A Sufi Celebration Of Life, Inspired By Urdu
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Tu ShaheeN Hai Parwaaz Hai Kaam Tera
Tere Saamne Aasman Aur Bhee Hain
You are the great Falcon, your passion is flight
Look ahead, there are more skies to transcend
There cannot be a better way to open this piece but with this legendary, historical, poetic gem by Iqbal. For the uninitiated, this is a couplet taken from Iqbal’s signature Ghazal, Sitaron Se Aage Jahaan Aur Bhi Hai, Abhi Ishq Ke Intehaan Aur Bhi Hain (There are many a skies beyond the stars, there are many a trials still to be conquered in the path of love). And while at the first brush, it may seem like a romantic lyrical expression, this ghazal has been time and again hailed as an inspirational ode for the Indian freedom struggle, urging the freedom fighters to keep chasing the then illusive dream of freedom.
It is no wonder Iqbal chooses the idea of Parwaaz to hail the idea of freedom and dreams. After all, what is freer than a bird soaring in the sky, and what is a better dream to have than all of the skies in your feet.
Literally translated, it means flight. Metaphorically, it can mean anything you want it to mean — a dream, hope, a fighter’s courage, a lover’s fantasy, a prisoner’s wish, a traveler’s fate, a loved one’s welcome, a lost love’s goodbye.
Ek Parwaaz Dikhai Di Hai
Teri Awaaz Sunai Di Hai
A flight has become discernible
And I can hear your voice
Parwaaz is an expression of the highest form of human ambition, a potent metaphor for daring to reach for the skies. And keeping with the true traditions of Urdu lyricism, Parwaaz manages to infuse just the right amount of poetry and aestheticism in otherwise clinical and dry quest for success and redecorate the edges of cut and dry ambition.
Perhaps because in essence Parwaaz is not about ambition. It is about something far deeper, far more meaningful and way more intense — a basic human instinct, an inbuilt desire that seems to drive us all, whether we realize it or not.
Parwaaz, at its core, is a quest for freedom.
Freedom not just in its simplest, literal form; not merely in the sense of being citizens of an independent nation and a free world; not in the sense of having those basic freedoms of movement, speech, expression and so on; and not even in the sense of living as you please.
Parwaaz encompasses all these freedoms and beyond. Parwaaz is not just about our physical freedoms, but is an aspiration for the freedom of our souls. Parwaaz is a dream to be free in absolute terms; and not just in conditioned ways the society deems it convenient. Parwaaz is a dream to be free to be you and me; beyond all the limits and conditions of what we can and should be. Parwaaz is the desire to stretch the limits of what we can do with our given physical, emotional, mental and spiritual capabilities; and push beyond those stretched limits.
Because Parwaaz’s version of freedom is so expansive, so wild, so pure; we are unable to process it within the scope of our own limited ideas of freedom. And hence, the only way we understand Parwaaz is in the sense of ambition. Because for us, ambition is allowed to be wild and unreasonable and dreamy but freedom is a solid reality that comes with its own limits and restrictions. And our conditioning makes it baffling for us to even consider Parwaaz’s ideas of freedom that breach all limits and defy all restrictions.
Parwaaz does not distinguish between dreams and reality. Parwaaz is the horizon where the dreamy skies kiss the watery truths of our existence. Parwaaz is where all the imaginary lines between our life and fantasy vanish.
Parwaaz is where everything is possible. No wonder, ambition is the only way we can rationalize Parwaaz. Because at least for us, ambition is a mere possibility — a flight of fantasy that may or may not become real. And that is all the leeway we are willing to give to our dreams.
It is a pity, really. Because Parwaaz is no dream. It is solid and real and true. It is the human nature — our very basic instinct. We were all born free, in absolute terms and freedom is not what we deserve, it is what we need.
We are, however, too scared to allow ourselves to explore our Parwaaz. We are scared to dream of our skies. Partly because we are afraid we will never make it. And partly because we know we might.
Ud Gai Par Se Taqat-e-Parvaz
Kahin Sayyad Ab Riha Na Kare
— Jafar Ali Hasrat
My wings have lost their power of flight
Now I wish my huntsman never releases from this cage
Parwaaz, however, is the world beyond fears. The world where our ideas of ambitions and desires are petty and immaterial. It is the world where we reclaim what is ours and explore the truest versions of our beings, not because it is our ambition, but because that is what we are supposed to do.
Out beyond the world of right and wrong, there is a field. I will see you there.
Parwaaz is an expression of the highest spiritual zenith that we as humans are capable of achieving — but we need to let ourselves go, stretch our wings and let our souls shine the skies ahead.
Parwaaz’s demand for absolute freedom may seem almost anarchic. And to some extent, maybe it is. But it is because Parwaaz stands against the systems that were designed to stifle our inner lights and keep us caged in predictable systems that posed no threat to the so called established order of the world. The order, however, is artificial and convenient, while Parwaaz is natural and uninhibited and knows no fear. Parwaaz does not follow the human order. It only abides by the natural order. Just like the birds that soar in the skies, but do so in tune with what Nature expects and requires from them. And if that constitutes anarchy — well, then maybe we need to redefine our understanding of anarchy.
Parwaaz is a disruptor of human order, but it is a keeper of natural order. Of course, there is always a scope of misinterpretation and using the idea of Parwaaz to further and/or justify one’s own selfish, impure motives and acts. For Parwaaz at its very core is an idea seeped in productivity and growth. And any interpretation that furthers contrary values is malafide and wrong.
Parwaaz is a reminder for us all to keep in mind that we are what we choose to be. And the only limits of who we can be and what we can do are imaginary and imposed by our own fears and lack of imagination.
Parwaaz is a reminder that irrespective of who we are and what we have been doing and where we are trapped, our Parwaaz is always a moment away.
If only we dare to stretch our wings.
Soch Ko Jurrat-e-Parwaaz Toh Mil Lene Do
Ye Zamin Aur Hamein Tang Dikhai Degi
— Qateel Shifai
Let my ideas find their courage to fly
This ground will shrink and cease to suffice
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