By Dr. Brij Premi
wrote poetry in Kashmiri. It was he who gave new direction to Kashmiri poetry
and made it rise to the pinnacles of grandeur and glory. He lent new touches to
traditions. The poetry of this period brought the reader close to life, and also
one comes across the themes of romance. Mehjoor gave language to the needs of
his times. He depicted beauty and romance in his poetry and at the same time
highlighted the sufferings of his people groaning under feudal tyranny.
burning embers of his verses, he sharpened the sensitivity of his people and
created an awareness in them about the centuries old exploitation they were
subjected to Mehjoor's voice lent strength to. the people's protest. Mehjoor did
not believe in slogan mongering. In his protest there is intensity, fire that
stirs up the people. He never compromised on the beauty of his art. Instead he
created new relevance for his poetry through elegance in style. He used his art
to communicate the truth. Through his brilliance Mehjoor was able to reach
people and their feelings found voice in his poetry. This made him immortal.
In the third
decade of 20th century, Mehjoor sent translations of his two compositions
Posh-Motey Janano (you-my prince of flowers) and Greest Koor (The
peasant girl) to great poet Tagore. The colours/hues of the rainbow fauna
playing games, the intoxicated gait of the deer, the dark and penetrating
shadows of the lakes, the agony of the beloved at the pangs of separation, the
ethereal expressions of love-all these impressed Tagore. There two poems
reflected the beauty of nature, tranquility of soul and the serenity of beauty.
To Tagore all these things were first love. Mehjoor came to earn the sobriquet
of 'Wordsworth' of Kashmir. In his early comments, one feels the strength
of Mehjoor's poetic gifts and his recognition by the eminent poet. Subsequently,
the Kashmiris became aware of Mehjoor's literary genius and this earned fame for
rolled by, Mehjoor's poetry crossed geographical barriers and its beauty and
fragrance reached other parts of the sub-continent. In these compositions there
was new vision about the dreams of Kashmir. Mehjoor gave voice to the agonies
and sufferings of his people. One comes across strong annoyance expressed by the
poet on the prevailing situation. His songs reflect the exploitation by the
ruling class and the anguish of the sufferers. These moved many people, to whom
otherwise poetry never appealed. Sadat Hasan Manto, a Kashmiri himself, was
profoundly influenced by this poetry of protest. Manto expressed : I haven't
but Kashmiris have. I regret that I haven't seen Mehjoor.
Kashmir was Manto's great weakness. That he
Kashmir pained him much. He had been to Batote
once, where he had come after having been sent out of AMU as he was declared to
be a patient of tuberculosis.
Kashmir interested Manto, because his ancestors
Kashmir. About five generations back his ancestor
Khwaja Rahmatullah like many others fled
during Sikh rule and settled down in
His grandson Khwaja Jamal-ud-Din came to
to live. He never forgot being a Manto and took pride in his Kashmiri origin.
"In Kashmiri Manut means a weight equal to 1½ seer". Manto said : "I am a
Kashmiri". "I too am a Kashmiri and love Kashmiris". "I am a Kashmiri-my
ancestors were Kashmiris. After migration we came to Punjab". This is the reason
Manto always turned emotional at the very mention of Kashmir. This sentiment
made him write stories-Bego, Ek Khat, Misri Ki Dali, Lalteen, Teetwal Ka
Kuta, Akhri Salute.
It has been
mentioned that Manto's ancestors felt prompted, rather forced to leave their
birth place due to tyranny of Sikh rule. This always haunted Manto that Mehjoor
never thought of leaving his land as he decided to bear with the exploitation.
As Mehjoor continued to live there, he was able to raise the voice of protest.
Manto appreciates Mehjoor.
"I feel shocked that my ancestors migrated. It is really
something to put up with sufferings. Exile has a romance of its own. Mehjoor
stood up to it and remained close to the ground. He never thought of migrating.
He remained there, he remained a part of the place he belonged to.
of the country was a tragedy Manto. He never reconciled to it. It was his strong
belief that hearts can never be partitioned on the basis of religion and
politics. "What happened later I don't know. Which actually is one's government
was never understood by me".
and Pakistan became strained, Manto felt restless. The shocks he experienced
found echo in his stories. In this background one can feel the agony of a person
who loves humanity.
"I couldn't separate
between the two countries grew more tense, Manto took refuge in remembering
Mehjoor. He felt that Mehjoor's songs had the healing touch and could heal the
bruised wounds. The spontaneity and sweetness of his songs eschews malice and
Mehjoor were alive!"
Had he been
living, who would have thought of Dr. Graham. He could admonish Jawahar Lal
Nehru and Khwaja Nizam-ud-Din (both Kashmiris). A Kashmiri, be he a Hindu or a
Musalman, is a Kashmiri. You are Nehru, he is Nizamuddin. Both are Kashmiris. It
is a different thing none of you have lived there. The reality is that you have
Kashmiri psyche. You can't afford rice and shalgam to be kept away from your
food. Let you swear...that you will live in love with one another.
was written by Manto on 19 Nov. 1952.
There is no
similarity between Manto and Mehjoor. To look for it is futile. It is true that
they were restless and yearned for freedom of the country. Both raised protest
over exploitation of the people. There pens gave forceful expression to this
voice. Both subscribe to brotherhood and communal harmony. They were equally
opposed to exploitation of religion for political purposes. Kashmir is the land
of both. After independence Mehjoor's expression turned somewhat critical. He
resorts to satire. Manto misapproves what he sees after landing in Pakistan and
in the series 'Chacha Sam Ke Naam' he displays his anguish with
all his vigour. His expression and its style are pungent. He scorns the system,
which made his country an appendage of Western capitalism. One can hardly find
romance in writings of Manto but one can see depiction of hard realities of
life. The 'romance' in Mehjoor's compositions had profound effect on Manto. He
"Migration is an important element in the poetry of both of
us. I don't know what we have got out of it. After reading Mehjoor in
translation, I can say with authority that the migration in his poetry of
romance proved to be source of immense pleasure for me".
not studied Mehjoor much. The translations, at times faulty, could not provide
him a full insight into Mehjoor. Had he got the opportunity to appreciate his
poetry in original or through good translations, I am sure Manto would have
definitely enjoyed the loftiness and beauty of what Mehjoor wrote. He could even
perceive that Mehjoor's pen was mighter than him.
from original by