“Asrar Ul Haq “Majaz” was not a drummer boy of revolutionaries. He was their musician .”

(Faiz Ahmed Faiz..)

Many people say  many things about Majaz . Let me quote some popular comments about this great Romantic , Revolutionary and Nationalist poet ,..

“Majaz was the keats of urdu poetry “

“ Majaz was the real progressive in  his group “

“ Majaz was a poet who drank himself to death “

“Majaz suffered repeated nervous breakdowns “

“ Love for the country was his first love “

“Majaz was a communist “

“ Majaz was full of humour “

“ Majaz was closest to ali sardar jafri “

“Majaz was a restless soul “

“ Like an arrow , he shot himself up , burst into luminous lights in the sky above and then suddenly vanished into that eternal darkness . But the sparks remain safely collected in his Books .He may not be physically with us today but the illumination that he threw in the sky above are with us and shall brighten up many dark nights of our life .I should not have said so . If I have said something wrong I seek your pardon. Yes i could not help to remain silent. I can not deal his absence in the usual way of respecting Death with silence alone.

( Firaq Gorakhpuri on Majaz’s Death )

Majaz lived in Mumbai for sometime. I am informed that he also worked with ‘BombayInformation Bureau for a very brief period .It is also a fact that once a friend took him to Producer Director P N Arora with an intention to bring him into films. It did not mature somehow and Majaz returned to Lucknow. But Bombay influenced his sensitive mind . Marine Drive ( with its Arc of  lights looking like a  Queen’s Necklace ) in particular shall always remain connected with the memory of Majaz.

It is said that during the days when he had no work in this city of hope and lights, he would stroll down Marine drive or Chowpatti area during night and identify with the hurt and loneliness of the city. An Unfamiliar city , crowds , exploitation , hurt , illuminations and idleness created a magical effect on his sensitive mind leading to birth of his poem AWAARA .The POEM projected loneliness of an Individual set against  indifference of the Metropolitan culture . Something close to Albert camus’s  “BENIGN INDIFFERENCE OF THE UNIVERSE “ It caught fancy of millions who faced similar predicament. I quote ..

“Shahar Ki Raat Aut Mein Nashaad-o-Nakaara Phiroon.

Jagmagaati-Jaagati Sadkon Pe Awaara Phiroon

Gair Ki Basti Hai Kab Tak Dar-Ba-Dar Maara Phiroon

“Aey Ghame Dil Kyaa karoon

Aey vahashate Dil Kyaa karoon ”.

Jhilmilaate KumKumon ki Raah Mein Zanjeer-si

Raat Ke Haatho Mein Din Ki Mohini Tasveer-Si

Mere Seene Par Magar Dehki Huyee Shamsheer-si

Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoon,

Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoon …?

I have personally experienced how Majaz would have felt when i walked along Marine Drive . For Majaz , A clear sky , the sea breeze , shining stars on the sky , all calm and enticing; Alas ! The helplessness and a turbulence within. And then the Moon suddenly rising above the Arbian Sea. . I quote ..

Ek Mahal Ki Aad Se Nikla Woh Peela Mahtaab

Jaise Mulla Ka Amama, Jaise Baniye Ki Kitaab

Jaise Mufliss Ki Jawaani, Jaise Bewa Ka Shabab

Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoon,

Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoon …?

Yeh Rupahli Chhaanv, Yeh Aakash Par Taaron ka Jaal

Jaise Sufi Ka Tasavvur, Jaise Aashiq Ka Khayaal

Aah Lekin Kaun Samjhe, Kaun Jaane Jee Ka Haal

Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoon,

Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoon …?

The poem was sung by Talat Mehmood in his melodious voice for a Hindi Movie Thokar released in 1953.Play the song any time and Majaz comes to life .

Progressive and liberal in outlook , Majaz was certainly much ahead of his time . Some are tempted to call him an atheist merely relying on his poem “Shauq e Gurezaan ” written in a different context. For sure he had an abiding faith in the presence of almighty God . I quote some lines from the poem ….

Mujh Mein tu Rooh e Sarmadi mat Phoonk

Raunaq e Bazm e Arifaan na Bana

Iss Zameen Ko Zameen rehnay de

Iss zameeen ko tu aasmaan na Bana

Raaz tera chhupa Nahin Sakta

Mujh ko tu apnaa Razdaan na Bana ..

Majaz,Josh and Firaq were fond of Lucknawi kababs of Tunda (so named because of a deformed hand). Firaq liked to have kababs even at breakfast time.

Majaz was witty and had a sharp sense of humour. Many incidents about his sharp wit and humour have been written by various authors . I add one more narrated by my friend Adarsh Azadarora ( son of veteran Urdu poet Jagan Nath Azad ) . I quote

“An anecdote of Majaaz narrated by my father. On a visit to Pakistan, Majaaz, Sagar Nizami and Jagannath Azad were invited for a recording by Radio Pakistan. After the programme, the three needed to sign the contracts for the honorarium. Sagar Nizami worked in All India Radio and was familiar with the modest fees of All India Radio. Obviously Radio Pakistan was similarly placed. Nonetheless, on seeing the amount Sagar sahib straightened up in a huff and said “Mein is par dastkhat kar hi nahin sakta”. He bent down again, read the figure again, straightened up again and repeated “mein is par dastkhat kar hi nahin sakta”. When this exercise was conducted for the third time by Sagar Nizami, Majaaz said “Arre bhai, phir Angutha hi laga do!”

Punch lines From his poem “Unka Jashan e Saal-Girah ” were plagiarized for a Bollywood movie song . I quote specific lines from his poem ..

Chhalke Teri aankhon se sharaab Aur Ziyaada

Mehkein Teray Aariz ke Gulaab aur Ziyaada

Allah karey Zaur e Shabaab aur Ziyaada

Late Nargis was also a Fan of Majaz and his poetry . During a visit to Lucknow, she went to meet Majaz to get his autograph . Majaz returned disillusioned from Bombay and moved to Lucknow.The Ganga Jamuna culture of Lucknow attracted Majaz .

Majaz had very strong views on educating woman . He wanted them to be powerful and free from ignorance .The woman in Majaz’s poetry was more than an entity of loveliness .He wished to see them as crusaders of uprising against exploitation and injustice.

Whenever  the students and alumni of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU ) sing the university song composed by the poet ,  Majaz comes to life.

“Ye meraa chaman hai meraa chaman, mein apne chaman kaa bulbul huun

Sarshaar-e-nigaah-e-nargis huun, paa-bastaa-e-gesuu-sumbul huun”

( Majaz )

Ali Sardar Jafri used this couplet as the title song of his famous television series, Kahkashan, broadcasted on Doordarshan during the early 90s.

Majaz played a special role in Progressive Writers’ Movement of the country He had very intimate friendship and bondage with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Moin Ahsan Jazbi, Ali Sardar Jafri and Makhdoom Moihuddin. A collection of poems” Aahang “published while he was alive, is dedicated to these four poets in the following words:

“Faiz aur Jazbi ke naam, jo mere dil o jigar hain

Sardar aur Makhdoom ke naam, jo mere dast o baazu hain”

(To Faiz and Jazbi, who are my heart and soul

To Sardar and Makhdoom, who are my hands and limbs )

Majaz had bouts of nervous breakdowns for which he was admitted to Raanchi’s Mental Hospital . In this hospital , he is reported to have met doyen of Bengal’s  revolutionary  poet ( Bidrohi Kobi ) Kazi Nazrul Islam . Majaz died in Balrampur Hospital in 1955 due to Liver Cirrhosis caused by his excessive liquor addiction.

On a chilly winter night, a group of friends from Lucknow entertained him with liquor . Together they drank till midnight after which they left him all alone on the hotel roof . He died alone in the bitter cold. He was 44.

Chhup gaye woh saaz e Hast chheid kar

Ab to Buss awaaz hi awwaz hai

He lies buried Inside Lucknow’s Nishat Ganj Graveyard .The Epitaph written on his grave reads ..

“Ab isskay baad subah hai aur subah-e-nau Majaz,

Hum Per hai khatam Sham-e-Garibaan-e-Lucknow…..”.

In 2008 , Government Of India released a Postal stamp of Rs5/= to Honour Majaz . The function was attended by majaz ‘s sister Hameeda and Nephew (Poet and Film Lyricist )Javed Akhtar .In this stamp , you can see Lucknow’s Tile Wali Masjid , Part of the Imambara and the skyline of the city .  A   famous couplet of Majaz  that goes as under

“ Bakshi hain hum ko ishq ne woh Jurratein Majaz ,

Dartey Nahin siyasat e ahle Jahaan se hum ”

is also written in urdu on this stamp.

Naavak e Naaz Khataa Hai To Khataa Ho Saaqi

Autar Mota is a Blogger  , Translator and writes in English , Urdu , Kashmiri and Hindi. His write-ups have appeared in many national magazines and journals.

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