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 (Being Jaun is no pleasantry)

By: Faizan Aisha

In recent times, the name ‘Jaun Elia’ has taken Urdu poetry circles in cyberspace by storm. A well-known name among aficionados of Urdu literature of his era, Jaun is the most googled Urdu poet. A peerless poet whose tragedies in his personal life, an unfulfilled love, migration from his home, shaped his thought which moves with his grief and pain till today.

Born on 14th December 1931 and raised in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, Jaunmigrated to Karachi ten years after partition with anguish in his heart. Shifting from his homeland was again a major element of the melancholy which is felt in his poetry. Mostly Urdu poets are acknowledged for their elegance to adoring beauty and love through their poetry,but Jaun was famous for his ‘Phrasing’(Andaz-e-Bayan). Jaun was such a poet of Urdu who influences and amused the masses through his writing on various subjects.

He has fluency in Arabic, English, Persian, Sanskrit and Hebrew and due to this linguistic proficiency his poetry implicates the references to Sufism, Muslim spirituality, science and Western literature. The readers of his poetry do not only know about the different perspectives of worldly affairs but also learn about the socio-religious segment that encourages them to think critically.

The life of Jaun Elia was full of pain and difficulties, he mentioned it in the preface of his book ‘SHAYAD’ that he did not write a single word for the period of 10 years and lived in a single roomand in fact mentions this in a symposium. He wrote

‘‘Lazimhaiapneaap ki imdaadkuchkarun

Seenemai wo khalahai ki eejaadkuchkarun’’

(It is obligatory to help myself and invent something from the cavity that is in my chest.)

We often say that there are two forms of man’s existence-the spiritual and the temporal. Jaun’s understanding of the philosophy of life illustrates deep comprehension and recognition of the spiritual part of man in his poetry. He wrote


Kuchdino to khudarahamujhmai’’

(How empty was my inner self

Even God resides in me for days.)

Jaun Elia believes that when someone rises above temporal needs and rhymes his own silence then he is writing poetry. The spontaneity is exhibited in his poetry in all its shades. He wrote-

‘‘Apneandar hasta hun aur bahut sharmatahun

Khoon b thookasachmuchthooka aur ye sab chalaaakithi’’

(I laugh inside myself and very abash too

I spit the blood and really spit, but it was all the cleverness)

I have almost watched all symposiums (Mushraiyas) of Jaun and he never admitted that he is a poet(Shayir). In factJaun believed that poets were mere jesters. He never liked them much so he never aspired to be one. In his preface to ‘SHAYAD’, his first poetic anthology and the only one which came out during his lifetime, he makes clear that he would not compromise on anything less than prophethood. Hence, he loved pre-Islamic pagan. He lived a life of a pagan and he died as one. Therefore, calling Jaun Elia a poet or comparing him with others is actually belittling Jaun.

On his 91st birthday I dedicate some of my lines to HazratJaun Elia, I write-

‘‘Meer ki ghazalon pe be aetibaaraatatha

Ghalib ka b khayal baarbaaraatatha

Ab to bs seenemairanjjhsimmataatahai

Jaun! Mujhe ab tera dardsamjaatahai’’

(I used to trust on ghazals of Meer

I used to often think about Ghalib

Now only sadness grounds my heart

Jaun! I understand your pain now)

Jaun left us on 8 November 2002 after living a controversial life. He left a legacy and his name to be remembered forever. Hence Jaun enriched Urdu poetry with a new thought, new tone, new melody and style and new manner.  I will conclude with Jaun’s own two couplets, former one written on his tomb on his grave:

‘‘Mai bhi bahut ajeebhunitnaajeebhun ki bass

Khud ko tabahkarliya aur malalbhinahi’’

(I am too weird so weird that

Destroyed myself and didn’t even care)

‘‘khatam hai bs Jaun par Urdu ghazal

Usne ki haikhoon ki gul-kaariyan’’

(With Jaun has just ended Urdu poetry

With blood he has created embroidery).

Writer is anadmirer and a follower of Jaun Elia and can be reached at [email protected]

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