Saturday, 4 February 2012


This post relates to old posts on the subject.
Professor Akram Ansari has rendered  the under noted stanza of Sur Sarirag(III,11) into English verse.
My bark in mid-stream may sink,my sail--------------------What was thought so perfect now doth fail,
The guides are not to be seen in rightful place-----The prowling pirates (Philangi) up and down do space,
My Lord my modest craft protect:----------------------When proud vessels have been cruelly wrecked.  Professor Ansari translated the word Philangi as "Pirate".F.Q.Fatimi tells, us that there is a word frang/philage in the poetry of Shah"I doubt if Professor Ansari's"pirate" does justice to Shah's Philangi Now"pirate" is much to sophisticated a term for Sindhi pejorative (Choor). It is what Sorley said of Shah's imaginative use of the Sindhi language that makes his poetry sometimes untranslatable.It can only be paraphrased. Thus the philamg/frangi (Frank) is trated as"Pirate".
There was apparently no philangi on the sacred soil of Sindh,but were two parties Dutch and  British.The Mughal ruler Shah Jahan's short-sighted-ness had allowed the East India Company to establish a factory at Thatta in 1635 but they had to close it in 1662, that is twenty-seven years before the Shah's birth.The British company did not relish the tough competition offered by the Dutch; the Mughal law of escheat which brought about a modicum of economic balance was abhorred by them;and,finally, the War of Succession(1659) with its resultant insecurity proved the proverbial last straw.
There was very brisk international maritime trade at the neighboring Cambay,the Khambayat of the local toponymy which has been depicted in great and loving detail by the Shah in Sur Srirag...
Advani  writes' Sind merchants had specialized in the trade or precious stones,superfine fabrics and other costly commodities.They sailed in winter by sea and returned in spring by river.Their wives wept and pined in their separation and daily offered perfumed rice to the sea and floated  on the river and prayed pathetically for their safe return. They used to hug the helms of ships before they lifted their anchors and parted with their lords with sobs and tears.
According to Fatimi"It is the bitter cry of anguish against the economic inroads of the philangi (British company). It is unmistakably shows that the above-quoted stanza is related to that maritime trade.
Fatimi writes:"I am sure that in this stanza ,the prophetic warning against the consequences of the most incompetent Moghul ruler Farrukh Siyar's(r.1712-1719) firman of 1717 which,among other concessions,made the company'trade customs-free throughout the imperial territories in return for an annual tribute of the paltry sum of Rupees three thousand To quote Muhammad Iqbal" They sold a nation and how cheaply they sold it.The comments in"The Cambridge Economic History of India" are
"The edict of Emperor Farrukhsiyar was to become the cornerstone of English commercial and political policy in India,and by making the Company partly independent of the local re-distributive enterprise,it opened the way to possible corruption and abuse of the system. The indigenous merchants,subject to the payment of numerous tolls and customs dues,were placed in a position of disadvantage and strove to overcome it by purchasing duty-free trading passes from the English Company
The English achieved a near monopoly of India's maritime trade and,also,enlisted a band of Indian collaborators. The local Cambay trade which the Portuguese had found so formidable and flourishing in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was completely destroyed. Following that system there grew up a compradore exploiting commercial class that was lazy and lascivious and had sold its soul to the colonialist interest of the English Company.
It was a insight of a great Sufi poet that he told ,what lay for us next,in his poetry. Now we have to see up to what extent we are following such a way of defeats.(See coming post).

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