Monday, September 08, 2014
So who were Jamali and Kamali?
Jamali was pseudonym of Sheikh Hamid bin Fazlu’llah who was also known as Sheikh Jamal-ud-din Kamboh Dehlawi aka Jalal Khan. He was a Sufi saint known for his poetry and came to India during the reign of Sultan Sikendar Lodi [ruled 1489-1517 AD] and settled in Delhi. He was already known by 3 different names but people, impressed by his poetry and seeing the beauty in the words, gave him his fourth name Jamali. Jamali comes from Urdu word Jamal which means beauty and positive aura. He was a disciple of another Sufi poet Sheikh Sama-ud-din and the mosque that now hosts his tomb was his place of chilla-nashini. It is said that such was the beauty of Jamali’s poems that even Sikendar Lodi who himself was a renowned poet used to get his works corrected by Jamali. After Mughals conquered India, Jamali was offered a place in their court and remained there during the reign of Babar and Humayun, until his death. It is also said that it was Humayun himself who had the tomb built after Jamali’s death.
“Kamal” in Urdu means miracle. Who Kamali was, however, remains a complete mystery. Whether he was a disciple of Jamali, or another Sufi poet or maybe just a servant, no one knows. We don’t even know if that was his real name or if he just took that name because it rhymed with Jamali. There are several stories around his identity one of which is that it was actually his works, his poems that Jamali took credit for. Another story is that they were brothers who travelled together to India. Jamali got famous because he was an excellent poet while Kamali had no such talent but he too was a Sufi saint. An even more interesting story is actually described by an American author Karen Chase in her book “Jamali- Kamali, A Tale of Passion in Mughal India” where she mentions that they were both homosexual partners.
A more believable story however, that even I am inclined to believe, is that Kamali was actually Jamali’s wife, a woman who is now, after centuries, believed to be a man because of the name Kamali which sounds a little masculine. Kamali died first and Jamali, who had an important place in the royal court at that time, built a tomb for his beloved life. After Jamali’s own death, Emperor Humayun had him buried right next to his wife in the tomb that Jamali had himself built during his life.