Saqinama

The Poet of the East’s Saqinama is one of the greatest poems ever written in Urdu Language. This translation just gives the meaning of his words and not even a touch of the beauty of original Urdu text. The meaning is as relevant today as was 100 years ago. for real Iqbal, this must be read in Urdu. Its very lengthy but i managed to read it thoroughly. Translation is not mine. i found it on some other guy’s blog.


Spring’s caravan has pitched its tent
At the foot of the mountain, making it look like the fabled garden of Iram

With a riot of flowers—iris, rose, narcissus, lily, eglantine,
And tulip in its martyr’s gory shroud

The landscape is all covered with a multi-coloured sheet,
and color flows even in the veins of stones like blood

The breezes blow intoxicatingly in a blue sky,
so that the birds do not feel like remaining in their nests and fly about

Look at that hill‐stream. How it halts
and bends and glides and swings around

Jumping, slipping and then, collecting itself,
surges up and rushes on

Should it be stemmed, it would burst the rocks
and cut open the hills’ hearts

This hill‐stream, my fair saki,
has a message to give us concerning life.

Attune me to this message and,
Come, let us celebrate the spring, which comes but once a year.

Give me that wine whose Whose light illuminates life’s mind,
whose heat burns up the veils of hidden things,

Give me that wine whose heat burns up the veils of hidden things,
Whose light illuminates life’s mind,

Come lift the veil off mysteries,
And make a mere wagtail take eagles on.

The times have changed; so have their signs.
New is the music, and so are the instruments.

The magic of the West has been exposed,
And the magician stands aghast.

The politics of the ancient regime are in disgrace:
world is tired of kings.

The age of capitalism has passed,
The juggler, having shown his tricks, has gone.

The Chinese are awaking from their heavy sleep.
Fresh springs are bubbling forth from Himalayan heights.

Cut open is the heart of Sinai and Faran,
And Moses waits for a renewed theophany.

The Muslim, zealous though about God’s unity,
Still wears the Hindu’s sacred thread around his heart.

In culture, mysticism, canon law and dialectical theology—
all worships idols of non‐Arab make.

The truth has been lost in absurdities,
And in traditions is this Ummah rooted still.

The preacher’s sermon may beguile your heart,
But there is no sincerity, no warmth in it.

It is a tangled skein of lexical complexities,
Sought to be solved by logical dexterity.

The Sufi, once foremost in serving God,
Unmatched in love and ardency of soul

Has got lost in the maze of Ajam’s ideas:
At half‐way stations is this traveller stuck.

Gone out is the fire of love. O how sad!
The Muslim is a heap of ashes, nothing more.

O Saki, serve me that old wine again,
Let that old cup go round once more.

Lend me the wings of Love and make me fly.
Turn my dust to fireflies that flit about.

Free young men’s minds from slavery,
And make them mentors of the old.

The millat’s tree is green thanks to your sap:
You are its body’s breath

Give it the strength to vibrate and to throb;
Lend it the heart of Murtaza, the fervor of Siddiq

Drive that old arrow through its heart
Which will revive desire in it.

Blest be the stars of Your heavens; blest be
Those who spend their nights praying to You.

Endow the young with fervent souls;
Grant them my vision and my love.

I am a boat in a whirlpool, stuck in one place.
Rescue me and grant me mobility.

Tell me about the mysteries of life and death,
For Your eye spans the universe.

The sleeplessness of my tear‐shedding eyes;
The restless yearnings hidden in my heart;

The prayer-fulness of my cries at midnight;
My melting into tears in solitude and company;

My aspirations, longings and desires;
My hopes and quests;

my mind that mirrors the time                                                                                                       a field for thought’s gazelles to roam

My heart, which is a battlefield of life,
Where legions of doubt war with faith

O Saki, these are all my wealth;
Possessing them, I am rich in my poverty.

Distribute all these riches in my caravan,
And let them come to some good use

In constant motion is the sea of life.
All things display life’s volatility.

It is life that puts bodies forth,
Just as a whiff of smoke becomes a flame.

Unpleasant to it is the company of matter,
but it likes to see its striving to improve itself

It is fixed, yet in motion,
straining at the leash to get free of the elements

A unity imprisoned in diversity,
It is unique in every form and shape.

This world, this sex‐dimensioned idol‐house,
This Somnat is all of its fashioning.

It is not its way to repeat itself:
You are not I, I am not you.

With you and me and others it has formed assemblies,
but is solitary in their midst.

It shines in lightning, in the stars,
In silver, gold and mercury.

Its is the wilderness, its are the trees,
Its are the roses, its are the thorns.

It pulverizes mountains with its might,
And captures Gabriel and hoors in its noose.

There is a silver‐grey, brave falcon here,
Its talons covered with the blood of partridges

And over there, far from its nest,
A pigeon helplessly aflutter in a snare.

Stability is an illusion of eyes,
For every atom in the world pulsates with change.

The caravan of life does not halt anywhere,
For every moment life renews itself.

Do you think life is great mystery?
No, it is only a desire to soar aloft.

It has seen many ups and downs,
But likes to travel rather than to reach the goal;

For travelling is life’s outfit: it
Is real, while rest is appearance, nothing more

Life loves to tie up knots and then unravel them.
Its pleasure lies in throbbing and in fluttering.

When it found itself face to face with death,
It learned that it was hard to ward it off.

So it descended to this world, where retribution is the law,
And lay in wait for death.

Because of its love of duality, It sorted all things out in pairs,
And then arose, host after host, from mountains and from wilderness.

It was a branch from which flowers kept shedding
and bursting forth afresh.

The ignorant think that life’s impress is ephemeral,
but it fades only to emerge anew

Extremely fleet‐footed, It reaches its goal instantly.
From time’s beginning to its end is but one moment’s way for it.

Time, chain of days and nights, is nothing but
A name for breathing in and breathing out.


What is this whiff of air called breath? A sword,
and selfhood is that sword’s sharp edge.

What is the self? Life’s inner mystery,
The universe’s waking up.

The self, drunk with display, is also fond of solitude;
—an ocean in a drop.

It shines in light and darkness both;
Displayed in individuals, yet free from them

Behind it is eternity without beginning, and before it is eternity without an end;
It is unlimited both ways.

Swept on by the waves of time’s stream,And at the mercy of their buffeting

It yet changes the course of its quest constantly,
Renewing its way of looking at things.

For it huge rocks are light as air:
It smashes mountains into shifting sand

Both its beginning and its end are journeying,
For constant motion is its being’s law

It is a ray of light in the moon and a spark in stone. It dwells
In colors, but is colorless itself.

It has nothing to do with more or less,
With light and low, with fore and aft.

Since time’s beginning it was struggling to emerge,
And finally emerged in the dust that is man.

It is in your heart that the Self has its abode,
As the sky is reflected in the pupil of the eye

To one who treasures his self,
bread won at the cost of self‐respect is gall.

He values only bread
he gains with head held high.

Abjure the pomp and might of a Mahmud;
Preserve your self, do not be an Ayaz.

Worth offering is only that prostration
which makes all others forbidden acts.

This world, this riot of colors and of sounds,
Which is under the sway of death,

This idol‐house of eye and ear,
In which to live is but to eat and drink,

Is nothing but the Self’s initial stage.
O traveller, it is not your final goal.

The fire that is you has not come out of this heap of dust.
You have not come out of this world; It has come out of you.

Smash up this mountainous blockade,
Go further on and break out oft his magic ring of time and space.

God’s lion is the self;
Its quarry are both earth and sky.

There are a hundred worlds still to appear,
For Being’s mind has not drained of its creative capabilities.

All latent worlds are waiting for releasing blows
From your dynamic action and exuberant thought

It is the purpose of the revolution of the spheres
That your selfhood should be revealed to you.

You are the conqueror of this world of good and evil.
How can I tell you The whole of your long history?

Words are but a strait‐jacket for reality:
Reality is a mirror, and speech the coating that makes it opaque.

Breath’s candle is alight within my breast,
But my power of utterance cries halt.

Should I fly even a hairbreadth too high,
The blaze of glory would burn up my wings.


The music band Junoon has also made a song called Saqinama based on this poem.

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