Category Archives: Balochi Classical Literature

Is There an “Urban Mind” in Balochi Literature?

By: Prof. Carina Jahani
Department of Linguistics and Philology
Uppsala University, Sweden

The purpose of this chapter is to compare themes in Balochi written literature with those found in Balochi oral literature in search for an “urban mind”. The Balochi language is spoken in south-western Pakistan and south-eastern Iran, as well as by smaller populations outside Balochistan proper. Various estimates give at hand that there may be between 8 and 10 million speakers of Balochi, or even more. Childe presents a number of criteria for urbanism 1 which are used in this chapter to determine whether there is an urban mind in Balochi oral and written literature. The five written texts examined in this study all date from the 1950s and onwards, whereas the five oral texts are undated but assumed to be of a much earlier date than the written texts.
The study shows that in the oral narratives the urban setting is put forth as an ideal. To become a king or the king’s son-in-law or the foremost merchant in the world is what constitutes true success, and not, for example, to become the richest farmer or cattle owner. This urban mind is only present in a fantasy world, however, and in the written literature there is a totally different and this time realistic setting for the stories. Here the scene is not a world where wishes come true, but the harsh reality of Balochistan. Urbanism as an ideal is absent in these stories, and even though urban phenomena are mentioned they are not crucial in any of the written stories.

Following Childe’s criteria for urbanism, 2 writing is here regarded as one of the characteristics of urbanism. Accordingly, an investigation of written literature together with non-written (oral) literature can be rewarding in the search for differences between an “urban mind” and a “rural mind”. The purpose of the present chapter is to compare themes in Balochi written literature with those found in Balochi oral literature. Five oral tales and five short stories will be ex – amined in this study, and a number of criteria will be used in order to determine what can be labeled as “urban” in these texts.
In his work Orality and Literacy , Ong argues for a dichotomy between oral – ity and literacy and rejects the concept of “oral literature”. 3 Utas claims that such a model is flawed in that it seems to assume the language of oral literature is the same as that of free speech but different from that of written discourse.
Utas argues that, “the language of oral and written literature is more akin, by being normalized, conventionalized and consciously shaped to be remembered”. 4 Following Utas’ definition, both oral and written narratives will here be defined as literature. Before the actual analysis, I will provide a short overview of Balochistan and the Baloch people.
In his work Orality and Literacy , Ong argues for a dichotomy between oral – ity and literacy and rejects the concept of “oral literature”. 3 Utas claims that such a model is flawed in that it seems to assume the language of oral literature is the same as that of free speech but different from that of written discourse.
Utas argues that, “the language of oral and written literature is more akin, by being normalized, conventionalized and consciously shaped to be remembered”. 4 Following Utas’ definition, both oral and written narratives will here be defined as literature. Before the actual analysis, I will provide a short overview of Balochistan and the Baloch people.

Balochistan and the baloch, an overview
Balochistan, the land of the Baloch, is divided between Iran and Pakistan by the so-called Goldsmid Line, a border demarcation which was the result of a border commission headed by the British general Goldsmid in 1870–1872. 5 Exactly when the Baloch arrived in their present habitat is hard to determine. Marco Polo reports that this area, which he called Kesmacoran, had its own ruler and that the people “lived by commerce as much as agriculture, trading both overland and by sea in all directions”. 6 Spooner holds that the Balochi immigration into the coastal area, known as Makrān, started in the 11th century AD and intensified in the 13th century, when Turkic tribes started invading the Iranian plateau from the east. According to the epic tradition of the Baloch themselves, they are of Arabic origin and migrated from Aleppo in Syria after the Battle of Karbala in AD 680.
Although the majority of the Baloch today are Sunni Muslims, tradition has it that in the Battle of Karbala they fought on the side of the Shiite Imam and martyr Hussein against his enemy, the Umayyad caliph Yazid. 7 This is likely an attempt to establish a “true Islamic” genealogy for the Baloch.
It is probable that the original habitat of at least a core group of the Baloch was in the north-western part of the Iranian linguistic area and that they migrated south-eastwards under pressure from the Arabic and Turkic invasions of the Iranian plateau from the mid-7th century AD onwards. The main evidence supporting this theory is linguistic, namely the close relation between Balochi and other languages traditionally classified as north-west Iranian, such as Kurdish, Gilaki, Mazandarani and Talyshi. Another piece of evidence is the fact that Arab historians from the 9th and 10th centuries AD associate the Baloch with the geographical regions of Kerman, Khorasan, Sistan and Makran in present- day eastern Iran. 8 It also appears that tribes and groups of various linguistic affiliations, including Indo-European (e.g. Pashtun), Semitic, Dravidic (Brahui), Turkic, Bantu and others, have been incorporated into the very heterogeneous ethnic group today known as the Baloch.9 The Balochi language is spoken in the province of Balochistan in south-western Pakistan, and in the province of Sistan and Balochistan in south-eastern Iran.10
It is also spoken by smaller populations in Punjab and Sindh and by a large number of people in Karachi, as well as by Baloch who have settled in the north-eastern provinces of Iran, including Khorasan and Golestan. It is also the language of smaller communities in Afghanistan (particularly in the province of Nimruz), in the Gulf States (especially in Oman and the United Arab Emirates), in the Mari region of Turkmenistan, in India, in East Africa, and nowadays also in North America, Europe and Australia.
It is difficult to estimate the total number of Balochi speakers. Many Baloch, particularly in areas bordering Indian languages (in Punjab and Sindh) and Persian (in the western parts of the Balochi-speaking areas in Iran and in Khorasan and Golestan), identify themselves as Baloch but no longer speak the language. The same is true of many Baloch in East Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula, par – ticularly after having lived there for generations. The Baloch in Turkmenistan, however, have retained their language well, mainly owing to the fact that they have maintained a traditional lifestyle of agriculture and pastoralism and have, on the whole, a low level of education.
Another reason that it is difficult to give any certain figures for Balochi speakers is that first and second languages are not always recorded in censuses carried out in the countries where Balochi is spoken. A serious attempt at estimating the total number of Balochi speakers was done in the mid-1980s 11 with about 5 million as an approximate grand total. This figure has been questioned by some Baloch as unreasonably low. There is, indeed, a tendency on the part of central authorities to underestimate the number of members of ethnic minorities, and this may show up in any figures based on official statistics. The total number of speakers of Balochi, as estimated in the Ethnologue 12 (divided between Eastern, Southern and Western Balochi speakers) amounts to 7 million. In view of all this, and the fact that the birth rate in the province of Sistan and Balochistan in Iran is the highest in the country, and in Pakistan about average, the total number of Balochi speakers at the time of writing (2010) probably amounts to between 8 and 10 million, or even more.
Balochi is neither an official language nor a language of education in any of the countries where it is spoken. This is reflected, for example, in the lack of a standard written norm for Balochi. 13 There is also a dispute about which dialect, or dialects, ought to be the basis of a literary language. On the whole, writing and reading Balochi is at the moment an exclusive activity carried out by a small number of persons belonging to the Balochi literary elite, mainly in Pakistan. Thus, Balochi is, as a minority language, largely restricted to traditional and informal domains such as the family, the neighbourhood, and traditional occupations (e.g. pastoralism and agriculture). A career outside these traditional sectors is linked to a great extent to higher education and a good command of the national language. Efforts to preserve and promote the Balochi language are mainly of an unofficial character and based on private initiatives. However, there is a growing concern among the Baloch that their language may well be lost within a few generations if it does not develop a written standard.
The Baloch have traditionally sustained themselves on pastoral nomadism and/or seasonal agriculture and date cultivation, and to some degree on fishing. Fishing is limited to the shores of the Indian Ocean, that is, to the southernmost coastal area of Balochistan. Agriculture and date cultivation prevail in the lowlands of southern Balochistan as well as in oases and along rivers, for exam – ple in Iranian Sarawan and Pakistani Kharan. Further to the north, the main occupation has traditionally been pastoral nomadism.
The tribal structure has been both a uniting and a separating factor among free- born Baloch in all of Balochistan. It has been easy for originally non-Baloch tribes and clans to associate with and be incorporated into the Balochi tribal system, 14 and the unity within the tribe has also traditionally been very strong. However, tribal loyalties are often felt to hamper a nationalist movement, and nowadays many intellectual Baloch try to promote the replacement of tribal loyalties with a national Balochi loyalty. This raises the question of how to delimitate the Baloch ethnie. 15 For instance, what is the position of persons who no longer speak Balochi, of larger groups of Baloch living outside Balochistan, 16 of non-Baloch living in Balochistan,
17 of Baloch professing another religion than Sunni Islam, 18 and of sub-tribal groups and former slaves, who are not normally regarded as Baloch? 19
Three of the reasons that the Baloch are found over such a large area – from Turkmenistan to Tanzania and from Iran to India, and also in Australia, Europe and North America – are the natural and political conditions of Balochistan and the fact that the Baloch were often recruited as soldiers owing to their reputation of bravery.
Balochistan is situated at the crossroads between east and west, north and south. From Alexander the Great’s time onwards, many conquerors have passed through this region. The Sea of Oman also links Balochistan to the Arabian Peninsula and eastern Africa. These geo-political conditions of Balochistan have caused a considerable amount of migration.
The main natural reason for migration from Balochistan is the long droughts  that often plague this area. In the late 19th century there are reports of severe droughts, which caused many Baloch to migrate northwards to Khorasan and Golestan in Iran, to northern Afghanistan and all the way to Turkmenistan in search of pasture for their herds.20 Some of the Baloch also migrated westwards, to the Iranian provinces of Kerman, Hormozgan, and Fars, where they still speak Baloch and are known as Koroshi.21 A long and severe drought in Iranian Balochistan between 1997 and 2004 forced many Baloch to sell their herds or abandon their agriculture and look for other occupations, such as border trade, which is one of the main pillars of the economy in Balochistan today. Many also moved out of the province.
Another migration was when a number of Baloch were moved by force to Australia by the British colonial government during the second half of the 19th century to facilitate the exploration of the Australian interior. This could only bdone by means of camels, and the Baloch were among the ethnic groups in British India who kept this animal.22Political changes that have caused migrations out of Balochistan include attempts on the part of the central Iranian government to subdue local Baloch rulers and penetrate the region; this occurred in the 1850s and in 1928 during the third year of Reza Shah’s rule. Particularly after the second invasion, many Baloch moved to Karachi in British India. Also in the 1950s, a number of Iranian Baloch sought refuge in Oman after revolting against Mohammad Reza Shah.23 Many Baloch on the Arabian Peninsula and in East Africa have been recruited as soldiers, particluarly in the Omani army.24
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, a small number of educated young Baloch sought refuge outside Iran, mainly in Pakistan and Europe. It is interesting to note that there are two different words in Balochi to define pastoral nomads and settled agriculturalists. In former times, it was only the Baloch pastoral nomads that were known by the term “Baloch”, whereas the agriculturalists were called “townspeople” (Bal. šahrī).25
This latter term suggests that the village where the agriculturalists lived was indeed some sort of urban centre. The main political centre of the Baloch between 1666 and 1947 was Kalat in present-day Pakistan (Fig. 1). This was the centre of the Baloch Brahui Ahmadzai Khans, who ruled over a considerable part of Balochistan. The town of Kalat was described in the early 19th century as having more than 3,500 houses altogether (within and outside the wall surrounding the settlement) and was thus an urban milieu of some repute. Many of the shopkeepers were Hindus.26 Quetta (from the Pashto name for fort), the mainly Pashtun-inhabited capital of the province of Balochistan in Pakistan, has a very low percentage of Balochi population and is therefore less important historically to urbanism among the Baloch than another fort and urban centre, namely that of Sibi. According to the Balochi account of history, Sibi was the place where one of the early Baloch rulers, Mir Chakar, known from classical heroic ballads, established the capital of the Rind-Lashari Balochi confederacy in the late 15th century.27 Some other early urban centres in Balochistan that can be mentioned are Bampur, Pahra (now Iranshahr), Sarawan and Chabahar in present-day Iran, and Bela, Gwadar, Kharan and Khuzdar in present-day Pakistan.
It is hard to speak of a written Balochi literature before the 1950s. It is, however, highly likely that poems in Balochi were indeed written down by the poets themselves or by people around them. Strong indications that there might have been such early written records of Balochi literature are found in a British colonial document: “A considerable body of literature exists in Western Baluchi and many of the leading men keep books, known as daftar , in which their favourite ballads are recorded in the Persian character”.28 There were thus literate Baloch who were educated in traditional Islamic schools, where they were taught, for example, Arabic and Persian. It was thus natural for such persons to use the Arabic-Persian script for writing Balochi. Balochi was, however, never used as the official language at the court of Baloch rulers. The language of the administration in Kalat, for example, was initially Persian and later English.29
During the British period a considerable amount of publication of Balochi oral literature took place. More than anyone else, the person associated with this activity is the British civil servant M. Longworth Dames. The purpose of this effort was mainly to provide material for the British officials to learn Balochi. Also parts of the Bible were translated into Balochi in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and, possibly in response to this, the first translation of the Quran appeared in the early 20th century.30
However, only after the independence of Pakistan in 1947 do we find books in Balochi published by the Baloch themselves. The readership is so far limited to a small literary elite, comprising a few hundred people at best. This limited readership naturally puts a heavy mental and financial constraint on anyone wishing to publish his or her literary production in Balochi.

Criteria for urbanism
Gordon Childe, held by Smith 31 to be “the most influential archaeologist of the twentieth century”, presented the following criteria for urbanism: 32
1.“In point of size the first cities must have been more extensive and more densely populated than any previous settlements, although considerably smaller than many villages today.” 33
2.“In composition and function the urban population already differed from that of any village. Very likely indeed most citizens were still also peasants, harvesting the lands and waters adjacent to the city. But all cities must have accommodated in addition classes who did not themselves procure their own food…full-time specialist craftsmen, transport workers, merchants, officials an d priests.”34
3.“Each primary producer paid over the tiny surplus he could wring from the soil with his still very limited technical equipment as tithe or tax to an imaginary deity or a divine king who thus concentrated the surplus.”35
4.“Truly monumental public buildings not only distinguish each known city from any village but also symbolize the concentration of the social surplus.”36
5.“[P]riests, civil and military leaders and officials absorbed a major share of the concentrated surplus and thus formed a ‘ruling class.’”37
7.“[T]he elaboration of exact and predictive sciences – arithmetic, geometry and astronomy.”39
8.“Other specialists, supported by the concentrated social surplus, gave a new direction to artistic expression.”40
9.“Regular ‘foreign’ trade over quite long distances was a feature of all early civilizations”.41
10.“[E]ven the earliest urban communities must have been held together by a sort of solidarity…Peasants, craftsmen, priests and rulers form a community, not only by reason of identity of language and belief, but also because each performs mutually complementary functions, needed for the well-being…of the whole.”42
Following these criteria, and the added parameter of a monetary economy, I will now investigate whether there is an “urban mind” depicted in Balochi literature and, if so, whether it is found in both the oral and the written literature, that is, whether this “urban mind” is an old or a rather new phenomenon in Balochistan.
At this point it should be noted that the “urban mind” under study here has nothing to do with modernity. Totally different criteria would be needed for the study of modernity, but this is outside the scope of the present chapter.
The written texts examined in this study all date from the 1950s and onwards, whereas the oral texts are undated. Since common themes in the oral literature, almost identical stories in fact, are found among the Baloch who migrated westwards to Fars as well as those who went north-eastwards to Turkmenistan, the oral literature is here assumed to be of a much earlier date than the written texts. The texts analysed consist of five traditional tales and five short stories. The texts will be summarised in search for criteria of an “urban mind”.

Summary of the texts with notes on criteria of an “urban mind”
1. Oral texts
a. Mister Five-Slayer The first text is a story of a poor man who decides to leave the town where he is living and move to another kingdom. There he happens to become the chief minister of the king by claiming he can kill five tigers all at once, which of course he has never done. His duty as the chief minister is to ward off any dangers to the king and his rule. As soon as he is given a new mission, he returns home and starts beating his wife, who had once mockingly called him “Mister Five-Slayer”, something which he had taken as a pretext for his claim at the king’s court. By pure luck and the skill of his wife, he successfully fights tigers and thieves, and attacks the king’s enemies. On one of his missions, he dresses up as a businessman in order to fight robbers. Finally he receives half the kingdom.
In this text a more densely populated place, a “town” (Bal. šahr), is contrasted with the “village” (Bal. halk) that Mister Five-Slayer came from. There is also mention of “shopkeepers” (Bal. dukkāndār, bakkāl) and “construction workers” (Bal. hunarkār, ṭ āhēnōk). As for monumental buildings, Mister Five-Slayer builds himself a “palace” (Bal. mā ṛ ī), and the place where the king and his ministers gather is described as a “court” (Bal. dīwān). Regarding the ruling class, in addition to the “king” (Bal. bādšāh) there is mention of his “ministers and deputees” (Bal. wazīr u wakīl) and his “soldiers” (Bal. sipāhī). There is also reference to a “war” (Bal. mi ṛ u ǰang) between this king and another king. The climax of the story comes when Mister Five-Slayer is transformed from being “poor and destitute” (Bal. bēwass u nēzgār) into “lord of half the kingdom” (Bal. bādšāhīay nēmagay wā ǰa).

b. Moses and the starving man The second story is about Moses, in this Islamic context given the title of a “prophet”, and a destitute and starving man. The man asks Moses to intercede for him and plead with God to give him everything that has been provided for his whole lifetime in one go, so that he can fill his stomach if only once. God does so, and since the poor man cannot eat all the food he gives some away as alms.
God rewards him, and at the end of the story the man becomes the foremost businessman in the whole world. The very first criterion of urbanism found in this text is that Moses is seen as a mediator between God and man, the same role a priest has. Another notion associated with urbanism is giving alms to the poor “for God’s sake” (Bal. bi rāh-i xudā). An indirect reference to tradesmen is also found in that the poor man, upon receiving his allocation, goes to the “marketplace” (Bal. bāzār) to buy food. There is thus a monetary economy in this text. A more direct reference to 9 tradesmen is provided at the end of the story, where the “starving fellow” (Bal. gužnagēn bandag ) becomes “the tradesman of the world” (Bal. ta ǰǰ ār-i ǰahān), a transformation similar to the one in the first text. This also bears witness to an awareness of long-distance trade.
c. The little lizard-girl Story number three is that of a childless couple, a poor man and his wife. After the intervention of a man with supernatural powers, the wife gives birth, not to a human child but to a lizard. This lizard proves to be a blessing, since she can change her appearance into different utensils and by doing so bring home dates, wheat, oil and other necessities. Only when she visits the school, which seems  to be only for boys and thus a traditional religious school, does she get nothing. Eventually she manages to get hold of a merchant’s entire fortune and bring it to  her parents.
References to urban concepts in this text are the presence of a “religious man endowed with supernatural powers” (Bal. pīrpārsā) and specialised craftsmen such as a “keeper of the storage” (Bal. anbārčīn), a “gardener” (Bal. bāgpān)”, a “blacksmith” (Bal. āhinkār), and a “merchant” (Bal. bakkāl) who has a “shop” (Bal.dukkān). We also meet the “king’s daughter and his minister’s daughter” (Bal. bādšāh u wazīray ǰ inikk). The “royal palace” (Bal. bādšāhī mā ṛ ī) is mentioned as well. In this text, there is also reference to education with the words “school” (Bal. madrasag), “reading” (Bal. wānag), “small blackboard for each pupil to write on” (Bal. taxtī), and “pen” (Bal.kalam). The climax of this story is when the poor parents become “rich” (Bal. māldār u gan ǰ dār) after receiving the merchant’s en-tire fortune.

d. Goli and her husband The fourth story is that of Goli, who treats her husband, Ahmad, so badly that he decides to throw her into a well. When he has second thoughts and tries to pull her out of the well, a dragon comes out instead of his wife. The dragon manages to get Ahmad married to the king’s daughter by twisting itself around her neck and only letting go on Ahmad’s order. When the dragon does the same with another princess, Ahmad is called to rescue her as well. The dragon had warned him, however, that if he comes to rescue more princesses, the dragon will eat him up. However, Ahmad manages to save this second princess by telling the dragon  a lie, namely that Goli has escaped from the well and is looking for it. On hearing \ this, the dragon flees head over heels in order to escape falling into Goli’s hands. In this story there is mention of a “town” (Bal. šahr), two “kings” (Bal.šāh), two “kings’ daughters” (Bal.šāhey ǰanek), and a “court” ( ǰles). There is also mention of “wise men” (Bal.ālem) who try to free the king’s daughter from the dragon, but in vain. The climax of the story is not when Ahmad becomes the “king’s son-in-law” (Bal. šāhey dūmād), although this is an important event, but rather when he manages  to free the second princess despite the dragon’s warnings.

e. The Indian merchant and the Egyptian goldsmith’s daughter The final story is about an Indian merchant who takes a wife from Egypt, but throws her into a well on the way back to India. Another caravan pulls her out and takes her back to Egypt. She does not tell her family the truth about her hus-band and what he did. He, on the other hand, goes back to India where he loses his fortune. Fate brings him back to Egypt as a beggar, where he again meets his wife, who remains faithful to her husband even though he has been cruel to her. At the end of the story it becomes apparent that the merchant is the offspring of a slave and his wife the offspring of a prince, something which is then seen as the reason for their evil versus good deeds.
Already in the title of the story there is a tradesman, a “merchant” (Bal.ta ǰǰār) who does “business” (Bal.taǰ ǰāratt )” between India and Egypt, and a craftsman, an Egyptian “goldsmith” (Bal. zargar ). The Indian merchant is described as having a “caravan” (Bal. kāpila ) and the Egyptian goldsmith has “wealth” (Bal. sarmāya ).
Other merchants also appear, and the person who takes the woman back to Egypt is to bring a written “receipt” (Bal. rasīd ) from her father, a reference to written documentation. The Egyptian goldsmith lives in a “palace” (Bal. kāx ). When the Indian merchant loses his fortune he goes begging to different “towns” (Bal. šār ), and when he comes to Egypt and meets his wife he asks her, not knowing who she is, for “alms” (Bal. xayrāt)“for God’s sake” (Bal. pa xudāay nāmā). A “prince” (Bal. šāzādag ) is also mentioned as the father of the girl in the story. The girl, who is of royal lineage, does the good deed of protecting her husband even though he has mistreated her. Note also the presence of long-distance trade (and begging) which brings the Indian merchant-beggar to Egypt, not only once but twice.

2. Written texts
a. The inheritance
The first story is that of a dying old woman named Granaz. At the start of the story, she is moaning in agony. She has raised five sons, but the first is dead, the second has left the country and abandoned her, the third has become a guerilla fighter in the mountains, the fourth is in prison, and only the fifth son, who seems to be somewhat disabled, is at her side. She used to be a strong woman, but is now totally destitute. At the end of the story she dies in this sad condition. In this text, there are few references to what could be described as an urban mind. Granaz mentions a “fortress” (Bal. kōṭ ā) and a “prison” (Bal. bandīxāna), phenomena that are associated with the exercise of power. There is also reference to “religious people” (Bal. pīr u fakīr) who will only provide “amulets” (Bal. či ṭ u tāyīt) if they are well paid. There is no climax in this story of the kind found in the oral narratives.

b. The evil-doer
In the second story, a court report of a murder is given. Dawlat Khan has killed the wife of his brother, Muhabbat Khan, accusing her of having had an affair with a passer-by. Muhabbat Khan himself is a guest worker in Dubai and is about to return home for a vacation. As the story develops, it becomes clear that the woman was pregnant, and that it was in fact Dawlat Khan himself who had an affair with her. He committed the murder in order to conceal his guilt, but at the end of the story there is a report of a new murder. Muhabbad Khan has found out the whole truth and has killed his brother. This text revolves around a court case, and there are references to an “investigation” (Bal. taftīš), “written reports” (Bal.ripūr ṭ), “imprisonment” (Bal. kayz u banday sazā ), and the “crime branch” (Bal. krāym brānč ). Once again there is no climax, and the story ends on a sad note.

c. Thunder
The third story tells of a long drought and a prediction during a ritual sacrifice that there will be heavy rain in the near future. The man who makes the sacrifice, Kuhda Shahsuwar, has a son, Kasim, who has joined the army in Muscat. Kasim sends a message with another soldier to say he is about to return, whereupon his father begins making preparations to marry off his son in order to get him to stay at home from now on. He sends a servant to meet his son at the port on the day of his return and to travel back home with him. When Kasim arrives at the port he decides to visit a friend on the way home, and he sends the servant in advance.
The servant arrives safe and sound, but not Kasim, who is struck by lightning when he takes shelter under a tree as the long-awaited rain starts to pour down. His father loses his mind as a result of his son’s death. References to criteria of an urban mind in this text are the title of “village elder” (Bal. Kuhdā ) given to three people in the text, being a “soldier” (Bal. sipāhī) in the “army” (Bal. paw ǰ ), and the use of money, namely “Pakistani rupie” (Bal. kalladār ).

d. Ormara 2030
The fourth story is set in the future, namely in 2030, and the location is the port of Ormara in Pakistani Balochistan. The main character is Balach, who is an old Baloch nationalist, a member of a nationalist party, and a poet. When the story opens, he is sitting and watching the sea. He sees people dressed in different kinds of clothes, even shorts and skirts, which are not common in Balochistan today. He compares the noisy crowd in the restaurant to the seabirds of old times. He is very lonely since his friends of old are all dead, and there is a heavy burden on his heart. Nobody speaks Balochi any more, and Balochi culture is about to be forgotten as well. Balach remembers how he had foreseen and warned against this situation in his days as an active politician, but nobody had taken him seriously enough to do something about the situation. Balach hears young people conversing in Urdu and English, then suddenly somebody speaking in Balochi. He turns around and finds that it is only a little beggar. The next day Balach’s death is announced from the mosque, in Urdu rather than in Balochi.
In this text as well, there are some references to criteria of an urban mind. Balach is described as a writer of “poetry” (Bal. šāhirī ) and as a “political figure” (Bal. syāsī mardum ). There are also references to “political meetings” (Bal. syāsī ma ǰ lis u ǰ
Alasah ) and to a monetary economy in the form of “Pakistani rupie” (Bal. Kalladār ). But once again, the urban mind is not a foreground theme, and the story ends in despair since there seems to be nobody left to care for the Balochi language and culture after the death of Balach.

e. Bitter
In the final story we meet Rahmat, a young and successful writer, who is frequently published in magazines. He is very well received by the headmaster when he returns to his former school, and he believes that it is thanks to his success as a writer. The headmaster wants to talk to him about something, so Rahmat stays on until the headmaster has finished his daily duties. Rahmat imagines that the headmaster, who is a well-educated man with two M.A.’s and one M.Ed., may want to hear a poem of his, or maybe even ask for advice on writings of his own. As it turns out, the headmaster wants to discuss a totally different mat-ter. Rahmat has an influential brother in Bahrain, and the headmaster needs this brother’s help to find a suitable job for his own brother who is also in Bahrain.
The main criterion of an urban mind found in this text is that of writing. The whole milieu is a school where we meet the “headmaster” (Bal. hi ḍ mas ṭ ir) and the “poet and writer” (Bal. šāir u labzānt). Mention is made of “literary magazines” (Bal. labzānkī tāk )”, “poetry and writings” (Bal. šayr u nibištānk), a “meeting for reciting  poetry” (Bal. šāirī dīwān), “literary and other scientific work” (Bal. labzānkī u diga ilmī kār) a “school” (Bal. iskūl), “paper and files” (Bal. kāgad u fāyl), the “marketplace” (Bal. bāzār), a “secretary” (Bal. munšī), “university degrees” (M.A. and M.Ed.), and a “letter of introduction” (Bal. pārṭī kāgad).

Is there, then, an urban mind in Balochi oral and written literature? In the oral narratives the urban characteristics are very clearly put forth as an ideal. To become a king or the king’s son-in-law or the foremost merchant in the world is what constitutes true success, and not, for example, to become the richest farmer or cattle owner. The presence of businessmen is more strongly felt than that of religious men in these stories; in other words, Mammon is given more attention than God in this cultural setting. It is thus clear that there is indeed an urban mind strongly present in these stories, but that an urban lifestyle exists only in a fantasy world and is something that one can dream about but probably never attain.
It is interesting to note that writing in the vernacular (i.e. Balochi) has not been a prerequisite for an urban mind and urban ideals. Further, in the pre- modern society with a mainly non-literate population, where the oral tales were created and retold, the urban life was presented as the successful life.
In the written literature the stories have a totally different setting, which is grounded in real life. Here the scene is not a dream world where wishes come true, but the harsh reality of Balochistan. In fact, all the short stories end on a pessimistic note, with the death of an important character or with deep disappointment. Urbanism as the ideal is absent in these stories, and even though urban phenomena are mentioned they are not crucial to the plot in any of the stories. Their grounding in actual life rather than in dreams must be considered the main reason for this marginal treatment of urban ideals.
Again, it must be noted that urbanism has nothing to do with modernity. Modernity must be evaluated in totally different parameters, which would make for another interesting study. While traditional themes are the focus in three of the written texts (loneliness in old age, infidelity, the whims of nature), in the fourth story the worry about the future of Balochistan and the Balochi language is intertwined with the theme of loneliness, and in the fifth story human egocen – trism is depicted in a somewhat modern context.
The answer to whether there is an urban mind in Balochi literature must, however, be affirmative, at least for the oral narratives. The urban lifestyle and occupations are depicted as the ideal ones, those that one can only dream about.
Even though these oral narratives may have drawn upon a cultural heritage that was not only limited to the Baloch, it would have been impossible to tell stories about concepts that were totally unknown to the audience or for that matter the storyteller. Thus, there must have been a certain presence of urban concepts, as well as knowledge of an urban lifestyle, in the very rural area of Balochistan during the time when these stories came into being. The very old dichotomy be-tween the “Baloch” and the “townspeople” (see above) is further evidence that the people of rural Balochistan had an awareness of urbanism even in past centuries.

1 Childe 1950, 9–16.
2 Childe 1950, 9.
3 Ong 1982, 11.
4 Utas 2006, 209.
5 Hopkins 2007.
6 Spooner 1989, 609.
7 Dames 1907/I, 1–2.
8 Spooner 1989, 606.
9 See e.g. Spooner 1989, 599–600, 606–607; Swidler 2008, 366; Korn 2005, 43–51.
10 The official spelling in Iran is Sistan va Baluchestan (see Fig. 1).
11 Jahani 1989, 91–97.
12 These figures are from 1998 or earlier.
13 See Jahani 1989.
14 See e.g. Titus 1998, 668.
15 See Smith 1986, 21.
16 See e.g. Al Ameeri 2003; Axenov 2003.
17 See e.g. Yadegari 2008; Afrakhteh 2008.
18 See e.g. Badalkhan 2008.
19 See e.g.Yadegari 2008.
20 Axenov 2000, 72.
21 Nourzaei 1388.
22 Oral communication, Amin Goshti, Canberra, Australia.
23 Al Ameeri 2003, 239.
24 See Lodhi 2000; Al Ameeri 2003; Collett 1986.
25 See e.g. Baranzehi 2003, 79; Yadegari 2008, 254; Noraiee 2008, 346.
26 Swidler 2008,369, 371.
27 Hosseinbor 2000, 38 –39; Breseeg 2004, 140; see also Spooner 1989, 610.
28 Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series 1986 [ 1907], 81.
29 Jahani 2005, 153.
30 Jahani 1989, 24.
31 Smith 2009, 3.
32 Childe 1950, 9 –16.
33 Childe 1950, 9.
34 Childe 1950, 11.
35Childe 1950, 11.
36 Childe 1950, 12.
37 Childe 1950, 12–13.
38 Childe 1950, 14.
39 Childe 1950, 14.
40 Childe 1950, 15.
41 Childe 1950, 15.
42 Childe 1950, 16
43 Bibliographical information about the texts is found at the end of the chapter.

Afrakhteh, Hassan 2008. Social, Demographic and Cultural Change in Iranian Balo – chistan: Case studies of the three urban regions of Zahedan, Iranshahr and Chabahar. In The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 197–224. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Al Ameeri, Saeed Mohammad 2003. The Baloch in the Arabian Gulf States. In The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times,
Carina Jahani & Agnes Korn (eds), 237–243. Wiesbaden: Reichert. Axenov, Serge 2000. Balochi orthography in Turkmenistan. In Language in Society – Eight Sociolinguistic Essays on Balochi

, Carina Jahani (ed.), 71–78. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia, 3. Uppsala: Uppsala University.
Axenov, Serge 2003. The Balochi Language in Turkmenistan. In The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times,

Carina Jahani & Agnes Korn (eds), 245–258. Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Badalkhan, Sabir 2008. Zikri Dilemmas: Origins, Religious Practices and Political Con -straints. In The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 197–224.
Wiesbaden: Reichert.
Baluchistan District Gazetteer Series (BDGS) 1986 [1907]. Quetta: Gosha-e-Adab.
Baranzehi, Adam Nader 2003. The Sarawani Dialect of Balochi and Persian Influence on
It. In The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in
Historical and Modern Times
, Carina Jahani & Agnes Korn (eds), 75–111. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Breseeg, Taj Mohammad 2004.
Baloch Nationalism. Its Origin and Development.
Karachi: Royal Book Company. Childe, Gordon 1950. The Urban Revolution. Town Planning Review 21:1, 233–254.

Collett, Nigel A. 1986.
A Grammar, Phrase Book and Vocabulary of Baluchi . 2nd edition. Cambridge: Abingdon.

Dames, M. Longworth 1907.
Popular Poetry of the Baloches
, I–II. London: David Nutt.

Hopkins, B. D. 2007. The bounds of identity: the Goldsmid mission and the delineation
of the Perso-Afghan border in the nineteenth century. Journal of Global History 2007:2, 233–254.

Hosseinbor, Mohammad Hassan 2000.
Iran and its Nationalities: The Case of Baluch Nationalism.
Karachi: Pakistani Adab Publications.

Jahani, Carina 1989.
Standardization and Orthography in the Balochi Language.
Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia, 1. Uppsala: Uppsala University.
Jahani, Carina (ed.) 2000.

Language in Society – Eight Sociolinguistic Essays on Balochi
. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia, 3. Uppsala: Uppsala Uni –

Jahani, Carina 2005. State control and its impact on language in Balochistan. In

The Role of the State in West Asia,
Annika Rabo & Bo Utas (eds), 151–163. Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute.

Jahani, Carina & Agnes Korn (eds) 2003.
The Baloch and Their Neighbours: Ethnic and Linguistic Contact in Balochistan in Historical and Modern Times . Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Jahani, Carina, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds) 2008.
The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan.
Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Korn, Agnes 2005.
Towards a Historical Grammar of Balochi: Studies in Balochi Historical Phonology and Vocabulary . Beiträge zur Iranistik 26. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Lodhi, Abdulaziz Y. 2000. A Note on the Baloch in East Africa. In
Language in Society – Eight Sociolinguistic Essays on Balochi

, Carina Jahani (ed.), 91–95. Acta Universitatis
Upsaliensis, Studia Iranica Upsaliensia, 3. Uppsala: Uppsala University. Noraiee, Hoshang 2008. Change and Continuity: Power and Religion in Iranian Balo – chistan. In The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 345–364. Wiesbaden: Reichert.

Noorzaei, Maryam 1388/2010. Tow ṣ īf-e zabānšenāxti-ye neżām-e fe‘li dar guyeš-e Koruši . Unpublished M.A. thesis, Dānešgāh-e ‘olum-ta ḥ qiqāt, Fārs, Shiraz, Iran. Ong, Walter J. 1982.

Orality and Literacy. The Technologizing of the Word . London/ New
York : Me t hue n .

Smith, Anthony D. 1986.
The Ethnic Origins of Nations . Oxford: Blackwell.

Smith, Michael E. 2009. Centenary Paper. V. Gordon Childe and the Urban Revolution: a historical perspective on a revolution in urban studies. Town Planning Review 80:1, 3–29.

Spooner, Brian 1989. Baluchistan 1: Geography, history, and ethnography. In Encyclopaedia
Iranica, III Yarshater Ehsan (ed.), 598–632. London/New York: Mazda Publishers.

Swidler, Nina 2008. Pluralism in Pre-colonial Kalat. In
The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani,
Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 365–376. Wiesbaden: Reichert. Titus, Paul 1998. Honor the Baloch, Buy the Pushtun: Stereotypes, Social Organization and History in Western Pakistan. Modern Asian Studies
32:3, 657– 687. Utas, Bo 2006. “Genres” in Persian Literature. In Literary History: Towards a Global Per-spective, vol. 2: Literary Genres: An Intercultural Approach, Gunilla Lindberg-Wada, (ed.), 199–241. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Yadegari, Abdolhossein 2008. Pluralism and Change in Iranian Balochistan. In
The Baloch and Others: Linguistic, Historical and Socio-political Perspectives on Pluralism
in Balochistan,

Carina Jahani, Agnes Korn & Paul Titus (eds), 247–258. Wiesbaden:

Text corpus
Written texts Nimatullah Gichki (Ni‘matullāh Gičkī), Pitī mīrās (The inheritance), published in Bandīg, 1986, 27–28. Karachi: Īlum Publications.

Hakim Baloch ( Ḥ akīm Balōč), Syāhkār (The evil-doer), published in Hakīm Balōč 2000,
Āsay cihr, 34–38. Quetta: Balochi Academy.

Murad Sahir (Murād Sā ḥ ir), Grand (Thunder), published in Abdul Ḥ akīm (ed.) 1970,

Gičēn āzmānak , 220–227. Quetta: Balochi Academy.

Ghaws Bahar (Ġaw s Bahār), Ōrmā ṛ a, 2030ā (Ormara 2030) , published in Ġaws Bahār 2003.

Karkēnk, 5–13. Quetta: Balochi Academy.

Ghani Parwaz (Ġanī Parwāz), J awr (Bitter), published in Elfenbein, Josef 1990.
An Anthology of Classical and Modern Balochi Literature , 2, 68–71. Wiesbaden:

Oral texts
Wāǰ a pančkuš (Mister Five-Slayer), published in Barker, Muhammad A., and Mengal, Aqil Khan 1969. A Course in Baluchi , vol. 2, 172–181. Montreal: McGill University.

Hazratt-i Mūsā u Xudāay gušnagen bandag (Moses and the starving man), recorded by Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz. Gōǰuk (The little lizard-girl), published in Mēngal, Mīr ‘Āqil Xān 1973. Gēdī kissaw , 7, 10–14. Quetta: Balochi Academy.

Golī va šowhareš (Goli and her husband), recorded by Maryam Nourzaei.

Taǰǰār-i indī u misrī zargaray ǰinikk (The Indian merchant and the Egyptian goldsmith’s daughter), recorded by Behrooz Barjasteh Delforooz.


 The Urban Mind: Cultural and Environmental Dynamics
.Eds.PaulSinclair, Gullög Nordquist, Frands Herschend and Christian Isendahl .
Uppsala: Department of Archaeology and Ancient History ,2010, pp.457-470.

















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Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Balochi Classical Literature


The Baloch Resistance Literature Against the British Raj

(Research Paper)

By Javed Haider Syed
Assistant Professor
Department of History
Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad

Resistance literature is considered as an important factor in the development of political consciousness among subjugated peoples. Therefore, Balochi resistance literature against British colonialism merits evaluation. Even a cursory glance at the history of Balochi literature, manifests the pride and dignity that Baloch poets and epic writers have shown for their heroes. This literature also demonstrates anger and resentment against the intruders and ridicule against traitors.Balochistan Birtish

Notwithstanding historical accuracy, the Baloch self-perception as the guardian of noble values is perpetuated in their literature. They trace their origin from Arabia and show their presence in almost every great battle, which was fought for the glory of Islam or for the glorification of Baloch culture.

Long before the British occupation of Balochistan, the Baloch poets had condemned the high-handedness of the Portuguese and eulogized the bravery of a Baloch leader, Mir Hamal Junaid, who was arrested by the Portuguese and was taken to Portugal.1 It does not mean that they were critical of only the Europeans but other invaders like the Mongols and the Arghuns also received the same treatment.

However, in view of the scope of the present study, we will confine ourselves only to resistance literature produced against the British. According to a poet as well as literary historian, Mir Gul Khan Naseer, there were clear and distinct phases of the resistance literature.
In one of his books,
Balochi Razmiyyah Sha‘iri, 2 he divides the Balochi resistance literature into four phases. In the first phase, he looks at the pioneers, beginning with Mir Chakar Rind and Mir Gawahram Lashari and ending with the writers in the middle of the sixteenth century. This poetry is mostly in the shape of ballads and epics, dwelling on the achievements of great Baloch leaders. The second phase covers the writings after the migration of Mir Chakar Rind and Mir Gowahram Lashari from Balochistan covering the period between the middle of the sixteenth century to the advent of the British. The third phase covers the British period up to 1930. The last phase, according to Gul Khan Naseer, is the phase of “National” poetry.

During 1930-47, the Baloch people used different methods and techniques to pursue their struggle for freedom from the British. There were not many battles fought and not many physical confrontations. Rather, they worked through constitutional and peaceful methods, principally through literature inspired by the political struggle of the Muslims in other parts of India against the colonial rule. Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan provided the platform and took the lead in disseminating diverse ideas, ranging from Communism to Khilafat movement and anti-British slogans borrowed from the Indian National Congress.

Raham ‘Ali Marri (1876-1933) was one of the most prominent Baloch poets who not only composed poetry, but also actively participated in fights against the British. In one of his long epics, he addresses the “traitors” who sided with the British and says, “like a cattle herd, they followed the pagans and lost their faith both in their history and religion.”3 In fact, there are numerous references to early Islamic heroes in Raham ‘Ali’s poetry to show that the British aggression in Balochistan and the Baloch resistance were like a war between truth and falsehood: “With the blessing of God and for the honour of Ali’s4 horse, we will kill this serpent (the British) which has sneaked into our homes.”5 Raham ‘Ali was particularly critical of the collaborators of the British without whose help the latter would never have been able to occupy Balochistan. He saw them as the enemies of the Baloch and Islam.6 He was not very happy with the state of society in Balochistan. In his opinion, “half of the people were in deep slumber on their gilded cushions and the other half, like vagabonds, spent their nights in search of a resting place.” Some, according to him, “enslaved others to enhance their status and luxury and comfort, and others starved and cried for food during the last hours of night.”7 In this sense, his poetry certainly went beyond the parameters of the British colonialism as he held traditional Sardari system primarily responsible for the miseries and backwardness of the Balochi people.

Raham ‘Ali’s poetry reveals his keen interest in ensuring that the Marri tribe, known for its valour and bravery, continued to keep the torch of freedom alive. He himself participated in the battle of Harab fought in 1918 between the Marri tribe and the British Indian army. He wrote several poems to inspire the tribe in their struggle against the British. In one of the poems, he said:

The brave fighters of Marri tribe gathered in the valleys at the request of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri. May all the saints and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) bless you. They saddled their horses and their turbans flowed around their shoulders. Suddenly the British appeared along with their fighter planes. The brave Marris stood like a solid rock with their girdles and tussles tied with one another. They were martyred for protecting their honour. The clouds sent rain and they were blessed by God.8Another poem, written in the same year on another front, Gumbaz,evokes even more hatred against the British: Lo! The final hour has struck for a decisive war between the British and the Baloch. There is none who will not dance at the sound of clashing swords. Forward Ghazis 9 and Shahids, 10 decorate your horses. This humiliating slavery we are not made for. We have to leave this world one day, determined we are that we will lay down our lives for the glory of the Almighty and will be rewarded in this world and the world hereafter. We loathe the British money and glitter. Our God, He alone, is enough for us. No one will stay behind in this final clash and the world will always remember our daring deeds against the British.11

Raham ‘Ali became very popular with the tribesmen, particularly with the Marris and young and old both recited his poetry with great enthusiasm. And it always worked. After all, who else told them that:

“before going out to fight the British, the Marri Baloch warrior, perfumes his beard and drenches his moustaches in scent. With velvet he covers his body and with flowers he decorates his horse.”12

Raham ‘Ali strongly condemned those Baloch leaders who accepted money from the British or supported them out of fear. In his view, they were traitors not only to their own glorious tradition of courage and bravery but also had lost their faith in Islam. Raham ‘Ali had nothing but contempt and ridicule for them. He wrote: “Those people who ran away from the difficult times are now safely living in the Karachi area and are enjoying carrot and fish.”13

Raham ‘Ali stands out as the most prominent poet of his time. He participated in many campaigns against the British. His poetry therefore, is mainly autobiographical. He says, “Those nations who like comfort and peace are ultimately destroyed. Self-respect and honour are considered the deeds of real glory for nations.” 14

According to Raham ‘Ali, not only the Baloch and Afghans but also other Muslims have bartered away their country for a very small price. Hence, slavery has saturated their bone marrow like the wine gets into one’s senses. He laid great emphasizes on self-respect, honour and chivalry throughout his writings.15 Like most folk poets, though he was not formally educated in any school still he had the remarkable ability of conveying his feelings in an inspiring and provocative language. He wrote more than 50,000 verses against colonialism and Sardari system. A revolutionary poet as he was, his poetry was compiled and published by Mir Mitha Khan Marri. Raham ‘Ali’s popularity, his glorification of the Marri culture, his hatred of the British and disparagement of the “loyal’ Baloch leaders, ultimately led to his exile, but soon the people demanded his return and a delegation had to be sent to bring him back, but he was not destined to return to his native place. He died in 1933 and was buried in Musa Khel, Loralai.16

Another poet who also became very popular with the Baloch was Muhammad Khan Marri (1850-1932) who was educated on traditional Muslim lines and who, too, hated the British intensely.

This hatred was further intensified because of his active participation in various battles against the British. He is reported to have defeated the British forces at Kochali. In one of these encounters, Muhammad Khan Marri was arrested and sentenced to fourteen years of rigorous imprisonment. He spent these years in Poona Jail and returned to his homeland after his release.17 He was not only a good poet but was also very fond of holding poetical sessions at his house, which used to continue beyond midnights. His poetry about the battles of Gumbaz and Kochali became quite popular and continued to influence people even after his death. A specimen of his poetry is as follows:

Early in the morning, I was sitting in the mansion and I saw a plane. Icried, O Marris! Prepare your army and pray for martyrdom, perfume yourbeautiful beards and say goodbye to your dear ones. The gardens ofParadise are worth your visit but only if you lay down your lives. Thosekilled in the battles of Gumbaz and Kochali are the flowers of Paradise.Swings are waiting for them in the dense gardens of heavens.18
Baloch poets were particularly harsh on those who sided with theBritish. For example, another Marri poet, Giddu Doom says:

Those who have forsaken the Baloch people in the face of the British atrocities are cheats. But we are here to stay on the same rocks to face the same aggression that we have been victim of thousand times before. Our bravery and courage have not given way but you people have lost your Baloch honour just for a few rupees that you get in serving these infidels.19

Addressing the Sardars of the Sarawan and Jhalawan tribes who had not helped Khan of Kalat, Mir Mihrab Khan, in his encounter with the British in 1839, he went on to chide:

O, the good people of Sarawan, you lost your empire because of your foolishness. But then you had already said goodbye to your honour when you started loving the life of slavery. The British took away your Kalat and took away your camel-loads of treasures through the Bazaars to Calcutta but you, for a few pennies, turned into traitors.20

It must be noted here that from Jhalawan, only Wali Muhammad Khan Shahizai Mengal and Mir Abdul Karim Khan Raisani had helped the Khan of Kalat against the British. Mulla Muhammad Hasan, his contemporary poet, refers to Mir Mihrab’s struggle in these words:

Like torrents of rain, your guns roared, but the palace and the fort were occupied by the enemies. When the royal battle began, the Khan roared like a lion with majesty and anger. He had the royal dress, crown in one hand and the rock-like shield and sword in the other. He unsheathed his sword and fell on his enemies invoking the power of ‘Ali.21

Giddu Doom likened the allies of the British to the party of Yazid, the Umayyad ruler who had ordered the extermination of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husain and his family. That is how the Muslim poets drew inspiration from different phases of Islamic history.22 Raham ‘Ali also commented on the death of Mir Mihrab Khan (1839), in these words:

Did you see how he struck the pagans when the world saw his electrifying sword. Like a lion he fell, his face shining like silver. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) welcomed him at the fountain of Kausar, the channel of pure and heavenly water in Paradise. The way he embraced the martyrdom is without parallel. May God bless him.23

This type of poetry inspired not only the Marri tribesmen but also other Baloch freedom fighters throughout the British period. However, it was Mulla Mazar Bangalzai who composed a poem, Lat Sahib kiBagghi, i.e., “The Chariot of the AGG (Agent to the Governor-General)”, which moved the hearts and minds of the people and came to be treated as a national anthem. The background to the epic was coronation of king George V in 1911. The Delhi Darbar, which was held to honour the King-Emperor, became a grand event in the political history of the subcontinent. All the Nawabs, rulers, and Rajas of the Princely states in the British India were invited and were told about the special way of salutation while passing before the throne of the Emperor. The Khan of Kalat, Mir Mahmud Khan II, however, disregarded this special salute and decided to welcome the King-Emperor in his own way, by brandishing his sword. The Government of India considered it a discourtesy and decided to humble the Baloch Sardars in their own backyard. Consequently, all the prominent Sardars of different tribes were invited to the Residency at Sibi and were asked to pull the chariot of the AGG from Sibi Residency to the Railway Station. Except for Sardar Khair Bakhsh Marri, all the Sardars participated in this disgraceful act. Mulla Mazar witnessed this disgraceful event and composed a stirring poem, which ridiculed the Baloch leaders except Nawab Khair Baksh Marri whose sense of honour and dignity was deeply appreciated. Mulla Mazar, in fact, called it the curse of God on the Sardars who, like the beasts of burden were obliged to pull the carriage of an “infidel” without any sense of dignity and self-respect.

He described at length the whole event depicting the Englishman’s carriage being pulled through mud and rain by Baloch Sardars losing grip on their turbans and leaving their sandals stuck in the mud.

According to him, these tribal leaders were good only in looting the poor and betraying their own folks. While, “pulling this carriage, these leaders parted with the honour of their country. Neither had they cared for their own dignity nor for that of their people. What a spectacle it was! Every low and high watched them blackening their own faces and those of their people.” He was convinced that “on the Day of Judgment, God will throw these Sardars in the Hell.”24 This was indeed a tirade both against the tribal leaders as well as the people who were their subjects. Mulla Mazar soon became a legend. The writers, poets and historians of Balochistan consider their compositions incomplete without paying their respect to this man. Since he had condemned all the Baloch leaders by name, the Sardars asked the government of the British Balochistan to punish him. Consequently, he was exiled from Balochistan to Sindh. He died there and was buried at Jacobabad.25

Recalling the shameful episode at the Residency, Raham ‘Ali also paid rich tributes to Sardar Khair Bakhsh Marri and commented:

“O Sardar Khair Bakhsh! A million greetings to you because you still have the honour of the Baloch in your eyes. You have proved true to your mother’s wish. May God give you a life as long as the Jhalgari Mountain.”26 In another poem, Raham ‘Ali exclaimed:

Sardar Bihram Khan Mazari gave the British one hundred men in the First World War. The Buzdars of Highlands gave fifty, Dareshaks eighteen and Misri Khan went along with ten horses. But we are Marris and with our leader Khair Bakhsh, we will fight against the British and our Lord Hazrat Ali, on his horse, will come to our help and we will crush the heads of the British like we do with the snakes.27

This poem became a source of inspiration for many poets and a mark of humiliation for the Sardars who had released the horses from the Resident’s chariot and pulled it themselves as a sign of loyalty to the British crown.

Balochistan has a long tradition of maintaining its identity, dignity and pride. The Baloch always take pride in two things: being Baloch in the true sense of the word and showing bravery against the enemy.28

Even the lullabies of Balochistan convey these feelings: “I sing to my dear son this lullaby so that he sleeps. I pray that my son becomes a young man, has good friends and wears all the six Balochi arms on his dress.”29 Another lullaby that comes from the heart of a mother, says that “when there is a battle in the deserts, my son will be standing under shade of the swords.”30 Yet in another lullaby, which is known as the

‘Lullaby of Mir Qambar, a mother is made to say:

O, my son, the light of my eyes, if you embrace death and become a martyr for national honour and prestige, I will not weep or cry but would come to your grave with pomp and show, and will sing the song of celebration and happiness, and for each son who is killed for the honour of my land, I will produce another son.31

Another lullaby addressed Sibi as follows: O Sibi! you are hidden in the dust of horse riders. You have lost manypriceless lives of those seven hundred handsome and youthful men whoused to wear their turbans with grace and would ride horses without reins. There is no one left today. All of them have been swallowed by the Indianswords.32

In fact, the Balochi literature is full of references against the foreign invaders, that is, the Portuguese, the Mongols, the Arghuns, and the British. They are condemned for attacking the freedom and honour of the Baloch people. The British were particularly a target of this criticism. To quote a poet, Yusuf Nami Baloch, “if God grants me an opportunity, I would show you how a battle for freedom is fought.”33

Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd (1904-1979), an important literary figure started a political movement called the “Young Baloch” in the 1920s. He was inspired by the “Young Turks” and wrote extensively in newspapers, magazines and pamphlets about the Baloch identity as well as an independent state of Balochistan. He published the first map of Greater Balochistan and in 1930 joined the Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan. What made Abdul Aziz Kurd famous was Shamsgardi a critique of the rule of Sir Shams Shah, a British loyalist and the Prime Minister of Kalat, which was published from Lahore in 1931. Nawab Yusuf Aziz Magsi (1908- 1935) wrote the preface to the book in which he said:

This is the tale of a destroyed and forsaken people. It is aimed at their awakening. It should act like Moses’s staff against a Pharaoh of the twentieth century. It is a clarion’s call for our inactive and indifferent brethren in Balochistan. It calls the British Government to honour the right of people in the choice of their rulers.34

Aziz Magsi was an important literary and political figure. He entered into politics in 1920. He was one of the founding members of the Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan and became its first President in 1930. In 1932 and 1933 he organized two Baloch conferences at Jacobabad and Hyderabad, respectively. His poetry not only showed great literary merit but also conveyed a deep commitment to the freedom of his motherland, Balochistan. As he put it: “I swear by the brave blood of the Baloch that I will wipe out the mark of slavery from the face of my country and my motherland and will drink the wine of liberty.”35

Unfortunately, Magsi has been depicted less as a Muslim and more as a Communist and Congressite by certain nationalist Baloch elements.

The sweeping statements of his detractors, unfortunately, do not take into consideration his own views. In one of his poems, Magsi said: “The voices of Gandhi and Jaikar could not do much. Now we need someone like Kamal (Ataturk) to put the life in this dead body.”36 Thus, in politics, his ideal was neither Gandhi nor anyone else but the leader of Turkey who had changed the destiny of his country and had emerged as the hero of the whole Muslim world. So far as Aziz Magsi’s intellectual outlook was concerned, he claimed:

I intend to convert afresh the whole world to Islam. This is possible only if I myself become a true servant of Islam, could remind everybody the forgotten lessons and turn every Baloch into a preacher of the Holy Quran.

The sermons of Gandhi and Malviya will disappear into oblivion if I show the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).37

The fact of the matter is that Aziz Magsi was as good a Muslim as any other Muslim Baloch. All he sought for the Baloch and Balochistan was freedom. He dwelt at length on this theme in one of his poems,

addressed to a singer:

Keep singing, keep singing,

Let your melodies warm our blood.

Let the people of Balochistan feel ashamed.

What is slavery? Whenever it descends on any nation; it is misery and humiliation.

Wake up, the World Revolution!

Let the genie be out of the bottle.

The rich savour chicken and the poor grass.

Destiny changes our fate;

Crush those leaders, who betray their people.

O beautiful singer! listen to this song of Freedom.

You, too, O Baloch listen!

Rise and open your eyes.

Eliminate this instant, eliminate,

Whoever is following the footprints of Changez?

Whether it is a Baloch Sardar or the Englishman,

Both represent the powers of the Devil.38
Nawabzada Abdur Rahaman Bugti (1907-l958), the elder brother of Nawab Akbar Bugti (1927-2006), was also a prominent writer of resistance literature. He started his career as Tehsildar in Baloch tribal areas, but, before long, he gave up the employment and joined the Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan in 1931 and was elected President of Quetta and Sibi district branches of the party in 1931-1934 and 1934- 1938, respectively. He also practically led the popular Baloch uprising against the Sardari system in Bugti area. In one of his poems, he said:

The irony of fate produced such Baloch whose heads should be severed. They give their blood in making God out of Devil-like sharks. They burn the harvest of truth. They fight against the truth day and night and they protect the evil. They let the hurricane sink boat of justice and bring to shore oppression and injustice. Strange suns and moons they are which banish light at the order of their masters and lengthen the shadow of the darkness.39

This kind of protest and resistance targeted not only the British but also the ease-loving and status-conscious Sardars of Balochistan. In some instances, the sons revolted against their fathers for their docility and subservience to the British. Bugti, for instance, wrote a pamphlet against his father who was amongst those who had pulled the carriage of the Agent to the Governor-General at the Sibi Residency. After condemning his father, the ruling chief of the Bugti tribe, in this pamphlet called Mihrabgardi, he appealed to the Muslims of India in the name of Islam and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to help the Baloch in their fight against the Sardari system. Quoting the verse of the famous poet-journalist, Zafar Ali Khan, “If you no longer have the fear of God, still beware of the angry looks of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” Bugti wrote:

I appeal to the Muslims to look at our condition before it is too late… Help us, the oppressed people of Balochistan, through the columns of your paper and we pray to the members of Assembly and the Council, the saints and pirs that the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) is not happy at the oppression of the people of Balochistan at the hands of Sardari system.40Consequently, Bugti was arrested and exiled to Ranchi in Bihar province. After his release, he lived in abject poverty and died at Jacobabad in 1958.41

Mir Muhammad Husain ‘Anqa (1907-1977) who subsequently worked as editor for some of Aziz Magsi’s newspapers, in 1932, resigned his job as a school teacher in order to actively join the Baloch ‘nationalist’ movement. He was one of the founders of the Baloch national press. He served, from time to time, as editor of several newspapers of Baloch nationalist movement (1933-1948). He composed the first Balochi national anthem and wrote several books and articles against the British and was imprisoned several times. He was also one of the founders of the Communist Party of Balochistan and spent much of his life in prison due to his political activities. ‘Anqa was one of the pioneer Balochi writers to employ the Arabic-Urdu script for Balochi language in 1920.42 His poems were published in the newspapers he edited. After his death a number of his poems in Balochi were compiled and published in an anthology entitled Tawar.43 ‘Anqa’s life was devoted to political struggle. He tried to reach the people of Balochistan through his columns and resistance poetry. In one of his poems, he wrote:

Now that we have put our boat in the ocean, let the waves roar, let the nights be dark, we will find our destination. Every oppressor is defeated by the oppressed that is the verdict of history. I know the Baloch sword is broken but let the enemy not be jubilant, we have the determination. We are weak, but still no doubt, we have hands (with which we will fight against our enemies).44

‘Anqa’s poetry inspired other poets like Gul Khan Naseer and Azat Jamaldini (Abdul Wahid). ‘Anqa glorified the Baloch and Balochi lifestyle, though he does not sound as fervent a revolutionary as some of his contemporaries. In his youth, he was one of the founders of the Communist Party of Balochistan, but subsequently, he revised some of his Communistic ideas. Nevertheless, ‘Anqa remained committed to his people and their national struggle throughout his life. In one of his poems he asks the Baloch:

Stand up, make yourself aware.

Stand up, Balochi tribes.

You are Chakar, you are Taimur.

To be without a country is not good.

Looking for the desire of Yusuf Ali’s (Magsi) spirit,

Searching for a new life for the new Baloch,

Stand up, O Baloch,

So that all the people become one.

Now, they look like separate individuals.

May their blood be one.45

Abdul Wahid (Azat) Jamaldini (1918-1982) was a famous Balochi poet and short story writer. He was the editor of the monthly Balochi, which was published from Karachi and Quetta. He is counted among the founders of progressive literature in Balochi. In his first poem, Owl, he condemned the Sardars and the Sardari system in clear, unambiguous terms. In fact, this feature remained the hallmark of his poetry. The pungent tone of his poetry comes out quite clearly in his following composition:

We will pull the Sardars out of the community,

These wolves and Nawabs, the bloodsuckers,

These biting black snakes,

These traitors to the Baloch nation.46

During the last decade of the freedom movement from 1937 to 1947, Mir Gul Khan Naseer (1914-1983), in particular, emerged as a political activist and Urdu and Balochi poet and writer of considerable impact.

His writing career began in his school days at Quetta when he started expressing himself in inflammatory essays in Urdu. During his university days at Lahore (in 1934), he excelled in Urdu and Persian and studied history and English. Like most young educated people of his time, he was also inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. He joined the Anjuman-i-Ittihad-i-Baluchan in 1929, and started advocating radical social, economic, and political changes in Balochistan. After graduating from the University of the Punjab in 1937, he returned to Kalat and joined the Kalat State National Party which was the successor to the now-defunct Anjuman-i-Watan. Soon, he rose to be its Vice-President.

He was arrested and imprisoned many times, and was finally banished from Quetta and the British Balochistan. He also remained under house arrest for sometime. In 1940, he made peace with the authorities and accepted the office of Tehsildar in Jiwani, a small town at the Makran coast, “sufficiently remote to preclude much political activity.”47 During the period under review he wrote primarily in Urdu. His works have been published in nine volumes. A critical review of his verses reveals that he was a nationalist Baloch, deadly opposed to the Sardari system and critical of the laxity and indifference of his fellow countrymen towards the oppressive policies of the British. In one of his early Balochi poem,

Bayu-o-Baloch, he said:

Come, O, Baloch; Come O Baloch,

I tell (you) something today.

Come, O homeless Baloch, you have lost your way.

A gang of robbers has attacked your land.

They have set afire your houses.

They have carried away your possessions,

But you are not aware.

Overpowered by a heavy sleep you have become unaware.

Yours hands and tongue have ceased to function.

It has fettered the manly lion.48

In another poem, Faryad, he invokes the memories of the Baloch pride and instigates his compatriots to rise and fight against the British

usurpers. He wrote:

Where are the skilled Mughal riders today?

Where are the brave (and) famous ones today?

Where are the heroes and Indian tigers?

Where are the fighters with Afghan daggers?

Where are the green scimitars of the Baloch?

Where are the Turks and the swift Tartars?

Let them come today to the fatherland,

For the name and sign of the Mughals, have been lost.

The bitter infidels have taken our pure land.

Let them come, let them see, let them be ashamed.49
Similarly in Swagat, he complains that the Baloch have lost their former glory. He asks them to stand up for their fatherland, as other Muslim nations had done.

Stand up, stand up, young man, stand up!

How long will you sleep drunk on the bedding?

You see the Turks with curled moustaches.

They have tied swords and guns to their bodies.

And are going forward for dignity and fame.

On the other side, the Arabs with cloaks and turbans.

The soldiers of the holy war have taken up weapons.

The state of Iran is in dust-storm,

See what the glory of Iran is like.

The sleeping Afghans are now alert,

They are sitting ready with girded loins.50 In another poem called Grand, he gives full expression to hisfeelings of patriotism and revolutionary zeal. He glorified Balochistan,but at the same time, poses the question; “Is it a crime to be born as aBaloch”? He continues: “I uproar. I drive away oppression; I makethe motherland a new bride; I make it free, I am a rebel! 1 am a rebel!I am a rebel.” He ended his poem anticipating a revolution.51In Nawjawanan Gon, he urges the young and brave Balochfreedom fighters to bring the old Sardari system to an end. “Throw aheavy stone on the Sardari system.” He calls for driving out theforeign oppressors and says, “deliver the people from the foreign ruleand in this way save the Baloch honour and dignity.”52In another poem, Balot-a-Sair, Naseer saw it as his duty to make the Baloch aware of their slavery: “Your plain and open fields aresubjugated; The barren plains and deserts are enslaved; Your heartsand your souls are in chains. You are worse than slaves.53 However,Gul Khan Naseer was hopeful that the brave and heroic Baloch will

be able to shake off the yoke of slavery of the foreign masters and that of their oppressive Sardars. In Dil Mazan Kan, again, he paints an optimistic picture of future when he says: “The oppressive government of. the infidels will come to an end, suffering and trouble and affliction will come to an end. Light will come and darkness will come to an end.”54 Gul Khan Naseer was extremely unhappy with the way the British had ruled over Balochistan. But, in the end, he blamed the Sardari system for\ the slavery of the Baloch. In a poem entitled

“Prayer”, he says:

O my Creator! Give me courage to awaken

The Baloch from their deep slumber.

The Sardars have darkened the faces of the Baloch people.

Let me put them one by one on the gallows.55

Addressing the tribal leaders in 1940 in his poem, Qaba’ili

Sardaron Say, he warned them:

Look at the horizon. Look at the thunderstorm.

The lightening has struck your boat.

Now you will reap the harvest of what you had sown.

Remember the old saying that you receive what you give.

The Raj that you have served is now going to be over.

Your sustainer had sailed from thousand of miles.

His ship is sunk and anchor is lost.

Your lord, Your master, whom you served,

Is leaving now and you better accompany him.

Don’t lure us into new cobwebs of your words.

We are fed up with your presence.

Listen carefully; the British Sarkar is doomed for good.

It will never return, now the people will rule,

Before you fool,

No leader, no ruler, no chief, we will allow.

None will starve; none will remain in fetters,
No capitalist will you see now.

This pure land will be ruled by the people.

None to prostrate, none to take the throne.

The lightening strikes again,

Do you hear the thunder, worry not,

You sowed the poison Ivy, now taste its fruit.56

In another poem, Gul Khan Naseer attacked the Sardars and the Sardari system for all its excesses in these words:

I am chained without any fault,

Imprisoned without any conviction,

But listen Sardar! I am a son of Islam and

I will burn to ashes your mansions and your soft and gilded chairs.

I am intoxicated by the message of Islam and Shari‘ah.

I will not rest until I implement the true spirit of Islam.

What amazing system you have given us,

You sodomize, you rape, but no blemish on you.

You hide all the crimes under the title of Sardar.57

The institution of ‘Jirga’ was strengthened by the British and was used in collaboration with the Sardars to punish the freedom fighters and those who refused to tow the British line. In one of his poems called Jirga, Gul Khan Naseer criticizes the system in such strong


The irony of fate with the Baloch,

Because of Jirga, eliminate the Baloch,

Strengthen Jirga, “Allah-o-Akhar”,

Has no place in Sardari system,

Disbelief and paganism shows its face in Jirga,

Patriotism and love for land becomes a crime,

Heads of these lovers roll through the sword of Jirga.
If we stop, the hammer of Sardar crushes us.

Escape one cannot,

We are chained by Jirga,

Those who want the flowers to blossom in our desert,

Their hearts are pierced by the arrows of Jirga,

It is nothing but the enemy of laws, principles and Shari‘ah for us,

Straight from the Hell has come the penal code,

That is Jirga.

Naseer! worry not; it is bound to be eliminated,

Absurd, absurd, those who say that,

God has decreed Jirga.58

Both the breadth as well as the depth of Gul Khan Naseer’s poetry are amazing. He addresses his people in the form of a prayer, inspires his listeners through history and the dynamic spirit of Islam.

At times, he uses Altaf Husain Hali’s verses from the Musaddas. Likewise, in many of his poems, Iqbal’s ideas are also clearlydiscernible. Iqbal’s concept of “Mard-i-Momin” is evident in many ofNaseer’s poems. One of his poems, The Sleeping Youth of My Country,59 is written on the pattern of Hali’s epic and begins with averse of Hali with the same style and same tone. For the most part,however, Gul Khan Naseer remains preoccupied with the plight of theBaloch and the cruel treatment meted out to them by the Sardars andthe Sardari system. For example, in one of his poems, Raj Karay Sardar, specifically addressed to the Sardars, he says:

The children cry of hunger,

The old men are homeless,

The mothers weep in hidden corners,

There is nobody even to borrow money from,

But Sardar is our ruler.

There is no end to cries of infants,

Lovers go to bed without food,

The beloved are selling even their beauties but,
O brother! The Capitalist is still hungry,

And my Sardar rules over us.

Without food, without clothes are the miserable people,

Wailing and crying is heard from every house,

But Sardar wants work without wages,

Be it a Gardner or a Bijjar.

Our Sardar rules us, cuts throat, picks pockets, sucks blood.

Leachy creature,

Bones of ribs and skulls are his victims.

O brother! Through the instrument of Jirga.

Our Sardar rules us.

He creates feuds, banishes brotherhood,

Puts brother against brother,

And with both hands sweeps wealth through bribery.

O brother! He is our lord,

Amazing are the ways of my beloved land.

The people go hungry and naked,

But the jingle of money makes those parasites dance.

O brother! Sardar rules over us,

Our lords, these darlings of Crown,

Intoxicated with their power and wealth,

Why should they listen to our cries?

O brother! They are gods of this earth,

These Sardars rule us.60

Last but not the least, two more names are noteworthy in the long list of Baloch freedom fighters. These are Maulana Muhammad Fazil Durkhani and Abdul Karim Shorish. Maulana Fazil, a religious scholar, was born in the 19th century at Durkhan near Kalat. He founded the Durkhani Madrasah. He worked against Christian missionaries and Western culture. He translated the Holy Quran into Balochi and Brahvi to counter the Christian missionaries’ translation of Bible into Balochi and its distribution in Balochistan. He wrote more than 600 tracts, in Balochi, on religious topics. He died in 1892.

Abdul Karim Shorish was born in 1912 at Mastung. He was a founding member of the Baloch Young Party, Anjuman-i-Watan,Kalat State National Party and Ustaman Gal. He was also editor of monthly Naukan Daur, Quetta, and many other contemporary journals and wrote frequently in Balochi, Brahvi and Urdu.61

The resistance literature, thus, manifested not only the anger and the frustration of the Baloch writers against colonialism but also identified social and economic problems of Balochistan. Education for boys and girls, end of the Sardari system, political and economic reforms were some of its most frequently emphasized subjects.



1. Surat Khan Marri, “Balochi Muzahimati Sha‘iri: Aik Ta’rikhi Jai’zah”, Balochi Lebzanak, April 1994, p.37.
2. Mir Gul Khan Naseer,
Balochi Razmiyyah Sha‘iri (Quetta: 1979), p.32.

3. Ibid., p.194.

4. Cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who was known for his bravery and nobility both in war and peace.

5. Kamil al-Qadiri, Balochi Adab Ka Mutali‘ah, (Quetta: 1976), pp.148-52.
Ibid., p.7.

7. ‘Abd al-Rahman Ghaur, Naghmah-i-Kohsar (Quetta: 1968), pp.131-32.

8. Ibid., pp. 130-37.

9. Those who survive in the holy war.

10. Martyrs.
11. Naseer,
Balochi Razmiyyah Sha‘iri, op.cit., p.289.

12. Ibid., p.290.

13. Ibid., p.196.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.
16. Ghaur,
Naghma, op.cit., pp. 138-39.

17. Ibid., pp. 189-94.

18. Surat Khan Marri, “Balochi”, op.cit., pp. 38-39.

19. Ghaur, Naghma, op.cit., pp. 193-94.
Ibid., pp. 196-98.

21. Naseer, Balochi Razmiyyah Shairi , op.cit., pp. 290-94.

22. Ghaur, Naghma, op.cit., p.260.

23. Ibid., p.218.

25. Mir Naseer Khan Baloch Ahmadzai, Tarikh-i-Baloch wa Balochistan (Quetta: 2000), Vol. III, pp. 218-42.
26. Qadiri,
Balochi Adab, op.cit., p.274.

27. Ibid., p.286.

28. Mir Khuda Bakhsh Bijrani Marri, The Baluchis Through Centuries, History Versus Legend (Quetta: 1964), Vol. II, p.7.

29. Marri, The Balochis, op.cit., p.7.

30. Ibid.

31. Surat Marri, “Balochi”, op.cit., pp. 36-37.
Ibid., p.38.

33. Bashir Ahmad Warisi, Tazkirah-i-Magsi, Sukkur, 1958, p.68.

34. Ibid.

35. Mir Mitha Khan Marri, “Yusuf ‘Aziz Magsi ki Sha‘iri par Iqbal ke Asarat,” Balochi Dunya, November, 1979, pp. 14-15.
Ibid., p.15.

37. Ibid., pp. 15-16.

38. Mitha Marri, “Yousuf Aziz Magsi”, op.cit., p.18.
39. S
urat Marri, “Balochi”, op.cit., p.34.

40. Ibid.

41. Ibid.
42. Paul Titus, ed.,
Marginality And Modernity, Ethnicity anti-Change in Post-Colonial

Balochistan (Karachi: 1996), p.128.

43. Ibid., p.128.

44. Ibid., p.129.

46. Ibid., p.124.

47. Carina Jahani, Language in Society-Eight Sociologistic Essays on Balochi (Upsala,

Sweden, 2000), pp. 80-82 Jones Elfenbien, Unofficial and Official Efforts to

Promote Balochi in Roman Script. Elfenbien has edited several of Gul Khan

Naseer’s published and unpublished poems, most of which carry political, social and nationalistic messages, entitled as: An Anthology of Classical and Modern Balochi Literature, 2 vols., (Wiesbaden, Otto, Harrassowitz, 1990).

48. Titus, Marginality, op.cit., pp. 115-16.

49. Ibid., pp.116-17.
Ibid., pp.117-18.

51. Ibid., p.122.

52. Ibid., p.118.

53. Ibid., pp.118-19.
Ibid., p.119.

55. Balochi Dunya, Mir Gul Khan Naseer Number, December 1984, p.2.
Ibid., p.48.

57. Ibid., p.42.
ibid., p.43.

59. Ibid., pp.44-45.

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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Balochi Classical Literature


Balochi books, 2004: Verses galore

By Abbas Jalbani

NOT so long ago, Balochi poetry used to be based on music and had a direct relationship with the masses. Most of the classical poets were also singers and they sang their own verses as well as others’ creations on the beat of a tamboora accompanied by melodies played on the suroz, a kind of sarangi. Whether it was a wedding ceremony, a date crop harvest or preparation for a tribal war, it was considered incomplete without the singing of poetry and the audience drew inspiration from the verses they heard.

Wandering minstrels used to roam across the length and breadth of what is today Balochistan. Nomad tribes hosted them for a day or two and listened to their verses in night-long sittings. The poet could entertain his audience for a week by singing long epics and romances, some of which contained as many as 3,000 lines, without repeating any of them. The history, genealogy and culture of a tribe or the entire Baloch people were preserved in the poetry. That was why people identified themselves with it.

This link was limited if not broken with the emergence of written poetry in the early 20th century. Modern Baloch poets abandoned classic forms like sher, zahirok, saut and sifat and emulated foreign genres like ghazal and poem. Their subjects included new political and social realities, particularly after the creation of Pakistan and Balochistan’s annexation to it, which the people took some time to understand. Moreover, the poets espoused a middle class mentality not found among the masses.

In the middle of the century, a new breed of popular poets appeared with the recording of Balochi songs, first on gramophone records and then on audio cassettes, which became popular in Karachi, at that time the biggest Baloch city. The new popular poetry ranged from moving lyrics of Ahmed Jigar to simple and sometimes absurd rhyming of Bhooral Qasarqandi. After Noor Mohammad Nooral revived the singing of classical poetry in the 1990s, the Balochi music scene shifted from Karachi to Mekran and from unrecognized poets to established ones. Soon prominent poets like Qazi Mubarak, Murad Sahir, Bashir Baidar, Muneer Momin and Mumtaz Yousuf gained a much wider audience and became a household name.

The revival of people’s interest in poetry is evident from the fact that most Balochi books published in 2004 are poetic anthologies and four of them are collections of those verses which have already been popularized by singers: Alhan and Tooti Lisan contain songs of different poets sung by late Noor Khan Bizenjo and Arif Baloch and Ubetkain Sherani Ubetkain Zimr and Daratka Mah Damkan are anthologies of recorded verses of Munir Momin and Irshad Pervaz. Momin is one of the most promising poets and has managed to create a place for himself in the list of major Balochi poets of today. Pervaz belongs to the young generation and mostly writes songs for audio cassettes.

Do Tramp Darya is the collection of ghazals by Doli Baig, an illiterate bard whose verses are so captivating that he is considered one of the major ghazal writers of Balochi literature. Other ghazal writers whose collections were published in 2004 include Naseem Akram (Rangani Ghubar) and Abid Askani (Surmagen Bazar).

Mirjangi-o-Mirzangi is a fusion of the classic and modern by Askani which contains a poetic dialogue on social and political conditions of the Baloch people spread over 200 pages. Abdul Majid Gwadari, who employs classic diction in modern forms and whose poetry is imbibed with nationalist feelings, came up with Sosanain Geewar. Siddiq Salimi is a young poet from Iranian Balochistan who represents the neo-classical poetry as some of his verses are based on traditional forms. His Bukcha is one of the major books of 2004. Dard-i-Dastan also contains verses in traditional form by another poet from Iranian Balochistan, Abdul Qadir Shahwani.

On the other hand, Mujib Mujahid specializes in poetry, particularly free verse. The year saw the publication of his collection Saz-o-Awaz. Other anthologies which came into the market in 2004 include Yar Mohammad Sakim’s Sitk, Ali Sabir’s Azmaan Bastagain Barf, Malik Mohammad Kalmati’s Trongal and Kifayat Qarar’s Zulm-i-Jambar.

The prose works published in 2004 include Sachanon Sohatain, Tappiyen Goarbam, Bartaap, Tareekh-i-Taha Nafar-i-Kird and Badshah.

Sachanon is a collection of articles on the works of veteran poet, historian, lexicographer and novelist Syed Hashmi by different writers, compiled by Saba Dashtyari. It also contains criticism on him by G.R. Mulla. Tappiyen is the collection of short stories by Hafiz Ahsanabadi and Bartaap that of TV and radio plays by Dr Ali Dost Baloch. Tareekh is the translation of Plekhanov’s book on the role of the individual in history by Dr Shah Mohammad Mari. Badshah is the translation of Machiavelli’s The Prince rendered by Dr Fazl Khaliq. Wahid Buzdar came up with a dictionary of sociological terms, Rajmanzantig Galband.

The most encouraging development of 2004 was the establishment of the Syed Hashmi Reference Library. A brainchild of Saba Dashtyari, it is a resource centre to facilitate research on Balochi language, literature and culture. Baloch writers and literature lovers not only generously contributed towards the construction of its building in a fruit orchard in the Malir area of Karachi, they also donated around 8,000 books to it. This shows that despite all odds, Balochi literature does still have a future.

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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Balochi Classical Literature


The Story of Sassi Punnu

Sassi Punnu

Sassi Punnu is one of the seven popular tragic romances of the Sindh and four of the most popular in Punjab. The other six are Umar Marvi, Momal Rano and Sohni Mahiwal, Laila Chanesar, Sorath Rai Diyach, Noori Jam Tamachi commonly known as Seven Queens of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai.Sassui Punnu was written by the Sindhi and Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in (1689-1752).


Sassi was the daughter of the King of Bhamboor (it is in Sindh whose ruins can be seen today). Upon Sassi’s birth, astrologers predicted that she was a curse for the royal family’s prestige. The Queen ordered that the child be put in a wooden box and thrown in the river Indus. A washerman of the Bhambour village found the wooden box and the child in the box. The washerman believed the child was a blessing from God and took her home. As he had no child of his own, he decided to adopt her.


Punnun Khan, the son of King Mir Hoth Khan (Hoth, a famous Baloch tribe in Makran (Balochistan). King Hoth was son of Mir Jalal Khan main Baloch leader and elder of Talpur, Rind, Lashari, Hoth, Khosa and Marri people of today) of Kicham (Kech).

Sassi and Punnu meet

When Sassi became a young girl, she was as beautiful as the fairies of heaven. Stories of her beauty reached Punnu and he became desperate to meet Sassi. The handsome young Prince of Makran therefore travelled to Bhambour. He sent his clothes to Sassi’s father (a washerman) so that he could catch a glimpse of Sassi. When he visited the washerman’s house, they fell in love at first sight. Sassi’s father was dispirited, hoping that Sassi would marry a washerman and no one else. Sassi’s father asked Punnu to prove that he was worthy of Sassi by passing the test as a washerman. Punnu agreed to prove his love. While washing, he tore all the clothes as, being a prince, he had never washed any clothes. he thus failed the agreement. But before he returned those clothes, he hid gold coins in the pockets of all the clothes, hoping this would keep the villagers quiet. The trick worked, and Sassi’s father agreed to the marriage.

Punnu’s brothers

Punnu’s father and brothers were against the his marriage to Sassi (Punnu being a prince and she being a washerman’s daughter), and so, for their father’s sake, Punnu’s brothers traveled to Bhambhoor. First they threatened Punnu but when he didn’t relent, they tried more devious methods.Punnu was surprised to see his brothers supporting his marriage and on the first night, they pretended to enjoy and participate in the marriage celebrations and forced Punnu to drink different types of wines. When he was intoxicated they carried him on a camel’s back and returned to their hometown of Kech Makran.

The lovers meet their end

The next morning, when Sassi realized that she was cheated, she became mad with the grief of separation from her lover and ran barefoot towards the town of Kich Makran. To reach it, she had to cross miles of desert. Alone, she continued her journey until her feet were blistered and her lips were parched from crying “Punnu, Punnu!” The journey was full of dangerous hazards, which lead to her demise. Punnu’s name was on Sassi’s lips throughout the journey. She was thirsty, there she saw a shepherd coming out of a hut. He gave her some water to drink. Seeing her incredible beauty, dirty lustful thoughts came into his mind, and he tried to force himself on Sassi. Sassi ran away and prayed to God to hide her and when God listened to her prayers, land shook and split and Sassi found herself buried in the valley of mountains. When Punnu woke he was himself in Makran he could not stop himself from running back to Bhambhoor. On the way he called out “Sassi, Sassi!” to which the shepherd replied. The shepherd told Punnu the whole story. Then Punnu also lamented the same prayer, the land shook and split again and he was also buried in the same mountain valley as Sassi. The legendary grave still exists in this valley. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai sings this historic tale in his sufi poetry as an example of eternal love and union with Divine.


The Story of Shay Murid and Hani

By: Longworth Dames

Murid and Chakar were both betrothed. They went out hunting and became very thirsty. Then Chakar said, ‘ Go to my betrothed and drink water with her, and I will go to yours.’ Chakar came to Murid’s betrothed, and Murid to Chakar’s. She gave him water to drink and he became very sick. When Chakar went to the other woman (Murid’s betrothed), she put straw into the cup and then gave him to drink, so that he was not sick. In the evening, when the people returned to their homes, both drank together, and Murid lost his senses from drunkenness.
Then Chakar said,
‘ Give me thy bride/ and Murid replied,
‘ She is thine.’ Then Chakar said,
‘ All the Rinds are
witnesses that Murid has given me his bride ; and he also
said, ‘To-morrow I will celebrate my marriage.’ When Chakur had been married Murid left that land, and his father searched over the whole country that he might behold him again. Chakar had then settled at Fatehpur, and Murid’s father had searched over the whole country
without finding him, and said :
Si sal hamodha gar khuthaun
Af gharoa dohithauri
Main sar syah-saren kirman jatha
Fatehpure khohl kilat
Suny bath sunya rawath
Nodhe mawarathi zare
Binge rawant ma bhana.
That is: Thirty years have I wasted there carrying waterpots on my head, so that black-headed worms have attacked my head. May the hill-fort of Fatehpur be deserted, may it lie waste. May rain-clouds never bring it wealth, may dogs howl in its cattle pens ! And since then rain never falls in Fatehpur ! [The verses given above are evidently part of another poem on the same subject, and resemble the curse with which this poem concludes.]


The Rinds held an assembly below Mir Chakar’s tent, and Mir Chakar said, ‘How many times was there lightning last night?’ No one gave any information. ‘Sardar, there was neither cloud nor storm. How can there be lightning, after the storm is over, on a fine winter’s night ?

Then said Murid the Mad :
‘ Let not my lord be angry, and I will tell thee the truth : If my manly body be not destroyed, I will give a true token. Last night it did lighten thrice. The third time it was but feeble, but twice it blazed out.’
Then said Chakar the Amir :
‘ Well done ! son of Mubarak, with thy unworthy stones about Chakar’s moonfaced lady/ Then Mubarak pulled off his shoe and hit Murid on the head, saying, ‘ Leave off, Murid, thy evil deeds and shameful works with Chakar’s moon-faced lady. Chakar is not a man of bad reputation. At his call a thousand armed Rinds ride forth on sturdy horses.’ Then said Murid the Mad :
‘ Oh, my excellent father, he is but Chakar, and I am a shaikh. I too am not a man of bad reputation. He rides out with a thousand horsemen, and I with my own companions. It were well he had not seen my fair one, the par! ; the palace-shaker, with bare head in her narrow hut, the maiden of towns and camps, Hani of the seamless garments. For she belongs to me, who am ready to answer for her, though I wander and am lost, and have but a Kuran with me. I am not in chains and fetters, nor are my hands confined in iron manacles. I flee at the disgrace of the blacksmith’s touch. When the breath of the south wind blows I am, as it were, a madman. Bring no forge for me, no mulla with many documents. There is no plague among my cattle. I will not become either mulla or munshl, nor will I say many prayers. And, with hands joined and head bent, I swear that on account of that blow from Mubarak’s shoe I will cut off my hair, and will at once depart and go to a far land. I will lay down my noble weapons, put off my rustling clothes from my body, and I give them to Mir Mando, Hani’s royal father. Fair Hani will keep them white from the moisture of storms and clouds. My carpet I give to ‘All, my crossbow to Isa. And I leave my horses tied up, tethered inside my hut, I leave them to Mir Chakar. Myself I will go with a cubit of cloth for a waist cloth. I am a mendicant and beggar, and go with those men, the naked brotherhood; I will go as a pilgrim to salute the blessed shrine of the prophet. Thirty years will I pass thus, thirty years and part of a year, and one day I will return and come to a camp of the Rinds/ The Rinds had set up a mark below Mir Chakar’s tent. ‘ Now let the faqlr shoot arrows at the mark.’ When he drew the bow the wood snapped.
The Rinds then guessed and perceived that it was Murid of the embroidered garments, the lord of the iron-bow: ‘ Bring Murid’s bow-string.’ They brought his iron-bow to him ; he kissed it and laid it on his eyes ; the unstrung bow he strung. With the first arrow he hit the mark, with the second arrow he hit the notch of the first Then the Rinds knew him that he was certainly Murid of the embroidered clothes, the lord of the iron-bow. Then they placed Hani and sweet-scented Murid in a house. Murid, as mad as a mast camel, bit Hani on the cheek and her two soft lips.
Then said Murid the Mad :
‘ Hani, as long as I had need of thee there was no kindness in thy heart of stone, thou wast with thy lover, Mir Chakar. Now the powder is spilt from the pan ; I am not in a fit state for thee. Do not separate me from my companions. From a seeing man do not make me blind.’ As soon as Murid had turned his back the Rind women began to lament, and Hani said to her companions : ‘I will put my sari around my neck and go twenty paces after him. It may be I shall turn Murid back from the naked brotherhood, and if I do not succeed I will get a token from his hand.’ Then Hani called after him. This was the answer of Murid : ‘ May Chakar the Amir be destroyed, may thy house be burnt with fire, may thieves carry off thy horses. (If I consent) may the token of my hand be destroyed, may my body be laden with the burden of sin.’


The Death of Doda

By: Longworth Dames

The good woman Samml came with her cows to Doda for protection. Ramen, a youth who dwelt near by, saw Samml’s cows ; the Children of Mlral (i.e. the Buledhls) raided them, and wickedly drove them away. In the first watch of the day the alarm was raised. Doda was lying asleep when his wise mother came and roused him, saying :’I bore you for nine months in my womb, and for three years I suckled you. Now, go forth in pursuit of the cattle, for who is so swift of foot as you ? and either collect and bring them back or bring destruction on your own head ! ‘ And his wife’s mothen with great dignity, said,’ Men who promise to give protection do not lie asleep in the day-time.’ Generous Doda arose, and thus spoke to his mareSurkhang, in excuse ‘The lady has brought you cold water on her head, and a relish of fat sheep’s tails; lentils in a broad dish she has given you, and for your heart’s content grain in a red nosebag, and water in a fine bucket. Now is the time of Doda’s need; I go forth through the craft of my foes. That day (for which I reared you) has come to-day, and somewhere we must overtake the cattle.’
In a place below two cliffs, where the water flows through the gorge close to Garmaf, Doda the Brave overtook them, and fell upon them, the young man, his mother’s beloved son. The Angel of Death brought him thither, him and Jam ‘Umar together, with Surkhl his mare of the light paces. A youth struck him from one side, and Doda fell from his mare’s saddle on to the plain, and together with Jam ‘Umar he died there, with red boots on his feet and glittering rings on his hands !

Balach son of Hasan sings: the Gorgezh Baloch
sings : the avenging Baloch sings.
Take away Blvaragh’s black-pointed sword ; how has he become as a foolish boy, and taken leave of his childish wits! He came and plundered the cattle which grazed in Doda’s charge on Mir Hamal’s sandy waste, leaving the owner enraged, the grey tiger in his wrath. For me and you, oh my enemies, such thefts were not to be carried out, picking out and counting the cattle! You saw Doda in his wrath when he came raging after you ; he was not in a pleasant place. You killed his mare, striking shoulder and hip-joint ; blood bubbled from her mouth. Doda followed on foot, wearing red boots on his feet ; your horsemen overtook and slew him. You slew my brethren, Rals, Chandram, Kawarl the bold ; you killed fiery Rals, and had no fear of what was to follow! Doda, thy lordly armour, thy harness and kingly weapons, thy feathered arrows the plunderers divided ; the makers of butter carried away thy helmet! The women in the camp were scattered ; they saw clearly what had happened. Tears of blood they shed on their shoulders and bodices which were wet with their grief. ye, who have slain this man, the Baloch women are left without their lord, and wander about outside. I see the bay mares running loose, roaming about turned out of their stalls ; I see the children naked, the women go to earn their bread in dreams, no lover comes to comb their hair and spread it out over their shoulders. My lordly body grows hot at the sight like a log of ^afar-wood 1,charcoal, like wax it melts and wastes away in its soft outer garment. I sit and fight with my heart, and my heart thus answers me : ‘Balach is a tiger, a hailstorm. That wealth which Blvaragh carried will never become fair clothes and raiment, nor will he be able to give away in presents much of that cloth and Khorasan coats. This is my Chief’s token : Doda’s gold-hilted sword and brave Rals’s tigressmare on Blvaragh’s bull-neck !

Balach sings: in reply to Blvaragh he sings.

The mountains are the Baloches’ forts, the peaks are better than an army ; the lofty heights are our comrades, the pathless gorges our friends. Our drink is from the flowing springs, our cup the leaf of the dwarf-palm, our bed the thorny brush, the ground we make our pillow. My white sandals are my steed, for my sons you may choose the arrows, for my sons-in-law the pointed dagger, for my brethren the broad shield, for my father the widewounding sword.
I and Nakhlfo went forth, yesterday evening we went down to the valley, and in a village we saw a bard, a cunning man in singing songs. We tarried awhile in the assembly and heard the bard sing a new song containing a taunt from Blvaragh.
Blvaragh ! Thy wits are in thy head, thou knowest that to flee is not for a Baloch. The blood of seven of mine is on thy head, and on the band of thy young brothers. The deaths of Summen and Doda are on thee, of Chandram and Kawari the bold, of Tota and sweet Murid, and of Rals the foremost in battle. Thou slewest them, and hadst thou no after-fear?
I have not made war like a jackal, but like a tiger have I burst through my foes. I have no bay mare worth a thousand rupees, nor any swollen army, but I swear on my head that every night I will burst forth like a storm-cloud in the Rains, I will come forth to fight when your young men are all sleeping in their huts in the arms of their fair ones, and your priceless mares are all tethered in their sheds.
Blvaragh ! Thou dost not speak as one of understanding when thou sayest in the assembly, ‘The death of Balach by God’s will will come one day through a trick of mine/ Blvaragh ! How many jugglers, such even as thou art, has Nakhlfo slain with his blade through God’s help, how many have we devoured with the edge of the sword ?

1, The Kahir (Prosopis spicigera) gives out great heat in burning.


The Story of Doda and Balach

By: M. Longworth Dames

There was a certain Buledhi who dwelt in the land of Sangsila; he had much cattle but no son. And in that place he grew a crop of millet,1 One day as he walked round his millet he saw that a herd of cattle had been eating it. He searched for their tracks on all four sides that he might see whence they had come, but not a single track went outside the embankment which surrounded the
field,2 although the herd had grazed on the millet inside. The next day when he came he found that the millet had been eaten again, and again he followed the tracks, but they did not go outside. Then he made a smoky fire and left it burning by the millet, that the cows might come close to the fire, as is the custom of cows. On the third day when he came he saw that the cattle after grazing on the millet had lain down by the fire. Then he knew in his heart that this herd had come from heaven. There were nineteen cows ; he drove them off and brought them home, and gave them to his wife, whose name was Samml, saying, ‘ This herd is thine, for when I die my heirs will not give thee my other cattle.’ Then he moved away from that place, and came to live under the protection of Doda Gorgezh, and said to him, ‘ When I die let my heirs carry away the rest of my cattle, but this herd is Sammi’s. Do not then give them up to anyone, they are under thy protection.’ One day Samml’s husband died, and the heirs came and demanded the cattle. Doda gave them all the rest of the cattle, but not Samml’s herd. The next day the Buledhls came and raided that herd. Doda pursued and overtook them at Garmaf Daf, and there they fought.3. Doda was killed by the Buledhls, his tomb is still there. Then the Buledhls came again and raided a herd of camels belonging to Rals, son of Doda’s uncle. Rals, with his brethren Kawri, Chandram, Tota, Murld and Summen pursued and overtook them and gave them battle, but they were all slain there together with Rals. Only one of the brethren was left, Balach, a poor-spirited man. Balach then went to the shrine of Sakhi Sarwar, and for three years he fetched water (carried water pots) for the pilgrims. After three years were past, one night he saw a vision. Sakhi Sarwar came and roused Balach, saying, ‘ Go and fight with the Buledhls.’ He arose and bought him a bow, and at night he left it unstrung. When he arose in the morning, behold, his bow was strung. Then Sakhi Sarwar gave him leave to depart, and said, ‘ Now thy bow is strung, go and smite the enemy.’ So Balach went and waged war upon the Buledhls. He had but one companion, Nakhlfo his brother. (They had the same father, but Nakhlfo’s mother was a slave- girl.) No one else was with him. They fought in the Sham and Nesao, in Barkhan, Syahaf and Kahan,4. for in those days all that country belonged to the Buledhls. When men lay down to rest at night in their homes they would discharge their arrows at them ; three-score and one men they slew.Then the Buledhis left that country and settled in the plains. 5. When Balach became old he lived at Sangslla, and a band of Buledhi horsemen came and slew him there, and lost one of their own men as well. It happened in this wise. When the Buledhls came they said to Balach, ‘Balach, pay that money that you carried off!’ Balach replied, ‘ Come nearer, I am deaf.’ So they came nearer and again demanded it. Then Balach said, ‘ In the days when I had money you never asked for it, but now that it has all dropped away from me you come and demand it.’ He had a razor in his hand and he plunged it into the belly of the Buledhi, saying, ‘ There is your money,’ and killed him. Then they fell upon Balach and slew him. It was thus that the Gorgezh and the Buledhls fought.


1.^Zurth ; the Arabic dhurrah, Indian jawar (Holcus Sorghum).
2.Every field is surrounded by a lath or embankment to keep in the water which is let in for irrigation when the hill-torrents are in flood.
3. This is the subject of the first of the ballads which follow. Garmaf Daf is the Hotwater Pass. There are several places which bear the name Garmaf. This one is near Sangsila, in the Bugti country.
4. That is in the country now occupied by the Mam, Bugti, Khetran and Gurcham tribes.
5. The Buledhls, or Burdis, still live in northern Sindh, near the Indus.

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