6:18 am - Saturday December 15, 2018

The little known side of Iqbal – खुशवंत सिंह

सारे जहां से अच्छा हिंदुस्तान हमारा लिखने वाले इकबाल पाकिस्तान व् इस्लामिक कट्टरवाद के प्रतीक कैसे बन गए यह गुत्थी तो कोई नहीं सुलझा पाया है परन्तु उनके कश्मीरी पंडित से मुसलमान बनने का एक

कारण  उनके पिता रतन लाल का एक भ्रष्टाचार के केस मैं बुरी तरह फंसना था . सरकार ने इस्लाम कबूलने पर माफ़ी की पेशकश की जो जान बचाने के लिए उन्होंने स्वीकार कर ली . पहली बार के मुस्लमान ज्यादा कट्टर हो जाते हैं . यही शायद इकबाल के साथ हुआ .

जो भी खुशवंत सिंह का यह लेख कुछ नयी दास्तान तो जरूर बयान कर रहा है .

This Above all

I am beholden to P.V. Rawal of Jammu for sending me a photograph of Allama Iqbal’s Kashmiri Brahmin family taken in Sialkot (now Pakistan) in 1931. By then Iqbal, in his mid-fifties, had risen to the top as the greatest poet of Urdu on level with Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib as well as a prominent Muslim politician. Though he was proud of his Brahmin descent, he had nothing to say about his Hindu relations. In this picture the elderely lady seated in the middle is his grandmother Indirani Sapru, nicknamed Poshi, wife of Pandit Kanhaya Lal Sapru. The man standing left in a shawl is his cousin Amarnath Sapru; note the close resemblance to the poet.

The family trace their origin to one Birbal. They lived in village Saprain (hence the surname Sapru) on Shopian-Kulgan road. They moved to Srinagar where most of them were born. Birbal had five sons and a daughter. The third one Kanhaya Lal and his wife Indirani had three sons and five daughters. He was Iqbal’s grandfather. His son Rattan Lal converted to Islam and was given the name Nur Mohammad. He married a Muslim woman Imam Bibi. The Saprus disowned him and severed all connections with him. There are different versions of Rattan Lal’s conversion. The one given to me by Syeda Hameed, who has translated some of Iqbal’s poetry into English, maintains that Rattan Lal was Revenue Collector of the Afghan Governor of Kashmir. He was caught embezzling money. The Governor made him an offer: either he converted to Islam or be hanged. Rattan Lal chose to stay alive. When the Afghan Governor fled from Kashmir to escape its takeover by the Sikhs, Rattan Lal migrated to Sialkot. Imam Bibi was evidently a Sialkoti Punjabi. Iqbal was born in Sialkot on November 9, 1877. As often happens, the first generation of converts are more kattar than others, Iqbal grew up to be a devout Muslim. It is believed that once he called on his Hindu grandmother, then living in Amritsar. But there is no hard evidence of their meeting and what passed between them. Iqbal did not write about it. Though he had many Hindu and Sikh friends and admirers, he felt the future of Indian Muslims lay in having a separate state of their own. He was the principal ideologue of what later became Pakistan.

Standing (second from left): Late Amarnath Sapru, first cousin of Iqbal.
Sitting (from left): Raj Kishori Rawal, d/o Amarnath Sapru; grandmother of Iqbal; and Pt. J.N. Rawal, h/o Raj Kishori

Iqbal’s mother tongue was Punjabi but he never wrote in it— only in Persian and Urdu as did many Urdu poets before him.

There are many aspects of Allama Iqbal’s personal life which have not been fully researched by his biographers. We know he married two or three times and that his favourite son was Javed. He became a Judge of the Lahore High Court. Iqbal’s affair with Atia Faizi of Bombay when they met in London is well known. There must have been some correspondence between them to show the kind of relationship they had. When in Heidelburg (Germany) he was taken up by his young German tutor Emma Veganast.

This was divulged by the Mayor of Heidulberg in his speech naming a part of the bank of the river Neckar after him, Iqbal Veg. The Pakistan Ambassador to Germany had the Mayor’s speech mentioning the girl’s name suppressed. Iqbal and Emma continued to write to each other till the end of his days.


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