Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build, too.

आम्हां घरी धन शब्दांचीच रत्नें | शब्दांचीच शस्त्रें यत्न करुं ||
शब्द चि आमुच्या जीवांचे जीवन | शब्दें वांटूं धन जनलोकां ||
तुका म्हणे पाहा शब्द चि हा देव | शब्द चि गौरव पूजा करुं ||
- abhang of Tukaram Wolhoba Ambile of Dehu

There's No Freedom Like That of a Child's Imagination

கடலுக்கு உண்டு கற்பனைக்கு இல்லை கட்டுப்பாடு

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Akhund of Swat

Here are links to two poems about the 'Akhoond or Akond of Swat'.
http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/show/55825-George-T-Lanigan-A-Threnody
http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ll/akond.html

Wikipedia says the Akhund of Swat was a Muslim saint of great renown, by name of Abdul Ghafur who lived from 1794 to 1877, and who attracted pilgrims from as far as Central Asia. His death was reported in the papers of the time, and the cultural response from the British overlords of Swat (it was then a 'princely state') was as above.

I haven't placed the poems here because their formatting is weird, and I don't have the skills to render them like they are. But if you read them, you can realise the amount of cultural ignorance and insensitivity they display. Both poems were probably written as satires of the then bloodthirsty leadership of their own country (maybe in the mould of Shelley's Ozymandias), especially the former. Given that the Akhund of Swat was a spiritual leader (Pir) and not a temporal one (Mir), they writers also got it factually wrong. But as far as poets are concerned, facts don't matter when you want to make a point.

Today Swat is of course, Taliban territory, and Mullah Mohammad Omar might well be the new Akhund of Swat.

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