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The magic of Sufi poetry

Seeking the Beloved is the masterful translation of one of the greatest Sufi works - Shah Jo Risalo.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 17:10 IST

Seeking the Beloved
Author: Shah Abdul Latif
Publisher: Katha
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 284
ISBN: 81-89020-54-4
Price: Rs 295

Shah Abdul Latif of Bhitai was a celebrated sixteenth-century Sufi poet who was aptly called the people's poet, revered alike by the elite and the common folk. Known as one of the greatest Sufi works in history, his Shah Jo Risalo is a prayer, a cry for the beloved. Written more than 250 years ago, Latif's poetry is deeply rooted in the human experience of searching for the self - a self that is one with the nirakaar, the omnipresent, centred within yet diffuse as attar. Katha proudly presents the first ever English translation of the Risalo in India.

Latif's unique treatment and allegorical interpretations of common folk tales, like Sasui-Punhoon, are truly relevant in today's atmosphere of religious strife. The Sufis, as they were known, were great integrators and Latif's poetry draws freely on both Islamic and éVedantic traditions.

Often chanted in spiritual séances, Latif's poems have an immediate emotional appeal. They are about love for humanity and depict the seeker's direct relationship with the Supreme instead of a particular religious group looking for scriptural instructions and injunctions.


 Shah Abdul Latif

Here are some excerpts:

1. without beginning
    without end
  all knowing monarch
   of the universe
  omnipotent and benevolent
   the one and only



    utter his name
    sing his praises
  the ever compassionate
   creator of the cosmos

2. why search everywhere?
  nearer than your breath 
  is he
  just remove the screen
  between you and him


3. you long for him
  he longs for you
  to remember
  and be remembered
  is the secret
  with honeyed words
  dagger in hand
  he comes to you