Jaun Elia: An innovative Master
Written by English NewsPaper/Dawn/Others   

This is the poetry of a person who was always a failure," Jaun Elia who died on November 7, wrote in the foreword to his poetic collection "Why should I shy away from the fact that I wasted myself In fad, it was my destiny to waste myself.

A son who’s imaginative and idealist father had him no skills to lead a successful practi¬cal life, and had instead instructed him that knowledge is the finest honor bestowed upon a person, and books the dearest treasure was bound to waste himself"

In one of his couplets, Jaun, the innovative master bays.

Scenes become heavy on the eye
Stay often away from where you live.

Jaun Elia was blessed with a most influential nexus of the traditional and the modern verse.

His ghazals had the golden touch of that most sensitive short-meter master, Meer Taqi Meer, after whose sehl-i-mumtana Jaun fashioned his couplets.

How will life pass,
When love has no appeal left

Meeting me so cordially
Have you totally erased my memories?

Jaun looked at life from his own scholarly trajectory, but wished to converse with the common man.

This incredible difference of elevation made him reach out with his particular vocabulary, to touch terra finna from his luxury desk. He loved his people, he felt their innate sadness, but at the same time, he despised the levels of mediocrity to which the people had descended. Thus, the eternal romantic poet with a vision, and a grasp of historic realities, endeavoured to take along that layman in his literary pursuits. That produced something very fresh, tinged with the  same bitterness that revolves excruciatingly in the heart of the afflicted mankind.

Strange has become the city of mystics of late
Of majesty everyone is wary, you heard?

The youngest son of Allama Shafiq Elia is a respected scholar and Abghar at birth, took his father's pen name when he started his literary career. Of his brothers Jaun himself tells us in the preface of his collection, Shayad "Both my elder brothers (Raees Amrohvi and Syed Mohammad Taqi) were nationalize communists and wore khad-dai clothes. If I had been mature at that time, I would also have been a nationalist communist". Being a nihilist and an anarchist,  he flouted the norms of the conformists in his poetry.

All the brothers from this distinguished family of Amroha earned the cultural essence, literary flourish and a distinctive imprint of a rich heritage. It is a very important feature of their contribution to Urdu language and literature, making their works a treasure trove for posterity. The departure of this last member of the family of brilliant litterateurs has left a vacuum in our cultural life.

In Pakistan, the major disciples of Meer were Nasir Kazmi, Ibn-e-Insha and Jaun Elia.

Both Nasir and Jaun were gifted with their own distinctive stvle, although they wrote the same school of verse Nasir Kazmo, for most part, can be called a poet of the shehr aoshob ( urban sensibilities), while Jaun Eha fully encompassed the existential essence of the universe. Nasir Kazmi's tragic world had taught him to store all his pathos in the depths of his thoughts, pulling them into poetic words with spontaneity, but with the delicacy of an artisan. Jaun Elia had the poetic license of being bitterly critical of his surroundings.

Nasir said:
Where will you go in this city of no lights
Night of separation, come home with me

Jaun exclaimed,
Recitals, at the palace of pleasure last night, Jaun
Were all the treasures belonging to the poor

Jaun Elia with his immense potential and fascinating capabilities has a standing of his own.

His poetry collection, Shayad, hold enough masterpieces to prove that. This will soon be further affirmed when his next collection, Ya'ni storms the market shortly. As for the test of time, his 6O year-long career is crowned with almost perpetual applause Wherever he appeared in a mushaira, through¬out the country, he literally dominated and startled the listeners with ghazal after ghazal.

In this context, it must be said that Jaun Bhai, as he was lovingly known throughout the literary community, wrote brilliant poems, which reflected his ideological views. In the fame and hype built around his ghazals, it is quite unfortunate this his poems were neglected. A man with socialistic ideals, Jaun was forever hung between the two literary poles, like most of the literary people are prone to be. The existential underpinnings of his poetry slowly nudged him towards nihilism and anarchism, which is always noticeable in his poems like "Sazza", "Azziyyat kee yaddasht", "Burj-i-Babul", "Shehr Aashob", "Jashn ka aaseib", etc.

A very pertinent point revealed through his piose in the preface of his only collection is that Jaun was highly addicted to theatre in his teens.

According to him, in 1943, when he was 12 years old, he wrote poetry and idolized Khalil Jibian. There was a small drama club in Amroha, named Bazm-i-Haq, where stage plays based on Islamic history were presented regularly .Jaun also got involved in it, and would memo¬rize the dialogues of some of the Islamic heroes who were portrayed.

He was so influenced bv it that he tried to establish his own drama club, and even wrote and presented his play for it. Jaun wrote many strongly vocal, socialistic poems, in those days, and admitted later that the dialogue and conversational element that had become his slvle in his poetry, was drawn from his involvement in drama. Those who saw him closely through life would know that his personality was attuned to theatre.

What people thought to be his antics were actually his love for timing and spontaneity, with even punchlines for the occasions, and above all, a most exciting conversation that mesmer¬ized the people in the mushairas.

He would make a small introductory speech before renting his poetry. This never failed to reinvigorate the listeners even during the most boring of proceedings. To his credit, he never used this theatre in a negative pursuit, to undermine or bring down anybodv.

But neither did he shower praises on the top men in office. His cheerful remarks made the mushaira a pleasure for the listeners. During one such function when he started to recite his poetry, he felt he should take off his glasses to fill that awkward moment, he said:
"Ainak kee Zuroorat naheen
Jamaliyat par claim khalam ho jala hai"

bwd  Set 1/4  fwd

Despite all such evidence, he boldly declared "Very respectfully, I'd comment that drama, in all its potential manifestations, is a secondary genre to poetry!"

And talking of his boldness and commitment, one can't forget the most unfortunate incident during a Mushaira when some ruffians of a local ethnic party beat him for saying
"mushairay ke kuch adab hotay hain, Kalam ke beech mem yeh kya hullarbazi    hai?"
(Mushams have an etiquette What is this raucousnes, in the midst of recitation).

By Zulqarnain Shahid

Dec 01, 2002


Excerpt from Another Article :

Everybody knows what a thin and weak man he was and such physical violence could hurt him fatally. Those who were present during the incident tell us that when he was rushed to the hospital, he was bleeding profusely. Jaun was a man of prin-ciples and would not compromise on them . Even though he knew that his elder brother Raees Amrohvi to whom he was greatly devoted, was killed holding his fort, he never faltered. He boldly voiced his disseil when he didn't agree with the ways of socie¬ty and its so-called guardians.

During the Mushairas he would address his colleagues, contempo¬raries and young poets to diaw their attention to the couplet he was reciting "Bhai Mohsin. yeh maqta dekho" or "Himayat bhai aap kee nazzar hai" -were his typical lines to liven up the proceedings. His, slyle of reciting poetry became such a rage that many young poets tried to imitate him. One could detect a hint of theatre in that as the rhythm of his verses cast a spell on the audience.

At times this spell was broken when having one too many he lost control and uttered abuses winch he didn't mean. Like some of his ilk, he was also ready to spark a controversy, but again, not without any substantive    reason behind his claims. Due to his fondness for thought-provoking discourse, he was always surrounded by youngster with whom he conversed like a friend. Only that we had such literary figures around so that the youth of this country would develop.