Introduction of Ginans
Ginans are devotional songs rooted in the musical and poetic matrix of Indian culture. The term “ginan” carries a double significance: on the one hand, it means “religious knowledge” or “wisdom,” analogous to the Sanskrit word jnana (knowledge).
- The Qasida is the devotional poetry of Ismailis of Persian heritage BY NIMIRA DEWJI Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Catalogue: Spirit and Life From the Diwan of Sultan Ibrahim Mirza, Iran, 1582. Image: Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Catalogue: Spirit and LifeMusic had a high place in the cultures of pre-Islamic dynasties. Amongst the earliest historical records of Persian music are the writings of the Greek historians who refer to the use of ritual and ceremonial music at the time of the Medes (900-550 BC) and the Achaemenian (559- 331 BC) dynasties. The performance of music continued both in the court and in society after the advent of Islam through the Arab conquests in the seventh century. The Sitar (Persian ‘three strings’) is a small lute with a long neck. It was originally equipped with three metallic strings but a fourth was added during the Qajar period ((r. 1794-1925).
- Imam ‘Ali’s aphorisms and wise counsels inspired the spiritual life of Muslims through the centuries and in many different lands. His words were thus translated into numerous languages across the Muslim world. The Kalame Mawla is a moving poetic rendition of his teachings in Hindustani. The work exhorts the believers to observe virtues such as brotherhood, honesty and generosity. This manuscript, written in a beautiful Khojki hand in Mumbai (Bombay), contains a few choice couplets at the end, including a verse of the famous Persian poet Hafiz.
- The word gadi means "time", corresponding with the Koranic term, sa’a. During the Ancient times in India, day and night were measured in gadi instead of hours or minutes. Under this computation, the term "chogadiyu’n" represents a duration of 90 minutes. Clepsydras were regulated to measure the time and ghadiyal or gong to announce the hour to the people in principal towns. Generally, a day is also divided into 8 parts (not that of pahor), each part contains 1 hour and 30 minutes. The first part starting with the sunrise on that day, and last part ending on sunset on that day approximately for the day times. Similarly, there are 8 parts starting with sunset of current day and ending at sunrise next day.
- Ginans are a vast collection consisting of several hundred Ginans which have been a central part of the religious life of the Nizari Ismaili community of the Indian Subcontinent that today resides in many countries around the world. The Nizari Ismailis of the Indian Subcontinent used the term to designate a special type of poetic composition: a composition whose authorship is attributed to Ismaili Pirs and Sayyids, or preachers, who came to the region as early as the eleventh century to teach the Ismaili interpretation of Islam. The earliest Pir to have preached in the subcontinent is Satgur Nur (or Nur Satgur). He is believed to have lived between the end of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth century.
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