One of the oldest surviving literary magazine, Shair, which is published from Mumbai, has come out with a special edition on the non-Muslim Urdu litterateurs of the language.
The editor Iftikhar Imam Siddiqui has raised the issue of non-Muslim Urdu writers who are disappearing fast and young Hindu/Sikh writers not appearing on the literary scene over the last decade or so.
A few pages have been devoted to veteran poet BS Jain Jauhar, 80, who was a disciple of non other than Seemab Akbarabadi. Apart from the ghazals of Jauhar, the other leading non-Muslim poets of Nazm who are featured include:
Ameer Chand Bahaar, Bhagwan Das Ejaz, Sohan Rahi, Indra Mohan Kaif, Deepak Qamar, Asha Prabhat, Inder Shabnam, Kamini Devi, Navroz Kotwal (is he a Parsi, I guess so). Amongst poets of Ghazal who are featured include PP Srivastava Rind, Pratpal Sngh Betab, Ganesh Bihari Tarz, Premi Romani, Khushbir Singh Shaad, Vijay Arun, Ishwar Dutt Anjum, Rajinder Nath Rahbar, Tilak Raj Paras, Atul Ajnabi, Harendra Giri Shaad, Om Prabhakar, Tilak Raj Paras, Aks Lucknowi, Ashshaq Kishtwari, Sardar Panchhi, Prem Bhandari, Vishal Khullar, Shailesh Wafa and Preeta Vajpayee amongst others.
Amongst other leading Hindu poets of Urdu, several ghazals of Krishan Kumar Toor, Jayant Parmar, Chandrabhan Khayal each have been included. In prose Jatinder Ballu, Anil Thakkar, Anand Lahar, Virendra Patwari, Deepak Budki are the writers whose stories have been published. There is an article by KL Narang Saaqi, the great compiler of literary jokes.
A ‘Dalit ghazal’ by Chandrabhan Khayal is noteworthy. Most of the above mentioned poets and writers are well-known. Unfortunately most of them are old and even the youngest of them are in their 50s. Most of them are Hindu and Sikh. Some belong to other faiths. However, I couldn’t find any Christian name. Poets like veteran Shauq Jalandhari (who happens to be Christian and lives in Chhattisgarh) and Anand Mohan Zutshi Gulzar Dehlvi were absent.
Still, this special issue is important as it not only puts forth the secular nature of Urdu poetry even 58 years after the language was removed from schools in North India. These writers are not confined to any region but spread across the country, from Jammu to Karnataka and Gujarat to Assam.
Siddiqui questions in his editorial. ‘Why we don’t have a Hindu poet like Firaq Gorakhpuri in Urdu now. ‘We have few legends left like Joginder Pal, Shravan Kumar Verama and writers like Vidya Sagar Anand, Gulshan Khanna”, he writes, adding that, “Kashmiri Lal Zakir, Dr Naresh have almost stopped writing while Sheen Kaf Nizam, Kunwar Sen, Aazad Gulati, Aziz Pariar are also away from mainstream poetry these days”.
He recalls the contribution of Prem Chand, Upendra Nath Ashk, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Krishan Chander, Malik Ram, Ram Lal, Pt Brajmohan Kaifi and others. Litteratuers like Harbans Dost, Takht Singh and goes on to name Satnam Singh Khumar, Rishi Patiyalvi, Nau Bahaar Sabir, Haqeer Aastani, Taracharan Rastogi, Krishan Adeeb, Manmohan Talkh, Krishan Murari, Prakash Tiwari have paasd recently.
Punjab and the states of Haryana and Himachal were the homeland of Urdu poetry and still Mastana Jogi is published from here. The magazine has completed 104 years and now JP Bhatnagar is the editor. Nand Kishor Vikram is still continuing the tradition with his voluminous magazine that is published annually. But this is clearly the last generation of prolific non-Muslim Urdu writers.
Filed under: Urdu Poetry