‘Seeing Divinity in Every Dust Particle of the Nation’

Rereading Allama Iqbal’s ‘Naya Shivala’ at Shivaratri, one is struck by the poet’s philosophical insights.

The poet Muhammad Iqbal. Source: Author provided

The poet Iqbal. Source: Author provided

While releasing Abdul Haq’s Iqbal Ka Harf-e-Sheerin (Honeyed Verses of Iqbal) in 2014, Vice-President Hamid Ansari described Allama Iqbal (1877-1938) as a ‘philosopher, patriot and poet in one’, adding that “India highly misunderstood Iqbal and his philosophy’.

Apart from classics like ‘Ram’, ‘Nanak’, ‘Swami Ramteerth’, ‘Hindustani Bachchon Ka Qaumi Geet’, ‘Karl Marx Ki Awaz’, ‘Lenin, Khuda Ke Huzoor Mein’, ‘Tasveer-e-Dard’, the poem ‘Naya Shivala’ is an exemplar of Iqbal’s philosophy of inclusiveness, patriotism and humanism.

Iqbal’s poetic career can be divided in to three phases:

(1) 1901 -1905: patriotic poetry dedicated to the Indian nation;
(2) 1905-1908: philosophical poetry; and
(3) 1908-1938: poetry dedicated to the Muslim community.

‘Naya Shivala’ belongs to the first phase and is contained in his first Urdu anthology Bang-e-Dara (‘Call of the Marching Bell‘) published in 1924. Bang-e-Dara has Urdu poems written by Iqbal from 1901 to 1923.

The poem, as the title denotes, exhorts us to rebuild the divine temple of Lord Shiva anew. The poem has two stanzas with a strong message of brotherhood, harmony, inclusiveness, patriotism.

Stanza one:

Sach keh doon ai barhaman, agar tu bura na mane
Tere sanam-kadon ke but ho gaye puraney

Apnon se beyr rakhna tune buton se seekha
Jang-o-jadal sikhaya waaiz ko bhi khuda ne

Tang aake maine aakhir dair-o-haram ko chhoda
Waaiz ka waa’z chhoda, chhodey tere fasaney

Patthar ki moorton me samjha hai tu khuda hai
Khak-e-watan ka mujhko har zarra devta hai.


सच कह दूँ ऐ बरहमन ! अगर तू बुरा न माने
तेरे सनमकदों के बुत हो गए पुराने

अपनों से बैर रखना तूने बुतों से सीखा
जंग-ओ-जदल सिखाया वाइज़ को भी ख़ुदा ने

तंग आके मैंने आख़िर दैर-ओ-हरम को छोड़ा
वाइज़ का वआज़ छोड़ा, छोड़े तेरे फ़साने

पत्थर की मूरतों में समझा है तू ख़ुदा है
ख़ाक-ए-वतन का मुझको हर ज़र्रा देवता है

The stanza hits at the manipulation of religion/religious doctrines by priests and preachers [of Islam] in the name of religion to divide humanity on self-motivated and self-manufactured notions.

Iqbal calls those notions that have become archaic ‘idols’. He politely tells the priest that the ‘idols’ of dispute are no longer relevant. Iqbal’s belief was  that priests learnt from those idols how to keep envy and enmity with his ‘own people’, just as the preacher of Islam had learnt from his (self-manufactured concept) of God ideals that ran counter to those enshrined in the harmonic and peaceful teachings of Islam. Sickened by the treachery of priest and preacher, Iqbal was forced to shun their company, seeing their temples and mosques as places that manipulated religion and created a divide between Hindus and Muslims.  At the end of the stanza, Iqbal argues with the priest on his conception of God within those idols that are devoid of life and are self-manufactured and non-divine. In contrast to the priest’s belief, Iqbal says he sees divinity in every dust particle of the nation. For, those particles didn’t divide humanity.

Stanza two:

Aa ghayriyat ke parde ik baar phir utha den
Bichhdon ko phir mila den, naqshe duyi mita den

Sooni padi hui hai muddat se dil ki basti
Aa ek naya shivala is des mein bana dein

Duniya ke teerthon se ooncha hua apna teerath
Daamaan-e-aasman se iska kalas mila dein

Har subah uth ke gayein mantar meethey meethey
Saarey pujariyon ko mey peet ki pila dein

Shakti bhi shanti bhi bhagton ke geet mein hai
Dharti ke basiyon ki mukti preet mein hai


आ ग़ैरियत के परदे इक बार फिर उठा दें
बिछड़ों को फिर मिला दें, नक्शे दुई मिटा दें

सूनी पड़ी हुई है मुद्दत से दिल की बस्ती
आ एक नया शिवाला इस देस में बसा दें

दुनिया के तीर्थों से ऊँचा हुआ अपना तीरथ
दामान-ए-आसमाँ से इस का कलस मिला दें

हर सुबह उठ के गाएं मन्तर वो मीठे-मीठे
सारे पुजारियों को मय प्रीत की पिला दें

शक्ति भी शान्ति भी भगतों के गीत में है
धरती के बासियों की मुक्ति प्रीत में है

After presenting his case to the priest, Iqbal now invites him to ‘reconstruct’ a new temple of divinity. ‘O priest ! let us make the sundered and separated masses unite so that ‘duality’ of communities could be destroyed’, he says. The word duyi denotes duality and has been derived from the Sufi concept that entails the intermingling of human soul with the God, in divine love and dedication to God. Iqbal believed that only love could unite the masses. He cordially  invites the priest to build a new temple of high divinity, so high that its pinnacle (kalash) could touch the heavens with no human tampering.

To Iqbal, people have been unable to witness the loftiness of high divinity due to clashes and disputes. It was time to go the highest height for the most important of all pilgrimages in the world — the pilgrimage of love. In that temple, says Iqbal, they would hear the sweet chanting of hymns and sing anthems of love every morning to fill every devotees’ heart with the ‘wine of love’. Power, peace, prosperity — all reside in the anthems of love sung by lovers of divinity, and love was the only way to the salvation, or liberation,  of living beings on earth.

Allama Iqbal was a great champion of Sufism and was highly influenced by the Masnavi of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. Today, when extremism in the name of religion is soaring high, be it in the form of what recently happened at the Dargah Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan Sharif (Pakistan) or other political incarnations in India, Iqbal’s’Naya Shivala’ holds special importance and is the Bang-e-Dara i.e. the call of a marching bell for humanity to set course for the destination of love.

Muhammad Naved Ashrafi is a doctoral fellow at the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. He tweets at @NavedAshrafi.

  • Alok Asthana

    Very nice. Thanks. About 100 times more patriotic than that evil guy who goes by the name of Yogi Adityanath and also Arun Jaitely, not to speak of a guy called Narendra Modi.

  • farhan khan

    Well written article other than this characterisation:

    Iqbal’s poetic career can be divided in to three phases:

    (1) 1901 -1905: patriotic poetry dedicated to the Indian nation;
    (2) 1905-1908: philosophical poetry; and
    (3) 1908-1938: poetry dedicated to the Muslim community.