Saturday, May 3, 2008

Malihabad: An Oasis of Poets

Padmabhushan Josh Malihabadi

Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, Azad Academy Journal, XIX, 3


The real flavour of Malihabad, 25 kilometres from Lucknow, lies not in its delicious mangoes, but in its lifestyle soaked in traditions. The Pathans of Malihabad have always been a law unto themselves and boast an impressive pedigree of great Urdu poets. Name of Josh has attained the distinction of a synonym for Malihabad. Today, Malihabad is known as much for the great Urdu poet Josh Malihabadi it produced, as for its mangoes. So it would be most apt to talk about the great tradition of poetry among the Afridi Pathans of Malihabad, still so alive.

Afridi Pathans have always been lovers of poetry. It would not be wrong to say that every Afridi child is born with a poetic potential, but only some of them use it. Malihabad has producedc many famous Urdu poets, the most acclaimed being Josh Malihabadi, who dominated the scene of Urdu literature for over half a century. He emerged on the literary horizon of India as a personification of revolution or inquilaab, and won for himself the title of Shair-i-Inquilab (the Poet of Revolution). The belief that one moment of freedom is far better than years of existence under bondage formed the core of his philosophy.

Listen
Oh, dwellers of the planet Earth,
The thundering sound which is coming from the heavens
One solitary moment of life in freedom is better than eternal life of slavery
He was impressively articulate against the British rule:
My mission is change,
My name is youth,
My slogan is revolution,
Revolution and Revolution.

The British Government banned many of his revolutionary poems, such as ‘To the Sons of East India Company’ The quality and quantity of his compositions have secured for him a distinguished and permanent place in the galaxy of great Urdu poets.

Another poet whose name immediately comes to mind when talking about Malihabadi poets is Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan ‘Goya’, whose brilliant poetic career spans over the first quarter of the nineteenth century. He was an accomplished litterateur as well as a deft warrior, and is the subject of more than thirty books. He translated the Persian masterpiece Anwaar-i-Suheli into Urdu. The translated version became popular as Bustaan-i-Hikmat, several editions of which have been published till now. His own collection of poems was also published as Diwaan-i-Goya, which consisted of different styles of Urdu verse, viz., ghazal, nazm (in free verse and blank verse), qaseeda, naat (poem in praise of Muhammad), noha, salaam, et cetera. Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan ‘Goya’ is considered an avante-garde and one of the greatest Urdu poets.

Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan ‘Goya’’s son – Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan ‘Ahmad’ (1820-1903), grandfather of Josh, was a prominent poet of his age. He had a published diwan of 686 pages. His collection of poems titled Makhzan-i-Aalam was published in 1860 at Naami Press, Luccknow. It comprised of ghazal, qaseeda, marsiya, salaam, sehra, et cetera.

A son of Muhammad Ahmad Khan ‘Ahmad’ rose like a meteor on the poetic horizon, but died at the early age of twenty-eight, leaving behind a collection of poems, which was published in 1890. It contained naats and ghazals. His name was Ameer Ahmad Khan ‘Ameer’ (1858-1886).

Another son of Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan ‘Ahmad’ – Basheer Ahmad Khan ‘Basheer’, Josh Malihabadi’s father – earned great repute for his poetic genius. His collection of poems was also published, titled Diwan-i-Basheer.

An aunt of Josh Malihabadi, Ali Begum, was a popular poetess of her time. Urdu language will always remain indebted to her for her great contribution to its poetry.

A niece of Josh Malihabadi and daughter of famous Urdu poet Abrar Hasan Khan ‘Asar’, Jameela Khatoon ‘Tasneem Malihabadi’ achieved much fame and popularity as an Urdu poetess.

Yet another famous Malihabadi poetess is Safiya Khatoon ‘Shameem Malihabadi’ (b. 1920). Her published works include Aahang-i-Shameem and Giriya-o-Tabassum.

No list of Malihabadi poets can be considered complete without a mention of Muhammad Murtuza Khan ‘Wasl Malihabadi’. His diwan (collection of poems) titled Gulshan-i-Wasl was published in 1896. His poetry is distinguished by an unusual choice of words and a specific style. His poems are absorbing.

His son, Abdul Rauf Khan ‘Lutf Malihabadi’ was the author of a famous book Naerang-i-Khayaal. He also translated the famous literary works Guldast-i-Najaat and Maulana Rum’s Munajaat from Persian into Urdu. His language and diction is still admired for its lucidity, its transparent structure, and unparalleled precision. The translations done by him have been considered splendid mixtures of clarity, precision, grace, sophistication and wit.

Lutf Malihabadi’s grandson Wali Kamaal Khan ‘Aarif Adeeb’ was a well acknowledged poet and essayist. He contributed readily in Urdu literature’s philosophical and metaphysical spheres.

Lutf Malihabadi’s youngest grandson, Anwar Nadeem (ne Anwar Kamal Khan Aafreedi) (b. 1937) is a well known Urdu poet, satirist, humorist, critic, dramatist, broadcaster, actor, and short-story writer as well as film and television-drama screenplay writer, who has more than thirteen books to his credit, including Jalte Tave ki Muskuraahat (collection of mushaira reportages), Safarnama (poetry), Kirchein (film-script), Maidaan (collection of ghazals), Jai Shri Ram (collection of nazms), Paani (collection of ghazals), et cetera. Recipient of Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy Award, Bihar Urdu Academy Award, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Memorial Committee Award, et cetera, his programmes are broadcast regularly on the All India Radio and Doordarshan (National Television network). His works have been published in some of the most prestigious literary journal like India’s national academy of letters Sahitya Akademi’s bi-monthly Indian Literature, Urdu monthlies like Insha, Shair, et cetera. A few of his better known poems are as follows:

How is it?


The governments do not function in our country
The parties
After winning the elections
Have a bed of roses
Orgies, animal gratification
Passing days and nights
In Luxurious enjoyment
And perchance –
If they lose the elections
There’s a wrangling jade –
Infuriate
Quarrelsome,
Pugnacious,
Inordinate,
They finally go to Jericho!

The Only Poet

People
Just caught hold of Iqbal
And stuck to him
Once for all –

Keeping themselves away
From a camel’s hold
And a dog’s spring!

Yah!
They took it for granted
That religion
History
Poetry
Society
The social issues
As it were –
No longer demand
To think over
And understand again

Let India
With its latitude
And amplitude
Remain in tatters!!

There are many other reputed poets as well, while many from the younger generation are coming up; thus keeping their great Pathan legacy of poetry alive and taking the tradition forward.

8 comments:

Saman said...

Jazzak Allah
Naat

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