Karoonjhar in the poetry of Shaikh Ayaz

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Karoonjhar Mountain is not only unique in its name but is also the symbol of knowledge and freedom of thought. It provides a natural context to its residents that enable them to be resilient and free in thinking. In the perspective of historic freedom wars fought in this area, Shaikh Ayaz says:  

او شل آزادي اچي، چوڏهينءَ چنڊ جيان

رهندي رات اڃان، ڪارونجهر تي ڪيترو

By Noor Ahmed Janjhi

Karoonjhar – as unique in its name, so is its uniqueness and natural beauty. Karoonjhar is a combination of two words – Karo means black and Jhar means dots, the mountain with different colous and black dots. Its formation is Precambrian, which may be 3.5 to 5 billion years old according to experts. It is regarded as only one mountain. However, it has a vast range containing more than 100 rocks stretched over a wide area of Parkar. Mr. Arif Hassan writes about it: “It contains the Karoonjhar range. These granite hills are 19 kilometers in length and rise to a height of over 300 meters. To their east are smaller hills which are covered with sparse jungle and pasturage. The hills are pinkish in color and very dramatic. They have lovely scenic spots in them including springs of which two (Anchleshwar and Sardharo) are well known since important Hindu shrines and local folklore are associated with them.”

It has two main gorges called Bhatiyani and Gorrdhro which take a plenty of rainwater and irrigate most of the areas of the vicinity. Major rock of the range is called “Tarwat jo Thalho” means platform of Trywhitt, a British functionary with the designation of Political Superintendent stationed at Umekot. It is about 1000 feet altitude and takes time to climb up. Other rocks are known by the particular names. It contains more than 100 springs. Some of them are perennial. They are Sarrdhro and Anchleshwer. Both of them are sacred places for Hindus. Other sites are Bayan jo Besino, Alakh Wai, Mirghi Kun, Gaomukh etc. It hosts the settlement of Nagarparkar at its foot. It has been famous throughout centuries. Shah Khuwarizm, Sultan Mahmood Begarrho and other invaders have visited it. There are many legends and folk tales associated with the mountain. Some of them are very much popular – for example tale of Sadewat Saringa, tale of Bhiryo Garori and tale of Hothal fairy. The mountain is rich in flora and fauna. It turns into a lush green and beautiful valley after sufficient rainfall. Many a visitors come after monsoon showers. It is very much attractive and charming so none can forget its scenic beauty. The people, who visit the mountain in a good year, come again and again to visit it every year. Renowned poet of Sindh, Shaikh Ayaz visited Karoonjhar and different areas of Tharparkar in 60s. He was very much impressed by the natural mosaic and people of Thar. The Karoonjhar range impressed him a lot. He took notes and composed poetry on the area in general and particularly on Karoonjhar. He regards Karoonjhar as a place from where the knowledge will spring and spread. Shaikh Ayaz says:

ڪارونجهر تي باهڙي، هوءَ ڪنهن دُکائي؟

آڌيءَ جو آئي، جنهن مان ڄاڻ ڄراٽ جيئن

(Who has ignited the fire at Karoonjhar, as it emanated knowledge like the flame?)

Mentioning Karoonjhar as the mainspring of knowledge, he revives the idea of ignition of human reason and logic with the ignition of rock for first time. That was the point from where man became logical as he started to think other way round. He thought that even a stone can produce fire. Thus man became a scientific in his thought process. Karoonjhar, being a vegetative mountain, touches the aesthetic sense of Shaikh Ayaz. He looks at the mountain as a beautiful phenomenon of nature. It turns into a more beautiful mosaic when small clouds hover over it. Shaikh Ayaz says….

اڪن نيراڦليا، مٿان مينهن وسن

سارو ڏينهن گسن، ڪارونجهر تي ڪڪريون

(Ak plant has blue flowers. Rain is being showered over there. Clouds are touching the Karoonjhar the day all along)

It is really heart touching scene when clouds come over the rocks and kiss them and the slight showers start. It is a matter of observation not a tale for telling. The mountain has been a retreat for sustenance of many poor families of Kolhi and Rebari communities. Both are the indigenous tribes and have maintained their cultural expressions. They are very much committed and introvert communities. They have preserved their languages, dress and folk dances. Shaikh Ayaz, observing  scenic beauty of the mountain and its vicinity, composes the couplets to describe the kitchen gardening and Rebari ladies, thatched huts of poor people at the foot of mountain, flocks of livestock, range flora of the area in the following couplets:

ڪارونجهر جي اوٽ ۾، ميٿيءَ جي واڙي

جنهن ۾ ريٻاڙي، گهلي پيئي گاگهرو

ڪارونجهر جي پٻ، جهور نه تن جون جهوپڙيون

تن ۾ ڪائي رٻ ، هو جي ڏويون ڪاٺ جون

ڪارونجهر جي پٻ، ڌڻ ڌراڙن جو،

چِٽ انهي جهڙو، جيڏا ڪونهي جوءِ ۾

ڪارونجهر ٻيهر، ڪونڀٽ سڀ ساوا ڪيا

روهيڙي گهر گهر، ڳاڙها ڪيا گلڙا

These beautiful couplets describe the mosaic of the mountain, kitchen gardening and the ladies caretaking it. Hunger of the poor people, he mentions symbolically with wooden spoons and marks the flocks of cattle as the most beautiful picturesque reflection of nature in world. It becomes very much worth to be seen when the Kumbhat tree turns into lush green foliage. Rohiro (Tecoma Undulata) bears colorful flowers and looks like garlands hanged in the tree. All of these scenes of natural beauty attract everyone. Shaikh Ayaz sees the mountain as a great potential of knowledge where fire of knowledge is not put off but it is yet burning. Burning fire of skills and information may become a huge glow and may enlighten the entire globe. He says:

ڪارونجهر تي باهڙي، وساڻي ناهي

ڪنهن ڄاتو آهي، ڪڏهن مچ مچي پوي

Shaikh Ayaz views challenges to the Karoonjhar and calls them as many dragons. Despite the hindrances he goes ahead by the inspiration of the great potential of the mountain. The challenges spur him too. He crosses many challenging steps and versifies sublime poetry for his people and beloved motherland. He gets encouragement from the trying conditions and toilsome situation. He express it as:

ڪارونجهر ۾ ڪيتريون ڀاري بلائون

اُنهن مان آئون، وڃان ٿو وترو

Creating poetry to express the gigantic potential of the mountain and all of the challenges to cross it over, he makes couplets to describe the rural life of Parkar. The scenes of villages ooze out from his poetic expression. Kitchen gardening and its caretaking ladies attract his attention. Flocks of cattle and the beauty of range flora invite any strange person too. He discusses the challenges during the poetic expressions about the mountain. In spite of all the challenges he declares Karoonjhar as a symbol of human freedom, especially freedom of thought. He narrates it when he senses the hesitating reflection of the indigenous people. Shaikh Ayaz, being a poet of world repute, believes in the intellectual freedom of people as they may advance in their pursuit of the exploration of nature. He envisions a bright future for Karoonjhar. He extends his mystic thought through the mountain. He says, ‘O God! Nothing can be higher than it when a peacock sings in Karoonjhar and clouds of monsoon respond his cries.’

“يارب! ڪارونجهر جي ڪور تي جڏهن مور ٽهوڪا ڪندوآهي، تڏهن هن کي سانوڻ جا بادل جواب ڏينداآهن. ڇا ڪائي معرفت  جي چوٽي ان کان مٿي ٿي سگهي ٿي؟”

Karoonjhar is the mountain, where many signs and symbols of human movement can be observed since centuries. From the tale of Parasar to the story of Sadewant Saringa and Hothal fairy, there are many gems of mythology. Known history reveals here the footprints of Mahmood Begarrho, Khuwarzam Shah and British troops in 1859. Rano Karanji and his companions fought a tooth and nail fight against the British army of five cantonments. Rooplo Kolhi and other brave sons of soil sacrificed their lives for sake of dear motherland. All of these things make the mountain a symbol of not only antiquity but also a symbol of knowledge and freedom of thought. It provides a natural context to its residents that enable them to be resilient and free in thinking. Shaikh Ayaz says:

او شل آزادي اچي، چوڏهينءَ چنڊ جيان

رهندي رات اڃان، ڪارونجهر تي ڪيترو


The Thar-based writer is a senior educationist and author of several books on folk literature.


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