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Abdul Ahad “Azad: The poet of tomorrow

By Prof. K. N. Dhar

Physical exuberance of Kashmir is as inebriating as its mental excellence. Herein, we find a happy compromise between the prowess of body and ingenuity of mind; to speak squarely in Kashmir, we witness a living example of superb soul enshrined in a superb body. Nature has been luxuriant here in weaving a dexterous tapestry of rainbow-colored flowers stretching over miles after miles. The jingle of babbling brooks endows it with undying seraphic music. Taking a cue from this physical eminence, Man here has not lagged behind in providing a meaning to his land of buxom youth.
Man, here has always tried to replenish this physical eminence with his inquisitive mind ever-ready to bridge the gap between his own self and the opulence around. Hence, here in Kashmir, we perceive a veritable equation between Man and his environ.
Therefore, to derive inspiration from amiable surroundings as also to groom it purposefully with the richness of mind over here, Man has provided a silvery tongue to this arresting panorama of enticing youthfulness; The result has been exhilarating poetry vibrating with the heartbeats of Nature and Man alike. So, it does not sound as an exaggeration when Bilhana-the celebrated lyricist of Kashmir christens his homeland, Kashmir, as the ‘land of Divine Speech,’ from whose womb saffron and poetic prowess have sprung up as real-brothers.” Right from the day, when Man planted his feet on this land, his mental exercise has never cooled its heels. It has been a continuous drill; Man, as such, could not afford to be anything but a poet in such an inspiring and soothing climate. Tools for scaling such virgin heights were already there; it was now left to Man to use these for his edification. The denizen of this fairyland took this challenge in fight earnest and a galaxy of philosophers, chroniclers and poets have shone as its firmament. In modern times ‘Azad’ has very laudably and all the more, very loudly beckoned to man to derive inspiration from the evergreen nature around him, and consequently tame his animosity to reach upto such heavenly heights. He, essentially, is a poet of human values bemoaning the shortcomings and inhibitions under which Man is constrained to count his days; but at the same time, inspiring him to know his own self as well its his compatriot, which only can usher in an era of mental peace and worldly affluence for him. He has not woven songs of sorrow, but has always wafted an aroma of optimistic rosy future through his pulsating imagination. He has consequently opted for finding an asylum in the future, disdaining the unpalatable present. He may, therefore be called a poet of morrow.
It might well be contended that this kind of ostrich-like behaviour on the part of the poet may sound as self-defeat and hence is a left-handed compliment. Herein, it can be said very conveniently that ‘Azad’ did not at all shut his eyes towards the present red in tooth and claw; he did not also own self-deceit–a salient trait of Romantic poets. He was very sure of the ground under his feet, but at the same time, he presaged a meaningful future for the Man, though himself living in the present. He was essentially a poet of Man unscreening his wants and aspirations, unveiling the satan underneath his fair complexion, portraying most pathetically the man’s dilemma being ground under the weight of exploitation and oppression and to crown all his faulty attitude of dividing man and man on the basis of religious beliefs. These all stigmatic characteristic of a mentally sick man were obviously unbecoming of him- the crown of creation. Therefore ‘Azad’ an ever awake artist could not all the time afford to deride him, cultivating in him a sense of irreparable frustration, and blunting his initiative. As his ardent votary, he tried to instil fresh hope in him for bettering his present and on its contours build a happy future. He, therefore, strove hard to keep the spirit of Man alive and kicking. The distance between the actual and ideal was to be smoothened by the Man himself. In utter frustration and inner turmoil, he would never rise to the occasion, hence the need to sustain his hopes holding out economically secure, fraternally amiable, socially agreeable and politically un-dominating future to him, This, in short, is what ‘Azad’ strove all his life to accomplish. In all fairness to him, it cannot be dubbed as self-defeat or self-deceit, it is self-education and self-discipline. ‘Azad’ would never like Man to bite the dust, but rise above it, so that a future comfortable in every respect would be guaranteed for him, This kind of attitude is the forte of all poet-philosophers for them shadow has never been a substitute for substance.
‘Azad’ is inherently possessed of uncommon consciousness of head and heart. He has never elected to go into the shell like other Kashmiri Romanticists. Instead, he has tried to analyse Man in every sense of the word, bereft of any curves or blind alleys. His approach is direct, therefore sparing us the fatigue of fruitless kite-flying in respect of the essence contained in his poetry. We are saved the embarrassment of solving puzzles and conundrums, rack our brains in interpreting his message and derive inferences interwoven in his poetry throbbing with life. He most candidly asserts that his propitiation of the Muse is only a medium to focus attention on Man. In this field, he wears his profession on his sleeves.
In other words, the poet begins with the real and does not get lost in the maze of ideal. Man was made after the image of God; he is a macrocosmic representation of his microcosmic spirit. Therefore, to propitiate Man is actually to adore God. Azad believes in the affirmation of life and not in its negation. For him Man is not a solid bundle of flesh and blood only, but a manifestation of undaunted vigour and unvanquished spirit. He may have forgotten, or even obliged to forget such sterling qualities for the time-being, for which he is not only to blame; Azad’s poetic fervour has tried to re-kindle that dead spirit in him. It is awakening Man to his stature.
It can be conceded forthwith that ‘Azad’ has no pretensions for being a spiritual preacher. He is mainly concerned with the material well being of Man. He does not make tall claims for reforming the spiritual attitude of Man. He does not go beyond the material contentment of Man, He makes him conscious of his rights and obligations, but does not dabble in awakening him to spiritual consciousness alone. He has concern for him on the material plane only. A hungry man is always an angry individual.
When this anger against the society has made him unbalanced, he can in no way harness his faculties to reach up to the subliminal heights. On the other hand, if he gets two square meals without any fuss or friction, he can usefully yoke his mind to achieve self, consciousness and consequent self-realization; stuck up in the mire of material insecurity, his yearning for spiritual edification will be an exercise in futility. Self-consciousness presupposes mental peace and equilibrium. If it is denied to Man, how can we expect him to engage himself in self- search? He has his frailties, be is not a super-soul adept in self-denial. He would like to have his minimum wants satisfied, hence abjuring world is foreign to his genius in these circumstances. He is weighed down so much by the oddities of life, that he is always nursing a cramp in his back. With this physical and mental ailment, his soul does receive bruises, hence is incapable of unfolding its wings, without mincing words, ‘Azad’ has elaborated his point of view in this behalf, in these words:-
“O God, I do not yearn after riches and gold, but would implore you to show me such a world in which Divine obedience is to remember God within always, but not to pray to Him every time for the fulfilment of each and every want.”He would like Man to be self- reliant, architect of his own fate. He has to put in efforts incessantly for making his life self-dependent and not to look to God for making him materially secure always. Relying on the Grace of God will naturally breed indolence in him and mar his initiative, which ‘Azad’ would never allow. God’s blessings are reserved for those who help themselves. For him the religion of Man is straight- forwardness wedded to truthfulness. Hypocrisy degrades Man:-
“Even though holding rosary in his fingers (A Mussalmaan), or donning the sacred- thread around his neck (A Hindu), such a human- being is diffident to speak the truth, can well be called a ‘Peer’ among his flock, or a Brahmin among his tribe.”
According to ‘Azad’ he does not deserve the title of Man. He deludes people by his outer appearance and exploits their credulity. He is an imposter and a pretender. He lacks courage to call the spade a spade. It would be better to quote the exact phrase used by ‘Azad’ in this respect:-
“Nature bad brought you to life simply for disseminating love; instead of it, O! Man,you converted your religion and faith into a lucrative trade, a veritable device for minting money.”