I was familiar with نجم آفندی Najm Afandi’s (1893-1975) name but had hardly read his kalaam though the litterateurs of yesteryears were always fulsome in their praise for this poet.
For 65 years Najm Afandi enriched the world of Urdu poetry and experimented with various genres. Probably the fact that Allama Najm had in the later part of his life dedicated himself to writing marsiya, salaam, manqabat and qasaid could be a reason why his ghazals and nazms got overshadowed.
Recently I got hold of a booklet by Dr Riyaz Fat’ma ‘Tash’heer’ titled ‘Sha’aer-e-Ahle-bait Allama Najm Aafandi ki shakshiyat aur fan’. Though the selection has few ghazals/nazms and mostly it is the religious poetry that has been included, some couplets are really enchanting. He was born in Agra. His father Bazm Afandi was also a well-known poet.
ek shab arsh pe mahbuub ko bulvaa hi liyaa
hijr voh Gham hai Khuda se bhii uThaaya na gayaa
No wonder Najm had inherited the literary taste. He began writing at an early age. His nazm dur-e-yatiim is still remembered today. He recited it in Lucknow where THIS NAZM WAS AUCTIONED and highest bidder Raja Rawalpindi bought it for Rs 5,600 (an astonishing figure in 1910). This amount was given to the orphanage.
Much before Progressive Writers’ Movement started, Najm had written verses like ‘Kisaan’, ‘Mazdoor ki Awaz’, ‘Hamari Id’ and Char Minar.
rind ko piine kii, pilvaane kii Eid
vaa’ezoN ko va’az farmaane ki Eid
suu-e-Kaaba sheKh ko jaane ki Eid
najd meN laila ke divaane ki Eid
Eidgaah ek kuucha-e-dildaar hai
aashiqoN kii Eid vasl-e-yaar hai…..
On his demise Josh Malihabadi had written, ‘maiN Najm ke ash’aar ka loha maanta thaa jinkii naziir nahiiN miltii, Urdu zabaan viiraan ho gayii’…For 65 years Najm wrote extensively and groomed over 150 poets all over India but so much his religious poetry eclipsed his ghazal and nazm that he barely gets any mention now. His famous verses are difficult to find. He had later migrated to Hyderabad Deccan. On a visit to Pakistan, he had died and was buried there.
phir na uTha koii fitna hashr ho jaane ke baad
rah gaii Khamosh duniaa mere afsaane ke baad (Najm)
He had devoted himself to writing marsiyas, a genre neglected in 20th century and got the title of Shaaer-e-Ahle-Bait. This turned him towards sprituality even more and he dedicated himself to such poetry.
shaa’er huuN jinka Najm voh haiN vajah-e-kaainaat
mumkin hai ta-abd mera naam-o-nishaan rahe
kuchh log yeh kahenge ki ‘haaN baa-kamaal the’
do ek ka qaul hoga ‘adeemul misaal the’
itni to hai ummed aziiz-o-qariib se
purse ko aayenge jo n a pursaan-e-haal the (Najm)