By Justice Markandey Katju
Amir Khusro ( 1253-1325 ) can be regarded as the father of the composite Ganga-Jumna tehzeeb ( culture ) of India.
I often visit the Dargah of Amir Khusro in Delhi, which is next to that of his spiritual preceptor, the great Sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulia
Amir Khusro is often regarded the father of both present day spoken Hindi ( khariboli ) as well as Urdu.
Amīr Khusro was a versatile multi talented genius, who can be called the Michelangelo of India. He invented qawwali and taraana style of Hindustani music. He also invented the sitar and tabla, and developed Hindavi or Hindustani in which he wrote several immortal verses (apart from his poetry in Persian). He also composed many raagas in Hindustani music.
Amir Khusro was a disciple of the great Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya, and they both have their graves next to each other in Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi. It is said that on hearing of the death of Nizamuddin Aulia, his spiritual preceptor, Amir Khusro was so overwhelmed with grief that he died a few months thereafter.
I may relate a story here, which is pertinent to the atmosphere of communalism propagated by some people in India.
One day in Delhi Nizamuddin Aulia was standing with Amir Khusro on the bank of the river Jumna. The saint saw Hindu worshippers bathing in the Jumna, and remarked (in Persian) :
“Har Qaum raast raahe
Din-e-wa qibla gaahe”
“Every people has a pole (qibla) to which it turns”
i.e.: Every sect has its own path of worship.
Amir Khusro immediately completed the couplet with a verse of his own:
“Man qibla raast kardam
bar samt kaj kulahe”
“I, however turn my face
towards the tilted cap”
(Nizamuddin Aulia used to wear a tilted cap).
This approach of tolerance and respect for all communities is absolutely essential in our country with such tremendous diversity, if we wish to hold it together, and progress.