Click here to Download A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book by Marion Molteno Language English having PDF Size 1.5 MB and No of Pages 454.
I expect that most Muslim readers will particularly regret my omission of anything from the poet Iqbal. But Iqbal is above all a Muslim poet, and makes his most powerful appeal to his fellow Muslims. Many readers of this book may be non-Muslims, and though (as I have shown in The Pursuit of Urdu Literature) if his message is fully understood it can be valid for all humankind.
A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book by Marion Molteno
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The specifically Muslim form of its delivery is a barrier between him and the non-Muslim reader. Other important writers have been omitted for a different reason. Readers who are encountering Urdu literature for the first time will be able to estimate its worth more easily if they are given substantial extracts from a relatively small number of the best writers than.
If they had been presented with a larger number in necessarily much smaller selections. That is why I present the ghazal through the poetry of Mir and Ghalib alone; it is not that I am unaware that there are other ghazal poets of the first rank. For similar reasons, I have chosen to represent the early novel by a long extract from Rusva’s Umrao Jan Ada by many shorter extracts from the work of other novelists.
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And those who compare my translations with the originals will see that I have occasionally abridged some passages, and transposed others where a different order is helpful to the English reader. Ralph Russell was born in 1918, at the end of the First World War, and died at the age of 90 in 2008, when the world had changed almost unrecognizably from the one he had grown up in.
Throughout his long life he was continually reading, thinking, writing, making new friends and cherishing old ones, always keen to understand how others saw the world. He was an easy communicator: warm, relaxed, open to people of all kinds. Until a month before his death he was still teaching, advising others, and writing further chapters of his autobiography.
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His first encounter with Urdu was—to say the least— unusual. During the Second World War, as a young man of 22 just out of university, he was conscripted and sent to serve on an attachment to the Indian Army. He had been a communist since the age of sixteen and was a passionate believer in the cause of Indian independence.
Urdu was the army’s language of communication, and from his first days in India he applied himself to learning it as well as possible, so that he could get to know the people among whom he would be living. His unit was sent to Assam to supervise the building of a road to the Burma border, and in this remote area, cut off from civilian life.
He spent the war years in the company of the hundred Indian sepoys in his unit. Most were from South India but they all used Urdu to communicate. The British officers around him knew little Urdu, relying on their Indian subordinates to interpret. Ralph picked up the language fairly quickly, and freely talked with the men about things which the authorities would have regarded as highly subversive. A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book
He taught himself to read, practising on leaflets from the Communist Party of India and translations of the works of Lenin. This experience changed the direction of his life. When the war was over he was sent back to the UK, but looked for a way to maintain his connection with India. He got a scholarship to study Urdu at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.
With the possibility—if he did well enough—of becoming a lecturer. He describes the shock of discovering how difficult he found Urdu literature in his autobiography. It involved a huge leap in vocabulary from the kind of conversational Urdu he had acquired. Its literary forms were strange to him, particularly the poetry.
Later he wrote about his personal journey in getting past this strangeness, in an article called The Pursuit of the Urdu Ghazal. Eventually he came to not only appreciate the ghazal, but felt a close identification with it. Before they came to Delhi she had lived in Ambala Cantonment, where she had several whites among her clients. From being with them she’d learnt ten to fifteen sentences of English. A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book
She didn’t use them in ordinary conversation with them. But when after coming here to Delhi she couldn’t make a go of things she said to her neighbour Tamancha Jan one day,‘This life…very bad,’ adding that you couldn’t earn enough even for your food. In Ambala Cantonment she’d done very well.
The British Tommies used to come to her when they were drunk, and within three to four hours she could handle nine or ten of them and make twenty to thirty rupees. These Tommies were better than her own countrymen. True, they spoke a language Sultana didn’t understand, but her ignorance of their language proved very useful to her.
If any of them wanted anything extra from her she would say, ‘Sahib, I don’t understand what you’re saying.’ And if they pestered her too much she would begin to swear at them in her own language. They would stare at her, completely nonplussed, and she would say in Urdu,‘Sahib, you’re a real bloody fool, a real bastard. Do you understand?’ A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book
And when she said this she would not speak harshly, but on the contrary in a very affectionate tone. The Tommies would laugh, and when they laughed they did look real bloody fools. It was after we’d come to Aligarh that I became day by day more aware of Azim’s presence. God knows why he suddenly became interested in me. I’d always preferred my older brother, Nasim.
Even when he hit me there was still pleasure in it because he’d also give me money and sweets. Azim gave me neither money nor slaps; he talked to me seriously. And then he began to teach me History and English. I don’t remember how it started; all I remember is that in the evenings when he came back exhausted from the day’s work, he’d go and lie on the string bed on his verandah and say to me.
‘Come on, read. Loudly.’Then he would correct my translation, and give me dictation, and after that we would talk. I don’t remember what it was we began talking about. Later on he used to tell me things about the Traditions* and the Quran. His teaching method was an odd one. He’d give me a novel and say,‘Go and translate it. From English into Urdu, and from Urdu into English. A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book
’Ten pages at a time he’d set for me to translate. For me, there were several advantages in this approach—one was that before I could translate the novel I had to finish reading it, and it’s from that time that I became so intensely absorbed in reading novels. I would lie awake the entire night reading stories and novels. But in those days they were all wasted on me—I hadn’t a clue what they meant.
So I’ve had to read them all again. Hardy was the first novelist that, as Azim said, I drank to the last drop. Word went forth from God:‘Angels, I shall create a Khalifa upon the earth.’The angels said,‘Will You place on earth one who will fill it with tumult and bloodshed?—when we are ever speaking of You and declaring Your goodness and remembering Your holiness?’
God replied,‘I know that which you do not know.’ Then the Lord of the Worlds commanded Gabriel (on whom be peace) to bring a handful of soil from the earth. At God’s command Gabriel (on whom be peace) at once descended from the height of heaven upon the earth and reached that place where the Kaba now stands. He went to take up a handful of soil, but the earth said. A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book Download
I adjure you by God not to take soil from me; for God will create his vicegerent from it, and his progeny will be sinful and wicked and will cause great distress…’ Gabriel (on whom be peace) heard, and gave up his intention, and returned as he had come. And Michael and Israfil too (on whom be peace) could not perform this task.
Then there is the question of grammatical gender. Mushairas were traditionally part of cultured aristocratic society, and largely male affairs, though courtesans were an accepted part of their social world and many were skilled poets. But the grammatical convention is that it is the male lover who speaks.
In medieval literatures conventions of this kind were strict and binding, and though it was true that the poet generally was masculine and that this fixed the convention, it was no less true that convention was binding on all poets, so that women ghazal poets also spoke of themselves in the masculine. A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book Download
The beloved, too, is always spoken of in the masculine, and though this could in some cases have reflected a real-life love of man to man, in most cases it is clear that a female beloved is intended: this is a grammatical convention only. A similar but opposite convention is found in much of Bhakti poetry.
There the archetype is that of the love of Radha—a woman—for Krishna—a male god—and all lovers, male and female alike, speak of themselves in the feminine gender. In both forms of poetry both men and women listening feel no difficulty in identifying with the poet-lover. In these days when resurgent Islamic fundamentalism makes the headlines.
It cannot be stressed too strongly that a very different kind of Islam, which challenges the fundamentalists, has existed for centuries and has exercised an enormous influence. It pervades the Urdu ghazal, and had been equally prominent in Persian poetry centuries earlier. The passionate love of God is its starting point, and it has some parallels in the Christian tradition too. A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book Download
Joinville in his Life of St Louis relates how a friar met an old woman in Damascus who was carrying a bowl of burning coals in one hand and a flask of water in the other, and who, when he asked her what they were for, replied that the fire was to burn paradise to ashes and the water to put out the fires of hell.
So that people could live their lives no longer motivated by the hope of paradise and the fear of hell but solely by their love for God. This sentiment is common in the ghazal poets. The true lover of God attaches little or no importance to the traditional religious observances. Strict Muslims pray five times a day.
Fast during daylight hours in the month of Ramzan and make every effort to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in their lifetime. Clearly, these can be inspired by true love for God, but it is more likely that they will be motivated by mere convention, or even a pharisaical desire to feel self-righteousness—and in the ghazal they are always regarded as being so motivated. A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book Free
As might be expected, this generous spirit also finds expression in a passionate humanism, and a belief in the equal value of all humankind—and this too brought them into conflict with orthodox views. The poets derive their view from the Islamic belief that when God created Adam He exalted him (and through him all humankind) above the angels and commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before him.
Satan refused to do so and was cursed and banished forever from God’s presence.* All human beings are, in the common Muslim phrase, ashraf ul makhluqat— the best of created things. But orthodox Islam tended to equate ‘humankind’ with ‘Muslim humankind’; not so the poets. For them God had granted to all the descendants of Adam the same exalted status.
I have chosen to present the ghazal with examples taken almost entirely from the work of two of its greatest exponents, Mir and Ghalib. But it cannot be stressed too strongly that the ghazal has always been, and still is, the most popular genre of Urdu verse, and Mir and Ghalib were only two, albeit the greatest two, of the great ghazal poets of their day. The ghazal is a living tradition. A Thousand Yearnings PDF Book Free
The separate couplets, each complete in itself, lend themselves to being easily memorized and are often used as apt quotations to comment on daily situations. Many Urdu speakers know by heart hundreds of ghazal couplets, and have heard many ghazals sung, Ghalib’s being particularly popular.