This book is the first English translation of Cāndāyan, the pioneer work in a long tradition of Indian-Sufi love narratives. The story was adapted from an oral epic Chanaini, popular in the Awadhi speaking region of north India in the fourteenth century. The early manuscripts of Cāndāyan, though composed in the Awadhi dialect, were recorded in the Persian script. Each stanza-like unit is introduced by a phrase or sentences in the Persian language style, making it necessary for a reader to know the Persian script and language, as well as the Awadhi dialect. This somewhat limits the access to fully explore Cāndāyan. In addition to this, the esoteric interpretation, which is the distinguishing feature that gives the Indian-Sufi masnavī literature its unique identity, was also not yet realized.

Cāndāyan deserves to be celebrated and recognized because it marks the beginning of the indigenizing process of the masnavī in India, and served as a model for this literary genre for the next 540 years. A serious study of Maulana Daud’s Cāndāyan, composed in 1379, in the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, did not begin until well into the twentieth century because only a few pages of its manuscript folios were discovered at a time, in various academic institutions and museums around the world. Cāndāyan is a fascinating study of the blending of the features of the Persian masnavī with the features of the Hindi premākhyān narratives and the features of the medieval Jain literature. Even today, annually in the Mahakoshala region Cāndāyan is presented in the form of drama and in the folk-song and play forms.

Print edition not for sale in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Bhutan)

List of Illustrations

Foreword by Ali S. Asani


Notes on Transliteration

1. Introduction

What is Cāndāyan?

The Socio-Political Milieu of the Masnavī

The Chishti Sufi Order in India

Amir Khusrau and the Qawwālī

Maulana Daud

The Structural Design of Cāndāyan

a. The Prologue

b. The Abode of the Beloved

c. The Nakha-Sìikha Varnana

d. The Bārahmāsā in Cāndāyan

e. A Mystic’s Spiritual Journey

f. The Reconciliation/Homecoming

g. The ‘Key’ to the Masnavī

2. Cāndāyan

3. Finding Cāndāyan

Translation Process vis-à-vis the Language and the Prosody

1. Sufi Masnavīs in India

2. The Chishti Sufi Order in India

3. Ruler and Noblemen in Cāndāyan

Sources of Appendices