[Reader-list] Habba Khatoon & Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
gabyvargasc at prodigy.net.mx
Tue Aug 7 18:26:17 IST 2007
Thank you so much for this interesting comparison. I did not know anything
about Habba Khaton but now I am compelled to find her work, because of your
note. Sor Juana was a great poet and writer and if there is a comparable
figure anywhere we all should read him or her.
On 8/6/07 12:48 PM, "inder salim" <indersalim at gmail.com> wrote:
> Habba Khatoon & Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
This is about 16th and 17
> century. After the full moon of Habba
Khatoon alias Zooni, Sor Juana Ines de
> la Cruz shone on the South
American horizon nearly one century later. We don't
> have detailed
account of Habba Khatoon unlike Sor Juna whom we know how she
> died and
even at what time of which month and of what disease. That is
but what fascinates me here, is their similarity in many areas.
Habba and Juana come from a humble background, and both ended
> Both were gifted poets with a deep love for music, though
Sor Juana was well
> read and knew science as well from the beginning,
but both had no regular
> schooling. Both were in love, and both were
radical in thought and profoundly
> protesting against the social
decadence and other forms of human suffering.
> To say the least, both
were women, and beautiful.
Sor Juana was not only a
> poet but a philosopher, playwright, and
prose writer. She was an illegitimate
> and a lesbian, unlike Habba
Khatoon who was simply the daughter of a peasant;
> and in love with
nature from the beginning. I said this because we don't have
intensive record of her upbringing, adolescence and marriage. But I
sure, the medieval rural of Maxico and Kashmir must have been
lyrical, because of which it was possible for daughters of
backgrounds to pick up the nuances of song making intrinsically.
credit goes to the inherent strength in the folk music it self; and
> folk is non-translatable into any other form of expression, and
> attempt to compare the two great poets is almost
insignificant. While Octavio
> Paz won Nobel prize in 1990 for his
monumental work on Sor Juana, our Kashmiri
> Nightingale, for some
Kashmiri brothers, is still not impressive enough to
> qualify as a
Sor Juana was Catholic and a Nun in an autocratic,
> theocratic, male
dominated society, and when she pressed for the proper
> education of
girls she was forced to stop writing, which finally resulted in
sale of her collection of 4000 books, musical instruments and
> she identified with. That was the beginning of her quick
end, hastened by the
> Plauge in the city. On the contrary, Habba
Khatoon was beaten by her first
> husband and forced to abandon poetry,
which dramatically caused her to
> discover new love, a new lease of
life as a creative poet in the court of King
> Yousuf Shah Check. But
she was soon out of favour when the Kashmiri Sultan was
> killed by
Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great. That was the beginning of her
A Habba Khatoon poem is the effortless song of a woman poet,
like Sor Juana's, but in a different context, perhaps. When I hear,
> bei tschsai Zameen tai, tchi chook Asman, seers chook sar posh' the
> flashes in front of my eyes. I see, the zameen ( the earth
) surrounded by
> invisible air, being kissed by the very transparency
it is surrounded with. A
> deep kiss in its entirety, writing all the
far and beyond, in 'a blue', we all
> are familiar with. A great secret
which we can see from a distant planet, but
> can visualize and
experience only from below, and hence a secret. This woman
> poet was
able to appropriate the whole of earth in a bid to proclaim 'love'
overwhelmingly that even the sky looks smaller. The echo of such a
> comes to us from an ancient Shiva Shakti thought but since
that has turned
> merely into a popular worship form of main stream
Hindu religion, unlike the
> word ' zameen' ( earth ) which gives us
back our empirical pride and a grass
> root belonging at the same time.
I approach, and I withdraw:
who but I could
absence in the eyes,
presence in what's far?
This is sor Junana,
> experiencing the meaning of visual so
spontaneously. Here, I am a little
> interested to see how the poet's
quantum of thought weaves all the
> possibility, with such a precision,
and yet declares nothing, and hence so
> secretive, so personal and so
close to ones life, particularly a
The most famous song in Kashmir by Haba Khatoon is her protest
in-laws, who were perhaps pressing her for dowry. During one of
days when she happened to break her water pitcher she gives a call
her parents to come to her rescue and provide her with a new pitcher.
> mother-in law grabbed me by my hair, which stung me more than the
> death. I fell asleep on the supporting plank of the spinning
wheel, and in
> this way, the circular wheel got damaged. I cannot
reconcile myself with the
> atrocities of the inlaws, O! my parents,
please come to my rescue." (
> translation by KN Dhar )
The song goes on and on. Poets are perhaps tailor
> made to take the
matters of dignity too seriously. Needless to say that woman
suffered more than anybody else in the whole process of
making. Children have suffered too, and here is how Haba
expresses so lucidly in verses
"My parents sent me to a distant
> school for receiving tuition. The
teacher there beat me with a tender stick
> mercilessly and ignited a
fire within me; No body's youth with child- like
> innocence should go
unrewarded like that of mine." ( translation by KN
The manner in which Haba Khatoon spoke against the Child-abuse
without a parallel in the whole of literature. Unpredictability,
essential element of poetry pours out just a bud comes out a bough,
> universal human heart of a mother. The popularity of the songs
has given it a
> status in the cultural history of Kashmir that no one
can erase it from the
> memory of people who are celebrating the songs
of Haba Khatoon in the present,
Unfortunately, her creative being was cut short, more for her being
woman than by the death of King Yousuf Shah Check. This is how
expresses, perhaps in her last song.
Tschi kaho watiyo mani marnay "
> what will you gain by my death, O God.'
One finds a similar echo in Sor
> Juana's last inscription, title of a
film also, la peor de todas ("I, The
> Worst of All")
Here, a Sor Juana poem translated in English:
> men-so very adept
at wrongly faulting womankind,
not seeing you're alone to
for faults you plant in woman's mind.
After you've won by urgent
the right to tarnish her good name,
you still expect her to behave--
> that coaxed her into shame.
You batter her resistance down
and then, all
> righteousness, proclaim
that feminine frivolity,
not your persistence, is to
When it comes to bravely posturing,
your witlessness must take the
you're the child that makes a bogeyman,
and then recoils in fear and
Presumptuous beyond belief,
you'd have the woman you pursue
> when you're courting her,
Lucretia once she falls to you.
For plain default
> of common sense,
could any action be so queer
as oneself to cloud the
then complain that it's not clear?
Whether you're favored or
nothing can leave you satisfied.
You whimper if you're turned
you sneer if you've been gratified.
With you, no woman can hope to
whichever way, she's bound to lose;
spurning you, she's
succumbing, you call her lewd.
Your folly is always the
you apply a single rule
to the one you accuse of looseness
and the one
> you brand as cruel.
What happy mean could there be
for the woman who catches
> your eye,
if, unresponsive, she offends,
yet whose complaisance you
Still, whether it's torment or anger--
and both ways you've yourselves
> to blame--
God bless the woman who won't have you,
no matter how loud you
It's your persistent entreaties
that change her from timid to
Having made her thereby naughty,
you would have her good as gold.
> where does the greater guilt lie
for a passion that should not be:
> man who pleads out of baseness
or the woman debased by his plea?
Or which is
> more to be blamed--
though both will have cause for chagrin:
the woman who
> sins for money
or the man who pays money to sin?
So why are you men all so
at the thought you're all guilty alike?
Either like them for what
> you've made them
or make of them what you can like.
If you'd give up pursuing
you'd discover, without a doubt,
you've a stronger case to make
> those who seek you out.
I well know what powerful arms
you wield in pressing
> for evil:
your arrogance is allied
with the world, the flesh, and the
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