Independence – the word conveys so much power and freedom in itself that it fills every Indian with pride. 15 August 1947 was the day that not only signaled the end of the 200-year-old British rule; it also witnessed the birth of a new nation: India (Bharat). The suppressed Indian flag received its due respect and the sacrifices of many people were rendered meaningful. 15 August not only marks an era of our freedom but it also pays tribute to all those souls who stood up to the colonizers to achieve azadi. Alas! Year after year, 15 August has been reduced to just a national holiday. Television networks telecast old patriotic films and the day is celebrated like any other no-work day. Independence Day is losing its significance in today’s age.
But, contrary to the present situation, imagine that an outsider comes and asks you to be a slave in your own home. Open grounds, which were once places where people worked and celebrated events, suddenly become a space where you can’t even move freely. Your every step is watched by the one who presumes to be your supervisor. How would you feel or cope?
Independence Day belongs to all those who fought hard to give us this day of ’holiday’. It is a sincere dedication to the people who sacrificed themselves for their country. India not only achieved swaraj but earned its identity – a confidence which was stolen by the British. We won our Bharat, which was crushed by the weight of westernization. The ‘golden bird’ (sone ki chidiya) regained its power to fly freely. India gained its spirit to live a life of freedom. Independence to all the enslaved minds meant a life-changing day. Happiness and relief were the emotions that ruled the night of 15 August 1947. Every heart must have sung these beautiful lines,
Our India is the greatest in the world,
We are its nightingales and this is our garden
The above lines represent the thoughts of every Indian in the 1940s. They are from the poem ‘Song of India’ (Tarana-e-Hindi), originally composed by Muhammad Iqbal in Urdu and translated by Sami Rafiq. The poem is from the book titled The Glory of India. It is an anthology of Urdu poetry which has been translated into English and Hindi. These translations bring out the beauty of Urdu language. Quite often, Urdu is associated with ghazals but this book disburses this myth and opens up new genres of Urdu for non-Urdu-readers. In the book, the poets highlight the glory of India through a language which was once a standard language of British and Muslim courts. Surprisingly, around 75 percent of Urdu words have their etymological roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit. In fact, in ancient India there were more Urdu speakers than Hindi. This book not only provides readers with an opportunity to recreate the charm of Urdu but also transfers them to the patriotic ambience of a peaceful and saintly India.
These poems not only convey the beauty of the Urdu language, they also evoke feelings of patriotism and love which have become a little lost. Indians have forgotten what it took leaders like Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and many others to make our country free. They serve as inspiration for many Indians. In The Glory of India, Tilok Chand Mahroom has beautifully said,
Drank the cup of love and danced,
Carefree you roamed in the streets of passion,
The image is carved in our hearts,
How you kissed the hangman’s rope!
The Glory of India is a beautiful compilation to remember what has been forgotten. The anthology includes poems which fill every Indian heart with love for their country and people. The poets not only glorify India as a nation but also bring to light the brave warriors who lost everything in the struggle to free India. The second part of this book carries sixteen poems which sing the saga of great Indian leaders.
The wings of intellect cannot reach your height,
Nobody could draw a sketch of your greatness,
No words to recount your story, no language is enough,
Eyes are yearning for you and you are no more with us,
A form beyond intellect and belief,
Mystics could not reach you, poets are embarrassed.
The above lines, from the poem Mahatma Gandhi ka Qatl written by Anand Narayn Mulla and translated by Shabir Magami, shed light on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi’s assassination left every Indian in darkness with numb hearts. There are no words to describe the intellect of this great Indian fighter or the impact he had on Indians.
The Glory of India also gives an account of the emotional, spiritual and physical events which shaped India. The third part of this book, ‘The Indian Spectacle’, unfolds the trauma which shook the roots of our country. Have a look at this composition by Zafar Ali Khan, translated by Haris Qadeer titled ‘Atrocities in Punjab’ (Muzalim Punjab)
Every morning and evening, you too be whipped by the hunter,
For few days draw lines on the earth with your nose,
You too whitewash your body with paint brush,
Visit the mosque after evening prayers,
and for that crime you too earn scars on your back,
One of the most unsettled places during the British raj was Amritsar, the capital of Punjab. The poem tries to convey the atrocities and fear in Amritsar during British rule. Zafar Ali Khan gets into the minds of people in Amritsar who were put into prison only on suspicion and doubt by General O’ Dyer. During Martial law, people were lashed and made to crawl. The poet addresses the ruler of Amritsar and says that visiting the mosques after evening prayers was also a ‘crime’ during British governance.
The poems in The Glory of India are brilliantly translated by Samir Rafiq, Saghir Aftaheim and Faiza Abbasi. The book makes an effort to refresh the Indian struggles in 21 Century. Poems in this book are a great medium to remember the glorious past of India.
We wish you all a very Happy Independence Day. Celebrate the day of freedom and appreciate the ones who have given you the honour to be born in an independent country. Jai Hind!
Buy this book: https://bit.ly/2OwXRJU
Gurleen Sethi is Executive – Marketing with Viva Books. She believes in ideas rather than in an ideology. Writing is her passion and a great stress buster.