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BENIAZ HASTI USTAD DAMAN compiled by Jaytegh Singh Anant transcribed in Punjabi (Shah Mukhi) script by Prof Aashiq Raheel; pp 208; Price Rs250 (hb); Publishers, Gulshan-i-Adab Publications, Outfall Road, Lahore. This year falls the centenary (birthday) of Punjabi poet Ustad Daman born in Lahore and also buried in Lahore in the chardivari of a great sufi poet of the 16th century, Shah Husain. Compiler Jaytegh Singh is a press photographer by profession and settled in Canada where he has established a Punjabi organization, Punjabi Adabi Sangat about which he proudly said at the book-launching ceremony arranged by the Punjabi Adabi Sangat in Lahore on last Friday at Nasser Bagh, that the Canadian Sangat was a branch of the Lahore Sangat and all he wanted was close cultural relations with the western Punjab.

Among other speakers Dr Syed Akhtar Husain Akhtar, editor of monthly Lehran, paid a glowing tribute to Anant for his cooperation in promotion of Punjabi in our side of Punjab, particularly the monthly Lehran, for which he has been extending financial help also.

Prof Aashiq Raheel, the publisher of the book, also met Anant in Canada and he was all praise for the latter’s keen interest in promoting cultural relations between the two Punjabs.

Born in a village Mid Ranjha, Sargodha district, before independence came from a village Butaher, district Ludhiana. After completing his higher education he started contributing articles to Punjabi and English newspapers and magazines which are about 250 in number.

Photography is his profession and some of his photographs have been published in monthly Lehran and other Pakistani Punjabi magazines.

The book under review in Persian script is also meant to promote the cultural relations on both sides of Wagah. This same book is also being published in Gurmukhi script from Chandigarh. This is in continuation of Safeer Ramah’s magazine Saanjh which is being regularly published in both scripts from Lahore and Ludhiana.

Jaytegh Anant has included in this book some 41 articles by prominent writers of both Punjabs and the Punjabis settled in western countries.

Among prominent writers are Dr Jagtaar, Gurcharan Rampuri, Ravinder Ravi, Khushwant Singh, Joginder Singh Shahmsheer, Sri Ram Arsh, Darshan Singh Ashat, Dr Nirmal Singh, Talwinder Singh, Sulakhan Sarhadi, Dr Jagjeet Kaur Joli and Dr Jasbeer Sarna. Among the Pakistani contributors are Sibtul Hasan Zaigham, Dr Akhtar Husain, Aashiq Raheel, Raja Rasaloo, Dr Afzal Mirza, Eizazh Ahmad Aazer, Amin Khayal, Tanveer Zahoor, Farzand Ali, Ehsan Bajwa, Ahmad Saleem, Dr Younus Ahqar, Iqbal Qaiser, Husain Shad, Jameel Ahmad Pal, Dr Riaz Anjum, Masood Chaudhry and Aslam Hayat, a worker of the Pakistan Times who was accommodated by the late Faiz Ahmad Faiz on the recommendation of Ustad Daman.

What was Ustad Daman that has been narrated by himself. He says: “My mother was a washerwoman and my father was a tailor. Mother washed the uncleaned cloths while father used to tailor pieces of cloths and the same two jobs are my jobs”.

Jaytegh Singh Ananat has done some tailoring work between the two Punjabs with the reference of Ustad Daman which is definitely praise-worthy.

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KHOJ…Bi-yearly research magazine of the Punjabi department of Punjab University; editor Prof Dr Ismatullah Zahid with Dr Naveed Shahzad as assistant editor; pp 160 (Punjabi 112, Urdu 24, English 24); Price Rs150; Published from University Oriental College, Old Campus, Lahore.

This again is a late issue which should have been published in July 2010. This issue has two important articles -- one in Punjabi and the other in English. The Punjabi article is the research done by the head of the Punjabi Department and editor Dr Ismatullah Zahid which is about an unpublished love story of Chandar Badan and Mehyaar by 18th century prolific writer Mian Ahmad Yar Maralvi who originally belonged to Islamgarh (near Jalalpur Jattan).

Although a doctorate thesis has been written on Ahmad Yar’s life and work, it is incomplete. Ahmad Yar knew many languages and wrote in three languages Punjabi, Hindi and Persian in which he also wrote a historical book on Maharaja Ranjeet Singh.

Dr Shahbaz Malik did his doctorate on Ahmad Yar and he points out that the writer had at least 67 books to his credit out of which many are unpublished, including Chandar Badan, of which no text or manuscript was available then. About the poet’s literary work he himself says:

(I have written and composed so many books that I do not remember the number. I have been writing throughout my life and that is all) Punjabi poet Muhammad Shafiq Qureshi of Serai Alamgir somehow got the only manuscript of the story of Chandan Mehyaar on which Dr Ismat has based his research and the text has been included in the article.

In Punjabi two or three poets are also credited with the same love story and they are Qadir Bukhsh, Imam Bukhsh, Boota Gujrati and Maula Shah etc. Chandar Badan is a Hindu princess of Patna (Bihar) while Mahyaar is a Muslim trader. The other important characters are Raja Ranga Pati, father of princess, and Sultan Behram Khan, another Muslim ruler of the area. Another character is a painter who paints Chandar’s portrait and on that the Mehyaar determines to achieve this beauty. The story with tragic and supernatural end was first narrated by a Bijapuri poet and then a Muslim poet of Deccan. Ahmad Yar has borrowed the plot from them. Ahmad Yar says that this story was in a dialect or language of Hindostan.

Ahmad Yar is a very important poet of his times and somehow also interested in the history. Many of his love stories provide important comments on historical events and personalities.

Either the editors are not clear about the Punjabi language, its linguistic variety and dialects and the tradition of literature or they have not minutely evaluated the article by Mr Umar Din and Muhammad Kamal Khan.

They do not even have the right number of Punjabi speaking population of Pakistan. They have indirectly referred Lehnda as a separate language from Punjabi. The authors are totally ignorant about the literary and linguistic traditions of Punjabi language. One wonders why this sketchy piece has been included in the issue under review. —STM