Silicon Valley Urdu Lovers Pay
Homage to Farhat Kanpuri
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
Poets, writers, singers and guitar players from Silicon Valley pay tributes to the late Farhat Kanpuri
Literary enthusiasts and Urdu lovers of the Silicon Valley recently held two events to pay tributes to the life and work of Ganga Dhar Nath Farhat Kanpuri, a contemporary of Jigar Muradabadi, Majaz Lukhnawi and Firaq Gorkhpuri.
The first literary evening was held in San Jose on June 13 to highlight the poetry of Farhat Kanpuri. It was a literary-cum-musical event with a touch of thrilling music. The first session was dedicated to the life and work of Farhat Kanpuri. A number of people presented his poetry which included Fehmida Bano, Ahsan Syed, Farhat Dube, Prof. Mamun Aiman and Seema Srivastava .
Prof. Mamun Aiman had especially flown from New York to grace the event. To the delight of the gathering Seema Srivastava, grand-daughter of Farhat Kanpuri, furnished proof that she has inherited the poetic genius of her maternal grandfather and has becaome a poetess. She not only presented a beautiful poem of her grandfather but also amused the audience with her own composition.
Shaista Aiman, spouse of Professor Aiman and a well-know short story writer presented her latest piece that touched the audience. The story tackled the issue of migration of people from the Third World countries in search of better economic opportunities that sometimes ends in tragic incidents.
An Urdu/Punjabi mushaira was another interesting feature of the San Jose evening. The poets who presented their kalam included: Azad Jullundari, Arshad Rashid, Ahmar Shahwar, Ashraf Gill from Fresno, Inderjeet Singh from Sacramento, Prof. Mamun Aiman, Naseer Humayun, Tashie Zaheer and Wiqar Khan.
The final session of the program consisted ofmusical renditions. In his unique style, Dr. Anshuman Chandra presented a ghazal of Farhat Kanpuri on guitar. He was followed by another popular guitarist, Pardeep Dube, who enthralled the audience with his presentation. Ashraf Gill presented a number of ghazals to draw wide applause. Surrinder Singh Maan was on tabla.
At the end the host, Seema Srivastava, thanked the guests for making the evening so memorable. She particularly thanked Prof. Mamun Aiman, who especially flew from New York to attend the event. Tashie Zaheer, President of the Urdu Academy of North America, was thanked for meticulously arranging the event that was admirably conducted by Ahmer Shahwar.
Urdu Academy pays tribute to Farhat Kanpuri
The Urdu Academy of North America held a literary event on June 20 at the Chandni Restaurant, Newark, California, to pay tribute to Farhat Kanpuri. The event was presided over by Mr. Ibrahim Vijay Laxmi Nigam; the daughter of Farhat Kanpuri was the chief guest. The program, mceed by the Urdu Academy President Tahie Zaheer, included presentation of poetry of the great poet by Misbah Rahman, Ahmer Shahwar, Ken Sherfy, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Dr. Tahir Mahmood and Seema Srivastava .
Tashie Zaheer provided an analytic view of Kanpuri’s poetry. Vijay Nigam amused the audience with anecdotes from her father’s life. She remembered many mushairas hosted by her father that were attended by such prominent poets as Jigar Muradabadi, Firq Gorakhpuri, Majnoon Gorakhpuri, Majaz Lukhnawi, Salam Machli Shehri and Maulana Mustafa Khan Ahmaq. In 1951, Fahat Kanpuri fell ill while attending a mushaira in Lukhnaw. He was first admitted in Lukhnaw Medical College and later moved to Kanpur Medical College for treatment. He passed away in 1952.
Another feature of the Urdu Academy event for Farhat Kanpuri was the musical rendition of his poetry by two prominent singers of the Bay Area. Dr. Anshuman Chandra presented two ghazals
Meri Nazar Me Kam Nahee,
Ye Wehm Kiya Ye Khiyal Kia
Hasi Bhi Ajab Silsilai Sham-o-Seher Hai
Har Aik Din Bas Waswasa-e-Sood-o-Zarar Hai (composed in Bhim Plassy Raag )
Tina Maan, another prominent Bay Area singer was next to present three ghazals in her own musical composition. Like Dr. Anshuman Chandra, Tina Maan drew wide applause with her classical presentations:
Hota Hai Mohabbat Mai’n Bura Haal Bashar Ka
Jaise Koi Daldal Mai’n Idhar Ka Na Uther Ka (composed in Raag Shosa Rang)
Husn Par Ishq Ki Bhi Ghaat Nahi
Ye Hai Wo Bazi Jis Ko Maat Nahi (composed in Rag Kalawati)
Be Khuda Kee Be Khudi Ach’chi Rahee
Ishq Mei’n Ye Dil Lagee Ach’chi Rahee
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.
Why did it take 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 the Urdu language. Hence it was very difficult for her to compile and arrange her beloved father’s work in the form of a diwan. To fulfill her ambition to publish her father’s poetry, Nigam decided to learn the 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 of ghazals, the second of nazms and the third of 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.
A 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.
The themes of his poetry are varied — love, the nature of human life and existence, people's role in the universe, and 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
Ha’i 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
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.