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Progressive Movement and Urdu Poetry


Author: Ali Sardar Jafri

The Progressive Movement widened the horizon of Urdu poetry; liberated it from the classical cliche, and added fresh modern imagery structure to the poem; used the rhyming scheme with fresh vigour and introduced and developed new forms like free verse, dramatic and allegorical poems, with experiments in meters; gave it an ideological content and used it as a weapon in the freedom struggle fo India; denounced decadence and cynicism, yet discovered in this attitude also an element of protest against existing conditions; enriched the treasury of poetic diction by using ordinary and common words which the older classical poets had banished form the realm of poetry, and thus came closer to the people.

Many progressive poets actually prticipated in the freedom struggle with their poetry on their lips, and wrote very good poetry in prison as well. They were the poets of a country where great patriots had mounted the gallows reciting poetry with proud defiance, like Ram Prasad Bismil who immortalized these lines of a poet from Bihar of the same pen name:

sar_faroshi kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil me.n hai
dekhanaa hai zor kitanaa baazuu-e-qaatil me.n hai
rah_rav-e-raah-e-muhabaat rah na jaana raah me.n
lazzat-e-saharaa_navardii duurii-e-manzil me.n hai
– Bismil Azimabadi

(We are prepared to sacrifice our head,
Let us see the power of the executioner’s arm
Do not linger behind, O traveller of the path of love
The pleasure of wandering in the desert lies in it’s distance)
They had identified themselves with a partiotic movement whose slogan was Inquilab Zindabad (Long live the revolution) given from the height of the gallows by another martyr, Bhagat Singh, who used to quote poetry freely in his letters that he wrote from his death cell. And this slogan Inquilab Zindabad was used by all freedom-fighters including Nehru and Gandhi. Their meetings, attended by thousands of people, at times by hundreds sof thousands, resounded with this slogan, and the word Inquilab became a household word in India.

This Progressive Movement was a spectrum of different shades of political and literary opinions with Prem Chand, a confirmed believer in Gandhism at one end, and Sajjad Zaheer, a confirmed marxist, at the other end. In between them were various other shades including non-conformists, but every one of them interested in the freedom of the country and glory of literature.

The basic and fundamental postulate of the Progressive Writers Movement is the unity of art, use and beauty. It is not a violent departure from the past or an angry revolt against tradition as such, although we did reject certain unhealthy and obscurantist trends. And that is how our path was new. What we tried to do was a reiteration of the values getting lost in modern commercial age, or distorted under the weight of the decaying social systems. It is a rediscovery with a new experience and consciousness, and new artistic additions giving fresh vigour to Urdu poetry and literature as a whole. The false notion should be discarded that a few hot-headed men can get together and launch a literary and artistic movement of such a dimension as the Progressive Movement. Poets and writers are like the seeds holding the heart; the movement provides them the good soil and the right climate to blossom.

Poetry is song as well as declamation; whispering of the breeze in a rose garden, and the rage of the storm that uproots the trees; the soft fall of dew on the freen grass, and the torrential rain with thunder and lightning; a sweet smile on a pair of lips, and the shriek of a martyr tortured in prison; the slogan of the nation breaking the chains of slavery, and the symphony of the march of history. It is wrong to presume that poetry is only this and not that. Yet a categorical statement can be made. Poetry is not absurd.

The theme of poetry is neither religion nor politics nor recording of events. It embraces all aspects of human life, because the basic and the only theme of poetry, as that of all literature and art, is Man. But the emphasis changes from age to age, and the flavour of language and the beauty and style of images accoriding to the country and its people. The people is Man and Man is people in all its aspects, colours, races, names, professions, running into millions. In the words of the great American poet, Carl Sandburg:

The people is the great canyon of humanity
and many many miles across.
The people is pandora’s box, humpty dumpty, a clock of doom and an
avalanche when it turns loose.
The people rest on land and weather, on time and the changing winds.
The people have come far and can look back and say
“We will go farther yet”.
The people is a plucked goose and a shorn sheep of legalised fraud.
And the people is one of those mountain slopes
holding a volcano of retribution.
Slow in all things, slow in its gathered wrath,
slow in its onward heave.
slow in its asking: ‘Where are we now? what time is it?’
-The People, Yes; by Carl Sandburg
A terrible question that could be put to the poets also: “Where are we now? What time is it?” Poetry is an autonomous Republic of Letters within the sovereign State of Human Civillisation but not a law unto itself.

Since the dawn of civilisation the poet has been considered as some kind of a prophet as expressed in Persian: “Shairi juzwest az paighambari”. And prophets as founders of religions always spoke in a poetic language and changed the course of history and destiny of Man. And we in the East are the inheritors of the great traditions of the Vedas, the Gospels and the Quran.

When mankind had just started lisping, in the so-called black Yajurveda the highest principle was manifesting itself as food(Annam). Here are three awe-inspiring stanzas from the Taittirya Brahmana:

I am the first born of the divine essence.
Before the Gods sprang into existince, I was.
I am the naval(the centre and source) of immortality.
Whoever bestows me on others-therby keeps me to himself.
I am Food. I feed on food and on its feeder.

The foolish man obatins useless food.
I declare the truth: it will be his death.
Because he does not feed either friend or companion.
By keeping his food to himself, he becomes guilty when eating it.

I the food am the cloud, thundering, and raining
They(the beings) feed on ME — I feed on everything
I am the real esscence of the universe, immortal.
By my force all the suns in heaven are aglow.

-from Heinrich Zimmer in Philosophies of India

The German Orientalist, Heinrich Zimmer has called this hymn the Cosmic Communist Manifesto. Tit is not difficult to discover the echo of this humn in Mahatama Gandhi’s utterance: “Even God dare not reveal Himself to the hungry except in the form of bread”

Krishan Chander’s famous short story, Anna Daata(Food Giver) which influenced the fictonal trends of many Indian languages in the continuation of the same thought, as old as the Vedas and as new as the progressive fiction. The terrible experience of the Bengal famine in the wake of the Second World War gave it new poignancy. It was also the turning point in the creative life of a romantic who had started with Tilism-e-Khayaal published in 1938. Surendra Prakash’s “Bajuka”(The Scarecrow), although inspired by Prem Chand’s “Godan”, has vauge reflections of the same thought. Both, the progressive Krishan Chander and ‘jadid’ Surendra Prakash, have depicted reality through symbolic images.

No great poet has ever forgotten his mission as a prophet, the denunciator of evil and upholder of virtue. Every one of them is a nightingale in a garden not yet created (andalib-e-gulshan-e-naafrida). Every one of them is the voice of today as well as the voice of coming tomorrow. His poetic mission has a message, and there is no dichotomy between the message and the word, between the content and the form. Use and beauty are not diverced from each other. Many poets have been treated as sages, and even tyrants bowed before them with reverance, and listened to them with awe. Yet there are poets who have been hounded, imprisoned, tortured and executed for speaking the Truth. They did not recant, and went on murmuring like Galileo, “But the earth does not revolve around the sun”.

No poet of any worth in the past ages could have said what a modern professor at a university who is also an Urdu poet and ciritic, has written:

“Real poet does not pursue meaning and sense. He cannot become so low and stoop to this non-poetic level. He opens his inner eye and sees the unconcious happenings within his soul in a state of trance. His job is only to give words-images to these happenings…As such poetry has nothing to do with clear meaning and sense. Therefore it is not necessarily understandable” -Dr. Hamdi Kashmiri in Kargah-e-sheeshagaran

The very idea of enjoyment of meaningless poetry is the reflection of a state of mind created by the decline of civilisation and vulgarisation of culture. The situation is not new. Some fifty years afo a well-known art critic, Ananda K. Coaraswami, wrote in his Introduction to The Art of Eastern Asia:

If we are to make any approach whatever to an understanding of Asiatic Art as something made by man, and not to regard it as a mere curiosity, we must first of all abandon the whole current view of Art and Artists. We must realise and perhaps remind ourselves again and again that that condition is abnormal in which a distinciton is drawn between workmen and artists, and that this distinction has only been drawn during relatively short periods of the world’s history. Of the two propositions following, each explains the other: viz, those whom we now call artists were once artisans; and objects we now preserve in museums were once the common objects of the market place.

Here I would like to add a footnote to Ananda Comaraswami’s statement that even today in the villages of Bhihar, Uttar Pardesh, and Gujarat in India the most artistic things of daily use are very common, and that they are the work of ordinary peasant women who do not know that their craft can decorate the museums of the world. To come back to Comaraswami again:

“During greater parts of the worlds history, every product of human workmanship, whether icon, platter, or shirt button, as been at once beautiful and useful. This normal condition has persisted in Asia longer than anywhere else. If it no longer exists in Europe and America, this is by no means the fault of invention or machinery as such; man has always been inventive. The art of the potter was not destroyed by the invention of the potters wheel…If beauty and use are not generally seen together in household utensils and businesman’s costumes, nor generally in factory made objects, this is not the fault of machinery employed by us; it is incidental to our lower conception of human dignity and consequent insensibility to real values.”
Ananda Comaraswani drew this conclusion after a deep study of five thousand years of Indian sculpture and well-defined principles of Hindu iconography. Without having read this celebrated art critic Majrooh Sultanpuri also came to the same conclusion. When he came to Bombay in 1944 he was writing traditional style ghazals. But after a visit to Ajanta and Ellora he was transformed and he joined the Progressive Writers’ Association. He was no more in serach of eternal themes which used to be generally traditional.

He found subjects of poetry scattered all around:

Dehr mein Majrooh koie javidan mazmoon kahan,
main jise chhoota gaya woh javidan banta gaya

(Where can you find, Majrooh, and eternal theme in this world of flux
Whatever has been touched by my poetry has become eternal)
And Faiz who is one of the founders of the Progressive Movement wrote from prison in the early fifties:

Hum ne jo tarz-e-fughan ki hai qafas mein iijad,
Aaj gulshan mein wohi terz-e-bayan therhri hai

(The style of wailing that we have created in the cage
Has been accepted as te style of song in the garden today)
And Majaz, a contemporary of Faiz said:

Iss mehfi-e-kaif-o-masti mein, iss anjuman-e-irfani mein,
sub jaam bakaf baithe hi rahe, hum pee bhi gaye chhalka bhi gaye

(In this assembly of ecstacy and intoxication, in this gathering of
intellectual understanding.
The revellers kept sitting with full cups in their hands, we spilled
a little and drank to the last drop)
And Jazbi, another contemporary progressive poet, sang:

ghamon ki dunya ko raund daalen nishat-e-dil paaimaal kar lein
naaii muhabbat naya junoon hai khudaya kya apna haal kar lein

(we feel like trampling upon the life of sorrow
and the ecstacy of the heart
Our love is new, our madness new,
we know not what to do with ourselves)

This was the poetry with a new temper, with a new ecstacy born out of the turmoil of the freedom struggle of India. Earlier poets had admired the cresent beauty of the curve of the sword hanging on the head; here the progressive poet also held a sword in his hand. Here matyrdom was part of the glory of the struggle. The poet deals with mental and emotional experiences reflecting the climate of mind and the seasons of heart. It is within his power to create gardens or produce deserts of the soul. That is the reason why some of the greatest and most beautiful poetry has been written in the worst periods of history. Tulips and roses have bloomed in the blood-stained landscape.

rung pairahan ka kushboo zulf lehrane ka naam,
mausam-e-gul hai tumhare baam par aane ka naam
- Faiz

(What is color but your garment,
what is fragrance but your scattered stresses
We call it the season of spring when you appear on the balcony)

mujhe sehl ho gaiN manzilen who hawa ke rukh bhi badal gaye
tera haath haath mein aa gaya ke charagh raah mein jal gaye
- Majrooh

(It has become easier to reach the destination now,
the stormy winds have changeed their direction
With your hand in my hand, the long path
is illuminated with lighted lamps)

The asthetic sensibility of progressive poets is not constricted, it has a much wider range:

dast-e-sayyad bhi aajiz hai, kaf-e-gulchin bhi
boo-e-gul thehri na bulbul ki zaban thehri hai
- Faiz

Powerless is the hand of the hunter,
helpless the hand of the plundrer of the flowers
The fragrance of the rose cannot remain imprisoned,
the sweet song of the nightingale cannot be stopped

Sutoon-e-daar pe rakhte chalo saron ke charagh
jahan talak yeh sitam ki siyah raat chale
- Majrooh

go on puttin on the top of the gallows the lamps of martyred heads
As long as this night of injustice and tyranny lasts

koh-e-gham aur giran aur giran aur giran
ghamzado teshe ko chamkao ke kuchh raat kate

The mountain of sorrow becomes heaavier and heavier
O Comrades of sorrow, take up your shining axes
to cut the rocks of the night.

jab kashti saabit-o-salim thi, saahil ki tamanna kiso thi
ab aisi shikasta kasti par sahil ki tamanna kaun kare
- Jazbi

Who cared for the shore when the boat was unbroken and intact?
Now with this broken boat why should there be any desire to reach the shore

Here I would like to point out that the progressive poets have changed the connotations of old illusions and gave them new meanings according to the temper of the times. Tesha(Axe) in Makhdoom’s couplet is an example. It is no more an instrument of suicide as in the old classical poetry. Now it is the symbol of the triumphant working class. Actually this process was intiated by Iqbal. Kohkan (The Mountian Cutter) comes with Tesha (Axe)in his ahnd and demands the throne of Parvez, the King. The progressive poets inherited this tradition and carried it forward. They also created new symbols and poetic images that run into thousands, but no research work has been done on them so far.

Once in Bombay, Faiz was surprised to see in the house of a young progressive poet and journalist a picture of Lenin side by side with and image of Christ on the corss. Both are symbols of progressive poetry. Faiz has used Saleeb and Daar most effectively and beautifully. Once again Karbala is emerging as a powerful symbol of revolutionalry poetry. Two years back I wrote my epic poem Karbala and a bunch of other poems with the same symbols. The caption of the recent poems of Faiz is From Karbala-e-Beriut. A younger progressive, Iftikar Arif’s poems are full of allusions of Karbala. Hindu mythology and its great epics are also part of our treasury. Kaifi Azmi has a special fascination for them. Earlier Josh Malihabadi combined the two Islamic and Hindu traditions in his revolutionalry poetry. Heralding the dawn of freeedom just a few years before 1947, the year of Indian and Pakistani independence, Josh said:

ban raha hai sarsar-0-sailab khoone-e-Hashmi
aaj Abu Sufian ke ghar mein charaghan hai to kya?
jaa rahi hai aag Lanka ki taraf baDti hui
aaj agar Ravan ka ghar Sita ka zindan hai to kya?

(The blood of Mohammad’s family,
the Hashmi blood is turing into hurricanes and floods
How does it matter if the house of Abu Sufian(Yazid’s Grandfather)
is bright with dazzling lights?
The flames of fire are rushing towards Lanka
How does it matter if the courtyard of Ravan is the prison of Sita?

Source: From the archives of ALUP (alt.language.urdu.poetry)
Posted by: Umang Bali

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Nasikh and Khwaja Vazir


Shaikh Imam Bakhsh Nasikh once went to a businessman’s house. A handsome boy was lying there, half asleep. Nasikh saw him and composed the line:

hai chashm niim_baaz ajab Khvaab-e-naaz hai
[niim_baaz = half open]
But he could not find the second line to complete the sher. He came home and was still trying to find the second line when Khwaja Vazir came to visit him. When the visitor found out the reason for Naasikh’s silence, he helped compose the second line. The sher then became:

hai chashm niim_baaz ajab Khvaab-e-naaz hai
fitanaa to so rahaa hai dar-e-fitanaa baaz hai
[fitanaa = mischief; dar = door]

Source: From the archives of ALUP (alt.language.urdu.poetry)
Posted by: Jamil Ahmad

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Maulana Mohammad Hussain Azad and ‘qalam’


The author of Aab-e-Hayaat, Maulana Mohammad Hussain Azad was teaching in Government College Lahore. Some one asked him as to why the word “qalam” was masculine in Urdu. (In Punjabi, it is feminine.) Azad lifted a pen from his desk, plunged it into the inkpot and said: “That is why.”

Source: From the archives of ALUP (alt.language.urdu.poetry)
Posted by: Jamil Ahmad

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Insha and Jurrat


Once the poet Insha came to see Jurrat. Jurrat was deep in thought. Insha asked him as to what he was thinking about. Jurrat replied, “I have composed a misra (a line) and I am thinking of the second one to complete the couplet. Insha asked him what the misra was but Jurrat would not say. When Insha insisted, Jurrat recited the line:

us zulf pe phabatii shab-e-dejuur kii suujhii
[shab-e-dejuur = dark night]

Insha immediately supplied the second line:

andhe ko andhere me.n ba.Dii duur kii suujhii

Jurrat laughed, picked up his walking stick and ran after Insha to hit him. You see, Jurrat was blind.

Source: From the archives of ALUP (alt.language.urdu.poetry)
Posted by: Jamil Ahmad

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Courtesans of Lucknow and Urdu Poetry


As Mughal rule in Delhi declined, the Nawabs of Avadh came into their own, of course with the help of English, who were more than eager to help. Many courtesans moved from Delhi and surrounding areas to Lucknow, and Urdu poets and the seat of Urdu poetry went with them, to Lucknow where easy money was available in abundance, thanks to the poor farmers, who, as usual, were unaware of the doings of their masters.

The close association of the court, the courtesans, and Urdu can not be denied. The services provided by the courtesans used Urdu as their medium, the services provided by the courts used Persian as their medium. The impact of courtesans on Lucknow’s poetry can be judged from the fact that under their influence of the poets of Lucknow gave a new direction to the ghazals. They chose a female sweet-heart in place of the hitherto universally popular male, or at best without gender, as the object of their love. Their expressions amply prove that their sweet-heart is usually an accomplished courtesan. This itself was a landmark in Urdu poetry in as much as it imparted genuineness and sincerity to the expression of Urdu poets who, for the first time, presented a clear and distinct concept and picture of `women’, the desired women, in Urdu poetry, which was an accomplished courtesan.

As the courtesan was center of their thoughts, they freely gave an expression to their ideas and feelings on different parts of the body of their sweet-heart especially the breasts, belly, waist, thighs and ankles unheard of earlier. It is understandable that most schools completely ignore this poetry in their teaching of Urdu or its history. Unlike a respectable female sweet-heart in whose love the poet had to pine and was prepared to die, the courtesan was easily available. That is why in the Urdu ghazal, Masnavi, and Vasokht of those days, we come across allusions to sex-act itself. True, some of the verses written in those days can be considered risque and even vulgar but let us not forget that they represented the general state of morals of that time.

These women also formed the central theme of a peculiar type of poetry called Rekhti in which the male poet used feminine language of courtesans and the like to give expression to their suppressed thoughts.

Important Note: Only parts of the post relevant to Urdu poetry are reproduced here – Webmaster

Source: From the archives of ALUP (alt.language.urdu.poetry)
Posted by: Unknown

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Bah’r: The Backbone of Shaayari


Author: Irfan ‘Abid’
Date: 19th July, 2001

Before I started writing this article, I thought several times if I had the knowledge and expertise to dwell on a subject as vast and complex as ‘shaayari’. After all, I have taken only the first step towards learning this great art. But then I thought that my experience might help those who are yet to take that first step. So here I am, with my explanation of ‘bah’r’, the most important technical aspect of shaayari.

The purpose of this article is to give the readers a general idea of what bah’r means and how it is used to construct a misra (line) of Urdu shaayari. I am sharing with you some of my limited knowledge of shaayari that my Ustaad ‘Mazaq’ Charkhariwi has graciously given to me. He belongs to Ustaad Daag Dehlvi’s school of shaayari. Everything written here conforms to that school and its teachings. There are areas where schools differ in opinion but that happens only in the case of very fine details. The scope covered here is very basic and should not pose any such issue. However, I wanted to post the disclaimer, just in case.

‘Bah’r or ‘Meter’ is the structure over which the words of a misra (line) of a sher (verse) are arranged. Bah’r itself is made of ‘arkaan’ (plural of ‘rukn’ which means ‘pillar’ or ‘important part’). Arkaan are also referred to as ‘feet’. Whosoever coined this term was perhaps trying to relate it to the bigger unit ‘meter’, without realizing that ‘meter’ and ‘foot’ are units of length in two different systems of measurement. However, the ‘meter’ and ‘feet’ combination may be justified by the fact that one meter is roughly equal to three and a quarter feet and most of the bah’rs do have three or four arkaan in one misra. Arkaan are meaningless dummy words, the basic purpose of which is to specify the places of long and short syllables in an actual word. The eight arkaan, broken down into syllables, used in Urdu shaayari are as follows:

‘fa-uu-lun’, ‘faa-i-lun’, ‘ma-faa-ii-lun’, ‘mus-taf-i-lun’, ‘faa-i-laa-tun’, ‘mu-ta-faa-i-lun’, ‘ma-faa-i-la-tun’ and ‘maf-uu-laat’

Perhaps this is a good place to add a note on transliteration, that is the process of writing Urdu words in Roman script, so that they are pronounced correctly. We will treat ‘a’ as in ‘akbar’, ‘i’ as in ‘ishq’, ‘u’ as in ‘uljhan’, ‘e’ as in ‘ek’ (‘ai’ and ‘ei’ should be treated as ‘e’), ‘o’ as in ‘bahaaro’, ‘aa’ as in ‘aaraam’, ‘ii’ as in ‘merii’ and ‘uu’ as in ‘juutaa’. Other Roman letters used are self explanatory and are not as important as these vowels.

An ‘a’, ‘i’ or ‘u’ by itself or after a consonant will produce a short syllable (weight ’1′).
An ‘e’, ‘o’, ‘aa’, ‘ii’ or ‘uu’ by itself or after a consonant will produce a long syllable (weight ’2′).
An ‘a’, ‘i’ or ‘u’ between two consonants or before a consonant will produce a long syllable (weight ’2′).
An ‘e’, ‘o’, ‘aa’, ‘ii’ or ‘uu’ between two consonants or before a consonant will produce a long syllable (weight ’3′).
The syllable with weight ’3′ can be subdivided into two syllables, with weights ’1′ and ’2′ respectively, but let us keep it as it is for now.
Given this description, the eight arkaan mentioned above can be written respectively in terms of weights as
’1-2-2′, ’2-1-2′, ’1-2-2-2′, ’2-2-1-2′, ’2-1-2-2′, ’1-1-2-1-2′, ’1-2-1-1-2′ and ’2-2-3′
The arkaan mentioned above are in their ‘saalim’ (pure) form. With slight modification, each can be turned into one of its ‘muzaahif’ (modified) forms (These forms may be seen in the bah’rs given at the end of this article). Accordingly, a bah’r may be a ‘saalim’ or a ‘muzaahif’ one. Bah’rs are also classified according to the mix of their arkaan. If a bah’r is made by the repetition of the same rukn, it is a ‘mufarrid’ (made of a single ingredient) bah’r. If it uses a combination of more than one rukn, it is a ‘murakkab’ (composite) bah’r. Bah’rs given at the end of this article have examples of both.

The arkaan and bah’rs were developed by the masters of literature and music. That is why shaayari written in proper bah’r is fluent to recite and easy to compose into a tune. However, not all the bah’rs have the same ease of flow and spontaneity of rhythm. As a result, few became more popular than others. In this article, we will cover only the most popular ones. Most of the Urdu shaayari has been written using these bah’rs. Please note that in addition to the traditional bah’rs that I was taught, I have seen shaayars (poets) using other bah’rs that they have devised themselves. In my opinion, one can write poetry in any format as long as it follows some ‘rule’ and is enjoyable when recited. However, in the beginning, it is advisable to stick to the traditional bah’rs.

After you decide which bah’r to use, the next thing is to arrange your words on that bah’r. This is the real art in shaayari. If possible, the words should start and end where the arkaans do, but this is not necessary. A word can be spread over two adjacent arkaan. Moreover, a syllable in a word that is normally considered a long syllable, can be treated as a short one, if it does not fit into the arkaan and the bah’r. In other words, the ‘weight’ of the syllables can be reduced or the pronunciation of the syllables can be hastened to fit the bah’r. Where and how one can do it is a complex issue in Urdu shaayari. There are elaborate rules for doing so which are beyond the scope of this article. For now, all I can suggest is to look at the shaayari by the ustaads and see how they have used a particular word in a particular situation. A glimpse of this feature may be seen in the ashaar given with the bah’rs in this article. You may notice that certain words have been placed against a relatively small portion (or syllable) of a rukn. These are the words whose pronunciation is altered to fit the bah’r.

The bah’rs being discussed here are used for the most popular forms of Urdu shaayari (like ghazal, nazm, qit’aa and geet/naghma etc.), but not for all forms. Rubaayii, for instance, has its own set of bah’rs.

Following are some very frequently used bah’rs. You may find the names difficult to remember. But what’s in a name! Pay attention to the structure because that is what matters. Each bah’r is accompanied by a sher on it, broken down according to the structure of the bah’r. If a word happens to be spread across more than one part of a rukn or across more than one rukn, its pieces are joined by a hyphen (-). I have used my own ashaar to illustrate the bah’rs, but I am also giving a classic sher for each bah’r. You may have heard the classic many times, may have memorized it and thus may find it easier to capture the structure of the bah’r. Try to break these classic ash’aar down according to the bah’r.

Bah’r Hazaj Saalim

bharii duniyaa sahii lekin Thikaanaa ham bhii paa leNge
jahaaN do gaz zamiiN hogii wahiiN ham ghar banaa leNge
Ma – faa – ii – lun Ma – faa – ii – lun Ma – faa – ii – lun Ma – faa – ii – lun

bha – rii duni – yaa sa – hii le – kin Thi- kaa – naa ham bhii paa leN – ge
ja – haaN do gaz za – miiN ho – gii wa – hiiN ham ghar ba-naa leN – ge

Classic Sher by Allama ‘Iqbal’:
mitaa de apnii hastii ko agar kuchh martabaa chaahe
ki daanaa Khaak meiN mil kar gul-e-gulzaar hotaa hai

Bah’r Hazaj Musamman Akhrab

KhwaaboN meiN banaaii thii aaNkhoN meiN sajaa lii hai
tasviir tirii ham ne is dil meiN basaa lii hai
Maf – uu – lu Ma – faa – ii – lun Maf – uu – lu Ma – faa – ii – lun

Khwaa – boN meiN ba – naa – ii thii aaN – khoN meiN sa – jaa lii hai
tas – vii – r ti – rii ham ne is dil meiN ba – saa lii hai

Classic by ‘Jigar’ Moradabadi:
kyaa husn ne samjhaa hai kya ishq ne jaanaa hai
ham khaak-nashiinoN kii thokar meiN zamaanaa hai

Bah’r Hazaj Musamman Akhrab Makfuuf Mahzuuf

tuufaan meiN tinke kaa sahaaraa bhii bahut hai
zulmat meiN to bas ek sharaaraa bhii bahut hai
Maf – uu – lu Ma – faa – ii – lu Ma – faa – ii – lu Fa – uu – lun

tuu – faa – n meiN tin – ke kaa sa – haa – raa bhii ba – hut hai
zul – mat meiN to bas e – k sha – raa – raa bhii ba – hut hai

Classic by Mirza Ghalib:
baaziicha-e-atfaal hai duniyaa mire aage
hota hai shab-o-roz tamaashaa mire aage

Bah’r Hazaj Musaddas Mahzuuf

tamannaaoN se aye dil kyaa milegaa
jo qismat meiN likhaa hogaa milegaa
Ma – faa – ii – lun Ma – faa – ii – lun Fa – uu – lun

ta – man – naa – oN se aye dil kyaa mi – le – gaa
jo qis – mat meiN li – khaa ho – gaa mi – le – gaa

Classic by ‘Firaq’ Gorakhpuri:
sitaaroN se ulajhtaa jaa rahaa huuN
shab-e-furqat bahut ghabraa rahaa huuN

Bah’r Ramal Musamman Mahzuuf

dil kii bechainii ne apnaa kaam aakhir kar diyaa
tujh se mere raabte ko aam aakhir kar diyaa
Faa – i – laa – tun Faa – i – laa – tun Faa – i – laa – tun Faa – i – lun*
dil kii be – chai – nii ne ap – naa kaa – m aa – khir kar di – yaa
tujh se me – re raa – b – te ko aa – m aa – khir kar di – yaa

* Faa – i – laan is acceptable here.

Classic by ‘Hasrat’ Mohani:
sab ghalat kahte hain lutf-e-yaar ko wajh-e-sukuuN
dard-e-dil usne tau ‘Hasrat’ aur duunaa kar diyaa

Bah’r Ramal Musaddas Mahzuuf

ishq kaa haasil hai kyaa mat puuchhiye
kyaa milaa kyaa kho gayaa mat puuchhiye
Faa – i – laa – tun Faa – i – laa – tun Faa – i – lun*

ish – q kaa haa- sil hai kyaa mat puu – chhi – ye
kyaa mi – laa kyaa kho ga – yaa mat puu – chhi – ye

* Faa – i – laan is acceptable here.

Classic by Meer Taqi ‘Meer’:
ibtidaa-e-ishq hai rotaa hai kyaa
aage aage dekhiye hotaa hai kyaa

Bah’r Mutaqaarib Saalim

muhabbat burii hai na nafrat burii hai
burii hai tau har shai kii kasrat burii hai
Fa – uu – lun Fa – uu – lun Fa – uu – lun Fa – uu – lun

mu – hab – bat bu – rii hai na naf – rat bu – rii hai
bu – rii hai tau har shai kii kas – rat bu – rii hai

Classic by ‘Bekhud’ Dehlvi:
na dekhaa thaa jo bazm-e-dushman meiN dekhaa
muhabbat tamaashe dikhaatii hai kya kya

Bah’r Mutaqaarib Musamman Maqbuuz Aslam (16 Ruknii)

ho shaam-e-gham jis qadar bhii lambii dhalegii yeh bhii zaruur yaaro
kabhii to utregaa mere ghar meiN Khushii kii kirnoN kaa nuur yaaro
Fa – uu – lu Faa – lun Fa – uu – lu Faa – lun
ho shaa – m-e- gham jis qa – dar bhi lam – bii

Fa – uu – lu Faa – lun Fa – uu – lu Faa – lun
dha – le – gii yeh bhii za – ruu – r yaa – ro

Fa – uu – lu Faa – lun Fa – uu – lu Faa – lun
ka – bhii to ut – re- gaa me – re ghar meiN

Fa – uu – lu Faa – lun Fa – uu – lu Faa – lun
Khu – shii kii kir – noN kaa nuu – r yaa – ro

Classic by ‘Daag’ Dehlvi:
sitam hii karnaa jafaa hii karnaa nigaah-e-ulfat kabhii na karnaa
tumheN qasam hai hamaare sar kii hamaare haq meN kamii na karnaa

Bah’r Kaamil Saalim

ki gaNwaa diye maine hosh bhii mujhe chain aa na sakaa kabhii
terii yaad yuuN hii jawaaN rahii tujhe dil bhulaa na sakaa kabhii
Mu – ta – faa – i – lun Mu – ta – faa – i – lun
ki gaN – waa di – ye mai – ne ho – sh bhii

Mu – ta – faa – i – lun Mu – ta – faa – i – lun
mu – jhe chai – n aa na sa – kaa ka – bhii

Mu – ta – faa – i – lun Mu – ta – faa – i – lun
te – rii yaa – d yuN hii ja – waaN ra – hii

Mu – ta – faa – i – lun Mu – ta – faa – i – lun
tu – jhe dil bhu – laa na sa – kaa ka – bhii

Classic by Hakeem ‘Momin’:
wo jo ham meN tum meN qaraar thaa tumheN yaad ho ke na yaad ho
wahii yaanii waadaa nibaah kaa tumheN yaad ho ke na yaad ho

Bah’r Mutadaarik Saalim

gul chiraaghoN ko kar ham sare shaam deN
kyon bhalaa aatish-e-dil ko aaraam deN
Faa – i – lun Faa – i – lun Faa – i – lun Faa – i – lun

gul chi – raa – ghoN ko kar ham sa – re shaa – m deN
kyoN bha – laa aa – ti – sh-e -dil ko aa – raa – m deN

Classic by Nida Fazli:
har taraf har jagah be-shumaar aadmii
phir bhii tanhaaiyoN kaa shikaar aadmii

Bah’r Mazaar’a Musamman Akhrab

maiN beqaraar kyoN huuN dil beqaraar kyoN hai
us bewafaa se ab tak aakhir yeh pyaar kyoN hai
Maf – uu – lu Faa – i – laa – tun Maf – uu – lu Faa – i – laa – tun

maiN be – qa – raa – r kyoN huuN dil be – qa – raa – r kyoN hai
us be – wa – faa se ab tak aa – khir yeh pyaa – r kyoN hai

Classic by Allama ‘Iqbal’:
saare jahaaN se achchhaa HindostaaN hamaaraa
ham bulbuleN haiN iskii yeh gulsitaaN hamaaraa

Bah’r Mazaar’a Musamman Akhrab Makfuuf Maqsuur

kaise kahuuN maiN apnii kahaanii ko baar baar
kyoN kar piyuuNgaa aaNkh ke paanii ko baar baar
Maf – uu – lu Faa – i – laa – tu* ma – faa – ii – lu** Faa – i – laan***

kai – se ka – huuN maiN ap – nii ka – haa – nii ko baa – r baar
kyoN kar pi – yuuN – gaa aa – Nkh ke paa – nii ko baa – r baar

* Faa-i-laa-tun is acceptable here.
** Maf-uu-lu is acceptable here.
*** Faa-i-lun is acceptable here.

Classic by Daag Dehlvi (with Faa-i-lun as the last rukn):
Khaatir se yaa lihaaz se main maan tau gayaa
jhuuti qasam se aap ka iimaan tau gayaa

Bah’r Mujtas Musamman Makhbuun Maqsuur

wafaa ke qaul se ham tau mukar nahiiN sakte
ki dushmanii meiN bhii had se guzar nahiiN sakte
Ma – faa – i – lun Fa – i – laa – tun Ma – faa – i – lun Fa – i – lun

wa – faa ke qau – l se ham tau mu – kar na – hiiN sa – k – te
ki dush – ma – nii meiN bhii had se gu – zar na – hiiN sa – k – te

Classic by Faiz Ahmed ‘Faiz’:
guloN meiN rang bhare baad-e-nau-bahaar chale
chale bhii aao ki gulshan ka kaar-o-baar chale


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