts. The texts in which each verse occurs are, therefore,
no~ed in parentheses. Again in view of the minor variations in
readings among the texts, the readings transcribed here are
those of the text G-l. (Note: K-2, G-I are texts edited by LaljI
Devraj at the beginning our our century. There is considerable
textual evidence to indicate that K-5 and KG have been copied
from the LaljI Devraj editions.
Poem 5, quatrain 2
(K-I, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5,
hun tun nikal kar jame kahIye
KG, G-I, G-2)
Poem 8, quatrain 3
(K-I, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5,
bin guru vednafl ten nan jave
KG, G-I,G-2)
Poem 8, quatrain 4
je guru thI jo vednan jave
(K-I , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
KG, G-I, G-2)
Po.em 9, dohrah
(K-I, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5,
jis guru kun satgur kahun
KG, G-I, G-2)
Poem 10, quatrain 2
. (K-I , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
sabh jug he gunl vake cen
KG, G-I, G-2)
sho seve bhed niranjan bherI
(K-I , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
KG, G-I, G-2)
Poem 10, dohrah
(K-I , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
vohI he sab ghat maho
KG, G-I, G-2)
Poem 13, quatrain 1
phIr voh rah khudakI pave
(K-l , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
KG, G-l)
Poem 13, quatrain 4
jo bhajan kar hit ap gamave
(K-l , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
KG, G-l , G-2)


to piya sun mishrl dudh mil jave

Poem 15, quatrain 3

ninda kharab hay so nahl karaJ)a
nifida karaJ).se munIvrat dharaI).a
ninda kIese jae dharam
upajase sarve shir par karam
Poem 15, quatrain 4
nifida thae tyan besavufi nahi
nifida kan sufi sUJ).vr nahr
ek ilahr sab mefi dekhe
bhala bura kuchu nahr pekhe
Poem 18, quatrain 2
kaha karat haye mann jonafi fera
SUI)I nasihat karde ghaJ)e ghaJ)era

Poem 24, quatrain 2

na is mai na Is bap

(K-1, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-5,

KG, G-l, G-2)
(K-2, K-5,
(K-2, K-5,
(K-2, K-5,
(K-2, K-5,



(K-2, K-5, KG, G-l)

(K-2, K-5, KG, G-l)
(K-l, K-2, K-5, KG, G-l,
(K-l, K-2, K-5, KG, G-l,
(K-l , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
KG, G-l, G-2)
( K-l , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
KG, G-1, G-2)
(K-l, K-2, K-3, K-4, K-S,
KG, G-l, G-2)
(K-l , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,
KG, G-l, G-2)

huwa nirafijan apohI ap

Poem 26, quatrain 4

buj nIrafijan ayesa hove

( K~l , FC-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-S' ,

KG, G-l, G-2)

Poem 29, quatrain 2

ayasa murkh tufi kyun kar hove
Poem 32, quatrain 3
milufi usrke nur sangat
phir dushare ka nav zalufi hath
Poem 33, quatrain 4
dil ke afidar da~fi utarr
sajan tum par jaufi balrharr


(K-l , K-2 , K-3 , K-4 , K-5 ,

KG, G-l, G-2)
(K-2, K-5, KG, G-l, G-2)
(K-2 , K-5 , KG , G-l , G-2)
(K-2, K-S, G-l, G-2)
(K-2, K-5, G-l, G-2)

Note: The Ismaili text G-2, which has been based partially on
the India Office manuscript, includes some of these verses.
One of the verses listed below (from poem 20, quatrain 3) also
occurs in two KhojkI manuscripts, K-J and K-4, but is not
found in any other Ismaili text.
Poem 2, quatrain 1
a1)adIyat ko kaha bakhanon
sabh sifaton ten nyara janon
Poem 2, quatrain 3
kya nyare sabh ten sun sahiye
kya sabh son paraghat lahiye
Poem 3, dohrah
ek alakh lakh bhekh dhar; tribhuvan raho samay
sabh men paraghat ho[i] raho; ya ten lakho na jay
Poem 5, quatrain 2
to men guru ke (yamen?) kahiye
Poem 8, quatrain 4
parbat mahin and(I/ e) dev(I/ e)
lakh kos hoe and(I/ e) sev(I/ e)
Poem 9, dohrah
Cain Cain jis [ko] kahon ....
Poem 10, dohrah (1)
jaise bhanjafl hot nIr son; bhariyo na bond samay
pItam ham misarI [ho] mile; chalak na bahar jay
Poem 10, dohrah (2)
vahI vahI hai ah
Poem 12, quatrain 1
rah sharrcat ka sun pyare
jo ton khodI takabur mare
man! manore apne jare
to ton jite kabah[u]n na hare
Poem 12, quatrain 2
pahlen iat ilahr manon
bura bhala sabh va ten janon


pache nabT nlubammad manon

car yar tabqTq pachanoIi
Poem 12, quatrain 3
kalamaft laiyib kaho ghanera
ek bar kar makke phera
de zakat aur khair ghanera
duniya dIn hove sabh tera
Poem 12, quatrain 4
alkas chore sustI mare
uth kar vu~ tav3.+~ dhare
panco vaqt namaz guzare
tab tOft dIn damaman mare
Poem 12, dohrah
tIsoft rakho paftc guz[a]ro; kalamaft kaho rasol
diyo zakat aur bajj karo; dargah par ho qabol
Poem 15, quatrain 1
ut ten [cahan?] phir it aven [occurs in G-2]
Poem 17, quatrain 1
vake Cit meft thor na pave [occurs in G-2]
Poem 18, quatrain 3
pache paftv na kabahofi lage
in lokaft ten mrig jyoft bhage
Poem 20, quatrain 3
apane ruthe lal manaoft [occurs in K-3, K-4]
Ie sajan kaft kaftth Iagaoft
Poem 21, quatrain 3
bar qal apana sabh khove [occurs in G-2]
nisadin jhur jhur piftjar hove [occurs inG-2]
aise pare to talib hove [occurs in G-2]
Poem 21, quatrain 4
nisadin birahijyaft vah[a]eft kate [occurs in G-2]
ma[i] pot Tiiha sabh chute [occurs in G-2]
Poem 21, dohrah
chat pare jaftjal teft ... [occurs in G-2]
Poem 22, quatrain 3 .
tuka:re maftge jis ke ageft
yar bha[i] sabh to sUft bhageft
Poem 23" quatrain 4
bhal gae yah ghar kI narT


kahan rahen duhun saso sarI

Poem 32, quatrain 4
bin apas kOT aur na pave
Poem 33, quatrain 3
daulat subal).anr jab pave
apas ko tab mol ganvave
The Inoia Office manuscript has the following additional
verses after the dohrah of poem 34. The first four lines are in
the caupar meter; however, lines 1 and 2 do not rhyme with
lines 3 and 4. The next four lines occur under the heading
dohrah, but the first two lines do not follow the metrical
pattern required for dohrahs.
nan tis mal nan jis bap[a]
sol kahiye ape ap[a]
kare nuZCil curoj di~ave
apeap apas kon pave
ap dikhave apana ap hln dekhat jay
jahaft dekhe tahan ap Iron aur na bIe samay
pemIfi pem na paiye bin kirpa kirpal
bat bakhane kya bhayo nek na hoe jarjal


Note: The words in this glossary are alphabetized according to
the Roman alphabet. Short vowels of a kind precede long
vowels of the same kind - i.e., a, ~ L I, ~ u. The initial Roman
letter of the name of the language to which a word belongs is
placed in parenthesis after the word. Thus A stands for
Arabic; H for Hindustani/Hindi; P for Persian; S for Sanskrit.
Works consulted for some of the definitions include: Marshall
Hodgson, Venture of Islam (2 vols.; Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1974); K. S. Khaja Khan, Studies in Tasawwuf
(reprint ed., Delhi: Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli, 1978); John T.
Platts, A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hin'dI and English
(reprint ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974); Annemarie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel Hill;
University of North Carolina Press, 1975); Annemarie
Schimmel, Islam in the Indian Subcontinent, Zweite Abt.,
Vierter Band, Dritter Abschnitt, Handbuch der Orientalistik,
ed. J. Gonda (Leiden-Koln: E. J. Brill, 1980).
aguva (H)

guide, leader, conductor.

al)adIyat (A)

literally, unity; singularity; used in Sufism

to refer to the absolute, transcendent
divine' essence, free from any qualification.

al)kartl (A)

literally, orders, commands; used here to

refer to the injunctions and ordinances of

Cain (A)

the very essence (of a thing); the thing

itself, the letter cain (the fourteenth of the
Arabic and the twenty-fourth of the Urdu

Cain Ciyan (A)

manifest in the essence.

Cain gain

as the Arabic letters cain (f) and gain (f),

similar but slightly different.

Cain shIn (A)

probably an abbreviation of the Arabic


'1.sbq (love), composed of the letters cain,

shIn, and qaf.
alakh (H)

unseen; invisible; without shape or form;

an epithet of God.

amar nIr (S)

the water of immortality; see ab-i bayat

ana:)l baqq (A)

"I am the Absolute Reality (Truth),"

usually interpreted as "I am God"; claim
made by the famous Sufi I:Iusain ibn
Man~ilr al-Hallaj (executed, 922).

aparam para (S)

boundless, infinite; an epithet of God.

arkan (A)

pillars; used here to refer to the five pillars

of Islam; i.e., the shahada or profession of
faith, salat or ritual prayer, zakat or alms,
saUID,roza or fasting and bajj or the
pilgrimage to Mecca.

carsh (A)

the highest and ninth sphere where the

throne of God .is found; the Divine Throne.

arvab (A)

plural of rlli), souls, spirits.

asma (A)

plural. of ism, names; used to refer to the

ninety-nine names or epithets of God, i.e.,
the asma al-1}.usna as mentioned in the

avagun (S/H)

defect, blemish, fault, evil, vice

ab-i bayat (P)

water of life; associated in Islamic folk-lore

with the prophet-saint Khi+r who is said to
have discovered the fountain of life in
darkness and become immortal by drinking
of it. .

cabid (A)

worshipper, servant (of God).

calam-i gaib

the hidden or the unseen world; the world



of spirits.

ealam-i rnial


the world of imagination, or symbols, of

spiritual values or ideas that are to be
realized in this world.

ealam-i shahadat

the visible world or the world of senses.

earif (A)

gnostic, one endowed with gnosis [maCrlfa];

used in later Sufism to refer to the
advanced mystic.

earif bil-Iah (A)

one endowed with knowledge (maCflfa) of


bast (A)

expansion; refers to the spiritualstate of

joy and widening of the heart that may
often inspire the mystic to write ecstatic

baqI/baqa (A)

remaining in God after annihilation; the


bat (H)

way, road, path, track.

batin (A)

the inner, hidden, or esoteric.


Tayfur ibn elsa Bayazld BistamI (d. 874),

an important personality in the early history of Sufism. See sub banI.

bhafit (H)

way, manner, form, mode; variety, kind.

bhafit bhafit: various kinds, various,
diverse, of many kinds or sorts ..

bidaha (H)

arranger, disposer, maker, creator; an epithet of God.

bihist (P)

the abode of the blessed, paradise; heaven.


birah (H)

separation, parting, absence (particularly

of lovers).

birahi(r) (H)

a woman suffering the pangs of separation

from a beloved one;a woman who is lovesick.

br yasmaCu (A)

"he hears through Me"; a phrase from one

of the variants on the l).ad~ an-navafil.

bajh (H)

perception, comprehension, understanding; intelligence; knowledge.

car kitab (PIA)

the four books or scriptures revealed by

God, i.e., the Taurah to Moses, the Zabur
to David, the Injil to Jesus, and the Qur:>an
to Mul).ammad.

car mazhab

the four religions that possess the four

divinely revealed scriptures; the four legal
schools within Islam, i.e., Hanafr, Shaficr,
Malikr and Hanbalr.


car yar (P)

the four friends; refers to the four successors of the Prophet Mul)ammad, i.e.,
Aba Bakr, cUmar, O~man, and CAlI.

cerI (H)

a slave-girl.

Cit(t) (H)

the reasoning faculty; the mind; the intellect.

Citvan (H)

sight, look, glance; appearance, aspect.

darsanl darshan


sight, vision, perception; used here to refer

to the experience of spiritual vision or insight.

dhani (H)


<;lholan (H)

a lover, sweetheart; a friend.

dhyan (S)

meditation, contemplation, especially the


profound and abstract consideration that

brings objects fully and undisturbedly
before the mind.
dib disht (H)

divine vision; derived from dey drishtI.

dozakh (P)

hell. .

dalah nabI rasal


the bridegroom Prophet; an epithet of the

Prophet Mul)ammad, especially in Sufi literature in the Indian vernaculars.

danI (H)

the present world, the present life; the

good things of this lie, wealth, riches; a
corruption of the Arabic dunya.

fai? (A)

. overflowing, abundance; beneficence,

favor, grace; used in later Sufism to refer to
divine emanation.

faiya? (A)

most bountiful, munificent, beneficent; an

epithet of God.

faqIr (A)

poor; general name for the Sufi; in later

times often used in a pejorative sense.

fatva (A)

formal legal opinion, pronounced by a

lawyer [muftI] trained in sharIca law in
answering a problem posed before him
either by a qa~t or a private person and
usually dealing with personal status law.

fanI/fana (A)

annihilation; used among Sufis to denote

the stage of the passing away of personal

gair (A)

other, another; different; altered. See also


gairIyat (AlP)

being of a different sort; limited; used to


refer to the worship of God in His "limited" aspect.

ghat (S)

the mind, he,art, soul; the body.

gun (S)

a quality, property, attribute; a good

quality, excellence, merit, virtue.

gunah (P)

fault, offense, crime, sin; guilt; vice,


gur/guru (S)

a spiritual guide or preceptor who is able

to lead disciples on the mystical way; used
here to refer 'to the Sufi shaikh or pIT.

gusaiyefl/ gusalfl

the master or possessor of cows or of

herds; an epithet of God, Krishna.

gyan (H/S)

knowledge, understanding, intelligence,



the popular hadI~ qudsI according to which

God says: "My servant ceases not to draw
nigh unto me by works of devotion until I
love him, and when I love him I am the eye
by which he sees and the ear by which he
hears. And when he approaches a span I
approach a cubit, and when he comes
walking I come' running."



baqlqa(t) (A)

reality; the first stage on the mystical path

!arlqa(t), which is founded on the
sha.nca(t), the Divine Law.

hari (H)

an epithet of God; used in the Hindu tradition to refer to Vishnu and his incarnations.

hadr (A)

a guide, director, leader; a spiritual guide.

hif?;-i maratib

attention to spiritual degrees or ranks (of

persons), observing etiquette.


bur (A)

(originally plural, in P also used as singular) virgins or a virgin of Paradise mentioned in the Qu{)an.

Cirfan (A)


jagat pati (S/H)

lord of the universe; an epithet of God.

jalal (A)

Divine Majesty; the mysterium tremendum.

jalva (A)

manifestation of Divine Reality.

jamal (A)

Divine Beauty; the mysterium fascinans ..

jap tap (S)

devotion, adoration, worship.

jamaCjamJC ~ifat

the comprehensive container of (divine)

attributes; an epithet for the Perfect Man
in Sufism.

kalima (A)

word, speech, saying; the profession of

faith in Islam.




kafir (A)

ungrateful; term used to refer to an infidel.

khadim (A)

a servant.

khudI (P)

selfhood; in traditional Sufism a negative

concept. Later used by Iqbal in a positive
sense in reference to the development of
the individual's essence to its utmost limits.

la ilaha illa=>llah

There is no god but God; first part of the

Muslim profession of faith. This negative
and positive assertion is used especially by
the Qadirls during zikr.


la taCaiyun (S)

without specification; used in Sufism to

refer to the Divine Essence free from all

lalan (S)

beloved, sweetheart.

lalI pana (P /H)

to acquire redness, i.e., a good name,

reputation, honor.

mag, marag (H)

path, road, way; method; doctrine, creed,


majnl1n lailI

pair of celebrated lovers of Islamic folklore.

malamat (S)

blame, self-reproach.

man (H)

the mind; the heart; soul, spirit.

man lahu:ll
maula falahu:ll
kull (A)

an alleged ba~ meaning, "He who has his

Lord, has everything."

manI manore

selfish or presumptuous desires.


I:Iusain ibn Man~l1r al-Hallaj (executed in

922), famous for his claim ana~l baqq.
Later Sufis regarded this phrase as expression of the existential unity of man and
God while others blamed al-Hallaj for having divulged the secret of divine union.


mar mar jiye


living after dying; rendering into Hindustani of the alleged saying attributed to the
Prophet, "Die before ye die."

maCrifa(t) (A)

gnosis; according to some Sufis the last

stage on the mystical path.

masI!) (A)

messiah; an epithet associated with

Prophet elsa (Jesus).




locus of Divine Manifestation.

rna ra:)aitu (A)

I did not see; a phrase from an old Sufi

saying describing the state of the advanced
mystic: "I did not see anything except that
God was before it; I did not see anything
except that God was after it; I did not see
anything except that God was in it; I did
not see anything except that God was with

mal put (H)

a son of a mother; used here in the sense of

a human being.

maya (S)

illusion; delusion; an illusory image; the

external world considered as a mere illusion without reality.

muftI (A)

an expert in the shanca who gives public

decisions in cases of law and conscience.


refers to the state of striving, fighting

against the desires of the lower self or nafs.

mull,1id (A)

one who deviates or departs from the true

faith; a heretic.

mulla (AlP)

master, lord; title of theological scholars,

often used in a pejorative sense to denote
fossilized jurisconsults who cling to the
letter of the law without knowing its spirit.

murshid (A)

guide, spiritual leader.


the state of (direct) vision of the Divine


mutakhalliq (A)

state of being changed and molded by

divine qualities; an allusion to the alleged
1)adI~, "Qualify yourself with the qualities


of God."
mUllaq (A)

absolute, entire, universal; unconditional;

unrestricted; an epithet of God.


state of being a muvabl)id, or a true


nabr (A)

prophet; used here to refer to the Prophet


nafr i~bat (A)

negation and affirmation; used in relation

to the part of the profession of faith, la
ilaha illaJllah, which denies the existence of
anything other than God and then affirms
the existence of the one God.

nafs (A)

the lower soul. The QurJan discerns three

types: nafs al-ammara (Sura 12/59), the
soul that incites to evil; nafs al-Iawwama
(Sura 75/2), the blaming soul or
conscience; and the nafs al-mu~ama:)inna
(Sura 89/27), the soul at peace, which is
called to return to its Lord.

nafsanIyat (A/P)

things associated with the nafs or lower

soul, i.e., sensual pleasures, pride,
selfishness, etc.

namaz (P)

Persian term for the Muslim ritual prayer,


narak (S)

hell, the place of torment; narak includes a

number of places of torture of various
descriptions, generally said to be twentyone in number.

nav khan<;lh

the nine divisions of the earth which

according to Indian thought constitute
Jambll-dVlp, the central portion of the
world, or the known world.

niranjan (S)

(1) nir aftjan, wi thou t collyrium, i.e.,


unstained, untinged, unblemished; (2) ni

raftjan, void of passion or emotion. Both
epithets of God.
nuzal (A)

descent; used in Sufism to refetto. the

descent of the Divine Essence, through
various limitations, into the world of

nur tajallI (A)

manifestation, illumination, mystical

revelation of the Divine Light.

pahar (H)

a division of time consisting of eight ghafIS

or three hours, an eighth part of a day, a

panOit (S)

scholar, learned or wise man, learned

brahmin; teacher, master, professor.

praghat (H)

evident, clear, manifest, apparent.

pap. (S)

evil, sin, vice, crime, transgression.

piyu (H)

beloved, dear; husband; lover.

pun/pun (H)

good, right, virtue, moral or religious merit.

qab? (A)

compression; refers to the spiritual state of

intense despair commonly known as "the
dark night of the soul."
a judge administering shafICa law.

qurb-i farai?

proximity to God reached by the punctual

fulfillment of religious duties, connected
with prophethood.

qurb-i navafil

proximity to God brought about by supererogative works, connected with sainthood. See .badI~ an-navafil.


riiouJI qudus

the holy spirit; an epithet of the angel


riiz-i qiyamat

the day of resurrection.

sarag (H)

heaven, the firmament, the sky.

sajan (H)


sat dIp (H)

according to some schools of Hindu philosophy the world is divided into seven
island-continents: J ambu, Plaksha, Shalmali, Kusha, Kraunca, Shaka, and Pushkara.

shah/shah (P)

king, prince, monarch, lord.

shahada(h) (A)

the profession of faith, declaring that there

is no god but God, and Muoammad is His
prophet; identifies the declarer as a

shahadat (A/P)

see caIam-i shahadat.

shahrag (P)

the chief artery or vein, i.e., the jugular

vein; used here to allude to Qur:>an SOra
50/16 according to which God is closer to
man than the jugular ~ein.

share/ sharYCa( t)

the whole body of rules, given by Allah, to

guide the life of a Muslim, in law, ethics
and etiquette; sometimes called Divine
Law (or Canon Law); first stage on the
mystical path.

siddh (S/H)

an inspired sage, a seer; an ascetic; an

adept in magical or mystical arts.


quality, property, attribute; attribute of the

Divine Essence (iAt). The Divine Essence
is known only from the attributes (sifat)





without which it is unknown and

a c~ama shanr

"Praise be to me, how great is my

majesty!"; the ecstatic utterance of the Sufi
Bayazld BistamI (d. 874) when he felt completely annihilated in God.

sudh budh (H)

consciousness and right understanding.

sundar (i) (S)

beautiful, handsome; good, pure, virtuous;

used here as an epithet for the individual

sunna(h/t) (A)

received custom, particularly that associated with the Prophet Mul).ammad.

syam (H)

black, dark blue; an epithet of Krishna.

tajallI (A)

manifestation; see nfir tajallI.

takabbur (A)

pride, haughtiness, arrogance.

tarlqa(h/t) (A)

road, path, or way; mystical order or fraternity; second stage on the mystical path.

tavajjuh (A)

directing, turning; countenancing; attention; strong concentration of murshid

[master] and murld [disciple] on each
obedience, submission; devotion.

t.alib (A)

one who' seeks, pursues, or inquires; a Sufi.

ull1hlyat (A/P)


umma(h/t) (A)

any people as followers of a particular

prophet, especially the Muslims as forming a community following the Prophet


Curoj (A)

ascent, ascension; used in Sufism to refer

to the ascent of the soul through various
spiritual stages and states until it finally
reaches its home in God.

val)dat (A)

unity; used in Sufism to refer to the

intermediate stage between A1).adlyat and
VaQidIyat; the first limitation of the Divine

val)idlyat (AlP)

unity; used in Sufism to refer to the third

stage of the descent of the Divine Essence
in which it appears as an aspect unifying
the difference of the attributes; the Many
identical in essence with each other and
with the One; the second limitation.

vajib far~ (A)

the obligatory religious duties, prayer,

fasting, giving alms, etc.


from Arabic v~l, "meeting, union"; used

here to refer to the woman-soul who has
been united with her Divine Beloved;
complement to birahr.


vu+u (A/P)

ablution performed before the Muslim

ritual prayer.

zakat (A)

alms tax that a Musli~ is required to pay;

one of the pillars of the faith.

zahid (A)

one who shuns the world and exercises

himself in the acts of devotion; a monk,
recluse, hermit.



the outer, external or exoteric.


cilm (A)

external or manifest knowledge; a term

used to refer to the first three stages or two
limitations, i.e., Abadlyat, Vabdat,


zat (A)

the (Divine) Essence.

zikr (A)

recollection, repetition of the divine names

or religious formulae.


darkpess, regions of darkness; a dark place

where the water of immortality is said to



This is a select bibliography listing only those works that
are most central to this study.
PRIMARY SOURCES (for texts of the Bujh Niraftjan)
A. , Manuscripts
Khojki manuscript K-l. Karachi: Mohammed Bacchal.
Copied early twentieth century.
Khojki manuscript K-3. London: Institute of Ismaili Studies,
temporary 'no. 117. Copied late nineteenth century.
Khojki manuscript K-4. 'London: Parveen Peerwani. Copied
Khojki manuscript K-S. Karachi: Ismailia Association for
Pakistan? Copied early twentieth century.
Perso-Arabic manuscript P.London: India Office Library, P
908/Urdu Ms. B4. Copied 1724.
B. Printed Editions
Gujarati text G-l. Edited by MukhI LaljI Devraj. Bombay:
The Khoja SindhI Chapakhanu, 1921.
Gujarati text G-2. Edited by His Highness Prince Aga Khan
'Shia Imami Ismailia Association for India. Bombay:
Ismaili Printing Press; 1981.
KhojkI text K-2. Edited by MukhI LaijI Devraj. Bombay:
Ismaili Printing Press, 1914.
KhojkI-Gujarati text KG. Transcribed and edited by Mumtaz
Ali Sadik Ali from the original, which is in Multan:
Mubarak Husain? Original copied in the early twentieth
Ahmad, Aziz. Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment.
London: Oxford University Press, 1964.
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Allana, G. SindhI SnratkhatI. Hyderabad, Pakistan: SindhI
Zaban Publications, 1969.
Asani, Ali S. The Harvard Collection of Ismaili Literature in
Indic Languages. Boston: G. K. Hall, forthcoming 1992.
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-=-Devotional Literature in South Asia: Current Research

1985-8, ed. R. S. McGregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 1992, 101-112.
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tion Divine, ed. D. Eck and F. Mallison. Groningen Oriental Series, vol. VIII. Groningen and Paris: Egbert
Forsten and Ecole Fran~ais,e d'Extreme-Orient, 1991, 1-18.
_ _ _. "Bridal Symbolism in the Ismaili Ginan Literature."
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_ _ _ . "The IsmaC'fII ginan Literature: Its Structure and
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Baloch, Nabi Bakhsh Khan. SindhI bolI jI mukhta~ar tal1kh.
Hyderabad, Pakistan: Sind University, 1962.
Bryant, Kenneth. Poems to the Child-God. Berkeley and Los
Angeles: University of California Press, 1978.
BurhanporI, Rashid. Burhanpur ke SindhI Auliya. Hyderabad,
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of the Indus. Reprint ed. Karachi: Oxford University
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His Highness the Aga Khan Shia Imarni Ismailia Association
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Hodgson, Marshall. The Venture of Islam. 3 volumes.
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_ _ _. "Satpanth," Collectanea Vol. 1. Leiden: E. J. Brill,
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_ _ _ . "Sufism and Ismailism: Chiragh-Nama," Revue
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-- "Sindhi Sufi Poet QazI Qadan: His Poetry in Transliteration and Translation," Punjab University Journal of
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London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1938.
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Based on the author's Ph.D. thesis submitted to Harvard

University, this book is a pioneering study of an important
poem from the ginan literature, the devotional literature of
the Ismaili community.

" This work will help familiarize readers-Ismailis and

non-Ismailis alike - with the deep religious feelings
expressed in the ginans, and with the fascinating interaction of the Sufi and the Ismaili tradition. II will introduce them to a spiritual world that deserves to be
studied in detail. The reader will gain new insights into

a hitherto barely known aspect of Islamic religious

Dr. Drs. h.c. Annemarie Schimmel
Professor of Indo-Muslim Culture

Harvard University