Haryana is a unique state in terms of literacy activities as well. The Bhagwad Gita was spoken and written on this land. It gives the ultimate philosophy that every human being can adopt to relieve himself off the agonies of birth and death. It is the supreme sermon of Lord Vishnu, which must be read and imbibed in letter and spirit.
During the medieval age, many literature and poets adorned the iand. Similarly, during the pre-independence era, several poets and writers found their ultimate salvation through the creation of verses and prose. We shall briefly discuss the poets and writers of both these eras. Finally, we shall give brief details of poets and writers of the modern times as well.
It is believed that Chand Bardai and Surdas were the products of Haryana. Chand Bardai become immortal by writing Prithvi Raj Raso. Surdas wrote Sur Sagar. Further, Sant Haridas, Kavi Maldev, Veerbhan, Sant Udhodas, Pushpadant, Sant Nityanand, Banarasi Dass, Jain Poet Sunderdass, Nischal Das, Banwari Dass, Kavi Ummed and Mast Ram are the famous litterateurs of Hindi language. These sages and poets have enriched Hindi literature to the maximum extent with the help of their creative works.
Among the Muslim Saints, the names of Sheikh-u-Alishah Kalandar, Muhammed Afzal, Sheikh Abdul Qadoos, Sannat Sadullah, Sheikh Bahauddin Chishti, Gulam Nilami, Nur Mohammed and Jan Kavi Jisno may be recalled. These poets and writers wrote in Brij and Hindi and contributed to the world of Hindi literature.
During the rule of the British, the residents of the unified State of the Punjab struggled to liberate the nation from the clutches of the British. So, literacy activities took a back seat for some time. However, one poet (of Urdu) made his mark during this period of turmoil. His name was Altaaf Hussain Haali.
Khwaja Altaf Hussain Haali (1837-1914), the famous poet, prolific scholar and Urdu critic, was born in 1837 at Panipat. He came from an economically backward family and lost his parents by the age of nine years. He was brought up by his elder brother and sisters. Even though he was not properly educated, he managed to get good knowledge of Urdu, Persian and Arabic.
He was married, against his wishes, to his cousin Islam-ul-nisha at the age of seventeen years. After marriage, he went to Delhi and got himself enrolled in Huseen Baksh’s Madrassa near the Jama Masjid. There, he studied languages like Urdu, Persian and Arabic and got interested in poetry. He started frequenting the Mushairas (gatherings of poets) and gradually became very popular.
Haali returned to Panipat in 1855 and remained there for one year. In 1856, he got a job in the office of Deputy Commissioner, Hissar. After the Revolt of 1857, he left the government job, returned to Panipat and studied there for four more years. But his deteriorating financial position forced him to look for a job. In 1861, Nawab Shefta of Jahangirbad employed him to teach his son.
Shefta was a skilled poet and critic of Urdu and Persian. Haali too got associated with poetry under his influence. Till 1869, he remained in Delhi and continued writing poetry. Then, he met legendary Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib.
Ghalib was not in the habit of encouraging each and every budding poet. But when he heard Haali’s shers (Urdu couplets), he liked them a lot and encouraged Haali to continue writing poetry. In one of his shers, Haali wrote that though he respected Mirza Ghalib and was guided by Nawab Shefta, he benefited most from Mir, whose style he deeply admired.
From Delhi, Haali shifted to Lahore and got a job as a supervisor in the government book depot. There, he had to give assistance in rectifying
Urdu books, which were translated from English. During this period, he got good working knowledge of English and was also exposed to the modern literary activities of Europe. Thereafter, his poetry started taking a new shape and form; which was hither to unknown to Urdu literature.
He continued in this job for 4 years. Then, he returned to Delhi and took up a job as a teacher in an Arabic school. There, he met the famous Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University. They became close friends within a short time period.
When the Prime Minister of Hyderabad visited the university in 1888, Sir Sayyed requested him to offer a fellowship to Haali. This was granted, keeping in mind Haali’s contribution towards the enrichment of Urdu literature. Haali began on an allowance of Rs. 75, which was increased to Rs. 100 per month.
Haali was a person, who was satisfied with limited means. On receiving the fellowship, he left for Panipat and devoted himself completely to the service of Urdu. The Government of India recognized his contribution and he was honoured with the highest tille-Shamshulmaan.
His simplicity, honesty and religiosity were exemplary. He never gave pain to others but was very concerned for the progress of his fraternity. He did not touch wine nor was he attached to love and beauty.
However, he wrote ghazals due to his association of all time greats, like Ghalib and Shefta. He was concerned about the miseries faced by nobles, during and after his sepoy mutiny. His prose and poetical works are as follows: Tiriya ke Masmoom, Majaalis L’lnisa, Mazaamine-e- Haali, Hayaat-e-Saadi, Muqadam-e-Sher-o-Shairi, Yaadgar-e-Ghalib, ‘Hayaat-e-Javed’, ‘Masnaviyaat’, Manajaatebewa, ‘Chupki Daad, Shikwaye Hind, Musaddase Haali, Deewan-e-Haali and Roobaiyaat.
His most important work was Muqadma-e-Sher-o-Shairi, written as a preface to his collection of poetry. Ahmed Sarwar called it “the first manifesto of Urdu poetry.” There are about 116 ghazals composed by him, which consist of about 1300 shers. Haali was known for his love for and welfare of Muslims. His death on September 30, 1914, was a serious loss to the world of Urdu. A school was established in his memory at Panipat. His centenary was celebrated in all the big cities in
Deedar Singh, Bhai Santokh Singh, Sahib Singh Mrigendra, Bagg Singh, Ujjwal Singh and Joginder Singh are some of the literacy personalities of modern Haryana. They wrote in Hindi and Punjabi. Joginder Singh, an educationist and litterateur of Shahabad, contributed effectively to the literature of three languages-Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
In the field of Hindi literature, Balmukund Gupta, Madhav Prasad Mishra and Radhakrishna Mishra are the names worth mentioning. Bishambhar Nath Kaushik was born in Ambala Cantonment. But he migrated to Kanpur. Pandit Neki Ram Sharma was from Bhiwani. He had started a magazine (Sandesh), which was in Hindi.
Tulsiram Sharma Dinesh, the famous poet from Bhiwani, wrote Shyam Satsai, Satyagrahi Prahlad and other landmark books of poetry (in Hindi). Ayodhya Prasad Goyaliya was born in Badshahpur, a village in Gurgaon district. He introduced Urdu poetry (Sliairi) to Indian audience. He remained an office-bearer of Bhartiya Gyanpeeth for many years.
The first ever state poet of Haryana was Uday Bhanu Hans. On 31 March, 1967, Anupchand Aftab was also honoured (as the state poet in Urdu) along with Uday Bhanu Hans. Khushiram Sharma was the next state poet. Mr. Sharma has written Rana Nimantrana, Guru Gobind Singh and Yuddha Charita.
Bhai Parmanand, the renowned poet from Hissar, also took active part in Bhoodan Movement. He used his sonorous songs to deliver the message of Vinoba Bhave to the masses. Ishwar Chandra Panday and Leeladhar Dukhi were also the famous poets of the State.
Many sons of Haryana contributed to theatre too. Jaswant Singh Tohanvi, Bastiram, Lakshmi Chand Sangi, Dhanpat Singh and Rajaram Shastri are the prominent names. These writers used drama and sang to mesmerise their readers. They contributed to the Hindi literature through their unique literary creations and mass-based activities. Further Dr. Ranjit Singh is a famous Hindi (prose) writer of Haryana.
Geminy Haryanvi contributed to Haryanvi literature. He wrote couplets and poems, which fall under the gamut of humorous literature. Other poets, like Om Prakash Aditya, Baldevraj Shant, Deepchand Nirmohi and Vishnudatt Kaviratna also made contributions to the vast literary ocean of the State.