Lest We Forget

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Remembering the Urdu Literati who departed in the recent past


Dr. M.Saleem Wani

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us: What we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal”.

( Albert Pitch)

We must not forget that a society that does not value it’s benefactors or fails to respect it’s great people or remains indifferent to recognize the contribution of it’s creative people including thinkers,  scholars, enlightened  and emancipated brains and those associated with the selfless  mission of welfare and construction of society, is ungratefulness  and prone to devastation.

God prefers to remove His shadow of blessing and compassion from such thankless people and societies and leaves them alone for all kinds of trials. As a result such societies stop producing great and visionary men.

It is therefore the ethical and didactic responsibility of every civilized nation and society to remember it’s heroes and present them as role models for posterity in order to pass on their contributions and enrich the civilization.

It is with this moral and cultural responsibility that Dabistan – e – Himaala came forward to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of certain contemporary literary and Socio- Educational luminaries and pay our sincere tributes to them. These enlightened souls have taught us the art of thinking, expressing our ideas and above all the selfless living.

These men of divine light will continue to shine our lives intellectually and spiritually for the ages to come.

Who can be indifferent to the fragrance of mammoth scholarship of Shams- u- Rehman Farooqi represented between the lines of his creative works. He will continue to enlighten the seekers of knowledge and wisdom, researcher and writers, poets and critics for centuries to come. Many of his admirers regarded him as the Eliot of Urdu for his criticism largely because he formulated fresh models of literary appreciation. But for me, Shams-u-Rahman Farooqi is a distinct figure whose influence has been far more profound and pervasive  in various realms of Urdu literature than anybody else’’s.

In him the East held the west in a tight embrace, belying Rudyard Kipling’s assertion that the East and the West cannot meet. Farooqi absorbed Western principles of literary criticism and subsequently applied them to Urdu literature but only after adapting them to address literary aesthetics native to Arabic, Persian and Urdu.

Similarly when we recall the contribution of Prof Hamidi Kashmiri towards literature, particularly Urdu criticism which earned him a distinctive place not only in the state but  on the national level, we find him a man of extraordinary literary insight. His mighty pen has opened up new vistas of study, discussion, evaluation and interpretation of literature and provided the readers with lenses which ultimately reveal important aspects of the literary work. In his demise, the Urdu literature has lost a doyen and the state has lost a Shining Star.

It is to the credit of Prof Hamidi that he took the initiative to rediscover hidden meaning in the literary text by introducing the theory of exploratory criticism (Iktashafi tanqeed) in the history of Urdu criticism in which he was quite successful. Sincere students of literature and criticism will indeed cherish his exalted works for times to come.

Beside this his creative works including poetry, plays and fiction appeal modern sensibilities and fulfill all the contemporary standards of creative writing.

It is my great privilege to have seen, talked and  listened to my grandfather late Master Abdul Aziz Wani one of the towering and celebrated teachers of the last century in our part of world.

As a Socio-educational activist he made phenomenal contribution in the field of education and society. It is by dint of his hard work and untiring efforts that a generation of writers, poets, teachers, bureaucrats and eminent socio-political stalwarts has been produced in these hilly border districts of Rajouri and Poonch.  Inspite of having a physical disability he was incredibly successful in launching an emancipation movement and facilitated the opening of schools in the length and breadth of Rajouri and thus  remained instrumental  in shaping the careers of future generations.

Likewise Dr. Zahoor u- din was one of the reputed scholars of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir who had many facets of his creative personality and therefore made immeasurable contribution to every genre of literature he tried his hand on, including fiction, poetry, plays ,criticism etc. Besides being a sincere and meticulous researcher he was a  painstaking teacher also, who walked an extra mile to reach out to his students to feed their intellectual hunger and enlighten them to come up with flying colours in their  variegated  areas  of  literature.

Similarly  Arsh Sehbai an eloquent teacher and a celebrated  poet, was an institution in himself as  is generally counted among the contemporary  guides and gurus of young poets.  A large number of his disciples are at the height of poetic  fame today.

The poetry of Arsh Sehbai progressed on the path of modern literature with the traditional discipline of ghazal and its authoritative  classicism. The basic tendencies of ghazal— beauty, love , mysticism , morality and liberal attitude are suitably incorporated in his poetry in a unique style.

Before I come to late Shahbaz Rajouri and Fida  Rajouri I must share with you that they were the favorite students of my grandfather, and later on my father Farooq  Muztar became their much loved student.

When a writer proves  to be successful and productive, he is honoured to be the custodian  of his mother tongue and culture  Shahbaz and  Fida both were promoters of Kashmiri culture and language and throughout their life they remained  incredibly  resilient in the  face of various cultural invasions. They have never hesitated  to read and write in Gojri and Pahari also. They remained as a nucleus  of almost all the literary activities of Urdu language and literature in the twin  districts of Rajouri & Poonch.

They are ranked as the towering teachers of their times and were deeply concerned about imparting quality education to their pupils. They were a perfect blend of virtues like sincerity, civility, nobility, knowledge and forbearance.

On the similar lines, one such socio-educational personality came from remote hilly area of Samote, Budhal. It was Abdul Shakoor Malik who not only maintained his unique identity as a teacher but had a distinct personality among his contemporaries. He enjoyed great respect from  all sections of the society. He was known in his sphere of influence regardless of religion or nationality. He lived with a spirit and temperament of religious, social and mutual harmony. Malik was supporter and benefactor of every movement, institution and individual who he perceived was building or reforming the society.

Coming again to poets and litterateurs, let me attract your attention towards one of the very quotable poets of Jammu region Pandit Vidya Rattan Aasi

Pandit Aasi shaped Urdu poetry and literature in Jammu. After the partition, despite the extremely discouraging atmosphere with regard to Urdu, he continued to write books in the selfless service of this charming language of the subcontinent.

Hailing from the coterie  of  Prof. Jagannath Azad, Malik Ram Anand, Talib Ayamanabadi, Abid Manawri, Sham Lal Kalra (Abid Peshwari), Arsh Sehbai, Sham Talib, this representative poet of this caravan had a unique signature of temperament and  style.

Last but not the least an unsung hero, the very talented son of the soil Farooq Mughal Parwaz deserves an appreciable mention. Although Farooq Mughal appeared on the  scene of poetry for a very short period of time and bade farewell to this world at a  young age, he successfully carved a niche in the world of Urdu literature where from he can’t possibly be dislodged at least for many years to come . He was indeed a gifted one but unfortunately he could not get enough time to express his inner world of ideas and imagination.

Incredibly Farooq Mughal was simultaneously engaged as a researcher in the field of literature, religion, psychology and science and enjoyed a deeper understanding of all these domains of knowledge and wisdom which stands reflected in his quality write- ups.

Alas! Alas! Alas!  We have lost all these refined and cultured men who lived a truly a prolific and creative life. Their demise has created a huge vacuum not only for their families but for the entire society which undoubtedly can never be fulfilled.

I therefore on behalf of Dabistan-e-Himala, teachers, students of Himalayan Group of Institutions, the writers, the poets, and the civil  society express my sincere condolences on the loss of such invaluable human resource. May they all rejoice in the company of their Lord.

Before I leave the stage, let me request you all to please stand up on your seats to observe one minute silence and pray for the eternal peace of the departed souls.

“’’Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them”. (George Eliot)

The writer is the honorary Secretary Dabistan-e- Himala Rajouri

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