Amrita Pritam was a liberated woman in every sense of the word: as a person, a poet and a novelist. Thought she was a Sikh by birth, she freed herself from the shackles of religion and convention.
The partition of Punjabi in 1947, and the fratricidal strife between Muslims and Hindus hurt her very deeply. This feeling found expression in some of her best writings, including her most famous poem addressed to Warisb Shah (author of the epic love poem Heer Ranjha Which reads as:
Another of her well known novels, another of her well known novels, Pinjar, is set during the partition days, and brings out vivid images of the anguish and sorrow of innocent people during the violence at that time. It has been made into a commercial Bellywood film a few years ago.
A Punjabi poetess, novelist and short story writer, who authored more than 60 books.
Many of these books have been translated and published in over 20 languages of the world.
She received several honors and awards during her life time, including India’s highest literary award- the Japheth Award in 1981.
She was also honored with the Padma Shri by the President of India in 1969.
She expired on 31st October 2005, after a long illness.
Amrita Pritam and Her Poetry by Khushwant Singh
More than half a century ago a pretty little girl was first seen and heard reciting here compositions in praise of the Sikhs and 'Ten Gurus' at a Kavi Darbar in Lahore. Her comeliness and precocity made her an instant success. The fact that she was the only child of a widowed father, who had dedicated his life to preaching the gospel of Sikhism, made her in to an object of affection. As the petite, budding rhymster blossomed into a beautiful young woman and a poet, so did the fragrance of her works spread across her native land.
Amrita was married to a prosperous trading family, the Kwatras, who owned a popular general store in Anarkali in Lahore. It was as a mark of respect for her husband Pritam Singh, that Amrita replaced the suffix 'Kaur' to her name by Pritam, thus to become Amrita Pritam.
Thereafter the husband and wife drifted apart, but she continued her career as a poet and writer of fiction. She slogged hard, writing and broadcasting to keep home fires burning. Slowly she won recognition and was invited to conferences abroad, and visited Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Rumania and some Western European countries, and these visits enlarged her horizons which found concrete expressions in her magazine 'Naagmani.
Amrita Pritam continued to be a very private person. Her output of poems, short stories and novels were identified as most impressive. Some of her poems were translated into some foreign languages, and her novel 'Pinjar' (the skeleton) was transformed into a feature film.
Amrita Pritam was a liberated woman in every sense of the word, as a person, poet and novelist. She freed herself from the shackless of religion and conventions, though brought up 10 a rigidly orthodox Sikh milieu that took the form of deliberate defiance of orthodox Khalsa traditions. The partition of Punjab in 19'17, and fratricidal strife between Muslims on the one side and Sikhs and Hindus on the other, hurt her very deeply and we find expressions in some of her best writings. This was the theme of her novel' Pinjar' and her most famous poem 'To Waris Shah'.
Amrita's forte is her poetry not her prose that much. Whereas her earlier poems conformed to conventional patterns of meter and rhyme, and often carried echoes of folk music and song in her lines, she progressed to free verse expressing radical iconoclastic rebellion against accepted values Love notable erotic and physical love which forms very little part of her personal life, is the predominant theme in much of her writings. Much of her later poems are woven round the theme of unrequited love and unquenched passion. The woman in her is every the loser waiting for her beloved exposing herself in utter nakedness and an all too willing victim of sacrifice. I feel happy to present this collection of Amrita poem in English as having translated many of her poems. I did best what could be done and it is.
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