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Bagh-e-Bedil [India, Tajikistan]:
[...] I myself learnt of Bedil outside India. During the US bombing of Afghanistan, many journalists, including yours truly, travelled to the areas under the control of the Northern alliance (which was helping the West in ousting the Taleban) via Tajikistan, where Ahmad Shah Masood, the great Afghan patriot, found frequent sanctuary.

In Dushanbe I located people who told me about Masood’s love for Bedil’s poetry. Since the spoken language in Tajikistan is Persian (it is called Tajik in Tajikistan and Darri in Afghanistan), I mentioned a few Persian poets I thought would be high in their esteem. Not only did they not know much about Ghalib’s Persian poetry, they did not seem to place great store by the poets of Shiraz in Iran, like Hafiz or Saadi.

This was astonishing, because Hafiz was something of an icon for ‘cultured’ Indians in the first half of the 20th century. Rabindranath Tagore made a special pilgrimage to Hafiz’s tomb in Shiraz. His photograph at the tomb, reading Hafiz, adorns the wall of the library attached to the tomb. Tagore, like Raja Ram Mohan Roy (he edited a newspaper in Persian) considered Iran to be the repository of Persian culture.

I conducted my own opinion poll in Dushanbe: who is the greatest poet Tajiks know? There is absolute unanimity in Tajikistan and Afghanistan that there has been no greater poet than Bedil. [...]
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