By Dr. Satyapal Anand
In 1982 while supervising a doctoral student’s work on the poetry of the Puritan period in England, I was so engrossed in the subject that I started my search for self-abnegating poetry as a religious trait in India. In the very rich chiaroscuro of Sufi poetry in Punjab, {Urdu is but a later phenomenon,} I did find the tradition of Malamati sect that produced poets like Shah Hussain. The teachings of this sect were phenomenally different from other sects. They recommended self-deprecation as a personal and private trait, to be practiced in the innermost sanctum of their homes, away even from the eyes of their own family. They would whip themselves with leather thongs, abrase themselves with thorny cactus, and torture themselves by eating frugally. All this was done in privacy. In public, they paraded as proud individuals who would not follow the dicta of religion – no namaz, no fasting during Ramadhan, no zakat or any other religious practice. People would consider them proud, god-forsaken heathens. They acted as if they enjoyed the public’s hatred. Once in the privacy of their home, along with their God – as it were – they would ‘punish’ themselves physically, cry, holler, weep, ask for God’s forgiveness. All in all, they were like the Puritans in 17th century England. The puritan poets included Milton, Baxter, Bradstreet, and half a dozen more. The puritan priests and their followers wore very rough clothing woven from raw wool and tortured their bodies so that their souls prosper. The correspondence between the Puritans in England and the Malamatis in Punjab gave me the material for this poem.
However, self-abnegation or self-torture apart, how would an ordinary person reconcile between what might be called ‘Ego’ or Self-centredness which is but natural?… That gave me the warp and woof of this poem.  (SATYA PAL ANAND).
ملامتی ‘  ہوں  ‘
نماز میں نہیں پڑھتا، نہ روزہ رکھتا ہوں
مجھے قبول ہے تادیب و لعنت و دشنام
میں عیب جُو  ہوں ،نکوہش ہے  میرا طرز ِ حیات
مدیح و حمد تو ہیں قابل ِ نفریں ، کہ مرا
شعارِ زیست ہے تضحیک، ذلّت و تحقیر  
ثنا، دعا، درود و سلام مجھ پہ حرام
نظر میں اپنی بھی مجرم ہوں، مورد ِ الزام
قصیدہ خواں نہیں اللہ کا بھی ،  بد گو ہوں
 میں سب کی نظروں میںِ نفرت کا اہل ہوں ، لیکن۔۔۔۔۔
کسی کو کیسے بتائوں کہ میں بھی مومن ہوں
مرا خضوع اکیلے میں، اعتکاف میں ہے
میں اپنے حجرے میں اپنے بدن کو پیٹتا ہوں
میری سکت مری افتادگی پہ پلتی ہے
ملامتی‘  تو ہوں لوگوں کے واسطے لیکن
میں خود ہی اپنابھی ملزم ہوں ، رو سیاہ، خبیث
کئی دنوں سے مگر میں ہوں ایک الجھن میں
مری انا، مراخود کام حبّ  ِ ذات و نفس
مری  ہی راکھ سے ققنس کی طرح اٹھے ہیں
غلط نہ ہو گا اگر میں کہوں کہ  اب مجھ سے
مری  انا کے تقاضے بھی رد نہیں ہوتے
ملامتی بھی ہوں لیکن میں خود پرست بھی ہوں
۔۔۔میں اس تضاد کی دنیا میں کیسے زندہ رہوں؟
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