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Silicon Valley Urdu lovers pay homage to Farhat Kanpuri - II

Narm Jhokoo’n Ki Sada (The Sound of Soft Breeze)

It is an irony that the great work of Farhat Kanpuri, that was published during the 1930s and 1940s in the popular literary magazines Saqi, Zamana and Guldasta, remained obscure for more than half a century. The celebrated poet expired at a very young age of 47 years in 1952. Thanks to the efforts of her daughter, Vijay Nigam, anthology of Farhat’s work – Narm Jhokoo’n Ki Sada (The Sound of  Soft Breeze) - was published in 2008. Farhat Kanpuri

Why it took such a long time to publish his work? it is a very interesting story. Although her father was a great Urdu poet but Vijay Nigam, Farhat’s only child, didn’t know Urdu. Surprisingly, nobody in the family was familiar with Urdu language. Hence it was very difficult for her to compile and arrange her beloved father’s work in the form of Diwan. To fulfill her ambition to publish her father’s poetry, Nigam decided to learn Urdu language and joined the Urdu classes of Hamida Bano Chopra, a well know literary personality of SF Bay Area. Hameeda introduced Nigam to Prof. Aiman who graciously took the responsibility of editing Farhat’s Diwan.

Farhat Kanpuri’s anthology or Diwan is divided into three parts: The first part consists on ghazals, the second nazms and the third rubayiat. He has 111 ghazals to his credit. His 59 nazms covered varied subjects. Each section is preceded by an analytic comments by prominent scholars. Professor Mamun Aiman has analysed his ghazals. Prof. Sattia Paul Anand (Toronto, Canada) has written in detail about his nazams and Prof Yahya Nasheet Syed writes about his rubaiyat.

The poet is born, not made and Farhat was a born poet though he was a lawyer by profession. It is true that to be a poet is a condition, not a profession. 

Themes of his poetry are varied—love, the nature of human life and existence, people's role in the universe, free will versus predestination.

Farhat was a progressive poet. The theme of his poetry is neither religion nor politics nor recording of events. It embraces all aspects of human life, because the basic and the only theme of poetry, as that of all literature and art, is Man.

He had a highly eclectic mind and an attitude of cheerful irreverence towards institutionalized religion. He advocated the value of humans as human, regardless of their religion and race. This is best reflected in his poem My Religion:

Mein Houn Insaa’n Mera Mazhab Jazba-e-Insanyat
Mein Houn Shaaer Mera Naghma Naghma-e-Insanyat

Sajda Kaabe Mei’n Karo Ya Dair Mei’n Ja Kar Karo
Baat To Jab Hai Ke Ehle Dil Ke Dil Mei’n Ghar karo

He goes on to say:

Sajda Rez Dar-e-Insa’n Hai Jabeen-e-Farhat
Kiyoun Ke Insaan Kee Meraj Hai Insaa’n Hona

In another verse:

But-e Qadamat, Rasoom-e-Kohna, Meri Nazar Mein Hai’n Zinda Lashei’n
Meree Tabiat Hai Inqalabi, Mere Khiyalat Baghiana

To Farhat, sorrow and pain are essential conditions of human life. He does not neglect or underplay any experience but savors each to the full, even if it is painful:

Rafta Rafta Zindagani Ho Gayei   p-33
Gham Ke Lamhe Jawedani Ho Gayei

Kiya Khoob Meri Shaam Hai Kiya Khoob Seher Hai  p-36
Dunya Jise Kehte Hein Gham-e-Sood O Zarar Hai

His poetic mission has a message, and there is no dichotomy between the message and the word, between the content and the form.

Mei’n Hee Badloo’n Ga Ye Farsooda Nizam-e-Hasti
Zarre Zarre to Milega Wo Payam-e-Hasti
Subhe Hasti Se Badal Jaegee Shaam-e-Hasti
Jo Zamane Ko Palat De Ga Wo Insaan Hoo’m Mei’n

Like his contemporary poets, his diction was precise, that, along with the meaning and essence of the words gave the effect of fulfillment. He is a natural poet, producing the sense of drama, tweaking the range of emotions and evoking the highs and lows of happiness and sadness with his pauses and repeated renditions of the lines of poetry.

His ecstatic style, careful selection of words, peculiar similes and metaphors make him unique. With his distinguished style, he creates a unique world of beauty.

Zeest Ko Mus Ta’ar Kehte Hai’n
Zindagi Ko Ghubar Kehte Hai’n

Asl Mei’n Hai’n Wohee Baland Maqam
Khud Ko Jo Khaksar Kehte Hai’n

In another verse,   

Ham To Raazi Ba Razaa Hai’n Magar Ahle Taqdeer
Shikwai Gardish-e-Ayyam Kiya Karte Hai’n

Josh-e-Wehshat Mei’n Bhee Wo Sahib-e-Taufeeq Hai’n Ham
Jo Na Shikwa, Na Shikayat, Na Gila Karte Hai’n

French poet Alfred de Musset says: Each memorable verse of a true poet has two or three times the written content.  This is true for Farhat’s verses:

Aql Aajiz Aa’Gai Taqdeer Se
Woh Bhee Shayad Mil Gai Taqdeer Se

Hai Re Tadbeer Kee Nakamiya’n
Aur Kiya Ummid Ho Taqdeer Se

Italian author and Nobel Laureate, Salvatore Quasimodo, believes that poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own. Farhat Kanpuri’s poetry is full of such feelings:

Hayat-e-Chand Roza Mei’n Suragh Hee Na Mil Saka
Rahe Shab-e-Hayat Mei’n Chiragh Hee Na Mil Saka

Khuloos Kee Hee Aarzoo Koi Kare To Kiya Kare
Jahaa’n Mei’n Jab Khuloos Ka Suragh He Na Mil Saka

Here are his two awe-inspiring verses:

Hasti Bhi Ajab Silsilae-Shaam-o-Sehe Hae
Har Waqt Bas Ek Waswasa-e-Sood-o-Zarar Hae

Khulte Hee A’nkh Ehd-e-Jawani Guzar Gaya
Jho’nka Naseem Ka, Edhar Aayaa Udhar Gaya

From the album of Vijay Nigam

Old pictures-1
Old pictures-2
Old pictures-3
Farhat Kanpuri-2

It is rightly said that a poet's autobiography is his poetry. To borrow Robert Penn Warren, American poet, novelist and literary critic: What is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding? It is the deepest part of an autobiography. Farhat Kanpur’s poem “Mera Mazhab or My Religion” can be described his autobiography. The 24 verses poem encompasses his ideology and philosophy of life:

            Jannat-o-Dozakh Ke Namo’n Se Jo Kuch’h Mosoom Hae
            Mujh Se Such Poochcho Haqiqat In Kee Sab Maloom He

            Mein Houn Insaa’n Mera Mazhab Jazba-e-Insanyat
            Mein Houn Shaaer Mera Naghma Naghma-e-Insanyat

            Hae Watan Maa’bood Mera, Mei’n Paristar-e-Watan
            Hae Watan Mera Ma’alij, Mei’n Hoo’n Beemar-e-Watan

            Mei’n Hoo’n Shaer Banda-e-Tafreeq-e-Mazhab Mei’n Nahee’n
            Jo Mujhe Kafir Kahai, Kafir Se Wo Kam Nahee’n

American novelist and poet Don Marquis believes that publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. By publishing her beloved father’s work after preserving it for six decades, Vijay Nigam has dropped a rose petal. Now she is eagerly waiting for the echo. Perhaps, the two recent events in the Silicon Valley to honor Farhat Kanpuri were that echo.

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