Sunday, August 9, 2020



             ( Azad. with Nehru )
      ( Azad with Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma)
                ( Azad with Ali Sardar Jafri )
       ( With poet Arsh Malsiyani (in centre) )
  ( Poet Tilok Chand Mehroom father of Azad)

by Mukta Lall,
Price Rs350/=
Publisher ,Mukta Lall,New Delhi .
(  Phone 011-46100812)

Mukta Lall (born 1944) is the daughter of well known Urdu poet ,scholar,writer and critic Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. Mukta retired from Siemens as Senior Manager and lives in Delhi. I am beholden to her for sending me  books on  jagan Nath Azad  and her grand father poet  Tilok Chand Mehroom apart from this new book.

I need to compliment Mukta Ji  for her efforts in writing these beautiful books and collecting inputs and  material from so many sources in the subcontinent. Rarely  have I seen daughters  taking such pains to keep the memory of their parents alive. She stepped further ahead when she compiled a book on poet Tilok Chand Mehroom , her grand father .  And for this dedicated work, she also learnt Urdu and did a correspondence course from Jamia Milia Islamia ,New Delhi .

Jagan Nath Azad (1918-2004)  was born in  Isa-khel (district Mianwali now in Pakistan)  on 5th December ,1918. Isa-khel town  is situated on the bank of river Indus. It is a historical town  named after Isa Khan a famous Niazi chief. Mianwali district covers an area of 5,840 square kilometres.

Jagan Nath Azad’s father, Tilok Chand Mehroom  was a teacher ( Headmaster,) apart from being a well known Urdu poet of his time .As child ,Azad  saw poets like Abdul Aziz Fitrat, Azhar Amritsari  ,Zia Sarhadi ,Adam and many more frequenting his house  and  accordingly developed a taste for writing poetry at an early age .

One day ,while crossing  the Indus river in a boat , poetry was initiated to young Azad by his father. Azad was barely  five year old boy at that time. His father  recited a line to him, "Pahaadon  ke opper bane hain makaan"  and asked  little Azad to complete the  second line . " Ajab inn ki soorat Aajab Inn ki shaan" said  young Azad promptly. He was immediately corrected by his father to use word Shauqat and not soorat. And he said"Ajab Inn ki Shauqat Ajab Inn ki shaan". And the poet had arrived.

Azad did his matriculation from  Raja Rammohan Roy High school , Mianwali  and  joined D.A.V . College , Rawalpindi for completing his F.A . He  completed his B.A. from Garden College , Rawalpindi and  did his M.A.( Persian) from Punjab University,Lahore.

In 1989, Azad was awarded 'Doctor of Literature ' by the University of Kashmir for his contribution to Urdu literature. In 1994, the University of Jammu awarded him 'Doctor of Letters' degree .

Azad wrote, Nazms, Gazals, Rubais and Naats.He wrote poems for children. He wrote criticism, essays, biographies ,travelogues and most importantly 15 scholarly books on Allama Iqbal including Urdu translation of Javednama ( written in Persian) . Azad was also a journalist and academician .

 It was Jagan Nath Azad who wrote the first National Anthem of Pakistan as Jinnah had desired that a Hindu should write it. The anthem “Aey sar zameen e pak, zarey  teray hain aaj sitaron se taabnaak" was later replaced by the present ,the one  written by Hafeez Jalandhari. Azad wrote 70  books . Azad was elected vice-president of Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu (Hind)( under the Ministry of Human Resource Development ) in 1989 and President in 1993, remaining in this office till his demise.  Beena Sarwar writes in 'The Hindu ' ( September 22, 2009 ) as under :-

“Pakistan had a national anthem -- commissioned and approved in 1947 by no less a person than the country’s founder and first Governor General, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, long before Hafeez Jalandhri’s Persianised lyrics were adopted as the anthem in the 1950s -- ordinary citizens may be forgiven for their ignorance. The lyricist of the first national anthem was the poet Jagannath Azad, son of the renowned poet Tilok Chand Mahroom . Born in Isa Khel (Mianwali), Jagannath Azad was working in Lahore when Mr. Jinnah commissioned him for this task just three days before Independence. He complied, Jinnah approved the lyrics, and the anthem went on air on Radio Pakistan Karachi (then the capital of Pakistan) the day Pakistan was born. Some Pakistanis still remember hearing it. Those who came after 1948 have no memory of it.”

In September 1947 ,he moved permanently  to India leaving his dear Lahore, reluctantly and painfully when he found that in his locality, he was the lone Hindu resident and his friends also advised him against staying anymore in view of total changed circumstances . He took up his residence near Pul Bangash .Sahir Ludhianavi also lived with his mother in this locality. The friendship that had started in Lahore gort further cemented. Sahir remained close to Azad till his death.Others who were in Azad's close circle included Ali Sardar Jafri, Majrooh Sultanpuri , Ghulam Rabbani Tabaan, Gopal Mittal, Zikr Ur Rehman, Kanwar Mohinder Singh Bedi, Prem Nath Dar ,Josh Malihabadi, Arsh Malsiyani, Mohinder Nath, Naresh Kumar Shad, Prakash Pandit, Sajjad Zaheer, Krishen Chander, Syed Hamid, Malik Ram, Rifat Sarosh , Jamuna Dass Akhtar, Dr Khaleeq Anjum,Dina Nath Mast, Salim Jafri, KL Narang Saqi ,Hakim Abdul Hamid ,Qateel Shifai , Ahmed Nadeem Kasmi and many more .
Starting with a 40 rupees per month job in  Milap newspaper at Lahore , Azad retired from a very senior position from  Press Information Bureau . In between he also worked with Tribune newspaper, Adabi Duniya magazine  and Jai Hind Newspaper. He also served in the  Publication Division  as assistant editor under Josh Malihabadi who edited Aajkal, Bisaat e Aalam and Nau-Nihal.He also served Jammu University as  HOD Urdu and as professor emeritus  .

Prof. Azad has been a widely travelled man. He has also penned his impressions in some beautiful  travelogues . The travelogues relating to his visit to Russia and the US are full of beautiful and interesting anecdotes . Anything and everything one wanted to know about Jagan Nath Azad has been revealed by him in his interview to  M A Wani  from Department of Urdu ,M.A.M.College ,Jammu. And Mukta Lall  has taken pains to reproduce the interview verbatim in this book under review ( page 174 to 211). She  has taken pains to list awards and honours that Azad received during his life and after his death.These awards have been listed at  pages 212 to 238 of this book. Azad has received more than eight awards from reputed international institutions for his work on Allama Iqbal including the one given to him by president of  Pakistan. Mukta Lall has also listed ‘Thesis and Dissertations’ on works of Jagan Nath Azad by various scholars the world  over.

The book also mentions some interesting anecdotes  in the literary journey of  Jagan Nath Azad. These anecdotes reveal some beautiful moments and good time spent by Azad in the company of his friends like Sahir, Ludhianavi, Sardar Jafri,Ahsan Bin Danish,Bismil Saidi, Mohammad Tufail, Sagar Nizami  , Malik Ram , Akhtar Shirani and Jan Nissar Akhtar. I quote three as under:-

After the partition of the country, when Azad went to Pakistan for the first time, he was invited by Mohammad Tufail, editor 'Nukoosh ' for a dinner where only vegetables were served as dishes . After the dinner was over ,  Azad told his friend:-
" If only vegetables were to be served, then what need was there for creation of Pakistan."

Once Sajjad  Zaheer  and Jagan Nath Azad had come to Jan Nissar Akhtar's house .Akhtar's son, Dr Salman Akhtar joined them and Azad told him:-
"Dear Salman, sometimes I feel pain in my joints "
At this, Dr Salman said :-
" Uncle ,  I am a Psychiatrist . I treat mental sickness"
Pat came Azad'reply:-
" Very good. Please treat your father then ."

Once Ali  Sardar Jafri and Azad were  going to Lahore in a PIA flight. Sardar wanted to have a drink . He asked the steward  for it who  refused to serve the  liquor to  Sardar for being a Muslim. Thereafter, Sardar asked that the  drink be served to Azad. The steward recognized Azad and refused to serve him the drink even though he was a Hindu.  When Sardar Jafri objected to it , the steward replied that  he respected Jagan Nath Azad  for his work on Allama Iqbal  and  also considered  him as a   man from Pakistan. After arriving at Hotel Intercontinental , Lahore, Faiz Ahmed Faiz took them straight to the bar.

The book also includes some poems Gazals,Rubai's and Shers  of Azad.Poems like 15th August 1947,Bharat ke Musalmaan,Babri Masjid, Kolkata 1946, Nai Mehfil and the Anthem for Pakistan have also been included  included.

Set in 380 pages, the book has some historic photographs of Azad with Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma, Sheikh Abdullah, Qateel Shifai,Javed Iqbal ( son of Allama ) ,Ahmed Nadeem Kasmi, Giani Zail Singh, Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabbasum, I K Gujral, General Zia UL Haq, Sardar Jafri, Devendra Satyarthi , Hari Chand Akhtar  and many more apart from some family photographs. The communication skills of Jagan Nath Azad are visible in his letters to his  daughter (Mukta, the author of this book under review)some of which form a part of the book. Azad died on July 24, 2004  after a brief illness.  He was 86 .On his death many newspapers in India and Pakistan wrote obituaries. The Dawn Newspaper wrote “Nazaan tha jis pe kaaba woh  kaafir nahin raha ” or “The unbeliever for whom even  Kaaba also felt proud  is no more now” . Azad had already said so when he was alive . I quote a couplet of Azad :-

“ Kya  khabar kya baat oss ke kufr mein  posheeda thi,
Eik Kaafir kyon haram vaalon ko Yaad Aaya bahut”

Azad was a voracious reader of English literature. In his train and air travel, he would always carry a book . Doctor Zhivago and Resurrection written by Boris Pasternak and Tolstoy respectively  were read by him while he was  travelling by train.

 Like Ali  Sardar Jafri ,  through his writings and poetry , Azad also worked for building bridges of peace and goodwill   in the subcontinent . The partition of the country had  saddened him. Till his death he made every effort within his reach  for  this elusive peace .

I recommend the book to every person to know Jagan Nath Azad , the person, poet, writer  and  the great human being . At my own level , I have experienced his humanism when Azad visited our bank in 1990 with an elderly  Kashmiri Pandit and made a fervent request to provide a locker to the desperate sufferer from Kashmir who, carrying the family's jewellery in his pocket,   had visited every bank in the city for a locker. Later I came to know that Azad never knew the man personally. Only empathy, compassion and human feelings were the key factors for his coming to the bank and seeking a locker for the person. He had heard the person narrating his woes per chance.

After 1947, he kept visiting Lahore for Mushairas , literary meetings and seminars. Let me conclude with lines from a poem that he read in the country of his birth when he visited it  for first time after 1947.

“Teri  mehfil se jo armaan o hasrat le ke niklaa thaa
Voh hasarat le ke aaya huun voh armaan le ke aayaa huun
Tumhaare vaaste  aey doston me aur kyaa laata
Wattan ki subah aur shaam e gareebaan le ke aaya huun..
Mein apne ghar mein aaya huun magar andaaz to dekho
Ke apnay aap ko maanind mehmaan le ke aaya huun”

( Avtar Mota )

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