[Digging out old stories from The Delhi Walla]
At 72, the maker of Hindustani classical music lost interest in the world. Poet Amir Khusro, the 14th century courtier to seven kings, was in mourning after the death of his spiritual mentor, Delhi’s sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.
Khusro gave away his wealth, retired to Hazrat Nizamuddin’s tomb, died six months later, and was buried in the shrine’s courtyard.
Perhaps it is all a legend. How could one person singularly invent the tabla and sitar, produce the first raga and create the sufi music of qawwali? Most likely Hindustani classical music came out of a civilization, but Khusro’s poetic genius gave that civilization its Hindustani-ness.
Folksy and immediate, his language – a mix of Persian and Brij Bhasha – merged the ruling-class Muslim sophistication to the earthy sensibilities of the masses. His love poems for the God shaped the idea of India: Hindus and Muslims could co-exist and celebrate each other’s cultures. Today, the soul of subcontinent’s sufi shrines lie in Khusro’s qawwalis. His verses steer many to spirituality, love and, occasionally, ecstasy.
Click here to read the rest of this article originally published on The Delhi Walla in September 2012.