Punjab Research Group

Sangat: Dialog Punjab

Posted in Events, News/Information, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on March 27, 2015

Sangat: Dialog Punjab

Poetry is engrained in every aspect of the lives, stories, music, politics, philosophy, faith and culture of Punjabis. A number of us are gathering together to explore Punjabi poetry through time (and through this, a history of Punjab), meeting once a month at SOAS.

Starting with Baba Farid (12th century) through to Najm Hosain Syed and Amarjit Chandan writing today, we will focus in each session, on one or two poets; reading their poetry, listening to it being sung, and discussing it along with the historical/political/ philosophical context. We hope to have leading Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan joining us for most of the sessions, sharing his knowledge, along with other guest writers/scholars/singers.

We welcome those of all ages and levels, those with knowledge, passion and interest that can be shared and developed, but also those who are new to Punjabi poetry/literature, who may not read Gurmukhi/Shahmukhi or be proficient in Punjabi, but want to listen and explore – we especially encourage you to join us.

For further information please contact ssai@soas.ac.uk.

Forthcoming Events

Session 2: Baba Nanak

7 April 2015, Russell Square: College Buildings, 4429, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Session 3: Ravidas and Kabir

5 May 2015, Russell Square: College Buildings, 4429, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Session 4: Guru Gobind Singh

9 June 2015, Brunei Gallery, B104, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Session 5: Sultan Bahu and Bulleh Shah

7 July 2015, Brunei Gallery, B102, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Session 6: Waris Shah & Damoodar (Heer)

4 August 2015, Russell Square: College Buildings, 4429, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

The feminine metaphor by Mahmood Awan

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on February 4, 2015

Mahmood Awan January 25, 2015

Recounting the women poets of the undivided Punjab, a poetic history that lies buried under male monopoly

Punjabi poetics is unique in adopting the feminine metaphor. From our classics to contemporary poets, the most intimate and challenging verses resonate in this naturalised voice. Female protagonists of our Qissa (epics) poets from Damodar Das to Ghulam Haider Mastana are not only self-assuring and assertive but are full of defiance against male authority and a martialised society.

Najm Hosain Syed summed up this power of choice and rejection assumed by women in a striking one liner: “She stands outsides the cycles of time and society”.

Punjab owes all the beauties and colours of its folklore exclusively to its womenfolk. This was the art that kept us enriched and sustained us through centuries of compressions, invasions and annexations. Those nameless women poets of the Punjab narrated our collective consciousness and protected our native identity.

Read full article: http://tns.thenews.com.pk/poetry-the-feminine-metaphor/#.VNJTM3YtKHk

Punjabi Research and Criticism by Dr Nasir Rana

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on August 19, 2014


This paper was written by Dr. Nasir Rana who teaches Punjabi at the Government M.A.O. College, Lahore.


Just like other languages of the world, Punjabi literature also started with poetry. Punjabi poetry is very old and some of its earliest poets were Charpat Nath (840 A.D.-940 A.D.), Gorakh Nath (940-1031), Pooran Bhagat (970-1070) and Shah Shams Sabzvari (1165-1276). However, Baba Farid (1175 A.D.-1265 A.D.) is regarded as the first regular poet of Punjabi, born at Kothaywal near Multan. He travelled widely in search of knowledge and after getting spiritual training from Khaja Bakhtiar Kaki in Delhi, he finally settled in Pak Patan. His poetry has been preserved in the form of Shaloks. Afterwards, Ameer Khusru (1253-1325), Shah Miranji (1400-1496), Burhanuddin Janam (1586) and Guru Nanak (1469-1534) spread the message of the Oneness of God in Punjab through their poetry. Later on, Ibrahim Farid Sani (1450-1575), Damudar Das (sixteenth century), Shah Husayn (1539-1599) and Nosha Ganj Bakhsh (1452-1554) made their contributions to Punjabi poetry and literature. Shah Husayn introduced the genre of Kafi in Punjabi, while Sultan Bahu (1632-1692) laid the foundation of another genre called Se-harfi. From Baba Farid to Guru Nanak and all the other poets expressed mystical views in their poetry. In the subsequent period, Bullhay Shah, Ali Haidar, Khaja Fareed and Ameer Baloch continued the same tradition.

Punjabi literature was formally started with the inspiring poetry of Baba Farid. Later, Guru Nanak composed his poetry on similar lines and used it as a vehicle for the spiritual improvement of the people. However, the Punjabi religious literature began when (during the reigns of Jehangir and Shah Jahan); Maulvi Abdullah Abdi wrote his twelve religious pamphlets known as Bara Anvaa. These twelve religious pamphlets are: Tohfa, Nas-o-faraez, Muamlat, Uloom, Marfat-e-Ilahi, Khabirul-Aashiqeen Kalan, Khabirul-Aashiqeen Khurd, Siraji (meeras), Hisarul-Iman, Sekal Avval, Sekal Dom and Tohfa-e-Jadeed.

Besides mystical themes, romantic and amorous affairs were also discussed by some other poets. Damudar Das is the first Punjabi Romantic poet who for the first time wrote the romantic story of Heer Ranjha during the reign of Akbar. Afterwards, the same story was written by Ahmad Kavi, Charagh Awan, Pilu, Hafiz Shah Jahan Muaqbal, Waris Shah, Hamid Shah Abbasi, Fazal Shah, Bhagwan Sing, Imam Bakhsh, Maula Bakhsh Kushta and several other poets. The story of Mirza Saheban was for the first time written by Pilu. Later, Hafiz Barkhurdar Ranjha and Muhammad Yar Aleel also wrote on the same subject. Barkhurdar also wrote the stories of Sassi Punnu and Yusuf Zulaikha. Fazal Shah acquired fame by writing the story of Sohni Mahinwal while the story of Sassi Punnu written by Hashim became famous everywhere. Maulvi Lutf Ali Bahawalpuri, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Makhdoom Muhammad Bakhsh wrote the story of Saiful-Mulook. Imam Bakhsh wrote Badi-ul-Jamal and Shah Behram, etc. In the same way, Munshi Khahish Ali wrote Sohna Zeni and several other stories and thus made genuine contribution to enrich Punjabi poetic literature, further.

To read the full article please visit: http://www.apnaorg.com/research-papers/nasir-rana-1/


cfp: Oxford Sikh Society

Posted in Conferences, News/Information, sikhs by Pippa on August 19, 2014

We are excited to announce the launch of the next event in our series of ‘Discovering Sikhism’ open days.

Our new programme will be held at St Antony’s College, Oxford in November 2014, and will focus on exploring the history of the Sikhs under the British Raj. As ever, we are looking to provide critical historical insights and stimulating intellectual discussions on Sikh/Punjab Studies, with the aim of making academic research more accessible and engaging for a wide-ranging audience.

This year, we would like to open up our programme entirely, and invite you all to either present research papers or any kind of artistic work (be it film, poetry, song, drama, art or expressive dance!) that relates to the historical and cultural themes we intend to explore.

Please see attached a document to this email outlining further details about our ideas and goals for the 2014 open day, with a call at the end for relevant proposals to be submitted to us at oxford.sikhsoc@gmail.com. It would be fantastic to have your support!

We look forward to hearing from you with submission ideas in due course, and please do feel free to forward this email on to anyone whose work you think might be valuable to include within our programme. Should you have any questions about the event or Oxford’s Sikh Society in general, do not hesitate to drop us a line.

Full details: CfP Discovering Sikhism 2014

Priya Atwal, Vice President (2014-15), Oxford University Sikh Society


Poetry as Resistance: Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan by Nukhbah Langah

Posted in Book reviews, New Publications by Pippa on February 10, 2012

Poetry as Resistance: Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan by Nukhbah Langah (Routledge, 2011)

Focusing on the culturally and historically rich Siraiki-speaking region, often tagged as ‘South Punjab’, this book discusses the ways in which Siraiki creative writers have transformed into political activists, resisting the self-imposed domination of the Punjabi–Mohajir ruling elite. Influenced by Sufi poets, their poetry takes the shape of both protest and dialogue. This book reflects upon the politics of identity and the political complications which are a result of colonisation and later, neo-colonisation of Pakistan. It challenges the philosophy of Pakistan — a state created for Muslims — which is now taking the shape of religious fanaticism, while disregarding ethnic and linguistic issues such as that of Siraiki.

Read review by Ayesha Siddiqa in The Friday Times: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20120210&page=19

Faiz Ahmed Faiz – Birth Centenary – 1911-2011

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on June 3, 2010

A statement by Progressive Writers Association (PWA)
Faiz Ahmad Faiz was one of the most prominent poets of the Indian sub-continent who won unparalleled global acclaim. He symbolised all that is humane, dignified, refined, brave and challenging in Pakistani society. His poetry written in Urdu and Punjabi reflects his intellectual resentment and resistance against an unjust and archaic social order which he rejects on rational grounds as anti human; yet it has no bitterness. He remains loving and loveable, respected and respectful.

Faiz’s poetry articulates the aspirations, anguish, pain and suffering of not only the people of Pakistan but that of the whole world, as well as their unremitting resolve to create a better and just society. His was the voice of sanity, for he sought peace in a troubled world.
Read full article:Faiz Ahmed Faiz centenary celebrations
Link to website: http://www.viewpointonline.net/fullstory.php?t=Faiz

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Amarjit Chandan

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on June 3, 2010

Since moving to London in 1980 after serving two years in solitary confinement for his role in the first Naxalite uprising in India, Amarjit Chandan has become one of today’s most celebrated Punjabi poets, with a large following both in India and among the Indian diaspora in Britain and across the globe.

Former poet laureate Andrew Motion selected him as one of the 10 British poets for the National Poetry Day in 2001 and his work has appeared in translation in scores of journals and magazines.

A short poem, Far Away On A Distant Planet, has been carved in 40-foot granite by Alec Peever and installed in Slough High Street square, both in Punjabi and English translation.
Read full article: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/91058

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Modern Poetry in Translation

Posted in News/Information by Pippa on May 31, 2010

We are inviting submissions for Modern Poetry in Translation, Third Series, Number 14, ‘Polyphony’, to be published in Autumn 2010. Please find attached the details of this issue.

Submissions should be sent by 1 August 2010, please, in hard copy, with return postage, to The Editors, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Queen’s College, Oxford, OX1 4AW. Unless agreed in advance, submissions by email will NOT be accepted. Only very exceptionally will we consider work that has already been published elsewhere. Translators are themselves responsible for obtaining any necessary permissions. Since we do sometimes authorize further publication on one or two very reputable websites of work that has appeared in MPT, the permissions should cover that possibility.
Web link: http://www.mptmagazine.com/

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Reaching for roots by Nonika Singh

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on February 16, 2010

The Sunday Tribune, 14 Feb 2010

Roots remind me of root infinite, the source of everything.

THAT’s Amarjit Chandan, the celebrated poet rooted in Punjabi soil—its chaste language and ethos—yet spanning continents, the universe, the timeless zone. Living in the UK, where his poetry is etched in a 40-feet-long sculpture, he seeks and finds refuge in his language. And just as the lines read, “Far, far away on a distant planet there lies a stone unseen unturned, it can only be seen with closed eyes as you see your loved ones,” he, too, can see and feel Punjab with closed eyes.

Read full article:  http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100214/spectrum/book8.htm

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Sonata for Four Hands by Amarjit Chandan

Posted in New Publications, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on October 7, 2009

sonataAmarjit Chandan’s long-awaited first full-length collection to be published in Britain comes with a preface by the distinguished writer John Berger, long-time admirer of Chandan’s work. Ironic, lyrical, sometimes angry or regretful, these poems, written in Punjabi but by a poet settled in Britain, add a new dimension to contemporary poetry.

Foreword by John Berger
Cover by Gurvinder Singh

ISBN: 978-1-906570-34-7
Publication date: 1 October (pbk & hbk)
Dimensions: 138 x 216 mm
Pages: 160


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Kitte Mil Ve Mahi

Posted in Film, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on September 6, 2009
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PUNJABI POETRY ON WAR by Amarjit Chandan

Posted in Articles, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on June 19, 2009

unhorsesI hail from a cursed land – partitioned land of five rivers – the Punjab. Since 1947, the East Punjab is in India, and the West Punjab is in Pakistan. Being the gateway from the northwest to the Indian sub-continent, for three millennia foreign invaders played havoc to its natives. First came the Aryans about fifteen centuries before the birth of Christ and occupied most of northern Hindustan. Other races – the Persians, the Greeks under Alexander the Great, Bactrians, Scythians, Mongol Huns, Mughals, and Afghans, followed them. In the end came the British. They occupied the Punjab in 1849 ruling over it for a century and left in 1947 dismembering it.

Summing up Punjabi people’s centuries old catastrophic history in just five sentences may seem rigorous, but even volumes will betray inadequacy of language to express the loss. A royal throne looted from Delhi and gifted to the Sultan of Turkey by Nadir Shah of Iran lying in the Topkapi Palace museum in Istanbul is a URL [universal resource locator] link to the troubled history of the Punjab.

Read full article: http://sikhfoundation.org/article-Amarjit_Chandan.asp

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