Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In Search Of Meaningfulness Of Relationships

Writer: Sukhinder
Sadhu Binning’s poetry collection ‘Yaar Mera Dariya’ (River My Friend) could be called an experiment in search of the meaningfulness of relationships.
This search is not limited to the human relationships only; rather, this journey of search extends to the human surroundings leading upto the relationship of man and nature. Sadhu Binning’s poems talk about human relationships extending to the boundaries of space, time and matter. These poems also talk about our cultural, political and economic relationships.
These poems also talk about the distinction between the Eastern and Western cultures. Sometimes, after reading these poems, one gets a feeling that writer of these poems is showing a little bit too much emotion towards the Eastern culture.
Discussion about the Sadhu Binning’s poetry collection ‘Yaar Mera Dariya’ can be initiated with the following piece of his poem ‘Dialogue with the poetry’:
Poetry is
to show affection towards people
to sing songs of
their pains and sufferings
in hour of need
to hold flag high for our rights
In this book, Sadhu Binning feels the need to tell that man has a very deep relationship with the poetry. Since the ancient times poetry has been with the man at all the times. Human spirit speaks through the poetry. Through the words of poetry man has learnt to express his desires, wishes, pains, sufferings, happiness, sadness and emotions. Thus giving them an emotional meaning to make one realize of its own existence. Through our poetic expressions, we not only like to express ourselves through this mode of expression; rather, we also start vibrations in the consciousness of our listener/reader. Thus it results as an inspiration for every nano particle of his body to get into the mode of galactic dance. That makes a beginning of establishing our relationship with it.
Banks of rivers became the cradle of human civilization. In the beginning of human civilization man settled on the banks of rivers. Perhaps, this helped to cement the foundations of friendship between man and the river. Rivers not only became the source of his survival; they also became means for his transportation too. River shares his pain, suffering and celebrations as a close friend. In these millions of years friendship between man and river became natural. In this process of mutual relationship development man also started feeling the pain of the rivers. Sadhu Binning understands this mutual relationship between man and the river very well:
When some
big commercial boat
floats with a speed on its waters
angery river throws pebbles
lying on its banks in disgust
and throws foam in anguish
and when hens
float together in rows
or a couple sitting in a small boat
paddles slowly
river flows silently
as if dancing with joy

river my friend
unfolds his heart in this fashion
(Yaar Mera Dariya)
Just as Sadhu Binning talks about the friendship between the man and his surroundings, he also talks about man’s friendship with the grass:
During my stroll grass asks
you never sit down with me
and share your moments of joys and pain
neither you ever sing any song
once a while you just come worn out
and leave exhausted

Is it true you don’t remember anymore
gossips you enjoyed with your friends
sharing singing with your sweatheart
all those sweet moments of life sitting on me
spent moments playing with my roots
you have become an alien for me
as someone becomes an outsider
for its own self
(On a Stroll)
Unending greed of man has not only destroyed the natural resources; rather, it has also polluted its own surrounding environment to its maximum. By throwing industrial trash in the rivers and streams it has planted seeds of its own destruction. Emission of poisonous gases from the chimneys of factories is making the environment poisonous. With the increase of pollution in the environment global warming is on its increase. That’s resulting in earthquakes, tornadoes are coming, hurricanes are creating a havoc, and sunamy waves are killing hundreds and thousands of people. Hundreds of kinds of new diseases are spreading. Man’s eternal survival on our planet earth could be possible only through the development of a healthy relationship of man with its surroundings, environment and trees. If man will try to run away from this truth then it will be cultivating thorns under its own feet. Sadhu Binning is also conscious of man’s breaking relationships with air, grass and trees:
During my stroll
air tells me
grass asks
trees complain
(On my stroll)
There is one notable difference in Eastern and Western Cultures - Life Style. In the eastern cultures the family values are given utmost importance; but in comparison western cultures put more emphasis on the individuality. With the expansion of the consumer culture, with the increasing urge to fill their houses with the dazzling consumer goods some people are forgetting that homes are not built by piling up your homes with consumer goods. But existence of these houses is possible only due to the healthy relationships of human beings living in those houses. Sadhu Binning is also experiencing such feelings:
My new house is shining
full with dazzling goods
a good view for the eyes but

this doesn’t satisfy the inner emptyness
now this new shining house
is empty even with its fulness
deprived of memories and stories
Canada is a country of immigrants. People have come here from every part of the world to get settled here. Majority of them have come here due to economic reasons. Such people might be enjoying much happiness and comfortable life in their new adopted country Canada as compared to their old country of birth they have left behind - but they will never feel in tune with the surroundings, environment, weather of Canada. Whenever they get an opportunity, they express their homesickness for their birthplace. Remembering the fields, rivers, environment and weather of their homeland they feel sad. Showering praises on their homeland they cross all the boundaries. Reading of Sadhu Binning’s poem ‘White Fairy’ we experience similar feelings:
I shiver
coming close to you
to play with you
to slip over you
i don’t feel an urge
as in a torrential rain
in unpaved streets
my heart would get excited
(White Fairy)
But among the Canadian Punjabi poets, Sadhu Binning is not the only such poet who writes poems expressing homesickness. One can also find such expressions of yearnings in the poems of many other Canadian Punjabi poets. Especially in the writings of such writers who even after living a long time in Canada mentally fail to adjust themselves with the Canadian cultural, social, economic and political environment.
In his poetry collection ‘Yaar Mera Dariya’ Sadhu Binning talks about many other subjects too.
Talking about the relationship of man and woman, without any hesitation, Sadhu Binning accepts that for centuries in order to preserve its control over the woman the man dominated society has put her under several kinds of mental slavery. This is the reason that the absence of man and woman’s relationships based on mutual understanding in many houses instead of husband and wife living like sweethearts they are living like enemies. That’s why they live like husbands and wives merely for a worldly show off. Such couples mentally and emotionally many times even physically attack each other and do not shirk even to severly injure each other. For such unstable human relationships responsibility also falls on our religious, cultural, social, literary, philosophical and political institutions who are providing them false knowledge. In which woman has been called as illiterate, animal and a foot shoe. Through the following stanza of his poem Sadhu Binning shows as how wrong definition of man and woman relationships embeded in our cultural traditions has been responsible for centuries for the destruction of human relationships. In this poem Sadhu Binning is pointing towards this facts very boldly:
And you
had decorated your body with
modesty, humbleness, obedience
your part of traditions had
instructed you
with your weapons
to win over my fiery arrows
guarding your weapons
clad in your glittering sari
just like me, you were also absent
in your own life’s celebrations
it was meant to be like this, our bed
a comic battleground
and in which as always
it was you who was meant to get injured
and it did happen
What really impresses while reading Sadhu Binning’s poetry is the reminder that in the journey of our life in celebrations, in moments of sadness, in moments of achievements, in moments of frustrations we should never forget that our ultimate dream is the development of the healthy relationships. These relationships could be human, cultural, social, political, economic, environmental or about our surroundings.
To develop an awareness of the meaningfulness of human relationships in the minds of the readers could be considered as the chief motive of the Sadhu Binnings poetry collection ‘Yaar Mera Dariya’.
In my views, any writer who commits for such an aim of his creation is not a small thing to achieve.
For his such an achievement, my best wishes are with Sadhu Binning.
(Malton, September 10, 2008)

From Dull Present To Moment Of Hope

Writer: Sukhinder
In the Canadian Punjabi literary circles those new writers whose names have started becoming part of literary debates in the last one decade - Kulwinder Khehra is one of them.
Though he is experimenting with many literary forms - his main interest is in ghazal (sonnet) writing.
During these years, Kulwinder Khehra has published his first poetry collection ‘Peerh Di Parvaz’ (Flight of Pain). In this book, he has also included some free verse poems along with ghazals (sonnets). Because majority of his poems in this book are ghazals, we can call this poetry collection as a ghazal collection.
In this book, in the very beginning, Kulwinder Khehra makes clear that his ghazals are, in fact, voice of his innerself. What he cannot dare to say in the day to day life - but he thinks without saying it, he will not be able to sleep with peace - he says those things through the stanzas of his ghazals.
Like a conscious poet Kulwinder Khehra also likes to make crystal clear to his readers that stanzas of his ghazals are not god’s voice; rather, these are a poetic expression of the impressions sufferings have made on his mind.
After reading poems of this poetry collection one can easily realize that Kulwinder Khehra doesn’t waste time of his readers by beating around the bush. He is conscious about the technique of the ghazal writing craft as well as the content of his ghazals. He is not interested in writing such kind of poetry which does not leave an impact on the consciousness of his readers. Only those writings can influence their readers which leave a long lasting impact on the psyche of its readers with a feeling that there is an element of truth in it. Kulwinder Khehra is also convinced with this idea. That’s why he writes in his poetry:
It marks the death of a writer
when he is frightened to speak the truth
Kulwinder Khehra doesn’t hesitate to speak the truth - even if he is tackling the complex issues of social, cultural, political, religious or philosophical nature. He always illustrates his thinking in a very lucid manner. Because as a conscious writer he wants to send his message through his writings to the common people. He believes that if after reading his writings people could not grasp his message than what’s the use of writing his ghazals? Khehra doesn’t belong to such an elite group of the writers who believe that their writings have such a high standard that their readers will be only able to understand meanings of their writings 50 or 100 years from today. Because the mental calibre of the present day readers is very low.
‘Peerh Di Parvaz’ has elaborated the realities of life in a very effective manner. Western economic system operates in such a manner that unless husband and wife are both working very hard, they will not be able to pay their house bills easily. In this situation the daily routine of husband and wife is from house to wok and from work to house. In many situations in their desire to earn extra dollars, they have to work over time also. In many instances, the situation becomes so critical that husband and wife get no time even to exchange a single word with their small growing children. The children spend all their time with the baby sitter. By the time, the parents come back home from the work fully tired children are sound asleep. Next day again husband and wife are in a rush to go to their work in time even before their children wake up. Kulwinder Khehra illustrates this problem in his ghazals in a very effective manner:
1. Just work, installment, sleep is our routine
look what kind of logic of life we are living in
2. Children are only for the baby sitters
parents are only for the work in the city
3. Missing the children, deprived of sleep, wife is mute
this is the kind of punishment i am getting for building a home
Today, we are living in a world moving with a great speed. Everyone is in a rush eager to run over you in its desire to achieve his own personal agenda of life. It is difficult to have a distinction between your friends and foes. It is not easy to differentiate between your own and outsiders. It is far difficult to distinguish between the fake and the real in the society. The highlight of our times is that merely for the greed of a few dollars someone very close to you could assassinate you. On every step in your life, you have to think very carefully that how much high price you might have to pay for speaking the truth in your life? We can also hear the resonance of this fact in Khehra’s poetry:
1. Its a rumour, courtiers of dark forces are looking for that man
who had thrilled the crowd last night with his outspokenness
2. To whom should we trust as a comrade
everyone is hiding a dagger under his garb
3. How can you shut your mouth now
when the evil has crossed
boundaries of our houses
4. How to distinguish between a friend and a foe
they have one face during the night
and another during the day time
In such situations when corruption is rampant in every facets of life, people are murdering each other in the name of religion. Religious terrorism is taking roots in countries around the globe. Politicians have become bankrupt so far as their ethics are concerned, Kulwinder Khehra still believes only those people win in life who never accept defeat. Who stand firm when storms & hurricanes come in their lives and they continue to move forward in the journey of life with firm steps. People with firm frame of minds win at last one day in their life. In Hemingway’s novel ‘Old Man And The Sea’ we also come across a similar character confronting strong winds and waves in the ocean who never accepts a defeat. But Kulwinder Khehra’s following words seem to dito such a character of firm determination in Hemingway’s novel:
1. Hurricanes cannot scare them
they don’t wait for the boats
who want to reach to their destinations
who want to swim the rivers
2. Who search ways of success
from the ruins of their defeats
they are celebrated one day as the winners
those people were called as losers
3. How a glowworm would have earned a recognition
if there was no darkness around
Kulwinder Khehra has spent early years of his life in India. Like many other Punjabi writers, Kulwinder Khehra has also migrated to Canada when he was a young boy. This is the reason he still feels homesickness for his country he has left behind. He dreams about his fields, house, friends and weather he has left behind. In such moments he feels as if he is merely living physically in Canada, but mentally he is absent from here. Such a situation of an ‘outsider’ can be understood through Kulwinder Khehra’s ghazals:
Night is like there, moon is also like there
but my heart never gets any satisfaction out of it
After reading ‘Peerh Di Parvaz’ I have felt that new generation of Canadian Punjabi poets is also very conscious while creating their creations. I have certainly enjoyed reading of this book.
(Malton, September 14, 2008)

Poetry Spread Across Musical Words

Writer: Sukhinder
‘Aihsas Di Pir’ (Pain of Realization) is the first book of ghazals (sonnets) published by the Canadian Punjabi poet Bhupinder Dule.
There is always a danger of ideas left behind as of less significance in a poetic creation if there is too much significance given to the use of musical words in the craft of poetry writing. And in this way, it can even effect the clarity of the ideas embedded in the poetic creation. After reading Bhupinder Dule’s ghazals, I have felt like this.
Bhupinder Dule doesn’t give first priority to ideas in his ghazals. His priority is towards the use of musical words. Use of musical words gives a momentary enjoyment to the reader/listener. For illustration of this point, we can go through Bhupinder Dule’s following poetry pieces:
1. Whenever it comes to my mind
it satisfies the thirst of my heart
churning at dawn echoes
sa re ga ma, sa re ga ma
2. Music that waves of this river are making
touches the desert of my heart like a mirage
3. Could not find a suitable place to burst into a shower
these dark clouds continued to wander from desert to desert
We can also witness wide use of thoughtless musical words in the present day pop music and Indian Bolywood film music. But this trend in the punjabi ghazal writing is not new. We can see heavy use of such thoughtless musical words by the well known ghazal writer Sadhu Singh Hamdard and many other ghazal writing poets of his group. These ghazal writers could be considered among those writers who believed in ‘art for the sake of art’ ideology. Though in the present day, majority of the writers do not believe in such literary politics and they try to keep a balance of form and content in their writings.
Bhupinder Dule is more interested in the form part of the ghazal writing craft. In his ghazals he never gives any impression that he is clear about any ideology or thought process. Through his ghazals he himself makes this point very obvious for his readers:
1. For a longtime i have been walking with my eyes shut
on your earth, with my feet and a game plan of someone else
2. You are good with rhyme and rhythm
then why are you just limiting yourself to rhyming only
write about sufferings of life
if you could
3. Meanings continued to desert words
situation of poetry was infront of me
Though we donot find clarity of thought in Bhupinder Dule’s poetry, he certainly talks about many subjects in his ghazals. His own poetry would come to our rescue to understand his limitations of ghazal writing craft:
Stop now, you have written enough about your sweetheart
if you can, then write about the oppressed some times
Majority of his ghazals in this ghazal collection ‘Aihsas Di Pir’ are about individual concerns; social, cultural, political, religious, philosophical, environmental problems and issues have nowhere become explicitly subject matter of Bhupinder Dule’s ghazals. Otherwise, he has written some beautiful ghazals about the personal relationships:
1. Tales of enemity became little bit more longer
my friends embraced me in this manner
2. If it is not the closeness of innerself or of spirits
what use is the friendship of mere skeltons
3. Beautiful dresses, bodies, walking like a dancer
if you can touch from inside also, then do so
In the creations of many Canadian Punjabi writers, we find expressions of homesickness for the countries they have left behind. Such people feel that they were enjoying a very comfortable lives in their countries back home and after migrating to Canada they are living a miserable life. Where they have lost all of their wishes, desires, interests, hobbies, enjoyments under the heavy burden of day-to-day life. Bhupinder Dule also talks somewhat similar in his ghazals when he writes:
1. When we had started leaving behind our homes
it didn’t come in our minds that our hobbies will die
2. I feel disturbed whenever memories of
countyline, fields, paths, inn, home come to my mind
Immigrants could have come from any country around the globe, all of them have only one aim of their lives. How soon they can earn as many as dollars as possible. It is their desire to acquire a decent home, furniture and other amenities of life as soon as possible. To acquire such comforts of life they have to work hard day and night. In doing so, they are caught in a situation that better parts of their lives are spent in working over time and paying heavy bills of house mortgage etc. And they never get enough time to sit and enjoy their expensive and well decorated homes. Whenever Bhupinder Dule wrote the following pieces of his ghazals he is definitely talking about pathetic lives of many immigrants:
1. Under the big houses, under the smiles
so many desires are yearning under the ruins
2. I am calling a few bricks a home
i am supporting it but i am myself falling apart
Killing of daughters is becoming a serious issue in our society. Daughters are getting killed in the wombs of their mothers. It becomes the social responsibility of the writers, artists, intellectuals and critics to raise their voices against this social disease through their creative works. To create an awareness among the masses these people should also send a message through their creations that in the present day there is no diffrence between man and woman. In many areas of life, with their hard work, women have proved by making great achievements that what sons can do daughters can also do. Then why there is a discrimination with our daughters in our society? Bhupinder Dule has also attracted our attention when he also talks about similar ideas through his ghazals:
1. In his desire of getting a son
someone is destroying the womb of someone
2. Those who were killed even before they were born
lullabys are still echoing in the air for them
‘Aihsas Di Pir’ is Bhupinder Dule’s first ghazal collection. He still needs to be aware of his creative limitations and expectations. He will have to abandon his love for the use of musical words in his ghazals to some extent. If he will make use of social, cultural, political, philosophical, religious issues after understanding them more explicitly, then he will be able to write more powerful meaningful ghazals. I hope, while working on his next ghazal collection, Bhupinder Dule will pay more attention towards his such creative limitations.
(Malton, September 14,

Monday, January 12, 2009

In Search Of Mythology From The Contemporary History

Writer: Sukhinder
Gurcharan Rampuri is a well known Canadian Punjabi poet.
He had published his poetry collection ‘Agnaar’ (Fireplace) in 1993. Before that Rampuri had published ‘Kanakan Di Khusbo’ (Fragrance of Wheat), ‘Kaul Karar’ (Promise), ‘Kiran Da Alna’ (Nest of Rays), ‘Annhi Gali’ (Dark Cave), ‘Kanchni’ (Breakable), and ‘Katalgah’ (Lethal Chamber). He is active in the field of punjabi poetry writing since 1949.
Rampuri is a conscious progressive poet. As a creative poet, he is never in search of any metaphysical truth. He is only concerned with the joys, sorrows, wishes, hopes and frustrations confronting the common man in his life time. In his poetry, he makes fun of the traditional value system. In more explicit words it can be said that Rampuri is a Canadian poet writing poems which promote humanistic values in our society.
Majority of the poems included in the poetry collection ‘Agnaar’ are about the Punjab crises. Reading of those poems gives an impression that Gurcharan Rampuri is a mythological punjabi poet. He analyzes contemporary history with glasses of mythology on his eyes.
From 1985-1991 Punjab, a province of India, was going through a great upheaval. Majority of the poems included in ‘Agnaar’ were written during that period. This period was full of crises for the Punjabis. Selfish political rulers and misguided leaders were responsible for giving birth to this crises in India. During this time the people in power had given an opportunity to the religious fanatics to flourish so that they can use these people to finish their opposition. Religious fanatic forces with the instigation of the ruling class created such an environment of terrorism that common masses were feeling it hard to live in these times. In this situation common people were crushed from both sides. On one hand religious fundamentalist terrorists were making them target of the bursts coming from their AK-47 machine guns; on the other hand people were facing oppression inflicted on them by the police. Punjab police was inflicting oppression by making an excuse that these people are providing shelter to the religious fanatic terrorists.
To understand the poems of Gurcharan Rampuri written during this period we can start our discussion with his poem ‘Talk of Changhezs of our Times’ :
While criticizing the Changhez Khans of yesterday
dear comrades !
let us not forget the Changhezs our times
it is true that the history of
old oppressive times
is drenched in blood
but its not so much dangerous
as the Harnaksh Aurange of our times
to spill blood of the people
who initiate riots
in the name of color race
in the full day light
who insult the humanity everyday
Rampuri is a poet of clarity. Talking of mythology and history he emphasizes that we often talk of oppressors / assassins of old times; but we hesitate to talk about the oppression inflicted upon the common people by the vicious rulers of our own time. Today’s rulers are even more dangerous oppressors in comparison to the rulers of old times. They only care for getting into power. To keep their hold on the power they incite people to fight with each other in the name of religion, color, race and caste and spit rivers of blood of the innocent people. When the mentality of rulers is like that of murderers then how they can do justice with the people? In his poem ‘Dwarf Heads’ Rampuri has very beautifully portrayed the images of narrow minded and animal like criminals, sick with their ego, who are sitting on the power seats as rulers :
Hope of justice
in that court is not possible
whose judges can be bought
today’s juries, courts, conventions
dwarf heads are sitting in power seats
People sitting in the seats of power, merely for the sake of a momentary fun, incite people to get into feuds based on their religion, color, race, caste and they, even, put the security of the whole country in danger. Rampuri’s poem ‘Hanuman, Prince & Sarbokhad Mountain’ can help us to understand such kind of political corruption :
Today, on the seat of the judge
a murderer is sitting
that’s why in every city
daggers swords tridents
fake slogans and gun powder
are roaming, sniffing the blood
of the innocent human beings
It is a tragedy of our times that people with corrupt mentality and dwarf heads, in order to achieve their illicit aims, install corrupt people on the chairs of cultural and religious institutions. As a consequence, these protege incite the common masses in the name of religion, race, color, gender. To start riots they spread hatred by giving speeches like deadly poisonous cobras which are full of religious fanatic slogans.
Such religious fanatic goons are roaming without any fear in many provinces of India; but during the period of 1985-1992 the way such religious fanatic terrorists had terrorized the people of Punjab and the way people of Punjab had suffered no other province of India had ever experienced. Without any hesitation, Rampuri considers leaders of the ruling class at that time responsible for this pain inflicted on the people of Punjab. These criminal minded politicians incited a fundamentalist religious saint of Punjab to disturb the peace of the province. This religious fundamentalist saint in the name of religion and to murder innocent people of Punjab made alliances with goons, murderers and terrorists. These gangs of religious fundamentalist criminals and murderers murdered innocent people travelling in cars, vans, trucks, trains and walking on roads with the bursts coming from their AK-47 machine guns. By murdering thousands of innocent Punjabi’s these religious goons filled the streets, fields and roads of Punjab with the blood coming from the bodies of the people killed. Rampuri is brave and very explicit in his poem ‘Sinners’ when he shatters the masks of these political leaders who were responsible in criminalizing the politics of Punjab. Rampuri becomes very rigid when he points out such criminal minded politicians:
He is guilty
who put a fake jewel on the
head of a powerless snake
fed him milk
at higher places popularized him
arranged concert
poisonous cobra
made garland of his own neck
To understand majority of poems of the poetry collection ‘Agnaar’ one ought to have knowledge of the Indian mythology and political, social, cultural & religious happenings that took place in Punjab during the period of 1978-1993. By having such knowledge readers of Rampuri’s poems will be able to understand easily that when Rampuri talks about some very popular character of Indian mythology then he is giving reference of some political/social/cultural/religious leader or character who had emerged in Punjab, India during this time period of crises. Rampuri’s such poems are not of single layer. To understand these poems you have to get into the cellers of Indian mythology/history. You have to do a little bit dusting of times to recognize the characters buried under the dust and we have to recognize in what form these characters have taken birth in our times once again. To understand this fact Rampuri’s poem ‘Still Duryodan Is In Power In Hustanapur’ can help us:
Prince is telling the lies :
‘when the big tree falls
then earth experiences tremors’
saying this, he let out the wolves
after the innocents
the prince himself hiding in the palace
In his book ‘Agnaar’ Rampuri is not merely talking about the Punjab crises or political corruption in India; rather, he has initiated a dialogue on many other subjects as well.
People of Indian descent are very proud of their thousands of years old Indian culture. In present times, India has made great progress economically and in the areas of science and technology. But it is still backward in the social and cultural areas. For centuries Indian society has not been able to get freedom from the leprosy of caste system. Still in many areas of India, in the name of caste system, people of higher castes are terrorizing people of lower castes. They are burning their houses. Their wives, daughters, daughter-in-laws are gang raped. They are not allowed to enter the religious places. They are not even allowed to take drinking water from those wells which are used by the people of higher castes. This leprosy of caste system was spread in the Indian society by a man named Mannu. Today, rulers of India for the sake of show off can make as much noise as they like to proclaim that India is a free country; but the reality is different. Still today poor and lower caste people are trampled under the feet of rich and people of higher castes in the name of caste based divisions created in the Indian society by Mannu. India will not be able to call itself a free country until Indian society gets itself free forever from caste based divisions created by the ‘Mannuism’ by giving equal rights to every man and woman living in India. Rampuri has very effectively described such pathetic situation of the Indian society in his poem ‘Ashes Forward Mind Backward’:
Millions of creative hands are busy
progress has been made in thousands of ways
but still the impact of
four divisions in society made by Mannu
has not been reduced
ashes are forward but mind backward
there is hue and cry among masses
Rampuri believes that our society confronts such problems when people stop thinking themselves and they start trusting blindly each thing they hear. In our times, people are so busy in their day-to-day lives that they have no time to investigate the facts to confirm the things they hear. They have no time to investigate the facts presented to them. The root cause of many human problems in our day to day lives is the baseless propaganda of lies spread by cunning and opportunist people. In his poem ‘Let The House Think Again’ Rampuri tells these people as how they can come out of such a dangerous situation. His suggestions are certainly of great significance. That’s why after reading the following piece of Rampuri’s poetry, we get acquainted with the philosophical aspects of his poetry too:
Let this house to learn to think once again
teach him how to keep silent
tell him: search meditation and get into it
kick the crown throne power
sing songs of truth once again
‘Word’ has played a great role in the progress of human civilzation. Knowledge and science also spreads through words. We are able to get acquainted with the progress made during thousands of years of human civilization through the medium of words. By making wrong use of words some people have inflicted pain and destruction on the humanity. Nazis like Hitler and Musolini had used the medium of word for the wider propaganda of oppression. But thousands of years of history of the human civilization is a proof that great minds have always used the medium of words for the betterment of the humanity.
Gurcharan Rampuri’s poetry collection ‘Agnaar’ creates awareness on the political, cultural, social, religious, economical, mythological and historical level. It makes the Canadian Punjabi literature richer in many ways. For writing and publishing such a worthwhile poetry book, my best wishes are with Rampuri.
 (Malton, September 21, 2008)

Simple Communicative Poems Talking About Human Existence

Writer: Sukhinder
Major Singh Nagra has made his entry into the Canadian Punjabi literary world with the publication of his first poetry collection ‘Everything Is In Danger’.
Majority of the poems included in this collection were written during the 1987-1992 period when Nagra was still a student at Chandigarh, India. This is the main reason that these poems are of very simple nature. You don’t have to put a special effort to understand any poem in this collection.
Poems included in the poetry collection‘Everything Is In Danger’ could be considered as a practice for writing more serious and well crafted poems by Nagra later in his life. In these poems, Nagra has expressed his anxiety on various issues concerned with the human existence in very simple words.
After reading Major Singh Nagra’s poetic collection ‘Everything Is in Danger’, I have realized that Nagra is a humanitarian poet. As a conscious poet he is concerned about the issues related to human existence. He doesn’t accept boundaries of religion, culture, colour, gender, race or even the boundaries of countries. Without any hesitation, he engraves a question on our foreheads - when we are living on the one same planet earth - in our bodies runs the same kind of blood whose colour is red; when there are common concerns of human existence in front of us - then why do we fight with each other and become jealous of each other. His poem ‘We Are All One’ written on this subject matter attracts our special attention:
We live on the same planet earth
we are all one as human beings
ram ram of a hindu
salam of a muslim
all have the same meanings
then why do we fight with each other
then why are we jealous of each other
and fight race wars
the colour of the blood
dripping on earth is same - red
our pains and sufferings are the same
our sorrows and feelings are the same
In our times man has become so selfish and greedy in his efforts of accumulation of wealth that he is running like a blind horse. He has only one motive of his life as how he can earn maximum amount of dollars in a short period of his life. And in order to achieve his goal, even if he has to use wrong ways, he will not hesitate to do so. Today’s man has become so much selfish that to achieve his political, social, cultural or religious goals he wants to move forward by trampling under his foot whosoever comes in his way of success. Due to his such mentality people are showing less and less affection for each other these days. We are not cooperating with each other culturally in our times of celebrations and at the occasions of some painful moments in our lives. But we have failed to find who is responsible for this whole crises we are in today? Even the ruling class is ignoring such plight of its people by not even talking about it. As if they have nothing to do about it. This thing Major Singh Nagra brings to our attention through a very simple but communicative way in his poem ‘Seasons’ and expresses his concerns about the fast changing value system of our day to day lives:
We have lost our love and affection
unity has become rusted
community, dignity are things of the past
why man is getting bankrupt?
who should be blamed
ruling times have become shameless
weather is fiercely cold
but why environment has become so hot?
Schemes we are making day and night to destroy each other instead of developing socio-cultural affection for each other is not a good news for all of us who believe in humanitarianism. Without any doubt, such things must be matters of serious concerns for all of us. Major Singh Nagra is also emphasizing the same thing in his poem ‘Festival’:
But why have we changed
our ways of celebrating our festivals?
why we are busy in fighting
wars of hatred
Through these poems, Major Singh Nagra is expressing his concerns as how the present day man has become so narrow minded in his thinking. In these poems, he also shows his concerns regarding problems and issues man is facing on the global level.
Nagra also feels that today’s fast changing ways of life are also responsible for many of our present day problems. Following stanza from his poem ‘Hunger and Earth’ increases our understanding on this issue:
I will eat earth
will digest everything
destroy my ownself
because i am a human being
with endless hunger
In the post-modern times, we are facing two major problems on the global level: problem of pollution and the problem of global warming . These two major problems are giving birth to many other problems. Earth’s environment and weather are connected with these factors. These things have deep relationship with the human existence on our planet earth. If environment of earth will be polluted then how can man be living a healthy life? New inventions of science and technology has certainly made our life very comfortable but we are paying a big price for these comforts. We can travel from one place to another through cars, vans, trucks, buses, planes and trains in minutes, hours or days. But smoke and poisonous gases emitted by them are polluting the environment. Poisonous gases emitted by the chimneys of the factories is making this industrial problem worse. Careless industrialists by dumping their industrial wastage in rivers and streams have made the resources of our fresh water as the messangers of doom. Major Singh Nagra has expressed such concerns in many of his poems:
1. Curse of science
is splitting earth
sobbing, longing, writhing
who will listen the request of earth
who will stop the pollution
everyone is lost in its own world
who will wipe tears of earth
who will wipe her tears, who will wipe
(Tears of Earth)
2. Man is deceiving himself
spreading pollution everywhere
with the help of industries
water is getting polluted
of every stream, of every river
it is in bad condition
every village
every city
Major Singh Nagra is a peace loving person. He knows that power hungery people send their armies to invade other countries and inflict all kinds of pain on them. After seizing power of such countries, they set up their protege governments and systematically destroy social & cultural fabric of those countries and continue looting of their rich economic resources for decades. In his poem ‘A Request’ Major Singh Nagra makes a wish that a natural miracle should happen so that characteristics of Iron should suddenly change and it becomes such a material that it could not ever change into something that could be used for making weapons for a war. Due to the destruction inflicted by the war mongers millions of innocent lives are lost for nothing:
O my god, it is my request
make iron some kind of dissolvable material
so that it is rusted easily
before it could reach in the
battlefield in the form of a
weapon of destruction
and iron should never become a weapon
Just like war mongers some other forces are also responsible for human sufferings. Among them come in forefront those selfish industrialists and traders who care only for their own profits and put the health and security of the common people at risk. Such a mishap took place in a gas plant in a city Bhupal in India due to the carelessness of a greedy proofiteering industrialist. Poisonous gas emitting from the plant and spreading in the environment killed several thousand people in a few days and several thousands fell sick with very serious diseases. Such people will never be able to live a healthy life henceforth. This epic tragedy has been portrayed in a very poetic and theatrical way in his poem ‘Rain of Death’ by Major Singh Nagra:
On that dark dreadful night
rain of death fell
there was no lightning
neither was there any thundering
of clouds
just the rain of death
started pouring
‘Everything Is In Danger’ being the first poetry book published by Major Singh Nagra, we do not see his commitment for any ideology in these poems. In this book, we also do not see a big variety of subjects discussed in his poems yet. Neither his poems show much depth while discussing any issue. In our times, life has become so complex that in order to discuss any issue or concern related to social, cultural, political, religious or philosophical aspects of life, we ought to have a knowledge of wide range of fields. Henceforth, unless a writer has indepth understanding of a problem he/she will not be able to talk about that issue very seriously or in depth.
I hope, Major Singh Nagra will write more serious poems in future after becoming aware of his creative limitations.
(Malton, September 14, 2008)

Ghazals Initiating Dialogue With Darkness

Writer: Sukhinder
Paul Dhillon’s name could be considered among the finest punjabi ghazal writers of Canada. He is a poet of gentle dialogue. He understands life. As a ghazal writer he makes it sure that his ghazal stanzas are balanced from the point of view of form as well as content.
Reading of the ghazal collection ‘Dishade Ton Paar’ (Beyond the Horizon) gives a feeling that Paul Dhillon not only makes issues related to human life as the subject matter of his ghazals; rather, he also makes flowers, trees, plants, streams & rivers as his subject matter too. In today’s world a conscious writer understands that you cannot separate the man from his environment. We are now facing the consequences for ignoring this fact for centuries. Poisonous gases emitted from the chimneys of the factories owned by greedy men are polluting the environment. Thick forests were cut and burnt in the stoves. Plants & flowers were mixed in pasture for the animals. As a consequence of showing such irresponsibility towards the environment we are facing global warming today. We are facing severe storms; hurricanes are inflicting heavy destruction; rivers are flooded; areas of thousands of miles is becoming desert. To stop this and to create a balance in our environment, we will have to develop once again friendship with our surroundings. Once again we will have to decorate our surroundings with flowers and plants. Paul Dhillon also thinks in the same manner about the mutual relationships of man and plants and flowers in his surroundings:
There is only this much of difference
between me and a tree
it is still at one place
but i am moving sitting and standing
Plants and trees not only make our surroundings beautiful, they also help us in clearing the air in our surroundings. This is the reason today this slogan is echoing around the globe that there is only one thing ‘greenery’ in our surroundings which can help us in controlling the increasing number of problems on our planet earth. Friends of earth are echoing the slogan of ‘green revolution’. If the greenery will increase on earth then the environment will have more moisture. This will not only lower the rising temperature of earth; it will also put a stop on the increasing desert area.
Along with creating consciousness about the environment Paul Dhillon also uses source of life sun as a symbol of light of knowledge and science in the stanzas of his ghazals:
Mirrors taking sun out of their lives
will remain in darkness for ever
This is how he has used ‘darkness’ and ‘light’ as symbols in his ghazals:
If there is darkness surrounding us
there will be sadness everywhere
solution of sadness lies
in our progressive awakening
By putting a question mark in front of the value system of today’s way of life Paul Dhillon talks about the arrival of great men such as Mohammed, Buddha & Nanak in the history of the human civilization on our planet earth . They spent all their lives to enlighten the masses and make this life more livable. Such great men made betterment of the lives of the humanity as the motive of their lives. They had no place in their lives for personal egos. This is the reason that even after centuries those great men have their followers in millions in number and they are spread in every corner of the world. But today’s man who is full of ego and for whom ‘I’ is the only thing that is important in life - is anxious to get ahead in life by trampling everyone under his feet - whosoever comes in his way. Paul Dhillon is also experiencing the same kind of feeling, thats why he says:
Mohammed, Buddha, Nanak have been forgotton by everybody
in today’s world everyone is Abdali, Sikander
As he talks about the present day world, Paul Dhillon also draws our attention towards another thing. People are not happy from inside but they are trying to show that they are happy by putting fake smiles on their faces. Perhaps, it shows the reality of our times that now faked things are getting more importance than the real things in our lives. But this is also a reality that you can make artificial flowers as much beautiful as you want, but they will never be able to give fragrance. Let us read more stanzas from the ghazals of the poet Paul Dhillon to understand his such kind of thought processing in his poetry:
1. Sadness on their faces
but they are singing songs of joy
with artificial fragrance
i am seeing people satisfying themselves
2. We are living in strange times
at every place in every direction
artificial fragrance is
piercing our breath
3. Artificial flowers will remain artificial forever
sprinkle them with perfume or fill them with any color
Man has made a great progress in the fields of knowledge/science/technology in the twentieth century. With great progress made in the means of transportation world has become like a village. Distance of thousands of miles can be completed in hours. With the help of internet and wireless technology, we can send/receive our messages in seconds. Completing a distance of millions of miles man has put his mark his footsteps on the surface of moon too and now he is dreaming to reach to other planets of our solar system. Despite making so much progress in the areas of knowledge/technology man is still backward so far as the fields of culture and religion are concerned. Even today, people are killing each other in the name of religion, caste or status in the society. In the name of religion rivers of human blood are rolling on this earth. Present day fundamentalist religious leaders are poisoning brains of innocent men & women with their religious propaganda full of hate and discrimination to excite them to kill innocent people of other religions and cultures. Such irresponsible religious leaders show them dreams of flirting in their lives after death with virgins and destroy their lives by making them serial killers. But Paul Dhillon is portraying very intelligently and effectively this great tragedy of post-modern times through his following stanzas of his ghazals:
1. Friends, people who are here ignorant of knowledge
seeds of hatred are being sowed in their hearts
2. ‘Anybody who will die for religion will be bestowed with nymphs’
their hearts are filled with such lies
3. ‘Flow blood in the name of religion he is being taught
how to become a human bomb is being shown to him
4. ‘Kill in the name of God’ kill the innocent
such a lesson in the name of religion is being taught these days
After reading ‘Dishade Ton Paar’ poetry collection, one gets the impression that Paul Dhillon keeps the canvas of his ghazals very big. Politics, religion, culture, economics, education, environment, philosophy - every field of life could become a subject matter of his ghazals. He also understands this thing very well that as a means of communication language in itself is not complete. In many instances when words fail to communicate something, silence of man becomes successful in communication of that fact. Silence has its own language. This is the reason when people suddenly become silent we make an estimate that they are busy in conspiring or when there is sudden stillness in the environment, leaves of trees stop moving we predict that soon storm is coming. Talk of such limitations of language and the need to go beyond the words can also be experienced in the following stanzas of Paul Dhillon’s poetry:
1. I have followed what was in his heart
though his lips remained mum from uttering a single word
2. Sad faces are showing grievance very visibly
every vision is fixed, it is the conspiracy of the silence
3. Even the walls have ears, think about this
initiate a dialogue, but slowly slowly
4. I was able to follow everything, that was in the heart
though, the lips didn’t murmur even a single word
In our times when every sector of life is in chaos, we must welcome the writings of those writers in the Canadian punjabi literary world who want to see the principles which donot favour any kind of discrimination based on religion, color, race, caste or gender. A society in which people belonging to different cultures would be blooming together like flowers of many colours and shades. Canada’s multicultural society should also be developed in this manner. Earth, sky, air, water - they all belong to all of us who live on this planet earth. People who discriminate in the name of languages or religion Paul Dhillon deals with them with tough measures:
What you have divided, in languages religions and races
is this sky not belonging to all of us friends ?
Believer of peoples unity, worshipper of world peace, critical of war mongers, supporter of multi-culturalism, supporter of equal rights of man and woman, critical of religious fundamentalist terrorists and tyrannical rulers - Paul Dhillon is a conscious Canadian Punjabi poet.
By publishing ‘Dishade Ton Paar’ ghazal collection Paul Dhillon has enriched the ghazal writing field of Canadian Punjabi literature. While writing ghazals Paul Dhillon tries to be fully aware that his ghazals are balanced in form as well as in content. His such characteristics of a ghazal writer makes him a successful ghazal writer. For writing such a worthwhile ghazal collection, i congratulate Paul Dhillon.
 (Malton, September 18, 2008)

Poetry Dealing With Personal Concerns

Writer: Sukhinder
Gurdial Kanwal is active as a Canadian Punjabi writer for the last four decades. ‘Mooh Bolda Suraj’ is his fourth poetry collection published. He has also published ‘Sajjre Sufne’ (1970), ‘Meel Pathar’ (1978) and ‘Kach Kankran’ (1981).
It will be suitable to call majority of poems included in ‘Mooh Bolda Suraj’ as poems dealing with personal concerns. In this collection, however, there are couple of poems which are not about personal concerns. In a broad sense social, cultural, political or religious issues have not become the motive for writing majority of poems included in this collection. In these poems merely personal concerns have been made the cultural theme and we find poetic dialectics of these issues in a realistic manner.
We can start discussion about this book with a quote from a poem ‘Whatever I Do’:
Whatever I do
right or wrong
i eat its fruit
or experience punishment
Gurdial Kanwal believes that life is a place of action. Henceforth, with hard work we make big achievements in our life. But in many instances it does happen that hard working people are suffering in this world but people who are crook and involved in all kinds of criminal activities make big achievements and are bestowd with big honours in the society. Thus, sometimes, the commonly accepted truth of many popular proverbs in life seem to be untrustworthy.
Poem ‘Black Sun’ in ‘Mooh Bolda Suraj’ talks about the personal relationships. Man is known by three human relationships: husband, son and father. In society man is recognized as good or bad according to the role he played to fulfill these relationships. Gurdial Kanwal believes that in the development of these relationships the role played by parents and wives is very important. He thinks that the kind of a son will become when he grows up as a boy depends on the kind of training he would get from his parents. He also believes that the wife plays a major role in nurturing the good or bad image of a man in the life. A good wife with her love and affection tries to move her husband along with her as a good friend, she helps him in his difficult times and considers his pains and sufferings as her own. In this way mutual liking for each other starts growing in husband and wife and they like to live with each other. But on the otherhand if wife is very proudy, who shows her ego by blaming her husband on every chance she gets; in the presence of house guests she insults her husband to prove that her husband is a useless person - then her husband will not be able to show his good side ever. He will develop inferiority complex. He will start taking his wife as his enemy and not a friend or a life partner. Gurdial Kanwal’s poem ‘Black Sun’ gives us such an awareness of human relationships:
1. I am not a good son
nor am i a good husband
and neither i am a good father
i don’t know why ?
I am feeling many times
is this my fault
or it is the fault of my parents
or my both wives are
responsible for this
2. Mother had taught me
how to walk with my feet
to earn my livelihood
to learn as how to read and write
mother, everything was taught by you
but why didn’t you teach me
how to live my life
Some of the poems of this poetic collection tell us that Kanwal doesn’t have clarity on thinking level. Especially, when he talks about the effects of alcohol on the thinking of man. Gurdial Kanwal tries to present this view that under the influence of alcohol man becomes more creative. In this process, as his proof, he presents the evidence of poets such as Ummer Khyam, Waris Shah and Shiv Kumar Batalvi and tries to prove that, merely, they were fine poets because they were alcoholics. This thing is not right. Scientific evidence is absolutely not in favour of Gurdial Kanwal’s such views. Under the influence of alcohol man certainly feels more creative - but only for a little time - then his creative senses start becoming very lazy and start losing awareness of his surroundings or his own self. In addition to this man also becomes sick with many serious diseases. Alcoholic people after getting drunk are not capable of doing any serious creative work. Gurdial Kanwal’s ignorance about the influence of alcohol on human brain or creative sensibilities is very obvious from his views expressed in his poem ‘Blame’:
1. Everything, i am hearing
with my own ears
that source of
every feud is
how could i accept
how could i trust
2. You should also
think today Shiv Kumar
Ummer Khyam
Waris Shah
were the creation of alcohol
alcohol drinking
gives birth to good thinking
After reading this poetry collection, one feels that Gurdial Kanwal is not absolutely ignorant about the social, political, economical and religious issues faced by our society. Although majority of his poems are dealing with personal concerns, yet he also talks about other problems and gives his views as well. A stanza from his poem ‘Do Not Disturb Our Graves’ proves this point:
Today child is not secure
even in his mother’s womb - he is disturbed
tv and radio antenas also
are interested in attracting bloody news
newspapers hot like fire
drop on our doorsteps
with a thud
Punjabis are influenced heavily by the religion and religious politics. As a consequence, punjabi community has gone under a big upheaval during the last three decades. Punjabis were affected with the upheaval whereever they were living around the globe. Punjabi community in Canada was also influenced by these worldly events affecting Punjabi’s worldwide. Increasing influence of politics on religious institutions and its drastic effects have left a deep impression on the Canadian Punjabi literature. Like many other Canadian Punjabi poets Gurdial Kanwal has also made comments about the relationship of ‘religion’ and ‘politics’ in his poems. His poem ‘Symbol’ attracts our attention due to this reason:
When religious institutions
become politicised
then always chair becomes
higher than the human beings
In 1947 India got independence from the British. But before the British left India they divided it into two parts. One part was called India, the other part was known as Pakistan. Effect of this partition emerged in the form of a tragedy of epic dimensions. People of India who were living like brothers and sisters became enemies of each other in just one night. Religious leaders played a big role in giving birth to this tragedy. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jainis, Bodhis blinded under the influence of religious fanaticism raped each others mothers, wives, daughters, sisters and they murdered their own friends and neighbours. Province of Punjab had to bear the brunt of this religious madness. In this great tragedy of 1947 more than 10 million people were killed and a bigger number became homeless. This tragedy left a permanent mark on the memories of the people of Indo sub continent. Hundreds of books have been written and published on this subject by the writers of India and Pakistan describing the impact of this great tagedy on the psyche of the people of this region.
In the province of Punjab in India, in the last three decades, religious fundamentalist terrorists have once again tried to create conditions similar to 1947. These religious fundamentalist terrorists took the innocent people out from the buses and shot them dead with the bursts of their AK-47 machine guns. In the name of controlling the religious fundamentalists in Punjab the Punjab Police and Central Reserve Police of India killed thousands of innocent young Punjabi men in the border areas. These events once again left a deep impression on the psyche of the punjabi writers. These punjabi writers whether they were living and writing in India or they were settled in U.K., U.S.A., Canada or any other country - they once again remembered the great human tragedy of 1947. They wished that a human tragedy of such an epic dimension should never be allowed to happen in our homeland Punjab, India. Gurdial Kanwal has also expressed his concern about this tragedy of epic dimensions in his poem ‘Heated Circuit’:
In 1947
my country was divided
nations were divided
burnings, murders
dead bodies were littered in the wilderness
a voice emerging from the graves
calling Waris Shah
not one Heer
but hundreds of Heers
eager to feed sweets to their sweethearts
are counting dead bodies in the jungles
water of five rivers of Punjab
is remembering 1947
once again, it is giving shame
to the people who were
responsible for division
My reading of ‘Mooh Bolda Suraj’ poetry collection has given me a feeling that at the moment majority of Gurdial Kanwal’s poems are limited to the personal concerns. But I hope, in his future books, he will certainly make other problems and issues as subject matter of his poems too.
Accepting such creative limitations of Gurdial Kanwal’s poetry, we should welcome his poetry collection ‘Mooh Bolda Suraj’. Because, publication of this book has definitely made the Canadian Punjabi literature richer in the areas of books published dealing with personal concerns in our lives.
(Malton, September 15, 2008)