Sindhi Litrature Why & for what
(Inaugural address at Mirpur Bathoro Sindhi Literary
Conference, January 28, 29 1956)
I get immensely pleased when I hear about some one serving devotedly the course of Sindhi language and literature. The people of a country have a language which the call their own, which enables them to maintain contacts, share feelings, sentiments and thoughts, and recall past happenings and incidents of life among themselves. This language, half grown and unripe to start with, acquired, with progress and development of the native people, a large amount of words and body of tales and stories, its poetry and its proverbs, an increasing fund of ideas and knowledge, the sum total of which comes to be named the literature of that languages. This maturing of spiritual and intellectual environment, this growth of culture of a nation, gets remembered and recorded in its literature. Without such a body of history and thought stored in a language, no people merits to be called a nation. Similarly, no culture and language and no literature either, can exist or last outside the life and career of nation. It also needs to be remembered that all task of human life in the world becomes possible and prospers only on the lifeline of purpose. And literature is no exception to this rule. If you are desirous of promoting Sindhi literature, you will have to identify an lay-out for it such a life-line of purpose and motivation. None can deny, in this connection, that without political and economic and intellectual freedom, no nation can prosper in life. Exactly the same applies to literature. The progress and growth of literature depends solely on the fate and activities of a nation. The world is an arena for life’s struggle, which has to be joined in all seriousness. Only those able and deserving can survive. We may hold any n umber of literary conferences, poetic symposiums, produce any number of books, nothing would avail. The literature of an endangered nation has no chance of survival. With the conqueror’s stroke of pen, all efforts at penmanship and mere talk on the part of a slave people will disappear like a mere whiff of strew in face of the raging wind. Pakistan today presents the cruel scene of such and arena on which the weak peoples stand locked up with the strong in the fight for survival. There is no doubt at all at there are forces out there to destroy the Sindhi nation. Due to the self interest and weak state of mind of the Sindhi leadership, the provincial status of Sindh has already been doe away with. The next attack is soon to be mounted targeting the language and literature of the Sindhi people. The Sindhi people may soon be denied the use of it as medium of instruction in their schools. The arrogant and arbitrary measures to that end introduced in Karachi may only be a foretaste of what could be in the offing as to the designs against us of the powers that be in the name of Islamisation and / or Pakistanisation of Society in the country. Under circumstances such as these, saving the Sindhi language and literature cannot be an easy task nor a short term one. Your political leadership could not succeed in holding your land from slipping into subordination under your powerful neighbors. It is you as writers who are under the challenge now. If you intend taking up the fight in right earnest and winning it, you will have to do so in total commitment to the cause, and start constructing the ramparts around Sindh literature on some basic and solid grounds. I am of the opinion that you will have to adopt the following principles to that end: a. Conceiving Sindhi literature as an unshakable sentinel for Sindhi language and culture. b. Basing Sindhi literature on the ground of Sindhi national hood. c. Building Sindhi literature on reason and knowledge as its essential content rather than any emotional and religious rambling. As the most preliminary concern for right advancement in the task, the writers have to be crystal clear in their mind that the Sindhi people are a separate nation on grounds of having their ancient homeland, a language, a culture a national character and a common historic economic interest. Not asserting our nation-ness, we would be leaving the issue open for the enemies to exploit on the ground that was needed to build and safeguard in Pakistan was only the Pakistani language an Pakistani literature” Already they have set affot such efforts to produce an amalgam of Pakistani language and literatures to be named and styled “the Pakistani”, and as a subsidiary part of that effort have been defaming and holding to ridicule our much articulated anxiety for the safety and well being for our language and literature as noting but a matter of pre nuisance for the Islamic polity of Pakistan. On our part we too need not bother to ease or pacify such disturbed and distorted minds of our opponents by giving up or agreeing with them in their untruths and innuendoes. We should also recognize the obvious fact at full realization of our national rights or their protection can be afforded us only in the State of our political and economic freedom, for, as the proverb goes in Sindhi, “horses already auctioned can hardly fetch higher bids.” The people in a state of subjugation need expect no encomiums from their masters; untruths and innuendoes are indeed what they deserve from them, which they do get in plenty even otherwise. Sindh stands today deprived of its provincial status. It has no autonomy even of the nature it exercised under the British Imperialists. Pakistan has forged stiffer chains for it. For the present, the only condition that may facilitate our task of defending even our cultural rights is the restoration of our provincial status. The accursed one-unit must go. Sooner we break free from it. My brothers, Sindhi language and literature in the meantime must be revived, invigorated and enriched. There is always a mission for literature to fulfill, a purpose to serve, a meaning to carry of the people, a function to perform. It must inspire people to strive and to achieve; it must serve as a guide, as an aid, for the people to realize their potential, to rise to full stature. As human being entitled to good and just and fair term of life on earth. It must give them political consciousness, awareness of duties to perform, responsibilities to discharge, and rights to enjoy in society, and arouse in them spirit of freedom, and give them the will to fight for it. The upper strata of the Sindhian people have grown indolent, insensitive and irresponsible. Some of them under alien influence and pressure of temptations have even given up the use of Sindhi language within their homes. Some others show preference for marriages in families from other provinces, giving rise to problems of social tensions and cultural conflicts. If levels of national consciousness are to be raised and kept alive in our society, it is absolutely essential that all our littérateur poetry, essays and articles, short stories and books should be surcharged with patriotic fervors and sense of national pride. It is time now that all our attention should be directed away from sentimental love and vain emotionalism in our writings and turned to standard of literary excellence, its contents depicting spirit of freedom, devotion to the uplift of common man, handwork and sacrifice in the cause of national goal. In the literatures of sick, frustrated and dispirited nations is full of elegies talks of transitions of life, this mortal world, the doomsday, the beloved’s customary inconstancies and incongruities and incongruities an such vain mourning and inanities. Recently I have returned from East Bengal, the “East Pakistan” as we call it. What I saw there ought to be the eye-opener for us all. Due to political awakening there, the overwhelming larger part of their literature deals with love of the homeland, loyalty to the nation, the Bengali nation, the bunting spirit of freedom and liberty, concern for the peasant and the workers, the good of the masses. As for the cosmetic beautifications and coquetries of the beloved and the proverbial duels/duets of the “singing nightingale and the thorny rose”, not a trace of them, the praise of the moon-shine, or the starry skies, what to say of the starry-eyed earthly beauties all such futilities seemed to have lost their appeal for the poets and fiction writers there. It seemed a young nation had arisen from sleep with a message of new life, here and from within. We ought to learn a lesson from them. East Bengal and the people there have been subjected to shabby treatment, and in the matters of their language, economic interests, services etc., they have been mauled exactly as us here. But they have reacted differently, and theirs was a different set of circumstances. It was clear they would not bear the maltreatment or low for long. In any case, it is your turn too to act somehow and someway. We have been subjected to great many wrongs. The existence of Sindh has been politically done away with. Workers are languishing in jails. Our language is being suppressed beyond limit. Our barrage lands have been grown almost gratis to outsiders. New colonies of those trespassers are being planted on our land. All projects for social and economic development are held at stand-still. We are being discriminated against in all field services, trade, taxes and other matters of life. Your political representatives stands bereft of sympathy and have lost sense of national duty, and seem ever ready to succumb to prospects of personal againdizement. It is for the writers to play their part to rouse the mass of their people settle source as they may. They have their pen and their passion to awaken them to the call of life to be born again if they so wished. Recently I read in our Quarterly Mehran an excellent poem by Abdul Karim Gadai. It was a patriotic piece, full of zeal and fervor. And I felt happy. It was obvious that we have here, with us too, poets of highest caliber, who could move the hearts of men to great feats of courage and sacrifice when needed. It also means that our poets are paying their attention to the down trodden state of our masses. I would indeed be grateful when every poem, every essay, short story, and every call for performance of duty as expected of us by Sindh, our beloved homeland. This day and this hour, Sindhi culture and Sindhi language are indeed in danger. The key of their retrieval and growth lies with our writers. It is they who can transform our literature of this kind, which awakens urge for the pursuit of ideals in individuals, making them prefer national good to their personal one, in all cases. Our Sindhi language and culture are as old as 4000 years, and are carries of high traditions. Sindhi language belongs to Indo-Aryan stock, and occupies a place of prestige in that fraternity. It is the elder sister of Sanskrit. Today some short sighted individuals among us are deceived by the outward trapping of Urdu, which is a homeless language and has only an indeterminate parentage. They easily ignore the high and importance and their own language. They have to be freed from this sickness of mind they have got meshed in. The have to be imparted the timeless lesson of high nobility: “not to sell ones soul over a mess of pottage.” They ought to realize that even if confronted with a choice, we have to discriminate between the genuine and the fake. “We should never get carried away by the mere glitter and take it to be the gold.” “One’s own hutment, sure enough, is better shelter than a place or castle with traps of treachery lying in wait.” these are the lessons of clean and a noble conduct left with us as a legacy by our past. How can we disown them this hour when we need them the most? It is no secret for any one that our enemies are engaged in a conspiracy of substituting Urdu in place of Sindhi. They talk very lightly of our Sindhi language and culture. They choose to forget themselves to an extent that unabashedly they make a claim that “Pakistan was established for the sole object of saving Urdu.” Thus Urdu today is being openly touted as Sindhi’s rival. There is a proverb in Sindhis two should blades can not be held in one and the same scabbard” to own up both as finally. We have to take a solemn oath for retaining superiority of use for Sindhi in Sindh. To that end, we have to produce en-mass our high quality text books as also reference books and books of general knowledge and education, standard newspapers and magazines, first class Sindhi films and music records, and strive by all these and such other means firmly to establish due place for Sindhi language, an uplift it truly to the status of our national and official language in Sindh. Our compatriots who had to migrate to India in the late forties have struggled hard for winning recognition for Sindhi language parallel to other State languages there. And they have gained that objective. We must learn a lesson from their struggle and work accordingly here too to the same end or even a better one. At one stage of our socio-cultural history, the orthodoxy in Sindh or elsewhere in India happened to have gained an upper hand in society. Hundreds of Sufis and Saints, Muslims and Hindus, the poets and periphrastic faqeers, on the “Bhanns” and itinerant singers, appeared on the scene as if from no where, and went around like restless way- tares and with their moving tunes and the messages of love and tolerance, orthodoxy. Now too we must train our “sughars”, singers and our writers to work the same way and to play same tools, carrying the new message of patriotism hope and courage and spread it far and wide, so that awareness of loss suffered by the nation in a huff may be sharply felt, and the life insensitive and dead may revive, and the sense of national self realization be resuscitated in the surging hearts of all in Sindh. Today there are three concepts of nation-ness, which are vying with each other for gaining the first place in the minds of people. Firstly, there are those who advocate the view that the Muslims of Pakistan are, on that sole account, a separate nation. There are others in the second place who says that all citizens of Pakistan, irrespective of religious differences, make up the Pakistani nation. The gird opinion is that on the basis of territorially, i.e. homeland, and culture, language, national character and historical common economic interest, Pakistan is a multi-national state; as such Bengalis, Sindhis, Punjabis,Balouch and Pakhtus are separate nations; it does not matter if they are called “nationalities”. Our writers and intellectuals have to clear up their mind as to these three concepts. Jamait-e-Islami, Muslim League, followers of Allama Iqbal and many persons from Punjab and U.P in particular all busy trying to mould all literature and color it in accordance with the first view. “Islam”, “Pakistan”, and “Musalman Qaum” are the terms, which they use as weapons in their political struggle to implement that view in action. Sindhi nation, its culture, language and literature cannot co-exist with the above coloring or mould of teachings. If Pakistani Muslims are to be taken as one nation, then their cultures, language and literature have to be leveled and molded under that steam-roller of Pakistani Muslim nation-hood into a dead uniformity, leaving no shape or coloring whatsoever that could be identifiable as Sindhi, If, therefore, Sindhi cultures, languages and literatures to be saved or retained, the separate nation ness of the Sindhian people will have to be recognized. The teachings of the above said groups, organizations or individuals are contrary to the truth of Sindhi nation ness. Therefore, those who decide to serve, as well-wishers of Sindh, will have to be wary of the groups and organizations. Sindhi people have been cheated enough in the name of Islam and Pakistan. Sindhi literature, in the main, has therefore to be patriotically oriented and sheet anchored on love and attachment of the Sindhi people, and has been guarded against all factors which may distance it from devotion to Sindh. Sindhi poetry has long remained elegiac and given to romantic sentimentalism. It has also stayed much involved in mystic emotionalism. Persistent separation from the loved one, the fate of the watching nightingale and the thorny blooded rose, and the story of the burnt candle and the moth have been the ever present themes of our poetry and the sheer sorrow and life pathos the constant states of our poets mood in general. Societies under such mental influences cultivate infirmities of irresoluteness, slothfulness, timidly, remoteness, blind faith and trends to pleasure seeking. It is now time that we changed. Sindh today needs bard, brave and persevering youth, who can forego their personal good to the extent of staking their life for the national good as and when there, is a national call for such a sacrifice. This being exactly the need of the time, you as writers have to mould Sindhi literature precisely that way. I wish and pray that you, the writers and poets of Sindh, will succeed to reform and reconstruct Sindh on these lines. And with these words, I inaugurate your Conference and declare it open for deliberations, and wish you all success. Thanks.