• Warning: Dangerous Poet!

    Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee translates Paash's unforgettable poem "Sabh Ton Khatarnak"

    The Rightwing Plan to Drop Paash from Textbooks

    July 29, 2017

     

    DT8586Lucas Samaras, "Photo-Transformation", 1973/ Image Courtesy: metmuseum.org

     

    In 2006, the Hindi translation of Paash’s famous poem "Sabh Ton Khatarnak" (The Most Dangerous) was included in the Class XI Hindi textbook. Now, in one of its periodic blows to education and culture, the RSS affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas has recommended that the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) remove a poem by the poet Paash from textbooks. Paash (Avtar Sandhu) is in good company. Dinanath Batra of the Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas also wants to keep students from reading the works of Rabindranath, Mirza Ghalib and MF Husain. 

    What would our students learn from Paash’s work and his life? That we have poets who opposed any kind of religious fanaticism; poets who believed in a secular, progressive India, and were willing to die for their dream. A poet like Paash, who wrote for the people, and against any form of repressing the popular voice, whether it was through censorship, the Emergency, or the Khalistani separatists. 

    The Greatest Danger

    The plunder of labour isn’t so dangerous
    The police baton isn’t so dangerous
    The fist of a swindler’s greed isn’t so dangerous

    To be caught without a fuss is awful
    To be caught in timid silence is awful 
    But they aren’t so dangerous

    Amidst the noise of deceit
    To bow down when one is right is awful 
    To read in the light of fireflies is awful
    But they aren’t so dangerous 

    The greatest danger of all is
    To be filled up with the corpse’s silence
    To not feel stirred and gulp down everything
    To leave home for work and return home again

    The greatest danger of all 
    Is the death of our dreams

    The most dangerous time
    Is what runs in your wrist
    But stays fixed in your glance

    The most dangerous eyes 
    Are those which see everything
    But remain frozen like ice

    Those eyes which forget to kiss
    The world with love
    Turned into ashes by the 
    Blind fire emanating from things
    Losing itself drunk by daily work
    In the twists of a futureless dilemma 

    The most dangerous moon 
    Is one rising in the ruins 
    But which doesn’t needle your eyes 
    After a murder is done

    The most dangerous song
    Is one rendering an obituary
    So your ears might hear as they
    Stubbornly stick like rogues
    Before the doors of frightened people

    The most dangerous night
    Is one descending into the sky of
    Living spirits where only owls
    Screech and where the howls of jackals
    Are glued to the forever dark doorways. 

    The most dangerous horizon
    Is where the spirit’s sun descends
    And broken pieces of its dead light 
    Pierce the souring part of your body.

    The plunder of labour isn’t so dangerous…

     

     

    Paash recites his poem. Courtesy https://paash.wordpress.com/

     

    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕ

    ਕਿਰਤਦੀਲੁੱਟਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਨਹੀਂਹੁੰਦੀ
    ਪੁਲਸਦੀਕੁੱਟਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਨਹੀਂਹੁੰਦੀ
    ਗੱਦਾਰੀ-ਲੋਭਦੀਮੁੱਠਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਨਹੀਂਹੁੰਦੀ
    ਬੈਠੇਸੁੱਤਿਆਂਫੜੇਜਾਣਾ-ਬੁਰਾਤਾਂਹੈ
    ਡਰੂਜਿਹੀਚੁੱਪਵਿੱਚਮੜ੍ਹੇਜਾਣਾ -ਬੁਰਾਤਾਂਹੈ
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖਤਰਨਾਕਨਹੀਂਹੁੰਦਾ
    ਕਪਟਦੇਸ਼ੋਰਵਿਚ
    ਸਹੀਹੁੰਦਿਆਂਵੀਦਬਜਾਣਾ, ਬੁਰਾਤਾਂਹੈ
    ਕਿਸੇਜੁਗਨੂੰਦੀਲੋਅਵਿਚਪੜ੍ਹਨਲੱਗਜਾਣਾ -ਬੁਰਾਤਾਂਹੈ
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਨਹੀਂਹੁੰਦਾ।
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਹੁੰਦਾਹੈ
    ਮੁਰਦਾਸਾਂਤੀਨਾਲਭਰਜਾਣਾ,
    ਨਾਹੋਣਾਤੜਪਦਾ, ਸਭਸਹਿਣਕਰਜਾਣਾ
    ਘਰਾਂਤੋਂਨਿਕਲਣਾਕੰਮਤੇ
    ਤੇਕੰਮਤੋਂਘਰਜਾਣਾ,
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਹੁੰਦਾਹੈ
    ਸਾਡੇਸੁਪਨਿਆਂਦਾਮਰਜਾਣਾ।
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਉਹਘੜੀਹੁੰਦੀਹੈ
    ਤੁਹਾਡੇਗੁੱਟ ‘ਤੇਚਲਦੀਹੋਈਵੀਜੋ
    ਤੁਹਾਡੀਨਜ਼ਰਦੇਲਈਖੜ੍ਹੀਹੁੰਦੀਹੈ।
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਉਹਅੱਖਹੁੰਦੀਹੈ
    ਜੋਸਭਦੇਖਦੀਹੋਈਵੀਠੰਢੀਯੱਖ਼ਹੁੰਦੀਹੈ
    ਜਿਸਦੀਨਜ਼ਰਦੁਨੀਆਨੂੰਮੁਹੱਬਤਨਾਲਚੁੰਮਣਾਭੁੱਲਜਾਂਦੀਹੈ
    ਜੋਚੀਜ਼ਾਂ ‘ਚੋਂਉਠਦੀਅੰਨ੍ਹੇਪਣਦੀਭਾਫ਼ਉੱਤੇਡੁਲ੍ਹਜਾਂਦੀਹੈ
    ਜੋਨਿੱਤਦਿਸਦੇਦੀਸਾਧਾਰਣਤਾਨੂੰਪੀਂਦੀਹੋਈ
    ਇਕਮੰਤਕਹੀਣਦੁਹਰਾਅਦੇਗਧੀ-ਗੇੜਵਿਚਹੀਰੁਲਜਾਂਦੀਹੈ।
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਉਹਚੰਨਹੁੰਦਾਹੈ
    ਜੋਹਰਕਤਲਕਾਂਡਦੇਬਾਅਦ
    ਸੁੰਨਹੋਏਵਿਹੜਿਆਂਵਿੱਚਚੜ੍ਹਦਾਹੈ
    ਪਰਤੁਹਾਡੀਆਂਅੱਖਾਂਨੂੰਮਿਰਚਾਂਵਾਂਗਨਹੀਂਲੜਦਾਹੈ।
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਉਹਗੀਤਹੁੰਦਾਹੈ
    ਤੁਹਾਡੇਕੰਨਾਂਤੱਕਪਹੁੰਚਣਲਈ
    ਜਿਹੜਾਕੀਰਨਾਉਲੰਘਦਾਹੈ
    ਡਰੇਹੋਏਲੋਕਾਂਦੇਬਾਰਮੂਹਰੇ-
    ਜੋਵੈਲੀਦੀਖੰਘਖੰਘਦਾਹੈ।
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਉਹਰਾਤਹੁੰਦੀਹੈ
    ਜੋਪੈਂਦੀਹੈਜੀਊਂਦੀਰੂਹਦਿਆਂਆਕਾਸ਼ਾਂ ‘ਤੇ
    ਜਿਹਦੇਵਿਚਸਿਰਫ਼ਉੱਲੂਬੋਲਦੇਗਿੱਦੜਹਵਾਂਕਦੇ
    ਚਿਪਟਜਾਂਦੇਸਦੀਵੀਨ੍ਹੇਰਬੰਦਬੂਹਿਆਂਚੁਗਾਠਾਂ ‘ਤੇ
    ਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਉਹਦਿਸ਼ਾਹੁੰਦੀਹੈ
    ਜਿਹਦੇਵਿੱਚਆਤਮਾਦਾਸੂਰਜਡੁੱਬਜਾਵੇ
    ਤੇਉਸਦੀਮਰੀਹੋਈਧੁੱਪਦੀਕੋਈਛਿਲਤਰ
    ਤੁਹਾਡੇਜਿਸਮਦੇਪੂਰਬ ‘ਚਖੁੱਭਜਾਵੇ।
    ਕਿਰਤਦੀਲੁੱਟਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਨਹੀਂਹੁੰਦੀ
    ਪੁਲਸਦੀਕੁੱਟਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਨਹੀਂਹੁੰਦੀ
    ਗੱਦਾਰੀ-ਲੋਭਦੀਮੁੱਠਸਭਤੋਂਖ਼ਤਰਨਾਕਨਹੀਂਹੁੰਦੀ।

     


     

    Pash or Paash (September 9, 1950 – March 23, 1988) 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 March 23, 1988.

    Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer, occasional translator and political science scholar. His writings have appeared in The New York TimesLos Angeles Review of BooksGuernicaThe London MagazineNew Welsh ReviewRattle3:AM MagazineMudlarkMPTOutlookThe HinduThe Wire, etc. He teaches poetry at Ambedkar University, New Delhi.

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