Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, by H.G. Raverty, , at sacred-texts.com
THE materials for a notice of this poet are extremely meagre. Little is known about him, except that he lived in the reign of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, and belonged to the Bangakh or Bangash tribe of Afghāns, who hold the valley of that name, and of which Kohātt is the chief town. The Bangash tribe, in bygone days, made a great figure in India; and from a peasant of it, the Nawwābs of Farrukhābād, in that country, traced their descent. *
Khwājah Muḥammad lived the life of a Darwesh, in poverty and religious abstraction, and followed the tenets of the Chastī sect. He was a disciple of Æabd-ur-Raḥīm, who was a disciple of Mī’ān Panjū, a celebrated Ṣūfi teacher, who came originally from
[paragraph continues] Hindūstān, and dwelt for many years in Afghānistān. He is said to have traced his descent from the Arab devotee, Muæīn-ud-Dīn, the founder of the Chastī sect. *
Khwājah Muḥammad appears to have been a man of some learning; and passed most of his time with his teacher or spiritual guide, already mentioned. It is not known whether he left any descendants; for although I despatched a person, specially, into the Bangash country to make inquiry, I cannot now discover, with any certainty, either his place of birth, residence, or the branch of the tribe to which he belonged. He is known, however, to have performed the pilgrimage to Makka and Madīnah; and that, after his return thence, he gave up writing poetry. His Dīwān, or Collection of Odes, from which the following poems have been selected, is a very rare book; in fact, scarcely procurable; for, as far as I can discover, the copy to which I had access is the only one known.
His writings are deeply tinged with the mysticisms of the Ṣūfis; but occasionally he devotes a poem to the remembrance of lost friends, and laments his bereavement from them.
The place and time of his decease are uncertain; and the whereabouts of the grave in which he was buried is not now known.
326:* Little did I imagine, whilst stationed in the Panjāb a few years since, when I was penning the notes for this short notice of a poet of the tribe, that I should behold the last of the Nawwābs, escorted by a party of my own regiment, conducted, on foot, with fetters on his legs, through the streets of Nassick, in Western India (where I then was stationed in command of a detachment), on his way to undergo perpetual banishment at Makka, for the share he took in the massacre at Farrukhābād, during the late rebellion in India. He had been sentenced to death; but his punishment was commuted to perpetual exile, in any place he might select. He chose Makka in Arabia, where, I have since heard, he subsists on alms. I spoke a few words to the wretched man at Nassick; the first he had heard in kindness, he said, for many long days. He appeared to be any thing but what one might expect, from all that has been proved against him. He was rather fair, slightly made, and about thirty years of age. To me, he appeared very wretched and heart-broken. He was only an Afghān in name: the centuries of admixture of Indian blood, by intermarriage with the people of the country, had left little of the Afghān blood remaining.
327:* See note at page 1.