A Short History of Punjabi Literature

Punjabi literature refers to literary works written in the Punjabi language particularly by peoples from the historical Punjab region of India and Pakistan including the Punjabi diaspora. The language is written in several different scripts, of which the Shahmukhi, the Gurmukhī scripts are the most commonly used.

Early Punjabi Literature (11-15th centuries)

Although the earliest Punjabi literature is found in the fragments of writings of the eleventh century yogis Gorakshanath and Charpatnah, the Punjabi literary tradition is popularly seen to commence with Fariduddin Ganjshakar (1173–1266) whose Sufi poetry was compiled after his death in the Adi Granth.

The Janamsakhis, stories on the life and legend of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), are early examples of Punjabi prose literature. Nanak’s own poetry was fused Punjabi, Khari Boli and Braj Bhasha, with vocabulary from Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian as was much of the literature of the later Sikh Gurus.

Mughal and Sikh Periods (16th century to 1857)

Punjabi poetry developed through Shah Hussain (1538–1599) and the Sufi tradition of Sultan Bahu (1628–1691), Shah Sharaf (1640–1724), Ali Haider (1690–1785), and Bulleh Shah (1680–1757). In contrast to Persian poets, who had preferred the ghazal for poetic expression, Punjabi Sufi poets tended to compose in the Kafi.

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Punjabi Sufi poetry also influenced the Punjabi Qissa, a genre of romantic tragedy which also derived inspiration from Indic, Persian and Quranic sources. The Qissa of Heer Ranjha by Waris Shah (1706–1798) is among the most popular of Punjabi qisse. Other popular stories include Sohni Mahiwal by Fazal Shah, Mirza Sahiba by Hafiz Barkhudar (1658–1707), Sassi Punnun by Hashim Shah (1735?–1843?), and Qissa Puran Bhagat by Qadaryar (1802–1892).

Heroic ballads known as Vaar enjoy a old oral tradition in Punjabi. Prominent examples of heroic or epic poetry include Guru Gobind Singh‘s in Chandi di Var (1666–1708). The semi-historical Nadir Shah Di Vaar by Najabat describes the invasion of India by Nadir Shah in 1739. The Jangnama, or ‘War Chronicle,’ was introduced into Punjabi literature during the Mughal period; the Punjabi Jangnama of Shah Mohammad (1780–1862) recounts the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1845–46.

 The Colonial Period (1858-1947)

The Victorian novel, Elizabethan drama, free verse and Modernism entered Punjabi literature through the introduction of British education during the Raj. The first Punjabi printing press (using Gurmukhi) was established through a Christian mission at Ludhiana in 1835, and the first Punjabi dictionary was published by Reverend J. Newton in 1854.

The Punjabi novel developed through Nanak Singh (1897–1971) and Vir Singh. Starting off as a pamphleteer and as part of the Singh Sabha Movement, Vir Singh wrote historical romance through such novels as Sundari, Satwant Kaur and Baba Naudh Singh, whereas Nanak Singh helped link the novel to the story telling traditions of Qissa and oral tradition as well as to questions of social reform.

The novels, short stories and poetry of Amrita Pritam (1919–2005) highlighted, among other themes, the experience of women, and the Partition of India. Punjabi poetry during the British Raj moreover began to explore more the experiences of the common man and the poor through the work of Puran Singh (1881–1931). Other poets such as Dhani Ram Chatrik (1876–1957), Diwan Singh (1897–1944) and Ustad Daman (1911–1984), explored and expressed nationalism in their poetry during India’s freedom movement.

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Modernism was also introduced into Punjabi poetry by Prof. Mohan Singh (1905–78) and Shareef Kunjahi. The Punjabi diaspora also began to emerge during the Raj and also produced poetry whose theme was revolt against British rule in Ghadar di Gunj (Echoes of Mutiny).

Post-Independence literature (1947- )

West Punjab (Pakistan)

Najm Hossein Syed, Fakhar Zaman and Afzal Ahsan Randhawa are some of the more prominent names in West Punjabi literature produced in Pakistan since 1947. Literary criticism in Punjabi has also emerged through the efforts of West Punjabi scholars and poets, Shafqat Tanvir Mirza (b. 1932), Ahmad Salim, and Najm Hosain Syed (b. 1936). The work of Zaman and Randhawa often treats the rediscovery of Punjabi identity and language in Pakistan since 1947.

Urdu poets of the Punjab have also written Punjabi poetry including Munir Niazi (1928–2006).

East Punjab (India)

Amrita Pritam (1919–2005), Shiv Kumar Batalvi (1936–1973), Surjit Paatar (1944–) and Pash (1950–1988) are some of the more prominent poets and writers of East Punjab (India). Pritam’s Sunehe (Messages) received the Sahitya Akademi in 1982. In it, Pritam explores the impact of social morality on women. Kumar’s epic Luna (a dramatic retelling of the legend of Puran Bhagat) won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1965.

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Socialist themes of revolution meanwhile influenced writers like Pash whose work demonstrates the influence of Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz. Meanwhile, modern drama developed through Ishwar Nanda’s Ibsen-influenced Suhag in 1913, Gursharan Singh who helped popularize the genre through live theatre in Punjabi villages and Kartar Singh Duggal, and Balwant Gargi.

Diaspora Punjabi literature

Punjabi diaspora literature has developed through writers in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the United States, as well as writers in Africa such as Ajaib Kamal, born in 1932 in Kenya. Themes explored by diaspora writers include the cross-cultural experience of Punjabi migrants, racial discrimination, exclusion, and assimilation, the experience of women in the diaspora, and spirituality in the modern world. Second generation writers of Punjabi ancestry such as Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon (Roop Dhillon) have explored the relationship between British Punjabis and their immigrant parents as well as experiment with surrealism, science-fiction and crime-fiction.

* First published by me in Wikipedia under “Punjabi literature”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punjabi_literature

‘Dil De Tutti kandh Te’ – On the heart’s broken wall – by Mudasar Punnu

mudasar-punnu

Dil de Tutti kandh te
Virlo virli chaRhdi rahndi
Yadan de vail
Pittal akhaaN paan lishkaray
Chann parchaaweyaaN lahndi
AasaaN de trel
Din pattar
Rattan reet hoyaN
Jekar aaway sajjan peyara
Hoye nawaiN swaal

mudasar.aizaz@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/mudasar.aizaz
Photo by Mudasar Punnu

uddari@live.ca
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uddari-Weblog/333586816691660
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‘Mere Ghar nooN Deemak Lag gaye Ae میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے’ by Kausar Jamal

Eh nikki jehi ik soonDi ae
per akaThh hai lakhh karorraN da
eh tere mere ghar vich ghhuss ke
apnay ghar banandi ae
khaki rang de khaimay la ke
vang fauj de rehndi ae
eh hukm waDee sarkar da mann di
sajjan teri ae, na meri ae

Mere ghar nooN deemak lag gaye ae

Eh lakrri kaghaz khhaandi ae
harfan de deway bujhaandi ae
eh neera kardi jaandi ae
kandhaaN boohay Dhandi ae
chhatt siraN tooN lahndi ae
eh gujjiaN maraN dendi ae
eh dushman barri kameeni ae

Mere ghar nooN deemak lag gaye ae

KeiwaiN ais tooN jan bachaawaN
keiwaiN apna ghar bachaawaN
na mardi ae na jaandi ae
na khhairra mera chhaDdi ae
eh kutti dahdi peendi ae
eh dushman barri kameeni ae

Mere ghar nooN deemak lag gaye ae

Siyaanay mainuN den salahwaaN
‘jiss ghar nooN deemak lag jaaway
oss ghar tooN kadi na jaaway
ais ghar diyaN kandhaaN Dhha de
neeyaaN nooN zehr pela de
tooN pehlay ehdi patt bana
fer ghar ik nawaN bana
ais gal vich der na la
jiss ghar nooN deemak lag jaaway
oss ghar tooN kadi na jaaway’.

Siyaanay mainuN den salahwaaN:
ghar ik nawaaN bana

Mere ghar nooN deemak lag gaye ae
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میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

اے نکّی جئی اک سنڈی اے
پر کٹھ ہے لکھ کروڑاں دا
اے تیرے میرے گھر وچ گھس کے
آپنے گھر بناندی اے
خاکی رنگ دے خیمے لا کے
وانگ فوج دے رہندی اے
اے حکم وڈی سرکار دا من دی
سجّن تیری اے، نہ میری اے

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

اے لکّڑی کاغذ کھاندی اے
حرفاں دے دیوے بجھاندی اے
اے نیرا کردی جاندی اے
کندھاں بوۓ ڈھاندی اے
چھت سراں توں لاندی اے
اے گجّیاں ماراں دندی اے
اے دشمن بڑی کمینی اے

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

میں کیویں اس توں جان چھڑاواں
کیویں آپنا گھر بچاواں
نہ مردی اے نہ جاندی اے
نہ کھیڑا میرا چھڈّدی اے
اے کنّی ڈاڈی پینڈی اے
اے دشمن بڑی کمینی اے

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے

:سیانے مینوں دین صلاحواں
جس گھر نوں دیمک لگ جاوے ”
اس گھر توں کدی نہ جاوے
اس گھر دیاں کندھاں ڈھا دے
نیواں نوں زہر پلا دے
توں پہلے ایدھی پٹ بنآ
فیر گھر اک نواں بنا
اس کم وچ دیر نہ لا
جس گھر نوں دیمک لگ جاوے
“اس گھر توں کدی نہ جاوے

:سیانے مینوں دین صلاحواں
گھر اک نواں بنا

میرے گھر نوں دیمک لگ گئی اے
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Kausar Jamal is a Pakistani poet and fiction writer working as a language professional in Australia. She has published a collection of her Urdu short storiesJahan-e-Digar’ in 2006 (Poorab Academy, Islamabad) to high acclaim. Her other publications include: travelogue ‘Cheeni MangoloN ke Shehr MeiN’ (Youyi Publications, 1987), ‘Cheen MeiN Urdu’ (National Language Authority, Islamabad 1986), ‘Jadeed Cheeni Zaban’ (NUML, Islamabad 1985), Chinese poetry translated in Urdu ‘Mehektey Haar’ (Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad 1984), a collection of Chinese folk stories translated in Urdu ‘Moor Shahzadi’ (Foreign Languages Press, Beijing 1983).
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Momentary, Immediate, and Urgent: Amarjit Chandan

Amarjit Chandan joins our Ventures Tour tomorrow, Fri 2 Nov, at Off The Shelf Festival in Sheffield (details here). We asked him some questions in anticipation of his readings in Sheffield, Wakefield, Hebden Bridge, Halifax and Nottingham over the next few days.

How would you describe your poetry?
I have been asked this question many times and each time I evade it saying: I write about any thing – from God to the tomato. I’ve written a poem about the latter and I rather like it.
I think contemporary poets and literary critics including readers are better in describing a poet’s work.

When did you begin writing poetry?
I inherited poetry from my father who was a poet. My first poem was published in the prestigious Punjabi magazine Preet Lari when I was 20.

How have you developed and improved your poetry since you started? What is your writing process? Do you write alone or with the help of others?
One learns all the time. I write alone. It is revealed to me. It can happen any time, anywhere. I have written walking the streets scribbling on pieces of paper.

What encouraged you to take part in the Arc tour? What do you hope to achieve? What are you most looking forward to?
My publishers encouraged me! I’d like to reach more people who appreciate poetry. I’d talk about how the Punjabi listeners respond to poets reading in public. Unlike the English scene it is always lively. They respond to each word, image or a line they like by saying aloud like: Wow! Great! Marvelous! Mukarar – say it again! Bravo! The English tend to reach out to the poet after the reading, saying simply: that poem or line I really liked. A woman in Lancaster (34th Litfest 20th October) came to me telling how she was touched by my poem ‘To Father’ and could not control her tears.

How much does reading in new contexts change the way you think about your work?
Readers’ and listeners’ response is what really matters. I have read in all sorts of contexts – from large gatherings to intimate circles – amongst my own community and non-Punjabis. I feel rewarded even if there is a single person present who you know is touched by your words or a silent pause in your poem.
Sometimes I’ve a weird feeling while reading, which I have shared with my close friends, a parallel track runs in my thoughts that I shouldn’t be doing this – making public my innermost thoughts like a love poem or poems written about my loved ones. It wasn’t meant to be like this. My friends comfort me that it is sharing – that’s what poetry is all about.
Reading while recording in a semi-dark studio is bizarre and overwhelming – the subjects of your poems appear before your eyes and you talk face-to-face with them.

What do you think is most important in a poetry translation? Is fidelity to the original the most important thing, for example?
The original is crucial. The translation has to be faithful to the original in its own way.

What place do you think poetry has in contemporary culture?
Poetry has certain contemporariness about it by its very nature – it’s momentary, immediate, and urgent. It has the central place where our hearts are. It has always been the case and will ever be.

Are there any British poets you have been inspired by or you particularly admire?
I particularly admire John Berger. He is the master. As a man and a writer he is so inspiring. My writing is very much influenced by his work. Other English poets who are my favourite: Dannie Abse, Adrian Mitchell, Owen Sheers and Jackie Kay.

What are the difficulties facing poets in the Punjab?
Their main difficulty is to get published. There are no funding bodies like Arts Council etc. Most of the poets are into self-publishing or they have to pay the publishers and the readership is also shrinking. The poets in West Punjab Pakistan are in dire straits. It is the most populous province of Pakistan, with more than 55% of the country’s total population. Unlike the Indian Punjab, Punjabi has no status there: it has no official recognition in the Constitution of Pakistan. It is not taught at the primary school level. Even Punjabi members of national assembly are not allowed to make speeches in their own mother tongue.

Amarjit Chandan
22 October 2012

Posted by Arc, 1st November 2012
http://www.arcpublications.co.uk/blog.php

uddari@live.ca
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Uddari-Weblog/333586816691660
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Protect Mirza-Sahiban’s Mausoleum in Punjab


Photo by Sohail Abid, 2010

This is the burying place of Mirza Sahiban in Danabad. It is facing the worst neglect because of the stigma attached to the two lovers. There is also danger that there graves may be erased by, the now stronger, conservative section of the local community. It must be declared a National Heritage site. The following information is shared by Sohail Abid on Facebook. Uddari

‘The mausoleum of Miraza-Sahiban, in depilated condition, is located in Danabad union council in Jaranwala. Local men do not let their women visit the mausoleum fearing they might follow the footsteps of Sahiban. People were convinced that visits by women to the mausoleum increased their chances of eloping and thus they banned women from visiting the place.

‘Hayat Kharal, from 384 GB Jhandwali village said Akram alias Akri’s daughter eloped with her lover five years ago when she returned from Mirza-Sahibain’s shrine. Sahadat Ali Kharal, a resident, told Daily Times that their forefathers believed that the “dirt cemetery of Mirza-Sahiban” should be demolished because many women would become immoral. Qasoo Kharal, another resident, said the memory of Mirza and Sahiban must be erased.’

‘That’s from a 2006 Daily Times story. When I visited the place in Dec 2010, it was there. Erasing the graves is not a matter as simple in the muslim tradition of the sub-continent. But yes, the people don’t really want to visit the mausoleum. This photo was taken during my visit in 2010.’

Sohail Abid
http://www.facebook.com/sohailabid

Related content at Uddari
‘SahebaN’s Name’ by Fauzia Rafique
‘SahebaN’s Name’, Part 2
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‘Rafique Dost Laye’ (for Rafique friend) a poem by Zubair Ahmad

Teri kinj kahani kereye arreye
rut purani ker bethay aaN

Pooni pooni ker jo kateya
ohda taan na taneya
‘chaldeyaN vidaa na keeta’
‘kakh baal na baneray dharay’
kinj likhhiye raam kahani
sab sukhn zubani ker bethhay aaN

Ajab shaam nagr vich aayi
booha pichhla oh langhh aayi
jinhay dhhoi Dar di taaki
suman raat akhheiN vich paayi
eh raat akhheiN rakhh lainday
akhh dardaaN pani ker bethay aaN
rut purani ker bethay aaN
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* ‘chaldeyaN vidaa na keeta’ Madholal Hussain de kaafi ‘aiNwain gaye vehaaye, koi dam yaad na kaatea’
* ‘kakhh baal na baneray dhareye’ Najm hosain Syed de nazm ‘kakhh baal ke banereyaaN te dhhareye jee’ toon
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Fauzia Rafique laye eh nazm Zubair Ahmad ne 2005 ch likhhi. 2007 ch eh Lahore de risaalay ‘Pancham’ ch shahmukhi ch chappi.
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تیری کنج کہا نی کرئیے اڑیئے

تیری کنج کہا نی کرئیے اڑیئے
رُت پرانی کر بیٹھے آں

پُونی پُونی کر جو کتیا
اوہدا تان نہ تنیا
ْ”چلدیاں وداع نہ کیتا”
“کُکھ بال نہ بنیرے دھرئے”
کنج لکھیے رام کہانی
سبھ سُخن زبانی کر بیٹھے آں

عجب شام نگر وچ آئی
بوہا پچھلا اوہ لنگھ آئی
جس ڈھوئی ڈر دی تاکی
سُپن رات اکھیں وچ پائی
ایہہ رات اکھیں رکھ لیندے
اکھ درداں پانی کر بیٹھے آں
رُت پرانی کر بیٹھے آں

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‘چلدیاں وداع نہ کیتا’٭ مادھو لال حُسین دی کافی ‘انیویں گئی وہاء ِ، کوئی دم یاد نہ کیتا۔’

‘ککھ بال نہ بنرتے دھریے’۔نجم حُسین سیدّ دی نظم’ ککھ بال کے بنیریاں تے دھریے جی’
..

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ਰਫ਼ੀਕ ਦੋਸਤ ਲਈ

ਕਿੰਜ ਤੇਰੀ ਕਹਾਣੀ ਕਰੀਏ ਅੜੀਏ
ਰੁੱਤ ਪੁਰਾਣੀ ਕਰ ਬੈਠੇ ਆਂ

ਪੂਣੀ ਪੂਣੀ ਕਰ ਜੋ ਕਤਿਆ
ਉਹਦਾ ਤਾਨ ਨਾ ਤਣਿਆ
“ਚੱਲਦਿਆਂ ਵਿਦਾ ਨਾ ਕੀਤਾ”
“ਕੱਖ ਬਾਲ ਨਾ ਬਨੇਰੇ ਧਰੇ”
ਕਿੰਜ ਲਿਖੀਏ ਰਾਮ ਕਹਾਣੀ
ਸਭ ਸੁਖ਼ਨ ਜ਼ਬਾਨੀ ਕਰ ਬੇਠੇ ਆਂ
ਰੁੱਤ ਪੁਰਾਣੀ ਕਰ ਬੈਠੇ ਆਂ

ਅਜਬ ਸ਼ਾਮ ਨਗਰ ਵਿੱਚ ਆਈ
ਬੂਹਾ ਪਿਛਲਾ ਜੋ ਲੰਘ ਆਈ
ਉਸ ਢੋਈ ਡਰ ਦੀ ਤਾਕੀ
ਸੁਪਨ ਰਾਤ ਅੱਖੀਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਪਾਈ

ਏਹ ਰਾਤ ਅੱਖੀਂ ਰੱਖ ਲੈਂਦੇ
ਅੱਖ ਦਰਦਾਂ ਪਾਣੀ ਕਰ ਬੈਠੇ ਆਂ
ਰੁੱਤ ਪੁਰਾਣੀ ਕਰ ਬੈਠੇ ਆਂ

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* ਏਹ ਸਤਰ ਸ਼ਾਹ ਹੁਸੈਨ ਦੀ ਕਾਫ਼ੀ ਤੋ ਏ
* ਏਹ ਸਤਰ ਨਜਮ ਹੁਸੈਨ ਸਯੱਦ ਦੀ ਨਜ਼ਮ “ਕੱਖ ਬਾਲ ਕੇ ਬਨੇਰਿਆਂ ’ਤੇ ਧਰੀਏ ਜੀ” ਤੋਂ ਏ।
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Zubair Ahmad is a Lahore based author, poet, editor and cultural activist.
Visit his Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/zubair.ahmad.73
Contact Zubair at
kitab.trinjan@gmail.com
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SadhraaN ‘سدھراں’ a Punjabi Poem by Masood Munawer

Ishq da booha band suninda, aa ral ke khharrkayeye
Dhol vagaayeye

Matt Bullah sanooN lohla jaanay, paireen ghhunghhroo paayeye
Yaar manaayeye

Sunj bha-ee sab dhoo-aiN ujrray, sajri dhookh dukhaayeye
Dhoorr dhumaayeye

Ra Masood, na peer na sadhu, kis theeN sadqay jaayeye
RushdaaN paayeye

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سدھراں

عشق دا بوہا بند سُنی دا ، آ رل کے کھڑکائیے
ڈھول وگائیے

مت بُلھا سانوں لولہا جانے ، پیریں گھُنگرو پائیے
یار منائیے

سُنج بھئی سب دھوئیں اُجڑے ، سجری دھوخ دھُخائیے
دھُوڑ دھُمائیے

را مسعود ، نہ پیر نہ سادھو ، کس تھیں صدقے جاَئیے
رُشداں پائیے

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First published in Shahmukhi by Masood munawar at his Facebook page. View it here:
http://www.facebook.com/notes/masood-munawer/%D8%B3%D8%AF%DA%BE%D8%B1%D8%A7%DA%BA/389794384408743
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