GN Firaq: One of the greatest poets of modern Kashmir

Ghulamm Nabi Firaq is one of the modern greats of the Kashmiri language. Firaq was born on 15 July, 1917 in the downtown area of Srinagar city. It was in early 60s Firaq, under the influence of progressive writers movement, took up the task of writing, and within no time he made a name for himself and was competing with the big names like Amin Kamil, Rahman Rahi, Dina Nath Nadim and others; and it was during the time the Kashmiri literature was being moulded and given new shape.

Firaq was a sensitive human being, he wrote what he felt and he is one the very few exceptions in Kashmiri literature who contributed heavily in all genres. His major contribution is in the field of poetry but he has written extensively – fiction, nonfiction, philosophy and criticism – and all of his writings speak about the class of Firaq.

Ghulam Nabi Firaq is often considered as one of the visionary and profound writers who changed the dynamics of Kashmiri language forever. Firaq extensively worked on Kashmiri script and pronunciation. Firaq made one thing which Kashmiri language was in dire need, he standardized it and recovered the lost world which was abandoned and later used it in his writing. He also needs to be praised where for creating new words which were taken from different languages mostly from Persian and Sanskrit.

The language which Kashmiris speak today and which is used by masses, we owe a lot to the legendary poet Firaq. 1960s and 1970s was the time when the progressive movement dominated the scene in the valley of Kashmir. During that time Kashmiri language was considered an offshoot of Middle Eastern languages and its origin was linked with a lot of conspiracies. It was here that Firaq took the research upon himself and later came to the conclusion that Kashmiri was far different than any middle eastern languages and concluded that Kashmiri originated in the sub continent and it got changed over time with influx of people from central Asia who modified it and gave it a new shape.

Prof Firaq has made contributions far more than any writer has made to the literature of Kashmir. His unrivalled vision and his writing is considered as a template for other authors and writers. A professor turned writer, Firaq was born in downtown, an area which was considered the centre of education and an intellectual hotbed area of Kashmir in 1928. After completing his high school from SP school he completed his graduation from SP College and then went on to pursue further studies in English literature and then he was appointed in Anantnag Degree College. From there he was later moved to Jammu science college and then to SP college. He remained for major part of his tenure at SP College Srinagar.

Firaq continued to serve Kashmiri language while continuing his services at SP College and it was during this time that Firaq made his first contribution to Kashmiri literature – Kasher adbe iztila – which gives a brief and concrete information about the various literary terms used in different languages including Kashmiri. Firaq’s poetry was unmatched and has been honoured thought out the world and his hold on Kashmiri language its script, metaphor and most important his beautiful craftsmanship was of next level.

A renowned Kashmiri literary critic Mohammad Yousf Teng has written in one of his literary essays that Firaq has the same position and status in Kashmiri language which Akhatar ul Emaan has in Urdu. Both emerge as major voices of that time in their respective languages after 1950. Both have a number of similarities in their writings and outlook. Kashmir language will also be indebted to Firaq for his outstanding contribution in the field poetry. While poetry in Kashmiri language already had great contributions, Firaq’s perception and visualization was something which was unseen before. Firaq could be said as the master of Kashmiri poetry in the last few centuries and his beautiful blending of metaphor, humour and most importantly his art of writing make it seem that he had a perspective of things which was hard to find in anyone else. How powerful were the words of Firaq can be well understood from one of his poems, which was published in British newspaper and is considered as one of the best poems of the last century across globe. This poem features in the list of top 100 poems and had an impeccable impact on the masses.

It was his poetry book sada te samundar which got him Sahitya Academy award. About the book; it is a collection of poem, sonnets, ghazals. This book is significantly different from the rest of the books which were published during that era. It has a blend of intimacy, blending of Kashmiri and Persian and Kashmiri words and expressions, aphoristic comments on life, intermingling of satire and pathos, use of musically potent meters, masterly use of smile and image, oblique but esoteric expression and finally the use of Persian and Indian mythological allusions.

Firaq was born in an era when the conventional form of poetry was dominant in Kashmir and Sufi poetry had a stronghold in Kashmiri society. Through his writing he tried to move away and made an impact.

Firaq was an institution, who,  with a kind of religious resolve tried to change, rather overhaul the perspective on Kashmiri language. He brought freshness to Kashmiri poetry which still smells unique and strong. The world of professor Firaq is not simply one of gloom, cruelty, and human wilderness but more significantly of harmony, love, and trust – the form and content of his write ups blending in a way to produce beautiful.

As Firaq acquired fame he kept on contributing to Kashmiri language and literature. One of his famous writings Dazwun naar is a long elegy written by the author after the death of his wife. It describes the condition of the writer after the death of his beloved wife besides the different aspects of our society and their impact on the common man. In mid 70s Firaq came up with a masterpiece when he wrote kashurwuchnuk Safar. It gives evolution of Kashmiri poem known as wuchvun and through the prism of that genre one goes through history of Kashmir literature, cultural and socio-political map of this region.

Firaq knew how to put together words which would reform society and how it could contribute towards the Kashmiri language which was losing its charm. He wrote what would define the Kashmiri language for a long time, Tath insaan saenz. It is the translation of a famous book in English by B R Hook about human civilization? The important adaptation about this book is the translation in Kashmiri. Newly coined verbs, metaphor and overall quality of the prose, a real master piece.This book gives real insight into Firaq’s mind and his intellectual capabilities which were far ahead what the Kashmiri literature had seen so far.

He will always be remembered for his remarkable contributions to Kashmiri language. He died on 17 December 2016. Firaq has written dozens of books for which besides Sahitya Academy award, he also received many different awards from universities and cultural organisations.

Jibran Malik is grandson of G N Firaq