Since antiquity, many religious discourses have dealt vastly with the human folly of attachment, as they term it. Buddhist canon calls it the root of suffering. The story of Arjuna cited in the “Bhagavad Gita” shows him as a man attached to certain notions, beliefs, and values.
One can find numerous disquisitions with conclusions stating life is suffering, the world is a place of uncertainty; liberation lies in freeing oneself from attachment to worldly things, or attaining a transcendent enlightenment. Such dialogues call upon humans to cultivate detachment and a sense of separation to view everything as less tantalising and temporary.
To live without feelings of attachment is almost unattainable as we need emotions to stimulate the ever-changing nature of life. Endearment for others, the yearning for success, detest for failure, infatuations and obsessions, and our love for life itself is the basis of our humanity and requirements for engaged and content lives.
Nichiren, a Japanese Buddhist priest, was believed to have said that the challenge is not to liberate oneself of attachments, but to become enlightened because of them.
History cites two tales of separation as the backdrop of two famous pieces of arts and literature. One is Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal, and the other is Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh.
Zafar was exiled from his kingdom, to far-off Rangoon in Burma, at the hands of British. His sons and grandsons were murdered and he was put under house arrest without so much as a pen or paper. An aesthete of arts and poetry, he composed these verses:
Lagta nahin hai dil mera ujday diyar mein
“Kis ki bani hai alam-e-na paedar mein
Kitna hai badnaseeb “Zafar” dafn key liye
Do gaz zamin bhi na mili kuu-e-yaar mein
(My heart, these dismal ruins, cannot now placate,
Who can find sustenance in this unstable state!
How unlucky is Zafar!
For burial, Even two yards of land were not to be had, in the beloved land).”
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, was not just another also a benefactor of arts. He himself was a poet, singer, composer, and a dancer. After his kingdom was annexed by the British in 1856, the Nawab was exiled to Calcutta where he spent the rest of his life. At the time of exile he wrote and composed a Thumri in “Raag Bhairavi”, which is sung even today:
“Babul mora naihar chooto hi jaaye
Char kahaar mile mori doliya sajawen
Mora apna begana chooto jaye
(O, My father! I’m leaving home,
The four bearers lift my palanquin,
I’m leaving those who were my own).”
The two compositions share a similarity in the state of their composers, not to be said of the feelings they might have shared. These laments are an expression of love, longing, and melancholia.