There are a number of love tales in Indian Literature but Heer-Ranjha has been the most popular for centuries. There are evidential facts proving its historical authenticity but it was originally recorded in literary form by one BAQI KOLABI of Afghanistan, then by other famous Punjabi poets like DAMODAR and MAQBUL who introduced it to Punjabi masses. But most accepted version of this epic is by WARIS SHAH which swayed the hearts and palpitation of the whole population of North West India in particular and Indians in general.
The editor of this volume has made a careful selection of Love Dialogue between the lover and the beloved and other important characters representing different tendencies prevailing in Punjabi Feudal society. The original KISSA is a huge creation in Gurumukhi script but here the selection is being provided in three scripts. First is the original Gurumukhi, then in Devanagari and Roman scripts for those who are unable to read original Gurumukhi text.
It is hoped that the effort of this venture will provide an idea about the several revealing tales, supposed to have happened on this soil.
“Heer has not been created by Waris, Damodar or Baqi Kolabi but Heer has created these poets and immortalized them alongwith herself…”
“.. Love is not something where both the lovers wont/need to always be together.. When two people are in love they automatically establish a relationship that can not be destroyed whether they live together or not, they then are together for ever even if at the extreme ends of Earth,whether living or dead. .”
S. BALWANT a well known publisher and writers received several awards in Indian, European and North American soils. He has served in various capacities while holding offices with many social and professional organizations including, as- - President of the Federation of Indian Publishers and —President, Centre for Punjabi Culture. He has been traveling through various parts of The world for his professional and literary pursuits.
Having about a dozen books to his credit on date, he has been writing for several newspapers and magazines regularly. His first book of short Stories entilled MAHANAGAR already generated a heated debate from the thematic as well as generic point of view, evidencing the emergence of a challenging shift of themes in fiction. Besides others a few important books by him include: An Encyclopedia of Punjabi Culture and History. English-Punjabi (Roman Script)-Gurumukhi-Dictionary. And in fiction includes Ikk Miriam Hore., .1 (Short Stories), and translations from English Meriyaan Anbhul Yadaan and another outstanding book of fiction from Indian Languages entitled Gole Pinna: Bhortiya Bhashwan ‘ch Kahani. His other books in the process are having humane themes and historical values, which are likely to hit the market soon.
The cover pic is from HEER’s grave . these Bangles are tied to the wooden posts in the four corners of the grave of HEER & RANJHA Jhang Distt Punjab, Pakistan. These are tied up by female visitors who seek solace in love, or union with the lover, as a MANNAT (vow to HEER so through their alligience of this act and HEERs prayer for them, they may get their lover/get united/remain steadfast in love. Cover pie by UMAIR GHANI Copyright Umair Ghani Selection of pic and cover design by S. BALWANT
After the success of my book ENGLISH-(PUNJABI (ROMAN SCRIPT)— I found there is a great number of readers interested in reading Punjabi, especially the folk literature, love poetry, and other classical works, if provided with Roman or other scripts. Punjabi love poetry has been the soul of Punjabi culture. I was thinking to present these works in the present form for a long time but could it success in my ventur. But after talking to Shri Shakti Malik of this book, the Publisher, who not only agreed to my proposal but insisted that I should do it immediately.
We had also decided to provide a series of love poetry in this size and style from the texts on these subject, for easy reading for a lay reader and others.
In this volume I have tried to make selection of the dialogue between Heer and Ranjha. I have given original text in Gurumukhi and also added with Devanagri and Roman scripts. I have also kept in mind not to make it bulky so that its price is not high but a very reasonable sum for the benefit of the readers.
I hope my effort will be useful to many interested in this subject.
Any suggestion, guidance, criticism is welcome at my address given below.
There are many sounds in Punjabi language which cannot be conveyed through the standard use of Roman script. For example, there are sounds associated with letters like and. To differentiate this, I have used lower r for and capital R for. Similarly, there are words like and I have used lower n for and capital N for. Likewise, there are many other words having different sounds, and our usage for different Punjabi sounds is on the above pattern which would become evident while reader is using the text as one progress with the use of this tool. 10th December, 2010
HEER-RANJHA: An epic or a romantic tragedy? SATNAM CHANA The most popular tale of Heer has been written by Waris Shah and its popularity became so high that the people forgot whether some other writer also would have written this tale. The miracle of Waris has been largely due to those who carried Heer’s palanquin on their shoulders through three centuries and then reached Waris. Of those Baqi Kolabi, Damodar and Muqbal were also great poets.
The tale by Waris is quite voluminous, narrated in greater details and intricately woven with the wharf and woof of times. The brief form thereof has been prepared in such a way that all the phases of Heer‘s life should be covered and the poetic skill of Waris should also come to the fore. It is a complete tale.
The epic tale of Heer is one of the immortal works. It seems that with the passage of time, the curiosity of the readers is also getting deep. The reason for this is not only the touching love story and its emotional presentation, but it is the recognition of spirit with which the fight against inhuman restrictions and mental cruelty has been carried out through the ages. It is a bitter sweet truth that because of being ignored by history, the epic has been accepted as the romantic tragedy. Lack of depiction of events in the proper perspective and interest in writing history suited literature very much, but a brave woman has remained deprived of her rightful place in history for centuries.
Heer adopted the strange path of passive resistance, the way the basic human instinct is used to fight against the cruel and unkind oppressive set-up evolved by human mind and it is the best achievement of the human struggle in the human history. The solid proof of this is that the sequence of events which took place in Heer ‘s love life received serious attention not only of the tale writers, but the Sufi Saints and the Gurus. Waris Shah took it to such dizzy heights that Heer has entered the human mind and occupied a niche at the deep bottom thereof. Heer is now part of the Punjabi ethos, which would go on generation after
generation till the fierce battle between the basic instinct to love and the cruel social set-up is not turned into a compromise.
Heer has not been created by Waris, Damodar or Baqi Kolabi but Heer has created these poets and immortalized them along with herself. Not only that, by following the path of Heer, more than fifty poets have struggled to attain immortality and such attempts are continuing even today. Not only in Punjabi, but in Hindi, Haryanvi and Balochi, the poets have tried to write this immortal tale.
In the context of time and the set-up, the undaunted and impossible struggle by Heer made some thinkers to look for some spiritual power in Heer because they are of the view that the basis of creation of the world is love and only God can do this. The way Waris has presented the concept of love is a great achievement of those times which is regarded by modem psychology and anthropology as a boundless search. The basic objective of Heer’s struggle spans, according to Waris, in this way
The undaunted struggle of Heer assumed such a spiritual form the like of which is hard to find. Nearly two hundred years before Waris Shah, when the Sufi Faqir Shah Husain wanted to depict his blissful union with God, the form created by Heer came to his help and he said ecstatically:
Latter on same feelings were expressed by Bulhe Shah in slightly dif ferent words.
As a symbol of true love, Heer’s tale found a place in Dasam Granth. In Charitropakhyan (Chapter 98) Menaka, the nymph, who made love to sage Kapil was cursed in Lord Indra’s court and she took birth in the house of Choochak Sayal. Ranjha, who was starving, was the son of a widow and became Choochak’s cowherd. Showing utter disregard for social status--high and low, poverty and richness--Heer fell truly in love with Ranjha and attained approval in Indra’s court, etc. Muqbal has depicted the conditions of poverty of those days in this way:
Heer was not an imaginary character but all proofs of her real existence are available. Dr. Kulbir Singh Kaang says that Heer was born in 1402 AD and in 1452 AD, when the just king entrusted Heer to Ranjha, they disappeared from Chitrapat to lead family life, 2 just as, except for Waris, others have ended this tale. Similarly, S.S. Amol says, quoting from ‘Tarikh Jhang Syal’ by Noor Mohammad, that the lineage of Heer is still going on. The details given in ‘Tarikh Jhang Syal’ must be authentic because the District of Jhang was established in 1462 AD and the records of the time must have been available.3 This oversight by history has enabled certain interpolations in the love epic. Though these interpolations are ridiculous and out of place, they clearly seem to have been made to blatantly serve the interests of the established set-up.
According to Dr. Mohammad Bakar, Baqi Kolabi has written in his Masnawi that the buffalo of the Panjpirs was not yielding milk but when Ranjha sat down to much it, it yielded milk and the Pirs were very much pleased with him, that they blessed him and gave away his Heer to him.4 But according to Dr. Kaang, the Pirs do not come into the picture in the real story. They are only worldly characters. It is a trait of spirituality to reduce the personality of humans and to present them as helpless and humble creatures at the same time discharging its responsibility towards the establishment. As a matter of fact, spiritualism takes the credit for the struggles of the brave heroes and diverts the route of its impact on the masses towards itself. In this way the real activity of man is ascribed to ‘blessing’. Spiritualism even does not spare the prophets and Gurus in this conspiracy. It reduces their sacrifices and hardships to the play of destiny. Waris Shah says clearly that qazis calling themselves the deputies of the Pirs play an atrocious role against Heer:
Analyzing the established values, Gurbakhsh Singh Frank has said, “The point of view of those concerned with ascetic practices rules supreme. Even the religion begins to represent this point of view.”5 In this way the qazis and panchas (village headmen) had done injustice to Ranjha when, after Moju’s demise, the land was divided among the brothers. The two pillars of the establishment, the panchas and the qazis, proved to be the cause of Ranjha’s uproot. Ranjha’s wrath compelled him to reject the blood relationship:
It is Waris Shah’s poetic height and analytical depth that he tried to regard property, heritage and female relationships from scientific point of view. The size of property determines the woman’s duress. The feeling of revolt among the girls of Heer’s time is like a movement but they suffer from different kinds of pressures. When a waterman’s daughter falls in love with Ranjha, her mother finds herself forced to side with her but Heer ‘s mother threatens to kill her. Here the role of property and wealth becomes clear:
This feeling of revolt is not only there in Jhang Syal but among the Kheras also. Heer’s sister-in-law (her husband’s sister), Sehti, sup-ports her even at the risk to her own life and she too revolts herself and elopes with her friend Murad. She does not get an opportunity to confront the establishment directly. Undoubtedly, this was the feeling rampant in the province of Punjab of those times. As many as sixty of Heer’s girl friends standing by her and taking part in her activities can be attributed to this fellow-feeling at the grassroots. Waris Shah says that when Heer’s uncle, Qaido, becomes a hindrance in the natural flow of true love, he has to fall victim to the girls’ wrath:
According to Warish Shah, the things had gone beyond the stage of compromise of give and take. Malki tells Choochak about Heer’s adamant stance:
The more the property, the more was the extent of atrocity and more revolt which kindles in one the strong light of leadership.
A great philosopher, Goethe, views that our mental make-up is such that we derive more pleasure out of rebellion. Such is the determined theory of common consciousness also. The famous psychoanalyst S. Freud comes to the conclusion that the hero performs the same act which his group wants to do by itself. Therefore the deification of the hero is next phase of myth. Heer acted in the same manner as was in the mind of those favouring sovereignty of the instinct of love, as is so very clear in Warish Shah’s Heer.
Waris Shah has recorded that when the qazi once again takes away Heer from Ranjha and hands her over to the Kheras, widespread incidence of arson had taken place in towns and villages. Once again spiritualism ascribes this to miracles. Whatever may be the reason behind this, the incidents had rattled the throne of the king:
As the determination of something as moral or immoral, social or unsocial is in the hands of the higher classes, the unconscious motive behind Heer’s struggle was to redefine morality. But Heer was not aware of the role of property. Levis Henry Morgan, the noted human scientist, says that this class, in order to protect its wealth and property, has raised the establishment in its favour that the common man stands before it as a helpless spectator.8 That the establishment was her enemy, was perhaps not clear to Heer.
In fact this noble class is the continuity of mindset of the nobility which entered the human subconsciousness first of all. This mindset is that of cruelty, dogmatic approach, shrewdness and treachery. About seventy or eighty thousand years there after, were born the human ethos which manifest Heer and her class. This symbolizes dignity, good and just conduct and refinement of speech. The first mindset was evolved in the state of nature dealing with the wild animals and the second was built on mutual attraction, love and evolution instinct. The first trait did not let the second trait to live in freedom. Perhaps, Freud has talked of civilization from this angle that in order to protect itself against hardships and dangers, the system, which was established by discarding the basic instincts of man, became the cause of his pain. He goes on to say further that man has run into the greatest danger by creating love within him. It is such an optical illusion in search of which he invites even the greatest trouble. The women line up and come to the fore against the anti-love forces even more quickly.’°
Heer’s revolt was the first phase of the struggle and this struggle is still going on today and will continue in future also, maybe in some changed form. Whatever the form, according to Darwin, no one can analyze pain and joy because these are the basic instincts passed on from generation to generation as our heritage.”
Heer’s revolt in the form of passive resistance was not for a few months or a year. Assuming that she was married at the age of twenty or so, the period of her struggle works out to more than quarter of a century (1402-1452) and Ranjha becomes a yogi (recluse) to stand by her. How difficult it is to give a name to this type of struggle of faith, which, though it could not end the system, but was able to bend the rulers.
It will be proper here to recall two incidents which would help us in evaluating Heer’s struggle. Towards the middle of the last century, a slander campaign was launched against the qissas (tales), especially the tales about Heer. S.S. Amol had noted this in Chatrik Rachnavali that the propaganda started by the Singh Sabha movement against these tales had such a damaging effect that it began to be considered a sin to bring home such tales. The preaching had gone to such an extent that a house in which these tales are brought, suffers from calamities and conflict.’2 Balbir Singh Pooni has also mentioned about this slander campaign of the Singh Sabha movement.’3 This propaganda appears to have been taken recourse to because it was feared that women could be influenced by Heer’s revolt. If a woman tried to demand her rights, why would there be no conflict? Singh Sabha was right. On the other hand, during the last months of 2009, the Desh BhagatYadgar Trust, Jalandhar, received a copy of the Qissa Heer, on which were found two signatures of Shahid Udham Singh who had shot dead General O’Dwyer, one in ink and the other, in pencil. This is the copy which was always kept by Udham Singh with him. When he was in jail after killing the General, he wrote a letter to the Secretary, Khalsa Panth, on 6th April 1940 that he should bring Qissa Heer also along with his other books because at the time of trial, he would swear by Beer’s Tale because he was ready to die for his love, like Heer. He does not love a single person but the entire country in which there are countless people.
It would thus be seen that the Heer’s life story is not an ordinary tale but an epic which is a source of inspiration for struggling against the cruel system to attain freedom. It seems the day is not far off when the anniversary of this Brave Woman would begin to be celebrated.
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