Religious and secular literature in Haryana

Religious and secular literature

 

Besides the growth of Sufism and Sikhism and their devotional literature, the region also produced literary figures in Prakrt, Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu.

 

The most important of the Prakrt scholars was Thakura Pheru who was born at Kannana, a village lying about 8 kms from Charkhi Dadari (in district Mahendragarh). Thakur Pheru belonged to the Srimala stock and Dhandiya family i^Dhandha kula) of the Vaishya caste. His father and grandfather are mentioned as Thakura Chanda and Seth Kalio respectively. He was a devoted Jaina as his sectarian title Paramajaina would suggest. We are informed that Thakura Pheru was appointed an officer by Alauddin Khalji and was very intimately connected with the management of treasury and mint.

 

His encyclopaedic knowledge prompted him to write on a variety of subjects with equal mastery. His works which have come down to us are a very important source of history of India of the thirteenth century. His earliest work Yugaoradhdna- chatuspddikd (A.D. 1290) was written in Apabraihsa at Kannana under the supervision of his teacher Vachanacharya Rajasekara. It provides a biographical survey of the Jaina Acharyas from Mahavira to Yugapradhanacharya, of the Kharataragachcha sect. Some events of historical value are alluded to in the said work. The Rama- parikshd (A.D. 1315) as the name suggests, deals exhaustively with gems — their types, availability, value, qualities and effects. Vastusdra (A.D. 1315) also written at Kannana, is a treatise in Prakrt dealing with Jaina sculpture and architecture. The Ganitasdra, another Prakrt work, is a valuable source of information on the economic conditions as prevailed during the thirteenth century. It deals with prices, weights and measures, varieties of textiles, measurement of land and such minute details as production per bigha of various commodities in southern Haryana. Dhdtotpattikarani- Vidhi is a work on metallurgy, while Jyotishasara (A.D. 1315) gives in a historical perspective, an exposition of movements of the stars and planets and their effect on human life. The last of Pheru’s works Dravyapar ksd (A.D. 1318) is an invaluable source for the study of contemporary economic history. Also dealing with metallurgical subjects such as methods of purification of gold, silver, copper, tin, lead and other metals, it deals exhaustively on the system of coinage, exchange, classification, weights, coin-value and the ratio of the ingredients in the alloys. Another noted writer of Apabhram a was Bucharaja, a poet whose contributions were Mayanajujha, Santosha- jayatUakOy Chetana Pudgala Dhamafa, Tdnddnd and Kukaddmanjarichaupai. He belonged to Hissar and flourished in the first half of the sixteenth century (V. 1591). Yet another was Jina Vallabha Sari, a scholar from Hansi whose important works in Apabhrarh^a were : SukSmd^’tha-Siddhantavichdra^ShraddhdSti, SraddhdSiaka- Dharmasiksd, Pra^nottara-shl ka and SramgaraS’aka After Jina Vallabha, no noteworthy contribution was made to the Apabhrarh^a literature possibly because after the seventeenth century Sanskrit regained imortance and eminent scholars started writing in that language.

 

Haryana also witnessed the development of early Hindi literature which had its origin in the Prakrit works of the early medieval Jaina authors and in the writings of the Siddha and Nath sects. Prthadaka was one of the chief centres of Nath order in this region. The earliest Hindi author of this order was Chauranginatha, a resident of Asthal Bohar (district Rohtak) who flourished in the thirteenth century. Although known as an author of a number of works in Khadi Boll (Hindi) only two of them namely, Vayutatvabhavanopadesa and Pranasangali have survived. These works give an exposition of the Nirguna philosophy. He was followed by another author of the Nath order —Mastanatha whose noteworthy composition was During the fourteenth century Isardasa of Faridabad wrote a number of works in Hindi of which the noteworthy are — Angada Paija, Bharata Vilapa and Saiyavati Kathd. His language shows influence of Avadhi. Suradasa, one of the most out- standing poets of Hindi of the fifteenth century, have been claimed by some as belonging to Sihi (Faridabad).’

 

The growth of Hindi literature in Haryana was further stimulated by the contributions of the scholars of the succeeding generations. Among these Virbhan of Narnaul — the founder of the Satnami sect; Maldev of Sirsa — the author of thirty books in Prakrt, Sanskrit and Hindi (16th century); Hridaya Ram alias Ram Kavi of Gharaunda who later on settled at Thanesar and produced a number of works on religious themes; RQp Chand Pande of the village Salempur; Bhagavatl Das of village Buria (in Ambala district); Anandaghana of Sirsa, who wrote on subjects related to Jain religion and ethics; Sundardas of Karnal, Banarasi Das of Biholi (a village near Rohtak) and Khadgasena of Narnaul (17th century) deserve particular mention.’

 

In the eighteenth century were born Garib Das (1717-1791) and Nischal Das (1791-1863), the greatest poet-saints of the region. Garlbdas is the earliest known Nirguna saint poet of Haryana. He was born at Chhudani in A.D. 1717 in a Jat family.’” His padas (religious hymns and songs) numbering about 17000 or 18,500 give a brilliant exposition of the Nirgupa philosophy.’” No other saint poet of medieval India has written in such abundance and on so many facets of spiritual life.’ He founded his own sect named after him as Garibdasi which in course of time established its branches at various places in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Union Territory of Delhi and even in Gujarat (Ahmedabad).

 

Garib Das’s contribution to the contemporary Indian religious thought was his universalism. He stood for the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of men. He strongly condemned hatred, bitterness between divergent creeds and advocated close understanding between various religions and unity and equality between the rich and the poor, the high and the low. Like Kabir, he worked for bringing about a healthy synthesis between the progressive elements of Hinduism and Islam and hence he easily found followers both among Hindus and Muslims. Garib Das believed that God realization can be achieved in any walk of life, and hence renunciation of worldly life is not at all necessary. His songs reflect a happy reconciliation of worldly and spiritual life.

 

the last of the Hindu Raj Yogis and Bhakta poets who had as great a mastery of popular poetic language and style as Ghulam Farid had, but whose range of thought and knowledge of other Indian languages was greater than that of any other Indian poet of Medieval India, the only poet who comes near to him being Shah Qayam Din Chisti of Kari Goan in Bombay.

 

And Dr. K.C. Gupta, the biographer, who calls him ‘Haryana’s Saint of Humanity’ observes

 

Shrl Garlb Das was a true saint in the sense that he never sought the patronage of any court. During his life-time, many invasions and upheavals took place . . . But we do not find a single reference to events to which he was almost an eye witness . . . although he was bom in a Hindu family and lived his whole life in Haryana in the eighteenth century, his songs transcend all sectarian, spatial and temporal bounds and express man’s eternal seeking for the Divine.

 

Nischal Das (1791-1863) was born at Kungad (Hansi tehsil) in a Jat family. As he himself informs us he received his instruction in Sankhya, Nyaya, Vyakarana and Vedanta at Varanasi. He was a follower of the Dadupantha. One of his disciples was Ram Singh, the Raja of Bundi. He was a prolific writer in Sanskrit as well as Hindi. Among his Sanskrit works mention may be made of IsopaniSad, Kaihopani- Sad, Mahdihdrata (all commentaries), V rttavivarana, V rttidipika and Ayurveda, but unfortunately these have not come to light so far. His distinctive contribution to the Hindi literature are his philosophical treatises Vichdrasdgara and Vrttiprabhdkara and Muktiprakasa—\ht first has since then been translated in Marathi, Bengali and English. Swami Vivekananda was greatly influenced by Nischal Das’s contribution, and considered his Vichdrasdgara as the ‘most influential work that has been written in any language within the last three centuries’.

 

Among other contemporary saint-poets who made noteworthy contribution to the Nirguna literature were Nityananda of Narnaul, the author of Satyasiddhdnta- prakdsa and Bardkhadv, Jait Ram, a son of Garlb Das who composed a number of works on devotional themes of which the most important is Janmakathd (the life story of the Saint Garlb Das); Dayal Das, a disciple of Garlb Das who composed Vichd- raprakdsa (or parlksd), an exposition of the Advaita philosophy.

 

The period also witness the development of Urdu and Hariyanvi. The noteworthy contributors in Urdu were Muhammad Afzal (1539-1626) of Panipat (the author of Bikata Kahdal)’, his contemporary Shaikh Jivan (the author of Fiqabd-i- Hindi, Mahsharndmd, Dar fanama, Khwabndmd and Ddblrnamd-i-Bibi Fatima); Abdul Ves of Hansi, the editor of first Urdu-Hindi dictionary; and the poets of humour — Mir Jafar Jatar (1659-1713) and his brother Abdul Jabil ‘JataP of Narnaul. Compositions in diflFerent dialects of Hariyanavi of this period have also come to light. The padas (or devotional songs) of Saint Dedhraj of Gharsu (near Narnaul) in Ahrra- watj; of Baba Hari Das in Bangru; and of Gulam Rangila in Mewati come under this category.

 

These literary traditions of Haryana were continued in the succeeding periods by a number of scholars and poets of whom the following deserve mention. Ram Das of Agroha, author of a number of works including one on the tirthas; Umadas of Thanesar one of the scholars employed by Patiala state for the translation of the Mahabharata into Hindi (five Parvas) and the author of numerous works including the one entitled {Kurukshetra Mahatmya; Sahab Singh and Atma Singh of Jind whose works reflect influence of Va^nava and Sikh religious philosophy; Sambhudas (also of Jind); Nanda and Mukunda (Hisar); Yugal Kishor Bhat (Kaithal); Babu Balmukand Gupta (Jhajjar), a prominent Urdu-Hindi newspaper editor,^ whose weekly paper Hindi Bangavdsi published from Calcutta, is considered by R.C. Majumdar as ‘the most influential Hindi newspaper during the two closing decades of the nineteenth century’ which considerably advanced the Hindi prose style; Madhav Prasad Misra, a great Hindi journalist of his times, who wrote learned articles on contemporary political, social, economic issues; Visvambhar Nath Kaushik, a renowned story writer and a well known editor; and Bhadanta Anand Kausalyayana who wrote on subjects of Buddhism. Among the Urdu writers worthy of note were — Rao Man Singh, a bakshi of Rao Tula Ram of Rewari who wrote Abhirkuladipfka, ahistoiy of the Ahirs dealing also with the history of the Rewari State from A.D. 1555 to the close of the nineteenth century, throwing light of the political, social and cultural life of Haryana of that period; Ghulam Nabi, author of Tdrikh-i- Jhajjar, a comprehensi\e history of that state from 1803 to 1858 similarly is an important source of history for the period itcovers. Jafar Khan of Thanesar, a leader of Wahabi movement sentenced to life imprisonment in Andamans, whose two works— Tdrlkh-i-Ajaba and TdrJkh-i-Ajib {Kdld Pdni) (1884) give a graphic account of his sufferings. The style of Jafar’s composition is simple and chaste, and ‘is free from rhetorical flourishes and vcrbiege which was a common feature of the contemporary Urdu prcse’ and last but not the least, Altaf Husain Hali of Panipat, ‘the innovator of the modern spirit in Urdu’ as rightly observed by R.C. Majumdar. A master of many languages— Urdu, Persian and Arabic, Altaf Husain contributed a number of scholarly works in prose as well as in poetry of which Muqaddima-i-Sher-o-Shairi, is considered as ‘an epoch making work’ which sums up ‘the essentials which have been recognised on all hands as forming the life and substance of all good poetry’.’

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