The land deprived of its rich heritage

By Shafqat Tanvir Mriza

WANJHLY GAEE GAVACH by Safdar Dogar; pp 122; Price Rs150 (hb); Publishers, Saanjh Publications, Mufti Building, 17/3. Temple Road, Lahore.
We as Punjabis think now that we have lost much after having lost the language and its literature, especially its folk heritage which could have been preserved only if the language had been made the medium of instruction which was never made in the past Muslim, British and Sikh periods. But, one aspect was quite bright that our Sufis with the intention to be closer to the people adopted their language for spreading their message of peace and unity. For instance, Baba Farid Shakarganj abandoned the capital Delhi and disconnected his relation with what was considered official including the language which was Persian and what we find from his life and teachings is his address to the people and the coming generations, in Punjabi. That is why he is called founding father of Punjabi poetry.
The language was quite mature in his times because the language he used for his verses is not alien to any of the Punjabi reader or speaker. That means there must have been literary work in the language before Baba Farid. Some scholars like Dr. Mohan Singh and Maula Bukhsh Kushta are of the opinion that there were Noth or Jogi poets in Punjabi before Farid.
From Farid to Mohan Singh, the Punjabi intellectuals kept alive the interest in language and literature but after that in our part of Punjab, Punjabi was further forced to be on the last back benches. Moreover, in economic field under foreign instructions and advice the pattern of development was changed. Some changes were forced because of the large scale migration of different sections of society which severely damaged the cultural manifestation of our rural life. This loss of cultural manifesto with the loss of our perennial values and standards we lost the Wanjhly (flute) which was deeply associated with our pastoral and semi-agrarian life.
It was also associated with Maulana Rumi and on the other hand with Ranjha. Not only that it was also associated with Krishan Kanahyya and Brinda Ban, also referred by poets like Khwaja Farid.
Safdar’s “Wanjhly” therefore means the loss of folk traditions of our culture, literature, music and other arts and way of living plus social and civil attitudes. In all his poems, ghazals, dohrras, bolis and qitas, the dominating theme is the cultural and social loss the Punjabi had suffered so far. In one of his poems Bairrian (shackles), he says we called a flower a Gul and not ‘Phull’, we preferred to call our beloved “Jaan-i-mann” instead of “Dil da jani” and such are the words with which our lips were sealed
But, that is not the only disturbing factor for Safdar. He has other issues like inherited ruling elite which has been given the ruling right and unlimited powers to oppress and crush the working classes or the productive manpower and people like Mulla, Maulvi and official pawns through which they do not allow the people to express themselves in different fields.
The Punjab had to face many invasions from east and west. This is a subject which has been taken up by almost every modern poet of Punjabi and Safdar does not lag behind. He talks about Ahmad Shah Abdali and Arabs and rulers who murdered their own real brothers. Consequences are that we have been made guilty of losing our self respect. We forgot Dullah Bhatti and served the Mughals.
There are other current themes which the sensitive poet has referred to that give a clear idea that the poet is not unaware of our problems of the current times. He condemns the occupation of the armed forces on the country replacing the elected rulers. He bitterly remembers the hell let loose on Pakistanis in east Bengal. He refers to the water of the rivers which have been stolen and green lands being turned into wastelands. But, the most sensitive issue is that of rights of women confiscated by male-dominated society.
PUNJABI ADAB…. Quarterly magazine of the Pakistan Punjabi Adabi Board; editor Parveen Malik; pp 128; Price Rs50; Published from Ilaco Mansion, Patiala Ground, Lahore.
This is the 96th issue of the paper which has first published by a group of less-known Punjabi lovers like Muhammad Asif Khan, Raja Rasalu, Iqbal Jaffri under the patronage of the late Sufi Tabassum just before the Ayub’s martial law. For a long time it continued its publication regularly but during the second martial law it was closed down. In Bhutto’s period it was adopted by the then newly-formed Punjabi Adabi Board, with late Sibtul Hasan as its secretary and member of the first editorial board.
Zaigham died last month and his photographs with members of the board like the late Ishfaq Ahmad, Asif Khan, Raja Rasalu, Wali Muhammad Wajid, Zafar Lashari, Riaz Ahmad Shad, Mansha Saleemi and Prof Samiullah Qureshi have been published on the back-page title.
The most well come may be an article on Sindhi poet Sheikh Ayaz whose selected poetry was translated into Punjabi verse by Ahmad Saleem and was published in the eighties titled ‘Jo Bijal nein Aakhia’. The article has been contributed by Prof Aashiq Raheel who has also translated Pushto short stories in Punjabi and collection was published by the Punjabi board.
Bulleh Shah and other Punjabi Sufi poets and all torch-bearers of religious tolerance, peace and unity need to be projected on wider scale. Perhaps from that point of view the editor has included two articles on Bulleh Shah, one by Najm Hosain Sayed and the other by the late Dr. Faqir Muhammad. Actually these are reprints. Najam’s was written in English, later on translated into Punjabi.
Senior poet and novelist Afzal Ahsan Randhawa has contributed a ghazal with a verse referring to the conditions of the Punjab and the invader Nadir Shah Afshar who has all the time been condemned by Punjabi writers from Nijabat to Rashed Hasan Rana
(He is the comrade of Nadir Shah while I am like Punjab Plundered by)
Curtsey:DAWN.COM, Jan 19, 2011




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