Choto Golam Fakir

Jhaudia, Jalangi, Murshidabad

Greeting O Khwajababa, who sang the praise of the Nabi! (Khaja Baba Khaja Baba Mara Haba Mara Haba)

Greeting! (1) O Khwajababa, who sang the praise of the Nabi (2)

One day the great Pir (3)
Called the Khwaja to his side,
And asked,
‘Why does your face exude such shine?’
‘Having fasted for days,’
The Khwaja answered the Pir,
‘Music (4) provides the food for my soul.’

Greeting O Khwajababa, who sang the praise of the Nabi!

‘So sing a song for me,’
The Pir tells the Khwaja,
‘For my lover-heart is weary with troubles.’
The Khwaja brings forth music
The Pir dances to the rhythm;
And thus dance Allah’s earth and sky.

Greeting O Khwajababa, who sang the praise of the Nabi!

Handing the Khwaja his staff,
The Pir stops the earth spinning;
And, raising his right hand heavenward,
He halts, too, the sky’s motion.
He sings, ‘Allah! Allah!
La-Illaha-Illalah (5)!’
His soul is inundated, and
He achieves annihilation in Allah (6).

Greeting O Khwajababa, who sang the praise of the Nabi!

‘Music is my love’s intoxicant (7),
My soul remains perpetually rejuvenated
Without it, my soul starves, and dies,’
So says Abul (Fakir) (8),
‘If you are the true lover,
You will find the beloved.’
So sing for me,
O Lover and Beloved, united as one!

Greeting O Khwajababa, who sang the praise of the Nabi!


Translator: Parjanya Sen.


Recorded 14th January, 2008 in Joydeb, Birbhum, WB
(1) Marhaba (in the Bengali version) is an old Persian word, referring to a form of greeting. The etymology of the word is debated upon, with linguists varyingly ascribing for it an Arabic, Assyrian, Persian or Christian origin. The word has undergone various changes depending on usage and has entered Urdu and eventually Hindi popular vocabulary. 

(2) Nabi is a title given to prophets in Islam. 

(3) Pirs are holy men in Islam, here a synonym for Nabi.

(4) The word in the Bengali version is Shama song, which Golam Fakir interprets as meaning qawwali song, a form of Sufi devotional music practiced in various parts of South Asia and India.

(5) ‘La Ilaha Illallah Muhammadur Rasool Allah’ means ‘There is no god only Allah, Muhammad is the Rasool (Messenger) of Allah’ according to the Kalima Tayyab in Islam. 

(6) The word in the Bengali version is Fanaa Fillah which refers to a stage in Sufi mysticism attained by few. This state of ecstasy is characterized by complete immersion within or annihilation in Allah.

(7) In the Bengali version, the word is Ganja referring to grass or weed which is smoked as an intoxicant. 

(8) Abū-Sa'īd Abul-Khayr (December 7, 967 - January 12, 1049), also known as Sheikh Abu Sa’eed, was a Persian Sufi poet who contributed extensively to the evolution of the Sufi tradition. His writings, the majority of which can be found in the book Asrar al-Tawhid (The Mysteries of Unification) compiled by his grandson, Mohammad Ibn Monawwar, almost 130 years after his death, is a major source text around which much of the Sufi canon revolves.

Translator’s note: This song, likely composed by Abu Sa’eed, explores the concept of Allah as beloved, a perfect union with whom can be achieved through music. Such an idea forms the crux of much of the Sufi tradition. The song describes the various stages of musical ecstasy, ultimately culminating in a complete annihilation of the singer-lover’s soul in Allah.

Producer/Director:  Aditi Sircar

Camera: Shubhankar Bhar, Alok Maity

Camera Caretakers: Sanjib Das, Shantu
Sound: Dhiman Karmakar

Production Co-Ordinator: Kartick Das Baul

Edited By Rhonda Granger