Spirituality in the poetry

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Spirituality in the poetry of S.L. Peeran


The works of many contemporary Indian English poets remain unexposed even today. The growth of Indian poetry has been abrogated, as it has not been given the appreciation and recognition it deserves by local readers, media and academicians (Roy, 2012). Studies are still being carried out on the works of eminent poets like Nissim Ezekiel, Kamala Das, Jayant Mahapatra and A.K.Ramanujan (Dodiya, 2000). In addition, no initiatives have been taken to acknowledge and encourage some less known poets who despite their creative ability and poetic sense have been subjected to politics and elimination. Hence, the present study is an earnest effort to recognize one such contemporary poet who has not been popularized by well known critics. S.L.Peeran is one such poet and the focus of our discussion will be on his works. Peeran is well acknowledged for his work as a Sufi and Spiritual poet. He had emphasized the need for religious pursuit of mankind, but also indicates that mere following of religious principles without application will not lead to salvation (Prasad, 2011). Peeran has been celebrated to be a poet whose focus in on the cradle of spiritualism. His works are centered around the faith of religious tolerance. Through his poems he promotes the need for the growth of spirituality among men . His works add new dimensions to Indian Spiritual writing by promoting Sufi style of writing. R.K.Singh calls him the ultimate spiritual poet,

"He is a firm believer in God, family and humanity. He stands for values like humanity,

tolerance, love, truth, faith charity, respect, justice, freedom, peace, harmony, unity of God and

mankind, promotion of education and culture and love of nature"24

1.1 Life and works of S.L. Peeran:

S.L.Peeran being a Sufi, brings out spirituality and religion in his poetry, at the same time he is careful in emphasizing that religion is a tool that propagates humanity. His readers looked up to him for idealistic and spiritual reflections in his poems which have the potential to make a man devoid of his follies, vices and mundane attachments. S.L.Peeran is a bilingual poet who has written in both English and Urdu (Prasad, 2011).

S.L.Peeran hails from a renowned lineage of Persian, Arabic and Urdu scholars and poets belonging to the erstwhile Mysore State. His great grandfather was a well known owner of the title 'Siraj-ul Ulma' (Sun among Scholars) and for his notable services to the state, he was given the title "Moin-ul-vizarath" (Pillar of Ministry) which he received from the late Mysore Maharaja. S.L.Peeran’s father who was an engineer was also Sajjada-Nishin of the Mosque, Saint Hz-Qader Awaliya in Srirangapatna.

S.L Peeran had an extensive college education, starting from a Bachelors degree in Natural Sciences from St. Joseph's College, Bangalore in 1969, Bachelors in law from Govt. law college, Bangalore and finally went to National Institute of Social Science for a Post Graduate Diploma in Social Service Administration (Khatri and Sudhir, 2007). His first occupation was, Labour Welfare and Personnel Officer at an industry, after which he switched to providing consultation for industrial law and personal management. In 1976, he started practicing law under the auspices of Justice Sri. P. Viswanatha Shetty, (retired Judge of High Court of Karnataka). His experience as a lawyer was instrumental in rendering him a competent teacher in Havanur Law College, Bangalore. In the year 1989, S.L.Peeranwas chosen the Member-Judicial of Customs, Excise & Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal, New Delhi in 1989 as a reward for his successful career as a lawyer. Ten years later, in March 1998, S.L.Peeran was transferred to the Chennai Bench. Later on, he was transferred to Bangalore again in 2004 and in 2009 July, he requested and was granted a voluntary retirement.

S.L.Peeran’s involvement in Sufism was immense, including human growth and development as well as poetry writing in English and Urdu. He was also a writer by choice and his first book was "The Essence of Islam & Sufism & its Impact on India" published in New Delhi in 1998. The poet’s initial poems were in Urdu in the beginning of 1997 and at the end of that year, he started writing English poems as well (Prasad, 2011). It is noteworthy that, S.L.Peeran despite starting his writing career late at the age of 48. he has produced eleven volumes of poetry which has been much appreciated in the literary world. In Golden Times (2000), In Golden Moments(2002), A Search From Within(2002), A Ray of Light(2002), In Silent Moment(2002), A Call From Unknown(2003), New Frontiers(2005), Fountains of Hopes (2006) , In Rare Moments (2007) , In Sacred Moments(2008) and Glittering Love (2009) are the poetry compositions published by Peeran.

Fountains of Hope is one of his remarkable works in which his emotions and ideas of philosophy of life have been portrayed with much significance. It is apparent that his views and thoughts expressed in this poem are based on his inferences of life from his experiences. His in-depth idea of life and the subtle variations depicted in his words are capable of capturing the reader’s attention completely. His words have the unique ability to drift a reader to a world that he saw through his eyes as a writer. The poet has a special gift of delving deep into unexplored faces of life and bringing out meaningful analogies entwined with creativity. In addition his poems use simple but charming words that are perceivable for any reader who understands the language.

Mr. S.V. Ramachandra Rao has revealed a crucial aspect of S.L.Peeran’s poetry saying.

“…… struggle between hopes and despairs is not the only mainstream of the exceptional collection of poems. The various hues, moods, anguishes, hopes, disappointments, joys of union sorrow if parting and separation and other aspects of romantic and other types of love occur on an off the book, proving the poet to be an ardent devotee and genuine votary of love. This is one of his important poetic strengths and the poignant lines sometimes cause much contemplation and often bring tears to the reader’s eye.

1.2 S.L. Peeran’s views on importance of spirituality in poetry:

S.L.Peeran uses some simple yet significant words to describe the mystic law of the entire universe. Some of these words are ‘eternity, horizon of time without beginning, wonder of life, and aspect of the eternal’. Poets have a profound sense of everything they see, hear and feel and try to relate them to the truth and law of life which subsequently they pour out in the form of creative words (Hasan, 2007 pg 17).

This is why the poet has the ability to help readers who have a closed mind and experiencing a psychological imbalance to open up to the world and observe obstacles as minute entities in the long scheme of life. The theory of the expanding universe conveys the idea of positivity, courage, joy, compassion and willpower rather than ego and selfishness. Most poets venture the avenue of poetry that transcends this truth to the weak and lead them to a path of rejuvenation.

When the mind becomes clear and his pathways leading to positivity are reconnected to the realization of universal truth of life, the closed part of heart should ideally take efforts to instil thoughts of good will, promote it and root it to eternity (Peeran, 1998). As a result, empathy, compassion, ability to restrain from negative deeds will return and become inevitable characteristics of humans. In accordance as the, ego shrinks, he broadens his horizon and shares good will, starting from immediate associates, family, community, groups, ethnicity and finally humanity and nature in general (Peeran, 2007).

Peeran was of the view that spreading good will is evidently the best and most constructive way to regain the lost bonding between families, society and nature. A poetic and creative heart constantly works to oppose negative forces that break bonds between humans, nature and the greater universe. Further, it fights the Satan of the mind that provokes violence, prejudice and greed (Yaravintelimath et al., 1995). Good will abolishes negative energies of the society and focuses on depriving fellow humans of these negative forces. Nonviolence, compassion and trust as demonstrated by Mahatma Gandhi are the best evidence of effect of spreading good will. It is also necessary to promote mutual understanding and empathy towards others to expand the path of goodness and demolish the evils of the society (Gokak, 1975). S.L. Peeran further attributes that a poetic heart naturally harbours these qualities and that is why they have the ability to express the greatness of the all pervasive universe, write words that relates with common man and help him see the world as an extensive platform of scope.

1.3 Themes of spirituality in the poem of S.L. Peeran:

Peeran’s poetry features are often mistaken as mystic, but it is in truth spiritual. He talks about the truth of life which may convey a mystical sense, for common man fails to see the world in the truest sense (Peeran, 2002). He describes inherent qualities of man like mercy and compassion which is lost when man becomes a slave to earthy resources or is influenced by such affected humans beside him. This is when he seeks help from God and builds a trust which gradually takes him back on track.

The predominance of Sufism and spirituality in Peeran’s works gives it a healing touch offering hope and faith. His words remind man of his duties, innate qualities and the path to progress not only as an individual but for the goodness of the world as a whole. His poems have a meditative property at the same time meaningful, predominantly reflecting human nature and his growth.

Each one of us have

Our own galaxies

They are satellites

With our sun.

They reflect the splendor

Of the everlasting light.

When the darkness descends

The cold moon without habitation

Moves round and round it master

Waxes and wanes again and again

To create time, a path to tread

Both the master and the servant

Work in unison and in harmony

To create unlimited and unseen seasons

For man to reflect and ponder upon

(Peeran, 2002)

These poems are different from philosophical preaching in that they are not previously quoted truth but truth as a cleansing for the human mind. Perhaps, a definitive line cannot be marked but these poems are of the nature that makes a reader exclaim “Aha!”, it is a kind of realization that may have been known but not realized or viewed in the described perspective. In philosophical words, his poems are an awakening from ones slumber. His poems are however cannot be classified as intellectual.

S.L.Peeran’s poems vividly express that he is a religious person with great respect and faith in God. He mentions that his faith in God and his plentiful blessings humbles him and helps him in times of troubles. The poet also appreciates the existence of God in times of happiness which he describes in the poem “Grace” from the volume “In Rare Moment”.

Blow my sails, push my boat of life

My rudder of faith is firm, I hold fast

Neither storms, nor thunder, nor lightning can shake me

I am not on a slippery path. I have my khizr"

A friend in need is joy for ever

An ever slave is a pleasure forever.

(Peeran 2003)

All religious faiths revolve around the concept of God and Peeran’s faith in Islam is no different. He depicts his strong faith in Allah/God in many of his works. In the poem "All Round Welfare", Peeran evidently respects and embraces the goodness of all religions and despite the differences in ways of worship, people of all faiths prostrate at God’s feet to get His blessings. “Allah's Bounty" is one poem where he directly seeks the blessings of Allah whose mercy he believes is boundless. He often uses words like -O Lord, 'O Master and Divine Mercy which shows his fullest involvement and belief in the Almighty.

O Master, can I have your glimpse

To lift my sagging spirits an enlighten soul11

His firm belief in Almighty is also evident in these lines -

When I lost hopes form all

A divine voice gave strength and guided me.

(Peeran 2005, pg 12)

S.L.Peeran is an ardent follower of Islam and strongly believes that preaching Islam is the way to cleanse the world of its evils and spread brotherhood. Accordingly, in one of his poems he narrates the birth of Prophet Mohammad.

A star was born, a light shone.

A manifestation of the ultimate Truth.

Purity in shinning dress dawning,

To cleanse and illumine the universe.21

To take humanity to Zenith of peace.

To open the floodgates of knowledge.

To unite man and man in a single bond.

To liberate the destitute, infirm, oppressed.

His poems follow that spiritual transformation is different from philosophical transformation and his poems are focused on spiritual transformations. He is not influenced by intellectual ideas or doctrines rather he is guided by religion and humanity. His poems are devoid of criticisms of any other religion though he is a devout Muslim. He attempts to describe the goodness he perceives from other religions and sees it in relation to teachings of Islam itself. Such an endeavor was the poem "My Good Old Friend." In this poem he avers that people’s faith is differentiated only by the way they pray, dress and manners but the belief in one ultimate God remains common.

Once in a deep sleep, I dreamt

Being in a mosque, flooded with lights

A bearded turbaned moulvi

Leading prayers and piteously seeking grace

I later walked out and passed through

A temple full of worshipers

The same moulvi, now I found him

As a poojari, placing artees

In a moment, I found myself

In a church, the padri dressed

In long whites, placing candles

On the altar and doing service

In a flash, I recognized him

So did he. He smiled and

Waved his land in familiarity

Adorning different dresses and manners

Muttering in different tongue the same name.

(Peeran 2002, pg 12)

Through his poems Peeran promotes the idea that ultimate spirituality involves being enraptured by the love of God. In the following poem "What is Khulus", Peeran promotes spirituality in promoting the virtues of humbleness leading to godliness.

I want to know from you as to what

is "Khulus" and who is "Muklis"?

Satan in afraid of "Mukliseens".

Those are most humble ,God -fearing

And most simple ones. Is simplicity,

sincerity profound? In it humility

resides and Divinity descends. A sincere

person is a most humble person, is

without ostentation without pride,

prejudice . He does put but on airs

he is never arrogant and haughty.

He walks with softness . His speech

is honeyed tongue. He has no

roughness. He is gentle to the core.

He is forgiving and does not mind

taunts, criticism and humiliations.

He suffers pain, agony with light-hearted

humour. He is not angry

But jolly and extremely good,

good and good full of love.

Peeran as a believer in Sufism and Spirituality promotes his work with faith and hope. His works have a healing touch and serve as a constant reminder that man should have duty towards himself, his family, his society and ultimately his faith. This spiritual transformation is observed in the following poem,

Each one of us have

Our own galaxies

They are satellites

With our sun.

They reflect the splendour

Of the everlasting light.

When the darkness descends.

The cold moon without habitation

Moves round and round it master

Waxes and wanes again and again

To create time, a path to tread

Both the master and the servant

Work in unison and in harmony

To create unlimited and unseen seasons

For man to reflect and ponder upon

1.4 Conclusion

S.L Peeran stands out among other contemporary English poets in his way of expressing his beliefs embracing spirituality and Sufism. He retains the credit of being the only Indo- Anglican poet who writes Sufi verses in a fashion agreeable to readers across all barriers. His poems are not only intensified on God but also describe practical issues faced such as social and environmental problems. But, the ideas, reflections, imagery, style, creativity, figure of speech and personification predominantly revolve around Sufism. Most of his poems delineate the aspects of Sufism.

On reviewing the works of S.L.Peeran extensively, it is evident that the poet has completely immersed his thoughts in Sufism by reflecting which, through his poems, believes that love for mankind, humanity, compassion and trust can be spread. S.L.Peeran through his poems reflects the significance of religious tolerance, promotes faith which is how the world can become a second heaven free of negativity, evil and ego (Prasad, 2011). He advocates establishing good relationship with fellowmen by positive communication and spreading of love and peace. It is Peeran’s belief that his spirituality and practice of Sufism that has lead him to write poetry which is why his strong notions and faith in Sufism is depicted in his poems time and again. Peeran’s poems are for all class of people, emphasizing on the prime factors that are endangered in the world today – peace, humanity and growth; this he elicits in his poems in a descriptive and intuitive fashion and ultimately play a role in the spiritual transformation of the reader


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