A never-ending love affair (On Amir Khusro part II)

In most people, a passion such as this lasts for a few months or may be some years. After that, it fizzles out as daily problems and needs take their toll. However, that has not been the case with Pradeep Sharma Khusro. In the past 20 years, his passion and love for Khusro has only increased which he feels is nothing short of a miracle.

Pradeep Sharma Khusro

I feel as if the passion that I have for Amir Khusro is actually a miracle because my life has been full of problems especially the financial ones. Despite this, this passion has been increased. Actually, I was never career oriented. It was as if I was hypnotized for this, as if my entire thought was for this passion. There is a price to be paid for everything. I have lost a lot of things. Today, still I am jobless. Had I not concentrated on Amir Khusro, I would have probably had a flourishing career. I have done my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts and Bachelor’s in Education. I started out as a cartoonist. I taught in schools after B.Ed. I kept taking exams so that I could work as a drawing teacher in government schools. However, since I was from the general category, I had no quota to support me despite a very good percentage in B.Ed. So, people who could use the quota got the job despite a low percentage. This made me realize that there is no value for good marks or talent in this country.

Collecting treasures
According to Pradeep, he has the biggest collection of works of Khusro in the world. However, he is still looking for more!
“When I first started to collect works on Khusro, I could only find a few books. I talked to collectors and many such people. I also contacted antique dealers who deal in books and furniture. Each book that I purchased was of 20,000 INR which will be perhaps a lot more valued in the international market. Many scholars at the end of their days gifted me their collection of books since they knew that those books might be thrown out after their death. I made friends with students from different countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Tajikistan etc and they helped me to procure books. I may not be the richest man in the world but I have the largest collection on Amir Khusro in the world. I have around 3000 books on 12 languages from 14 countries on Amir Khusro in Persian, English, Arabic, Urdu, Turkish, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Multani, Punjabi, Uzbek and many more. I have about 300 audio cassettes, DVDs, CDs and audio cassettes. He wrote a lot of books in Persian and even Hindi. However, you don’t get many of his books written in Hindi language except for Khalik Bahari. He wrote a book on Krishna titled Halaat-e-Kanhaiya but I haven’t been able to procure that book till now despite all my efforts. I have a book by him titled Chehel Roza which not many people can lay their hands on.”
“The interesting thing is Amir Khusro is perhaps one of the few Indians who is taught in most universities of the world in many of their departments like music, history, philosophy, Sufism etc.”
However he feels that the politicians in India are not interested in anything unless it impacts their vote bank.
“I have met most ministers of all the governments in India. One thing I have understood is that none of them are interested in anything except vote bank. If promoting Amir Khusro could help them to get votes, they would become the long-lost relatives of Khusro otherwise they couldn’t care less. Regardless of their culture or religion, the only god they worship is vote bank. They don’t ask how will something benefit the country; all they ask is how it will benefit them.”

Why Khusro?
Pradeep feels that his passion is a part of something bigger. He has no logic why he likes Khusro so much but believes that his passion which is nothing but love has a life of its own.
“I have been able to sustain this passion because perhaps the universe wanted me to sustain it. Everywhere I go, whatever I do, I am only thinking about Khusro. My name is Pradeep Sharma Khusro because I believe I have some connection with Khusro. I did not consciously develop this passion. The circumstances, the people I met helped me to progress on this path. I didn’t pursue this with any thoughts of gain or loss. It is what Meerabai felt for Krishna. She did not think of anything else but Krishna. I feel it is a form of divine love for God.”
Why are people like Lord Ram or Subhash Chandra Bose or Ram Krishna Paramhans or such people remembered even decades or years or centuries after they are gone? Why do we study about them in our books? Simply because, they came with a mission and a purpose in life. They lived for their mission and even died for it. My mission is about Khusro. Maybe years after I am gone, people will read my books and say that here is man who explored Khusro in a way that no one could dream of.
A genius unrecognized
Pradeep feels that a genius like Khusro should be a part of every syllabus in India.
“A genius like Amir Khusro never got his due in his own country. He was not only a poet but also a writer, musician, singer, vocalist, astrologer, military commander and astronomer. After his death, for centuries no one really bothered to compile his work. The rulers became commercial and selfish and did not bother about preserving such works. Non-political people especially professors of India and Pakistan helped in consolidating his works. It was only in the 15th century that people started recognizing and consolidating his works in Iraq since the emperor of Iraq, Sultan Hussain Bayqara loved Amir Khusro’s work. He asked his court poet to check the royal treasury and count the books that they had on the poet. The court poet checked and said they don’t have much except 4-5 books. He ordered him to travel the world and consolidate all the books and works of Amir Khusro and bring them back. After 5-6 years, when the court poet returned, the emperor was ecstatic. However, when a Sufi mystic from Afghanistan asked him if had certain ghazals written by the poet, he couldn’t find them! So, he again commissioned an expedition around the world for Khusro’s work. The ensuing collection is the world’s biggest on Amir Khusro and is housed in St. Petersburg library in Moscow. Most of the works are from India but we can never get it back unless our government is interested in procuring it.”

Spirit Talks
Pradeep says that his dream conversations have not been just about the works of Khusro but helped him to gain insight about the life beyond death.
“The people I talk to in my dreams are Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusro. They told me they had died in 1300s. They said that after they died, they had expected to meet their ‘Allah’ but all they found was a bright divine light which they couldn’t face. They said that this universe is actually made by light. In Sufism, there is only one power which runs the world. They said that this power loves play. It likes change and hence it creates everything in the world for its amusement.”
The Road Ahead
Pradeep feels he still has a long way to go on this path.
“I am compiling the Hindi works of Amir Khusro. I am perhaps the only person in the world who has personally commissioned the translation of more than 5000 pages of Amir Khusro’s Persian works. I used the money I earned in the Aga Khan Foundation. I have been talking to my friends in Pakistan almost on a daily basis and they keep sending me Khusro’s works on email or WhatsApp because they share my passion about Khusro.”
I am also researching on Khusro as a historian, a philosopher, as a Persian poet and Sufi mystic. As a historian, he not only wrote about the prevalent political scenario but also about the cultural aspects too. He extensively wrote about the animals, food, clothes, languages, religion, ethnicities in his era. He talked about the samosas and the masalas that were used in them and the kind of influences that were present in the Indian food. He also wrote about the makeup used by women, the festivals, the rituals followed in both rich and poor societies. As a musician, he contributed a lot to Hindustani music. There are many anecdotes of Amir Khusro which people are not aware of. I am writing about those too. He was a multi-faceted personality who was an astrologer and astronomer too. People say that no other poet has written so extensively. He has books that have 800-1000 pages each. I feel I am similar in that way because when I start writing from the morning, I continue it for 18 hours at a stretch. Infact, now I have started writing lyrics for Bollywood movies in the style of Khusro. I composed my first song in 2018 for a film titled ‘Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain’ which was directed by Harish Vyas and produced by Manav Malhotra, Bunty Khan and NFDC (National Film Development Corporation of India)”

This article by Shailaza Singh was published in Rashtradoot Newspaper’s Arbit Section on 13 June 2021.

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