Friday, November 24, 2017

Padmavati Controversy: Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair

Padmavati Controversy: Fair Is Foul And Foul Is Fair
                                                                                  Saeed Naqvi

Padmavati, in a sense, is a neighbourhood story. My village, Mustafabad, happens to be in Rae Bareli, which embraces numerous Chishtiya Sufi shrines or places where the saints spent some time, including Khwaja Ashraf Jehangir Semnani, the saint Malik Mohammad Jaisi, the author of Padmavat, was devoted to. Jaisi would faint at the controversy surrounding his masterpiece.

From nearby, Salon, Naeem Ata Shah in his flowing orange robes and headgear often visited Mustafabad. Jaisi, who preceded Tulsidas, in the list of great poets of Awadhi, was an endless source of quotations. So was Tulsidas, whose correspondence with emperor Akbar’s premier courtier, Abdul Rahim Khan e Khana, on meter and structure of poetry one heard about later and which is something one would have expected more scholarship on.

To a most unexpected source I owed my acquaintance with the fact that Rahim, known for his dohas, wrote devotional poetry on Lord Rama in Sanskrit. The source happened to be Vishnu Kant Shastri, former Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University, Governor of UP. It always puzzled me how a man of such catholic interests – knew Jaisi as well as Akbar Allahabadi backwards – had actually emerged from the RSS stable.

If Jaisi’s flight of fancy can create so much mayhem, I shudder to contemplate the fate of the 1960 classic, Mughal-e-Azam in a similar circumstance. By today’s yardstick, that was the original, unadulterated case of “Love Jihad”. In fact the settled conventional wisdom in the 60s conceded Akbar victory at Haldighati. The national mood today has reversed the outcome of that battle in favour of Maharana Pratap. There have been suggestions that New Delhi’s Akbar Road be renamed “Maharana Pratap Road”. In other words revenge with retrospective effect is in order. To give this trend a more contemporary twist, Vishwa Hindu Parishad has demanded that an FIR be lodged against Mulayam Singh Yadav for ordering the police to fire on Kar sewaks in 1990. In that framework, it can be argued that producer K. Asif glorified Akbar’s love jihad. For that unforgiveable guilt, copies of the film must be consigned to the flames by way of historical revenge. Dilip Kumar, who played Prince Salim, is lying in coma otherwise he could have been brought into focus of public ire with great effectiveness on the eve of key elections with a singular purpose – polarize the poll.

At a time when logic has been crowded out by a rush of non sequitur, some pundits have attempted common sense. It will not work.

The new cultural brigade destroyed the grave of Wali Dakhni who showered adoration on this land with such verses as:
“Koocha e yaar ain Kashi hai
Jogiya dil wahaan ka baasi hain.”
(The lane where my beloved lives is like holy Varanasi;
The yogi of my heart has made it his dwelling place.) The sentiments the poet represents did not deter the vandals seething with anger against past historical injustices.

Never will the bandish Munmohan Braj ke rasiya in Raag Paraj, steeped in Krishna lore, be sung better than by Ustad Faiyyaz Khan. They tried to desecrate his grave in Vadodara, regardless.

Rasoolan Bai’s plaintive appeals to Rama, in so many of her songs, did not protect her house from being gutted during the 1969 Gujarat riots. It did not matter that the Congress was in power then. What is being tapped into is something which gained a lease of life after Partition and which invites instant, angry, passionate response at the street level. In his very first speech in Parliament after the 2014 elections, this was precisely the nerve Narendra Modi touched: “the nation has to recover from the subjugation of 1200 years”. This is what differentiates the present government from previous regimes. Congressmen may have privately believed in “1200 year of subjugation”, but they considered it tactically proper to speak only of the British as foreigners.

Let us, meanwhile, revert to Jaisi’s purpose in Padmavati. The sentiment is common in western poetry too.
The “desire of the moth for the star, of the night for the morrow.
The devotion to something afar from the sphere of our sorrow”

Shelley’s lines are an ultra simplified version of the interplay between love and beauty which Jaisi is delineating. Padmini and Khalji are secular symbols of Jaisi’s elaboration of the theme on an epic scale.

Keat’s “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know” can also be tossed in to simplify communicating Jaisi.

Maulana Hasrat Mohani communicates the mood thus:
“Maslak I Ishq hai parastish e husn
Hum naheen jaante azaab-o-sawab.”
(Love’s purpose is adoration of beauty.
Gains and losses I do not measure.)

Should the ever expanding tribe of the new cultural warriors run out of ideas, here are some on offer, gratis. They should denigrate with retrospective effect those Muslims who dared to take liberties with Hindu Gods. Remember, how India’s greatest modern painter, Maqbool Fida Hussain was exiled for his supreme guilt: excessive adoration of Goddesses. His “adoration” was considered lewd by the protectors of culture and faith.

Well, in like fashion, Maulana Hasrat Mohani deserves to be shamed retrospectively. He wrote a great deal about Krishna in Urdu, but in his Bhasha or Braj verses he takes liberties:
“Mose ched karat Nandlal”
(Krishna teases me all the time)
“hum hoon jo dei liptai ke Hasrat
Saari yeh chalbal nikaal”
(One day I shall embrace him tight and squeeze out all his mischief)
“Squeeze out”, in a tight embrace, has erotic connotations which should be unacceptable to the new cultural brigade.

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  1. I feel utterly surprised how did this Sayeed Naqvis write up came to me for a comment, whatsoever. Anyway once it has I feel obliged to give my view for what it may be worth.

    Sayeed has taken pains to sketch out that many Muslim poets, musicians, etc said and sung of Hindu gods/goddesses, in his effort to show they were so liberal and broad-minded towards Hindus and Hinduism. In fact I think there was no need for him to go that far to make his point. There are many examples in the present too. Many Muslims played the role of Rama and Sita in plays and films. They Sang bhajans very often too. An oft-quoted example is 'Man tarpat hari darshan aaj' of film Baiju Bawara, wherein the lyricist, singer and music director all three happened to be Muslims. Many Hindus too sing traditional compositions in which Allah is praised. Muslims too sing Mira bhajans and other compositions describing Hindu gods/goddesses. But do these examples lead us anywhere? Do they mean that Hindus were not tortured and hated and killed mercilessly just because they happened to be non-Muslims and refused to get converted to Islam? If Sayeed means or thinks so, he is either a blatant liar or he has not read Quran.

    Many Hindus do not know, or they have been kept in the dark by politicians and or genuine preachers of Hindu-Muslim harmony, that Quran not only preaches hatred towards non-Muslim but goes to the extent of ordering Allah-fearing Muslims to hate and kill all those, especially idol worshipers, who do not accept Islam in letter and and spirit. There are many quotes but here I quote just one i.e. aayat 5 of sura 9. It is a bliss that many Muslims themselves have not read Quran. But all those who have read it have just one feeling towards Hindus and that is hatred. The fact many Muslims who sing songs praising Hindu Gods/goddesses is simply because they are permitted to do so on professional grounds, that is to earn their bread.

    Sayeed is not alone in his endeavor to show and publicize Islamic broad-mindedness. All politicians and innocent souls keep doing it. But I have yet to find and honest and brave soul who ever tried to call spade a spade and took any step to remove such highly objectionable and inhuman teachings from Quran.

    I will be happy to get corrected if I have stated anything wrong or out of the context.

    Dr Sitesh Alok

    The writer of 'Saare jahan se achchha...' turned out to be the author of the two nation theory and many so-called nationalists fled to Pakistan to fight against the Hindu-majority India.

  2. नक़वी साहब ने बहुत सुंदर लिखा है।

    It is a beautiful thought and therefore it deserves to be embraced and adored as Maulana Hasrat Mohani suggested.

    This is exactly the idea that we need to go back to for a bright, safe and beautiful future. At the moment, we seem to have lost our way.

  3. No one can actually explain the real reason for all this mess and violence. All those who have interest in news must follow this news as one must know how far it is justified to burn school buses for protest.
    And congrats to the team of Padmavat who are soon going to join the 100 crore club.
    Live Now India

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