This is a series of blogs about the creation and philosophy of Pakistan and its key actors. These accounts are based on historical facts and references are linked at the bottom.
Sachal Sarmast (1739-1829) lived in Sindh and is buried there but he wrote in almost all the languages spoken in Pakistan today: Sindhi, Punjabi, Saraiki, Persian and even Urdu.
Since 1887, regional identities were emerging in the sub-continent in unexpected ways: Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore and his son Sultan Tipu who put up brave fight against the British invaders were national heroes but they had to fight their battles like regional chiefs who were often at odds with their neighbors.
The North-West India (comprising of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Sarhad) had been severed from the mainland two generations ago but had not yet found a stable alternative. Sikhs, Kalhoras (succeeded by Talpurs in 1783) and other provincial rulers were the order of the day. In this context, the multi-lingual poetry of Sarmast becomes the exponent of a new regional identity in the making:
“I am born of none, I am brought up by none.”
“How did you then come to be here?”
“I left the Heavens and came to earth.”
“Ah, I could not be contained in Heaven’s chair.”
Next: Mir Amman: the first thriller-writer of Urdu
You can find out more about Sachal Sarmast at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sachal_Sarmast