Shah Abdul Latif’s Birthday….. Happy Birthday to Sindh and the Globe.
By Noor Ahmed Janjhi
Sindh, one of the great and ancient civilizations, has been remained seat of wisdom, humanism and cultural diversity. From known history of Muhiyyan jo Daro to the running century, soil of Sindh has given birth many a great personalities who contributed a great deal to the prosperity and peace of world through their great achievements. Syed Abdul Latif known as Shah Latif of Bhit was one of such gems of Sindh who influenced not only Sindh but also world. He was born in 1689 and left this world in 1752. Syed Habib Shah was his father and Shah Karim of Bulri, great classical poet was his great great grandfather. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was a great wise person of Sindh who chose poetry as the vehicle of thought to influence human behaviour to take the right path. He was a great observer of society and analysed his experience as a seasoned social scientist. He started composing poetry since his early days of youth as the poetry was a great source of communication for social mobilization. Shah Karim, Kazi Kadan, Shah Lutfullah Qadri and Miyoon Shah Innat Rizvi were his predecessors in the field of classical Sindhi poetry who had founded a sound and indigenous fabric of Sindhi poetry in spite of the great influence of Persian. Shah Latif’s poetry is also a succession of the same legacy with a unique style, tone and tenor. It is a miracle of talent and art, of observation and expression, of thought and form, of culture and creativity. He adopted only the genre(s) of Bait and Waaie for his poetry because both of the genres were and are compatible to the inner feelings of Sindhi people especially of masses. He traveled throughout cultural Sindh…. from Jaisalmer to Kachh to observe first hand reflection of human life and profiles of nature. He came up with a great experience and understanding of the society and started to compose poetry for transforming his point of view through the socio-natural fabric of Sindhi society. He succeeded in his pursuit as music was facilitating via media of his poetry. He and his faqirs….. women and men.. used to sing and recite his and other poets poetry during gatherings and other events. It paved the way towards a pro-human and nature loving society. He not only dreamt for the peace and prosperity of Sindh but also aspired for global peace by declaring….
سائين سدائين ڪرين مٿي سنڌ سڪار
دوست مٺا دلدار عالم سڀ آباد ڪرين
He picked semi-historical and folk tales to represent his message. He innovated all of the characters and presented in shape of role models so as people could envision their lives. His poetry is living voice full of linguistic aestheticism. He chose names of the surs of his poetry from the names of the characters of the tales of Sindh as Marui, Sassui, Sohni, Moomal, Sorath, Ripa, Leelan, Ramkali, Barvo, Chanesar, Rano, etc. His poetry bears the names of Kalyan, Ghatoo, Kapaiti, Karayal, Dahar, Bilawal, Khanbhat, Srirag, Saring, Pirbhati, Kamod and Kedaro. He took characters from the tales of folk or mythology but he presented those characters in a different style and expression. He characterized the abstract concepts as living models to be followed and honoured. His style of expression is very unique. He initiates his take in first lines, explains it in second and concludes in the last line. His poetry is a great example of compact and balance thought. He picks the material from those tells as he likes and moves ahead. Themes of his poetry are love, forbearance and patience, sacrifice, commitment, patriotism, struggle, exploration of self, patriotism, nature, humanism and global peace. He presents things in the unique manner. He starts from the point where peoples thinking stops. He brings hope from hopelessness and quenches thirst with the thirst. He does not avoid anguish and agony but takes pain as his companion and guide.
All of his heroes and heroines are seekers and ultimately recognize the self and absorb into unity. A great advocate of wahdatul wujood, recognizes diversity of universe. He mentions qadeem and observes hadis too. His thought travels different niches of evolution to be matured to unify with the great thought. He does not believe in any so called manzal but sees things in continuity. Therefore, he prefers the way than the goal or manzil. His poetry is very comprehensive and balance so attracts people from all walks of life and everyone thinks the poetry is meant for him and his point of view. He has tried to cross over the limitations of time and space by narrating this…
وکر سو وهاء جو پئي پراڻو نه ٿئي
His poetic compendium is called Shah jo Risalo. Shah jo Ganj is his diary containing the poetry of other poets. The Risalo was published in 1866 for first time in Germany. The credit goes to late Earnest Trump. First degree of Doctorate was awarded to H T Sorley on his research on the Risalo and its author. The poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai has been translated English, Urdu, Arabic, Persian, Dhatki, Seraiki and other languages. The latest translation of Risalo into English has been done by Prof Christopher Shackle of Cambridge University and published in 2018.
His poetry has been influencing and enriching the literature of Sindh since three centuries because of the thought and the form of poetry. It contains wisdom, culture and humanism. Therefore, it has a great relevance in this age of post humanism, heading through technological skills and trying to turn the whole world as a single market for sake of profiteering only. The poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai advocates humanism, local and global prosperity and suggests to create a world with full freedom of thought and deed in the vast context nature.