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INDIAN LITERATURE

|| Urdu Gems||

Urdu writing in its various primitive forms can be traced to Muhammad Urfi (Tadhkirah - 1228 AD), Amir Khusro (1259-1325 AD) and Kwaja Muhammad Husaini (1318-1422 AD). As Urdu started flourishing in the kingdoms of Golconda and Bijapur, the earliest writings in Urdu are in the Dakhni (Deccani) dialect. The Sufi saints were the earliest promoters of the Dakhni Urdu. The Sufi-saint Hazrat Khwaja Banda Nawaz Gesudaraz is considered to be the first prose writer of Dakhni Urdu and some treatises like Merajul Ashiqin and Tilawatul Wajud are attributed to him but his authorship is open to doubt. The first literary work in Urdu is that of Bidar poet Fakhruddin Nizami's mathnavi 'Kadam Rao Padam Rao' written between 1421 and 1434 A.D. Kamal Khan Rustami (Khawar Nama) and Nusrati (Gulshan-e-Ishq, Ali Nama and Tarikh-e-Iskandari) were two great poets of Bijapur. Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah, the greatest of Golconda Kings who was a distinguished poet, is credited with introducing a secular content to otherwise predominantly religious Urdu poetry. His poetry focused on love, nature and social life of the day.

Among the other important writers of Dakhni Urdu were Shah Miranji Shamsul Ushaq (Khush Nama and Khush Naghz), Shah Burhanuddin Janam, Mullah Wajhi (Qutb Mushtari and Sabras), Ghawasi (Saiful Mulook-O-Badi-Ul-Jamal and Tuti Nama), Ibn-e-Nishati (Phul Ban) and Tabai (Bhahram-O-Guldandam). Wajhi's Sabras is considered to be a masterpiece of great literary and philosophical merit. Vali Mohammed or Vali Dakhni (Diwan) was one of the most prolific Dakhni poets of the medieval period. He developed the form of the ghazal. When his Diwan (Collection of Ghazals and other poetic genres) reached Delhi, the poets of Delhi who were engaged in composing poetry in Persian language, were much impressed and they also started writing poetry in Urdu, which they named Rekhta.

The medieval Urdu poetry grew under the shadow of Persian poetry. Unlike the Hindi poetry, which grew out of the Indian soil, Urdu poetry was initially fed with Persian words and imagery. Sirajuddin Ali Khan Arzu and Shaikh Sadullah Gulshan were the earliest promoters of Urdu language in North India. By the beginning of the 18th century a more sophisticated North Indian variation of the Urdu language began to evolve through the writings of Shaikh Zahooruddin Hatim (1699-1781 AD), Mirza Mazhar Jan-e-Janan (1699-1781 AD) Khwaja Mir Dard (1719- 1785 AD), Mir Taqi Mir (1722-1810 AD), Mir Hasan (1727-1786 AD) and Mohammed Rafi Sauda (1713-1780 AD). Sauda has been described as the foremost satirist of Urdu literature during the 18th Century. His Shahr Ashob and Qasida Tazheek-e-Rozgar are considered as masterpieces of Urdu literature. Mir Hassan's mathnavi Sihr-ul-Bayan and Mir Taqi Mir's mathnavies provided a distinct Indian touch to the language. Mir's works, apart from his six Diwans, include Nikat-ush-Shora (Tazkira) and Zikr-se-Mir (Autobiography).

Shaik Ghulam Hamdani Mushafi (1750-1824), Insha Allah Khan (Darya-e-Latafat and Rani Ketaki), Khwaja Haider Ali Atish, Daya Shankar Naseem (mathnavi: Gulzare-e-Naseem), Nawab Mirza Shauq (Bahr-e-Ishq, Zahr-e-Ishq and Lazzat-e-Ishq) and Shaik Imam Bakhsh Nasikh were the early poets of Lucknow. Mir Babar Ali Anees (1802-1874) excelled in the art of writing marsiyas.

The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was a poet with unique style, typified by difficult rhymes, excessive word play and use of idiomatic language. He has authored four voluminous Diwans. Before the national uprising of 1857 the reign of Bahadur Shah Zafar witnessed the luxurious spring of Urdu poetry immediately followed by the chilly winds of autumn. Shaik Ibrahim Zauq was the Shah's mentor in poetry. Next to Sauda he is considered to be the most outstanding composer of qasidas (panegyrics). Hakim Momin Khan Momin wrote ghazals in a style peculiar to him. He used ghazal exclusively for expressing emotions of love. Any description of Urdu literature can never be complete without the mention of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869), who is considered as the greatest of all the Urdu poets. With his passion for originality, Ghalib brought in a renaissance in Urdu poetry. In the post - Ghalib period, Dagh (b. 1831) emerged as a distinct poet, whose poetry was distinguished by its purity of idiom and simplicity of language and thought.

Modern Urdu literature covers the time from the last quarter of the 19th century till the present day and can be divided into two periods: the period of the Aligarh Movement started by Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan and the period influenced by Sir Mohammed Iqbal followed by the Progressive movement and movements of Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zouq, Modernism and Post modernism. However, Altaf Hussain Hali (1837-1914) is the actual innovator of the modern spirit in Urdu poetry. Hali's works include Diwan-e-Hali, Madd-o-Jazr-e-Islam or Musaddas-e-Hali (1879), Shakwa-e-Hind (1887), Munajat-e-Beva (1886) and Chup ki Dad (1905). Hali showered the art of writing biographies with a critical approach in his biographies Hayat-e-Sadi and Hayat-e-Jaweed. Hali was the pioneer of modern criticism.

His Muqaddama-e-Sher-o-Shaeri is the foundation stone of Urdu criticism. Shibli Nomani (b.1857) is considered as the father of modern history in Urdu. He has produced several works based on historical research, especially on Islamic history, like Seerat-un-Noman (1892) and Al Faruq (1899). Shibli also produced important works like Swanih Umari Moulana Rum, Ilmul Kalam (1903), Muvazina-e-Anis-o-Dabir (1907) and Sher-ul-Ajam (1899). Mohammed Hussain Azad was an important writer and poet of this period. He laid the foundation of modern poem in Urdu. Ab-e-Hayat, Sukhandan-e-Pars, Darbar-e-Akbari and Nazm-e-Azad are some of his outstanding literary works.

Other leading poets of modern period include Syyid Akbar Husain Akbar Allahabadi (1846-1921), who had a flair for extempore composition of satiric and comic verses, Khushi Mohammed Nazir (1872-1944), who composed Jogi and Pani Mein, Mohammed Iqbal (1873-1938), Durga Sahai Suroor (d.1910), Mohammed Ali Jauhar (d.1931) and Hasrat Mohani (d.1951). Iqbal's poetry underwent several phases of evolution from Romanticism (Nala-e-Yateem and Abr-e-Guhar Bar) to Indian Nationalism (Tasvir-e-Dard, Naya Shivala and Tarana-e-Hindi) and finally to Pan-Islamism (Shakva, Sham-o-Shair, Jawab-e-Shakva, Khizr-e-Rah and Tulu-e-Islam).

Fani Badayuni (1879-1941), Shad Azimabadi (1846-1927), Yagana Changezi (1884-1956), Asghar Gondavi (1884-1936), Jigar Moradabadi (1896-1982), Akhtar Shirani, Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1912-1985), Miraji (1912-1950), N.M.Rashid (1910-1976), Akhtarul-Iman (b.1915), Ali Sardar Jafri (b.1913), Makhdoom Mohiuddin (1908 -1969), Kaifi Azmi (b.1918), Jan Nisar Akhtar (1914-1979), Sahir Ludhianvi (1922-1980), Majrooh Sultanpuri (1919-2000), Asrarul Haq Majaz (1911-1955), Nasir Kazmi, Ibn-e-Insha and Dr Kalim Ajiz have taken the Urdu poetry to new heights.
 

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A new generation of poets emerged around the sixth decade of twentieth century. The leading poets of this generation include Khaleelur Rahman Aazmi, Himyat Ali Shair, Balraj Komal, Ameeq Hanafi, Kumar Pashi, Makhmoor Saidi, Mazhar Imam, Dr Mughni Tabassum, Bani, Munir Niyazi, Suleman Areeb, Aziz Qaisi, Saqi Faruqi, Iftekhar Arif, Saleem Ahmed, Qazi Saleem, Shafiq Fatima Shera, Bashar Nawaz, Akbar Hyderabadi, Waheed Akhter, Shaz Tamkanat, Zubair Razvi, Muztar Majaz, Mushaf Iqbal Tausifi, Zohra Nigah, Kishwar Naheed, Zahida Zaidi, Siddiqua Shabnam and others.

The short story in Urdu began with Munshi Premchand's Soz-e-Vatan (1908). Premchand's short stories cover nearly a dozen volumes including Prem Pachisi, Prem Battisi, Prem Chalisi, Zad-e-Rah, Vardaat, Akhri Tuhfa and Khak-e-Parvana. Mohammed Hussan Askari and Khwaja Ahmed Abbas are counted among the leading lights of the Urdu Short story. The Progressive Movement in Urdu fiction gained momentum under Sajjad Zaheer (1905-1976), Ahmed Ali (1912-1994), Mahmood-uz-Zafar (1908-1994) and Rasheed Jahan (1905-1952). Urdu writers like Rajender Singh Bedi and Krishn Chander (1914-1977) showed commitment to the Marxist philosophy in their writings. Krishn Chander's Adhe Ghante Ka Khuda is one of the most memorable stories in Urdu literature. His other renowned short stories include Zindagi Ke Mor Par, Kalu Bhangi and Mahalaxmi Ka Pul. Bedi's Garm Kot and Lajvanti are among the masterpieces of Urdu short story. Bedi's important works include collections of short stories, Dana-o-Daam Girhen, Kokh Jali and Apne Dukh Mujhe Dedo etc., collection of plays "Saat Khel" and a novel Ek Chadar Maili Si (1972). Manto, Ismat Chughtai and Mumtaz Mufti form a different brand of Urdu writers who concentrated on the "psychological story" in contrast to the "sociological story" of Bedi and Krishn Chander. Some of Ismat Chughtai's leading short stories are Chauthi Ka Jora, Do Hath, Lehren and Lihaf. Manto dealt in an artistic way with many unconventional subjects, like sex, which were considered taboo by the Middle-class. His Thanda Gosht, which dealt with the subject of necrophilia, shocked the readers. Another of Manto's praise-worthy works was Khol Do, which tackled the horrors of partition. Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi (b.1915) is another leading name in Urdu short story. His important short stories include Alhamd-o-Lillah, Savab, Nasib and others. In the post-1936 period, the writers belonging to the Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zauq produced several good stories in Urdu. Upender Nath Ashk (Dachi), Ghulam Abbas (Anandi). Intezar Hussain, Anwar Sajjad, Balraj Mainra, Surender Parkash and Qurratul-ain Haider (Sitaroun Se Aage, Mere Sanam Khane) are the other leading lights of Urdu short story. Several leading fiction writers emerged from the city of Hyderabad in the contemporary times, which include Jeelani Bano, Iqbal Mateen, Awaz Sayeed, Kadeer Zaman, Mazhr-uz-Zaman and others.

Novel writing in Urdu can be traced to Nazir Ahmed (1836 - 1912) who composed several novels like Mirat-ul-Urus (1869), Banat-un-Nash (1873), Taubat-un-Nasuh (1877), Fasana-e-Mubtala (1885), Ibn-ul-Waqt (1888), Ayama (1891) and others. Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar (1845 - 1903)'s Fasana-e-Azad, Abdul Halim Sharar (1860 - 1920)'s Badr-un-Nisa Ki Musibat and Agha Sadiq ki Shadi, Mirza Muhammed Hadi Ruswa's Umrao Jan Ada (1899) are some of the great novels and novelettes written during the period. Niaz Fatehpuri (1887 - 1966) and Qazi Abdul Gaffar (1862-1956) were the other eminent early romantic novelists in the language. However, it was Premchand (1880-1936) who tried to introduce the trend of realism in Urdu novel. Premchand was a prolific writer who produced several books. His important novels include Bazare-e-Husn (1917), Gosha-e-Afiat, Chaugan-e-Hasti, Maidan-e-Amal and Godan. Premchand's realism was further strengthened by the writers of the Indian Progressive Writers' Association like Sajjad Zaheer, Krishn Chander and Ismat Chughtai. Krishn Chander's Jab Khet Jage (1952), Ek Gadhe Ki Sarguzasht (1957) and Shikast are considered among the outstanding novels in Urdu literature. Ismat Chughtai's novel Terhi Lakir (1947) and Qurratul-ain Haider's novel Aag Ka Darya are considered as important works in the history of Urdu novel. Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Aziz Ahmed, Balwant Singh, Khadija Mastur, Intezar Hussain are the other important writers in Urdu in the contemporary times.

Urdu was not confined to only the Muslim writers. Several writers from other religions also wrote in Urdu. Prominent among them are Munshi Premchand, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar (Fasana-e-Azad) and Brij Narain Chakbast (1882 - 1926), who composed Subh-e-Watan and Tilok Chand Mahrum (1887-1966), who composed Andhi and Utra Hua Darya, Krishn Chander, Rajindar Singh Bedi, Kanhaiyalal Kapur, Upendar Nath Ashk, Jagan Nath Azad, Jogender Pal, Balraj Komal and Kumar Pashi.

Akbar Allahabadi (1846-1921) was the pioneer among the Urdu humorists and satirists. Majeed Lahori, Mehdi Ali Khan, Patras Bokhari (1898-1958), Mirza Farhatullah Beg, Shafiq-ur-Rahman, Azim Baig Chughtai, Ibn-e-Insha, Mushfiq Khwaja, Mushtaq Ahmed Yousifi, K.L.Kapur, Amjad Hussain, Mujtaba Hussain, Himayatullah and Talib Khundmeri are the other leading names in the
field of humour.

Prof. Hafiz Mohammed Sheerani (1888-1945) devoted long years to the field of literary criticism. Others in this field include Shaikh Mohammed Ikram (1907-1976), Sayyid Ihtesham Hussain (1912 - 1976), Mohammed Hasan Askari, Ale-Ahmed Suroor, Mumtaz Husain, Masud Husain, Shams-ur-Rahman Faruqi, Gopichand Narang, Mughni Tabassum (b.1930) and others.

Farhang-e-Asifya is the first Urdu dictionary based on principles of the modern lexicography, which was produced by Maulana Sayyid Ahmed Dehlvi (1846-1920) in 1892.
 

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