Amir Khusrow teaching his disciples; miniature from a manuscript of Majlis Al-Usshak by Husayn Bayqarah
|Birth name||Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn K͟husrow|
Patiyali, Etah, Delhi Sultanate
|Genres||Ghazal, Khayal, Qawwali, Ruba'i, Tarana|
|Occupations||Great Sufi, Musician, Poet, Composer, Author, Scholar|
|Sufism and Tariqa|
Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn Khusrow (1253–1325 CE) Hindi अमीर ख़ुसरौ, (Urdu: ابوالحسن یمینالدین خسرو;, better known as Amīr Khusrow (also Khusrau, Ameer Khusru) Dehlawī (meaning Amir Khusrow of Delhi) (امیر خسرو دہلوی) was a Sufi musician, poet and scholar. He was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent. He was a mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi. Amīr Khusrow is reputed to have invented certain musical instruments like the sitar and tabla. He wrote poetry primarily in Persian, but also in Hindavi. A vocabulary in verse, the Ḳhāliq Bārī, containing Arabic, Persian, and Hindavi terms is often attributed to him.
He is regarded as the "father of Qawwali" (a devotional music form of the Sufis in the Indian subcontinent), and introduced the Ghazal style of song into India, both of which still exist widely in India and Pakistan. He is also credited with introducing Persian, Arabic and Turkish elements into Indian classical music and was the originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music.
Khusrow was an expert in many styles of Persian poetry which were developed in medieval Persia, from Khāqānī's qasidas to Nizami's khamsa. He used 11 metrical schemes with 35 distinct divisions. He has written in many verse forms including Ghazal, Masnavi, Qata, Rubai, Do-Beti and Tarkibhand. His contribution to the development of the g͟hazal, is significant.
Early life and background
Amīr Khusrow was born in Patiyali in Etah, Uttar Pradesh. His father, Amīr Saif-ud-Dīn Mahmūd, was a Turkic officer and a member of the Lachin tribe of Transoxania, themselves belonging to the Kara-Khitais. At the invasion of Genghis Khan, Saif-ud-Din migrated from his hometown Kesh, near Samarkand, to Balkah. Saif-ud-Din was then the chieftain of the Hazara. Shams-ud-Din Altamish, the Sultan of Delhi welcomed them to Delhi. He provided shelter to the dislodged princes, artisans, scholars and rich nobles. In 1230, he was granted a fief in the district of Patiali (in Etah District of present Uttar Pradesh).
Amir Saif-ud-Din married Bibi Daulat Naz, who was the daughter of Rawat Arz, the famous war minister of Balban, and belonged to the Rajput tribes of Uttar Pradesh. They had four children, three sons and a daughter. Amir Khusro was one among them born in the year 1252-53 CE at Patiyali (Hazrat Amir khusro Nagar). His father Saif-ud-Din died in 1260 CE.
Khusrow was an intelligent child. He started learning and writing poetry at the age of eight. After the death of his father, he came to Delhi to his maternal grandfather Imadul Mulk's house. In 1271 CE, when Khusrow was 20 years old, his grandfather who was 113 years old died. His mother brought him up after his death.
After Khusrow's grandfather's demise, he joined as a soldier in the Army of Malik Chajju, a nephew of Sultan Balban. This brought his poetry to the attention of the Assembly of the Royal Court where he was honored.
When he was forty seven years old, his mother and brother died.
He wrote these lines in their honour:
"A double radiance left my star this year
Gone are my brother and my mother,
My two full moons have set and ceased to Shine
In one short week through this ill-luck of mine."
Khusro's homage to his mother on death was:
"Where ever the dust of your (mother) feet is found it is like a relic of Paradise for me."
Bughra Khan, son of Balban was invited to listen Amir Khusro. He was impressed and became Khusrow's patron. In 677 A.H/1277 A.D. Bughra Khan was then appointed ruler of Bengal but Amir Khusro decided to return to Delhi.
The eldest son of Khan, Mohd of Balban (who was in Multan) came to Delhi. When he heard about Amir Khusrow he invited him to his court. Finally Khusrow accompanied him to Multan in 679 A.H/1279 A.D. Multan at that period was the gateway to Hind and a center place of knowledge and learning. The caravans of scholars, tradesmen and emissaries transited from Baghdad, Arab, Iran to Delhi via Multan. Amir Khusro says that:
"I tied the belt of service on my waist and put on the cap of companionship for another five years. I imparted lustre to the water of Multan from the ocean of my wits and pleasantries."
In the year 683A.H./1283A.D Jinar Khan a Mongol, invaded India. Khan Mohd was killed in battle. Khusrow wrote the two elegies in grief of his death. At the old age of eighty, King Balban called his second son Bughra Khan from Bengal, but he refused to come back to Delhi. After King Balban’s death his grandson Kikabad was made the King of Delhi who was 17 years of age. Khusro remained in his service for two years (686 A.H to 687 A.H/1286 to 1287 A.D.).
After the death of Kikabad, a Turk soldier Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji took power and became the King. He appreciated poetry and invited many poets to his court. Khusrow was honoured and respected in his Darbar and was given his name "Amir Khusrow". He was made secretary to the King "Mushaf-Dar". The darbar life made Amir Khusro focus more on his literary works. Khusro’s Ghazals which he composed in quick succession were set to music and were sung by singing girls every night before the king. Khusrow writes about him:
"The King of the world Jalal ud din, in reward for my infinite pain which I undertook in composing verses, bestowed upon me an unimaginable treasure of wealth."
After Jalal ud din, Alauddin Khilji descended to the throne of Delhi on 22nd Zilhaj 695A.H/1295A.D. Amir Khusro wrote a short auto-biographical Masnavi called "Shah Name mun"—of Alauddin’s life. Khusrow in his book "Khazinatul-Futuh" (the treasures of victory) recorded Alauddin’s construction works, wars, peace and security, administrative services. Further in another poetical work Masnavi "Matta-ul-Anwaar" (Fountain of light) consisted of 3310 verses (completed in 15 days) had the theme of "Love of God". The second masnavi, "Shireen" consisted of 4000 verses. The third Masnavi "Laila Majnu" story of Laila and Majnu and their romance. The fourth voluminous Masnavi was "Aina-e-Sikandari" had 4500 verses relating to the heroic deeds of Alexander the Great. The fifth Masnavi was "Hasht Bahisht" related to the events of King Bahram Gaur. All these works made Amir Khusro a leading luminary in the poetical world. The King Allauddin Khilji was highly pleased by his works and rewarded him handsomely.
After Alauddin Khilji's death, his son Qutub al din Mubarak Shah became the king. Amir Khusro wrote a Masnavi on Mubarak Shah as "Nahsi Pahar" (Nine Skies), a historical poetry relating the events of Mubarak Shah. He classified his poetry in nine chapters, each part is considered as a sky. In the third chapter he wrote a vivd account of India and its environment, seasons, flora and fauna, cultures, scholars etc. He wrote another book in the period of Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah by name "Ejaze Khusravi" consisting of five volumes. When Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah son was born, he prepared the horoscope of child where certain predictions, were made. This horoscope is included in the Masnavi "Saqiana".
Major life events in chronological order
Khusrow was born in Patiyali in Kasganj district which is also known as Kansiram Nagar near Etah in what is today the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. His father Amir Saifuddin came from Balkh in modern day Afghanistan and his mother hailed from Delhi.
- 1260 After the death of his father, Khusrow went to Delhi with his mother.
- 1271 Khusrow compiled his first divan of poetry, "Tuhfatus-Sighr".
- 1272 Khusrow got his first job as court poet with King Balban's nephew Malik Chhajju.
- 1276 Khusrow started working as a poet with Bughra Khan (Balban's son).
- 1279 While writing his second divan, Wastul-Hayat, Khusrau visited Bengal.
- 1281 Employed by Sultan Mohammad (Balban's second son) and went to Multan with him.
- 1285 Khusrow participated as a soldier in the war against the invading Mongols. He was taken prisoner, but escaped.
- 1287 Khusrow went to Awadh with Ameer Ali Hatim (another patron).
- 1288 His first mathnavi, "Qiranus-Sa'dain" was completed.
- 1290 When Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji came to power, Khusro's second mathnavi, "Miftahul Futooh" was ready.
- 1294 His third divan "Ghurratul-Kamal" was complete.
- 1295 Alauddin Khilji (sometimes spelled "Khalji") came to power and invaded Devagiri and Gujarat.
- 1298 Khusrow completed his "Khamsa-e-Nizami".
- 1301 Khilji attacked Ranthambhor, Chittor, Malwa and other places, and Khusro remained with the king in order to write chronicles.
- 1310 Khusrow became close to Nizamuddin Auliya, and completed Khazain-ul-Futuh.
- 1315 Alauddin Khilji died. Khusrow completed the mathnavi "Duval Rani-Khizr Khan" (a romantic poem).
- 1316 Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah became the king, and the fourth historical mathnavi "Noh-Sepehr" was completed.
- 1321 Mubarak Khilji (sometimes spelled "Mubarak Khalji") was murdered and Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq came to power. Khusro started to write the Tughluqnama.
- 1325 Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq came to power. Nizamuddin Auliya died, and six months later so did Khusrow . Khusrow 's tomb is next to that of his master in the Nizamuddin Dargah of Delhi.
Khusrow the royal poet
Khusrow was a prolific classical poet associated with the royal courts of more than seven rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. Khusrow wrote many playful riddles, songs and legends which have become a part of popular culture in India and neighbouring countries. Through his literary output, Khusrow represents one of the first (recorded) Indian personages with a true multi-cultural or pluralistic identity.
Hindavi language and its development
Amir Khusrow was the author of a Khamsa which emulated that of the earlier poet of Persian epics Nizami Ganjavi. His work was considered to be one of the great classics of Persian poetry during the Timurid period in Transoxiana.
He wrote primarily in Persian and Hindustani. He also wrote a war ballad in Punjabi. In addition, he spoke Arabic and Sanskrit. His poetry is still sung today at Sufi shrines throughout Pakistan and India.
Contributions to Music
Khusrow is credited for the invention of the musical instruments tabla and sitar. The term tabla is derived from an Arabic word, tabl, which means "drum". Sitar is named after a Persian instrument called the setar (meaning "three strings"). The instrument appears to have descended from long-necked lutes taken to India from Central Asia. The first prototype instruments were invented during the Delhi Sultanate period of the 13th/14th centuries when the Persian patrons of music and poetry encouraged innovation in Indian art. The sitar flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries and arrived at its present form in the 18th century. Both these instruments are crucial for India's classical music.
The development of the Tabla originated from the need to have a drum that could be played from the top in the sitting position to enable more complex rhythm structure's that were required for the new Indian Sufi vocal style of singing/chanting and Zikr. At the same time to complement the complex early Sitar melodies that Khusro was composing. The Tabla uses a "complex finger tip and hand percussive" technique played from the top, unlike the Pakhawaj and mridangam which mainly use the full palm and are sideways in motion and are more limited in terms of sound complexity.
The verse supposedly uttered by Khusrow about Delhi is not found in any of his written works.
"Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast "
- Tuhfa-tus-Sighr (Offering of a Minor) his first divan, contains poems composed between the age of 16 and 19
- Wastul-Hayat (The Middle of Life) his second divan
- Ghurratul-Kamaal (The Prime of Perfection) poems composed between the age of 34 and 43
- Baqia-Naqia (The Rest/The Miscellany) compiled at the age of 64
- Qissa Chahar Darvesh The Tale of the Four Dervishes
- Nihayatul-Kamaal (The Height of Wonders) compiled probably a few weeks before his death.
- Qiran-us-Sa’dain (Meeting of the Two Auspicious Stars) Mathnavi about the historic meeting of Bughra Khan and his son Kikabad after long enmity (1289)
- Miftah-ul-Futooh (Key to the Victories) in praise of the victories of Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji (1291)
- Ishqia/Mathnavi Duval Rani-Khizr Khan (Romance of Duval Rani and Khizr Khan) a tragic love poem about Gujarat’s princess Duval and Alauddin’s son Khizr (1316)
- Noh Sepehr (Mathnavi of the Nine Skies) Khusrau’s perceptions of India and its culture (1318)
- Tarikh-i-Alai (Times of Alauddin)
- Tughluq Nama (Book of the Tughluqs) a history of the reign on Tughlaq dynasty (1320)
- Khamsa-e-Nizami (Khamsa-e-Khusrau) five classical romances: Hasht-Bahisht, Matlaul-Anwar, Sheerin-Khusrau, Majnun-Laila and Aaina-Sikandari
- Ejaaz-e-Khusrovi (The Miracles of Khusrau) an assortment of prose
- Khazain-ul-Futooh (The Treasures of Victories)
- Afzal-ul-Fawaid utterances of Nizamuddin Auliya
- Ḳhāliq Bārī a versified glossary of Persian, Arabic, and Hindavi words and phrases often attributed to Amir Khusrau. Ḥāfiz Maḥmūd Shīrānī argued that it was completed in 1622 in Gwalior by Ẓiyā ud-Dīn Ḳhusrau.
- Jawahar-e- Khusrovi often dubbed as the Hindawi divan of Khusrau
- Rashid, Omar (23 July 2012). "Chasing Khusro". Chennai, India: The Hindu. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- Latif, Syed Abdul (1979) . An Outline of the Cultural History of India. Institute of Indo-Middle East Cultural Studies (reprinted by Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers). p. 334. ISBN 81-7069-085-4.
- Regula Burckhardt Qureshi, Harold S. Powers. Sufi Music of India. Sound, Context and Meaning in Qawwali. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 109, No. 4 (Oct. – Dec. 1989), pp. 702–705. doi:10.2307/604123.
- A. Schimmel, "Amīr k̲oṣrow Dehlawī", in Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition, 2007,
- "Амир Хосров Дехлеви", Great Soviet Encyclopedia, Moscow, 1970
- Dr. Iraj Bashiri. "Amir Khusrau Dihlavi". 2001
- Islamic Culture, by the Islamic Cultural Board, Muhammad Asad, Academic and Cultural Publications Charitable Trust (Hyderabad, India), Marmaduke William Pickthall, 1927, p. 219
- Nizamuddin Auliya
- Delhi Sultanate
- Tariq, Rahman. "Punjabi Language during British Rule". JPS 14 (1).
- Mohammad Habib. Hazrat Amir Khusrau of Delhi, 1979, p. 4
- Islamic Cultural Board. Islamic Culture, 1927, p. 219
- Amir Khusrau: Memorial Volume, by Amir Khusraw Dihlavi, 1975, p. 98
- Amir Khusrau: Memorial Volume, by Amir Khusraw Dihlavi, 1975, p. 1
- G. N. Devy. Indian Literary Criticism: Theory and Interpretation, Orient Longman, Published 2002
- Amir Khusrau: Memorial Volume, by Amir Khusraw Dihlavi, 1975, p. 1
- encyclopedia Britannnica www.britannica.com
- Richard Emmert; Yuki Minegishi (1980). Musical voices of Asia: report of (Asian Traditional Performing Arts 1978). Heibonsha. p. 266. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- Sitar#World music influence
- Rajan, Anjana (29 April 2011). "Window to Persia". The Hindu (Chennai, India).
- "Zubin Mehta's concert mesmerizes Kashmir - The Times of India". The Times Of India.
- Shīrānī, Ḥāfiż Mahmūd. "Dībācha-ye duvum [Second Preface]." In Ḥifż ’al-Lisān (a.k.a. Ḳhāliq Bārī), edited by Ḥāfiż Mahmūd Shīrānī. Delhi: Anjumman-e Taraqqi-e Urdū, 1944.
- E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
- Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. ASIN B-000-6BXVT-K
- R.M. Chopra, "The Rise, Growth And Decline of Indo-Persian Literature", Iran Culture House New Delhi and Iran Society, Kolkata, 2nd Ed. 2013.
- Sunil Sharma, Amir Khusraw: Poets of Sultans and Sufis. Oxford: Oneworld Press, 2005.
- Paul Losensky and Sunil Sharma, In the Bazaar of Love: Selected Poetry of Amir Khusrau. New Delhi: Penguin, 2011.
- Important Works of Amir Khusrau (Complete)
- The Khaza'inul Futuh (Treasures of Victory) of Hazarat Amir Khusrau of Delhi English Translation by Muhammad Habib (AMU). 1931.
- Poems of Amir Khusrau The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period, by Sir H. M. Elliot. Vol III. 1866-177. page 523-566.
- Táríkh-i 'Aláí; or, Khazáínu-l Futúh, of Amír Khusrú The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians: The Muhammadan Period, by Sir H. M. Elliot. Vol III. 1866-177. Page:67-92.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Amir Khusrow.|
- Amir Khusro Website
- Original Persian poems of Amir Khusrow at WikiDorj, free library of Persian poetry