Away from the chaos and cacophony of parochial Indian politics, a group of devoted Urdu lovers, under the leader ship of Sanjeeve Sarraf organized a unique ‘Urdu Festival’ in the Capital Delhi on 12 th, 13 th and 14th of Feb 2016 and gave it a beautiful name – ‘Jashne e Rekhta.’ The sprawling lawns and auditoriums of “Indra Gandhi Centre of Arts and Culture” witnessed the finest discussions about Old and New masters of Urdu Nasar (Prose), Shayree (Poetry) and Afsana Nigari (Story Writing). The wonderful theatrics was there to put into trance the viewers showing the historical drama like ‘Dara Shikoh’ the Prince Regent of Emperor Shahjahan who was killed by his younger brother Aurangzeb.
Jawed Akhtar and Shabana Azami read from the memoirs and love life of Kaifi Azmi and Shoukat Azmi (Shabana’s Parents).
The famous Urdu scholar Pandit Gopi Chand Narang talked about the command and wisdom of Ghalib and his great contributions.
The finest traditions of Dsatan Goi (Story Telling) were revived in its excellent form by expert artists and narrators. Anusha Rizwi, an Indian film director and screen writer – “Peepli Live” famed, directed the act “Dastan e Taqseem e Hind” the story of partition of India and its tragic aftermath – the murders and mayhem, the destruction and dislocation of human lives and property and all that accompanied the partition, the great human tragedy of last century. It was an effort to picture the pathos from either side of the border.
There were Mushairas (poetic sessions), Qawwalis and Baitbazi (Urdu Antakshari).
The Pakistani parody poet Anwar Masood delighted everyone with his crisp and entertaining verses while the Afsana Nigar Asad Saheb filled thousand of eyes with his tragic story. The Scholars Writers from Pakistan like Jeelani Banu and Zahida Hina discussed about the creativity and freedom in the works of Ismat Chughti bordering on the literary obscenity of her style and language. Famous Indian female activist and Film star Nandita Das expressed her views about the ‘Woman’ as characterized by Saadat Hasan ‘Manto’ in his stories. The well known Urdu Scholar Shanshur Rehman Farooqi explained the expressions of “Homosexuality’ in the poetry of legendry Urdu poet Meer Taqi ‘Meer.’ According to the Farooqi Saheb – The adoration of boy’s pre-puberty phase in Urdu poetry was the sublime connection of Turkish and Farsi literature. It had nothing to do with physical act.
Gulzar Saheb talked about the Love for Urdu and inspirations.
Tom Alter read the letters of Mirza Ghalib.
To my surprise, most of the visitors were no experts of Urdu script but all were steeped in the love of language.
It made me recall those fragrant, civilized and scintillating moments of last Lok Sabha when PM Manmohan Singh had surprised everyone with his stinging bars couched in his quiet manner during the wind up of his speech on motion of thanks to the President. “Humko unse wafa ki hai umeed, jo nahi jaante wafa kya hai (We hope for loyalty from those who do not know the meaning of the word),” quoting famous Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib.
Sushma Swaraj, the Leader of Opposition stood up with a smile. She quoted the famous Urdu poet Bashir Badr: “Kuch to majbooriya rahi hongi yun koi bewafa nahi hota (There must have been some compulsions, one is not disloyal for no reason at all).”
She then broke into a second verse: “Tumhe wafa yaad nahee, Humein jafa yaad nahee, Zindagi or maut ke toh do hee tarane hain, ek tumhein yaad nahee, ek humein yaad naheen (You don’t remember loyalty, we don’t remember disloyalty, life and death have two rhythms, you don’t remember one, we don’t remember the other).” For a rational mind it would be a pathetic sight and heartrending scenario to witness a most enchanting seductress, an animated Venus of Languages being dragged to the altar of Fanaticism, Islamophobia, Prejudice and Ignorance – an unprecedented historical callous ritual of SATI inflicted upon a ‘Medium of Expression’. A Language murder de-jure in broad day light of civilzation.
The lovers of this beautiful damsel had given her several names: Hindi, Hindavi, Dakni, Lashkari, Rekhta and the last in this chronology is Urdu. Ameer Khusrau, the famous sufi saint, poet, musician, inventor and warrior is supposed to be the father and ‘Khari Boli’ has adopted this baby of Khusrua as its own daughter. Born and brought in pure Indian environment it had taken the impact of Persian or Farsi somehow, the language of Kings and courtiers. It is interesting to learn that with the death of Emperor Aourengzeb, the use of Persian declined in Indian sub-continent. A new language was finding its entry in the towering shoes of Farsi.
It was Urdu.
It is a language that was adored, nurtured and disseminated by Whites, Hindus and Sikhs. The great novelists and short story writers of Urdu were Premchand, Krishanchandar and Rajendra Singh Bedi; the greatest poet of Urdu Masnawi was Pandit Daya Shankar ‘Naseem’. The most versatile and novel Urdu poets were Brij Narayan ‘Chakbast’, Tilwak Chand ‘Mehroom’, Pandit Raghu Pati Sahay ‘Firaq Gorakhpuri’.
The all times great critics of Urdu Literature are Gopi Chand ‘Narang’ and Jagan Nath ‘Azad’. Even today the two intellectuals who are the embodiment of all that is fine with Urdu are two Gulzars and both of them are Hindus or Sikhs. One from Delhi, Gulzar Dehelwi and other from Punjab, our very own ‘Jai Ho’ wale Gulzar. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I am forgetting thousands of names of non-Muslims who are and who were proud of their language – Urdu. The famous stalwart of Urdu, Pandit Anand Narain ‘Mulla’ Ex-Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court has once said,” I could forsake my religion but not my language Urdu.”
By Naim Naqvi