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Sufi Music in Rajasthan

The land of Rajasthan boasts of a happy and productive co-existence of many faiths such as the Hindu, Jain, Islamic and the Sindhi. At the same time, interaction with several different bordering cultural zones has invested Rajasthan’s Sufi music with a great diversity. More particularly, western Rajasthan shows a musical and melodic oneness with Sindh and the Middle East. The presence of Sufism, generally understood to be the inner or mystical dimension of Islam, as part of traditional repertoire of Manganiar musicians of Rajasthan best illustrates this synthesis.

Manganiars most commonly sing the poetry of great saint-poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, who has written devotional Sindhi poetry in the form of love-legends such as Sassi-Punnu, Moomal-Mahendra, Leela-Chanesar, Umar-Marui, etc. They also sing Sachal Sarmast ‘Saain’, Baba Bulle Shah, Ghulam Fareed, Kanwar Bhagat, etc. and kaafis of Badal Nath, Sada Ram and Rohil Saain, Sufi saints from Rajasthan, .who have penned some of the most profound and beautiful poetry ever written.

Hazrat Amir Khusro from Itaawa in South Western Uttar Pradesh, one of the most popularly sung sufi saint poet, is not commonly sung by most Manganiars. Samandar has specially composed and performed Khusro’s poetry and is probably the only Manganiar singer to do so. He also sings traditional quawwalis in his own inimitable style. Samandar has also composed the qualam of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Swami Madhavanand, and others.