I’ve acquired “The Couplets of Baba Farid” as translated by Maqbool Elahi when I was in Lahore. The original Punjabi text is also contained in this book. These poems are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred book of the Sikhs.
On the day the body was married to the soul,
All the destined breaths were written in a scroll.
At the approach of the last breath,
The so much heard of angel, brought their counth to death.
Rattling bones, this angel takes life away.
Tell yourself, while breathing: ‘Destiny holds the sway’.
Life is wife and death her husband.
Husband takes his wife away.
After ‘yes’ to his proposal,
How can she hold back the day?
Far thinner than the breadth of a hair
Is the bridge to Paradise .
Noiseless fall the footsteps on it
Ears vainly strain to hear.
Farid! But surely I hear a voice:
‘From greed’s snare, beware, beware!’
Farid! The door of dervishes is so hard to enter!
Fain would I have walked past it with worldly masses,
But for a bundle of pretence,
Where, o where to dump it.
NB: Passing by a field of water-melons Baba Farid picked up the skin of a water-melon and was contemplating on the beauty of its colour, design and texture when the owner of the filed started giving him a beating, taking him for a thief.
It’s a mystery deep and baffling:
Worldly life – a hidden fire!
Allah has done me a favour
Or else I too would’ve burnt entire.
Farid! If life’s linseeds are in quantity small,
Pause and think and take not in two handfuls all.
If your husband is immature,
Be not proud of him, because pride has a fall.
Had I known my grip would slip,
I would hold Him faster.
None is greater than my Lord
In this world and farther.
Farid! If you’ve good sense,
Blacken not your scroll.
Bow your head and look within
Before back-biter’s role.
Farid! If you are dealt blows,
Return not blow for blow.
Kiss their feet and humbly,
Then better homewards go.
Farid! The time for good deeds
You sent in colourful youth
Far more, death the soul loves.
The boat of the soul, death rows off
As soon as it’s full
With the destined breaths.
Look Farid! At by-past
Your beard is hoary grey.
The future is so near you,
The past is far away.
Farid! It’s topsy turvy all,
For sugar works like poison.
In whom should I confide my ills,
Except my God, the Curer.
Farid! With seeing, eyes are fed up.
With hearing, ears are sore.
True: for trees at fruition time
Wear a different bark.
When my hair was all black,
I did not worship Him.
Now that it is all grey,
How should I worship Him?
Love the Lord! It’s never late!
He’ll turn your grey into black!
Fain would fall in love with Allah
One and all, but ah, their wit
For it is His privilege sole.
He may give brimful of love-cups
Whomsoever He may like.
Ah Farid! Those winsome eyes
In their hey-day they could not bear
The weight of Kajal-lines.
I have seen in them have brooded
In broad day-light, birds.
NB: In the cast away skull of an exceptionally beautiful court-girl, birds had laid eggs. During her life she could not even ‘bear the weight’ of make-up.
Ah Farid! It’s all in vain:
Taints, advice and reprimands.
For the heart that Satan sealed
Will not yield to your demands.
And if Farid you seek the Lord
Be the humblest grass,
Cut and peeled and drenched and trampled,
Softened into mass and woven into prayer mats.
Only then it gains admission
In the house of the Lord.
Underrate not dust, Farid!
Like of it is none.
While you live, it licks your feet
And when you die it covers your head.