Current NewsDetails

Ali Mardan Khan’s Persian poem In praise of Lord Shiva

14 Jun 2022

Ali Mardan Khan’s Persian poem
In praise of Lord Shiva
— Hira Lal Kak
The story goes that Ali Mardan Khan, the Kurdish governor of Kashmir appointed by Shah Jahan, the governor who built Chashmeshahi Garden, the supposed owner of a philosopher stone got from a dead snake woman, was one night strolling around Shalimar Garden when his eyes suddenly fell on Mahadeo peak and saw something, believed he saw Shiva himself. He went on to write a poem on his experience. No one was to later claim that he must have been smoking or drinking Shiva stuff. The story is  interesting not just because of the obvious ‘Muslim Man singing Hindu Hosanna’ thing but because in this particular story and the poem associated with the story, the whole unique Hindu concept of ‘Darshan’ and the concept of God having physical attributes is also adopted.
I have read the story and reference to the poem in a lot of ‘our great culture’ writing on Kashmir. But never was the poem presented in entirety. The usual - someone knows 30% about something, he shares 15%, someone else is happy copying 10%, and in the end you get only 5% but that doesn’t matter because you get a lazy ‘our great culture’ kick even in that 5% and that’s how the matter remains. In my case, OCD causes me all kind of problems. I need to know more even if I don’t understand it. Even if it is all Persian to me.
Here’s the complete poem, in what may or may not pass for Persian, with what may or may not pass for translation:
That night
Huma Aslay Maheshwar Bood
Shabshahay Ki Man Didam
Gazanfar Charam Dar Barbood
Shab Shahay
I saw him at night, I am sure it was Maheshwar
wearing a Lion skin on him, that night
Zee Bhasamsh Jam-e-Bar Tan
Zonarsh maar bar gardan
Ravansh gang bar sar bood
Shab Shahay
His body covered in ash, a snake around the neck
Ganga was flowing down from his hair, that night
Say Chashmash bar jabeen Darad
Zee mehroy roshan tar
Say Karan Dast Bastah bood
Shab Shahay
Three eyes on his face, his face all illuminating
for that reason, my hands paid him respect, that night
B-dastash Aab-e-Kosar
V-bekh Nakusee Nilofar
Hilalash Taaj bar sar bood
Shab Shahay
Water of bounty, a lotus conch in hand
his head was lit by moon, that night
Uma Az Soi-la-Bingar
Zi Sad Khursheed Taban tar
Svarash Kulib-e-nar bood
Shab Shahay
Uma to his left, bright like a thousand suns
their ride was a Bull, that night
Ajab Sanyaas-e-didam
Namo Narayan Guftam
E-Khakay paye bosidham
Shab Shahay
I saw a strange renouncer, my lips uttered - Namoh Narayan
I kissed the dust flying off his feet, that night
Nigahay bar manay Miskeen
Namood Az Chashim Tabaan Tar
Makanash Laamkan tar bood
Shab Shahay
He looked deep into me with his shining eyes
I saw his house in the uninhabitable infinite, that night
Manam Mardaan Ali Khanam
Gulam Shah-e-Shaham
Ajab Israar may Beenam
Shab Shahay
I, Ali Mardan Khan, server of King of Kings
I witnessed something very strange, that night. n