Oh, yes, my dearest mother Sindh, my jeejal mother, my beloved motherland, my sweet fatherland, they are gone! Your children - my brothers and my sisters, your loved ones and me - all have left. You nurtured them and nourished them with your life. You loved them and protected them with your blood, sweat and tears. Now, you are old, you are feeble, you are alone, you are under siege and you are dying! You need them!! They are there no more! They have left you to fend for yourself - they have forsaken you, they have abandoned you. Yes, tears of separation from them will kill you!

The culture of Sindh, this great mother of all civilizations, is so pure, sublime, unique and rich. But, where is it? I cannot find it! It is lost! The children of Sindh have gone all over the world, leaving their language, culture, heritage, traditions and, most of all, their very own mother behind. "Hayf-u tanheen khay ho-i, jan-i watan-o pahinjo visa'aryo" - "Shame on those who have abandoned their motherland!"

Not all have completely abandoned their motherland. There are some, yes, a few only, who have not forgotten their dear land, and are, day and night, engrossed in cultivating and irrigating the tiny remaining seedlings of their roots. One such noble child of mother Sindh is Maharaj Prakash Bharadwaj, who has, through love, dedication, toil and effort, come out with a great informative source, "Sindhis International Yearbook." It is from this book, that, I shall be presenting here, in these pages, the cultural aspects of my beloved motherland.

Some Aspects Of Sindhi Culture

Culture of a nation is an aspect of ultimate values. These values, possessed by a particular society, are expressed in that society's collective institutions. Culture, in a sense is an essence, within the boundaries of which individuals live by. They express these cultural values in their dispositions, habits, feelings, passions, attitudes and manners. Sindhi culture belongs to that unique group of people with the sense of common history and common traditions, as well as multiplication of common interests. All these gave rise to the flowering and flourishing of that great Sindhi civilization.

Sindh has its specific culture. Culture is, no doubt, quite an abstract term inspite of the veritability of the physical and mental existence. Every society has to pass through the idealistic phase in its mental make-up and some shades of a cultural group's mental make-up defy any attempt at complete erasure. In their journey through time the people of Sindh had adopted ultimate standards, which through practice, has become norms and absolutes, known as culture.

Basis Of Sindhi Culture

Archeological discoveries sometimes help to unfold the certain latent aspects of a culture. The geological researchers enable us to stretch back the history of man on this planet by millions of years and pave the way of moulding our minds in such a way as to be more and more receptive to scientific formulations. There is a limit to what an unscientific mind can indulge in. The ultimate achievement is the prevalent and persistence of the scientific way of looking into phenomenon. The unscientific mind will, sooner or later, sink into oblivion. The excavations of Moenjodaro have unfolded before us the city life of a cicilization, of people - a proud people, with a distinct identity, values and culture. Therefore, the first definition of the Sindhi culture emanates from that over 7,000 years old Indus Valley Civilization. This is the pre-Aryan period, about 3,000 years B.C., when the urban civilization in Sindh was at its peak. Sir Mortimer Wheeler in his book, "Civilization of the Indus Valley and Beyond," says, "Civilization, in a minimum sense of the term, is the art of living in towns, with all that the condition implies in respect of social skills and disciplines." Hence, when we speak of Sindhi civilization we have to concern ourselves, mainly, with the material and concrete side of human habitation of which Sindhi culture is only the essence, the superstructure. So, the present day Sindh, alongwith the Northern part of the Indus Valley Civilization - around 3,000 to 2,500 B.C. - prides on its urban civilization.

Aesthetic Utilization Of Leisure

The ancient Sindhi civilization was the one where the aesthetic utilization of leisure was creaved for a freely indulged. What is so evident from the excavations of sites dating back to 3,000 B.C. all over Sindh, is also true, some 1,200 years ago when Jaina Dakshiniya Chihna (778 A.D.) described the distinguished features of Sindhis in this way: "Elegant, with a lovely, soft and slow gait, they are fond of the art of Gandharvas (that is, songs, music and dancing) and full affection towards their country." Much of the arguments still hold and the Ying (that is, the maternal) ingredient doesn't seem to have been diluted much.

Seafaring Tradition

Sindhis were not the fun-and-frolic loving people only. They were a seafaring people and their spirit of adventure aroused in them yearning for exploits in distant lands. Among the discoveries in Moenjadaro is a seal with a representation of a mastless ship. This verifies the fact that not only Sindhu (River Indus) was used for riverine transport..., but the giant ships went down the delta of Sindhu right into the open sea and beyond. There has been historical accounts of linkages and contacts of the ancient Sindhis with the contemporary people in China, Messopotamia and, even, Inca (the present day Brazil). There is no doubt that most of the accounts of ancient India's contacts with Achaemenian, Sassanian or Greek civilizations are, in fact, contacts originally from Sindh or passing through it. In any case, Sindhis travelled far and wide, the trail lay blazing. It is a sheer irony, a travesty of justice, that we don't have any record of such travelogues or treatises by Sindhi counterparts of Yuan Changs and Fa Hsiens of ancient China, although thousands of Sindhis might have travelled and visited Central Asia, Far and Middle East and even Americas, in the course of their trading and travel adventures.

Continuous Foreign Aggresions

Sindh, sadly, has seldom been allowed by countless and perpetual flow of foreign aggressors to develop its own culture and values in peace, free from outside influence. It is no wonder that we have in Sindhi culture the acknowledgement and amalgamation of many influences which the aggressors imparted. Apart from other influences, Sindh always possessed that instinctive yearning for non-violence and toleration.

Aryan Influence On Culture

The second impact on the norms and practices of Sindhis was the subjugation of Sindh at the hans of Aryans around 2,500 B.C. The Aryan impact on Sindhi culture was great and the subsequent changes imprinted on the psyche of the Sindhi people should be judged in the light of the changes which they had undergone at the hands of the Aryans. The Aryans were nomadic, but, the peace-loving Moenjodaro civilization people had been enjoying for a long time the fruits of settled urban life with municipal community-based living. The Aryans were, thus, overawed. They adopted the Sindhi cultured way of life. They had little to offer Sindh, except their fondness for the supernatural and abstraction. Though hunting the prey absorbed quite a lot of their time, their Rishis managed to solicit favours from thr gods. The Aryans, in exchange for their supernatural tendencies, borrowed from the Dravidians their god of Shakti, later on canonised as Siva, in place of Aryan god Rudhra, and thus the Hindu...click trinity was completed. With the sway of the Aryans, the Sindhi culture underwent a big change. The adversity of subjugation made Sindhis a bit fatalistic. Much of their martial fervour was gone while the Aryans perfected, rather embelished their religion, after their contact with the indigenous population of Sindh.

Feelings Of Exaltation An Devotion

So the Sindhi culture grew from the cosmopolitan and mercantile beginning of the Dravidian era into a blend tempered by Aryan contemplation and meditation. Unlike the Western mind, which assigns great moral importance to the struggle between man and his physical environment, the Sindhi mind and values has developed in an environment where the bountiful River Sindhu has elicited a feeling of exaltation and devotion. Its equation with nature has not been one of perpetual struggle but of harmony and concord. The fundamental moral fabric of Sindhis and their basic consciousness does not regard the world as full of forces of evil which man must fight and overcome, but as a place where the law of Goodness and Justice operates to which man has to adapt his life. This is the first lesson of Sufism...click, which has been so eloquently imparted to us by the great sufi saints and poets of Sindh...click, such as Shah Bhitai, Sachal Sarmast, Saami, and others.

Belief In Spirits and Magic

After having further baptism into Achaemenide, Graeco-Macedonian, Mauryan, Saka, Chionite, Ephtalite, Sassanide suzerainty, Sindh once again reverted to more or less indigenous principalities which excelled in intrigues and internecine wars. It had some consolation in that its worship of rivers, animals, trees (especially of the Pipul) had assumed in the sub-continent-wide following alomgwith the currency of such symbols as those of the swastika and wheel. Some scholars are of the opinion that the stress laid on belief in spirits and magic in Yajur Veda and Atharveda, which is not in keeping with the teaching of Rig Veda, is largely Sindh's gift to the invaders, and through them, to the sub-continent, but Sindh also gained something in return.

Mysticism in Sindh

If fatalism was the outcome of subjugation, meditation and yearning for ecstasies searched for escape-routes - escape from life, playing down the role of utilitarian outlook. That is the reason why Sindh proved to be more receptive to mysticism. There is a long tradition of mystic poetry in Sindh, and even the romantic ballads, revolving round legendary characters, continue to allude to the Absolute as if the whole drama of tragic love was geared to glorify the Absolute. The mystic poetry glorifies death and spells out the the need to go forth and accept gallows to attain the peace within.

"Chhadiyaauun sabh-u sanGg-a, kandaa koh-u namaaz-a khey?
JedDaahn aalam-a aasro, tedDaahn kana na taang-a;
Nakii bharin-i kalmon, nakii bBudhan-i bBaang-a,
Laahuutii bey laanga [1], adam-a khaoon agGe vayaa."
............Fakir Bedil

"They left all relations, what will they do with prayer rituals?
Where commoners put hopes, there they desire not;
They recite not confession of faith, they hear not call to prayers,
Yogis without trivials and trinkets, yet they destined way beyond all humans."
.............Fakir Bedil

Fakir Bedil (born 1814), was a famous Sufi saint and poet from Rohri, in upper Sindh. During my early childhood, when I had an opportunity to travel all over Sindh to carry out my Peer family's obligations to visit thousand's of 'mureeds' (followers), I heard the simple village folks sing with utter abandonment and extreme devotion the 'kaafis' and 'kalaams' of saaeen Fakir Bedil. Even at that young age I used to be completely immmersed and engrossed in the lilting melody of these songs and enchanting lyrics of the poems.

Notice the pattern of rhyming (1a, 2b, 3b, 3a) while the metre is maintained throughout, the characteristic of Sindhi 'bayta'. Notice too the typical alliteration in Sindhi poetry. Of course, no one quite matches Shah Latif, the master of alliteration in Sindhi, also likely beyond what any poet in another languages could offer, given the wealth of phonetically related but phonologically distinct sounds in Sindhi.