Pakistani Ghazal Singers Pathana Khan
Pathanay Khan real name: Ghulam Muhammad; 1926 – 2000 was a great Seraiki folk singer from Pakistan. He sang mostly Kafis or Ghazals which were largely based on the Sufi poetry of Khwaja Ghulam Farid and Shah Hussain. He was born in 1926 in the village Basti Tambu Wali, situated in the heart of the Thal Desert, several miles from Kot Addu (Punjab).
Story behind the Name
Brought his father when he was only a few years old, the home of his third wife, until his mother decided to leave his father. I took her son along and went to Kot Addu to stay with her father. I took his mother when the boy suffered severe illness, and handed over to the master’s house. Smith and wife looked after him, and advised his mother to change his name because it seems too heavy for him. Commented that her daughter seemed to be Pathana (in that region, a name symbolizing the love and courage), and so on, and since that day he knew Khan Pathanay. Credited his mother, the new name to save the life of the child.
Commented very Pathanay Khan to his mother. I took good care of it and tried to teach. However, he, like his father Khameesa Khan, he spent his time wandering, contemplating and singing. Nature lured him away from school after the seventh standard. He started singing, and most of Kafis Khawaja Ghulam Farid, the saint of Bahawalpur. It was the first mentor Baba Mir Khan, who taught him everything he knows. Singing alone does not earn him enough, so the young Pathanay Khan started collecting firewood for his mother, who used to make bread for the villagers. This enabled the family to earn a living is very modest. It is said that remember those days brought tears in his eyes, and he believed it was his love of God, music, and Khwaja Farid, who gave him the strength to bear this burden. Pathanay Khan adopted singing career in earnest after the death of his mother. Singing was his ability to charm his audience, and that he could sing for hours on end.
Was devoted entirely Pathanay Khawaja Farid Khan. He gave himself the deeper meaning of Hair Khwaja Saheb through a typical style and spirit of the singing. For example, Khawaja Farid in sufficient “Piloo pakian Ni-vay” I praised her Multanikar Suraiya, Hussain Bakhsh Dhadhi and many more. Formation Suraiya Multanikar to introduce as a popular song and light, while Hussain Bakhsh Dhadhi displays as a classical piece decorated by his taans unique in the style of Ali Khan’s stud. However, the version of Pathanay Khan enough of this cosmic brings deeper meaning to it.
In 1976, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan, invited him to Islamabad for a private performance. When Pathanay Khan sang “Jindrri Lutti tain yaar sajan, Kadi mor maharan tay wal a watan”, Bhutto broke into tears. After the programme, the prime minister asked Pathanay Khan three times if he had any desire. Each time the singer’s reply was, “Bhutto Sahib, aap ko gharib awaam ki parat ho” (Bhutto Sahib, take care of the poor). At this, Bhutto hugged Pathanay Khan and said “I will surely take care of the poor”.
He received the Pride of Performance Award in 1979.
Pathanay Khan died after a protracted illness at his native town of Kot Addu on Thursday March 9, 2000. His funeral was attended by a large number of people including poets, intellectuals, lawyers, educationalists and district officials. He was buried in his native graveyard in Kot Addu.
Sense of time and space vanished when I was half way through Pathanay’s first kafi Bay rang ranwal deketey. I had gone to Mian Sahib’s residence with the poet Najm Hussain Shah, widely known as ‘Shahji’. After that day, Shahji and I were frequent visitors to Mian Sahib’s house in Pakki Thathi, behind Samanabad. Then Pathanay Khan of Kot Addu was unknown outside the Saraiki belt and had earned some fame for singing Bulleh Shah’s kafi Cheena inj sharinda yar on radio in Multan. It was Mian Aslam Ranjha who introduced Pathanay Khan to our group — and to Lahore — and then through Mushtaq Sufi’s programme on PTV he was on his way to fame in Pakistan.
Mian Aslam Ranjha, a prosperous farmer from Sargodha, was a very handsome man (a rare incarnation of legendary Ranjha), extremely generous and the most committed music collector I have come across in Punjab. He was known for offering any or everything for a rare piece of music. He would travel long distances to remote towns and villages to get these pieces. Whenever we met him he would mention his new pieces of collections and tell us what he had to offer for a particular piece of music. Sometimes it was money and at others it was a buffalo or a cow.
In the process, Mian Aslam Ranjha had collected a rare library of music which was comprised of all kinds of music along with azans and naats sung in different ragas and in different regional tones. I don’t know what happened to his music library after his untimely tragic death.
Before his death Mian Aslam Ranjha had moved to a bungalow near F.C. College and we did not visit him as frequently as before partly due to the lack of time and partly because Pathana Khan had started visiting us in the university on a regular basis and we were able to listen to his ecstatic music in person. But Mian Aslam Ranjha was an unforgettable and celebrated person in this field. Unfortunately he was not given a proper recognition after his death. I hope one day his successors will share his treasure with the rest of Punjab.
Mian was very articulate and an acute observer of human character but lonely at heart. Therefore, whenever we visited his home, he knew that we had come to listen to Pathana Khan. However, to keep us longer Mian would play everything else but Pathana Khan. But, when he felt our patience screeched to the limit he would smile and put Pathana Khan on.
While immersed in Pathana Khan’s taans Shah ji said one day “legends about Tan Sen might not be untrue.” I don’t remember how Pathan Khan entered our “Rut Lekha” group which was named after a Punjabi journal that we had started publishing in those days. It brought a new crop of Punjabi writers that included Dr. Akmal Hussain and Izzat Majeed. Mr. Hussain Naqi use to print it at his press free of cost. Rut Lekha did not continue but the group members would always gather when Pathana Khan was in town. He, along with his permanent companion Yaseen, would stay with me for weeks in my small abode in hostel no 4 of the New Campus which was allotted to me because I was teaching Philosophy at the Punjab University. Pathana Khan was apolitical but he felt completely at home with our group which was mostly comprised of left-wing activists and idealists of all sorts.
Pathanay Khan Pictures