Warning: Dangerous Poet!

 

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/

 

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