Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Keats of Urdu poetry: Majaz Lakhnavi

Asrarul Haq Majaz was the darling of the Urdu world, the most famous and loved poet of his generation. His nazm, 'Aawara' Aye gham-e-dil kya karoon, Aye wahshat-e-dil kya karoon....[What to do O aching heart, what to do O frenzy wild] is considered one of the most popular verses of Urdu poetry.

Majaz was the uncle of Javed Akhtar and brother-in-law of Jaan Nisaar Akhtar. He was born in 1911 in Rudauli (UP). He was the first Urdu poet who looked at woman with a different persepective, as a 'hamsafar' [companion] and yearned for an intelligent, enlightened and equal life partner.

His ghazal 'Tere maathe pe yeh anchal bohot khoob hai/ Lekin tu isse ek parcham bana leti to achchha thaa' was the foremost progressive voice in 30s.

A darling of poetry-lovers, Majaz was so popular that Ismat Chughtai recounts, Girls college mein ladkiyan usse shaadi ke liye qura nikaalti theen"[it was a pastime among hostel girls to play draw of lots to decide which girl will marry him].

Kuchh tujhko hai khabar ham kya kya ai shorish-e-dauraan bhool gaye
Woh zulf-e-pareeshan bhool gaye, woh deedae-giryan bhool gaye

Ab gul se nazar milti nahin, ab dil ki kali khilti nahin
Ai fasl-e-bahaaran rukhsat ho hum to luft-e-bahaaran bhool gaye

Ai shauq-e-nazaara kya kahiye, nigahon mei koi surat hi nahin
Ai zauq-e-tasavvur kya kahiye hum to surat-e-jaanan hi bhool gaye

Sab ka madawa kar daala apna madawa kar na sake
Sab ke gireban see daale apna hi girebaan bhool gaye

Ab apni wafa ka yeh aalam hai, unki wafa ko kya kahiye
Ek nashtar-e-zeher aageen rakh kar sarhaane, rag-e-jaan bhool gaye

Click for Majaz's ghazal in Urdu, Hindi and Roman scripts here.

Majaz was the natural choice when All India Radio started airing its programmes and he named the Urdu programme 'Awaz'. But his unrequited love affair with a girl and financial problems cost him dearly.

This unique generation of poets had awaited the dawn of independence and dreamt of an independent nation. He wrote anti-imperialistic poems like 'Musafir bhaag waqt-e-baykasi hai/tere sar par ajal mandra rahi hai....and the immensely popular Tarana-e-Alighar...Sarshaar-e-nigaah-e-nargis hoon'

Along with his potery, his wit was becoming legendary and he was always mobbed. People wanted to have the honour of drinking with the famous poet. But he was losing his mental balance.

As Josh once told him, Majaz ghadi rakh kar piya karo' asking him to drink steadily, the maverick poet laughingly said,' Josh sahab main ghada rakh kar peeta hoon'.

Once Josh wrote 'Pindnama' in a magazine asking him to cut down on his drinking while praising Sheikh Abduallah [of Kashmir] in the same breath and Majaz replied,

'Nutq hairaan, dahan dareeda hai, yeh shuneeda nahin deeda hai, rind-e-barbaad ko naseehat hai, sheikh ki shaan mein qaseeda hai'.

Whatever Majaz wrote...either.....

Jalaal-e-aatish o barq-e-sahaab paida kar, ajal bhi kaanp uthe tu woh shabaab paida kar
Tu inquilab ki aamad ka intezar na kar, jo ho sake to inquilab paida kar
Chhalkein tere aariz se gulaab aur zyada. Allah kare zor-e-shabaab aur zyada...

And the lesser poetic:

Ilaahabad mein har soo hain charche ki dilli ka sharaabi aa gaya hai
Guaabi laao chhalkao ki shaida-e-gulaabi aa gaya hai
Yahan ke shaharyaaron ko khabardaar kar do ki woh mard-e-inquilabi aa gaya hai

His poetry struck chord with the generation of youths before and after independence. But the bloody riots of partition and bloodshed in Punjab shocked the nation and more so the progressive poets.

Poets were lamenting like Wamiq Jaunpuri who wrote: Yeh do-aab hai, sah-aab hai, Punjab nahin. Majaz was also left disillusioned. He fell ill and after recovery he was no longer the same person.

On a chilly winter night, he was taken away by a group of 'fans' who left him all alone on a hotel roof after drinking till late night, and he died alone in the bitter cold. Lucknow mourned and the nation mourned. At the age of 44.

Ab iske baad sub'h hai aur sub'h-e-nau majaz/ hum par hai khatm shaam-e-ghareeban-e-lucknow.... A part of Lucknow died that day.

bohat mushkil hai dunyaa ka saNvarnaa
teri zulf ka pech-o-kham nahii hai

Read seven best ghazals and Nazms of Majas in Urdu, Hindi [devanagri] and Roman English scripts at Best Ghazals.