Shah Latif and His Message - G. M. Syed
All Rights Reserved to Sain Publishers Sehwan Sharif,, Sindh ©
Chapter 8
Important Features of Shah Latif’s Poetry

 The following are the important features of Shah Latif's poetry.

  1. It is fully representative of Sindhi nationality. Love for Sindh and every thing, which belongs to it, is its important element. With the exception of the tragedy of Karbela almost the stories and characters in it are Sindhi.
  2. The language which has been used in his poetry, ipw"t from some reference, is purely Sindhi, to the extent that some of the words which have now become archaic, are not quite easy to understand.
  3. The third important feature of Shah Latif's poetry is that in the tradition of Hindi poetry he has visualized woman as the lover and man as the beloved. The approach is contrary to the tradition of Persian and Arabic poetry.
  4. All the folk tales and their characters, which he has presented in his poetry, from the point of view of their end, are tragic.
  5. His poetry never arouses people for an immediate gain and transitory success, rather teaching man to sacrifice temporary gain to achieve an enduring aim is the real spirit of his poetry.
  6. Like Mathanvi of Maulana Rome, he does not ever convey moral lessons by narrating entire stories. He has not narrated even one of the folk tales completely, which constitute his poetic work He has rather presented the characters partially and has projected some of the incidents and situations from specific angles. In other words he has used the well-known stories, characters, incidents and situations in the form of a symbol or a metaphor and thus adopting this mode of expression he has conveyed his message by establishing a relation of the put with the present and future. Here are some examples to elucidate this point.
SUR Kalyan (A musical tune)

In the first part of this tune after stating his belief in Pantheism, he has mentioned the lovers and men of vision in the subsequent parts, who have noble aim and for the achievement of which they are prepared to make all kinds of sacrifices. He has divided the lovers into two groups. First those who are sincere in their aims and possess a spirit of sacrifice, who never care for their lives, never attach any importance to being put into confinement and chains. They bear wounds but never complain. When offered the chalice of poison, instead, of evading it, they are anxious to drink it. They never lose their perseverance even when their head is lifted on the point of a spear after being severed from the body. They consider the cross as their ornament. They consider it a cause of disgrace to turn away from the path of loyalty. For them, there exists no distinction between a comfortable bed and a cross. Speaking about these people Shah Latif expresses his feelings in the following verse:

The cross is an ornament for those who are inspired with a sincere sentiment of love. For them, it is disgraceful to turn away from this sentiment. Manfully and boldly, they advance toward the place of execution.

The other group of lovers and those who are distinguished by their weakness and delicacy. They have chosen for themselves the road to safety and security. They are not prepared to adopt the arduous path of sacrifice. Drinking is the part of their character, but when they are faced with danger to their lives immediately, they fly from it. Calling these people weaklings Shah Latif gives expression to his thoughts in the following verse:

How can these insincere seekers realize the significance of wine. When the wine sellers lays the dagger in front of them they are scared to death. Only those who are prepared to sacrifice their life can know the proper way to drink.

Sur Aiman Kalyan

In this musical tune Shah Latif mentions excesses and tortures inflicted upon the people and their trials and tribulations and denitrifying those who struggle for the salvation of the country and the people. He says:

The healthy cannot understand the predicament of the sick. Those who fall on the ground burdened by this sickness (signifying love) can never use again. Thy cry for their beloved, their nights are spent in shedding tears.
Those who seek companionship of the physicians, they are soon cured of their illness.

Learn you, the sick-man, to sit in the company of physicians, so that you are healed of your illness. If you really seek, salvation cast off your evil habits.

While trying to identify’ the virtues and qualities of the sincere leaders he also counsels the people to be warned against being trapped by the designs of selfish, self seeking and hypocritical leaders:

I became a prey to the quacks arid did not find a perfect physician for my ailment. I was totally devastated by the charlatans.

He counsels the leaders of the nation to march forward with determination and to face all unfavorable situations with courage, and spurring their spirit of sacrifice, he says:

Learn from the moths how they let themselves be consumed ill fire. The way they hurl themselves into the fire is an evidence that the fire of love in fact consumes them.

Advising the leaders of the nation to be warned, he expresses his thoughts in the following verse:

It is not an expression of true love that you try to have a glimpse of your beloved from a hiding place. There is nothing but hypocrisy, that instead of being restless for your beloved, you go to sleep without any anxiety.

Sur Khumbat

The objective, in the view of the mystics is one God, and for the patriotic, the freedom and progress of the nation. At one place comparing this with the moon, which signifies here a borrowed beauty and impressiveness, he says:

Addressing the full Moon, he asks him to shine in her full beauty. But despite all her beauty, he says, she bears no comparison with his beloved. Her entire beauty is the one, which his beloved has bestowed upon her. (The beloved stands for God, in this verse).

At another place considering the Moon as his messenger, he projects the majesty and glory of his beloved in the following verse:

Addressing the Moon, he asks her to turn her attention toward his beloved. He requests her to intimate him about his miserable condition, and to tell him that he, the poet, is always waiting to have his vision.

At one place comparing the spirit of action to a camel, he expresses his restlessness to attain to his destination, which is his beloved:

Addressing his camel he say's, it is the time of the night and he has a long and arduous journey before him and they are travelling to meet his beloved, therefore he should not slow down. But, he says, obstacles and impediments in his journey will further spur in him the desire to meet his beloved.

At another place addressing his camel, which stands for the spirit of action and adventure, as his guide, he further says to excite him to action:

Oh my dear camel, do not forget your pedigree, because your ancestors are famous I would really be grateful, if following the tradition of your ancestors, you do me a favor.

Sur Suryrag:

Life has been compared, in this tune, to journey in a deep and vast ocean, in which the raveIers are confronted with many storms, whirlpools and terrifying waves. In this adventurous journey he counsels the patriotic as the envoys of truth to achieve their objective through faith, penitence, prayer, dedication to the objective, percussion, acquisition of necessary information and equipment and finally by plunging into the depth of the ocean. He says:

 Only yesterday, in the expectation of northerly winds fair for their journey, the nomads of the sea unfurled their sails. Oh God, protect them, that even the edge of their oars is not damaged.
 Cast your eyes on the sea, there is water and water irk whichever direction we see. Oh God, protect them against hitting the shoals of the islands. May none of the ships or even a plank be damaged. May no harm come to the ship of the poor.
Those who are equipped with truth and justice, there is a tidings of joy for these virtuous people in the Holy Qur'an and for the hereafter. They are the only people whom God has steered through the sea.
Those who make their faith as the source of strength, only they can pass safely through the dangers of this life.
It is through repentance that the virtuous, passing through all kinds of storms, reach their destination.
Those who set sail with their faith in God, no harm can come to them from the stormy waves of the sea.
My riend, your ship will never be wrecked in the sea, if you keep awake and keep your eyes open.
The divers have drawn the pearls from the depth of the sea.
Only the experts can understand the real value of diamonds, simply by looking at them. You always need the opinion of the experts to evaluate the diamonds.
Only the experts can understand the real value of diamonds, simply looking at them. You always need the opinion of the experts to evaluate the diamonds.

Precautionary Measures:

 You must understand that you should be well prepared with all the safety gear when you launch your ship on the sea, because no one will come to your rescue at the moment of danger.

To be well-informed:

Oh Sailor, be well informed through the men of learning, so that you may steer your ship successfully in the voyage of life.

Counsel to remain on guard:

Get some equipment and secure it in your boat Thou negligent man, are you aware that the sea waves can spell your disaster. Then why are you careless. You will never know when these waves can sink your boat

Counsel regarding the permanent values:

Bargain for the equipment, which does not lose its value. No matter where you take it, it should maintain its value. Always deal in such business, which is ultimately profitable for you.

Sur Samondi

In this musical tune Shah Latif in the style of the sailors, has selected such patriotic and honorable elements as his subject, who become homeless in the service of the nation and the country. For years, they suffer the advertisement of imprisonment and exile fight the dangers of storms; due to which the people of their household live in a state of fear and uncertainty. With hearts beating they pray for their security and make offerings to ensure their safe return. Interpreting their feelings Shah Latif expresses himself in the following verse:

Of what relation I am to the boatman. If there is one, it is only that of grief and sorrow. My beloved has gone on his journey, leaving me behind to suffer in the fire of hope.
 Here on the seashore I am passing my days in the memory of my beloved. It is real torture to my soul when the past memories are revived.
My beloved begins to talk about the next journey, Immediately after he has returned. His indifferent attitude has poisoned my life.
On sea and on land I light the lamps as an offering. I tie the buntings on the bushes and trees hoping for the fulfillment of my desires. My only desire is the return of my beloved without wasting any more time.
Never develop a relation of love with those whose home is the sea. They travel on the sea with their sails bulged out, they leave behind deep wounds and suffering.
So, my beloved, have you forgotten your promise. It is only yesterday you came, and now your are preparing for your next journey.

Sur Sohni

In this musical tune, using Sohni as a symbol, he has made his subject the people who not only have an objective before them but also the spirit to achieve. He desires to explain that unless there is an objective, the seeker has no significance and if the objective is not achieved ~e seeker remains unholy, and when he does achieve it he is thoroughly cleaned. But achievement of noble aims is not easy, for in the struggle to achieve it one has to go through the darkness of trial, the whirlpool of suffering, terrifying rivers, and riding the unbaked pitcher. (In the romantic folk tale, Sohni and Maenwal, Sohni tries to cross the river, supported by an unbaked pitcher to meet her lover across the river-of course she drowns) During these terrifying trials, only the dedication to the achievement is the greatest source of guidance. In addition, this love and dedication strengthens the nerves, consoles and urges on the travelers, and leaves an impression on the mind that one can never escape death. But only that person is really triumphant who lays down his life in the search of his objective.

He counsels love for the objective:

 My mind does not entertain any thought except that of Maenwal, my mind is obsessed with his thought only. I remember him every moment of my life.

He expresses his thoughts about the fact that life does not signify anything without an objective:

Without the union with her beloved, Sohni is not only imperfect but also unholy. She can only be cleansed and purified when she can sit in the company of her beloved.

Referring to the obstacles in the way of the acquisition of the objective, he says:


The dangerous wave continues to rise in the sea (the world) and throws the swimmers and the boatmen violently against the islands. My God, help me to steer myself through such dangers until I reach my destination.

In the following verses, Shah Latif describes the level and significance of the ruler in his action and love for the acquisition of his objective:


If Sohni had not plunged into the river in her love for Maenwal, no one in the world would have heard her name.
Just a fiery particle of love made her mad. She gave her life in the way of love. She is not dead, she is a martyr:
Addressing her friends Sohni says, "My friends, my soul has been awakened by the music of the hells around the necks of Maenwal animals. I have no words to describe the sweetness of their music. The beloved to whom I have dedicated my love, calls me."

Referring to the unlimited and unending difficulties, which come in the way of the acquisition of the objective, Shah Latif says:

There is no limit to suffering and anxiety in love. Love is a mystery which only love can unravel.

Even if I see my beloved on the doomsday, I shall believe that I have met him today. I shall then deserve to be congratulated at this union.

While counseling the seeker to keep advancing to achieve his objective, brushing away all the obstacles in the way, he does not lose sight of the elements standing in the way. In addition, addressing them he gives a warning in the following verse:

Addressing the river Maenwal says, how could it drown his Sohni, who was his objective and love. He tells the river that on the doomsday he will raise his voice against it for justice.

Then he says in the following verse:

Does not be so proud Oh River, you will have to answer for the wrong you have done. Remember that the days of your revels will not last forever. Just in one single shock, you will be startled out of your ecstasy.

Sur Sarang

In this musical’ tune Shah Latif has given the good news to the people to remove the chains of enslavement from the neck of the country, to re-enkindle their spirit of determination and courage to rid themselves of fear and terror which tend to turn them into weaklings and to eliminate the hoarders and black marketers. At the same time he has conveyed to them the news to let them hear the echo of revolution in the paralyzed atmosphere of the homeland, the thick clouds from the North which promise to bring heavy rains to the, thirsty land, for the farmers to put their hands on the plough, to end the suffering and pain, to let the fellow country-men to savor success, for the grain to be available cheap, tile coming of refreshing rains, the hollows and pools to be over-flown with water and the pitchers to be filled to the brim with milk and butter. This entire musical tune is infused with the spirit of revolution. Primarily, in this tune, Shah Latif has extended consolation and encouragement to the humanity suffering in impoverishment and enslavement, and gives them the message that this drought of oppression will come to end. The day is not far that the drums of revolution will sound and the hearts will be enlivened with a new spirit. Using Sarang as a metaphor for Revocation Shah Latif says:

Addressing the rains he says that take consideration for those who are thirsty, let he land be refreshed with water. Let the people have easy access to food, and let the whole country relish the joys of prosperity.

Addressing the poor people of his country, he says:

You, who despite being poor, are endowed with the wealth enshrined in your land, look at the ~y overcast, it is pouring, drive your cattle out, and go set up your homes where people have made their habitation. God is great, He is merciful, never be unhopeful of his love and mercy.

Continuing he says in the following verse:

 The rains have come, the sky is overcast, the birds are singing melodiously and the farmers and other laborers have taken their instruments of work. Today my beloved (my God) will pour all his blessings upon us.

He continues in the same strain in the following verses:

God has commanded clouds to load themselves with rain. There Is lightening and the rains have started. The hoarder will sell goods. At high price, so that they can make illigal profit. May these greedy people are eliminated from this society. All are completely absorbed in the praise of God, because all look toward him in their pain and adversity.

Sur Kedaro

Some of the scholars who have conducted research on the works of Shah Latif do not agree that he is the author of Sur Kedaro verses. In their opinion the major potion of these verses are contrary to the principle of Shah Latif that the tales and characters external to Sindh should be included in Sindhi literature. But due to the following reasons in my opinion Shah Latif has definitely chosen the’ incident of Karbela as the subject of his poetry, and the major portion of the Kedaro verses have -been written by him.

  1. The dispute, which existed among the religious scholars, during the period of Shah Latif, about whether there, should be mourning or not during the month of Muharam, Shah Latif supported the religious scholars who were in the favor of mourning.
  2. The successors and descendents of Shah Latif have continued the tradition of mourning till today. The turban of Shah Latif, one of his relics is black in color and his followers and caliphs also wore the headdress of black color.
  3. Shah Latif selected mostly tragic themes for his poetry, and since the tragedy of Karbela is an extraordinary incident in the history of Islam, it was quite natural that he did not consider choosing this theme contrary to his principle. Shah Latif was definitely influenced by the extraordinary character of this tragedy. For a majority of people to unite against Imam Hussain in violation of all canons of justice was something which did not impress Shah Latif favorably? Despite the fact Imam Hussain was not well equipped against the enemy he aid not surrender to the government and a superior power. Shah Latif has expressed admiration and praise for those who confronted the enemy on the battlefield in defense of justice and has condemned the cowardly, and has counseled the true and the just to go through trials and attain a place of honor. He says:
The suffering in the course of martyrdom, are a source or pride for those who die like martyrs. Only the wise can understand the truth about the incident of Karbela, in which Imam Hussain and his companions quaffed the cup of martyrdom. This incident is replete with great wisdom.

Then be says:

Stay away, my friend, from the people who are engaged in military conflict against the descendents of li and are bent upon creating chaos. They belong to the party of Yazid. Always keep away from them.

Then it is followed by the verse given below:

Not every one is brave and courageous on the battlefield. The really valiant are those who do not desert the field out of fear. Rather, without caring for their lives, die fighting against the enemy.

The following verses carry the same strain of thought:

Whom God loves embrace martyrdom on the battlefield. He allows them to be inflicted with pain and trials. God’s will is done in whichever manner he desires. It is a mystery beyond the limited human understanding.

The following verses have a strange mystery in the manner the spouse prays for her husband:

Oh dear husband! May you never return from the battlefield. May you die as a martyr and I shall mourn for you. But my friends will laugh at me if you come back alive.


The vultures were looking for food since long. At last, their anxiety came to end when the valiant entered the battlefield. The brave soldiers are never afraid of war, and are always prepared to lay down their lives for truth.
To kill, to inflict wounds, to rear horses, to inquire about the welfare of friends, are the characteristics of the valiant. These are the people who never refuse to enter the sport in which there is clash of arms.
Only those women are really triumphant and happy who weep and wail bitterly. My friends, it is only through this mourning that their ancestors have been elevated to the position of honor. Because their dear ones have earned the honor of martyrdom in the battlefield.
 You! the coward, you have escaped from the field of battle. You will face nothing but humiliation in front of your friends. Only those women are honored’ whose men are martyred. You can get from them nothing except abuse for this poltroonery.

Sur Sassi Aabri

In this musical tune, Shah Latif has mentioned, especially Sassi, Punnu, the hills of Kech Makran, the jungles, moreover the brothers of Punnu and Sassi’s parents in-law. If all these elements are taken as political symbols, Sassi stands for the oppressed people, Punnu for a brave and determined national leader, the Kech Makran hills for the independent and progressive country, and the brothers of Punnu and Sassi’s parents-in-law stand for the forces of antagonism which stand in the way of the progress and prosperity of the people. The jungles and mountains will be visualized as difficulties and temptations, which stand in the way of the achievement of the objective, and suffering and pain as guides in this enterprise.

Just as saccharin is the essence of sweetness, in the same manner suffering and pain are the essence of love in which lies the real happiness. In order to achieve the objective people have to be inured to the difficulties, calamities, adversities and mischance. Without sacrifice and temptation, the achievement of the objective is nothing but an illusion. Only those people can achieve the objective who are inspired with a sincere spirit and determined to trample the mountain under their feet.

The initial disappointments bring us closer to our expectations. However, there is the need of the kindness of the Baluch, which Shah Latif has used as a figure of speech. Not only, the apparent struggle is essential in this course, but also the ability to search one’s soul. Wisdom is an essential element as the part of practical struggle, and a state of obsession along with wisdom. Those who rely only on their wisdom will cease their struggle in the middle of their efforts. Many are the friends in your prosperity, but there are hardly any friends in adversity. But those who are endowed with the courage and determination to pass through temptation, they are thoroughly justified in their determination to set about their journey. Those who are not capable of going through trials, quite naturally they are constrained to follow a different and easier path. This is hardly the business of the people who are not prepared to take this course seriously. To be oblivious about one’s objective and to sit idly is not at all desirable. Only those people can understand it who never stops in this journey:

If you really love your beloved, the difficulties in the journey have no significance. If you act like the messenger, who shuttles between the two points, you will never reach your goal.
 Oh Sassi! search every corner of your house. Why do you wish to go far, he is very much the part of your own self.
Those who are not endowed with love and do not have the experience of separation, how can they reach their goal. Only the ostentatious exhibit their sentiments to the world.
Let those friends of mine give up the thought of the journey who seek pleasure and comfort. Only they can go through the sufferings of a journey through deserts and mountains whose hearts are driven with the sentiment of love.
Only the one who lived with the memories of her beloved, Punnu, the loveless people cannot stand before her. The fortunate those who are sincerely determined to reach their destination..
Oh Sassi, give up this laziness and lethargy and continue moving ahead, leaving all thoughts behind. Your only objective should be reaching Punnu. Do not stop, otherwise you will be engulfed by dust and sand.
Now travelling alone I shall go to Punnu. In my way stand, high mountains and I have to negotiate difficult roads. But, if I continue to have the memory of Punnu in my heart. I have no fear of my loneliness.
I am not one of those whose hearts are filled with fear when faced with the challenge to cross the deserts and the mountains. I shall follow the pattern of the people for whom arduous struggle is a way of life.

Sur Mazuri

This musical tune also deals with the theme of Sassi and Punnu, but illustrating different subjects. What are the m~ to achieve the objective, and what are its advantages. Demonstration of courage, to be prepared to die before the death, to continue the journey without caring about the extremities of weather, being able to withstand the agonies separation, restlessness in love, are the emotions which hi been visualized here. These are the sentiments, which pain us well as comfort. Observe these sentiments expressed in following verses:

Those who are not sincerely fired with love for Punnu, and are devoid of love and sincerity are easily tired before they can reach Punnu (The beloved). However, those who are sincere in their love, the mountainous paths turn into pleasant highways. My friends are shortsighted and misguided because they are not true in their love. Oh! Sassi, the daughter of the priest (Pundit) considers yourself fortunate even if your body reaches Kech in shreds.
I found renown when I met my valiant beloved (Punnu); otherwise, who had heard the name of Sassi, merely the daughter of a Brahman. How fortunate I am, that not only in Sindh I am also known in the foreign lands.
Only the woman who does not take anything with her, can see her beloved, only she is blessed with being united with him, not with them who are busy in self adornment.

Sassi does not sit down after getting tired, but she continues her journey. She has completely deprived herself of all the comforts of the cool shade of the trees or anything that to human comfort.

Oh Sassi! Do not let your energies and spirit turn stale by idleness. It is great deal better to die in your search for your beloved. Don 't let your determination be shaken by doubts and misgivings. The real pleasure is indeed in the struggle for the achievement of the objectives, rather than the achievement itself.

 Sassi does not sit down comfortably after she is tired; rather she renews her efforts for the journey. She has deprived herself of the comforts of the cool shade of the trees.

 She is a lone woman. She finds her way to Punnu guided by the trees and birds, and sets about on her journey. In her helplessness, she prays to God for again being united to her beloved.
 The grief of the lovers reaches such a high pitch that even the sounds of music reflect their mourning soul. Only the determination of the unhappy lovers can prove a remedy of their malady.
My whole youth has been spent uselessly without seeing my beloved. The high mountains stand between me and my beloved. For a miserable creature like me, great achievements are beyond my power. My whole life has been spent in the deserted mountains and desert, calling my beloved.


In the deserts and wilderness, the voice of Sassi sounds like the music of the instruments of music. As a matter of fact, this is the voice of love, but for the people it is merely the voice of a week woman.

Sur Desi

In this musical tune, also Shah Latif has expressed different sentiments with reference to Sassi and Punnu. At one place identifying the elements, which are the cause of Sassi’s suffering and agony, he says:

Sassi says that camels, the brothers of her husband and the mountains, all have been the cause of her suffering and agony. She has been a victim of all these elements, which have been the cause of her unhappiness.

At another place, in the manner of Sassi, Shah Latif counseling farsightedness to the seeker says that if we act wisely, and the dangers are anticipated, if we remain on guard against hypocritical friends we can easily avoid any future calamities. He says:

Oh Sassi! when the caravan of camels had encamped at your place, why did your not tie the feet of camels with the strands of your hair. Had you done that you would not have been wandering in the mountains and deserts.

To trust strangers and aliens is a dangerous weakness of the credulous, which Shah Latif did not like. Holding the simplicity and credulity of Sassi responsible for her tribulations, Shah Latif expresses himself in the words of Sassi in the following verse:

Strangers can only be strangers. They can never be sincere and faithful. There is nothing in the hearts of my husband’s brothers except falsehood, but they maintain this pretense of pleasant behavior. But the morning sees the caravan disappear.

At one place, in the words of Sassi, he identifies the elements, who in complicity with one another become the cause of trouble. All these elements serve as a symbol. Shah Latif says:

The camels, their masters, the camel drivers, and the brothers of my husband, all of them are my enemies. Even the air is my enemy, since it has obliterated the foot-prints of my beloved (Punnu) The sun is my enemy because it rose late, when they took away Punnu, and I went on sleeping. The moon is my enemy because it had set early. Look at my miserable condition that on that very day, like birds, I went early to bed.

At another place viewing the caravan coming from Kech as the symbol of the message of freedom, he says:

Look, what a beautiful caravan of camels has arrived from Kech. How beautifully these camels have been adorned. In every word, they speak and the gesture they make, the camel drivers look fascinating.

Counseling about fighting bravely all the obstacles and temptation on the path of achievement of the objective, he says:

Sassi says, that she has successfully traveled the road where there are impassable mountains and wildernesses. This is the road on which even the men of wisdom lose their wits. But she triumphed in this venture through the inspiration of love. One who has Punnu as his guide no fear can stand before her.
Although it is essential to trust your companions in the journey of life, but a blind faith can only be harmful. Shah Latif describes this truth in the following manner.
My dear friend, do not trust the promises of Punnu. Wish I had not gone to sleep and would have held him firmly within my arms. Punnu and his brother did not show any liking for me, but perhaps some evil-minded person had solemnized my marriage.

Sur Kohyari

In this tune, also Shah Latif has expressed the feelings attributed to Sassi and Punnu. In its first part, he counsels to continue the journey by shaking off negligence and lethargy. He says:

You negligent and indifferent Sassi, give up laziness and idleness. Why are you still intoxicated with sleep. Shadows have gone up and found their goal. Then wake up lest you have to cry for help in the mountains.

In the second art addressing the elements, which cause pain, he advises them to awaken their conscience. He says:

Oh the mountains speak a word of consolation to those who are stricken with grief. The people, who are separated from their beloveds, ask them again and again. Speaking to the stones he questions, where is the justice to injure the feet of the people.

In the third part encouraging the intensity in the dedication to the achievement of objective, he says:

Whatever I am, I am the handmaid of Baluch. Baluch will not listen to me, the miserable creature as I am. I am n~ worth the shoes, he wears. It is not within my power to forget the chiefs of Kech.

At one place speaking about the people who are nonchalant toward rief and pain, he considers them belonging to a different class. How can they ever be sympathetic toward those who are grief-stricken. He says:

The women who are not disturbed and grieved at the separation from those they love, how can they share the rief of others. In fact, they shed only crocodile tears. Those who really suffer, it becomes amp]y evident from their appearance.
How may I weep for my beloved, because my feelings are hardly capable of the love of Punnu. In my way stand the ‘trees of the forest which injure the traveler. I am confronted with my enemies. You can hear the cry of the love-stricken in the craggy mountains.

Sur Hussaini

This musical tune is also dedicated to Sassi and Punnu as symbols. The struuggle and determination which is required from the seeker for the achievement of his objective is described in the following verse:

My friends, I do not desire even one of you to accompany me, because the path I tread is wild and deserted. It is a long journey ahead and there is hardly any hope of water. Anyone in this journey wishing him ill as a consequence of the trials of the journey would not be tolerable for me.

At another place counseling to continue the struggle to the end for the achievement of the objective, he says:

For the purpose of reaching my beloved I would not even hold my life dear. I am prepared to see my body in shreds, but my beloved leaving me alone, has turned my home untenanted

Describing the restlessness, the dedication for the objective and going through temptation, he says in the manner of Sassi

Mother, I am treading the ground which is burning my feet with its heat, while in my heart is raging the fire of Punnu’s love. And I am the one going through both these fires.

At one place describing Sassi in conversation with her mother, advising the seekers of the objective, not to lose heart in their hitherto futile struggle, he says:

 Addressing her mother Sassi says, "Oh mother, do not clean the cotton with any trust in me. I suggest you to throw away the spinning wheel. That prince of the mountains, my Punnu, for whom I went through all these sufferings, has gone to Kech, leaving me here.

At one place illustrating the significance of Punnu, or the noble aim, what he stands, Shah Latif says:


Those who love their beloved from the depth of their heart will not abandon him. Even when he hides himself from their view, they never release his hand.

At another place, he pays tribute to the seeker of a noble aim, in an interesting manner in the following verse.

Sassi, how could you establish a relationship with a man belonging to a distant land, had you lost your wits when you accepted an highlander as your spouse. Oh, the daughter of the Brahmin, you had considered the love of the Baluch a trivial matter.

At another place holding the trials and tribulation as argument in favor of the sincerity of the objective Shah says:

Sufferings of my love have shown me the way to my beloved. My sufferings guided me until I was united with my beloved.

For a great collective aim a true revolutionary party will not come into existence until all those who are inspired with the spirit of getting salvation from oppression and tyranny are united. Shah Latif expresses this principle in the following verse.

No one can divert them from their course who are inspired with their objective of love. Those who cry and bewail are revealed through their very appearance. The women who have no aim in their lives only act in a futile manner. On the contrary the love stricken weeps and wails.

At one place describing the dedication and struggle, to achieve a noble aim, he says:

Any friend of mine who would love, the manner in which I have loved the Baluch Chief, she would be restless to see him and she will have to travel on difficult paths of the mountains.

Then he counsels those who are engaged in a struggle to remain united:

 Oh Sassi, never be separated from the caravan of your beloved, lest it disappear from your sight when it has crossed the maintain and you are left behind. Then you would find it difficult to rejoin the caravan.

It is through making a sacrifice that a noble objective is achieved. It is in concurrence with this view that Shah Latif expresses himself in the following verse:

 Sassi, if you had died yesterday, you would have been united with your beloved, because none can achieve this aim and at the same time desire to live.
Soon or late man ceases to exist. When I too have to die, why then, I should not die in the path of love. My friends I would have to let my blood be shed, if I desire to be united with him.

Those who are engaged in a struggle to achieve noble aims, bear all torture and adversity with a smile on their lips, that even those near them can not judge them going through any suffering. In the manner of Sassi, Shah Latif has described this experience in the following verse:

Who can ever know that my whole night has passed in worry and anxiety. The daughter of the Brahmin has been wounded simply by one look of the Baluch (Punnu). Sassi and her suffering, both are in a state of sorrow.
Grief and sorrow are the ornaments of happiness, and is the reason that I sacrifice my joys over my grief. When I cling to my grief,
I believe that I see my beloved beside me.

For those who have noble aims before them suffering is the part of their lives and the selfish and the opportunists, with their eye on the transient benefits enjoy a sound sleep. Describing this truth, Shah Latif expresses himself thus:

Being misguided I continue to wander without my beloved, Punnu. Any one who speaks of love will only invite trouble like me.

Oh my dear mother, the sufferings in the mountain are dearer to me than the comforts and joys of Bhambhor. Your tempting invitation to live in Bhambhor smacks of falsehood. My heart and soul are firmly attached to the Baluchis (Punnu and his people)

The spirit which is inspired by truth and justice Proudly confronts all trouble, which stands in the way of freedom Shah Latif, identifies this truth in the following manner:

Their tattered garments evidence the suffering and grieving humanity. They travel on the roads of pain and suffering unaccompanied, and never let others share their affliction.

Sur Suratth

Five important names occur in this musical tune. (1) Rai Diach (2) Junagarh (3) Suratth the queen of Rai Diach, (4) The famous musician, Bejal and (5), the neighboring Raja Anerai,

Assuming these names as symbolic, the mystics explain these names in the following manner. Bejal stands for the perfect guide. When he recites the name of God, Rai Diach who stands for his follower after being impressed sacrifices his ego. Suratth symbolizes the evil self, which prevents Rai Diach from making this sacrifice. Anerai signifies that voice of ecstasy at whose suggestion Bejal play on his instrument to test the truth and sincerely of Rai Diach and Junagarh stands for this world.

If we attempt a political interpretation of this tale, Rai Diach is the symbol of a true and patriotic servant of the country and the nation and Junagarh will stand for the society or the state. Suratth would be considered as form of persuasion to indulge in selfishness and opportunism. Bejal will stand for public opinion, and Anerai an evil minded political leader whose main objective is to misguide the public opinion.

In this musical tune presenting the example of a true national leader In consonance with this Idea, Shah Latif has characterized him as a man who deeply respects public opinion, and knowing that selfish people in promoting their class interests have turned public opinion against him, he yields to the public demand, not showing stubbornness like willful dictators. The spirit of sacrifice, generosity and complete conformity of word and deed are his main characteristics. His conduct helps to explain the force of the public opinion. Using Bejal as signifying an honest and a wise orator and representative, Shah Latif emphasis the point that except his established aim he is never prepared to accept even a most valuable offer. There is a remarkable identity and resemblance between music and public opinion, both are capable of leaving a lasting impression. If both are used in an effective manner they leave indelible impression on society.

There can be a fixed value of the traditional musicians and representatives, but the object of attention of Shah Latif are those musicians and people’s representatives whose specific aim is high moral conduct, whose basic desire is to achieve eminence through their musical talent rather than hankering after money. They do not make the people the victim of exploitation, but make the dictators and kings their target. It is the business of their life to roll the crowns. In the following verse, Shah Latif expresses his feelings for such freedom fighters:


If I place one hundred tunes in one side of the scales and Bejal's Chang (a musical instrument) in the other, Bejal’s instrument will outweigh the hundred tunes. If the heart is empty of the beloved’s remembrance, then this human frame is no more than a skeleton.
If there had been more than one tunes in my body, I would have sacrificed them one after the other over you.

Sur Burvo Sindhi

In this musical tune, there are Ibbiyat (verses) consisting of different emotions and situations, which can be considered different from the point of view of their themes. For example, the following verses are worth noting which depict the experience of separation from the beloved:

 Today my thirsty eyes have once again remembered my beloved, and they are shedding a constant stream of tears. They never seem to stop. The desire of seeing the beloved is never satisfied simply by seeing people.
 Most of the people remain far even when they are so close, but those whom we love remain close even when they are far. There are some who never come in our mind and there are others we never forget. Those we love firmly remain fixed in our minds.

People desire worldly wealth, while I have the desire only for my beloved. I sacrifice all the wealth over my beloved. His name arouses a sensation of pleasure in my heart.

Sur Momal Rana

In this musical tune, Shah Latif has made a famous folk tale of a princess named Momal, her magical gardens, palaces and her lover Rana Mendhra as the theme of his poetry. Whatever their interpretation from the spiritual view point, but when they are viewed in political perspective, Momal appears to us as an image of a clever and crafty political acrobat, who exploits the people through his duplicity by making false promises and involving them in intricate and inextricable situations. The people belonging to the affluent class are easily trapped due to their greed and selfishness. But as compared to them, Rana, who is the image of a wise and sincere national leader, overcomes him through his stead fastness and wisdom, and when he triumphs through his wisdom, he is deservedly rewarded with the blessings of colorful garments, green shawls, variety of perfumes, wealth and all that ensures his comfort and pleasure. It is for the acquisition of these sources of pleasure that greedy and selfish people are caught in the trap of Momal. But people like Rana never become a prey to this greed even when they have acquired all these things and totally disregarding them advance toward the achievement of their ideal. Politics soon entangles the people of wealthy class in its tempting trap. Referring to this truth Shah Latif says:

Momal is so beautiful, tempting and alluring that the people belonging to the affluent lass and nobles easily become her victims. Rano has tried to scare the leading Hindu priests and pious men, but they have always become a prey to Momal’s looks. Momal preys upon those who wear crowns, and those who possess one or the other remarkable quality.

Comparing the selfish and sincere national leaders Shah Latif says:

No one is so handsome as Rano who is unique in manly beauty. He has removed the cogwheels of doubt and uncertainty from their hearts. I have no other concern except talking about him and remembering him.

Why does the magic of politics draw the people of wealthy class toward them. Speaking about the allurements of politics, Shah Latif says:

 The beauty of Momal and her friends is more valuable than gold, they play with silver and perfumed lamps are lit in their homes and whose beds are perfumed with musk. These are princesses whose bathrooms are profusely perfumed. Their lovers are standing in a queue and are in a state of great agitation. These princes have assumed the role of mendicants in their love. Those who are love stricken. They are not far, they will definitely come.

The sincere national leaders achieve success only through patience and perseverance, the truth which Shah Latif expresses in the following verse:

Sodha, your patience is a source of guidance to the misguided ones and persuades them to repent over their misdeeds.

The really sincere national leaders are indifferent to comforts and pleasure which is possible through the power in the country. Shah Latif says:

 The magical palaces cannot stand in the way of the true lovers, nor they can be entangled in the alluring beauty of the ladies and the maidservants of the palace. Such people leave these obstacles far behind.

The true and sincere national leader is a rare and most valuable gift in the national politics. They are not associated with politics out of the desire to satisfy greed or avarice but for the welfare and progress of the people and the country. They are supremely endowed with a delicacy and sensitivity of temperament, and if suspicion is cast over their sincerity and love of the people, forthwith they abandon politics. Then the politics of the country and the people express their sense of loss after their departure from the politics of the country. Illustrating this idea Shah Latif expresses himself in the following verse:

Momal, had you considered your Rano (her husband) a plaything, that you conciliated mean and contemptible people? He is displeased with you because you made a. stranger your friend. You committed a breach of faith and if you miss your beloved. He will never return to you.
 I desire nothing except my Rano beloved). Fervently I appeal to my beloved to return, without causing further suffering to me.
My beloved has vindicated me from my dishonor, from which I was suffering. At last I have been blessed by God and I have been honored with my husband..
 My friends, my entire life have been disordered without my Rano Soda. My beloved, my face has lost its color without you. I am overcome with anxiety. I have been trying to find out your whereabouts from everyone who meets me.

Sur Khahori

This musical tune is concerned with the description of the ideas and character of the revolutionaries. Shah Latif expresses himself in their praise in the following verse:

Oh my mother, I have seen those who have had a vision of God. My words fail me to express my admiration for them.

He pays tribute in the following manner for the noble aims of the revolutionaries and their struggle and noble mindedness to achieve their objectives:

 These pious men go to such places where no one else can go, nor anyone has knowledge about them. Their abode is the mountains. The dedicated people go in search of a place, which has no bounds.
 These pious men are wearing old shoes and they are completely exhausted. But hey have achieved a goal where the greatest leaders cannot reach. These indigent people are capable of reaching such goals.
The true and pious people have passed by me, then how can I continue sitting comfortably. After a prolonged search they have been able make the truth companion. Only these people are capable of searching this destination where none other can go.

The essence of what has been mentioned in this musical tune in different manners is that the true revolutionaries sustain themselves with scanty means of living. To travel undaunted through the rough mountains is their business, their feet bleed as a result of travelling on the craggy rocks. They never experience restful sleep. They wander in the jungles and possess nothing except their steadfastness and determination. The sky provides them shelter and the earth is their resting-place. Facing the storms of suffering and pain, they are completely absorbed in their dedication to achieve their objective. They never waver in their determination in the face of travelers or the length of their journey. Their skin is peeled off their bodies in the journey but they continue to advance. They continue to travel wearing the roughest and most uncomfortable shoes, where others find it difficult to travel even a short distance. Especially highlighting these qualities Shah Latif further renders a word of advice:

Oh man; do not follow the path of misguidance. Do not follow the path the people do not like. Forgetting this path, come to me in the garments of a Yogi (a Hindu ascetic) who has given up the material world.
Very rarely, a traveler chooses this arduous path. This is the destination in the effort to achieve, ,which people mostly lose their wits, but this in fact is the path which leads to the beloved. Only a very few are familiar with this path.

Sur Ramkali

In this musical tune Shah Latif mentioning the religious and moral guides, divides them into two different groups. The one he calls Noori (who possess spiritual light) and Naari (who are concerned with this material world):

There are all kinds of people in this world, both Noori and Naari, but the people who have provided spiritual light to the world through their personal sacrifice are tile ones without whom my life is incomplete.

After specifying this division, he mentions their different characteristics. In his opinion Nooris never -seek comfort and pleasure. They are concerned with their present situation; they eliminate their ego and remain quite unconcerned with this material world:

Neither do they carry anything with them, nor do they possess anything.

Totally disregarding the "part", they are concerned with the "whole". They live a simple ordinary life without protecting themselves. They are aware of the realities, but never divulge the mysteries, always hiding their personality. They are not concerned with the evil or good in other people. They always exhibit good will for others. They never hate anyone and always make an attempt to put an end to malice with patience. They elevate their person through eliminating their ego. Something, which is a source of agony, is a cause of happiness for them. They light the fire of love in the hearts of others, and never allow jealousy and hatred to come near themselves. They never let go of truth and are free from the pleasures of gastronomy. They accept anything with which their survival is possible, and never go out with a begging bowl in their hands. They are content even when they experience extreme pangs of hunger and never solicit help from others. The idea of maintaining land, property and ostentatious display of wealth never crosses their mind. They do not suffer from the vice of self-love. They never consider this material world as their possession, because the human spirit is above all the worldly desire. They never reveal their inner self to others:

These pious men are neither seen smiling, eating nor talking, and usually remain absorbed in deep thought. Such godly people are rarely found, but if one is fortunate to see them, one should never fail to be guided by them. When they leave, it would be well nigh impossible to benefit from their company again.
  As long as these pious people are here, you can share your inmost thoughts with them. But when they have left for Hanglore, they may never return. You would be fortunate if you ever have an opportunity to see them again.

Shah Latif speaks of pious and godly people he had met and when he was separated from them. He says:

Today there is no godly man in the inn, they have left. When I remember them, I shed tears. Those spiritual people who held great attraction for me have gone.

Shah Latif also gives an introduction to the personality and character of such people whom he calls "Naari"

Those "godly men" are false who love eating heartily. They are greedy and mean whose objective is to have copious food to eat, such men perform all the rituals of piety and speak fulsomely about the miracles they claim to perform, but fail to control human desire. They never can be close to God. They specially pay attention to their appearance. Identifying such false pretenders to piety.

Shah Latif says:

Such men who falsely claim to be pious, their thoughts are confined merely to have good food and a comfortable bed. They never can attain the nearness of God.

At another place he says:

The care and anxiety about food and drink these, so called, pious men have, they will soon find their way to God, if they give as much thought to this purpose.

Sur Rip

In a very touching manner, Shah Latif has expressed the emotions of sorrow and giief in this musical tune, for example:

My dear mother, my heart and soul has been devastated by the grief of separation. Only the people who have an experience of suffering and pain can move on the path of love.
My restless soul does not stop at one place like camels, because I have vowed to remain faithful to my beloved, not end this relation of love.
My eyes are sleepless, I do not hope to enjoy the comforts of sleep
My friend, my dear, if you desire to learn the lesson of love, learns from the potter's furnace. Throughout the day fire burns in it, but it never complains.

Sur Leelan Chanesar

There are four different elements of this folk tale, which are of vital significance. Among them, three are characters, namely Leelan, Chanesar, Konru and the fourth element is the necklace of pearls. The mystics consider Chanesar as the "Truth" which is desired, Leelan the true seeker after this ‘Truth’, Konru is the Satan and the necklace symbolizes greed and avarice.

But when we look at this story in a political perspective Chanesar stands for the noble objective, Leelan for the national political leaders, Konru for selfish and greedy politicians and the necklace symbolizes temporary and superficial benefits.

In the way of the noble objectives of a national leader stand the selfish interests, greed, transient honor and the craze for the acquisition of power by the selfish politicians, and sometimes overcome by the superficial emotions they become prey to the common human frailties, as a consequence of which they have to go through humiliation and suffering. Shah Latif offers a word of admonition in this situation.

Oh Leelan the diamonds which had aroused the feeling of temptation in you in fact are not the diamonds, rather they are insignificant stones, due to which, like you, many princesses in the past have lost their fiends. Now they can do nothing except shedding tears over their loss.

In political conflicts quite a large number of leaders, abandoning truth, adopt temporary benefits, personal power and selfish interests. No doubt, in this manner, they achieve transitory honor, but history provides the evidence, that it is never lasting. Addressing the politicians of this character Shah Latif says:

Oh Leelan, once again you yielded yourself to this greed and avarice. You should be able to realize that this false necklace has been the cause of Ignominy and humiliation of many in the past. What is the result? Leaving you alone, your husband has caused you immeasurable suffering and grief.

While admonishing the selfish elements, Shah Latif also counsels those suffering all kinds of trials for their punciples to remain steadfast in their purpose:

That love is not sincere if on. looks for one’s own interests. Leelan you must go and search for your husband (Chanesar), notwithstanding the trials and sufferings you may have to go through in this quest.

At one place mentioning those who ultimately have to suffer disrepute and ignominy because they sacrifice noble alms and principle over personal benefit, Shah Latif says:

Leelan, you have been caught in the temptation at the sight of this necklace and have assumed an attitude of arrogance People therefore come and point at you a finger of accusation, which has rent her heart and soul. It has ruined her youth and virginity.

Such shortsighted people, regarding themselves clever and crafty make an effort to be fooling others, but ultimately when the truth reveals itself, they themselves prove to be the worst fools. Addressing such people Shah Latif says:

Leelan, you considered yourself very wise and Intelligent, you’ were also aware of your husband temperament, you thought you appeared very beautiful in your ornaments, but which was an error of judgement on your part. Those who are really, endowed with wisdom, ornaments do not befit them, because they know the real condition of the heart. Your husband is one of those who know the secrets of the heart. He knows what is real, not superficial.

Expressing his sorrow over the political loaders who are under the illusion of being wise, Shah Latif says, that the kind of wisdom the consequence of which is remorse, it is better to be "Wise" ‘which may be the cause of troubles, initially, but "ultimately" it brings about one’s triumph. He says:

My ‘God I do not desire to be wise, because those who consider themselves wise suffer at the end. It is through misunderstanding that my beloved has shown kindness and generosity to me.

He was quite aware of the fact that most of the crafty manipulators, trampling all ethical codes and principles acquire temporary wealth and ostentation through flattery and hypocrisy. But none of them is ever permanently successful. Many of them have ultimately suffered most painfully at the end:

Let no woman appear with grace and elegance before Chanesar. I have now realized that this is not the time and place for such grace and delicacy. If the beloved is ever displeased, he can make his woman suffer the pangs of separation.

Addressing those shortsighted politicians who can not foresee evil consequences, he speaks about their illusion of wisdom and craftiness. He says:

Leelan, the thread you have considered your necklace, has become the chain of a slave around your neck. Chanesar, your husband, has withdrawn his love from you, and now he loves a poor woman, Konru. May no wife become the target of her husband’s contempt.

Acknowledgment  | Saeen G. M. Syed Home Page | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter World Sindhi Congress