Classical Punjabi Poetry: Qadaryar

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Translated by Randeep Singh

Qadaryar (1802-1892) was born near Gujranwala, West Punjab. A poet of the court of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Qadaryar is best known for his heroic narrative poem, Qissa Puran Bhagat. The story is based on the legend of Puran who is said to have been a prince Sialkot in the first century of the common era.

Puran is the first-born son of the Raja Salwan but after he is born, he is confined underground for twelve years upon the advice of the court astrologers. The boy emerges to learn his father has taken a new wife, Luna. Puran’s new step-mother takes a fancy to him. When her attempts to seduce him fail, she accuses him of attempting to seduce her. The Raja orders the boy be thrown into a well. Puran is later saved by the Yogi Goraknath however and becomes a devotee to be reunited with his family later in life.

The poem is written in siharfi (an acrostic format) with the first word of each octave beginning with a letter in the order of the Punjabi (Shahmukhi) alphabet.

1. The Birth of Puran (Pūran da janam)

Alif – A tale from Sialkot I tell
A son Puran was born to King Salwan
When the King learned of the birth
He summoned Pandits to the Veda recite
“Look not upon his face for twelve years sire”
Hear this! the counsel of priests
This is why upon his birth, Qadaryar
Beneath the palace Puran was moved.

Alif ākh sakhī sialkot andar
Pūran put salvān ne jāiā eī
Jadoñ jamiā rāje nūñ khabar hoī
Sad panḍiṭāñ ved paṛāiā eī
Bārāñ baras nā rājiā mūñh laggīñ
Dekh panḍiṭāñ ev farmāiā eī
Qādaryār mīāñ pūran bhagat tāīñ
p jamdiāñ hī bhohre pāiā eī

Be – By sacred writ revealed
The Pandits recited and imparted
Emerging from one darkness
Puran descended to gloom anew
For twelve years of attending to him
Servants, nurses, maids were satisfied
This is why, Qadaryar, Puran Bhagat
Was born to his father and confined.

Be – Bed ute jiveñ likhiā sī
Tiveñ panḍiṭāñ ākhi sunāi ditā
Pūran ik hanerioñ nikliā sī
Dūjī koṭhṛe de vich pāi ditā
Sabho golīāñ bañdīāñ dāīāñ ñ
Bārāñ baras dā kharch pavāi ditā
Qādaryār mīāñ pūran bhagat tāīñ
Bāp jamdiāñ qaid karvāi ditā

Te – The guided a master became
Versed in the arts, intellect refined
Six years passed, Puran turned pious
Teachers schooled him in classics
Archers bend bows to their wills
Quivers give shape to the arrow
When Puran reached youth, Qadaryar
His every breath for the world pined.

Te – tābiā nāl ustād hoe
Lage vidiā aql sikhāvne nūñ
Chiāñ barsāñ dā puran bhagat hoiā
Pāñdhe pothīāñ den paṛāvan nūñ
Tīr andāzīāñ hath kamān dinde
Dasan tarkashā tīr chalāvane nūñ
Qādaryār javān jad hoiā pūran
Dam dam loche bāhar āvne nūñ

2. Puran arrives at the court of his father
(Pūran da pio de darbār āunā)

Se – mastering lore, science and theory
Twelve years, Puran’s perception sharpened
After maintaining his discipline, this is why
Puran readied to meet Raja Salwān
The Raja eagerly awaited the meeting
Standing his toes under his weight
Qadaryar, when the Raja saw his son’s face
He flooded with passion and the world rejoiced

Se – sābtī vidiā sikh ke jī
Bārāñ baras guzre khabardār hoiā
Pūran putr rāje salvāhn jī
Pān lai ke milan tiyār hoiā
Chaṛī hirs rāje salvāhan taīñ
Chuk aḍīāñ pabāñ de bhār hoiā
Qādaryār sūrat rāj jadoñ ḍiṭī
Chaṛī hirs te mast sansār hoiā

Jim – Raja Salwan meanwhile
Had married another woman
Chamaar by caste, her name Luna
Into the house with pomp she came
Like moonlight her face gleamed
When she sat in jewelery adorned
Qadaryar, how am I to recite it?
The bird tumbles its sight beholding

Jīm – jāi rāje salvāhan āndī
Ik istrī hor viāhe ke jīUs dī jāt chamārī te nām lūnā
Ghar āndī sī īn manāi ke jī
Sūrat us dī chand mahitāb vangūñ
Jadoñ baiṭhī sī zevar pāi ke jī
Qādaryār kī ākh sunāvsāñ maiñ
Panchī ḍigde darshan pāi ke jī

He – Adorning himself in princely finery
Puran emerged at the auspicious hour
Removed from darkness, the dawn breaking
His gaze steadied, he entered the bazaar
Queen Ichira was so filled with joy
The world paid respects at the doors
Qadaryar, sir, after twelve years
Puran arrived at the king’s  court

He – hār shingār sabh pahir ke jī
Pūran nāl mahūrtāñ bāhar āiā
Kadh bhorioñ bāp dā bhor tāzī
Nigā rakh ke vich bāzār āiā
Khushī bahut hoī rānī ichrāñ nūñ
Dari ghar den vadhāīāñ sansār āiā
Qādaryār mīāñ de bārāñ baras pichoñ
Pūran rājiāñ de darbār āiā

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