Some of the veteran Dogri poets have made a distinct mark in a particular genre of poetry and are invariably identified with it. Some of the experiments are likely to be absorbed in the genesis of Dogri language and poetic candour. Though poets have not stuck to any single beat. They have adopted a variety of poetic forms and diction. But by natural aptitude, some of them have excelled in a particular style of composition.
For instance, Ghazal was a new induction in Dogri, but it has come to stay, and some of the poets have earned the title of “ghazal-go shair.” But no Dogri poet writes “Ghazals” exclusively, as several classical Urdu poets did, with Ghazals being their main forte.
But the popularity of Ghazal and craze for it has largely eclipsed “Kavita,” which had initiated the process of modern Dogri poetry in the late forties. Unfortunately, I am one of the losers in the process. Some of my popular poems of yesteryears are gathering dust, and a part of them has actually been lost because I started writing Ghazals, having a smattering of Urdu, in the mid-fifties, just by coincidence. I was impressed by this unique genre of poetry which provides you an opportunity to give full vent to your feelings and express profound thoughts in all its dimensions, just in a couplet. And, a combination of five or six sensitively composed couplets would overnight raise you to the status of a poet of sterling quality. This happened with me. I was type-cast as a “Ghazal” writer. After several years, now I am frantically reminding Dogri lovers that I have also written poems. As a matter of fact, I have slowed down the pace of “Ghazal” writing and mostly write poems, as my accumulated feelings and observations of fast-changing times are best expressed in poems rather than in “Ghazals,” which at times appear to be too thin and narrow a medium for the outburst of onrushing thoughts and feelings.
Kunwar Viyogi has written a number of sonnets, though his venture to publish a whole book of Dogri sonnets is commendable. But, unfortunately, the sonnet has not clicked in Dogri. But Kunwar Viyogi, who has literally plowed a lonely furrow, has rendered a yeoman’s service to Dogri by introducing a new pattern of poetry.
Yash Sharma is a past master in creating songs and lyrics, which have all the components of a good poem. He has written several poems of high standard, but “Geet” remains his hallmark.
Dinoo Bhai Pant, Padma Sachdev, and Madhukar have not written Ghazals. Madhukar did try his skill at “Ghazal” writing in the late ’50s. But after composing a few Ghazals, he realized that it was not his cup of tea. Only a couple of months back, in a literary get-together in Dogri Bhavan, he frankly conceded that while writing a Ghazal, he has to make an artificial effort, whereas a poem comes to him in a natural and torrential flow.
But Dinoo Bhai and Madhukar have left an indelible imprint on Dogri poetry by their distinct style, novel forms, and philosophic touch, thus proving that it is not the sheer popularity of Ghazal that makes a poet great. But poetry has many splendid dimensions that need to be recaptured, which would lend it an intrinsic value to sustain its grandeur for all times to come.
Mohan Lal Sapolia’s latest poetry book, “Sodh Samunderen Di,” consisting of about 400 “Chamukhas”, has introduced yet another form of poetry, which, like Ghazal, has all the semblance of becoming a part and parcel of Dogri poetry. Like Ghazal, the “Chamukha” is a Dogri version of a peculiar Urdu genre, Ghazal. It is a quadruplet, a four-line stanza where the second and fourth lines rhyme. Another Urdu poetry form, “Rubayi,” seemingly akin to “Chamukha,” is technically poles apart. In “Rubayi,” the first two lines and the fourth line rhyme. The first two lines give you an inkling of what is coming later. The third line creates a suspense by raising a question, which is resolved in the last line. The technical rules, in the case of “Rubayi,” are also rather strict. The “Qatah” or Dogri “Chamukha” is provided some liberty in the selection of a meter. Josh Malihabadi, who almost hated the genre of “Ghazal,” was popularly known for his “Rubayis.”
Sapolia’s “Chamukhas” can be matched with standard Urdu “Qatahs.” Many Urdu poets had tried their hand at this genre, but Akhtar Rizwani, who was a frequent visitor to Jammu, read nothing but “Qatahs” and was immensely famous for it. What adds luster to this particular type of four-line stanza is the diction and style of presentation before an audience. The art of reciting “Chamukhas” has come to Sapolia in a natural way. His robust voice, serene composure, and outpouring of feelings while uttering each word and line are enough to keep the audience spellbound, only intermittently bursting into ovation.
Think of it. Four hundred stanzas on separate topics. Not an insignificant feat. It shows Sapolia’s vast canvas, keen and detailed observation of life, and, above all, his personal experiences.
Earlier, Kunwar Yogi had also published a poetry book, “Ghar,” consisting of four-line stanzas. The last word of the fourth line in every stanza ending with the same word, “ghar” (home). Though imagination ran riot in that book, it had a compulsion of ending every fourth line with “ghar,” which inadvertently also limited its scope in various ways. “Ghar” was neither a compilation of “Rubayis”. Though the first two lines of each stanza rhymed, it was a novel and commendable poetic extravaganza, but it did not contain “Qatahs” in the true sense of the word.
This is Sapolia’s third book of poetry, the other being “Sajre Phull” and “Rashtriya Bhakhaan,” which were poets’ expression of national sentiment and love for Duggar. The new book “Sodh Samunderen Di,” too has a large doze of his robust national sentiments.
Makhan Lal Chaturvedi
Makhan Lal Chaturvedi, whose birth centenary fell on April 4th this year, was a pioneering Hindi poet, litterateur, critic, journalist, writer, and, above all, a patriot who never craved for power or wealth. A freedom fighter who had worked with Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi, he never allowed his radical ideology and concern for the downtrodden to be dampened. Even Congress leaders criticized the revolutionary patriots like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar, and several other youths who sacrificed their lives fighting against British imperialism. Chaturvedi stood by the valiant national heroes and paid tribute to them in the columns of his weekly, which he continued to bring out until his death.
It appears that except for a couple of Hindi papers and magazines that have recalled one of the great pioneers of the Hindi movement, the rest of the Hindi world has forgotten about him. There is hardly any news of his birth anniversary having been observed anywhere all over the country. It is rightly said, unless the memory of our ancestors is kept alive, the new generation should not expect that the coming generation will remember them too.
The Brave Woman
The sacrifice of a single person, Safdar Hashmi, has alone contributed to generate a countrywide wave of emotional integration that all the so-called national parties put together could never do. The voice of a dedicated playwright, stage artist, and drama producer who espoused the cause of the downtrodden has triumphed over hypocritical leaders representing the exploiting vested interests who criminalise politics to crush popular upsurge against themselves. There was, however, a brave woman behind the man who valiantly fought against exploitation and oppression through the medium of street plays. She is Moloyshree, popularly known as Mala among her artist colleagues.
The day her husband was murdered by a gang of Congress-I thugs, she was playing her role in the nukkad natak being staged before the factory workers. The play was disrupted by the armed ruling party muscle men. The other day, the same play was staged to full length, and Mala, a symbol of fortitude and courage, came on the stage again and played her role. She shed tears in a lonely corner only when the play ended.
On Hashmi’s birthday on April 12th, nukkad nataks will be staged in 2,500 towns all over India. In Delhi, four-day cultural programs have been organized, in which about 100 top Urdu and Hindi poets will participate in a poetic symposium. Leading painters and sculptors will exhibit their creations. All of them would reach Delhi on their own, without asking for any remuneration, travel fare, or anything else.
Hashmi is dead, but the progressive cause for which he gave up his life will live forever.
Ved Pal Deep, a prolific writer in several languages and known as the Ghalib of Dogri poetry, was a senior editor of Kashmir Times where he worked from early 1970s till his death in 1995