Known by his pen name i.e. Firaq Gorakhpuri, Raghupati Sahay was one of the most influential Pre-modern poets who paved the way for the modern Urdu ghazal during his times.
Till today, Gorakhpuri remains one of the most well known and significant Urdu poets in India. Gorakhpuri wove magic with his pen and earned a name for himself among his peers, such as Josh Malihabadi, Yagana Changezi, Muhammad Iqbal and Jigar Moradabadi.
Firaq Gorakhpuri was born in a Hindu family in Gorakhpur in 1896. Born into an aristocratic family, Gorakhpuri was drawn towards Urdu from a young age and began writing Urdu poetry when he was still a teenager. Gorakhpuri studied at the Lucknow Christian Degree College and went on to earn himself a master’s degree in Urdu, Persian and English literature. He was later selected for the Provincial Civil Service (PCS) and the Indian Civil Service (ICS), but he chose to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement instead, due to which he was later jailed as well.
At the age of eighteen, Firaq Gorakhpuri was married to Kishori Devi, but theirs was an unhappy marriage and there was always a lot of friction between the husband and wife.
Gorakhpuri joined the University of Allahabad as a lecturer of English Literature, which is also when he began writing most of his Urdu poetry, including his most famous work Gul-e-Naghma, for which he received the highest literary award of India, the Gyanpeeth Award in 1969 (This was the first Gyanpeeth Award for Urdu Literature). Eventually, he took on the pen name (as was common among writers back then) of Firaq Gorakhpuri. Firaq Gorakhpuri was also a Research Professor at the University Grants Commission and was also Producer Emeritus in All India Radio.
Firaq is remembered for promoting secularism throughout his life and spoke up against the Government when it tried to label Urdu as a Muslim language. He also worked towards allocating funds to develop Urdu as a language. Gorakhpuri was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for his tireless work towards promoting secularism, communal harmony and literature. Firaq Gorakhpuri’s poetry is heavily influenced by Urdu poets such as Mir and Momin and also the romanticism of English poetry. Hindi and Sanskrit literature also had a great influence on Gorakhpuri, which is why his writing is so rich and unique.
Gorakhpuri was also known for his open depiction of the female body and his generous use of sensuality in his poetry. But despite that, Gorakhpuri’s poetry was never vulgar or demeaning and maintained its dignity. Gorakhpuri wrote from the point of view of a lover and compared a beautiful woman to the beauty of nature. Gorakhpuri was known for how he blended Hindi into his Urdu poetry so that it could be understood by everyone.
Throughout his career which spread over five decades, Gorakhpuri wrote hundreds of beautiful and soulful Urdu poems, including Urdu, Hindi and English proses as well.
Throughout his life Gorakhpuri was honoured with many awards, such as; Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu (1960), Padma Bhushan (1968), Soviet Land Nehru Award (1968), Jnanpith Award (1969), Sahitya Akademi Fellowship (1970) and the Ghalib Akademi Award (1981).
This versatile poet and writer passed away on 3rd March 1982 in New Delhi, following a prolonged illness. He was 85 at the time and as a tribute to him on his death anniversary, here a few couplets by Firaq Saab you must read.
फ़ितरत मेरी इश्क़-ओ-मोहब्बत क़िस्मत मेरी तंहाई
कहने की नौबत ही न आई हम भी किसू के हो लें हैं
आई है कुछ न पूछ क़यामत कहाँ कहाँ
उफ़ ले गई है मुझ को मोहब्बत कहाँ कहाँ
कुछ इशारे थे जिन्हें दुनिया समझ बैठे थे हम
उस निगाह-ए-आश्ना को क्या समझ बैठे थे हम
कुछ भी अयाँ निहाँ न था कोई ज़माँ मकाँ न था
देर थी इक निगाह की फिर ये जहाँ जहाँ न था
किसी का यूँ तो हुआ कौन उम्र भर फिर भी
ये हुस्न ओ इश्क़ तो धोका है सब मगर फिर भी
फिर वही रंग-ए-तकल्लुम निगह-ए-नाज़ में है
वही अंदाज़ वही हुस्न-ए-बयाँ है कि जो था
बात निकले बात से जैसे वो था तेरा बयाँ
नाम तेरा दास्ताँ-दर-दास्ताँ बनता गया
जिन की ज़िंदगी दामन तक है बेचारे फ़रज़ाने हैं
ख़ाक उड़ाते फिरते हैं जो दीवाने दीवाने हैं
बस इतने पर हमें सब लोग दीवाना समझते हैं
कि इस दुनिया को हम इक दूसरी दुनिया समझते हैं
दीदार में इक-तरफ़ा दीदार नज़र आया
हर बार छुपा कोई हर बार नज़र आया
खो दिया तुम को तो हम पूछते फिरते हैं यही
जिस की तक़दीर बिगड़ जाए वो करता क्या है
बस्तियाँ ढूँढ रही हैं उन्हें वीरानों में
वहशतें बढ़ गईं हद से तिरे दीवानों में
बहुत पहले से उन क़दमों की आहट जान लेते हैं
तुझे ऐ ज़िंदगी हम दूर से पहचान लेते हैं
बहसें छिड़ी हुई हैं हयात-ओ-ममात की
सौ बात बन गई है ‘फ़िराक़’ एक बात की
मुझ को मारा है हर इक दर्द ओ दवा से पहले
दी सज़ा इश्क़ ने हर जुर्म-ओ-ख़ता से पहले
ये नर्म नर्म हवा झिलमिला रहे हैं चराग़
तेरे ख़याल की ख़ुशबू से बस रहे हैं दिमाग़
रुकी रुकी सी शब-ए-मर्ग ख़त्म पर आई
वो पौ फटी वो नई ज़िंदगी नज़र आई
रस में डूबा हुआ लहराता बदन क्या कहना
करवटें लेती हुई सुब्ह-ए-चमन क्या कहना
रात भी नींद भी कहानी भी
हाए क्या चीज़ है जवानी भी
वो चुप-चाप आँसू बहाने की रातें
वो इक शख़्स के याद आने की राते
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