17 June, 2021

The Transfigured Pain Of Jayasi, One-Eyed Poet

History alchemised by poetry, the Sufi entwined with the sensuous. Inside Malik Muhammad Jayasi's 'Padmavat'.

The Transfigured Pain Of Jayasi, One-Eyed Poet

Having praised God, the Prophet of ­Isl­am­ and his companions, and then the ruler of the times, followed by his own spiritual preceptor—Sheikh Mahadi—Jayasi comes to himself before embarking upon the story of Padmini of Simhal. Thro­u­ghout Padmavat, the poet describes everything (from culinary feasts to horses) in great detail, in long shots as well as in close-ups, as if insistently saying that even if he has been deprived of sight in one eye, his ‘eye for detail’ and ‘vision’—in other words, his ability to put details in ­perspective—more than make up for his physical handicap.

The poet goes on to compare himself with other great achievers who, with their ‘deformities’, have made a unique place for themselves. In this stanza, the audience gets an early hint of his vast knowledge of systematic, academic knowledge (Shastras) as well as folk wisdom: “[The] moon has been created by the Creator with its spots,” says the poet, “and it gives pleasing light to the...

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