Some interesting views on Urdu Ghazals and examples to go with

Feeling tired of writing about politics and getting bored of repeat-pictures of leaders in power on the front pages and inside of newspapers and magazines. I’m worn out of scandals – all types and hues; nauseating at the half-baked exposures and wondering about the patience and indifference of public. I abhor observing the ineffective guidance offered by priests who no longer inspire as in yore and everyone wants power – power at any cost, I’ve decided to leave the ugly, narrow, treacherous, gloomy, regular and circular street of politics for the time being and switch over up to the gondola of dreams; sail through the beautiful stream of Ghazals as many of my friends are wonderful kavis and shayers and their soothing company, at times, is pleasanter than of the crafty hospitality and the cup of tea offered by a politician.

It is universal truth that ‘Poetry’ in any form is appreciated and loved by even those who do not comprehend the total meaning of the language / words. They simply get the message. They feel it and relate it with their lives, their situations. Geet, ghazals, taranas, qawwalees, Naats and Bhajans are melodious and meaningful.

Ghazal Response – “Urdu the dying language.” Part   2

The backdrop music enhances the spirit and makes them even more powerful. Singers like K L Saigal, Begum Akhtar, Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hasan, Lata Mangeshkar and Jagjit Singh with the enchanting music of Noushad and Madan Mohan and many more of their ilk have made ghazal the most soothing medium to comfort the tired minds, lacerated souls and mangled feelings.

Here I would discuss the most popular forms of poetry – ghazal and nazm.

Ghazal is a collection of couplets called “shers” that rhyme and have a common refrain. The word Ghazal comes from an Arabic word that means the mortal cry of Mushk / Kasturi deer – Ghizal and the female is known as Ghizalah. Kasturi lies in the naval – Kundali of deer that has a fragrance and that is not known to him. The deer has to be killed to obtain the Mushk fragrance. Ghazal is a poignant form of poetry that tries to capture the same mortal cry that comes out of the deer when he is being killed for the fragrance. The central theme of a ghazal is love that portrays the word from the point of view of a lover who is far away – out of an easy access. Ghazal describes the physical and emotional features of the state of lover. The beauty and appeal of ghazal is magnified with similes and metaphors, making it more meaningful.

Nazm is the other popular form of poetry. It can be written both in rhyming verses or prose. There are no compulsions of maqta and matla as is the case with a ghazal. Unlike a ghazal where different shers are complete poems in themselves, all verses in a nazm are interlinked and convey the same theme.

For sometimes I can’t afford to attend the poetic gatherings or MUSHAYRA regularly and often I’ve to be content with the ‘internet’ or ‘online’ participation in them. Some of the young poets are kind enough to share their creations on Facebook at regular basis. And one of them who impressed me in the recent times is the poetess Chandni Pandey – a rhymester from Kanpur. I can detect in her work the deeper currents of confidence, challenge and rebellion against society inside the careful ambit of affordable love, sincerity and honesty. Her shayeri reminds me the style of the famous Urdu poetess of Pakistan – Parvin Shakir.


Live performance of Chandni Pandey

The great Urdu poetess, late Parveen Shakir, has extensively written heart-rending ghazals and Azad ghazals – the free verse, and many of them are currency today in any social-literary gathering. Love, social stigmas, feminism, reflections and refractions were the favorite themes of her poetry. Occasionally, she had tried her hand on other subjects also. She was a poet of Romanticism with a self respect. She tried to look deep into the darkness and hopelessness of life with no light. Her poems often portrayed the anguish and pessimism of defeat. But she had most successfully described beauty, love and their mutual contradictions. Her works are embellished with scintillating metaphors, similes and personifications. She often used the Hindi and English words with perfection in her poetry.

So tum ne mera sowagat usee tarah se kiya, jo afsaran-e-hukumat ke etiquette men hai. Takallufun mere nazdeek aa ke baith gaye, phir ehtamam se mousam ka hall cher diya.” Sowagat – Welcome Etiquette – manners Takallufun – Just as courtesy Ehtamam – preparing grace

“Badli Jo Rut Gharoor Key Gard-O-Ghubaar Ki,
Dastar Khul Gayi Tere Jhoote Waqar Ki

Hum Nay Kaha Na Tha Ke Na Badmast Ho Key Chal
Mehangi Bahut Padegi Ye Izzat Udhar Ki.”

Dustar – turban Rut – season Gharoor – pride Gard O Ghubaar – dirt and dust Waqar – Honor Badmast – inebriated, drunk.


Parveen Shakir Response – “Urdu the dying language.” Part   2

Teri khushbu ka pata karti hai, mujh pe ehsan hawa karti hai

shab ki tanhai main ab to aksar, guftagu tujh se raha karti hai

dil ko us rah pe chalna hi nahin, jo mujhe tujh se juda karti hai

zindagi meri thi lekin ab to, tere kahne main raha karti hai

us ne dekha hi nahin warna ye ankh, dil ka ehwal kaha karti hai.”

Shab – Night Tanhai – loneliness Guftagu – discussion Ehwal – narratives Juda – separate.

Ghazal in short, is a collection of Sher‘s which follow the rules of ‘Matla’, ‘Maqta’, ‘Beher’, ‘Qaafiyaa’ and ‘Radeeff and all of these shers are complete poems in themselves giving a message. So to know what Ghazal is, it’s necessary to know what these terms mean.

According to the experts of language,“Ghazal contains several shers. Rhythm in ghazal is expressed through matla (first sher) and a ghazal usually ends with a ‘title’ or ‘sub-name’ – takhallus of the writer. This is contained in the last sher of the ghazal which is called ‘Maqta.’ ‘Radeef’ is an important part of a ghazal that refers to congruency of pattern of words in the second line of a sher.’Beher’ is the ‘meter’ of the Sher’s. It can be considered as the length of the Sher. Both the lines in the Sher ‘MUST’ be of same ‘Beher’. And all the Sher’s in one Ghazal ‘MUST’ be of the same ‘Beher’.”

What is ‘Radeef? In a Ghazal, second line of all the Sher’s must be with the SIMILAR word/s. This repeating common words is the ‘Radeef’ of the Ghazal. ‘Qaafiyaa’ is the rhyming pattern which all the words before ‘Radeef’ should have.

Ghazal is much older than Nazm and it is manly written as a more poignant form of poetry than a Nazm.

Pandit Gopi Chand Narang Response – “Urdu the dying language.” Part   2

According to Pandit Gopichand Narang, the great Urdu critic – “Urdu Ghazal is not all about emotions and impressions. It also entails certain ontological and ideological leanings. Though Urdu Ghazal chronicles aesthetic expressions of eternal human fascination with love and beauty which overshadows all other aspects of human life, under the influence of Sufism, it all along displays the metaphoric as well as real aspects of spiritualism. Therefore, weaving philosophy into the warp and woof of poetry it has attempted to disentangle secrets of eternity and existence.


These efforts, however, are not aimed at offering any logical solution to the ideological or intellectual enigma. They are mere impressionistic or ecstatic outpourings of poets’ inner vision resulting from their discernment of inherited religious beliefs, contemporary culture and social milieu. Therefore, to comprehend the approach of Urdu Ghazal towards the fundamental issues/ problematic of the self and the universe and the creator and the creation, it is imperative to keep in mind the social milieu, the cross currents of Hindu and Muslims thought, and the growth of Sufism which nurtured Urdu Ghazal to its pinnacle.”

It is much easier to understand, think and write a cameo of Urdu for an individual like myself who had opened the eyes in the garden of Urdu. It needs devotion, sincerity and sacrifice for someone who has no Urdu background to write a good ghazal and gather applause from a knowledgeable audience with an encore- plus. And this is the achievement of Ms Chandni Pandey. She has learned Urdu from the Hindi script but her fluent and judicious use of words brings her into the galaxy of rising poets.

“Sare rishte natey jhoote, jhooti saari dil dari hai, koun kahega sachchi baten? Jab shayar bhee darbari hai; roz he jhoote sapne dekhe, aankhon ki lachari hai.”

“Dil ke baton ko raaz rehney do, diary ko kitab rehney do. Poochna mat sabab judai ka, Yar ko lajawab mat karna.” Sabab – reason lajawab – without response

“Tum jo hote to baat kuch hoti, ab ki barish to sirf paani hai. Ashna hoon main ab sarabon se, main ne sehra ki khak chain hai. Chandni ki ghazal wazal sahib, uske khwabon ki tarjumani hai.”

Ashna – know sarabon – mirages, illusion, fantasies tarjumani – interpretation Sehra – desert Khak – dust

And the following is my favorite pick that has the color of Majaz Lucknawi whose famous couplet – “Tery mathey pa yeh aanchal bahut he khoob hai lakin, too is aanchal ko ek parcham bana leti to achcha tha.” Parcham – A flag or symbol of rebellion.

Chandni has inadvertently and unwittingly borrowed the idea from Majaz and used it in her twirling magical web of words.

“Kisi gulab ke surat main narm hoon lekin, kisi chatan main khood ko badal bhee sakti hoon.

Tujhe khiyal bhee aaya kabhi merey ‘rehbar?’ Tujhe main chor kar aagey nikal bhee sakti hoon,

Who jis anaa pa bahut he gharoor tha tujh ko, use main paaoun ke neechey kuchal bhee sakti hoon.”

Chatan – rock Rehabar – guide

A video on Chandni Pandey reciting at the Ghazal Kumbh

She is often not as perfect at technical fitness of the language but she has a rhythm, a cadence and deep sense that overcomes the other shortcomings. There are hundreds and hundreds of young and senior poets who had began with the Hindi script and experimented with the beautiful language, and that assures me that future of Urdu is safe in India. Script would always be there for those who want to find it. Persian, Arabic, Pushto and Sindhi have all shared the same alphabets. I believe that a new interest in script is fast taking pace as the calligraphic workshops of Urdu are always overcrowded and most of the participants are non-Muslims.

Let me wind up this article with the few couplets of Chandni Pandy:

“Baat jo main ne kahi…kuch aour thee,

Baat jo us ne suni……..kuch aour thee.

Kitne badal aasman pa chaye they,

Aour meri tashnagi kuch aour thee.” Tashnagi – thirst.

Chandni Pandey’s recitations in mushayras are available on You Tube.

By Naim Naqvi

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