Some of the most famous asha’ar in Urdu poetry II

I return to bringing out some more famous asha’ar in Urdu poetry. We were in the 20th centuryand had got to Akbar Allahabadi last time. However, I have to retrace my steps to early 19th-century Lucknow for a quite famours sher, which I missed last time around. Sorry.

Sheikh Imam Baksh Nasikh was one of the pioneer figures in the Lucknow school of poetry. One of his shers is quite famous but as usual, most of those who have used it, would have had no idea of its author. Who can confess they have never heard the lines, which could have been the inspiration for the industry of positive thinking:

Zindagi zinda dili ka naam hai
Murda dil kya khaak jeeya karte hai

That done, we will return to to the 20th century, and without fiurther ado, come to Allama Sir Mohd Iqbal, who certainly needs no introduction. It, no doubt, is a most formidable task to take out just a couple of famous examples from that entire oeuvre – which spans Urdu and Farsi – but I will try. In fact, I will make my task simple my just concentrating on his ghazals.

Sitaron se aage jahaan aur bhi hai
Abhi ishq ke imtihaan aur bhi hai

This is one of the most-quoted shers of Iqbal,  and famous for a long time before the popular Pakistani pop band Junoon included it in their album ‘Azaadi’. 

Given his status as Allama, Iqbal deserves one more sher. This one is equally famous and could be the first ever sher I ever read, as it was displayed in the Botanical Gardens in Lucknow at a place – where in the proper season – there was a riot of colourful blooms.  Someone had a great idea. I wonder if that sign is still there….. Anyway, the sher is:

Hazaaron saal nargis apni be-noori pe roti hai
Badi mushqil se hota hai chaman mein didavar paida

There is a funny story related to the sher, concerning its recital by a Si  a gentleman from the Punjab, but I will save it for another time. Just remind me, anyone who is interested.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz is another poet, boasting a voluminous output, some of which is quite well known as his work is quite closer to our time, not to mention the services of a number of noted ghazal singers – Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hasan, Nayyara Noor and Iqbal Bano to say the least – who made his kalaam popular. I will again restrict myself to his ghazals, though the lines he is most known for are from a nazm – Mujh se pahli si mohabbat mere mahboob na maang. The immortal lines are:

Aur bhi dukh hai zamaane mein mohabbat ke siva
Raahaten aur bhi hain vasl ki raahat ke siva

I must confess I have never felt the truth of these as much as in this annus horibilis. However, an often cited sher of Faiz, from the ghazal Ham par tumhaari chaah ka ilzaam hi to hai  is:

Dil na-umeed to nahi, nakaam hi to hai
Lambi hai gam ki shaam, magar shaam hi to hai

I have written much on Maulana Syed Fazl ul Hasan Hasrat Mohani, a firebrand when it came to politics but an incurable romantic in his poetry. He is best known for his romantic Chupke chupke raat din… But as I wrote in an earlier post, the same spirit permeates all his work. However, I remembered this gem, in which seems regretful of his escapades…. imaginary or otherwise. I remember it was quite popular among some gentlemen of an advanced age in Lucknow….. and Good heavens, it is striking a chord in me too.

Ab kahe ko aayenge phir ‘Hasrat’
Aghaz-e-junoon ke woh zamaane

Next is Sardar Ahmed Khan Behzaad Lakhnavi, another paladin of the Lucknow tradition. Many are familiar with ‘Ae jazb-e-dil…’ following its inclusion in Ismail Merchant’s ‘Muhafiz’ (In Custody), not to mention an excellent rendition by Nayyara Noor. Another famous Behzaad ghazal is ‘Deewana banaana hai to deewaana bana de’ and one has to listen to Begum Akhtar interpret it. A notable couplet from it was:

Ae dekhnewaalon mujhe hans hans ke na dekho
Tum ko bhi mohabbat kahin mujh sa na bana de

Lets take a trio of recent poets to round up this post.

Ahmed Faraz is quite well known for his ghazals like ‘Ranjish hi sahi’, ‘Ab ke bichde shayad khwabon me mile’, ‘Shola tha jal-bujha hoon, havaayen mujhe na do’ and so many others. But this is a scattered gem.

Karun na yaad magar kis tarah bhulau use
Ghazal bahaana karun aur gungunau use

Bashir Badr is also quite well known and has a large corpus of poetic work in consciousness of those in the present era who have a foundness for Urdu poetry. One of his most perceptive shers,which is unfortunately true is, is:

Koi haath bhi nahin milayega jo gale miloge taapak se
Yeh naye mizaaj ka shahr hai yahan faasle se mila karo

Prof Waseem Barelvi is another well known figure for those who attend or otherwise catch mushairas. The truth of this is self-evident, though I guess there are some who might require this be explained to them.

Bahut bebaak aankhon mein ta’aluq tik nahi paata
Mohabbat mein kashish rakhne ko sharmana zaroori hai

I guess nothing can follow this, so I will end this post here. Tamam Shud.


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