Jauhar Abbas reinvigorating art of ‘Chronogram’ in Urdu literature

Jauhar Abbas reinvigorating art of ‘Chronogram’ in Urdu literature

By: Syed Tazmeen Javed

ISLAMABAD, Jun 21 (APP): The Urdu literature is a like an ocean, when submerged you will extract out the marvel of wonders. The language is widely believed to be developing since the 12th century and from then established itself as a unique identity among other languages.

Infact, it brings laurels, and a good repute for anyone, who links himself in any capacity with the national language of Pakistan. It has vast and wide-ranging manifestations: From Ghazals to Nazms, and from Marsiyas to Nauhas; the language is playing its critical role to integrate the people of Pakistan.

So is Jauhar Abbas, one of the finest poets, an Urdu scholar setting standards to present the language in the most intriguing way. Is it something that has not been done before?

Perhaps, no, but what is important to understand that in this age where we lack the depth to understand the secrets of language; the source of the word; the reason behind the formation of Ghazal in the wake of socio-economic background of that particular age. Jauhar Abbas, age 36, is in continuous endeavor to create a distinctive identity of himself.

A lecturer by profession at Federal Urdu University of Arts, Sciences & Technology, and a prolific critique, Jauhar is reinvigorating the art of ‘Chronogram’ which , however, has not become obsolete, but a lost treasure in academic discussions.

To elaborate further, Chronogram, which is viewed as a sentence in which specific letters, interpreted as numerals, stand for a particular date when rearranged. The word if loosely translated is ‘time writing’, derives from the Greek words ‘chronos and gramma’.

For instance, one of the finest elegy poet Mirza Dabeer, while paying tribute to his other famous contemporary Mir Anees, said a couplet which when calculated transpired that Dabeer actually arranged it in such a pattern that it coincided with the Anis’s year of demise. For instance he said: Aasman Be Mah-i-Kamil Sidrah Be Ruhul Amin Toor-i-Sina Be Kalimullah Mimbar Be Anees.

The experts believe that the said couplet was arranged in a way which when calculated produced a collective number 1874. The same number if counted in terms of Gregorian calendar would reveal 1874 AD.

Anees breathed his last on 10th December 1874. Ironically, only a few are aware of the deep-science behind the art of using chronograms, but Jauhar is ensuring that it gets a rebirth in the national discourse. Before, we discuss, how he plans to achieve this in executing this exclusive art, let us define for our readers: ‘Chronogram,’ a specialized art that can extract the exact date and year the poet intended to portray by just reading the Urdu couplet.

Jauhar, in an exclusive chat to the APP, revisits the history of the use of rare art by the classic poets of Urdu language. Jauhar cited Mirza Ghalib, Momin Khan Momin’s poetry as examples that how these two iconic figures designed their respective poetry while mastering the art of using chronogram.

He also added that Imam Baksh Nasikh’s contribution in this particular field is of utmost importance. However, he heaped praised on (Late) Sahir Lakhnawi’s work which he remarked to be the trademark and comprehensive work in understanding the art of chronogram. He urged the masses to read ‘Fanne Tareek Goi ka Tanqeedi Jaiza’, a critique, by Sahir Lakhnawi to understand the art holistically.

According to Jauhar, the “remarkable work” on the said art had been delivered by Sahir Lakhnawi in recent years. In addition, in his Facebook’s pinned post, which has been overwhelmingly received by the readers, Jauhar crafted a unique name for himself when he took the herculean task of paying tribute to the deceased poets, saying couplets only to corroborate with the exact year of Islamic calendar and the corresponding Gregorian calendar when they breathed their last.

This work is an open invitation for the art lovers of Urdu literature to agree and challenge this tremendous work, if they differ, to produce a counter theory. Some may argue that in what capacity, Jauhar has assumed this task which by far has remained unchallenged.

Jauhar, who, did his masters in Urdu literatue from University of Karachi (UoK), completed his thesis on the technical study of Hafeez Hoshyarpuri’s chronograms, cited his memories with the poet late NaseerTurabi, to whom he credited for pushing him to delve more into this domain of Urdu literature.

Notably, students prefer to submit their thesis in their respective MPhil programmes, Jauhar availed the option to execute this task during his Masters (M.A) program, which is an impressive but scarce trajectory students opt for. Meanwhile, Jauhar also introduced an application, ‘Mustaqeen’, created by his acquaintance Soaz Sahib, available on Google playstore, which is exactly producing the same results and number by deploying the art of ‘Chronogram’.

Jauhar is alo invited as prime guest in various literary sessions and ‘Mushairas’. Recently, Jauhar Abbas gave a lecture in a session organized by the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) where he shed light on the evolution of the art of ‘Chronogram,’.

However, not every poet is aware to use the art of chronogram in their respective poetry. To relive the memories and their technicalities, the session was organized to recall the poets who used this particular art and its related delicacies in executing this art in their form of respective poetry.

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