Those Who Dance To Inward Music : Hasrat Mohani

, Sher o Sukhan

Holy Quran, 49:78, “We sent Apostles before Thee: there are some of them that We have mentioned to thee and others we have not mentioned.”

This is what I grew up hearing from my mother who had specializedin Philosophy of religions for her Masters.

To me it made complete sense that we respect the Hindu gods, who were avatars of the Supreme deity as Prophets.

As children, we used to visit the Mandir during Janmasthami and I used to love the jhaanki (tableau on Krishnaji’s birth) and theprasaad given there. So it came as a wonderful surprise to read C M Naim’s article on “ The Maulana Who Loved Krishna, ” on Hasrat Mohani.

Maulana Hasrat Mohani was a very complex but extremely interesting personality. He was the poet who gave the freedom struggle its enduring slogan, “Inqilaab Zindabad” and along with Ram Prasad Bismil got the proposal for Poorna Swaraj (completeIndependence) accepted by the Indian National Congress in 1921.

Born in a Syed family in Mohan near Unnao (Uttar Pradesh) in 1875, he was named Fazlul Hasan. ‘Hasrat’ was his nom de plume or ‘takhallus’ and Mohani as he hailed from the village Mohan.

Hasrat Mohan was a an ardent supporter of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and on his death he penned the lines:

jab tak wo rahe dunyaa meN raha ham sab ke diloN par zor unka

ab rah ke bahisht meN nizd-i-khuda huro’N pe kareNge raj Tilak –

As long as he stayed in this world he ruled our hearts

Now in Paradise, closer to God, the houris will be his court

A romantic poet Hasrat was an active member of the Indian NationalCongress,The Muslim League and the Communist Party of India.

One of his popular verses is

Gandhi ki tarah baith ke kaate’nge kyun charkh

Lenin ki tarah de’nge duniya ko hila hum

Why should we sit and spin yarn on the ‘charkha’

Like Lenin we will shake the world.

Today no ghazal mehfil is complete without a rendition of his evergreen

“Chupke Chupke raat din aansoo bahana yaad hai

Ham ko ab tak aashiqii kaa vo zamaanaa yaad hai”

Shedding tears in silence, day and night, I remember

Those days of being in love, I still remember

Hasrat believed in art for art’s sake.

the famous playwright of the parsi drama era Radheyshyam kathavachak had written an urdu play called ‘Masharqui Hoor’. It had Master Fida Hussain playing the female lead. It became a big hit with the measses . Radheshyamji sought Hasrat Mohani’s help in Kanpur.

( this anecdote related to me by my friend Veejay Sai )

Hasrat not only endorsed the play and its language but also stood up with them against the fanatics.

His appeal across nations can be judged from these two stamps by India and Pakistan.

We often talk of his role in the Independence Movement, his romantic ghazals but rarely do we talk of his devotion to ShriKrishna.

Hasrat Mohani visited Brindaban as many times as he went for hajj to Mecca (11 times) such was his devotion to Krishnaji.

So while on the one hand he wrote

mose cheR karat nandlāl

lie Thāre abīr gulāl

DhīTh bha’ī jin kī barjorī

auran par rang Dāl-Dāl

ham-huN jo de’ī lipTā’e-ke Hasrat

sārī ye chalbal nikāl

Nandlal keeps teasing me without end;

There he lurks, ready to pour colors on me.

Having safely sprayed others so many times,

He is now set in his bullying ways.

But what if I should embrace him, Hasrat,

Then squeeze him dry of his fancy tricks?

( from C M Naim’s article ‘the Maulana who loved Krishna’ )

On the other hand he wrote innumerable naats and munajats in praise of Prophet Mohammed.

Khyaal e yaar ko dil se mita do Yaa Rasool Allah

Khird ko apna diwaana bana do Yaa Rasool Allah

Remove all thoughts of any other than you O Allah’s Prophet

Make my intellect, crazy for you O Allah’s Prophet

Perhaps the answer can be found in his Sufi leaning and learning. Sufism is the path of Bhakti, which has bound Hindus and Muslims together in a syncretic culture, which we call Ganga Jamuni.

He was a disciple of Hazrat Shah Abdur Razzaq Farangi Mahalli in the Qadria Sufi Order.

Sufism believes in losing oneself in the Beloved to achieve salvation and the love of Radha Krishna is a beautiful example of this.

ek khalish hoti hai mehsoos rag o jaan ke qareeb

Aan pahunche hai magar manzil e jaana’n ke qareeb

A strange pain near my jugular vein I can feel

I have reached my destination near my Beloved

( Hasrat’s poetry written near Makkah for pilgrimage)

The music we hear comes from one source, it’s just that we are unable to hear beyond the first few notes.

As Rumi said

“We rarely hear the inward music, 
but we’re all dancing to it nevertheless,
directed by the one who teaches us,
the pure joy of the sun,
our music master.”

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