Poetry of Shaikh Ayaz and the Subcontinent’s Classical Literary Heritage

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  • There seem three streams in Shaikh Ayaz’s literary creation in connection with the literary legacy of the subcontinent. These are – the stream of the classical poetry, the stream of mythology and the political movements and the characters, which played actively during the movements.

  • He is such an intelligent poet bestowed with great power of observation, vast study and extensive research, who has inculcated his very feeling in his poetry and prose.

By Noor Ahmed Janjhi

The vast legacy of knowledge and literature in the subcontinent is much diversified. It generates many flavors and tastes from its different genres and formations of art. Every form and genre of the art reflects a glare of wisdom and aesthetic sense. It is the mosaic of art par excellence. That is why the rich literary legacy of the subcontinent has been maintaining its genuine touch and tone. Its gracefulness and serenity is intact despite the lapse of many centuries. All of the Sindhi poets have mentioned that rich legacy in their poetic creation one or the other way. They have used the same forms and metrical structures. It has created a strong interaction among the different layers of different cultures and the literary legacy has played the role as the very structure of multicultural society and the society has emanated meaningfulness to the amalgamation of different colors of culture. This cultural interaction and mingling of intellectual productivity have paved the way to mold a peaceful and peace loving society and discouraged the social schism spread by religious bigotry or mercantile maneuverings. The multicultural literary legacy has facilitated to enjoin peoples’ hearts and healed the injuries given by different negative agents of social structure. Poets include in this enjoining class of art who have used their poetry as a vehicle for humanitarian thought and peace loving priorities in the society. The poetry has been conveying such humanistic thoughts generation to generation.

Shaikh Ayaz, a leading Sindhi poet, has based his worthwhile poetry on the rich cultural and wisdom legacy of Sindh and classical heritage seems much more prominent in his poetry. Many other colors also reflect from his poetic creation and the classical literary heritage of the subcontinent is one of them. He is such an intelligent poet bestowed with great power of observation, vast study and extensive research, who has inculcated his very feeling in his poetry and prose. He has narrated or quoted different tales and stories where ever he had been travelling and sightseeing. He has imbibed the information regarding the fairy tales and semi historical stories through his creativity and offered the same to his readers or listeners in shape of prose and poetry.

Besides poetry, Shaikh Ayaz has shared his observations and study through diaries, autobiography, fiction and letters. His collection of letters published under the title of “Jay Kaak Kakoriya Kaprri” constitutes an excellent literary production. He has been associated with Shaikh Mujeeb ul Rahman and loved Bengal very much. He has been impressed with the thought and poetry of Tagore and Qazi Nazrul Islam and others. There seem three streams in his literary creation in connection with the literary legacy of the subcontinent. These are – the stream of the classical poetry, the stream of mythology and the political movements and the characters, which played actively during the movements. He lends bait from Bhittai and also takes inspiration from Vedas and mentions them in his writings. However, his point of view is unique one. He is inspired of Miran’s poetry and humanistic thought of Kabir. Somewhere, he expresses critical point of view against the classical poetry. His books Bhonr Bhuray Aakas and Kulhay Patum keenro offer a good number of excellent doha, the genre used by Kabir and other poets. Shaikh Ayaz has utilized the form but rejuvenated it with his unique thought. Legacy of doha composing has been remained the favorite technique among literary circles of the subcontinent because it accommodates a great and good stock of thought compacting in two lines. The genre has been used to reflect wise and witty thought so it has been popular among masses as well as elite class of the society. Doha of Kabir and Miran Bai are full of such compact expression reflecting love and wisdom.

Shaikh Ayaz, in one of his baits, has narrated a collection of the poets of subcontinent. He has tried to extract the very gist of their theses and thoughts. Kabir Bhagat has said about the extraction of crux and mentioned it with the extraction of butter out of curd for himself and lassi for others. Shaikh Ayaz has told his inspiration from different sources like smell sensing of different flowers by a butterfly. Consequently, all of the colors of those flowers appear in the wings of the butterfly. He says:

توجا سمجهي سٽ، سا اڄ تائين اتهاس،

جنهن ۾ ڪر موڙي اُٿيو، ڪوي ڪاليداس

آيو جنهن جي اوٽ سان، ودياپتيءَ واس

ڀٽائيءَ جي ڀٽ تي ، جنهن جو نينهن نواس

جنهن ۾ منهنجو ماس ، ڪوري آيو ڪينرو

He draws the attention of the readers and listeners towards these lines of classical poetry. He calls the lines as history. The lines reflect the thoughts of Kalidas Vidiyapati and Latif. They have established an awakening, fragrant and loving society. His instrument or keener has taken a chunk from it. The lines create a vibrant echo of a call of the legend resonating hundreds of thousands reflections. Shaikh Ayaz has also used many melodious terms and words of oriental dialect and diction such as chandrma, pag pag etc. He takes inspiration from the poetry of Amir Khusro, particularly his linguistic aestheticism and melody of language. He uses word chandrma in his doha as follows;

من کان کائي موٽ، ڇُپي وئين، چندرما جي اوٽ

چندرما جي اوٽ ڇُپي وئين، ڏئي چريءَ کي چوٽ

رات ڏيئي جي وٽ ۾ جرڪي، گذري جڳ  جي جيت

پڙهيا پئي مون روئي روئي، ”ودياپتيءَ“ جا گيت

ماڻهوءَ جي منورتي بدلي، ننهن کان وڇڙيو ماس

ڪنهن جي من ۾ ميران ايندي، ڪنهن جو ڪاليداس

He tries to portray a multicultural kaleidoscope through different poets. The portrayal reflects different images from past. A glimpse of moonlight pours many beautiful thoughts and the glow of lamp symbolizes light and enlightenment. Eyes of the poet become wet when he reads the poetic creation of Vidiyapati, a well-known poet of Maithili language during fourteenth century. He belonged to north east Bihar. He did compose unique love poetry. The poetry of Vidiyapati moved Shaikh Ayaz and he emerged with thought expressing change in human mindset in Kaljug. He expresses the sensitivity of thought by giving example of unity of nail and attached flesh on it. Both cannot be separated. If one will try, both of them would be uprooted…nail and the flesh. Mindset changes with the passage of time. Market has motivated people to think only for profiteering. In the situation of being commodity, everything becomes commodity. Who will care of the niceness of Miran’s thought and characterization of the thought of love when there will be anxiety of abdomen and worry about the filling of hell of hungry mind. Shaikh Ayaz calls time the old criminal who keeps record of all the happenings…good or bad. Changing character of time resonates in the poetry of Ayaz. He elaborates the changing character of time in these words;

سمو پُراڻو پاپي سڀ کان، منهنجي لاءِ ڪٺور

پُڇي پيو بنگالي مونکان: ڪير هيو ٽئگور

کاڻي هير، وساڻو رانجهو، سارو جهنگ تباهه

رک ۾ تنهنجون  ڪافيون ڳولي، ويٺو وارث شاهه

من من بن آ، جنهن ۾ ناهي ڪنهن بنسيءَ جي تان

آئون به ٽوڙيان وينا، ڪيڏو ڦري ويا انسان

He says that time is relentless and helps to forget everything. He has quoted his meeting with a Bengali who had asked him the introduction of Tagore. Heer and Ranjho have been dust settled and Jhang town has been burnt away. Waris Shah is searching for his poetry. Every mind is like a forest where there is no sound of flute. Realizing the deplorable condition, he wants to break up his flute too. It is the tragedy of time and everything is lost in the dust of time. The tragic and dark times in history create phoenix of art in society who make world fresh and refine everything of society. It leads the generations towards brighter future. Poets and artist may break away the flute in anger or hate but the sad tunes of the flute remain alive in time capsule and become voice of generations. The voices take people towards their next step in time and the legacy goes on. Man tries to preserve his material world and physical structures but the voices of sadness and dreams keep alive in the box of history. In this way both aspects of human world…..physical and metaphysical, take growth and development. Human society get disturbance where there arises imbalance between the two aspects. Both of the aspects are interwoven and intermingling too. Shaikh Ayaz has depicted beautifully his journey of Bengal. He mentions the poet Jaseemuddin and depicts the charming scene of Tagore at river Ganges. Some of his doha portray it as:

”ڪوي جسيم الدين“ اسان جون، دليون کسيون هن ديس

چوٽي چوٽي  جنهن جا چمپا، ون ون جنهن جا ويس

نينهن لڳايو ڪنهن نچڻيءَ سان، اسان وڃي چٽگام

گهڙيءَ گهڙيءَ ۾ جنهن جا گنگهرو، ڪن ٿا ڇم ڇم ڇام

پورنماسي، گنگا، ٿڌڙو ٿڌڙو واءُ

ٽلي پيو ٽئگور ڪنڌيءَ تي ، اچي پيو پڙلاءُ

These all are touches of human concept and want to motivate human mind towards beauty. Shaikh Ayaz is attracted by the forest of Sundarbans and attributes wedlock as roses. He turns towards the beauty of Bengal and falls in love with a dancing girl of Chittagong who makes present every moment with the rhythm of her dance. The other scene is about a beautiful phenomenon at river Ganges where the poet Tagore is strolling thoughtfully. Both the sights of scenic mosaic increase in the natural beauty. By narrating such heart touching feelings depicted in the classical poetry of subcontinent, Shaikh Ayaz portrays wonderful narratives in the light of the classical heritage focusing on love, culture and wisdom.

(Prof. Noor Ahmed Janjhi is a renowned writer and the author of several books. He writes regularly for Sindh Courier and other newspapers) 

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