Born: 1253 | Patiali, Etah, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: 1325 (aged 72)
Ab’ul Hasan Yamīn al-Dīn Khusrow (1253-1325 CE), better known as Amīr Khusrow (or Khusrau) Dehlawī , was an Indian musician, scholar and poet of Persian descent. He was an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent. A Sufi mystic and a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi, Amīr Khusrow was not only a notable poet but also a prolific and seminal musician. He wrote poetry primarily in Persian, but also in Hindavi.
He is regarded as the “father of qawwali” (the devotional music of the Indian Sufis). He is also credited with enriching Hindustani classical music by introducing Persian and Arabic elements in it, and was the originator of the khayal and tarana styles of music. The invention of the tabla is also traditionally attributed to Amīr Khusrow. He has written Ghazal, Masnavi, Qata, Rubai, Do-Beti and Tarkibhand.
A musician and a scholar, Amīr Khusrow was as prolific in tender lyrics as in highly involved prose and could easily emulate all styles of Persian poetry which had developed in medieval Persia, from Khāqānī’s forceful qasidas to Nezāmī’s khamsa. His contribution to the development of the ghazal, hitherto little used in India, is particularly significant.
Early life and background
Amīr Khusrow was born in Patiali near Etah in northern India. His father, Amīr Sayf ud-Dīn Mahmūd, was a Turkic officer and a member of the Lachin tribe of Transoxania, themselves belonging to the Kara-Khitais. His mother who belonged to the Rajput tribes of Uttar Pradesh, was the daughter of Rawat Arz, the famous war minister of Balban, a king of the Mamluk dynasty (1246-87).
Khusro was a prolific classical poet associated with the royal courts of more than seven rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. He is popular in much of North India and Pakistan, because of many playful riddles, songs and legends attributed to him. Through his enormous literary output and the legendary folk personality, Khusro represents one of the first (recorded) Indian personages with a true multi-cultural or pluralistic identity.
He wrote in both Persian and Hindustani. He also spoke Arabic and Sanskrit. His poetry is still sung today at Sufi shrines throughout Pakistan and India.
Amir Khusro was the author of a Khamsa which emulated that of the earlier poet of Persian epics Nezami Ganjavi. His work was considered to be one of the great classics of Persian poetry during the Timurid period in Transoxiana.
The origins of the Sitar and the Tabla
Popular lore also credits him with inventing the sitar, the Indian grand lute, but it is possible that the Amir Khusro associated with the sitar lived in the 18th century (he is said to be a descendant of the son-in-law of Tansen, the celebrated classical singer in the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar).
– Mun Kunto Maula (Whoever accepts me as a master)
– Zehaal-E-Miskeen (Notice the poor (heart) )