breath = prayer of divine

Sanson Ki Mala Pe

saaNsoN kii maalaa pe simruuN maiN pii ka naam
apne mann kii maiN jaanuuN aur pii ke mann kii Ram

With every breath I take, I chant the name of my beloved
I know of my heart, and God knows of the heart of my beloved

yahii merii bandagii hai, yahii merii puujaa

This is my salutation [and] this is my prayer.

ek thaa saajan mandir meN aur ek thaa pritam masjid meN
par maiN prem ke rang meN aisii Duubii ban gayaa ek hii ruup

One lover was in the temple and another in the mosque
but to me, immersed in the joy of love, both seemed same

prem kii maalaa japte japte aap banii maiN Shyam

Chanting on rosary, the name of Shyam [Lord Krishna], I become him.
Note: A Hindu God sung and revered by the patrons of love.

ham aur nahiiN kuchu kaam ke
matvaare pii ke naam ke, har dam

I am worthless except that
I surrender to the name of my beloved, all the time.

priitam kaa kuch dosh nahiiN hai vo to hai nirdosh
apne aap se baateN kar ke ho gayii maiN badnaam

My beloved is not to be blamed, it is no fault of his
I became infamous only because of talking to myself.

The Spirit of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
by Andy Carvin

In 1993, a winter performance at the Gateway Theater in Chicago displayed all the ingredients of a typical rock concert: an endless, almost hypnotizing beat; hundreds of mesmerized individuals slavishly clap to the beat while dozens more dance in the aisles. But unlike a U2 or Pearl Jam show, this was a concert with a higher purpose — rejoicing in the grace of Allah.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a name which is neither well-known or well-pronounced by most Americans, is a pinnacle of success in southern Asia and many other parts of the world. Hailed by many as the Pavarotti of Pakistan, Khan is the world’s most celebrated qawwal. A qawwal is a specially-trained male vocalist who performs qawwali, a musical expression of devotional poetry practiced by the Sufis. The Sufis, an ancient mystical sect of Islam, achieve spiritual enlightenment through music, much like a Whirling Dervish achieves a higher state of consciousness through dancing.

In performing qawwali, the main vocalist sits with three other vocalists, two of which are playing harmonium pump organs. Behind them sit five other men: four who clap and sing as a chorus, and one who plays the tabla, the traditional drum of the Subcontinent. As the harmonium players begin to solo in the chosen key, the chorus and tabla player keep a steady beat. The qawwal and his other singers then sustain a passionate cry, calling the audience to order. Once the qawwal is ready, he begins the lyrics — often a praising of Muhammad or a tale of love.

Qawwali is performed in a simple verse-and-chorus format. The qawwal will continue each verse, trading off lines with the other singers. As each verse builds to a climax, they passionately return to the chorus, over and over again, for up to twenty minutes. Words are repeated until they lose meaning, leaving only the music and the spirit behind.
While traditional Qawwal is performed at Sufi shrines and weddings, Khan has brought the style to the West with wild abandon. Though other vocalists may have a stronger voice or greater range, it can be easily argued than Khan has the most passionate voice in the modern musical world.


Sanson Ki Mala Pe