Archive for the Paash-in English Category

Remembering a radical poet who died for opposing fanaticism

Posted in Paash-Critical Appreciation, Paash-in English, Paash-Life and Times with tags , on July 25, 2012 by paash

Remembering a radical poet who died for opposing fanaticism 

By Gurpreet Singh, March 25, 2012

Twenty-four years ago when leftists across the world were commemorating the hanging of Bhagat Singh—a towering revolutionary who fought against the British occupation of India—another progressive voice was silenced by the terrorist bullets in Punjab, India.

Paash, whose real name was Avtar Sandhu, was gunned down by Sikh separatists on March 23, 1988.

It was a sheer coincidence that his murder came on a historic day that commemorated the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and his two comrades, Rajguru and Sukhdev, who were hanged together by the British government on March 23, 1931. But the political ideology of Paash, who was born in 1950, made him inseparable from them.

True to his commitment toward the secular and progressive ideology of Bhagat Singh and his comrades, Paash was assassinated for his writings, which opposed religious fundamentalism. Much like Bhagat Singh, Paash was opposed to religious fanaticism of every shade and pulled no punches while criticizing both Hindu and Sikh extremists.

Yet the terrorists, owing allegiance to the Khalistan Commando Force seeking a separate theocratic Sikh homeland, shot him dead. His death shocked secularist Punjabi scholars in B.C. where a Paash Memorial Trust is still active and continues to hold events in his memory once a while.

Although Paash lived in California, he never made it to Canada. He was visiting India at the time of his murder.

It was thanks to Maxim Gorky’s Mother that Avtar Sandhu came to be known as Paash. Born in a peasant family, he loved to identify himself after Pasha, the hero of the classic novel by the same name.

This pen name gave him a new identity which remained with him until his assassination. There were some striking similarities between legendary Pasha and Paash as both stood for the working class and opposed both the establishment and theocracy.

Paash started writing poetry during his early teens and was an ardent reader, who had a personal library that housed books on range of subjects including science, philosophy, and literature. Though he wrote essays and published two Punjabi journals, Haak and Anti 47, as well as a “wall newspaper“, he gained much prominence as a poet. His poetry was so popular that its translation from Punjabi into other languages attracted attention widely, both outside Punjab and all of India. Even some Bollywood stars were among his admirers.

In the late 1960s he became involved in the youth wing of the Communist Party of India, but slowly he became fed up with its politics and instead joined with supporters of the ultra-leftist Naxalbari movement. It believed in an armed struggle for the sake of landless farmworkers.

He borrowed the idea of publishing a wall newspaper from Chinese revolution. It is a separate matter that he was not a sectarian leftist and remained critical of the flaws within Communist parties and groups.

Paash was briefly jailed for being a Naxalite but this did not deter him from writing for poor and against state repression. His poems were frequently smuggled out of prison and published. His rebellious poetry was widely circulated among the youngsters. Even a section of police and bureaucracy was influenced by his poetry.

It is not surprising that the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party of India, opposed an attempt to include one of his highly provocative poems in the school curriculum. Paash also opposed the state of emergency imposed by the Congress government from 1975 to 1977, and expressed his anger at the then-Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in his poetry.

He even returned a paycheque to a Hindi newspaper that censored lines about Gandhi in his poem as a mark of protest.

It was his journal Anti 47 that provoked the Sikh separatists. Since he studied a lot, he questioned and denounced their separatist ideology by quoting from Sikh scriptures. He shamed them by arguing that the real Sikhism was all about equality and compassion—and not fascism.

The title of the journal symbolized a challenge to another attempt to divide India on religious lines like in 1947, when Muslim Pakistan was separated from India.

As a result, he was gunned down by the extremists in his native village Talwandi Salem. As one says, you can kill a person but not an idea. Paash may have been murdered physically, but his rebellious rhymes will continue to live.

Gurpreet Singh is Georgia Straight contributor, and the host of a program on Radio India. He’s working on a book tentatively titled Canada’s 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings

Reading Paash poetry in Shahmukhi ( Chaman Lal )

Posted in Paash-Critical Appreciation, Paash-in English, Paash-Life and Times with tags on April 12, 2012 by paash

Reading Paash poetry in Shahmukhi

                                                                 Chaman Lal

 

‘Paash:Saari Shayri’ ,Jodanhaar-Paash Memorial International Trust, Shahmukhi transliteration-Khalid Ameen, revised by Maqsood Saqib,Published by Suchet Kitab Ghar, Lahore, 1st ed. 2005, Pages 384, Price Rs. 230/, bound edition.

                    This book is transliteration from Gurumukhi script to Shahmukhi or Persian script of Paash’s complete poetry published in Punjabi by Paash Memorial Trust earlier. Paash published three collections of poetry-‘Loh Katha’(Iron Tale) (1970), ‘Uddade Bazan Magar’(Following the Falcons) (1974) and ‘Sade Samain Vich’(In Our Times) (1978).After his assassination on 23rd March 1988, Gursharn Singh published some of the poems collected hurriedly from the house of Paash immediately after his martyrdom, even without the proper information or permission from the family of Paash. No effort was made to edit the collected material. A poet writes so many pieces as his or her creative process, but gives final shape to these later with patience and contemplation. He or she rejects some, revises some and then keeps some for not publishing for various reasons known to him or her only. In the romance to publish every word written by Paash, all collected pieces were just put to print. Many of these pieces have been used by Paash in different form in his published poems. How could anyone take liberty with poets own decisions after his sad passing away? There were many immature pieces, which Paash did not feel like publishing , so he did not, yet Comrades like that of Paash’s poem-‘Comrade Naal Galbaat’ could decide what to do with afterlife of Paash, even without bothering to take Paash family’s views on these things. In my view, lot many pieces, which Paash himself decided not to publish should not have been published in such hurry. But there were complete poems also, which Paash himself was publishing in his own style, like ‘Sab Ton Khatarnak’ was published probably in January 1988 Sunday issue of ‘Punjabi Tribune’, which I translated in Hindi and was published by ‘Jansatta’, Hindi daily in February 1988 Sunday issue. Paash could see its Hindi version himself. Poems like Bedakhli lai Binaypatar, Dharmdiksha lai Binaypatar, Khuh etc. Should definitely have been published, many poems , which were later found out, such as ‘Yaaran Naal Samvad’ published in ‘Aarsee’ could be located with help from Shamsher Sandhu, when we were editing Vartman De Rubru in Punjabi, published in 1989.Later Amarjit Chandan edited ‘Khilre Hoe Varke’ and finally Paash memorial International trust put everything together in single volume-Paash-Samuchi kavita. Since incomplete poems, pieces of poems, pieces of differently used poems in earlier poems like ‘Yudh Te Shanti’ etc. were all put together. And this book was transliterated in Shahmukhi in Lahore, making popular in West Punjab as well, which is three times bigger than East Punjab, which uses Punjabi in Persian script. So it has been a welcome publication.

                    Khalid Ameen and Maqbool Saqib, who through his publishing house and journal ‘Pancham’ is doing tremendous service by publishing books from east Punjab- he has already published Nanak Singh, Kulwant Singh Virk, Gurdial Singh, Waryam Singh Sandhu and many more writers in Shahmukhi, published even Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna’s autobiography and some articles of Bhagat Singh, including ‘Why I am an Atheist’ through ‘Pancham’.

              I was gifted this book by Maqsood Saqib in 2007, when I visited Pakistan for first time. It was given for record, since I translated and published complete Paash poetry in Hindi. Yet I kept on struggling with learning of Urdu after my return and can now read though slowly Urdu and Punjabi in Shahmukhi script. Reading of Paash’s Saari Shayri may have taken three weeks or so,spending only half an hour per day, but it was a pleasure. There could be minor errors in publication/printing, but on the whole book has been brought out beautifully and at a very reasonable price. In today’s context of Salman Taseer assassination, Paash’s poetry becomes even more relevant in Pakistan, more than India, particularly his poem ‘Dharm Diksha Lai Binay Patar’ is as scathing for Pakistani jehadi Mullas, who instigated the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, as it was for Bhindrawale brand of Khalistanis, who assassinated Paash for writing such poems to expose them.Some poems of Paash against religious fundamentalism like-Dharm Diksha lai Binai Pater(Request for Baptisation),Khuh(The Wells) and ‘Sab Ton Khatarnak(The Most Dangerous), along with Salmaan Taseer’s tweets on Twitter against same thought, should be put together in a booklet in Urdu translation and also In Shahmukhi script in Punjabi and published in large numbers in Pakistan and distributed among common people to make them aware of the great dangers of such fundamentalism for society.Ironically Paash and Salmaan Taseer have again got two parts of Punjab together for a struggle for democratic and liberal humanist society.Paash’s ‘Saari Shayri’ now can play this role of common struggle of Punjabis against religious fundamentalism  Wish friends in Pakistan translate this poem in Urdu or transliterate it from Hindi and use it like they use Faiz Ahmad Faiz’ poems to fight religious fundamentalism and state oppression. Meanwhile my heartfelt complements to Maqsood Saqib and Khalid Ameen for getting Paash into Pakistan through this edition.

———————————————————————————————–

When poems become headlines

Posted in Paash-in English, Paash-News Items on November 14, 2011 by paash

‘The most dangerous is to have our dreams die’

By Dr. Manzur Ejaz | DAWN.COM

 

Residents from a violence-hit neighbourhood weep after returning home in Karachi on July 10, 2011. – AFP Photo

“Being robbed of wages is not the most dangerous/Being beaten by the police is not the most dangerous/The most dangerous is to have our dreams die,” wrote Paash in his poem ‘Sab ton Khatarnak’. A revolutionary Punjabi poet, Paash whose real name was Avtar Singh Sandhu, was killed by a Khalistani extremist in 1989. Though long gone, what he wrote has a universal appeal and at times strikes one of how it applies to the people in Pakistan.

Page after page in the newspapers are filled with stories of strife and violence, be it in Karachi, Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhawa. And while millions endure the pain and trauma, our core state seems to be lost in a state of deep slumber, oblivious to the disintegration that is underway in Pakistan.

For the last few years many have argued that since the biggest stake-holder in Pakistan is its ‘core state’, it will start acting rationally due to the sheer fear of being wiped out. Under this rational assumption based on the law of survival, it was believed that the state will abandon ventures that have proven devastating and will start the process of self-correction. There were some optimistic symptoms as well: for example, the restoration of an independent judiciary or the cleansing Swat of religious extremists. Alas, time has shown that these were random undertakings, not supporting the optimistic assumption that core state has been forced to be self correct itself. The reaction to the insurgency in Balochistan,, the freedom granted to religious brigades and the use of moral brigade in media has not diminished, but rather accelerated in influence with more zeal..

As we see the things falling apart in front of our eyes it is intriguing, at the least, to ask that why people running the core states are headed on a path that will eventually annihilate them too. But then one starts thinking as to what was going on in the minds of the ruling elite of British, Mughal, Roman, Persian or American empires? They had all the stakes in sustaining their respective empires and the idea of being thrown in the dust bin of history never occurred to them. History has seen many of those who were riding decorated royal elephants and then leaving bare-feet begging as observed by great Sufi poet Shah Hussain:

ننگے پریں جاندڑے ڈٹھے جن کے لاکھ کروڑ

Nange pairin jandRe dithe jin ke lakh kror

(I have seen some turned to bare feet that had millions).

The historians have pointed out many signs of falling empires or state and here we select three of them that can be read in any order.

1. The groups and personnel running the core of the empire/state become complacent and arrogant: they think that because they are the most powerful, they must know everything better than others. We have not seen the demise of the older empires but one can certainly see this phenomenon in Washington and Islamabad where the people running the core state can’t see beyond their nose.

2. The ruling classes in the falling empires/states become fixated on rigid ideologies that cannot adjust to the changing conditions. For example, in the US, the ruling class is obsessed with the kind of capitalist ideology that has worked for them in the past. Pakistan’s ruling elite is overwhelmed by Pakistan ideology of ‘one religion, one language’ as the basis of their existence. In both cases the states are becoming weaker with each passing day but the masters of affairs fail to realise this. On the contrary, China and India changed their ideological positions—replacing Socialist rigidity with liberalism—and are reaping the economic fruits.

3. The falling empires/states have unaffordable military budgets: their incomes start falling and their military expenditures remain high. Paul Kennedy in his book ‘Rise and Fall of the Great Powers’ has proven with historical data that in each case the military expenditures outpaced the incomes in the falling empires. Furthermore, the expenditures on social services fall, says Dr. Kennedy. Both things—rising military expenditures and falling social services—are hallmarks of the US and Pakistan.

All the symptoms mentioned above show that the US and Pakistan have a common disease–dead tranquility at the core-state that is eating them slowly. Apparently, one can hardly compare a superpower and a poor country, and that is not the purpose here. But at the same time rich and poor can have the similar fatal diseases.

The deep slumber or rather the ‘dead tranquility’ of the core state in Pakistan is not permitting it to identify the real enemies and necessary corrective processes. It is not willing to concede that, maybe, India is not its main enemy, and religious extremism is. It cannot see that if India keeps growing at its present pace, while the Pakistani economy keeps dragging, there will be no comparison in a decade or so. Similarly, it cannot see that sheer military force along with Pakhtun mullahs of Balochistan cannot bring victory against the Baloch nationalists. As matter of fact the core-state is not willing to acknowledge that Pakistan’s biggest problem is Balochistan and not FATA or the US. All this while, as the core state remains in deep slumber, the victims happen to be the people caught in strife and each day they have their dreams shattered.

Dr. Manzur Ejaz is a poet, author, a political commentator and a cultural activist. He is a Doctor of Economics and currently lives in Washington DC.

http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/02/%e2%80%98the-most-dangerous-is-to-have-our-dreams-die%e2%80%99.html/comment-page-1#comment-254921

Dr Chaman Lal-Translation and World Literature-From Kalidas to Ghalib, Tagore, Premchand and Pash

Posted in Paash-in English on August 1, 2011 by paash

Dr Chaman Lal-

My paper on ‘Translation and World Literature:Reference Indian Literature-Kalidas,Ghalib, Tagore, Premchand and Pash’ was well received yesterday in International conference on ‘Literature and Translation’ held at Monash University Melbourne-Australia.Senior scholars, including organiser of the conference Prof. Brian Nelson and Harvard Professor David Damrosch joined discussion, more than expected response! (on 11-07-2011)

 

Translation and World Literature-Chaman Lal

Reading Paash poetry in Shahmukhi-Chaman Lal

Posted in Paash-Critical Appreciation, Paash-in English, Paash-in Punjabi(Shahmukhi) on January 17, 2011 by paash

 ‘Paash:Saari Shayri’ ,Jodanhaar-Paash Memorial International Trust, Shahmukhi transliteration-Khalid Ameen, revised by Maqsood Saqib,Published by Suchet Kitab Ghar, Lahore, 1st ed. 2005, Pages 384, Price Rs. 230/, bound edition.

This book is transliteration from Gurumukhi script to Shahmukhi or Persian script of Paash’s complete poetry published in Punjabi by Paash Memorial Trust earlier. Paash published three collections of poetry-‘Loh Katha’(Iron Tale) (1970), ‘Uddade Bazan Magar’(Following the Falcons) (1974) and ‘Sade Samain Vich’(In Our Times) (1978).After his assassination on 23rd March 1988, Gursharn Singh published some of the poems collected hurriedly from the house of Paash immediately after his martyrdom, even without the proper information or permission from the family of Paash. No effort was made to edit the collected material. A poet writes so many pieces as his or her creative process, but gives final shape to these later with patience and contemplation. He or she rejects some, revises some and then keeps some for not publishing for various reasons known to him or her only. In the romance to publish every word written by Paash, all collected pieces were just put to print. Many of these pieces have been used by Paash in different form in his published poems. How could anyone take liberty with poets own decisions after his sad passing away? There were many immature pieces, which Paash did not feel like publishing , so he did not, yet Comrades like that of Paash’s poem-‘Comrade Naal Galbaat’ could decide what to do with afterlife of Paash, even without bothering to take Paash family’s views on these things. In my view, lot many pieces, which Paash himself decided not to publish should not have been published in such hurry. But there were complete poems also, which Paash himself was publishing in his own style, like ‘Sab Ton Khatarnak’ was published probably in January 1988 Sunday issue of ‘Punjabi Tribune’, which I translated in Hindi and was published by ‘Jansatta’, Hindi daily in February 1988 Sunday issue. Paash could see its Hindi version himself. Poems like Bedakhli lai Binaypatar, Dharmdiksha lai Binaypatar, Khuh etc. Should definitely have been published, many poems , which were later found out, such as ‘Yaaran Naal Samvad’ published in ‘Aarsee’ could be located with help from Shamsher Sandhu, when we were editing Vartman De Rubru in Punjabi, published in 1989.Later Amarjit Chandan edited ‘Khilre Hoe Varke’ and finally Paash memorial International trust put everything together in single volume-Paash-Samuchi kavita. Since incomplete poems, pieces of poems, pieces of differently used poems in earlier poems like ‘Yudh Te Shanti’ etc. were all put together. And this book was transliterated in Shahmukhi in Lahore, making popular in West Punjab as well, which is three times bigger than East Punjab, which uses Punjabi in Persian script. So it has been a welcome publication. Khalid Ameen and Maqbool Saqib, who through his publishing house and journal ‘Pancham’ is doing tremendous service by publishing books from east Punjab- he has already published Nanak Singh, Kulwant Singh Virk, Gurdial Singh, Waryam Singh Sandhu and many more writers in Shahmukhi, published even Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna’s autobiography and some articles of Bhagat Singh, including ‘Why I am an Atheist’ through ‘Pancham’. I was gifted this book by Maqsood Saqib in 2007, when I visited Pakistan for first time. It was given for record, since I translated and published complete Paash poetry in Hindi. Yet I kept on struggling with learning of Urdu after my return and can now read though slowly Urdu and Punjabi in Shahmukhi script. Reading of Paash’s Saari Shayri may have taken three weeks or so,spending only half an hour per day, but it was a pleasure. There could be minor errors in publication/printing, but on the whole book has been brought out beautifully and at a very reasonable price. In today’s context of Salman Taseer assassination, Paash’s poetry becomes even more relevant in Pakistan, more than India, particularly his poem ‘Dharm Diksha Lai Binay Patar’ is as scathing for Pakistani jehadi Mullas, who instigated the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, as it was for Bhindrawale brand of Khalistanis, who assassinated Paash for writing such poems to expose them.Some poems of Paash against religious fundamentalism like-Dharm Diksha lai Binai Pater(Request for Baptisation),Khuh(The Wells) and ‘Sab Ton Khatarnak(The Most Dangerous), along with Salmaan Taseer’s tweets on Twitter against same thought, should be put together in a booklet in Urdu translation and also In Shahmukhi script in Punjabi and published in large numbers in Pakistan and distributed among common people to make them aware of the great dangers of such fundamentalism for society.Ironically Paash and Salmaan Taseer have again got two parts of Punjab together for a struggle for democratic and liberal humanist society.Paash’s ‘Saari Shayri’ now can play this role of common struggle of Punjabis against religious fundamentalism Wish friends in Pakistan translate this poem in Urdu or transliterate it from Hindi and use it like they use Faiz Ahmad Faiz’ poems to fight religious fundamentalism and state oppression. Meanwhile my heartfelt complements to Maqsood Saqib and Khalid Ameen for getting Paash into Pakistan through this edition.

Chaman Lal Visiting Professor on Hindi Chair The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad & Tobago prof.chaman@gmail.com mob. 1868-3692687

ਕਾਮਰੇਡ ਨਾਲ ਗੱਲਬਾਤ-ਪਾਸ਼ ਦੀ ਲੰਬੀ ਕਵਿਤਾ

Posted in Paash-in English on January 2, 2011 by paash

 

http://ghai-tc.blogspot.com/2011/01/punjabi-poet-pashs-long-poem.html

Prof Trilok Chand Ghai’s blog

Posted in Paash-in English with tags on December 4, 2010 by paash

 

Trilok Chand Ghai

http://ghai-tc.blogspot.com

A Note from Prof  Trilok Chand Ghai :

I have translated Pash (Avtar Singh Sandhu 1950-88), one of the most dominant, influential and discussed modern Punjabi poets. The translation titled ‘Pash: A Poet of Impossible Dreams’ has been published by Pash Memorial International Trust together with Shilalekh, Delhi, in 2010 

 

Trilok Ghai

http://ghai-tc.blogspot.com/2010/11/pash-poet-of-impossible-dreams.html