Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Before Mir and Ghalib, there was glorious Deccani poetry

This is something that has been resisted for long and stoutly by Delhi and Lucknow literati: that there was a vibrant tradition of Urdu/Deccani poetry and prose, which was superior to the language used by latter-day Urdu greats like Mir and Ghalib. It is no fault of these Delhi poets that they were born at a time of political decline and the social networks were weak and cultural confidence was not strong. That is why, what is considered as the flowering of Urdu poetry and its zenith is rather listless and floating in the air with no solid ground beneath it. Compare this with the strong sense of rooted sensibility in the early examples of Deccani poetry.
Syeda Jaáfar of Hyderabad had edited a fine, compact collection, "Deccani Adab Ka Intakhab"published by Sahitya Akademi in 1995. She covers a period of about 200 years from the Bahmani period in the 15th century to the Qutb Shahi period in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The very first example that Syeda Jaáfar gives of Deccani poetry is a quatrain from Firuz Shah Bahmani dating to 1422 CE. It reads:

"tuj mukh chanda jyot dase saara jyo /tuj kaan par moti jhumke taara jyon"is simple and captivating.

We have this lovely figure of speech from Mushtaaq (circa 1516): "sooraj ki taab hasne jo'n pigalta barf aapas mein"and he repeats it in a "qaseeda" as "garmi mila hum sati aab mein aatish rakhein".

The other example is from Hasan Shauqi in his "Fateh Nama Nizam Shah (circa 1564 CE):

"poorab likh tuu parbe hari raam ke/ pachche likh tuu maqsood mujh raam ke/nizamiyan ko farmaan yuu likh tuu/jeete khaa a'de hindavi seekh tuu/suu gobind jag dev gopal hai/soorkhipaal kirpaal deepaal hai/suu bhagwaan bhagwant kartaar hai/suu kal des parmes avtaar hai/ wahi shat soor wahi bishan hai/ wahi inder barmaan wahi kishan hai"

It is hard to match this earthiness of language.

There is a need for a good debate in the roots of Urdu, which seems to lie in the hearts, language, kingdoms and stones of Deccan.

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