Punjab di Panktiyaan

Punjabi language experienced more development in literature and poetry before it developed in its written-script form. In the Vedic era, the land of Punjab witnessed various masterpieces of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit, three most ancient languages of Indian Subcontinent. Eternal teachings of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita were also delivered by Krishna in Kurushetra, Punjab.

Earliest works in Punjabi started due to Invasions of Persian and Islamic rulers from middle Asia. At that time, the calligraphy of Persian ( Nastaliq Calligraphy ) was used to give Punjabi a written form. Later, written-Urdu also emerged from this calligraphy in parts of UP, Delhi and Punjab. Because the early users of Punjabi were royals, it was also called Shahmukhi Punjabi.

The works of Punjabi’s first poet, Baba Sheikh Farid conveyed this Shahmukhi Punjabi from royal families to local people.

Baba Sheikh Farid

ਫਰੀਦਾ ਤਨੁ ਸੁਕਾ ਪਿੰਜਰੁ ਥੀਆ ਤਲੀਅ ਖੂੰਡਹਿ ਕਾਗ ॥

fareedhaa than sukaa pi(n)jar thheeaa thaleeaaa(n) khoo(n)ddehi kaag

Fareed, my withered body has become a skeleton, the crows are pecking at my palms.

ਅਜੈ ਸੁ ਰਬੁ ਨ ਬਾਹੁੜਿਓ ਦੇਖੁ ਬੰਦੇ ਕੇ ਭਾਗ ॥

ajai s rab n baahurriou dhaekh ba(n)dhae kae bhaag

Even now, God has not come to help me; behold, this is the fate of all mortal beings.

ਕਾਗਾ ਕਰੰਗ ਢੰਢੋਲਿਆ ਸਗਲਾ ਖਾਇਆ ਮਾਸੁ ॥

kaagaa kara(n)g dta(n)dtoliaa sagalaa khaaeiaa maas

The crows have searched my skeleton, and eaten all my flesh.

ਏ ਦੁਇ ਨੈਨਾ ਮਤਿ ਛੁਹਉ ਪਿਰ ਦੇਖਨ ਕੀ ਆਸ ॥

eae dhue nainaa math shhuho pir dhaekhan kee aas

But please do not touch these eyes; I hope to see my Lord.

 ਕਾਗਾ ਚੂੰਡਿ ਨ ਪਿੰਜਰਾ ਬਸੈ ਤ ਉਡਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ॥

kaagaa choo(n)dd n pi(n)jaraa basai th ouddar jaahi

O crow, do not peck at my skeleton; if you have landed on it, fly away.

ਜਿਤੁ ਪਿੰਜਰੈ ਮੇਰਾ ਸਹੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਾਸੁ ਨ ਤਿਦੂ ਖਾਹਿ ॥

jith pi(n)jarai maeraa sahu vasai maas n thidhoo khaahi

Do not eat the flesh from that skeleton, within which my Husband Lord abides.

In the start of 14th century, Mughal invader ‘Babur’ attacked Punjab and established Mughal rule. He proposed Farsi to be made the official language and ordered officials to use Farsi instead of Shahmukhi. Shahmukhi had tougher script written from right to left so eventually its users switched to Farsi in order to gain governing posts.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Angad Dev ji designed Punjabi to be written in Devnagri and it was called ‘Gurumukhi’. And that’s how Punjabi became a ‘digraphia’ ( One language many scripts ). Gurumukhi was comparatively easier for the locals to read and write and this started a new era in Punjabi literature where it was written and read by the masses.

Along with the teachings of Sikkhism, Punjabi made its way into the local peoples of India and Pakistan. It soon became the most loved language along in the five-river plains.

Geographical distribution of Punjabi

Famous Punjabi Poets

Bulleh Shah: Shah was a 17th-century Punjabi philosopher and Sufi poet in the Mughal period. His first spiritual teacher was Shah Inayat Qadiri, a Sufi murshid of Lahore. He was a mystic poet and is universally regarded as “The father of Punjabi enlightenment“. He wrote his poetry in the Shahmukhi script of the Punjabi language. He mentioned himself as ‘Bulleya’ in his poetry.

Zehar vekh ke pitta te ki ptita ?

what’s the point of drinking poison [agony of love], after analyzing it first !

Ishq soch ke kitta te ki kitta ?

What’s the point of Love, that is done after a thousand careful calculations?

Dil de ke dil lain di aas rakhi ve bulleya,

If you are bartering your heart, with expectation of beloved to give your heart

Pyaar vi lalach nal kitta te kitta.

What’s the point of having such beloved anyways?

Bulleh Shah

Waris Shah 1722–1798) was a Punjabi Sufi poet of the Chishti order, known for his contribution to Punjabi literature. The famous love story of Heer Ranjha was written by Waris Shah.

Hasdeyan nainan noon rona de geya
vekho ki dil da parohna de geya

Akhan ich jagraate hontan te hawan
eh tuhfa piyar da sanoon sohna de geya

Pash: was the pen name of Avtar Singh Sandhu, one of the major poets of the Naxalite movement in the Punjabi literature of the 1970s. He was killed by Khalistani extremists on 23 March 1988. His strongly revolutionary views are reflected in his poetry. He wrote freely in both Punjabi and Hindi. His poetry is full of courage, freedom and motivation.

सबसे ख़तरनाक वो दिशा होती है

The most dangerous direction is

जिसमें आत्‍मा का सूरज डूब जाए

where the sun of soul sets in darkness

और जिसकी मुर्दा धूप का कोई टुकड़ा

And a ray of dying sunlight

आपके जिस्‍म के पूरब में चुभ जाए

pierces the east of your body

Shiv Kumar Batalvi: Shiv Kumar Batalvi (8 Oct 1937- May 1973) was an Indian poet, writer, and playwright of the Punjabi language. He was most known for his romantic poetry, noted for its heightened passion, pathos, separation, and lover’s agony. The famous song ‘Ik kudi jida naam mohabbat’ was written by Batalvi.

Ikk kudi jida naam mohabbat,

A girl whose name is love,

Ghum hai, ghum hai, ghum hai,

is missing, is missing, is missing

Ho saad muraadi sohni phaabat,

Simple wisher, beautiful-looking,

Gum hai, gum hai, gum hai.

is missing, is missing, is missing

Satinder Pal Singh, popularly known as Satinder Sartaaj, is an Indian singer, songwriter, actor, and poet of Punjabi language films and songs. In 2010, He got worldwide popularity from his song Sai. He is known for his high qualification in Sufi and classical music. He is inspired by the Persian Muslim poets namely Rumi and Shams Tabrizi. One of his famous poetry is:

azbe khrid kitho layie

na eh hattiyan te vikde na deve koi hoka,

Fer dasso asi jazbe kharid kithon laie?

Sade dilan ch khide ne bas kagzan de phull.

ras, mehak de gulaban da kashid kithon layiye?

Jihne sufiyan nu nachne de raste vikhaye,

jihne roohan nu roohani jihe jaam v pilaye,

Jihne sufiyan nu nachne de raste vikhaye,

Amrita Pritam (31 August 1919 – 31 October 2005) was an Indian novelist, essayist, and poet, who wrote in Punjabi and Hindi. She is considered the first prominent female Punjabi poet, novelist, essayist, and the leading 20th century poet of the Punjabi language, who is equally loved on both sides of the India– Pakistan border. With a career spanning over six decades, she produced over 100 books of poetry, fiction, biographies, essays, a collection of Punjabi folk songs, and an autobiography that were all translated into several Indian and foreign languages. Her mastery in literature is well-spoken from her works :

Rall gai si es vich ik boond tere ishq di

Just because a drop of your love had blended in

Esse layi main zindagi di saari kudattan pee layi

I drank down the entire bitterness of life.

Amrita Pritam

Urdu and Punjabi

Agar Punjabi humari maa hai to urdu humari massi hai.

Urdu and Punjabi both developed in the same time period and both witnessed the same revolutions in the past. We know Urdu from works of poets of Delhi Sultanat and UP such as Mirza Ghalib, Amir Khusro, but 80% of Urdu-poetry came from works of Punjabi poets such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Jon Elia, Sahir Ludhianvi, Gulzar and Ikkbal.

Urdu and Punjabi have similarities in vocabulary and phonetics. Some words of Punjabi are commonly used in Urdu and vice-versa.

I want to end this article with a famous Ghazal of renowed Urdu-Punjabi poet, Sahir Ludhianvi :

main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya

har fikr ko dhuen men udata chala gaya

barbadiyon ka sog manana fuzul tha

barbadiyon ka jashn manata chala gaya

jo mil gaya usi ko muqaddar samajh liya

jo kho gaya main us ko bhulata chala gaya

gham aur ḳhushi men farq na mahsus ho jahan

main dil ko us maqam pe laata chala gaya

To view our recent session on Punjabi Literature, click on the link below:

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