Books

Tribute to Purnia’s Urdu poets

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Book: Urdu Shayeri Ke Irtaqa Mei’n Qadeem Purnia Ki Khidmaat (Old Purnia’s Contribution to Urdu Poetry’s Evolution)
Author: Dr. Unsuri Badr
Publisher: Noor Publications, New Delhi - 110002
Year: 2013
Pages: 296 h/c
Price: Rs 200

Asif Anwar Alig


Urdu does not get the attention it deserves in the country of its origin, India. However, it survives and flourishes in the Subcontinent. Dr. Ansari Badr focuses on contributions to Urdu literature from undivided Purnia in Bihar. Her research work Urdu Shayeri Ke Irtaq’a Mei’n Qadeem Purnia Ki Khidmaat (Old Purnia’s Contribution to Urdu Poetry’s Evolution) seeks to record the work of poets of a region generally not associated with Urdu culture.  

Purnia is now divided into four districts-Purnia, Katihar, Kishanganj and Araria-collectively Seemanchal region. This book is a revelation on Urdu poetry’s wide reach. Custodians of Urdu literature have rarely acknowledged contributions from remote areas like Purnia. “Hardly are regional poets remembered or obtain national glory,” she laments.

Seemanchal is away from centres of Urdu. Yet she puts together 105 poets of erstwhile Purnia whose work didn’t see light of the day until she brought them out into the open. The poets belong to the 18th, 19th and 20th century Purnia.

Along with discourse on poetry she also refers to the oldest written history of Purnia, Bidyadhar, written by a Muslim scholar, Shaikh Kafayat-Ullah in 1728. It paints a soothing picture of communal harmony of centuries. It still remains the most authentic history of Purnia region. She brings interesting facts related to this area, from origin of the name Purnia to patriotic poetry and cultural diversity. Urdu gained influence here particularly from 1718 to 1748 when Nawab Asfandyar Khan propagated khari boli  in the region.  

This book sums up the poetic contributions of poets born in the region or those who made it their permanent home. She explains how Urdu institutions Bazm-e-Adab and Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu were established in Kishanganj town of erstwhile Purnia and many journals were published.   

Urdu’s genesis in Purnia is related to Delhi, Lucknow and Azimabad Urdu establishments. An attempt was made to create a Murshidabad establishment that covered Purnia. She sketches Khwaja Ahmadi Khan Rasikh of Delhi migrating to Purnia in 1757 and staying here till his death in 1760. He composed the finest ghazals in local Nawab’s court. Mir Mustaqeem Jura’at, Salamat Ali Salamat, Mir Mohammed Raza Jura’at and Mirza Nadim Nadim were Purnia’s poetic gems from Delhi. Shaikh Ghulam Ali Ishrat, Sarmast Khan Afghan Mast, Bhagwan Sen Tae’b Purnavi, Amir Begum Amir, Maulvi Abdul Aziz Aziz Purnavi and Salim Lucknawi Sam Purnavi (who migrated from Lucknow) composed exemplary poems.   

Kochadhaman (from present Kishanganj district), Munshi Umr Ali Umr, musician-singer poet Gulab Jaan Gulab from Katihar (Katihar district), Tasteer Purnavi and Tafseer Purnavi, Pirthavi Chand Saba, Raja Padmanand Singh Afsar and Maulana Shah Hafizuddin Latifi (all from Purnia) made remarkable contribution to Urdu poetry. Poets Saba Purnavi and Shams Purnavi from Palasmani (in present Kishanganj district) composed engaging poems. Munshi Murad Hussain Yateem Khaprawi Purnavi, Munshi Tasadduq Hussain Mushtaq Dilshadpuri and Tamanna Dilshadpuri from Purnia composed poems in Urdu and Persian. Abdul Haque Aziz from Punas and Maulvi Noorul Hasan Khak Purnavi from Haldikhora (both in present Kishanganj district) composed ecstatic poems.  

Born in Kishanganj town in 1885, Hakim Sayed Agha Ali Ahqar was poet par excellence. His ancestors came to India from Iran during the Mughal period. Syed Abul Qasim Akhter, Abdul Majeed Saha’ida Purnavi from Palasmani, Maulana Shah Sharfuddin Sam Hafizi and Maulvi Baha’auddin Asar Garganavi from Bahadurganj (Kishanganj district) composed mesmerising poems. Abdul Wajid Bismal Purnavi and Maulvi Mohammad Sulaiman (both from Palasmani), Noor Purnavi from Jhiljhili (Kishanganj district) and Maulvi Tahzeeb Ahmad Ghafil from Punas made noteworthy contribution to Urdu poetry during the 19th century.

Maulana Ruknuddin Dana Nadvi, Hakim Muzaffar Bilgrami, Munshi Safat Ali Gada, Munshi Abdul Lateef Raqam Haripuri and Maulana Mohammad Isa Fartab were gems of Urdu poetry from Purnia. Haji Munshi Farzand Ali Shaida, Maulvi Zahoorul Hasan Hasan, Najam Haripuri, Maulana Syed Shah Mahboob Ahmed Mahboob and Munshi Mohammad Ibrahim Wafa from Altabari (Kishanganj district) were great poets. Mohammed Ameenuddin Ghafil established Bazm-e-Adab in Kishanganj in 1933 to promote Urdu poetry in this region.

Similarly, Maulana Mohammad Ismae’l Naseh, Maulvi Jannat Hussain Qamar, Anwar Hussain Anwar, Maulvi Mohammed Rafiq Zahidi, Hakim Syed Mazhar Ali Mazhar, Mohammed Mazharul Qayyum Mazhar, Mohammed Hussain Basar, Maulvi Abdulaziz Darbhangi, Maulvi Abdul Waheed Saqib, Qazi Jalaluddin Jalal Haripuri, Ahmad Hussain Qaisar, Munshi Abdul Haque, Mahboobur Rahman Kamil Punasi and Khaleelur Rahman Ashk brought new dimensions to Urdu poetry from erstwhile Purnia area.  

Wafa Malikpuri contributed to Urdu poetry and journalism with Subh-e-Nau monthly. New generation poets Advocate Shah Akramul Haque from Munger, Ahmad Hassan Danish and Aleemullah Hali from Bhagalpur (all made Purnia their permanent home) and Raman Prashad Sinha Raman have composed exemplary Urdu poems to develop poetic culture in this area. Contemporary poets Professor Tarique Jamili, Hafiz Muzaffar Hussain Muzaffar and Advocate Shams Jalili Shams from Sheeshabari (Purnia) are poets of great merit today.   

This book critically analyses poetic collections of respected poets from Purnia like Maulvi Mohammad Sulaiman, Maulana Isa Fartaab, Wafa Malikpuri and Maulvi Abdul Waheed Saqib. Selected poems have been reproduced in this collection. An essay on Maulana Shah Hafeezuddin Latifi Rahmanpuri from Burhanpur (now Rahmanpur in Katihar) showcases him as a gifted poet and religious preacher. He established a khwanqah in Rahmanpur in the present day Katihar district.   

Poets Asghar Alam Raz Fatmi, Mohammad Mujeebur Rahman Shaaz Rahmani, Shams Jamal, Islamel Kanwal, Zubairul Hassan Ghafil, Razi Ahmad Tanha and Mohammed Ahsanul Islam, Harun Rasheed Ghafil (all from Araria), Hazim Hassan from Kishanganj, Manjula Upadhyaya, Kabiruddin Fauzan (from Purnia) contribute to Urdu poetry at present.

Collection of essays on poets of old Purnia make this book prototypical research work on Urdu poetry in regional-historical context. With this book Purnia region is firmly established as a centre of Urdu culture.                                            

   Asif Anwar Alig (asifanwaralig@gmail.com) is assistant professor and media relations specialist at Saudi Ministry of Education.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 July 2015 on page no. 21

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