Mahjoor, a great poet of Kashmir, remains rather unknown outside the Valley. Eminent poets like Tagore and Iqbal, who were his contemporaries, acknowledged his greatness as a poet and his role in enriching the Kashmiri language.
On April 9, 1952, the man, who had eulogised people, birds, animals, vales, lakes, glens, meadows, mountains and trees of Kashmir in his poems, passed away. The ’Wordsworth of Kashmir’ had passed into history.
With the death of Pirzada Ghulam Ahmad ’Mahjoor’, the romantic era in Kashmiri literature also ended. He was undoubtedly the greatest and the most popular poet of Kashmir. A colossus, he inspired generations with his sweet strains composed in people’s language, using their idioms and dictions. He was the foremost champion of the cultural renaissance, which ushered the political awakening in the state. He also played a prominent role in bringing about the awareness of national independence amongst the Kashmiris.
His love for god and man was surpassed only by his love for nature. No wonder, he became a legend in his lifetime and a household name in the Valley.
Mahjoor was born on August 11, 1887, at Mitrigam, a picturesque hamlet 40 kms south-west of Srinagar. His mother died when he was an infant. His grandmother, who brought him up, was well-versed in Arabic and Persian lore. So was his father, Pir Abdullah Shah, a scholar in Persian and Arabic and also the village maulvi.
The family’s literary environment and his association, at school, with Abdul Gani Ashak, a reputed Kashmiri poet and a Persian scholar, fired Mahjoor’s imagination. This gradually kindled into a burning passion for writing poetry. While his orthodox father wanted him to take up the profession of maulvi, the free-thinking boy had different ideas. He was not greatly attached to his home and abhorred the possibility of donning the mantle of maulvi.
One winter day in 1905, he quietly slipped away, crossing the Bannihal pass on foot and reached Amritsar. Punjab
in those days was humming with literary activities. Being a fine calligrapher, he easily found employment as a copyist in a newspaper. He spent his spare time in composing Urdu poetry and evinced keen interest in literary associations and gatherings. Through these activities, he got the unique opportunity of meeting well-known Urdu poets. He also recited his own compositions at the poetic symposiums throughout Punjab. It was during this period that he adopted ‘Mahjoor’ as his poetic pseudonym.
He took a job in the revenue department and married a beautiful peasant girl. However, he soon left the job and took to writing and composing poems in Kashmiri language, It was in 1927 that his celebrated lyric, ‘Poshe-mati - Janano’ (My friend, maddened after flowers) brought him tremendous popularity.
A few years later, his poem, ‘Bage Nishat Ke Gulo’ (Flower of Nishat Garden), regarded as a masterpiece in nature-poetry, established him as a distinguished bard. Then followed the unending stream of delectable lyrics in which he poured out his heart. These became immensely popular and won him everlasting affection of the masses.
In the earlier stages of his literary career, Mahjoor concentrated on romantic poems, in the backdrop of rhythm seen in nature. But during the freedom movement, he was attracted to the national cause and gave a new direction and tilt to his thought and expression. He urged the common man to fight for political emancipation and social change.
His patriotic fervour serves as an inspiration for a band of fiery young poets, notable among them being, Abdul Ahad ‘Azad’, Abdul Sattar, Aasi, Dina Nath Nadim and Mirza Arif.
One of his revolutionary poems, ‘Arise O Gardener’, was adopted as the national anthem of Kashmir, during the freedom struggle. Mahjoor also wrote a dozen books, some of them consisting of six to twelve booklets. About half-a-dozen of them still remain unpublished.
His poetry was characterised by a wave of scintillating lyrics and love strains. It reflected extraordinary simplicity of language, a fascinating style and capacity to convey the lover’s cravings and aspirations, hopes and fears, pain and pleasure.
A distinguished poet and an ardent patriot, he left an indelible mark on the minds of his countrymen. Mahjoor was an institution, having imbibed in himself the rare qualities of head and heart. His humane and profound love for Kashmiri flora and fauna and its downtrodden masses was peerless. His poems fired the imagination of his compatriots and shook them out of their age-old slumber.Sadly enough, Mahjoor, a great poet of Kashmir, remains rather unknown outside the Valley. Eminent poets like Tagore and Iqbal, who were his contemporaries, acknowledged his greatness as a poet and his role in enriching the Kashmiri language. The communal riots and the consequent human sufferings that accompanied partition, touched Mahjoor deeply. He articulated his pain and anguish in the following words:
Alas ! Freedom brought in its wake
Nothing but a long shadow of
Anarchy, poverty, deprivation
and sad, divided households.
Even decades after his demise, the above words ring the same dismal bells of tragedy and despair as witnessed in 1947.