Wednesday, August 4, 2010

West Punjabi Poetry Article: Safir Rummah

"West Punjabi Poetry." Safir Rammah. From Journal of Punjab Studies, 2006.

An important impact of literary isolation between East and West Punjab can now be seen in the growth of two somewhat distinct Punjabi literary languages there, in which some vocabulary is not even mutually comprehensible. In West Punjab, the writers, magazine editors, and book publishers have had to deal with several issues in developing a literary Punjabi.

Persian alphabets that have long been adopted for writing Punjabi language cannot represent all Punjabi sounds, and the efforts to modify and add new symbols are still in the works. The debates on these issues are on but no general agreement is in sight. Questions of representation of regional dialects in standardized Punjabi, and replacement of Urdu and Persian vocabulary with pure Punjabi words is still a work in progress. In East Punjabi literature, Sanskrit vocabulary is now used in abundance. West Punjabi readers in general are notfamiliar with most of the Sanskrit words used in East Punjabi writings, to the point that magazine editors and book publishers who transliterate and publish in Shahmukhi now resort to providing annotations of these word

He quotes an article by Tariq Rahman (1996), also on the web:

Soon after the creation of Pakistan, Punjabi vanished as a
university subject. Because of its association with Sikhs and due
to the state’s promotion of Urdu, Punjabi was relegated to the
periphery. In 1948, however, some activity did begin when a
meeting of some Punjabi intellectuals was held at Dyal Singh
College under the presidentship of Syed Abid Ali Abid. All the
participants were distinguished men of letters, M. B. Taseer and
Faqir Muhammad Faqir amongst others. They decided to work
towards making Punjabi the language of education in the Punjab
and to encourage publications in Punjabi. The first objective
remained an aspiration, but Abdul Majid Salik did start
publishing the monthly Punjabi in 1951. Its editor, Faqir
Muhammad Faqir, was successful in persuading eminent Punjabi
literary figures, who had made their name in Urdu literature, to
write for it. The Punjabi League and the Punjabi Cultural Society
were formed in early 1952, and a number of minor Punjabi
organizations, such as the Punjabi Morcha (Punjabi Front),
created in 1954 by Sardar lqbal Dhillon, proliferated. But none
of these organizations was able to get Punjabi accepted as even
an optional language in the University of the Punjab in 1953.
The first significant event of this period was the Punjabi
Conference held on March 9, 1956 at Lyallpur. It was sponsored
by the Punjabi Bazm-e-Adab (literary society) and its main
purpose was consciousness-raising. This Bazm-e-Adab was the
Pakistani version of Umar Din Ulfat Varsi’s organization, which
has been mentioned earlier. Having migrated from Jullundur to
Lyallpur, Varsi organized his society under an acceptable Persian
name. The major impediment to the acceptance of Punjabi, as
perceived by Punjabi intellectuals, was that most literate
Punjabis (and perhaps also the illiterate) exhibited various
degrees of cultural shame about their language. In his
presidential address at the conference, Abdul Majid Salik pointed
to this and the fact that Muslim Punjabis had always served
Urdu. He was, however, quick to add that the progress of Punjabi
should not be at the expense of Urdu which should remain the
national language of Pakistan.
The Conference demanded that Punjabi be used as the medium
of instruction at the lower level. This was accepted in principle,
although no real change was made. In fact, since all the
provinces of West Pakistan had been amalgamated into One Unit
by this time, the ruling elite was less supportive than ever of the
indigenous languages of the former provinces.
[Tariq Rehman, 1996]

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Notes on Ian Kerr, Engines of Change

He has a little on Kipling, observing bridge-building:

A young and still relatively unknown Rudyard Kipling, then working as a journalist for an Anglo-Indian newspaper, visited the construction site of the Kaisar-i-Hind bridge across the Sutlej in February of 1887. He described a seemingly chaotic sight. 'Lines of every gauge--two-foot, metre and broad--rioted over the face of the pure, white sand, between huge dredger-buckets, stored baulks of timber, chupper-built villages, piled heaps of warm red concrete blocks, portable engines and circular saws. Toiling men swarmed everywhere. Riveting had started. A few hundred men, paid by the piece, worked like devils 'and the very look of their toil, even in the bright sunshine is devilish. Pale flames from the fires for the red hot rivets, spurt out from all parts of the black iron-work where men hang and cluster like bees....' The noise was startling from one hundred yards away but deafening within the girders where the noise bounded and rebounded. Earlier, in 1886, the piers had been sunk in a hurry to reach a secure depth before the flood waters arrived. 'Men worked in those days by thousands, in the blinding sun glare, and in the choking hot night under the light of flare lamps, building the masonry, dredging and sinking, and sinking and dredging out'

Kipling's real-life observations, transposed to an imaginary bridge across the Ganges, became part of his well-known short story, 'The Bridge Builders.' The imagined bridge was, with its approaches, 'one mile and three quarters in length; a lattice-girder bridge, trussed with the Findlayson truss, standing on seven-and-twenty brick piers' whose construction required 'a humming village of five thousand workmen.' The bridge and its builders were threatened by flood waters--as many real bridges were--enabling Kipling to create a dialogue among the gods of Hinduism overheard by a stupefied, nearly drowned bidge builder. Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed God, talks about towns drawn together by the fire-carriages; another speaks of pilgrims brough more swiftly and in greater numbers to holy places; Lord Krishna declares the beginning of the end is born already. The fire-carriages shout the names of new Gods that are not the old under new names.' Kipling has the Gods of Hinduism speak about the engines of change. (50)

Famine and railway construction:

The report of the Indian Famine Commission said India required 20,000 additional miles of line to assist in famine prevention and relief, of which 5000 miles were needed immediately. In this case, government's railroad policy--influenced by the Famine Commission but certainly not fully implementing the commission's recommendatins regarding new rail lines--responded to the needs of Indians. However, as early nationalist critics of colonial railroad policy pointed out, railroads were double-edged sword where food grains were concerned. Yes, the railroads could and did move food grains to famine-stricken areas. However, the same railroads more thoroughly commercialized and integrated the markets (leading to an increasingly singular national market with price convergence) for the same grains and vastly facilitated the growth of an export trade in food grains (notably wheat) from India to other parts of the world. Thus, in the closing decades of the 19th century India became a significant exporter of food grains at the same time as parts of India were stricketn by famine. The engines of change rarely moved unequivocally down a track unambiguously designed to benefit India and most Indians. (67)

Anglo-Indian railway employees:

The 'Anglo-Indians' --the Eurasian offspring of what initially had been Indian mothers and British fathers--had become, over time and to a considerable extent, a self-perpetuating, endogamous, that is marrying within the community, population. Anglo-Indian formed less than one half of 1 percent of India's total population but provided 2 percent of the railway employees; more tellingly, roughly 50 percent of all Anglo-Indians came to be supported by railway employment either directly or as a dependent of a railway employee. (81)

This brings us back to the Anglo-Indians who helped reconcile the need for economy and security. What the railroad authorities quickly recognized was that Anglo-Indians provided ideal substitutes for the Europeans. Anglo-Indians worked for lower wages, they were loyal to the colonial connection and, as India-born, they were better adapted to the medical and climatological conditions of the subcontinent. Thus, the railroads came to nurture the Anglo-Indian community whose members came to have an important presence in some of the skilled positions--especially engine drivers and guards--and the lower and mid-level ranks of the officers. As late as the 1990s an observer of the Anglo-Indians of Calcutta wrote: 'The fact that your family had worked on the railways is also taken as proof of your British lineage. It gives you access to a kind of British authenticity that non-railway Anglo-Indians do not possess.' In colonial times, rail authorities checked the antecedents of Anglo-Indians before employmen (82-83)

The Lahore workshop:

The Lahore workshop complex was large. Initially located in the area of the city known as Naulakha the workshops and the adjoining railway station covered an area of approximately 126 acres. Some 2000 men found regular work in the shops in the early 1880s growing to nearly 4000 men by the early 1890s. The continued expansion of the NWR eventually forced the Lahore workshops to move to a larger site. A bigger, better-equipped physical plant was required to repair the engines and to repair and reconstruct the rolling stock and other equipment of a railway system which exceeded 4000 miles in 1905; a system with 756 engines, 2399 coaches, 11622 goods vehicles, and more than 63000 employees. An area of some 1000 acres was acquired on the eastern edge of Lahore where, at the Moghulpura site, new carriage and wagon shops were opened in 1910 and new locomotive shops, begun in 1910, opened in 1914. (85)

Indian Language Novels Before 1900

Umrao Jan Ada (Urdu): 1899. Mirza Mohammad Hadi Ruswa

Fran Pritchett's page:
Chapter 1 of the Khushwant Singh translation

Bhagyavati. 1877. Pandit Sraddharam Phullauri. Hindi

No particular web resources! Considered by some to be the first novel in Hindi. But Mukherjee also lists Pandit Gauri Dutt's Devrani Jethani ki Kahani (1870), Munshi Kalyan Rai's Vama Shikshak (1872). There were texts published at the very beginning of the 19th century in Hindi, specifically Rani Ketaki ki Kahani (1801), by Insha Allah Khan, and Nasiketopakhyan (1803), by Sadal Mishra. Here is what Mukherjee has to say about Rani Ketaki Ki Kahani:

The earlist long prose-narrative in Hindi in the nineteenth century, Rani Ketaki ki Kahani (1801) by Insha Allah Khan, was written as a linguistic experiment. The author wanted to show that a story could be written in a language which was neither Persianized Urdu nor a localized dialect of Hindi. The form was incidental, the language was the challenge. There was no European influence here, nor did the book generate any further experiments to begin a tradition. (14)
Mirat Ul-Arus (The Bride's Mirror). (Urdu, 1870). Nazir Ahmed.

Both Mukherjee and Frances Pritchett mention the author's preface to the novel as important. Here is how Mukherjee describes it:

Nazir Ahmad, in the preface to his first Urdu book, Mirat ul-Arus, explains that he wrote it to provide his daughters with interesting reading material because they had nothing but sacred texts to read:

Purely religious subjects of study are not suited to the capacities of children, and the literature to which my children's attention was restricted had the effect of depressing their spirits, of checking their natural instincts and of blunting their intelligence...It was then I formed the design of the present tale. (14)

Fran Pritchett, in her wonderful afterward to a recent edition of The Bride's Mirror, also has some great things to say about the preface.

Nazir Ahmad's introduction to The Bride's Mirror is so full of complex feelings for women that it almost shoots out sparks. The reader can easily tell that this writer has spent time with women and girls, and that he genuinely likes them and enjoys their company. He cares enough about them to respect them; he values their potential and wants them to achieve fine things.

Thus he is led into a torrent of reproach. Wanting women to be admirable and admired, he is distressed by the shortcomings he sees in them: ignorance, credulousness, passivity, laziness, emotionalism, superficiality. He illustrates and denounces these faults, trying to hector his young female readers into overcoming such embarrassing, humiliating, even shameful traits.

Yet he also knows that the deck is stacked against women. They cannot (and perhaps should not?) dream of escaping from purdah. Shut up in their houses, denied access to higher education, unable to learn from mingling with the larger world outside, how can they be expected, against all odds, to develop the valuable practical qualities and abilities so much more easily attained by the men of their families

ME: Interesting to note how much the novel was tied to British patronage. Ahmad, working in a British civil service job, submitted it to a contest for a work in Urdu or Hindi that could be used instructionally, and won the prize (1000 Rupees).

Indulekha (1888). O. Chandu Menon. (Malayalam)

Menon was committed to realism in narrative method, though he pushed the boundaries of the plausible (progressively) with the actual woman who is his protagonist in the novel.

Here are different parts of his statement on realism:

As state at the outset, my object is to write a novel after the English fashion, and it is evident that no ordinary Malayalie lady can fill the role of the heroine in such a story. My Indulekha is not, therefore, an ordinary Malayalie lady. [...] Twenty years hence there may be found hundreds of Indulekhas in Malabar who would be able to choose their husbands for pure and sweet love. My narrative of the love and courtship of Madhavan is intended to show to the young ladies of Malabar how happy they can be if they can have the freedom to choose their patners. (8)

And here is another quote from the preface to Menon's Indulekha. Here he focuses specifically on the cultural shift associated with the advent of realism:

Others...asked me, while I was employed on this novel, how I expected to make it a success if I described only the ordinary affairs fo the modern life without introducing any element of the supernatural. My answer was this: Before the European style of oil painting began to be known and appreciated in this country, we had--painted in defianc of all possible existence--pictures of Vishnu as half man and half of the God Krishna with his legs twisted and turned into postures in which no biped could stand...Such productions used to be highly thought of, and those who produced them were highly remunerated, but now they are looked upon by many with aversion. A taste has set in for pictures, where in oil or water colors, in which shall be delineated men, beasts, and things according to their true appearance, and the closer that a picture is to nature, the greater is the honour paid to the artist. Just in the same way, if stories composed of incidents true to natural life and attractively and gracefully written, are once introduced, then by degrees the old order of books, filled with the impossible and the supernatural, will change, yielding place to the new. (translated from the Malayalam by W. Dumergue, 1965 reprint. quoted in Mukherjee, 187)

Mukherjee's interesting observation that Indian nineteenth century writers unfortunately were influenced too much by British Victorians, while Americans or Russians might have served as better models:

It is perhaps unfortunate that the nineteenth century Indian novelist had as his model primarily the British Victorian novel; with hindsight after a century it seems the British model was perhaps the least suitable for the Indian mind in the nineteenth century. The brooding inwardness and philosophical quality of the nineteenth-century Russian novel or the intensely moral preoccupation of the nineteenth-century American writer might have demonstrated to early practitioners of Indian fiction alternative modes of writing novels. A number of creative writers in our own time have remarked how little they have been influenced by English literature and how much by European and American literature, and of late by Latin American literature.

India's first generation novelists had hardly any access to Tolstoy, Melville or Flaubert. With total servility they imitated mediocre English novels, often devaluing their own talents in the process. Mention has already been made of O. Chandu Menon trying to adapt a novel (which has almost been forgotten today) by Disraeli and ending up writing a genuine first novel in Malayalam. (17-18)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Premchand, "Godaan" Opening chapter in Hindi/Devanagari

प्रस्तुत हैं पुस्तक के कुछ अंश

होरीराम ने दोनों बैलों को सानी-पानी देकर अपनी स्त्री धनिया से कहा-गोबर को ऊख गोड़ने भेज देना। मैं न जाने कब लौटूं। जरा मेरी लाठी दे दो।

धनिया के हाथ गोबर से भरे थे। उपले थापकर आयी थी। बोली-अरे, कुछ-रस पानी तो कर लो। जल्दी क्या है ?
होरी ने अपनी झुर्रियों से भरे हुए माथे को सिकोड़कर कहा-तुझे रस-पानी की पड़ी है, मुझे यह चिन्ता है कि अबेर हो गई तो मालिक से भेंट न होगी। असनान-पूजा करने लगेंगे, तो घण्टो बैठे बीत जायेगा।

‘इसी से तो कहती हूं कि कुछ जलपान कर लो। और आज न जाओगे तो कौन हरज होगा ! अभी तो परसों गये थे।’
‘तू जो बात नहीं समझती उसमें टाँग क्यों अड़ाती है भाई ! मेरी लाठी दे दे और अपना काम देख। यह इसी मिलते-जुलते रहने का परसाद है कि अब तक जान बची हुई है, नहीं कहीं पता न लगता किधर गये। गाँव में इतने आदमी तो हैं, किस पर बेदखली नहीं आयी, किस पर कुड़की नहीं आयी। जब दूसरे के पाँव-तले अपनी गर्दन दबी हुई है, तो उन पावों को सहलाने में ही कुशल है !’

धनिया इतनी व्यवहार-कुशल न थी। उसका विचार था कि हमने जमींदार के खेत जोते हैं, तो वह अपना लगान ही तो लेगा। उसकी खुशामद क्यों करें, उसके तलवे क्यों सहलाएँ। यद्यपि अपने विवाहित जीवन के इन बीस बरसों में उसे अच्छी तरह अनुभव हो गया कि चाहे कितनी ही कतर-ब्योंत करो, कितना ही पेट-तन काटो, चाहे एक-एक कौड़ी को दाँत से पकड़ो ; मगर लगान बेबाक होना मुश्किल है। फिर वह भी हार न मानती थी, और इस विषय पर स्त्री-पुरुष में आये दिन संग्राम छिड़ा रहता था। उसकी छः सन्तानों में अब केवल तीन जिन्दा हैं, एक लड़का गोबर कोई सोलह साल का, और दो लड़कियाँ सोना और रूपा, बारह और आठ साल की। तीन लड़के बचपन ही में मर गए। उसका मन आज भी कहता था, अगर उनकी दवादारू होती तो वे बच जाते ; पर वह एक धेले की दवा भी न मँगवा सकी थी। उसकी ही उम्र अभी क्या थी। छत्तीसवाँ ही साल तो था ; पर सारे बाल पक गये थे, चेहरे पर झुर्रियाँ पड़ गई थीं। सारी देह ढल गई थी, वह सुन्दर गेहुँआ रंग सँवला गया था, और आँखों से भी कम सूझने लगा था। पेट की चिन्ता ही के कारण तो। कभी तो जीवन का सुख न मिला। इस चिरस्थाई जीर्णावस्था ने उसके आत्मसम्मान को उदासीनता का रूप दे दिया था। जिस गृहस्थी में पेट की रोटियाँ भी न मिलें, उसके लिए इतनी खुशामद क्यों ? इस परिस्थिति में उसका मन बराबर विद्रोह किया करता था, औऱ दो-चार घुड़कियाँ खा लेने पर ही उसे यथार्थ का ज्ञान होता था।

उसने परास्त होकर होरी की लाठी, मिरजई, जूते, पगड़ी और तमाखू का बटुआ लाकर सामने पटक दिए। होरी ने उसकी ओर आँखें तेरकर कहा-क्या ससुराल जाना है, जो पाँचों पोसाक लायी है ? ससुराल में भी तो जवान साली-सरहज नहीं बैठी है, जिसे जाकर दिखाऊँ।

होरी के गहरे साँवले पिचके हुए चेहरे पर मुस्कुराहट की मृदुता झलक पड़ी। धनिया ने लजाते हुए कहा-ऐसे ही तो बड़ी सजीले जवान हो कि साली-सरहज तुम्हें देखकर रीझ जायँगी।

होरी फटी हुई मिरजई को बड़ी सावधानी से तह करके खाट पर रखते हुए कहा-तो क्या तू समझती है, मैं बूढ़ा हो गया ? अभी तो चालीस भी नहीं हुए। मर्द साठे पर पाठे होते हैं।

‘जाकर सीसे में मुँह देखो। तुम-जैसे मर्द साठे पर पाठे नहीं होते। दूध-घी अंजन लगाने तक को तो मिलता नहीं, पाठे होंगे ! तुम्हारी दशा देख-देखकर तो मैं औऱ भी सूखी जाती हूँ कि भगवान यह बुढ़ापा कैसे कटेगा ? किसके द्वार पर भीख माँगेंगे?’

होरी की वह क्षणिक मृदुता यथार्थ की इस आँच में जैसे झुलस गई। लकड़ी सँभालता हुआ बोला-साठे तक पहुँचने की नौबत न आने पाएगी धनिया ! इसके पहले ही चल देंगे।

धनिया ने तिरस्कार किया-अच्छा रहने दो, मत अशुभ मुँह से निकालो। तुमसे कोई अच्छी बात भी कहे, तो लगते हो कोसने।

होरी कन्धे पर लाठी रखकर घर से निकला, तो धनिया द्वार पर ख़ड़ी उसे देर तक देखती रही। उसके इन निराशा-भरे शब्दों ने धनिया के चोट खाए हुए ह्रदय में आतंकमय कम्पन-सा डाल दिया था। वह जैसे अपने नारीत्व के सम्पूर्ण तप और व्रत से अपनी पति को अभय-दान दे रही थी। उसके अन्तःकरण से जैसे आशीर्वादों का ब्यूह-सा निकलकर होरी को अपने अन्दर छिपाये लेता था। विपन्नता के इस अथाह सागर में सोहाग ही वह तृण था, जिसे पकड़े हुए वह सागर को पार कर रही थी। इन असंगत शब्दों ने यथार्थ के निकट होने पर भी, मानो झटका देकर उसके हाथ से वह तिनके का सहारा छीन लेना चाहा, बल्कि यथार्थ के निकट होने के कारण ही उनमें इतनी वेदना-शक्ति आ गई थी। काना कहने से काने को दुःख होता है, वह क्या दो आँखों वाले आदमी को हो सकता है ?

होरी कदम बढ़ाये चला जाता था। पगडण्डी के दोनों ओर ऊख के पौधों की लहराती हुई हरियाली देखकर उसने मन में कहा-भगवान् कहीं गौ से बरखा कर दें और डाँड़ी भी सुभीते से रहे, तो एक गाय जरूर लेगा। देशी गायें न दूध दें, न उनके बछवे ही किसी के काम हों। बहुत हुआ तो तेली के कोल्हू में चले। नहीं, वह पछाँईं गाय लेगा। उसकी खूब सेवा करेगा। कुछ नहीं तो चार-पांच सेर दूध होगा। गोबर के लिए तरस-तरस कर रह जाता है। इस उमिर में न खाया-पिया, तो फिर कब खायेगा ‍? साल-भर भी दूध पी ले, तो देखने लायक हो जाय। बछवे भी अच्छे बैल निकलेंगे। दो सौ से कम की गोईं न होगी। फिर, गऊ से ही द्वार की सोभा है। सबेरे-सबेरे गऊ के दर्शन हो जायँ तो क्या कहना ! न जाने कब यह साध पूरी होगी, कब वह शुभ दिन आयेगा !

हर एक गृहस्थ की भाँति होरी के मन में भी गऊ की लालसा चिरकाल से संचित चली आती थी। यही उसके जीवन का सबसे बड़ा स्वप्न, सबसे बड़ी साध थी। बैंक सूद से चैन करके या जमीन खरीदने या महल बनवाने की विशाल आकांक्षाएँ उसके नन्हें-से-हृदय में कैसे समातीं !

जेठ का सूर्य आमों के झुरमुट से निकलकर आकाश पर छायी हुई लालिमा को अपने रजत-प्रताप से तेज प्रदान करता हुआ ऊपर चढ़ रहा था और हवा में गर्मी आने लगी थी। दोनों ओर खेतों में काम करने वाले किसान उसे देखकर राम-राम करते और सम्मान-भाव से चिलम पीने का निमन्त्रण देते थे ; पर होरी को इतना अवकाश कहाँ था ? उसके अन्दर बैठी हुई सम्मान-लालसा ऐसा आदर पाकर उसके सूखे मुख पर गर्व की झलक पैदा कर रही थी।

मालिकों से मिलते-जुलते रहने ही का तो यह प्रसाद है कि सब उसका आदर करते हैं, नहीं उसे कौन पूछता ? पाँच बीघे के किसान की बिसात ही क्या ? यह कम आदर नहीं है कि तीन-तीन, चार-चार हलवाले महतो भी उसके सामने सिर झुकाते हैं।

अब वह खेतों के बीच की पगडण्डी छोड़कर एक खलेटी में आ गया था, जहाँ बरसात में पानी भर जाने के कारण तरी रहती थी और जेठ में कुछ हरियाली नजर आती थी। आस-पास के गाँवों की गउएँ यहाँ चरने आया करती थीं। उस समय में भी यहाँ की हवा में कुछ ताजगी और ठंडक थी। होरी ने दो-तीन साँसे जोर से लीं। उसके जी में आया, कुछ देर यहीं बैठ जाय। दिन-भर तो लू-लपट में मरना है ही। कई किसान इस गड्ढे का पट्टा लिखाने को तैयार थे। अच्छी रकम देते थे ; पर ईश्वर भला करे राय साहब का जिन्होंने साफ कह दिया यह जमीन जानवरों की चराई के लिए छोड़ दी गई है औऱ किसी दाम पर न उठायी जाएगी। कोई स्वार्थी जमींदार होता, तो कहता गायें जायँ भाड़ में, हमें रुपये मिलते हैं, क्यों छोड़ें ? पर राय साहब अभी तक पुरानी मर्यादा निभाते आते हैं। जो मालिक प्रजा को न पाले, वह भी कोई आदमी है ?
सहसा उसने देखा, भोला अपनी गायें इसी तरफ आ रहा है। भोला इसी गाँव से मिले हुए पुरवे का ग्वाला था और दूध-मक्खन का व्यवसाय करता था। अच्छा दाम मिल जाने पर कभी-कभी किसानों के हाथ गायें बेच भी देता था। होरी का मन उन गायों को देखकर ललचा गया। अगर भोला वह आगे वाली गाय उसे दे तो क्या कहना ! रुपये आगे-पीछे देता रहेगा। वह जानता था, घर में रुपये नहीं हैं। अभी तक लगान नहीं चुकाया जा सका, बिसेसर साह का भी देना बाकी है, जिस पर आने रुपये का सूद चढ़ रहा है ; लेकिन दरिद्रता में जो एक प्रकार की अदूरदर्शिता होती है, वह निर्लज्जता जो तकाजे, गाली और मार से भी भयभीत नहीं होती, उसने उसे प्रोत्साहित किया। बरसों से जो साध मन को आन्दोलित कर रही थी, उसने उसे विचलित कर दिया। भोला के समीप जाकर बोला—राम-राम भोला भाई, कहो क्या रंग-ढंग हैं ? सुना है अबकी मेले से नयी गायें लाये हो?

भोला ने रुखाई से जवाब दिया। होरी के मन की बात उसने ताड़ ली थी—हाँ, दो बछियें और दो गायें लाया। पहले वाली गायें सब सूख गई थीं। बन्धी पर दूध न पहुँचे तो गुजर कैसे हो ?
होरी ने आगेवाली गाय के पुट्ठे पर हाथ रखकर कहा-दुधार तो मालूम होती है। कितने में ली ?
भोला ने शान जमायी-अबकी बाजार बड़ा तेज रहा महतो- अस्सी रुपये देने पड़े। आँखें निकल गईं। तीस-तीस रुपये तो दोनों कलोरों के दिये। तिस पर गाहक रुपये का आठ सेर दूध माँगता है।
‘बड़ा भारी कलेजा है तुम लोगों का भाई, लेकिन फिर लाये भी तो वह माल कि यहाँ कि दस-पाँच गावों में तो किसी के पास निकलेगी नहीं।’

भोला पर नशा चढ़ने लगा। बोला—राय साहब इसके सौ रुपये देते थे। दोनों कलोरों के पचास-पचास रुपये, लेकिन हमने न दिये। भगवान् ने चाहा, तो सौ रुपये तो इसी ब्यान में पीट लूँगा।
‘‘इसमें क्या सन्देह है भाई ! मालिक क्या खा के लेंगे? नजराने में मिल जाय, तो भले ले लें। यह तुम ही लोगों का गुर्दा है कि अँजुली-भर रुपये तकदीर के भरोसे लिख देते हो। यही जी चाहता है कि इसके दरसन करता रहूँ। धन्य है तुम्हारा जीवन गउओं की इतनी सेवा करते हो ! हमें तो गाय का गोबर भी मयस्सर नहीं। गिरस्त के घर में एक गाय भी न हो, तो कितनी लज्जा की बात है। साल-के-साल बीत जाते हैं, गोरस के दरसन नहीं होते। घरवाली बार-बार कहती है, भोला भैया से क्यों नहीं कहते ? मैं कह देता हूँ, कभी मिलेंगे तो कहूँगा। तुम्हारे सुझाव से बड़ी परसन होती है। कहती है, ऐसा मर्द ही नहीं देखा कि जब बातें करेंगे, नीची आंखें करके, कभी सिर नहीं उठाते।’

भोला पर जो नशा चढ़ रहा था, उसे इस भरपूर प्याले ने और गहरा कर दिया। बोला-आदमी वही है, जो दूसरों की बहू-बेटी को अपनी बहू-बेटी समझे। जो दुष्ट किसी मेहरिया की तरफ ताके, उसे गोली मार देना चाहिए।
‘यह तुमने लाख रुपये की बात कह दी भाई ! बस सज्जन वही, जो दूसरों की आबरू को अपनी आबरू समझे।’
‘जिस तरह मर्द के मर जाने से औरत अनाथ हो जाती है, उसी तरह औरत के मर जाने पर मर्द के हाथ-पाँव टूट जाते हैं। मेरा तो घर उजड़ गया महतो, कोई एक लोटा पानी देने वाला भी नहीं।’
गत वर्ष भोला की स्त्री लू लग जाने से मर गई थी। यह होरी जानता था, लेकिन पचास बरस का खंखल भोला भीतर से इतना स्निग्ध है, वह न जानता था। स्त्री की लालसा उसकी आंखों में सजल हो गई। होरी को आसन मिल गया। उसकी व्यावहारिक कृषक-बुद्धि सजग हो गई।

‘पुरानी मसल झूठी थोड़ी है-बिन घरनी का घर भूत का डेरा। कहीं सगाई क्यों नहीं ठीक कर लेते ?’
‘ताक में हूँ महतो, पर कोई जल्दी फँसता नहीं। सौ-पचास खरच करने को भी तैयार हूँ। जैसी भगवान की इच्छा।’
‘अब मैं फिकर में रहूँगा। भगवान् चाहेंगे , तो जल्दी घर बस जायेगा।’
‘बस, यही समझ लो कि उबर जाऊँगा भैया ! घर में खाने को भगवान का दिया बहुत है। चार पसेरी दूध हो जाता है, लेकिन किस काम का ?’
‘मेरे ससुराल में एक मेहरिया है। तीन-चार साल हुए, उसका आदमी उसे छोड़ कलकत्ता चला गया। बेचारी पिसाई करके गुजर कर रही है। बाल-बच्चा भी कोई नहीं। देखने-सुनने में अच्छी है। बस, लक्ष्मी समझ लो।’
भोला का सिकुड़ा हुआ चेहरा चिकना हो गया। आशा में कितनी सुधा है ! बोला अब तो तुम्हारा ही आसरा है महतो ! छुट्टी हो तो चलो एक दिन देख आयें।

‘मैं ठीक-ठाक करके तब तुमसे कहूंगा। बहुत उतावली करने से काम बिगड़ जाता है।’
जब तुम्हारी इच्छा हो तब चलो। उतावली काहे की ? इस कबरी पर मन ललचाया हो, तो ले लो।’
‘यह गाय मेरे मान की नहीं है दादा। मैं, तुम्हें नुकसान नहीं पहुँचाना चाहता। अपना धरम यह नहीं कि मित्रों का गला दबाएँ। जैसे इतने दिन बीते हैं, वैसे और भी बीत जाएँगे।’
‘तुम तो ऐसी बातें करते हो होरी, जैसे हम-तुम दो हैं। तुम गाय ले जाओ, दाम जो चाहे देना। जैसे मेरे घर रही, वैसे तुम्हारे घर रही। अस्सी रुपये में ली थी, तुम अस्सी रुपये ही देना। जाओ।’
‘लेकिन मेरे पास नगद नहीं हैं दादा समझ लो।’

‘ तो तुमसे नगद माँगता कौन है भाई ?’
होरी की छाती गज-भर की हो गई। अस्सी रुपये में गाय मँहगी न थी। ऐसा अच्छा डील-डौल, दोनों जून में छ:-सात सेर दूध, सीधी ऐसी कि बच्चा भी दुह ले। इसका तो एक-एक बाछा सौ-सौ का होगा। द्वार पर बँधेगी तो द्वार की शोभा बढ़ जायेगी। उसे अभी कोई चार सौ रुपये देने थे ; लेकिन उधार को वह एक तरह से मुफ्त समझता था ! कहीं भोला की सगाई ठीक हो गई, तो साल-दो-साल तो वह बोलेगा भी नहीं। सगाई न भी हुई, तो होरी का क्या बिगड़ता है। यही तो होगा, भोला बार-बार तगादा करने आयेगा, बिगड़ेगा, गालियाँ देगा। लेकिन होरी को इसकी ज्यादा शर्म न थी। इस व्यवहार का वह आदी थी। कृषक के जीवन का तो यह प्रसाद है। भोला के साथ वह छल कर रहा था और यह व्यापार उसकी मर्यादा के अनुकूल था। अब भी लेन-देन में उसके लिए लिखा-पढ़ी होने और न होने में कोई अन्तर न था। सूखे बूड़े की विपदाएँ उसके मन को भीरु बनाये रहती थीं। ईश्वर का रौद्र रूप सदैव उसके सामने रहता था। पर यह छल उसकी नीति में छल न था। यह केवल स्वार्थ-सिद्धि थी और यह कोई बुरी बात न थी। इस तरह का छल वह दिन-रात करता रहता था। घर में दो-चार रुपये पड़े रहने पर भी महाजन के सामने कसमें खा जाता था कि एक पाई भी नहीं है। सन को कुछ गीला कर देना और रुई में कुछ बिनौले भर देना उसकी नीति में जायज था। औऱ यहाँ तो केवल स्वार्थ न था, थोड़ा-सा मनोरंजन भी था। बुड्ढों का बुढ़भस हास्यास्पद वस्तु है और ऐसे बुड्ढों से अगर कुछ ऐंठ भी लिया जाए, तो कोई दोष-पाप नहीं।

भोला ने गाय की पगहिया होरी के हाथ में देते हुए कहा- ले जाओ महतो, तुम भी याद करोगे। ब्याते ही छ:सेर दूध ले लेना। चलो, मैं तुम्हारे घर तक पहुँचा दूँ। साइत तुम्हें अनजान समझकर रास्ते में कुछ दिक करे। अब तुमसे सच कहता हूँ, मालिक नब्बे रुपये देते थे, पर उनके यहाँ गउओं की क्या कदर। मुझसे लेकर हाकिम-हुक्काम को दे देते। हाकिमों को गऊ की सेवा से मतलब ? वह तो खून-चूसना-भर जानते हैं। जब तक दूध देती, रखते, फिर किसी के हाथ बेच देते। किसके पल्ले पड़ती, कौन जाने। रुपया ही सब कुछ नहीं है भैया, कुछ अपना धरम भी तो है। तुम्हारे घर आराम से रहेगी तो। यह न होगा कि तुम आप खाकर सो रहो और गऊ भूखी खड़ी रहे। उसकी सेवा करोगे, चुमकारोगे। गऊ हमें आसिरवाद देगी। तुमसे क्या कहूँ भैया, घर में चंगुल-भर भूसा नहीं रहा। रुपये सब बाजार में निकल गए। सोचा था, महाजन से कुछ भूसा ले लेंगे ; लेकिन महाजन का पहला ही न चुका। उसने इनकार कर दिया। इतने जानवरों को क्या खिलाएँ, यही चिन्ता मारे डालती है। चुटकी-चुटकी-भर खिलाऊँ, तो मन-भर रोज का खरच है। भगवान ही पार लगाएँ तो लगे।
होरी ने सहानुभूति के स्वर में कहा-तुमने हमसे पहले क्यों नहीं कहा ? हमने एक गाड़ी भूसा बेच दिया।
भोला ने माथा ठोककर कहा-इसीलिए नहीं कहा भैया, कि सबसे अपना दुःख क्यों रोऊँ। बाँटता कोई नहीं, हँसते सब हैं। जो गायें सूख गई हैं, उनका गम नहीं, पत्ती-पत्ती खिलाकर जिला लूँगा ; लेकिन अब यह तो रातिब बिना नहीं रह सकती। हो सके, तो दस-बीस रुपये भूसे के लिए दे दो।

किसान पक्का स्वार्थी होता है, इसमें सन्देह नहीं। उसकी गाँठ से रिश्वत के पैसे बड़ी मुश्किल से निकलते हैं, भाव-ताव में भी वह चौकस होता है, ब्याज की एक-एक पाई छुड़ाने के लिए वह महाजन की घंटों चिरौरी करता है, जब तक पक्का विश्वास न हो जाए, वह किसी के फुसलाने में नहीं आता, लेकिन उसका सम्पूर्ण जीवन प्रकृति में स्थायी सहयोग है। वृक्षों में फल लगते हैं, उन्हें जनता खाती है ; खेती में अनाज होता है, वह संसार के काम आता है ; गाय के थन में दूध होता है, वह खुद पीने नहीं जाती, दूसरे ही पीते हैं ; मेघों से वर्षा होती है, उससे पृथ्वी तृप्त होती है। ऐसी संगति में कुत्सित स्वार्थ के लिए कहाँ स्थान ? होरी किसान था और किसी के जलते हुए हाथ में हाथ सेंकना उसने सीखा ही न था।
भोला की संकट-कथा सुनते ही उसकी मनोवृत्ति बदल गई। पगहिया को भोला के हाथ में लौटाता हुआ बोला-रुपये तो दादा मेरे पास नहीं हैं। हाँ, थोड़ा-सा भूसा बचा है, वह तुम्हें दूँगा। चलकर उठवा लो। भूसे के लिए तुम गाय बेचोगे, और मैं लूँगा ! मेरे हाथ न कट जाएँगे ?

भोला ने आर्द्र कंठ से कहा-तुम्हारे बैल भूखों न मरेंगे ! तुम्हारे पास भी ऐसा कौन-सा भूसा रखा है।
‘नहीं दादा, अबकी भूसा अच्छा हो गया था।’
‘मैंने तुमसे नाहक भूसे की चर्चा की।’
‘तुम न कहते और पीछे से मुझे मालूम होता, तो मुझे बड़ा रंज होता कि तुमने मुझे इतना गैर समझ लिया। अवसर पड़ने पर भाई की मदद भाई भी न करे, तो काम कैसे चले !’
‘मुदा यह गाय तो लेते जाओ।’
‘अभी नहीं दादा, फिर ले लूँगा।’
‘तो भूसे के दाम दूध में कटवा लेना।’
होरी ने दुःखित स्वर में कहा-दाम-कौड़ी की इसमें कौन बात है दादा, मैं एक दो जून तुम्हारे घर खा लूँ तो तुम मुझसे दाम माँगोगे ?

‘लेकिन तुम्हारे बैल भूखों मरेंगे कि नहीं ?’
‘भगवान कोई-न-कोई सबील निकालेंगे ही। आसाढ़ सिर पर है। कड़वी बो लूँगा।’
‘मगर यह गाय तुम्हारी हो गई जिस दिन इच्छा हो, आकर ले जाना।’
‘किसी भाई का नीलाम पर चढ़ा हुआ बैल लेने में जो पाप है, वह इस समय तुम्हारी गाय लेने में है।’
होरी में बाल की खाल निकालने की शक्ति होती, तो वह खुशी से गाय लेकर घर की राह लेता। भोला जब नकद रुपये नहीं माँगता, तो स्पष्ट था कि वह भूसे के लिए गाय नहीं बेच रहा है, बल्कि इसका कुछ और आशय है ; लेकिन जैसे पत्तों के खड़कने पर घोड़ा अकारण ही ठिठक जाता है और मारने पर भी आगे कदम नहीं उठाता, वही दशा होरी की थी। संकट की चीज लेना पाप है, यह बात जनम-जन्मांतरों से उसकी आत्मा का अंश बन गई थी।
भोला ने गद्गद कंठ से कहा-तो किसी को भेज दूँ भूसे के लिए ?

होरी ने जवाब दिया-अभी मैं राय साहब की ड्योढ़ी पर जा रहा हूँ। वहाँ से घड़ी-भर में लौटूँगा, तभी किसी को भेजना।
भोला की आँखों में आँसू भर आये। बोला-तुमने आज मुझे उबार लिया होरी भाई ! मुझे अब मालूम हुआ कि मैं संसार में अकेला नहीं हूँ। मेरा भी कोई हितू है। एक क्षण के बाद उसने फिर कहा-उस बात को भूल न जाना।
होरी आगे बढ़ा, तो उसका चित्त प्रसन्न था। मन में एक विचित्र स्फूर्ति हो रही थी। क्या हुआ, दस-पाँच मन भूसा चला जायेगा, बेचारे को संकट में पड़कर अपनी गाय तो न बेचनी पड़ेगी। जब मेरे पास चारा हो जायेगा, तब गाय खोल लाऊंगा। भगवान करें, मुझे कोई मेहरिया मिल जाए। फिर तो कोई बात ही नहीं।

उसने पीछे फिरकर देखा। कबरी गाय पूँछ से मक्खियाँ उड़ाती, सिर हिलाती, मस्तानी, मन्द-गति से झूमती चली जाती थी, जैसे बाँदियों के बीच में कोई रानी हो। कैसा शुभ होगा वह दिन जब यह कामधेनु उसके द्वार बँधेगी !
सेमरी और बेलारी, दोनों अवध-प्रान्त के गाँव हैं। जिले का नाम बताने की कोई जरूरत नहीं। होरी बिलारी में रहता है, रायसाहब अमरपाल सिंह सेमरी में। दोनों गाँव में केवल पाँच मील का अन्तर है। पिछले सत्याग्रह संग्रम में रायसाहब ने बड़ा यश कमाया था। कौंसिल की मेम्बरी छोड़कर गाँव चले गये थे। तब से उनके इलाके में असामियों को उनसे बड़ी श्रद्धा हो गई थी। यह नहीं कि उनके इलाके में असामियों के साथ कोई खास रियायत की जाती हो, या डाँड़ और बेगार की कड़ाई कुछ कम हो ; मगर यह सारी बदनामी मुख्तारों के सिर जाती थी। रायसाहब की कीर्ति पर कोई कलंक न लग सकता था। वह बेचारे तो उसी व्यवस्था के गुलाम थे। जाब्ते का काम तो जैसा होता चला आया है, वैसा ही होगा। रायसाहब की सज्जनता उस पर कोई असर न डाल सकती थी, इसलिए आमदनी और अधिकार में जौ-भर की भी कमी न होने पर भी उनका यश मानो बढ़ गया था। असामियों से वह हँसकर बोल लेते थे। यही क्या कम है ? सिंह का काम तो शिकार करना है ; अगर वह गरजने और गुर्राने के बदले मीठी बोली बोल सकता, तो उसे घर बैठे मनमाना शिकार मिल जाता। शिकार की खोज में जंगल में भटकना न पड़ता।

राय साहब राष्ट्रवादी होने पर भी हुक्काम से मेल-जोल बनाये रखते थे। उनकी नजरें और डालियाँ और कर्मचारियों की दस्तूरियाँ जैसी की तैसी चली आती थीं। साहित्य और संगीत के प्रेमी थे, ड्रामा के शौकीन, अच्छे वक्ता थे, अच्छे लेखक, अच्छे निशानेबाज। उनकी पत्नी को मरे आज दस साल हो चुके थे ! मगर दूसरी शादी न की थी। हँस-बोलकर अपने विधुर जीवन को बहलाते थे।

होरी ड्योढ़ी पर पहुँचा तो देखा, जेठ के दशहरे के अवसर पर होनेवाले धनुष यज्ञ की बड़ी जोरों से तैयारियाँ हो रही हैं ; कहीं रंग-मंच बन रहा था, कहीं मंडप, कहीं मेहमानों का आतिथ्यगृह, कहीं दूकानदारों के लिए दुकानें। धूप तेज हो गई थी ; पर राय साहब खुद काम में लगे हुए थे। अपने पिता से सम्पत्ति के साथ-साथ उन्होंने राम की भक्ति भी पाई थी और धनुष-यज्ञ को नाटक का रूप देकर उसे शिष्ट मनोरंजन का साधन बना दिया था। इस अवसर पर उनके यार-दोस्त, हाकिम-हुक्काम सभी निमन्त्रित होते थे। और दो-तीन दिन इलाके में बड़ी चहल-पहल रहती थी। राय साहब का परिवार बहुत विशाल था। कोई डेढ़ सौ सरदार एक साथ भोजन करते थे। कई चचा थे। दरजनों चचेरे भाई, कई सगे भाई, बीसियों नाते के भाई। एक चचा साहब राधा के अनन्य उपासक थे और बराबर वृंन्दावन में रहते थे। भक्ति-रस के कितने ही कवित्त रच डाले थे और समय-समय पर उन्हें छपवाकर दोस्तों की भेंट कर देते थे। एक दूसरे चचा था, जो राम के परम भक्त थे और फारसी भाषा में रामायण का अनुवाद कर रहे थे। रियासत से सबके वसीके बँधे हुए थे। किसी को कोई काम करने की जरूरत न थी।

होरी मंडप में खड़ा सोच रहा था कि अपने आने की सूचना कैसे दे कि सहसा रायसाहब उधर ही आ निकले और उसे देखते ही बोले-अरे ! तू आ गया होरी, मैं तो तुझे बुलानेवाला था। देख, अबकी तुझे राजा जनक का माली बनना पड़ेगा। समझ गया न, जिस वक्त श्री जानकी जी मन्दिर में पूजा करने जाती हैं, उसी वक्त तू एक गुलदस्ता लिए खड़ा रहेगा और जानकीजी को भेंट करेगा, गलती न करना देख, असामियों से ताकीद करके कह देना कि सब-के-सब शगुन करने आएँ। मेरे साथ कोठी में आ, तुझसे कुछ बातें करनी हैं।

वह आगे-आगे कोठी की ओऱ चले, होरी पीछे-पीछे चला। वहीं एक घने वृक्ष की छाया में एक कुर्सी पर बैठ गये और होरी को जमीन पर बैठने का इशारा करके बोले-समझ गया, मैंने क्या कहा। कारकुन को तो जो कुछ करना है, वह करेगा ही ; लेकिन असामी जितने मन से असामी की बात सुनता है, कारकुन नहीं सुनता। हमें इन्हीं पाँच-सात दिनों में बीस हजार का प्रबन्ध करना है। कैसे होगा, समझ में नहीं आता। तुम सोचते होगे, मुझ टके के आदमी से मालिक क्यों अपना दुखड़ा ले बैठे। किससे अपने मन की कहूँ ? न जाने क्यों, तुम्हारे ऊपर विश्वास होता है। इतना जानता हूँ कि तुम मन में मुझ पर हँसोगे नहीं। और हँसो भी, तो तुम्हारी हँसी मैं बरदाश्त कर सकूँगा। नहीं सह सकता उनकी हँसी, जो अपने बराबर के हैं, क्योंकि उनकी हँसी में ईर्ष्या, व्यंग और जलन है। औऱ वे क्यों न हँसगे ? मैं भी तो उनकी दुर्दशा और विपत्ति और पतन पर हँसता हूँ, दिल खोलकर, तालियाँ बजाकर। सम्पत्ति सह्रदयता में बैर है।

हम भी दान देते हैं, धर्म करते हैं। लेकिन जानते हो ? क्यों ? केवल अपने बराबरवालों को नीचा दिखाने के लिए। हमारा दान और धर्म कोरा अहंकार है, विशुद्ध अहंकार। हममें से किसी पर डिग्री हो जाए, कुर्की आ जाए, बकाया मालगुजारी की इल्लत में हवालात हो जाए, किसी का जवान बेटा मर जाए, किसी की विधवा बहू निकल जाए, किसी के घर में आग लग जाए, कोई वैश्या के हाथों उल्लू बन जाए, या अपने असामियों के हाथों पिट जाए, तो उसके और सभी भाई उस पर हँसेंगे, बगलें बजाएँगे, मानो सारे संसार की सम्पदा मिल गई है। और मिलेंगे तो इतने प्रेम से, जैसे हमारे पसीने की जगह खून बहाने को तैयार हैं। अरे, और तो औऱ, हमारे चचेरे, फुफेरे, ममेरे, मौसेरे भाई जो इसी रियासत की बदौलत मौज उड़ा रहे हैं, कविता कर कर रहे हैं और जुए खेल रहे हैं, शराब पी रहे हैं और ऐयाशी कर रहे हैं, वह भी मुझसे जलते हैं, आज मर जाऊं तो घी के चिराग जलाएँ। मेरे दुःख को दुःख समझने वाला कोई नहीं। उनकी नजरों में मुझे दुखी होने का कोई अधिकार ही नहीं है। मैं अगर होता हूँ, तो दुःख की हँसी उड़ाता हूँ। अगर मैं बीमार होता हूँ, तो मुझे सुख होता है। मैं अगर अफना ब्याह करके घर में कलह नहीं बढ़ाता, तो यह मेरी नीच स्वार्थपरता है ; अगर ब्याह कर लूँ, तो वह विलासांधता होगी। अगर शराब नहीं पीता तो मेरी कंजूसी है। शराब पीने लगूँ, तो वह प्रजा का रक्त होगा। अगर ऐयाशी नहीं करता, तो अरसिक हूँ, ऐयाशी करने लगूँ, तो फिर कहना ही क्या ! इन लोगों ने मुझे भोग-विलास में फँसाने के लिए कम चालें नहीं चलीं और अब तक चलते हैं। उनकी यही इच्छा है कि मैं अन्धा हो जाऊँ और ये लोग मुझे लूट लें, और मेरा धर्म यह है कि सब कुछ देखकर भी कुछ न देखूँ। सब कुछ जानकर भी गधा बना रहूँ।

राय साहब ने गाड़ी को आगे बढ़ाने के लिए दो बीड़े पान खाए और होरी के मुँह की ओर ताकने लगे, जैसे उसके मनोभावों को पढ़ना चाहते हों।

होरी ने साहस बटोरकर कहा-हम समझते थे कि ऐसी बातें हमीं लोगों में होती हैं, पर जान पड़ता है, बड़े आदमियों में भी उनकी कमी नहीं है।

Gordon Roadarmel

The Gift of a Cow, Premchand. Translated by Gordon C. Roadarmel. With a New Introduction by Vasudha Dalmia. Indiana University Press, 2002

Vasudha Dalmia on Roadarmel:

Roadarmel was a prioneer in introducing modern Hindi literature to the Western world He wrote critical articles and translated the work of major figures of Hindi literature, such as Premchand, Jainendra Kumar, S.H. Vatsayan 'Ajneya', and Mohan Rakesh. these articles, reviews, and translations appeared widely in leading Indian and American journals. He worked closely with 'Ajneya' himself a leading figure in the world of Hindi letters in post-independence India, in the translation not only of Godaan but also of Ajneya's own existentialist novel To Each His Stranger. One of Roadarmel's most lasting contributions, however, was his analytical evaluation of the nayi kahani or new short story movement in Hindi literature of the 1950s and 1960s, with its preoccupation with newly nuclear family households in the cities and the vexed union of man and woman which formed their center. His doctoral dissertation 'The Theme of Alienation in the Modern Hindi Short Story,' concerned itself with this topic. He did not live long enough to turn it into a book. But the short stories which he translated in the process were published in the fall of 1972 by the University of California Press, under the title A Death in Delhi, Modern Hindi Short Stories. (xvi)

Comparing Translations: Godaan


Hori Ram finished feeding his two bullocks and then turned to his wife Dhaniya. 'Send Gobar to hoe the sugar cane. I don't know when I'll be back. Just get me my stick.'
Dhaniya had been making fuel-cakes, so her hands were covered in dung. 'First eat something before you leave,' she said. 'What's the big hurry?'
A frown deepened the wrinkles on Hori's forehead. 'All you think about is food. But I have to worry that I may not even get to see the master if I reach there late. Once he starts his bathing and prayers I'll have to wait around for hours.'
'That's exactly why I'm suggesting you first have something to eat. And what harm would be done by not going at all today? You were just there two days ago.'
'Why do you go poking your nose into things you don't understand?'

Jai Ratan and P. Lal translation (1957)

After serving the two bullocks with feed and water Hori Ram said to his wife, Dhania, 'Send Gobar to hoe the sugar cane. I am going out and may return late. Hand me the staff.'
Dhania had been making cow-dung cakes and her hands were smeared with the dung. 'What's the hurry' she said, 'Have something before you go.'
Hori puckered up his wrinkled brow. 'Yout talk about refreshments when I am worried about the delay. If I am late I won't be able to meet the Master. If he sits down to his prayers I may have to wait for hours.'
'That's why I say have something,' Dhania said. 'Besides, what's the harm if you don't go today. You went to him only the day before yesterday.'
Why do you try to meddle with things which are beyond you?'

And the original Hindi:

होरीराम ने दोनों बैलो को साने-पानी देकर अपनी स्त्री धनिया से कहा--गोबर को ऊख गोदने भेज देना. में न जाने कब लौटू. ज़रा मेरी लाठी दे दे.

धनिया के दोनों हाथ गोबर से मरे थे. उपले पाथकर आएई थी. बोली--अरे, कुछ रस-पानी तो कर लो. ऐसी जल्दी क्या है.

होरी ने अपने झुरियो से भरे ही साथे को सिकोड़कर कहा--तुझे रस-पानी की पडी है, मुझे यह चिंता है की अबेर हो गई तो मालिक से भेट न होगा. इस्नान-पूजा करने लगेंगे, तो घंठे बीत जायगा.

एईसी से तो कहती हूँ, कुछ जलपान कर लो. और आज न जाओगे, तो कोण हरज होगा; अभी तो परसों गये थे.

तू जो बात नही समझतो, उसमे टांग क्यों अदातो है भाई!

It does seem that the Roadarmel is slightly more precise (for instance, he renders 'pooja-isnaan' as bathing and prayers, while the Ratan/Lala translation simply says "prayers").

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality

Ronald Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience. Manchester University Press, 1991.

Some mistakes here and there? For instance, is his take on 'Bibi' correct?

Bibi is a Hindustani word meaning 'high-class woman,' which in Hobson-Jobson 'Anglo-Indian' parlance came to mean native mistress. Colloquially the bibi was spoken of as a 'sleeping dictionary', though the linguistic competence of the British in India was never much improved, and all mixed-blood Eurasians became English-speaking. The initial pattern in all early European empires tended towards intermarriage with local women. The keeping of mistresses was not uncommon in eighteenth-century Britain itself. So the keeping of a mistress in British India became a well-establshed practice by the later eighteenth century, defended as increasing the knowledge of Indian affairs. Some officers recommended it quite openly, and the pattern was set at the highest level. Job Charnock (d. 1693) had three children by the Hindu mistress he had rescued from a suttee funeral pyre. George Dick (Governor of Bombay in the 1790s) kept a Maratha woman, allowing her to parade about the streets ostentatiously; she was accused of tyranny, corruption, and even of spying on behalf of Maratha pirates. Sir David Ochterlony (the Resident of Delhi, 1803-25) apparently had thirteen mistresses among Indian ladies. Even so respectable a figure as Lord Teignmouth, Governor-General (1793-98) and a British and Foreign Bible Society founder, had such a liasion. Col. James Skinner (1778-1841), founder of the crack reigment Skinner's Horse, was said to have had a harem of fourteen wives, though the family hotly denied there were ever more than seven; eighty children claimed him as their father. (115)
On Eurasians:

Lower down the social scale, too, many of the British in India formally married Hindu women or (preferably) half-Indians, known as Anglo-Indians, or in Victorian times as Eurasians. It is estimated that ninety per cent of the British in India by the mid-eighteenth century made such marriages, but there is a great deal of uncertainty abot this. In the biographies of the period the phrase 'is thought to have married an Anglo-Indian' occurs with maddening frequency. The marriages of Dupleix, Warren Hastings (as regards his first wife, Mary Buchanan, in 1756), and William Grant all fall into this uncertain category. What is hard fact is that the directors of the East India Company on 8 April 1778 declared that because of the importance of solders' marrying Indian women in Madra, they were 'content to encourage at some expense' such marriages, making a christening present of five rupees for every child of a rank-soldier baptised. In other words, a delicate policy of intermarriage was encouraged by the company, in the interests of building up the army. The Anglo-Indians were thus a vital bulwark of the growth of company power in the early stages of territorial expansion. Moreover, Warren Hastings as Governor-General (1774-85) headed essentially a cosmopolitansociety in which reciprocal entertainments between Indians and the British were common. In the 1790s, however, these policies went into revers. Governor-General Cornwallis purged the administration and widened the social gulf. Wellelsley stopped entertaining Indians at Government House. Anglo-Indians were prohibited in 17981 from holding civil or military office with the company. (The exclusion lasted for two generations.) They were disqualified from the army as combatants. There were massive discharges in 1795. By 1808 non was left in the British army. This reversal was a hard blow for the Anglo-Indian community. The most obvious alternative employment was to join the armies of the Indian princes, but they eventually found their true vocation with the coming of the railways, which to a considerable extent were built and then run by Anglo-Indians. The size of the community stabilised and became endogamous. (From 1835 the company would not, in any case, allow intermarriage.) (116)

Hyam suggests that the change in policy at the end of the 18th century had to do with the slave uprising in Santo Domingo, which led to the creation of Haiti after 1791.

Though it became less common, many Englishmen in India continued to have relations with Indian women after 1835. He quotes Richard Burton, who had a series of affairs with Indian women in 1842, including an extended affair with an Indian mistress in Baroda. It's only after the Mutiny that this practice diminishes.

The rise in the Regimental/Barracks brothel seems to have occurred at exactly the same time as the change in attitude to the taking of mistresses -- 1850s-188 (Hyam 123). After 1865, "lock hospitals" for veneral disease were set up in encampments across India. One prostitute for about 40 soldiers. The prostitutes were officially barred from also sleeping with Indian men, but there were ways around this. (According to Hyam, they would receive Indian clients in the morning, while the white soldiers were on morning parade).

Non-registered prostitutes coset four to six annas. Registered prostitutes were generally fifteen and over, and earned as much as 1 Rupee per session.

The camp of prostitutes traveled with the regiment (how exactly, one wonders?).

Quotes Frank Richards: "It was impossible, he said, to walk out of barracks without being offered 'jiggy-jig.' (125)

Much emphasis was laid on washing afterwards, in order to avoid veneral disease: hot water was provided in a small lavatory in the street. At Agra, the 'rag' was right opposite the small Protestant church, and it was possible to stand in the road and hear both the preacher and the cries of the soliciting girls. Small boys of six to nine years ran errands and acted as punkah wallahs: 'wicked little devils' they were, and 'very knowledgeable about sex'. Truly the soldiers of the King Emperor at Agra were in a different world from the barracks at Colchester. Richards also mentioned that at Curzon's durbar a half-caste prostitute aged fifty announced her retirement after thirty-six years and kept open free house for five hours. Enormous numbers paid their farewell respects. (125)
Citing Frank Richards, "Old Soldier-Sahib." (1936)
Also C. Deveureux "Venus in India, or Love Adventures in Hindustan." Brussels, 1889.

Lock Hospital at Mian Mir

Kenneth Ballhatchet, Race, Sex and Class Under the Raj: Imperial Attitudes and Policies and their Critics, 1793-1905. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980.

Similar measures were instituted at Mian Mir in 1859. This was the important military cantonment near Lahore, the capital of the Punjab, which had proved of great strategic value during the Mutiny. Again a healthy army seemed especially necessary there. A lock hospital was opened; prostitutes were registered; they were inspected weekly, and they were issued with tickets on which the dates of their inspections were recorded. Soon encouraging statistics were reported: VD admissions fell from 27 per cent of strength in the twelve months before the syste began to 19 per cent in 1860. But the city of Lahore itself was not touched, in spite of the protests of the military authorities. (36)

After 1888, the Lock Hospitals and the Lal Bazaars were closed, leading many prostitutes to simply migrate to the open bazaars in the cities near where the cantonments were housed. However, many regiments continued the system off the books.

A similar disarray was revealed at Mian Mir [after the Lal Bazaar was formally shut down]. The Station Commander admitted that prostitutes lived in the regimental bazars and accompanied troops on the march. This was then denied by the commanding officers of the regiments concerned. Major-General Viscount Frankfort, commanding Lahore District, telegraphed for an explanation of these 'contradictions.' The Station Commander thereupon withdrew his statement on the ground that it was 'based on former customs, and not on actual facts at the time of reference.' It was becoming strangely difficult to establish precisely what was happening at any particular place and time. (72)

And then again, a little more:

Lieutenant-Colonel Macpherson, Cantonment Magistrate at Mian Mir, coolly asserted that 'there was no intention whatever of overlooking or disobeying any orders that had been passed: they were simply not thought of.' A hospital had been built: his assumption was that 'it would of course be worked on former lines.' Major-General Viscount Frankfort, commanding Lahore District, merely commented that Macpherson's reasoning was 'inexplicable.' (73)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Philippa Levine: "Veneral Disease, Prostitution, and the Politics of Empire: The Case of British India."

Journal of History of Sexuality, Vol. 4, 4. April 1994, pp. 579-602

Over 200 per 1000 British troops had to be hospitalized for venereal disease in India during the late 19th century. (Levine suggests that the figure might be inflated)

Two classes of "registered" prostitutes -- 1st class (service English men), and 2nd class (service local/native men). There were also poor women who sold themselves to Europeans for less money. One rule instituted by the British banned female grass-cutters from working on the grounds of military cantonments.

Women registered as class 1 prostitutes were forbidden from having sex with Indian men. One prostitute was in 1887 point fined 2 rupees for doing so (in Kasauli). In actuality, the boundary between the two classes wasn't strict, Levine suggests.

Women who registered themselves as prostitutes had to submit to a genital examination to prevent the spread of syphilis and gonorrhea. This was justified by the British administration as not being too rude for Indians (see quote below).

Military cantonments actually had officially designated areas (Lal Bazaars) where prostitutes lived. Sometimes they were given free housing.

Lord Kitchener in 1905: ""the common women as well as the regular prostitutes in India are almost all more or less infected with disease.""

They spread the rumor that syphilis contracted by "Europeans from Asiatic women" was more severe than that contracted from European women.

Despite the colonial government's best efforts it's not clear that brothels were racially segregated. There were European women working in them as of the late 19th century, though government officials wanted to believe that they were mostly Eastern Europeans and Jews.

Indian Contagious Diseases Act (Act XIV of 1868):

The colonial enactments aimed at controlling female prostitution and
curbing venereal disease, especially among the British military, differed
in important respects from their domestic cousins. Enacted principally
in the 1860s, at the same time as the British acts, almost every British
colony acquired regulations governing the behavior of prostitute women
as a measure against the encroachment of syphilis and gonorrhea. In
India two major legislative measures-both assuming this direct relationship
between the fact of prostitution and the transmission of disease-
were introduced in the mid-1860s. The umbrella Cantonments
Act (Act XXII of 1864) organized the sex trade within military cantonments
as part of a broader regulation of commercial activity within the
military towns. Four years later, the Indian Contagious Diseases Act (Act
XIV of 1868) enacted similar provisions for the supervision, registration,
and inspection of prostitute women in major Indian cities and seaports.

Registration under the Contagious Diseases Act:

Not surprisingly Indian women were subject
to closer control than were British women.23 The three British acts
(1864, 1866, and 1869) limited registration to women apprehended by
the police on suspicion of prostitution. In India, however, permission to
engage in prostitution was premised on self-registering. This may seem
a small thing, but it rests, I think, on huge assumptions about "Eastern"
morality. The rhetoric of the British legislation remained doggedly
attached to the possibility of redemption, and women hospitalized for
treatment of venereal disease were subjected to religious and moral in-
struction and urged to remove to refuges and asylums upon cure and

Genital examinations:

A common theme, constantly contradicted by complaints and petitions
for exemption from unhappy women, was that the internal genital
examination, which lay at the heart of all the contagious diseases acts
and ordinances, was regarded with nonchalance in India. "The special
sensibility of European women ... as to corporal examinations, which
even with them does not generally extend to the class of prostitutes, is
absent among the same class in India. . . . The regulation of courtezans
in the public interest offends no native susceptibility.

Free housing/ lal Bazaars:

In military cantonments women usually were restricted to what were
effectively areas of regimental brothels, often known as lal-bazars, and
in some cases were provided with free housing from which to conduct
their business. At Saugor, a cantonment in the central provinces under
the Bombay command, twelve free quarters were reserved for registered
women in the Sudder bazaar in the very year in which the Contagious
Diseases Acts were repealed in Britain.

How to incite fear in the solider -- tell him nightmare stories about the syphilis he'll contract:

Syphilis contracted by Europeans from Asiatic women is much
more severe than that contracted in England. It assumes a horrible,
loathsome and often fatal form through which in time, as years pass
on the sufferer finds his hair falling off, his skin and the flesh of
his body rot, and are eaten away by slow, cankerous and stinking
ulcerations; his nose first falls in at the bridge and then rots and
falls off; his sight gradually fails and he eventually becomes blind;
his voice, first becomes husky and then fades to a hoarse whisper
as his throat is eaten away by foetid ulcerations which cause his
breath to stink. (from Kitchener's Memorandum to the Troops, 1905. Cited in Levine, 592)

The thin color lines -- between European and Indian women in brothels:

The European prostitute, by
her very presence, challenged white supremacy in distinctive and critical
ways, which reveal dramatically and vividly the importance of sexual politics
in colonial rule.55 Despite the attempt to segregate Europeanserving
and native-serving brothels, it was widely acknowledged that
many women rarely heeded these niceties of distinction unless compelled
to do so. In consequence, reality held out the possibility that European
women might, in fact, sexually service Asian men.

New Poetry in Hindi

I've been doing some research on Indian writers from the 1930s-1960s for a long-term scholarly project, and in the process I've been learning a bit about Hindi and Urdu writers I didn't know about earlier. In Hindi in particular, I've been interested in the "New Poetry" (Nayi Kavita) Movement, with a small group of experimental writers adapting the western, free verse style to Hindi. (I may talk about some other topics later in the summer if there is interest.)

For a little background on Hindi literature in the 20th century, you might start with Wikipedia; it's not bad. The New Poetry movement came out of a general flowering of Hindi poetry from the early 20th century, a style of poetry known as Chhayavad (Shadowism). Mahadevi Verma is one of the best known writers in this style; another notable figure is Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan's father (and actually quite a good poet).

For me, the Chhayavad poetry sounds a little too pretty ("precious," as they say in Creative Writing class), though I must admit that part of the problem is that I simply don't have the Hindi vocabulary to be able to keep up with the language the Chhayavad poets tend to use. I prefer what came after, especially the New Poetry movement. The "New Poetry" style roughly resembles the modernism of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Hilda Doolittle in English literature. The language is stripped down and conversational, rather than lyrical. Some poets, like Kedarnath Singh, focus intently on conveying, with a kind of crystalline minimalism, pure images. Others are somewhat more conventional.

Below the fold, I'll give some examples of a few favorite poems from the "New Poetry" movement, with several poems in both transliterated Hindi and English.

My source today is mainly Lucy Rosenstein's "New Poetry in Hindi", which is available on Amazon for interested readers. (The nice thing about this volume is Rosenstein's choice to print both the Hindi originals as well as her translations.)

Rosenstein describes how modern poetry in Hindi emerged after 1900, with Mahavirprasad Dwiwedi's promotion of poetry in Khari Boli Hindi (earlier, poetry had mainly been written in Braj Bhasha). There was an early spurt of nationalist poetry, but, partially under the influence of English Romantic poetry (Wordsworth and Shelley), a movement calling itself "Chhayavad" emerged in the 1920s. Here is an example of a few lines in the Chhayavad style, from Sumitranandan Pant's Almore ka vasant (Almora Spring):

Vidrum ou, markat kee chhaya,

Sone chaandee ka sooryatap;

Him parisal kee reshmee vaayu,

Shat ratnachhay kharg chitrit nabh!

Coral and emerald shade

sun's heat first gold then silver;

snow mountain scent on silken breezes,

a hundred jeweled brids painting the sky

(Translated David Rubin)

It may be that my own limited Hindi renders poems like this somewhat inaccessible, at least in the original. More generally, operating from the translation, I put poems like this under "sounds pretty, but..." (That's my personal taste. I have friends who love writers like Pant and Mahadevi.)

After the Chhayavad movement, the dominant stream in Hindi poetry seemed to split into two in the 1930s, with Progressives in one camp (Pragativad), and Experimentalists in the other (Prayogvad).

Progressive Poetry was part of a major movement in Indian literature that began in the 1930s. This movement is usually called the Progressive Writers Movement, and it had major literary communities in fiction, drama, as well as poetry; it also had offshoots in many different South Asian languages (earlier I have written about some Urdu writers loosely affiliated with the Progressive Writers, Sa'adat Hasan Manto, and Ismat Chughtai). As the name indicates, this was writing largely motivated by a desire to make a political intervention. A fair amount of the writing was anti-colonial, and much of it was oriented to social and economic reforms within Indian society.

Just after the Progressive trend in poetry began in the 1930s, a much smaller group of Hindi writers initiating a new, experimentalist style. Much of this writing avoided big political themes in favor of more abstract meditations. (Importantly, many of the writers in this movement overlapped with the Progressive Writers, and some were card-carrying political activists. They simply didn't bring themes from the political world into their writing.

Initially the movement was spearheaded by Agyeya (also sometimes spelled Ajneya; his real name was Sacchidananda Hirananda Vatsayan) in English, beginning with an anthology called Tar Saptak, in 1943.

Agyeya (whose pen-name literally means "Unknowable") is a really interesting character. He was educated at home initially, as his father didn't believe in formal schooling, though he did go on to get a Bachelors of Science at a British college. He also started an M.A. in English, but didn't finish, after he got involved in the independence movement. According to Rosenstein, Agyeya spent three years in jail (1931-1934), which proved decisive in terms of his development as a poet. He was a mass of contradictions - widely recognized as an activist and political leader, Agyeya was also deeply solitary in some ways. Raised as a traditional Brahmin, he also exemplified modernism in his intellectual and literary output.

Here is an example of Agyeya's poetry, in the Experimental ("New Poetry") style:


Chup-Chap Chup-Chap

Jharne ka svar

Ham mei bhar jay,

Chup Chap Chup Chap

Sharad kee chaandnee

Jheel kee lahro par tir aay,

Chup-chap chup-chap

Jeevan kaa rahsya

Jo kahaa na jay, hamaaree

THahree aankho me gaharaay,

Chup chap chup chap

Ham pulkit viraad me Dubei

Par viraad hm mei mil jay

Chup Chap Chup Cha ... ap



May the murmur of water falling

Fill us,


May the autumn moon

Float on the ripples of the lake,


May life's unspoken mystery

Deepen in our still eyes,


May we, ecstatic, be immersed in the expanse

Yet find it in ourselves

Quiet ... ly ...

(translated by Lucy Rosenstein)

Another favorite New Poetry writer is Raghuvir Sahay, who came of age a generation after Agyeya.

Here is an example of a Raghuvir Sahay poem I really like:

Aaj Phir

Aaj phir shuroo jeevan.

Aaj meine eik chhoTee-see saral-see kavitaa paDee.

Aaj meine sooraj ko Dubte der tak dekhaa.

Aaj meine sheetal jal se jee bhar snan kiya.

Aaj eik chhoTee-see bachchee aayee, kilak mere kanDhe chaDee

Aaj meine aadi se ant tak eik poora gaan kiya.

Aaj jeevan phir shuroo huaa.

Today Anew

Today life started anew.

Today I read a short, simple poem.

Today I watched the sun set for a long time.

Today I bathed to my heart's content in cool water.

Today a little girl came and shouting with delight climbed onto my shoulders.

Today I sang a whole song, from beginning to end.

Life started anew today.

(Translated Lucy Rosenstein)

Another poem in Rosenstein's collection that clicked with me is by Shakunt Mathur, one of the leading female lights of the Experimental/New Poetry movement.

For now, I'll just post Rosenstein's English translation of a Mathur poem:

You should be beautiful, the house should be beautiful

When I return home tired you should be beautiful, the house should be beautiful

Even if all day sweat poured

However many clothes you sewed

Even if the child doesn't yield

And the potato is half-unpeeled

When I return home tired you should be beautiful, the house should be beautiful

All storms in the house should be stilled

You should look at me with eyes filled

Without flowers in your hair,

Showy clothes, flirtatious air

When I return home tired you should be beautiful, the house should be beautiful

Reclining on the sofa,

You should be reading a foreign journal

The house should shine like crystal

My steps' sound should startle you

Don't write poetry, beauty, I am enough, you are loved

When I return home tired you should be beautiful, the house should be beautiful.

(I can post the Hindi if there is interest.)

Clearly a feminist sensibility! Incidentally, in Hindi some of the lines rhyme, which Rosenstein reproduces in her translation. The language is simple but elegant and the picture she's painting seems true - and this combination is what I like most about the "New Poetry."

Finally, here is Vinay Dharwadker's translation of Kedarnath Singh's "On Reading a Love Poem". This poem isn't included in Rosenstein's volume, though several other wonderful Kedarnath Singh poems are in her collection.

Kedarnath Singh (b. 1934): ON READING A LOVE POEM

When I'd read that long love poem

I closed the book and asked --

Where are the ducks?

I was surprised that they were nowhere

even far into the distance

It was in the third line of the poem

or perhaps the fifth

that I first felt

there might be ducks here somewhere

I'd heard the flap flap of their wings

but that may have been my illusion

I don't know for how long

that woman

had been standing in the twelfth line

waiting for a bus

The poem was completely silent

about where she wanted to go

only a little sunshine

sifted from the seventeenth floor

was falling on her shoulders

The woman was happy

at least there was nothing in her face to suggest

that by the time she reached the twenty-first line

she'd disappear completely

like every other woman

There were _sakhu trees

standing where the next line began

the trees were spreading

a strange dread through the poem

Every line that came next

was a deep disturbing fear and doubt

about every subsequent line

If only I'd remembered--

it was in the nineteenth line

that the woman was slicing potatoes

She was slicing

large round brown potatoes

inside the poem

and the poem was becoming

more and more silent

more solid

I think it was the smell

of freshly chopped vegetables

that kept the woman alive

for the next several lines

By the time I got to the twenty-second line

I felt that the poem was changing its location

like a speeding bullet

the poem had whizzed over the woman's shoulder

towards the sakhu trees

There were no lines after that

there were no more words in the poem

there was only the woman

there were only

her shoulders her back

her voice--

there was only the woman

standing whole outside the poem now

and breaking it to pieces

(translated by Vinay Dharwadker) [SOURCE]

I hope you enjoyed at least some of those poems. (Now, back to "racism.")

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Notes from the Lahore Gazetteer

Odd little mistakes in the Gazetteer of the Lahore District 1883-1884. (No author given, just an anonymous "Editor." The Editor does state, near the beginning, that he's used Kipling and Thornton's earlier accounts of Lahore. The book was reprinted by a Pakistani press in the 1990s)

Describing Ranjit Singh’s Samadhi:

The door jambs of the shrine itself were originally a very finished example of inlaid work of the same delicate character as that in the palace above. The ceilings are elaborately decorated with tracery in stucco inlaid with small convex mirrors. The marble arches of the interior were in a dangerous state when Sir Donald McLeod, then Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab, had them strengthened with brick and chunam and clamped with iron. The visitor will generally find priests reading the Granth, or Sikh scriptures, a huge volume over which a chauri is reverentially waved, or chanting to the accompaniment of the sitar. In the centre is a raised stone platform on which is a marble lotus flower, surrounded by eleven smaller ones. The central flower covers the ashes of the Maharaja, the others those of four wives and seven slave girls who perished on his funeral pyre. In small niches in the side walls are to be seen images of the ordinary Hindu gods, to abolish which was one of the original objects of the Sikh faith. On the further side of the Mausoleum are two other domed buildings containing similar but less costly memorials of Kharak Singh and Nau Nihal Singh. Below the Mausoleu of Ranjit Singh by the side of the road leading from the Roshnai Gate to the external plain is the Shrine of Arjun Mal, the fifth Sikh Guru, and the compiler of the Adi Granth which now forms the principal portion of the Sikh Scriptures. Here, according to Sikh tradition, the sage miraculously disappeared beneath the waters of the Ravi, which in the time of Jahangir flowed under the fort walls. A more prosaic legend says that he holy man committed suicide to escape the enmity of Chandu Shah the Prime Minister of the Emperor. (176)

Wait, what? Suicide? Chandu Shah?

Sitar music?

Marble lotus flower?

Where is he getting this stuff from? [Need to check on the history of the death of Guru Arjun. Interestingly, there is that account by a Spanish priest of Guru Arjun’s death in 1604, so there is room for debate here]

More architectural detail:

Aurangzeb built a massive quay, called the Band of Alamgir, to protect the city from the floods of the Ravi. It succeeded in changing the course of the river, which now runs away from the city.

The remains of the quay, or Band of Alamgir, as it is called are still traceable between the north-east end of the fort, and the village of Bhogiwal.

The Jama Masjid:

But the great work of this period is the Jama Masjid, or Musalman Cathedral, the most striking building at Lahore, whose white marble domes and almost colossal minarets may be seen for miles, --a building said by some to have owed its origin to the Emperor’s pious remorse for the murder of his brother, Dara Shikoh, and by others to a desire to eclipse the beauties of the Mosque of Wazir Khan. (161)

The editor of the Gazetteer was really underwhelmed by the Sikh contribution to the architecture of the city, which was witnessed by an unnamed British visitor in ruins in 1809 (“I visited the ruins of Lahore, which afforded a melancholy picture of fallen splendour.”)

The domination of a peasant race, of martial habits, under a sovereign ignorant of the alphabet, is not encouraging to the development of architectural taste; nevertheless Ranjit Singh, unlettered and unpolished as he was, had an idea that architecture was a good thing. Accordingly, he stripped the Muhammadan tombs of their marble facings, and sent them to adorn the Sikh temple at Amritsar. He restored the Shalamar Gardens, which had gone to ruin during the troublous times of Ahmad Shah; but at the same time laid ruthless hand upon the marble pavilions by the central reservoir, and substituted structures of brick and plaster in their stead. He turned the sarai, which separated the Fort and Palace from the Jama Masjid into a private garden, and placed therein the marble edifice which remains to this day the architectural che-d’oeuvre of his reign—an example of judicious spoliation and hybrid design. Besides the above, a few unsightly temples to Siva erected in honour of a favorite wife or dancing girl, and some tasteless additions to the fort, comprise all the architectural works of Ranjit Singh at Lahore. One of the latest specimens of Sikh architecture is the Mausoleum of Ranjit Singh himself, his son and grandson. The building is, as usual, in design, substantially Hindu, over laid with Muhammadan details, and does not bear close inspection; but the effect at a distance is not unpleasing. Within, a lotus, carved in marble, set beneath a canopy, marks the spot where the ashes of the Lion of Lahore are laid; around it are eleven smaller ones, in memory of those who burned themselves upon his funeral pyre. (162)

The architectural impression left by the city. For the most part the city is unimpressive to the Editor. But from some angles he likes it:

But on the east, four minarets inlaid with colured porcelain work strike the eye, and on its northern aspect, where the Mosque of Aurangzeb, with its large bulb-like domes of white marble and colossal minarets of red sandstone, the Mausoleum of Ranjit Singh, with its curvilinear roof and details half-Muhammadan, half-Hindu, and lastly the once brilliantly enameled front of the palace of the Mughals stand side by side overlooking a broad and grassy plain—Lahore can even now show an architectural coup d’oeil worthy of an imperial city. Within the city walls the streets are narrow and winding, but some of them, from the overhanging balconies of wood curiously carved and coloured, the striped awnings over the shop-fronts, and the gay costumes of the population, are highly picturesque; while the streamers of bright coloured clothes hung at intervals across from balcony t balcony prove the wondrous dyes of Kathea, which moved the warriors of Alexander to admiration, are not altogether things of the past. (165)

Mosque of Wazir Khan.

The Mosque of Wazir Khan was built on the site of the tomb of an old Ghaznivide saint in AD 1634 by Hakim Aliuddin, a Pathan of Chiniot, who rose of the position of Wazir in the reign of Shahjehan. It is remarkable for the profusion and excellence of the inlaid pottery decorations in the paneling of the walls. Local legend says that artists were sent expressly from China to execute the work; but there is no historical authority for this, nor is there any trace of Chinese style in either the design or the execution. Its origin is manifestly Persian, and the descendents of the craftsmen employed to this day pride themselves on their Persian origin. It will be observed that in these arabesques each leaf and each detached portion of the white ground is a separate piece of pot or tile, and that the work is strictly inlay and not painted decoration. The panels of pottery are set in hard mortar. In the mosque itself are some very good specimens of Perso-Indian arabesque painting on the smooth chunam walls. The work, which is very freely painted and good in style, is true fresco painting, the buono fresco of the Italians, and like the inlaid ceramic work, is now no longer practiced, modern native decoration being usually fresco secco or mere distempter painting. (173-174)

The British pride themselves on being practical and work-oriented, not on symbolic grandeur – though in the end, they clearly admire people who have a flair for grandeur more than people who don’t. They like walking in former palaces, and then converting them to post offices.

The stern necessities of English military life have had no reverence for the relics of departed greatness, and there is only one part of the Fort and Palace which is not put to some practical modern use. This is the Saman Burj. Saman is an abbreviation of musamman, octagonal. (178-179)

The Museum and the Zamzamah.

The Central Museum is near the Anarkulli gardens, and adjoins the premises of the General Post Office. The building was hastily constructed for the Punjab exhibition of 1874, and was not intended to be permanent; but want of funds has prevented hitherto the erection of a more suitable structure. On a revised platform immediately in front fo the entrance will be observed an ancient piece of ordnance. This is the famous gun, Zamzamah, known by the Sikhs as the Bhangian-wali Top. The gun is one of the largest specimens of native casting in India, and was made in AD 1761 by Shah Ali Khan, Wazir of Ahmad Shah Durrani, by whom it was used at the battle of Panipat. After the departure of Ahmad Shah the gun was left in possession of the Sikh Sardards of the Bhangi Misl (whence its name Bhangian wali Top) and came to be regarded by them as a talisman of supremacy. Ranjit Singh eventually possessed himself of it, and it was employed by him at the siege of Mooltan in AD 1818. From that date until removed in 1860 it was placed at the Delhi gate of the city of Lahore; it is still regarded by many as an incarnation of Mahadeo. The inscription on the gun opens as follows:

By order of the Emperor (Ahmad Shah) Dur-i-Duran Shah Wali Khan, the Wazir, made this gun named Zamzamah, the taker of strongholds. The work of Shah Nazr.



Since 1869 Lahore has been the head-quarters of Freemasonry in the Punjab. The District Grand Lodge has a commodious and handsomely furnished hall, situated between the Agra Bank and the High School in Anarkalli—popularly known as the Jadughar or witchcraft house. There are 22 subordinate lodges in the Punjab with a toal membership of over 600 masons.
Besides the usual Fund of Benevolence, maintained at above Rs. 5000, there is attached to the District Grand Lodge the Punjab Masonic Institution, supported entirely by voluntary contributions; which educates, clothes and maintains at present 24 children, orphans of indigent masons. In 1884 it had a funded capital of Rs. 42,200, which is increased year by year. The members of the society are chiefly Europeans, but include some Parsis and Muhammadans, and a few of the more enlightened sects of Hindus. (188)

Nedou’s Sindh and Punjab Hotel
Caversham Boarding House
New Victoria Hotel
Clark’s Royal Victoria Hotel
Montgomery Hotel
Avenue Hotel
Punjab Hotel
Punjab Railway Hotel

Agra Bank
Alliance Bank of Simla
Bank of Bengal

All in Anarkali

32 Printing presses license in Lahore. 4 are government presses. 1 is the Civil and Military Gazette Press. One more press is called Punjab Trading Company’s Press.
The other 26 presses are run by Indians, with names like Pohlu Mal, Firoz uddin, Muhammad Dittu, Hira Nand, Gulab Singh, Budha Mal, Sawan Singh, Nadir Ali, Muhammad Hafiz, Munshu Harsukh Rai, etc.

Horse dealer. One Sarai is Muhammad Sultan’s in the Landa Bazar near the railway statin. Also another (Muhammad Shafi’s) in Anarkali, and a third (Ratan Chand Dhariwala’s) outside the Shah Alami Gate.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lahore Bibliography (Making Lahore Modern)



Gazetteer of the Lahore District 1882-1883 (1884). Lahore: Sange e Meel, 1989.
Gazetteer of the Lahore District 1883-1884.

Report of the Material Progress of the Punjab during the decade 1881-1891. Lahore: Punjab Government Press, 1892.

Census of India, 1891. Vol 19. Punjab and its Feudatories, pt. 1. Simla: Office of the Superintended of Government Printing, 1892.

Griffin, Lepel. The Punjab Chiefs, Lahore 1890.

Guha, Ramachandra. A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian Hitsory of a British Sport. London: Picador, 2002.

Anglo-Indian Domestic Life: A letter from an Artist in India to His Mother. 1862. Calcutta, Subornekha, 1984.

George, Rosemary. “Homes in the Empire, Empire in the Home. Cultural Critique 1994.

Gilmartin, David. Empire and Islam. 1988.
Gilmartin, David. “A Magnificent Gift: Muslim Nationalism and the Election Process in Colonial Punjab.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 40, 3, 1998: 415-36.

Barrier, N. Gerald. The Census in British India. Delhi: Manohar 1981.
Barrier, N. Gerald. The Punjab Alienation of Land Bill of 1900.

Bear, L.G. Miscegenations of Modernity: Constructing European Respectability and Race in the Indian Railway Colony 1857-1931. Women’s History Review 3, no. 4 (1994): 531-48.

Bahadur, Rai Kunhya Lal. “New Railway Station at Lahore.” Professional Papers on Indian Engineering. No. 1 1863-64: 207-8.

Aijazuddin, F.S. Lahore: Illustrated Views of the 19th century. Ahmedabad: Mapin, 1991.

Ali, Imran. Punjab Under Imperialism 1885-1947. Princeton University Press, 1988.

Adir, Gulam Nabi, comp. Chuha aur Plague Billi aur Chuha Aur Mohafize e Jaan Tika (Rat and Plague, Cat and rad, and a Guard). Lahore, 1890. ??????????

Lelyveld, David. “Aligarh’s First Generation. Muslim Solidarity in British India.” Princeton University Press, 1978.

Manucci, Niccolao. The General History of the Mughal Empire (1709). Books. Google?

Pook, A H . Lahore: A Brief History and Guide with Notes on the Darbar Sahib. Lahore: Faletti’s Hotel, 1914.

Scott, David. “Colonial Governmentality.” Social Text 43, 2. 1995.

Singh, Khushwant. Ranjit Singh: Maharaja of the Punjab. Bombay: George Allen and Unwin, 1962.

Sinha, Mrinalini. “Britishness, Clubbality, and the Colonial Public Sphere: The Genealogy of an Imperial Institution in Colonial India.” Journal of British Studies 40, 4. 2001: 489-521.

ARCHIVES at Lahore

Government of Punjab (Punjab Provincial Archives of Pakistan, anarkali’s Tomb, Civil Secretariat, Lahore)
Boards and Committees Department (General)
Home Department Proceedings (General)
“” (Jail)
“” (Judicial)
“” (Legislative)
“” (Medical and Sanitary)
“” (Municipal)
“” (Police)
Public Works department (general)
Lahore Municipal Corporation, Old Record Room Archives, Lahore Case Files

Ganga Ram

The other significant figure was Ganga Ram … who graduated from Roorkee with a degree in civil engineering in 1873, the first year Punjab University began offering courses. The son of a police officer from a village near Amritsar, Ram would become a well-known figure in the city and one of Lahore’s richest and most generous philanthropists; a woman’s hospital bearing his name exists to this day. (84)

Went to England to study architecture and practical engineering in 1883. Returned in 1884.

Bibliographic finds

Margaret MacMillan, Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India

She extensively cites

Flora Annie Steel and Grace Gardiner, "The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook" (1898)

Cumming, C.F. Gordon. In the Himalayas (1884)

Buckland, C.T. Skethes of Social Life in India (1884)

Caldwell, R.C. The Chutney Lyrics, 2nd Ed. Madras 1889.

Baden-Powell, Lt. General Sir Robert. Indian Memories (1915)

Billington, Mary Frances. Woman in India (1895)

Blunt, Wilfrid Scawen. India Under Ripon: A Private Diary. 1909.

Barnes, Irene H. Behind the Pardah. (London: 1897)

Mayer, J.E. ed. The Humour and Pathos of Anglo-Indian Life. (London, 1895)

Mitchell, Mrs. Murray. In India (1876)

Rowe, A.D. Everyday Life in India. (New York, 1881)

Wilson, Anne. After Five Years in India. (London: 1895)

Also Browsing:

Wolmar, Christian. Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railroads Transformed the World.

For his chapter on Indian railroads, Wolmar depends heavily on Ian Kerr.

Kerr, Ian. Engines of Change: The Railroads that Made India (2007)

Kerr, Ian. Building the Railways of the Raj 1850-1900 (1995)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Viceroy Archibald Wavell, "Jabber-Weeks" poem from 1946

Appears in Wavell: the viceroy's journal, Oxford University Press, 1973.

(July 1 1946)
I picked up Alice through the Looking Glass one evening shortly before the end of the Mission and wrote the parody below; I put it down here but doubt whether it is really worth preserving.

(From Phlawrence through the Indian Ink)
Twas grillig; and the Congreelites
Did harge and shobble in the swope;
All Jinsy were the Pakstanites,
And the spruft Sikhs outstrope.

Beware the Gandhiji, my son,
The satyagraha, the bogy fast,
Beware the Djinnarit, and shun
The frustrious scheduled caste.

He took his crippsian pen in hand,
Long time in draftish mood he wrote,
And fashioned as his lethal brand
A cabimissionary note.

And as he mused with pointed phrase
The Gandhiji, on wrecking bent,
Came tripling down the bhangi ways,
And waffled as he went.

Ed do, Ek do, and blow on blow
The pointed phrase went slicker snack;
And, with the dhoti, Ghosh and goat, he
Came chubilating back.

And hast thou swoozled Gandhiji!
Come to my arms, my blimpish boy!
Hoo-ruddy-ray! O Labour Day,
He shahbashed in his joy.

Twas grillig; and the Congreelites
Did harge and shobble in the swope;
All Jinsy were the Pakstanites,
And the spruft Sikhs outstrope.

"It’s very interesting," said Phlawrence a little wearily, "but it’s rather hard to understand."
"So is nearly everything in this country", answered Hobson-Jobson. "Shall I explain some of the difficult words for you?"
‘Yes, please’, said Phlawrence.
"Well, grillig is in the hot-weather at Delhi, when everyone’s brains are grilled before 2 p.m. and don’t get ungrilled till 2 a.m. Congreelites are animals rather like conger eels, very slippery, they can wriggle out of anything they don’t like. Harge is a portmanteau word, it means to haggle and argue; to shobble is to shift and wobble; a swope is a place open to sweepers. Pakstanites are rather fierce noisy animals, all green, they live round mosques and can’t bear Congreelites. Spruft means spruce and puffed up; outstrope means that they went round shouting out that they weren’t being fairly treated and would take direct action about it."
"That seems a lot for one word to mean," said Phlawrence.
"The Sikhs don’t quite know what it does mean yet," said Hobson-Jobson.
"Well, anyway, the Gandhiji seems to have been swoozled, whatever that means," said Phlawrence, "and I expect that was a good thing."
"But he wasn’t," said Hobson-Jobson, "they found out afterwards that he had swoozled everyone else."
"Thank you very much for your explanation," said Phlawrence after a pause, "but I am afraid it is all still very difficult."