No writer’s work is sacrosanct

In his write-up on Amrita Pritam (Saturday Extra, November 12), Khushwant Singh has dubbed her stories and novels as second rate. Quite a large number of her verses are also mediocre and unmetrical. Undoubtedly, she was a great poet, but every poem of a great poet is not his or her master-piece or so sacrosanct that it cannot be analysed and judged by a literary critic.

Her Aj Aakhaan Waris Shah Noo is a sensational human-interest poem about the tragedy that happened in the wake of the Partition. However, it is devoid of poetic excellence and literary grace. Many years ago, I had pointed out many mistakes in it with a request to Amrita to improve upon the poem in view of its theme. There was no reply.

Waris Shah wrote the amatory qissah (story) of Heer and Ranja in verse-form. He clearly said: Ranjhey Heer dey ishq dee gal sutti navein siryon pher jagaeeye jee (The story of Ranjha and Heer has gone into limbo. Let us write it de novo). He wrote this qissah after his amorous relationship with one Bhag Bhari stood exposed as is evident from his words: Jadon ishq dee gal izhaar hoi (When his love affair bcame known).


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Apropos of “Always Amrita, Always Pritam” by Gulzar Singh Sandhu (Saturday Extra, Nov 5), the editorial “Aapki Amrita” (The Tribune, Nov 3) and Nirupama Dutt’s obituary of the writer (Nov 1). Khushwant Singh has also expressed his views in your esteemed paper on the sensitive, pretty and petite woman of Punjabi letters, true daughter of Waris Shah, who passed away on the eve of Divali.

Writers like Amrita Pritam shine in the “firmament of literature”. With a literary career spanning seven decades, she rose like a meteor in the world of letters and won several national and international awards and honours. With more than 100 books to her credit, Amrita’s story is one of amazing courage, resilience and achievement.

Amrita’s yearning for love and her rebellion against worn-out social norms and traditions made her a progressive writer. How well did she depict the trauma and the holocaust of Partition in her ode to Waris Shah.

Thousands of girls and women suffered during Partition. Punjab’s sorrow at the time of Partition and afterwards on both sides of the Wagah border is unfathomable.

Dr L. K. MANUJA, Nahan

Warriors of the faith

This has reference to “Warriors of the faith” by A. J. Philip (Spectrum, Nov 13) in which the writer recounts his visit to the RSS headquarters at Nagpur. It should not surprise him to know that even the staunchest of Swayamsevaks hardly pay a visit to the RSS headquarters in their lifetime unless they are summoned for some baithak or ceremony.

A portion of a speech attributed to RSS chief K. S. Sudarshan comparing politicians to prostitutes, which finds reference in this article, is an example of misinterpretation by a section of the media.

In fact, Sudarshan was referring to similarities between politics i.e. raajniti and vaishyavritti as it is mentioned in old texts. He did not equate politicians with prostitutes per se. The writer should enlighten himself by reading the 48th shloka of Niti Shatkam by Bhartrihari, which compares the common qualities of rajniti with that of vaishyavritti i.e. prostitution. Sudarshan was alluding to the contents of this shloka while commenting on politics.

For ready reference the shloka reads:

Satyaanrita cha parusha priyavadini cha,

Hinstra dyalurapi chaarthapara vadanya.

Nityavyayaa prachur nityadhanagma cha,

Varaangnave nripnitiranekrupaa.

(Rajniti is like vaishyavritti. Sometimes it is truthful, at others it is deceitful. Rude and bitter sometimes, and sweetness personified later. Both are violent for some at times, then kind and solicitous for others. Seeking money and materials sometimes and distributing favours, now and then. Ever spending but regularly accumulating wealth is their nature, generally. Politics like prostitution, exhibits different traits at different times.) How true in today’s context, too.


In quest of peace and progress

I refer to Randeep Wadehra’s article “Indian identity with global mindset” (Perspective, Oct 30). Unity in diversity has been the unique feature of Indian culture. But of late, the superficial colours of diversity have become more pronounced.

Consequently, how can we aim at evolving a global citizenship based on secularism, peace and progress? How can we expect economic order in the modern world, where modern dualistic cultures see nature red in tooth and claw, the strongest and the fattest surviving, the weak and the meek disappearing, and conflict and competition as the only true reality?

Clearly, instead of seeing nations, regions and cultures of the world as one human community, the world is seen as a battlefield of nations competing with each other for power, influence and control over minds, markets and natural resources. One nation’s interest is seen in opposition to the national interest of another. If you are not with us, you are against us. In brief, it has become the dominant mindset rather than the global mindset.

What is the way out? The answer is easy but the solution is difficult and complex. We must follow the Vedic principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family). Once we begin to internalise this point of view, we can march towards a genuine search for peace and progress.

P.L. SETHI, Patiala


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