Lest we forget Farid Parbati

I suggest publishing a new and special issue on contemporary literary personalities every year

WORD'S WISDOM

MUHAMMAD MAROOF SHAH

Wakif mae her ik khawb ki tabeer sae houn
Mai husn houn aur husn ki jageer sae houn
Kahtae haen mujae yusuf-i-sani ae doast
Kanae sae nahae, wadi-ae Kashmir sae houn
(Farid Parbati)
Granting with Foucault the principle that power reaches everywhere and there is nothing unpolitical, it can nevertheless be maintained that J & K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages has been doing great service by publishing special numbers on important themes or personalities. It has published them on some living and some dead personalities. One can raise certain valid questions regarding the process of choosing a particular person to be covered and wish to make the process public, so that none is aggrieved. However honouring Farid Parabati on his death anniversary is a welcome step. I suggest publishing a new and special issue on contemporary literary personalities every year. If we don’t honour the living we are doing disservice to art. But like the politicians of Plato’s ideal state these must not choose or campaign for this “honour.” The business of the artist is to create and not to sell the art product. Art demands conquering the passion for fame which Milton identified as the last noble weakness of the most noble souls.  Slaves of desire to be known, to be covered can’t be great artists according to not only Eliot and Coomaraswamy but every great traditional philosopher and art critic. The great books/art works of antiquity were not signed because the problematic individualism and cult of personality had not yet developed. I shudder to think of the moral demands and qualification of other virtues demanded from an artist and genuine scholar/critic. I believe with Sufis that God alone can say “I.” We can only imitate him and be great artists to the degree we surrender ourselves to Him/Tao. We should have to proclaim nothing but God’s glory in writing or creating art.
I don’t wish today (may be some other time) to comment on Farid’s poetry from the critical perspective; I wish I could truly uphold in letter and spirit (it demands certain moral and intellectual qualifications I hardly possess) that seeks to express the collective traditional wisdom in art criticism shared by all traditions and all great philosophers, artists and art critics of all traditions including premodern (and some later day Westerners) Western tradition – the traditionalist perennialists/metaphysical perspective championed by Coomaraswamy, Schuon, Lings, Rilke, Burchkhardt, Hasan Askari, Siraj Muneer, Saleem Ahmed, etc. – but comment upon the effort devoted to celebrating contribution of an important voice in poetry in Kashmir– Farid Parbati. Well known voices in poetry/criticism like Iftikar Imam Sidiqi, Qazi Abeedullah Hashmi, Qudoos Javed and a host of recognized local Kashmiri scholars including young voices and students of Farid Sahib have contributed to the issue showing not only remarkable recognition that he commanded by virtue of his not only a rare talent for rubaiyees both as a poet and their critic but also for colourful personality at the heart of which is his fundamentally lyrical soul that expressed itself in gazals. Farid  has impressed such respectable critics as Shams-ur- Rahman Faruqi, Gopi Chand Narang, Hamidi Kashmiri and Wahab Ashrafi and carved a niche for himself as Javed Ahmed Dar, Prof. Farooq Bakshi and others have emphasized in their contributions to the issue. Introducing the best of him, a selection of Farid’s poetry and criticism makes the special issue very special as the readers can themselves judge or base their opinion on it.
Farid’s technical virtuosity and command over form – he wrote on prosody and took great care of niceties for executing difficult form of Rubayi – has been emphasized by many contributors. His composure at the time of death or fighting cancer behooving a good Mu’min and his Sufi inheritance has been noted by other contributors.
Parbati, the great lover of classical literature and books in Urdu Bazaar Delhi as Mirza and others, the great gatherer of souls as Ayaz Nazki documents and his students and some colleagues testify, the recognized name without whom no anthology of criticism of Urdu Rubaiyaat will be complete as Prof. Farooq Bakshi argues, the poet with a distinct voice or style who deserves to be heard as Javed Azar argues, the poet of thousand possibilities include a few amongst many aspects of his fascinating art and life that have been alluded to in the special issue.  He has the distinction of having a band of students who loved him so deeply – very few teachers/guides can today claim to have students who love them and not just respect them. If his success in national and international mushairas can’t be disputed as many contributors have noted the claim for remembering him through a special issue gains more credibility. We need to thank the editing team and the Academy for this effort. Every article makes some point and is not khanapuri.
The issue includes some prose and some poetic tributes to Farid Parbati. Managing to get  articles from a galaxy of scholars, friends and admirers in such a short time could have been possible only by special efforts by the staff, especially editing team. A document on life and works of a poet and critic who commanded respect both within and outside the State is an important contribution of the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages.
Postscript
Let us evolve institutional and extrainstitutional mechanisms to make it possible to publish many more documents on other important writers living today. Why should we primarily depend on the Academy for such a work? Why can’t our writers and lovers of art and culture create quality publishing houses of their own? The State can’t be expected to invest the required capital in promoting art or writers as we are wedded to the logic of disinvestment and privatization. There is great talent going unrecognized and we are losing quality writers for want of patronage or proper institutional help. Ultimately it is people and not the State – which represents only few people or a particular class – that are real judges and should be giving awards or decide whom to honour in other ways like publishing a special issue. We all need to be art activists. If there is a will and writers unite many dozens of new publications including quality journals and encyclopedias can be produced annually. We have so much to do. We have documented so little of our heritage and could present to the world our great art critics which includes the name of Abhinavgupta, arguably the greatest aesthetician cum art critic the world has produced and a galaxy of poets who can enjoy international readership. So far we have petty quarrels and lobbys downplaying or elevating particular writers/organizations. Can’t we change the terms of engagement as Farid suggests?
Malal –o- ranj ki batae both huyee ab tak
Chalo badl kae chale ab kae guftugu ka mijaz

Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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