Sunday Sufiana Mix


Mussoorie Sunset

Sunday evenings are reflective occasions. A come down before the buildup begins once again. This feeling, which has both comforting and depressing aspects, goes way back for me. To a time when I was 9 or 10 and a schoolboy in the foothills of the Himalayas. The thick golden rays that filled the valleys and filtered through the trees were undoubtedly beautiful. But with them came a feeling of absolute loneliness. I realized in some unconscious way that I was entirely on my own.

Of all the types of music I enjoy, sufiana music (the music of the Sufis), is best suited to deal with the soul-ache that accompanies this time of the week. Probably because it is the music of the solitary person reaching out to the Invisible reality. As a boy I didn’t understand that what I was experiencing was a spiritual longing. The only problem was I had no way yet to find the Unseen and so I felt only the sadness.

Strictly speaking, this collection is not entirely sufi music. I’ve included spiritual songs from the Hindu and Sikh traditions as well but those are merely labels. Every track is a cry from the heart of man for God.

This a special collection. You will, of course, know a few of these artists but for the most part this is hard to find, rare music made by singers and musicians with mainly local reputations and followings. Most are traditional musicians or musicians who perform as part of their religious practice. Stand out tracks abound. In fact, every single one is a ‘cracker’. But my favorites are the opening qawwali (#1), Subuhanallah (#6) by Sindh’s Mohammad Ibrahim and the nirgun song from the Malwa region of central India (#7) sung by Sundar Lal Malwi.


Track Listing:

01 Qawwali Of Amir Khusrou [Bahauddin Qutbuddin Qawwal & Party]

02 Mein Bhi Jaanaan (Shah Hussain)[Mohammad Tufail Niazi]

03 Unki jataan pind khech jo [Ustad Manzoor Ali Khan]

04 Piya Ghar Aaya [Ustad Shujaat Hussain Khan]

05 Laali mori re (Sufi Sindhi) [Sikander & Sufi Sindhi Artists]

06 Subuhanallah [Mohammad Ibrahim]

07 Lere Naam Lere Naam [Sundar Lal Malwi]

08 Lehra (Sufi Dhadi) [Sharif Idu and Group]

09 Ali Mullah (Feat. Transglobal Underground And Natacha Atlas) [Musafir]

10 Asaan Ishq Namaz [Muhammad Jumman]

11 Allah Sain [Attaulah Khan Niazi ‘Issakhelvi’]

12 Justaju [Anandmurti Gurumaa]

14 Naam Bina Mati [Amreek Singh Zakhmi]

15 Sajjan De Hath [Abida Parveen]


From the Archives: Abida Parveen


First of all: thank to all of you who responded so encouragingly to my previous post in which I mooted the idea that perhaps the time had come to close down this particular creative outlet.  Your words and vibes were really encouraging and well received. Thanks so much.  I still don’t have as much time as I’d like to attend to the blog/s but as it so happens today I do!

One of the people who contacted me asked about Abida Parveen. He had heard Bjork talking about Abida’s music in glowing terms and wanted to know and hear a bit more. That got me thinking that the best way to introduce David to the music of Abida was to reup this very old post from about 4 years ago.


It goes without saying that if you’re reading a blog and have even the slightest of interest in the music of Sufi Asia, Abida Parveen needs no introduction. Like her male alter ego, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, she has left a giant size imprint on the musical landscape of Pakistan and South Asia generally.

Born in the Sindhi lands of the Bhuttos, she studied with her father who operated a music school in Larkana. She travelled with him to the many urs celebrations through Sindh and Punjab where she was mesmerised by the Sufi poetry she heard sung by famous and anonymous itinerant musicians. She later spent time under the tutelage of the grand ustad Salamat Ali Khan before crashing onto the musical scene with her full voiced, enrapturing and highly animated singing. (for the goodies and entire post)

GuRumi: Anandmurti Gurumaa

Jalaludin Rumi

Jalaludin Rumi

Here is a rather ‘serious’ record. Hindi recitations of the great Sufi Jalaludin Rumi by the Indian spiritualist Anandmurti Gurumaa.

The music –such as there is—is pleasant and sparse. Dervish flutes, a hand beaten drum and some electronic keyboards, but the focus is on the poetry and philosophy. I suppose this is a ‘new age’ record for followers of either/both Rumi or Gurumaa.

I find it peaceful. The translations which Gurumaa reads/recites are simple and her voice does have a calming effect.   If you’re not into poetry, or spiritual things, don’t waste much time on this. But if you are, then this is a good record to return to from time to time.

Anandmurti Gurumaa  also known as Gurumaa born in AmritsarPunjab India, is a modern day spiritual master. She has followers of many faiths including Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.

Anandmurti means “an embodiment of Divine Bliss” and Gurumaa means “Master Mother” in Hindi. Gurumaa teaches the disciplines of meditationyoga, present moment awareness and self-realisation, using meditation techniques from yoga, zentantrasufismsikhismbuddhism and devised methods. Gurumaa’s core teachings include meditation, self-realization, evolving consciousness and non-duality.

Gurumaa was born on 8 April 1966 at Amritsar in Punjab, India. She was educated in a convent school graduated in arts. In her childhood she used to accompany her mother to spiritual discourses, gatherings, satsangs. She would also have assemblies of sadhus coming to her home. Some of the friendly mahatmas would speak to her.

Anandmurti Gurumaa

Anandmurti Gurumaa

Gurumaa is said to have attained enlightenment at the age of 16. She says she didn’t put in years of austerity for enlightenment and she was a normal girl who used to enjoy all games, sports and extra-curricular activities, which she continued after college.

Gurumaa’s discourses started coming daily on Sony Entertainment Television in the morning in 1999 and her popularity started increasing.[5] Her followers started organising meditation camps in Rishikesh twice a year. She established an ashram in the Ganaur area of Sonepat district in Haryana. Since the ashram had a limited residential capacity of around 500 people, she started conducting different meditation camps for people of different regions.

Gurumaa conducted a series of discourses on various spiritual texts of HinduismSikhismIslam, and Buddhism like Bhagavad GitaJapji SahibRehraas SahibJaap Sahib of Guru Granth SahibGuru GitaShankaracharya‘s Nirvana Shatkam and Bhaja Govindam,Narada Bhakti Sutra. Also including the poetry of Sufi mystics like Baba Bulle ShahBaba Farid and Rumi. Sony discontinued airing Gurumaa’s discourses in 2007. (Wikipedia)

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī  (1207 – 17 December 1273), was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi’s influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions.

IraniansTajiksTurkishGreeksPashtuns, other Central Asian Muslims, and the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy for the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. Rumi has been described as the “most popular poet” and the “best selling poet” in the United States.

Rumi’s works are written mostly in Persian, but occasionally he also used Greek, Arabic, and Turkish in his verse. His Mathnawī, composed in Konya, remains one of the purest literary glories of the Persian language.His works are widely read today in their original language across Greater Iran and the Persian-speaking world. Translations of his works are very popular, most notably in TurkeyAzerbaijan, the United States, and South Asia. His poetry has influenced Persian literature, but also TurkishPunjabiHindi, and Urdu, as well as the literature of some other TurkicIranian, and Indo-Aryan languages including Chagatai, Pashto, and Bengali. (Wikipedia)


Track Listing:

01 Ishq ka Khanjar

02 Iltaja

03 Justaju

04 Kaun Hun Main


Happy New Year: Abida Parveen

The Supremacy of Letters Modern Calligraphic Paintings Exhibition

In my Islamabad days I frequented a friend’s adda where we drank whiskey, ate kababs, discussed literature and love and generally indulged our male needs.

Among those needs was music and one day many years after I had moved away from Pakistan, and was visiting the gang on a short visit to the Land of the Pure, I was handed a bunch of cds. This is one of them. Abida Parveen, it said on the cover, but with no details. The recording was not the best, and there were no song titles attached.

I can’t think of a better way to start the New Year then to remember old dear friends with some stellar singing from the one and only Ms Parveen.

For those who are better trained than your humble servant please feel free to tell me the titles of the songs, and whether they are ‘rare’ as I have so impudently suggested.

In the meantime, Happy New Year to all dear readers and listeners of Harmonium! May we all enjoy much good music in the next 12 months and break down ever more walls!

Unreleased and Rare Recordings

Track Listing:



Of Sindh, Sufis and Cricket: Bijal Khan Mehar and Dayam Khan

Hurs charging against the British

Hurs charging against the British

The opening song of this sensational collection of Sindhi sufi songs is a paean to Pir Pagaro, a figure of some influence in multiple spheres of Pakistani public life.   When I lived in Pakistan about 25 years ago the Pir was a figure of much derision and cynicism among my circle of friends as he was seen as the worst sort of feudal figure with obvious ambitions to be ever close to the beating heart of political power.


6th Pir Pagaro Mardan Sha

6th Pir Pagaro Mardan Sha

But his political king-making was but one aspect of his cult.  He was also respected by all Pakistanis as one of the important patrons of the game of cricket (the national madness). Over the years he supported many of Pakistan’s most promising players, often sending them to the UK for mentoring and training, out of his own funds.  He himself played a single game of First Class cricket.


His political destiny was one he inherited from his father and grandfather, who as heads of a sufi movement known as  the Hurs  (pure ones), led a long resistance to the rule of the British.  The Hurs were brutally repressed but never defeated, even though the 6th Pir Pagaro (the current Pir’s grandfather) was captured and hanged by the colonial regime.  Patriotism and independence and free thinking run deep in the line of the Pirs. The 7th Pir (Mardan Shah), whom we despised back in the 80s, was a keen puppet master in the Alice-in-Wonderland politics of Pakistan, and for many years served as President of the Pakistan Muslim League (one of the country’s two major parties).


Most important to the people of Sindh, however, is the Pir’s leadership of their spiritual band, and it is undoubtedly to these attributes that the opening song is referring, not the sport or political shenanigans.


For all my time in Pakistan I was unable to spend any time in Sindh as it was a lawless place then and now. Completely spiritual and holy as well and full of a deep religious and mystical air.   The more I am exposed to the music and very tolerant, syncretic culture of Sindh the more I regret my failure to visit. And as I listen to this collection I can say I ‘miss’ Sindh even though I’ve not truly set foot in the place!


The music comes from the bosso folk label De Kulture out of Jaipur but records the voices and playing of nomadic traditional musicians from the far western reaches of Rajasthan. In the past these people would have travelled (and probably many still do) freely across the Pakistan/India border, hence their allegiance  to Pir Pagaro.  The two main peformers are from Barmer in Rajasthan.  Bijal Khan Mehar and Dayam Khan.


Fantastic music. Plain and simple.

Sufi Kalam Sufi Kalam back

Track Listing:

01 Pir Pagaro

02 Nukta Yaar Padhaya

03 Allah Jane

04 Pal Pal Pur Pawan

05 Jogi Aaya

06 Duma Dum

07 Har Rang Di

08 Sir Ishq Mein

09 Dadho Nihi