Shah Latif and His Message - G. M. Syed
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Chapter 11
Our Responsibilities toward Shah Latif

It is a distinct characteristic of every national poet that he influences the people belonging to the rural background, the urban background as well as the illiterate and the learned people.

Our national poet Shah Abdul Latif lived more than two hundred years back. Since that time many changes have come about in the life of the people as well as the conditions in the country, so much so that quite a large number of words used by Shah Latif in his work have become archaic, to understand which a dictionary has to be consulted. Moreover, as a result of the existence of big cities, railways, roads, airlines, postage, telegraph, telephone and television a tremendous change has occurred as compared to the past, when there existed no such modern facilities. But despite all these changes wherever we turn our eyes we shall see the influence of Shah Latif. While at one place we shall see people enjoying his poetry presented through the medium of music, and at another we shall, see men of learning and the admirers of his poetry discussing it in their gatherings.

Just as governments mint gold coins to be used as currency for transacting business in the country, the affluent class makes a display of their wealth by using the utensils made from this precious metal, the rich ladies enhance their beauty by wearing gold ornaments, and the medical men use it to the prepare tonics to add to physical strength, in the same manner the poetry of a national poet can be used in the support of different ideas and tendencies. It is said that:

The reach of every manís imagination is in accordance with his capacity.

On the one hand the poetry of Shah Latif has been the subject of the sermons and counsels of the learned men while on the other hand the literary men and critics analyze his poetry in their gatherings, and highlight its qualities of language and expression. The Sufis (mystics) make an effort to fathom the secrets of mysticism enshrined in it, and the illiterate rural folk derive satisfaction through it. Therefore every one can interpret Shah Latif poetry in accordance with his need and requirement.

In my opinion it is high time that this "quintessence of gold", Shah Latifís poetry, is used for the health and strength of the nation. In order to achieve this aim it is most essential to study his poetical work from a political point of view. I have done so from this very point of view. It is quite possible that due to lack of knowledge, a limited time, and paucity of information I may not have been successful in projecting this new tendency in accordance with the requirements of the time, but I can hope that other men of learning, getting a few ideas and suggestions from this inadequate attempt I have made, would project this subject in a more comprehensive and exhaustive manner. I am thoroughly conscious of my weakness and defects, but this effort of mine, whatever the degree of its merit, will serve as a spur to those who are not only endowed with learning but also possess a deep sense of national honor and respect.

If masters of the Urdu language can project the work of Dr. Iqbal and other poets by writing a large number of books and interpretations of their works, why we the Sindhis should not use the poetry of Shah Latif for the purpose of bringing about a national awakening and political consciousness among our younger generation, and thus arousing in them a spirit of national self-respect to make them capable of entering the arena of action with absolute confidence before other nations of the world.

This work can effectively be accomplished only when we fully realize our responsibilities toward the Sindhi national poet, Shah Latif Bhitai.

Some of the good work which can be done in this connection is to hold musical concerts projecting Shah Latifís poetry or to participate in them for the pleasure it provides, to celebrate his death anniversary, to pay tribute to him at his shrine and to bring to the knowledge of the men of learning in the country and abroad the verses of Shah Latif through articles and books on his poetry. But to project the real message conveyed through his poetry has a special significance. And the fact is that we have to go through all kinds of trials and tribulation to project our national identity, and to develop its consciousness. The man, who cannot make sacrifices for the independence and progress of Sindh with patience and a smile on his face, he can not claim to have any love and dedication for Shah Latif. Shah Latif himself expresses himself in this connection in the following verse:

To take a glimpse of your beloved from a hiding place does not show true love, but its greatest evidence is that you lay down your life in his house. No one can really love who is not serious about it.

The man who does not develop a consciousness of his national identity, has to look toward the aliens for help and succor and losing his importance, is compelled only to lament and groan. Such a person will never be able to understand the poetry of Shah Latif:

To die of Thirst living on the bank of a liver can only be business of fools. The beloved is always close as oneís heart, then why canít you find him. The fool is not even aware of this fact and only bewails and laments like the one who was been robbed.

Such an insensitive person enjoys a sound sleep. He is usually unaware of the grieves and sorrows of his neighbors. He does not care about the people who have a sympathetic heart. His days a free from worry and the nights from anxiety. He is a person whose entire energies are directed toward the accumulation of wealth. He never finds anything interesting in righteousness and truth and is devoid of the spirit of sacrifice. A person of such a character and nature can never claim to be devoted to Shah Latif. In my opinion with regard to Shah Latif it is the responsibility of every Sindhi, that benefiting from the thought and ideas of Shah Latif he should devote himself in the service of Sindh.

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