Qalandar is a loosely
defined sect of Sufis, often traced back to Mansur Hallaj
(c.855-922) – the mystic who proclaimed, “Ana-al-Haque”,
or “I am the Creative Truth”. Through literature,
folklore and custom, the word has also become a handy category
for including all beggars, wanderers and outcasts.
In the works of Iqbal,
the word is almost always meant to evoke a combination of
power, rare spiritual insight and a complete absence of
greed. The general impression which one gets from the works
of Iqbal is that while the genuine Sufis have an insight
into the destiny of the world, they practice restraint.
Qalandars are prone to giving up such restraint and hence
they act like a bolt of lightning against the mysterious
clouds of Sufism: they reveal what others had chosen to
conceal but the display is so short-lived that it is gone
before many observers could figure it out.
It is also remarkable
to notice in the works of Iqbal his own gradual transformation
from a poet into a qalandar. In his very first book of poetry,
he introduces Bu Ali Qalandar of Panipat (1209-1324) as
a role model (see Chapter 9), and the qalandars remains
an ideal through the next two books but in the fourth, Persian
Psalms, Iqbal claims to have himself become a qalandar (see
Chapter). After that he often refers to himself –
as well as to his disciples and comrades – as qalandar.
Hence the entire bulk
of his work becomes a sort of manual for becoming a qalandar
– which should not be unexpected if one understands
that the story of Bu Ali Qalandar introduced near the beginning
is an example of the power which Iqbal is hoping to evoke
in his readers through his works.