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Paash: An Iron Tale
Celebrating the 56th birthday of a poet
Vishav Bharti (vishav)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2006-09-09 07:03 (KST)   
The poet known as Paash
In the spring of 1967, peasants of Naxalbari--a sleepy village of West Bengal, India--came out of their fields with traditional weapons to fight the establishment. They fought heroically but the moderately armed security forces suppressed them brutally, for a few years.

Even though it was supressed it made a significant contribution to the field of literature and gave birth to new paradigms, which were path breaking in practice and pro-people in nature. It redefined the relationship of student and education, artist and society, country and city, state and people, repression and resistance, violence and peace.

The influence of the Naxalite movement reached the farthest corners of the country. In Punjab, Paash--pen name of Avtar Singh Sandhu--was deeply influenced by this movement. He was one of those who had from the very beginning expressed their uneasiness over the prevailing discourse of romantic poetry in Punjab.

He was not even twenty when he first came to light with his anthology of poetry "Loh Katha" (The Iron Tale) in 1970. This anthology was a complete breakaway from romantic poetry.

Initially many "established poets" refused to recognize the "young lad." They termed his poetry a mere "rag of red cloth." But Paash was altogether different from his contemporaries, he never felt the need for recognition from pro-establishment critics. And his pen always gave them a befitting reply. That is why even almost two decades after his death, his poems still define the struggle.

It is an established fact that Naxalite writers had never written for the sake of fame. Most of them either lived the life of saints or of rebels and have written poetry from the battle fields. They never cared for honors. They wrote what they lived and lived what they wrote. Paash also never wrote for the sake of writing but it was his sensitivity and inner restlessness which motivated him to write. He never stroked his pen to become just a poet.

The poetry of the 20-year-old man challenged the establishment. And the impatient rulers implicated him in a fabricated murder case. He was imprisoned for two years. It was this time which played a key role in his ideological growth. He wrote his best poetry in jail on cigarette packs and smuggled it out.

After two years, Paash was acquitted and he became a celebrated poet of the revolutionary camp. His poems were translated and published in Hindi, Nepali, English and many other Indian languages.

In the early 1980s Sikh fundamentalists waged a war with demands for a separate country, Khalistan. Paash opposed the activities of the Khalistanis. While in the United States, to defeat the reactionary idea of Khalistan on ideological grounds, he started a newspaper named "Anti-47" (after the AK 47, the weapon Khalistanis used to kill).

History proves that the fundamentalist forces rarely indulge in ideological debates, they often suppress their critics with the gun. And the same fate befell Paash. He was gunned down by Khalistani militants on March 23, 1988 (ironically the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, the revered patriots who were hanged by the British during the struggle for India`s independence). He was 37 years old.

They eliminated him physically at a very young age but his four anthologies of poetry "Loh Katha" (Iron-Tale, 1970), "Ud dian Bazan Magar"(Behind Flying Hawks, 1973), "Saadey Samiyaan Vich" (In Our Times, 1978) and "Khilre Hoey Varkey" (Unorganized Papers, publish posthumously in 1989) have become an integral part of the lives of people.

In the long list of revolutionary poets, Paash is another signature who "wrote what he lived and lived what he wrote." He chose his end consciously. But he was a warrior who never let his dreams die. That is why, September 9th his 56th birth day is being celeberated in Punjab by the peasants in fields, workers in mills and students in universities.

An excerpt from Paash`s last poem
"The Most Dangerous" by Paash

Most treacherous is not the robbery
of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture by the police.

Most dangerous is
To be filled with dead peace
Not to feel agony and bear it all,

Leaving home for work
And from work return home
Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.

Most dangerous is that watch
Which runs on your wrist
But stands still for your eyes.

Most dangerous is that eye
Which sees all but remains frostlike,
Most dangerous is the moon
Which rises in the numb yard
After each murder,
But does not pierce your eyes like hot chilis
THE bigoted mindset of the right wing Bhartiya Janata Party is full display these days. It had been trying hard either to communalize cultural issues by attacking artists and their creations or showing its intolerance towards any dissent. These are indeed the signs of not only perverted mindset but also extremely intolerant fascist tendency to attack poets, painters and artists. The latest to come under attack is the late Punjabi poet Paash who was killed by the Khalistani militants in Punjab when they found him opposing through his writings not only in Punjab but in Europe too.
Punjabi Poet Avtar Paash, who gave away is life like his ideal Bhagat Singh by confronting Khalistani terrorists, was subjected to most insulting treatment by BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad in Rajaya Sabha debate recently on NCERT books. Paasha?s poem ?Sabse Khatarnak?, The Most Dangerous has been prescribed in Hindi book for class XI by NCERT from 2006. This is part of 20 per cent literature in translation from other languages. Paash did Punjabi language pride, when his poem was selected for all India syllabus of NCERT. It might be reminded here that Hindi translation of Paash?s poetry by Dr. Chaman Lal, a professor of Hindi at the famous Jawaharlal University was given Sahitya Akademi national prize for translation.
BJP MP told Rajaya Sabha that Paash was a Naxalite and how NCERT could teach a poem by a Naxalite. He also attacked writings of Dalit writer Om Prakash Balmiki, Sahitya Akademi award winner poet Dhumil and other major Hindi writers for being taught to students. He was also angry at internationally renowned artist MF Hussain?s biographical chapter being taught in Hindi text book.
Many eminent writers of Hindi have expressed heir shock and dismay at such attacks on creative writings of distinguished writers. They include Naamvar Singh, Chancellor, Mahatma Gandhi international Hindi University, Ashok Vajpayee, former Vice Chancellor Mahatma Gandhi international Hindi University, Krishna Sobti, Rajender Yadav, Kamleshwar, Kamla Prasad and Chaman Lal.
Paash was the pen name of Avtar Singh Sandhu, who was born in Talwandi Salem, Jalandhar (Punjab, India) on 9th of September 1950. son of Major Sohan Singh Sandhu, Paash as a young senstive person was highly touched by the poverty, deptivation , exploitation of the poor and a rutheless state aparatus exploiting and torturing the masses in India. He started writing revolutionary poetry quite early in his life to describe what he saw and felt. During his youth, Punjab?s students, farmers and workers were embroiled in an armed struggle against the establishment--called the Naxalite movement. This period in the 1970?s is also known as the Jujharu (Rebellious) era of the politics of Punjab.
Pash`s first book of revolutionary poems, Loh-Katha (Iron-Tale) was published in 1970 when he was not even 20. Due to his sympathies with the militant movement and the provocative nature of his poetry, Pash, at the young age of 21, was falsely charged with murder. He spent nearly two years in jail, but was finally acquitted. After his acquittal, he became active in the Punjabi Maoist front organizations and edited a literary magazine Siarh (The Plough Line). Pash?s progressive poetry was widely published in the leftist media and was very popular amongst students, communists and the left-leaning intellectuals.
In 1985, the Punjabi Sahit Akademi (The Punjabi Academy of Letters) awarded him a one-year fellowship. He was well traveled and visited the USA and the UK in 1986. While in the United States, he produced a tract for the Anti-47 Front. He opposed the communal violence waged by the Sikh nationalists fighting for the creation of a separate country, Khalistan, during the early 1980s. This ultimately led to his murder at the hands of terrorists from his home village on the 23rd of March 1988, ironically the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, the revered patriots who were hanged by the British during the struggle for India?s independence.
We publish below a translation Paash`s poem Sabse Khatarnak by Dr.Satnam Singh Sandhu of Punjabi University, Patiala.
"The Most Dangerous."
?The Most Dangerous
Most treacherous is not the robbery
of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture by the police.
Most dangerous is not the graft for the treason and greed.
To be caught while asleep is surely bad
surely bad is to be buried in silence
But it is not most dangerous.
To remain dumb and silent in the face of trickery
Even when just, is definitely bad
Surely bad is reading in the light of a firefly
But it is not most dangerous
Most dangerous is
To be filled with dead peace
Not to feel agony and bear it all,
Leaving home for work
And from work return home
Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.
Most dangerous is that watch
Which run on your wrist
But stand still for your eyes.
Most dangerous is that eye
Which sees all but remains frostlike,
The eye that forgets to kiss the world with love,
The eye lost in the blinding mist of the material world.
That sinks the simple meaning of visible things
And is lost in the meaning return of useless games.
Most dangerous is the moon
Which rises in the numb yard
After each murder,
But does not pierce your eyes like hot chilies.
Most dangerous is the song
Which climbs the mourning wail
In order to reach your ears
And repeats the cough of an evil man
At the door of the frightened people.
Most dangerous is the night
Falling in the sky of living souls,
Extinguishing them all
In which only owls shriek and jackals growl,
And eternal darkness covers all the windows.
Most heinous is the direction
In which the sun of the soul light
Pierces the east of your body.
Most treacherous is not the
robbery of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture of police
Most dangerous is not graft taken for greed and treason.?
ipckwrI:---klm dI ipckwrI??coN Pu`tdy rMgW dI Bw lok-prjw dI smUihk smwjk dSw qy pwey hwkm jmwq qy AsrW qy dbwvW dw pRqIkrm hY[  ipckwrI dy rMg, pwS dI klm ?coN ikvyN auGVdy hn ieh g`l gu`JI nhIN jW isrP kihx suxn q`k hI sImq nhIN-g`l sulgdI sulgdI iek ihljul, qrQ`lI qy J`KV bxdI idsdI hY[  kvI pwS pMjwbI kivqw dw DMn Bwg hY[  pwS dI kivqw pVH ky swfIAW A`KW Ku`lHIAW hn qy swnUM mihsUs huMdw hY ik AsIN A`j q`k jiVAW ?c Bu`ly Btkdy rhy qy g`l koeI vI nhIN sI pwS dI kivqw nMgyj vWg auGwV ky d`sdI hY, kvI kI hsqI huMdw hY ?  qy kivqw ikvyN isrjxI bwxI huMdI hY ?

swfw vIhvIN  sdI dw pMjwbI swihqk ivrsw prMprweI, bOiDk, pRXogI, pRgqIvwdI, smwjvwdI qy hor l`lU pMjU AKOqI fINgW hI sI jo guMmrwh qy rMgy hoey ig`dVW dIAW hUkW sn[ A`Ty pihr jugwlI krnw jW mws dIAW pINGW JUtxIAW ienHW dw Sugl huMdw hY[  ieh m`isAw puMinAW qy ijsm qy do bu`k pwxI dy pwauNdy hn qy hry rwm, hry gMgw qy b`s[  ienHW dI Awqmw qy mYl jMmI rihMdI hY, idmwg nhIN ienHW kol ?ifmwg? huMdw hY, ieh Awpxy A`igAwn dI Du`p ?c TokrW KWdy, z^mI huMdy hn[  g`l kI ieh kuJ vI nhIN huMdy[  ru`K qoN ifgdy p`qy dw koeI mu`dw hovy qW hovy pr ienHW dw hrigz nhIN[  ijauNdIAW sihkdIAW lwSW-so ienHW dIAW vw? nUM mwrIAW qlvwrW dI ?dyx? qy pRwpqI A`j ies kvI dI Awvwz qy klwswDnw mnu`K nUM rINgdI jUn ?coN bwhr klw swDnw k`FdI swkwr j`dojihd hY-A`gy goifAW Bwr hY[

pYV-AmlI jIvn pwS dw swfy vyly dy ieiqhws dy prdy qy Awey pwqrW, ijnHW dy h`QW ?c, s`c dI imSwl jgdI rhI qy s`c vwsqy qlvwr jUJdI rhI, qoN Aglw kdm hY-jo Xu`g pltwvw kr jWdy hn, aunHW dIAW pYVW ieiqhws dy ryqy qy, pwS dIAW A`j icqrIAW pYVW hI l`gdIAW hn[



qusW dy mMnx jW nW mMnx ivc,
s`c nUM koeI Prk nhIN pYNdw[
ienHW duKdy AMgW qy s`c ny iek jUn BogI hY[
qy hr s`c jUn Bogx bwAd,
Xu`g ivc bdl jWdw hY,
qy ieh Xu`g hux KyqW qy im`lW ivc hI nhIN,
POj dIAW kqwrW ivc ivcr irhw hY[
k`lH jd ieh Xu`g,
lwl iklyH aupr is`itAW dw qwj pihnI,
smyN dI slwmI leygw,
qW qusW nUM s`c dy Asl ArQ smJ Awvxgy[
hux swfI aup`drI zwq nUM,
ies Xu`g dI i&qrq qW BwvyN AwK skdy ho;
ieh kih C`fxw,
ik Ju`gIAW ?c psirAw s`c,
koeI SYA nhIN !
kyfw ku s`c hY ?
qusW dy mMnx jW nW mMnx ivc,
s`c nUM koeI Prk nhIN pYNdw[

do qy do iqMn

mYN is`D kr skdw hW-
ik do qy do iqMn huMdy hn
vrqmwn imQhws huMdw hY
mnu`KI Skl cmcy vrgI huMdI hY[
qusIN jwxdy ho-
kcihrIAW, b`s A`ifAW qy pwrkW ivc
sO sO dy not qurdy iPrdy hn[
fwierIAW ilKdy , qsvIrW lYNdy
qy irportW Brdy hn,
kwnUMn-r`iKAw , kyNdr ivc
pu`qr nUM mW, qy cVHwieAw jWdw hY[
KyqW ivc ?fwkU? idhwVIAW qy kMm krdy hn[
mMgW mMnIAW jwx dw AYlwn,
bMbW nwl kIqw jWdw hY[
Awpxy lokW dy ipAwr dw ArQ
?duSmx dyS? dI eyjMtI huMdw hY[
v`D qoN v`D Z`dwrI dw qZmw
v`fy qoN v`fw ruqbw ho skdw hY
do qy do iqMn vI ho skdy hn[
vrqmwn imiQhws ho skdw hY
mnu`KI Skl vI cmcy vrgI ho skdI hY[

ArQW dw Apmwn

qusW ny jwx bu`J ky ArQW dw Apmwn kIqw hY
Awvwrw SbdW dw ielzwm
hux iks nUM dyvogy ?
mYnUM ieh ru`K pu`Cdy hn
ik aus sUrj nUM kI khIey
ijhVw ik grm nw hovy
ijHdw rMg lwl nw hovy[
mYN ru`KW v`l q`kdw hW
hvw dy rMg igxdw hW
qy ru`q dw nwp krdw hW
qy mYQoN Pyr sUrj nUM bydoSw AwK nhIN huMdw[
mYN surj vwsqy
ZusqwK SbdW nUM suAMbr ?c ibTwauNdw hW,
qusIN smJogy
mYN cotI ?qy KVH ky K`f dy ivc Cwl mwrI hY
Asl g`l hor hY
mYN qW K`fW dy ArQ bdly hn
hvw nUM pING mMinAw hY
qy prbq nUM pVu`l dw rUp id`qw hY
mYN qusW leI KudkSI dy ArQ bdly hn
myry swQI
qusW leI izMdgI dy ArQ bdlxgy
qusW jy mrn l`igAW
izMdgI nUM jwx vI lIqw
quhwfI kOx mMnygw ?
quhwnUM kOx bKSygw
ijnHW ny jwx bu`J ky
ArQW dw Apmwn kIqw hY[

vkq dI lwS

ienHW ny p`qJV dy AwKrI idn
bu`kl ?c sWB ley sn,
qy hux jy ieh bsMq dI g`l krdy vI hn
qW ijvNy SbdW dy swh tu`tdy hox,
ijvyN AmlI qRoitAw igAw hovy-
qy ienHW dy guAWF
ijhVy SYqwn isr iPry Cokry
ieiqhws dIAW kMDW au`qy
kuJ ilKx ivc msrU& hn
aunHW nUM ivhu jwpdy hn
ijvyN koeI bwrvyN swl ivc
irSI dI qwVI BMg kr dey
ijvyN suhwg dI syj qy mihmwn sON jwx
ienHW dy kol aus dw id`qw bhuq ku`J hY
ieh ifgrIAW dy P`t qy sON skdy hn
qy AlMkwrW dy Evrkot pihndy hn
aunHW leI izMdgI dy ArQ is&wrS hn
kYd nUM auh kokw kolw vWg pINdy hn
qy hr A`j nUM k`l dy ivc bdl ky KuS huMdy hn
ieh rwq nUM sOx l`gy
pjwimAW slvwrW dIAW gMFW tohky sONdy hn
qy svyr nUM jd auh au`Tdy hn
qW b`krI vWg inFwl
ijvyN vkq dI lwS muSk geI hovy
ijvyN dhIN bu`s igAw hovy,
jd ieh Awpxy Awp nUM
mirAw ipAw q`kdy hn
qW izMdgI nUM cyqy ivc
ilAwaux leI iqgVm lVwauNdy hn
ijvyN koeI auNglW qy hwsl igxdw hY
ijvyN koeI irVnw is`KxoN pihlW dI
aumr nUM Xwd krdw hY[

mYN kihMdw hW

keI kihMdy hn-
bVw kuJ hor AwKx nUM hY
bhuq kuJ A`gy qYA krn vwlw hY
ijvyN g`l SbdW nwl nhIN khI jw skdI
ijvyN vwt kdmW nwl nhIN mukdI
keI kihMdy hn-
hux kihx leI kuJ vI bwkI nhIN
qYA krn leI kuJ vI bicAw nhIN
ijvyN Sbd inpuMsk ho gey hox
qy mYN kihMdw hW
s&r dI ieiqhws dI g`l nw kro
mYnUM Aglw kdm Drn leI zmIn dyvo


jd AmlI qoN APIm Cu`tdI hY
qW A`DI A`DI rwqy jw C`pV ?c vVdw hY
KUh ?c auyqr ky vI ipMfw sVdw hY,
pl pl ip`CoN jMgl pwxI jWdw hY
Awpxy AMdr mry pey Syr dI bVI bo AwauNdI hY
AmlI bIVw lw ky
murdw Syr nUM do swh hor idvwauxw cwhuMdw hY
pr mirAw hoieAw Syr kdoN dm PVdw h
AmlI qoN jd APIm Cu`tdI hY?


AsIN jMmxw nhIN sI
AsIN lVnw nhIN sI
AsIN qW bih ky hymkMt dy au`qy
BgqI krnI sI
pr jd sqluj dy pwxI iv`coN BwP au`TI
pr jd kwzI nzrul ieslwm dI jIB rukI
jd kuVIAW dy kol ijm kwrtr q`ikAw[
qy mMifAW kol q`ikAw ?jymz bWf?
qW mYN kih au`iTAw cl beI sMq (sMDU)
hyTW DrqI ?qy clIey
pwpW dw qW Bwr v`Ddw jWdw hY
qy AsIN hux Awey hW
Aih lE Aswfw zPrnwmw
swnUM swfy ih`sy dI ktwr dy dyvo
Aswfw pyt hwzr hY?

lhU ikRAw

hux cWdnI nhIN
cWdnI dI im`tI boldI hY[
isr& &rz qury jWdy hn
hkIkqW dI TMf ivc iTTrdy hoey?
mYN Awpxy nONhW nwl
kMDW dI jIB v`F su`tI hY
qy hux aunHW kol isrP kMn hn
posq dy Pu`l Aj vI h`sdy hn
qy mYN auhnW nUM sUhy rMg dI
AihmIAq dw BwSn idMdw hW???
zwhr hY ik gurU ny bydwvw pwV idqw sI
pr SbdW dy s&r nUM
koeI kI kr skdw hY ?
auh bydwvy dy ieiqhws nUM nhIN pwV sky sn[
ru`K SWq hn, hvw phwVW ivc Atk geI hY
&wier dw Sbd
isrP sweIkl dw ptwkw bolx vrgw hY
hor, Ajy hor sVk huMGwrw mMgdI hY[
kdmW nwl BwvyN quro BwvyN imxo
s&r dw nW kMm vrgw hY
ijs ?c Pty hoey du`D vWg puMn qy pwp v`K ho skdy hn[
kors ivc kIts dy pRym p`qrW dI pRIiKAw hY
pr ruzgwr d&qr iv`c
auh isrP z&rnwmy dI fvIzn pu`Cdy hn[
cMn ?kwly mihr? vWg su`qw hY
mYN v`Ddw hW kdmW dI Awht qoN sucyq
rwq Swied muhMmd ZOrI dI kbr hY
ijs au`qy Syry pMjwb dw GoVw ihxkdw hY[
vDx vwly bhuq A`gy cly jWdy hn
auh vkq nUM nhIN pu`Cdy
vkq aunHW nUM pu`C ky guzrdw hY[
isrP ivivD BwrqI suxn dI ^wqr
ipsqOl dI lwgq KuMJweI nhIN jw skdI[
pwn Kwxw zrUrI nhIN
isrP isgrt nwl vI kMm cl skdw ey[
mYN ij`Qy jMimAw hW
auQy isrP cwkU augdy hn, jW ilMg AMg
A`g qoN Gr lUh ky rOSnI dw kMm ilAw jWdw hY[
jW mhwqmw lokW dy bol isskdy hn??
pr ApIlW mYnUM kwrgr nhIN huMdIAW
ikauNik mYN jwxdw hW
jmwqW isrP fYskW qy hI nhIN
bwhr bzwrW ivc vI huMdIAW hn
rwq nUM irSmW nwl nhIN
isr& sUrj nwl Doqw jw skdw hY[
ies leI hux cWdnI nhIN
cWdnI dI im`tI boldI hY,
Aqy &rz qury jWdy hn
qury jWdy hn

kwZzI SyrW dy nW

qusIN au`qr ho nw d`Kx
qIr nw qlvwr
qy ieh jo islH vwlI k`cI kMD hY
qusIN ies ivclIAW do morIAW ho
ijMnHW ivc kMD ivclw  SYqwn
Awpxw fIPYNs q`kdw hY??.
qusIN kxk dy v`F ivc
ikry hoey Coly ho
qy im`tI ny quhwfw vI ihswb krnw hY[
swfy leI qW qusIN iek Tohkr vI nhIN Swied
qhwnUM AwpxI hoNd dw koeI vihm hY[
mYN dsdw hW qusIN kI ho ?
qusIN ik`kr dy bIA ho ?
jW tuitAw hoieAw tokrw,
jo kuJ vI cu`kx qoN AsmrQ hY
qusIN ieh eyArgn
moFy ?qy ltkweI iPrdy ho
qusIN kql nhIN kr skdy
isrP s`q-iekvMjw dy mudeI ho skdy ho[

prK-nlI ivc

duSmx qW hr hIly gumrwh krdw hY
duSmx dw koeI kdoN vswh krdw hY
qusIN Xwr bx ky sdw swnUM plIq kIqw hY
qy iP`ty mUMh , swfy
ijnHW hux qk mw& kIqw hY??..
kdI rihnumw bx ky swnUM kqlgwh C`f Awey
kdI JMfy dw rMg d`s ky
swfy A`lHV gIqW nUM nwpwk kIqw
qy kdI rUbl ic`Q ky, swQoN Qu`k dy rMg igxvwey
qusIN Clyfy nhIN qW kI ?blw? ho ?
qy eys qoN pihlW ik qusIN isr qoN t`p jWdy
quhwnUM bodI qoN PV ilAw hY AsIN,
hux qusIN iek vr mMgx leI kihxw hY
qy AsIN quhwfI mOq mMgxI hY

Discussion Thread
  Paash   ਰੂਪ05/08/2007

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