Religions of South Asia, Vol 7, No 1-3 (2013)

Winged Messengers, Feathered Beauties and Beaks of Divine Wisdom: The Role of Birds in Hindi-Urdu Allegorical Love Stories

Thomas Dähnhardt
Issued Date: 8 Oct 2013

Abstract


This article intends to investigate the role played by different kinds of birds in the narrative scheme of the mediaeval love romance (premākhyān or mathnawī), a literary genre used by Indian Sufi poets aimed at conveying an esoteric message through the allegorical language of war and love. Although the principal actors of these poems are human, the functional role played by different animals such as birds (e.g. parrot, peacock, red-finch etc.) appears both as symbolically illustrative and intrinsically didactic. Works such as the Padmāvat of Malik Muhammad Jayasi and the Madhumālatī of Sayyid Manjhan Rajgiri are credited with successfully charging the adopted imagery and figurative language of their native Indian environment with the sophisticated teachings of Islamic esotericism (Sufism). The role of birds emerging from these works will be illustrated by and compared against their description in the literary productions of the Deccan where the mathnawi, an important literary genre imported from Persia, featured as one of the predominant expressions of early Urdu literature. The aim of the investigation is to show how through the channel of animal characters, the cross-cultural symbiosis operated in the Indo-Islamic environment appears through the language of symbolism that demonstrates the potential of unification inherent in the realm of imagination.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/rosa.v7i1-3.180

References


Benton, C. 2006. God of Desire: Tales of Kamadeva in Sanskrit Story Literature. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Chittick, W. C. 1998. The Self-disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn Al-ʻArabī’s Cosmology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Dahnhardt, T. 2004. ‘Encounters with Khidr: Saint-Immortal, Protector from the Waters and Guide of the Elected Ones beyond the Confluence of the Two Oceans.’ In A. Rigopoulos (ed.), Guru: The Spiritual Master in Eastern and Western Traditions: Authority and Charisma: 105–20. Venezia: Cafoscarina.
Dave, K. N. 2005 (1985). Birds in Sanskrit Literature. Revised edn. Delhi: Motilal Banarssidas Publishers.
de Bruijn, T. 2012. The Ruby in the Dust: Poetry and History of the Indian Padmāvat by Sufi Poet Muhammad Jayasi. Leiden: Leiden University Press.
Haksar, A. N. D. (trans.). 2010. Shuka Saptati: Seventy Tales of the Parrot. Calcutta: Rupa & Co.
Holy Qur’ān, The. Text, translation and commentary by ‘Abdullāh Yūsuf ‘Alī. 1413/1992. Beirut: Al-‘Ināyat Baṭabʻa wa nashr ‘Ulūmiya.
Jayasi, M. M. 1995. Il poema della donna di loto (Padmavat) (edited and translated from the original Awadhi into Italian by Giorgio Milanetti). Venice: Marsilio.
Kadiri, M. 2010. Tota-Kahani: Or Tales of a Parrot, in the Hindustani Language (1852). Translated by S. H. B. Haydari. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing.
Manjhan, S. 2000. Madhumālatī, an Indian Sufi Romance. Edited and translated by A. Behl and S. Weightman. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mortensen, E. 2006. ‘Raven Augury from Tibet to Alaska.’ In P. Waldau and K. Patton (eds), A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science and Ethics: 423–36. New York: Columbia University Press.
Orsini, F. (trans.). 1992. Le storie del pappagallo—Śukasaptati. Venice: Marsilio.
Pinault, D. 2008. Notes from the Fortune-Telling Parrot: Islam and the Struggle for Religious Pluralism in Pakistan. London: Equinox.
Radhakrishnan, S. (ed.). 1994. The Principal Upaniṣads. New Delhi: HarperCollins.

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.





Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: info@equinoxpub.com

Privacy Policy