An Introduction to the Ode
In its entirety, Pir Hasan Kabirdin’s composition Anant Akhado is a description, perhaps historical, perhaps extrapolated, of the meaning of life from a Greater Bird’s Eye view.
That is, life is not merely as we see it.
The allusion to batin (hidden or esoteric) is continual. Through 500 verses, of which the Nav chugga (the Nine Tussels ) consisting of 90 verses are the tail end, Pir Hasan Kabirdin develops, as in a character of a book, the journey of the soul, as he yearns to purify himself in order to attain his Murshid’s (the Imam of the Time) Holy Grace. He describes the passages of man and his soul, through the ages and stages of formative Time…an education and experience of good and not good, within historical contexts, and the struggle of man through the Gift of Life Bestowed on him/her. We each traverse the path with a purpose to understand one’s connection to humanity and to The Beloved; and as Karim Merali writes in his introduction to the Ginan, to become cognizant of “the incessant confrontation with the forces of evil which constantly hinder the progress of the soul.”
Can we allow ourselves this balance?
The Pir, in the Anant Akhado, is actually in the act of polishing his soul while he weaves silk into cloth, which he will then fashion into a turban. As we recite verses of the Anant Akhado daily at Jamatkhana before the first dua is recited, we take the opportunity to thank Pir Hasan Kabirdin. The Pir, in his own cultural context, in that space and time, thought and composition, delivers his plea to the Imam as his own (and man’s) yearning to do what is right, good and True in his life and search.
This poem below, is written by one struggling within the zahir and batin, by being all too present and dutiful. The struggle in this poem also explains the comforts of contentment in traversing life, avoiding change or fearing it. The life journey is of a silk moth or a butterfly from larva through cocoon to flight into, albeit again transient, its being as butterfly and all that this stage will offer. However, ultimately this state of butterfly parallels the freedom attained with the soul’s flight to the Murshid. The poem as ‘Thank You Note’ to Pir is also an analogy in a mutual conversation.
In the recitation of the Anant Akhado and Nav Chugga, we see within each ‘jug’ (era) different examples, wherein the duties and reflections of the day parallel the practice necessary for the transition of the soul. In the Nav Chugga, being purely spiritual, the soul can only recognize Home in the Laws and Space of Allah and this is our reminder each day as we sit preparing our thought for our daily prayer.
The Nav Chugga are our choice. In the poem, if all goes well, the inevitability is for the butterfly (or silk moth) to emerge and do its butterfly thing, remembering its delicate wings can intricately avert the forces of evil with strength of flight and purpose. Only by guidance, reflection and intention can this occur for the ruh (spirit). Allowing oneself.
Writes Karim Merali, who has translated the entire Anant Akhado into English: “Upon completion of the verses, Pir Hasan Kabirdin dedicated them to the Imam of the time, Mawlana Islam Shah by folding the cloth in the form of a turban. After composing the verses of Anant Akhado constituting the turban, he composed additional verses on the cloth and folded it in the form of nine tussles as an addendum to the turban. These were called Anant Nav Nav Chugga meaning the nine tussles of eternity (or of the salvation of unlimited souls).”
Ode to Pir Hasan Kabirdin
I’ve been here for ages that i surmise,
In this context of tawny canvas.
Neither remembering an existence prior
Nor even some time ago, vacant,
An aged, bronzed, soft, huge, moth-like emergence
tired, exploding out of this encased wrapping.
I’ve spent eons, nestled hidden in this existence,
so very many, many, years.
The wood seems broken, decaying and moldy
and I’ve outgrown this space, my cocoon.
I know this confusion is only until I accept this moment
for here, where I think I’m a stuck
I‘m actually learning the art of silk.
It is not something I am aware of;
it’s something I do.
This silk You Counseled, unbeknownst to me.
I weave, weaving a glorious, silk turban for You.
oh laborious nature of my being…
oh Magnificent Nature of my spirit!
I am muddy tar, spinning my internal soul
sitting in this private space; am I asleep?
But these ages, this Time, the Pir has said
I may reflect and I may spin,
I may dance and engage.
A golden, silken Turban for you, My Master
with nine tussels unbeknownst to me
groping in this difficult of stages…
I carry with me ‘a kaleidoscope of tapestry
on my delicate wings,
a spectrum of light and transparency, a prism’
reflecting Your Creation
will You accept me as Yours?
I come with silken, cotton-like silk
I have woven a turban for you with nine tussels
with Your Compassion, the Pir has said,
“through the movement of my bodily limbs
You who are the Lord, the Supreme Judge….”
“Naare farti tyaaj kaant-tee
tame sunno Nar sujaann-jee”
and this, my journey to You, i have forgotten,
in this tightest of space and drowning of soul;
and I might conjecture that i am your wife,
that You are my Light
and there is nothing, but to emerge
and fly, freely, from this attachment,
from this clinging to home and hiding and sleep.
Now I will see t’was time to devote;
not a grinding nor a begrudged space,
but perhaps to spin, to weave,
the woven, silken, cottony wings of flight
“the substance of which is contained
in the supplications of the Nine Tussles”
“nav chugga nee ventee parmaano”
fulfill your hopes and desires for us
in each circumstance is the Blessing and Peace.
it is in the Pir’s anant akhado that
you see life unfold,
and appreciate the stages and ages
of the stage and age,
in which you are.
Date posted: Sunday, June 24, 2012.
Date updated: Thursday, November 27, 2014.
Copyright: Navyn Naran. June 2012.
About the writer: Dr. Navyn Naran was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, to Anaar and Badrudin Naran. After beginning her high school in the UK, her family immigrated to the USA where she has lived since. Dr. Naran went to medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. She currently works in Paediatric field.
A selection of articles by Navyn Naran on this website:
Will you be mine on the journey to Mawla
5 Palace Gate (for The Jamatkhana series)
Weaving a Web of Silence, Only to Know (for I Wish I’d Been There series)
Burning a Tower, Burning a Book
We invite your contribution for the thank you series. Please click on Thanking Ismaili Historical Figures to read about the series and links to published letters.
ANANT AKHADO EXTERNAL RESOURCES:
To hear verses of Ananat Akhado as well as to download a PDF file containing the English transliteration and translation of the ginan, please click Salmanspiritual – Anant Akhado. Also, visit the website of the Institute of Ismaili Studies to hear selected verses of Anant Akhado and other selected ginans – please click IIS – Ginans.
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Thanks to the Salman Spiritual website a large group has been reciting Anant Akhado since Covid began.
I have read the history in gujrati. However this is a treasure for our new generation to understand better the tariqah of the straight path;. Pir Hasan Kabirdeen truly enlightened us to the path of light and we are indeed grateful to him for this. Thank you to the publisher, Malik Merchant, for launching this series and to the author Navyn Naran for this truly wonderful contribution.
Well done Navyn. I grew up with your mother in Dar es Salaam and it indeed is pride to know that your friend’s daughter will accomplish such an important task. May Hazer Imam be with you every step of the way in fulfilling your endeavours.
A beauiful ode well written to capture the essence of Nav Chhooga. May you flourish more in the hobby of your choice. This shows you must also be a good paediatrician. Well done.