Friday, June 12, 2009

Poet of Youthfulness

You didn't think of Hafeez Jallundhri (1900-1982), the author of Pakistan’s national anthem, as the poet of youthfulness, right?

In the early 1920’s, Urdu literary scene was rocking with an unusual poem, ‘Abhi Tou Mien Jawan Hoon’ (‘For Now I am Young’). The poet, Hafeez Jallundhri had the approval of Iqbal almost to the extent as if the Poet-Philosopher was preparing this unschooled newcomer as his successor.

Hafeez, who had not completed his high school, was fired with Iqbal’s idea of finding one’s own voice and therefore he didn’t imitate Iqbal. Instead, he created a new diction of simple and easy words which did not seem profound at first but were capable of bringing out deepest emotions from unknown recesses of soul once they were taken to heart – and they almost always were. This was in sync with the life cycle of the East which, according to Iqbal, had “opened its eyes after a long slumber.” East was young, and hence the “I” of 'For Now I Am Young’ became the voice of collective consciousness.

This collective “I” enabled Hafeez to write devotional poetry about Lord Krishna which at one point came to be sung by Brahmins in the temples of Benaras (Varanasi) while on the other hand his epic poem about the glory of Islam, Shahnama-i-Islam, received acclaim from Hindu critics of Urdu literature.

It is an honor for Pakistan that the author of its national anthem also wrote devotional songs for Hinduism while being an unabashed defender of Islam at the same time. He was a man of the masses.

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  1. Rashid's story gaining momentum, the simple style of narrative fairly resembles with Paulo Coelho. First from the “forgotten seven” is superb. You are right we were thinking about many other names and Hafeez never came to mind, although his famous line is now a classic clichĂ©. Have read Shahnama in my teens, it didn’t inspire then but will read again with a different mind set and in light of your definition of adab e aliya.

  2. Akhtar, thanks. We debate so much about the idea of Pakistan, etc, etc, but I think that ultimately our thinking also falls back on the way our deeper selves are moulded by literature, so I am picking up those things which have made us who we are, indvidually and collectively, and analyzing them.

  3. Paulo Coelho was my daughter's favorite author for years, Wasim. Yes, and how true that our "thinking also falls back on the way our deeper selves are moulded by literature"!

    This dialogue here is one of the best I've seen anywhere & may this continue for a long long time.

    If anyone here would like to have me post anything at all pertaining to these profound values and/or anything from your daily lives or work - feel free to send it to me (and put oneheartforpeace in the subject heading.) There is some current trouble with sending some emails off & on so in that case, please put your item directly under COMMENTS for any recent blogpost. Lots of Gratitude, Prayers & Deep Faith your direction!

  4. Sir yeh peenay aur pilanay say kya murad hai, because if the youth are drunk the hope will be lost. I am confused

  5. Connie and ThinkTank, thanks. Yes, Connie, I think that your generous offer needs to be considered warmly, we can communicate in a more organized manner and it would be good for everyone.

    Thinktank, Iqbal wrote 'Tulu-i-Islam' ('The Dawn of Islam') precisely at this time (1923). The last stanza invoked upon the "Saki" to distribute "wine" to all and everyone. What do you think he meant by wine? :).

    [For those who don't know Urdu, the first line of Thinktank meant, "What is meant by alcohol here..."]

  6. ROARING TWENTIES (For those who may be interested):

    The Roaring Twenties did not occur only in the West. The difference was that in Muslim India they were patronized by such prestigious figures as Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Iqbal. Its finest spokesman was Hafeez Jallundhri.

    To a lesser extent the same was true of America (remember THE GREAT GATSBY?).

    Europe was different: while the masses may or may not have been roaring with the spirit of the times, European intellectual was definitely whimpering, sobbing and weeping (see my post of December 3, 2008, "Matrix: the Mind of Europe").

  7. Sir I dont know about Tulu-i-Islam by Iqbal also. Does this is some how attributed as some Khudi increasing potion :) I do remember that in Zamanay k andaaz badlay gayay poetry there is a line abt mai (alchohol) but with some proper qualities.

  8. Thinktank, you got it right! It is the same wine here :).

  9. Greetings,

    Thank you for this.

    I have personally found the most profound writing (e.g., poetry) to often be embodied in the simplest of words and expressions, as you describe of Hafeez Jallundhri's writings. It's the kind of writing that is often overlooked by the intelligentsia (and who may even deride it), but is often highly popular with many people.

    All good wishes,