Volume - 6 : Issue - 2

Published : April - June 2007

Group : We The Sindhis

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By Dr. Motilal Jotwani

40 Years of the Sindhi Recognition Day

As the Sindhis in India and abroad celebrated 40 years of the Sindhi recognition day on 10 April, 2007, we remembered the efforts put in for the purpose by the late Sri Jairamdas Doulatam et al. Before we discuss Sri Jairamdas`s role in the matter, let me quote the four entries, pertaining to him, as given in A Dictionary of Sindhi Literature (New Delhi; the third edition, 10 April, 2007), authored by me:

d`aheen aprel, 10 April, 1967, the day the Sindhi language was recognized by the Indian Constitution, The day is celebrated in Indian Sindhi circles with gaiety and gusto.

JAIRAMDAS DOULATRAM (1891-1979), a first-rate scholar, and the first Chief Editor of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. The scholars who wish to follow the development of Sindhi language and literature through the centuries cannot do without the study of his essays, he wrote from time to time on the subject. During the last phase of his life, he strongly advocated the use of Devanagari for the Sindhi language in India, Devanagari being the original and 'natural' script of Sindhi. In Sindh jee Khoja (q.v.), some of his essays are collected. Also, see Gandhijee-a saan Sata  D'eenhan

Sindh jee Khoj (1993), a collection of scholarly essays by Jairamdas Doulatram (q.v.), ed. by Motilal Jotwani, M.K. Jetley and Mohanlal Sharma (qq.v.). In three parts, it contains writings on the Sindhi language and literature in its first part, essays on the history of Sindh in its second part and memoirs about great historical personages like D'ayaram Gidumal, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in its third part.

 “Gandhijee-a  saan Sata  D'eenhan”, a well-known, autobiographical essay, from the Sindhi Times, Special Number, November 1969; by Jairamdas Doulatram (q.v.). It was Jairamdas  Doulatram, the Sindhi scholar-politician, who also played a significant role in the public life of India before and after Independence and made Gandhiji write his world-famous autobiography in Yarvada Jail, Pune. When this essay on the seven days he had spent with Gandhiji in Yarvada Jail appeared in the Sindhi Times, he was asked why he himself had not written a full-fledged autobiography. He said, his essay regarding the seven days with Gandhiji had described the Mahatma, the great soul, and he had only been a nimttta (cause). A great autobiographical writing, his essay was translated into Hindi in Bharateeya Nibandha (1982), a representative anthology of Indian essays.

As stated in the first paragraph here, on 10 April annually the Sindhis in India and abroad remember Sri Jairamdas Doulatram and others—the others, who were as important as the former for their efforts in getting Sindhi recognized as the 15th language on the VIIIth schedule of the Indian Constitution. Those important figures included Prof. L.H. Ajwani of the History of Sindhi Literature (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi; 1970) fame, Padmashri Prof. Ram Panjwani, Prof. M. U. Malkani, Prof. B. H. Nagrani and, of course, the Gobind-Uttam-Kirat triumvirate, i.e., three persons herein  mean Gobind Malhi, A.J.Uttam and Kirat Babani.

Sri Jairamdas had acquired consent in the matter under discussion from Smt. Indira Gandhi when she had been the Information and Broadcasting Minister in 1965. In 1966, she became the Prime Minister and helped Sri Jairamdas in achieving his objective in a big way. As Sri Jairamdas had met opposition from his own party members when he had been a member of the Constituent Assembly, he did so this time, too. The then Education Minister M.C. Chagla said that we could not possibly vote Sindhi in as one of the national languages for the simple reason that Sindh was not a part of India. Sri Jairamdas urged him that the Hindu Sindhis with their language Sindhi in India would help in enriching Hindi under the Article 351 of Indian Constitution and with their sub-culture Sindhi would help in strengthening the main culture of India. Also he met Sri Gulzari Lal Nanda, the then Home Minister, whose officers in the Ministry had filed away the various Memoranda on Sindhi`s recognition with the remarks `no action` on them, and impressed on him that it was high time that Sindhi be recognized as one of the national languages. Sri Nanda gave the same old reason that Sindh was not part of the nation and Sindhi, therefore, could not be a national language in India. At the end, Sri Jairamdas succeeded in his mission with Sri Nanda and got the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha on December 9, 1966. In the Rajya Sabha, the Jana Sangha leader Atal Behari Vajpai, who had at one time presented the non-official bill for recognition of the Sindhi language and had been advised to the contrary, lent his party's unflinching support to the official bill. He famously called Hindi, his Ma (mother), and Sindhi, his Ma-si (mother`s sister). Thereafter, it was to be introduced in the Loka Sabha. But then, the new general elections were announced.

On April 4, 1967, the bill for recognition of Sindhi language was re-introduced in the Rajya Sabha. On April 7, 1967, it was successfully presented in the Loka Sabha. And lo and behold! On April 10, 1967, the great Cheti Chand day, President S. Radhakrishnan gave assent to it and it became a full-fledged Act of Parliament. Sri Jairamdas recounted the story as to how Sindhi was recognized in his pamphlet called “Bharat je Sindhiyuni jo Itihaasik D`eenhun: D`aheen Aprel”, which was re-printed by the Sindhi Academy, Delhi, on April 10, 2007.

The grateful nation, through its Department of Posts, issued a special postage stamp in honour of Sri Jairamdas Doulatram (b, 21.07. 1891 – d. 01.03. 1979), veteran freedom fighter and national leader, on his 93rd birth anniversary on 21-07-1985.

The Autobiography by Laxman Komal

Wahee Khaatay jaa Pannaa (Part I), autobiography by Laxman Komal, published by Sojhro, Karachi, in January 2006, makes a somewhat interesting and instructive reading--`somewhat` in the sense that it suffers from being not a chronologically single-minded work. Between its two covers, it lays bare troubles and tribulations of the Hindu Sindhis in the wake of Partition of India in 1947. It was unprecedented in human history that the whole of a community—about 12 lacs of the Hindu Sindhis—migrated to India: the whole of Sindh was lost to Pakistan, while Bengal and Punjab retained some of their parts in India at that time.

While the reality of  Sindh being wholly a part of Pakistan now has become a part of our consciousness, we the Hindu Sindhis in India will ever share with Muslim Sindhis in Pakistan our common cultural and historical memories. Likewise, they will always look for the pre-Islamic and extra-Islamic ties with us, for both the countries share with each other languages like Sindhi, Punjabi and Urdu.

Reverting to the `somewhat interesting and instructive` point, raised earlier, one may observe that the autobiography deals prima facie with the author when he was only 13. But actually, he was at least 17 apropos of an incident in it. The autobiography comments on his liaison with Sarvari, a Muslim actress, and says on pp. 239-240, “What would happen, if Sarvari conceived the last night? But how a male of seventeen years would get a child from a female who was two or three years older to him? In this mental conflict, my child-like understanding of the problem could not go further. My semen-soiled pyjama, too, was lying in my box.”

The work owes its readers many an explanation. For instance, the author writes on p.37, “The news (without the adjective `sad`--a comment by MJ) of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi reached us in the morning of January 30, 1948.” It is a well-known fact that Mahatma Gandhi fell a martyr to the cause of national integration in the evening—to be exact, at 5.17 pm –of that fateful day. The author could not possibly assume the godly duties and pre-pone the death under discussion from the evening to the morning.

Laxman Komal writes on p.69, “The late Sugan Ahuja, my friend and a reputed Sindhi litterateur and poet, had told me that he had been a classmate of the martyr Hemu Kalani in Sukkur, Sindh.  Hemu had the revolutionary leanings alright. But he had mostly kept company with the goons of Old Sukkur, who would together undergo exercises in the morning and drink bhaang (the intoxicating hemp) in the evening. Some people say, Hemu was drunk with bhaang at the time of uprooting the rails of railway track.” It hardly deserves a comment in view of the known historical facts.

And the most objectionable thing in it pertains to Kabir, the great weaver of the modern-day Varanasi, about whom the author writes on p. 252, “The name of Kabir`s wife was Loee, who is much slandered in his poetry. He called her kulata (adulteress) and kulachhni (woman of evil disposition). It is said, in order to keep his word with a Banaras merchant, Kabir took Loee on his shoulder and left her with that merchant to spend one night with her. Kabir had asked him (the merchant) to lend some money for entertaining some guest saints and mendicants. The merchant had done so on one condition that if he could not re-pay the loan within the stipulated time, he would leave his wife Loee with him for one night.”

In fact, Laxman Komal puts biographies and autobiographies he has studied so far to good use, for his autobiography narrates many incidents culled from them. And as a wit expressed his opinion on him in the Sipoon, a magazine published from Mumbai, Laxman Komal shows humility in his work, but his real objective is sense of superiority through it.

Exchanges of Emails with Amar Jaleel

I am not tech savvy. But I manage to receive and send e-mail messages. And with a considerable success. Also, I look for information on some persons and places, concepts and their respective executions on Google. Last time, I did a commissioned text book article for Class XII students on Professor Stephen Hawking, a world-renowned scientist who conducted himself around the world on a wheel chair, with the biographical data provided by Google. Sometimes I wonder whether Google replaces God.

It had been on Google that I had sought details of much-celebrated Sindhi author Amar Jaleel (born as he was in 1936, as I was) much before I met him face to face in New Delhi last year. When he returned to Sindh, he wired me on September 01, 2006, saying, “…Yes, my brother, within a span of a few months we both arrived in this world in 1936. It was unbelievable when at the age of 70 we met, and took each other in arms for the first time. Those were the most cherished moments of my life. What I lament is that we ran short of time, and could not sit together for a heart to heart talk. If not impeded by death, I would certainly return to India for pilgrimage.”

In the meantime, I happened to read his short story entitled `Invisible Window` and it moved me to the core. I said in my e-mail message to him, “Your short story `invisible window` makes a terrible reading--`terrible` in the sense that I felt terribly uneasy after reading it. I wonder as to how you get such ideas as would raise the basic existential questions like—Who am I? Am I a Hindu, a Muslim, A Christian or a Jew? Do I have a license to kill fellow-humans? Or for that matter, birds and beasts? I am sure, you must be suffering from bouts of insanity in order to reach some genuine moments of sanity in these eye-opening truths.”

Then, all of a sudden, I received an e-mail message from my respected brother Amar Jaleel on March 04, 2007, saying, “Attached with this is the article I have to read on 6th March at Mumbai University…” On the very same day, i.e., Sunday, March 04, 2007, 10.02 PM, I replied back, “As I read your paper (to be presented at the Mumbai University) this late evening, I applauded every paragraph of it. How smoothly it goes, one word leading to another word, one paragraph looking to another paragraph—thus building up a powerful argument… By the way, it is sapta (as against `saptaa`, with `a` in place of `aa`; and much against your pronunciation of the word `supat`). The Greater Sindh used to be called as Sapta Sindhu Desh, or the land of seven rivers, the leader of the seven rivers being Sindhu. You know, `sapta` is a Sanskrit word, which means `seven`. In Persian and Sindhi, `sapta` becomes `hafta`, `s` of Sanskrit changing into `h` in Persian and Sindhi.”

His reply came pat to our purposes, “You have honoured this faqeer with your comments. I am grateful to you for guiding me about `sapta`. It came to me as a timely correction. I will amend it before reading my paper. It was a great gesture from you. Thanks…After eight hours I will leave for Mumbai.” After he returned to Sindh after spending about five days or so in Mumbai, he sent me the e-mail message on March 17, 2007, enclosing a corrected copy of the paper, “This is the corrected copy of the paper. I have rectified the error. I am grateful to you. It was an embarrassing mistake.”

As to how a scholar conducts his pursuits, I have to learn at Amar Jaleel`s feet.  And he presents a glorifying example of sincere fraternal feelings, of great Indo-Pak subcontinental cultural values.

(2007 ©Motilal Jotwani : For exclusive use in the Sindhishaan, Mumbai)