Remembering Firaq Gorakhpuri On his 37th Death Anniversary

Woh Nigaah E Naaz Zubaan Zubaan

Woh Sukoot E Naaz Sukhan Sukhan.

Firaq Gorakhpuri

I have been told by many friends not to read firaq again and again.I ask why; To which i get following replies..

“ In practical life, He was not a man of good moral Conduct. He had a fondness for Liquor even during his old age. .”“His poetry is sensuous. He only praises feminine beauty. “ He was labelled as Spoiled genius of India by Gandhi ji .” “He was short tempered, arrogant and uncompromising “

“ He was a Nehru Bhakt.”

I ask friends if they have read Firaq; And i am told in affirmative.. I ask if they have read his collections like Gul e Nagma, Naghma e Saaz or Ramz o Kaaynaat or Dharti ki karwat.I am told the expected ,”NO”. I ask if they have read his poems like ‘Shaam e Ayaadat’ (The

EvenIng of Her Visit), Aadhi Raat ( Midnight) , Jugnu (fireflies) ,Handola ( Cradle) or Taraaana e Khizaan ( The song of the Autumn) . I get the expected reply “NO”. Most of them have not read his Gazal and poems but heard Begum Akhtar singing some Firaq Gazals .

So you are dismissing a stalwart ( who has written on culture, civilization, loneliness, Nature, Love, hope, separation, and so many aspects of life ) without reading him .

I have no business to focus on Firaq’s temper or private life . And discussing the same will not help me in objective evaluation of his work. In creative human beings, you always find varied levels of eccentricities. Do you look to their eccentricities or to the creative standards they establish in Art or Literature?

I shall continue to read and discuss Firaq as a poet of eminence

Firaq worked closely with Gandhi ji and Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru during freedom struggle . He went to prison many times during freedom struggle of the country. He did not join ICS that he qualified. Gandhi ji had asked him to join Gujarat Vidyapeeth as professor but he refused . Pandit ji, Indira ji and Harivansh Rai Bachan held him in highest esteem.

About firaq’s poetry i have to make some basic observations .These are…

(1) His love poetry is based on a truthful  response  to primary emotion.

(2) Firaq has enriched and indigenized his urdu assimilating so many words from Hindi, sanskrit and Braj Baasha. Words like komal, kaaran, Deepshikha, Agnikund, vish, Ang, Pawan, Mukh, Kumadni, Kanwal, Banvaas, roop, Singaar, Dukh, Sansaar,Amrit, Suhaagan, and many more have been frequently used by him in poems, Gazals and Rubais.

(3) Rubais in urdu were used by poets as tools of ethical or theoretical suggestions. Firaq uses them to present images of feminine Beauty and grace. These images have been created or captured in the homely roles of a  woman  who happens to be a mother, daughter, sister or wife.

(4) Through his Gazals, He has fully explored the emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions of Love as the fundamental emotion of a human being. . While expressing the same in his poetry ,  he gives it  his personal hue and  makeup .

(5) Along with hope, wait, sensuousness and other issues, there is a stream of sorrow that flows through his work . I would call it a sorrow of spiritualised helplessness; And this very aspect brings him very close to Mir Taqi Mir .And Firaq duly acknowledges greatness of Mir when he says’ Gazal ka saaz uthaao Barri udaas hai Raat, Navaa e Mir sunaao Barri udaas hai Raat’..

(6) Firaq’s study of religious scriptures of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity is profound..If he uses references from Ramayana and Mahabharata, he also makes revered mention of incidents related with Karbala and life of Prophet of Islam. Incidents related with Jesus Christ and Moses have been mentioned at so many places.For him every prophet has visited this earth to ameliorate human pain and suffering. That spectacular quality makes him a true and genuine humanist. I tend to use word humanist instead of Secular .

(7) Firaq’s mind was free from inhibitions. He allowed a passage to every thought. Many critics have called his mind a highway or a thoroughfare. Reflexes from such free minds are unpredictable and quite often unexpected.

(8) Firaq had a great fascination for English literature. Who else except firaq could translate Homer, Virgil, Wordsworth, Hardy and Wallace Stevens into beautiful Urdu ?

(9) While descrbing midnight’s pillared silence and moonlight set against his individual sorrow , loneliness and wait in poem Aadhi Raat , Firaq takes many turns in between to touch issues of Humanity at large; I mean issues like war, poverty , revolution etc.

jidhar nigaah karein ek Ataah khaamoshi,

zameen se ta mah o anjum sukoot ke meenar,

khadaa hai ouss mein chup chaap harsingaar ka Peid,

Yeh chaandni hai ke umdaa huva hai Rus saagar,

Gulon ne chaadar e Shabnam se munh Lapeit Liya,

Labon pe so gayi kaliyon ki muskaraahat bhi,

Jagaa Raha hai koyee Aadhi raat ka jadoo

Ek Aadmi hai ke itna dukhi hai duniya mein ?


. And the turns in between are ..

Na muflisi ho to kitni haseen hai duniya,

Ab inquilab mein shaayad ziyaada deir nahin,

Sipaah e roos hain ab kitni door Berlin se ..

( Aadhi Raat was Written around second world war.Russian troops are about to enter Berlin to defeat Nazi Germany)


Me khizaan bhi huun me bahaar bhi

Meri zindagi hai woh zindagi,

Ke misaal e Barg e Gule chaman

Jo gaahe kafan gaahe Pairhan….

( Firaq)


I am the autumn,

I am the spring,

Such a erratic life i lead,

Like the petals of a rose flower,

Now   for the coffin,

Now  for the for the headdress..


Firaq has used two words  in some  his Gazals that he wrote  . These words are Khastagi ( Brittleness ) and Munn-Chalan ( something close to haughtiness ) . Many writers who knew him, saw him and were friendly to him , commented that contrary to popular beliefs , Firaq was soft , tender and as transparent as Glass . That made him brittle as well.

Firaq was also a little puffed-up personality . Death of his children and a failed marriage made him lonely . It brought enormous pain in Firaq’s life And Firaq had no one close to him to share this grief .

All these things apart , he had a very high opinion about his poetry and his style. And this opinion also extended to his English ,a language that he taught at Allahabad university. He is reported to have once said ,

“ Only three people in India know correct English .They are Dr S Radhakrishnan , Pandit Nehru and Firaq ”.

In fact he had said that only  two and half persons know correct English In India . Nehru, he had put in the half . This statement was later modified to Three.

What I say is supported by his one couplet as well.


Aaney  wali naslain tum par fakr kareingi Hum-asron

Jab inn ko Maaloom Yeh Hogaa tum ne Firaq ko dekhaa thaa

(The generations to come will envy you, compatriots,

When they will realize that you had seen Firaq.)

Like Faiz ,Firaq too has a passionate engagement with humanity at large . Due to his strong commitment to Marxism,quite often, Faiz comes up as a spokesperson of the downtrodden

Firaq has nothing to do with Marxism . But then he is equally enchanting when he talks about people in night long wait for some one to turn up or about people managing their existence in suffering , pain , loneliness and separation . A sample of Firaq’s style to substantiate my point of view could be …..

Zabt Keejiye to dil hai angaara

Aur Agar Roiiye to paaani hai

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Raat aadhi se Ziyaada gayee Thhii Saara aalum sotaa Thhaa

Naam Teraa Le le kar Koyee Dard ka maara Rotaa Thhaa……

Taaray Aksar Doob Chalay Thhay , Raat ke ronay vaalon ko

Aanay Lagii Thhi Neend sii Kuchh Duniyaa mein savera Hotaa Thhaa….

Uss ke aansoo Kis ne Dekhe Uss ki Aahein Kis ne sunii

Chaman Chaman Thhaa Husn Bhi Lekin Dariyaa Dariyaa Rotaa Thhaa ….

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Ab Aksar Chupp Chupp se rahain hain

Yuun Hi Kabhuu Lub Kholain Hain…

Pehlay “Firaq” Ko Dekha Hotaa

Ab To Bahut Kam Bolay Hain…

Gham Ka fasaana sunanay vaalon

Aakhir e Shab aaraam karo,

Kal Yeh Kahaani Phir Chhedeingay

Hum Bhi Zaraa Ab So Le hain…

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Raghupati Sahai “Firaq “ Gorakhpuri was an excellent conversationalist. He could speak extempore for hours on Dante , Kierkegaard , Shakespeare , Tulsi Das ,Kabir , Tagore , Ghalib , Kalidas , Rumi or Hafiz and then switch over to weird topics like variety of snakes and frogs in Indian Jungles . His personal cook , Gardner , Washer Man , Hair cutter and Tailor had to listen to his ideas on issues that fell under their jurisdiction . Sometimes he could be seen giving long lectures to his cook as to How he should cook “Baingan Ka Burthhaa “. His Dhobi was regularly counseled about the technique of ironing different clothes or washing these on Ganga Ghaat at Allahabad .

Firaq was known for his direct and unwrapped views . To progressive writers , who were mostly influenced by communist ideology , Firaq once said ,

“ You must also be conscious of present possibilities and the bright hopes that it throws up for world around us . Do not get trapped into the question of believing or Not believing in God. Accept all the wisdom that was passed on to us by Rig Veda, Tennyson , Tolstoy, Tagore , Ghalib and many more . Without consciousness of this Grand heritage , No Progressive literature can be created .”

It was Firaq who had recommended the name of Josh Malihabaadi as editor of Urdu Magazine AAJKAL published by Government of India . Firaq was made chairman of the appointment committee by Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru .When some Bureaucrats objected to this appointment , Firaq told Pandit ji

“ What do these Bengali , Gujrati and Madrasi officers know about Urdu . If their views were also to be taken into account , what need arose to bring me as the Chairman of the appointment committee.”

I am tempted to agree with firaq that any person under the sun can give unending discourse on Literature ,Art , Morality and Religion. The listener is equally tempted to peep into the personality of the orator , analyze and evaluate him under the scanner of self practice . Mere oration does not make any person Great . Firaq informs …

Aadami ka Aadami honaa nahin Aasaan Firaq ,

Ilm o Fun Ikhlaaq o Mazhab Jis se Chaaho Poochh Lo …

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Firaq believed that Death is approachable and touchable . For him , there is some positivity about Death .This positivity he finds missing in Existence that slays man day in and day out .  According to Firaq ,this demon of existence has no cure . It is not reachable or touchable. I quote Firaq …


Maut Ka Bhi Ilaaj Ho Shaayad

Zindagi ka Koyee Ilaaj nahin…

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Aaj Rag Rag Mein Jaan Daurr gayee

Maut ne zindagi ko Chheirr Diyaa

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Maut ke bhi Urray hain hosh Aksar

Zindagi ke sharaab-Khaanon mein.

Hum ussi zindagi ke dhar pe hain

Maut hai jis ke Paasbaanon mein

( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

And about himself he writes …..

“Raunaq e Bazm e Jahaan thhaa go Dil e Ghamgeen “ FIRAQ”

Sard thhaa , Afsurdaa thhaa ,mahroom Thhaa ,nakaam thhaa…



Ye Udaas Udaas Bujhi Bujhi Koyee Zindagi Hai “ Firaq ” Ki ..

Magar Aaj Kisht e Sukhanvari Hai Ussi Ke Dum se chaman chaman

( Firaq )

                Firaq married in 1913 AD to Kishori Devi . As per firaq , it was a marriage by deception. It turned out to be an unsuccessful and unhappy marriage . Two Daughters and a son were born through this marriage . Death of his only son and his elder daughter brought enormous pain in Firaq’s life. And Firaq had no one close to him to share this grief .Firaq informs …

“ Any one in my place would have opted out for a second marriage or succumbed helplessly to the situation. But I did not. As a result , my whole life has been a tale of suffering and loneliness. I have always wished in vain that some one should treat me as his own or that I should have some one to call as my own.”

Firaq wrote a long poem “Aadhi Raat ko ” or  “At Mid Night ”. The poem is a wonderful creative work of  the poet. The poem was composed in 1944 . The poem  describes a midnight scene. The silence and a feeling of  some loss all around .Trees standing in silence like a shy Indian  bride.  Flowers drenched in dew.  And the poet’s pain and suffering desiring a change for the better. Poet’s  loneliness   and  the events of world war especially the March of  victorious Russian soldiers towards Berlin is also described in some lines of this poem  . I quote some select lines ..

Siyaah peid hain ab Aap apni Parchhaai

Zameen se ta Mah o Anjum Sukoot ke meenar

Jidhar nigaah karein eik Athhaah Gumshudagi

Falak pe Taaron ko Pehlee Jamaahiyaan Aayeen

Khadaa hai  ous mein Chup-chaap Harsingaar ka peid

Dulhan ho jaisay hayaa ki sugandh se Bojhal

Jagaa Rahaa hai koyee Aadhi Raat ka jaadu

Chhalak Rahi hai Khum o Gaib se Sharaab e Wujood


Aanay Waali Naslein Tum par Naaz kareingi Humasron

Jab Inn Ko Yeh Dhyaan Aayegaa tum ne Firaq ko Dekhaa thaa.

( Coming generations shall feel proud of you , O ,People of My time ,

(Whenever they come to think that you had seen Firaq)


“ I was selected for prestigious ICS ( Indian civil service ) and offered the post of Deputy collector by the British Government .I left the job and joined independence movement under Gandhi Ji’s leadership. I went to prison many times along with Maulana Hasrat Mohani , Moti Lal Nehru , Jawahar Lal Nehru , Rafi Ahmed kidwai .

My father had died so did my younger brother Tripurari saran die of TB. Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru wanted me to take charge of Undersecretary ship of the congress party on a monthly salary of Rs250/. I accepted the offer . The work I was required to do , perhaps none could do though this work did not keep me much busy . I would spend quite good time in the company of Munshi Prem Chand and Poet Majnoon Gorakhpuri .

In Agra jail I had met Hazrat Niaz Fatehpuri who was a loveable personality . This company awakened the poetic instinct and a serious drift towards literature within me . I worked with congress party for about five years . From 1922 to 1927  and was frequently imprisoned along with other leaders of the country’s Freedom struggle .

During this period , I also came to know the mighty personalities of Chitranjan Dass , Gandhi ji and Maulana Azad . Gandhi ji wanted me to join as Professor at Gujrat Vidyapeeth as he had seen my command over written and spoken Urdu , Hindi and English. In 1930 after completing my  MA in English , I joined Allahabad university as a lecturer and wherefrom i retired in 1958. I taught English literature , wrote urdu poetry and read everything that was produced by Hindi writers of my time. ”


Sar Zameen e Hind pe Aqwaame Aalam Ke firaq

Kaafilay Bastay gaye Hindostaan Bantaa gayaa

( Firaq )

( In this land that is India, Groups from many nations of the world kept settling ,

That is how India kept emerging and assembling itself . )


Aagoshe Mulaayam mein Sulaaya Hum ko

Khaamosh awaaz se Jagaaya Hum ko

Kuchh Hum Bhi Banaayein Teray Bigaday Huve kaam

Aey Khaak e wattan Tuunay banaaya hum ko

( Firaq )

You cuddled us to sleep in your soft lap

You broke our deep slumber with soft voice

O Motherland ! let us too lessen your troubles

You just moulded us to the shape we keep ..

His father  Munshi Gorakh Prasad Ibrat ( Urdu Poet ) was a leading advocate and a scholar of urdu , Arabic ,  Persian and Sanskrit. Firaq also studied all these languages and mastered Persian , Urdu , Sanskrit and  Hindi. A taste for English literature made him to complete his MA in English .During his childhood , Firaq was deeply influenced by Ramayana , Mahabharata , Tulsi , kabir’s Nirguna philosophy and Advaita philosophy . About stories that shaped his childhood , FIRAQ   informs  in his long poem HINDOLA . I quote


“Woh  Nal Daman Ki kathha Sarguzasht e savitri

Shakuntala ki Kahaani Bharat Ki Qurbaani

Woh  Marg e Bheesham Pitamaah Woh Seij Teeron ki

Woh Paanchon Pandavon ke swarg Yatra  ki Kathhaa

Wattan se Rukhsatay Sidhaarthh Ram ka Banwaas

Wafaa ke Baad Bhi Seeta ki Woh Jalaa-wattani

Woh Raaton Raat ko Sri Krishen ko Uthaaye Huve

Balaa Ki Qaid se Vasudev ka Nikal Jaana

Woh Andhakaar Ki Baarish Badi Huyee Yamuna

Gham Aafreen Kahaani Woh Heer Ranjha ki

Shaooray Hind ke bachapan Ki Yaadgaar e Azeem

Innhi Fasaanon Mein Pinhaa Thhay Zindagi Ke Ramooz

Innhii Fasaanon Mein Khultay Thay Raazhaa e Hayaat

Inhi Fasaanon Mein Miltii Thhii Zeest Ki Qadarain”

( Firaq Gorakhpuiri )


Josh Malihabadi..

“A bundle of contraries, a blend of glass and steel, now a garden breeze , now the desert blast; Now a holy guide , now the stray wanderer;Now the dew on the grape leaf, now the devastating flame ;now a herald of heaven , now a messenger of hell. He who does not accept Firaq’s personality is crown on India’s brow , the pride of Urdu language , and the sacred sandal mark of Urdu poetry, is by god, sadly deficient in sense and judgement “

Prof. Jagan Nath Azad..

“ Firaq is surely a very good poet of GAZAL. But more than this , his mature lyrical accent is really captivating, and his attempt to introduce into Urdu poetry the elements of Hindu culture , convention and philosophy is equally admirable. Yet all this is not sufficient to rank him with great poets like Mir, Ghalib and Iqbal.”

Dr  Gopi Chand Narang..

“ For lovers of urdu , death of Firaq  is like the shattering of the Himalaya of poetry. He was , without doubt ,a very great poet , intelligent and perceptive, who has changed the very colour and complexion of urdu poetry.”

Syed Ehteshaam Hussain..

“ Firaq’s poetry presents a .fine blend of thought and feelings”

 Intezaar Hussain..

“ In the death of Firaq, Urdu has lost not only an individual but a kingdom.He contained within him an empire of wisdom and perception , and a wide range of creative experiences.”

Ali Sardar Jafri .

“  Basically he is a poet of sensuous  beauty ,an adept in depicting the psychological states of a lover .He has an authentic , individual voice , and a delightful way of using the language”

Prof. Mamtaz Hussain..

“ After Ghalib , Firaq seems to be the only poet who will be valued not for poetry , But also for his Conversational Brilliance and witticism His Poetry , though , a forest , and not a neatly trimmed garden of verse , But it is a forest where tall trees seem to rub their branches against the holy tree of Paradise .”

Ismat Chugtai ..

“ Firaq was a Treasure of knowledge and wisdom .”

Prof. Ale Ahmed Suroor ..

“Firaq can be described as a poet of spiritualized  sensuousness, one who can make us hear the music of the soul in the lines and curves of physical form.”

Suuntay hain ishq naam ke guzrein hain ek buzurag,

Hum log bhi faqueer issi silsilay ke hain

( Firaq)

We hear, there once lived , a revered elder :Love,

We too have descended from the same saintly clan.

 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.