~Kindle ☰ Zafarnama ⚕ Written In Exquisite Persian Verse, TheZafarnamaor Epistle Of Victory Was A Defiant Message Composed By Guru Gobind Singh, The Tenth Sikh Guru, And Addressed To The Mughal Emperor AurangzebIn This Brilliant New Translation, Navtej Sarna Brings To Life The Valiant Voice Of Guru Gobind Singh And The Power Of His Poetic Genius In A Passionate Disavowal Of Tyranny That Remains Ever Relevant
Wonderful book I loved the brief history of Sikh gurus that precedes the actual translation of the verses It gave a solid context within which to read the verses.I loved the fact that the transliteration of the Persian verses is provided but I do not think it is accurate E.g I d think itibar should be itibaar but then I don t know any Persian and maybe I m confusing the words with similar sounding words in Urdu.I also agree with other commentators that in some cases the translation seems to have been forced into rhymes where a literal translation might have provided a better understanding of the verse.What also struck me is that fact that even in those medieval days, the level of communication and statesmanship was at such high levels The fact that the Guru, in the face of murderous attacks and the death of his four sons , could write to his enemy Aurangzeb in the enemy s language to boot in such poetic verse, just blew my mind In this day and age of Internet trolls, where even the most trivial of debates end in ad hominem attacks, that is a quality that seems almost divine A multiplicity of factors make this book precious to me yes, precious The store it in a lock and key kind of precious So let s start this review withwhy I will not lend you this book even if you are my soul mateIt s a first day first edition I was the first person to buy it minutes after its release from a book store in Chandigarh It s than just a book, it s an important source of history and helps to understand in depth the aftermath of the Battle of Chamkaur and the History of Sikhs as we know it today It was one of the last books my grandfather read before he died, and being well versed in as well as an avid reader of both Persian and English, he was in a true position to comment on it I think that mentioning that he died a fan of Navtej Sarna is a testimonial in itself on how brilliantly successful Mr Sarna has been in his endeavour to translate this historic letter by Guru Gobind Singh to Aurangzeb It s a signed copy Yes Signed by the man himself with the inscriptionFor Shriya,In the memory of your beloved grandfather However, even if this book hadn t been so priceless for me, even if Mr Sarna hadn t been one of my most favourite authors and a truly wonderful person at heart, and even if I hadn t been so blessed as to meet him by the most serendipitous twist of fate in a book shop, this book would still have been my, favourite Like I said with my other review in the morning, you cannot translate Persian poetry into English very easily you have to make sure that your words capture the depth, the essence and the very soul of the poet to be able to do this I think I just have to thank my stars that Mr Sarna chose to translate this particular piece One thing I can say without even thinking twice is Navtej Sarna has a natural flare for poetry He s effortless with his words, his rhymes come out perfectly formed, and even in a translation, his knack for poetry is incomparable In the words of my grandfather, who left us last year, If you can read and understand both Persian and English, you ll be able to see that in case of this particular translation, Navtej Sarna is not merely the translator but also a poet in his own regard Well, I couldn t test that theory because I know nothing about Persian but as a student of history, who had already read Zafarnama in a non poetic translation, I would say this is the best one ever Whats crude and most convenient way to approach an ideology is to of course have an absolute faith in its pioneers So much so, that its rather common medium to bestow them with sainthood or even God s title I won t debate here about irony of us humans judging such titles, and whether they even mean something towards any positive construct in the end.The question is rather about humanity the will to overcome struggle, turmoil, and grief, or the toil it takes History easily renders some as prophets messiahs and just as easily forget others Sikhism s tenth Guru Gobind Singh went on to emphasize this very fact to all his followers To avoid hailing his physical being as some cosmic power, but to follow the word of Guru Granth Sahib.To understand literary value of Zafarnama for our community is critical What inspired me most was that despite suffering such a heavy personal loss, the courage it took to forgive the man responsible for it The statement in there about use of one s sword as last resort is not shunned either While ahimsa has its own values, those were times when oppressors would not have even understood the meaning of the word But again, that is not the point either Guru Gobind Singh emphasizes that the life and the morality is all to be judged in the end Call it a judgement by God, Karma, or your own soul He never tries to be a prophet, or let hate burn away the piousness of his own soul.Whole Sikh race revers him as a Guru today and prays to him But I also try to see a man behind those words, and invincible faith it took to stand against an adversary having control over whole country far superior resources And than that, I try to imagine a man who despite losing his home, his family, his army, his life s work of literature, still had in his heart a power to forgive.I feel Zafarnama has not garnered the attention it deserved in Sikh culture More research can further help us in our humble attempts to understand the man, who became legend, and forever a Guru.https maniactalkies.wordpress.com 2 Not bad yet overrated in content Interesting as a taste of alien Zeitgeist though. I must say, every historical account you re going to read has to have two views a bad one and a good one Aurangzeb though to date remains my favourite of all Mughal Emperors but obviously one cannot deny the brutal realities of life power struggle whether in the name of religion or equality At the end, everyone has been right in their own rights GOD Almighty guide us The Sikh faith led by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1666 to 1708, was faced with attacks from all angles Whilst the Sikh faith was growing in peace, love, and harmony in Punjab, India they were endangered to oppression On one hand, the Sikhs faced huge criticism by the Hindu leaders for their principles, which challenged the caste system that segregated communities within the same faith and also rejected the acceptance of idolatry worship, which was and still is practiced as part of the Hindu faith today As the Sikhs grew and became continually stronger in warriorship and spirituality, the Rajput rajas of the surrounding hills watched and planned their intermittent attacks on the Sikhs The attacks were handled and dealt with relative ease by the Sikh warriors On the other hand, the Sikhs having to stand up to injustice and fight off oppression, becoming a force of solidarity and spiritual warriorship The relationship between the Sikhs and the Mughal Emperor was hindered severely before when Aurungzeb had ordered to behead Guru Tegh Bahadur 9th Guru of the Sikhs , the father of Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1675 for refusing to convert to Islam.After the hill rajas multiple failed attempts to restrain Guru Gobind Singh Ji, It was at this point where the hill rajas then travelled to Delhi and vented their jealousy and came to crave the support and protection of the government The hill rajas pleaded to the government for a quick and abrupt order to act right away, as any delay would result in the Guru s army to expedite your empire In response to their plea, Aurungzeb dispatched two Mughal commanders, Pundit Khan and Din Beg, to deal with the Sikhs Pundit Khan was killed in a single battle by Guru Gobind Singh and the hill rajas fled the battlefield only to regroup and lay siege to Anandpur Shaib Aurungzeb the then governing Emperor felt uneasy and threatened by the control that Guru Gobind Singh Ji set out for the followers of the Sikh faith In 1704 the largest ever combined force had been put together of both Mughals and the hill rajas They had stopped food and water supplies to Anandpur Sahib where the Sikhs were staying The Mughal Emperor Aurungzeb sent a message to Guru Gobind Singh in the form of an oath sworn on the Quran, which promised him safety of him and his family if only he would surrender peacefully Faced with the constant detrimental conditions, starvation of his community, Guru Gobind Singh agreed The promise was broken almost instantly and Aurangzeb ordered attacks to the land of Anandpur Shaib where there was battles consisting over a couple of days In these raging wars, Guru Gobind Singh s four sons were killed and his mother died out of shock and many Sikhs were taken to the sword and died to uphold their Sikh faith.Guru Gobind Singh Ji fought his way to safety and a year later received a peace making message from Aurungzeb, which requested to end the troubles in return for safety and friendship Here the Guru replied with the Zafarnama, which was to stand firm to his adamant will and unconquerable spirit ZafarnamaThe Zafarnama is a letter originally composed and written in fine Persian verses by Guru Gobind Singh ji, the tenth Sikh Guru The Zafarnam is addressed to Aurangzeb, who was the then Mughal Emperor of India and after many brutal and extreme battles between his army and the Sikh warriors, Aurangzeb demonstrated to be a tyrannical and oppressive ruler, Aurangzeb and his generals broke their oaths on the Quran, in the attempt to wrongly defeat Guru Gobind Singh s army and kill his family to eradicate the existence and fruitful continuation of the Sikh faith Guru Gobind Singh Ji experienced the greatest deal of tragedy, loss, and pain in the wars of succession One, who was wronged, betrayed and oppressed by Aurungzeb who had barbarically killed his family In such times Guru Gobind Singh showed such equanimity towards Aurungzeb in his poetically scripted letter It is indeed remarkable as it is moving, for one to experience the atrocities inflicted upon him and yet still remain mentally, physically and spiritually composed, showing no bitterness, hate or frustration to the opposition In verses 13 and 14, the Guru declares from this point onwards, he absolutely has no trust in what the Emperor utters out of his mouth I have no faith at all In the oath that you swear, That the God Who is One Your witness does bear , Not a jot of trust Do I now have in you, Whose generals and ministers Are all liars, untrue And later in verse 18, In your false oath on the Quran Had I not believed, My brave army wouldn t be crippled, Nor in such manner deceived Navtej Sarna has done a very good job here in the efforts to translate the letter from Persian to English, however, I do believe there may be some elements, which are not fully covered and perhaps are lost in translation given the historical context and the huge challenge in the comprehensive transformation of literature The original texts, I can only imagine is a real work of written art crafted with accuracy, fluidity, honesty, and respect all the while, spiritually connected with the divine creator of all Akaal Purakh God The Guru says to Aurangzeb in verses 82 But if you still disregardYour falsehood and your lies, You too will be forgotten by God, Be ever guilty in His eyes A statement, which condemns Aurangzeb s evil actions carried out deceivingly against Guru Gobind Singh Later in verse 90, Aurungzeb has been praised for his wisdom and bravery You are handsome and clever And steeped in wisdom, Chief among the chiefs, Lord of this kingdom.Praising his bravery and actions however then highlights his spiritual connection to the creator of all, the eternal one God Every verse in the letter shares such a powerful message written in pure excellence and creativity a true unparalleled beauty executed here by Guru Gobind Singh Ji As Aurungzeb had received the Zafarnama, he was very touched and taken back by the poetic genius expressed and therefore instructed his governors to send a word of admiration to the Guru It was from this point until his death he did not bother the Guru ever again Overall this written literature is an absolute work of art, which displays the Gurus unprecedented warrior spirit and expresses his spiritual philosophy of self belief as he declared that he would create such a Panth community society , which would challenge the tyrant rulers in every walk of life to restore justice, equality, and peace for all of mankind A very important chapter in the history of the Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh Ji, created the Khalsa Sikh Warriors and abolished the caste system A gentleman of great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle A true scholar and connoisseur Ultimately a real saint soldier More importantly, he took a downtrodden and browbeaten community and turned them into lions My words are far very far beyond any real reflection of such greatness, which the Guru holds The final and ending verse 111 for the closing of my review to which I feel displays the position of a true saintly warrior A thousand plots of the enemy, Full of treachery and fraud, They cannot harm a single hair Of the one protected by God J Singh. The translation of the Zafarnama from Persian to English is hard to find and this one by Navtej Sarna is probably the most comprehensive It s a powerful poetic letter addressed by the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh to the then Mughal Emperor of India, Aurangzeb A tyrannical and oppressive ruler, Aurangzeb and his generals broke their oaths in order to wrongly defeat Guru Gobind Singh s army and kill his family I read both the Persian verse as well as the English translation and wished I knew Persian The poetry is beautiful and I feel that even though the translator did a wonderful job, there is some essence lost in translation Nevertheless, this is an important piece of history, penned by the Sikh Guru himself who is known to us not only as a great man of valor, vision wisdom and sacrifice but also as a scholar and connoisseur of arts The introduction to the book itself holds great value in my eyes, especially for those who are not familiar with Sikh history and need context surrounding the circumstances under which this letter was written. One of the best books I read on spirituality This book exhibits valor and spirituality of the Tenth Guru Guru Gobind Singh I really liked the following couplets 16thHuma ra kase saaye aayad bazerBar o dast darad na zaag e dalerThe one touched by Huma s sacred bird shadow and taken under its wingsIs beyond harm from clever crows, their designs mean nothing 22nd probably the most famous Chun kar az hameh beelate dar guzashthalal ast budanbi shamsher dastWhen all has been tried, yet justice is not in sight,It is then right to pick up the sword, it is then right to fight 108thBebin gardish e bewafai ye zamanKi biguzast bar har makin o makanBeware the unrelenting turn of time s faithless wheel It turns for each and everyone it harbours no appeal 111thKhasm dushmani gar bazaar aawardNa yak mu ye o ra aazar aawardA thousand plots of the enemy, full of treachery and fraud,They cannot harm a single hair of the one protected by God satisfying read overall. Zafarnama is one of the most powerful and expressive pieces of literature I have read It is in the form of a letter written by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, to the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, who was known for his atrocities and religious intolerance Guru Gobind Singh uses the finest Persian verse to show the mirror to Aurangzeb, penning down the tortures committed on the hapless Indian people and reminding him of his duties, as a ruler and as a human being With the paucity of English translations of the Zafarnama, Navtej Sarna does quite a decent job with the translation I have enjoyed other books by Sarna too, so I confess I am a little biased towards him.