Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalandar (1177 – 1274) was a Sufi saint, philosopher and poet. Hazrat means His Holiness and Lal was for the red robes he wore. Shahbaz – King of Falcons, Qalandar – a sufi saint, poet, mystic, noble man. He preached peace and religious tolerance among Muslims and Hindus. His mysticism attracted people from all religions. A very famous Qawali has been written in his honor and is called Dama Dam Mast Qalandar.
I have heard several versions of this beautiful qawali, and yesterday came across a unique one. I especially adore how these talented artists (from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) have blended into a perfect almost magical synchronisation as this song progresses.
Lyrics, translation and write-up credited to Technology of the Heart
The reason I have deviated from the normal posting of my own poetry was because immediately after listening to this qawali, I came across a heartbreaking story, which I felt was important to share. I remember listening to Dama Dam Mast Qalandar since I was very young, although I had no idea what it was about till pretty recently. And it was only yesterday when I found out that this melody was composed for Pakistan cinema by “Master” Ashiq Hussain and since then (1956) till today, it has taken the music industry by storm. I was disturbed to read that..
after five decades of composing unforgettable melodies,… Master Hussain now lives in a slum … in old Lahore. Electricity is too much of a luxury to demand, while food is a godsend at the ‘Master’s’ home. This dire financial situation forced Hussain’s son Asif Ali, a talented keyboard player, to start selling pakoras at the roadside to feed the family. Ali, a heart patient, passed away a few days subsequent to this interview, after a hard life of toil….True to his self, Hussain, now in his 90s, has never sought help from people “who do not care about artists.”
Even on a sunny day, his room has a very gloomy feel to it. Countless moments are spent staring at the walls; an ordinary quiet shrouds the space, as if words too, have lost all motivation here.
Artists of all streams keep the beauty alive in this world which has become very ugly for the most part. Artists give us hope, motivation and help us escape. All over the world, there are many artists who struggle and it shouldn’t be this way. God is an artist, God is a poet, a sculptor, a story-teller, a composer. Master Ashiq Hussain should spend this part of his life in ease. His son Asif Ali needn’t have given up his talent to toil, he needn’t have passed away so soon.
O the red robed, may I always have your benign protection…