This anthology contains a selection of 100 patriotic poems drawn from the works of 40 poets, including such repute names as Mir, Ghalib, Zafar, Wajid Ali Shah, Iqbal, Hasrat Mohini, Ram Parshad Bismil, Josh Makihabadi, Faiz, Srdar Jafri, and the like. Many of these poets were not mere armchair philosophers, but accredited patriots, deeply involved in the freedom struggle. Their poetry is born out of deep conviction and personal experience of suffering and sacrifice. There are poems built around such traumatic events as the sacrifice. There are poems b built around such traumatic events as the hanging of Bhagat Singh and companions, the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the death of Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Jallianwal Bagh massacre, the Chines aggression and the Quit India movement.
The poems have been thoughtfully chosen and faithfully rendered into English. The language used for translation is simple, rhythmical and appropriate. Furthermore, an attempt has been made t retain the musical flavor of the original by making use of rhyme and assonance. The book also gives transliteration of the Urdu text in the Roman script. This should help those readers who are not familiar with Urdu in the Persian Script. In addition, there is a brief biographical introduction to each poet.
K.C. Kanda has had a long and distinguished tenure as a Reader in English at Delhi University. He holds a doctorate in English from Delhi University, Master’s degrees in English from Punjab University and Nottingham University, and a first class first M. A. degree in Urdu from Delhi University. While English poetry has been his forte professionally, Urdu poetry has been his love since his schooldays. In the special area of translated Urdu poetry, this is his eleventh title.
Dr. Kanda was given the Urdu Academy Award for; excellence in translation’ in 1997. He is currently working on Allama Iqbal—Selected Poetry.
Urdu poetry is generally associated in the public mind with lyrics of love and romance. Its favorite from is the ghazal, its favorite theme is love, and its famous poets are Mir, Ghalib, Zauq, Jigar, Faiz, Firaq, and the like. But this view of Urdu poetry is too narrow and simplistic. It leaves out of consideration a whole lot of narrative, descriptive, didactic or political verse. Urdu poets, we should remember, have been highly sensitive and responsive to the social, cultural and political moods of their times, which they have recorded with skill and sensitivity in their poetry, preferring the nazm to the ghazal, as their mode of expression. In particular they have been deeply interested and involved in the national struggle for independence which they had inspired and abetted, not only by their poetical contributions, but also, in many cases, by actual participation in the political agitation, with the inevitable consequence of suffering and sacrifice which such participation entails.
The purpose of this book is to introduce the reader to some of the finest specimens of patriotic Urdu poetry. It contains 100 poems drawn from the works of 40 oats, including, among others, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Wajid Ali Shah Akhtar, Ram Parshad Bismil, Zafar Ali Khan, Mohammed Aloi Jauhar, Dr Sir Mohammed Iqbal, Hasrat Mohani, , Tilok Chand Mehroom, Josh Mahilabadi, Chakbast, Firaq and faiz. Some of these poetical compostions have now become a part of our collective consciousness. Lines like: ‘Sar Faroshi ki tramanna aaj hamare dil mein hai,’ ‘Rukhsat ai ahl-e-watan,’ ‘Saare jahan se achha Hindustan hamara,’ ‘Khak-e-watan ka mujhko har zarra devta hai,’ have inspired generation after generation of Indians with a feeling of national prode and patriotism. This book is an attempt to preserve this precious heritage and make it easily accessible to a large section of reader, including also those readers who are not familiar with Urdu language in the Persian script. The poems included in this anthology have been carefully selected, keeping in view their thematic and artistic merit. The poems have been translates into versified English, and the language used for translation is simple, lucid and appropriate. For the benefit of the non-Urdu-knowing readers Urdu text has also been transliterated in the Roman script. It is hoped that the book will receive a welcome response from the readers.
In the preparation of the anthology I have mainly drawn upon following sources, in addition, of course, to the works upon the following sources, in addition, of course, to the works of the individual poets:
(i) Hindustan Hamara, vol. I, edited by Jaan Nisaar Akhtar,(1973)
(ii) Hindustan Hamara, vol. II, edited by Jaan Nisaar Akhtar,(1974)
(iii) Zabt Shudah Nazmen, edited by Khaliq Anjum and Mujtaba Hussain, (1975)
(iv) Hindustan ki Tehrik-e-azadi aur Urdu Shairy, Gopi Chand Narang, 2003.
I express my grateful acknowledgments to the authors/editors of the aforesaid books. I am especially grateful to Shri K. Narendra, managing director. Daily Partap, for supplying me with the full text of Ram Parshad Bismil’s poems and the photograph of the poet. I am also beholden to Professor Gopi Chand Narang, who as always, has been generous with his advice and encouragement throughout the preparation of this book. Above all, I am thankful to my publisher, Shri S. K. Ghai –now a treasured friend –for readily agreeing to publish this book. My ‘Katib,’ Mohammed Salim deserves special praise for having painstakingly typed out the Urdu text of the book on his computer.
It is generally believed Urdu poetry is predominantly lyrical and romantic, concerned that Urdu poetry is predominantly lyrical and romantic, concerned primarily with the emotion of love, or with philosophic, flesh and spirit, good and evil, the ephemeral and the eternal. The most popular from of Urdu poetry is ghazal, and its one central theme is love. Wali Deccany, one of the founding fathers of Urdu poetry, had long ago pointed to the centrality of love in life and art:
Shugal behtar hai ishq baazi ka, Ho haqeeqi ya ho majazi ka. Of all pursuits love is best, Be it sensuous or sublime.
As a consequence of this over-emphasis on the importance of love in Urdu poetry lying outside the domain of love and romance has remained unappreciated, or has been dismissively treated. But the fact remains that Urdu poetry is a multifaceted mirror, reflecting in its tone and texture, the whole range of human experience, social and political, cultural, religious and secular. In one of his memorable couplets Dr. Iqbal has underscored the manby-sidedness of the poet’s genius:
Hain hazaaron iske pahloo rang har pahloo ka aur, Seene mein heera koi trash hua rakhta hoon main. I keep a chiseled diamond deep inside my heart, Multihued, multi-faceted, flashing many thoughts.
Even the greatest of our lyrical poets, including Mir and Ghalib, are not exclusively poets of love and lyrics. They have been highly sensitive events of the day which have entered into their poetry, sometimes overtly and sometimes in a surreptitious manner, through symbol, suggestion and imagery. Mir Taqi Mir, a poet of thwarted passion, who has written lines like:
Mere rone ki haqeeqat jismein the, Ek muddat take who kaghiz name raha; The page which bore my tale of tears Remained wet for several years…,
Was fully alive to the turbulence of his times which he has yeses as a metaphorical equivalent for his own state of personal deprivation. Read, for instance, the following lines of MRI where he is referring both to the state of his heart, and to the state of Delhi, ravaged by marauders like Ahmed Shah and Nadir Shah:
Dil ki wearing ka kya mazkoor hai, yeh nagar sau martaba loota gay. What to say about the desolation of this heart, This city has been ravaged hundred times, alas!
And in the following couplet, the poet is referring explicitly and deploringly to the atrocities perpetrated on king Shah Alam and the blinding of the king.
Shahan ke kuhal-ul-jawahar thi khak-e-pa jinki, Unki aankhon mein phirti sulaaean dekhein. We have seen those kings blimded with iron spikes, the dust of whose feet was deemed collyrium for the eyes.
The experience of seeing the incarceration of kings and noblemen at the hands of their own kith and kin becomes a matter of consolation for the poet, for if the great and mighty can be thus humbled and maulted, a poor man like Mir has no business to bewail his own lot:
Tu hai bechara gada, Mir, tera kya mazkoor, Mil gaye khak mein yaan sahib-e-afsar kitne! Mir, you are a humble beggar, not worth a thought Many a man of high renown has here been done to naught.
For a more detained commentary on the sufferings of Delhi and her citizenry at the hands of the foreign raiders and local hoodlums, one should read Mir’s Shahr Ashob,the manet for Delhi, which contains sure evidence of the poet’s patriotic sentiment and compassionate temperament. It has been rightly said that Mir hasn’t written ghazals, but marsian (elegies) of his heart and his beloved Delhi.
Whar is true of Mir is also true of Ghalib, though in a less overt way. When Ghalib insets, right in the middle of his lyrical and philosophical ghazal, the following disconcerting lines :< p>
Hai maujzan ik qulzam-e-khoon, kaash, yehi ho! Aata hai abhi Delhaize kya mere aage. May it prove to be the last, the spate of blood I see, God knows what dreadful sights lie in store for me!-
he is surely thinking of the murder and mayhem let loose by the British soldiers to crush the revolt of 1857, and the equally ruthless reprisals of the angry mobs against the white men and women. Ghalib has also referred directly and in greater detail to the post revolt situation in Delhi in one of his letters addressed to Allaudin Alai. Quoted below are some of its lines :< p>
Ghar se bazaar mein nikalte hue, Zahra hota hai aab insaan ka, Chowk jisko kahen who maqtal hai, Ghar bana hai namoona zindaan ka, Shahr-e-Dilli ka zarra zarrza-e –khak. Tishna-e-khoon hai har musakmaan ka. Koi waan se Na AA sake yaan tak, Admi waan Na JA sake yaan ka. Main ne mana ke mil gaya, phir kya, Wohi rona tan –o-dil-o-jaan ka.
Apprehending risk of life, Men are afraid to step outside. The Chowk is now the hangman’s park, Every grain of Delhi’s dust, Is thirsting for the Muslim blood. None can come or go at will, Movement has been stalled and stilled; Even if we meet our friends, weeping, wailing will not end. The purpose of giving these quotations is to underscore the point that even the pre-eminently poets were spurred by Patriotic sentiment to turn from lyrical reflection to an objective delineation of the happenings around them. Patriotism is, in fact, a deep-rooted instinct in the nature of man. Love for the land of your birth which has nurtured you with its air and water, fed you with its crops of wheat and rice, and rehgled, you with its sights and sounds, is a strong natural impulse calling upon us to serve our motherland, to protects her honor and liberty, and work for her all round betterment and uplift. Sir Walter Scott, an English poet, has given a powerful expression to the value of patriotism in one of his famous poems :< p>
Breathes there the man with soul so dead, who never to himself has said; “This is my own, my own native land”!
Jakoi yaad karta nahi apna watan, who murda hai parahan hai uska kafan He who doesn’t love his country’s sacred dust, Is a moving corpse, in coffin sheet dressed.
Another Urdu poet, Nihal Seoharvi has unambiguously declared in his poem, watan, that patriotism is the soul of humanity, the essence of goodness and virtue: Agar jahan mein mazaq-e-hayaat past nahin, Who aadmi hi nahin jo watan parast nahin. If the higher values haven’t lost their sheen He who doesn’t love his country is not a human beings.
The Revolt of 1857 marks for all practical purposes the first flowering of the crop of patriotic poetry in Urdu, and the poetpatriouts like Bahadur Shah Zafar and Wajid Ali Shah Akhtar,may be counted among its pioneers. This is not, of course, to deny the importance of their illustrious forebears, men shahr ashobs, had done their bit to rouse the conscience of their reader against the forces of destruction and deception that were out to plunder the cultural and material wealth of Delhi Mir has tellingly commented on this situation:
Chor, uchakke, Sikh, marhate, shah-o-gada zar khwahan hain, Chain mein hain jo kuchh nahin rakhte, fuqur hi ik daulat hai ab. Thieves and robeeres, Sikhs, Marathas, kings and beggars lust for gold, Blesses are the folks penurious, begging is the gainful course. But the real battle was to be fought against the British power, which came to India insidiously under the garb of the East India Company, and stayed, to rule over India for more than h hundred years. The revolt of 1875 which was championed by men like Bahadur Shah Zafar marks the beginning of the battle of freedom. The wait of sorrow heard in the verse of Zafar:
Murgh-e-dil mal ro yahan aansoo bhana mana hai, Is qafas ke qaidion ko aab-o-dana mana hai; Cry not here, O bird of heart, the place admits no tears, Do not look for food or water in this cage, O dear!- derives itself from a combination of personal and general causes, for Bahadu shah Zafar, as is well known, had undergone acute personal suffering for the cause of his country, and had lost in this struggle not only his empire, but also his life and liberty, and the precious lives of his sons and nephews. Wajid Ali Shah who has written such haunting lines as: Dar-o-deewar pe hasrat se nazar karte hain. Rukhsat ai ahl-e-watan,hum tau safar karte hain, Lo! we cast a lingering look on these doors and walls, Fare thee well, my countrymen, we are going afar!--- had also been a victim of the British oppression, and had passed through the purgatory of imprisonment, exile. And death. It may be mentioned that despite his luxury-loving temperament and his sensual propensities, Wajid Ali Shah was loved by his people who mourned his exile in the following popular refrain: Wajid Ali bechara Calcutta, Sarken nikal rahi hain, swoony gali hai. Wajid Ali, the helpless king, is forced into exil, new roads are being dug, the streets deserted lie. It may be mentioned that apart from the ruling aristocracy of rajahs and nawabs, many an important poet of Delhi had to bear the brunt of these terrible happenings in one way or the other. Azurda, who was the Sadr-ul-Sadoor of Delhi, and a friend of Ghalib, had to lose his job and property; Shefta’s property was confiscated and he was sentenced to 7-years imprisonment by the lower court, which, however, was condoned after an appeal. Ghalib lost his hope of becoming the laureate of the Queen and his pension case was kept hanging for several years because he was a muslim, suspected to be a supporter of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Sahib was done to death and 21 members of his family were similarly incarcerated and killed. Majrooh too had to live in exile in Panipat from where he wrote anxious letters to Ghalib inquiring about the state of Delhi. The verse of Ghalib quoted above is not a mere poetic exaggeration, but a telling description of the state of horror and fear that haunted that hearts of the people in Delhi.
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