Sunday, March 11, 2018




I have been told by many friends not to read firaq again and again.I ask why; to which i get following replies..

" In practical life, he  was not a man  of good moral conduct. He had a fondness for liquor even during his old age.  ."

"His poetry is sensuous. He only praises feminine beauty. "

" He was labelled a spoiled genius of India by Gandhi ji ."

" He was short tempered, arrogant and uncompromising "
" He was a Nehru  Bhakt."

I ask  friends if they have read Firaq; and i am told in affirmative.. I ask if they have read  his  collections like Gul e Nagma, Naghma e Saaz or  Ramz o Kaaynaat  or Dharti Ki Karwat.I am told the expected ,"NO". I ask if they have read his poems like 'Shaam e Ayaadat' (The evenIng of her visit), Aadhi Raat ( Midnight) , Jugnu (fireflies) ,Handola ( cradle)  or Taraaana e Khizaan ( The song of the Autumn) . I get the expected reply "NO". Most of them have not read his Gazals and poems but heard Begum Akhtar  singing  some  Firaq  Gazals .
So you  are dismissing a stalwart ( who has written on  culture, civilization, loneliness,  nature, love, hope, separation, and so  many aspects of life ) without reading him .

I have no business to focus on Firaq's temper or private life . And discussing the same  will  not help me  in objective evaluation of  his work. In  creative human beings,  you always  find varied levels of eccentricities. Do you look to their eccentricities or to  the  creative standards they establish in aart or literature?

I    shall continue to    read and  discuss Firaq as a poet of eminence

Firaq  worked closely with Gandhi ji and Pandit Jawahar  Lal  Nehru during freedom struggle . He went  to prison many times during freedom struggle of the country. He did not join ICS that he qualified. Gandhi ji had asked him to join Gujarat Vidyapeeth as professor but he refused . Pandit ji, Indira ji and Harivansh Rai Bachan held him in highest  esteem.

About firaq's poetry i have to make some basic observations .These are...

(1) His love poetry is based on a honest response to fundamental emotion.

(2)  Firaq has enriched and indigenised his urdu  assimilating so many words from Hindi, Sanskrit and Braj Baasha. Words like Komal, Kaaran, Deepshikha, Agnikund, vish, Ang, Pawan, Mukh, Kumadini, Kanwal, Banvaas, Roop, Shringaar, Dukh, Sansaar,Amrit,  Suhaagan, and many more have been  frequently used by him in poems, Gazals and Rubais.

(3) Rubais in urdu were used by poets as tools of moral or philosophical reflections. Firaq uses them to present images  of feminine  beauty and grace. These images  have been created or captured in the homely roles of  a mother, daughter, sister , wife and beloved .

(4) Through his Gazals, he has fully explored the emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions of love as the fundamental emotion of  a human being. And  he has given his personal tint and tone to it.

(5) Along with hope, wait, sensuousness  and other issues, there is a    stream of  sorrow that flows  through his work . I would call it a  sorrow of spiritualised helplessness; and this very aspect brings him very close to Mir Taqi Mir .And Firaq duly acknowledges greatness of  Mir when he says' Gazal ka saaz uthaao barri udaas  hai  raat, Navaa e Mir sunaao barri udaas hai raat'..

(6) Firaq's study of religious scriptures of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity is profound..If he uses references from Ramayana and Mahabharata, he also makes revered mention of incidents related with Karbala and life of the prophet of Islam.  Incidents related with Jesus Christ  and Moses have been mentioned at so many places.For him every prophet has visited this earth to ameliorate human pain and  suffering. That spectacular quality makes him a  genuine humanist. I tend to use word humanist instead of secular .

(7) Firaq's mind was free from  inhibitions . He allowed a passage to every thought. Many critics have called his mind a highway or a thoroughfare.Reflexes from such free minds are unpredictable and quite often unexpected.
(8)  Firaq had a great  fascination for   English literature. Who else except  firaq  could translate   Homer, Virgil,  Wordsworth, Hardy and Wallace Stevens into  beautiful Urdu ?

(9) Firaq's  poetry is not divorced from the civilizational ethos of India and through  his work,  he contributes for  its continuity.

Let me examine Firaq's thought process as it appears in his poem"Aadhi  Raat" ."Aadhi  Raat" was written around second world war when Russian troops were about to enter Berlin to defeat Nazi Germany .

While describing midnight's  pillared silence  and moonlight  set against his individual  sorrow , loneliness and wait in poem  "Aadhi Raat " , Firaq takes  many  turns in between  to  touch issues of humanity at large; I mean issues  like war, poverty , revolution  etc.

" Jidhar nigaah karein ek Ataah khaamoshi,
zameen se ta mah o anjum sukoot ke meenar,
khadaa hai ouss mein chup chaap harsingaar ka Peid,
Yeh chaandni hai ke umdaa huva hai rus saagar,
Gulon ne chaadar e Shabnam se munh  Lapeit Liya,
Labon pe so gayi kaliyon ki muskaraahat bhi,
Jagaa Raha hai koyee Aadhi raat ka jadoo
Ek Aadmi  hai ke itna  dukhi  hai duniya mein ."

Turns in between..

Na muflisi ho to kitni  haseen hai duniya,

Ab inquilab mein shaayad ziyaada deir nahin,

Sipaah e roos hain ab kitni  door  Berlin se ..

So long so much. Next time more observations on his poetry.

Me  khizaan bhi huun me bahaar bhi
Meri zindagi hai woh zindagi,
Ke misaal e Barg e Gule chaman
Jo gaahe kafan gaahe Pairhan....

( Firaq)

I am the Autumn,
I am the spring,
Such a protean life i lead,
Like the petals of a rose flower,
Now for the coffin,
Now for the wreath..

{Avtar Mota) 

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