KHAYAL: Hassan Raza
‘Khayal’ basically is a word of the Arabic language. The meaning we derive from it is that of ‘imagination’. Because this has come from the Sufia, the fundamental objective behind it was to consciously educate the subconscious of a human being.
When discussing the history of Khayal, we will divide it into three periods. The first period is the one in which we have the contribution of Amir Khusrau; the second period is where there is the contribution of Sultan Sharki, Wali-e-Jaipur; and the third period is the one Ustad Naimat Khan Sadarang. Others who contributed or added to Khayal came after the period of Sadarang, which includes many people who we will look at later.
The first thing I must say is that the common and prevalent idea that Khayal is the brain child of one individual is wrong. Khayal has been embellished, improved upon and also spoilt by various people at various times according to their understanding. Amir Khusrau did not associate any kind of development of Khayal with his name. So much so that even the word ‘Qawwali’ was not used by him. With Amir Khusrau we find the word ‘Sama’, and within Sama, all the ragas, raginis and taals he made, the developments he did, the ghazal he sang were presented in a particular manner, which one can see in the particular khandaani andaaz (familial style) of his shaagirds/pupils/disciples. It is important to clarify here that Amir Khusrau did not have any children and therefore he had no descendants who carried on his biological lineage.
The word Qawwali was used for the first time in Shamsulaswaat written by Ras Baras Khan Kalawant which mentions that Amir Khusrau used to sing Qawaali. It is absolutely correct when the Qawwals say that the word Qawwali comes from the word ‘Qaul’—the repetition of Qaul over and over again so that the effect and state of ecstasy is created (haal). There is a term used among the Sufia called ‘haal paida hona’ meaning repeating a word to increase or decrease the that state of ecstasy or haal—Qawwali and all the other ‘types’ were used whether it is Tarana, Qaul or whatever the words are. However, Amir Khusrau never used the word Qawwali for himself nor the word Khayal. But it was his intellect, I believe, that made a significant contribution in the development of Khayal.
Let us now look at the next period of Sultan Hussain Sharki. In his period, we find reference to something called ‘Chutkala’—Chutkala was based on two verses like Dhrupad was based on four verses. But Abul Faizi, while discussing it in detail, has said that Chutkala was separate from Khayal. The word Khayal is used here categorically whereas the word Qawwali was used later. Vocalists who sang Khayal were present in Akbar’s court because Akbar had a passion for collecting extra ordinary things and making his mark. So, Akbar in his period collected or conquered the most valuable or the best things by hook or by crook, whether it was beautiful women, good music, fine jewels or good land.
However, the first reference to the word Chutkala and the difference between Chutkala and Khayal is found here. Chutkala was something very light. Here we find out that Khayal was sung in his period but it was not given so much importance and Khayal did not receive much royal patronage. There were some people in the Deccan who gave royal patronage to Khayal and some people’s migration to the Deccan has also been evidenced but Khayal as a particular Classical genre had not been brought forward or established. The rules of ‘Classical’ were at that time their own. Obviously, there were Marg and Desi ragas there, so the concept of shudh and ashudh (which we still have) was prevalent then too—that what is sung in a modern setup will be considered more valuable, whereas, what is sung in the desi setup or manner is considered less. Because Khayal was bound in both raga and taal, it had a particular essence of Khayal in it but it did not have what maybe today’s Khayal has—it’s lai was not the same, it did not have such beautiful bol in it maybe. We do find some Khayal of that period in Farsi/Persian but it did not have so much niqaas ka raasta in it; it did not have many technical things in it, but it did have the effect/essence of course because its fundamental objective was to create/cause a state of haal/ecstasy. Till then it was a thing to be taught only; those things had not been added to it.
After that comes the third period of Sadarang. Sadarang’s connection was certainly with the Qawwals and he was from the Kandhaar Bani. Tansen’s daughter Saraswati was married to Ali Khan Karori who was from the Kandhaar Bani. She accepted Islam and changed her name to Hussaini. Ali Khan Karori was a binkar and his name was also Naubat Khan—he is also known as Bare Naubat Khan—and was the son of Samohan Khan Sahab. So Sadrang’s connection is traced back to that. But Sadarang’s own particular situation was different. In that you find reference to the Tataari Qawwal. His received patronage from and was supported by Aurangzeb’s third son. He writes in his book that Sadarang was the disciple of a certain Qawwal. After that he was also the disciple of a qavi or poet. This shows the training/education that Sadarang received—he was receiving the training of dhrupad from his home but he was also learning other things (evidence of his curiosity and what he was like as a person).
However, it must be made very clear here that Sadarang did not invent Khayal. He certainly worked for the development /embellishment of Khayal but he did not invent it. Sadarang in his time added an element of dhrupad in Khayal—a meditative element; he enhanced the scope of imagination in it; introduced new ways of the barhat of Khayal; made new Khayals and tried his best to have Khayal included in the mehfils of dhrupad, and this is where Khayal finds its Classical base, which it did not have before maybe. Here one cannot deny the contributions of Amir Khusrau to the mehfil-e-Sama—he defined ragas and raginis and made taals. The contributions which were important and played a fundamental role were that of Sultan Hussain Sharki—the ragas and raginis made by him and his contributions about the impact of Chutkala on Khayal cannot be ignored. But we can also not ignore the contribution of Sadarang because he defined things about the barhat of raga and later the use of different taans. Every person contributed in their own way, for example, Tanras invented some beautiful things about the niqaas of raga; the work of showing tezi and tayaari in raga was contributed by Bade Muhammad Khan Sahab; Haddu Hassu Khan also contributed in their capacity; later Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab contributed. So, you cannot call Khayal the brainchild of any one individual.
Khayal has gone through a complete process of evolution and its fundamental objective plays a huge role in its evolution. If you look at the first period of Khayal, its objective is to bring people into a state of ecstasy/haal; then it’s objective changes to acquiring royal patronage; then its objective becomes showing each other down in tayaari. This is what has brought Khayal to its present condition.