Dam mast Qalandar mast mast
The drunk Qalandar*, in his drunken state**
Iko vird hai dam dam Ali Ali
(Has) Only one chant – Ali, in every breath
Sakhi Lal Qalandar mast mast
The generous red-robed Qalandar, in his drunken state (a reference to the 12thcentury sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar)
Jhoole Lal Qalandar mast mast
(Another reference to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar)
Akhi ja malanga tu Ali Ali Ali akhi ja malanga
Oh my brother, keep saying Ali, Ali, Ali; keep on saying
Akhi ja malanga sach ape mun len ge
Oh my brother, Go on saying, they will (themselves) accept the truth
Aj ne te kal saray Ali Ali can ge
If not today then tomorrow everyone will repeat Ali, Ali
Rab ne kinne shaan banaye
God has blessed countless (people)
Be karma Te karm kamaye
He has even blessed the wretched
Jeda vi Tere dar Te Aaye
Whoever comes to your doorstep
O na kaddivi khaali jaye
Never returns empty-handed
Shana uchiyaan teria Peera
Oh teacher (referring to Ali) with lofty grace
Hovan door haneriyaan Peera
May the darkness (within me) be purged, Oh teacher
Aasan he ba teriya Peera
I have pinned my (very many) hopes in you, Oh teacher
Soon arzaa aj meeriya Peera
Grant my requests today, Oh teacher
Commentary: This song, which has been popular in the Indian subcontinent for centuries, is based on a poem by the Chishti Sufi and musical genius, Amir Khusro, which was later modified by the great Panjabi Sufi poet Bulleh Shah. The song’s lyrics honor and revere (but do not worship) ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, to whom virtually all Sufi orders trace their lineage, as well as the famous 12th century Sufi saint of Sindh, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.
*A Qalandar is a type of wandering Sufi or dervish who would often live in the wilderness and wear tattered clothes.
Lal Shahbaz Qalandar was one such Sufi.
**Drunkenness here refers not to intoxication from alcohol, but to the ecstatic state of remembrance of God.
As the famous verse of the Egyptian Sufi poet Ibn al-Farid says:
“In remembrance of the beloved, we drank wine;
we were drunk with it even before the creation of the vine
Sami Yusuf is joined here by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, one of the great singers of our time, on the immensely popular ‘Mast Qalandar’.
Powerful and poetic, its ecstatic rhythms and melodies celebrate love of the divine and evoke a state of spiritual intoxication. This piece, which has been immensely popular in the Indian subcontinent for centuries, is based on a poem by the 13/14th century Chishti Sufi and musical genius, Amir Khusro, and was later modified by the great Panjabi poet Bulleh Shah. The lyrics honor ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib as well as the famous 12th century saint of Sindh, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. Special thanks are due to the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who popularized this legendary piece.