The art of marsiya writing started in Persia and Arabia but it reached its zenith under the Nawabs of Awadh. The nawabs were connosieurs of art and literature, but their Shia faith gave great impetus to building of Imambaras (is a congregation hall, used mainly for purposes of remembrance of the events of Karbala) and the art of marsiya writing
The famous MARSIYA writers in Urdu are Mir Baber Ali Anis and Mirza Salamat Ali Dabir.
In the list of great marsiya gos Mir Zamir, who by common consensus is regarded as the Bani of Jadid marsiya and Mir Anis himself recited marsiya in the fateha majlis of Mir Zamir.
Mir Anis’ father, Mir Khaliq was also a great marsiya go. Mir Anees often remarked ber sare member
“hai mujh ko baba jan ki zaban nahin aai.”
Dulah saheb Rashid was the last exponent of Mir Anees’school of marsiya goi and marsiya khwani.
(contributed by Mamu Mehdi Raza sahib)
Other famous marsiya writers are
Syed Muhammad Mirza Uns, Syed Sajjad Hussein, Shadeed Lucknavi, Dr. Syed Ali Imam Zaidi and Gauher Lucknavi.
Josh Malihabadi on Mir Anis:
Teri har mouj-e-nafas rooh-ul-amee’n ki jaa’n hai
tu meri urdu zubaa’n ka bolta Qura’n hai
. Every breath of yours is the life of Gabrielle
You are the speakin Quran of the urdu language.
Intezar Hussain in his ” Hindu contribution to the marsiya” writes
” While engaged in his research on Hindu marsiya writers he ( Kalidas Gupta Raza , an authority on Ghalib ahad a lesser known interest in marsiya) had unearthed a number of such writers, which were hitherto unknown to us. An article, which was intended to be the first chapter of his book, Hindu marsiya go is included in his collection, published under the title,Sahv-o-Suragh, in which he has traced Hindu involvement in azadari from the times of Quli Qutab Shah. This ruler, he says, would take care to say goodbye to wine as soon as the moon of the month of Muharram was sighted. Clad in black, he would come out from his palace and proceed to the aza-khana followed by a large number of people, most of whom were Hindus.
The first Hindu marsiya writer, as researched by Gupta Raza, was as Ram Rao, whose pen name was ‘Saiva’. He belonged to Gulberg but migrated to Bijapore in the time of Ali Adib Shah. In about 1681, he translated Rozatush Shuhada in Deccani verse. This translation was in addition to the original marsiyas written by him.
Sri Makkhan Das, and Balaji Tasambak with ‘Tara’, as his pen name are some other marsiyawriters, who flourished in Deccan in the years that followed. Add to them the name of Swami Prashad who wrote marsiyas in Urdu under the pen name of ‘Asghar’, though he also wrote poetry in Persian and Hindi.
As the centre of Urdu shifted from the South to the North and the azadari culture began to flourish in Lucknow. Here, too, we find the Hindu gentry actively participating in the rituals of Muharram and Hindu poets ardently engaged in writing marsiyas. Better known among the earlier poets was Munshi Channoo Lal Lakhnavi, who wrote ghazals under the pen name of ‘Tarab’ and marsiyas under the pseudonym, ‘Dilgir’. In his later period, he wrote marsiyas alone and distinguished himself in the field.
Raja Balwan Singh, who wrote under the pen name, ‘Raja’, was the son of Maharaja Chait Singh, the ruler of Benares. But the British did not allow him to rule for long. Ousted from Benares, he succeeded in winning a jagir from the Maharaja of Gawalior. His son Raja mostly lived in Agra and became a disciple of Nazeer Akbarabadi. He distinguished himself as amarsiya writer, though he also wrote in other verse forms.
Lala Ram Prashad wrote marsiyas under the pen name, ‘Bashar’. Gupta Raza tells us that he was a devotee of the Ahl-i-Bait. In his last days, he migrated to Karbala. It was there that he breathed his last and was buried there.
Perhaps in Lucknow, Hindus were more deeply involved in the rituals of Muharram. So their participation was not confined to writing marsiyas alone. Lala Har Prashad was not a marsiyawriter. But he had a passion for reciting them. Every year, he participated with devotion in taziaprocessions and recited his favourite marsiyas depicting the martyrdom of Hazrat Abbas.
Lala Har Prashad belonged, as Mirza Jafar Husain has told us, to the family of Raja Mahra. But Tika Ram was a potter. Out of his devotion for Imam Husain (AS) he had made a tazia of clay, which in its own way was a piece of art. This tazia was exhibited every year on the night of Muharram 10 and was always a centre of attraction for the mourners.
Mirza Jafar Husain has written about a unique ritual observed by the Hindu mourners. On the night of Muharram 10, someone from among them chose to masquerade as a messenger. He was expected to perform his duty on the day of Ashoor. So the next day, with bells hanging around his body and with a morchhal in his hand, he would go running from one place to the other, going to each group of mourners and announcing in a mournful voice, “Husain Kushta Shud” (Husain has been martyred).-
In fact Pandit Brij Narain Chakbast in his poem Ramayana also wrote the scene where Shri Rama takes leave of his mother, in the style of Mir Anis, where he describes Ali Akbar bidding farewell to his mother.
Chakbast ki Ramayana : “Rukhsat hua jo baap se lekar Khuda ka naam Raah-e-Khuda mei’n manzil-e-awwal hui tamaam Majboor tha jo maa ki ziyaarat ka intezaam Daaman se ashk pochh ke dil se kiya kalaam Izhaar-e-bekasi se sitam hoga aur bhi Dekha humei’n udaas to ghum hoga aur bhi”
A few Famous Marsiyas
3. Josh Malihabadi