‘Maati’ by Hazrat Bulle Shah


Oh, see how the quickened dust doth move.

The horse be dust, dust the shield
Dust the rider that rides the steed
Dust the hunter, dust the game
The clamor they make is made the same

Dust fights with dust, for dust they war
The swords, spears and arrows dust are
Dust with dust fills up its hoard
Dust the pride on which egos soar

Dust the gardens and the fields
Dust the bloom the dusty earth yields
Dust the audience of the spring
Dust the beauty that springtime brings

Creatures of dust who laugh and play
And then under the dust they lay
Bulle, when you this dusty knot undo
A great burthen from you will move


Maati qadam karendi yaar
Maati jora, mati ghora
Maati da aswaar
Maati maati noon doraae
Maati da kharkar

Maati qadam karendi yaar
Maati maati noon maran lagi
Maati da hathiar
Jis maati par bohti maati
Tis maati hankaar

Maati qadam karendi yaar
Maati bagh baghicha maati
Maati di gal zaar
Maati maati noon wekhan aai
Maati di ay bahar

Maati qadam karendi yaar
Has khaid murr maati hoyi
Maati paaon pasaar
Bullah eh bajharat bojhin
Lah sirr bhoyin maar


Maati is clay; earth; dust; soil.

Bulle Shah uses the word in its meaning of something ephemeral and mortal, much like the word dust or clay is used in English to convey the transience of the material world.

In this kafi (a form of Sufi poetry meant to be sung), Bulle Shah marvels at the way the world acts despite the certainty of ultimate annihilation.

I like this beautiful poem a lot; whenever I feel lost in worldly problems, I recall these verses and immediately find my center.

I have curtailed the use of the refrain in the translation, opting to use it only once at the beginning instead of multiple times like in the original.



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