Poet of seven languages
By: MEHAK ALI NAQVI
Karachi: Sachal Sarmast was a great saint, a mystic poet, a philosopher and one of the towering personalities produced by Sindh. His 193rd death anniversary and Urs are being observed all over the province (Thursday through Saturday) at his shrine, Daraza Sharif, Khairpur district. The spirit of Islamic mysticism, which is a distinctive mark of the 16th century mystic poets of Iran, has exercised a profound influence on the Islamic poetry of the subcontinent. This influence was the strongest in the 18th century. Sachal showed excellence in both esoteric and exoteric poetry. In this respect, Wali Dakhni can favourably be compared to him. Sachal was fond of Sama (musical session for mystical poetry) where he would be found absorbed in meditation. His poetry of divine love is in seven languages, Sindhi, Seraiki, Persian, Punjabi, Arabic, Urdu and Hindi, thus giving him the title of Shair-i-Haft Zuban (the poet of seven languages).
He composed poetry in all poetical genres, including Kaafis, Baits, Ghazals, Masnavis, Si Harfis, Mustazad, Hamd, Jhoolna, Gharoli, Musaddas, Mukhammas, Diwan-i-Ashkar and Dard Nama. Masnavis are his compilation in Persian, which are mainly philosophical. His Sindhi and Seraiki poetry is considered superb. Sachal insisted that his poetry was the result of divine inspiration. He says: Een sukhan as ishq nay az sharist/kay Khan danad een ashaar (What I utter is inspired by divine love. It is not mere poetry. So how can the ignorant grasp its meaning?). When poetic inspiration came, he would be in a state of trance. Tears would flow from his eyes. The hair on his head would stand and he would be in a state of ecstasy. His followers would remember or note down whatever he would utter. On coming back to consciousness, he would deny having uttered such verses; he would also not be able to explain them. That is why his poetry sometimes contains strange and obscure expressions, which astonished his followers.
Sachal’s Seraiki poetry, although not extensive in volume like his Sindhi and Persian works, is demonstrative of his linguistic mastery and is soaked in divine love. The style and mystic import of Heer Ranjha are also indicative of his individuality in treating the subject. Sachal was the first poet of Sindh who composed ghazals in Urdu, besides other forms of poetry in Urdu. Although Sachal`s Urdu is often considered rustic, it is full of appeal and betrays the mystical as well as the material side of human nature. Like his Sindhi poetry, his Urdu verses reveal his outspoken, frank and bold personality. He was an ascetic and led a life of piety and self-discipline up to the age of 90. He passed away on Ramazan 14, 1242 Hijri (AD 1829).
Mir Rustam Khan Talpur, the ruler of the Khairpur state, later on built his mausoleum. The annual Urs begins on Ramazan 12 when thousands of devotees throng his shrine.