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Sur Kedaro – A Lyrical Tribute to the Martyrs of Karbala

By: Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, the renowned mystic poet of Sindh, has left an indelible mark on literature and spirituality. His magnum opus, Shah Jo Risalo, is a treasured collection of Sufi poetry in the Sindhi language. One of its mesmerizing chapters is Sur Kedaro, which eloquently narrates the tragic events of the battle of Karbala. Here we will discuss the theme and matter of all six cantos beginning with the first canto which sets the stage for the heart-wrenching saga of sacrifice and devotion.

Canto 1: The Month of Muharram and the Departure of Imams

The opening lines of Sur Kedaro leads us to the sacred month of Muharram, a time of reflection and mourning for Muslims around the world. Shah Abdul Latif beautifully conveys the sentiment of despair and resignation, acknowledging that God’s will prevails, and He orchestrates events as He deems fit.

The poet expresses his longing to witness the revered Imams in Medina once again, praying for their return. His soul resonates with the pain of those who yearn to be in the company of these noble figures, the carriers of the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) legacy.

As the stalwart Imams leave Medina, the poet’s heart aches for their absence. He paints a picture of a dyer, dyeing clothes in black, symbolizing the grief that engulfs the believers. The departure of the Imams marks the beginning of a poignant journey that will lead them to the heartrending plains of Karbala.

Canto 2: The Battle of Karbala Begins

In this part, Shah Abdul Latif paints a vivid picture of the battlefield of Karbala, where the valiant sons of Hazrat  Ali (RA) confront the army of Yazid. With apparently no match , they stand resolute, ready to defend their faith and honor against the oppressors.

The poet lauds the determination and fearlessness of the Imams’ siblings, who join the battle, their swords striking down enemies with righteous fury. The sons of the beloved Prophet’s daughter, Hazrat Fatima, show unparalleled bravery and unwavering resolve.

The earth trembles and the skies shiver in awe of the gallant warriors who have descended upon Karbala. The battlefield becomes a stage for heroism and sacrifice, where warriors charge forth, undeterred by the impending doom.

Canto 3: The Fierce Battle and the Martyrdom

The third canto delves deeper into the intensity of the battle. Shah Abdul Latif describes the relentless courage of the warriors who march on, assaulting their enemies while safeguarding their comrades. The clash of swords and the cries of battle create a scene of unparalleled valor and sacrifice.

The poet’s verses mourn the loss of the gallant martyrs, whose bodies now lie scattered on the bloodstained grounds of Karbala. Yet, these martyrs wear their deaths as a badge of honor, finding eternal pride in their ultimate sacrifice.

The widowed wives of the martyrs grieve, their hearts heavy with sorrow. Despite their pain, they remain steadfast in their devotion to their fallen husbands, praising their bravery and undying love for the Prophet’s family.

Canto 4: The Martyrs’ Valor and Call for Salvation

Canto 4 delves into the aftermath of the battle, where the poet laments the tragic fate of the gallant martyrs. Dew falls, or the whirlwinds sweep through the weald, as night descends upon the children of Hazrat Ali (RA) on the battlefield. The Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai addresses Yazid, imploring him not to involve the noble children of Hazrat  Ali (RA) in the trials and tribulations of war, as they will never yield to his desires or wishes.

Despite the cruelty of the Kufians, the Imam remains steadfast, unwavering in his faith, and ready to embrace martyrdom. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai emphasizes that the stalwarts will never compromise their beliefs, even in the face of adversity and under the rule of impure individuals.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai conveys the message that the stalwarts’ valor and undaunted spirit stand as a testament to their unwavering devotion to God and their firm commitment to the path of truth and righteousness.

Canto 5: Mourning for the Absent Brother

Canto 5 opens with a heart-rending expression of the absence of Imam Hassan (RA), who had already left the world. . Shah Abdul Latif beautifully describes the longing of Imam Hussain for the support of his brother Hassan in the battle.

The poet highlights the significance of Hassan’s presence, who would have undoubtedly aided and sacrificed himself for his brother Hussain (RA). But alas, in his absence, there is no one else to offer assistance, leaving Hussain to face his enemies alone.

The cantos also showcase the unwavering determination of the gallant warriors, who face their adversaries with courage and resolve, driven by their deep commitment to their beliefs and their readiness to embrace martyrdom.

Canto 6: The Eternal Glory of the Martyrs

In the concluding canto, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai expresses the fervent desire of the poet and the believers to witness the valorous warriors in their final moments on the battlefield. He portrays the relentless passion of the gallant warriors, who fearlessly charge into battle, ready to sacrifice their lives for a noble cause. Their fervor and fearlessness in the face of death elevate them to a divine realm, where they find eternal honor in the company of the Almighty.

The martyrs’ heroic deeds become a source of inspiration for generations to come, with their names etched in history for their unwavering faith and unmatched bravery. Shah Abdul Latif’s Sur Kedaro becomes an enduring ode to the martyrs of Karbala, a poignant reminder of the eternal glory that awaits those who stand firm in the face of tyranny and oppression.

Conclusion

Sur Kedaro, a masterpiece of Sufi poetry, weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sacrifice, and unwavering devotion. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s profound verses immortalize the noble martyrs of Karbala, painting a vivid picture of their valor, determination, and ultimate sacrifice. Through Sur Kedaro, he beckons readers to reflect on the timeless message of justice, compassion, and steadfastness in the face of adversity—a message that continues to resonate in the hearts of believers, inspiring them to uphold the principles of truth and righteousness in their own lives.

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