Most of us have listened to a famous Sindh song ‘Andhyun Main Jot Jagaen Wara Sindhi’, written by Dr. Moti Prakash and is considered as ‘National Anthem’ of Sindhis.
Dr. Moti Prakash, born on May 15, 1931, at Darro Town of Sindh was a legendary Sindhi writer, poet, educationist, playwright and dramatist. He was one of the best known poets of the post-partition Sindhi literature who inspired Sindhis through his writings.
Most of us have listened to a famous Sindh song ‘Andhyun Main Jot Jagaen Wara Sindhi’, also was written by Dr. Moti Prakash and is considered as ‘National Anthem’ of Sindhis.
Prakash’s father Sukhramdas Sharma was a small landowner and postmaster of his village and was first person of the village who passed matriculation examination from Bombay University. Moti Prakash had his primary education from his native village Darro and neighboring town Jati. He migrated to India at the age of 16. He received his Bachelor’s degree each in Arts and Education and Doctorate in Sindhi. From his early age he was fond of reading poetry and children literature.
“After Partition, we were allotted a small barrack in Jawahar Camp, Devlali, and later we shifted to Mumbai where we were seven of us in one small room. My father was unable to get a job, and when he finally got one in Sivakasi near Madras, he put Rs.10 in my hand and said I would have to support the family with that,” he had told Menka Shivdasani, who had interviewed him a few years before his death.
“I started my career as a teacher in 1951, immediately after passing the S.S.C. exam from the S.S.C Board, Poona. I studied along with my job – I hardly went to class – and passed B.A. (Hon.) in 1956. My father later shifted from Sivakasi to Mumbai but we still lived in the same one room. Life was a struggle; my younger brothers would sell gulab jamuns so they could earn enough to pay their fees of one or two rupees a month.”
He had always been interested in writing. Before Partition, his friend Gul Vasanmal, and he used to publish a children’s magazine. Gul was 18, two years older than him, so he was old enough to register his position as its editor. “We ran it for about six months, but then the Partition happened,” he told the interviewer.
“In Mumbai, life was very hard, but we used to have weekly gatherings of progressive writers, organized by Prof. M.U. Malkani, President of the Sindhi Sahit Mandal. We used to present our writings and invite comments; some of these were young writers who had participated in the Quit India movement – people like Gobind Malhi, A.J. Uttam… they were pillars of progressive writing, influenced by Urdu literature. We wrote poems that called for revolution and change. We had suffered the onslaught of Partition and we used to go to Kalyan Camp in Mumbai and recite our poems and read our short stories.. People would come in large numbers to hear us and this was very heart-warming.”
Struggle for Sindhi Language
“In trying to reclaim the Sindhi language in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution after Partition, in which we succeeded, there was a movement for Sindhi in the Devanagari script. But this brought a second partition in the Sindhi community. Writers like me felt that this would cut us off from all our literature in the Arabic script and it would not be possible to transliterate all of it – never mind fiction and poetry but even ‘useful’ books. By adapting to Devanagiri, we have been completely cut off from our roots, from the land of our birth. It was argued that children knew the Devanagiri script so it would help them learn Sindhi, but as a result of this, Sindhi medium schools have switched to Hindi. This was our fear. We therefore wanted the original Sindhi script retained, and additional scripts adopted if necessary,” he told.
“Today, contemporary Sindhi literature is in a state of coma. A few people like us at the Indian Institute of Sindhology have fought for the preservation of our culture, our language and our literature. We feel that at least oral culture will help bring the Sindhi community together since Sindhis are scattered all over the world.”
“Yes, there are very few readers of Sindhi today. We write for each other, but even if a few of us can appreciate what we write, it is enough,” Dr. Moti Prakash had said.
He possessed a keen interest in the education of Sindhi children. He joined K.J. Khilnani High School at Mumbai, where he rose to the position of principal. Then he moved to Dubai to manage The Indian High School, Dubai, from where he retired as a rector. He was the first Principal of Indian High School in Dubai in 1977 and continued as Rector for two years even after retirement in 2000.
In his eighties also, Dr. Moti Prakash remained actively involved in the education of of school children as honorary Director of Sadhu Hiranand Navalrai Academy Adipur.
Dr. Moti Prakash had contributed to different genres, such as short story, drama, and novel, critical essay, literary sketches and journalistic columns in a few newspapers.
Some of the famous books to his credit are: ‘Aau Ta Choryoon Chung’ (Let us play the fiddle), Poems, 1959; ‘Andhero Ujalo’ (Light & darkness), Novel, 1963; ‘Gulran Ja Geet’ (Songs for budding kids), Children’s literature, 1963; ‘Chininga Vich Choley’ (Sparks in my lap), Poems 1983; ‘Dithe Deenh Thyam’ (Have not seen you for a long), Character Sketches, 1986; ‘Se Sabh Sandhyum Saah Seen’ (All are hidden in my heart), Travelogue, 1987; ‘Adabi Gul’ and some others. .
Prakash was a founder Secretary of ‘Sindhu Kala Mandir’, which was established with the object of staging Sindhi full length / one act plays. In addition, he also produced about 250 plays & features for All India Radio during his tenure with AIR from 1956 to 1977. Prakash also wrote scripts and dialogues for the films and plays that are:
- ‘Raat Hik Toofan Ji’ (Stormy night), 1971.
- ‘Anja Ta Maan Nandhri Ahyam (I am still a small kid), 1962.
- ‘Parde Agiyan, Parde Puthiyan – A 3-Act play
- Naqli Shaan
- Anja Ta Ma Nandhri Ahyan
He was also a short story writer and journalist as he wrote for different newspapers.
He received prestigious Sahitya Academy Award in 1989 on his book ‘Se Sabh Sandhyam Saah Seen’. He also won A. J. Uttam Lifetime Achievement Award from ‘Akhil Bharat Sindhi Boli Ain Sahit Sabha Award for outstanding contribution to Sindhi literature in 1987, Lifetime Achievement Award by Sindhi Academy Delhi in 2006, Lifetime Achievement award from National Council for Promotion of Sindhi language in 2009. He remained associated with Indian Institute of Sindhology Adipur and S. H. N. Academy Adipur as a member of their Board of Trustees.
Dr. Moti Prakash left for heavenly abode on 4 August 2015 in Mumbai, India.