23-eid-e fatah-mahdi nazmi

For word meanings and explanatory discussion in English click on the “Roman” or “Notes” tab.  The “Introduction” tab offers a background of the whole series of posts that constitute a patchy reconstruction of the ramayan.

The ramayan has fascinated minds in India and worldwide for millennia, for the beauty of its literary composition, for its fascinating story content as well as for faith and reverence.  It is not surprising then that the Ramayan has been translated not only into all major languages, but also into unexpected ones like Polish, Norwegian and Swedish.  What is surprising is that there are more than twice as many poetic translations/trans-compositions of the ramayan in urdu as there are of the qur’aan and that the ramayan was translated into urdu even before the qur’aan was.

A book “urdu meN hindu dharm” (Hindu Religion in Urdu), Ajai Malviya,  written in Urdu, catalogues in detail urdu translations of the vedas (66), ramayan (103), mahabharat (38), bhagwad gita (83), puranas (44), manu smriti (4), biography of vashisht (14) and miscellaneous other religious compositions (472) spanning about 200 years of publications.

Why has this significant piece of literature been relegated to a neglected and ignored heap of disdain?  This needs to be corrected.  The sheer number and the high poetic and linguistic quality of this literature surprised me as I worked to string together representative parts of urdu nazm/poems of ramayan by different poets, like pearls strung in a necklace, into a near complete story.

A close reading of urdu ramayan translations offers some fascinating lessons about mingling of cultures in India, the origins and “ownership” of Urdu language, the power of the pen across languages and cultures and the universality of basic human emotions.  One is struck deeply by the acceptance and seamless adoption of multiple religious traditions as indicated by the observation that many ramayan renderings (even some by hindu poets) start with “bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim” and a “hamd” (an ode and/or expression of gratitude to god).  Since god, like language, has no religion, these odes/hamd/vandana are entirely secular/universal. 

It is highly contentious to say that urdu is a muslim language (as if a language has religion) or even to say that urdu is a language of muslims.  There are large numbers of muslims (Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) who do not know/speak urdu.  One of the important reasons that East Pakistan separated and declared baNgladesh was that it did not want urdu to be imposed on it in preference to its own language, beNgali.

Of the 100 or so translations/re-compositions of the ramayan in urdu more than 80 were written/composed by hindu writers/poets.  In most, if not all cases the poets were orthodox, believing, practicing hindus.  Why were they writing the ramayan in urdu?  I speculate that there must have been a large section of literate hindu population who considered Urdu their primary language, not because of political favours but because it was naturally their language.  Some of the poets who re-composed tulsidas’ ramcharitmanas suggest that because it was written in “bhaaka or bhaasha” and not easily available to everyone.  Therefore, they translated/re-composed it in urdu, perhaps implying that this is more comprehensible than “bhaaka/bhaasha”.  Apparently by the 1800s neither avadhi nor braj bhaasha were considered a common language.  To show the role urdu played in devotional traditions of north Indian hindus, I paraphrase from a book by bishweshwar parshad munavvar, himself a poet and son of dwaarka parshad ufaq (another poet of renown, who composed a full urdu ramayan).  He writes that, because of the effort of munshi jagannath Khushtar (1809-1864) and munshi shankar dayal farhat (1843-1904) in translating hindu religious texts into urdu, the teachings of the ramayan saved the hindu religion from further decline.  Before we run away with the image of an alien force coming down to “save” hinduism, it might be useful put this quote in perspective.  We have to make an effort to understand that what he might have meant is that there was a substantial community of hindus to whom religious texts were not comprehensible because they were written either in sanskrit or avadhi while their primary language of learning was urdu.  Thus, these translations made religious texts available to them.

Surely these poets, most of whom were believing and observant hindus must have had an audience/readership of similarly devout believers, who revered the composition itself and must have had the linguistic finesse to enjoy its literary excellence.  It draws a picture of a large section of literate hindu population who considered urdu their primary language, not because of political favours but because it was naturally their language.  We do not have any data taken by ‘pollsters’ to show that this was the case.  But we can make some speculative estimates by numbers of publications and the content of those publications.  I am unable to compile a scholarly accounting of such magazines and the numerous contributions of urdu writers.  Suffice it to present to you names of some daily, weekly or monthly publications, “sanaatan dharm pracharak”, “tej”, “aarya veer”, “veer India”, “arya Gazette”, “bande maataram”, “jain sansaar”, “sher-e hind”, “raajput Gazette” and even “agarwal hiteshi” that were published in urdu, some as late as the 1940s.  All had editors and contributors who were hindu (at least by name).

The compositions and publications of urdu ramayan cover roughly 1825-1980.  These poets also wrote secular/romantic Ghazal, nazm as well as other devotional pieces to krishn, lakshmi and many others.  The question needs to be asked, but remains unanswered because of lack of documentary evidence, whether these poets, steeped in urdu poetic culture, also recited parts of the ramayan in the mushaa’era that they participated in.  What was the composition of the audience?  They also composed bhajans in urdu.  Were these bhajans sung in religious gatherings.  We know that bhajans composed by syed ibrahim ras Khan (1548-1628) in braj bhaasha, proto-urdu, are sung to this day in prayer meetings.  There is every reason to believe that urdu compositions of ramayan were also recited, heard and enjoyed in public gatherings whether they may be called mushaa’era or not.

Well over twenty samples from urdu ramayan composed by different poets over nearly two centuries have been selected in story sequence and strung together like the beads of a tasbiih/jap-mala.  This study of the urdu ramayan shows the versatility, beauty and power of urdu, its ownership by a wide range of communities of India, and the easy and seamless acceptance, adoption and cross pollination of one another’s traditions by all faith systems.  Alas, somewhere along the way, we have lost this unique syncretic tradition.  It is my fervent hope that such studies will contribute a little to its revival.

 

عیدِ فتح ۔ سید مہدی نظمی

۱

باطل پہ حق کی جیت نویدِ سعید ہے

یہ فتح رام سارے زمانے کی عید ہے

۲

اِس عید میں تجلّیِ صبر و رضا بھی ہے

تسلیم کا شعور بھی پاسِ وفا بھی ہے

۳

یہ طاعتِ پدر کی ہے تمثیلِ لا جواب

اِس عید میں مہکتے ہیں ایثار کے گلاب

۴

بھائی کے ساتھ بھائی کے اِخلاص کی مثال

اِس عید میں ہے صورتِ تہذیب کا جمال

۵

یہ عید عہدِ خدمتِ شوہر کی عید ہے

یہ عید ہر زمانے میں ہر گھر کی عید ہے

ईद-ए फ़तह – सय्यद महदी नज़्मी

बातिल पे हक़ की जीत नवीद-ए स’ईद है

ये फ़तह-ए राम सारे ज़माने की ईद है

इस ईद में तजल्ली-ए सब्र ओ रज़ा भी है

तस्लीम का श’ऊर भी पास-ए वफ़ा भी है

ये ता’अत-ए पिदर की है तम्सील-ए लाजवाब

इस ईद में महकते हैं ईसार के गुलाब

भाई के साथ भाई के इख़्लास का मिसाल

इस ईद में है सूरत-ए तहज़ीब का जमाल

ये ईद अहद-ए ख़िद्मत-ए शौहर की ईद है

ये ईद हर ज़माने में हर घर कि ईद है

 

Click here for background and on any passage for word meanings and explanatory discussion. mehdi nazmi (1923-1987) son and grandson of shu’ara. Lived in rampur, lucknow and Ghaziabad among other places. University education in aligaRh. Writer, playwrite, shaa’er, columnist and editor. Among his many books are a 200 page poetic ode to hindustan, one book on odes to eesa masiih and a short but very well composed ramayan. In addition to the ‘rajaz’ posted as a part of this series on ramayan, I have included his celebration of the victory of raam, using it as a symbol of victory of truth and justice.
1
baatil1 pe haq2 ki jiit naveed3-e sa’eed4 hai
ye fatah5-e raam saare zamaane ki eid hai    
1.falsehood, injustice 2.truth, justice 3.good news 4.virtuous, blessed 5.victory
The victory of truth over falsehood brings good tidings of blessings (of god). This victory of raam is a celebration for all the world (not just hindus, because it is interpreted as a victory of truth).

2
is eid meN tajalli1-e sabr2 o raza3 bhi hai
tasleem4 ka sha’oor5 bhi paas6-e vafa7 bhi hai    
1.brilliance, glow 2.patience, persistence 3.will (of god) 4.acceptance 5.wisdom 6.respect 7.faith, commitment
This festival glows with the brilliance of the story of persistence and respect for the will of god. It shows the wisdom of accepting (the will of god) and respect for commitment/promise.

3
ye taa’at1-e pidar2 ki hai tamsiil3-e lajavaab4
is eid meN mahakte haiN eesaar5 ke gulaab   
1.obedience 2.father 3.example 4.without equal 5.beyond self-interest, unselfish
This (festival) is an example without equal of obedience to father. In this festival the rose of unselfishness is redolent/fragrant.

4
bhaaii ke saath bhaaii ke eKhlaas1 ka misaal2
is eid meN hai suurat-e tahziib3 ka jamaal4     
1.true affection 2.example 3.culture 4.beauty
This (festival) is an example of the love of brother for brother. In this festival is reflected the beauty of cultural values.

5
ye eid ahd1-e Khidmat2-e shauhar3 ki eid hai
ye eid har zamaane meN har ghar ki eid hai    
1.promise, determination 2.serve 3.husband
This festival is a celebration of a wife’s commitment to serve her husband. This festival is a celebration for all time, for all households.

mehdi nazmi (1923-1987) son and grandson of shu’ara.  Lived in rampur, lucknow and Ghaziabad among other places.  University education in aligaRh.  Writer, playwrite, shaa’er, columnist and editor.  Among his many books are a 200 page poetic ode to hindustan, one book on odes to eesa masiih and a short but very well composed ramayan.  In addition to the ‘rajaz’ posted as a part of this series on ramayan, I have included his celebration of the victory of raam, using it as a symbol of victory of truth and justice.
1
baatil1 pe haq2 ki jiit naveed3-e sa’eed4 hai
ye fatah5-e raam saare zamaane ki eid hai

1.falsehood, injustice 2.truth, justice 3.good news 4.virtuous, blessed 5.victory

The victory of truth over falsehood brings good tidings of blessings (of god).  This victory of raam is a celebration for all the world (not just hindus, because it is interpreted as a victory of truth).
2
is eid meN tajalli1-e sabr2 o raza3 bhi hai
tasleem4 ka sha’oor5 bhi paas6-e vafa7 bhi hai

1.brilliance, glow 2.patience, persistence 3.will (of god) 4.acceptance 5.wisdom 6.respect 7.faith, commitment

This festival glows with the brilliance of the story of persistence and respect for the will of god.  It shows the wisdom of accepting (the will of god) and respect for commitment/promise.
3
ye taa’at1-e pidar2 ki hai tamsiil3-e lajavaab4
is eid meN mahakte haiN eesaar5 ke gulaab

1.obedience 2.father 3.example 4.without equal 5.beyond self-interest, unselfish

This (festival) is an example without equal of obedience to father.  In this festival the rose of unselfishness is redolent/fragrant.
4
bhaaii ke saath bhaaii ke eKhlaas1 ka misaal2
is eid meN hai suurat-e tahziib3 ka jamaal4

1.true affection 2.example 3.culture 4.beauty

This (festival) is an example of the love of brother for brother.  In this festival is reflected the beauty of cultural values.
5
ye eid ahd1-e Khidmat2-e shauhar3 ki eid hai
ye eid har zamaane meN har ghar ki eid hai

1.promise, determination 2.serve 3.husband

This festival is a celebration of a wife’s commitment to serve her husband.  This festival is a celebration for all time, for all households.

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