Social Ideals and Patriotism In Dogri (1900-1950)

By Nilamber Dev Sharma. Dated: 6/27/2020 12:25:22 AM

Dogri has had a rich tradition of folk literature. There are innumerable folk-songs, folk-tales, idioms and proverbs in Dogri, but excepting the rock, and temple copper-plate inscriptions, there is not much evidence of written literature in it until the second quarter of this century. Recent research has, however, found early specimens of Dogri writing in title deeds, sanads, agreements, letters and some literature of Christian missionaries. These specimens are mostly in Takari script, current in Dogri till the first quarter of this century.
During the early part of this century, only four poets wrote in Dogri: Lala Ram Dhan, Dasamal, Mool Raj Mehta and Hardatta Shastri. Ram Dhan wrote in Urdu, Persian and Punjabi, but his only one poem is available in Dogri. The poem entitled 'Channa di Chanani, Channa Kanne' (published in Niharika), has four stanzas, each complete in itself, but joined to the other by the common refrain 'Channa di Channani, Channa Kanne'. It has a common metre and a common theme ­ the uncertain and tortuous course of love, with its pain and anguish:
Dikkhi lai Ramdhana preeta di reeta gi,
Latk.gnii Kachiya ta1 da kanne'.
(See Ramdhana, the strange ways of love!
It is like banging by a slender thread)
Ramdhana depicted the social scene and the domestic circumstances which led to the proverbial fights between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law; but the man and the wife have to remain together through thick and thin, just as the moonlight is inseparable from the moon.
Dasamal too wrote in Punjabi and Dogri, but none of his poems in Dogri has become available so far. Mool Raj Mehta's only one poem is available in Dogri: 'Jeena Paharen da Jeena' (Living in the hills is real life indeed!).
Hardatta Shastri wrote in Hindi, Punjabi and Dogri. He was a Sanskrit teacher and a katha-vachak. His audience comprised mainly the Dogri-speaking people, and he wrote and recited his poems in Dogri to entertain and instruct them, or, rather to instruct them through entertainment. The major theme of his poems is social; and even though he makes allusions to the religious books, his approach to the problems is more social than religious. Hardatta's conception of social ideals was a society which was based on orthodox, religious values, where differences among people are settled by mutual good-will and negotiations and not through litigation (Adalti da Dhanda); where people believe in simple living and shun the life of ostentation (Fashion}; where there are no superstitions, untouchability and unequal marriages between the old men and the young girls (Khhajjal Khoari). But Hardatta lived too near the present times, when the freedom movement was becoming stronger every day. Therefore, he sounded a note of warning to the British and the Rajas and the Maharajas of the Indian States that their days were numbered, and that they should see clearly the writing on the wall (Lanka Teri Nainyoon Bachni).
Hardatta Shastri loved his land of birth very much. This local patriotism formed a part of his social ideals. His poems can be divided into three parts-the storious past of the land, its miserable present and an exhortation to its people to work harder, to shun fashions, superstitions and parochialism so as to make it truly great. This local nationalism sometimes assumed the form of his love for the country as a whole-the people should strive hard to start new industries, revive the closed ones, so that India could stand among the industrialised countries of the world (Dogra Des, and Bekari).
But Hardatta Shastri's sense of patriotism is social, not political. Though the country forms the main theme of most of his poems, his approach in these poems is that of a social reformer rather than that of a political economist. In a forceful
style, with undertones of irony and satire sometimes, he describes the conditions of ordinary people and their hearths. We find Hardatta's pre-eminence as a socio-domestic field. And he utilises the resources guage to convey his point of view to his readers. Though Hardatta can claim to be the first modern poet in Dogri, it was Dinoo Bhai Pant who was, truly speaking, the first Dogri poet of modern consciousness. Dinoo Pant was aware of the inner contradictions of the feudal society, its close relationship with and its vested interest in the continuation of the British rule. He, therefore, wanted the society to be rid of these exploiters, so that the people in the Indian States and the British India could taste the fruits of freedom. He exhorted the peasants and the workers of the land, in the vein of the Romantic English poet Shelley, to rise and revolt against their exploiters: "Rise 0 Worker, Awake 0 Farmer, Your Day has come". (Uth Majoora, Jaag Kasana ••.)
Dinoo thus became the harbinger of the new and modern Dogri poetry as also a part of the Dogri renaissance. In the early forties, the movement for the country's freedom had become very strong and powerful. The World War II saw some of the fiercest battles and was drawing to a close, and in the various States of India people were becoming aware of the importance of the regional languages. Jammu which has Punjab to its south-west and Kashmir to its north-west, could not but be influenced by the movement for the development of the Punjabi and Kashmiri languages. Professors, journalists and some students who also wrote in Hindi and Urdu, became interested in their mother tongue, Dogri. And in 1944, the Dogri Sanstha was formed with a view to creating an awakening among the Dogras about their language and culture.
Though Hardatta Shastri and Dinoo Pant were the two major Dogri poets before the independence of the country, the Pakistani invasion on the Jammu and Kashmir State in 1947 threw up a host of writers who expressed their inmost sentiments and their love for the land and their country by writing in Dogri. And even though Hardatta and Dinoo were essentially the poets of patriotism, the poetry of patriotism got a true fillip, and new dimension, after the Pakistani invasion in 1947.
Dinoo had earlier sung: 'Uth M erea Desa, Hun Lo Hoi gai'
(Awake, 0 my country, a new light bas dawned now).
In 'Veer Gulab', a long poem, Dinoo had written about the bravery and exploits of Maharaja Gulab Singh, the founder of the present State of Jammu and Kashmir in the style of a heroic ballad. But Dinoo is too intelligent to be taken in by the words "Dogra Rule''. He can be happy only if there is equal opportunity for all, where there is no social, political or economic exploitation of the masses. Religious exploitation too has to be stopped.
These, then, became the social ideals which gave rise to the poetry of patriotism in Dogri. Dinoo was the first Dogri poet to exhort the people to rise and awake from their age-old slumber, to beware the political leaders whose main aim was to exploit the simple people for their own gains and not to be taken in by the hollow slogans of the Pandits and the Maulvis, for:
Eh Parmeshar chhara drava, thaggen jaal bacchaya 0.
(The cheats have woven a snare of god to beguile the simple people)
He did not spare the Dogra rulers either-:
Lok meene marde eh dogren the Raj ai,
Dogren ge hall manda, milda nin sagg ai,
(People chide us: it is the rule of the Dogras. But such is
their lot that they do not have even the saag to eat)
But Dinoo knew that his land is beautiful: it is rich in resources, and it can become rich if the exploitation of its people by the feudal lords and the capitalists stops. In the 'Mangu di Chhabil, a long poem, he describes how Mangu who has lost everything to a money-lender, revolts against the system and avenges his loss by burning the Sahukar's house.
He wants all social inequities to end: the exploitation of the villagers by the city-dwellers, of the poor women by the rich, old men, and of the Duggar land by the capitalist and the feudalist elements. Dinoo went into raptures on seeing the beauty of his land; others should also see it with his eyes: Mere Desa da Chhalepa, Meri Akhin kanne Dikh. This be­ came a recurring theme of many Dogri songs: A song in praise of the Dogra land similar in tune and metre to the National Anthem was composed by Dinoo Pant and Ram Nath Shastri:
Surga naya desa dogra.
Ede gai gun gaa
(We shall sing in praise of the Dogra land, which is beautiful like paradise)
Krishan Smailpuri, who was hitherto writing in Urdu, was also swept by the patriotic wave and he too sang:
Surga di gull nain Ia areya,
las apne desa da ga areya
(Why talk of heaven? Sing the glories of your own land).
This love for Duggar gradually embraced the Dogras in its fold. The poets sang in praise of the simple, unsophisticated but handsome and brave Dogras. They must gird up their loins to protect their land from the Pakistani invaders. Such were the sentiments expressed by Sarvashri Krishan Smailpuri, Balkrishan Sharma, Parmanand Almast, Yash Sharma, Ved Pal Deep, Kehri Singh Madhukar and Ram Nath Shastri in their poems. In 'his poem 'Dogre', Deep eulogised the peace-loving Dogras: India is the best country in the world and Duggar its best constituent. The Pakistani invasion in 1947 made the inward-looking Dogras to think not only in terms of the Dogra Des, but in terms of the whole country, India, of which Jammu and Kashmir State forms only a small part. But since "Dogra Des" had to bear the brunt of Pakistani invasion, therefore, the concern of the Dogri poets for their land was inevitable, immediate and understandable.
However, after the cease-fire, the Pakistani threat receded·, and the poets could see their social ideals in proper perspective. They originally embraced all the people, whether rich or poor, exploiters or the exploited, in their concept of patriotism. But when the political and military situation became more stable and the economic conflict became sharper, cracks began to appear in such a concept of society. They were the first to voice their protest against the unreal front of the haves and the have­ notes. Dinoo Pant, who had earlier given a clarion call to the workers and the farmers to awake, again came to the forefront. He compared the capitalists and the feudalists to an unmanage­ able bull because it was unyoked, and exhorted the workers and the farmers to stand united to face the fury of the Unyoked Bull. Krishan Smailpuri 'warned that "we will subvert the system which breeds hunger, poverty and disease." Yash Sharma questioned whether the lot of the poor worker was to sleep only on the roadside, whereas the idle-rich bad palatial buildings to live in. In his poem 'Nami-Azadi', Ved Pal Deep exhorted the goddess of Liberty to forsake the mansions and live among the poor peasants. Poems with social and patriotic themes were also written by Chuni Lal Kamla, Jagan Nath Kalra, Durga Dass Chamak, Barkat Pahari and Shambhu Nath Sharma.
New social realism had replaced the idealistic and sometimes unrealistic outburst of patriotism in Dogri poetry. Only in this realistic mood, Almast could say Surg Nain Jaan Hoonda Pitta/ Kharkaye de (You cannot go to heaven by playing on the cymbals).
Such was the literary scene in Dogri during the 1940's. But this was only the beginning: mental horizon of the Dogri poets was becoming wider. Starting with their love of'Dogra Des' and the country, India, they now thought in terms of the whole humanity. War and want are the worst enemies of mankind and therefore, they included peace and prosperity among their social ideals. Many poems on the peace movement, on the movement of the blacks to see their emancipation from the tyranny of the white minority were written by Ved Pal Deep, Ram Nath Shastri, Onkar Singh Awara and Yash Sharma. And Madhukar goes much farther when he says that a new order is coming, a new history will be written not of a few despots and exploiters, but of the whole mankind, of the toiling masses and the suffering. And when man overcomes hostile forces and masters those of nature, a new universal order will be created in which moon, stars, earth and sky seem to form a symphony of music: Chann, tare dharat, samaan ikk geet ai Veer Gulab, Mangoo di Chhabil and Gutlun by Dinoo Bhai Pant.

 

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