Bartari Hari: In Kalam of Dr. Allama Iqbal – By Prof. M. Hassan

Allama Iqbal - Dr. Annemarie Schimmel

                    Allama Iqbal

Bartari Hari was an ancient king of Malwa. In youth the Raja was devoted to luxury, wine, and women. He had a beautiful queen who found about his infidelity  and committed suicide. After some time he married another lady. The Raja decided to put her to test. One day he went out hunting, and from the forest he sent a message to his Rani that the king had died and had been devoured by some wild animals. As soon as the Rani heard the sad news, she burnt herself to death. When the Raja returned home, he found that the Rani had killed herself. The tragedy unnerved him. He renounced the throne, and took over Sonyas. It is related that he became a disciple of Gorakh Nath.


Allama Iqbal was impressed with the poetry of Bartari Hari. ‘Bal-Jibreel’ opens with a verse of Bartari Harl. The verse reads:

Phool Ki Patee Se Katt Sakta Hai Heeray Ka Jigar

Mard e Naadaan Pe Kalam e Narm o Nazuq Be-Asar

“A flower petal may cut the diamond,

But subtle poetry will not have any effect on an ignorant person”.



In the course of their celestial journey in ‘Javid Nama’ Rumi and Iqbal meet Bartari Hari in the region beyond the spheres. Iqbal addresses Bartari Hari thus:


“You who have uttered heart-delighting subtelities.

Through whose discourse the East knows all mysteries;

Please say whence comes the fire into poetry,

Does it come from the Self or from God?”


Bartari Hari answers the question as follows:


“The burning heart which the poet has in his breast Finds not repose even before God,

The poet’s sole delight is in questing,

Poetry’s fire is of the station of desire.”


Then Iqbal asked the following question:

“I have seen the Indians twisting this way and that; it is time you told the secret of God unveiled.”


Bartari Hari said that the secret of God lay in action. He observed:


“Prostration without the joy of action is useless,

Life is all action, whether fair or foul,

Prostrate yourself before the law of action’s reward,

For from action are born hell, purgatory, and paradise.’


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