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‘Aziz Lakhnavi’: Lucknow’s beloved in the world of poetry

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Image source: www.headstuff.org

By Vikas Datta

If we compare poetry to a landscape, it would be one that is constantly but gradually evolving with its contours keeping on changing. Features that may have once loomed large may later be barely indistinguishable from the remaining terrain. Urdu poetry is one such relatable aspect.

In English poetry, there were times when Sir Philip Sidney, John Donne, Alexander Pope, Robert Southey, Christina Rosetti or Edna St Vincent Millay (and many others) were the best-known but now may only be known to a handful of connoisseurs, or dedicated literary scholars. Urdu was no different.

Mirza Asadullah Khan ‘Ghalib’ is today the most well-known Urdu poet, but in his own time, his contemporary Sheikh Ibrahim ‘Zauq’ was much more well-regarded and followed though now virtually eclipsed. There were scores of others, much feted in their times, but now banished to the boundless void of obscurity – though hopefully not gone so far as they can’t be brought back into current consciousness.

Like, perhaps, this representative from an illustrious cultural city, and credited with being among those who gave a new lease of life to the ghazal.

In his time, Mirza Muhammad Hadi ‘Aziz Lakhnavi’ (1882-1935) was esteemed highly by both peers like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Allama Shibli Nomani, Abdul Halim ‘Sharar’, the incomparable biographer of Lucknow, Mirza Muhammad Hadi ‘Ruswa’ of “Umrao Jaan” fame and Allama Mohammad Iqbal and Akbar Hussein Rizvi ‘Akbar Allahabadi’ who even wrote couplets – in Persian – extolling his art. But now, few will recall his name.

As his sobriquet indicates, Aziz chose to be identified with the “Dabistan-e-Lakhnau” or the Lucknow School of Urdu poetry. It was however often criticised for its “shallowness”, “undue focus” on linguistic acrobatics and wordplay, expression of sentiments, like love, at a basic, profane level, and a certain coarseness but is this criticism justified?

No, says prominent scholar Khaliq Anjum, who has brought out a selection of Aziz’s works, noting these features were never a representative of the whole school and are mostly seen in a part of the work of a trio of early 19th century poets associated with it. And then these characteristics can also be found in some associated with the rival Delhi school too. And Aziz, even if he dealt with issues of love, brought to it a certain refined sensibility to his verse, he says.

Details about the poet’s life are sketchy, but we know he was born in Lucknow in February 1882 to a family originally from Iran’s Shiraz, was the son of Mirza Mohammad Mehdi, studied at the city’s famed Firangi Mahal seminary, and later was private secretary to deputy commissioner Mirza Mohammad Abbas Khan.

In poetry, he was a protege of Syed Ali Naqi Zaidi ‘Safi Lakhnavi’ and his own proteges included Shabbir Hasan Khan ‘Josh Malihabadi’ and Nawab Jafar Ali Khan ‘Asr Lakhnavi’. His sole published work was his collection “Gulkadah” (1915), which drew appreciation from Iqbal when the second edition appeared in 1931, with him specially singling out this couplet: “Apne markaz ki taraf maayil parvaz tha husn/Bhulta hi nahi alam teri angdai ka”.

As said, Aziz wrote on love and all its phases in his characteristic style – be it its effect: “Aag to dil ki bujh lene do phir kuch puchna/Hosh kisko jo bataye kya raha kya jal gaya”, the sorrows of parting: “Thi subah aur sitaare kuch jhilmila rahe the/Bimaar-e-shaam-e-furqat duniya se ja rahe the”, its lingering pain: “Shama bujh kar rah gayi parvana jal kar rah gaya/Yaadgar-e-husn-o-ishq ek dil par daagh rah gaya” and so on.

He could be playful too: “Yeh mashvara bahm uthe hain charah jo karte/Ke ab mareez ko achcha tha Qibla-ruu karte” begins one ghazal and its second sher could be familiar to those in romance: “Zabaan ruk gayi aakhi sehr ke hote hi/Tamam raat kati dil se guftagoo karte” and the difficulties could be no better encapsulated as in the ending: “Pahunch ke hashr ke maidan mein haul kyun hai ‘Aziz’/Abhi to pehli hi manzil hai justju karte”.

Aziz could get lofty too: “Batla rahi thi ahl mohabbat ki justju/Jitna voh qareeb tha, itna hi door tha” or “Hujoom shauq ka bas qissa mukhtsar yeh hai/Ke main jo chahta hoon voh kaha nahi jaata” or even “Khuda mahfuz rakhe ishq ke jazbaat-i-kaamil se/Zameen gardun se takraai jahaan dil mil gaya dil se”.

This was brief selection with the hope it interests some towards Aziz, who is a delightful and thoughtful poet, and once wrote: “Kab akele is jahan se ham gaye/Le ke apne saath ek aalam gaye”.

Not many could claim this privilege! (IANS)

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What is a Poem’s Purpose and Why is Carefree Life of a Poet most Adored?

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 – by Saket Suman

New Delhi, July 24, 2017: Of all romanticism associated with poetry, the ethereal and carefree life of a poet is perhaps the most adored. But is this — the state of a poet’s being — the reason for the existence of poetry, and, more so, what is a poem’s purpose?

There are no wars to be won through poetry, no great intentions behind a poem’s composition and it is more of a compulsion for self-motivated souls than a mere hobby, says Kiriti Sengupta, a gifted Indian poet, who has more than 17 books of poetry to his credit.

“I think writing poetry cannot be defined as a favorite pastime for a writer. An honest poet writes poetry out of sheer compulsion. Poets write poetry when they think it will do justice to their thoughts or expressions. There are several other ways for conveying messages, observations, and experiences, but poetry is written only when poets think they can do no better without indulging in this genre of literature,” Sengupta told IANS in an interview.

Elaborating, the much-acclaimed poet from West Bengal said that he had no “great intention” when he started composing poetry and even now he does not entertain ideas of “changing the society” through his poems. “Poetry does not change anything. It does not initiate a change either. Poetry makes you think, makes you aware, and it makes you revisit your concerns, which may include your agonies as well,” he added.

Sengupta’s “My Glass of Wine” is almost autobiographical and is now a part of India’s first poetry trilogy, “Dreams of the Sacred and Ephemeral”, which also bears two other works, “The Reverse Tree” and “Healing Waters Floating Lamps”. In the first two collections, one finds verses placed alongside prose. Sengupta stressed on the fact that he wanted to eliminate the apathy of a common reader towards poetry and thus a mix of prose and poetry was the immediate option.

But poetry is considered to be one of the finest expressions of literature and, even today, it is widely read and adored. How fulfilling is the experience of a poet then?

“You have a definite purpose when you write a poem. You either convey a message you intended to, or you showcase your cerebral prowess to juggle words. Whatever be your objective, if you do it well, you are happy at the end of the day. Prose writing is generally more time-consuming, but then, there are poems that, no matter if they are long or short, take days and even weeks to write and finish,” quipped the poet.

And then there is the writer’s block. Like all creative people, a poet is no stranger to this rather depressing phenomenon, but Sengupta says that one has to live with it as it is a part of the journey.

“I’ve my share of non-productive days when I fail to write. After publishing more than 17 books I don’t find it stressful or alarming anymore. I just feel bad about it, but it is only when I read other poets’ work. See, it is extremely important to keep abreast of the latest happenings in the field of poetry, especially when someone is seriously engaged in it,” he maintained.

Sengupta also contested the idea that poetry has taken a backseat in recent years and said that the reality is actually contrary to popular belief. There has been a rise in poetry consciousness across India, he said, and we have more than one organization in every city promoting poetry among new readers, especially youngsters. It is, however, debatable whether they promote quality work and enhance the availability of quality work.

He also emphasized that it is indeed impossible “to earn a living from writing poetry” in India. “Poets are self-motivated souls who write poems for the joy derived from creating a work of art,” said the poet, whose upcoming chapbook of verses is titled “Solitary Stillness” and is due to be published in August. (IANS)

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You May have a Twin stranger: List of Indian Cities that Have Doppelganger Abroad!

Here is a list of cities in India which have doppelgangers in all over the world

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Indian Cities Doppelganger
Kochi in Kerela has its namesake in Japan as well. Pixabay

July 12, 2017: 

Do you know there are myriads of cities in India which have doppelganger name in the abroad as well? No. Well, here is a list of cities in India which have a doppelganger in all over the world.

KOCHI: Kerela/Japan

Kochi, alias Cochin, in India is popularly known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea. The place was incipiently established as a castle town encompassing the seat of the lords of Province of Tosa, the Kochi Castle.

PATNA: Bihar/Scotland

Patna in India is the oldest inhabited places in the world. Previously, it was known as Patliputra. Patna has also been the home to famous astrologists and scholars including Chanakya, Aryabhata, Kalidasa, and Panini. There is another Patna in Scotland that got its name from the Indian city itself. William Fullarton, the founder of the village was the son of a person who served the East India Company.

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh/United States

Lucknow is the capital of Indian state Uttar Pradesh and the largest cultural hub in the state. Its namesake in the United States is a small unincorporated community in Pennsylvania. It is a 5,500-acre mountain estate mansion and surprisingly Lucknow in the United States is also named after the city of Lucknow in India.

BARODA: Gujarat/United States

Vadodara in Gujarat, aka Baroda, is popular for furniture, textiles, handicraft items and food. While its namesake in the United States is a 1.7 sq km village established by Michael Houser. The name was suggested by CH Pindar, a constructor on the railroad born in Baroda.

INDORE: Madhya Pradesh/United States

Indore in Madhya Pradesh has a marvellous past. While Indore in the United States is an unincorporated community in West Virginia that derived its name from Endor, a place cited in the Hebrew Bible.

BALI: Rajasthan/Indonesia

Bali is a town located in Rajasthan on the left shore of Mithari river. The major draw of this town is forts. While Bali in Indonesia houses several islands including Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, and Nusa Ceningan. It is also a popular tourist destination across the world.

KOLKATA: West Bengal/United States

Kolkata, now called Calcutta is the capital of West Bengal. It is also called as ‘Cultural Capital of India’ and ‘City of furious, creative energy’. While its namesake in Ohio state of the US and was designed in 1810.

SALEM: Tamil Nadu/United States

Salem in Tamil Nadu is girded by hilly regions that were part of Chera dynasty and a trade route with the Roman empire. Its namesake is a city in the US state of Massachusetts which is popular for its Witch trials. Contrastingly,‘Salem’ in Hebrew means ‘Peace’.

–  by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

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Osmania University turns 100: India’s First University to adopt Urdu as medium of Instruction

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A text written in Urdu language , Wikimedia

Hyderabad, April 25, 2017: It was India’s first university to adopt Urdu as the medium of instruction — but with English as a compulsory subject. And, as it turns 100 on Wednesday, Osmania University has blended tradition with modernity to emerge as one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious institutes of higher learning.

With President Pranab Mukherjee set to launch the centenary celebrations, the spotlight is on the premier seat of learning, known for its chequered history.

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Standing tall on its sprawling and picturesque campus, it bears testimony to the grandeur of the princely Hyderabad state, the tumultuous times before the state’s merger with India and several movements ranging from ‘jobs for locals’ to separate statehood for Telangana.

From its genesis in the rich Muslim legacy to cultural diversity and from its transformation as a modern institution imparting education in English and various branches of science and technology, Jamia-e-Osmania, as it was earlier known, has come a long way.

Its distinguished alumni include former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao; India’s first astronaut, Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma; celebrated film director Shyam Benegal; former RBI Governor Y. Venugopal Reddy; founder and chairman of Cobra Beer and Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, Karan Bilimoria; and Magsaysay awardee Shantha Sinha.

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It was on April 26, 1917, that Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan issued a ‘farman’ (royal decree) for the establishment of Osmania University.

“The fundamental principles in the working of the university should be that Urdu should form the medium of higher education, but a knowledge of English as a language should, at the same time, be deemed compulsory for all students,” said the decree.

Within two years of the decree, classes began for the first batch from a building in Gunfoundry area, conservation activist P. Anuradha Reddy pointed out.

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Arts and theology were only the two faculties in the first year with 225 students and 25 faculty members. It offered courses in different languages like Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Persian and Arabic besides Urdu and English.

As the ‘purdah’ system was strictly in vogue those days, the classes in the first few decades were conducted separately for boys and girls. A curtain would be hung between boys and girls for a common class or during guest lectures.

Academicians say Osmania University symbolised renaissance in the Indian educational system.

The move to set up the university with Urdu as the medium of instruction was seen as the first step to revolt against the supremacy of the foreign language in India. It was hailed by Rabindernath Tagore.

He wrote to Nizam: “I have long been waiting for the day when, freed from the shackles of a foreign language, our education becomes naturally accessible to all our people. It is a problem for the solution of which we look to our Native States, and it gives me great joy to know that your State proposes to found a University in which instructions are to be given through the medium of Urdu. It is needless to say that your scheme has my fullest appreciation.”

In 1934, the university was allotted 566 acres in the Adikmet area for its permanent campus. The Nizam laid the foundation stone for the iconic Arts College building, which later became the symbol of the university.

Rail tracks were laid to ferry workers and construction material and to speed up construction activity. Four years later, the campus and the Arts College, with its magnificent facade, was inaugurated.

A blend of Qutub Shahi and Mughal architecture, the granite structure was designed by Belgian architect Monsieur Jasper. With 164 vast rooms and a plinth of 2.5 lakh square feet, the Arts College is one the last major structures built by the Nizam.

In the pre-Independence era, Urdu was the medium of instruction in all branches of higher education, including medicine and engineering. Under-graduate, post-graduate and Ph.D. programmes were introduced in almost all the faculties.

Some of the premier institutions started in the city like Nizamia Observatory, Nizam College, Medical College, Law School and Teachers’ Training College were transferred to the university.

One such institute was the Dairat-Ul-Maarif, which was founded in 1888 to collect, preserve, edit and publish rare original and standard works in Arabic on humanities, religion, science and the arts.

The transformation at Osmania was obvious following the merger of Hyderabad state with India in September, 1948, more than a year after country’s independence.

English replaced Urdu as the medium of instruction. Over the next two decades, the university added new disciplines and introduced diploma programmes in foreign languages like French, German and Italian. The Women’s College, which earlier operated from temporary buildings, moved to its present location.

The University permitted a number of affiliated colleges to be started to meet the growing demand. Today, it claims to have 1,000 colleges affiliated to it — arguably the largest in Asia and 550,000 students.

It continued its onward journey in the subsequent decades by giving impetus to research activities and introducing fresh courses to meet the new requirements of the job market.

In order to make higher education accessible to the deprived and disadvantaged, the Centre for Distance Education was established in 1977.

The university currently has 12 faculties and 53 departments with over 10,000 students. It conducts 25 undergraduate programmes and 75 post-graduate courses.With students coming from different regions and socio-economic backgrounds and even from abroad, the campus is known for its cultural diversity.

While continuing its march for academic excellence since inception, the university also became a nerve centre for various movements, reflecting the country’s socio-political changes.In 1952, the university students stood up in protest when the central government proposed to take over it convert it into a central varsity with Hindi as medium of instruction. Around same time, the campus was also rocked by protests demanding jobs for locals.

It witnessed massive violent protests in early 1970s during the Telangana movement. In the aftermath of the violent agitation, the employers had even stopped recruiting Osmania graduates.

While the first movement died down in 1971, nearly four decades later the university once again became the epicentre of Telangana movement, which culminated in the formation of the separate state in 2014. – (IANS)