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Shah Latif's Patriotism in Characters of Umar and Marvi



By Khadimhussainsubhpot / Apr 23, 2009


Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689-1752), lovingly called Lal Latif, is held as a national poet, spiritual guide, mystic or Sufi poet and one of the most revered philosopher-poet and saint of the Sindh (Pakistan) region. He is not just a paramount poet of Sindh; he is the very soul of Sindh. Everone in Sindh, be it a layman or highly educated or intellectual, feels pride in singing, reciting or hearing his sublime poetry that uplifts his soul and elevates him to the heights of ecstasy. Indeed, the poetry of this great saint of Sindh purifies, unifies, elevates and sublimates. His poetry is mesmerizingly meaningful, thought-provoking and motivational to the core. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai deals different inspirational themes in his poetry to inculcate and impart the message of unshakable and unflinching faith, religious duties, purity of heart and intention, love, truth, moral values, ethics, unity, brotherhood, etc. The message of Patriotism in his poetic work "Shah Jo Risalo" is also very much prominent. He observed the spirit of patriotism among the people when they listened the tale of Dodo Soomro, giving them great message to lay down or sacrifice everything they possess, even their lives for the defense and honour of their country. The eternal character of Marvi in Shah Latif's Poetry is shown as an embodiment and paragon of Patriotism. This character speaks volumes of Latif's spirit of patriotism.


Here is a story of Umar and Marvi in brief.


Marvi was a beautiful lady of Malir, a village in Tharparkar desert of Sindh. One day, she was filling water in her pots from a well, the king Umar caught sight of her. He was captivated and enamoured by her dazzling charms and winsome personality. Umar proposes her to marry and tries to attract and win her with jewels and his great riches. But Marvi was unimpressed and refused his proposal, as she was in love with her cousin (Khet) and deeply devoted to him. Infuriated by her refusal, Umar felt humialiated and decided to teach her a lesson. He abducted her and imprisoned her in his magnificent palace. He tried his utmost to convince Marvi to marry him. He wanted her to forget her people and start living luxurious life with him in his palace. But, out of her love for her people, old huts, her village, she remained unmoved and indifferent to all his demands and temptations. She refused to even eat, getting weaker and weaker as the days went by. She kept requesting him to set her free and allow her to meet her own beloved Marus (people).


Here, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai has comprehensively presented the virtue of Patriotism ingrained among the people of Sindh. They hate an idea to exchange their huts to palatial places of others. They hold their honour dearer than even their lives.


Marvi says to Umar in her response to his offer, "Umar, I will continue to turn down your offers of rich garments as long as I live. I am not prepared to cast away my poor vestments by sacrificing my national honour. No one will dominate me as long as I live." Marvi loves her people despite all their faults and shortcomings. She says to Umar, "Our people are our own; it's quite insignificant whether they are good or bad."





When all her beseeching failed to move Umar to set her free, she addressed him in the following moving words:


"O Umar, You have forcibly kept me in your captivity. Longing and craving for my dear country and people, if I die here in your palace, let not my dead body remain in prison. Please do send my dead body to my Malir. When the cool sand of my Malir touched my dead body, I would feel as if I were alive again".


Bieng deeply touched by her dedication, love and great sense of patriotism, Umar set her free.


This message of this inspirational story is timeless. It has indubitably a universal appeal. It revives the spirit of patriotism. In our modern times, we witness people being drifted away from their own culture and traditions by their inordinate desire to gain worldly benefits. Their love for their own home land and their own people has taken nose dive alarmingly in this materialistic age where values have shamelessly been sidelined and ignored to our great shock and dismay. Our youth, especially, are quite indifferent to Patriotism. We find them in search of green pastures in foreign lands just to serve others in return of temporary world benefits. Brain drain is very common these days. We have allowed ourselves to be overwhelmed and influenced by foreign cultures, hence demeaning and devaluing our culture and traditions.


The message of our great sufi Poet need to be imbibed and put into practice to save our honor and self-respect. Great and self-respecting nations never compromise on their honour and self-respect. We condemn worldly success at the expense of our hounour. We love making progress and enjoy reaping the benefits of our hard work and labour, but not at the cost of our honour. Earning a penny with your honour intact is far greater than millions of rupees after losing your respect. Never was the greater need of patriotism than now. The true love for our country and our own people give us fillip to work harder than every for the betterment, progress and development of our country, helping it to rub shoulders with other countries in the comity of nations.

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