If there was one single person who could be credited with influencing hindustani classical music the most, it undoubtedly is Amir Khusrau (or Khusro) (1253-1325). He was a sufi saint, darvesh, philosopher, devout disciple, linguist, historian, warrior, inventor, a naughty humorist, lyricist, singer, musician and poet par excellence…the list is endless.
Amir Khusrau, one of the most versatile personalities of medieval India, was born in the year 1253 in a place called Patiyali, Uttar Pradesh in India. Also known as Amir Khusrau Dehlavi, this creative classical poet was associated with the royal empires of more than seven rulers of Delhi. Known for his immense contribution in literature and music, this legendary personality was born of a Turkish father and an Indian mother. He lost his father at a young age and then moved in with his maternal grandparents. His grandfather served as an attendance master of soldiers at the royal palace of emperor Ghayasuddin Balban.
Khusrau was exposed to all famous literary figures of his time when he accompanied his grandfather to the royal courts to attend the private congregations. This inspired him to take up poetry and indulge in fine arts like music. He also learnt horse riding and received training in martial arts. The famous Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya was his spiritual mentor.
Zeehaal-e-Miskeen : (Download)
Bahut Kathin Hai Dagar Panghat Ki : (Download)
Kahe Ko Byahi Bides : (Download)
Aaj Rang Hai Maa : (Download)
Chhap Tilak : (Download)
Amir Khusrau is often acknowledged for creating ‘Khayal‘ of North Indian Classical music (popularly known as Hindustani Classical Music). He modified Dhrupad and added Persian tunes and beats to it. He created Qawwali on the likes of Bhajans. The poems he wrote were in Persian and a combination of Brijbhasha and Persian, which he called as Hindvi. These poems later were developed into Hindi and Urdu. Many of his poems are even today used in Hindustani Classical as Bandishes and as Ghazals by Ghazal singers.
In one of the above songs the phrase ‘Zeehaal-e-Miskeen‘ comes from a poem of Amir Khusrau. The unique thing about this poem is that it is written in Persian and Brijbhasha. In the first verse, the first line is in Persian, the second in Brijbhasha, the third in Persian again, and the fourth in Brijbhasha. In the remaining verses, the first two lines are in Persian, the last two in Brijbhasha. The poem showcases Amir Khusrau’s mastery over both languages :
‘Zeehaal-e-miskeen makun taghaful
duraye naina banaye batiyan
ki taab-e hijran nadaram ay jaan
na leho kaahe lagaye chhatiyan
Shaban-e-hijran daraz chun zulf
wa roz-e waslat cho umr kotah
Sakhi piya ko jo main na dekhun
to kaise kaatun andheri ratiyan’
Amir Khusrau is credited with fashioning the Tabla as a split version of the traditional Indian drum, the Pakhawaj. He is believed to have brought Sarod into the mainstream hindustani classical music. Popular lore also credits him with inventing the Sitar.
Aeri Sakhi : (Download)
Tori Soorat Ke Balihari : (Download)
Amma Mere : (Download)
Jo Piya Aavan Kah Gaye : (Download)
Note : The above sound files belong to Government of India archives and are of lo-fi (mono) sound quality !!