Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa : Reading between the lines

, Sher o Sukhan

Akbar Allahabadi Urdu Poet
Akbar Allahabadi wrote
Hungama Hai Kyun Barpa Thodi Sii Jo Pii Lii Hai
which was composed in Raag Darbari Kanada.

The famous version is by Ghulam Ali
Hungama hai kyun barpa thodi sii jo pii lii haii

Is one of those ghazals which is sung or played at boisterous parties where wine is flowing.
For very long I wasn’t even aware that it was by Akbar Allahabadi, an extremely religious and strait laced man.
Very few are aware of the context in which the teetotaler Akbar Allahabadi, a very devout Muslim, wrote it.
I stumbled upon this article

After reading this article I did my own research and then reached the conclusion that this was a plausible interpretation of the ghazal.

Akbar Allahabadi^ was born in 1846 and lived through turbulent times, witnessing the first war of independence in 1857, World war I and even the initial part of Gandhi’s peaceful movement. He died in 1921 in Allahabad.

Akbar Allahabadi was a spectator to the post 1857 ‘divide and rule’ policies of the British. He opposed the British policies and the decadence of the Indian culture through his satirical verses. Most of his topics addressed the moral, social and religious issues in the Indian and particularly Muslim community. He talked of the cynicism of the political leaders of the time and their doubles speak:
“qaum ke Gam mein dinner khaate hain hukkaam ke saath
ranj leader ko bahut hai magar aaraam ke saath “

(They cry over the community’s woes with rulers over fine dinners
The leaders talk of sorrows but in comfort)

There are many of his verses on the issue:
Hindu wo Muslim aik hain donon yani ashiyaae hain/
Ham watan ham zuban, wa ham qismat kyun na kahdoo’n ki
Bhai bhai hain ?
( Hindus and Muslims are one,friends
They belong to same country, speak same language, have common destiny
So why shouldn’t I say they are brothers?

Ladein kyon Hinduon se hum , yaheen ke an pe panpen hain/
Hamari bhi dua ya hai ki Gangaji ki barthi ho
(why fight with the Hindus, we have prospered here
I pray that the sacred Ganges should prosper too

Akbar used humour to convey his messages and his verse to be read between the lines and in the social and historical context of the times too.

The fall out of the Khilafat* Movement exacerbated the already growing rift and led to the drifting apart of Hindus and Muslims with many Muslims aligning themselves with Muslim league.

This growing distance between the Hindus and Muslims of India perturbed Akbar Allahabadi and he advocated Hindu – Muslim unity. By then Muslim league was growing in power and was completely at odds with the Congress. His attempts at propagating Hindu- Muslim unity led to allegations that Akbar had been bribed / influenced by the Hindus and perchance seduced by alcohol. Though in Urdu shayri alcohol was taken as a symbol of devotion here Akbar is equating it to love for a community which permits drinking as opposed to Islam which prohibits it.

Akbar often used allegory and symbols in his poetry to convey a much deeper message than the one we read superficially. As Prof S R Farooqui explains in his Firaq memorial lecture*.

The verse “ uss mai se nahi matlab “ is a reference to the intoxication of power , resulting in the hateful divisiveness of those days, and leading ultimately to partition. Thankfully Akbar didn’t live to see that day.

Hungaama hai kyun barpa thodi sii jo pii lii hai
Daaka tau nahin daala, chori tau nahin kii hai

(Why the furore if a wee bit imbibed have I,
Neither have I looted nor robbed anyone have I)
( this ‘mai’ could be said to be the ‘milk of human kindness”

Naa tajurbaa kaari se vaaiz ki yeh baatein hain
Is rang ko kyaa jaane pooch tau kabhi pii hai?
Naa Tajurbaa kaari : inexperience
Vaaiz : preacher

(The inexperience of the preacher reflects in these insinuations
How could he recognise this hue, ask has he ever tasted it?

Uss mai se nahin matlab dil jis se ho begaana
Maqsuud hai uss mai se dil mein jo khinchti hai
Mai : wine
Maqsuud : intended,proposed,intent,design
Begaanaa : a stranger,foreigner,not related

(Useless is the wine which is a stranger to my heart
I seek the wine which springs forth from my own heart)

Vaa’n dil mein ki sadame do yaa’n jii mein ke sab sah lo
Un kaa bhii ajab dil hai meraa bhii ajab jii hai
Ajab : wonder,astonishment,wonderful,amazing

(There the intent to hurt, here to bear it
Her heart is also amazing and mine also astonishes

har zarraa chamaktaa hai anvaar-e-ilaahii se
har saans ye kahtii hai ham hain to Khuda bhii hai
zarra : an atom, a particle
Anvaar e ilaahi : Brilliance of God

(Every speck is illuminated by Divine brilliance
Every breath proclaims, I am here is a testimony to God’s existence )

Suraj mein lage dhabbaa fitrat ke karishme hain
but ham ko kahe kaafir Allah kii marzii hai
Fitrat : creation, nature
Karishma : a wonder, miracle, a charm
But : idol, beloved
Kaafir : non believer, infidel, impious person, sweetheart,

(The specks on the sun are Nature’s miracle
The idol calls me an infidel, tis God’s will)

Next time you hear this ghazal do spare a thought for the genius of Akbar Allahabadi and his political sagacity.

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